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"A THING OF BEAUTY IS A JOY FOREVER."
Farewell! how oft that word is said
By those who hope to meet again,
Bespeak the transitory pain!
All speechless will I see thee part,
Nor think if cheerless I pursue
The path that thou hast mark'd with woe,
That joy itself can never know
To see thee when thou art not nigh;
As in thy pride of youthful years!
Till, guided by thy light divine,
To fit companionship with thine!
But thou-where'er thy choice may lead,
And bless thee, while for thee it breaks.
One worthy of thy love to see,
EUROPE LONG AGO.
We Americans are posterity to Europe, and my impressions being of posthumous publication, are nothing more, after all, than one version, of what most have read or heard, and many seen, otherwise-desultory as they will be, familiar and unpretending-with no claim but to historical truth and American independence.
England is a green spot enclosed in hedges, like a garden to an American eye-the country without woods, the roads without ruts, the travelling, thirty years ago, and taverns, much superior to ours, rather snug than showy, at which, as Spencer says, one likes to keep an in; such refreshing places for stopping at, (as the English express what we call staying) as gave rise to Dr. Johnson's rebuke of English hospitality, when he declared that our warmest welcome's at an Inn. Obliging landlords, attentive servants, smart postboys, and ci-devant fine horses, limping from the stable to go without a jolt in post-chaises, just as fast as you pay, were means of transport, not so quiet, quick or ostentatious as the multifarious steam ark, with its monotonous cargo of mankind, animals, and things, or the irksome railcar jerking, snorting and sparkling along over desolate places, but more exhilarating and agreeably exclusive. Travelling, and indeed all American existence in England, is annoyed by the continual depredations of innumerable beggars, for dues not alms, infesting the houses and highways with craving importunity; teaching at the cost of purse and forbearance, not only that nothing is done for nothing, but that paying for every thing you are always over-reached, if you suffer those gratuitous tax-gatherers to fix the rate of assessment. The English are not parsimonious, but so much more liberal than other Europeans in all pecuniary contributions, taxes, tythes, subscriptions, and ordinary expenses, (it is not the rich who supply the immense means of that spendthrift government, which are rasped out of labor rather than capital,) and so sturdily independent a people with all that universal civility and venality in certain classes are national inconsistencies. French, Dutch, Germans, Italians, and other Europeans are economists, what we Americans consider stingy, and without the rude manliness of the freeborn. They make a business and a boast of small savings, such as an Englishman seldom resorts to, then privately, and an American shuns as a shame. Yet the English lower classes are nearly all troublesome beggars, for what the same classes of the continent rarely expect, and never exact as their right. If they cheat they do not beg, unless mendicants by profession.
Visit an elegant establishment in England: the house, grounds, pictures, and other objects of munificence are shown by a respectable, well-dressed old gentleman, in my time with his hair powdereda class of servants which it pained me to hear call their employers master—who will be wronged unless you do your American feelings violence by giving them money. It is the same at a palace, a public establishment, and a private house. I have seen money left under a candlestick at a lady's party, for her domestics. I have heard the servants in Holland, too, complain, because after dining at their master's table, we did not pay their vails. There may be such expectations in France, but I never felt them. Leaving the grand gallery of the Louvre with a lady of Philadelphia, now the wife of a British Peer, who had forgot her handkerchief, I was about to return for it, when I found the door shut, and the guard said I could not go in, as the hour had elapsed, and the exhibition was closed. "I only want to get a lady's handkerchief which she has left behind." "Go in, sir," was the immediate consent, from a common sentry, to whom I could not venture to offer money for such a courtesy. While the magnificent repositories of Paris were thrown open to free admission, it was impossible to get even into the House of Commons but by dint of bribes. Per contra, all French bargains were impositions upon strangers. From half a dozen posthorses to a paper of pins, the price asked was several times the acknowledged value. Every purchase was a chaffer if not a quarrel, for the amount, in which particular there was no such cause for complaint in England. Honor is not the same virtue in those two countries, nor the sense of truth, probity, or courtesy. With a statement of these characteristics I couple no judgment. Others may trace causes and consequences; my purpose being only to set opinion in motion without anticipating it. Avarice and hypocrisy are original sins to which all mankind are subject. The Abbé Correa used to say that the Americans worship God and Mammon; yet what great consequences must affect the morals of a people who mostly neither beg or cheat!
The climate of England is well for those brought up to it; but uncomfortable to the children of the American sun; it seems to require active life, generous diet, and disregard of weather, so constantly unpropitious to out-of-door enjoyments, as to superinduce them, for there would be very few if they depended on fair weather. Eating, drinking, exercise, and merry-making, are therefore English necessaries of life. In Tacitus, Horace, and other Roman writers, suppers, which were equivalent to modern late dinners, are continually mentioned. Suppers and suicides were great Roman succedaneums. The long-lived personages described by St. Simon. were all good livers; and dietists are the only persons that in his memoirs died early. Good food and wine, taken in moderation, at
leisurely meals, with bathing and constant exercise in the open air, was the Roman, as it is the French philosophy of health; and most of it is likewise English, German, and Italian. A water or tea, drinking Frenchman used to be rare. A Persian maxim declares good wine the way to Heaven, because it soothes the passions and softens the crosses of life. Damps, fogs, and small distressing rain-chilly, dark, and dismal days, weeks, and months, in disastrous succession, are thus rendered comfortable in Europe, by conquest of climate, attention to food, and cultivation of existence. The dolce far niente which Madame de Staël found in Southern (not so prevalent in Northern) Italy, is the lineal descendant of the Roman carpe diem, epicurean love of constant but gentle recreation and entertainment, which in France has many votaries, especially among the bourgeoisie and peasantry, in England some in the upper classes, but in America is inconceivable as yet, if it ever should be acceptable to our utilitarian people, whose very sports are both laborious and lucrative. American climate may require a different Hygiene. To feeble and indisposed Americans the prolonged gloom of London and Paris is especially trying and injurious. The climate of Paris is almost as wet as that of London. A French emigrant, long resident in Philadelphia, took the opportunity of an American Minister's going to France in a vessel of war, to return, and frequently entertained him on the passage with the charms of Paris. It rained during the first three weeks after their arrival there, and the Minister complained to his French fellow traveller of disappointment in the climate. "Why yes," said the Parisian, "L find every thing quite changed for the worse by the revolution." When I was in Paris eighty people died a day, for a considerable period, of the influenza, the effect of a long spell of cloudy, bad weather. I had it severely, had it again, and worse in London, lingered a long while with miserable convalescence, without a ray of sanitary sunshine, which probably never would have been good health without coming home to a true American sweat, with a cold bath in July, which are enjoyments little known among those of Paris or London. Cold bathing I could not find in London. Warm bathing was common at Paris; but owing probably to the unpleasant sensation of cold water in chilly weather, notwithstanding a neatness of dress to which we are strangers, there was little of that personal purification in England, which immersion in water produces, and all ancient refinement inculcates. Dr. Johnson called the French "nasty" for spitting on a brick floor, who might retort that he seldom washed himself all over with oriental scrupulosity. The first Europeans who saw American Indians roast their captives alive by slow fires, and stiek their flesh full of hot coals, were shocked at the barbarity, while the Indians despised the Europeans for not liking such manly sport, and betraying, moreover,
contemptible anxiety for peltries, which they would buy, beg, and even steal, rather than not get. The extremes and the revolutions of our weather are never failing topics of European censure: but are they more unpleasant or unhealthy than the perpetual despotism of dismal skies, so that the health of London is supposed to depend on the kitchen fires always under the houses warming the upper rooms, in which fires are also indispensable nearly all the year? This is a question to be determined by some friendly power having no interest, to whose umpirage it may be left. If judgment is given in spring, it may be for Europe, but if in autumn, the award must be in favor of American climate.
Nothing proves the social as well as political progress of the last quarter of a century more than the moral rebellion, beginning in this country against the rights and regulations of titular rank, which were as absolute as imposing till lately. Rank in England is an exaggeration of that social distinction as it exists in the rest of Europe, owing to the democratic principle, which requires, from the British monarch down through all castes of nobility, the most exclusive and inflexible discipline in authority, by courtesy exacted by merely titular preeminence, unknown, I believe, to antiquity, notwithstanding the despotic prerogative of Babylonian, Persian, Egyptian, and Roman government. Conventional rank, like climate, is an easy yoke for those broke to it. Our own titles, without rank, are almost as absurdly cherished as the English titles with it; and we are apt to revere theirs: yet rank enforced by title we find it hard to comprehend, and still harder to bear. The Engglish claim unquestionable right to regulate it as they please among themselves, and that Americans in England are bound to passive obedience. A Russian Minister in this country declared that he never could be in the presence of a distinguiuhed personage here, once a king, without some of that sense of awe with which subjects contemplate sovereigns-a reverence supposed to pervade the whole theory of ennobled superiority. To us Americans, all sovereigns, and little used to social gradations, sex, age, merit, and station, are the only acknowledged ranks, though titles abound. It seems strange to us that Canning or Scott should habitually yield precedence to titled persons, many of whom were grovelling before the Minister for his official patronage, as most of them were avowed idolaters of the intellectual supremacy of the great novelist. Americans cannot acknowledge the right of that rule which would postpone Washington to every obscure patentee of a title. Some think, indeed, that all titles are mere delusion, without which private wealth and political power would be as authoritative in England as they were at Rome; and that inflexible rank at table, established rank, of both sexes, by birthright, in a dance, and the various other minor impositions of this sometimes galling little