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The Atlantic Voyage.
A MORAL POEM.
ουρανός και θαλάσσα. .
A VINDICATION OF THE AMERICAN CHARACTER,
From the Aspersions of the Quarterly Reviewers.
TO WHICH ARE ADDED
War, at Sea, and on the Lakes,
BETWEEN THE SHIPS OF GREAT BRITAIN AND THOSE OF
THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA.
Tros Tyriusve mihi nullo discrimine agetur.-VIRGIL.
to me the same,
COPIOUS NOTES AND ILLUSTRATIONS.
PRINTED AND SOLD BY
Sold also by
THE AMERICAN CHARACTER,
From the Aspersions of the Quarterly Reviewers.
To Robert Southey, Esq.
The complacency with which you make mention of me in a work composed in the maturity of your taste and judgment, excites in my feelings a goodwill towards you; and I now shew my deep sense of your distinguished favour by inscribing to you this volume. It relates to the seamen* of a great and misrepresented nation. I am not the panegyrist of the inhabitants of the new world, though I feel a catholic and conciliating spirit towards them; and I trust that I am not singular in my predilection for a nation identified with our own by a common extraction, a common language, a common literature, and similar political institutions. The gradual colonization of the United States, and the incessant inter: course between the Atlantic coast and the mother country, has admitted of so little variation of national character, that the Englishman of America is not to be distinguished in form or feature, in temper or intellect, from the Englishman of Europe. A native of the North American Union is, both in his physical and moral attributes, more an Englishman than either a Welchman, an Irishman, or a Scot. Were you, Sir, to travel from London to the Lakes in the company of a man of each country, your discernment could be at no loss in assigning to the triumvirate of Britons their respective soils beyond the Severn, the Saint George's Channel, and the Tweed; but the American would defy your subtlest unravelling of national character to give him for the land of his nativity any other than that of England.
* The seamen of America have found an eulogist in Burke (See page 238 of this Volume), and a detractor in James. Utrum horum mavis accipe? James, in his dull, unconnected Narrative, has as, serted, in unqualified language, unsupported by any specific testimony, that when the Essex, after her most gallant confliet with the Phæbe and Cherub See page 315 of this Volume), was boarded by the British officers, “ buckets of spirits were found in all parts of the “ main-deck; and most of the prisoners were in a state of intoxica
0, horrible! 0, horrible! most horrible ! The prisoners ! of a complement of 265 Americans, opposed to 421 English, forming the combined crews of the hostile ships, only 111 escaped death or wounds; and those ought not to incur obloquy from an unsubstantiated accusation. But the charge is necessarily refated by the behaviour of the English Commodore, who, touched with Captain Porter's defence of the Essex, returned him his sword, with a letter appreciating his gallantry. To contend that every circumstance of the action must have been known to him, and that he would have been accessary to his own degradation in complimenting Captain Porter, had he been guilty of countenancing such enormities, and presided over a crew in a state of drunken delirium, would be a work of supererogation.
If I can engage your belief, Sir, in the fidelity of this pieture, with what indignation will you not recur to that which the Quarterly Reviewers have drawn of the counterparts of your own countrymen. Viewing the Ameri cans througb the fog and haze of rancorous party hatred, they have depicted the nation as a collection of miserable out-casts who have survived a general mutation of their muscles, ligaments, and osteology; without one moral virtue to redeem the hideousuess of their physical defor. mity. With a total indifference to human feelings, they represent the Americans as a nation of clothed savages ;". who, on their part, have opposed to the calumny only an unsbaken silence. Not but that Americans have real hearts of flesh and blood beating in their bosoms : not that apathy bas embowelled them of their natural entrails : not that they have been drawn, and trussed like. birds in a museum.
If you prick them, they bleed; if you tickle them, they laugh. They preserve the whole of their feelings native and entire, but accompanied by an understanding, which knows how to distinguish between the clamours of an insolent and profligate faction, and the voice of a great and magnanimous people. They regard the Quarterly Reviewers as a cabal of little, shiri velled, meagre, hopping, though shrill and troublesome insects of the hour :
τετθίγεσσιν εoικότες, διτε καθ'ύλην Δενδρέω έφεζόμενοι όπα λευριόεσσαν δείσι:* *
as grasshoppers keeping up a cry from the foliage of the British oak, while thousands of great catule, reposed bea neath its spreading branches, chew the cud and are silent.
* In the 27th Volume of their periodical Calumnies, their abuse against the American States has assumed every: shape which the ability of the writers could give it. The
• The utriusque linguæ docti of my readers will preserve the integrity of the context by interpreting Asiposogar not suavem, but gracilem.