Page images

His book gives one an uneasy notion of per-I make the most of his materials. We shall petual and very unpleasant locomotion; as now, however, go rapidly over these volif you had been hurried along in company umes, making such observations as occur to with a queen's messenger over the greatest us in passing along. Boz must bear with possible space of ground in the shortest pos- us when we speak a little unpleasant truth sible space of time-in every possible vari. 1-recollecting that sweet are the wounds of a ety of land and water carriage, continually friend. Boz is strong enough in his own thrown among disagreeable and vulgar fel just consciousness of genius, and in bis eslow travellers, experiencing all sorts of per- tablished reputation, to bear a little rough sonalinconveniences and annoyances; dash handling without being either shaken or hurt ing past cities, towns, villages, huts, forests, by it. plains, hills, rivers, canals :-surely, surely, First, as to the titlem" American Notes dear Boz, there was no necessity to give us for General Circulation”-we were a little minute and monotonous records of such uncomfortable at the view which our counmatters as these, great though we acknow. trymen might take of it; Jonathan's "notes" ledge even our interest in your movements. -his engagements in pecuniary matters— You should have left all these to the hack not being latterly, at all events, in very high travellers and tourists who can see and de estimation here; and before our mind's eye scribe nothing else. Why, again, are there rose, in large black letters, “REPUDIATION !" such reiterated, and sometimes most sick. As the Queen, however-God bless her, and ening details of the inattention to personal in his own good time send Jonathan such cleanliness, and of the filthy habits of the another!-nay legitimate foreign coin, and inferior Americans—have we not long ago make it pass current here whenever she heard of all them ad nauseam usque? Why I pleases, so King Boz, by his fiat, can make, dwell so long and painfully on ihe disgust- and has made, even his American Notes ciring peculiarities of your commercial and culate very generally. other, fellow-travellers, and say nothing. Then comes the " Dedication"-and we about the manners of the educated and su. think it calculated, by its air of pretension, perior classes—the ladies and the gentlemen to lead the reader to form expectations as to of America? Are we right, or are we wrong, the character and object of the work, which in concluding from these volumes, that eve- will be quickly disappointed. ry man, from the highest to the lowest, at Chapter I., contains the “Going Away" all times and places-at meal times, in eve of “Charles Dickens, Esquire, and Lady," ning society, in the houses of legislature—which is feeble and exaggerated ; its details in courts of justice--at the President's lev-are trivial and uninteresting, and display a ees-equally in ladies' as in gentlemen's so- highly Cockneyish ignorance of the comciety—chews tobacco, and–faugh!--spits monest nautical matters. From the repeatout his " lobacco-tinctured saliva ?" Again ed and pathetic leave-takings between Boz -we do not feel the least desire to accom. and his friends, and their tearful allusions to pany Boz in his character of inspector of the vast distance so soon to separate them, prisons and visitor of lunatic asylums; to you might have imagined, that instead of a discharge which melancholy duties seems to fourteen day's passage in her Majesty's snug be bis first and anxious object on arriving at and stout steam-packet, Britannia, the ad. any new town. Boz is undoubtedly always venturous Boz was setting off, by some myseloquent and graphic on these occasions—terious electro-magnetic conveyance, on a often painfully so; and his sketch of the sys- fifty years' voyage to one of the fixed stars! tem of solitary confinement at Philadelphia, As soon, however, as Boz has got rid of his is powerful and harrowing. We did not companions, and is fairly off, his peculiar want the many political or statistical details, talents are exhibited in describing “the nor the minute descriptions of buildings, Voyage Out,” by far the best portion of the streets, squares, villages, and towns, which two volumes. Here are fully exhibited his so frequently appear in these volumes. They minute observation, his facility of descripare neither interesting, valuable, nor new; tive illustration-in fact, innumerable hapwe expected, at all events, different topics py touches of every sort. Here Boz, wheth. from Boz. Whenever he descends from the er above or below deck, by day or by night, stilts of political and moral declamation, and whether well or ill, whether "sick" or gowalks quietly along on his own ground—the ing to be sick," whether awake or asleep, delineation of manners and character, espe- even whether comic or patbetic, is inimitacially among the lower classes-Boz is de- ble. Yet are there occasional symptoms lightful and fresh as ever; though display- even here of forcing, and a tone of exaggeing, here and there, an evident anxiety to ration.

“ We all dined together that day; and a rather Joccupants, that they have starlled me by their formidable party we were ; no fewer than eighty- reality, which far exceeded, as it seemed to me, all six strong. The vessel being pretty deep in the power of mine to conjure up the absent; have, water, with all her coals on board and so many many and many a time, at such an hour, grown passengers, and the weather being calm and quiet, suddenly out of objects with whose real look, and there was but little motion; so that, before the use, and purpose, I was as well acquainted as with dinner was half over, even those passengers who my own two hands. were most distrustful of themselves plucked up “My own two hands, and feet likewise, being amazingly; and those who in the morning had re- very cold, however, on this particular occasion, I turned to the universal question, · Are you a good crept below at midnight. It was dut exactly comsailor ?' a very decided negative, now either par- tortable below. It was decidedly close ; and it ried the inquiry, with the evasive reply, Oh! I was impossible to be unconscious of the presence suppose I'm no worse than any body else,' or, reck- of that extraordinary compound of strange swells less of all moral obligations, answered boldly, Yes;' which is to be found nowhere but on board ship, and with some irritation too, as though they would and which is such a subtle perfume that it seenis add, I should like to know what you see in me, to enter at every pore of the skin, and whisper of sir, particularly to justify suspicion !'

the hold. Two passengers' wives (one of them “ Notwithstanding this high tone of courage and my own) lay already in silent agonies on the sofa ; confidence, I could not but observe that very few and one lady's maid (my lady's) was a mere bun. remained long over their wine ; and that every dle on the floor, execrating her destiny, and poundbody had an unusual love of the open air; and that ing her curl papers among the stray boxes. Every the favorite and most coveted seats were invariably thing sloped the wrong way; which in itself was those nearest to the door. The tea.table, too, was an aggravation scarcely to be borne. I had left by no means as well attended as the dinner-lable; the door open, a moinent before, in the boson of a and there was less whist-playing than might have gentle declivity, and, when I turned to shut it, it been expected. Still, with the exception of one was on the summit of a lofty eminence. Now Jady, who had retired with some precipitation at every plank and timber creaked, as if the ship dinner-time, immediately after being assisted to were made oť wicker-work, and now crackled, the finest cut of a very yellow boiled leg of mutton, like an enormous fire of the driest possible twigs. with very green capers, there were no invalids as There was nothing for it but bed; so I went to bed. yet; and walking, and smoking, and drinking of "It was pretty inuch the same for the next lwo brandy-and-water, (but always in the open air, days, with a tolerably fair wind and dry weather. went on with unabated spirit, until eleven o'clock I read in bed (but to this hour I don't know what) or thereabouts, when turning in'-no sailor of a good deal; and reeled on deck a litile; drank seven hours' experience talks of going to bed-be-cold brandy-and-water with an unspeakable discame the order of the night. The perpetual tramp gust, and ate hard biscuit perseveringly; not ill, of bool-heels on the decks gave place to a heavy but going to be. silence, and the whole human freight was stowed “It is the third morning. I am awakened out away below, excepting a very few stragglers like of my sleep by a dismal shriek from my wise, who myself, who were probably, like me, afraid to go demands to know whether there's any danger. I there.

rouse myself, and look out of bed. The water-jug “To one unaccustomed to such scenes, this is ais plunging and lea ping like a lively dolphin; ail very striking time on shipboard. Afterwards, and the smaller articles are afloat, except my shoes, when its novelty had long worn off, it never ceased which are stranded on a carpet-bag, high and dry, to have a peculiar interest and charm for me. The like a couple of coal-barges. Suddenly I see them gloom through which the great black mass holds spring into the air, and behold the looking-glass, its direct and certain course; the rushing water, which is nailed to the wail, sticking fast upon the plainly heard, but dimly seen; the broad, white, ceiling. At the same time the door entirely dis. glistening track that follows in the vessel's wake; appears, and a new one is opened in the floor. the men on the look-out forward, who would bé Then I begin to comprehend that the state-room scarcely visible against the dark sky, but for their is standing on its head. blotting out some score of glistening stars; the “Before it is possible to make any arrangement helmsinan at the wheel, with the illuminated card at all compatible with this novel state of things, before him, shining, a speck of light amidst the the ship rights. Before one can say, "Thank darkness, like something sentient and of divine heaven!' she wrongs again. Before one can cry intelligence; the melancholy sighing of the wind she is wrong, she seems to have started forward, through block, and rope, and chain; the gleaming and to be a creature actively running of its own forth of light from every crevice, nook, and tiny accord, with broken knees and failing legs, through piece of glass about the decke, as though the ship every variety of hole and pitfall, and stumbling, were filled with fire in hiding, ready to burst constantly. Before one can so much as wonder, through any outlet, wild with its resistless power she takes a high leap into the air. Before she has of death and ruin. At first, too, and even when well done that, she takes a deep dive into the the hour, and all the objects it exalts, have come to water. Before she has gained the surface, she be familiar, it is difficult, alone and thoughtful, to throws a summerset. The instant she is on her hold them to their proper shapes and forms. They legs, she rushes backward. And so she goes on, change with the wandering fancy; assume the staggering, beaving, wrestling, leaping, diving, semblance of things left far away ; put on the jumping, pitching, throbbing, rolling, and rocking : well-remembered aspect of favorite places dearly and going through all these movements, sometimes Joved ; and even people them with shadows. by turns, and sometimes altogether ; until one feels Streets, houses, rooms; figures so like their usual | disposed to roar for mercy.




“ A steward passes. Steward!' Sir? What as no weak man in his senses could ever have got is the matter? what do you call this?' • Rather a into. I found myself standing, when a gleam of heavy sea on, sir, and a head-wind.'

consciousness came upon me, holding on to some“ Á head wind! Imagine a human face upon thing. I don't know what I think it was the the vessel's prow, witis fitteen thousand Samsons in boatswain: or it may have been the pump: or posone bent upon driving her back, and hitting her sibly the cow. I can't say how long I had been exactly between the eyes whenever she attempts there; whether a day or a minute. I recollect tryto advance an inch. Imagine the ship herself, ing to think about something (about any thing in with every pulse and artery of her huge body the whole wide world, I was not particular,) withswoln and bursting under this mal-treatment, out the smallest effect. I could not even make out sworn to go on or die. Imagine the wind howling, which was the sea and which the sky; for the bori. the sea roaring, the rain beating ; all in furious zon seemed drunk, and was flying wildly about, in array against her. Picture the sky both dark and all directions. Even in that incapable state, how. wild, and the cloude, in fearful sympathy with the ever, I recognised the lazy genileman standing waves, making another ocean in the air. Add to before me: nautically clad in a suit of shaggy blue, all this, the clattering on deck and down below; with an oilskin hat. But I was too imbecile, al. the tread of hurried feet; the loud hoarse shouts though I knew it to be he, to separate him from his of seamen ; the gurgling in and out of water dress; and tried to call him, I remember, Pilot. through the scuppers; with, every now and then, After another interval of total unconsciousness, I the striking of a heavy sea upon the planks above, found he had gone, and recognised another figure with the deep, dead, heavy sound of thunder heard in its place. It seemed to wave and fluctuate bewithin a vault ;-and there is the head-wind of that fore me, as though I saw it reflected in an unsteady January morning.

looking-glass; but I knew it for the captain; and " I say nothing of what may be called the do- such was the cheerful influence of his face, that I mestic noises of the ship; such as the breaking of tried to smile; yes, even then, I tried to smile. I glass and crockery, the tumbling down of stewards, saw, by his gestures, that he addressed me; but it the gambols, overhead, of loose casks and truant was a long time before I could make out that he dozens of bottled porier, and the very remarkable remonstrated against my standing up to my knees and far from exhilarating sounds raised in their in water, as I was ; of course, I don't know why. various state-rooms by the seventy passengers who I tried to thank him, but couldn't. I could only were too ill to get up to breakfast. I say nothing point to my boots-or wherever I supposed my boots of them ; for although I lay listening to this con- to be and say, in a plaintive voice, Cork soles :' cert for three or four days, I don't think I heard it at the same time endeavoring, I am told, to sit down for more than a quarter of a minute, at the expira- in the pool. Finding that I was quite insensible, tion of which term I lay down again, excessively and for the time a inaniac, he humanely conducted sea-sick.

me below. * Not sea-sick, be it understood, in the ordinary “There I remained until I got better: suffering, acceptation of the term; I wish I had been; but whenever I was recommended to eat any thing, an in a form which I have never seen or heard de- amount of anguish only second to that which is said scribed, though I have no doubt it is very common. to be endured by the apparently drowned, in the I lay there', all the day long, quite coolly and con. process of restoration to life. One gentleman on tentedly; with no sense of weariness, with no board liad a letter of introduction to me from a mu. desire to get up, or get better, or take the air ; with tual friend in London. He sent it below, with his no curiosity, or care, or regret, of any sort or de card, on the morning of the head.wind; and I was gree, saving that I think I can remember, in this long troubled with the idea that le might be up, universal indifference, having a kind of lazy joy- and well, and a hundred times a-day expecting que of fiendish delight, if any thing so lethargic can be to call upon him in the saloon. I imagined him dignified with the title in the fact of my wife one of those cast-iron images will not call them being too ill to talk to me. If I may be allowed to men—who ask, with red faces and lusty voices, illustrate my state of mind by such an exaniple, I what sea-sickness means, and whether it really is should say that I was exactly in the condition of as bad as it is represented to be. This was very the elder Mr. Willet, after the incursion of the Torturing indeed; and I don't think I ever felt such rioters into his bar at Chigwell. Nothing would perfect gratification and gratitude of heart as I did have surprised me. If, in the momentary illumin. when I heard from the ship's doctor that he had been ation of any ray of intelligence that may have come obliged to put a large mustard-poultice on this very upon me in the way of thoughts of home, a goblin gentleman's stomach. I dale my recovery from the postman, with a scarlet coat and bell, had come receipt of that intelligence." into that little kennel before me, broad awake in broad day, and, apologizing for being damp through

1 Aster encountering a somewhat serious

Alter en walking in the sea, had handed me a letter, directed accident, at the close of their voyage, owing to myself in familiar characters, I am certain I to the ignorance of the pilot, and the stress should not have felt one atom of astonishment; Il of weather-all of which is excellently well should have been perfectly satisfied. If Neptune told-Boz lands at Boston, and soon finds himself had walked in, with a toasted shark on his lhe results of his nraviovely announced or

is the results of his previously announced artrident, I should have looked upon the event as one

rival. of the very commonest every day occurrences.

“Once-once-I found myself on deck. I don't “Not being able, in the absence of any change know how I got there, or what possessed me to go of clothes, to go to church that day, we were comthere, but there I was; and completely dressed too, pelled to decline these kindnesses, one and all: with a buge pea-coat on, and a pair of boots, such and I was reluctantly obliged to forego the delight of hearing Dr. Channing, who happened to preach (wards whom his whole conduct-bis patient that morning, for the first time in a very long in training of the imprisoned soul, his gentle. terval."

ness, acuteness, and sagacity—is above all Dear Boz, we are disposed to be very an. praise. How suggestive of metaphysical gry with you! Fancy him deliberately fore speculation is this powerfully interesting going the only opportunity he bad of hear-case! What a treasure would it have been ing the most distinguished of American to Locke or Dugald Stewart! But we pass preachers, and expressed object of high ad-on, sincerely thanking Mr. Dickens for his miration to Boz himself, because he had not thoughtfulness in allowing so competent a a change of clothes! Why not have gone as person as Dr. How to tell his tale in his own he was! What if he had struck into a corner words. Mr. Dickens's own description of the of the gallery, with a glazed cap and dam. little girl is also beantiful and delicate. aged pea-jacket? We would have done so; At Hartford, Boz gets again into a lunatic but Boz was known to be Boz, and must asylum and jail, and describes the inmates dress accordingly! And now Dr. Channing of each. Yale College is then mentioned ; is dead! How interesting and valuable now only, however, to be dismissed in half-awould have been such a graphic sketch as dozen lines, which are devoted to an indicaBoz could have given, of the countenance, tion of the style of the buildings. Here, person, carriage, conversation, and mode of again, was lost an opportunity of giving us delivery, of this eminent person! Yet there bighly interesting information; for Yale is not a word on the subject. The universi. College is a really distinguished institution, ty—the first American university he saw—and has very eminent professors. Then we is despatched in a very few words of vague roll rapidly along in a steam-boat, catching eulogy: not a word of professors, students, only hasty glimpses of what we pass—one or college-life-dress-buildings—mode of object, “a mad.bonise, (how the lunatics procedure! Authors educated at our own flung up their caps, and roared in sympathy universities, at all events, would have seized with the headlong engine and the driving the opportunity of giving us an insight into tide !)” Once for all, one's feelings are the mode in which Jonathan manages mat- quite oppressed with the perpetual introters at college ; and we are greatly disap-duction of these wretched topics of lunacy pointed at being left entirely in the dark. and lunatics; which, as in the above in. What sort of discipline prevails? Have they stance, dash away all one's cheerfulness, private tutors l-lecturers? How are the and fill us with feelings and associations of classes divided? How many professors ? | pain and melancholy. Arrived at New York, and of what? Do they or the students wear Boz gives some gay and graphic sketches any particular species of costumes, caps, or of its general appearance, and of its cotegowns? The following disagreeable allu- ries; and presently betakes himself-more sion to our own universities (of which Boz Suo—to the lock-ups, the prisons, the lunatic can really know nothing personally or prac. asylums, and, at midnight, to those horrid tically) is quite uncalled-for, and in very bad quarters of the town where the profligacy taste :

of the lowest of the low is being carried on. “ Whatever the defects of American universities

In all these scenes, we perceive the author may be, they disseminate uo prejudices ; rear no of Oliver Twist, engaged, as it were, storing bigots; dig up the buried ashes of no old supersti. I up fresh impressions, and images, and toptions; never interpose between the people and their ics, for future use; but the reader is apt to improvement; exclude no man because of his reli. turn aside, wearily, and with a sigh. Many gious opinions; above all, in their whole course of of his ton

of his touches are equally painful and pow. study and instruction, recognise a world, and a

erful. broad one ton, lying beyond the college walls."

On his going to Philadelphia, amidst "a We regret to say that Boz takes many playful and incessant shower of expectora. opportunities, in the same way, of making iion” (!) Boz makes a new acquaintance ; gratuitous disparaging allusions to our own though slight and brief, we think the followinstitutions.

ing a specimen of Boz's exquisite percepTwenty pages are then devoted to an action of the humorous—and it is not overcount by Dr. How of a very remarkable oc- done : cupant of that institution-a little girl, blind, deaf, dumb, and almost totally destitute oil “I made acquaintance, on this journey, with a both taste and smell. We shall never hear mild and modest young Quaker, who opened the

" discourse by informing me, in a grave whisper, that the name of Dr. How again without feeling his grandia

name of Dr. How again without feeling his grandfather was the inventor of cold-drawn grateful for his profoundly interesting and castor-oil. I mention the circumstance here, think. instructive account of his little patient, to ing it probable that this is the first occasion on

which the valuable medicine in question was ever their representstives should be corrupted! used as a conversational aperient."

May they not, however, be only desirous, Philadelphia is a “handsome city, but dis- with a reasonable pride, of preserving for tractingly regular.Boz thinks Philadel. ever, for public exhibition, these various phian society “more provincial than Boston mementos of the respect paid to the State, or New.York ;” and is that there is afloat in through its organs and representatives ? the fair city an assumption of taste and crit. Boz, by the way, calls them “Ambassaicism, savoring rather of those genteel dors,” but erroneously; for Chancellor Kent discussions of the same themes, in connec- informs us, (1 Commentaries, p. 40, note, 4th tion with Shakspeare and the Musical Glass- edition,) "that the United States are usuales, of which we read in the Vicar of Wake | ly represented by ministers, plenipotentiafield.The remainder of the chapter (thirty ries, and chargés d'affaires, and have never pages) we spend within the gloomy walls of sent a person of the rank of ambassador the “ Penitentiary," and the petrifying hor- in the diplomatic house." The Prince of rors of its “Silent System" described with Orange once expressed to Mr. Adams his fearful force, and most justly condemned. surprise that the United States had not put

At Washington, Boz comically figures as themselves, in that respect, on a level with a very angry lion, (and well he may be,) the crowned heads. The morning after among the little street-urchins. If he be in Boz's arrival at Washington, he is “carearnest here, these young gentlemen are ried” (as he tells us, with rather an amusing the inost impudent varlets we ever saw or swell of expression,) “to the President's heard of. The general character and unfin-house by an official gentleman, who was so ished appearance of the buildings of Wash-kind as to charge himself with every presentaington, are thus humorously described: “To tion to the President!” The President Tv. the admirers of cities, it is a Barmecide ler is very slightly noticed. At a levee, Feast; a pleasant field for the imagination which is fairly described, Boz saw “his to rove in ; a monument raised to a deceased dear friend Washington Irving," whom he project, with not even a legible inscription to takes the opportunity of paying a high com. record its departed greatness.His descrip.pliment. tions of the Senate and House of Represent. Here ends Vol. I. We feel compelled to atives, then sitting, are very meagre and say generally of Vol. II. that it is almost tounsatisfactory; and nothing can be more tally destitute of interest: a record of the turgid and feeble than the long paragraph | personal inconveniences and annoyances ex. of declamation which follows them; most perienced by Boz, while pelting over the irritating and offensive in tone to the Ameri- country in steam-boats, canal-boats, rail. cans, however well founded in fact. Topics roads, and coaches, in which a vast portion of this sort should be handled with great of his time seems to have been passed, surdelicacy and sobriety, in order to have a rounded by very unpleasant and unfavorachance of being beneficial in America, or ble specimens of American travellers, viz., appreciated by persons of judgment here. the lower orders of commercial persons, and Here again, too, Boz goes out of his way of settlers-almost always described as most to indulge in a very foolish and puerile offensively intrusive, inquisitive, vulgar, and sneer at our Houses of Lords and Commons. filthy in their persons, and most disgusting Its tone is more that of some wearied re in their habits. The reader will, we fear, porter for a radical newspaper, than of an rise from the perusal of this volume with intelligent and independent observer; and feelings of weariness and ennui. Now, howit affords a strong illustration of a remark ever, for a brief account of its contents. we have already made, on the perpetual After dropping a hint that he travelled actendency of Mr. Dickens to undervalue and companied by a "faithful secretary,(!) Boz abuse our best institutions. We see, and takes us into a night steamer on the Poto. even say, this, with real pain, and consider mac river, where we are kept for eight pait our duty to point it out as very reprehen. ges. Then he travels by land along a Virsible. To proceed, however: Boz's ire is ginia road, which, together with the stageexcited by seeing, in one of the rooms at coach and its sable Jehu, are described with the Post-Office, all the presents received by broad comic humor, but a little strained. American Ministers and Plenipotentiaries Then Boz reaches Virginia, justly oppressed from foreign potentates. May not this cus and disgusted at the consciousness of being tom be supported by a reason less discredit. in a slave country. He looks in at the Leable to the Americans than that assigned by gislative Assembly then sitting; and goes Boz? He thinks that reason to be, their fool. over a manufactory for tobacco, (for chew. ish fears lest by means of such petty presents' ing) worked entirely by slaves, whom he is

« PreviousContinue »