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whose stings, bites, and annoyance, swell discomfort even to .torture. Add to these, a soil fertile in noxious and unsightly weeds, but niggardly in the production of all that is pleasing and profitable-rivers peopled only by water-serpents and frogs, crocodiles and alligators--here tracts of burning sand where no verdure springs to relieve the eye of the traveller, nor does a fountain break forth to extinguish his thirst--there interminable swamps and marshes, the abode of dangerous and offensive reptiles, and fruitful in nothing but the seeds of disease-Add these, and a few other features equally ignoble and rude, disgusting and terrific, and you
have a faint outline of an European picture of nature in America.
And strange as it must seem, it is no less strange than true, that so familiar are we grown with these insulting and malicious fictions—these slanders on ourselves and on nature around us, as not only to tolerate them, but even to admit that they are partially true that they are, at least, more applicable to the state and condition of things in America, than they are in any of the countries of Europe-We repeat, and we experience a blush of shame .mingled with indignation, in making the repetition, that so familiar are Americans grown with the story of their own disgrace, as almost to sit down contented and fancy themselves disgraceful 'They do not with that respect which is due to themselves--with that spirit and dignity which the occasion demands, resent and spurn from them the taunts and jeers that are thrown on them from abroad—A state of things this, tending to the subversion of national pride, national spirit, and every thing that can give us weight and character as a people-tending to destroy our happiness and security at home, and render us an object for the scorn of foreign nations to point her 6 slow unmoving finger at.'
Under these circumstances it is high time for Americans to awake from their lethargy-It is time for our literary characters, in particular (of whom, as will hereafter appear, we have a phalanx, numerous and refined, brilliant and powerful) to put forth their might, and vindicate their own and their country's reputation
-It is time for them to convince foreigners who want information, and such of their fellow citizens as are wavering in their opinions,
that we are not, as represented, a degraded and uncharacterized people-But that, on the other hand, we possess our full share of national spirit and capacity, cultivation and character; and that therefore we have the most ample and solid ground for cherishing sentiments of national pride. For the accomplishment of this, all party distinctions should be abolished, a confederacy should be formed embodying the collective talent of the nation, and every local consideration merged in a noble resolve to become a band of Americans, and do signal justice to their country and themselves.
It is to make trial of his prowess and skill, in this high-minded conflict-to break a lance in this patriotic fete of arms, that Inchiquin has stepped forth clothed in a seven-fold panoply of facts, with the blade of reason glittering in his hand, and courteously challenged his adversaries to the field. And truly such is the valiant “acquittance" of his arm as proves him a cavalier of metal and distinction. Wherever he turns a combatant meets inevitable discomfiture. Wherever he directs his course, steeds, knights, and armour, sullied plumes and broken spears, bestrew the campus in promiscuous confusion. But to drop the metaphor.
The leading object of Inchiquin, in the four letters that remain to be considered, is, to vindicate the character of the United States, in relation to genius and literature, eloquence and the arts, with various other points connected with our national standing, in which Europeans have charged us with the want of every thing like excellence, and have even pronounced us below mediocrity, In the course of his inquiry, he proves by unquestionable facts, and in a style of argument not to be resisted, that, in some of these particulars, we are at least equal, in others superior, to the nations of Europe; and that in all of them, we hold a rank peculiarly reputable, considering that we are, comparatively, but a people of yesterday. His defence of America, taken en masse, establishes this important truth, that what we are constitutes a broad and immoveable basis of national pride, while what we may confidently expect to be affords a similar foundation for national hope.
His fifth letter, being the first of those we are now about to examine, Inchiquin begins with a classical but just eulogium on the capitol in Washington. That superb edifice, at which European
pretenders to knowledge and taste in architecture, have affected to
a regal palace or a temple of the gods. After a brief but techni-
“ The main body of the capitol has not been begun, and all these halls are in the wings. The whole pile, when complete, will be enormous. The vestibules, stairways, and galleries of communication, are designed and exe. cuted with great magnificence; though at present they are disfigured by soaffolding and patchwork; and the three original orders of Grecian architecture are displayed in the three halls, with perfect chasteness and uniformity."
From this hasty survey of the capitol itself he passes on to a consideration of the purpose to which it is at present appropriated, viz. “public speaking in all its branches, parliamentary, forensic and of the pulpit.”
On the state of American eloquence as actually displayed in Washington, his observations are brief and not very interesting. He appears to have attended there, but how often, with what temper of mind, degree of improvement, or portion of delight, he does not inform us, the sermonizing of a “celebrated preacher from New-York." We are informed that he has also played the part of a loiterer in the hall of justice, where on one occasion, he was constrained to listen with all the torments of restlessness, and a jaded attention” to “the peroration of a well-powdered, ruby-faced forensic spokesman, who was then in the third day of his speech”-A compliment this, at least, to the strength, or what a votary of the turf would perhaps call, the bottom, of the orator's lungs; though we cannot say that any great homage is paid to the correctness of his head, when it is declared of him,
that so "entirely extra flammantia mænia mundi” were his digressions, “that it was impossible to keep both him and his subject in view.”
In a spirit of great candour, however, and we believe of undoubted veracity, Inchiquin acknowledges that “ to adopt either the
congress or the forum at Washington, as types of the national oratory, would be doing injustice to the country; for there are, he observes, at the bar, and in the provincial assemblies of many of the states, men certainly superior to any whose exhibition is confined to the capitol.” On the subject of American oratory, in general, he alleges that, “to a certain degree, an ability for good public speaking is very common in the United States, where natural fluency, and characteristic fire," cultivated by occasions of frequent public debating, exist on a broader scale, and in a higher degree, than in any
other country. In the following paragraph our author sketches a brief, but we believe a correct, picture of the comparative state of eloquence in Great Britain, France, and the United States. most countries of modern Europe, says he, such is the form of government, as to afford few, if any, opportunities for senatorial or popular eloquence; which is hardly known, except in GreatBritain and the United States. The palm of pulpit and academic eloquence, is decidedly due to France: Bourdaloue, Flechier, and Massillon, (why did he forget Bossuet, who is superior to
MEN either?) have no competitors; and the gratuitous harangues of Thomas are elaborated to a degree of elegance and fascination unequalled in their kind. To the English, would be as decidedly due the pre-eminence in forensic and parliamentary speaking, were it not for the Americans, who are their rivals in the latter, and greatly their superiors in the former species.
“The English, continues our author, are excellent reasoners, chaste writers, and classical scholars, but seldom fine speak
A natural talent for extemporaneous elocution does not seem to prevail among them, as it does among the Americans." In both houses of the British parliament, he admits that there are at pr nts 6 several men of respectable talents for public speaking. But there is no orator, There is no individual with the acknowledged pre-eminence of Demosthenes and Cicero, among the ancients; or Chatham and Burke, or even Pitt and Fox among themselves; no one with the rank as a mere public speaker, considered apart from his merits as a statesman, which Ames once held, or which Mr. Randolph now occupies in America.”. Thus far we perfectly concur in sentiment with our author. But we must be rendered insensible to the effulgence of eloquence with which Erskine has so often dazzled and confounded the British forum, before we can admit, that “ The orators of England will probably very soon be reduced, unless new ones arise, to Chatham and Burke, and perhaps Sheridan."
Taking leave of England in a manner rather hasty and abrupt, at least very unceremonious, Inchiquin pays his respects and duties to his magna parens, the “ green mantled Erin” in a pithy and fervid compliment, which we lay before the reader because we think it beautiful and touching, characteristic and just.
« Does love of the land of my forefathers deceive me when I think that Ireland, manacled and chained as she is, has produced some of the finest orators of the age. It was in Ireland Burke and Sheridan lisped the first of those numbers, that were afterwards modulated on the greater but less har. monious sphere of England. It is in Ireland that Curran and Grattan shine. It is there that a constitutional mercurialism and frankness, beating against the shackles of domination, have struck out some of the finest flashes of an eloquence, sublime and pathetic, spontaneous, perhaps irregular, but exube. rant, gorgeous, intense and irresistible.”
In the same spirit of justice and truth, he proceeds to remark, that though the Americans have never, perhaps, exhibited a Chatham or a Burke-though their most distinguished speakers may want the finish of oratory; yet that the nation at large is characterized by a greater aptitude for public speaking, more generally diffused, and more frequently displayed in flights of bold, nervous, and beautiful eloquence, than any other that now exists---And, ancient Greece perhaps excepted, we are persuaded he might have added, that ever did exist. Though Rome had her Hortensius, her Cæsar, her Cato, her Cicero, and others; yet the nation at large was not particularly distinguished by a talent for public speaking.