Page images

ever to characterize the nobility of And here, as we find ourselves genius, puts on airs as if he be. tending to a somewhat philosophic longed by birth and breeding, to mood, we may take occasion to obthose higher classes which consti- serve that the reception which any tute the “Corinthian capital” of foreigner of note meets with among English society. Mistaken effort ! us, is to some extent, a mirror of his It is not by wearing white kid own character. The class of socie. gloves on a railroad and steamboat ty with which he becomes acquaintjourney in a New England Febru, ed, the character of his admirers, ary-it is not by being unable to and the marks of distinction with understand the possibility of a gen. which they favor him, are so many tleman's dining earlier than the la. indications of the manner in which test possible hour-it is not by the he has impressed himself upon the most punctilious observance of the public mind. How different, probaarbitrary conventionalities of fash- bly, have been the impressions made ionable life-least of all, is it by on the mind of Lord Morpeth, by a fault-finding, querulous disposi. his visit to America, from those tion in respect to accommodations received by Mr. Dickens; and that at an inn, or on board ship—that mainly for the reason that the truly true good breeding is infallibly gentlemanly demeanor and the unknown. Yet the reading of this sullied reputation of the former, in. book, as well as some Boziana' troduced him into circles in which which have come to our knowledge the latter was not at all at home. from other sources, incline us to If the illustrious. Brougham or the the opinion, that Mr. Dickens has revered and venerable Chalmers, mistaken such things as these for should cross the Atlantic, how difthe surest indications of a fine ferent would be their opinions of gentleman, or perhaps for the American society and institutions, very quality of gentility itself. from those of the Marryatts and the Sometimes we have even queried, Trollopes. Those travelers who whether his studied cool contempt have attempted to describe Amerifor religion in every form—the can manners, have often succeeded scorn which he so obtrusively ex. in describing the manners only of presses for the low practice of total that particular class of society to abstinence from intoxicating drinks which they have been able to gain -and the sympathy which he seems admission; or of that particular class to have with those who have no in- which their habits and their intellec. terest in the miseries and vices of tual and moral sympathies enabled the poor, except as matters of gov. them to understand. And the best ernmental regulation, or picturesque mode of reforming American man. objects of contemplation, do not ners, which some of these writers also enter into his idea of a high- could adopt, would be to reform bred gentleman. It often fares with their own manners, and then return pretenders to high breeding, as with and view themselves in a mirror in. pretenders to godliness; they know to which they were before unable something traditionally about “the to look. form,” but “the power” is beyond Whether Mr. Dickens was ac. the sphere of their knowledge ; and quainted with the principle just sta. thus, while they make an ostenta- ted, and felt that it would hardly be tious and perhaps troublesome dis- complimentary to himself to speak play of the former, they cannot but of those who in some instances were expose themselves by their mani. forward to welcome him, we cannot fest deficiencies in respect to the say; but for some reason he has latter.

deemed it expedient to make no al. lusion to them whatever. He simply they treat; much less do they inremarks at the close of his Notes troduce the reader to the homes and “I have made no reference to my firesides of its inhabitants. Nor reception, nor have I suffered it to could any thing better have been influence me in what I have written; expected, since Mr. Dickens merefor in either case, I should have of- ly skimmed over the country, sel. fered but a sorry acknowledgment, dom remaining longer in a place compared with that I bear within than to learn its name, to acquaint my breast, towards those partial himself with the facilities for eating, readers of my former books, across drinking, and sleeping, afforded by the waters, who met me with an its principal hotel, to note down a open hand, and not with one that few particulars respecting its public closed upon an iron muzzle.”- buildings and institutions, and to inBut we cannot persuade ourselves quire with a professional feeling, that this is all the notice which he concerning its alms-houses, its priintends to take of his reception here; sons, and its purlieus of low vice and when these catch-penny Notes and wretchedness. The little inshall have had their run, and the formation to be gleaned from these more formal stories of American two volumes, with few exceptions, society shall make their appear. might be gained much more advanance, then may his beloved trans- tageously from the map and gazetatlantic friends be furnished with teer. The perusal of them has pleasing reminiscences, and “pic- served chiefly to lower our estimate tures to match.” He will not be so of the man, and to fill us with conungrateful as to deny those who took tempt for such a compound of egosuch pains to render themselves con- tism, coxcombry, and cockneyism. spicuous, the privilege of appearing We shall follow him in his tour, as in print. They are engraven on far as patience will allow us, and his heart, and Cruikshank will soon then take some brief notice of the be called in to copy and preserve other productions of his pen. the likeness.

The first two chapters of these We have been greatly disappoint- Notes, descriptive of the departure ed in the perusal of these “ Ameri- and passage out, are, on the whole, can Noies." We were well aware rather entertaining, and exhibit more that there are some defects in our of that pleasantry which has hither. social organization, which might be to characterized the productions of hit off to advantage by a master- the author, than any of the succeed. hand; and we had hoped that Mr. ing chapters; though even here he Dickens' keen perception of the sometimes fails in his attempts at ludicrous, would be exercised at our wit. His description of the sensapresent expense, though for our tions produced by sea-sickness, have ultimate profit. We should have the merit of being intelligible, whatthanked him for a humorous exhi- ever may be thought of the taste of bition of our weak points of national a writer who can expatiate on such character; but he seems either to a theme. He represents the anhave failed to apprehend them, or guish which he suffered, “when to have felt an unwonted reserve recommended to eat any thing, as in making his “police reports. second only to that which is said These Notes are barren of incident to be endured, by the apparently and anecdote, deficient in wit, and drowned, in the process of restora. meagre even in respect to the most tion to life;" and truly his sufferordinary kind of information. They ings must have been intense, we give no just conception of the physi. may believe that even during the cal aspect of the country of which short space of their continuance, he “ drank brandy and water with un- me, holding on to something. I don't speakable disgust.” He could have know what

. I think it was the boatmentioned no more decisive symp

swain : or it may have been the pump :

or possibly the cow. I can't say how tom of a disordered stomach, than long I had been there ; whether a day or this aversion to what we soon dis- a minute. I recollect trying to think cover to be his favorite beverage, whole wide world, I was not particular)

about something (about any thing in the inasmuch as when on shore his

without the smallest effect. I could not “ disgust" was confined wholly to even make out wbich was the sea, and the last named ingredient of that which was the sky; for the horizon seemdelectable compound. The state

ed drunk, and was flying wildly about,

in all directions. Even in that incapable of “universal indifference" into

state, however, I recognized the lazy genwhich the patient is sometimes tleman standing before me, nautically brought, is thus pleasantly descri. clad in a suit of shaggy blue, with an bed.

oil-skin hat. But I was too imbecile, al

though I knew it to be he, to separate Nothing would have surprised me.

him from bis dress; and tried to call him, If, in the momentary illumination of any

I remember, Pilot. After another interray of intelligence that inay have come

val of total unconsciousness, I found he upon me in the way of thoughts of home,

had gone, and recognized another figure a goblin postman, with a scarlet coat and in its place. It seemed to wave and fucbell, had come into that little kennel be- tuate before me as though I saw it reflectfore me, broad awake in broad day, and

ed in an unsteady looking-glass; but I apologizing for being damp through walk- knew it for the captain ; and such was ing in the sea, had handed me a letter di- the cheerful influence of his face, that I rected to myself in familiar characters, I tried to smile; yes, even then I tried to am certain I should not have felt one

smile. atom of astonishment: I should have been “I saw by his gestures that he addressperfectly satisfied. If Neptune himself ed me; but it was a long time before I had walked in, with a toasted shark on

could make out that he remonstrated his trident, I should have looked upon against my standing up to my knees in the event as one of the very commonest

water-as I was; of course I don't know every-day occurrences.'

why. I tried to thank him, but couldn't.

I could only point to my boots-or wherYet here we cannot fail to notice

ever I supposed my boots to be--and say the imitation of Charles Lamb- in a plaintive voice, “Cork soles :" at and, by the way, Dickens' is emi.

the same time endeavoring, I am told, 10

sit down in the pool. Finding that I was nently an imitator—who graphical- quite insensible, and for the time a ma. ly describes the indifference which niac, he humanely conducted me below.” he felt on recovering from a severe cold in the head, by saying that if

All this description may be sum

med up in few words. The illusany one should tell him that the

trious Boz was as drunk as a piperworld would be destroyed to-mor

a result not of sea-sickness, but of row, and furnish him with satisfactory evidence of the truth of the the sovereign remedy for an inassertion, he could only answer, nature, but not homæopathic in the

ward bruise,' homeopathic in its a Will it?" The paragraph succeeding the

doses-on which he had relied for

prevention or for cure. We shall one just quoted, describes a scene

make but one extract more from which may be explained satisfactorily, as an effect of the beverage these introductory chapters; but it which had just been swallowed with may serve to acquaint the readers such“ unspeakable disgust.”

more fully with the character of our

author, the elucidation of which we "Once-once-I found myself on deck. shall have continually in view. I don't know how I got there, or what Witness the occupations of this litpossessed me to go there, but there I was; and completely dressed too, with a huge erary gentleman during his passage pea-coat on, and a pair of boots such as across the waters. no weak man in his senses could ever have got into. I found myself standing, “ The captain being gone, we compose when a gleam of consciousness came upon ourselves to read, if the place be light


enough; and if not, we doze and talk al- those in his own country and on the iernately. At one, a bell rings, and the Continent. He deserves credit in stewardess comes down with a steaming dish of baked potatoes, and another of this as in other instances, for giving roasted apples; and plates of pig's face, praise where it is due, even in little cold ham, salt beef; or perhaps a smok- things. ing mess of rare hot collops. We fall to upon these dainties; eat as much as we

His first day in Boston was the Sab. can-we have great appetites now—and bath. Modestly declining a score of are as long as possible about it. If the invitations to church, for want of fire will burn (it will sometimes) we are

"any change of clothes,” he strolled pretty cheerful. If it won't, we all remark to each other that it's very cold, abroad in his humble, unsanctified rub our hands, cover ourselves with coats attire, to view the city. He seems and cloaks, and lie down again to doze, to have been greatly amused with lalk, and read, (provided as aforesaid,) un- its “light, unsubstantial” appeartil dinner time. At five, another bell rings, and the stewardess reappears with anoth

ance, as he is pleased to term it, er dish of potatoes-boiled, this time notwithstanding the masses of Quin. and store of hot meat of various kinds :

cy granite by which he was sur. not forgetting the roast pig, to be taken rounded, and the iron balconies that medicinally. We sit down at table again frown over the dark receding por. (rather more cheerfully than before): prolong the meal with rather a mouldy des. tals of stone. He was altogether sert of apples, grapes, and oranges; and amazed in walking the streets of a drink our wine and brandy and water. The bottles and glasses are still upon the

modern and growing city, not to table, and the oranges and so forth are find in every structure the solidity rolling about according to their fancy and and grandeur of an Egyptian pyrathe ship's way, when the doctor comes

mid. The explanation of which is, down, by special nightly invitation, to join our evening rubber : immediately on

that he missed the dense, dark atwhose arrival we make a party at whist, mosphere of London, and the vast and as it is a rough night and the cards cloud of smoke from bituminous will not lie on the cloth, we put the tricks coal, which hides the pure light of in our pockets as we take them. At whist we remain with exemplary gravity (de heaven from the natives of Cock. ducting a short time for tea and toast) un. aigne, and covers every thing with til eleven o'clock, or thereabouts; when sooty stains. So to a man who had the captain comes down again, in a sou'. wester hat tied under his chin, and a pilot

never been out of Pittsburg, Bos. coat; making the ground wet where he

ton might seem as white, and airy, stands.

and unsubstantial, as it seemed to “ By this time the card-playing is over, our author. His first impressions and the bottles and glasses are again upon the table; and after an hour's pleasant

of the city are thus described. conversation about the ship, the passen. gers, and things in general, the captain Sunday morning, the air was so clear, the

“When I got into the streets upon this (who never goes to bed, and is never out

houses were so bright and gay; the of humor) turns up his coat collar for the deck again ; shakes hands all round; and signboards were painted in such gaudy

colors; the gilded letters were so very goes laughing out into the weather as merrily as to a birth-day party."

golden ; the bricks were so very red, the

stone was so very white, the blinds and After a somewhat boisterous pas- area railings were so very green, the sage of eighteen days, Mr. Dickens knobs and plates upon the street-doors so arrived at Boston on Saturday, the marvellously bright and twinkling; and

all so slight and unsubstantial in appear22d of January, 1842, a day to be ance--that every thoroughfare in the city hereafter noted in every edition of looked exactly like a scene in a pantothe American Almanac. Mr. Dick mime. It rarely happens in the business

streets that a tradesman, if I may venture ens acknowledges with pleasure

to call any body a tradesman where every the excellence of our custom-house body is a merchant, resides above his regulations, and the gentlemanly store ; so that many occupations are often deportment of its officers; contrast

carried on in one house, and the whole

front is covered with boards and inscriping very happily with the meddle

tions. As I walked along, I kept glan. some and insulting officiousness of cing up at these boards, confidently expecting to see a few of them change into felt through the surrounding region. something; and I never turned a corner

He speaks favorably of the Amerisuddenly without looking out for the clown and pantaloon, who, I had no

can collegiate system, especially in doubt, were hiding in a doorway or be respect to its liberal and practical hind some pillar close at hand. As to Harlequin and Columbine, I discovered ident than that he knows

nature; though nothing is more evimmediately that they lodged (they are


very always looking after lodgings in a panto

on the subject. Mr. Dickens remime) at a very small clock-maker's, one mained longer, we believe, in Bosstory high, near the hotel ; which, in ad

ton than in any other city, and perdition to various symbols and devices, almost covering the whole front, had a

haps received more attention from great dial hanging out—to be jumped literary men there than any where through of course.'

else. That “ Dickens dinner" was

a great affair in its day-it seemed Now there is no doubt that all this almost of a piece with the Cunard appeared to Charles Dickens, Esq. steamers, the Western Railroad, to be very witty indeed ; and after and the Bunker Hill monument. he had written it he probably read All sorts of the distinguished men it many times aloud, picturing to of Boston and its vicinity, “judges, himself a nation convulsed with generals, legislators"-old Hartford laughter at every word. Yet we Convention federalists, and locofoco must confess that, as we were so philosophers of the newest schoolapathetic in the proximity of Mr. Unitarian preachers, and orthodox Dickens, so now we are so obtuse professors of theology-united in that we cannot discover the wit of paying such homage to the author this exceedingly funny description. of Oliver Twist as was never paid to It has moved us only to a sort of the author of Paradise Lost. The commiseration for the writer. It President of the Senate of Massareminds us of that scene described chusetts brought all his bwn wit to in the Pickwick Papers, where Mr. honor the occasion, besides cramStiggins, being thoroughly warmed ming himself beforehand with the with apple-toddy, clambers up the printed wit of Mr. Dickens. The ladder to the temperance meeting President of Harvard University, in the loft, and looking round upon with all his years and all his laurels, the audience with swimming eyes, came down from his academic digexpresses it as his decided convic- nity, to honor the author of the tion, that “the meeting is drunk.” Pickwick Papers. Some of those The truth is, that Mr. D. had not gentlemen would probably be very yet recovered from the bewildering willing now to forget the adulation effects of his sea-sickness, or at which they bestowed on the author least of the remedy which he drank of “ American Notes for General with such "unspeakable disgust,” Circulation." and in the confusion of his ideas he Mr. Dickens justly praises the altogether mistook the harlequin. “public institutions and charities” of

On the whole, however, he ac. Boston and its vicinity, and generknowledges that Boston is “s a beau. ally of the United States. We tiful city.” He speaks favorably of have respected him for the sympa“the intellectual refinement and su- thy manifested in his writings for periority” of the inhabitants, which the unfortunate and the oppressed, he refers mainly, perhaps too much, and have sometimes felt that his “to the quiet influence of the uni- stories might not be without advan. versity of Cambridge;" though it is tage in directing the attention of unquestionably true that both the in- certain classes in Great Britain totellectual and moral influence of ward the starving thousands around such an institution is always widely them. As his descriptions of our

« PreviousContinue »