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Letter Eleventh.


In the course of our correspondence, dear Ahhmad, I have taken occasion to remark to you that the inhabitants of this city, indeed I may say of the whole country, are naturally of a serious turn of mind; in fact I am not sure that I have not represented them as being rather dull. This is not strictly true, for on subjects relating to their private concerns they are remarkably quick-witted, and perceive whatever is for their advantage in the twinkling of an eye. You must therefore understand me to mean that they are calm in demeanor and deliberate in their conclusions. If they have ships to fit out, or merchandise to dispose of, they arrange their bargains with the greatest skill; estimate the profits or chance of loss in the most exact manner; pull their turbans over their eyes and scratch their heads with all the earnestness men usually show when they are absorbed in thought; their conversation too has little or no gayety in it; within doors or without, they are a sedate people, whom you would at once say it was very difficult to excite. With all these external signs of sobriety, you will be perfectly astonished to learn they are the most hot-headed, fiery race of beings you ever read of. Certain things set them in a blaze, and then they want to fight all mankind. Often too they are most violent upon subjects that no way concern them, and seem most bent on interfering where their meddling will do most harm.

It happened a few years since that the inhabitants of a neighboring territory were discontented with their rulers and broke out into open rebellion. The dispute was purely local. The people of this country had no precise knowledge of the cause, and were not called upon by either party to take sides in the contest; yet no sooner did it come to their ears that civil discord had commenced, than they held meetings, made violent speeches against the rulers, and passed votes that the inhabitants were right and their governors wrong. And to show their sympathy with a people who did not ask their assistance, flocked in crowds with arms in their hands to fight against those who had never done them the slightest harm. What is still quite wonderful, a large number of these foreign subjects, for whose benefit the Americans were about to risk their lives, were of a different religion, language and manners, and hated the Americans with a cordial hatred.

The rebellion was quelled after several battles, in which many of the sympathizers were killed and many were taken prisoners; the survivors came back, resumed their usual quiet occupations, waiting the return of another belligerent fit. The Holy Prophet strengthen us! if this people have much gravity of character, they have an odd way of showing it. Several adventurers of the United States, whose health required change of air, or for some other motive, wandered once into a foreign state on the southern border, and there made settlements. Their number greatly increased, as the

climate was healthy and the soil fertile; so much so, that they became powerful; while at the same time the sovereign of their new abode being quite weak, they considered it very proper to take possession of a large quantity of his land, calling it their own by what they termed the right of occupancy;' which means that it was theirs because they happened to live upon it. The foreign sovereign made a few slight attempts to recover his possessions, but without success; when the Americans lost no time in declaring themselves independent, began forth with to exercise the usual rights of sovereignty, such as seizing upou every thing that lay in their way, beside claiming a great deal that lay out of their way, and did what rulers are fond of doing, borrowed large sums of money, leaving the lenders to be paid by Posterity; a personage who seldom or never remembers the promises of his predecessors. They continued in this condition several years, their numbers increasing by the accession of new adventurers, in the same state of health, who wanted land on the same terms, and who, baving gone from the old country in debt, were very willing to run in debt again in the new. This state of things was however too prosperous to last; the original inhabitants had been robbed of their land so effectually that nothing was left to rob, and no persons could be found willing to lend more money to those who referred them for payment to one unknowu to the oldest inhabitant. In short, the adventurers found they could no longer continue as an independent state. All this time the people of the United States were looking with a wishful eye upon this vast territory. They did not pretend to have any right to it, yet as they already owned much more land than they knew what to do with, it was ibought wise to take still more, for the laudable purpose of developing moral energy,' carrying out great principles,' and such like reasons as should convince others that they were not rapacious.

The first step toward producing the desired end was made by putting themselves into a violent passion, and showing a readiness to quarrel. The original owner of the territory in question could only bluster, so he was bullied. Other powers across the Atlantic were threatened with war if they presumed to interfere, although by the way they had an equal right so to do, and the whole of the American nation was thrown into a most blood-thirsty attitude, waiting for some power against which they might direct their attacks. Unfortunately for their valor, no such power appeared ; none wanted the territory in question, to be burdened with its debts and the motley train which constituted the inhabitants; and the whole affair now rests in suspense, waiting the action of the gov. ernment of this country to decide what they shall do with the territory after it comes into their possession. You will say there was no necessity of flying into a passion about this, but I must answer that the people of America believe it to be the best way of beginning their negotiations.

I must mention another occurrence, which shows the predomi. nato spirit of this nation, and which arose in the conduct of a ne.

gotiation about certain boundaries between it and a friendly power. The two governments understood the subject perfectly well, and proceeded in a cool manner to discuss their respective claims, with an avowed determination to bring the matter to an amicable conclusion as soon as possible. As soon as the negotiation commenced, indeed some time before, this people gave evident signs of impa. tience; and without stopping to enter into the full merit of the question, or giving time to the two negotiators to explain themselves, called out loudly for war, although at the time the government had not an army large enough to man all the forts, or a dollar in the treasury. Such was their desire for fight, that they were willing to begin a friendly discussion by giving battle; expecting that afterward they should feel in a peaceful humor, and be able to resume the negotiation with more calmness. During the continuance of this threatening aspect, the other party gave no just ground of offence.

The controversy was at last terminated in as quiet a way as the negotiation was commenced, and this belligerent spirit evaporated in a way so singular that I must enter into its description; this I am able to do by knowledge obtained from a friend who was permitted to witness the proceedings. They took the foreign negotiator, who by the way was a great lord in his own country, and put him into a room in a large house in the middle of the city; then they allowed the inhabitants to enter this room one by one, and each person as he passed the ambassador gave him a hearty shake. When they thought the good man was sufficiently shaken, the next operation was to carry him to another house, where he was fed with all the delicacies the land could produce. At intervals one of the company would rise and praise him for his skill in conducting his part of the negotiation, and by way of giving him a signal mark of their respect, they cast a marked indignity on the name of their own chief ruler. Allah akbar! (God is most great!) this is a wouderful people! Peaceably-disposed persons imagined, after this excitement, the nation would be glad to rest ; and so it would, if another subject had not lately arisen, which though of moderate import, may be made a bone of contention.

At an immense distance toward the west, beyond what till now was regarded as the true limits of the United States, lies a territory hundreds of thousands of square miles in extent, inhabited entirely by savages and wild animals. The Americans claim all this region, chiefly on the ground that it makes part of the continent, and partly because they have a great desire to possess it. The English also lay claim to a certain portion, based upon a treaty they made with Spain before the United States had any pretension to the territory in question. They do not insist upon the right of sovereignty, but for the purposes of trade desire to exercise a right of joint occupancy, which they believe they are justified in asking by a variety of reasons which they set forth. The Americans have never an idea of taking less than the whole of any thing; of course they decline admitting the English on any terms, while at the same time they claim still more land which joins, and which they did not think of before the discussion arose.

Now the whole matter can be settled without a quarrel, and negotiations are going on between persons well qualified for the purpose; so that if they are left in quietness the affair can be arranged to mutual satisfaction, and each party have millions of acres of land beyond what they will ever know what to do with. For fear however that the negotiators will not be active, and for the laudable purpose of stimulating them, the usual cry of · War !' is raised, and the rulers are called upon to assume a very warlike attitude, although it is well known they have not means to carry on war six months.

By these and other methods the people of these United States contrive to keep themselves under great agitation, notwithstanding that in the daily routine of common life they exhibit a deal of gravity. When extraordinary occasions arise, they think it becoming to lay aside their habitual way of acting, get up a high steam of fury first, and decide afterward. They imagine that a gust of passion clears the intellect, and that the greater the rage the cooler the reason.

I know not how to account for these sudden outbreaks of passion, which are perceptible in persons who are habitually calm, without supposing that even with an amiable character one may possess ill feelings, which are held in reserve for special purposes. My reflection on this point receives a happy illustration from a tale of the Arabian poet Antar, which I cannot deny myself the pleasure of transcribing.

When God finished creating the earth, which Satan regarded in the hope of possessing it for himself, he determined to give creation a master. He therefore formed man in his own image, transmitted to him the breath of life by touching his forehead with his finger, showed him the garden of Eden, which he was to inhabit, named the animals which were to be subject to bim, made known the fruits he was to nourish himself with, and then passed away to sow those thousands of worlds which fill infinite space. God bad hardly departed when Satan entered, to have a nearer view of man, who, fatigued with his creation, had fallen into a profound sleep. He examined man in all his details with malignant attention, which was augmented by beholding the perfection of his form and the matchless harmony of all the parts; still he could do him no physical harm, for the Spirit of God watched over him. He was about to go away in despair, seeing he was not able to possess the body and destroy the soul, when he bethought him to touch man lightly with the end of his finger. Having felt some time, he came to the breast, which on touching gave forth a hollow sound. “Ah !' said he with exultation, here is an empty space. I will fill it with passions.' New-York, eighteenth day of the Moon Ramadan,

Year of the Hegira, 1260.




In the journey of life never falter nor fear,

Though danger may threaten an ambush of woes ;
If plainly the pathway of duty appear,

Right on! though it lead through a forest of foes.

The clouds that loom up in the distance so cold,

Are blessings there falling in silvery showers;
And the vales far away, now so drear to behold,

Will change as you near them to vistas of flowers.


Yet should welkin and landscape but deepen the gloom

They wore at the first, as the distant you win ;
Why then let gay Hope, like the fire-fly, illume

The gloom of the outward with beams from within.

And ponder not solely of Self as you go,

For thousands, your brothers, move on by your side;
Have a smile for their gladness, a tear for their wo,

A shame in their weakness, a pride in their pride.

Lend a hand to the feeble that totters to fall,

Speak choer to the weary, o'erburthened with care,
From youth's eager lip snatch the chalice of gall,

From beauty's charmed footfall the myrtle-wreathed snare.

Let us strive, though of dust unto dust to return,

As the flower to the sod whence it sprang to the day,
That all yet to traverse life's desert may learn

Our course by the roses we left on the way.


Though rugged the pathway and darkened the goal,

With Hope for the future and Conscience the past,
Never fear, never doubt in the depths of the soul,

That spite of fate all will be well at the last!

December, 1846.

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