« ZurückWeiter »
NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW. .
ART. I.—Prince Pückler Muscau and Mrs. Trollope. 1. Domestic Manners of the Americans. By Mrs. Trol
LOPE. New York. 1832. 2. Tour in Germany, Holland, and England in the Years
1826, 1827, and 1828, in a Series of Letters by a German Prince. In 4 vols. London. 1832.
We presume that all our readers have become acquainted with the first named of these works, either by reading the book itself, or the reviews of it and extracts from it. The other work named may not be so well known. It is a series of anonymous letters, addressed apparently to a German princess, detailing the observations of the writer, who would seem to be her husband, on his tour through the countries enumerated in the title of the book, and particularly England and Ireland. Doubts existed at first as to the authenticity of the German Prince's tour. The admirable spirit, with which the English translation is executed, gave it the air of an original. It is now, however, admitted to be the work of Prince Pückler Muscau, a Prussian nobleman of ancient family and high rank, and, if we may judge from the display of six or seven stars and orders in his portrait, at the beginning of the third volume, a person of high consideration among the continental princes. His book, without having the least reference to America, is the best possible answer to Mrs. Trollope. In the words of Mr. Ouseley, whose own liberal and intelligent essay on the statistics
VOL. XXXVI.--No. 78.
of the United States is known to many of our readers, his work is 'a fulsome éloge of English usages compared with Mrs. Trollope's account of American manners. What this eulogium, in itself considered, is, must be pretty well known to our readers from the English reviewers. His temper is wholly unlike that which is evinced in Mrs. Trollope's work ;-but he gives full scope to the spirit of fault-finding, and leaps from very slender premises to exceedingly disparaging conclusions, often, we are sure, with the widest possible departure, however unintentional, from truth and justice. In doing this, it is amusing to observe, that he frequently sets down England as peculiarly deficient in those very things, with regard to which Mrs. Trollope places the Americans in the most disadvantageous contrast with her countrymen. Thus our readers will bear in mind, how much is said in the work which bears this lady's name, of the insignificance of the women in America, the neglect of their education, and their depressed state in society. Precisely the same is said of the English ladies by the Prince, who certainly possessed vastly greater opportunities than Mrs. Trollope, of speaking advisedly of the subject. The English, like true Turks, (says he keep the intellects of their wives and daughters in as narrow bounds as possible, with a view of securing their absolute and exclusive property in them as much as possible, and in general their success is perfect. The London Quarterly reviewer quotes with great satisfaction what Mrs. Trollope says of the insignificance of the American women. But why may not her judgment on this point be as erroneous as the Prince's ?
We intend, in the course of this article, occasionally to cite the Prince, as an offset to Mrs. Trollope ; and when we say that we believe them, though erring under different influences, to be about equally entitled to credit, we have surely said enough to prevent our friends in England from supposing, that we adopt the noble traveller's libels. We read his book with alternate amusement and disgust; but his opportunities of approaching the élite of English society render it, in one respect, much more offensive than Mrs. Trollope,—we mean its personality. He has treated many English families, and English gentlemen and ladies, as Americans have often been treated ; accepted their hospitality, and then paraded their . names and the gossip he heard at their tables, in his book. Of this sin Mrs. Trollope is guiltless.