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be inclement, and whose soil was darkened by forests, that sheltered a race of vigorous, warlike, and independent savages.
Art. III.—A foreigner's opinion of England, &c. By C. A.
G. Gæde. Translated from the German, by Thomas Horne.
TRAVELLERS from the continent of Europe, who have published their opinions of England, divide themselves with a few exceptions into two classes; of which the most numerous is made up of illiberal writers, who speak only the language of prejudice, and represent every object in the hues which their owo national prepossessions, or personal antipathies, have thrown over it. The misrepresentations of such persons are so glaring, as generally to carry their refutation with them to the mind of every candid reader.
It is not equally easy to guard against the more excusable, but hardly less mischievous faults of tourists of the opposite character. It matters little to the reader, whether he is deceived by a spirit of malignity and censoriousness, or by an overweening partiality on the part of the narrator. He has equal cause of complaint in either case, for he is equally misled ; and to the nation which has the misfortune to be injured, it is of little moment whether it be by inordinate praise, or unmerited censure.
Not that we have among ourselves any very great reason to murmur at the hardships we have suffered, from the first of these causes, but we have observed of late, that the manners of European nations, towards each other, in this regard are wonderfully softened, and that the writers of the present day, bandy compliments across the channel with as hearty a good will as their predecessors were wont to do invective and abuse. In this age of good humour, and good manners, we certainly are not disposed to act a churlish part
, and to find fault with the prevailing sentiment. As indifferent readers, however, whose object is correct information, it is equally important to us, that truth should not be obscured by petulance or flattery. We do not intend to rank the writer now under consideration, in either of the above mentioned classes of travellers, although from a misapprehension of the true character of the government, and people of England, he occasionally falls into the faults of both. The author of this work was a professor in the philosophical faculty of the university at Göttingen ; and died prematurely
and much lamented a few years since. . He visited England in 1802, a period of great excitement and interest, and appears to have participated in the curiosity at that time prevalent in Europe, respecting the character, resources, and probable des tiny of Great Britain. Of all the loyal subjects of the English crown, it is somewhat singular, that the most loyal should be the Hanoverians; who enjoy none of the benefits secured to the British by the constitution of England.-Whether this circumstance throws any light on the connexion between the loyalty and love of liberty, in the subject, we shall not stop to inquire. Notwithstanding his loyalty, our author always intends to be impartial, and so long as he confines himself to facts, we have reason to think he is so ; unfortunately, however, he is not satisfied with a recital of what comes under his observation, but endeavours to explain upon philosophical principles, the leading phenomena of the English character. Here he betrays, in common with all continental writers, a surprising ignorance of some of the most obvious effects of a free government. The humblest citizen of the United States, would smile at the labored conjectures of the learned German, upon occurrences that create no surprise in himself, because they are perfectly familiar. The spirit of liberty displays .every
where the same features which her children instinctively recognize. The want of this perception, leads continental travellers into the most absurd theories, when they attempt to explain the actual condition and character of the English nation. To illustrate our meaning, we shall give a few instances in which the author has bestowed praise where it was not deserved, and condemned what he did not understand. After enumerating several of the great divisions of society in England, and endeavoring to show the intimate connexion between them, and how inevitably the ruin of one must involve that of .the rest, he adds :
• It would be easy to demonstrate how all these prominent features of the English character, supply, with a constant stream of light, this splendid luminary of public spirit which sheds such a brilliant lustre over the English constitution. In proportion to the individual varieties of Englishmen, the stamp of public spirit is impressed, in a thousand different forms and shapes upon all ranks and classes of people. It does not indeed, universally wear the same noble character. The enlightened and liberal statesman associates with it the most exalted conceptions, whilst the narrow minded, selfish shopkeeper blends and confounds i with his own interested views. Upon the whole, however, independently of its different modifications, its glorious effects are universally felt and acknowledged.'
Here, then, according to our author, is the primum mobile, from which every minute subdivision of this vast machine derives its impulse. Public spirit is the vivifying principle, which imparts health and vigor to the body politic. In England, it seems, from the palace to the cottage, the public good animates every breast, and enters into every undertaking. If Mr Gode is correct, the ordinary motives, which impel the species, are here superseded by a disinterested patriotism. To such an agent, what effects may not be imputed ? With a stimulus like this, to what degree of excellence may not a nation aspire? We must give the author the praise of having called in aid a power worthy of the occasion, but at the same time we must say, that, highly as we estimate the English character, we cannot impute its excellence to a source so entirely inconsistent with the laws of analogy in human affairs. We are disposed to believe, that a nearer
view of society in England would have taught our author to refer her national greatness more to the peculiar influence of her constitution, than to individual virtue. He would probably have discovered that selfish wants and enjoyments were the grand incentives to action, and that the English patriot measured his periods, the English lawyer his briefs, the English physician his pills and powders, and the English shopkeeper his tapes and bobbins, upon nearly the same standard, which regulates the value of similar commodities elsewhere. It is undoubtedly true, that the citizens of free states entertain a purer and more ardent love of country, than can be experienced by the subjects of less popular governments. The encouragement to industry by the security of property, to emulation by the hopes of distinction, to bravery by the certainty of reward, is powerful and constant. The interests of the state and the individual citizen become in a degree identified, and the latter turns to his country, as to the fond parent, who is to share in his success, and whose arms are ever extended to cherish and protect him. This sentiment is as strong in England, as in any nation on the globe, but unhappily refined and virtuous emotions form but one of the ingredients in the human character, and he, who would refer great results to such motives, gives, to be sure, honorable testimony to the goodness of his own heart, but at the same time betrays but a small share of observation. The felicity of England consists, not in the superior virtue of her citizens, but in the admirable adaptation of her government to the nature and wants of men. The glory of the English arms does not arise from the superior physical bravery of her soldiers over those of any other nation. There are brave men and cowards in all armies. But the English soldier knows that the performance of his duty offers him a surer and a richer reward than could be derived from the most successful criminal enterprise. English politicians are probably not more sincere than those of other nations, but such is the force of public opinion, that the demagogue, to gain his ends, must act the patriot. It is the excellence of the English government to have done better than any other in Europe, all that the best government can do, namely, to make the bad, as well as the good qualities of its subjects subservient to the public. This trait has been so well defined by a late French traveller in England, that we shall be excused for using his words. · England, after all, is the only country in the world, where chance, perhaps as much as human wisdom, compounding with the vices and the virtues of our species, has effected a treaty between them, assigning to each their respective and proper shares, and framed its political constitution on the constitution of human nature.' We cannot, however, agree in allowing this praise exclusively to the government of England ; we believe it to be the characteristic of all free governments.
Mr Gæde's remarks on the police of England discover an equal misconception of the effects of free institutions upon national character. He is greatly scandalized that quackery is so prevalent, and devotes some pages to the enumeration of the tricks of certain worm doctors, venders of drugs, and wine manufacturers, whose practices he thinks extremely pernicious, and demanding the interference of the police. We agree with him entirely, that such abuses do exist, and in about the same degree, as in other nations equally populous and equally refined. But we are by no means convinced, that they are within the reach of any system of police, however rigorous. If our author had pointed out the country where there are not quacks and their underlings to compound and administer potions, and dupes in abundance to swallow them, and where the trader and the inn-keeper never put off bad wine upon the unlucky
customer, we might perhaps have become converts to his scheme of a sanative police. Our present opinion is that the most that can be done, is to endeavor, by education and the dissemination of truth, to open the eyes of the multitude to their true interests, and leave the rest to their good sense and sagacity. He also complains that the safety of individuals is neglected, in a strain that will appear to American readers somewhat novel.
• That part of the police, to whose guardianship the personal safety of the subject is committed, is the most remiss in the discharge of its functions. Unhappily, accidents occur daily, which might be easily prevented by a very small degree of official vigilance. There is no festivity, no solemnity, in London, if attended by the sympathizing or inquisitive populace, in which the public rejoicings of the day are not disturbed by some tragical events. Upon some occasions, for example, very slight scaffoldings are erected for the spectators. It almost always happens, that some of them break down ; yet has this never induced the London police to take the least cognizance of their construction. When the peace was proclaimed by a public festivity, one of these scaffoldings broke down near the Mansion House, upon which there happened to be more than thirty persons, and many of them were in consequence dangerously bruised; but the Londoners are so very indulgent to their police, that they do not even suspect that it ought to take any steps toward the prevention of such accidents; though not fewer than five of them, during my short stay in London, were announced in the public prints.
• In none of the places, where it is presumed that great crowds of people will flock together, do you discover any traces of a police evincing the least concern for the maintenance of regularity, or the prevention of misfortune. They fight and squabble, (in some instances fatally,) at the entrance of the theatre, and the police has not yet been aroused from its lethargy. It will scarcely appear credible, that the carriages are not even enjoined to keep the necessary order on such occasions, yet though such scandalous confusion be always accompanied with unlucky casualties, the police suffers them to be renewed every day. At a subscription ball, which was given in commemoration of the peace, nineteen equipages overturned and broken to pieces! When I expressed my surprise to some Englishmen, I was told that it was nothing extraordinary; and they mentioned several excellent routs, where the same accident had happened to a still greater number.'
It is admitted, without hesitation, that these are evils; for we are by no means of the number, who maintain that suck