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ART. I.-Remarks of the Edinburgh Review on Mr. Walsh's
(Concluded.) How then is it to be accounted for, that Mr. W. should have taken such a favourable view of our state and merits in 1810, and so very different a one in 1819? There is but one explanation that occurs to us-Mr. W., as appears from the passages just quoted, had been originally very much of the opinion to which he has now returned-For he tells us, that he considers the tribute of admiration which he there offers to our excellence, as an atonement for the errors and prejudices under which he laboured till he came among us,-and hints pretty plainly, that he had formerly been ungrateful enough to disown all obligation to our race, and impious enough even to wish for our ruin. Now, from the tenor of the work before us, compared with these passages, it is pretty plain, we think, that Mr. W. has just relapsed into those damnable heresies which we fear are epidemic in his part of the country—and from which nothing is so likely to deliver him, as a repetition of the same remedy by which they were formerly removed. Let him come again then to England and try the effect of a second course of personal experience and observation'-let him make another pilgrimage to Mecca, and observe whether his faith is not restored and confirmed - let him, like the Indians of his own world, visit the tombs of his fathers in the old land, and see whether he can there abjure the friendship of their other children? If he will venture himself among us for another two years' residence, we can promise him that he will find in substance the same England that he left:-Our laws and our landscapes—our industry and urbanity; our charities, our learning, and our personal beauty, he will find unaltered and unimpaired;and we think we can even engage, that he shall find also a still greater correspondence of feeling in the body of our people,' and not a less disposition to welcome an accomplished stranger, who comes to get rid of errors and prejudices, and to learn--or, if he pleases, to teach, the great lessons of a generous and indulgent philanthropy.
We have done, however, with this topic. We have a considerable contempt for the argumentum ad hominem in any case—and have no desire to urge it any further at present. The truth is, that neither of Mr. W.'s portraitures of us appears to be very accurate. We are painted en beau in the one, and en laid in the other. The particular traits in each may be given with tolerable truth—but the whole truth is to be found in neither; and it will not even do to take them together-any more than it would do to make a correct likeness, by patching or compounding together a flattering portrait and a monstrous caricature. We have but a word or two, indeed, to add on the general subject, before we take a final farewell of this discussion.
We admit, that many of the charges, which Mr. W. has here made against our country, are justly made—and that for many of the things with which he has reproached us, there is just cause of reproach. It would be strange, indeed, if we were to do otherwise-considering that it is from our
pages that he has on many occasions borrowed the charge and the reproach. If he had stated them, therefore, with any degree of fairness or temper, and had not announced that they were brought forward as incentives to hostility and national alienation, we should have been so far from complaining of him, that we should have been heartily thankful for the services of such an auxiliary in our holy war against vice and corruption, and rejoiced to obtain the testimony of an impartial observer, in corroboration of our own earnest admonitions. Even as it is, we are inclined to think that this exposition of our infirmities will rather do good than harm, so far as it produces any effect at all in this country. Among our national vices, we have long reckoned an insolent and overweening opinion of our own universal superiority; and though it really does not belong to America to reproach us with this fault, and though the ludicrous exaggeration of Mr. Wi's charge, is sure very greatly to weaken his authority, still such an alarming catalogue of our faults and follies, may have some effect, as a wholesome mortification of our vanity. It is with a view to its probable effect in his own country, and to his avowal of the effect he wishes it to produce there, that we consider it as deserving of all reprobation;-and therefore beg leave to make one or two very short remarks on its manifest injustice, and indeed absurdity, in so far as relates to ourselves, and that great majority of the country whom we believe to concur in our sentiments.
The object of this violent invective on England is twofold; and we really do not know under which aspect it is most reprehensible. It is, first, to repress, if possible, the invectives which we, it seems, have been making on America; and, secondly, to excite, there, a spirit of animosity, to meet and revenge that which those invectives are said to indicate here:-And this is the shape of the argument-What right have you to abuse us for keeping and whipping slaves, when you yourselves whip your soldiers, and were so slow to give up your slave trade, and use your subjects so ill in India and Ireland?-or what right have you call our Marshall a dull historian, when you have a Belsham and a Gifford who are still duller? Now, though this argument would never show that whipping slaves was a right thing, or that Mr. Marshall was not a dull writer, it might be a very smart and embarrassing retort to those among us who had defended our slave trade or our military floggings, or our treatment of Ireland and India-or who had held out Messrs. Belsham and Gifford as pattern historians, and ornaments of our national literature. But what meaning or effect can it have when addressed to those who have always testified against the wickedness and the folly of the practices complained of, and who have treated the ultra-whig and the ultra-tory historian with equal scorn and reproach? We have a right to censure cruelty and dulness abroad, because we have censured them with more and more frequent severity at home;--and their home existence, though it may prove indeed that our censures have not yet been effectual in producing amendment, can afford no sort of reason for not extending them where they might be more attended to.
We have generally blamed what we thought worthy of blame in America, without any express reference to parallel cases in England, or any invidious comparison. Their books we have criticised just as we should have done those of any other country; and in speaking more generally of their litera. ture and manners, we have rather brought them into competition with those of Europe in general, than those of our country in particular.When we have made any comparative estimate of our own advantages and theirs, we can say with confidence, that it has been far oftener in their favour than against them;-and, after repeatedly noticing their preferable condition as to taxes, elections, sufficiency of employment, public economy, freedom of publication, and many other points of paramount importance, it surely was but fair that we should notice, in their turn, those merits or advantages
which might reasonably be claimed for ourselves, and bring into view our superiority in eminent authors, and the extinction and annihilation of slavery in every part of our realm.
We would also remark, that while we have thus praised America far more than we have blamed her-and reproached ourselves far more bitterly than we have ever reproached her, Mr. W., while he affects to be merely following our example, has heaped abuse on us without one grain of commendation and praised his own country extravagantly, without admitting one fault or imperfection. Now, this is not a fair way of retorting the proceedings even of the Quarterly; for they have occasionally given some praise to America, and have constantly spoken ill enough of the paupers, and radicals, and reformers of England. But as to us, and the great body of the nation which thinks with us, it is a proceeding without the colour of justice or the shadow of apology--and is not a less flagrant indication of impatience or bad humour, than the marvellous assumption which runs through the whole argument, that it is an unpardonable insult and an injury to find any fault with any thing in America, must necessarily proceed from national spite and animosity, and affords, whether true or false, sufficient reason for endeavouring to excite a corresponding animosity against our nation. Such, however, is the scope and plan of Mr. W.'s whole work. Whenever he thinks that his country has been erroneously accused, he points out the error with sufficient keenness and asperity; but when he is aware that the imputation is just and unanswerable, instead of joining his rebuke or regret to those of her foreign censors, he turns fiercely and vindictively on the parallel infirmities of this country as if those also had not been marked with reprobation, and without admitting that the censure was merited, or hoping that it might work amend. ment, complains in the bitterest terms of malignity, and rouses his country to revenge!