History of the United States During the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson/First/I:4
Chapter 4: Intellect of the Middle StatesEdit
Between New England and the Middle States was a gap like that between Scotland and England. The conceptions of life were different. In New England society was organized on a system,—a clergy in alliance with a magistracy; universities supporting each, and supported in turn,—a social hierarchy, in which respectability, education, property, and religion united to defeat and crush the unwise and vicious. In New York wisdom and virtue, as understood in New England, were but lightly esteemed. From an early moment no small number of those who by birth, education, and property were natural leaders of the wise and virtuous, showed themselves ready to throw in their lot with the multitude. Yet New York, much more than New England, was the home of natural leaders and family alliances. John Jay, the governor; the Schuylers, led by Philip Schuyler and his son-in-law Alexander Hamilton; the Livingstons, led by Robert R. Livingston the chancellor, with a promising younger brother Edward nearly twenty years his junior, and a brother-in-law John Armstrong, whose name and relationship will be prominent in this narrative, besides Samuel Osgood, Morgan Lewis, and Smith Thompson, other connections by marriage with the great Livingston stock; the Clintons, headed by Governor George Clinton, and supported by the energy of De Witt his nephew, thirty years of age, whose close friend Ambrose Spencer was reckoned as one of the family; finally, Aaron Burr, of pure Connecticut Calvinistic blood, whose two active lieutenants, William P. Van Ness and John Swartwout, were socially well connected and well brought up,—all these Jays, Schuylers, Livingstons, Clintons, Burrs, had they lived in New England, would probably have united in the support of their class, or abandoned the country; but being citizens of New York they quarrelled. On one side Governor Jay, General Schuyler, and Colonel Hamilton were true to their principles. Rufus King, the American minister in London, by birth a New Englander, adhered to the same connection. On the other hand, George Clinton, like Samuel Adams in Boston, was a Republican by temperament, and his protest against the Constitution made him leader of the Northern Republicans long before Jefferson was mentioned as his rival. The rest were all backsliders from Federalism,—and especially the Livingston faction, who, after carefully weighing arguments and interests, with one accord joined the mob of freethinking democrats, the "great beast" of Alexander Hamilton. Aaron Burr, who prided himself on the inherited patrician quality of his mind and manners, coldly assuming that wisdom and virtue were powerless in a democracy, followed Chancellor Livingston into the society of Cheetham and Paine. Even the influx of New Englanders into the State could not save the Federalists; and in May, 1800, after a sharp struggle, New York finally enrolled itself on the side of Jefferson and George Clinton.
Fortunately for society, New York possessed no church to overthrow, or traditional doctrines to root out, or centuries of history to disavow. Literature of its own it had little; of intellectual unity, no trace. Washington Irving was a boy of seventeen wandering along the banks of the river he was to make famous; Fenimore Cooper was a boy of eleven playing in the primitive woods of Otsego, or fitting himself at Albany for entrance to Yale College; William Cullen Bryant was a child of six in the little village of Cummington, in western Massachusetts.
Political change could as little affect the educational system as it could affect history, church, or literature. In 1795, at the suggestion of Governor Clinton, an attempt had been made by the New York legislature to create a common-school system, and a sum of fifty thousand dollars was for five years annually applied to that object; but in 1800 the appropriation was exhausted, and the thirteen hundred schools which had been opened were declining. Columbia College, with a formidable array of unfilled professorships, and with fifteen or twenty annual graduates, stood apart from public affairs, although one of its professors, Dr. Samuel L. Mitchill, gave scientific reputation to the whole State. Like the poet Barlow, Mitchill was a universal genius,—a chemist, botanist, naturalist, physicist, and politician, who, to use the words of a shrewd observer, supported the Republican party because Jefferson was its leader, and supported Jefferson because he was a philosopher. Another professor of Columbia College, Dr. David Hosack, was as active as Dr. Mitchill in education, although he contented himself with private life, and did not, like Mitchill, reach the dignity of congressman and senator.
Science and art were still less likely to be harmed by a democratic revolution. For scientific work accomplished before 1800 New York might claim to excel New England; but the result was still small. A little botany and mineralogy, a paper on the dispute over yellow fever or vaccination, was the utmost that medicine could show; yet all the science that existed was in the hands of the medical faculty. Botany, chemistry, mineralogy, midwifery, and surgery were so closely allied that the same professor might regard them all as within the range of his instruction; and Dr. Mitchill could have filled in succession, without much difficulty, every chair in Columbia College as well as in the Academy of Fine Arts about to be established. A surgeon was assumed to be an artist. The Capitol at Washington was designed, in rivalry with a French architect, by Dr. William Thornton, an English physician, who in the course of two weeks' study at the Philadelphia Library gained enough knowledge of architecture to draw incorrectly an exterior elevation. When Thornton was forced to look for some one to help him over his difficulties, Jefferson could find no competent native American, and sent for Latrobe. Jefferson considered himself a better architect than either of them, and had he been a professor of materia medica at Columbia College, the public would have accepted his claim as reasonable.
The intellectual and moral character of New York left much to be desired; but on the other hand, had society adhered stiffly to what New England thought strict morals, the difficulties in the path of national development would have been increased. Innovation was the most useful purpose which New York could serve in human interests, and never was a city better fitted for its work. Although the great tide of prosperity had hardly begun to flow, the political character of city and State was already well defined in 1800 by the election which made Aaron Burr vice-president of the United States, and brought De Witt Clinton in to public life as Burr's rival. De Witt Clinton was hardly less responsible than Burr himself for lowering the standard of New York politics, and indirectly that of the nation; but he was foremost in creating the Erie Canal. Chancellor Livingston was frequently charged with selfishness as great as that of Burr and Clinton; but he built the first steamboat, and gave immortality to Fulton. Ambrose Spencer's politics were inconsistent enough to destroy the good name of any man in New England; but he became a chief-justice of ability and integrity. Edward Livingston was a defaulter under circumstances of culpable carelessness, as the Treasury thought; but Gallatin, who dismissed him from office, lived to see him become the author of a celebrated code of civil law, and of the still more celebrated Nullification Proclamation. John Armstrong's character was so little admired that his own party could with difficulty be induced to give him high office; yet the reader will judge how Armstrong compared in efficiency of public service with the senators who distrusted him.
New York cared but little for the metaphysical subtleties of Massachusetts and Virginia, which convulsed the nation with spasms almost as violent as those that, fourteen centuries before, distracted the Eastern Empire in the effort to establish the double or single nature of Christ. New York was indifferent whether the nature of the United States was single or multiple, whether they were a nation or a league. Leaving this class of questions to other States which were deeply interested in them, New York remained constant to no political theory. There society, in spite of its aristocratic mixture, was democratic by instinct; and in abandoning its alliance with New England in order to join Virginia and elect Jefferson to the Presidency, it pledged itself to principles of no kind, least of all to Virginia doctrines. The Virginians aimed at maintaining a society so simple that purity should suffer no danger, and corruption gain no foothold; and never did America witness a stranger union than when Jefferson, the representative of ideal purity, allied himself with Aaron Burr, the Livingstons and Clintons, in the expectation of fixing the United States in a career of simplicity and virtue. George Clinton indeed, a States-rights Republican of the old school, understood and believed the Virginia doctrines; but as for Aaron Burr, Edward Livingston, De Witt Clinton, and Ambrose Spencer,—young men whose brains were filled with dreams of a different sort,— what had such energetic democrats to do with the plough, or what share had the austerity of Cato and the simplicity of Ancus Martins in their ideals? The political partnership between the New York Republicans and the Virginians was from the first that of a business firm; and no more curious speculation could have been suggested to the politicians of 1800 than the question whether New York would corrupt Virginia, or Virginia would check the prosperity of New York.
In deciding the issue of this struggle, as in every other issue that concerned the Union, the voice which spoke in most potent tones was that of Pennsylvania. This great State, considering its political importance, was treated with little respect by its neighbors; and yet had New England, New York, and Virginia been swept out of existence in 1800, democracy could have better spared them all than have lost Pennsylvania. The only true democratic community then existing in the eastern States, Pennsylvania was neither picturesque nor troublesome. The State contained no hierarchy like that of New England; no great families like those of New York; no oligarchy like the planters of Virginia and South Carolina. " In Pennsylvania," said Albert Gallatin," not only we have neither Livingstons nor Rensselaers, but from the suburbs of Philadelphia to the banks of the Ohio I do not know a single family that has any extensive influence. An equal distribution of property has rendered every individual independent, and there is among us true and real equality." This was not all. The value of Pennsylvania to the Union lay not so much in the democratic spirit of society as in the rapidity with which it turned to national objects. Partly for this reason the State made an insignificant figure in politics. As the nation grew, less and less was said in Pennsylvania of interests distinct from those of the Union. Too thoroughly democratic to fear democracy, and too much nationalized to dread nationality, Pennsylvania became the ideal American State, easy, tolerant, and contented. If its soil bred little genius, it bred still less treason. With twenty different religious creeds, its practice could not be narrow, and a strong Quaker element made it humane. If the American Union succeeded, the good sense, liberality, and democratic spirit of Pennsylvania had a right to claim credit for the result; and Pennsylvanians could afford to leave power and patronage to their neighbors, so long as their own interests were to decide the path of administration.
The people showed little of that acuteness which prevailed to the eastward of the Hudson. Pennsylvania was never smart, yet rarely failed to gain her objects, and never committed serious follies. To politics the Pennsylvanians did not take kindly. Perhaps their democracy was so deep an instinct that they knew not what to do with political power when they gained it; as though political power were aristocratic in its nature, and democratic power a contradiction in terms. On this ground rested the reputation of Albert Gallatin, the only Pennsylvanian who made a mark on the surface of national politics. Gallatin's celebrated financial policy carried into practice the doctrine that the powers of government, being necessarily irresponsible, and therefore hostile to liberty, ought to be exercised only within the narrowest bounds, in order to leave democracy free to develop itself without interference in its true social, intellectual, and economical strength. Unlike Jefferson and the Virginians, Gallatin never hesitated to claim for government all the powers necessary for whatever object was in hand; but he agreed with them in checking the practical use of power, and this he did with a degree of rigor which has been often imitated but never equalled. The Pennsylvanians followed Gallatin's teachings. They indulged in endless factiousness over offices, but they never attempted to govern, and after one brief experience they never rebelled. Thus holding abstract politics at arm's length, they supported the national government with a sagacious sense that their own interests were those of the United States.
Although the State was held by the New Englanders and Virginians in no high repute for quickness of intellect, Philadelphia in 1800 was still the intellectual centre of the nation. For ten years the city had been the seat of national government, and at the close of that period had gathered a more agreeable society, fashionable, literary, and political, than could be found anywhere, except in a few capital cities of Europe. This Quaker city of an ultra-democratic State startled travellers used to luxury, by its extravagance and display. According to the Duc de Liancourt, writing in 1797,—
- "The profusion and luxury of Philadelphia on great days, at the tables of the wealthy, in their equipages, and the dresses of their wives and daughters, are extreme. I have seen balls on the President's birthday where the splendor of the rooms and the variety and richness of the dresses did not suffer in comparison with Europe; and it must be acknowledged that the beauty of the American ladies has the advantage in the comparison. The young women of Philadelphia are accomplished in different degrees, but beauty is general with them. They want the ease and fashion of French women, but the brilliancy of their complexion is infinitely superior. Even when they grow old they are still handsome; and it would be no exaggeration to say, in the numerous assemblies of Philadelphia it is impossible to meet with what is called a plain woman. As to the young men, they for the most part seem to belong to another species."
For ten years Philadelphia had attracted nearly all the intelligence and cultivation that could be detached from their native stocks. Stagnation was impossible in this rapid current of men and ideas. The Philadelphia press showed the effect of such unusual movement. There Cobbett vociferated libels against democrats. His career was cut short by a blunder of his own; for he quitted the safe field of politics in order to libel the physicians, and although medical practice was not much better than when it had been satirized by Le Sage some eighty years before, the physicians had not become less sensitive. If ever medical practice deserved to be libelled, the bleeding which was the common treatment not only for fevers but for consumption, and even for old age, warranted all that could be said against it; but Cobbett found to his cost that the Pennsylvanians were glad to bleed, or at least to seize the opportunity for silencing the libeller. In 1800 he returned to England; but the style of political warfare in which he was so great a master was already established in the Philadelphia press. An Irish-American named Duane, who had been driven from England and India for expressing opinions too liberal for the time and place, came to Philadelphia and took charge of the opposition newspaper, the "Aurora," which became in his hands the most energetic and slanderous paper in America. In the small society of the time libels rankled, and Duane rivalled Cobbett in the boldness with which he slandered. Another point of resemblance existed between the two men. At a later stage in his career Duane, like Cobbett, disregarded friend as well as foe; he then attacked, all who offended him, and denounced his party leaders as bitterly as he did his opponents; but down to the year 1800 he reserved his abuse for his enemies, and the "Aurora" was the nearest approach to a modern newspaper to be found in the country.
Judged by the accounts of his more reputable enemies, Duane seemed beneath forbearance; but his sins, gross as they were, found abettors in places where such conduct was less to be excused. He was a scurrilous libeller; but so was Cobbett; so was William Coleman, who in 1801 became editor of the New York "Evening Post" under the eye of Alexander Hamilton; so was the refined Joseph Dennie, who in the same year established at Philadelphia the "Portfolio," a weekly paper devoted to literature, in which for years to come he was to write literary essays, diversified by slander of Jefferson. Perhaps none of these habitual libellers deserved censure so much as Fisher Ames, the idol of respectability, who cheered on his party to vituperate his political opponents. He saw no harm in showing "the knaves," Jefferson and Gallatin, "the cold-thinking villains who lead, 'whose black blood runs temperately bad,'" the motives of "their own base hearts. . . . The vain, the timid, and trimming must be made by examples to see that scorn smites and blasts and withers like lightning the knaves that mislead them." Little difference could be seen between the two parties in their use of such weapons, except that democrats claimed a right to slander opponents because they were monarchists and aristocrats, while Federalists thought themselves bound to smite and wither with scorn those who, as a class, did not respect established customs.
Of American newspapers there was no end; but the education supposed to have been widely spread by eighteenth-century newspapers was hardly to be distinguished from ignorance. The student of history might search forever these storehouses of political calumny for facts meant to instruct the public in any useful object. A few dozen advertisements of shipping and sales; a marine list; rarely or never a price-list, unless it were European; copious extracts from English newspapers, and long columns of political disquisition,—such matter filled the chief city newspapers, from which the smaller sheets selected what their editors thought fit. Reporters and regular correspondents were unknown. Information of events other than political—the progress of the New York or Philadelphia water-works, of the Middlesex Canal, of Fitch's or Fulton's voyages, or even the commonest details of a Presidential inauguration—could rarely be found in the press. In such progress as newspapers had made Philadelphia took the lead, and in 1800 was at the height of her influence. Not until 1801 did the extreme Federalists set up the "Evening Post" under William Coleman, in New York, where at about the same time the Clinton interest put an English refugee named Cheetham in charge of their new paper, the "American Citizen and Watchtower," while Burr's friends established the "Morning Chronicle," edited by Dr. Peter Irving. Duane's importance was greatly reduced by this outburst of journalism in New York, and by the rise of the "National Intelligencer" at Washington, semi-official organ of Jefferson's administration. After the year 1800 the "Aurora" languished; but between 1795 and 1800 it was the leading newspaper of the United States, and boasted in 1802 of a circulation of four thousand copies, at least half of which its rivals declared to be imaginary.
Although Philadelphia was the literary as well as the political capital of America, nothing proved the existence of a highly intellectual society. When Joseph Donnie, a graduate of Harvard College, quitted Boston and established his "Portfolio" in Philadelphia in 1801, he complained as bitterly as the Pennsylvanian Cliffton against the land "where Genius sickens and where Fancy dies;" but he still thought Philadelphia more tolerable than any other city in the United States. With a little band of literary friends he passed his days in defying the indifference of his countrymen. " In the society of Mr. Dennie and his friends at Philadelphia I passed the few agreeable moments which my tour through the States afforded me," wrote in 1804 the British poet whom all the world united in calling by the familiar name of Tom Moore. "If I did not hate as I ought the rabble to which they are opposed, I could not value as I do the spirit with which they defy it; and in learning from them what Americans can be, I but see with the more indignation what Americans are."
- "Yet, yet forgive me, O you sacred few,
- Whom late by Delaware's green banks I knew;
- Whom, known and loved, through many a social eve
- 'T was bliss to live with, and 't was pain to leave.
- Oh, but for such, Columbia's days were done!
- Rank without ripeness, quickened without sun,
- Crude at the surface, rotten at the core,
- Her fruits would fall before her spring were o'er."
If Columbia's days were to depend on "such," they were scarcely worth prolonging; for Dennie's genius was but the thin echo of an English classicism thin at its best. Yet Moore's words had value, for they gave a lifelike idea of the "sacred few" who sat with him, drinking deep, and reviling America because she could not produce poets like Anacreon and artists like Phidias, and still more because Americans cared little for Addisonian essays. An adventurer called John Davis, who published in London a book of American travels, mentioned in it that he too met the Philadelphia authors. "Dennie passed his mornings in the shop of Mr. Dickens, which I found the rendezvous of the Philadelphia sons of literature,—Blair [Linn], author of a poem called the 'Powers of Genius;' Ingersoll, known by a tragedy of which I forget the title; Stock, celebrated for his dramatic criticisms." C. J. Ingersoll did in fact print a tragedy called "Edwy and Elgiva," which was acted in 1801, and John Blair Linn's "Powers of Genius" appeared in the same year; but Dennie's group boasted another member more notable than these. Charles Brockden Brown, the first American novelist of merit, was a Philadelphian. Davis called upon Brown. "He occupied a dismal room in a dismal street. I asked him whether a view of Nature would not be more propitious to composition, or whether he should not write with more facility were his window to command the prospect of the Lake of Geneva. 'Sir,' said he, 'good pens, thick paper, and ink well diluted would facilitate my composition more than the prospect of the broadest expanse of water or mountains rising against the clouds.'"
Pennsylvania was largely German and the Moravians were not without learning, yet no trace of German influence showed itself in the educated and literary class. Schiller was at the end of his career, and Goethe at the zenith of his powers; but neither was known in Pennsylvania, unless it might be by translations of the "Robbers" or the "Sorrows of Werther." As for deeper studies, search in America would be useless for what was rare or unknown either in England or France. Kant had closed and Hegel was beginning his labors; but the Western nations knew no more of German thought than of Egyptian hieroglyphics, and America had not yet reached the point of understanding that metaphysics apart from theology could exist at all. Locke was a college text-book, and possibly a few clergymen had learned to deride the idealism of Berkeley; but as an interest which concerned life, metaphysics, apart from Calvinism, had no existence in America, and was to have none for another generation. The literary labors of Americans followed easier paths, and such thought as prevailed was confined within a narrow field,—yet within this limit Pennsylvania had something to show, even though it failed to please the taste of Dennie and Moore.
Not far from the city of Philadelphia, on the banks of the Schuylkill, lived William Bartram, the naturalist, whose "Travels" through Florida and the Indian country, published in 1791, were once praised by Coleridge, and deserved reading both for the matter and the style. Not far from Bartram, and his best scholar, was Alexander Wilson, a Scotch poet of more than ordinary merit, gifted with a dogged enthusiasm, which in spite of obstacles gave to America an ornithology more creditable than anything yet accomplished in art or literature. Beyond the mountains, at Pittsburg, another author showed genuine and original qualities. American humor was not then so marked as it afterward became, and goodnature was rarer; but H. H. Brackenridge set an example of both in a book once universally popular throughout the South and West. A sort of prose "Hudibras," it had the merit of leaving no sting, for this satire on democracy was written by a democrat and published in the most democratic community of America. "Modern Chivalry" told the adventures of a militia captain, who riding about the country with a raw Irish servant, found this red-headed, ignorant bog-trotter, this Sancho Panza, a much more popular person than himself, who could only with difficulty be restrained from becoming a clergyman, an Indian chief, a member of the legislature, of the philosophical society, and of Congress. At length his employer got for him the appointment of excise officer in the Alleghanies, and was gratified at seeing him tarred and feathered by his democratic friends. "Modern Chivalry" was not only written in good last-century English, none too refined for its subject, but was more thoroughly American than any book yet published, or to be published until the "Letters of Major Jack Downing" and the "Georgia Scenes" of forty years later. Never known, even by title, in Europe, and little enjoyed in the seaboard States, where bog-trotters and weavers had no such prominence, Judge Brackenridge's book filled the place of Don Quixote on the banks of the Ohio and along the Mississippi.
Another man whose literary merits were not to be overlooked, had drifted to Philadelphia because of its varied attractions. If in the last century America could boast of a poet who shared some of the delicacy if not the grandeur of genius, it was Philip Freneau; whose verses, poured out for the occasion, ran freely, good and bad, but the bad, as was natural, much more freely than the good. Freneau proved his merit by an experience unique in history. He was twice robbed by the greatest English poets of his day. Among his many slight verses were some pleasing lines called "The Indian Burying Ground":—
- "His bow for action ready bent,
- And arrows with a head of stone,
- Can only mean that life is spent,
- And not the finer essence gone.
- "By midnight moons, o'er moistening dews,
- In vestments for the chase arrayed,
- The hunter still the deer pursues,
- The hunter and the deer,—a shade."
The last line was taken by the British poet Campbell for his own poem called "O'Connor's Child," and Freneau could afford to forgive the theft which thus called attention to the simple grace of his melody but although one such compliment might fall to the lot of a common man, only merit could explain a second accident of the same kind. Freneau saw a greater genius than Campbell borrow from his modest capital. No one complained of Walter Scott for taking whatever he liked wherever he chose, to supply that flame of genius which quickened the world; but Freneau had the right to claim that Scott paid him the highest compliment one poet could pay to another. In the Introduction to the third canto of " Marmion" stood and still stands a line taken directly from the verse in Freneau's poem on the Heroes of Eutaw:—
- "They took the spear—but left the shield."
All these men—Wilson, Brackenridge, Freneau—were democrats, and came not within the Federalist circle where Moore could alone see a hope for Columbia. Yet the names of Federalists also survived in literature. Alexander Graydon's pleasant Memoirs could never lose interest. Many lawyers, clergymen, and physicians left lasting records. Dallas was bringing out his reports; Duponceau was laboring over jurisprudence and languages; William Lewis, William Rawle, and Judge Wilson were high authorities at the bar; Dr. Wistar was giving reputation to the Philadelphia Medical School, and the famous Dr. Physic was beginning to attract patients from far and near as the best surgeon in America. Gilbert Stuart, the best painter in the country, came to Philadelphia, and there painted portraits equal to the best that England or France could produce,—for Reynolds and Gainsborough were dead, and Sir Thomas Lawrence ruled the fashion of the time. If Franklin and Rittenhouse no longer lived to give scientific fame to Philadelphia their liberal and scientific spirit survived. The reputation of the city was not confined to America, and the accident that made a Philadelphian, Benjamin West, President of the Royal Academy in succession to Sir Joshua Reynolds, was a tacit compliment, not undeserved, to the character of the American metropolis.
There manners were milder and more humane elsewhere. Societies existed for lessening the hardships of the unfortunate. A society labored for the abolition of slavery without exciting popular passion, although New York contained more than twenty thousand slaves, and New Jersey more than twelve thousand. A society for alleviating the miseries of prisons watched the progress of experiments in the model jail, which stood alone of its kind in America. Elsewhere the treatment of criminals was such as it had ever been. In New Haven they were still confined under-ground, in the shafts of an abandoned copper-mine. The Memoirs of Stephen Burroughs gave some idea of the prisons and prison discipline of Massachusetts. The Pennsylvania Hospital was also a model, for it contained a department for the insane, the only one of the sort in America except the Virginia Lunatic Asylum at Williamsburg. Even there the treatment of these beings, whom a later instinct of humanity thought peculiarly worthy of care and lavish expenditure, was harsh enough,—strait-jackets, whippings, chains, and dark-rooms being a part of the prescribed treatment in every such hospital in the world but where no hospitals existed, as in New England, New York, and elsewhere, the treatment was apt to be far worse. No horror of the Middle Ages wrung the modern conscience with a sense of disgust more acute than was felt in remembering the treatment of the insane even within recent times. Shut in attics or cellars, or in cages outside a house, without warmth, light, or care, they lived in filth, with nourishment such as was thrown to dogs. Philadelphia led the way in humanitarian efforts which relieved man from incessant contact with these cruel and, coarsening associations.
The depth of gratitude due to Pennsylvania as the model democratic society of the world was so great as to risk overestimating what had been actually done. As yet no common-school system existed. Academies and colleges were indifferent. New Jersey was no better provided than Pennsylvania. The Englishman Weld, a keen if not a friendly critic, visited Princeton,—
- "A large college," he said, "held in much repute by the neighboring States. The number of students amounts to upwards of seventy; from their appearance, however, and the course of studies they seem to be engaged in, like all the other American colleges I ever saw, it better deserves the title of a grammar-school than of a college. The library which we were shown is most wretched, consisting for the most part of old theological books not even arranged with any regularity. An orrery contrived by Mr. Rittenhouse stands at one end of the apartment, but it is quite out of repair, as well as a few detached parts of a philosophical apparatus enclosed in the same glass-case At the opposite end of the room are two small cupboards which are shown as the museum. These contain a couple of small stuffed alligators and a few singular fishes in a miserable state of preservation, from their being repeatedly tossed about."
Philadelphia made no claim to a wide range of intellectual interests. As late as 1811, Latrobe, by education an architect and by genius an artist wrote to Volney in France,—
- "Thinking only of the profession and of the affluence which it yields in Europe to all who follow it, you forget that I am an engineer in America; that I am neither a mechanic nor a merchant, nor a planter of cotton, rice, or tobacco. You forget—for you know it as well as I do—that with us the labor of the hand has precedence over that of the mind; that an engineer is considered only as an overseer of men who dig, and an architect as one that watches others who hew stone or wood."
The labor of the hand had precedence over that of the mind throughout the United States. If this was true in the city of Franklin, Rittenhouse, and West, the traveller who wandered farther toward the south felt still more strongly the want of intellectual variety, and found more cause for complaint.