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determination not to yield as the president's in regard to the bank. We were walking among the shops in the unidst of the poor slaves who people them, and I had stepped back to luok at some of the negroes who seemed almost white, and in whose veins the African blood was not an eighth part, when my companion said to me: 'You who interest yourself in rail-roads, you must not omit to see that of our establishment.' We passed into a room where the tobacco is enclosed in barrels and subjected to a considerable pressure. The apparatus which produces this pressure is of a singular construction, the principal part being a movable rail-road suspended from the ceiling. Thus the Americans have made rail-roads in the water, in the bowels of the earth, and have hung them in the air. It is an invention of which their practical sense has so nicely seized all the advantages, that they seek to apply it to every thing, and every where, even at random. When they cannot construct a real one, and especially a productive one, across fields, from river to river, from city to city, from state 10 state, they provide themselves at all events with one as a plaything whilst waiting for something better."
Our steamboats, of course, come in for a large share of our author's admiration, though this is by no means unalloyed, especially with regard to those which navigate the western waters. Few will contradict him when he asserts that a voyage upou the Mississippi is more dangerous than one upon the ocean--not one merely from Europe to the United States, but one from Europe to China. What with the perils of explosion, of fire, of snags, of concussions with other steamboats, accidents which are constantly happening, there is certainly much more need of making your will before cmbarking upon the father of waters, than when setting sail for the domains of the brother of the sun and uncle of the stars, or whatever other title he of the celestial empire may just now most delight in. M. Chevalier also particularizes the monotony of the river's course, the solitude of its fat and muddy banks, the dirty aspect of its waters, the strange customs of the passengers, cooped up in the same cage, as doing any thing but increasing the delights of the expedition ; and he applauds the wisdom of the Louisiana planters who, when they migrate for the summer to the north to enjoy its cooler and purer atmosphere, choose for their conveyance one or another of the packet ships which sail between New Orleans and New York. “As to the accidents that occur on the western rivers, he says that if such deplorable events were to happen with such frequency in Europe, there would be a universal outcry; the police and legislative powers would strenuously interfere; steamboats would become the dread of the traveller; and the public would excommunicate and abandon them altogether. This cflcct, he thinks, would also be produced, to a certain extent, in the eastern region, where the country is comparatively settled, and the lives of individuals are counted for something. But in the west, the
flood of emigration, pouring down from the Alleghanies, rolls along the plain with overwhelmning energy, chasing before it the Indian, the buffalo, and the bear; prostrating gigantic forests as rapidly as the dry grass of the prairies disappears before the torch of the savage ; and doing for civilization what the armies of Attila and Genghis Khan effected for barbarism. The law of all armies of invasion is its law, and the mass is thus every thing, the individual nothing. Wo, therefore, to him who makes a false step! he is trampled under foot. Wo to him who encounters a precipice! the crowd, impatient to press on, pushes him over; he is crushed and forgotten. Each one for himself.
66 The life of a true American is that of a soldier. Like a soldier he is encamped, and his camp is a flying one—here to-day, and in a month fifteen hundred miles distant. It is a life of activity and violent sensations. As in a camp, quarrels in the west are summarily despatched upon the spot by a duel with knife, or rifle, or pistol à bout portant. It is a life of quick alternations of success and reverse. The wretch of today is wealthy tomorrow, and poor again the day following, according to the quarter from which the wind of speculation is blowing; but the collective wealth of the country pursues a constantly progressive march. Like a soldier, the American of the west has for his motto-conquer or die! but with him to conquer is to acquire dollars; to make a fortune from nothing; to buy lots at Chicago, Cleveland, or St. Louis, and sell them a year afterwards at a thousand per cent. profil ; to bring cotton to New Orleans when it is worth twenty cents the pound. So much the worse for the vanquished; so much the worse for those who perish in a steamboat! The essential point is not to save some, or even some hundred, individuals; it is, as regards steamboats, to have numbers of them; sase or not, well or ill commanded, is of little consequence, provided they go fast and cheap. This circulation of steamboats is as necessary to the west as is the circulation of the blood to the human system. Care is taken not to impede it by any regulations or restrictions. The time for these has not yet arrived. They will be looked to at some later day."
In reference to the kind of people whom the traveller encounters in his steam peregrinations in the west, M. Chevalier is not disposed to be very complimentary. The account given by worthy Mrs. Trollope of the sociability of the good folks of that quarter would not, according to him, be altogether contradicted by foreigners, or even Americans from the capitals of the east, in the first paroxysms of their ill-humour on escaping from those “ floating barracks.” He complains of the practical equality that there reigns—“ not a mock or paper quality" —of the fact that every man there, who has a tolerable coat upon his back, is a gentleman, and that one gentleman is as good as another, and never thinks of putting himself out of the way for his equal. “He attends to himself, and none but himself; he expects no consideration from his neighbour, and does not suspect that the latter desires the least from him.” In all this rudeness, however, our author bids his reader remark that there
was not the slightest tincture of malice; but, on the contrary, a degree of naturalness that disarmed all anger. The man of the west, he tells us, is rough, but not quarrelsome, susceptible, proud of himself and his country to excess, but proud without fatuity or affectation; with a good fund of obligingness and even generosity under his envelope of vanity and egotism; a great calculator, and yet not cold in his temperament, even capable of enthusiasm ; loving money as a passion, yet not avaricious, and often prodigal; abrupt and uncouth, because he has not had time to soften his voice and modify his gestures; though unpolished, not so from taking pleasure in impoliteness, as he aspires to become a man of good society, and would already pass for such, but because he has been obliged to devote much more time to the cultivation of his land than of himself. “It is natural that the first generation of the west should bear the impress of the rugged labours it has so perseveringly prosecuted; but, though these reflections may be consoling for the future, they do not render life on board a steamboat upon the Ohio or Mississippi a very charming thing just now; for one attaches value to polite and engaging manners." Infinitely as we admire the west and the people of the west, we must say ditto to this opinion. We certainly have travelled more pleasantly even in that land of despotism and debasement called Italy, in a vehicle with no other and better company than ourselves, than in the very region of independence and equality, with a steamboat full of society, and all gentlemen to boot, from the captain to the cook. Most classical, by the way, is always the taste of the gentleman who rejoices in this last appellation ; and we are rather surprised, considering the circumstance of our author's being a Frenchman, and, as a matter of course, an amateur of the cuisine as well as of the
genre classique, (unless, indeed—which we are inclined to suspect—he has been bitten by the romantic mania so prevalent just now among his countrymen,) that he has not favoured us with some observations on the personages alluded to. Their achievements are all performed in Grease as unquestionably as were any of those of Leonidas or Themistocles, and in equally
living grease," too, we are sorry to say. To one who is at all addicted to that aristocratic misery, dyspepsia, it would be difficult to imagine any thing quite so awsul as the dinner of a western steamboat.
- In the human heart there is a certain number of sentiments which must of necessity find vent in some mode. Restrain them on one point, they burst forth at another. The sentiment of respect for the deposita- ries of power, which, until our days of revolution, had so strongly cemented our European societies, has become gradually weakened on the other side of the Atlantic. În the west especially, it is altogether extinct. There, the authorities, so called, have attributes as modest as
their appointments are scant. They are governors who govern pothing, and judges who are very liable to be judged. The chief magistrate is pompously styled in the constitutions of these young states, commander of the forces by land and sea-pure mockery ! for a reservation of the authority is stipulated in case of war, and even in peace he has scarce the right of making a corporal. But the sentiment of discipline and obedience loses nothing by this; it is manifested instinctively towards the men who are in fact the generals of the expedition, the providence of the volunteers. If little trouble is taken about the governor of the state, the people are docile and submissive towards the tavern keeper, the driver of the stage, and the captain of the steamboat. With regard to them self-government is not in vogue. You rise, you breakfast, you dine, you sup, when it pleases the landlord or his chief of the staff, 'the barkeeper, to ring the bell or sound the gong. It is just the same as in the army. You eat whatever is set before you, without ever permitting yourself to make an observation. You stop at the pleasure of the driver or the captain, without evincing impatience. You suffer yourself to be upset and have your ribs broken by the former, or to be blown up and drowned by the other, without coniplaint or recrimination. It is here again the same as in the army. It has been remarked that the existence of the founders of empires, from the companions of Romulus down to the flibustiers, consisted of a mixture of absolute independence and passive obedience. The society which is springing up in the west has not escaped from this common law.”
With regard to the all-important subject of the permanence of our Union, Mr. Chevalier does not speak with the confidence of one to whom coming events are distinctly shadowed forth. He descries, like all competent observers, many perilous breakers ahead, on which the goodly ship may peradventure rush to her destruction ; but he also beholds various signs in the heavens which induce him to believe that the winds will not drive her upon them, and that she will be able to steer her way succesfully between Scylla and Charybdis. Yet, though he does not think the Union is in danger of being broken in pieces, he, nevertheless, opines that it may undergo some modifications; and, with all the philanthropy of a citizen of the world, and all the spirit of a citizen of the country where every one is and has been employed, for a long time past, in manufacturing constitutions and systems of government for “la patrie" and the universe, he throws out the hint of an improvement which should be submitted as soon as may be to the consideration of our conscript fathers. His suggestion is to subdivide the general confederation into three intermediate confederations, corresponding respectively to the three great "homogeneous masses" of the Atlantic, the West, and the South. This, he thinks, would establish especial bonds among the states of each group; would give satisfaction to the doctrine of states' rights, without compromising the principle of union; and would render the Union itself more elastic. The existence of these three partial confederations he fancies would harmonize perfectly with that
of a central authority invested with the incontestable attributes of the present federal government-an army, a fleet, an external representation, a droit de cité, a supreme court, and, as far as possible, a custom-house and a bank. As he says this idea ought to be examined without much delay, would it not be of great value to some of the luminous sages of the assemblage whose deliberations have already given so cheering an earnest of the decorum with which they will be conducted, and the ineffable benefits they will inflict upon the state? Would it not be a more innocent topic than that, for instance, of making Draconic laws? And would it not afford a capital theme, pro and con, to some of the formidable orators who have evinced their determination to outdo all ancient and modern eloquence, and enlighten mankind upon every and any subject, especially on points of which they themselves are most profoundly ignorant ? For our own part, we cannot help believing that M. Chevalier's plan would only make confusion worse confounded. Our system has quite enough wheels within wheels already, and any addition would not be very apt to simplify the machine and preserve its motions from the risk of derangement. With three such strapping, selfish children as our author would thus bestow on the mother Union, we rather fear the poor lady would stand a chance of being treated with a degree of roughness and contempt that might break her heart, and put an end to her wretched days; and then the parricidal villains would, in all probability, fall together by the ears, and end by furnishing the world with another melancholy illustration of the fate of those terrible belligerents, the Kilkenny cats. “Ditalem avertite casum !” Grand merci, Mr. Chevalier, for your hint, but we would not take one of the kind from the Abbé de Sieyes himself.
The great danger to our institutions, it seems to us, may be dreaded from the fact of the little influence, comparatively speaking, which is exercised by the more enlightened and sober classes of the people upon our political proceedings. In a country where numbers are every thing, intelligence and virtue comparatively nothing, where the laws have no stipulations in favour of either natural or acquired superiority, and regard the most ignorant and debased as on a level with the wisest, brightest, purest citizens, it is to be expected that the sway of numbers will often produce effects such as we now have so much reason to deplore. Our present sufferings are, without question, mainly ascribable to the circumstance of the numerical majority (who were a lamentable minority of those best fitted for wielding power) having elevated an incompetent, and worse than incompetent, person to the chair of state, and there supported him, by the mere strength of numbers, in defiance of all the dictates of patriotism and common sense.