« AnteriorContinuar »
“A sturdy republican, sir," says his father to me, smiling at the boy's resolute disobedience.
Be it recollected that I give this as one instance of a thousand which I witnessed during my sojourn in the country. It
may be inquired, how is it that such is the case at present, when the obedience to parents was so rigorously inculcated by the Puritan fathers, that by the Blue Laws, the punishment of disobedience was death? Captain Hall ascribes it to the democracy, and the rights of equality therein acknowledged; but I think, allowing the spirit of their institutions to have some effect in producing this evil, that the principal cause of it is the total neglect of the children by the father, and his absence in his professional pursuits, and the natural weakness of most mothers, when their children are left altogether to their care and guidance.
Mr. Saunderson, in his Sketches of Paris, observes" The motherly virtues of our women, so eulogized by foreigners, is not entitled to un
qualified praise. There is no country in which maternal care is so assiduous; but also there is none in which examples of injudicious tenderness are so frequent.” This I believe to be true; not that the American women are really more injudicious than those of England, but because they are not supported as they should be by the authority of the father, of whom the child should always entertain a certain portion of fear mixed with affection, to counterbalance the indulgence accorded by natural yearnings of a mother's heart.
The self-will arising from this fundamental error manifests itself throughout the whole career of the American's existence, and, consequently, it is a self-willed nation
excellence. At the
age of six or seven you will hear both boys and girls contradicting their fathers and mothers, and advancing their own opinions with a firmness which is very striking.
At fourteen or fifteen the boys will seldom remain longer at school. At college, it is the
same thing ; * and they learn precisely what they please, and no more. Corporal punishment is not permitted ; indeed, if we are to judge from an extract I took from an American
the case is reversed.
The following “Rules” are posted up in New Jersey school-house :
“No kissing girls in school time; no licking the master during holydays."
* Mrs.Trollope says:
“At sixteen, often much earlier, education ends and money making begins; the idea that more learning is necessary than can be acquired by that time, is generally ridiculed as absolute monkish bigotry: added to which, if the seniors willed a more prolonged discipline, the juniors would refuse submission. When the money getting begins, leisure ceases, and all the lore which can be acquired afterwards is picked up from novels, magazines, and newspapers."
Captain Hall also remarks upon this point: I speak now from the authority of the Americans themselves. There is the greatest possible difficulty in fixing young men long enough at college. Innumerable devices have been tried with considerable ingenuity to remedy this evil, and the best possible intentions by the professors and other public-spirited persons who are sincerely grieved to see so many incompetent, half-qualified men in almost every corner of the country.”
At fifteen or sixteen, if not at college, the boy assumes the man; he enters into business, as a clerk to some merchant, or in some store. His father's home is abandoned, except when it may suit his convenience, his salary being sufficient for most of his wants. He frequents the bar, calls for gin cocktails, chews tobacco, and talks politics. His theoretical education, whether he has profited much by it or not, is now superseded by a more practical one, in which he obtains a most rapid proficiency. I have no hesitation in asserting that there is more practical knowledge among the Americans than among any other people under the sun.
* Captain Hamilton very truly observes—“Though I have unquestionably met in New York with many most intelligent and accomplished gentlemen, still I think the fact cannot be denied, that the average quirement resulting from education is a good deal lower in this country than in the better circles in England. In all the knowledge which must be taught, and which requires laborious study for its attainment, I should say the Americans are considerably inferior to my countrymen. In that knowledge, on the other hand, which the individual acquires for himself by actual observation,
It is singular that, in America, every thing, whether it be of good or evil, appears to assist the country in going a-head. This very want of parental control, however it may affect the morals of the community, is certainly advantageous to America, as far as her rapid advancement is concerned. Boys are working like men for years before they would be in England; time is money, and they assist to bring in the harvest.
But does this independence on the part of the youth of America end here ? On the contrary, what at first was independence, assumes next the form of opposition, and eventually that of control.
The young men, before they are qualified by age to claim their rights as citizens, have their societies, their book-clubs, their political meet
which bears an immediate marketable value and is directly available in the ordinary avocations of life, I do not imagine that the Americans are excelled by any people in the world.”