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good purpose. John Randolph was as brilliant a crackskull as ever sparkled; he shone among the American orators a star of the first magnitude, though by no means a fixed star. No speaker in Congress could draw an audience like him: his sayings were in every man's mouth, his reputation filled every corner of the Union. But Randolph was brilliant, and nothing more; he lacked sound sense, and thus lacked the most efficient weapon of his warfare. People listened to him, but never heeded him; for though he had talent, he had no wisdom. With all his fame, he was without influence; for while the multitude crowded to hear his brilliant speeches, no man valued his opinion a corn-stalk. He was no statesman; though whatever party could count him among its numbers for the moment, commonly thrust him into the van as a forlorn hope; yet, to every interest he espoused, he did as much mischief as good. Never was a more useless man of genius. After a long and restless life, devoted solely to political affairs, what has he done? Nothing. He is gathered to his fathers; and nought is left to perpetuate his memory but the reputation of a brilliant talker. Words, not deeds, have signalized his career. No great public act is marked with the name of him whose voice was loudest and longest in the councils of the nation during the most critical period of its existence. Such is a brilliant man' “Si tu brillais sans étre utile, A ton dernier jour on dirait, Ce n'est qu'une étoile qui file, Qui file, file, et disparait.”
Randolph could never have been a New Englandman; the production of such a being in this country would have been an anomaly in the operations of Nature; and had the thing occurred, he would not have found himself in a congenial element; he could not have gained emimence here; the Yankees would have put his brilliant qualities to a trial too rigid and severe before they greeted him with the title of “New England's favourite son.” The eccentric sallies of the man of Roanoke would not have passed for wisdom at Boston; and most assuredly no forty thousand inhabitants of Massachusetts would have returned him to Congress year after year, without more evidence of his usefulness than he was accustomed to bear home at the end of the session. A Yankee will choose his representative as he chooses his minister or his every-day coat–taking care that he wears well and does good service.
“Holloa you man taking a nap!” cried a fellow from the gallery to a representative whom he spied treating himself to a doze during a narcotic discourse; “wake up there! the State don’t pay you three dollars a day for sleeping.” Neither is the Yankee disposed to pay his representatives for talking. The Congress gentlemen, it is notorious, are terrible long talkers, but among these the New England members are the least offenders.
In spite of this predominant inclination toward the useful, the Yankee is no despiser of those arts which adorn and embellish life. The liberal sciences have nowhere in the country received such encouragement as in New England. The cities, the towns, the villages, the country seats, the private dwellings display more elegance and taste than those of any other part of the Union. If the New Englander is prudent, he is also charitable: he has not, like the European, the daily spectacle of poverty and suffering before his eyes, to render him callous to human misery: nothing is more prompt and effectual than the succour which is here afforded to the needy or unfortunate. Some travellers have pronounced the Americans a sordid people, wholly occupied with the thoughts of gain, because no two men can be heard talking in the streets without using the word “dollar”—as if people in the streets were accustomed to talk of anything except what brought them there. The Americans mind their business while they are about it, and do not mix that with their studies or amusements. Is “pound ’’ or “shilling ” the most uncommon sound that strikes your ear in the great thoroughfares of London? Is the mention of a “sou” never heard upon the quays and boulevards of Paris? Go where you will, the common business of life will occupy most men's thoughts and language. In the eternal city itself, your ear is struck with the perpetual iteration of the word “baioc,” and the Romans, I fancy, never were charged with a predomimant passion for heaping up pauls and scudi. But some people, when they get abroad, appear never to have had their eyes or ears open before; they espy marvels which have been common sights to them in their own land ever since they were born. Doctor Johnson had these persons in his mind when he spoke of an individual, not remarkable for his shrewdmess, who proposed to travel into Asia for the purpose of ascertaining what curious inventions might exist there unknown to Europe—“He will bring home a wheelbarrow, and think he has made a wonderful discovery.” Some one has remarked that the distinguishing characteristic of the American is his “want of loyalty.” This of course was uttered as a reproach, and as the word is not American, it was a pretty safe device to make use of it. What is the loyalty of an American Is it a respect for the chief magistrate 2—He is sure to get all he deserves. Is it an attachment to the institutions of the country?—Nobody ever denied the American this. Is it a love for his native soil?—Nor can he be proved deficient in this affection, till you find him, like the European, leaving his country for ever. If it be meant that the American does not possess that feeling which would “stand by the crown, though it hung upon a bush,” the charge may be true enough; for unless the crown hangs upon a head-piece, Jonathan will guess very shrewdly that it is not worth standing by. To drop the metaphor, he will not fight in support of an old institution that has become useless. This, in fact, is the very head and front of his offending in the eye of many of his “unfriends,” and the were accustomed to lay to his charge some years ago that he had a sad and disloyal trick of throwing aside whatever he found did not suit him. We hear less about this at the present day, now that some other people have begun to follow his example. The Yankees are distinguished, above all other men, for a certain capacity which, in the language of the country, is termed contrivance; this is that sort of ingenuity, invention, or skill, which enables an individual to turn his hand to any occupation, or to devise a scheme for any sudden emergency. Thus, if a Yankee is crossing the Alleganies on horseback, and is overtaken by a snow-storm, he will jump into the woods with his hatchet, and in three hours’ time will be riding over the snow upon a sledge of his own construction. The records of the Patent
Office at Washington exhibit a striking testimony of the superiority of these people in ingenuity; by far the greater number of inventions are from New England. A Yankee farmer is a sort of Jack at all trades; he not only delves the soil and goes to market, but he is carpenter, shoemaker, weaver, cooper, soap-boiler, and more trades than these. He turns wooden bowls, makes buckets, sets up shooks, weaves baskets, manufactures brooms, and invents washing-machines. In this lastmentioned matter the New England ingenuity is inexhaustible, and one would imagine that the “second virtue” of cleanliness had been elevated to the first rank in this land, such a wilderness of patent gimcracks have sprung up in the attempt to usurp the honours of old Dumb Betty. It is a Yankee's main study to be “improving” everything; his very language breathes this spirit, for he who occupies a tenement is said to “improve” it. To leave a thing no better than he found it, seems to him no fair usage of the globe we inhabit. In travelling over the kingdom of Naples, and contemplating the wonders of that favoured land, its fertile soil, its genial climate, its admirable capacities for commerce, and the contrast exhibited to all these advantages by the sloth and ignorance of its population, its beggars, and brigands,--I have been struck with the whimsical imagination of the scene that might ensue, were a plain Yankee taken from his plough-tail and placed on the throne of the Two Sicilies. His Majesty would begin a regular overhaul of the whole body-politic the morning after his coronation. “What’s this I see o’ says the king. “Where are your overseers of the highways—your school-committees—your select-men? What idle fellows are these in the streets? What are these bells ringing every day? What means this crowd of ships lying behind the mole with nothing to do? or this marina, the water's edge of my great city, where I see no piles of merchandise, no trucks nor dray-carts driving about with goods, nor half the business doing in a month that is done on Boston Long Wharf in two hours? Come, bustle, occupy; set the lazzaroni to work upon the roads; send the children to school; make a railroad here and a turnpike there; bridge this river and canal that; hang the Calabrian robbers; give the monks a rouse; go into the churches, and strip me those trumpery shrines; sell the gold and silver and jewels with which they are heaped, and the interest of the money will support all the poor of the kingdom, for I'll have no beggars nor idlers while my title is Jonathan the First. People shall mind their business, for I will abolish these festas, which come every other day, and are good for nothing but to promote idleness. Henceforth there shall be no festas but fast, thanksgiving, and independence. Set me up a newspaper in every town; take me a census of the population; fine every district that don’t send a representative to the General Court. I’ll have everything thrashed and set a-bucking, even to the vernacular speech, for dolce far niente shall be routed from the Italian.” Now Jonathan the First might not understand quite so much of the antiquities of Pompeii or the beauties of the Callipygian Venus as Ferdinand the Second; yet, if the Neapolitan would not make a profitable swap by the exchange, mine is no true “Yankee notion.” Q. Q
My DKJEüNER A LA FOURCHETTE.
WHAT a beautiful day! Had the weather been wet,
I've ordered the people to water the road
But the guests are arriving. My villa has got
What's Harris, my butler, attempting to say?
'Tis getting quite dark; that unfortunate breeze