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bation. The substance of the whole of these pages might, with very great advantage to the clearness of the details, and the moral effects of the biography, have been limited to a single volume; and when we find Mrs. Austin adverting to the possibility of a charge of book-making, we confess that we have some misgivings as to whether these allusions should not be taken as the unconscious suggestions of a predominating sentiment of candour in the mind of the fair authoress.
Art. IV.-Observations on Professions, Literature, Manne: s,
and Emigration in the United States and Canada ; made during a residence there in 1832. By the Rev, Isaac FIDLER, for a short time Missionary of Thornhill, on Yonge Street, near York, Upper Canada. I vol. 8vo. London : Whittaker, 1833.
Mrs. Trollope has no great reason to be proud of such disciples as the Rev. Isaac Fidler; and, indeed, it is a subject of great congratulation, that an example so unworthy of her country and her sex as that which Mrs. Trollope has afforded, in her observations on America, finds admirers only in the dull herd of narrow and prejudiced minds.
The reverend gentleman, the author of the present work, sets out by telling us, that, having been bred up to the church, but having no powerful interest to aid him in his vocation, he was forced to engage in the profession of teacher. This calling, it seems, did not prove very fertile of revenue; and the reverend gentleman, under the persuasion that his poverty was all the fault of a bad government, and worse laws, took the resolution of migrating to America. This step he was induced to adopt, chiefly from a hereditary longing, he says, derived from a father, who had long meditated a similar voyage. Had Mr. Fidler confined the explanation of his motives to the one cause alone, we should not have thought it necessary to dwell on this part of his narrative; but we can have no patience with a man who went out (as is perfectly manifest from his book) armed with a violent hatred and contempt of the American character; and who, in spite of that feeling, affects to make it be believed that he entertained a high admiration of the American republic, and “ that his imagination and his hopes took refuge among the free wilds and rising communities of the great republic !” The very language of the man betrays the artifice with which it is used. In giving out this imputation against Mr. Fidler, we act advisedly, and upon a full consideration of the contents of his book. How is it, we ask, if the reverend writer be so profound an admirer of America, how is it that he scarcely sets foot on her territory than he finds matter for bitter reproach? The first business, he tells us, which he and his family had to manage, upon landing at New York, was to seek out lodgings. “ For two rooms," he continues, “ badly furnished, three meals a day, and water to drink, I paid twenty-one dollars a-week. Myself, my wife, two children, and a servant, constituted my family. Fire and candles cost us four dollars a-week, and would have cost double that sum had we continued longer at the same house.” Mr. Fidler, accordingly, went to another lodgings, in the house of an English emigrant like himself, who railed furi. ously against the Americans ; but who, the reverend author is forced to confess, was an idle, disorderly, and dissolute fellow. The servant whom Mr. Fidler brought out very suddenly quitted his service, and he found that she had taken up with the mistress of the lodgings which he had at first occupied. Here the reverend writer is worked into a most unseemly passion; he declares that the base landlady had seduced the servant, but that as such unprincipled practices were common in America, no great notice was taken of the transaction.
As soon as Mr. Fidler had leisure to look about him, he sallied forth into the streets, to take a glimpse at the population. Nothing could equal his disgust at seeing as many paupers as he ever observed in England. His feelings of disappointment were still further aggravated by the price of coals and all sorts of fuel, the dearness of which did not spring from a scarcity of the article, but from the sheer roguery of the coal-merchants. But a pressing necessity now urged Mr. Fidler to abandon, for a time, the unprofitable amusement of picking holes in the American character; as his object, in going to the United States, was professional employment, it was high time that he should put his projects in train for effecting his purpose. Here, again, the ill-fated Mr. Fidler found some obstacles peculiar to the climate. His intercourse with the Americans was often confined to short calls, because of the extent of illness which existed in New York. The clergy could scarcely see him, so busy were they with the dying. Now, Mr. Fidler is of opinion, that even the very bad weather, and we suppose the bad habits that were so prevalent in New York, would not have been able to produce half the average mortality in the place, if any thing like a decent physician could be found amongst its inhabitants. But there is no encouragement in America for the arts and sciences; the benighted creatures of Yankees have neither the taste nor common prudence to make a little sacrifice for a great advantage in the encouragement of a good medical staff. There is a striking want, says our traveller, of a classification of society, of an aristocracy, and consequently of a due protection of scientific and literary men. In the vast assemblage composing the inhabitants of New York, Mr. Fidler did not meet with a single person “ able or willing to promote the object of a stranger, nor to take him by the hand !” What! did not the Yankees come to meet the great Mr. Fidler, and welcome him to the land of freedom ? Did they not go down upon their knees in multitudes in his pre
able New York in the sequently
sence, and beseech him to inform them in what manner they could best serve him? Wonderful it is, indeed, that his reverence was so barbarously received, as that there was no one of the Americans to take him by the hand! Nay, high recommendations from England, exclaims the reverend gentleman, are a man's detriment in America! No wonder that this statement should be true; for what is it that the Americans can gain by civility from Englishmen ?
Mr. Fidler found, even among the clergy of his own persuasion, a disposition to be cautious of strangers, which became a source of no small annoyance to his feelings. In fact he found, that in the opinion of the ministers of the English Established Church, he was one clergyman too many in the United States. The church doors being thus closed against him, Mr. Fidler resolved to bring his proficiency in the Eastern languages into play; but inquiries soon convinced him that his hopes of success by such means would end in disappointment. He, therefore, abandoned all the expectations which his Sanscrit learning had excited in his mind, and professed himself to be contented with the humble functions of a day-schoolmaster. But then, what a life would he have had of it in this unfortunate capacity. So pervading is the principle of independence throughout America, that Mr. Fidler was quite astonished at the perfect equality which the pupils usually maintained with their instructor. No correction of any sort is allowed—the boys may do as they please, and the master must respect, in the person of the least amongst them, the inviolable character of transatlantic liberty. This state of things was quite sufficient to satisfy the reverend gentleman how vain it would be for him to condescend to the proposed station of schoolmaster; but the following anecdote, related to him, no doubt with the true American object of making him still more uncomfortable, settled for ever the great question as to his designs on American children :
A person from England, with every characteristic of a gentleman, who had moved in better circles, solicited the place of school-master in a country village, and was successful. The emoluments arising from his teaching were barely adequate to the supply of indispensable necessaries, and left him without any of those little comforts which sweeten civilized life. The boors and store keepers of the village, unaccustomed to such a school-master, observed, indeed, the propriety of his conduct, and his sad and silent mein; but took no interest in him, beyond the education of their children, and the exercise of a prying curiosity, which he was unwilling, and all others were unable to gratify, by any information or disclosure. He entered Into none of their parties, partook of nothing cheerful, nor joined in any pastime. He found, in the contracted souls around him, no kindred spirit with his own; none with whom to interchange ideas, or communicate his griefs. His mind had, consequently, no intervals of social relaxation; and his bodily wants were but scantily supplied. His nights were spent in a wretched apartment, and on a bed of straw; and his days, in educating those who were strangers to the feelings of civilized life, and whose earthly existence would be bounded by rustic toils, or sordid calculations. This situation he filled for some time, with increasing sadness, but without a murmur or complaint. At last, his strength became completely exhausted ; and, unable longer to attend his school, he was confined to a solitary room, Too poor to hire attendance, he prepared his own food, and lived by himself. Some of the neighbours, not having seen or heard of him for a longer time than usual, entered his lonely abode, and found his lifeless body stretched upon the straw, where, bereft of every earthly comfort, he had sickened without a hand to help him, and died in absolute solitude. His pockets and apartments were ransacked, to discover his real name, and the place of his nativity : but every inquiry was useless. An impenetrable secrecy rested upon his birth and misfortunes ; and his remains were deposited by strangers in unconsecrated ground, without a sigh of sympathy, or even common Christian burial.-pp. 57–59.
There is a horrible picture in this book of the neglect of moral improvement, for its own sake, in America. If it be a true representation, we only wonder that so many other authors, who would be glad of a favourable occasion for wounding the United States, should observe a complete silence upon the fact. But if, in this statement, Mr. Fidler have abandoned the sober limits of truth, there is no penalty by which a man can be punished by his own conscience that does not await his hours of reflection for the author. He relates the account of his destiny, given by a stranger, who had gone to America with similar expectations as himself, of turning his erudition to his profit, but a woeful disappointment marked the termination of the stranger's career ; for the insubordination of the children, and the impossibility of instructing them in any thing to which their own inclinations were opposed, raged with as much severity in the time of the narrator of the story, as in that of Mr. Fidler.
Our author was quite amazed at the little attention which was paid to the Greek language in America. Scarcely a play in the language was read there; and as to metres and versification, these were matters seemingly altogether beyond the reach of Yankee comprehension. So backward is the classical education in the best institutions in America, that, according to Mr. Fidler, the young men who have passed through Colombia College, would be beat to atoms were they to contend with the scholars about London of the age of from ten to fourteen years. The result of all his inquiries, then, ended in this--that the classics were but little cultivated in America, and that mathematics were pursued nearly with the same rate of industry.
At Boston, whither our wanderer went to find if fortune wore the same forbidding mask which had already frightened him from New York, he found, at last, something that was so singularly framed as to please him. Here he met with a cultivator of the Oriental languages, and seems to take the utmost delight in having proved, at least to his own satisfaction, that the lingual knowledge of the Bostonian might be comprised in a nut-shell. Another feat was performed in Boston, at the recollection of which the reverend reminiscent chuckles with all the gaiety of self-conceit. At a teaparty, to which he was invited, a student was presented to him, and recommended as a prodigy of learning. The young man had been well educated, and had the reputation amongst his acquaintance of being a capital hand at Arabic. With the instinctive delight of a condor did the wicked old schoolmaster pounce upon the innocent prey, and sink his talons into him as his victim. He asked the youth to pronounce some Arabic words in Sir William Jones's Persian grammar, and the latter began by spelling the first word—“Can't you read without spelling ?" demanded the tyrant of the ferula. The young American replied, that he knew most of the letters, but was unable to pronounce the words. How long had he been at Arabic? was the next bold interrogatory—“Two years," was the answer. “Oh, then you must have many times endured the infliction of chastisement for such unprecedented neglect and idleness, had you been educated in England !” “I perceived," said the veteran flog-boy," that discipline and chastisement sounded harsh upon his ears, and he retired from the party at an early hour." Haply, reverend Sir, this is not the only boy that you sent off by your partiality for flogging; and if we were to conjecture the cause of your failure in this country, with all your mathematical skill, and the whole of your eastern lore, we should be apt to conclude, from your own acknowledgment, that you were a very indiscreet, and a very inconsiderate companion for the youthful mind.
Mr. Fidler, finally despairing of bettering his condition, or even his hopes, in Boston, returned to New York, where he applied to the British Consul, informing him of his intention to go back to England. The Consul, who seems to have very properly estimated the man, told him without ceremony, that he had committed a great error in going out at all, but that there would be no end of his folly were he now so soon to retrace his steps : he advised the impatient clergyman to try his hand in Upper Canada, and for the purpose, we presume, of providing for the disposal of the minister in that remote region, and thus keeping him out of the States, the Consul gave him a letter of cordial recommendation to the Bishop of Quebec.
Before his departure, however, the mild and Christian and forgiving minister pauses to have another fling at the people of New York. He positively denies the existence of any thing like freedom in the United States ; neither is there the least stability for private or public character.
Our author tells us that he was once of opinion, that in England the people were enslaved and oppressed; but after what he experienced in America, he is decided on the point that England is the only place where rational and perfect liberty is enjoyed. No one,