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vilest pollutions of the most sensual barbarism, and the most abject slavery; for such is the true amount of the charge which Dr. Clarke prefers against Russia, and which it is the object, of almost every paragraph of his work to confirm.
Under the impressions we have here stated, we took up the Travels of Dr. Clarke with unusual avidity, but had not read many pages, before we began to suspect, that we had been miserably deceived.—As we proceeded, our disgust increased, and after wading through the whole volume, we closed it with the conviction, that the author was the very reverse of what he is represented to be, by his Edinburgh friends. We found his work throughout, a malignant, elaborate and yet awkward libel against a whole people, of whom he, in fact, personally, had, if we may judge from the particulars of his own narrative, but little reason to complain, although he would fain exhibit himself, as the victim of their pretended ferocity and rapaciousness.—We found him not only grossly deficient in common candour, in gratitude, and in manly sense, but in consistency, in method, in general scientific knowledge, in intelligent observation, and even in the vulgar merit of a tolerably good style:—filling his pages with the most puerile and slanderous anecdotes; falling into the most palpable and immediate contradictions; repeating verbatim in several instances, whole paragraphs of his coarse invective; outraging all taste and decency in a multitude of his phrases;—surfeiting the reader with peevish, jejune stories of his own fictitious martyrdom; violating, in fine, every rule of sound logic and fair accusation, by sweeping anathemas, and the most vague generalities.
We deemed all this the more extraordinary and unpardonable, as Dr. Clarke had enjoyed, in the space of eleven years, which elapsed from the period of his residence in Russia, until that of the publication of his work, full time to correct whatever inaccuracies of language or relation, might have crept into his journal in the haste of itinerary composition. He had wanted for none of the advantages, requisite to enable him to tranquillize his mind into a state of philosophical equity, to chasten the outre colouring, and to temper the excessive asperity, and immoderate latitude of censure into which he might have been originally betrayed, by what we would readily allow to be, excusable sentiments of indignation, however warm, on the supposition, that he had been really plundered and maltreated by the Russians, to the extent implied in his general declarations, although by no means proven in his few and equivocal examples of the fact. He had, besides, in the long interval we have mentioned, ample leisure to recollect and describe, what he saw in Russia of a praiseworthy nature; to draw from his memory and to recite, in the benevolent spirit and with the ingenuous alacrity of a philanthropist, many more exceptions than the few he has so reluctantly and penuriously made, to his general accusation of superlative barbarism and depravity; for, common sense will not endure even the supposition, that, among a nation so populous as the Russian, and circumstanced as she has been for many years past, there is nothing to be extolled; scarcely a single instance of moral or intellectual worth; of ordinary refinement in manners or in feeling. So monstrous and incredible a tale can argue, in the person who would thus write or talk, nothing other than downright stupidity, or premeditated slander, or the most narrow prejudice. It must, in the estimation of all judicious men, defeat its own purpose, and recoil upon the narrator.
Our opinion of Dr. Clarke's book was so opposite to that of our brethren in England, that we could not but distrust even, as it were, the evidence of our humble intuition. We were, therefore, induced to consult some of the most intelligent and impartial of our literary friends, who had read the work with attention. We discovered that they concurred fully in our decision, and were no less indignant than ourselves, at the unparalleled license with which the author has availed himself of his character of a travelling antiquary, to vilify an immense people for the gratification of his private resentments, and at the hardihood with which he has attempted to mislead the British public, and the world, upon the strength of the reputation for general ability and knowledge, which he had so undeservedly acquired, by his proficiency in archaiological studies. In our estimate of the accuracy of his statements, we are moreover, guided by the information we have industriously collected, from other sources of at least equal authority. We allude to the previous narrativesof English and other travellers, and particularly to the copious verbal accounts, we received in Paris, and in London, from men of the highest respectability, whose opportunities were much more favourable to correct observation than those of Dr. Clarke, and who, certainly, like ourselves, are very far from being disposed to exaggerate the merits, or to overrate the resources either of the Russian government or people.
We do not propose to adduce at present, any examples from Dr. Clarke's book, in support of the opinion we have expressed above, concerning its literary merits.—The undertaking would
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lead us further, than our limits and leisure will allow us to go. It would, indeed, be superfluous as regards the majority even of his American readers, whose taste and discernment are sufficient, without our aid, to conduct them to very sound conclusions on this point. The case, however, is somewhat different with respect to the paramount concern of his accuracy and good faith, which, although much more than suspicious on the very face of his statements, require, perhaps, for the instruction of a certain class of readers, to be tested by a particular analysis. Here fortunately we can produce, from much more competent hands than our own, what we deem quite adequate for the purpose.- .
A Russian gentleman, now resident in this country, has furnished us with an investigation of these topics, under the title of" Observations on the first Volume of Dr. Clarke's Travels;" which we have, with great cheerfulness, undertaken to communicate to the public, and to which the remarks we have made with respect to the work, are to be considered as merely introductory. This able auxiliary has accomplished all we could desire, although he has still left untouched, ample materials for much more voluminous criticism, and still severer reproof.—He does not, indeed, profess to expose all the errors of the Cambridge professor,—a task which would be endless—or to examine them in regular order;—a mode of proceeding not necessary in a case, wherein it is simply essential, to show by a few prominent, and convincing illustrations, what degree of credit is due, in general, to the representations of such a traveller as Dr. Clarke.
Before we proceed to occupy our readers with the " Observations," we ought to say a few words concerning their author, and the spirit in which they are framed. This gentleman is a native of Russia, educated in that country, and familiarly acquainted, not only with the scenes, which Dr. Clarke undertakes to describe, but with most of the remarkable personages, of whom the latter speaks. He has, moreover, travelled and resided among the most polished and enlightened nations of the continent of Europe, in the enjoyment of a society, and in the exercise of functions, peculiarly fitted to enlarge and liberalize the mind, and to divest it of all local prejudices, and blind attachments.—To the strength of judgment and the elevation of character, resulting from such accidental advantages improved with equal industry and success, he unites natural endowments of the most attractive and valuable kind, and the most extensive attainments in literature. In all respects he is himself, a signal proof, in his individual capacity, of the injustice of the aspersions, which Dr. Clarke has cast on the universal Russian people. Upon testimony coming from a quarter like this, we may be permitted to rely, even after making every proper deduction on the score of national predilections, in opposition to whatever may be urged to the contrary, in a work, such as " the Travels in Russia, &c." must in a short time appear to all our readers.
That the author of the " Observations" should be incensed against Dr. Clarke, and express himself in a language correspondent to his feelings, cannot be a matter of surprise or objection, when the nature of the obloquy which-he repels, is taken into consideration. Nor will it be wondered at, if he be indignant at the Edinburgh Reviewers, and inclined to impeach their motives, not having enjoyed personal opportunities of appreciating their genuine patriotism, and at the same time, of observing to what an extent party zeal and system, in Great Britain as well as in the United States, are suffered to interfere, with the operations of the soundest judgment, and the dictates of the purest integrity.—The more lofty the opinion which he and ourselves entertain of the Scottish critics, of the services they have rendered to literature, and of the importance and sacred character of their ministry, the more bitterly do we deplore the perversion of their powers and labours, to ends directly adverse, we are assured, to those which it is at all times their intention, and which it has hitherto been eminently their good fortune, to promote.
As Americans we can the more readily sympathize in the wounded feelings of our foreign friend, and excuse any warmth of recrimination to which he may be excited, inasmuch as our own country has often been the subject of attacks, similar to that which Dr. Clarke has made upon Russia. English travellers,—persons it is true, of much less learning and reputation than the Cambridge Professor,—but with still baser ingratitude on their part, and as little colour of plausibility, have heaped the most odious calumnies upon the United States. Like him, they have taken as the ground of general censure, those single instances of turpitude in morals and manners, which are to be found in every country, and which, if they were sufficient to warrant the charge of universal or general barbarism against any people, would be equally effectual to prove, that there is no civilization left on earth.
On the whole, from motives which the tenor of the three preceding paragraphs must render apparent, we have thought it advisable, to abstain from expunging or modifying, any part of the following acute and instructive dissertation. It was originally written in French. What we now print is a literal translation.
Observations on the first volume of Dr. Clarke's Travels in Russia, Tartary and Turkey.
HY A RUSSIAN.
The Travels of Dr. Clarke in Russia, have lately been republished in this country, and are said to be bought up with an avidity proportioned to the singularity of the work. The rapidity of their sale, is probably in no small degree occasioned by the exaggerations, in which the learned Doctor has indulged himself;—for, the-curiosity of the public is always particularly excited by the effusions of malignity.
The great majority of those who read, adopt the opinions of others on subjects of literature, without giving themselves' the trouble of examining whether these be just or otherwise. It is much more convenient to take them up ready made, especially when they are sanctioned by authority so respectable, as that of the Edinburgh Reviewers.
In all probability Dr. Clarke's book will obtain an extensive circulation in the United States, and with it will be disseminated the calumnies, of which its author is so prodigal. The unfavourable impressions, produced by the latter, will perhaps outlive the cause which gave them birth. Few persons will be disposed, after reading the work, to inquire if this writer (who is represented as a man of letters, and who calls himself a christian), either did or could speak the truth,—for we may doubt that it is possible for any individual, to acquire an exact knowledge of a country entirely new to him, the language of which too he was ignorant of, by traversing it in a post-chaise, in the short space of less than three months. The circumstances under which he found himself in Russia, were not favourable for observation.—He experienced, according to his own account, molestations which precipitated his progress, and deprived him of that tranquillity of mind indispensable for the formation of accurate remarks. Indeed the travels of Dr. Clarke resemble the flight of a malefactor, and we are tempted to compare him to one of those Parthians we read of in history, who while urging their rapid retreat, discharged shafts dipt in poison at their pursuers.
Dr. Clarke, may, for aught we know, be a learned antiqua