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Every wise Jonathan should remember this, when he sees the rabble huzzaing at the heels of the truly respectable Decatur, or inflaming the vanity of that still more popular leader, whose justification has lowered the character of his Government with all the civilised nations of the world.
Debt. — America owed 42 millions of dollars after the revolutionary war; in 1790, 79 millions; in 1803, 70 millions; and in the beginning of January, 1812, the public debt was diminished to 45 millions of dollars. After the last war with England, it had risen to 123 millions ; and so it stood on the 1st of January, 1816. The total amount carried to the credit of the commissioners of the sinking fund, on the 31st of December, 1816, was about 34 millions of dollars.
Such is the land of Jonathan - and thus has it been governed. In his honest endeavours to better his situation, and in his manly purpose of resisting injury and insult, we most cordially sympathise. We hope he will always continue to watch and suspect his Government as he now does—remembering, that it is the constant tendency of those entrusted with power, to conceive that they enjoy it by their own merits, and for their own use, and not by delegation, and for the benefit of others. Thus far we are the friends and admirers of Jonathan. But he must not grow vain and ambitious; or allow himself to be dazzled by that galaxy of epithets by which his orators and newspaper scribblers endeavour to persuade their supporters that they are the greatest, the most refined, the most enlightened, and the most moral people upon earth. The effect of this is unspeakably ludicrous on this side of the Atlantic-and, even on the other, we should imagine, must be rather humiliating to the reasonable part of the population. ) The Americans are a brave, industrious, and acute people ; but they have hitherto given no indications of genius, and made no approaches to the heroic, either in their morality or character. They are but a recent offset indeed from England; and should make it their chief boast, for many generations to come, that they are sprung from the
same race with Bacon and Shakspeare and Newton. Considering their numbers, indeed, and the favourable circumstances in which they have been placed, they have yet done marvellously little to assert the honour of such a descent, or to show that their English blood has been exalted or refined by their republican training and institutions. Their Franklins and Washingtons, and all the other sages and heroes of their revolution, were born and bred subjects of the King of England—and not among
the freest or most valued of his subjects. And, since the period of their separation, a far greater proportion of their statesmen and artists and political writers have been foreigners, than ever occurred before in the history of any civilised and educated people. During the thirty or forty years of their independence, they have done absolutely nothing for the Sciences, for the Arts, for Literature, or even for the statesman-like studies of Politics or Political Economy. Confining ourselves to our own country, and to the period that has elapsed since they had an independent existence, we would ask, Where are their Foxes, their Burkes, their Sheridans, their Windhams, their Horners, their Wilberforces ? where their Arkwrights, their Watts, their Davys ?their Robertsons, Blairs, Smiths, Stewarts, Paleys, and Malthuses ?—their Porsons, Parrs, Burneys, or Blomfields ? — their Scotts, Rogers's, Campbells, Byrons, Moores, or Crabbes ?— their Siddons's, Kembles, Keans, or O'Neils ?— their Wilkies, Lawrences, Chantrys ?-or their parallels to the hundred other names that have spread themselves over the world from our little island in the course of the last thirty years, and blest or delighted mankind by their works, inventions, or examples ? In so far as we know, there is no such parallel to be produced from the whole annals of this self-adulating race. In the four quarters of the globe, who reads an American hook ? or goes to an American play? or looks at an American picture or statue? What does the world yet owe to American physicians or surgeons? What new substances have their chemists discovered ? or what old ones have they analysed ? What new constellations
have been discovered by the telescopes of Americans ? What have they done in the mathematics? Who drinks out of American glasses? or eats from American plates ? or wears American coats or gowns ? or sleeps in American blankets ? Finally, under which of the old tyrannical governments of Europe is every sixth man a slave, whom his fellow-creatures may buy and sell and torture?
When these questions are fairly and favourably answered, their laudatory epithets may be allowed: but till that can be done, we would seriously advise them to keep clear of superlatives.
POOR-LAWS. (E. Review, 1820.)
1. Safe Method for rendering Income arising from Personal Pro
perty available to the Poor-Laws. Longman & Co. 1819. 2. Summary Review of the Report and Evidence relative to the
Poor-Laws. By S. W. Nicol. York. 3. Essay on the Practicability of modifying the Poor-Laws.
Sherwood. 1819. 4. Considerations on the Poor-Laws. By John Davison, A.M.
Our readers, we fear, will require some apology for being asked to look at any thing upon the Poor-Laws. No subject, we admit, can be more disagreeable, or more trite. But, unfortunately, it is the most important of all the important subjects which the distressed state of the country is now crowding upon our notice.
A pamphlet on the Poor-Laws generally contains some little piece of favourite nonsense, by which we are gravely told this enormous evil may be perfectly cured. The first gentleman recommends little gardens; the second cows; the third a village shop; the fourth a spade; the fifth Dr. Bell, and so forth. Every man rushes to the press with his small morsel of imbecility; and is not easy till he sees his impertinence stitched in blue covers. In this list of absurdities, we must not forget the project of supporting the poor from national funds, or, in other words, of immediately doubling the expenditure, and introducing every possible abuse into the administration of it. Then there are worthy men, who call upon gentlemen of fortune and education to become overseers meaning, we suppose, that the present overseers are to perform the higher duties of men of fortune. Then Merit is set up as the test of relief; and their worships are to enter into a long examination of the life and cha
racter of each applicant, assisted, as they doubtless would be, by candid overseers, and neighbours divested of every feeling of malice and partiality. The children are next to be taken from their parents, and lodged in immense pedagogueries of several acres each, where they are to be carefully secluded from those fathers and mothers they are commanded to obey and honour, and are to be brought up
in virtue by the churchwardens. —- And this is gravely intended as a corrective of the Poor-Laws; as if (to pass over the many other objections which might be made to it) it would not set mankind populating faster than carpenters and bricklayers could cover in their children, or separate twigs to be bound into rods for their flagellation. An extension of the Poor-Laws to personal property is also talked of. We should be very glad to see any species of property exempted from these laws, but have no wish that any which is now exempted should be subjected to their influence. The case would infallibly be like that of the Income-tax, the more easily the tax was raised, the more profligate would be the expenditure. It is proposed also that alehouses should be diminished, and that the children of the poor
should be catechised publicly in the church, both very respectable and proper suggestions, but of themselves hardly strong enough for the evil. We have every wish that the poor should accustom themselves to habits of sobriety; but we cannot help reflecting, sometimes, that an alehouse is the only place where a poor tired creature, haunted with every species of wretchedness, can purchase three or four times a year three pennyworth of ale, a liquor upon which wine-drinking moralists are always extremely severe. We must not forget, among other nostrums, the eulogy of small farms—in other words, of small capital, and profound ignorance in the arts of agriculture;—and the evil is also thought to be curable by periodical contributions from men who have nothing, and can earn nothing without charity. To one of these plans, and perhaps the most plausible, Mr. Nicol has stated, in the following passage, objections that are applicable to almost all the rest.