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1 F you ask a well-educated American when he visits England, what objects in the mother-country have impressed him most, he will answer—its cathedrals. He is not surprized at the activity and enterprize which he finds among us, for these are characteristics of his own countrymen not less than of ours. The wealth, the domestic comforts, the refinements and the elegances of life, which have extended themselves to the remotest parts of the island, excite in him pleasure rather than admiration, because for these also he is prepared, and may have seen them existing in as high a degree, only not so generally diffused, in the better part of the United States. In these things, as in our arts and science and literature, he sees, if not what the Americans are, what they may hope to be; while in whatever relates to national resources and national power, the comparison may call forth a sense of ambitious anticipation, perhaps of rivalry. But place him in York Minster, or Westminster Abbey, and he no longer thinks of comparing England with America; the religio loci makes itself felt; it awakens in him an ancestral feeling of which he was before unconscious, and he then begins to understand that, in the thoughts and emotions which carry us back to past ages, and connect us with the generations which are gone, there is something more soothing, more salutary for the heart, and more elevating also, than in all the anticipations with which a young and emulous nation looks onward to the future. We have heard more than one American say that it is worth crossing the Atlantic to see some of our cathedrals.
The pride with which we now regard these stately monuments of antiquity is one proof of national improvement in feeling as well as in taste and knowledge. There was a strange insensibility to their beauty as works of art till the last reign: but this was not peculiar to England. When the Delices de la Grande Bretagne were published,at the beginning of the last century, York and Canterbury were the only cathedrals which were allowed a place among the numerous prints in that work, though a whole volume is filled with bird's-eye views des belles et magnifiques maisons de Vol. xxxrv. No, Lxviii. u campagne.