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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 in posing 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
prepotency, which are the common law of English society, are among the mere absurd remains of feudal barbarity, fast melting away in the rising sun of personal equality now beaming over the world. I believe talent, sex, and age are more appreciated as titles to social rank throughout all other parts of Europe than Great Britain. Are we Americans the iconoclasts to break this brazen image? So great a reformer as Napoleon shivered himself to pieces on it. After equality was completely established by the irresistible level of the revolution, passed in bloody traces through all ranks, his elaborate restoration of titles, and submission to what he found perhaps an overpowering inclination for mere rank, tended as much as any thing else to cast him from authority. But did he misjudge mankind or the French, in the attempt which cost him life, empire, and dynasty? Americans can hardly conceive the merit of mere titular rank as appreciated in Europe; and we are prone to believe that the greatest man in the world threw the world away for a superannuated trifle. In Germany I had the honor of presentation to the Prince of Orange, who, with his wife, full sister of the great Frederick, (as sportsmen would say ) were at another inn from that we lodged at in Frankfort. The American Minister, with whom I was, having known them during their exile in England, went to pay his respects to their Serene Highnesses,—a short, chunky man (to use our expressive Americanism) and a large, finelooking woman, both somewhat advanced in years. We were received graciously and gaily; but as I had no part in the ceremony, being merely a mute attendant, I was on the point of committing what I was not aware would have been a great offence to princely rank, by merely sitting down on a chair, which is not permitted in presence of princes. I have often smiled since at the idea of offence to rank by so simple and natural an act. Yet why not, if inequality by rank is acknowledged? Americans do not often like their servants to be seated in their presence, and political is not personal equality. When once the outer wall of rank is overcome, much of its offensive inaccessibility probably disappears. Through the kindness of the American Minister, I had the honor of an invitation to a Tory Cabinet dinner in London. All the members of the ministry were assembled at the table of a Duke. The whole service was gold, the favorite meat was sturgeon, a royal dish, the finest fruit was pine-apple, of English growth, and the mansion, though less showily furnished than many American private houses at present, (such has been the spread of luxury since,) was large and elegant. From the slight means few such opportunities have afforded of judging of rank in social intercourse, I am satisfied, that at all events high rank is less exacting and more sociable than secondary; and that much of the complaint of rank results from its awkward infliction by those who have least title to it. Nothing VOL. V. NO. XIII.—JANUARY, 1839. E
could be more unaffected than the easy benevolence with which an obscure youth, on the occasion alluded to, was at once put upon a proper footing with titled and eminent persons, who, while naturally asserting their own rank, placed no restraint on him; in which plain and gentle intercourse, without that condescension which Massillon stigmatizes as the pomp of humility, often the most offensive assertion of superiority, the Duke and the Prime Minister were most distinguished and unaffected. When the great republican English poet bears his high testimony that orders and degrees jar not with liberty, but well consist-does he mean titular orders or official degrees? It is every day's American experience that there are public occasions and proper places for attention to official station, private worth, age, and sex, as conducive and essential to social harmony. Isolated as England is by locality and frequent wars, other Engglish social regulations than those of rank, the regimen of food, habitation, dress, equipage, and fashion-for the most part, like rank, more despotic than elsewhere-are often peculiar to English climate and custom, and inconsistent with ours. Is there no happy mean between rude independence and preposterous refinement? From England, France, Germany, and Italy, America may select and adopt social habits. The English library is our common school, while the French and German vie with it. I understand that most well educated English now speak French without difficulty. The French kitchen, much more chemical and rational, is likewise more congenial with American climate. It is every day superseding even English taste. I mean good cooking, not bad imitations of an undervalued art, on which much happiness depends, by which suffering is avoided, sickness alleviated, and life prolonged. French, Spaniards, and Italians, do not suffer and die of American diseases, as English and Irish, or even Germans and is not diet the cause? Sobriety, temperance, and well-cooked food. The parlour is debateable ground, though most Americans prefer the English fireside as the best model for our domestic relations. A chamber, both in England and America, is that unknown country whose bourne none but the family can pass without transgression. I was received in Paris by a distinguished lady-the famous X, in the well-known X Y and Z correspondence with our Ministers-to whom I had a letter of introduction, on my first visit, not only in her chamber, but she was in bed, confined, as she said, by having fallen on the ice, and hurt her thigh. I will not say whether such freedom of access and conversation, unknown to English and American manners, are to be desired or deprecated. The actual and the comparative state of polite intercourse between the sexes in both hemispheres, is a fallow field for philosophical developement,-the language of decorum, whether it is best spoken in France or England. The boor who sells a wife, does he degrade either sex more than