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the outline of his Elysium, ere he falls to boasting as loudly of his pleasures and his profits as if they were already received and enjoyed: he sees harvests spread before he has yet planted a grain of corn, and villas rise before he has mortized the few rude logs which shelter him from the weather! Nay, he receives letters from anxious inquirers in various parts of Europe, respecting the blessings to be obtained by purchasing lots of land in his neighbourhood, &c. and he answers them with a gravity that might make one split.' Never was the game of make-believe played with such ludicrous solemnity, and such impudence.
To come, however, to these suppositious epistles, (which remind us of the genuine correspondence of the celebrated Dr. Solomon,') they are not of a nature to require from us much notice, nor do we think they will add to the reputation of the writer in any way. It would seem from them, however, that we had been misinformed in one point, namely, respecting Mr. Birkbeck's dissatisfaction with his new situation;-it was Mr. Flower only (so, at least, we understand the author, who is very sore on the subject) who prudently determined to abandon all his visionary projects, ere it was too late, and return to his own country;-but, on the other hand, they most fully substantiate the charge we have been. compelled to bring against him of being a reviler and contemner of all religion; for he no longer deals in insinuations, but openly avows his total disregard and dislike to religion under whatever form it may appear. Where this is the case it is almost unnecessary to add that we should look in vain for any fixed moral principlesself-interest is the predominant motive and the end of every measure; and when Mr. Birkbeck tells us of the 'gentle manners, warm hearts, and cultivated understandings' of the estimable Wabashites, we may be quite sure that he speaks by the usual figure-the passage, however, is not unamusing.
'But what think you of a community, not only without an established religion, but of whom a large proportion profess no particular religion, and think as little about the machinery of it, as you know was the case with myself? What in some places is esteemed a decent conformity with practices which we despise, is here altogether unnecessary. There are, however, some sectaries even here, with more of enthusiasm than good temper; but their zeal finds sufficient vent in loud preaching and praying. The Court-house is used by all persuasions, indifferently, as a place of worship; any acknowledged preacher who announces himself for a Sunday or other day, may always collect an audience, and rave or reason as he sees meet. When the weather is favourable few Sundays pass without something of the sort. It is remarkable that they generally deliver themselves with that chanting cadence you have heard among the quakers. This is Christmas day, and seems to be kept
as a pure holiday-merely a day of relaxation and amusement: those that choose, observe it religiously; but the public opinion does not lean that way, and the law is silent on the subject. After this deplorable account you will not wonder when you hear of earthquakes and tornados amongst us. But the state of political feeling is, if possible, still more deplorable. Republican principles prevail universally. Those few zealous persons, who, like the ten faithful that were not found by Abraham, might have stood between their heathen neighbours and destruction, even these are among the most decided foes of all legitimacy, except that of a government appointed by the people. They are as fully armed with carnal weapons as with spiritual; and as determined in their animosity against royalty and its appurtenances, as they are against the kingdom of Anti-Christ; holding it as lawful to use the sword of the flesh for the destruction of the one, as that of the spirit for the other.
'Children are not baptized or subjected to any superstitious rite; the parents name them, and that is all: and the last act of the drama is as simple as the first. There is no consecrated burial place or funeral service. The body is enclosed in the plainest coffin; the family of the deceased convey the corpse into the woods; some of the party are provided with axes, and some with spades; a grave is prepared, and the body quietly placed in it; then trees are felled, and laid over the grave to protect it from wild beasts. If the party belong to a religious community, preaching sometimes follows; if not, a few natural tears are shed in silence, and the scene is closed. These simple monuments of mortality are not unfrequent in the woods. Marriages are as little concerned with superstitious observances as funerals; but they are observed as occasions of festivity. We are not quite out of hearing of the world and its bustle, but the sound is rather long in reaching us. We receive the Philadelphia daily papers once a week, about a month after they are published; in these we read extracts from the English journals of the month preceding: so we take up the news as you forget it; and what happened three months ago in Europe is just now on the carpet here.'-pp. 23-25.
The administration of justice in these back-woods, by the 'circuit court,' must needs be delightful. Morris Birkbeck, who has as little regard for law as for religion, thus introduces his honour' the judge, and the gentlemen of the jury, to his correspondent.
'Your military or fox-hunting experience has, I dare say, furnished adventures similar to those which are constantly occurring here to the gentlemen of the long robe, on their progress from court to court. The judge and the bar are now working their way to the next county seat, through almost trackless woods, over snow and ice, with the thermometer about zero. In last November circuit the judge swam his horse, I think, seven times in one day; how often in the whole circuit is not in the record. What would our English lawyers say to seven such ablutions in one November day? and then to dry their clothes on their back by turning round and round before a blazing fire, preparatory to a
night's lodging on a cabin floor wrapped in their blankets; which, bý the by, are the only robes used by the profession here.
I have an anecdote of a judge with whom I am well acquainted, and therefore I believe it. I give it you as an instance of intrepidity, as well as of that ferocious violence which occurs but too frequently; by no means, however, as a specimen of the judicial character. A few years ago, before he was advanced to his present diguity, the foreman of a grand jury insulted him outrageously, out of court, of course. The man had a large knife in his hand, such as hunters always carry about them, and well know the use of; but the enraged barrister, with a handwhip, or cow-hide as they are called, laid on so keenly that he actually cut his jacket to ribbons in defiance of the knife; and when the beaten and bleeding juryman made his piteous case known to his brethren, they fined him a dozen of wine for his cowardice.
Another anecdote. A notorious offender had escaped from confinement, and, mounted on a capital horse, paraded the town where the judge resided, with a brace of loaded pistols, calling at the stores and grog-shops, and declaring he would shoot any man who should attempt to molest him. The judge hearing of it, loaded a pistol, walked deliberately up to the man to apprehend him, and on his making show of resistance shot him immediately. The ball entered the breast and came out behind, but did not prove mortal. He fell, was reconducted to gaol, escaped a second time, and was drowned in crossing the Ohio.'— pp. 60-62.
These are really the only amusing passages that we could find in the whole volume. Its chief characteristic is dullness-this we did not expect from Mr. Morris Birkbeck; but he appears already to have exhausted his common-place book, and we have therefore little more than the most wearisome and uninteresting repetitions of the price of building log huts, fencing, cropping, &c., and of anticipations', on a grand scale, of what his estate may be worth, fourteen years hence-interlarded with a copious sprinkling of vituperation against the rents, the taxes, and the villainous aristocracy' of England, whose downfall he gaily announces. The 'dreadful crisis,' he assures us, is at hand.' p. 28. And, in generously giving some parliamentary news to a friend, only eighteen months after that friend must have learned it on the spot, he rises in his pretensions,
' veluti fanaticus, œstro
Percussus, Bellona, tuo, divinat'!—
and exclaims- I hear of a loan too, for the interest of which you must have new taxes!'
While the delighted prophet is thus viewing, in ecstatic vision, poor England involved in clouds, and abandoned to hopeless misery and despair, that elastic country is basking in the broad sunshine of peace and prosperity. Her soil, at this moment, is covered with the richest blessings of heaven; the busy hum of industry is
heard in all her streets; every port is crowded; and ocean groans under the fleets that are posting towards her with every wind that blows. England, in short, wants nothing but thankfulness; nothing but a due sense of the mercies which are heaped upon her with an unsparing hand.
Sunk, however, and ruined as she is, in Mr. Birkbeck's opinion, he frankly acknowledges he would have been well satisfied to remain in her if he had owned the estate which he only rented-rented too from one of the villainous aristocrats.' It seems, however, by his own confession, that as long as he held it for about a third of its value, he imitated his landlord, and lived as if it had been actually his own; and when he at length discovered his mistake, he grew angry, railed against the government and its institutions, and quitted the country. In what manner this imitator of a gentleman farmer lived while things went on smoothly, is pretty broadly glanced at in one of his letters.
'Here,' (in the back-settlements,) I shall be employed in enlarging the circle of our enjoyments; there,' (in Sussex,) 'I was contracting it daily. My family had already made several downward movements; we had learnt to dispense with the comfort of a carriage; we mounted our horses instead this was no bad exchange; but the cause of our making the exchange was irksome. From horseback my daughters cheerfully enough betook themselves to their feet: no great harm in that, only it was by compulsion. So we went down step by step.'—p. 28.
Had this man submitted, during his long course of prosperity, to a thousandth part of the privations which are now forced upon him, it is apparent, from his own statement, that he might have realized a sufficient sum to purchase the estate which he cultivated; but vanity first indulged to excess, and then mortified, joined to a want of principle, destroyed all his advantages, drove him from society, and settled him down' in the pestilential swamps of the Wabash; whence he looks at England (like another great' anticipator') with jealous leer malign, and seeks some alleviation of his ulcerated feelings, in attempting to seduce her capitalists to follow his steps, and partake in his wretchedness.
Doctor Johnson, in his strong language, has somewhere said, that patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel. The patriotism of Morris Birkbeck, we will do him the justice to believe, is not exactly that which is meant by the Doctor:-in fact, we know not well what it is; for he seems to disclaim the feeling, as well as the word in every sense of it with which we are acquainted.
'Our friend Cobbett,' he says, 'declaims about patriotism in sounding phrases, but I adhere to the maxim “ubi libertas ibi patria." What is country? the soil? Of this I was only an occupant. The government? I abhorred its deeds and its principles. The church? I did not believe
in its doctrines, and had no reverence for the clergy. The army ? No. The law? We have the same law here, with some omissions and some improvements. The people? Yes; but not the fund-holders, nor the soi-disant House of Commons; not the consumers, nor the creators of taxes.'-pp. 28, 29.
Mr. Birkbeck bears hard upon our friend Cobbett.' The object of both is the same, namely, money; the commodities only in which they deal are different. Friend Cobbett' has nothing but patriotism to sell, and he therefore sets it off, as Mr. Birkbeck truly says, 'in sounding phrases.' Friend Morris has land to dispose of, and he naturally does the same. But both are equally sincere, equally disinterested, and-to sum up all in a wordequally to be trusted. We feel an honest pleasure in rescuing Mr. Cobbett from the invidious attack of this reformed Quaker.
On the whole, detesting, as we most cordially do, all the principles avowed by Mr. Birkbeck, moral and political, (religious, as we have seen, he has none,) we are ready to give him the credit of having written an entertaining little volume of Notes,' in which we are presented with an interesting and in some measure a faithful picture of the country through which he travelled, and the people with whom he had any intercourse. His 'Letters from Illinois' are of a different character: there is nothing in them that can excite the least degree of interest, except, perhaps, in those unfortunate persons whom he may succeed in seducing from the land of their fathers, in order to dispose of that property, which, with all its cheapness, is evidently a dead weight upon his hands.
One word more and we have done. Whatever New America' may have gained by the name of Birkbeck having ceased to be found in the list of the citizens of Old England, the latter has no reason to regret the loss. Many more of the same stamp may well be spared to wage war with the bears and red Indians of the 'back-woods' of America. For us-bad as England is represented, by such as, for reasons to which we have more than once alluded, may find it inconvenient to remain in it, we would rather possess a little cottage, with a few roods of land, perched on the skirts of a smiling common, mantled with the golden furze and the purple heath, than as many thousand acres of the pine barrens' and 'savannahs' of either New or Old America-well contented to exclaim with the poet,
'England, with all thy faults, we love thee still-
Where English minds and manners may be found,