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knowing that the whole brood of New-Burlington Street are circulated as fast as they come out, for an annual subscription of a few dollars. The character of the native periodical literature of the costlier class, and therefore of more limited circulation, would throw further light on the matter; for it would show not only what the more select class of readers will pay for, but what the better class of writers can produce. The North American, and the New York Reviews, for instance, will give a juster, as well as a higher idea of the tendencies and prospects of American literature, than the most ambitious and elaborate pamphlets, speeches, and state papers—all of which are addressed to a wider, but a lower, circle.
Whether Mr Dickens has much considered the subject of American literature in its true bearings, we are not informed. From these volumes, we can only gather that he is deeply read in their Newspapers; the character of which he denounces in his bitterest, and by no means his best style. Of the justice of his censures, not having ourselves gone through the nauseous course of reading by which he has qualified himself to speak, we can form no opinion. We shall only say, that, looking at the condition of our own Daily Press, and imagining what it would be were it turned loose in a land of cheap printing and no stamp duties-where every body could rıad, and every body took a part in politics ; and without any capital city in wrich public opinion might gather to a head and express itself with authority, we can readily believe it to be true in the full extent. Thanks to London, which concentrates and represents the feelings of the British people, the leading London Journals (and from them the provincial press throughout the country takes its tone) are held under some restraint. Gross violations of manners are not countenanced; and wanton slander of private persons would not be tolerated. Moreover, the enormous amount of information which is demanded of an English Newspaper, cannot be supplied at first hand without a costly establishment and machinery; and this, requiring large capital to start with, excludes the worst class of adventurers from competition; and insures in the proprietor that kind and amount of respectability which in England always accompanies substance. A man with something to lose will not offend the feelings of the mass of his customers; a man with nothing, cannot get up a Paper which has any chance of general circulation. however, that it is imposible to answer for more than this. Private houses, we trust, are (from the stamped press at least) secure. But what conspicuous public man can be insured against the most malignant slander from one party, and the grossest adulation from the other — both equally unprin
cipled? What measure of what party was ever discussed by the Daily Press, on either side, upon its real merits, or with a desire to represent it truly ? What misrepresentation is too gross for our most respectable Newspapers to take up? What rumour too injurious and too ill-founded for them to spread ? What sophism so palpable, that if it can be used with effect to damage the character of a political opponent, they will not employ it? And the worst is, that in the guilt of this, the respectability of England is directly implicated. It cannot be said that the disease is incident to liberty, and must be borne with; for, strange to say, this kind of licentious writing, (known as it is, and thoroughly understood to be licentious,) is what the great mass of news readers like. The writer has no interest in his malice; he may be a very good-humoured man, with no wish to injure any body. But the readers must have what they call vigour. Their party spirit must be at once roused and gratified by powerful attacks, and powerful vindications. A leading article, written in a spirit of candour and justice, (unless it be known to proceed from some responsible quarter, in which case it has a separate and superior interest,) is felt to be insipid. It is true, that the influence of these compositions is not so great as might appear at first, because they impose on nobody; every body knows that they are full of falsehoods. Convict a newspaper of the grossest misrepresentation, and which of its constant readers will be shocked ?-even though the writer should not acknowledge his fault. Their influence is, however, considerable, and, so far as it goes, most pernicious. We cannot but regard the condition of our own Daily Press, as a morning and evening witness against the moral character of the people; for if this kind of scurrility were as distasteful to the public, as the grosser kinds of licentiousness are, it would at once disappear. That its condition is still worse in America, we can, for the reasons above indicated, easily believe; but we doubt whether it be fair to draw the same inference from the fact, as to the moral tastes and feelings of the people; for the respectability of America, not having the same means of expressing its will that the respectability of England bas, cannot be held in the same degree
answerable. In the mean time, we hope that Mr Dickens is mistaken as to the degree in which the Press in the United States impresses and influences the general feeling. We cannot but think that, if his description of it be just, the strength of the poison must act as an antidote. Does
well-educated man in America, read these papers with respect ?
Among other circumstances, from which something as to the social characteristics of the people may be safely inferred, certain definite, and generally established reputations of society may be mentioned ;-such, for instance, as the courtesy which every body is expected, as a matter of course, to pay to women and to strangers.
And we should be inclined to draw very favourable inferences from the fact, that in all public places, including public conveyances, a woman is entitled to best place, occupied or unoccupied, for possession on the part of the man goes for nothing; and also from the courtesies of the Custom-House, which, we believe, all foreigners will bear witness to Captain Hamilton, indeed, was so possessed with the notion that this business could not be transacted with. out intolerable annoyance, that he kept away. But Captain Basil Hall gives a pleasant anecdote, to show in how gentlemanly a manner the thing may be done. And Mr Dickens commends to our special consideration and imitation the atten* tion, politeness, and good-humour, with which the custom• house officers at Boston discharged their duty.'
We have now nearly exhausted these volumes of the information which they supply, available for the purpose with which we set out. Of the manners of the mass of the people, Mr Dickens gives many amusing illustrations; most of which have been already quoted in various publications, and have made us all very merry. It is but justice to him, however, to say, that he saw all these things in their true light; and that, while indulging his sense of the ludicrous by a hearty English laugh, he was not betrayed by them into any foolish conclusions, or illiberal (we wish we could add un-English) contempt. The following sensible remarks are worth extracting, not because they tell us any thing which is not obvious to any man who thinks; but because so few people trouble themselves with thinking about the matter. The scene is Sandusky, at the south-western extremity of Lake
• We put up at a comfortable little hotel. . . . . . Our host, who was very attentive, and anxious to make us comfortable, was a handsome middle-aged man, who had come to this town from New England, in which part of the country he was “raised.” When I say that he constantly walked in and out of the room with his hat on, and stopped 10 converse in the same free-and-easy state, and lay down on our sofa, and pulled his newspaper out of bis pocket and read it at his ease-1 merely mention these traits as characteristic of the country; not at all as being matter of complaint, or as baving been disagreeable to me. I should undoubtedly be offended by such proceedings at home, because there they are not the custom, and where they are not, they would be impertinences. But in America the only desire of a good-natured fellow of this kind is to treat bis guests hospitably and well; and I had no more right, and I can truly say no more disposition, to measure his conduct by our English rule and standard, than I had to quarrel with him for not being of the exact stature which would quality him for admission into the Queen's Grenadier Guards. As little inclination had I to find fault with a funny old lady, who was an upper domestic in this establishment, and who, when she came to wait upon us at any meal, sat berself down cumfortably in the most convenient chair, and, producing a large pin to pick her teeth with, remained performing that ceremony, and stradfastly regarding us meanwbile with much gravity and composure, (now and then pressing us to eat a little more,) until it was time to clear away. It was enough for us, that whatever we wished done was done with great civility and readiness, and a desire to oblige, not only here but every where else; and that all our wants were in general zealously anticipated.'— Vol. ji. p. 170.
Further on in the volume, a good story about an American bootmaker, which has been quoted every where, is introduced by the following general remark, which has not yet, we believe, been any where quoted.
• The republican institutions of America undoubtedly lead the people to assert their self-respect and their equality ; but a traveller is bound to bear those institutions in his mind, and not hastily to resent the near approach of a class of strangers, who at home wouid keep aloof. This characteristic, when it is tinctured by no foolish pride, and stops short of no honest service, never offended me; and I very seldom, if ever, experienced its rude or unbecoming display:’–Vol. i1. p. 300.
The political condition of the United States has been discussed, on various occasions, in this Journal. Mr Dickens's Notes do not throw any new light upon it; and, as no peculiar interest attaches to his opinions on such subjects, we do not feel called upon to criticize them.
We have treated the work gravely, out of respect for its author, and the gravity of the subject; and partly because the superior attractiveness and general quotation of the lighter parts is likely, we fear, to give a false impression of the tone and spirit of the whole. In thus endeavouriny to collect the substance of his more serious observations, we have no doubt, in a great measure, lost sight of the prevailing character and spirit of his book. But of this it is enough to say, that it leaves our opinion of Mr Dickens's powers just as before.
ART. IX.-Diary and Letters of Madame D'Arblay. Five vols.
8vo. London: 1842.
Though the world saw and heard little of
Madame D'Arblay during the last forty years of her life, and though that little did not add to her fame, there were thousands, we believe, who felt a singular emotion when they learned that she was no longer among us. The news of her death carried the minds of men back at one leap, clear over two generations, to the uime when her first literary triumphs were won.
All those whom we had been accustumed to revere as intellectual patriarchs, seemed children when compared with her; for Buke bad sate up all night to read her writings, and Johnson had pronounced her superior to Fielding, when Rogers was still a schoolboy, and Southey still in petticoats. Yet more strange did it seem that we should just have lost one whose name had been widely celebrated before any body had heard of some illustrious men who, twenty, thirty, or forty years ago, were, after a long and splendid career, borne with honour to the grave. Yet so it was. Frances Burney was at the height of fame and popularity before Cowper had published his first volume, before Porson had gone np 10 college, before Pitt had taken his seat in the House of Commons, before the voice of Erskine bad leen once heard in Westminster Hall. Since the appearance of her first work, sixty-two years had passed ; and this interval bad been crowded, not only with political, but also with intellectual revolutions. Thousands of reputations had, during that period, sprung up, bloomed, withered, and disappeared. New kinds of composition had come into fashion, had gone out of fashion, had been derided, had been forgotten. The fooleries of Della Crusca, and the fooleries of Kotzebue, had for a time bewitched the multitude, but had left no trace behind them; nor had misdirected genius been able to save from decay the once flourishing schools of Godwin, of Darwin, and of Radcliffe. Many books, written for temporary effect, had run through six or seven editions, and had then been gathered to the novels of Afra Belin, and the epic poems of Sir Richard Blackmore. Yet the early works of Madame D'Arblay, in spite of the lapse of years, in spite of the change of manners, in spite of the popularity deservedly obtained by some of her rivals, continued to bold a high place in the public esteem. She lived to be a classic. Time sut on her fame, before she went hence, that sual which is seldom set except on the fame of the departed. Like Sir Condy Rackrent in the tale, she survived her own wake, and overheard the judgment of posterity.