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yond every thing formerly known in the history of mankind, imposing and instructive. In order to contemplate its wonders with complete advantage, an observer ought to have visited the New World twice in the course of a few years. A single view is insufficient to exhibit this progress in the States already settled; for there, quickly as the changes are going on, the process of creation is not actually seen at once, or disclosed, as it were, to the eye; some interval of time must be allowed, and the comparison then shows the extent of the wonderful change. But the extraordinary state of things in the Western part of the Union, developed by Mr Birkbeck, shows us the process both of colonization and increase at one glance :-We see exposed to the naked eye, the whole mystery of the generation as well as the growth of nations; we at once behold in what manner the settled parts of America are increasing with unparalleled rapidity; and how new and extensive communities are daily created in the plains and the forests of the West, by the superfluous population of the Eastern settlements. Those settlements assume a novel and a striking aspect :they no longer are to be regarded as new colonies, to which other communities send their overflowing numbers--they are already fully peopled States, which having reached maturity in a few years, cannot stop in their growth; but become in their turn the officina gentium, and send off their countless swarms to the hardly more recent, but infinitely less peopled, regions that surround them, The new community of the United States is, in fact, already the source of an emigration beyond all comparison more extensive than ever was known in the most confined and overpeopled portions of the old world. A broad, deep, and rapid stream of population is running constantly towards the western parts of the Continent; and vast states are forming towards the Pacific Ocean, the growth of which as much exceeds in rapidity what we have been wont to admire on the shores of the Atlantic, as this leaves at an immeasureable distance the scarcely perceptible progress of our European societies.
Mr Birkbeck is not a professed author, although he is most creditably known by a work, in plan similar to the present, upon France. He is himself a practical man, having devoted his life to agriculture; and he begins with stating the reasons which induced him to change the condition of an English farmer for that of an American proprietor. Political principles seem to have had some weight among these.
A nation, with half its population supported by alms, or poor-rates, and one fourth of its income derived from taxes, many of which are dried up in their sources, or speedily becoming so, must teem with
emigrants from one end to the other : and, for such as myself, who have had “nothing to do with the laws but to obey them,” it is quite reasonable and just to secure a timely retreat from the approaching crisis either of anarchy or despotism.
• An English farmer, to which class I had the honour to belong, is in possession of the same rights and privileges with the villeins of old time, and exhibits for the most part, a suitable political charac
He has no voice in the appointment of the legislature unless he happen to possess a freehold of forty shillings a year, and he is then expected to vote in the interest of his landlord. He lias no concern with public affairs excepting as a tax-payer, a parish officer, or a militia man. He has no right to appear at a county meeting, unless the word inhabitant should find its way into the sheriff's invitation : in this case he may show his face among the nobility, clergy, and freeholders :-a felicity which once occurred to myself, when the inhabitants of Surrey were invited to assist the gentry in crying down the Income Tax.
* Thus, having no elective franchise, an English farmer can scarcely be said to have a political existence; and political duties he has none, except such as, under existing circumstances, would inevitably consign-him to the special guardianship of the Secretary of State for the home department.' p. 8, 9,
Upon the soundness of these reasonings in behalf of emigration, there may be some difference of opinion; there can be none as to the other inducements which operated upon his mind, and which, we may reasonably presume, turned the balance in favour of America. "With all its excellences, the English government is a most expensive one; protection to person and property is nowhere so dearly purchased ; and the follies of the people, and the corruption of their rulers, have entailed such a load of debt upon us, that whoever prefers his own to any other country as a place of residence, must be content to pay an enormous price for the gratification of his wish. In truth, a temptation to emigrate is now held out to all persons of moderate fortune, which must, in very many cases, prove altogether irresistible. Nor can any thing be more senseless than the wonder testified by some zealons lovers of their native land, at any family, of small income, seeking a more fruitful soil and a better climate, where half their means may not be seized to pay the state and the poor except perhaps the indignation which such a change of residence usually excites in the same sagacious personages, Mr Birkbeck appears not to have been at all deterred by such feelings, and to have decided upon emigrating with his family and his capia tal, not because he overlooked the many inconveniences to which the removal must expose him, but bocause he was desirous of purchasing, by a great sacrifice of present case, an exemption, « in the decline of life, from that wearisome solicitude about
pecuniary affairs, from which even the affluent find no refuge « in England.' He expected also to obtain for his children • a career of enterprise, and wholesome family connexion, in a • society whose institutions are favourable to virtue;' and to have the consolation of leaving them efficient members of a * flourishing, public spirited, energetic community, where the + insolence of wealth and the servility of pauperism, between • which, in England, there is scarcely an interval remaining, 6 are alike unknown.' We notice these sentiments for the purpose of remarking, first, that they are calculated to excite very great indignation among the thoughtless optimists of this country, who would be far less irritated if they were not conscious that the offensive observations have at least some foundation in fact; and, secondly, that the state of our finances and poor laws ought, instead of discouraging a true lover of his country from all attempts at restoring a healthful order of things, only to animate his efforts, by reminding him of the necessity which exists for a reformation. Mr Birkbeck, as a moderate capitalist and the father of a large family, may be justified in every point of view for leaving this country; but those who remain in it are only the more loud to redouble their exertions in favour of a necessary reform; because such persons as Mr Birkbeck are induced to emigrate by the defects which at present exist in our system of administration : and they certainly are the most shallow, as well as the most unjust of all reasoners, who, while they loudly blame emigration, strenuously resist every attempt at removing the evils which produce it.
Our emigrants, after a favourable voyage in a large vessel, arrived at Norfolk in Virginia, about the beginning of May. Every thing they at first saw made them regret the country they had left. "The market place was filled with negroes selling the worst butcher's meat at high prices; miserable horses drew all the vehicles of the farmer; and the horrors of negro slavery appeared in every corner. As they ascended the river, the great beauty of the scenery somewhat reconciled them to their
new abode. By degrees the character of the country improved; the soil was rich and well cultivated; and the habitations of the farmers wore an appearance of ease and comfort, which the practice of domestic slavery alone interrupted. They arrived at Petersburg during the time of the races; and the following passage deserves attention,
A Virginian tavern resembles a French one with its table d'hôte, (though not in the excellence of the cookery) but somewhat exceeds st in filth, as it does an English one in charges. The daily number of guests at the ordinary in this tavern (and there are several large taverns in Petersburg) is fifty, consisting of travellers, store-keepers, lawyers, and doctors.
"A Virginian planter is a republican in politics, and exhibits the high-spirited independence of that character. But he is a slavemaster, irascible, and too often lax in morals. A dirk is said to be a common appendage to the dress of a planter in this part of Vir-, ginia.
• I never saw in England an assemblage of countrymen who would average so well as to dress and manners: none of them reached any thing like style; and very few descended to the shabby.
As it rained heavily, every body was confined the whole day to the tavern, after the race, which took place in the forenoon. The conversation which this afforded me an opportunity of hearing, gave me a high opinion of the intellectual cultivation of these Virginian farmers.
• Negro slavery was the prevailing topic—the beginning, the middle and the end—an evil uppermost in every man's thoughts; which all deplored, many were anxious to fly, but for which no man can devise a remedy. One gentleman, in a poor state of health, dared not encounter the rain, but was wretched at the thought of his family being for one night without his protection from his own slaves ! He was suffering under the effects of a poisonous potion, administered by a negro, who was his personal servant, to whom he had given indulgences and privileges unknown to the most favoured valet of an English gentleman. This happened in consequence of some slight unintentional affront on the part of the indulgent master. It is stated as a melancholy fact, that severe masters seldom suffer from their slaves" resentment.
p. 16, 17. Here they left the vessel, and proceeded in the steam boat to Richmond, where every thing seemed to be dear beyond example; eggs, 2d. a piece; butter, 3s. 6d. a pound; hay, 95. per ewt.; a warehouse 2001. a year; and ground to build upon, from 20001. to 30001. an acre. It is reckoned the dearest and worst supplied town in the United States. We must here pause to extract a passage containing this calm and accurate observer's testimony to the radical and incurable evils of negro slavery, even in a form by far the most mitigated; for who can compare the state of the slave in the Sugar Islands with that in North America ?
· I saw two female slaves and their children sold by auction in the street,-an incident of common occurrence here, though horrifying to iyself and many other strangers. I could hardly bear to see them handled and examined like cattle ; and when I heard their sobs, and saw the big tears roll down their cheeks at the thought of being separated, I could not refrain from weeping with them. In selling these unhappy beings, little regard is had to the parting:
of the nearest relations. Virginia prides itself on the comparative mildness of its treatment of the slaves; and in fact they increase in numbers, many being annually supplied from this state to those farther south, where the treatment is said to be much more severe There are regular dealers, who buy them up and drive them in gangs, chained together, to a southern market. I am informed that few weeks pass without some of them being marched through this place. A traveller told me that he saw, two weeks ago, one hundred and twenty sold by auction, in the streets of Richmond ; and that they filled the air with their lamentations.
• It has also been confidently alleged, that the condition of slaves in Virginia, under the mild treatment they are said to experience, is preferable to that of our English labourers. I know and lament the degrading state of dependent poverty, to which the latter have been gradually reduced, by the operation of laws originally designed for their comfort and protection. I know also, that many slaves pass their lives in comparative ease, and seem to be unconscious of their bonds, and that the most wretched of our paupers might envy the allotment of the happy negro : This is not, however, instituting a fair comparison, to bring the opposite extremes of the two classes into competition. Let us take a view of some particulars which operate generally.
• In England, exertion is not the result of personal fear : in Virginia, it is the prevailing stimulus.
• The slave is punished for mere indolence, at the discretion of an overseer :- The peasant is only punished by the law when guilty of a crime.
• In England, the labourer and his employer are equal in the eye of the law. Here, the law affords the slave no protection, unless a white man gives testimony in his favour.
• Here, any white man may insult a black with impunity : whilst the English peasant, should he receive a blow from his employer, might and would return it with interest, and afterwards have his remedy at law for the aggression.
• The testimony of a peasant weighs as much as that of a lord in a court of justice; but the testimony of a slave is never admitted at all, in a case where a white man is opposed to him.
• A few weeks ago, in the streets of Richmond, a friend of mine saw a white boy wantonly throw quicklime in the face of a negro. man. The man shook the lime from his jacket, and some of it accidentally reached the eyes of the young brute. This casual retaliation excited the resentment of the brother of the boy, wlio complained to the slave's owner, and actually had him punished with thirty lashes. This would not have happened to an English peasant.
· I must, however, do this justice to the slave-master of Virginia : It was not from him that I ever heard a defence of slavery ; some extenuation on the score of expediency, or necessity, is the utmost range now taken by that description of reasoners, who, in former