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ANNALS OF EDUCATION.
ART 1.-TRAVELS IN NORTH AMERICA. TRAVELS in North America during the years 1834, 1835, and
1836, including a summer residence with the Pawnee tribe of Indians. By the Hon. Charles Augustus Murray. 2 vols. New York : Harper & Brothers. 1839.
These volumes are the work of a young Scotch nobleman, whose curiosity and love of adventure led him to choose for observation and experiment some of the rudest portions of our race. The record he has made of his experiences among the Red Men, is curious and interesting, and will go far to disabuse many minds of the romantic notions that they have entertained of the Indian character. He has given the most candid, though often severe, book on America, that we have ever met with. He is evidently an acute observer, and well informed, with enough of native wildness of character to understand and relish western democracy.
The book is a very entertaining one, full of incidents pleasantly related, and no where burdens and tires the reader with doubtful speculations. It is withal the work of a gentleman and a scholar, ready to acknowledge and able to judge of good breeding and scholarship wherever he found them. The opinions which such a man, with fair means of observation, has formed of us, may be of much value to us. He has no malice to gratify, or theory to support, or party to please by concealing or exaggerating his real opinions. These judgments are often favourable, and when they are
not, are good lessons, by which we ought to profit. Indeed our people have acquired such a degree of genuine selfknowledge and reliance that a foreigner may now venture to tell wholesome and honest truths without danger of the vials of indignant rebuke, which have been the lot of some unlucky reporters of our faults.
We have considered it unfavorable to a sound national culture, that the domain of the United States is so vast. So separate and distant are the different parts that there is, and must be in a still higher degree, a want of sympathy between them. The pulsations may be strong at the centre while the extremities are cold and lifeless. The want of this oneness of feeling is a serious defect in the constitution of any nation, and most of all in one self-governed and republican like our own. And if this tendency among us shall be checked by the now great and increasing facilities for travelling, and the spirit of enterprise and perpetual emigration, these remedial circumstances may themselves become the source of hardly less evils. They may break up local attachments where they are forming, and prevent their being formed elsewhere. The actual tendency of things among us to this result has not escaped the notice of Mr Murray.
“The American agriculturalists seem to have little local attachment. A New Englander or Virginian, though proud and vain of his state, will move off to Missouri or Illinois, and leave the home of his childhood without any visible effort or symptom of regret, if by so doing he can make ten dollars where he before made eight. I have seen such repeated instances of this, that I cannot help considering it a national feature.
How different this is from the Scottish character may be gathered from the fact that a band of highlanders, of the Cameron and other Jacobite clans, left Scotland, after the rebellion of '45, and settled in Virginia. They were so numerous, that for many years afterwards the local courts were obliged to have a Gaelic interpreter, in order to carry on the requisite business in regard to witnesses and juries; and although the place where they fixed their abode was cheerless in appearance, and the soil very poor, they have by perseverance and industry improved and rendered it comfortable; and are as unwilling to quit that spot, in search of the fertile plains of Mississippi, as they were to leave their original country.”
This may appear a serious symptom to one who regards the moral welfare and growth of his country. These attachments, though they never enter into the judgments formed by political economists of the happiness of a people, have a prodigious influence in forming and strengthening habits of order, stability, subordination and even of thrift. In the experience of well regulated commonwealths they have ever been found sources and aids of quiet, domnestic affections, withdrawing men from turbulence and the love of change. They are more intimately than we are wont to believe the basis of patriotism, so that where local attachments are feeble, true love of country is seldom found. We would gladly see them stronger and more pervading among our people.
The marked and differences between the Southern and the New England character, are thus sketched by Mr Murray. The reasons which he assigns for the difference, have doubtless had great influence.
“A gentleman must be very difficult to please, if he does not find the Charleston society agreeable; there is something warm, frank, and courteous in the manner of a real Carolinian: he is not studiously, but naturally, polite; and, though his character may not be remarkable for that persevering industry and close attention to; minutiæ in business, which are so remarkable in the New England merchant, he is far from deficient in sagacity, courage, or enterprise. Altogether, with due allowance for exceptions, I should say that the Carolinian character is more akin to that of England; the New England, to that of the lowland Scotch. These affinities (supposing that I am justified in observing their existence) are by no means to be wondered at, if we consider the original elements of which each of the colonies was formed, and the additions which they subsequently received from the mother country. Moreover, the southern colonists, who were mostly episcopalians, and many of them members of the oldest and noblest families in Britain, retained till very lately a predilection for institutions which were little regarded by their northern brethren.
That which may be cited as most important and influential in the formation of their character, was their habitual preference of an English collegiate education for their sons. Before the year 1770, almost every planter sent his boys to Oxford or Cambridge, where he had been himself educated ; the necessary consequence of this custom, was a partial adoption of the man. ners, tastes, and perhaps, too, the faults of the British youth of the higher classes. Hence they imbibed a fondness for horses,
and hunting, and other gay amusements, as well as a share of the light accomplishments of the day; all of which tended to make them averse to the drudgery of business. This disinclination was increased by the nature of their property in Carolina, which, being cultivated by slaves, under the inspection of a factor, left them little of the business of a proprietor, excepting the yearly or half yearly audit of accounts. As I before said, there were many exceptions to these remarks: men who waged war in person with the ancient forest, and with their own hand, or under their own eye, planted, in its place, maize, rice, and cotton ! men who attained wealth by hardship and perseverance : but these instances, though not rare, formed the exception, not the rule, as may be gathered both from colonial history, and from the internal and more certain evidence of character above described.
Since the declaration of independence, many causes have. been in operation calculated to change the manners and character of the Carolinian; but they have only partially effected this change, and a close and attentive observer can very plainly recognize in the quality of the stream the fountain whence it flows. The most obvious change is that of education, for which it is no longer the fashion to select Oxford or Cambridge, Connected with this is the change which has taken place in the laws of succession to real estate; these used to be conformed to the English law of primogeniture; whereas now, a division of property among all the children takes place, and the planter, with his own portion of the paternal estate, can no longer send his sons to an English university ; they are accordingly educated at some college near home, or more usually in the eastern states. My opinion of these, as compared with Oxford or Cambridge, would not be believed unprejudiced, even if it were entirely so; let the science and scholarship of young men whom they respectively send forth, decide the merits of each. I take it for granted, that, in respect to classics and pure mathematics, the Americans would not care to contest the point, because, from the limited attention which they bestow upon these studies, it cannot be expected that they should make the same progress as students who devote to them several years of intense labour, in order to take a first class or a wrangler's degree; but whether they do not, at the different colleges in the United States, receive an education as well suited to the objects which they are destined to pursue in after life, is a different question. The best that I have seen is West Point; that establishment has sent out many young officers well grounded in the lower mathematics, and the other branches of science required in an engineer."