New Englanders and the Old Home.

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QUARTERLY REVIEW
Vol. 115., January 1864.

New Englanders and the Old Home
 
 BY GERALD MASSEY.
 

1.

English Traits. By R. W. Emerson. London, 1856.

2.

The Conduct of Life. By R. W. Emerson. 1860.

3.

The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table. By O. W. Holmes. London, 1861.

3.

Our Old Home. By Nathaniel Hawthorne. London, 1863.


AT first sight it appears exceedingly strange that three races, like the English, Irish, and French, dwelling so near each other, with no vast difference of country or conditions of climate, yet divided so distinctly at the heart of their national character, with the unlikeness so sharply defined in the national features, should ever have had the same Eastern origin, the same childhood in one family, and slept unconsciously in the same cradle of the Aryan races.  We find it difficult to quote the natural laws of such a change; it has a look of the miraculous.  We fancy the unlikeness could not have been much greater if it had come straight from the hand of the Creator.  Yet we have only to turn to America, and we shall see a change of race in progress such as is likely to result in a transformation quite as complete.

    Mr. Emerson incidentally remarks that the American is only the continuation of the English genius under other conditions, more or less propitious.  This difference of conditions, however, may make a world of difference in the outcome, as the French physiologist is said to have discovered when he shut up his tadpoles under water, where the usual influence of light could not operate on them, and found that they did not develop legs and arms and grow into frogs; their continuation lay in lengthening their tails and swelling into enormous tadpoles!   The continuation theory is a favourite fallacy of the Yankee mind.  By aid of it they have presumed to stand upon a platform of our past, and 'talk tall talk' of their grander future, assuring themselves that America contained all England plus the New World, and that they started yonder just where the national life left off here!  Alas!  the English genius and character did not emigrate intact; and when the branch race was torn from the ancient tree, it was certain to lose much of its best life-sap.  Then it had to be replanted in a soil not enriched and humanized, through ages of time, with the ripe sheddings of a fruitful national life, and had to grow as best it could in an atmosphere that lacked the nourishment and vital breath of English air.  The American poet Holmes sets the old tree and the old soil in a compact picture for his countrymen:—

‘Hugged in the clinging billows’ clasp,
     From seaweed fringe to mountain heather,
 The British oak with rooted grasp
     Her slender handful holds together;
 With cliffs of white and bowers of green,
     And ocean narrowing to caress her,
 And hills and threaded streams between,
     Our little Mother Isle, God bless her!

‘Beneath each swinging forest bough
     Some arm as stout in death reposes—
 From wave-washed foot to heaven-kissed brow
     Her valour’s life-blood runs in roses;
 Nay, let our brothers of the West
     Write smiling in their florid pages,
 One half her soil has walked the rest
     In Poets, Heroes, Martyrs, Sages.’

For two thousand years has the English race been taking root, and, by innumerable fibres, clutching hold of the land as with living fingers.  During a great part of that time Nature has worked invisibly at the bases of the national character, toiling on in her quiet, patient way, through storm or silence, to produce the visible result at last.

    The English is a race, with an internal nature, so to speak, large as is the external nature of the American continent.  How could they possibly continue the genius there which had here its birthplace and home?   In literature, for example, they were not in the least likely to make their starting-point the place where Milton and Bacon and Shakspeare had ended.  What literature they have has certainly sprung mainly from the old soil that still clung to the roots of the national life when it was taken up for transplanting, and to this day it breathes more of the English earth than of the Yankee soil, but it shows no continuation of the English genius.  Their new conditions have developed a new character; any likeness to us that they may have once had has paled and faded away.

    In one sense alone could there be any approach to a continuation; this was in the prodigious advantages they possessed in all material means at the beginning.  To a great extent they were able to build their immediate success on foundations which we had laid for them.  Our experience of ages did supply them with tools to their hand, and they stepped into all our command of the physical forces of nature easily as into ready-made clothing.  In this respect they found the royal road to empire, and almost started with steam in their race of a national life.  They have had a splendid run.   Prosperity has been sudden as some spontaneous growth of the land, enriching human labour at a miraculous rate of interest.  But the success has not the sweetness of ours; they have come into their good fortune; ours was earned hardly by long centuries of toil and painful victory.  Our institutions have grown like the shell and shield of the nation’s inner life, shaped by it and coloured with it; theirs have been cast, and the national character has had to conform as best it might.  The largeness of their territory has passed into their language, but it has not passed into the human nature.  This idea of material size has completely tyrannized over the Yankee mind, and dwarfed some of its better qualities.  We have no hesitation in asserting, that to the New Englander the greatest thing done by the English—the high-water mark of all our achievements—is London!   No act of national heroism, no lofty nobleness of character, no work in our literature, no moral sublimity in our history, affects and overpowers the Yankee mind as does the enormous size, the omnipresent magnitude of London.  It is the only English thing in the presence of which their assertive nature is lost in astonishment, and cannot even make a disparaging comparison: these miles on miles of human habitations, and this roaring Niagara of multitudinous human life.  But they are now in a court of trial for nations, where size of country, length of land, breadth of waters, and height of mountains will not count for much, if greatness of soul be wanting.  One human spirit dilating to its full stature may be of far more avail.  Shakspeare knew that by the greatness of soul, rather than by the size of country, are nations great and precious, when he sang of England as—

'This land of such dear souls, this dear, dear land.'

    Again, the American national life has been spent chiefly on the surface, in a fury of material activity or the loud raging of political strife, which stuns and kills in the egg that more delicate spirit of thought waiting for birth, and dimly dreaming of a life to come.  They have never produced any considerable class of men who dwell apart high on the mountains, breathe a pure air and send down an influence as of healing waters to run through the valleys and plains, sweetening and enriching the lower life of the nation, and making it green and fruitful.  These are the men who in England constitute the party of humanity, and hold the high places and the towers of defence against any encroachment of tyranny, whether of Individuals or Mobs.  Whatever fights take place, or party is overthrown in the political arena, the life and liberty of the nation are safe so long as these high places are held by such as hold them with us.

    Perhaps it is natural for youth to boast when it first puts on the armour for the battle of life, individual or national.  The sense of power, and the will to perform, are so strong within it.  The sword glitters so pleasantly to the young eyes—feels so satisfying to the grasp—so sharp to the touch.  Then we have a tendency to vaunt.  We are stiller when we return from victory at the close of some day of Marathon or Waterloo, with dints on the armour, scars on the limbs, and a great work done.  We are quieter now.  We have left our sting behind.  Possibly we might fairly boast a little as we think of one good stroke in the thick of the fight—one rallying effort that helped to turn the tide of battle; but we do not boast now; we have wrung the strength and pride out of great obstacles: we let our deeds speak for us.  They may take the armour and hang it up to brighten other eyes.  They may tell the story to tingle in other ears.  Our boasting days are done.

    The New Englanders, on the other hand, flushed with prosperity, and fond of approbation, are boastful and at the same time nervously sensitive to criticism.  We are aware of instances in which an honest English criticism—not harsh, but not sufficiently flattering—has proved fatal to the friendly feeling of American authors, who cannot stand that which English writers put up with and live down every day.  One cause of poor Edgar Poe’s Ishmaelitish life amongst his fellow-authors was his love of playing upon this national weakness.  He found they could not swallow criticism when spoken ever so kindly, and so he gave it to them bitterly.  And, as they had been long accustomed to nothing stronger than a gentle tickling of each other’s thinskinnedness, they yelled when his lash fell on them with its hearty smack, and they turned on him instinctively.

    Most people have noticed how Nature, at certain whimsical moments, will mould human faces, features, expressions, so queerly comical and quaintly absurd that all the attempts of caricature fail to match them.  Leech, Doyle, and Cruikshank are outdone any day in the streets of London.  In a similar manner we find there is nothing like Nature for doing justice to our American friends, and only American nature can give them adequate representation.  When Mr. Dickens drew the sketches of Yankee character in his 'Martin Chuzzlewit,' they were assailed in America as gross caricatures, and enjoyed in England as pictures very pleasant to laugh at, if not exactly to be believed in.  Since then we have learned that the Americans do produce such characters, and perform such things as cannot be caricatured.  The work of the novelist does not come near enough to that of Nature in quite another direction.  We have heard a whole nation telling the wide world that they 'must be cracked up,' in just such an attitude as though Hannibal Chollop had been their model.  The two reporters of the Water-toast Gazette, who described Martin Chuzzlewit, and took him, the one below the waistcoat, the other above, were eclipsed by the reporters that attended the Prince of Wales on his American tour.  The Young Columbians who harangued the Water-toast Sympathizers; General Choke, La Fayette, Kettle, and Jefferson Brick, have reached their summit of the vulgar sublime in the New York Herald.  It does not appear probable at first sight that any human being should use the greeting of General Fladdock to his friends, the Norrises—'And do I then once again behold the choicest spirits of my country?'  Yet we have it on reliable authority that when a certain American was introduced to the poet Longfellow, he struck an attitude, exclaiming, 'And is it possible that I stand in the presence of the illustrious Mr. Longfellow?'  In Walt Whitman, a 'Rough,' a 'Kosmos,' as he delights to call himself, America has given a living embodiment to that description of Elijah Pogram ‘s:—

'A model man, quite fresh from Nature’s mould.  A true-born child of this free hemisphere!  verdant as the mountains of our country; bright and flowing as our mineral Licks; unspiled by withering conventionalisms as air our broad and boundless Perearers!   Rough he may be.  So air our Barrs.  Wild he may be.  So air our Baffalers.  But he is a child of Natur’ and a child of Freedom; and his boastful answer to the Despot and the Tyrant is that his bright home is in the settin’ sun.'

    The New Englanders have many excellences and many faults, both wholly unlike our own.  Of course there is a small minority amongst them who see how the American institutions give the greatest chance for all that is big and blatant to usurp attention; but it is difficult to catch the quiet voice of their protest.  They feel sad to know that the worst American characteristics should so often be accepted as sole representatives to the world.  They trust that somehow or other the power may yet be evolved which shall work up and refine the raw material in which America abounds.  We take Mr. Emerson to be the exponent of the thoughts and feelings of this minority.  We fancy that but comparatively few of his countrymen will follow him up into his serener range of vision.  Still, he is very popular as a lecturer in the New England States, especially with the thinking portion of their women, which affords one of the pleasantest specimens of the Yankee character.

    Carlyle praises Mr. Emerson because, in such a never-resting locomotive country, he is one of those rare men who have the invaluable talent of sitting still.  But he has not sat still with his eyes shut, nor merely looked on things with that  'inward eye which is the bliss of solitude.'  Whether he turns his eyes abroad or fixes them on what passes around him at home, he can now and again send a glance right to the heart of the matter.  Looking across the dreary flats of the American multitude, we see him as a man in their midst of pronounced individuality, with force to resist the tyranny of the majority—with moral courage and mental vigour enough to withstand the pressure of the crowd.  Although sitting, he seems to us a head and shoulders above the rest, and we think that what he says of his countrymen, as of us, is worth listening to.  He bears strong testimony that the populations of the large cities of America are godless and materialized.    Observing the habit of expense, the riot of the senses, the absence of bonds, clanship, fellow-feeling of all kinds, in the hotel life of the large Atlantic cities, he fears that when man or woman is driven to the wall the chances of integrity and virtue are frightfully diminished; they are becoming a luxury which few can afford.  Pretension, he tells us, is the special foible of American youth, and there is a restlessness in them which argues want of character.  They run away to other countries because they are not good in their own, and then hurry back because they pass for nothing in the new places.  An eminent teacher of girls said, ‘The idea of a girl’s education with us is, whatever qualifies them for going to Europe;’ and for the consolation of those who are unable to travel, Holmes wittily promises that ‘good Americans, when they die, go to Paris.’

    Mr. Emerson tells us emphatically that the education is universal, but the ‘culture is superficial.’  He perceives that the value of education must be tested by its power of fostering and bringing forth the elements of individuality; that the strength of the national character and the reserve force of Race depend on the hidden amount of individuality there may he hoarded in the land.  To this wealth secreted by nature, often in strange ways and unexpected places, we have to look when our resources are most drawn upon and there is a run on the national strength.  When all our methods of culture may fail, this will give us the right man, the hero, who steps forth and does his work, and seems a gift direct from God.  Mr. Emerson admits that one Alfred, one Shakspeare, one Milton, one Sidney, one Raleigh, one Wellington, is preferable to a million foolish democrats, and reminds his readers that our communications with the Infinite must be personal; Heaven does not deal with humanity, or save souls 'in bundles.'

    It is our present purpose, however, more particularly to examine what the New Englanders have to say of the Old Home.  Mr. Emerson goes deepest into the biography of our national character, as written in the history of our great Englishmen, and shows a closer acquaintance with the spirit of the race, as it lives in our literature.  Mr. Hawthorne is a much shallower observer of appearances, and seldom goes beneath the surface of things except in the expression of his own ill-feeling.  Mr. Emerson is fair in his judgments and frank in his statements.  He looks at the old land with clear, honest eyes, and is ungrudging in his praise as fearless in his blame.   His spirit is large and magnanimous, but it has not got into the style of his writing.   The sentences in 'English Traits' are crisp to crackling; yet the book is the best that has been written on its subject.  Mr. Emerson says it would take a hundred years to see England well.  He has evidently found that, to know the English character well, you must study it for at least a thousand years back.  He tells us that he was given to understand in his childhood that the British Island, from which his forefathers came, was—

 ‘no lotus-garden, no paradise of serene sky and roses and music, and merriment all the year round, but a cold, foggy, mournful country, where nothing grew well in the open air but robust men and virtuous women, and these of a wonderful fibre and endurance; that their best parts were slowly revealed;  their virtues did not come out until they quarrelled; they did not strike twelve the first time: good lovers, good haters, and you could know little about them till you had seen them long, and little good of them till you had seen them in action;  that in prosperity they were moody and dumpish, but in adversity they were grand.’

    Mr. Emerson’s observations of England and the English lead him to the conclusion that England is the best of actual nations.  He finds the country anchored at the side of Europe—the very heart of the modern world.  For a shop-keeping nation it has the finest position, the best stand on the planet.  Resembling a ship in shape, the most patriotic of admirals could not have worked it into a more fortuitous place, or anchored it more judiciously for commanding the watery highways and the markets of the world.  The sea, which Virgil thought encircled and shut up the poor remote Britons from the rest of the human family, has proved to be their ring of marriage with all nations, and the largeness of its horizon has somehow entered into the life of this little island.   England is a model world on a convenient scale, containing a miniature of Europe and a pocket Switzerland, a soil of singular perfection, land and waters abounding with plenty.   The place is small, especially to the Yankee mind, fearful of traversing it at full stride, lest it should overstep the white chalk cliffs; but there is no bit of earth so closely packed with every kind of wealth.  Below the surface it is so in crammed with the life of the past—every step of it holding you to read its pages in the history of art or humanity—and above it is crowded with the works of the past and the life of the present.  To Mr. Emerson’s eyes the island presents a little bit of Nature’s most felicitous work in conception, left as a sketch, which has been finished like a perfect picture by the hand of man.  Originally the place was a prize for the strongest—a fit home of hardy workers and heroic fighters, for the best men to win: an island, whose chief enchantments were barren shingle, rough weather, and cloudy skies.  Yet many races came to contend for it, and beat all the weakness out of each other, and leave to it at last the legacy of their welded strength.  Here the widest extremes have met, and the fiercest antagonisms have clenched hands.  The mixture of a wide range of nationalities has produced a race that is nobler than any one of those which have gone to the making of it.  The Briton in the blood still hugs the homestead the Scandinavian listens to the murmurs of the mighty mother, the ocean.  The one spirit yearns wistfully across the blue waters, with eyes that sparkle for adventure, whilst it is shut up on shore; the other, when abroad, still turns with eyes of longing and heart that aches with home-sickness to the little island lying far away.  Mr. Emerson thinks great advantages, in the matter of race, have been given to the English, as well as in their geographical stand-point.  But they have toiled honestly to win their present position as the most successful people for the last millennium.  Their passion for utility and their practical commonsense have given them the throne of the modern world.  The Russian in his snows is aiming to be English; the Turk and the Chinese are also making awkward efforts in the same direction.  Those who resist this influence neither feel it nor obey it any the less.  The English, Mr. Emerson says, are free, forcible men, in a country where life is safe and has reached its greatest value.  They give the bias to the current age, not by chance, or by mass, but by their character and by the number of individuals among them of personal ability.   They have supreme endurance in labour and in war.  Their success is not sudden or fortunate, but they have maintained constancy for ages.  Their sense of superiority is founded on their habit of victory.

    The nation, he says, has yet a tough, acrid animal nature, which centuries of civilizing have not been able to sweeten. The smoothness of following ages has not quite effaced the stamp of Odin.  Dear to the English heart is a fair, stand-up fight, and a set-to in the streets will always delight the passers-by.  They love fair play, open fighting, a clear deck, and want no favour.  The English game, he avers, is main force to main force—the planting of foot to foot, a rough tug and no dodging.  They hate all craft and subtlety; and when they have pounded each other to a poultice, they will shake hands and be friends for the remainder of their lives.  They have extreme difficulty to run away, and will die game: all fight well, from the costermongers, who learn to ‘work their fists’ in the streets, up to the young ‘puppies,’ who ‘fought well’ at Waterloo.  They are good at storming redoubts, at boarding frigates, at dying in the last ditch, on any desperate service that has daylight and honour in it.  But, with all this rough force and supreme ‘pluck,’ the race, unlike the Roman, is tender as well as stout of heart—‘as mild as it is game, and game as it is mild’:—

‘The English,’ Mr. Emerson says, ‘do not wear their heart on their sleeve for daws to peck at.  They hide virtues under vices, or the semblance of them.  It is the misshapen, hairy Scandinavian Troll again, who lifts the cart out of the mire, or “ threshes the corn that ten day-labourers could not end,” but it is done in the dark, and with a muttered malediction.  He is a churl with a soft place in his heart, whose speech is a brash of bitter waters, but who loves to help you at a pinch.  He says no, and serves you, and your thanks disgust him.  There was lately a cross-grained miser, odd and ugly, resembling in countenance the portrait of Punch with the laugh left out; rich by his own industry, sulking in a lonely house, who never gave a dinner to any man, and disdained all courtesies, yet as true a worshipper of beauty in form and colour as ever existed, and profusely pouring over the cold mind of his countryman creations of grace and truth, removing the reproach of sterility from English Art, catching from their savage climate every fine hint, and importing into their galleries every tint and trait of summer cities and skies; making an era in painting; and when he saw that the splendour of one of his pictures in the Exhibition dimmed his rival’s that hung next it, secretly took a brush and blackened his own.'

    No people, Mr. Emerson thinks, have so much thoroughness: they clinch every nail they drive.  They have no running for luck—no immoderate speed.  Conscious that no better race of men exists, they rely most on the simplest means in war, business, and mechanics.  They do not put too fine a point on matters, but concentrate the expense and the labour in the right place.  They are bound to see their measure carried, and will stick to it through ages of defeat.  Private persons will exhibit in scientific and antiquarian researches the very same pertinacity as the nation showed in the coalitions in which it yoked Europe together against the empire of Buonaparte, and fought on through failure after failure until it conquered at last.

    Mr. Emerson finds the Englishman to be him of all men who stands firmest in his shoes.  They have in themselves, he says, what they value in their horses-mettle and bottom.  Their practical power rests on their national sincerity, and their sincerity and veracity appear to result on a sounder animal structure, as if they could afford it.  They dare to displease, and require you to be of your own opinion!   They will not have to do with a man in a mask; let them know the whole truth.  Say what you mean.  Be what you are.  Draw the line straight, hit whom and where you may.  The Englishman’s eye looks full into the face of things, and he grips his weapon or tool by the handle.  He has a supreme eye to facts, a bias toward utility, and a logic that brings salt to soup, hammer to nail, oar to boat; the logic of cooks, carpenters, and chemists, following the sequence of nature, and one on which words make no impression. Mr. Emerson considers the unconditional surrender of the English mind to facts, and the choice of means to reach their ends, are as admirable as with ants and bees. Yet with this one-eyed logic of a Cyclopian kind of character he admits that the English have a spirit of singular fairness, a belief in the existence of two sides, and a resolution to see fair play.  There is an appeal from the assertion of the parties to the proof of what is asserted.  The whole universe of Englishmen will suspend their Judgment until a trial can be had.  He also says there is an English hero superior to the French, the German, the Italian, or the Greek:—

‘The national temper in the civil history is not flashy or whiffling.  The slow deep English mass smoulders with fire, which at last sets all its borders in flame.  The wrath of London is not French wrath, but has a long memory, and in its hottest heat a register and a rule.  Half of their strength they put not forth.  They never let out all the length of their reins.  But they are capable of a sublime resolution; and if, hereafter, the war of races, often predicted and making itself a war of opinion also (a question of despotism and liberty coming from Eastern Europe), should menace the English civilization, these sea-kings may take once again to their floating castles, and find a new home and a second millennium of power in their colonies.  Whoever would see the uncoiling of that tremendous spring, the explosion of their well-husbanded forces, must follow the swarms which, pouring now for two hundred years from the British Islands, have sailed and traded and fought and colonized through all climates round the globe.’

    One great secret of the English power Mr. Emerson perceives lies in the mutual good understanding of the race. Difference of rank does not divide the national heart.  An electric touch by any of our national ideas will melt us all into one family.  This we have proved on many a hard-fought field, where peer and peasant have stood shoulder to shoulder, and fallen side by side.  'English believes in English.  They have trust in each other.  The very felons have pride in one another’s English staunchness.  The people are more bound in character than differenced in ability and rank.’

    Mr. Emerson delights in the English plainness of speech and dress.  An Englishman, he remarks, understates and avoids the superlative, ‘checks himself in compliment, alleging that in the French language one cannot speak without lying.'  Pretension and vapouring are always distasteful.  ‘They keep to the other extreme of low tone in voice, dress, and manners.  They hate pretence and nonsense and sentimentalism.  Plain, rich clothes and equipage, with plain, rich finish, mark the English truth.   Where ornaments are worn, they must be gems.  They dislike everything theatrical in public life, and anything showy in private.  They have no French taste for a badge.  The Lord dresses a little worse than the Commoner; but the best dress with them is that which is the most difficult to remember or describe.’

    The upper classes have only birth, say the people across the water.  Mr. Emerson replies, Yes, but they have manners, and it is wonderful how much talent runs into manners; power of any kind readily appears in the manners, and beneficent power gives a majesty which cannot be concealed or resisted.   The superior education of the nobles recommends them to the country.  They are high-spirited, active, educated men, born to wealth and power, who have run through every country, and kept in every country the best company; have seen every secret of art and Nature.  They have the sense of superiority, with the absence of all the ambitious effort which disgusts in the aspiring classes; a pure tone of thought and feeling, and the power to command, among their other luxuries, the presence of the most accomplished men in their festive meetings.  Besides, these are they who make England that strong-box and museum it is; who gather and protect works of art, dragged from amidst burning cities and revolutionary countries, and brought hither out of all the world.  These lords, says Mr. Emerson, are the treasurers and librarians of mankind, engaged by their pride and wealth to this function; and he pardoned high park-fences, when he found that besides does and pheasants, these have preserved Arundel marbles, Townley galleries, Howard and Spenserian libraries, Warwick and Portland vases, Saxon manuscripts, monastic architecture, millennial trees, and breeds of cattle elsewhere extinct.  Mr. Emerson holds that some men are born to own, and can animate their possessions.  Others cannot; their owning, is not graceful.  They seem to steal their own dividends.  Those should own, who can administer; not they who hoard and conceal.  And he is the rich man in whom the people are rich; whilst he is the poor man in whom the people are poor.  He also perceives, rightly enough, that the English aristocracy strengthen their hold on the national heart by making the private life their place of honour.  Domesticity is the tap-root which enables the nation to branch wide and high; and this the nobility, the county-families, carefully cultivate.   They do not give up their country tastes to a town life, nor are their rural predilections absorbed even by a life spent in the service of the State.  They like to live on their own lands, amongst their people, and they wisely and frequently exchange the crowds that are not company, and the talk that is hut a tinkling cymbal, for intercourse with out-of-door nature, the bursting of blossoms, the singing of birds, the waving of wheat, the breath of the heather, and the smell of the turnips.    They seek to renew life at the springs of health, which gives a fresh bloom to the fireside humanities.  The love and labour of generations are spent on the building, planting, and decorating their homesteads, and the world has been ransacked to enrich them.

    Surveying the England of to-day, Mr. Emerson is ready, like the rest of us, to under-value the Present.  This has always been a common failing, or an uncommon virtue, of human nature.  The greatest periods of our history, which to us seem filled with divine heat and a plenitude of power, have been spoken lightly of by some that lived in them.  Mr. Emerson thinks no ‘sublime augury’ cheers the student of our current literature—no greatness, unless perhaps in our criticism, which often bespeaks the ‘presence of the invisible gods.’ Meanwhile, he knows there is always a retrieving power in the English race.  He can see but little life in the Church of England (he wrote some eight or nine years ago); but he admits it ‘has many certificates to show of humble, effective service in humanizing the people, in cheering and refining men—feeding, healing, educating.  It has the seal of martyrs and confessors; the noblest books; a sublime architecture; a ritual marked by the same secular merits, nothing cheap or purchasable.‘  And he holds that, ‘if religion be the doing of all good, and for its sake the suffering of all evil,—souifrir de tout le monde et faire soujfrir personne,—that divine secret has existed in England from the days of Alfred to those of Romilly, of Clarkson, and of Florence Nightingale, and in thousands who have no fame.’

    Mr. Emerson is wrong in supposing that the English husband has a right to lead the wife to market for sale.  He likewise dwells too strongly perhaps on the fleshly side of the national character—our love of good feeding and drinking; dips us rather too deep in beer and flesh-pots, and lays too much stress on the coarseness of our logic, and the materiality of our success.‘ No people have true common sense but those who are born in England,’ said Montesquieu.  But the English common sense is not limited merely to what we call doing well in the world.  It is not confined to drudgery or going to market.  It has no dread of singularity, and is not nonplussed by finding itself in novel positions.  In short, the total of English common sense contains something that is lacking in the common sense of other nations.  It is that sort of common sense which is compatible with the greatest imagination; so that the work of the one looks like the result of the other inspired and transfigured.  Mr. Emerson has a lurking misgiving that the English are not equally good at making the fine upstroke with their firm down-stroke, and are wanting in the lively spirit and sparkle of fancy.  But we would remind him that fancy is a much lower mental faculty, with all its brilliant quickness, than that imagination which, in its simple sublimity, is apt to look like common sense, and a homely force for every-day work.  Fancy catches the light with its spectrum, and breaks it into colours.  Imagination sees things in the plain, pure, unbroken light.  Fancy plays with illusions, and dallies with likenesses.  Imagination does not care to tell us what things are like; it announces facts as they are, or uses its metaphor by Identification and not as a Comparison.  The greatest Imagination is the greatest Realist in the high ranges, just as Common Sense is in the lowest.  Indeed, if rightly considered, the loftiest 'Ideal' (we use this word with reluctance) is to the great Imagination only the utmost Real.

    Again, Mr. Emerson sees the value of English Individuality, but does not point out that, whilst we produce the most robust specimens of individuality under the sun, and the largest number of men who dare to be a minority of one, think just as they like, and say what they think, even as their forefathers have been doing for hundreds of years, yet this force, so independent in the individual, is kept well in hand by an essentially law-abiding, law-loving spirit.  It seldom breaks out at the wrong time, or in the wrong way.  The strong feeling of Nationality gathers it up, and guides it for the good and glory of the country.  It can all be repressed within the necessary bounds when England needs, as a man will draw back a step to strike a fuller blow.  And it is this repression of so much individuality within the bounds of law that puts so much reserved power into the national character, and gives to its motions the perfect harmony of restrained strength.  It is perfectly true that we have put more of this individuality into literature than any other people has done; we possess more of it in common life than any; and more of it goes to the making of the English than any other race.  But our pre-eminence amongst races and nations lies chiefly in the fact that these bristling and startling individualities, which keep strangers at a distance, can be all turned in one direction when the foe is in front; and the nation of oddities will march into battle as evenly, and with the oneness of the Macedonian Phalanx; and though the rear-rank man could step into a leader’s place at a pinch, yet we can keep each man his position, ruled by a stronger power than ever held the Greek or Roman shields together.

    Mr. Emerson can see that the English are a people of a myriad personalities, and cannot be represented by the popular figures of John Bull and John’s bull-dog.  He admits that, after all, what is said about a nation is a superficial dealing with symptoms.  'We cannot go deep enough into the biography of the spirit who never throws himself entire into one hero, but delegates his energy in parts.  The wealth of the source is seen in the plenitude of English nature.  What variety of power and talent; what facility and plenteousness of knighthood, lordship, ladyship, royalty, loyalty; what a proud chivalry is indicated in Collins’s Peerage, through eight hundred years!   What dignity resting on what reality and stoutness!   What courage in war, with sinew in labour, what cunning workmen, what inventors, engineers, seamen, in pilots, clerks, and scholars!   No one man, and no few men, can represent them.'  Mr. Hawthorne, on the other hand, only believes in one John Bull—the popular embodiment of beef and beer; the bluff, hearty yeoman, with no possible refinement whatever; the Falstaff-like mountain of a man, who puts all his weight into his tread—especially if a Yankee’s tender toes happen to be in the way; with his stomach full of meat, and pockets full of money; his face in a ruddy glow, like a round, red harvest-moon, except when mottled, double-chinned, and treble-chinned.  This is his image of the genuine Englishman; and he is sadly oppressed by the weight and size of it.  That which does not come up, or swell out, to these proportions is not English in his estimation.  It is too 'refined,' and more properly belongs to the American nation.   Thus he finds that the sailor-darling of the English people, Nelson, was no representative of ours, because he had none of the ponderous respectability, the gross physique, which are to Mr. Hawthorne the sole sign and symbol of English nationality.  Nelson was delicately organized as a woman, and as painfully sensitive as a poet; moreover, he had genius which no Englishman it seems ever possessed, unless he was morbid and maimed, ‘as we may satisfy ourselves by running over the list of their poets, for example, and observing how many of them have been sickly or deformed, and how often their lives have been darkened by insanity.’  The reader will be sure to see how great is the truth of observation here, and how apposite the illustration.  It is well known that genius never did break out in our race, except as the result of disease!   Shakspeare and Ben Jonson, George Chapman and Walter Scott were remarkably morbid men.  Whilst Spenser, Milton, Wordsworth, and many other of our great poets, were undoubtedly insane.  Nelson, Mr. Hawthorne says, won the love and admiration of his country through the efficacy of qualities that are not English.  Precisely so.  It never was an English quality to bring your ship close alongside that of the enemy, and there live or there die—one must go down before we part!   Nor did Nelson understand the national nature in the least when he made his famous appeal to the sentiment of duty.  He did not belong to us; and he was so successful because so eminently un-English!   Let us see what Mr. Emerson says on this head:—

‘The English delight in the antagonism which combines in one person the extremes of courage and tenderness.  Nelson, dying at Trafalgar, sends his love to Lord Collingwood, and, like an innocent schoolboy that goes to bed, says, “ Kiss me, Hardy,” and turns to sleep.  Lord Collingwood, his comrade, was of a nature the most affectionate and domestic.  And, Sir James Parry said, the other day, of Sir John Franklin, that, if he found Wellington Sound open, he explored it; for he was a man who never turned his back on a danger, yet of that tenderness that he would not brush away a mosquito.'

But Mr. Hawthorne cannot see the relationship of Nelson to our race because he was not a big John Bull kind of man, with a robust personal vigour, and unpolishably rugged.  Nor does he appear to know that this island has produced many of the most delicate, yet perfectly healthy, natures that ever breathed an aroma of womanly sweetness into literature-such as Philip Sidney, George Herbert, and Spenser, whom we take at random, as diverse illustrations of a far different sort of Englishmen.

    Mr. Hawthorne is blind to the fact that John Bull’s stoutness lies in the spirit as well as in corporal substance, and that Nelson, with his small stature and slender form, is as much an Englishman in spirit as though he had weighed twenty stone; whilst the slender body of Shelley contained as much English ‘pluck’ as did the large bulk of Dr. Johnson.  The truth is that no greater fallacy obtains than this respecting the typical Englishman.  Not that we wish for a moment to repudiate John Bull, or deny that Mr. Punch’s portraits have the stamp of authenticity.  We admit the groundwork of the character: let others build as they may upon it!   We rejoice in John, with his sturdy spirit magnificently lodged in plenty of flesh.  We like to see his face across the dinner-table, purple with port, it may be; or meet him in the farmyard, when the increase of the year has gently swelled his sense of self-importance, and his genial smile is an illumination of contentedness.  We like the humour of the thing, and are not concerned to point out that the sum-total of the English character is not included in the one picture.  The type represents certain elements of the national strength, and it answers to the requirements of the popular imagination, which expects and demands that all greatness shall have large physical embodiment.  But few of our great Englishmen have really been formed in this mould.  Ben Jonson and Henry VIII. would almost stand alone.  On the other hand, what a number we might name of Englishmen, true as ever breathed, who were neither of massive form nor heroic height of stature, and whose greatness could not he measured by their girth,—from Francis Drake to Nelson, from Milton and Newton to William Pitt!   Let us not be misunderstood.  We are not growing ashamed of our own flesh and blood because Mr. Hawthorne has fallen into an error.  We do not see that souls fatten with our American cousins from the body’s leanness, and we trust that John Bull may flourish long and his shadow never grow less.  It is what Oxford men term the ‘beefiness of the fellow’ which has turned the scale of victory in his favour; enabled him to give the winning stroke with oar or sword in many a close tug of contest; and when he has thrown his enemy in some last deadly wrestle, he has fallen on him with double weight.  Those observers, however, who persist in seeing only the coarse, earthy outside of John Bull are not likely to do justice to that inner sanctuary of the English nature, where the gentler virtues nestle in dim, shy nooks, and the tender undergrowths of home feelings and kindly affections are nurtured and protected by the surrounding strength, or they might possibly see how many springs of secret sweetness tend to humanize and spiritualise the ponderous nature of the massive man.

    We are charged with being dumb and sombre, gross and taciturn; each man a living image of our geographical isolation.  But this uninviting exterior shields and shelters much delicate inner life, and gives it privacy.  This kind of character affords quiet for the mind to brood in, and sufficient depth of soil to grow the choicest fruits.  English nature likes to dwell inside of good thick walls, that are not easily overlooked, and cannot bear such as are transparent to the public gaze.  It loves a privacy shady and sacred, and rather prefers to grow prickly externally, for protection.  We are generally shy and shut-up with one another, and particularly so with strangers.  Those, therefore, who judge the Englishman and the English race from the outside will do about as much justice as we should to Shakspeare if we could ignore his works, with all their imagery of his inner life, and remember only the fact that he made all the money he could in London, and then went back to Stratford to try and make more.  What a genuine John Bull he would have been!   The race which has produced Shakspeare—and he is our sole adequate representative man—may at least fairly claim to possess as great a range and variety of character as can be found in his works.  But Mr. Hawthorne is not favourably endowed or fitted to enter the English nature; he acknowledges only one type, and that, to him, a repulsive one.

    He also thinks us a one-eyed people, and the secret of our success is to be found in our way of shutting the other, so as to get the most distinct and decided view.  In this manner, we achieve magnificent triumphs without seeing half the obstacles and difficulties which lie in the way—if we would only keep both eyes open.  He says if General M’Clellan could but have shut his left eye, the right one would long ago have guided his army into Richmond.  But it appears the Yankee mind cannot thus stultify itself, it is so very wide-awake; nor could it condescend to stumble into victory; it must see the way clear, with both eyes open, before it would take advantage of fortune.

    It is interesting to know the kind of man that he did like, not to say fell in love with.  Poor Leigh Hunt, with his southern weakness of fibre and his amiable simplicities of character, he found quite delightful.  He was a beautiful and venerable old man—more soft and agreeable in manners than any other Englishman whom Mr. Hawthorne met.  Exceedingly appreciative of American praise, which he received with face quietly alive, and gentle murmurs of satisfaction and continual folding of hands!   But ‘there was not an English trait in him from head to foot, morally, intellectually, or physically.  Beef, ale, or stout, brandy or port-wine, entered not at all into his composition.  His person and manners were thoroughly American, and of the best type.’  We are glad Mr. Hawthorne perceived that this was not the sort of stuff out of which Englishmen are usually made, nor the pattern according to which they are cut.  This was a man whom the Yankee could patronize.  Now, John Bull cannot stand patronage, either greasy or grim; he will not have it.  Mr. Hawthorne would patronize us if he could; if we would only allow it.  ‘An American,’ he says, ‘is not very apt to love the English people, as a whole, on whatever length of acquaintance.  I fancy they would value our regard, and even reciprocate it in their ungracious way, if we could give it to them in spite of all rebuffs.’  But the national character is not so easily got over as was Leigh Hunt.

    Mr. Hawthorne is almost as much oppressed in mind with what he elegantly terms the ‘female Bull’ as he is with the male.  The only figure, he tells us, that comes fairly forth to his mind’s eye out of his life at Leamington is ‘that of a dowager, one of hundreds whom I used to marvel at in England, who had an awful ponderosity of frame; not pulpy, like the loose development of our few fat women, but massive with solid beef and streaky tallow; so that (though struggling manfully against the idea) you inevitably think of her as made up of steaks and sirloins!’  We confess never to have thought of this when we have looked on those rubicund old English ladies, so light of heart that they can carry their external weight with jovial impunity and occupy their proper share of space, like an overflow of satisfaction; with their eminently delightful old faces, and cheeks like the summer jenneting and more than its sweetness in their smile.  On seeing such women, and the young-eyed spirit yet looking out in spite of age, we have thought of motherhood in its mellowest aspect: we may have marvelled where the violet nature of the slender girl had gone, but we never contemplated the jolliest, most solid old dame from the cannibal point of view!   But Mr. Hawthorne, in his ineffable coarseness, cannot even look on the budding beauty of English girlhood, or the full flower of English womanhood, without speculating upon the quantity of ‘clay’ that makes up the human form.  He cannot get rid of the idea that Bull is made of beef, and accordingly ‘beef’ enters into all his calculations, although he sometimes calls it ‘clay.’  He admits being driven to acknowledge that English ladies, ‘looked at from a lower point of view, were perhaps a little finer animals’ than the American women; but ‘it would be a pitiful bargain to give up the ethereal charm of American beauty in exchange for half a hundred-weight of human clay.’

    If nature refuses to go beyond a pallid brier-rose kind of beauty, a lily-like delicacy of grace, and cannot produce the fuller bosom and riper tint, by all means let our friends set up their lily ideal of womanhood for home admiration, and stick the faint wild-rose symbol in the national button-bole.  Tastes differ, and we are not so ‘refined’ in ours.  We like to see how victorious a thing is the force of beauty in the full glory of physical health.  We do not despise the roses that bloom all the winter through, even though an American taste be apt to deem the deep healthy bloom ‘fitter for a milkmaid than a lady.’  A Yankee may think that his ‘national paleness and lean habit of flesh’ may give an advantage in an æsthetic point of view.  We like to feel the radiating health, and to hear the ring of it in the voice.

    Our English women, however, are not all of the ponderous size that—like America to the Americans—they have to be embraced at twice.  Nor are our types of feminine loveliness all of the buxom and blooming kind.  We, too, have our white lilies of womanhood, with slim, tall figures, flowing shapes, and faces that have the Greek fineness of feature.  If Mr. Hawthorne had noticed their delicacy of form and complexion, he might have completed his family picture by calling these the ‘veal of the female Bull.’  Moreover, the Yankees may pride themselves on their ‘refinement’ and spareness of flesh, and they may produce a race of men who shall lack the English sap, hue, and plumpness; men who shall be lean in look, lanky in limb, and lantern-jawed, without its following necessarily that these shall be flashing heroic little Nelsons; workers wiry and tenacious as Pitt; poets with the delicate nature of Keats, the champagne-sparkle of Praed, the pathetic wit of Hood, or the beauty of holiness that shines through the verse of Vaughan.  The thinness worn by a soul too keen for its physical sheath, or the fire of genius making its lamp of the body diaphanous, may be a different sort of thing from the thinness produced by a desiccating climate.

    We said that Mr. Hawthorne was a shallow observer.  Here are one or two striking illustrations of our meaning.  At Uttoxeter he asked a boy of some twelve years of age if he had ever heard of Dr. Johnson’s penance in the Market-place, where he stood bareheaded in the rain.  The boy had never heard of it.  Whereupon Mr. Hawthorne remarks, ‘Just think of the absurd little town knowing nothing of the only memorable incident which ever happened within its boundaries since the old Britons built it!’  And this because one little boy had not heard of the circumstance! 

    Again, in Greenwich Park, Mr. Hawthorne saw some of the London ‘unwashed’ disporting themselves, and he infers a mighty difference betwixt the working-classes of England and America.  He remarks, ‘Every man and woman on our side of the water has a working-day suit and a holiday suit, and is occasionally fresh as a rose; whereas in the good old country the grimness of his labour or squalid habits clings forever to the individual, and gets to be a part of his personal substance.’  These, he says, are broad (very broad of the mark) ‘facts, involving great corollaries and dependencies.’  An inference this about on a par with that of the old gentleman who wrote a tract on the ‘Falling Sickness amongst the London Rooks!’  At the Twelve Brethren of Leicester’s Hospital, Mr. Hawthorne finds that a countryman of his had framed a bit of poor Amy Robsart’s needlework in a carved piece of oak from Kenilworth Castle; and he says, ‘certainly, no Englishman would be capable of this little bit of enthusiasm.’  As if Englishmen had never done not only tenderly graceful acts, but the most seriously absurd things in their enthusiasm! 

    Nothing short of the most cheery nature could have had heart to smile into Mr. Hawthorne’s bitter wintry face long enough to win a smile of approval in return.  Once or twice, however, we catch a watery sunbeam there for a moment, even in the presence of English people.  He was delighted to find there were women amongst us who by their dress acknowledged that they were poor, and thus had the grace of fitness which is not ashamed of being, like the daisy, one of the commonplaces of Nature.  A kind of beauty this, he says, that will certainly never be found in America, where every girl tries to dress herself into somebody else.  Also he remarks that in England people can grow old without the weary necessity of seeming younger than they are.  ‘In old English towns Old Age comes forth more cheerfully and genially into the sunshine than among ourselves, where the rush, stir, bustle, and irreverent energy of Youth are so preponderant that the poor forlorn grandsires begin to doubt whether they have a right to breathe in such a world any longer, and so hide their silvery heads in solitude.’

     Mr. Hawthorne seems to have shared somewhat in the feeling common to New Englanders, of the higher culture and quieter nature, who tell us of their longings for the ‘Old Home,’ and their love of its special English features.  We are acquainted with New Englanders in whom the Old home feeling is at times inexpressibly strong.  When their life has been more than usually moved down to the roots of it under the influence of a great sorrow, it has seemed as though they touched England at that depth, and they have experienced a ‘blind, pathetic tendency’ to wander back to the old place once more.  Having no wish to disparage their own country, they yet feel there is something in English air and the tender sweetness of the green grass; the lark, singing in the blue sky overhead; our wild flowers, which seem as the affectionate diminutives used by Nature in her fondest speech; our field foot-paths that wander and shady lanes that loiter along their lines of beauty; the homesteads that nestle in the heart of rural life, and thatched cottages that peep on the wayfarer through their wreaths of honeysuckle and roses; our grand Gothic cathedrals, grey old Norman towers, and village church-spires; the long, rich grass that fattens round the old abbeys, which they cannot find in their own country.  We have heard them say that the only real quiet life seems to be in England, and the only stillness sacred for the dead to rest in seems to lie under the mossy stone or daisied mound of an English country churchyard.  Home is not easily extemporised on so vast a scale as is mapped out in America; and England alone, with her nestling nooks and old associations and brooding peace, satisfies the finer sense.*  Mr. Hawthorne confesses that ‘However one’s Yankee patriotism may struggle against the admission, it must be owned that the trees and other objects of an English landscape take hold of the observer by numberless minute tendrils, as it were, which, look as closely as we choose, we never find in an American scene.  Visiting these famous localities, I hope that I do not compromise my American patriotism by acknowledging that I was often conscious of a fervent hereditary attachment to the native soil of our forefathers, and felt it to be our own “old Home.” ‘  He thinks it a charming country on a very small scale, wherein Nature works with a pre-Raphaelite minuteness, much patient affection, and many tender sympathies, her handiwork being inimitable about the trunks of our trees, a square foot of old wall, and a yard or two of dense green hedge; a sprig of ivy embroidering an old boundary-fence, or the mosses taking shape in the cut letters of a name on a tombstone and keeping some forgotten memory green.  On the whole, we have no doubt that Mr. Hawthorne found England much too good for the English.  For his part, he says, he used to wish they could annex the island, ‘transferring the thirty millions of inhabitants to some convenient wilderness in the great West, and putting half or a quarter as many of ourselves into their places.  The change would he beneficial to both parties.  We, in our dry atmosphere, are getting too nervous, haggard, dyspeptic, extenuated, unsubstantial, theoretic, and need to be made grosser.  John Bull, on the other hand, has grown bulbous, long-bodied, short-legged, heavy-witted, material, and, in a word, too intensely English.  In a few more centuries he will be the earthliest creature that ever the earth saw ‘—unless, we presume, such an intermixture and amalgamation with our American cousins should take place.  But our little island refuses all such patronage steadily as does the national character.  Besides which, what does Mr. Hawthorne say of our picturesque foot-paths that go winding from stile to stile, and village to village, by green hedgerows and park-palings and gurgling brooks and lonely farmhouses; keeping from age to age their sacred right of way?   ‘An American farmer would plough across such a path, and obliterate it with his hills of potatoes and Indian corn; but here it is protected by law, and still more by the sacredness that inevitably springs up in the soil along the well-defined footprints of centuries.  Old associations are sure to be fragrant herbs in English nostrils; we pull them up as weeds.’  So that on the whole, perhaps, it were as well that we should not be ferried across the Atlantic just yet.  We should like to love the island a little longer, and keep in sanctity many of its immemorial characteristics.

    We find nothing whatever in Mr. Hawthorne’s English experience to account for his acrimony.  He has recorded no proof that either the country or the national character deserved the bitterness which he appears to have felt before he came hither, and with which he has gone grumbling home.  He lets out that he seldom came into personal relations with an Englishman without beginning to like him, and feeling the favourable impression wax stronger with the progress of the acquaintance.  Again, he confesses that an American in an English house will ‘soon adopt the opinion that the English are the very kindest people on the earth, and will retain the idea as long, at least, as he remains on the inner side of the threshold.’  Once outside, Mr. Hawthorne opines that the magnetism which attracts within the magic line, becomes repellent to all beyond.  It is very unfair, however, that because the Yankee contracts into the chilling consciousness of his national self when he gets outside the circle of genial warmth, welling humanity, and hearty hospitality, and begins remembering his prejudices, the English character should be held at fault, and charged with the blame.  The ‘acrid quality’ which Mr. Hawthorne speaks of as being in the moral atmosphere of England, will, we fear, be found in his own nature.  He met with friends most cordially kind, ‘dear friends, genial, outspoken, open-hearted Englishmen,’ who represented the national nature at its best, from the one who made his visit to Oxford so sunny in memory, to the young friend who

 ‘used to come and sit or stand by my fireside, talking vivaciously and eloquently with me about literature and life, his own national characteristics and mine, with such kindly endurance of the many rough republicanisms wherewith I assailed him, and such frank and amiable assertion of all sorts of English prejudices and mistakes, that I understood his countrymen infinitely the better for him, and was almost prepared to love the intensest Englishman of them all for his sake.  Bright was the illumination of my dusky little apartment as often as he made his appearance there.‘ 

Strengthened and encouraged by the potent spirit of bold John Barleycorn, Mr. Hawthorne felt it in his heart to say that

 ’the climate of England has been shamefully maligned. Its sulkiness and asperities are not nearly so offensive as Englishmen tell us (their climate being the only attribute of their country which they never overvalue); and the really good summer weather is the very kindest and sweetest that the world knows.‘

And, before he left England, he confesses that his taste had begun to deteriorate by acquaintance with the plumper modelling of female loveliness than it had been his ‘happiness to know at home,’ although he is firmly resolved to uphold as angels those American ladies who may be a trifle lacking as women.  Whilst regarding the grace which it appears does at times veil our coarser ‘clay,’ he admits that

 ‘an English maiden in her teens, though very seldom so pretty as our own damsels, possesses, to say the truth, a certain charm of half blossom, and delicately folded leaves, and tender womanhood shaded by maidenly reserves, with which, somehow or other, our American girls often fail to adorn themselves during an appreciable moment.'

So that in his experience of English character and climate and home and its men and women, we find no warrant, we repeat, for the bitterness of Mr. Hawthorne’s book.  Yet, from one end to the other, it is steeped in vinegar and gall.  Something of this may come from the great national calamity; the ‘Star, Wormwood’ has fallen into the stream of American life, and turned it into blood for them, and bitterness for us.  And our Yankee friends have exhibited on a national scale the same kind of character as that which flies at others, bent on distributing the misfortune that has befallen itself; such as is shown by the husband who thrashes his wife when his temper may have been crossed; or, to take it in a more comical aspect, that of the boy, who, having deservedly received a slap on the head, flings a stone at the first inoffending dog he meets.  But there is a root of bitterness in Mr. Hawthorne that goes deeper than this; it was planted long before the flag of Secession.  This broad fact, palpable throughout the book, could not he brought to a finer point than in the passage we are about to quote.

    A friend had given Mr. Hawthorne his suburban residence, with all its conveniences, elegancies, and snuggeries; its drawing-rooms and library, ‘still warm and bright with the recollections of the genial presences that we had known there;‘ its closets, chambers, kitchen, and wine-cellar; its lawn and cosy garden-nooks, and whatever else makes up the comprehensive idea of an English home—‘he had transferred it all to us, pilgrims and dusty wayfarers, that we might rest and take our ease during his summer’s absence on the Continent.’   And Mr. Hawthorne enjoyed it all, and felt the feeling of home there as he had felt it nowhere else in this world.  The weather, he says, was that of Paradise itself.  He wandered up and down the walks of the delightful garden, felt the delicious charm of our summer grey skies, the richness of our verdure; felt that the hunger and thirst for natural beauty might he satisfied with our grass and green leaves alone; and,

conscious of the triumph of England in this respect, and loyally anxious for the credit of my own country, it gratified me to observe what trouble and pains the English gardeners are fain to throw away in producing a few sour plums and abortive pears and apples; as, for example, in this very garden where a row of unhappy trees were spread out perfectly flat against a brick wall, looking as if impaled alive, or crucified, with a cruel and unattainable purpose of compelling them to produce rich fruit by torture.  For my part I never ate an English fruit, raised in the open air, that could compare in flavour with a Yankee turnip.’

    Mr. Hawthorne is hardly quite right in saying that not an Englishman of us all ever spared them for the sake of courtesy or kindness.  Yet it would not be of any advantage if we were to besmear one another all over with butter and honey.  He is right in saying that Americans cannot judge of our susceptibility by their own.  Thick-headed we may be, and it dulls many a blow but we are not quite so thin-skinned as they are.  None of them all ever said harder things of us than we continually say of ourselves and of each other.  Let them abuse us bitterly as they please (and we shall still find reasonable cause for self-blame besides any blots that they can hit **), we do not see how that will help them out of their difficulty, or hasten the decline and fall of England, which they seem to fancy is coming, and must come.  Mr. Emerson even appears to think we have seen our best days.  He writes:—

‘If we will visit London, the present time is the best time, as some signs portend that it has reached its highest point.  It is observed that the English interest us a little less within a few years; and hence the impression that the British power has culminated, is in solstice, or already declining.’

   Mr. Emerson should have known that, if England had been declining, the interest of his countrymen could not have been lessened on that account.  What says Mr. Hawthorne on this subject?  ‘At some unexpected moment there must come a terrible crash.  The sole reason why I should desire it to happen in my days is, that I might be there to see.’  It appears to us exceedingly lucky that England could not be set on fire easily, as a single building, or the author of the above atrocious avowal might, when here, have been tempted to emulate the youth who fired the Ephesian temple.  We have no wish to see the ruin of Mr. Hawthorne’s country, and trust that it may yet he averted.

    Wordsworth told Mr. Emerson, thirty years ago, that the Americans needed a civil war to teach the necessity of knitting the social ties stronger; and, whatsoever the result may be, that war has come.  Their character, as well as institutions, is on its trial.  The only real test that has probed it to the heart is now presented to it.  Its qualities, good and bad, are as on the threshing-floor of fate, where the gathered together flails are beating fiercely, to separate the wheat from the straw; and the storm-winds are blowing mightily, to winnow the chaff from the grain.  We wish them well through the purifying process, and hope they may emerge a better nation, of nobler men, with simpler manners, greater reverence, higher aims, a loftier tone of honour, and a lower tone of talk-as will inevitably follow the living of a more unselfish life, and the doing of more earnest work.  And when they shall have passed through their crucial experiment they will undoubtedly know the English character somewhat better.

    We have not the least consolation for those who would not mind marching to ruin their own country, if upheld by the proud thought that England also was doomed to a speedy fall.  There is not the least sign of such a consummation, devoutly as it may be wished.  We never knew John Bull in better health and spirits.  Our patriotic sense has been wonderfully quickened of late years; suffering has drawn our bonds of union closer.  We were never more near being English, that is, Conservatives to a man.  Those who are so cosmopolitan as to admire and love every country except their own have had a throw which has taken the breath out of them.  The spirit of our people, the sap of the national life, has of late dwelt less in the branches, and more in the roots of the tree. There has been little flutter in the leaves above, but more concentrated vitality in the fibres clinging to the earth below.  This is the meaning of our unanimity and unity.  We are able and happy to assure our American friends that the following words, written years since by Mr. Emerson, yet apply to us with an added force:—

'I happened to arrive in England at the moment of a commercial crisis.  But it was evident that, let who will fail, England will not.  These people have sat here a thousand years, and here will continue to sit.  They will not break up, or arrive at any desperate revolution, like their neighbours; for they have as much energy, as much continence of character, as they ever had.'

'The wise ancients did not praise the ship parting with flying colours from the port, but only that brave sailor which came back with torn sheets and battered sides, stripped of her banners, but having ridden out the storm.  And so I feel in regard to this aged England, with the possessions, honours, and trophies, and also with the infirmities of a thousand years gathering around her, irretrievably committed as she now is to many old customs which cannot be suddenly changed; pressed upon by the transitions of trade, and new and with all incalculable modes, fabrics, arts, machines, and competing populations—I see her not dispirited, not weak, but well remembering that she has seen dark days before; indeed, with a kind of instinct that she sees a little better in a cloudy day, and that in storm of battle and calamity she has a secret vigour and a pulse like a cannon. I see her in her old age, not decrepit but young, and still daring to believe in her power of endurance and expansion. Seeing this, I say, —All hail!  mother of nations, mother of heroes, with strength still equal to the time; still wise to entertain and swift to execute the policy which the mind and heart of mankind requires in the present hour.  So be it!  so let it be!

_________________________


* This feeling of the ‘Old Home’ finds a frank and genuine expression in Mr. Eliha Burritt’s forthcoming ‘Walk from Land’s End to John O’Groat’s, if we may judge from a glance at the early sheets.


** See for an enumeration of frightful evils, some of which society might do much to cure, a striking little hook, called ‘Another Blow for Life,’ by G. Godwin, F.R.S. London, 1864.

 



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