« PreviousContinue »
ART. 1.-1. History of the United States from the Compromise
of 1850. By JAMES FORD RHODES. Vols. I. and II., 1850-1860; Vol. III., 1860-1862; Vol. IV., 1862–1864.
London : 1893–1899. 2. History of the United States. By E. BENJAMIN ANDREWS,
President of Brown University. London : 1895. 3. The United States : an Outline of Political History, 1492–
1871. By GOLDWIN SMITH, D.C.L. London: 1899. The closing years of the past century have happily
strengthened the bonds which unite the two great Anglo-Saxon nations on either side of the Atlantic. The facilities of communication, which are due to modern invention and modern enterprise, are increasing the intercourse of the two peoples. The charms and interests of the old home attract the cultured American to England, just as the features and resources of the great Republic draw the inquiring Englishman to America. Speaking the same language, reading the same literature, sprung from the same origin, enjoying institutions derived from the same model,
the representatives of either nation feel in a peculiar sense • at home in the other; and the constant intermarriages
between the youth of the two peoples are, at once, a symptom of their close kinship and a guarantee of the continuance of their friendship.
The cultured American has naturally from the first felt warm interest in the history of England. For the history of the English people is the history of his own ancestors; and the long struggle which procured the liberties of England equally assured the liberties of the United States. But the cultured Englishman has not, perhaps, taken the
VOL. CXCIII. NO. COcxcv.
same interest in the history of the great Republic. Sir George Trevelyan and Mr. Lecky have made him, indeed, familiar with the causes which led to the separation of the Colonies from the Mother Country. Mr. Bryce, pursuing the investigations which M. de Tocqueville had instituted half a century before, has given him some insight into the mechanism of American politics. But the average Englishman knows less of the history of his own kindred on the other side of the Atlantic during the present century than he knows of the history of France or of the rise of Germany during the same period. He would be reluctant to acknowledge that he could not give an intelligible account of the coup d'état of 1851. Yet he would hardly be ashamed to confess that he had never heard of the event which Mr. Rhodes has made the starting-point of his history—the compromise of 1850.
Yet there are several reasons why this state of things should not endure. The increasing intercourse between English and Americans must make the people of either country anxious to know the history of the other. The position which the United States has already attained in the world, the part which she is evidently destined to play, must create an increasing interest in all that has tended to her developement; while the fact that she has been the scene of the greatest drama of the last half of the nineteenth century-of the greatest struggle which has taken place in the modern world, must attract the student and reward the inquirer.
For such a study and such an inquiry the works which we have placed at the head of this article will afford material assistance. In two comparatively small volumes Mr. Andrews has travelled over a large area; in still smaller compass Mr. Goldwin Smith has given us an impartial outline of the political history of the United States; while Mr. Rhodes, in his longer and more ambitious narrative, has traced the causes which led to the Civil War, and has related the incidents of the struggle. Mr. Rhodes's work is still incomplete; the narrative is not brought down to the final issue, but it is full, intelligible, and, on the whole, impartial. We sometimes think, indeed, that Mr. Rhodes has occupied himself too exclusively with the causes and incidents of the great Civil War, and has passed too lightly over other matters. We think, too, that the figures that play their part on Mr. Rhodes's stage are occasionally painted in too heroic colours; and that our historian dwells a little too
oulisse theme ofar has stil in the sto rapidipre
o the scheda soder andwhich
fondly on the oratorical excellence, or even on the personal comeliness, of American statesmen. But these slight criticisms of Mr. Rhodes's manner do not affect our judgement of his matter. We read his work with increasing respect as we proceed. We acknowledge the thoroughness with which he has investigated a great historical episode, and the impartiality with which he has approached a subject which stirred his fellow-countrymen to the very depths of their souls.
The theme of his work is still surrounded with interest. A great civil war has struck the fetters off the slave; but the negro is still present in the States; in certain districts he is multiplying his kind with a rapidity which excites alarm, and which threatens to wrest supremacy from the white man. The sins of the fathers are, in fact, being visited on the children; and the encouragement of slavery in one century has been succeeded by a black peril' in another.
Yet if, in consequence, the people of the United States are confronted with a problem from which we in England are free, it is fair to recollect that, while the penalty is theirs, the sin is not exclusively their own. No nation throughout the eighteenth century clung more resolutely to the slave trade than this country. The one popular article in the Treaty of Utrecht was the provision which secured the British an absolute monopoly in the supply of slaves to the Spanish Colonies. Under George III. instructions were given to the Governor of Virginia, upon pain of the highest displeasure,' to assent to no law by which the importation of slaves should in any respect be prohibited or obstructed. In the hundred years which preceded 1776, English and Colonial "ships carried to the West Indies and the English Continental
colonies nearly three million negroes.' A quarter of a million more—one slave out of every thirteen-had died of cruel ' treatment during the passage, and had been thrown into the Atlantic.'
Even good men were insensible to the horrors of the traffic. The ship in which Hawkins commenced the trade was named the ‘Jesus ; ' Whitefield was not only a slave owner himself, but argued strongly for the introduction of slaves into Georgia ; the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel was a large slave-owner; Lord Dartmouth, one of the most religious statesmen of the century, declared that we could not allow the Colonies to check or discourage in any degree a traffic so beneficial to the nation; and Newton, the evangelist, who was at one time the captain of a slave