« PreviousContinue »
article is entitled Views, Visits, and Tours in North America. It inay be considered as a sort of digest of the dirt raked off from the filthy travelling-boots of Harris, Welby, Flower, and the pseudo English Woman ; and its mephitic exhalation has been severely felt ever since the accumulated load was thrust through the kennel of the Quarterly Review into the nose of the public. ' In mat. ters so ridiculous, it is hard to be grave. The enormity of the misrepresentation is adapted only to the palate of the knight in Pantagruel, who could swallow a chimera for his breakfast, provided it was cooked by a critic. The Reviewer begins by drawing the most aggravated, hideous, and deformed picture of the state of religion in America, which his vilifying temper, aided by the arbitary doininion he assumes over fact, is capable of exhibiting. Religion, says the Reviewer, seems to be at a “ lower ebb in Philadelphia than at New York; it is “ made a jest of in the United States, and the churches “ are filled with fanatics, hypocrites, and buffoons. The
religious duties of the Presbyterians and Episcopa
lians, who are very numerous in New York, seem to “ be performed without one single spark of devotion.
They go to particular churches because their greatgrandmothers went there before them, or (wbich is the
weigbtiest reason of all) because it is their interest.” This is sufficient for a specimen of the orthodox and pious rage of the devout and zealous critic. If any one be willing to see to how much greater lengths he carries this supercilious wrath of summary condemnation, he will recur to the Review ; where after begging the question, through twenty pages with impunity, and asserting with
out thinking himself obliged to prove, he concludes his querulous eloquence with this charitable sentence, “WE “ fear there is very little Religion of any kind in the “ greater portion of the United States !” An American might justly retort on the fantastic arrogance of this spiritual tyrant by admonishing him that there is A RE. VIEWER OF REVIEWERS, before whose tribunal he will have to appear; and hope, in the meeknees of christianity, that at the closing scene of death, if his lungs be not decayed with scurrility, he may dictate to some Burnet at his bed-side, not only the recantation of his errors, but his repentance for those dark deeds which have acquired infinite aggravation, from the insidiousness and baseness of a lurking-hole and a mask.
To these invectives of the Quarterly Reviewers I shall oppose the testimony of a man who had emancipated his mind from the fetters of systematic theology; a testimony composed not to gratify a rancorous party spirit, but to instruct the impartial. “ It is a glorious example that this country is now settling to the christian world, shewing not only the perfect safety, but many positive advantages, not only of universal toleration, but of the exclusion of any establishment of religion whatever ; the civil government having no more to do with it than with philosophy or medicine. Here are Catholics, Episcopalians, Presbyterians, with seceders of various kinds, from Scotland, Independents, Baptists general and particular, Quakers, Universalists, Lutherans, Calvinists, Menponists, Dunkers, Moravians, Methodists, Sandemanians, Swedenborgians, Unitarians, and Jews, which are probably more than cun be found in any other christian
country. And yet they all live, and have intercourse together, in perfect harmony; give no disturbance to the State, and are ready to render to each other every office of good neighbourhood and humanity. At the same time there is, I believe, as much real religion and Christianity in the United States as in any part of Europe; and fewer professed unbelievers than in any other christian country.”
At page 89 the Reviewers give an affecting detail of the calamities which await the arrival of an Englishman in America: “ To replunge into that state of life from which we happily escaped so many centuries ago ;- to forego all the comforts and all the blessings of civilization ;-to be set down for life in the midst of a lonely and pestilential wilderness, surrounded with disease and death ;-to be devoured by fleas, and bugs, and mosquitoes within doors, and to live in the constant dread of snakes, scorpions, and scolopendras without;t-to meet the face of strangers only ;-+to linger out days and years without friends, without society, without the enjoyment of a single comfort ;-to listen in vain, every Sabbath morning, for “ the sound of the church-going bell ;" and what is not the least of evils, to be deprived of those consolations in afliction, and in the hour of death, which the due attendance on divine worship, and the conversations of a religious life, never fail to afford.”
* This picture of Religion in North America is drawn by Priestly; Burke has employed his masterly pencil on the same subject, “ Reli. gion, always a principle of energy, in this new people, is no way worn out or impaired; and their mode of professing it is also one main cause of their free spirit. The people are Protestants; and of that kind, which is the most adverse to all implicit submission of mind and opinion." I leave the reader to his own reflexions over the harshness and the malignity of the Quarterly Reviewer.
+ The f***s and b**s (to expunge the vowels from these indecorous words Cynthius aurem vellit, et admonuit) are not indigenous, but imported with the emigrants frae the North. The mosquitoes have vanished—stings and all; and snakes are nearly as scarce in the United States, from the cultivation of the soil, as they are said to be in Ireland through the interference of a Saint. North America is not a land of terror; and the dread of being devoured in it could enter only
For the want of large and liberal ideas, this petty reviewer cannot contemplate, in one connected view, a desolate wilderness converted into a flourishing empire, but squats himself down in some rejected swamp, and in an unphilosophic and absurd spirit, decides on the whole from a contemptible part. With equal propriety might an American judge of England from a fen in Lancashire. If this be not stupidity, it is malice; and his object is not the diffusion of truth, but the spreading of defamation. Of this lengthy lamentation, most piteously doleful, and nodding towards dulness, the reader augurs ill from the obvious nonsense of the initial sentence. He confounds his identity with that of his ancestors. No rhetorical figore .can authorize his speaking in his own person of what he experienced several centuries ago; unless he can persuade us that he has attained to the age of an antediluvian; but he would be no great gainer by our conceding to him this point; for we should only pity him as being a very old man without the benefit of reflexion.
the chimerical brain of a closeted Reviewer. It is blest with peculiar exemptions. It is notorious that the traveller goes armed in Asia and Africa to defend himself from the lion, the hyæna, and the pard; but in America he roams from Canada to Darien protected by a rush.
His mention of the fleas and bugs is in a very bad taste; and his whining piety is so egregiously absurd, as to melt our indignation into laughter, and make even de-. pravity ridiculous.
To make the reader amends for the prose of the Res viewer, I shall cite the stanzas of the bard. It is Mr, Moore's description of America.
Thrice happy land ! where he who flies
As my cause is that of human nature, and my party is mankind, I will, before I conclude, disabuse the public upon a representation which stands out in high relievo beyond the rest. If Bruce excited the indignation of the public for wantonly relating of the Abyssinians, that they cut their beef-steaks from the backs of grazing cows, with what abhorrence must we turn from the inhuman accusation of the Quarterly Reviewers against the people of the State of Kentucky, whom, on no other authority than that of an anonymous scribbler, they represent to be in the cool habit of cutting their razor strops out of the backs of living Indians. They must be tainted with a ferocity truly diabolical to believe Americans to be so