7 JULY 1855, Page 17

11171tHAY'S CU/IA, UNITED STATES, AND CANADA.. THE perusal of this

work has scarcely supported the expectittrons raised by a cursory examination. Brisk and lively the book un- doubtedly is, but those qualities are apt to pall after a time unless upheld by solid matter, and of a fresher kind than is generally found in these volumes. Tbe smartness is perhaps less a quality of mind than of manner ; it is not always under the guidance Of the most refined taste, and is often overdone. This peculiarity would have been of less consequence had the substance of the work been of a newer kind ; but Mr. Murray has really seen little which other travellers have not seen before him, except the " trotting " races. He did not carry out with hint any special knowledge or any particular object of inquiry ; his position mtro- duced him to the best society, but of that he speaks only in the general terms of grateful courtesy ; he says in his preface that he was advised to read several works lately published on the United States, but did not. If he had, and if those works were travels, he would have seen that almost every topic he handles had been already touched upon, as well with regard to Canada and Cuba as the United States. Of really new information the two ample volumes contain very little. New views and new lights are thrown out through the character of the author ; which is that of a middle-aged bachelor, with good animal spirits and a lively turn, rather inclined to quiet comfort than to bustle, noise, and flashy publieity, and with a critical taste upon manners, espe- cially when they inoline towards the coarse or vulgar.

It is chiefly in manners and modes of life that the freshness of the travelling description consists. Mr. Murray disliked the large hotels of the large cities, with the indifferent attendance, from the impossibility of procuring good waiters in the country, the enormous tables d'hôte, where all kinds of luxuries are to be had half cold, and the hurry, clatter, and confusion of the dinner, to say nothing of the gatherings in the hall and at the bar. He therefore betook himself to a smaller hotel, or latterly lodged at a boarding-house, dining at a restaurateur's or with his friends. He differs from several late travellers in his estimate of the railway carriages ; for most people censure the management. He found the freedom of ingress and egress at either end with the central walk somewhat of an annoyance; the perambulating boys with journals, and what not, a nuisance; the accommodation not good, and the absence of class in the trains a source of distasteful incon- venience. In the Southern and Middle Western States,—for Mr. Murray saw Cincinnati, and penetrated as far as Illinois, descend- ing by the river navigation to New Orleans,—he found the spit- ting, the language, the manners, quite as bad as they have ever been described, if indeed they do not seem worse. These things, he says, are quite as offensive to the gentlemen of America as to any other person; • but they are compelled to submit to the ma- jority, or at least they do. He also bears testimony to that indif- ference to human life which is said to characterize the South and West—as in fact it does all people where life it very uncertain. In descending to New Orleans, the steamer he had embarked in was sunk, by being run down, and great loss of life ensued among the emigrant passengers; for although no second-class passen- gers are allowed by public opinion, there are "deck" passages for emigrants and Negroes. "The crew worked hard enough to rescue all, and to them be every credit for their exertions ; but the indifference exhibited by those who had been snatched from the jaws of death was absolutely appalling. The moment they escaped, they found their way to the bar and the stove, and there they were smoking, drinking, and passing the ribald jest, even before the wreak

• Lands of the Slave and the Free; or Cuba, the United States, and Canada. By the Honourable Henry A. Murray. In two Volumes. Published by Parker and Son.

had gone to pieces or the fate of one-half of their companions had been as- certained. Yet there was a scene before their eyes sufficient, one would have imagined, to have softened the hardest heart and made the most thought- less think. There, among them, at the very stove round which they were gathered, stood one with a haggard eye and vacant gaze, and at his feet clung two half-naked infants ; a quarter of an boar before he was a hale man, a hus- band, with five children ; now he was an idiot and a widower, with two. No tear dimmed his eye, no trace of grief was to be read in his countenance ; though the two pledges of the love of one now no more hung helplessly round his legs, he heeded them not ; they sought a father's smile—they found an idiot's stare. They cried : was it for their mother's embrace, or did they miss their brother and sisters ? Not even the piteous cry of motherless infancy could light one spark of emotion in the widowed husband's breast—all was one awful blank of idiotcy. A wife and three children, buried beneath piles of freight, had found a wretched grave ; his heart and his reason had fled after them— never, apparently, to return.

"Surely this was a scene preeminently calculated to excite in those who were, by their very escape, living monuments of God's mercy, the deepest feelings of gratitude and commiseration ; yet, there stood the poor idiot, as if he had not been; and the jest, the glass, and cigar went on with as much indifference as if the party had just come out of a theatre, instead of provi- dentially escaping from a struggle between life and death. A more perfect exhibition of heartlessness cannot be conceived, nor do I believe any other

part of the world could produce its equal • • • • "As far as I could ascertain, all the first-class passengers were saved. Do not stare at the word first-class, for although in this country of so-called equality no difference of classes is acknowledged, poor helpless emigrants are taken as deck-passengers, and as freight is the great object, no space is set apart for them ; they are stowed away among the cargo as best they can be, with no avenue of escape in case of accidents, and with the additional pros- pect of being buried beneath bales and barrels. I believe fifteen passengers perished in this way : one poor Englishwoman among the deck-passengers fought her way through the freight, and, after being nearly drowned and trampled to death under the hoofs of the cattle, succeeded in escaping. A slave-merchant with a dozen Negroes managed to save all of them, inasmuch as, being valuable, he had them stowed away in a better place."

In travelling through so great an extent of country, some pe- culiar information, some new views, or some good anecdotes, must be obtained. A plank road is not a new subject, but this is a full account of how to make it.

"While driving about in this neighbourhood, I saw, for the first time, what is termed a plank road,' a system which has been introduced into the United States from Canada. The method of construction is very simple ; con- sisting of two stringers of oak, two inches square, across which are laid three- inch planks, eight feet long, and generally of hemlock or pine. No spiking of the planks into the stringers is required, and a thin layer of sand or soil being laid over all, the road is made; and as the material for construction is carried along as the work progresses, the rapidity of execution is astonishing: when completed, it is as smooth as a bowling-green. The only objection I ever heard to these roads is, that the jarring sensation produced by them is very injurious to the horses' legs : but it can hardly be thought that, if the cart were up to the axle and the horse to the belly-band in a good clay soil, any advantage would be derived from such a primitive state of things. Taking an average, the roads may be said to last from eight to ten years, and cost about 330/. a mile. Those in Canada are often made much broader, so as to enable two vehicles to pass abreast ; and their cost is a little above 400/. a mile."

The advocates of " cheap " literature have said a good deal about American cheapness. Here is one branch of it on which we have heard but little. The scene is Cincinnati.

"When a steamer is about to start, book-pedlers crowd on board with baskets full of their (generally speaking) trashy ware. Sometimes these pedlers are grown-up men, but generally boys about twelve or fourteen years of age. On going up to one of these latter, what was my astonishment to find in his basket volume after volume of publications such as llolywell Street scarce ever dared to exhibit ; these he offered and commended with the most unblushing effrontery. The first lad having such a collection, I thought I would look at the others, to see if their baskets were similarly sup- plied: I found them all alike without exception. I then became curious to know if these debauched little urchins found any purchasers; and, to ascer- tain the fact, I ensconced myself among some of the freight, and watched one of them. Presently, a passenger came up, and these books were brought to his notice ; he looked cautiously round, and thinking himself unobserved, he began to examine them. The lad, finding the bait had taken, then looked cautiously round on his side, and stealthily drew two more books from his breast, evidently of the same kind, and it is reasonable to suppose infinitely worse. After a careful examination of the various volumes, the passenger pulled out his purse, paid his money, and walked off with eight of these Holy well Street publications, taking them immediately into his cabin. I saw one or two more purchasers before I left my conceal- ment. And now I may as well observe, that the Bale of these works is not confined to one place ; wherever I went on board a steamer, I was sure to find boys with baskets of books, and among them many of the kind above alluded to. In talking to an American gentleman on this subject, he told me that it was indeed but too common a practice, although by law nominally prohibited ; and he further added, that once asking a vendor why he had such blackguard books which nobody would buy, he took up one of the worst and said, Why, sir, this book is so eagerly sought after, that I have the utmost difficulty in keeping up the requisite supply.' It is a melancholy reflection, that in a country where education is at every one's door, and po- verty at no one's, such unblushing exhibitions of immorality should exist."

A considerable part of the second volume does not relate to travels, but to the conclusions drawn from travelling observations, assisted by matter derived from books. The subjects expounded by Mr. Murray are—the press ; canals and railroads; slavery; the constitution of America; religion, education, and law ; with sundry smaller topics, chiefly touching on American peculiarities. The chapters on slavery discuss the question in a fair and moderate tone—perhaps too moderate ; for to excuse slavery on the plea that England introduced the practice, would amount to a justifica- tion of anything that opinion tolerated or upheld two hundred yeiirs ago, as witchcraft for example. Mr. Murray has also some suggestions for its abolition; which are practicable if imperial power were dealing with subordinate provinces, but not likely to be adopted by sovereign states in the temper of the American Slave States. As in the narrative of travels, there is a good deal that is not new to a person well read in modern books on America, but just or informing remarks are frequently made in the exposi- tional part. This is Mr. Murray's conclusion as to the feeling of respectable America on the war with Russia. "I must not, however, allow the reader to understand from the foregoing remark that there is an universal national antipathy to England ; although, whenever she is brought into juxtaposition with the Republic, it may ap- pear very strongly developed. The most erroneous impressions are at this moment abroad among my countrymen in respect of American sympathies with Russia. Filibusteres, rabid Annexationists, inveterate slaveholders, and rowdies of every class, to which must be added a few ignoble minds who make the grave of conscience a stump' from which to pour forth Bun- combe speeches to catch ephemeral popularity, constitute the body in America who sympathize with Russia. All the intelligence of the North, and a great proportion of that of the South, feel the deepest interest in our success, not merely as descendants of the mother-country, but also became they recognize the war in which we are engaged as a struggle in the cause of liberty. We must neither be deceived by the Filibustero press nor by the accounts we read of vessels laden with arms carrying them to Russia. Those are no more proofs of the national feeling than the building of slave- clippers every year at Baltimore is a proof that the nation wishes to encou- rage the slave-trade. The true feeling of a nation must be sought for far deeper than in the superficial clamour of political demagogues, backed though it be by the applause of gaping crowds, whose worst passions are pandered to for the sake of a transient breath of popularity." That national intelligence which is without national influence is not of much account; nor is that opinion which is unwilling or afraid to oppose its convictions to rampant and rabid prejudice of a kind to be respected. The highest effort of American "intelli- gence" scarcely achieves the cunning of the proverb "to run with the hare and hold with the hounds.'

The travels in Canada and Cuba resemble those in America. They are written with briskness, and are readable, but have little novelty. The character of the gentleman and man of the world is obvious in these parts, as throughout the volumes.