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YANKEE-LAND, or the New England portion of the United States, does not make a great figure in the map of the American Republic; yet the traveller who leaves it out of his route can tell you but little of what the Americans are. The history of the Yankees is the history of the Republic; the character of the Yankees has influenced and continues to influence that of every part of the nation; and their name, from a provincial designation, has become among foreigners the popular appellation of the whole people. Such is the predominance of character and civilization; the other States are becoming like the Yankees, while the Yankees are keeping like themselves. It is in New England, therefore, that you find the most original, operative, and distinctly-marked American character. Here should the traveller begin and end; whoever leaves the Yankees out of his “ United States as they are,” will find he has left Hamlet out of Hamlet's tragedy; and the person who, upon a short intimacy with the pork-merchants of Cincinnati and the kitchen wenches of New York, pretends to write a book on the “ Domestic Manners of the Americans,” will show the same degree of modesty with him who touches at Liverpool and the Hebrides, and then spawns his quarto, entitled “ John Bull at Home.”
It is in New England that you find Jonathan at home. In the other States there is a mixture, greater or less, of foreign population, but in New England the population is homogeneous and native-the emigrant does not settle there—the country is too full of people, while the more fertile soil of the west holds out superior attractions to the stranger. It is no lubber land; there is no getting half-a-dollar a day for sleeping, in Massachusetts or Vermont; the rocky soil and rough climate of this region require thrift and industry in the occupant. In the west he may scratch the ground, throw in the seed, and leave the rest to nature; but here his toil must never be remitted; and, as valour comes of sherris, so doth prosperity come of industry. The southern planter who visits the east and finds the whole land a garden, wonders why the fat fields and the warm sky of his own region do not produce the same picture, and in his endeavours at an explanation, ascribes it to the tariff, whereas the difference in the two regions arises from the regular and natural operation of things ; it is solely the effect of industry.
What is Cape Cod but a heap of sand ? yet it maintains thirty thousand people, and there is not a beggar among them. All the tariffs that could be devised never would ruin New England, were they framed er proprio motu of Georgia or South Carolina. While the Yankees are themselves, they will hold their own, let politics twist about as they will. They are like cats ; throw them up as you please, they will come down upon their feet.
Shut their industry out from one career, and it will force itself into another. Dry up twenty sources of their prosperity, and they will open twenty more. They have a perseverance that will never languish while anything remains to be tried; they have a resolution that will try anything, if need be, and when a Yankee says " I'll try,” the thing is done. Boston is but the fourth city in the Union as to population, yet in
many points it may be considered the chief: a metropolis there never will be in the United States—I mean for practical purposes--as London is to Great Britain, or Paris to France,-for Washington will never be a great city. There may be an overgrown population at New York, and there may be a Federal Government for ever within the ten miles square, but neither of these, nor any other spot, will ever be able to assume to itself the whole powers of a metropolis. No city will exercise a moral dictation over the rest, or over the country: no city will give the tone in politics, or set the fashions in literature, for the whole Union.
New York and Philadelphia owe their great population to the numbers whom they receive from the other portions of the Union and the other side of the Atlantic. Boston has grown by internal augmentation only, or accretion from its immediate neighbourhood ; in consequence, it exhibits nothing of that shifting and heterogeneous character which marks the great cities of the south. In those cities you find masses of people who know little of each other, diverse in origin, dissimilar in habits, discordant in tastes, difficult to calculate upon, or to combine for any common end: but the Bostonians are as one man—they know each other, understand each other ; whatever affects one portion of their community, affects the whole; they have a perfect unity of feeling and stability of character. This has ever been their peculiarity, and to this it is owing that the revolution first exploded in their city. Had Boston been as New York, Fanevil Hall would never have been the cradle of American liberty. Whatever the Bostonians do, they do commonly with great unanimity and effect. To do a thing“ in Boston style” is proverbial throughout the country, as signifying a thing done with superior promptness and execution. With sixty odd thousand inhabitants, Boston will raise more money in a given time, for any public purpose, than either New York or Philadelphia, with more than 200,000 each. It is the chief city, too, for literature and the fine arts; for your Yankee, with all his thriftiness, is a huge buyer of books, and will bid higher for pictures than anybody else on the western side of the Atlantic. Ăs New England is to America what Tuscany is to Italy, so may we continue the parallel, and compare Boston to Florence, which cities resemble each other in more points than one. Boston, like Florence, is distinguished for letters and the polite arts, for polish and civility of manners, for the talent of its citizens, for their early love of liberty, and for the external appearance of the city, the beauty of its situation, the splendour of its edifices, the cleanliness of the streets, and the general appearance of industry, wealth, and comfort; while for the orderly character of the population, their sobriety of habits, and the correct tone of moral feeling that prevails among all classes, it may challenge a comparison with any city, large or small, upon the earth. Some well-intentioned but ignorant people, in their zeal to encourage the consumption of cold water, have been in the habit of telling one another that much intemperance has prevailed there; this is a totally wrong impression. I have seen more persons intoxicated at Rome in ten days, than I have seen in Boston for ten years.
It is remarkable that the descendants of the rigid, and, as we are apt. to call them, bigoted puritans, should have become the most tolerant in religion of all the American people. There is a liberty of conscience,
it is true, throughout the Union, but religious prejudice is mighty in many parts. In Boston, the severe and strait-laced Calvinism of former times has disappeared. The Unitarians now form the largest sect in the city, and, as is well known, number in their ranks some of the ablest men in the western world. With this sect there is no intolerance; the opposing sects have learnt forbearance from their example, and the odium theologicum has lost its bitterness here. The Yankee is cool, cautious, and calculating; he wants a reason for everything; an old prejudice is no obstacle in his way to improvement; his opinions must rest upon solid, tangible ground. His religion must be a religion of the understanding. He is not credulous, he is not enthusiastic. There are no Catholics in New England, save a few foreigners, and there never will be any. The New Englander is eminently a religious man, but his religion never will be a religion of ceremonies. The Episcopalians are much less numerous here than in other parts. Methodists are rare, and the other enthusiastic sects still more so.
Boston, however, is by no means the whole of Yankee-land. Paris, we know, is all France, and London may carry all England whithersoever she listeth. Not so in America. Brother Jonathan, with all his guesses, is another guess sort of a person ; the Yankees of the country cannot be led by those of the capital, except perhaps in the fashion of a go-tomeeting coat, or the hue of a riband. There is a watchful jealousy among them which is for ever on the look-out, lest the capital should get an undue ascendancy; no matter what the point in question may be, it would create an alarm among the lowest yeomen of Berkshire and Worcester counties, were it to be noised abroad that Boston had one feather's weight more influence than was allowed her by chapter and şection of the constitution. Urban influence can thus get no ascendancy; the city has not, like a great heart, all the life blood of the community at command; the country is all heart. All the great cities were occupied by the enemy during the revolutionary war, yet was not the land conquered,- I should rather say the people were not conquered.
Sir William Jones," and not cities, constitute a state.” There does not exist that difference between town and country manners in New England which you find in most other countries. Education, books, newspapers, and the facilities of communication between all parts, bring the different classes upon a level. The rustic dresses the same as the cit—when he undertakes to be dressed; discusses the same topics of news, and shows the same degree of information on common matters; and as to his speech and behaviour, he must be a rare animal among his neighbours who displays boorish manners, or talks bad English. “ The land of steady habits” has sometimes been used as a nickname for the country; but nothing is more applicable. Habits are so stable, and the whole moral frame of society is so well organized among these people, that, were all restraints of law removed, things would go on as usual: they are a law to themselves.
In European countries, he that is born a peasant will be a peasant all his life; his chance of forming an exception to the rule is exceedingly small. But, on beholding the most rustical clown of all Yankee-land, it would not be safe to affirm that he would not be numbered, at some future day, among the most eminent men of the country. There is no burying a man of genius here; the humblest birth shuts out no one
either from the hopes or the facilities of rising to that station for which his native talent has qualified him. Rare, indeed, is it to find an individual who cannot read and write; every one has therefore that modicum of knowledge placed within his reach which will enable him to obtain more, should his wishes aspire. Clowns, properly speaking, there are none among the Yankees: a Yankee is emphatically a civil man, though his civility may not produce all the bows and grimaces and unmeaning compliments which accompany or constitute that quality among the French ; rudeness of manners could be charged against these people only by those who know nothing about them. “Countries," says Goldsmith, wear very different appearances to persons in different circumstances. A traveller who is whirled through Europe in a post-chaise, and a pilgrim who walks the grand tour on foot, will form very different conclusions.” Now, sundry people have been whirled from Boston to New York in a mail-coach, and said I know not what about manners. I have travelled over the New England States on foot-over highways and byways; supped at the most splendid hotels and the most paltry inns; entered every farmer's door that offered as a resting-place; and crossed any man's garden, or corn-field, or orchard, that lay in my way, without receiving an uncivil word on my whole route. On one occasion I lost myself in the woods among the Green Mountains of Vermont, where I imagined there was no living creature to be encountered for miles, except black bears, catamounts, and similar country gentlemen ; but on a sudden I emerged from the wood into an open spot where stood a log hut. A little flaxen-headed urchin espied me coming, and began to scramble with all speed—to hide himself, as I supposed : but no-it was to gain the summit of an immense log of wood, which lay by the little pathway, where he greeted me, as I passed, with as profound a bow as I ever received.
A Yankee is cautious,-more so than a Scotchman. He will make do bulls, but take especial care not to be caught tripping in his speech, It is amusing often to see the dexterity with which he will avoid giving a direct answer to a question, where he suspects it may not be altogether safe to speak positively; and as to answering an abrupt query, without knowing why it is put, catch him there if you can. Guessing, after all, is not so unprofitable a practice: it is no small undertaking, at times, to extract evidence from a witness in court.
“ Did you ever see the man drunk?” asked a counsel of a fellow on the stand.
“ Why, I've seen him jolly."
" Why, he might have been drunk; and then, again, he might not. I can't say he wasn't, and I can't say he was.”
Pray,” asked another, “ did you see the defendant throw the stone ?"
“ Why, I saw him have a stone, and I suppose he might have thrown it."
“How large a stone was it?"
Why, I should call it a largish stone."
But say how big it was." “ It appeared to me to be a stone of some bigness." “ But describe the bigness of it." “ As near as I can recollect, it was a considerable of a stone."
“But can't you compare it, and say it was as big as this thing or that thing ?”
“ Why, if I should say now, I should say it was as big-as big-as a piece of chalk.”
The highest praise which a Frenchman imagines he can bestow upon an individual is to call him un homme d'esprit. An Englishman describes his best friend as a "good-natured, sensible fellow;" a special Yankee's commendation from his neighbours is, that he is smart, enterprising man.” Nothing for a Yankee like enterprise; and good qualities to him are worth little without it. I think it is in Cicero's newly-discovered “Republic,” nec vero satis est habere virtutem nisi utare. This is a true Yankee maxim,-give your good qualities action. To him it is inconceivable that a man should be good for anything who does not make his presence felt among those around him. A stirring spirit, stirring deeds, a stirring life,-these form the common theme of praise; and if a man is said to be good, it will be necessary to answer the question, “ Good for what?" “Qu'est ce qu'il a fait ?-What has he done?" was Napoleon's query when any man was said to possess talent; and your Yankee is pretty much of the same way of thinking, being accustomed to require constant evidence of a man's usefulness, ere he allows him the praise of doing his duty among men.
And well that it is so: he has seen the soil which gives him subsistence conquered, by his own unremitted exertions, from the wilderness; he has seen those political institutions which are his happiness and his boast built up by his own hands; and he is sensible that prudent and industrious habits can alone preserve to him and his posterity the blessings they have gained.
When America shall produce a writer of truly original genius, it is five to one that man will be a Yankee. Franklin was a man whose genius, more than that of any other of his countrymen, marked the age in which he lived; and there is not a trait of his character but is true to New England. The most eminent public man of the present day is Webster; and, in spite of party animosities and sectional prejudice, there is not one whose influence is so powerful, or whose superiority is so universally admitted. The mind of this eminent man is of the true New England stamp: his eloquence is not showy, dazzling, nor elaborate; he does not seek to surprise you by ingenious paradoxes, nor fill your ears with a furious sound of mighty words. You never think of exclaiming between his periods, “ How fine !” but you find him persuasive, convincing, and effectual in argument, such as no other man to whom you ever listened. Sincerity, and earnest, full conviction of the truth, distinguish the manners of this orator, and plain sound sense is the characteristic of his matter;—without plain sound sense, indeed, can there be any true eloquence ? He does not waste his strength in attempts to utter merely striking things; he is not a brilliant speaker, as the epithet is commonly understood. Your brilliant orators are amusing, but they are not powerful; they are seldom effective to any