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The loss to the revenue, through the diminution of duties on imports, amounting, it is said, to some eleven millions sterling, had to be made up by the imposition of additional taxes. Thus, the manufacturers were relieved to the amount of eleven millions, all clear gain to them, and loss to those who bore the compensatory burthen. To say, then, that England has made the experiment of free trade, is merely false; for the principle of the free trade economists is, that the nation shall not be taxed to sustain a particular interest. England has taxed her incomes and other sources eleven millions, to support the manufacturers. Not questioning the wisdom of this policy, or denying that it is a vital point with England to sustain her manufacturers, since by them chiefly she has become the richest nation in the world; admitting, too, that this policy will accomplish its end, and save the British manufacturers from ruin; let us now inquire what policy these free trade leaders would pursue, acting on their present principles, and instigated by the same motives, were they Americans, with a large capital, invested in manufactures in New England.
First, then, at all risks they would sustain the country, labor to preserve its acquisitions, and open for it new sources of wealth. Observing that the States of New England are composed chiefly of a rocky and unfruitful soil, they would not entertain the hope of sustaining a dense population there by agriculture. Seeing, too, the rapid impoverishment of the towns and villages, by the removal of ablebodied men, and of capital, to the new lands of the West, and the ruin of the small farmers, by the influx of cheap provision from the western lands, they would cast about for some means of filling up the loss occasioned by that emigration, and of providing new means of subsistence for those who were thrown out of employment by the stagnation of agriculture. Every part of this new continent, they would say, ought to support an active and wealthy population ; but how shall we make New England, or the barren regions of the Southern and Middle States, do this? At present, all these regions lie waste, or are thinly and poorly inhabited; the people have neither means nor leisure, and must soon become miserable and unimportant. The great West grows
rich, and fattens by its corn fields; why should we, then, live poor and wretched 2 is there no way in which we too may prosper? Our commerce is great, but it is a commerce carried on between foreign countries and the great West; we benefit but little by it; it rather impoverishes than helps our country people, for they buy foreign goods with money, and not with produce, making nothing by the exchange; the West is always too strong for them in trade; the cities grow rich by commerce, but the country people grow poorer every day. It is, therefore, necessary for us to sustain our manufactures, to erect new mills, and make goods to exchange with these southern planters and western farmers, and so reap the grain ourselves that goes else to enrich foreigners. To bring these French and English goods across the ocean costs much, and involves many risks and losses; we will save the country this loss, and by competition we will break down the foreigner in his prices, and make him give more of his own in exchange for western products; by and by we will supply our countrymen of the South and West with all that they now get from foreigners, and that at a less price, exchanging with them for their corn and raw products; our wealth will then begin to overflow, and we will send our products to foreign nations, and bring home riches, and every luxury for ourselves and our countrymen; and thus our nation will be made complete and independent, with a rich interior, producing all the fruits of the earth, a barren region near the sea devoted to manufactures, and a coast adorned with commercial cities. Are not these reasonings identical in principle with those which actuate the free-traders of England 2 Their position compels them to sustain their manufactures, for by these they draw to themselves a great part of the wealth which makes them powerful, and defends them against the encroachments and the bad influences of neighboring nations. Human liberty has been upheld and defended by the industry, as much as by the courage of England; but that industry is drawn out by capital, and capital is created by manufactures. It would be impossible for England or for any nation to acquire great power and wealth by agriculture alone; for of all in
dustrial pursuits agriculture is that which yields the least surplus of profit to the producer. Commerce and exchange may be reckoned the most profitable of all; but manufactures, much more than agriculture, furnish the material and the occasion for commercial enterprise. They create merchandise of a character like specie, exchangeable and easily transportable. Countries, therefore, like England, and the barren regions of our Eastern and Middle States, if they mean to prosper and sustain a thriving population, must engage in manufactures. Mentally revolving the course that events have taken in the political world, we seem to discover, indeed, no issue towards which they tend more remarkable or more alarming than the establishment of new and unconstitutional powers in the Executive—the powers of creating war, of withholding information, of taxing, and despotically governing, conquered territory; add to these the creation of armies for the sake, if not of patronage, then of new wars and of new unlooked-for uses of power; the formation of a false public opinion, the turning of the powers of the general government upon enterprises confessedly calculated for the aid of an exorbitant ambition. These things, indeed, excite an alarm most reasonable, and that should lead to the most decisive action among conscientious men. It is discovered that the limitation of the Presidential term to a short period, is not a sufficient safeguard to liberty; erroneous precedents, party precedents, grow gradually into law, and the accumulated mass of them are handed from one term to another, like the traditional usurpations of a hierarchy, until in a course of ages, every feature of the original Constitution is buried and forgotten. Though these just fears may, indeed, image forth the head of our FUTURE Policy, we are not, therefore, to forget other things, to be so occupied with the head and front of the offence as to forget the vile and corrupting body. It is a matter of some importance to the nation that its sources of wealth and power should be kept open, and that the chinks and scuttles, through which its riches are flowing away like water, should be stopped; in a word, that it should not be left a prey to foreign enterprise, and have one great third of its productive power sacrificed to the united selfishness of the remaining two-thirds.
This word “selfishness,” so easily and idly employed, does not, it must be confessed, assist the argument; but it may serve here to suggest a reflection not inapt for the conclusion of this article. The
wealth of a nation, meaning by its wealth,
that moderate surplus of means which is necessary to its freedom and power, is created by at least three distinct and contrasted kinds of industry: indeed, so very distinct and contrasted, they breed opposite habits and permanent differences of character, in those who use them. These are, the production from mines, or from the soil, of the raw material of industry; the manufacture of these materials into commodities; and the transportation and exchange of commodities in trade and commerce. The hamlets, villages and open spaces of the country are occupied by those who produce the crude material; the towns near rivers, canals, and at the meeting of great roads, are chiefly occupied by manufacturers; while cities by the sea, and on great streams, bays and lakes, are the head-quarters of trade, and owe their riches to commerce. We need no argument to show that a nation without commerce can never rise to the first importance, and in all ages statesmen and rulers have become celebrated and respected more by their encouragement of roads, canals, shipping, and all the enterprise of commerce, from the protection of caravans to the founding of commercial cities, than for their successful wars. Nor is a nation capable of sustaining itself long without a constant attention to agriculture. Egypt, Grece, Rome, China, India, interior Germany, and above all, England, have made agriculture the right arm of the public industry. But what great nation, that has a sufficient respect for itself, does not desire to complete the circle of its industry, and add manufactures to agriculture and commerce & Why should we stupidly insist upon producing and transporting our raw material to other more cunning and ingenious nations & Why must a bale of flax grown in Ohio, be lugged across the scornful billows of the Atlantic, to be worked up in England 2 Why should not our faithful brothers and countrymen do that for us at home 2 Patience is exhausted in such an argument; the good sense of the nation is insulted by it.
THE memory of Allston, which time is year by year ripening into the immortal fame of a great and good artist, must be a sufficient warrant for recalling the attention of the public to a story by him, already several years before it. Or, if it is necessary to apologize for making a book, published seven years ago, the subject of an article, we may acknowledge a higher motive than reverence for its author—a desire to turn the eyes of readers to what they ought not willingly to let die.
It is as much the duty of criticism in literature and art to teach the pure faith directly, as well as indirectly, by pointing out and inveighing against heresies. Not only must we pluck up and lop off the noxious weeds and unhealthy shoots in the garden where we are called to labor, but we must water the flowering shrubs and young fruit trees; we must dig about them repeatedly, at such time as the dew of heaven shall fall most genially upon the upturned clods ; yea, we must fertilize the soil wherein they are set, even with such harmless composition as forms the substance of articles and essays. In fine, it is our vocation to call attention to what is to be admired as well as what is to be avoided, to analyze merit as well as demerit, to keep good books alive as well as to put bad ones out of their pain.
Some books come into life stout and vigorous; they make a general acquaintance all at once, and, to hear how they are spoken of, one would suppose that they were going to live forever, and be known all over the world; yet it is marvellous how many of these die off in a short time, and are never thought of afterward. Others there are of a more delicate constitution, and of extremely retired habits, who hardly venture beyond the bookshelves and centre-tables of a few choice friends, but in time come to be reverenced and respected for their learning, or their
interesting conversation, and refined manners.
Of this sort is Monaldi. Though it appeared long ago, and came from the pen of our first artist, it scarcely attracted a passing attention; in a few months it was unwritten of and unspoken of ; we doubt if many of our distant readers do not here see the very name for the first time, out of the poems of Rogers. Yet this is not because the book deserves, or is destined, to slip away thus quietly into oblivion; but simply, as we shall endeavor to show, because it is one of those exquisite works of art which never make an extensive acquaintance with the world, and only become known even to the refined and discriminating, by slow degrees during the lapse of years.
It was ready for the press, the author informs us, as long ago as 1822, and was finally given to the public in a thin volume of two hundred and fifty pages, “not,” he says, “with the pretensions of a Novel, but simply as a Tale.” How much thought, and study, and artistic skill he felt it becoming to speak thus modestly of, we shall discover in tracing the course of the story.
A delightful old novel feeling is inspired by the opening paragraph of the introduction :
“There is sometimes so striking a resemblance between the autumnal sky of Italy and that of New England at the same season, that when the peculiar features of the scenery are obscured by twilight, it needs but little aid of the imagination in the American traveller to fancy himself in his own country: the ". orange of the horizon, fading into a low yellow, and here and there broken by a slender bar of molten gold, with the broad mass of pale apple-green blending above, and the sheet of deep azure over these, gradually darkening to the zenith—all carry him back to his dearer home. It was at such a time as this, and beneath such a sky, that (in the year 17–) while
* Monaldi; a Tale.
WOL. I. NO. IV. NEW SERIE8. 23
By WASHINGTon ALLston.
Boston : Little & Brown. 1841.
my vettura was slowly toiling up one of the mountains of the Abruzzo, I had thrown myself back in the carriage, to enjoy one of those mental illusions which the resemblance between past and present objects is wont to call forth. Italy seemed for the time forgotten; I was journeying homeward, and a vision of beaming, affectionate faces passed before me; I crossed the threshold, and heard—oh, how touching is that soundless voice of welcoming in a day-dream of home—I heard the joyful cry of recognition, and a painful fullness in my throat made me struggle for words —when, at a sudden turn of the road, my carriage was brought to the ground.”
This is not an imitation, but a condensation, and reproduction, of the tone and coloring of an old novel—we say old, in the sense that the stories read, and the impressions produced in childhood, bear an air of antiquity—we mean that it takes hold of the fancy like a story read in youth; while, at the same time, the mature artist is apparent in the delicate purity of the style, and in the beauty of the sentiment. We may be misled by the impression of the whole work, yet it seems that this single paragraph exhibits very plainly these characteristics. It recalls the feelings of boyhood, while, at the same time, it gives promise that we are about to enter on no meagre child-tale, but one of character, thought and passlon.
The breaking of the carriage, and the manner of the driver, induce the traveller to suspect him of being leagued with banditti: presently a whistle is heard below which confirms the suspicion, and he compels the fellow to go before him up the mountain. After some time they come to a small plain, or heath, where there is a hovel, before which sits a wretched object, a miserable maniac, worn almost to death; an old woman then comes from the hovel, who directs the traveller to a convent hard by, where he is received and hospitably entertained by a venerable prior. Next morning, the prior shows jim the pictures in the chapel, and is about to show him one, which he says is worth all the rest, when he is called out, and the traveller, opening a wrong door, comes unawares into the apartment where it is placed.
* I put up my hand to shade my eyes, when
—the fearful vision is even now before me—I seemed to be standing before an abyss in space, boundless and black. In the midst of this permeable pitch stood a colossal mass of gold, in shape like an altar, and girdled about by a huge serpent, gorgeous and terrible; his body flecked with diamonds, and his head, an enormous carbuncle, floating like a meteor in the air above. Such was the throne. But no words can describe the gigantic being that sat thereon—the grace, the majesty, its transcendent form; and yet I shuddered as I looked, for its superhuman countenance seemed, as it were, to radiate falsehood; every feature was in contradiction—the eye, the mouth, even to the nostril—whilst the expression of the whole was of that unnatural softness which can onl
be conceived of malignant blandishment. It was the appalling beauty of the King of Hell. The frightful i. vibrated through my whole frame, and I turned for relief to the figure below ; for at his feet knelt one who appeared to belong to our race of earth. But I had turned from the first only to witness in this second object its withering fascination. It was a man apparently in the prime of life, but pale and emaciated, as if prematurel
wasted by his unholy devotion, yet still devoted, with outstretched hands, and eyes upraised to their idol, fixed with a vehemence that seemed almost to start them from their sockets. The agony of his eye, contrasting with the prostrate, reckless worship of his attitude, but too well told his tale: I beheld the mortal conflict between the conscience and the will—the visible
struggle of a soul in the toils of sin. I could look no longer.”
He naturally wishes to know the history of this extraordinary picture, and its author; and the prior accordingly gives him a manuscript which, he says, will gratify his curiosity. This is the story.
The opening chapter then introduces two principal personages of the tale, Monaldi and Maldura, young students and intimate friends at a seminary at Bologna. We wish a few sentences could give an idea of the depth of reflection, the philosophy, the exquisite discrimination in the drawing of character, and the pure, simple elegance of the style. There is a greatness of thought and an elevation in tone which takes the imagination far into the poetic region, and yet the art is so thoroughly hidden that superficial readers, who are accustomed to see the artist through a coarser veil or not at all, must of course skim it over easily and fancy it cold and common.
“The character of Maldura, the eldest, was
bold, grasping, and ostentatious; while that of Monaldi, timid and gentle, seemed to shrink from observation. The one, proud and impatient, was ever laboring for distinction; the world, palpable, visible, audible, was his idol; he lived only in externals, and could neither act nor feel but for effect; even his secret reveries having an outward direction, as if he could not think without a view to praise, and anxiously referring to the opinion of others; in short, his nightly and daily dreams had but one subject—the talk and eye of the crowd. The other, silent and meditative, seldom looked out of himself, either for applause or enjoyment; if he ever did so, it was only that he might add to, or sympathize in the triumph of another: this done, he retired again, as it were, to a world of his own, where thoughts and feelings, filling the place of men and . could always supply him with occupation and amusement.
—“But the honors of a school are for things and purposes far different from those demanded and looked for by the world. , Maldura unfortunately did not make the distinction. His various knowledge, though ingeniously brought together, and skilfully set anew, was still the knowledge of other men; it did not come forth as in a new birth, from the modifying influence of his own nature. His mind was hence like a thing of many parts, yet wanting a whole—that realizing quality which the world must feel before it will reverence. “The powers of Monaldi, however, were yet to be called forth. And it was not surprising that to his youthful companions, he should then have appeared inefficient, there being a singular kind of passiveness about him easily mistaken for vacancy. But his was like the passiveness of some uncultured spot lying unnoticed within its nook of rocks, and silently drinking in the light, and the heat, and the showers of heaven, that nourish the seeds of a thousand nameless flowers, destined one day to bloom and to mingle their fragrance with the breath of nature.”
These two friends, the one taking a generous pride in the successes of the other, and the other proud to be admired by him, leave the seminary and pass into the world. Monaldichooses painting for his profession, and after a few years of persevering study is universally acknowledged to be the first painter in Italy. One of his pictures is thus described at length:—
“The subject of the picture was the first sacrifice of Noah after the subsiding of the waters; a subject of little promise from an ordinary hand, but of all others, perhaps, the best suited to exhibit that rare union of intense
feeling and lofty imagination which characterized Monaldi. The composition consisted of the patriarch and his family, at the altar, which occupied the foreground; a distant view of Mount Ararat, with the ark resting on its peak; and the intermediate vale. These were scanty materials for a picture; but the fullness with which they seemed to distend the spectator's mind, left no room for this thought. There was no dramatic variety in the kneeling father and his kneeling children; they expressed but one sentiment—adoration; and it seemed to go up as with a single voice. This gave the soul which the spectator felt; but it was one that could not have gone forth under common daylight, nor ever have pervaded with such emphatic life, other than the shadowy valley, the misty mountain, the mysterious ark, again floating, as it were, on a sea of clouds, and the lurid, deep-toned sky, dark yet bright, which spoke to the imagination of a lost and recovered world—once dead, now alive, and pouring out her first song of praise even from under the pall of death.”
Monaldi was fortunate, on the first exhibition of this picture, in having for his leading critic the cavalier S , a philosopher and a poet, “though he had never written a line as either.” “I want no surer evidence of genius than this,” said he, addressing Monaldi: “you are master of the chiar' oscuro and color, two of the most powerful instruments, I will not say of Art, but of Nature, for they were hers from birth, though few of our painters since the time of the Caracci appear to have known it. If I do not place your form and expression first, 'tis not that I undervalue them; they are both true and elevated; yet with all their grandeur and power, I should still hold you wanting in one essential, had you not thus infused the human emotion into the surrounding elements. This is the poetry of the art; the highest nature. There are hours when Nature may be said to hold intercourse with man, modifying his thoughts and feelings: when man re-acts, and in his turn bends her to his will, whether by words or colors, he becomes a poet. A vulgar painter may perhaps think your work unnatural; and it must be so to him who sees only with his eyes. But another kind of critic is required to understand our rapt Correggio, or even, in spite of his abortive forms, the Dutch Rembrant.” The cavalier assists Monaldi with that