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clared · North America to be the most unpicturesque country to be found anywhere.' This seems to me a most rash assertion, proceeding from an individual who merely had time to traverse the vast territory of the United States, about as large as Europe, in one line to the south and one to the north. What should we think of an American traveller who had journeyed from London to Newcastle by the east, and had returned from Carlisle by the west road, declaring England to be an unpicturesque country!and yet he would be far better entitled in that case to deliver an authoritative opinion on the subject of England than the gallant officer on the subject of America ; for he would have travelled in two directions through England, which is not so considerable in point of extent as several of the separate States of America. But captain Hall had, in fact, admitted himself to be incapable of giving an opinion upon this subject worthy of any consideration. He tells us in one part of his book, that there are few things so fatiguing as fine scenery," ' and in another, that the most picturesque object in every traveller's landscape is the post-office,'- he acted accordingly; and has confirmed the truth of his remarks, so far as he is concerned, by omitting to take the trouble to visit the most interesting scenes easily and daily for a long period within his reach. It does not appear from his book that he ever was on Staten Island, to enjoy the views from it, though the most diversified and beautiful in America, and daily in his power. He passed through Hellgate in the dark, and never returned to see it, though one of the most singular scenes of that description in the world, within much less than an hour's drive of New York; and although he was long at Washington, he left it without seeing Mount Vernon, which was within an hour and a half's drive of him, because, as he states, the steam-boat did not pass the place at a convenient hour. It would have been absurd to point out these omissions, which are merely a sample of many that might be noticed, were it not to prove that, notwithstanding captain Hall's opinion is expressed in terms so peremptory, it is not entitled to any weight. Well might Mrs. Trollope ask, “Who is it that says America is not picturesque ? I forget, but surely he never travelled from Utica to Albany.' This is a severe question, for captain Hall travelled in the very same line as Mrs. Trollope. I have often confessed, Mrs. Trollope adds, my conscious incapacity for description, but I must repeat it here, to apologize for my passing so dully through this matchless valley of the Mohawk. I would that some British artist, strong in youthful daring, would take my word for it, and pass over for a summer pilgrimage through the State of New York. In very earnest he would do wisely, for I question if the world could furnish within the same space, and with equal facility of access, so many subjects for his pencil. Mountains, forests, rocks, lakes, rivers, cataracts, all in perfection. But he must be bold as a lion in coloring, or he will make nothing of it.'
“Think of the magnificence of the rivers of the western part of the United States of the Hudson, the most lovely of all rivers of the scenery of the Alleghanies, running from one end of this great continent to the other, in all variety of shapes, and with numerous offsets or spurs to the right and left, covering one hundred and twenty thousand square miles, and then judge whether the sentiments of captain Hall or Mrs. Trollope, for these great doctors differ toto cælo on this question, are the best founded. The truth is, that all the works of nature on the continent of America are on a magnificent scale ; mountains, rivers, lakes, vallies, and plains. Captain Hall, and all British travellers, cannot fail to miss the smooth pastures, the beautiful and richly-dressed fields, the hedges, and the dropping trees of England. But it is utterly absurd, that because the United States are not in the advanced state of cultivation of our own country, and because great plains, one of the grand features of the country, must sometimes be passed over, to hold that a traveller should forget the splendid, striking, and most peculiar features of this continent, and in one line, pass sentence of condemnation on the whole country as unpicturesque. Such a mode of proceeding only proves that the traveller never saw it."
These extracts will show that Mr. Stuart is a very different observer from captain Hall and Mrs. Trollope. His volumes are well described in the Edinburgh Review, as furnishing “a vivid and faithful picture of American life, in every part of the Union, from Boston to New Orleans, and from St. Louis to New York. We feel assured of their
possessing the invaluable quality of perfect trustworthiness. The reader has every where the comfortable conviction, that he is accompanying an unpretending, candid, observing, and very intelligent man; of one, too, who has both the mind and qualities of a gentleman and of a citizen of the world.”
We have thus given a summary view of the works of captain Hall, Mrs. Trollope, and Mr. Fidler, and have compared their statements with those of a liberal observer. We have already said, that it is not surprising that our people allow themselves to be somewhat nettled by the taunts of our friends across the water. But we are now so much used to them, that it may be hoped we shall bear them in future with proper patience. If a captain in the French navy, visiting England with strong feelings of national hostility, or if a French lady, disappointed in her hopes of gaining English gold, or a French teacher, unsuccessful in his own country, and equally so in England, should, on returning home, abuse the English without mercy, we should hardly think it wise in that people to allow their tempers to be ruffled on the occasion; and it is equally unwise for us to concern ourselves about the stories of captain Hall, Mrs. Trollope, or Mr. Fidler. We cannot expect a high tory to find gratification in the practical resutation of his principles, which our country affords; and we cannot think it strange that individuals, who were dissatisfied and disappointed at home, should be dissatisfied and disappointed here. The fault is in their own constitutions.
“ The mind is its own place, and of itself
Can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven."
As long as we can see wealth, population and knowledge increasing among us, with almost magic rapidity-as long as our country is the beacon of those who are buffeting with the storms of the old world, and the haven of those who have escaped from the commotion—we may look with equanimity on the abuse which is served up for the gratification of those who dread the influence of our example, in strengthening the hearts and hands of millions struggling to be free.
QUALIFICATIONS OF A CRITIC.
Criticism, in the most common acceptation of the term, is an expression of judgment in matters of taste. It is the application of taste to the different fine arts, and more especially, the arts of literary composition and oratory.
In reference to its connection with these last, we would speak in this article.
Men in polished communities obtain, from observation and experience, many principles and rules of criticism, which are insensibly incorporated with their modes of thinking and feeling. Nothing is more natural than the exercise and expression of judgment, relative to the merits of discourse, in whatever form it may be presented to the mind. Hence the conversational intercourse of intelligent society, becomes a sort of school of criticism on the plan of mutual instruction. There is a constant action and reaction of mind upon mind and heart upon heart. The operations of judgment soon become almost, if not altogether, as spontaneous and involuntary, as the movements of feeling. Habit is to the judgment what nature is to sensibility; and as we often feel, without being able to state the elements of the emotion, so we often judge, without being able to specify the reasons of the decision.
We have, however, something of philosophy in criticism. An observation of things favorable and unfavorable in the effect of discourse, leads to a classification of rhetorical facts, and furnishes examples and rules for writers and ora
Here commences criticism as an art. Let analysis be applied to the phenomena, which have been observed and classifiedlet the reasons of success or failure be ascertained, and exhibited in the form of principles-and then criticism becomes a science. The decisions of competent judges, will enable a discriminating observer to determine the most natural successions of thought and feeling. And just so far as we are acquainted with the laws of mind, in relation to writing and speaking, so far are we acquainted not only with the rules of criticism, but with the philosophy of criticism.
Philosophical criticism has been called the “legislation of taste.” Its decrees are not arbitrary dogmas, sanctioned only by the authority of genius ; although Dr. Johnson had too much reason for the remark, “ that the laws of every species of writing have been settled by him, who first raised it to reputation, without inquiring whether his performances were not yet susceptible of improvement.” Lord Kames also observes, that “ Bossut gives many rules, but can discover no better foundation for any of them, than the practice merely of Homer and Virgil, supported by the authority of Aristotle. Strange! that in so long a work, he should never once have stumbled upon the question, whether and how far,
do these rules agree with human nature.” Pope had a correct view of the rules of philosophical criticism :
" Those rules of old discovered, not devised,
Are nature still, but nature methodized;
“We judge of the perspicuity and order of a discourse,” says Dr. Brown, "by knowing the progress in which the mind, by the developement of truth after truth, may be made at last to see the full meaning of the most complex proposition. We judge of the beauty of impassioned poetry or eloquence, by knowing whether the figures, the images, the very feelings described, be such as from our observation of the laws that regulate the internal series of changes in the mind, we know to be consistent with that state of emotion, in which a mind must exist, that has been placed in the situation supposed. If all other circumstances be equal, he will undoubtedly be the best critic, who knows best the phenomena of human thought and feeling; and without this knowledge, criticism can be nothing but a measurement of words, or a repetition of the ever repeated and endless common-places of rhetoric. The knowledge of nature, of the necessity of which critics speak so much and so justly, and which is as essential to the critic himself, as to the writer on whom he sits in judgment, is only another name for the knowledge of the successive transitions of feeling of the mind, in all the innumerable diversities in which it is capable of being modified, by the variety of circumstances in which it may be placed. It is for this reason, that, with so great an abundance of the mere art, or rather of the technical phrases of criticism, we have so very little of the science of it : because the science of criticism implies an acquaintance with the philosophy of thought and passion, which few can be expected to possess; and though nothing can be easier than to deliver opinions, such as pass current in the drawingroom, and even in the literary circle, which the frivolous may admire as profound, and the ignorant as erudite, and which many voices may be found to repeat : though even the dull and pedantic are as able as the wise to say, that one passage of a work of genius is beautiful, and another the reverse, because one of them is in accordance with some technical rules, or because Homer and Milton have passages similar to