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praises may be well merited, we are inclined to think they are; but, while liberal to the Scotch, he overlooks the merits of the English and Irish, as such, can hardly find it in his heart to be just to a Frenchman, and is absolutely unjust to Americans. Russia seems to be his model government, and he thinks remarkably well of Austria. Great Britain, under the Tories, is glorious, but under Whig government is almost contemptible.
Slavery is a favorite hobby with our author, and, (we were about to say,) he has ridden it to death; - would that he had! But no, his whole object is to resuscitate and re-invigorate the dying monster. Russian serfdom he thinks an admirable institution. He says, no people ever arrived at freedom and happiness except through slavery;
none ever can! He thinks the Irish would be better off if they could only be enslaved during a couple of centuries; it would fit them for freedom! He forgets, though, to tell us how it is the Cossacks, who never were enslaved, are so happy, substantially free, and well off in worldly respects, as he tells us they are. Rude plenty, courage and loyalty, with an extra allowance of the private virtues, are theirs, all that a Tory like himself could desire in a people; yet, up to their remotest ancestry, they have never been slaves. The mass of Russian rustics, he informs us, are below the Cossacks; yet, if slavery be such an excellent thing to elevate a people, they ought to be far above them. Thousands of years of slavery on one side, and an equal duration of freedom on the other, have produced an effect fatal to his theory. He laments WestIndia Emancipation, and, regardless of the quiet demeanor and general advancement of the blacks, he measures the comparative blessings of slavery and freedom by the number of hogsheads of sugar which can be spared for exportation. The proverbial hardships to which the negroes were subject in the cultivation of cane and manufacture of sugar, under the ancient régime, are sufficient to account for their dislike to that employment in a state of freedom, and for much of the consequent deficit in the export. The remainder may be charged to the increased consumption of sugar by the blacks themselves. While slaves, they consumed no more sugar than they could manage to steal. Moreover, by means of the lash, the blacks were compelled
to do vastly more work than nature ever intended that man should perform in hot climates, where little clothing is needed, and the earth produces the subsistence of the inhabitants almost spontaneously. What wonder that nature asserted her supremacy, when the unnatural forcing system was abandoned? Does Mr. Alison mean to say that it is right for Great Britain to enslave nine-tenths of the population of her tropical colonies, and set the other tenth over them as drivers, in order that absent proprietors may live in splendor in England; that a large mercantile marine may be built up; that the profits of manufacturers may be increased; and, finally, that through all these the revenues of Government may be augmented; which revenues would go chiefly towards supporting the aristocracy and younger sons of the nobility of Great Britain? Can such ends, however good Mr. Alison may think them, justify such means? If so, then let it be proclaimed that power gives right this would simplify the code of morals greatly. If not, then let Mr. Alison expunge from his next edition all the fine moral and religious observations which he is continually parading before his readers. For one thing, however, we thank him. In treating of the propriety and expediency of slavery, he makes no distinction of color. He is too philosophical for that. He desires not to limit the benefit of his favorite institution to blacks, but is willing to commit to its beneficent influences Russians, and Irishmen, and, we infer, Englishmen, Americans and Frenchmen. Yet, strange to say, notwithstanding this, and although he elsewhere stigmatizes as shallow those who condemn the Americans, he twits us repeatedly with the inconsistency of slaveholding. The sneer may be deserved, but it comes with an ill grace from him.
Mr. Alison is never weary of telling us that the welfare of the people depends upon the existence of a landed aristocracy. He glories in the fact that England has but three hundred thousand landed proprietors, and laments that France, in consequence of the Revolution, has six millions. He thinks that in consequence of this fact she can never be free, and dooms her in perpetuity to an Oriental despotism. Doubtless France must suffer a long while for the crimes of the Revolution; the great change in the proprietorship of landed possessions was too sudden
and violent not to produce temporary evil. A few gener ations will settle this matter, and when France is fit to be free, the subdivision of estates will not prevent her being so; nor will it, we think, greatly retard the approach of that happy day, if indeed it do not hasten it. Strangely enough, in contradiction to his general opinions and arguments on this subject, he depicts Tyrol as almost an Elysium; dwells with enthusiasm on the religion, morality, substantial freedom, inflexible loyalty, and rustic plenty of the inhabitants; and doubtless his encomiums are well deserved, for he has in person minutely examined that country. But, almost in the same breath, he informs his readers that in the Tyrol a state of almost absolute equality exists; there are few large proprietors, and the land is minutely subdivided!
For the anecdotes which Alison has interspersed through his work concerning Napoleon and his Generals, he has manifestly often no other authority than mere gossip. The best French authorities have exploded, long since, some of the very romantic and very absurd stories, which he notwithstanding gravely relates as matters of history. And sometimes, too, where the tale has some foundation in truth, the time and scene are so changed by the author of this " History," as utterly to confound the reader. He makes Napoleon utter at Dresden, in 1813, a reproach to his Generals and Marshals for their lukewarmness, which in fact was spoken in Poland, in 1812, when, with nearly half a million of men, he was on the point of invading Russia. And worse still, he makes Napoleon address Rapp, who was in fact, as we are elsewhere informed, at that moment shut up in Dantzic, hundreds of miles away. Undoubtedly, these errors are to be charged to carelessness, not to ignorance. But when he comes to deal in the affairs of America, we are obliged to suppose that both causes have combined to produce that 'Comedy of Errors' -his chapter on the United States.
Numerous as are the anachronisms, slips of the pen, and typographical errors, in that portion of the work devoted to European affairs, they are as nothing, compared with the blunders contained in his chapter on America and the American war. It seems to us that Mr. Alison is better fitted for a party politician, a warrior, or a poet, than for
a historian, or, as he often assumes to be, a preacher of religion and morality. He seems to have a tolerably correct eye with regard to military affairs, the reader is left in no doubt with regard to his political partisanship, and no one who has perused his remarks on America will hesitate to award him high rank among the prose poets of the nineteenth century. He is so given to idealizing, that the reality is often entirely lost sight of. The following extract is a favorable specimen of his style of poetical description. With a few touches of his pen our author has entirely annihilated those scourges of the mariner in the Gulf of Mexico, the tempestuous "northers" of winter and the devastating hurricanes of summer. But, to compensate for this, he bestows the West-India Islands upon the Gulf of Mexico, and makes grapes very convenient to sailors. Doubtless Jack will be very grateful for the change.
"In the Gulf of Mexico the extraordinary clearness of the water reveals to the astonished mariner the magnitude of its abysses, and discloses, even at the depth of thirty fathoms, the gigantic vegetation which, even so far beneath the surface, is drawn forth by the attraction of a vertical sun. In the midst of these glassy waves, rarely disturbed by a ruder breath than the zephyrs of spring, an archipelago of perfumed islands is placed, which repose, like baskets of flowers, on the tranquil surface of the ocean. Everything in those enchanted abodes appears to have been prepared for the wants and enjoyments of man. Nature seems to have superseded the ordinary necessity for labor. The verdure of the groves, and the colors of the flowers and blossoms, derive additional vividness from the transparent purity of the air and the deep serenity of the azure heavens. Many of the trees are loaded with fruits, which descend by their own weight to invite the indolent hand of the gatherer, and are perpetually renewed under the influence of an ever balmy air. Others, which yield no nourishment, fascinate the eye by the luxuriant variety of their form or the gorgeous brilliancy of their colors. Amidst a forest of perfumed citron-trees, spreading bananas, graceful palms, of wild-figs, of round-leaved myrtles, of fragrant acacias, and gigantic arbutus, are to be seen every variety of creepers, with scarlet or purple blossoms, which entwine themselves round every stem, and hang in festoons from tree to tree. The trees are of a magnitude unknown in northern climes; the luxuriant vines, as they clamber up the loftiest cedars, form graceful festoons; grapes are so plenty upon every
shrub, that the surge of the ocean, as it lazily rolls in upon the shore with the quiet winds of summer, dashes its spray upon the clusters; and natural arbors form an impervious shade, that not a ray of the sun of July can penetrate.' Vol. x. p. 553, first
In describing the United States geographically, (for which the reader may judge, from the foregoing specimen, how well our author is qualified,) he represents the Alleghany mountains as being covered, among other trees, with "the majestic palm" "and verdant evergreen oak." The inhabitants of that region will be greatly astonished at this information, and doubtless will appreciate the importance of the discovery that evergreens are verdant.
We have always thought that, as the Missouri is the main branch of the Mississippi, the two should be considered as one river, and spoken of under one name. But, until the change is made by competent authority, we must continue to use the received geographical nomenclature. Mr. Alison makes no protest against the use of the customary terms, and is, therefore, entirely inexcusable in jumbling together, in such inextricable confusion, the names of our two great rivers. He makes the Missouri empty into the Gulf of Mexico, and represents the Mississippi to be one of its branches; in company with "the Ohio, the Tennessee, the Arkansas, the White River, the Kansas and the Red River;" which three latter rivers, (as well as the four former,) he says, "have given their names to the mighty States which already are settled on their shores."
He speaks repeatedly of New England as a State, thus: "the two States of New England and Massachusetts." He seems to think that Louisiana is in Virginia; for, after describing the new-made lands at the mouth of the Mississippi, he observes, "and at length, on the scene of former desolation, the magnificent riches of the Virginian forest are reared." He might as well have said, 'the Mexican forest.'
A striking instance of the recklessness with which Mr. Alison often makes assertions, and of the unphilosophical manner in which he frequently establishes a general rule from an exception, is found in the following extract.
"The law allows any rate of interest agreed on by the parties to be taken, and it is often excessive; one per cent. a month is