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myself, (to speak with due modesty, while I speak the plain truth,) and such the idea that I had of my knowledge, that whenever the inquiry was made, I was quite unable to answer it, even to my own satisfaction; for, having read so much and heard so much about this country and the people thereof, I had no idea that I had anything of great value to learn of either by coming here. Nevertheless, I could not be easy till I came.
Yet more-most of my friends in America were English, or, as one of them would say, if he were at my side, no better than English; while most of the books that I had ever met with, and all that I ever cared much for (except a few of my own) were English, or purported so to be. English books made here by English, or Scotch, or Irish, or Welsh, or Swiss writers; or American books, the materials of which were born here, and bred here, if they did not grow here: bred here, that is, where they had any breeding at all. Whatever I knew was of English growth, or connected in some way or other, above or below, with what was of English growth: if the flowers were in this country, the fruitage was in that; if the branches overshadowed America, the roots were among the old foundations of England. My prejudices were English, my partialities were English, my very thoughts were English, and so, indeed, was all that I knew, and all that I cared for in this world or the next. And why? Because all that I knew had been taught me by English writers; and all that I cared for was, in some way or other, interwoven with the literature of England. Before I came over the seas, I had the reputation not only of being thoroughly acquainted with this people, of this country, with their literature, laws, and history; but I was also accused of being partial to them, for I belonged to the Federal party of America, a party who are English to a proverb there. After my arrival in this country, I spared no trouble, no cost, in the search after truth; and yet, after all my care, and after all my preparation, with all my deep-rooted partiality for whatever was English, (a partiality which made me look with favour upon that which in America I should have been ashamed of or sorry for,) and after I had been occupied a twelvemonth here, in the study of English character, with capital opportunities for the study, I discovered-just when my work was ready for publication too-that I was deplorably ignorant of the very things with which I thought myself best acquainted
of the very things which I was reputed to have a good knowledge of before I left America; that I knew little or nothing of the true character of the people here-as a people, I mean-and how could I? for it requires more than a twelvemonth to know the true character of a single individual; that my book, instead of being what I had really set my heart on making it, (if I lived long enough,) a book of authority on both sides of the water, a serious and a useful book, fitted for allaying hostility and prejudice, both in America and Great Britaina sort of peace-offering, to say the whole truth, prepared with a feeling of brotherhood for the people of two great empires, who, to love each other, only require to know each other, was likely to be anything but what it was intended to be. What was to be done? I gave up idea of a national portrait in despair. It was a job for the Wandering Jew.
But still I had facts enough, I thought, for two or three good
books, and a score of sketches-a volume of truth, a multitude of precious memoranda, about a multitude of transactions, which, as they occurred under my own eyes, were to be depended upon, by myself, at least, if by nobody else. To a great many of them I was able to swear. So, when I had made up my mind that my book, as a book, if it were published, would not be worth a fig, I set myself to recast the materials. I thought a deal of the matter before I began; looked about me on every side, aware that I had no time to lose; tried for a whole month to persuade myself that I had nothing to fear, that I had been careful enough to justify me in doing what Ï was going to do; that, in a word, my facts were facts. Nevertheless, to make all sure, I began a process of deliberate verification. I spared uo labour, I ransacked authorities; I counted for myself, and I measured for myself. I took nobody's word for anything, where it was possible for me to get anything better. Judge of my surprise. Not a paragraph that I had written was true, altogether true, that is, faithful and fair as a portraiture, I do not say of national, but of individual character; I do not say of states, or empires, but of little neighbourhoods and petty watering places. I had been guilty of mistake after mistake some of the most laughable nature. I had collected a multitude of amusing stories, for example, about A. and B.; but, somehow or other, I had put the name of A. for that of B., and the name of B. for that of A. I had given a beautiful fact, I remember, on the best authority, about the present Lord Chancellor the story was true, perfectly true, I am sure of that; for it was told me, as I said before, on the best authority; but, as the devil would have it, in the harry of writing, I had substituted the name of Ellenborough for that of Eldon. A pretty kettle of fish there would have been ! The book would have passed for a lie; I should have passed for a liar, and might have been prosecuted for a libel into the bargain. So, too, in a particular case, where, as I knew very little of the parties, I had been cautious to a degree, I related a fine story about an affair which took place at the table of a Scotch Duke-the Duke of Argyle, said I. On further inquiry, I found that it had taken place at the table of another person a Duke, to be sure, and a Scotch Duke, I believe; but then it was the Duke of Athol, not of Argyle. There was nothing in the story of itself, so far as the nobleman appeared; but if the mistake had not been discovered, my story would have passed for a stupid affair-a lie on the face of it. So with a multitude more. Not a paragraph that I had written was correct or true. I had been guilty of mistake, where mistake would appear impossible, where it would have been charity, perhaps, to charge me with wilful untruth. I had been guilty of much, that I myself, had I seen it in the book of another, should have called a misrepresentation, a deliberate misrepresentation, or a wilful and malicious misrepresentation. I had been guilty of broad caricature; I had taken a multitude of cases upon trust, and a multitude of stories from hearing. Was I to blame? I did no more than every such traveller does: I did no more than you do every day of your life. How many things do you repeat which you have no good authority for believing? How many more do you believe without knowing wherefore? How know you that your King is all that you are told he is? Have you ever seen him? have
you ever heard him speak? Upon what authority do you believe that he is fat in the face? that nobody was ever so well bred, or so much of a gentleman? that his coats are stitched on his back? that he eats fish with a knife? picks bones with his cuffs rolled up, and does-whatever he does at all-with an air of majesty? Nay, if you live at the west end of the town, how know you that the other side of Temple Bar is inhabited? How know you, indeed, that there is anything, anything at all, on the other side of it? or, that there is any such place on earth as Russell Square? I do not ask you if you know where to find such a place, for that were absurd; but I ask, upon what authority you believe that there is any such place? If it were laid down in the map, and you believed in it, because it was laid down in the map, you would be doing just what I have been doing here: just what every traveller does: you have been trusting to hearsay and report. You have been a believer on less authority, perhaps, than satisfied me. But enough.—I soon discovered that my materials were of no great worth; and that I had collected a heap of reports, which, though they were collected with a good feeling, after much inquiry, and with a hope of their being useful, would have been productive, I am sure, of little or no good, much error, and great mischief, had I suffered them to appear in their natural shape. And yet I could not bear to throw them aside for ever, without making any use of them-bad as they were. If they would not do for a history, they might for a novel, you know, and facts are facts, where you have a book to write, or a paper for a magazine, or an essay for a Quarterly Review, or a newspaper. Other people know this; and as for me, I am sure of it, so far as my facts are concerned; for a part of them were very true, after all-very true-though not so true as they might have been made, perhaps, with a little more care. Some had full truth enough in them, perhaps, to make them palatable; and of the rest, a goodly portion, I dare say, might have been made very true -very true indeed, as the world goes. I considered with myself again, what if I were to go over the whole matter once more, weed it thoroughly, and preserve so much, and no more, as would serve to show the daily growth of my thought here, from the first hour of my arrival-the first impressions that I received in every case, where I met with any thing which was new to me-altogether new-or of which I had formed an opinion before I came here, either from books or from hearsay? What if I were to add here and there a few of the corrections which, in the progress of another whole year, had occurred to me? If I did all this, or even a part of this, might I not be able to make a very amusing book, and a very instructive book? amusing to all who desire to know, without prevarication or disguise, without fear and without favour, just how matters and things would appear in this country to a native Yankee, on his first coming ashore-a visitor from another world; instructive in a variety of ways, not only to readers but to writers-the readers and writers of travels, I mean, or voyages, or of any other books, in whatever shape they may happen to appear, professing to describe the character of large communities; instructive, not merely to the multitudes of Americans, who, say what you will, have no opportunity of knowing the truth-not even so much truth as might be embodied, I believe, in such a book, about the people of this country, their elder brethren, (so to speak in the household of
empires;) but, instructive to the multitudes of Great Britain, who, whatever they may suppose, do not know, and have had no opportunity of knowing, hitherto, what is thought of them by the people of the United States, nor what would be thought of them, or of their habits and behaviour, of their eities and their villages, of their princes and their palaces, of their paupers and poets, of their statesmen, their legislators, and their actors, by a native on his first arrival here, before the surprise and agitation of his heart were well over-a native American that is, (if tautology may be excused,)—and whether he thought sagely or not, whether his opinions were correct or otherwise, would be a matter of little or no consequence, I dare say, to the people here, provided they were sure that the opinions which he gave out for his, whether correct or not, whether foolish or wise, were, indeed, his real opinions of what he saw; instructive to readers, for it would teach them to be charitable to authors, who, whatever may be their honesty and research, and whatever their ability, are pretty sure to fall into some egregious error, if not in every paragraph, at least in every other paragraph, when writing about strange habits, while they are strange, or about a strange people, before they have ceased to be a strange people; very instructive to writers, for they would be taught especial caution by it-every mistake, in every page, would be a warning to the traveller; for every mistake would go to show, that, even two years are not enough to qualify one for putting forth a decided national portrait, or even a decided national sketch, and that, cautious preparation, great care, and real esteem, are not a sure guarantee against hurtful misrepresentation, where the character of a people, and the habits of a people, are to be described. Who will deny that such a book would be well received here, and well received in America, were faith put in the pledge of the writer-were it believed that he was what I declare myself to be—a na-tivé New-Englander, a thorough bred Yankee, or, as your Mr. Mathews would have it, a ginooine Yankee-a na-tīvé who was never beyond the jurisdiction of the United States of North America for more than a few days, till a ship carried him over the invisible boundary, about two years and a half ago, on her passage to this country; that, in every case, whatever he might have said in such a book, whether true or not in reality, was true to the extent of his knowledge, understanding, and belief, and that he had given, what I now undertake to give, a faithful account of the first impressions received here, by such native Yankee, at every step of his pilgrimage through the land of his forefathers?
So much for the preface. Having prepared the reader, I hope, in some measure, for what he is to meet with, I proceed now to give him a brief account of myself, so that he may the better understand my motives, hopes, and views in coming here, and the nature of my experience; after which, I propose to give my Yankee notions-in other words, whatever I may have to say of this country and people, of their great men and their little men (if there be any such thing as a little man here) in the shape of papers, copied, with no material change, with no change whatever, indeed, except in the phraseology, from a sort of journal, or every-day-book, or diary, kept by me with great care, from the first hour of my arrival in this country; a book, or diary, which is full of nothing but my first impressions of whatever I saw;
a journal, to say the truth of it, which began with the very beginning of the voyage in America, and has been faithfully continued up to this very day, in spite of the discoveries made by me at the end of the first year; discoveries, not over gratifying to the pride of authorship, as to the authenticity and exactness of a large part of the material which I had gathered for it, and which, as I have said before, I had already begun to verify and work into a shape for the public, when I arrived at a knowledge of its true value.
Now for a sketch of myself. I was born (if I may believe what is reported of me by my good mother) on the twenty-fifth of August, in the year of our Lord, one thousand seven hundred and ninety-three, a year, and a day, famous over all the earth for prodigies (vide the almanacks for that year.) The date I have written, as you see, not in figures, but in words, at full length, because I would make it secure for posterity; not as the uncharitable might be wicked enough to say, because we are paid by the page; and I give my dear good mother's account of the affair, because, in the part of the country where I was made, (we are twitted with saying raised there; but, upon my soul, the charge is untrue,) we have no better authority for any such case. Our mothers, and our family bibles, with a sort of a private record, (for it is any thing but a public one, where a child is born to a quaker, as I was,) a sort of a record in the book, which is kept by the clerk of the meeting, are the substitutes for a parish register. So, I was born, as I have told you, on the. A writer with less regard for the honour of his lofty profession, would be sure to repeat the words here, but I am above such unworthy artifices, I hope, and shall therefore content myself with repeating the figures. To make it clear, though, I must begin the phrase anew I was born, as I have told you, on the 25th day of August, in the year 1793, in a part of Massachusetts then called the district of Maine. It is now a state, and the northernmost of the whole confederacy; my native town is the capital, a sweet place to be sure. Ergo, we are a little too far north for the rest of the people in America.
Át about the age of twelve I was put behind the counter of a retail shop, where I cut a very pretty figure, considering the nature of my education that which I had picked up while running the gauntlet, barefooted, from one school to another; from this private school, where I was whipped three times a-day, to that public one where I was whipped every half hour, and kicked and cuffed between whiles; from a sort of academy, where I studied novels under the eye of the preceptor, a devotee, who was working his way up to a place of authority in the church, and is now little better than a Bishop, a sort of Presbyterian Bishop too, in that part of the world; from his guardianship to that of a teacher, full six feet four, who spent a large part of his time, to the best of my knowledge, in drawing flowers, purple roses and blue pinks, borders for penmanship, which might have passed for carpet or coverlid patterns, with an occasional picture, of God knows what, which, after it was thoroughly finished, I took the first opportunity of stealing. By the by though, I had a way of my own for acquiring such property. I would fly paper darts in school, manage to be caught by the master, get a nice flogging, be ordered to stay in while the rest of the scholars went away to dinner, wait till the master's back was turned, search out