Page images
PDF
EPUB

'ATHENIA OF DAMASCUS' is the title of a new tragedy, in five acts, from the pen of RUFUS DAWES, Esq., a gentleman whose repute as a scholar, poet, and felicitous prose writer, is richly deserved. The tragedy is pronounced, on good literary authority, to be constructed after the most rigid rules of the drama, without losing sight of due stage effect. The play is one of thrilling interest, the situations striking and dramatic, the characters well marked and contrasted, and the language condensed and beautiful.' We may here, for good reasons, express the hope, that Mr. DAWES will forbid all inflated theatrical humbug, in the production of his tragedy upon the stage. It will require, we are confident, no such charlatanry as is sometimes employed to foist indifferent literary efforts and small actors into spurious and temporary notoriety.

'DOCTRINE OF ENDLESS PUNISHMENT.'- Mr. P. PRICE, Fulton-street, has published a second edition of 'A Discussion on the conjoint questions, Is the doctrine of Endless Punishment taught in the Bible?- or does the Bible teach the doctrine of the final holiness and happiness of all mankind?' — in a series of Letters between EZRA STYLES ELY, D. D., and ABEL C. THOMAS, Pastor of the first Universalist Church, Philadelphia.' We have before referred to this volume, and to the gentlemanly and Christian spirit in which the controversy was begun and continued, by the opposing advocates of their religious creeds. It should be added, that there are seven concluding epistles in the present edition, which have never before appeared in print.

LUXURY IN STORE. -The Brothers HARPER have in press two volumes, by the author of 'Incidents of Travel in Arabia Petræa and the Holy Land,' entitled 'Incidents of Travel in Greece, Turkey, Russia, and Poland.' We have been kindly permitted to examine a portion of the sheets, as they are passing through the press; and have little hesitation in predicting, that the work will be found fully equal to the one which has made the author so widely and favorably known, both in Europe and America, and which, in the short space of one year, has reached six large editions! This is strong 'circumstantial evidence' of our author's popularity.

'PROBUS: OR ROME IN THE THIRD CENTURY.'-A work thus entitled, by the author of the 'Letters from Palmyra,' and from Rome, so favorably known to the reading public on both sides of the Atlantic, and especially to the readers of this Magazine, has just been published by Mr. C. S. FRANCIS, Broadway. Absence from the city must constitute our apology for postponing an adequate review of this admirable production, until our next number. The same publisher has issued a new and beautiful edition of the Palmyra Letters, under the title of 'Zenobia, or the Fall of Palmyra.'

SKETCHES OF PARIS.- We have omitted to mention, until it is doubtless something too late to do so for any good purpose, a work of some three hundred pages, from the press of Messrs. Carey and HART, entitled 'Sketches of Paris, in Familiar Letters to his Friend, by an American Gentleman.' These sketches are comprehensive, sometimes philosophical, and always exceedingly graphic; and a vein of sly humor, that is quite irresistible, runs through the volume. 'We regret to add,' as the journalists have it, that it is sometimes tinctured with grossness.

'DEMOCRACY IN AMERICA.'-MR. GEORGE DEARBORN has issued DE TOCQUEVILLE'S Democracy in America,' in a large and handsome volume, of nearly five hundred pages. This work is one of the most complete and philosophical which has ever been written in relation to this country; and we propose, at some future and not distant day, to lay its merits and claims more largely before our readers. In the mean time, we commend the volume earnestly to the public, as every way worthy of extension and perusal. A few such books, well pondered abroad, should cause certain traducers of this country to go into a state of literary 'retiracy,' to blush out the remainder of their days.

WRITINGS OF 'Boz.'-Messrs. CAREY, LEA AND BLANCHARD are publishing, in monthly numbers, with two plates in each, 'Nicholas Nickleby,' by the celebrated 'Pickwick' biographer, the inimitable DICKENS. The whole will be completed in twenty numbers. The same publishers are issuing, also with plates, and in ten monthly numbers, 'Sketches,' by Boz, together with 'Oliver Twist.' All these works are well printed, upon good paper, and the plates are excellent.

'RELIGION AT HOME.' -This 'story, founded on facts,' and written by Mrs. WILLIAMS, of Rhode-Island, has reached a third edition, which has been carefully revised. The work has acquired much repute for the excellence of its lessons, not less than the felicitous manner in which they are made to reach the heart of the reader. We commend the volume, with all cheerfulness, to the public acceptance, as one capable of being made eminently fruitful of good.

MRS. SHERWOOD'S WORKS. The volume before us contains Henry Milner, Part IV., and is the fifteenth and last of the first and only uniform edition of Mrs. SHERWOOD's works ever published in the United States. Those readers who may desire to possess themselves of one or more volumes, containing some favorite story or stories, may obtain them separately, as well as in complete sets, of the booksellers generally. Each volume is embellished with handsome plates.

'THE GOLDEN HORSE SHOE.'-A friend (and we should add disinterested) who has been permitted to peruse the mss. of a novel thus entitled, by the author of 'The Cavaliers of Virginia,' speaks to us in warm terms of its great interest, and superior literary merit. As trade has revived, we may soon expect to hear that it has been given to the public.

TO OUR READERS. — In the outset of a new volume, it may not be amiss to refer to a few of the literary attractions which may be expected in our coming half-yearly budget. Of the promise afforded by the articles commenced or continued in the present number, the reader can form his own judgment. In addition to these, and others of scarcely less merit, which we lack space to specify, may be mentioned, 'Brandrethiana,' after the manner of 'Warreniana' and the 'Rejected Addresses,' giving imitations, in prose and verse, of many prominent American writers, by the author of Ollapodiana,' which series will also be regularly continued; articles from the pen of the Rev. Mr. BASCOM, of Kentucky, including a description of Niagara Falls, written in pencil on Table-Rock; from Hon. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, J. FENIMORE COOPER, Esq., and from the author of 'Outer Mer ;' unpublished poems and passages from the correspondence and private journal of the late young and gifted Mrs. SOPHIA M. PHILLIPS, of Rhode-Island, and later of West Point; poems by WORDSWORTH; sea sketches from our well known and popular correspondent, JACK GARNET,' author of 'The Mutiny,' and 'The Cruize of a Guineaman ;' with sketches from the pen of the author of 'Incidents of Travel in Arabia Petræa and the Holy Land,' as well as from Mr. CATHERWOOD, the eminent oriental traveller and lecturer, JAMES N. BARKER, Esq, Philadelphia, etc. In short, we believe we have the dispostition and the means amply to repay the partiality of the public, which has given to this Magazine a circulation altogether unequalled, and which has been increased, moreover, beyond all former precedent, during the last three months. We need not add, that we are grateful, and shall labor unremittingly to evince it.

DELINQUENT 'PATRONS' (save the mark!) are desired to peruse the third page of the cover of this Magazine.

THE KNICKERBOCKER.

VOL. XII.

AUGUST, 1838.

THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION.

ITS MORAL AND SOCIAL INFLUENCE ON AMERICA, AND THE WORLD AT LARGE.

BY J. R. TYSON, ESQ.

No. 2.

THE colonists of North America brought with them from England the seeds of the revolution. They had felt the blessings which were conferred on Europe by the establishment of Free Towns. They had drunk in the doctrines of Milton and Bacon, and were prepared for the lessons of Sidney, Fairfax, and Hampden. They had imbibed the whole spirit of the reformation. Independent, for the most part, in their fortunes, they were alike removed from nobility and mean birth. They not only possessed much of the learning of the period, but in proportion to their number, a greater amount of intelligence than is to be found in any European nation of the present day.

It is not necessary to inquire how far the spirit of the men who were laying the foundations of empire in the new world contributed to the first revolution in England-to the royal tragedy of 1648 Cromwell, and Hampden, and Haselrig, themselves forcibly prevented by Charles, whom they brought to the block, from emigrating to America, were animated by the same puritanical fever which raged with greater heat in the American colonies. It is easy to perceive, in the events of the new world, the aid which was thence derived to the revolution of 1688. The elements were at work which were silently but effectually to demolish the time-honored structure of Rome; and, in its room, to lay the foundations of that edifice which was finally reared by the act of settlement.

But the doctrines which brought Charles to the scaffold, and placed William and Mary upon the English throne, did not originate in the new world. They were the effect of circumstances favorable to the development of a principle whose birth was cöeval with the dawn of intellectual light in Europe. It sprang from the Pandects of Justinian; from the commerce introduced by the Crusades; and was nursed by the press, that mighty agent of modern civilization. Nothing was wanting but the free doctrines of the pilgrim fathers, and the more beautiful, because more consistent, institutions of William Penn, to give energy to a principle which was already perceptible in its influence upon mankind.

[blocks in formation]

The settlers, in seeking an asylum from persecution, had no wish to sever the bonds which connected them with their native land. No Briton in the 'sea-girt isle,' surrounded by the pomp and circumstance of privileged orders of society, could more stoutly defend the political institutions of England than the pilgrims of Plymouth, the founders of Maryland, and the companions of William Penn. They proudly felt themselves a part of

'That happy breed of men, that little world,
That precious gem set in the silver sea.'

They had been nurtured in the peculiar forms of a society which was endeared to them by the ties of ancestry, by the genius which gives effulgence to the literature of modern Europe, and by those proud achievements which have encircled, as with a halo, the page of English history.

But their situation was favorable to the growth of those germs of liberty, which were kindly planted in their father-land, while it repressed those weeds of which they had felt the noxious influence. Left alone in the boundless solitude of a new country, their minds sympathized with the untrammelled freedom of nature, and expanded with the contemplation of the things around them. It was here that toleration and the sacred rights of conscience were first proclaimed by Coddington, Williams, Lord Baltimore, and Penn. It was here those seeds were sown of political equality, which the destruction of the English rule of primogeniture could not fail to scatter.

With such elements in America, it required but a tranquil enjoyment of their new abode, or the least encroachment upon their rights, from England, to separate them for ever from their native home. The smooth current of their calm existence was at length rippled and disturbed in its unmurmuring and peaceful flow. The resistance came from a trifling tax, which was imposed by parliament, without the colonial assent. The subsidy itself was too contemptible for complaint, but the act imposing it implied an authority to which they could not yield a voluntary obedience. It was the assertion of a principle which was inconsistent with popular freedom a mere abstraction, which, in its effects, was unseen upon the wealth, and unfelt upon the happiness, of the people. The spirit of liberty had been fostered in a genial atmosphere: sustained and nourished, it was destined not only to found a new and independent empire, but to form an era for sending back to Europe some of those treasures of wisdom, which shot up and blossomed amidst the solitudes of the new world.

The revolution was essentially a contest of doctrine. It resulted in the triumph of a principle, which, though imperceptible to visions rendered weak by the sunny pageantry of courts, and the showy glitter of rank and title, was still existent, and had long been struggling for ascendancy. That principle was the sovereignty of the people at large. The sun of the American firmament, it shines in the centre of the American system, dispensing life and warmth to all within its influence, and gilding with its rays a distant horizon.

The first effect produced upon a people who had emerged from the condition of royal colonists to independent republicans, would

The friends of power,

be perceptible in their external manners.
accustomed to a royal prism, which could not detect in a republic
the tints of the rainbow, nor the gaudy colors reflected through such
a medium, have voted us unsightly. Their glass has had the virtue
of a powerful lens, in magnifying the roughness and distorting the
agreeable forms which lie upon the social surface. But, after all,
need the truth be suppressed? Can it be denied that some of the
sons of liberty are distinguished by an air of independence, not to
say a certain swagger, which does not display its effects in the most
captivating mode. The sense of freedom indeed betrays itself in un-
couth and grotesque forms; often amusing, and sometimes ridiculous.
The anecdotes related by the Duke of Saxe Weimar, partake of this
mingled yarn. These burning lights of independence

-'love their land because it is their own,
And scorn to give aught other reason why;
Would shake hands with a king upon his throne,
And think it kindness to his majesty.'

But say what we will, reason as we may, this important demeanor, this rude exhibition of the sense of liberty, seems to be a natural process in the operation of popular ideas; and springs from elements which, in a republic, it would hardly be safe to suppress or control. An eminent American, now resident at Paris, perceives in the lower classes of the inhabitants less of that pliant ductility which formerly marked every order of Frenchmen. Something, said Burke, must be pardoned to the spirit of liberty.

The greatness of the change which has been effected in the popular manners, may be understood, by comparing the shame-faced and retiring Englishmen of Canada, with the upright mien and lofty port of the free-born citizens of the United States:

'Men whose stately tread

Brings from the dust the sound of liberty.'

Without manufactures, without commerce, and overwhelmed by nearly the whole force of that pernicious and inhuman traffic of the mother country, which, while it desolated Africa, has perpetuated injustice here, our manners and our fortunes were alike provincial. Canada enjoys many advantages, and is exempted from various burthens, to which we were exposed by the prevalence of a less liberal and enlightened policy. The people were ambitious of grandeur, without the means of supporting it. They longed for the artificial distinctions of the old world. They sympathized in its feelings, adopted its sentiments, and imitated its example. All these are now only the dim and shadowy pageants of the past; the reminiscences of a day which belongs to history.

In a country of such vast geographical extent, the most striking differences of character and custom must prevail. The two extremes of society, at the east and the west, are distinguished by opposing contrarieties. In the west, an English traveller thus writes to his correspondent of an evening party. We have just returned,' says he, 'from an American ball, fatigued with impertinence, and wet with spittle.' Highly wrought and fanciful as the description may appear, we recognise in it such a likeness to the original as belongs

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »