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Title: Why a National Literature Cannot Flourish in the United States of North America
Author: Joseph Rocchietti
Release Date: March 25, 2010 [EBook #31777]
[Most recently updated: July 19, 2023]
Language: English
Character set encoding: UTF-8
Produced by: Ralph Janke and the Online Distributed Proofreading Team at (This book was produced from scanned images of public domain material from the Google Print project.)






Celui qui n’ a égard en écrivant qu’ au goùt de son siècle,
songe plus à sa personne qu’ à ses écrits. Il faut tou-
jours tendre à la perfection; et alors cette justice
qui nous est quelquefois refusée par nos con-
temporains, la postérité sait nous la rendre.
La Bruyère.






For your welfare, may your country listen to my feeble voice, prosper with your prosperity, and the eagle of liberty spread throughout the world.

Joseph Rocchietti.

New York, the first of 1845.




CHAPTER I.The People of the United States Is Not a New People.
CHAPTER II.The Present Fashionable Literature Is Unworthy of This Greaat Nation.
CHAPTER III.The American Literature Is Rather Too Much Mixed with the Belief of Different Religious Faiths.
CHAPTER IV.Of Newspapers.
CHAPTER V.Of Tourists in Foreign Countries.
CHAPTER VI.American Theatres.
CHAPTER VII.Politics and Laws.
CHAPTER IX.International Copyright.
CHAPTER X.Conclusion.



[Pg 5]








Many americans, and a few foreigners, think that America is yet too young a country for possessing a National Literature. If they intend to say, that the number of classical writers of America, cannot yet compete with the number of classical writers of any old country, of course, it cannot be otherwise. But, that the living present americans cannot have an equal number of writers, as the living old nations, for no other reason, but because this nation is a new one, is what I deny.

Were America a nation of indians beginning now their civilization, independently of any other already civilized nation, to reproach them because they have not a competent literature as well as the old civilized nations, it would be the same as to reproach the times of Abram, because they were not civilized as the present most civilized nations. Such is not the case with the United States of America. The american soil is new; but, the american people is not younger than the european people. This country is composed of colonies from the old continent, who came here with the very laws, religions, learning, languages, prejudices, arts, and literature of the old continent. The classical writers of their mother countries belong to the american also:[Pg 6] and to say that the present living american people cannot have a classical literature as well as the present living writers of their mother country, because it is too young a people, it would be the same as to say, that the language of the United States is not an english language.

Besides, if it is a soil fit to expel old prejudices, it is this new soil, now in possession of an old people as we stand in this country. Some writers, traveling through this country, supposed the americans a people of facts only, from whom fine arts, poetry, or literature cannot be expected; as if fine arts, poetry, and literature were not things of fact, as laws, government, or mechanical works. Man is an imitating being: honor an american Tasso, or an american Michæl Angelo, and instead of having too many, who aspire the presidency of the United States, you will have your Tassos, and your Michæl Angelos. That America has her artists, poets, and literati as well as England, France, Germany, or Italy, I have no doubt: but, if the genius does not flourish here as it does among the old nations, my purpose is now to demonstrate it.





I say it again; were the people encouraged to look back to standards of classical literature, so rich in all the languages of the old continent, this glorious, ambitious country, soon would have her Johnsons, her Rousseaus, her Dantes, her Machiavellis. But, the little which the americans read now, are but light works from the english press, here reprinted; contentions of parties, called politics; and american periodicals, praising each other: and these periodicals, having now the consideration of oracles in literature, keep[Pg 7] under a contemptible silence many american geniuses, who were too independent to bend under the ruling will of any party. However, there are daily papers, as well as periodicals of my highest esteem: I mean only to say, here; monopoly can be found in every trade; and fashion, not only ruins the feet of chinese, and the shape of american ladies; fashion ruins also a National Literature.

There is, at present, in the United States of America, a fashionable, unwholsome, immoral practice of writing, which, although the ancients had not always been free of reproach, now a days, is rather too much frequented. I mean a kind of personal ridiculing, and retaliating each other’s national foible, unmercifully. If an english comes here, and finds faults with us, as no nation can be yet without faults, it is our duty to thank the writer, and correct ourselves. If the imputation is false, truth speaks for itself. But, to go into England with a spirit of revenge by retaliating with ostentation, pleasure, and self conceit, the faults which we find among that nation, faults which we have not, we must then have forgotten the very moral principle required to literature. He, or she who does not know charity, the former would do better to plant potatoes; and the latter to attend her family kitchen, or darn her husband’s stockings. A writer should look with pain at the faults of all nations; and could he have a little patriotic feeling without prejudice, he would not tell to his children they are the prettiest, because he finds others who are uglier. He should rather feel displeased not to find, on earth, another nation from whom he cannot learn how to become better.

That book which does not elevate the human mind to noble, generous sentiments, is a dangerous book! He who ridicules others, should, in his turn, be the only subject worthy of being ridiculed: but, the innocent man who steps into a drawing room, laming as Byron with a wish to[Pg 8] imitate Byron, if, unfortunately, he falls on the carpet, or cannot prevent his tumbler of lemonade from falling on a lady’s black satin dress, not only we should indulge his weak side; but, if we wish to be polite, we should turn our eyes from his uncomfortable position. Though to ridicule another it is the same as to say: I am a perfect being, I often found, that he who is fond of the fun, and laughs at his neighbor, because this has no nose, he turns angry, when another laughs at him, because he has only one eye: I mean to say, here; could we see the soul of the individual, so fond of ridiculing his fellow beings, such an exhibition would present a hideous grim face of envy without heart, without any worthy feeling.

In writing against the present, fashionable style of ridiculing, I wish to be well understood. I do not intend here, to dissuade writers from exposing the ridicule of man in the abstract. On the contrary; I think, for our improvements, nothing is more beneficial than the caricatures, or the faults of real life, exposed in a ridiculous light, by which the reader would correct his faults, if he has any like. But the writer should give the caricatures with such modifications, or charged colors, with which to avoid all personalities. And here, the writer, who must pen from nature, may sometimes delineate a living character, whom he had forgotten, or did never see: but, such a writer cannot be blamed for all the faults of man; and as it is not a malicious composition, he, who has like ridicules, has but to correct himself.

National faults also cannot be personalities. Besides, I may, for instance, write, or speak of persons I met in a stage, in a private house, theatre, or church, provided their names are not mentioned. If the historical fact happened, only, with the person introduced in the tale, nobody knows of whom the writer is speaking, or writing; if it happened before other persons, the truth of the fact prevents, rather, those[Pg 9] fond of making false stories from the smallest event; the truth cannot offend either of the parties. Besides, men would conduct themselves better, were they afraid of being exposed: and if we have committed an offence towards an innocent person, we should listen, and do better for the time to come. I mean only to say here, were all writers, who can wield a pen, permitted to book all the characters they meet with, writers should be avoided as cholera: and though in this, and many other countries libeling did turn fashionable, I understood that such writers are not the most welcome, among those who do not like to see their private characters heralded; and that America can not be offended in finding american families heralded, because lords, and ladies of England are heralded also, it is the same as to wish here, the same faults, permitted in that country, for no other reason, because the lords of England cannot prevent an english editor from prying into their private houses. If I preach morals, and at the same time I act immorally, not only I wrong myself in exposing my hypocrisy; but, I turn literature into an infamous art. I repeat it again, good or bad characters may be blended in a novel, comedy, or tragedy, where the characters, though taken from nature, cannot offend any private individual; but, the names, or exact characters, should not be exposed by writers, unless the individuals are notorious, or had already become a part of history.

Like immoral writers have, now a days, become so fashionable for which, loosing all respect which man ought to have for man, we see dandies ridiculing not only private characters; they write of nations, as if their cat-like brain could judge that of an elephant. That part, or that half of a man, whose life was spent in setting his cravat without a fault, as soon as he visits a strange country, where the cravat is tied à la sans façon, such a half man calls all those people a set of fools. He who did never live in the luxury of a palace,[Pg 10] finds that his two story house, built without knowledge of architecture, is by far more comfortable than the palace built by Michæl Angelo. The protestant finds nothing reasonable in a catholic country; and the catholic nothing reasonable in a protestant one. He whose life was spent in contending parties, cannot understand how the citizens of another country go so quietly to their own private business, without meddling with the ruling power. The subject of England calls the americans free fools; and the turk calls barbarous those nations condeming a man to a forced labor for bigamy, or polygamy. These, while they do not permit divorce, connive at a man living with another woman, as far as he does not marry in church the second, as he did the former still living. Because that country educates, and brings them up, all the children from poor parents, this other traveler, who had never read the laws of Sparta, blames all poor, who marry in his country, because his legislators did no more provide for them, than they had for the flies which pester his luxurious table.

I might blend here, and multiply the prejudices as well as the good reasons of travelers to infinity, almost: but, unless the dandy ceases from being a dandy; the religious from being a superstitious man; I mean, as far as the writer does not look at things with a charitable, and unprejudiced eye, the too many writers of our day, not only injure our literature; they degrade it. And why, instead of cavils, frivolous misrepresentations of persons and nations, writers do not place themselves as citizens of the world, correcting national faults, as a father would his beloved children? The greatest man, and the most nigh to perfection, could not, would not, should not boast of his fine qualities. If an Aristides is rare, very rare among us, how can a nation boast supremacy over another? From my own experience I always found the best the modest; and he who has no merit boasting merit.[Pg 11] It is a pity in seeing writers finding fault with nations, because these eat with a knife and fork, or because they do not eat three eggs in a tumbler. Knifes and forks are convenient, when the meat is hot; and I, who am fond of eggs, like to crack four eggs in a tumbler, provided the present sensible american does not care of the puerile english observation. Besides, if I am pleased in looking at the fine architecture of an italian palace, I am pleased also in seeing that the small, modest, and nearly uniform houses of the United States of North America, have the blessed appearance of a nation, whose richest citizens do not outshine the poor.

What right has he, the man of talent, or the handsome man to ridicule he who has no talent, or he who is deformed? He who ridicules a nation shows his perfect ignorance of nations. Can we find a nation without faults? When the egyptians were the most civilized, all the other nations were either savage or barbarous. The egyptians went down, and the greeks rose: the old age of these, reached them too, and the romans shot forth. These, also, had their days as the formers; and civilization went progressively around the world with such propagating means, and discoveries, that the citizen of any nation now, who undertakes to ridicule an ancient nation, he is nothing else but like that bad son of Noah, who saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without.





Six or seven years ago, I opened a book which I found on the central table of the house’s parlor in which I lodged. It was the fifth, or seventh edition of Notes, or Letters by a[Pg 12] minister of the christian reform who went through Italy. The reverend says in his book that the pope received him kindly, and during the long conversation he had with him, that very head of the catholic religion, praised America, which is to say his country, because the american people tolerated the catholic religion. Besides, the author of those Notes says in his very book, that he was much pleased by the reception he received from the pope. Still, the language which I read in that very book, against the pope, and all the catholicism, was as much as what the preachers of the reform had said against the catholics in darker ages, for which iron, and fire did martyr so many catholic victims, and for which, even in our times, the benevolent Charles the first of England, is still calumniated, and the jealous, and tyrannic Elizabeth, is still elevated to the sky, as one of the most virtuous queens. To change the mind of such a minister of charity, who was kindly received by the pope, it is not my purpose here. The mind of such a man, whom I do not know, it might be of such materials, which turn harder the more you attempt to bring it to reason. I would only advise the benevolent man, never to visit any persons whom he cannot esteem. Had the author of those Notes given me hospitality, and received me as the pope did receive him, and afterwards, had I had the misfortune of using my spleen against him, I could not esteem myself, unless I would publicly acknowledge my inurbanity. As no pope has yet done any good to my desolate, afflicted, dear country (and I do not except here, even Ganganelli himself) I have never seen, and I have no wish to see any pope: but, as a lover of justice, I do not like to see my enemy so badly treated. If in the whole bible we can find one single passage inculcating persecution to those, who do not think as we do; nay, if among the hundred and one religions, grounded on the bible, the only true one condemns, and must exterminate all the others;[Pg 13] as we cannot be the contending party, and the judge, let us do a good work’s day: I mean, let us make a bonfire with all the bibles, though a great wisdom be mixed in it. If the bible teaches us charity, love, tolerance, and natural understanding, let us follow, venerate, and worship it; but, at the same time, let us send into prisons those fanatics who, not minding history, arts, and sciences, preach nothing but intolerance, and persecution with the bible in their hands. The ancient romans had their censurers. In this country I would have a board of gentlemen with officers to prevent fanaticism, and persecution: and the preacher who says, that the best moral is to brand those, who have a different religion from that which he professes, should not be permitted to preach to an assembly of honest people. The drunkard injures only himself, and very seldom the few near him. The spirit of fanaticism did exterminate nations! If we are indebted to philosophy for the little religion which we have yet, the true ministers of Christ must needs join with the humane voice of philosophy, unless they have not at heart their families, life, and lawful property of this world: and then, if they find fault with the shakers, because the wish of these, is to annihilate the human race by preventing marriage; the fanatics of other denominations are doing nothing, but to administer arms to destroy those, who cannot think like them.

Not only theological discussions take the place of literature in the United States of America: there is, perhaps, no nation in the world of the present century, in which theocracy attempts to swallow up the people’s rights, though the constitution be against it. And, what power can it have, the wisest constitution, if the plurality, part by cunning, and part by ignorance, are undermining the very foundation of man’s only happiness, his sacred rights? Just, intelligent, learned, high minded clergymen are against the doctrine of[Pg 14] Mr. Pusey: but, it is with a sorrowful mind we have witnessed the too many reformers wishing to adopt the very popish power, against the very power for which Luther, and Calvin had, and have such an influence in the mind of nations.

I will not pass under silence here, the ecclesiastical courts with which they began by judging errors of faith, dereliction of duty, and venial offences among the members, or officers of their churches; and, with such a seeming insignificant beginning, they hold, already, such a temporal power, with which they try now members, or officers, rendered criminal by the laws of the land! The only trial of Rev. Fairchild, charged with seduction, is a historical fact.

There are religious people in this world for whom, had I had the mind of Voltaire, and obliged to live with them, I have no doubt they would have rendered me the most religious man: and among like blessed religious persons, my mother, and few others I have the honor to be acquainted with, are of the number. But history, and the very fanaticism of the middle age, which we have witnessed lately in Philadelphia, are enough to make angels, and Sophy weep.

Though America has her great share of fanaticism, she is not the only nation. At the time in which the smoke of the burning catholic churches, in the city of brotherly love, was rising to heaven, Maria Joaquino was sentenced to suffer death in Madeira, because she did not consent with the doctrines received, and followed by the catholic church. The difference between several governments of Europe, and the United States of America is this: intolerance in Europe is in the hand of despotical power against the many; and in America it is in the hand of the many against their very paternal government. The european people might one of our future days cut off the head of despotism; the american people might place a despot on the throne. The sons of the[Pg 15] very pilgrims who ran from the persecution of religious rage into this country, condemned the other day a Mr. Sable Rogers of Springfield, Massachusetts, on a charge of violating the Lord’s day in mowing and making hay. So that, while they preach tolerance, the puritans, with no other reason but of being the most numerous, and by consequence the strongest, they force, and condemn a jew, a catholic, a mahomedan, a chinese; in a word, all those who have not their religion, and do not feel inclined to do exactly what they do themselves. How can such a despotical state, as Massachusetts, preach abolition against his slave, brother states of the south, it is what a sound mind cannot understand; unless we perceive in it, the blind, uncharitable language of the self pocket interest, with which the north holds the tariff, against the interest of the south.

The burning of the convent of those innocent Ursulines, and the little knowledge I have of this country, caused me to foretell the last horrors of Philadelphia. It was not a prophecy; it was but a coming event, not different from those we read of in ancient history. If from smoke we argue it must be some fire; from fanaticism we must expect civil wars.

If it is a fact that false religions, false politics, false pride brought desolation into the governments of the old continent; in giving an ear to our faults, our duty is not to be too much pleased of the praises which strangers, or americans bestow upon us, and our government; and sleep under the laurel of our glory. The honest lover of an innocent beauty looks upon her with jealousy, telling to her all her faults in order to render her perfect, without which two married beings cannot attain heavenly, moral happiness. The seducer tells her she is pretty, and without faults: but, after having disgraced her, he leaves with contempt the object of his lust to shed the bitter tears of her vanity. Our duty, beloved[Pg 16] americans, is to learn that a free government, like this, cannot govern itself, unless arts, and sciences will have taken the place of religious discussions. It seems to me, that the schools of the Union have nothing in view, but to make divines of all their pupils: and the bible which should not be put into the hands of an innocent person, not only children are forced to study nothing but it; it takes now the place of all the sciences. Are they not, the historical horrors of the bible, repeated now in this very country? However, Europe may sooner do that, which the philanthropists of all ages had always expected: but, if the present America would look for the happiness of man with the views of the fathers of this country, America is better situated to attain sooner the amelioration of our race.

Science tells us plainly; that, the face and forehead are the true signs of an honest man: a hypocrite, whispers, in the ear of a credulous father, not to give his daughter unto that man, who has no other merit but a fine forehead. The credulous father believes the hypocrite; and, spurning his best friend, gives his daughter to a villainous low scull, in which acquisitiveness, and the back part of the bloody brain, are the most predominant. A month after the wedding, the low fore-headed, who knew how to natter such a father-in-law, kills him now in order to become in possession of his property. Had that father studied phrenology, instead of reading nonsense, he would still live happy; and though the low scull was not born to be a genius, he might, at least, have been more honest, had he seen that it was too difficult for him to cheat his wise neighbor.

When Beccaria wrote of Crimes and Penalties, the whole world was for torturing either innocents, or criminals, because divines with the bible in their hands, were against Beccaria. And they were against astronomy, and Galileo was one of the victims. The lava at the foot of the [Pg 17]neapolitan Vesuvius, the falls of Niagara tell us that the world must have existed, at least, more than 10,000 years: but, with the bible in their hands, geology must be a false science. And Columbus was thought a dreamer: and Spinosa, Machiavelli, Locke, Spurzheim, Bentham, Fourier, were branded with reprobation, and atheism. The philosophers of our century prove, and demonstrate that the capital penalty is as barbarous as the rack was before Beccaria; still, because the bible says: tooth for tooth, and death for death; the criminal, and, too often, the innocent, are not yet spared from the bloody law. And calling themselves the only light of civilization, and social intercourse, they do nothing but forcing mankind back to five thousand years ago!

How can the rising generation of America govern themselves, when a certain professor says to his hundred students, that Herschel told a falsehood, when the latter demonstrated that in the moon must have been quakes, and revolutions of matter? And why did the professor treat Herschel so badly? Because, the so called learned man, wishing to admit nothing but what he reads in the bible, thinks God would be unjust to send evils in the moon, where those living beings had not committed the original sin. For the sake of brevity, I will say nothing of Maria Monk, Mathias, and women burned alive as witches by a verdict of jury. In a country where the law permits every individual to worship God in its own way, in spite of which Joseph Smith, and his brother, were murdered in a prison—this only fact shows, that the legislators of this country will lose their beneficial power, unless literature will take the place of divinity. May God defend nations from the wrath of fanatics; and the word Charity, so well understood by Jesus, may it be felt as it should be. It is a shame in a christian land, where we boast so much of our morals, to learn from the mouth of the present Sultan a better tolerance: “Musulmans, christians, jews,” said he to his[Pg 18] subjects, “you are all dear to me, you are all my children. If there be one amongst you who is oppressed, let him come forward, and justice shall be done him; for it is my wish, that the laws which are made to protect the lives, the properties, and the honor of my subjects, be faithfully administered, musulman, christian, or jew; rich or poor; soldier, priest, or layman, confide in my love, and in my justice; you are all equal in my eyes, as you are equal before the law: you shall be all treated as such; and the Almighty will reward, on the judgment day, the honest, and faithful servant.”

In blaming fanaticism, I do not blame here the government, nor true religious persons: and these, on the contrary, are the objects of my greatest veneration: besides, the burning of the catholic churches in Philadelphia, it is to hope, might have been but an instance of the many bad chances of this world. Have we not seen the best rider braking his neck? Have we not seen the most industrious man dying on the straw? Have we not seen the poles, the italians crushed under the iron hand of tyranny? And where is the ignorant of nations, who will say, that the nations deserve their bad, or good existent position? To say so, it would be as to maintain, there is no injustice in this world of tears; but, not to see, or wishing not to see the faults of his own country, it is the sign of a bad citizen, or of an ignoramus. You, noble victims of tyranny, answer for me to like spoil children of fortune. Indeed, he who enjoys the blessing of good laws, and laughs at, and scorns the noble sufferers, is nothing else but like the impudent son of a monarch, who, while he sees his subjects with straw in their mouth, dying by famine, asks them, why they do not eat bread, and cheese. Swim in your luxuries as long as you please; but do not taunt sufferers.

However, many nations are now awaked, and a good chance might turn, sooner than many expect, all men into[Pg 19] civilized beings; and then, the country of man will be the whole earth. He who did not go farther than one hundred miles from the place of his birth, knows but the first page of this large book, the world: And he, who wishes to expel foreigners from his native country, while he places the bushel over his light, does nothing but imitate the chineses of Pekin. Could the greeks surpass the egyptians, had these not opened the gates of civilization to the former? Could the romans surpass the greeks, had the romans not learned from the egyptians and greeks? And though the greater part of Blackstone’s laws are not fit for America, are they not the laws of Blackstone, but the laws of the egyptians, greeks, and romans, interspersed with the feudal laws of Italy and France, adapted to, and modified for the english soil?

Fearing not to be understood, I repeat here again. In writing against uncharitable men, who use the bible improperly, in order to hinder the progress of our race, I have still, and I hope I shall ever have the greatest veneration, towards the benevolent ministers of Christ, and happy christians, who see the daily loss which the heavenly moral of Jesus does suffer, not from unbelievers; but from fanatics, and hypocrites: and though the whole bible is not a book to be placed into the hands of the innocent, he, or she acquainted with the world, if they do read it without prejudice, it is a book of lofty, heavenly moral inspiration, and the first book of literature. But, the true christian follows the good which he finds in the bible, and leaves all religious discussions to the wicked. The wise Christian, I say, understands as well as Terence the nequid nimis. It is a religion in the unerring nature which cannot fail: it is the religion of truth. Our mind turns black by dint of reading black, and still more so, when a great deal of bad is interspersed with good: and those, able to discriminate bad from good, are, unfortunately, too[Pg 20] few. The plurality cannot judge by themselves, as far as they are taught to believe every thing, which comes out from the mouth of a so called theologian. Miss Davison, the victim of the Rev. Fairchild, had she not believed him another David, as he pretended to be, she would have spared her shame.





Next to men, unworthy of the church, injuring American Literature, come editors of certain stamp, the shame of those countries, where it is permitted a free circulation. He who permits an unprincipled man to enter his house, and becomes familiar with his wife, and innocent children, he deserves the same blame as well as if he were leaving them to read unprincipled newspapers. Though we are permitted to carry a bowie-knife, or a pair of pistols in our pocket, the laws of this country will always arrest the criminal, who uses the weapons improperly. The scribbler here, who does not know how to use an academical language, goes unpunished, though he did take from his christian fellow being, more than life—his honor! What more? Prisoners, before their trial, have not been spared by them!

The law which condemns the challenger, and not the aggressor, is a bad law: or, at least, since the couragous man is generous, it should be better to have no law against dueling, and then, few cowards would dare to speak, or write against their fellow beings. Dueling is a private war, which minds the uncivilized, not to insult the better part of the republic. If every man can pull a trigger, not every man has either the opportunity, or can wield a pen against a low scribbler, who had the impudence to injure his reputation with strong words. Gentlemen of congress are so badly[Pg 21] treated by such newspapers, and to such an excess, for which, even the strongest words of the english language have lost their sharpness. Still, though the cursing sailor cannot offend God, having no other language to express himself, such language, used in public prints, degrades the people’s language, and National Literature.

Besides, not satisfied with their strong words, they have now introduced engravings, and lithographies with the portraits of the very citizens, whom republicans should respect: and the very newspapers, which condemn John Bull for having fought in a ring of american spectators, exhibit Mr. Henry Clay knocking down the ex-president. Fine moral, indeed! The lustful pictures of Diogenes are less immoral, than such caricatures. The first, is nature exposed to lewdness; the second, inculcates in the mind of man the very scornful laugh of the jews, when Jesus Christ was dying on the cross! If we cannot find other subjects for laughing but such pictures, it would be better for us never to laugh during the whole of our life.





The very kind of laughter, already described in the foregoing chapter, induced many tourists to laugh at every little imperfection they meet in foreign countries. The laughter of a man of letters should be inoffensive: it should be rather the laughter enhancing the merit of the person he laughs at, than a depreciating, or self-conceited laughter.

Once, in giving letters of introduction to a gentleman, who was going to visit Italy, I could not prevent myself from smiling, on hearing him say: “The Italians are an intelligent people.”—“How do you know it?” said I to him. “Because” he answered, “I think so.” Now a days, every[Pg 22] thing goes so fast, that even gentlemen judge of nations before they have seen them! And celebrated writers sell their books, describing nations which they never saw. To those who praised my poor, dear country, rather too much, originated perhaps, from their blind love towards my imperfect, lovely country, I will still be thankful to them, though their praises might spoil Italy. However, the Vicar of Wakefield, also, praised his wife upon her epitaph, which he placed on the chimney piece, in order to keep the good woman to her family duties, during her life time!

No nation has yet reached the civilization for which God created us. As the lover of a little discrimination sees better the faults of the lady whom he loves, than the faults of the ladies whom he does not love, a man of letters, who has at heart the improvements of society, sees the faults of all the countries, with which he feels an interest. Of the blind lovers of my country, I will say here nothing more, than I would of those, who had no kind feeling for Italy. Besides, there are so many, who wrote on Italy, that, were I undertaking to comment on them, it would be a work too long for me, and unfit here. However, as such kind of writers form one of the most extensive branches of our present literature, I will take up “Italy and the Italians,” by J. T. Headley, for two good reasons. The first, because I find in it, the least to say against, and the second, because it is the most recent I know of on the subject.

How could Mr. Headley entitle his short reflections of six months, which he spent in that country, “Italy and the Italians,” I cannot understand. It seems to me, such a title is rather a too pompous one, when we reflect, at the same time, that Mr. Headley, by his very confession, we learn, that he did not know, at that time, the italian language.

It was no more than one or two days Mr. Headley had[Pg 23] stepped on a shore of Italy, Genoa, when he found himself offended by two individuals. The first, was a mustached officer, who eyed him askance as he passed; and the second, a black-robed priest, not deigning him even a look, as he went. Here, I find the very logic of the wolf, disposed to eat the lamb, at a water spring.—The officer offended the writer, because he looked at him; and the priest, because he did not deign to look at him! Next, comes an elegantly dressed woman, who, I suppose, having seen Mr. Headley offended, because the priest did not look at him, she lifted her quizzing glass, coolly scanning him from head to foot, and with a smile of self-satisfaction on her face, walked on.—For me, I always like to see a lady looking at me: it is a sign of kind feeling, and innocence: and children, not spoiled by too fond parents, look at strangers with like pleasing curiosity.

The gentleman went to see an Asylum, where he found an italian woman, who had lost her mind, because her father forced her to marry a gentlemen, whom she did not love. This only instance is enough for the writer in question to say: “When we remember in what manner marriages are contracted in this country, looseness of morals in italian woman should cease to surprise us.... Her lover was a young, and melancholy creature.... The morning after she was led to the alter, she sat by her window with pale countenance, and swollen eyes, watching his coming. But, he came no more.... The night that made her a wife, made him a corpse. He had driven a stiletto through his heart.... The young bride went into a paroxysm of grief; and went raving mad.... And now for sixteen years had she lived with a dead heart in her bosom.”

Many of the suicides in America are slandered by fanatics of the temperance society, as being caused by intemperance. Mr. Headley, here, satisfies himself, by venting[Pg 24] against the unfortunate young man, these words: “to render his death still more heart-breaking, he had not left her a single line.” Such a gratuitous imputation is, indeed unkind against a man, now in his grave! Had, the writer of “Italy, and the Italians,” sounded a little more the italian heart, he might have found, that the woman, who turned insane, and the man who killed himself for love, cannot have looseness of morals. He, and she who feel love, have a heavenly mind, free from every immoral propensity; and the innocent girl in the private company of her lover, is more morally guarded, than by the most careful parent. I speak here of a lover, and not of those wretches, who dishonor love, and whose base passion renders them incapable of killing themselves for a woman. And here I may use the language of an american lady from her Alida. “I cannot despair of any one who can love—not with the temporary interest that changes its object, as whim, or accident directs; but, who, in spite of disappointment, coldness, rejection, absence, despair, still clings to her who first taught his heart to feel it.”

Mr. Headley is rather one of the most mild in his language, among the many writers who, in copying each other, bring such an unjust blame on all the italian ladies. There may be nations, where ladies might know better how to conceal their affections; but, as the race of Adam and Eve are all beings of flesh, blood, and bones, instances of depravity are found in every part of the world; and like sins, stand in the records of America as well as of Italy: and as there are gentlemen who have their mother and sisters in Italy, whom they esteem and honor, I would advise such writers to use a better language, when they write of other nations. To speak disrespectfully of the ladies of a whole nation, it is not a demonstration; and it is only the devil on two sticks, who could be able to say so. A gentleman[Pg 25] from the top of a tower, cannot see what passes in the households of a strange country.

The writer of “Italy and the Italians;” after having passed three weeks in the only city of Genoa, he reproaches himself by having mistook an italian lady for a common woman, because she was badly dressed. And because her good nature prevented her from resenting his innocent mistake, by this only fact, he thinks that the ladies of Italy have not the dignity of the american or english ladies. “Dignity and woman’s rights,” says he, “are nothing to an italian lady, while victory is every thing.” It seems to me that, had the italian lady pouted, because of his mistake, such a bad humor would have robbed her of all woman’s dignity, and woman’s right. Nothing is more attractive in a woman than her innocent forgiveness. And the woman, who shows any fear of losing her dignity or woman’s rights before a gentleman, she does but tell him he is not a gentleman. However, had, here, the gentleman been acquainted with her language, he might have discovered the lady under servant’s garments; and her new dress, nothing but a reproach on herself by having forgotten, at that moment, that she ought to have been better dressed before them. There are faults in innocent woman, which render her still more lovely. It is like that child who stumbles, for too much eagerness in running to embrace its mother. I suppose she was one of those good italian ladies, who forget themselves to please their neighbors; and while her innocent blunders force you to love the childish woman, who always places you at home, you find yourself happy in playing the child with her. That which one calls woman’s dignity, for another, is nothing but a chilling pride.

I must here now copy the following lines from Mr. Headley: “I have seen, and heard much of an italian love of music, but nothing illustrating it so forcibly as an incident[Pg 26] that occured last evening at the opera. In the midst of one of the scenes, a man in the pit near the orchestra, was suddenly seized with convulsions. His limbs stiffened; his eyes became set in his head, and stood wide open, staring at the ceiling like the eyes of a corpse; while low, and agonizing groans broke from his struggling bosom. The prima donna came forward at that moment, but seeing his livid, death-stamped face before her, suddenly stopped with a tragic look and start, that for once was perfectly natural. She turned to the bass-singer, and pointed out the frightful spectacle. He also started back in horror, and the prospect was, that the opera would terminate on the spot; but, the scene that was just opening, was the one in which the prima donna was to make her great effort, and around which the whole interest of the play was gathered, and the spectators were determined not to be disappointed, because one man was dying, and so shouted ‘go on! go on!’ Clara Novello gave another look towards the groaning man, whose whole aspect was enough to freeze the blood, and then started off in her part. But, the dying man grew worse and worse, and finally sprung bolt upright in his seat. A person sitting behind him, all-absorbed in the music, immediately placed his hands on his shoulders, pressed him down again, and held him firmly in his place. There he sat, pinioned fast with his pale, corpse-like face upturned, in the midst of that gay assemblage, and the foam rolling over his lips, while the braying of trumpets, and the voice of the singer, drowned the groans that were rending his bosom. At length the foam became streaked with blood, as it oozed through his teeth, and the convulsive starts grew quicker and fiercer. But, the man behind, held him fast, while he gazed in perfect rapture on the singer, who now, like the ascending lark, was trying her loftiest strain. As it ended, the house rang with applause, and the man, who had held down the poor[Pg 27] dying creature could contain his ecstacy no longer, and lifting his hands from his shoulders, clapped them rapidly together three or four times, crying out over the ears of the dying man, ‘Brava, brava!’ and then hurriedly placing them back again to prevent his springing up in his convulsive throes. It was a perfectly maddening spectacle, and the music jarred on the chords of my heart, like the blows of a hammer. But, the song was ended, the effect secured, and so the spectators could attend to the sufferer in their midst. The gens d’armes entered, and carried him speechless, and lifeless out of the theatre. If this be the refined nature, and sensitive soul, love of music creates, heaven, keep me from it, and my countrymen. Give me a heart with chords that vibrate to human suffering, sooner than to the most ravishing melody, aye, that can hear nothing, and feel nothing else, when moving pity speaks. But, so the world goes—men will weep over a dying ass, then pitch a brother into the ditch. A play, oh, how they can appreciate, and feel it, they are so sensitive; but a stern stirring fact, they can look as coldly on, as a statue!”

It is now nearly fourteen years, since I arrived in the United States of North America; and were I, here, relating the wrongs, and injustice I received from the hands of several americans—Mr. Headly, though I have not the honor of his acquaintance, as I think him a gentleman, and a man of feeling, in spite of his “Italy and the Italians,” were he using the same style in blaming his countrymen as he blames mine, Mr. Headley, I say, would execrate all the americans! But, stop, my dear sir, I would say to him; you ought not to execrate them all, because I had the misfortune of having fallen among a few american rogues. If I met individuals, whom Petrarca would call gente cui si fa notte innanzi sera, I have nevertheless a high respect still, for the whole nation: and although in this christian old, and[Pg 28] new world it is difficult, very difficult to find a friend, not only I have a friend in America; but, I know many whom, though not my friends, I respect and esteem; and could I know the many virtuous, who generally, and unfortunately, are always the most retired, I am sure to find such a number in America—sufficient to shame those, who spoke badly of the whole nation, from which they cannot deny a Franklin received his birth. Still, Mr. Headley, who cannot ignore the many virtuous italians, who accelerated the civilization of the two hemispheres; and the last, though useless efforts made by italians for the rights of a suffering plurality; Mr. Headly, I say, proceeds his foregoing lines with the following: “How such things weaken one’s faith in man, and make him scorn his own nature, that is capable of such stone-like indifference to human suffering! These italians, as a mass, I do not like. They are exceedingly civil, but heartless—frank in manners, but capable of great duplicity in action—fiery-hearted, but not steadily brave, and selfish to any amount of meanness. In a word, you cannot trust them.” But, let us come to the point.

Genoa is a haven where the fourth of the population are strangers; and those who go to the italian opera, are strangers. Without mistake we can calculate that, in that theatre, more than the half of spectators must have been strangers. Mr. Headly says in his pamphlet, that Clara Novello was an english woman; and he does not know if the man who placed his hands on the patient, was an italian or not. But, were such a man an italian, he can no more disgrace the whole italian nation, than a Mr. Ballard can disgrace the whole Union, with his cowardly crime, against the noble minded Miss Amelia Norman. That the spectators in that italian theatre, must have thought the case of the so called dying man, not in such an urgent situation as Mr. Headley did, the very coolness with which the other man held the[Pg 29] patient, proves it. But, if Mr. Headley did really think the man was dying; why did not his good american heart, force him to run to his succor? Or, at least, if he was morally suffering, and gazing passively at the dying man as well as the rest of those italians; why he does not suppose all those italians, though idle as he, not to have suffered his very undecided, and painful situation?

I was in Virginia; strangers were suspected as being abolitionists: some strangers had been mobbed, and hung on mere suspicion. In passing by a crowd of people assembled for an election, and seeing many persons around two men, one white and the other black, the former holding the second, bound with a rope like Jesus Christ, when he was dragged to Golgotha, and the white, thinking his old prisoner an escaped slave, with the smile of an expected gain, for which he appeared to me like another Judas, I approached the crowd; and seeing that the poor old black man was suffering, the rope being too tight, I remarked with pity to those, who were laughing at his sufferings, that the rope was torturing the poor human being! Suddenly the whole crowd felt the same charity, and pity I felt; and many went immediately to the magistrate, telling him they doubted the man being a slave, and soon they found he was a free black. I was in that place as a foreigner fallen from the clouds; no body was there to protect me, had a malicious man, for the sake of mischief, whispered, that I was an abolitionist. Mr. Headley could not have such an apprehension in Italy, had he acted with the impulse of his good heart.

Incapacity, timidity, and indecision, which cramp the finest feelings of the human heart, disappear in an instant from a crowded assembly, as soon as one, among them, springs forward the first, to do a good action. The bravest soldiers left the field of a nearly gained battle, because their general had, at that moment, the apprehension of death;[Pg 30] and coward soldiers gained battles, because their general was brave, daring the whole time they were fighting. A motley crowd of people are less than soldiers; and an unexpected event in a place of pleasure, will paralyze their very faculties. Had I remained passive as Mr. Headley, I would not have felt the pleasure in seeing that, that crowd of americans had a heart as well as I; and that, if they did not feel sooner the pity which I felt, it was because they were habituated to see slaves in like situation, and not by want of a good heart. Were it necessary, I would bring many like instances which happened to me in America. But, my object, here, is neither a wish to write of my good actions, nor that of judging the whole mass of americans by such little things, or little casualties.

However, as the english Clara Novello went on with her sweet strain, the man near, held the patient down, and the people seemed to overlook the painful sight, I am rather inclined to think, that the patient must have been an epileptic, perhaps known as such by every one in that italian theatre, or, at least, believed by them an epileptic, a malady for which no remedy has yet been found, and the best thing is, to leave him alone, until the spasm will pass over.

Were I controverting all the little incidents upon which, as it seems, Mr. Headley places too much consideration; this work, which I intend to have printed in the form of a small pamphlet, would grow to a big volume. I will only say here, that a writer who intends to give an idea of Italy, and of the Italians, should have taken a quite different ground, though he says: “I have gone over these little things, because they are the best illustration of italian character.” So, a people who has its enemies in the house, a people from whom to expect freedom is to expect the impossible, impossible, I say, because France with her pretended freedom, England with her selfishness, Russia with her despotism,[Pg 31] and all the european despotical alliance, diabolically blessed, and sanctioned by what they call christian religion, did, and always would unite with Austria, to crush Italy—her people is judged by little things, which travelers, meet on their way. Every time the italians attempted to shake off the yoke of foreign tyrants, the tyrants oppressing the very italian princes, who rule italian blood, the pope, and his accomplices rendered grace to God, when they heard that their jealous enemies, I mean the protesants, gave to italian princes, ropes to hang the italian Catos, who attempted to place on the italian soil, italian princes, free of foreign servitude. But, this yet uncivilized world, in which the friends of humanity are misrepresented, is still doomed to look without feeling at victims, who honor our degraded race!—May the true God, who is in heaven, listen to my prayer! A short prayer, but a true one!—Foreigners who call us effeminate, must be effeminate themselves, unless they are so ignorant as to call Brutus an effeminate, because they find him in chains with a slave, and forced to work with the last of men! Travelers, and Mr. Headley blame italians, because they find under that sky, worthy of a better fortune, beggars, and wretches “selling their rich ornaments that were the objects of their ancestors’ affection, and veneration, like the trinkets of a toy shop.” But, you, spoiled children of more happy governments, you should not, at least, laugh at our nakedness!—And the pretty piedemontese who gave you a fall, Mr. Headley, because her necessity forced her to stand before you with a little pewter dish in her hand, most humbly asking for a few sous, rather as charity, than as a recompense of her mountain songs; instead of throwing her the coppers, and thinking her inspiration nothing but a love of money, your good, american heart should have prompted a feeling, if not mixed with tears, at least, with a smile of sympathy, which would have been, by far, more pleasing to[Pg 32] an italian heart, than your few coppers. That poor delicate female was singing not for the love of money, a love which wrongs rather too much this country of America. She charmed you for the urgent necessity of hunger! And who knows that the loaf of bread she bought with your few coppers, had not been mixed with her innocent and bitter tears? And that hunger is originated from the continual plunders which the despotical foreign powers in Italy, and surrounding Italy, are unlawfully forcing on us to maintain an exorbitant army, with which to distress us. Who knows, that the father of the poor piedmontese had not been hanged for having claimed the rights of man, the very rights to which God did create us?

The other ragged woman to whom your american navy taught how to say: ‘God damn’ without knowing the meaning of it, would prove, that if such americans are found in Italy, passing their christian time with such women, your americans must have looseness of morals as much as my italians. But, as I think the cursing women in Broadway cannot take off the merit of the american ladies, you have no right to think that my mother, and sisters are not ladies! Sins are committed in every part of this world; but, as we know there are virtuous people, we should exclude the greater number, or, at least, think ourselves no better. We are all fine nations, indeed, in this pretended christian world! But, since we cannot fling the first stone, we have no right to laugh at the faults of our neighbor, nor to tell, that our neighbor has not our virtues, or morals.

Mr. Headley has now already passed the half of his time he spent in Italy, which is to say, three months: and though during these three months, he never went out of Genoa, he says that nothing is more stupid than an italian soiree. Had he said a genoese soiree, Mr. Headley would have only offended the citizens of Genoa, who gave him hospitality: but, to[Pg 33] offend the whole of Italy, who had never had the pleasure of seeing him, nor he the displeasure of seeing their stupidity, it is what we call a gratuitous offense.—Not pleased therefore, in finding them excessively stupid, he believes that ten dollars would pay, each evening, all the expenses the governor is at, in the entertainment!—Were I saying the same against the kind americans who honored me, every one would be right in thinking, that I must have accepted their invitations, rather for their refreshments than for the pleasure of their conversation. And here, I must copy Mr. Headley’s outline of the italian soirees:—“Splendid rooms, brilliantly illuminated, any quantity of nobility—dancing, waltzing, promenading, ice creams, hot punch,” no hot corn, Mr. Headley? “and late hours make up the description. It is gay, and brilliant, but without force or wit.” And here, benevolent reader, a stranger, who does not know the italian language, dares to say of having found no wit! And, because the kind italians had no other way to please the happy gentleman of this New World, seeing he could not understand their language, they gave him dancing, waltzing, promenading, ice cream and hot punch: and because these things could not amount to ten dollars, he blames, them because the scanty refreshments had not been supplied by wit, with which nature did not favor those poor italian brains! The american lady, I have already quoted, says in her Alida: “Superfluous refinements in eating, and drinking are among the enjoyments least important to a rational being. Do not let us poison a feast to a neighbor, by the mortifying reflection that he can make no similar return. An evil spirit of competition is thus awakened, and all true hospitality destroyed.”

While Mr. Headley claims as an american, a beautiful english lady, whose charms had been transmitted from her american mother, he sadly writes of not having found in[Pg 34] Italy not a really pretty woman; and the only one he met, who was called the belle of the city, it was, what he would term, of the doll kind. And mind here, benevolent reader, that the Italy of Mr. Headley, is nothing else but the city of Genoa! He has not yet gone out of it.

To define beauty, I have nothing else to say, that a beauty is the beauty of different men, who have different sight, and different feeling. The artist will always draw it as he feels it himself. But, he who pretends to settle rules on beauty, must needs not know what beauty is. The beauty of one’s eyes cannot be the beauty of another, though rules we find settled by different nations. The Venus of De Medici is a greek beauty, whom a greek would love in preference to any italian, english, french, chinese, or indian beauty. But the chinese will always prefer the chinese, as well as the indian the wild one. He who compares the music of Hyden or Mozart, with the music of Rossini or Bellini, shows too plainly, he does not understand the art. He who wishes to see pretty women, has only to step into the car, and in a few hours he will see in Baltimore a great many. But, if he delays five or six years longer, he might meet there the ugliest in the world, so the glory of the world is transient. Once, in passing through a small city of France, all the women I saw in that place were so pretty, that I thought to have fallen into the garden of Armida. Still, though we know that every dog has its happy days, there are travelers who did not pass but six months in Italy, running through ten cities of that populous country, who, like Mr. Headley, asserted not to have seen one single pretty italian lady. I did pass myself more than six months in one single city of America, without having met one pretty lady, when to my astonishment, I met in that very city, on a public walk, beauties as cheerful as the sun. To bless this being of war, called man, nature did scatter beauties in every part of this singular planet.

[Pg 35]However, though Mr. Headley would never consent with the plurality of travelers, who praised the black-eyed beauties of Italy, after having resided in the city of Genoa nearly five months, passed one day in Civita Vecchia, only calculating how long it would take him to get out of it, seen from a steamboat “villainous towns” on the shores from Genoa to Naples, the last month which he spent in this last city, where his turn through Italy closes, caused him to change a little the language he used before: “It is not the partiality one naturally feels for his country women, that governs me,” says Mr. Headley in his twenty first letter; “when I say, that the beautiful women with us stand to them in the proportion of five to one.” And at the close of his pamphlet he added: “A beautiful eye, and eyebrow are more frequently met here than at home. The brow is peculiarly beautiful—not merely from its regularity, but singular flexibility. It will laugh of itself, and the slight arch always heralds, and utters beforehand the piquant thing the tongue is about to utter; and then she laughs so sweetly!”

That Mr. Headly did tread on the toe of the italian as well as of the american ladies, without intending to hurt them, or thinking that his heavy boots had prevented them from dancing; with the following lines, taken from his twenty-second, and last letter, I want to prove that, if he did hurt them, he had not done it maliciously. Yes; in spite of his great faults, which I found in his letters on Italy, and the italians, I am inclined to think him a kind, sincere, and ingenuous gentleman. “I said in my last letter,” says Mr. Headly, “I would speak of the manners of the italian women, which was the cause of their being so universally admired by foreigners. This alone makes an immense difference between an italian, and an american city. Broadway, with all its array of beauty, never inclines one to be lively and merry. The ladies (the men are worse of course) seem[Pg 36] to have come out for any other purpose, than to enjoy themselves. Their whole demeanor is like one sitting for his portrait. Every thing is just as it should be, to be looked at. Every lady wears a serious face, and the whole throng, is like a stiff country party. The ladies here, on the contrary, go out to be merry, and it is one perpetual chatter, and laugh on the public promenade. The movements are all different, and the very air seems gay. I never went down Broadway, at the promenade hour alone with the blues, without coming back, feeling bluer; while I never returned from a public promenade in Italy, without rubbing my hands, saying to myself, ‘Well, this must be a very comfortable world, after all, for people do enjoy themselves in it amazingly.’ This difference is still more perceptible on personal acquaintance. An italian lady never sits, and utters common-places with freezing formality. She is more flexible, and indeed, if the truth be said, better natured, and happier than too many of my countrywomen. She is not the keen look-out, lest she should fail to frown every time propriety demands.

“There is no country in the world where woman is so worshipped, and allowed to have her own way as in America, and yet there is no country, where she is so ungrateful for the place, and power she occupies. Have you never in Broadway, when the omnibus was full, stepped out into the rain to let a lady take your place, which she most unhesitatingly did, and with an indifference in her manner as if she considered it the merest trifle in the world you had done? How cold, and heartless her ‘thank ye,’ if she gave one! Dickens makes the same remark with regard to stage coaches—so does Hamilton. Now, do such a favor for an italian lady, and you would be rewarded with one of the sweetest smiles, that ever brightened on a human countenance. I do not go on the principle that a man[Pg 37] must always expect a reward for his good deeds; yet, when I have had my kindest offices, as a stranger, received as if I were almost suspected of making improper advances, I have felt there was little pleasure in being civil. The ‘grazie, Signore,’ and smile with which an italian rewards the commonest civility, would make the plainest woman appear handsome in the eyes of a foreigner.”

The above lines of Mr. Headley, though rather too severe ones, will, with time, benefit the american ladies more, than any thing said by foreigners: not because Mr. Headley was the first to observe it; Mr. Headley, being an american, cannot be thought of having any bad feeling towards his country-women. However, though I am a stranger in America, I will give more justice to the american ladies, and heal their toe, since I see them created to cheer us with their charming Polka: waiting, in the mean time, until steam, and tourists will have rendered them better, and better.

My purpose here is to demonstrate that the ladies’ faults in America, are the faults of those who keep suspenders to their pantaloons. The american ladies are disposed to gentility as well as any lady in the world; and were, here, italian ladies, who had changed their italian custom, I could not, nor I should wonder for it. I will say here, en passant: the contrast between the american ladies, and american gentlemen is so great, for which I had often thought the two sexes in America, must be of different nations.

How can we blame the american ladies for being so reserved, when the american gentlemen check them at the moment of their most kind, and woman like impulse, and feelings? I have known american gentlemen, who would not marry the woman they love, were she not unkind with every other gentlemen around her: and many did judge woman’s love towards them, as far as she was unmerciful[Pg 38] towards other gentlemen. And erroneously thinking that love is blind, they would not believe that a woman would love them, because she finds faults with them. A gentleman was to be married to a belle in the south of this Union. Another gentleman seeing the portrait of the future present wife, was asked by a friend, there present, if he knew the original, to which he answered, that such a star could not be mistaken. The promised, and happy young lady, passing her little index through the breast of her portrait, said: ‘and this is the milky-way.’ Such witty, and innocent remark was thought indelicate by her lover, and it had nearly broken the match!

I have seen more jealousy in the cold looks of american gentlemen, than in the showing, and often exaggerated feeling of italian gentlemen. American ladies, often shrink with fright, lest they be thought unfaithful to him, whom they love; and in proportion of the population, I think there are more fights, and murders, originated from jealousy in America, than in Italy. The death of Mr. Andrienne, by the hand of an american husband, is one of the most cold murders which had ever disgraced our race.

Is a foreigner engaged to be married with an american lady? Nothing is forgotten to force the lady to break the match. And here I will say nothing of the false articles, which I read myself in the newspapers, against foreign gentlemen, respectable, and respected by every one who had the honor of being acquainted with the slandered foreigners. I have seen american ladies, in receiving any kindness from gentlemen, looking first at their husbands, before rendering thanks to the gentleman, who was polite to her. Yes: the coldness of the american lady is not natural to her; and were she acting otherwise, she would be blamed; and Mr. Headley himself would think her as a lady without dignity. Still, the ladies of New York are pearls when compared[Pg 39] with the ladies in the interior of this Union, where foreigners are very rarely seen.

Step into a car, into a steamboat; and the very gentleman who complains of the indifference, and coldness with which american ladies receive the kindness of gentlemen, is the first to spoil them. Once, being in a car, and not thinking that the back department of it, and always more comfortable, was exclusively for the ladies, seeing almost all the places vacant, I went there, and seated myself; when the agent of that train, with a loud voice, and manners to make the ladies understand he had no difficulty of being rude with his own sex to please the ladies, said to me with a voice of command, that the place was only for the ladies. ‘It is not my intention,’ I answered him, ‘to intrude myself among your ladies: but, you should be more polite to an inoffensive stranger, when you find him innocently breaking your rules, by telling him in a whisper, that he is mistaken.’

I wonder to find the american ladies good as they are with like gentlemen, spoiling them continually. The american lady must have an uncommon mind, not to think herself a being far superior to all gentlemen in bones, flesh, and blood. And how can she think otherwise, while the ladies have a reciprocal regard between themselves, the gentleman thinks it derogatory to himself to be polite with another gentleman? However, as my wish is to be just with the american gentlemen also, and the acquaintances who honor me in America, I must say that: although there are some of my sex, who think that a gentleman is not obliged to be polite to the politeness of those whom he thinks his inferiors, the generality of american gentlemen are now as civil as any civilized nation in the world; and during the time excepted, when they are before ladies, in which time they think it unmanly to have any regard[Pg 40] between themselves, the aristocrat of money, who does not answer politeness for politeness, may be suffered by them; but he is not imitated by republicans: and the republicans in America form the greater number.

I saw gentlemen with ladies touching the shoulder of other gentlemen, telling the latter to give up their seats for the ladies, and them, without acknowledging the least thank. In a public place every gentleman would always be pleased to give up his seat to a lady; but, to command him to do so, he who gives up, falls from his dignity; and he who takes it, shows a want of feeling. If the giver feels naturally more moral pleasure in ceding it, is it not better to wait the moment in which the gentleman, seeing the lady standing by him, will immediately offer her his seat? Not long ago, a lady stepping with her daughter into a car, touched on the shoulder a gentleman before me, telling him to leave the two places he occupied, and give them up for herself, and her daughter: and with the imperial countenance of Elizabeth, queen of England, showed to him another place before him, where another gentleman occupied two other places. The gentleman did all she wanted, without saying one word, with such a patience, though dejected generosity, which caused me to grieve for my own sex. Few days after, two ladies stepping in the same car, where I occupied two places, fearing of being commanded like the gentleman for whom I grieved, I offered the vacant place next mine to the nearest lady, standing by me. She answered that she would receive both places in order to sit together with her friend. In asking the lady if she commanded me to do so, or if she would be thankful for giving up my place, and she answering that she would be thankful, I gave it up, and went to seat myself with another gentleman.

That the american ladies would not be inferior in kindness[Pg 41] to any italian lady, I have no doubt, could they believe that we, of the fighting tribe, are not dogs respecting them. Nevertheless, I have a high respect towards the american ladies, as far as a good heart is concerned, though a bad custom injures too much their sensible left side: and as it is the best side of woman, I would not like to see the american ladies so badly treated by their very bad teachers, who, like heedless fathers, complain of their children, who would be good, had they not spoiled them. Yes: the american ladies are naturally good children. And, were only one single lady, who would thank me by having said such a truth in their defence, I would call myself fully rewarded for my trouble in defending them. But, were they all bad, and at the same time, were they all thanking me for having said a falsehood, I would be very sorry for it. The american lady to whom I gave up my place with the dignity of a man, and not with the dejection of a commanded dog, showed me one of her most thankful, and charming smiles, not for the place I ceded to her; but, for having given her a good lesson. And the woman who acknowledges her fault with such a smile, were she properly and tenderly managed, she would be an angel. If my kindest offices to ladies did hurt my feeling, when I was not acquainted with the american custom, I felt ashamed when I offered them to gentlemen, who received it as if they thought me their inferior: and then, I repented of having been polite to them. Still, we must mind the ne quid nimis in politeness also: and, indeed, there are some who are so excessively polite among other nations, with whom politeness becomes excessively uncomfortable.

However, I always see something good, among the faults of man. Indeed, I feel more pleased in seeing rather an excess of politeness towards ladies, even to those who do not deserve it, than not enough of it to them. And to the[Pg 42] lady, whose education taught her how to place a distinction between selfesteem, and selfishness, kindness to her creates kindness. Besides, the politeness which american gentlemen have for women, it is of that kind, which must please the ladies. It is a generous service as a gentleman, before careless parents, would give to their naughty, spoiled child. The most uncouth man fails not in tact of gentility, when he gives any service to ladies. It is a national, generous, and natural politeness, for which females must always feel themselves at home. Blackguards here, would not stare in the face of a lady, passing by; and I am so much pleased of it that, were I seeing in the streets such a blackguard, I would join with all my heart the american gentlemen to reprove the scamp.

Every human being who is not deprived of its senses is created for good purposes: and the difference of characters among different nations is what it forms the beauty of this earth. Human faults are not originated from nature; they are but the evil of false education. I do not think that one nation is naturally better than another: on the contrary; that which seems a fault to us, it might be a virtue, were it placed in its proper light. Though now, we feel ourselves, generally, in a better condition than those passed times of darker ages, perfection seems only granted to our posterity. We are spoiled boys yet, taught by worse teachers, offending, and insulting each other for no other reason, but because we do not understand ourselves. We may boast of never speaking of our personal virtues; but, in speaking badly of other nations, we do not see that we praise ourselves hypocritically.

And here, since american ladies have been introduced, I feel it my duty to defend them from an unjust blame. I have heard american and foreign gentlemen saying, they dislike learned ladies. Such gentlemen, I suppose, must[Pg 43] not have sufficient learning themselves, to discriminate between a learned lady, and a lady who pretends to learning. A learned lady is always modest; and adapts herself to the capacity of those with whom she converses, unless her insufficient learning had not told her, that, nothing is more disagreeable in a lady than pretensions; and nothing more becoming than modesty. The learning which does not teach us how to know ourselves, is not learning. That a gentleman does not find himself at home with ladies more instructed than he is, in such a case, it is not the fault of the learned ladies: it is his own, by not having cultivated his mind as well as the ladies did.

Exceptions aside, such is the fact: in America the ladies are generally more cultivated in real instruction, than the gentlemen: and he who did study a little greek, and latin (which is but lost time, unless he be thoroughly acquainted with these two dead languages) thinking himself above the education of ladies, looks to his charming country women with such an air of superiority of mind, as if they were fit only to chat but of balls, ribbons, dresses, and all the nonsense of empty heads, rather too much introduced in conversation by the gentlemen who, when they find it useless to speak of Mr. Henry Clay, or Mr. Polk, they leave poetry, history, painting, music, languages, and philosophy to their fair partners to enjoy it, if they like, in their own private closet.

And here, I hope, no fellow of my sex will marvel, if I do not think philosophy incompetent with the fair sex. There have been hypocrites, who made of philosophy a bugbear. Philosophy is nothing else but good sense, reason, or wisdom. Philosophy, in our age, it is that sense of justice to which all men, and women, who have integrity, when they think, judge, and compare by themselves, they do agree without pretension of being more learned than others. The philosopher speaks for better information, and[Pg 44] not for the price of being considered more learned than his neighbor. The philosopher is modest: if he speaks of divinity, he does not say to his contender: You have not yet studied the bible enough: and so of mathematics, geology, or astronomy. The philosopher may point out the deficient knowledge which his contender might have of the science; but, he will never ask the impolite question, if he knows the science on which they are discussing. Philosophy, now a days, is no more under the banner of stoicism, peripateticism, cynism, or platonism, which were, at those times, nothing better, than religious sects. In our days, every one, who is able to demonstrate a truth, is a philosopher. And since the reasoning faculties were given to woman as well as to man, I do not see why man would not permit woman to reason as well as himself?

Once, being invited to an evening party in Virginia, I was so much pleased in the conversation of a young lady, that, had I not seen many gentlemen smiling and looking askance at us, I think the interesting subject we had on hand, would have taken all our evening time, before we could arrive to the conclusion of it: and nothing is more agreeable at an evening party, when we have matter on hand to keep off the chilling silent look. But, as the smiles at us, were too many, we postponed our subject for another time. So, the young lady, turning to the next gentleman, who was very fond of riding, spoke with him of his beautiful horse, and I went into the adjoining room to drink with several gentlemen a glass of madeira. After having drunk to our health, the gentlemen asked me if I had enough of the learned young lady. I had not yet answered the question, when another gentleman said, that he would not give three straws for all the learned ladies of the world. I answered the gentlemen, that I was very much pleased of her conversation; and could I spend every evening with ladies[Pg 45] like her, I would give up the practice of pouring out my sight on books, because such conversations would give me more information, than what I could get in my own closet.

It is a fact: while out of ten ladies you find nine, who know two modern languages, besides their english; out of ten gentlemen, you can scarcely find two. It is not because I teach the italian language that I praise the study of languages; I praise my profession, because I think it the most useful, and the most able to develop the faculties of human understanding. I cannot deny that few american ladies, as gentlemen, study also imperfectly the greek, and latin languages, and for which I do not see why their parents do not wish rather, that their young ladies would study the sanscrit, the ancient persic, or the hebrew. But, the plurality of the american ladies, studying modern languages from foreigners, who know well the very languages of their own country, the young ladies, I say, do not lose their time, like the plurality of gentlemen in learning greek, and latin from native americans, who get the professorship in colleges, because they have friends in this country. Hence the study of greek, and latin becomes a necessary thing in the american colleges: nay, it is a faculty, without which, a student cannot receive his diploma. And the foreigners, who would be the most useful as professors of modern languages in colleges, have but a blank name of professors. So, the student, who can get his diploma without any of the modern languages, study only what he is compelled to do; and the foreign professors, having neither fee, nor pupils, stand there to fill up the required number of professors, without which those colleges could not be called universities.

Out of one hundred american ladies, who learned modern languages from me, I cannot reckon five gentlemen. I have no doubt that in America there must be good professors of greek, and latin, as well as among any other nation[Pg 46] in the world; but, a dead language will always be a dead language, even from the mouth of the best professor; and a Buscheron, the deceased professor of the latin language in Turin, Italy, was one of those rare birds which does not appear on this earth, but during one thousand years, if it does: and when it does, such a bird, I mean such a professor, might be unable to impart his latin to others. But, no person is perfect here, below the moon, and the want of literature in the american gentlemen is counterbalanced by many virtues, for which I have as much sympathy towards them, as I have towards my countrymen. The mercantile business in which they are thrown, gives them such an extensive knowledge of the world, which does supply, in great measure, their deficiency of languages, or of books. They know what is passing in Europe, Africa, Asia, New Holland, and South America. They are patient, industrious, brave, and active. I have seen american gentlemen going to bed wealthy, and on the next morning, when they found themselves reduced to beggary, sustaining their misfortune with manly fortitude, noble composure, and getting anew into business with such cheerfulness, as if nothing had happened to them. Such an eulogy is the greatest which can be given to any civilized nation. As it is the truth, I feel happy to say so. From a nation who does possess such virtues, we must expect great things: and the republic of America has my best wishes.

Had a foreigner said of America, what Mr. Headley said of Italy, and the Italians, I do not know with what words many americans would have called such a foreigner. And, although that which Mr. Dickens said of America in his Notes, is nothing to compare to what Mr. Headley said of Italy. Mr. Headley himself introducing an english lady in his fifteenth letter, he wrote: “She tells me that Dickens is getting out a work reflecting on us in a manner that will[Pg 47] throw his Notes on America, entirely in the shade. She says she supposed our rapturous reception of him, was occasioned by the fear we had of his pen. Shade of Hector defend us! this is too much. However, we deserve it, or rather those of my countrymen deserve it, who out-did Lilliput, in their admiration of the modern Gulliver; for I plead not guilty to the charge of fool in that sublimest of all follies ever perpetrated by an intelligent people. I will cry ‘bravo’ to every pasquinade Dickens lets off on that demented class, which cried out every time they saw that buffalo-skin over-coat appear: ‘The Gods have come down to us.’”

We feel the blows of others, but, we are not conscious of those we give to our christian neighbors. I, on the contrary, wish not to be blinded by my patriotic feeling, as italian, in judging Mr. Headley; as he judged Mr. Dickens with his patriotic feeling. I look to his ‘Italy and the Italians,’ as being a production of a gentleman who wrote for the only impulse of writing, without thinking that, while he wished to exhibit his wit on the shoulders of those who had kind feeling for him, his expressions did unjustly cut quick flesh, as quick as his own; without thinking, I say, that the feeling of the italians is not inferior to the feeling of the americans. Travelers may come here, or go to Italy, and spend their wit as much as they please. Man is man in every part of the world: and to dishonor a nation with the purpose of praising ours, shows either a poor heart—a bad, or hasty judgment. As I think Mr. Headley a gentleman with a good heart, had he not already published his letters by the newspapers, he would have altered the expressions of his pamphlet; I have no doubt of it.

In his twelfth letter, Mr. Headley, writing of Byron, says, that Byron had always on his table the bible, Machiavelli, Shakspeare, and Alfieri. “Byron,” says Mr. Headley,[Pg 48] “loved Machiavelli for his contempt of mankind, making them all a flock of sheep to be led, or slaughtered at the will of one haughty man.” Had Mr. Headley read all the works of Machiavelli, the master of statesmen, and so little known, or disregarded by the american senators; he would not have repeated with the english, such an unjust slander against Machiavelli. Il principe is but a long irony. And here, let me be permitted to say, that the word Machiavelism should be taken off from the english, and american dictionaries, unless such a virtuous italian, who took off the mask from the face of tyrants, and showed to nations how ugly they are, be still thought by the english, and american literati, as a writer, who intended to favor arbitrary power. Machiavelli was as noble, and sincere in his sentiments of republicanism as Brutus, or Cato themselves. The english, and american lexicographers had been very much mistaken in saying that the word Machiavelism is synonymous of political cunning, and artifice.

Had I demonstrated in this chapter nothing else but, that writers should not go into other countries with a spirit of wishing to show themselves superior to other nations, it will always do something good to the future American Literature. A man of letters is indebted to all nations for his discrimination, and wisdom; and unless he writes with the feeling of a citizen of the world, his writings will never attain the purpose to profit mankind in general, and himself, without which a National Literature will always be in the clutches of national selfishness. We cannot write of heaven without looking to heaven. We are all children of one single destination: and we cannot expect civilization, until all nations will give to each other the hand of brotherly love. That God intended to improve the race of man with the time to come, the different characters of different nations show God’s infinite wisdom. Consult the best physicians,[Pg 49] and they will demonstrate to you, that children from parents of different nations, having the qualities of their father and mother, are cleverer than those children whose parents are both of the same nation. The intermarriages of different nations with so many different propensities, must, of course, bring the race of man to a great improvement, and for which the mind of the posterity must excel ours with the times to come.





Ten years ago the theatres in America were thought immoral places: and if Niblo’s theatre was frequented by the best class, it was for no other reason, but because it did pass under Niblo’s garden. Though every year the american theatre is gaining ground, and, as it seems, time will bring it to the consideration which it deserves, it is still in a state of infancy to what it should be: and it is just because it is in a bad repute, that talented american writers did not yet display their genius in such a rich branch of literature.

The ancient Greece, the mother of all nations in literature, was the first to bring on the scene, the actions of man with which to instruct the people, and inculcate morals, without preaching precepts: and as the good example is the best instructor, such a moral is felt, and followed by the people in earnest, and success: and while they laugh, or weep, the agreeable pastime leaves in their mind strong impression of virtue. The aim to inculcate morality, was so strict in those ancient times of Greece, that a law was passed with which they would not admit any play by any author, who was not twenty-five years of age.

Good theatres are so necessary to a civilized country, and such an indisputable branch of literature, that, when I met[Pg 50] in America persons, who did object to them, it seemed as if I had come into a barbarous country, and not into this very country, which can glory to possess the best government of our present century throughout the world. We have only to mention names of different nations to shame those, who call the theatre an immoral place. Œschylus, Sophocles, Euripides, Plautus, Terence, Goldoni, Alfieri, Corneille, Racine, Lope de Vega, Calderon, Moratin, Shakspeare, Otway, Shiller, Goethe; and here I will say nothing of chinese or hindoo writers of comedy and tragedy, whose works stand, and will stand as the best school of morality.

That many of the american theatres are rather on the immoral, than on the moral side, I cannot deny it. But, if so, it is the fault of the people, permitting such plays. The best thing may be turned into an evil. The theatre is the school of all the fine arts; and were it sustained by the people as a necessary thing, soon authors would write classical plays. Classical authors, would form classical performers; and classical performers, giving a good taste to the people; criticism would improve authors, performers, and auditors: and the nation becoming refined in the fine arts, the audience would not permit an actor striking another on the stage. A moral people should not laugh in seeing an actor degrading another in action, or words: and when such bad actions are introduced by the author as a historical event, they should always be represented with an aside, reproving the clownish act. The laughter worthy of a civilized nation it is when wit, and decent actions would be exhibited with feeling, and refinement.

Travesties, or parodies should be entirely banished from the stage, not only because they injure the heroic actions; but, such actors exhibit nothing else but a company of insanes; and as it is not moral to laugh at insanes, we should banish from a moral place an immoral laughter. As the tears[Pg 51] shed over the misfortunes of others, enhance the nobility of our heart, and the angry tears degrade us, so the laughter should not be excited in a delicate mind, were it even aimed at the last of men: a generous heart should always give to the most degraded, a chance to esteem himself. Such a bad laughter has so bad an influence in society, that ladies would laugh at every reasonable thing, uttered by the gentleman they dislike, for no other purpose than to make of the honest individual a stock of their pastime—when they have exhausted all their kind feeling with their lover. There were fools among the ancient courts to keep merry the ignorant kings and lords: and, before the middle ages, human beings were killed, with long torments, for sport!

Perhaps no author did benefit more, and injured more at the same time a national theatre, than Shakspeare. Such an extraordinary genius wrote plays, which have not the common sense. Andronichus for instance, is such an ugly monster, which must astonish every body who judge by themselves, how Shakspeare could write such an unnatural play. Andronichus is neither a tragedy, nor a parody. As Shakspeare had never been crazy, I am inclined to believe he was drunk, when he wrote Andronichus. That it was written by Shakspeare and by no body else, I have no doubt, since we find the style, the wit, and the might of his genius in it; a language which no body, but Shakspeare had ever been able to coin. The Andronichus of Shakspeare proves, that men judge like parrots in literature. Down to our days, all the learned say, that all the works of Shakspeare are the nature itself. They cannot say even, which is the best of them!

He who would deny a mighty genius in Shakspeare, might say, that the sun is a dark body. But, he who would approve a Lavinia, acting more than three acts, after Chiron and Demetrius had chopped off her arms, and tongue, without[Pg 52] going to bed, it shows how ridiculous must be those, who find beauties in every thing Shakspeare did write.

My purpose here, is not to write a criticism on Shakspeare: but, no lady in the world could fall in love with Richard the third, the murderer of her husband, king Edward the fourth; and at the very moment in which she is going to bury him. Were Elizabeth not a lady, the love of ambition, might change a woman into a monster, at least, a month after the crime was committed. But, to love a cruel monkey, in the street, before the very victim, and this victim her beloved husband, over whom five minutes ago she shed bitter tears; to love the very Richard still reeking with her husband’s blood, at the very time in which he uses violence in stopping the sacred burial, to love him, I say, because he flatters her, it is the very parody, and the ridiculous caricature with which he wanted demonstrate the power of flattery in woman’s breast. Were woman such a selfish, vain, degraded being, the honest man would shudder at, and feel aversion rather than love the beauty. And if one of the best ladies has so low a mind, what shall we think of those less perfect than Elizabeth? But, the hyperbole is such a big one, for which nature wishes to have nothing to do with it. And such a satire to woman, instead of striking at the purpose, it becomes but a ridiculous exaggeration.

I brought here only these two instances to demonstrate, that, if the english theatre has not yet reached the italian, or french perfection, it is owing to a national, religious veneration for every thing written by Shakspeare; and when the english critic will not be awed by the great Shakspeare, and, really, Shakspeare is great, I do not see why the english theatre will not be as good as any.

There is, perhaps, no present nation in the world more fitted to improve the english theatre than America. And why? Sparta, Athens, and Borne had been great republics,[Pg 53] because the theatre instructed the people in that alto sentire, in that patriotic feeling of virtue, and noble actions, without which all the republics of the world had been turned into monarchies, despotism, and tyranny. The best historical facts are sorrowfully abandoned by a patriotic author, who he is prevented from instructing his country fellows, under a monarchy: and many, who did write tragedies, or comedies under despotism with their free genius, suffered the vigilance of the iron rule. Shakspeare himself, was under the vigilance of the despotic Elizabeth: and although the present government of England is now the best of Europe, the english subject does not, and had never understood the republican feeling of Sparta, Athens, or Rome. England had never had a republic: and the writer for a theatre must be a republican in his soul, and in the centre of a happy republic. He who is afraid of being chained in a dungeon, cannot tell to an unfortunate people all the evils of a monarchy with which a king sucks the people’s blood; and the theatre must needs be the palladium of truth, and people’s rights.

It is a fact; America is a republic, and I hope, she will sustain herself as a republic with the improvements of the age. But, the greater number of the americans are from english blood, which, though brave, firm, and constant, has not yet felt that glowing, thrilling existence which inflamed those hearts of Sparta, Athens, and Rome with that heavenly flame of Prometheus. And the son cannot feel in his blood, that which the father did never feel himself. The republics of those times were nobility, and grandeur of thought; the republics of ours are but calculation, money, and selfishness.

By degrees, education purifies our blood, and brings the human heart to feel what our ancestors did not feel themselves. But, before a nation will be able to reach the true, virtuous[Pg 54] enthusiasm of a republic in which man feels himself as being a part of heaven, it seems, we are still doomed to pass in obscurity ages, and ages! The republican, worthy of our race, I mean, of all men throughout the world, must not think for himself. His country should think for him. His God, body, and soul is his country: and to die for her, is his greatest reward. A republic is a beneficient mother, who does not leave in want her best generous children: and virtue with these is wealth, and prosperity.

A writer of comedies, or tragedies under a monarchial government, writes only to please his princes; and the people, present in that theatre, swallow from the mouth of subject actors, nothing but their shame. It should be better that such a people would not go to such a theatre. The individuals, there present, lose the dignity of man, while in the theatres of Sparta, Athens, and Rome, every individual, there present, felt his own dignity, as a virtuous member of society; and from that theatre, everyone learned how to be a good, virtuous, and useful citizen. Could we have in America, theatres like those of Sparta, Athens, and Rome, this nation would be the glory of our age, and posterity, as Sparta, Athens, and Rome were, and are the glory of those, and these ages.





Were politics, and laws looked as they ought to be, nothing would be more honorable than a statesman, or a lawyer: and these two noble sciences, though distinctly separated, would be reduced to one. A statesman would be a good lawyer, and a lawyer a good statesman. The science of a statesman is to render happy the nation in which he lives; and be just, respecting the other nations. The science of the[Pg 55] lawyer it is to explain the justice, which should exist between the citizens of his happy country. That part of ethics which consists in the regulation, and government of a nation, or state for the preservation of its safety, peace and prosperity, and the defence of its rights against foreign control, or conquest, with the preservation, and improvement of their morals, gives to the lawyer the very sense of justice on which all his eloquence should be grounded, in defending his client from the injustice of bad citizens. It is the man of integrity only, who can regulate the citizens’ actions, and their social intercourse. Politics, and laws are the best part of a National Literature. But, we cannot attain with success this essential branch of National Literature, when the spirit of party prevails to such an extent, for which gentlemen hesitate to explain their mind, lest they might offend their friends. We cannot instruct ourselves, when party spirit takes the place of reason, and individual independence.

Could the americans of the United States understand, what, political party does mean; they would immediately cease from introducing such expression in their political speeches. The whigs call themselves republicans, and the locofocos republicans: and were you asking them: why they did divide themselves under such a banner, they will answer: Because the whigs are republicans, and the locofocos are democrats, while others would say: Because the whigs are for a tariff, and the locofocos for free trade. The first for a bank, and the second for no bank, and so forth.

The most enlightened politicians, finding that the wish of sustaining their own private interest, under the banner of a party, was an erroneous standing, they attempted to place a distinction between democracy and republic. So, in Noah Webster, the best american dictionary, we find the word Republic defined as a commonwealth, a state in which the[Pg 56] exercise of the sovereign power is lodged in representatives, elected by the people as it is in the United States; thinking it differing from Democracy, with which the people of Greece exercised the powers of sovereignty in person, without submitting to any delegate.

As we have no other words, to express the difference of the modern modification, for these two popular governments, I would have no objection to admit the definition of the american Johnson. And as in America the sovereign power is lodged in representatives, the government of the United States should be called now a republic, and not a democracy. Besides, since those who call themselves democrats, had never dreamed of changing the present government, the nice distinction, ought to be admitted by the locofocos, and call themselves republicans as well as the whigs do. The greek word, had always meant the people’s government, as well as the latin; Republic is the literal translation of the very word Democracy: and as the representatives, in doing their duty, will always represent the will of the people, the word Republic, as it was among the romans, must of course sound to an american ear, as well as Democracy among the athenians, or spartans. If we think that for the people, to enjoy their own rights, it is better to have representatives, who spare them time, and for which they can go to their daily business, in order to support with their labor their wives, and children; the republic, and not the democracy should be the government of our choice: and as this, is a republic; the two parties should join hands. The republic of the ancients, was Minerva; and this Divinity sounded to their ears as Wisdom, which is the very Divinity we do now understand under the word Republic. Sophia, Minerva, or Wisdom are one single Divinity; Wisdom is Reason, and Reason cannot be divided. If the republican citizen cannot agree with the errors of his own government,[Pg 57] he has the right to dispute, or combat them: it is his very sacred duty. But, to place himself under the banner of the tariff, or under the banner of free trade, it is a mischievous act. The patriotic party should place itself under the banner of the constitution of this republic, when a mischievous interested party takes a rebellious standing; and not change their banner’s name.

If under the word party, they mean their own private interest; then, they should be more sincere, and say, that they wish, here, a parliament of lords, and a house of commons. If they pride themselves in the beautiful political work of their fathers, they should forsake any dispute of party spirit. Tariff, Slavery, Annexation, Banking, Naturalization, Free trade, Direct taxation, and all the branches of political economy, must have nothing to do with party. Laborers, landlords, or capitalists should give way to their private little interest for the benefit of the plurality: and in all different branches of political economy, the country should never suffer for our private interest. If the citizen’s duty is to die for the country, how can a man call himself a citizen, if he does not feel the generosity of losing a little property for his country’s sake? An upright citizen of this Union should debate all like things without personal interest, nor party spirit. His independence depends not, by subduing the country to his own will; but by yielding to the plural will of his country: and the will of the plurality had never been a tyrannical will. If he is rich, he has only to leave people live, and he will become still richer. If he is poor, with his honest industry, soon he will find means to live honorably. Every thing benefitting the plurality, benefits still more the rich, by many indirect ways. Where justice is given to the poor, the poor will give justice to the rich.

The geographical position of North America, and a[Pg 58] government going with the improvements of the age, are so much favoring this country, that the grandeur of America would cost no pain to her citizens, were these, leaving this country to grow by herself. But, too many politicians are introducing too many cramped ideas in their speeches! As the fear of bad influence by strangers; that of catholicism; and many other fears, too tedious to enumerate. All like fears, sprung from ignorance, religious party, narrow minded, illiberal, or rebellious demagogues. This country wants only liberal politicians, who can understand the present position of America, and age. It is generosity, hospitality, and friendship towards all strangers, that this country will attain her grandeur. And then, America will be the Sun and the central political happiness, throughout the world. Those who, in America, wish to imitate the selfishness of other nations, are not fit to live on this soil. If the people’s aim, and of all the nations of the world, is now for having republics, and not monarchies; America has only to give them her friendly hand, and the whole world will be the friend of America. And the whole world will have soon the blessed millenium. The sons of God, should be liberal. No stingy cramped head, stepping after the old, and selfish governments, will ever do any thing good to himself, nor to the race of man, and of this country. But, the Sun will shine cheerfully for all the world in spite of puerility. He who preaches liberty only for himself, is a little tyrant: and a little tyrant is more despicable, than a big one. He is the venomous viper biting its own tail.

The imprisonment given to Mr. Dorr for having fought against the very despotical law of ancient England; Rhode Island reproaches, with it, the very noble acts of the fathers of her country! It is the same as to say, that all the acts of the revolution of this Union, against the mother country, deserve to be punished. Had Mr. Dorr taken the arms[Pg 59] against the present government of Rhode Island, without having previously applied for a modification of the despotical law; Mr. Dorr would be liable to few months imprisonment. But, such was not the case. When he found that no redress could be obtained, Mr. Dorr acted like a free citizen. That little state of Rhode Island, in acting as it did against Mr. Dorr, is now in contradiction with the whole Union. I would prefer to live in a country under a despotical prince, than in a country where a despotical law can condemn the high minded, who could not submit to it. A despotical prince must, with time, die, or might be killed by a modern Brutus: a despotical law, acts despotically, without such a fear; while it prevents the free citizen to think with the free mind of republicans. And to be vigilant against the bad laws of a country like this, it is the duty of every citizen! A tyrannical law is worse than a living tyrant: and from the moment in which a nation finds an unjust law, and does not use immediately the required modifications, such a nation cannot be a republic. The brother states of Rhode Island are nearly as guilty with their neutrality. He who attempts to overthrow a popular, good law, must suffer the penalty he deserves: but, how can we expect to be civilized, if the honest cannot dare to kill the hydra, I mean a bad law, after having applied in vain for redress? Such a bad republic would take from my mind all the lofty sentiments, and feeling I always hail for republicanism. A republic acting despotism, it is the worst of all governments. The despot acting devilish acts, calls himself a devil: and in doing, and saying so he is, at least, no hypocrite. A nation who calls herself the kind mother the poor, and of the plurality’s rights, and oppresses, at the same time the poor, and the plurality; such a nation, ranks with the present government of Russia, the most tyrannical of the present Europe. Can we call ourselves republicans[Pg 60] in the United States of America, while a martyr of freedom rots in prison like the Spielberg prisoners of my dear, and unfortunate country? And my friends, and fellow-laborers of my profession in New York, Mr. Foresti, and Mr. Maroncelli can tell you di che lagrime grondi, e di che sangue the republican patriot.





The love of ourselves is so firmly implanted in our heart, for which every honest being turns its eyes from death with disgust: and were it not mitigated with the idea of immortality, the man who coolly meditates on the loss of life, were it united with the utter annihilation of his soul, death would be too painful. Hence, we have not yet found any nation, which did not hope for a life to come; where the good, will receive the reward he cannot receive upon this land so badly governed.

Nothing is more sublime than the poetry of divine religion. When false love, false friends have wounded the heart, born for company, and love, it is satisfactory, it is pleasing to think that the Being of purity, love, and wisdom, is there in heaven to accept the rich, refreshing perfumes of our virtuous life. Could it be understood as it should be, religion is a branch of literature, which nobilitates man. The intolerant, the narrow-minded, the superstitious, the hypocrite, the interested, and the ignorant, have done such a mischief to religion, that many an honest man, who were the most sanguine champions of religion, they turned from her with disgust. Still, such is the human propensity towards religion, and the immortality of the soul, that the very philosopher, who could not believe that such cruelties, as we read in history, had been commanded by[Pg 61] God, in leaving the bloody intolerance, he believed, and still believes in a life to come.

Religion is lovely, pure, innocent, sympathetic, and disinterested. From religion we derive the nobility of our mind, and heart. Religion, as I understand it myself, is a branch of literature, and imagination which links us to heaven. But, as my religion differs from the religion of the many; besides, religion, being a spontaneous sentiment of the heart, it is our duty to leave any one freely in the hand of God, who will lead them to truth. As far as my neighbor does not interfere with my temporal existence, and acts honestly with me on this traveling land, he may differ from my religion as well as I do differ from his own. It is a matter which does regard his future happiness, it is a matter of his own conscience, and of his God: and no law can force, or control the free mind of man in this world for what it belongs to heaven.





Learned americans, and the british writers applied in vain to congress for a lawful protection of their honest labor. A subject of such an importance as the International Copy-right, the truly, and best pride of nations, had been neglected, in order to give place to long speeches on dollars and cents, and on the presidential election. Had rich booksellers prevented the senators from doing their duty; be it ignorance, or neglect, it is what I cannot tell. But, a nation like this, bound to protect the smallest invention of any mechanic (and I feel happy to say that the most insignificant mechanic is protected) that honorable senate has done nothing for the protection of an american Milton, or an american Hume. How can America keep up with the[Pg 62] mind’s improvements of the other nations, the aurora of civil society, the moral national power, when the creators of new thoughts, and the historians of man’s deeds, are not protected?

Though the printer, or bookseller, cannot have any work, nor business, without the writer, there is, perhaps, no other profession on earth so much dependent to another, as the writer to the printer, and bookseller. Each must live with his own labor; but, as the writer cannot live with his own productions, unless protected by law, legislators are bound to protect the writers of two nations, speaking the same language. Such writers are the children of both nations. It is not a tariff protection; it is a law which must needs prevent the printer, or the bookseller, from pocketing the money, lawfully due to the poor, honest writer.

There have been some writers who said, that genius will always carve its way, though its country be a bad step-dame!—Indeed, we have biographies of many geniuses, by which we see that they lived with bread, and water all their life, and sometimes, by want of bread, they did pass shivering days, and nights in garrets, with unfinished poems, superior to that of Milton. True, a small part of those poor geniuses, at the end of their painful life, they did find a protector. But, many of them, who would have been the glory of their nation, did they not die on the straw? Many, who with their arts would have lifted up to heaven the mind of their contemporaries, finding themselves neglected, they turned their geniuses to the fashion of a coat, or a bonnet, the only means of getting a better living among citizens who think more of fashion, than of the culture of their mind. Do we not see, even literary periodicals inculcating the most extravagant fashions with which many a father of large families had been ruined? However, there are still many ladies, whose educated mind, permitting them to discriminate[Pg 63] their faces in the mirror of truth, with them, intelligence is found to be the best ornament, than useless gaudy dresses; and we are happy to say that, their neat, simple, modest fashion cheers our heart.

I do agree with the above mentioned writers, that sometimes, though too seldom, the genius carves its way, despite of its bad step-dame. Still, we are forced to acknowledge, that many american children, born to nobilitate this soil of their affection, are driven to unworthy occupations, because a few misguided citizens, with a misunderstood interest for themselves, wish to have no International Copy-right. And for what reason?—Because they want cheap books! It was with a painful feeling, I had been obliged to listen to erroneous, immoral speeches contrary to an International Copy-right. They said that this republic must not care of the ruin of few publishers, or authors, when the plurality is benefitted by it; which is to say, the benefit of buying books cheaper than their real value! Fine christians, indeed! Such a doctrine, though not exactly the same, it sounds to my ears, as nearly as inducing the poor people to steal from the rich, and get with it, all that which they want. It should be better you would print no moral books, and leave these citizens to follow the simple, and just dictates of Nature, never failing to teach us good morals, than to place them in the situation of buying moral books, with like immoral principles. To go to church, or to read a moral book, it is not enough; we must act accordingly. If a father finds in the library of his son one single book, the edition of which was the ruin of its publisher, or its author, his son could not have the feeling of a gentlemen at the time he bought it, for the less of its value. Are they not all the books in his son’s library, printed with the purpose of making him a gentleman? And what kind of stuff are the tears dropping on the book of a sensible writer, if the reader[Pg 64] leaves the writer, or the publisher of it, dying in want? Were they not, all the sciences, and arts, aiming to form us better, I would never place my sight on one single page. We should not imitate certain booksellers who, by dint of selling so much morals, they have even sold the little one they had, before they entered into like business. The moral man does not permit one single citizen to suffer, if he can prevent it, nor would he take the advantage to the least detriment of another, be he rich or poor. ‘The law of my country sustains me, who am wrong,’ should say the honest man; ‘but, I find that my opponent is right. So, in spite of this bad law, I will never take such a cowardly advantage.’ What is it to me, my neighbor’s belief in Christ, if with a bad law, such a christian takes from me the means of my living, or he does not permit me to live with my mind’s labor?

The errata of present hurried editions, issued now a days, not being revised by the british authors, are so many, that the proprietors of their own works feel more displeased of losing thus, their reputation as writers, than that of finding themselves deprived of the due contribution, we ought justly pay them. Nay, were it to our shame, let us tell the truth. Many american citizens were ruined by not having been able to sell their own editions, when another publisher, after having printed the same work, sold it at a loss, by which the edition of the formers could not find any market.

Where writers, publishers, and booksellers do not sustain each other, one of the three may have a direct, immediate interest in doing so, during a little time; but, at the end of the business, as it is generally with every speculator, who attempts to enrich himself with the tears of his neighbor, he will, at last, find himself grasping at the wind. It is a rule of nature: where one does not sustain the other, the whole must give way. Murray in making a fortune to Byron made[Pg 65] still a greater fortune for himself. When Voltaire saw that the blind direct interest of publishers, and booksellers created discord, and misunderstanding, he kept printers in his own house for his own books; and these were sold under his own direction. Would it not be more agreeable, and more profitable to a publisher who, after having paid the just remuneration for the manuscript to its author, who lucubrated with a moral work, in order to sustain his family, would it not be more profitable, I say, to the publisher, were he printing such a work with leisure, which would do honor to his profession? Would it not be more satisfactory to him in thinking that he may go to sleep quietly, without fearing any republication of his own work? Besides, we have rather too many new works: and the printing goes so fast now, that we cannot read all, which comes out daily. It is better to read a few pages with discrimination, and attention, than a whole library in a steamboat. And the less we will read, if we judge by ourselves, the more profitable it will be to us.

There is another kind of soft reasoners, who, finding that the british living writers are, by far, superior in number to the americans, they wish to appropriate the mind’s property of that nation on the other side of the Atlantic. Thus, like pirates, as far as we can steal through like sea, we must spare neither force, nor cunning, in order to appropriate what does not belong to us!—Not only with like sentiments we will never prosper; I am afraid we are bringing down the glorious work of this country’s fathers, unless we give to Peter, what does belong to Peter: and the morals I am here preaching, it is not a matter of tariff. You may pay the duty of imported printed books as much as you please. The morals which I am speaking of, it is to prevent the printer, or the bookseller, from stealing the manuscript’s right of the author, be this british, or american. I am here preaching[Pg 66] from preventing the mischief of placing the american writers in the some jeopardy as the british writers are, respecting the american publishers. Do you not know that the manuscript of an author is an exclusive property? Do you not know that the comparison you made of a manuscript with a bushel of corn, is the most absurd comparison? You may buy as many bushels as you please of corn, and sow it in your own ground, and every one who has land can do it: and after a year of hard labor, nobody will grudge your profit. And in so doing, the farmer, from whom you bought the corn, had done before you exactly the same, and for which he should have no better preference than you. The production of nature is a providence, and a blessing to us all: but, the production of man, if not protected by law, it is a curse to man. The work of a writer is a seed (since you call it a seed) entirely different from all nature’s seeds. And had that genius never written such a production, the printer could never put his machine at work with which he should have no other right but to receive a lawful reward for his labor, at the time it should not be permitted him to pocket the writer’s reward also. Because in a few days he can overflow the whole country with as many copies as he pleases of a writer’s work, who spent ten years in writing it, shall we permit the printer to do it with impunity? And because I have learned how to take your money out of your pocket, and you cannot perceive when I do it, will you permit me to steal your money? The corn comparison against the International Copy-right, which I read in some newspapers, is a laming comparison. We have all the same right on a seed of nature. A manuscript is as good property to the writer, as an original machine to its inventor. A book is a work of new ideas, originated from man’s mind, and not a seed. A poor writer (and men of genius are generally poor) would never attempt to write, if the rich printer only, is[Pg 67] there to receive the whole benefit of his own invention. Corn is corn; and a manuscript is a manuscript. An ignorant is but an ignorant; but, a sophist is an immoral man. That any one differing from me is an ignorant, a sophist, or a more enlightened individual than I; it is not for me to decide. My object, is to find out, here, the truth of this important argument, and not to offend those who do not, wish not, or cannot agree with me. Nothing, it seems to me, is more preposterous, than that, which we have read by persons contrary to the interest of american writers, though, I suppose, many of them may be honest, with all their singular views on the subject.

This country is now inundated with trashes mixed of few good works: and the people are so much enticed to buy the yet moist works from the press, for which the standards of the libraries are neglected. On entering a store, the first question, which a customer asks now of a bookseller, it is for pamphlets just come out of the press. ‘We heard,’ they say, ‘that Johnson, Addison, Pope, and thousand others we have not read, are fine and clever writers: but our days are going ahead; and were we reading the old books, we would be left behind this rolling railroad.’ Thus, the reading time, which should be spent with classical works, and of taste, it is generally given to trifling books. I saw persons reading poor descriptions of sceneries from France or Italy, while they were running by steam, through the most beautiful sceneries of America—american sceneries which they had never seen before! Such kind of readers, I am inclined to believe, read more for fashion, than for the purpose of instruction. Have we no standard works to peruse, even such trifling things would be better than nothing, since I have not read the most trifling book, without deriving some instruction from it. But, if we can improve our taste by looking at, and studying the pictures of Guido, Leonardo da[Pg 68] Vinci, Albert Durer, Hans Holbein, or Hogarth; why will we spend our precious time in looking at poor pictures, or reading through very little sense?

The law of the International Copy-right, is a law of this century. Before the colonization of America, every nation having her language, quite different from the others, writers wanted no other protection but the Copy-right of their own country. It is not so now between England, and the United States. The two nations have the same language; and the worthy writers, now benefiting the two nations with their productions, must be protected by unanimous consent of the two nations. It is with a sorrowful mind we are now forced to witness the american government, a government from which we expect to derive more justice than from any other government in the world, sustaining, and countenancing such a piratical transaction. England, without boasting any republican law, is more republican than we, upon this point of justice. Had the people of America granted the just request of the british authors, trusted long ago into the hands of Mr. Henry Clay, at this very time, as men of genius are not wanted in America, despite of cavilers, writing exaggerations against America, from the other side of the Atlantic, we could now reckon american Byrons, and writers of all arts, and sciences as good as any of the most civilized part of Europe.

The sooner we will stop the mischief to the detriment of american, and british writers, the sooner we will see the aurora, and the glory of American Literature. If great writers had been neglected in their own country, at the time they had no nation of the same language contending with them; how can we expect that a new american Milton, will be appreciated, or known, without an international law with which to protect the writer? Modest writers have many other difficulties to get popularity, without this great one:[Pg 69] and even learned persons are meanly jealous of the fame of a new writer! Such examples which we have in the republic of letters, are the shame of belles letters! Walter Scott himself was unjust in writing against the first productions of Byron. Had Addison never written a criticism on the Paradise Lost, perhaps Milton himself might be yet unknown, such is the ignorance in judging of great writers. The plurality, apes the great critics. Where publishers can reprint the new works of another nation, without paying for the manuscript, though they may give a little remuneration to their country’s writers of an acquired reputation, they almost always decline from giving any thing to an unknown genius. And can all the booksellers judge of a writer’s merit? The International Copy-right between two nations is as necessary as the Copy-right between the writer, and the publisher of the same nation. The man of genius being a mere child in business, he will always be the victim of the wily book merchant, though there are gentlemen among all professions. Besides, when we will be a little more civilized, it will not be, even, permitted to re-print french, or italian works here, printed in France or Italy, without the consent of the respective foreign writers.

The americans so susceptible (and better so, since susceptibility is a sign of nice feeling) when travelers write, or speak of them, will they neglect the glory of their National Literature, the best and greatest glory of nations?





My readers, I hope, will pardon a new word I introduce in this chapter. It is Unitedstatians. When this Union will spread herself, until the continent of this new world will be under a single popular government, then the word americans,[Pg 70] or columbians, will be the general, and particular name. But, as there are indians, canadians, and mexicans also, it seems to me, that the citizens of this Union are wanting a particular name.

During the foregoing chapters, I wrote against fashionable literature; unreligious religion; bad newspapers; tourists, whose blind love for their country rendered them pert, or saucy towards other nations; american theatres; political parties; and selfish merchants of books. Odd, or bad men are found in every part of the world; and bad creatures, though they have more, or less influence in every part of this too much ruled earth, the plurality has now sufficient understanding to discriminate good from bad, when the frightful hobgoblin of the so called Religion does not put its long tail. Demagogues, scribblers, bad politicians, or bad merchants cannot injure my character, as a member of society in America: but unreligious religionists, can do a great mischief. And why so? Because in America the hypocrite is not easily known. The hypocrite who must, of course, be offended of what I have said against unreligious religion, has a great power on this new soil of America, against all those who, despising as I do any kind of cant, take off the mask from the long face. To such hypocrites, I have only to say now, that their Belief does not give them any right to brand my Belief. If they think their Belief better than my Belief, they have only to keep their good conscience for themselves, without branding my Belief with their inquisitorial hot iron, and frightful words. He who thinks himself a religious man, and thinks it man’s duty to be religious as he is, should keep his beautiful face with modesty, and never say that those, who have not his very face, are ugly; and as the inquisition of the mind, or that of the body have never done any good to the true religion, it is now time to learn, that in condemning those, who cannot think[Pg 71] as he does, he shows to be no better than an inquisitor. Fanatics have wronged too much the morals of Jesus. The hypocrite may, hereafter, speak behind my back against me, with impunity, as far as his infernal voice does not reach my ears.

There are unfortunately individuals, who think that virtue, integrity, and all the good qualities of mind, and heart are not indispensable requisites to a man of belles letters. They are very much mistaken. It is the purity of the heart alone, which gives immortality to the labor of a genius. As I think it to be an indispensable requisite, I feel it my duty now, to demonstrate it in this conclusion, and last chapter. It is the sine qua non, on which a National Literature should be grounded.

It is a fact: Pope’s, or Addison’s heart had not been free from envy, and other petty moral faults which, but obscured their fine qualities of character, and sentiment. As many philosophers have not yet been entirely free of selfish feelings, so pernicious to the very philosophy they professed, it seems to me, that a perfect civilization as Plato, Rousseau, Bentham, or Fourier are aiming at, must needs be farther off, than philanthropy expects. But, that such a fortunate philosophical millennium will come, I do so honestly believe it, that, had it been my choice to come into this world, I would have postponed it, until that happy future time.

That many elevated sentiments of morality are originated from the impure source of selfishness, we must shamefully admit it. Still, had not Pope, or Addison had, a good share of noble sentiments, they could never have written so forcibly of morals, without having felt it in their own breast. Such authors are like the physicians, who though acquainted with the means of alleviating the endemial sickness of their country, fell themselves the victims of human frailty. Besides, we learn how to become just, and moral from the[Pg 72] reflections of our own faults, as well as of others: and he, who acknowledges his own imperfections, is, to my mind, a good man still. Happy those, who receive from nature, or education, a mild temperament, free of any selfish consideration.

Men, whose thoughts cannot go beyond the age in which they live, sustain the impossibility of human perfection; and think, that selfishness is our human duty. Hence this immoral precept: “Charity begins at home.” As I am obliged to exert my physical strength among cannibals; so obliged am I also, to be selfish among the selfish, and cunning among the cunning, as far as the propriety, and the honor of the age, in which I live, will permit. But, when we speak of a future civilization, we must bring our mind to a civilized, and educated population: a people, who can easily distinguish the cunning, roguish, or selfish from the open, sincere, or generous. And when the cunning, roguish, or selfish will find, that he can not get the esteem of his contemporaries, he will, of necessity, become open, sincere, or generous. We are the children of our education, and of the century in which we live. The virtuous, alone, can impart virtue: and refinement will force men to be refined.

Nothing is more disgusting than those individuals, whose sight being not longer than a span, pretend to judge of distances which they cannot see: and because they have never been better, thinking mankind a race incapable of moral perfection, or improvement, they call Plato, Rousseau, Bentham, and Fourier the dreamers of the ages, in which they lived, and of those to come, while they do not perceive that, had men never attempted to ameliorate human frailties, we would be still nothing better, than our ancient fathers—the cannibals. Because we have not arrived at perfection, shall we stop on our half civilization?—This is my firm belief: Unless we practice that, which we profess in theory, we will[Pg 73] never be able to describe in writing, nor speaking, the honest delineaments of morals, or integrity. The man, who does not feel nobility under his skin, cannot speak, or write with propriety of the attributes of a Divinity. It is an axiom: that which is not felt, can not be expressed.

Si vis me flere dolendum est
Primum ipsi tibi; tunc tua me infortunia lædent,
Telephe, vel Peleu: male si mandata loqueris,
Aut dormitabo, aut ridebo.

Could Horace rise from the dead, he would not wonder a little in finding out, some men still doubting the above uncontrovertible quotation. Our boasting nineteenth century, may be properly called the raging time of scribblers, in which confusion of papers, true men of letters are neglected. When demagogues become the fashionable leading party of a community, the worst scribblers, whose money renders editors good enough to praise what they did not read, or could not understand, are generally read by a plurality of apes, who buy the new works, in order to be able, at the first evening party, to echo in the ears of a belle, the praising criticism of their newspapers. And these individuals sustain before their admirers, that a man may be either philosopher, orator, or poet, and at the same time, be quite a stranger to virtue! And while we call ourselves a civilized people, such empty minds, nursed with empty words, endeavor to confound literary men with demagogues, wisdom with ignorance, piety with hypocrisy, virtue with vice; and place into the asylums of lunatics every one, who would dare to contradict them. Such scribblers who live by writing the interesting murders of the day, and all the awful—excuse the epithet! the interesting calamities, I wanted to say, of this unpitying globe, are the only individuals who can make money out of their pen.

To deprive of virtue an orator, poet, or philosopher, it[Pg 74] would be as to entitle a man painter, when he has no perception of colors. Honos alit artes. A boy who drew a pig, while he intended to make a horse, might, likewise, be considered a painter by a still poorer connoisseur, than the boy himself. An artist cannot reach perfection, or eminence, without that which is requisite. Were two men of equal understanding, and ability; but one virtuous, and the other not, the second might appear eloquent, were he not compared with the former; but he cannot be but a pigmy before the noble virtue. The inspiration of heaven cannot emanate but from heaven. A clown cannot be a genius; and a genius, with the feeling of an unprincipled man—stranger to virtue, cannot speak the language of inspiration. Such an axiom wants no other demonstration. We may find knaves proficient in some manual arts; but, not eminent in the fine arts. When we look at the three Graces of Canova, we must acknowledge that, without the inspiration of a divine mind, which he fostered in his breast, through a life spent with integrity, and labor, those three females, delicately sculpted, could not inspire bystanders with purity, innocence, and love, which, like a perennial spring, emanate from that immortal marble. As in seeing a beautiful woman, whose proportions, though perfect in themselves, the almost imperceptible lines of cunning across her thought, and cheeks, repulse from man’s heart any sympathy of love, thus, if the fire of virtue is wanting in the breast of the orator, poet, or philosopher, he will never be able to inspire men of understanding, perspicacity, and sensibility. A spoiled woman may ensnare a weak man, and a soit disant orator ensnare also an ignorant people. Still, the first cannot be a lady, and the second is but a demagogue.

Could Talma impart on the stage those heroic sentiments, had he not been gifted with lofty sentiments, and integrity? A virtuous man is able to delineate the vice he does[Pg 75] despise; but a vicious man cannot imitate the heavenly virtue he has not in his breast. Virtue can understand vice; but vice cannot understand virtue. Ardeat qui vult incendere, says the virtuous Roman, whose eminent qualities of character, entitled him the father of eloquence. Where is the enlightened nation, who would suffer, or support the orator, poet, or philosopher, were each of these literary men practically, and hypocritically polluting the temple of Virtue, the only Divinity, dictating order to our society? And here, by enlightened nation, I do not mean nations led by the furies of superstition, false religion, or fanaticism, the shame of mankind. Though virtue is not the only requisite faculty to form an eminent artist; still, like the sun in the planetary system, unless it reflects upon every idea, and sentiments of the man of letters, his ideas, and sentiments would remain without animation.

Because not all the immortal writers had passed an unblemished life, shall we say that virtue is not the essential mover in a man of letters? Yes: Bacon, in some instances of his life, had been a mean wretch; but, because Bacon was bribed in an evil hour, can we sustain that he had been a bad man all his life? Though Bacon had not been always wise, his retirement, repentence, accusation of himself, and studies, evidently prove he was not a stranger to virtue. Still, had Bacon praised virtue at the very moment he was unworthy of the Divinity to whom he burned incense before, or after; such a speech, or writing, could impart neither colors, nor animation to his abortive thoughts. “Virtue is like precious odors, most fragrant, when they are incensed.” And Bacon himself says: “For, he may rely upon it, that he can no more transmit conviction, and sensation, which he himself has not, at the time, sincerely felt, than he can convey a clear title to property in which he himself has no right.”

[Pg 76]And why does the unbeliever respect the piety of a Fenelon, and a Fenelon, the morals of an unbeliever? To those, who would be bribed in order to imitate a Bacon, I have only to say, that baboons will never reach immortality, when, instead of imitating Bacon’s fine qualities, they willingly embrace, rather, that wrong side of the writer, which suit best their own rapacious propensities.

Every gentleman, who experienced the scourge of tyranny, will maintain, that it is better to be poor in a free country, than to have a princely state without a country. I say a gentleman: and those, who enjoy in their selfish wealth, without feeling any sympathy towards numerous human beings, struggling in want, are no gentlemen. Freedom is a Divinity, who does not leave in want her dutiful worshippers: and the Fathers’ ashes of this Union are still warm with the truth of this sacred sentiment. It is with sorrow of mind I hear unitedstatians asserting with sophisms, and without shame, that, as the best liberty is wealth, they do not adhere, but to those members of congress, whose speeches benefit right, or wrong, their only direct interest. Hence the contestations of party men, whose advocates are shamefully called orators, because they feel with them the babbling of their private interest.—Liberty for me, and slavery for my neighbor!

Virtue, integrity, justice, and so on, are all ridiculous, and empty words, when pronounced by that merchant, inveighing against the so called Nullifier, who demonstrated the advantages of free havens. And why does the physician hate that philosopher, who demonstrated, that a great quantity of physic impairs our constitution? And why, that printer declines from publishing that article of a true literary man? Had we not heard that divine, speaking badly of that dancing master, and of his art; and while this, should look with respect at another true pious moralist, had[Pg 77] not the dancing master called a worthy divine a hypocrite? Is it not, the moderate, and healthy exercise of dancing beneficient to morals? And morals and modesty do they not give a fine, and lovely countenance, to the graceful art of Vestris? Mens sana in corpore sano. That we are not civilized yet, it is sufficient to see how many imperfect professional men flourish in this country, not for their proficiency; but, because they slander their professional superiors. And why those interested contrary parties became to personalities, unless they have forgotten the academical language of freedom, and virtue? That pretended man of letters, is he not displeased to find another man of letters more enlightened than himself; while, instead of wishing to be indicated by an ignorant community, as the first man of his age, he should love arts, and sciences, for the sake, only, of social benefit, and the improvement of his own mind? Thus, every one in turning the stream of water towards his own mill, stops its beneficient course, while they should build their mills one under the other. In our european, and american semi-barbarian societies, almost every one wishes to imitate a Cesar, or a Napoleon, while they call themselves republicans.

With what courage shall we call that public speaker a worthy citizen, while cunningly avoiding every thing, which naturally happen contradictory to his own argument, he magnifies with eternal amplifications, the mites he wishes to represent large as mammoths? Without the ne quid nimis, we cannot expect to reach perfection. Men of letters look to petty envies, and slanderous speeches, as a great obstacle to refinement. Liberty, virtue, integrity, justice, are very pretty words, indeed!—and in the time of Danton, and the Devil; innocent blood ran in the streets of Paris, while those mean tyrants had nothing in their mouths but liberty, and justice. From whence does it come that we[Pg 78] feel an inclination to kick an Antonius just, when he pronounces the word Liberty, and when it comes from the mouth of a Cato, we feel a heavenly inspiration, which nobilitates our nature? And why do our tears fall on the pages of greek history, when it simply describes the exiled Aristides, passing through the innumerable, dangerous army of Xerses, in order to rescue his beloved, though ungrateful country? Could Demosthenes, could Cicero be the admiration of their country, and posterity, had their orations been pronounced without the conviction of defending the lawful cause of the worthy citizen?

A want of education causes some people to believe that serious deportment, stiff manners, and thundering voice, are the requisites of a gentleman. Hence derives that custom of answering, sir! with three exclamations, even when the questioned understood, at once, his addresser. In some courts, I saw lawyers speaking with animosity, for no other purpose, but to intimidate their opponents. On the contrary, when a virtuous speaker defends the innocent oppressed, or charges against the criminal; mild, charitable, and plain troth, does it not always touch the heart of an instructed people? The inspiration of heaven is without passion, without anger, without malice. The deceitful will always badly say what he does not feel in himself. “It will come out that which I feel here,” touching his breast, said Patrick Henry, when, after many struggles to conquor his modesty, and bashfulness, astonished, for the first time, an audience, burning with patriotism. Prius afficiamur ipsi ut alios afficiamus.

Unitedstatians, if the Fathers’ wisdom of this prospering country is yet felt in your breast, you cannot be but the friends of those, who have liberal sentiments. It is now time for us to understand, that we are all sons, and daughters of one single wise nation, the World’s nation! We are[Pg 79] the children of the progress of the human mind! And why all nations will not unite in such a blessing, prosperous fraternity, without which, peace, and commerce cannot attain the highest destination worthy of man? When, we will have learned, without preventions, from the lore of Egypt, Greece, Rome, China—from all earth’s nations; then, national pride, turning into wisdom, we will shake hands with all the literary men of every country: and the rivalities, envies of governments, religious parties, secret or public societies, shall be unbecoming, among human beings, whom nature, or God, if you please, had called to help each other, without distinction. The individuals, who think that nothing can be taught to them by strangers, are already deprived of wisdom. A child may give a good advise to a great man; and a foreigner, who would take the trouble to point out any of our faults, should be welcomed among us, when he, or she do it with the spirit to improve man’s institutions, and morals. Shame be to him who, with the bible in hand, excites the reformers against the catholics! To perfection should be man’s duty to aim at; and the nearest is man to perfection, the better for him, and his neighbors. Those, who have, or will misrepresent us, time will do us justice. If they speak the truth, we should be thankful, and try to correct our faults, which are more injurious to ourselves, than what is said by our most mortal, or cunning foes. If they speak, or write falsehoods, they do nothing but injure their own reputation. The slander does, unfortunately, prevail some times: but, like the night, it always disappears at the coming of the day. Slander did often act mischief to a particular innocent man; never, when applied to a whole nation. Our principal object be, therefore, that of aiming at perfection, and practical virtue, without which no man has a right to be ranked among men of letters.

I cannot close this last chapter, without saying something[Pg 80] of the natives’ procession, which took place in New-York, 15th of november, 1844. Such a procession is the shame of this country! Were it not sufficient wisdom among the citizens of this Union, the natives’ erroneous ideas they have of strangers, living in America, would ruin this country. Were it but two, or three years I am living in this country, on the next day, after that procession, I would have shipped myself, and my rags for a country, where the sacred word of Hospitality has not yet been profaned! Had I voted in this country, I would feel ashamed of myself now; and I am happy not to have done it. And he who has such a kind feeling as I have for America will be more offended, than he, who might come here with the intention of making money. The true republican will, hereafter, hesitate to place his foot on these shores, where the word Republic might be but a name. Go to my poor country, you americans; and, although we have monarchical governments, you will be welcomed; and were you expressing the wish of becoming a citizen, we would be happy to number you as our brothers—were we republicans as you are, your hands, and hearts, would be still a greater blessing to us. We would not fear for any thing you would say, or write: if you are wrong, we would demonstrate you are wrong; if you are right, we would thank you for your instruction. How many strangers have you, holding your offices? The few you have employed, it was because you could not fulfill those offices yourselves, the object of those offices being grounded on the knowledge of modern languages; and the foreign, american consuls, who personate you in their own countries, they serve you, without receiving any fee from you. When did strangers rule you? And, where is the act done by strangers against the welfare of this country?—It is not the strangers whom you fear: I am rather inclined to believe, it is the liberal education, now going around the[Pg 81] world, which you fear; and the truth, coming from the mouth of strangers, must offend you. The poor, virtuous strangers, who, with their rags, bring here to you their pure suffering mind, and labor, is the very wealth of this country. They should be more welcomed by you, than princes, whose glittering gold cannot conceal their false pride, and vices, injuring this very republic. The princes, whom you welcome in preference to virtuous men of letters, would like to see the ruin of America, in order to keep themselves upon those thrones, now shaking at the voice of Republic. The poor people, bring here, to you, their mind, purified in the furnace of vicissitude, and suffering: their labor cleared and clear your deserted forests; they made and make your railroads, and built and build new cities, and forts, which frighten all the despots of this selfish earth. When your fathers left the despotism of their old country, they were no more natives of America, than the poor irish, who landed, here, yesterday. Had not Columbus discovered this continent, you would be still natives of Europe—the natives of the very brethren, whom you wish to drive away! You should not, at least, bring the aboriginals of this country, the noble, generous red men, in your procession, now driven from their own native land—You should not make of them an instrument to suit your purposes. If you do not mock them—you deny with such an exhibition, the very blood of your european fathers and mothers! Who fought with your fathers for the welfare of this republic?—The strangers! And were you to have a war, the strangers would fight in your ranks with, and for you: and if your enemies are so careful not to fight you; it is, because they know, that strangers would fight with you, and that your very enemies’ soldiers would not fight against the american ranks in which their very brothers are here, defending the cause of liberty!—And why the honest strangers will not breathe free, here,[Pg 82] as well as you? Does the stranger wrong you? You have your courts of justice, and your penitentiaries. Has he committed a crime in his native country?—You should send him back, chained, to that country. To whom are you indebted for your daily blessings?—You would be the only nation on the globe, who, in feeling no gratitude towards strangers, would consider strangers a curse to them. All nations, acquainted with political economy, invite strangers to become their citizens. Though Italy is the most populous nation in the world, were Italy administered as it should be, she could maintain a population six times as much. The soil had never been wanted to man. This Union is so extensive, that, were all the people of Europe coming here tomorrow, they would not suffice to people these vast territories. England is an island, the production of which is not sufficient to maintain that population, without industry. Those manufactures are obliged to work for other nations, from which they derive their food. America is not England. You have, here, all the climates of earth, and all the blessings, and nature’s productions. Why will you imitate the political economy of an island of rocks in a cold climate, while you have the most fertile, virgin lands of the world? What are you doing of your immense, deserted lands, and forests? Send there colonies of the industrious, patient, brave, and honest irish: give them means to begin the world; and in a few years, the grateful irish will be happy, bless you, and pay you back the hundred per cent, with their lawful, direct taxes: and then, the government of this Union will be the richest, the most powerful, and most blessed, and exemplary in the world. Money is an element, like rain, or free air; it will come back to you, because your land is the richest, and your laws are the best; I mean laws, the most adapted to render the people happy. In kicking out the naked, who come to you, you kick out your own[Pg 83] fortune. Do you not know that the miser robs himself? If you want your ruin, you have only to wall yourselves up, like the chineses of Pekin.—Look at the poor, honest irish girl: if your heart is that of a dutiful son, think that your mother, now in the grave, was, at the time of the american revolution, on this far, distant land, like that poor suffering irish girl, who works very hard for her daily bread—she is your faithful, devoted servant. It is our duty to respect the poor; and if we cannot ameliorate their situation, the christian must, at least, neither undervalue, nor contemn them. And why the word Beggar became in the english language a term of contempt?—Because, we do not think, that, society, not providing for the poor, they are forced to steal for a living; and could we have the justice of God, we would see that many beggars, who terminated their painful life on the gallows, might have been the most useful members of society. Have charity towards the poor—Jesus Christ was poor. Respect the rags!—Were it only, because your fathers’ virtue shined brighter through their rags. Your blood (so much the better for it) is not from lord’s blood: it is a blood from noble, poor republicans, pure as heaven; a blood which passed through the furnace of poverty, and misfortune. Your fathers left their old country to escape the oppression of lords. But, now you are the lords of this country, you wish to lord your very brethren who feel as you the right of man.

As you might think me, here, an interested part, I will say nothing else on this sacred subject. But, when the geniuses, and great men of this country will be supported by a national justice, you will have then a National Literature, with which they will tell you these truths, couched in a better language. The National Literature will prevent you from committing such political blunders. The american geniuses will demonstrate to you, that the more a nation[Pg 84] has liberality, popularity, hospitality, and republicanism, the more blessings will shine on that country.






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