He [an "enlightened Englishman" on first seeing
America] is arrived on a new continent; a modern society offers
itself to his contemplation, different from what he had hitherto
seen. It is not composed, as in Europe, of great lords who possess
every thing, and of a herd of people who have nothing. Here are no
aristocratical families, no courts, no kings, no bishops, no
ecclesiastical dominion, no invisible power giving to a few a very
visible one; no great manufacturers employing thousands, no great
refinements of luxury. The rich and poor are not so far removed from
each other as they are in Europe. . . .
The next wish of this traveller will be to know
whence came all these people? They are a mixture of English, Scotch,
Irish, French, Dutch, Germans, and Swedes. From this promiscuous
breed, that race now called Americans have arisen. . . .
What then is the American, this new man? He is
either an European, or the descendant of an European, hence that
strange mixture of blood, which you will find in no other country. I
could point out to you a family whose grandfather was an Englishman,
whose wife was Dutch, whose son married a French woman, and whose
present four sons have now four wives of different nations. He is an
American, who leaving behind him all his ancient prejudices and
manners, receives new ones from the new mode of life he has
embraced, the new government he obeys, and the new rank he holds. .
. . The Americans were once scattered all over Europe; here they are
incorporated into one of the finest systems of population which has
ever appeared, and which will hereafter become distinct by the power
of the different climates they inhabit. . . .
But to return to our back settlers. I must tell
you, that there is something in the proximity of the woods, which is
very singular. It is with men as it is with the plants and animals
that grow and live in the forests; they are entirely different from
those that live in the plains. . . . By living in or near the woods,
their actions are regulated by the wildness of the neighbourhood. .