« PreviousContinue »
nothing can exempt him, but likewise to the fickleness of human caprice.
Upon the most mature consideration which we have been able to bestow upon this most important subject, that system appears to us to be the best adapted to secure permanence to the happiness and prosperity of the people among whom it prevails, which tends most to augment the quantity and improve the quality of the surplus produce of the soil, and which offers the most powerful encouragement to abridge the amount of labour expended in the conversion of this surplus produce into wrought commodities. The increase of the quantity of food raised in any country provides a new fund for the sustenance of an additional number of people; and all expedients devised for the purpose of diminishing the quantity of this food consumed in the manufacture of a given quantity of wrought commodities, improve the comforts and enjoyments of this population. The energy and skill with which agriculture has been prosecuted during the last fifty years, have made an inconceivable addition to the annual produce of land in this country. And from the impulse thus given to the most valuable of all occupations--the cultivation of the soil-we may look forward even to a greater increase within the next halfcentury. Our population will thus admit of a gradual addition to its number, without a reduction in the quantity of food which falls to the share of each individual. Subsisting on the growth of our own territory, we shall not experience the disastrous reverses to which a people that draws a considerable portion of its subsistence from foreign countries is unavoidably exposed. A country which thus depends for a supply of food upon its own resources will not, it is true, experience sudden fits of brilliant prosperity; but its progress, although not dazzling, will be gradual, steady, and safe. Under this safe system, the population of Great Britain will never, perhaps, reach the density, which once constituted the ephemeral pride and boast of the Lombard and Hanseatic cities; but as long as her agriculture, adequately protected from the injurious influence of foreign rivalry, continues to flourish, the period will never arrive when the grass shall be seen growing in the streets of her deserted towns---when the palaces, once occupied by her merchants, shall present nothing to the eye of the beholder but a mass of ruins.
Art. VI.-A Pilgrimage in Europe and America, leading to
the Discovery of the Sources of the Mississippi and' Bloody River, with a Description of the whole Course of the former, and of the Ohio. By J.C. Beltrami, Esq., formerly Judge of a Royal Court in the ex-Kingdom of Italy. 2 vols. London.
HE schoolmaster is abroad, says Mr. Brougham, and the
primer' (with the help of the birchen rod, we hope) will prove more powerful than the iron bayonet—the horn-book and the primer, those primitive rudiments of the more shapely octavo and the portly quarto! Much blood has been shed, and many a fair region made desolate, by the man of the bayonet; but what oceans of innocent ink will hereafter be spilt, and what millions of acres of spotless foolscap be sacrificed to this man of birch, when horn-books swell into octavos, and primers into quartos, heaven only can tell !-Is there no danger, lest, from a nation of shopkeepers, we shall become a nation of book-makers ? Some two generations ago, the market for intellect was a monopoly, chiefly confined to the garrets of Grub-street; but now that the schoolmaster is abroad,' and the march of mind follows in his train, the book-making trade, like all other trades, which political economy has set free, will spread unshackled far and wide. Hints and crude sketches, when put into the hands of a skilful craftsman, will suffice for a volume, and by a judicious division of labour, the real author may be relieved from the drudgery of composing his own book.
We are induced to consider the two volumes before us as a joint production of this kind. An Italian could not have written them. We mean not to say that M. Beltrami has not travelled, (there is internal evidence that he has,) or that there is anything new in books of travels being written by persons who never travelled. On the contrary, that excellent book, known as Marco Polo's, is supposed to have been compiled from conversations and scraps of memoranda of the traveller while in prison. The travels of honest John Bell of Antermony are said to have been compiled by Professor Barron, of the University of Aberdeen. It is still a matter of doubt whether Gemelli Carreri, who has published an entertaining account of his travels round the world, was ever out of Italy. The adventures and discoveries of Mungo Park are said to have been drawn up by Bryan Edwards. The enterprising Belzoni could not write English; and the amusing travels of M. Le Vaillant among the Hottentots, full of fiction and romance, are the production of a French abbé, who
had probably never passed the barriers of Paris ; this last work is, in most respects, a very close parallel to that of M. Beltrami.
This ex-judge of an ex-court in an ex-kingdom would seem, by his own account, to have been sent into exile, without trial, at a time when a recent fracture of the thigh rendered it necessary for him to support himself on crutches. What the nature of his offence was we are left to conjecture; but he speaks of errors of youth, odious persecutions, and spies.' He sets out from the Roman states on what he calls his pilgrimage, or ramble, through a part of Europe and in North America. If we had seen nothing more of his work than the fulllength portrait, which stands at its head, we could have formed a tolerably correct judgment of its character: a more exquisite dandy, than is presented in the effigies of this ex-judge, thrown into the desolate regions of North America, could not have been imagined; and the foppish frontispiece corresponds with every page of the book, both father and fatherer of which have great need of the 'schoolmaster.' We shall not waste much time or paper upon the gentlemen; but there is so much fiction, stated as matter of fact, in the account of their American rambles, that, for the sake of truth, of geography, and natural history, we deem it right to expose a few of their absurdities. As for the ex-judge's mopings and moanings poured out into the bosom of his Dear Countess;' his horror of the Jesuits, coupled as it is with a most potent appetite for popish miracles of all kinds; his affection for the memory of Napoleon, the greatest man that ever lived;' and his hatred of the Cabinet of St. James'-these, and all similar vagaries, we may safely entrust, as they are, to the common sense of the laughing animal.' In sailing up the Thames in an Ostend packet, the ex-judge says,
To describe it to you in all its majesty, in all its grandeur; to exhibit to you the numerous ships, steam-vessels, and vessels of every size and form, some sailing up, and others down; the towns, villages, and delightful pleasure-grounds which adorn, and the arsenals and docks which animate its banks; to paint the vast floating forests of innumerable masts which, rising above the dark smoke that covers London as with a perpetual veil, seem to pierce and tower above the clouds ;would reqnire the pencil of a great painter ; I have not the presumption even to attempt it.'-voi. i. p. 270.
M. Beltrami, at least, is here more susceptible of impressions from external objects than was the Infant Don Miguel, who, while passing through the crowds of shipping, unusually great the day he sailed up the Thames, could not be prevailed on to leave the cabin to take a glance at them, not even at the artillery drawn up
2 G 2
on the ramparts to salute him as the yacht passed Woolwich- but his royal highness was sulky, and, perhaps, not without reason, having been at sea some thirty hours, when three would have sufficed to land him at Dover.
M. Beltrami's observations on London and the manners of the English generally are more correct than foreigners are apt to make; but they have no doubt received a thorough revision, as well as considerable addenda, from the book-maker. They occupy half the first volume, but we shall pass them entirely, contenting ourselves, as a specimen, with this brief and masterly sketch of John Bull's moral character and personal habits :
• The unsophisticated John Bull, like many others, is never satisfied with the present, he always looks back to "the good old times, He talks to you of nothing but histories of Alfred, and of Magna Charta, of the restitution of violated rights; in short, of all that relates to his country, as it was. Nevertheless, he is very well pleased to be told that his country has reached a pitch of greatness and power which his good forefathers could not even have dreamt of; and the name of Waterloo, modern'as it is, always excites a little complacent smile. In his home, and in all that depends upon him, his habits are his sublunary divinities. Woe to his wife if she 'set before him al dinner without a pudding, a "joint,” (probably roast beef) and some homebrewed ale. Port wine is his sacred beverage; he regards all who do not like it as a species of infidels. He would give all the sofas and ottomans in the world for his old chair by the fire-side, nor, would he his accustomed seat at the tavern or the public-house for
for all the salons or theatres in Europe. His coat must be in the fashion he has worn it all his life, and always of English cloth; he thinks it infamous to buy French manufactures. He would not wear fashionable pantaloons or boots for all the world; nor would he give' his old walking-stick for bamboos, black rods, or bâtons. He always drinks out of a pewter pot, --sicut voluere priores; to drink bút of a glass is a bad habit. He is a great lover of the gothic, and would give up the most delightful situation and the best contrived plan, for the sake of restoring an old house and building in the gothic style. He thinks himself prodigiously cunning, and he is very distrustful; but he is easily duped by anybody who will talk his language, adopt his habits and his prejudices. He always thinks he is right, and he is often wrong; but to convince him of this is not an easy task. He is always abusing the government, England, and the English; but, on emergency, he would give all he is worth in the world for the glory of the government, England, and the English. He is irascible and violent, but rarely vindictive. He goes to church, and td-s all who do not ; but he is neither superstitious, nor, au fond, intolerant, and is very far indeed from being the humble servant of the parson ; on the contrary, he regularly quarrels with him about tithes, &c. &c. Though
very punctual in his engagements, he never chooses to pay without a dispute, to show that he will not be cheated. He is a tory from habit, a whig froin inclination; an aristocrat from vanity, a democrat from principle. He is, I think, rather avaricious from temper, and generous from pride. He cordially detests all foreign manners, and often foreigners; he never approaches them but from curiosity—as a sight. Every thing French he regards with sovereign contempt; and unfortunately his," d-d French” includes all the continent of Europe ;he regards them all as fiddlers and dancers.'—vol. i. 462-4.
We must now follow our pilgrim across the Atlantic. What could possibly have carried such a person to North America, we are utterly at a loss to imagine. ' In most parts of Europe, a scholar conversant solely with ancient history, and with the languages called classical, may derive amusement from visiting the remains of former ages, and applying his researches and observations
elucidation of remote events, and the manners of nations that have passed away; but in the woods and wastes of America, among living bears and dead' mammoths, we cannot conceive to what imaginable use a traveller, possessed only of - Latin and Greek and antiquarian lore, can apply his stock of knowledge. The ci-devant Judge of the ex-kingdom of Italy is precisely a man of this stamp-one not only utterly ignorant of the only two sciences that should induce a traveller to undergo the hardships and privations of a wild and uncultivated countrygeography and natural history—but who affects to hold in
supreme scorn and ridicule all expeditions undertaken for the enlargement of science in general, and those two branches of science in particular. I,' quoth this learned Theban, • I like to see nature as she is, free and untrammelled by systems. The following paragraph will exhibit this observer of Nature in his true light-a more consummate specimen of vanity and gross ignorance, unredeemed by one atom of sense, we do not recollect to have met with,
The advantages which have been hitherto derived from these expeditions have not, I believe, answered the views of government, or the expectations of the public. They have consisted of a few.plants, with which, perhaps, all but the members of the expedition were acquainted, and which swell that mass of unintelligible hieroglyphics, that scientific but tasteless and terrifying nomenclature, unfortunalely consecrated by a great name, serving merely to overlay the memory, and to blot out the lovely picture of nature ; a few gaudy butterflies and other insects, of whichi we have already too many every where; of birds, which can only gratify curiosity and luxury; of stones, suggesting a thousand conjectures of their nature and origin, and which, whether siliceous or calcareous, or designated by any other learned terms, serve as materials for the idle discussions of pretenders to science, but contribute little or nothing to the benefit of the public ;--such have been