Margaret Fuller, Critic: Writings from the New-York Tribune, 1844-1846

By Judith Mattson Bean; Joel Myerson | Go to book overview

[Review of Frederick Von Raumer,
America and the American People]

The list of titles, in whose place we read the &c. should be given to enable the reader to appreciate the degree of independence and candor shown by Von Raumer in speaking of the institutions of his native land and the influence of that government which has delighted to honor him. This is esteemed, abroad, to be very considerable, though it may not make much show beside the standard which easily rises so high in a country happy in the freedom of the press.

If we appreciate this justly, we shall be more likely to be just to the motives and character of our critic, when he comes upon our own ground, for he who knows how to speak truth when it is hard and dangerous, will scarcely fail to do so where it is desirable and easy.

We have read this book with some care, though not with what it claims to make a suitable notice of it. The ground it covers is so large that it would require weeks of studious examination and a detailed review of its several points, even from a person qualified by fairness of disposition, a strong desire to be impartial, and extensive and accurate information throughout the vast range of topics embraced. There are few or no persons fitted to survey Von Raumer's book as ably and fairly, as he has surveyed this country, and from such, if such there are, it would require much time and care. It will get examined piecemeal by those who are competent or interested in its different topics; for ourselves we must be content with comments upon its sense and spirit as a whole.

We must, in the first place, render unhesitating tribute to the excellent spirit and motives of Von Raumer. His desire has been to ascertain and tell the truth, not to sustain theories or satisfy prejudices. He has kept his mind open to new impressions, and has been desirous to ascertain a new standard, for a new form of life. He shows true modesty in his sense of how superficial and defective his scrutiny must be, under the circumstances, and does not overrate the importance of his inferences, either for himself or others. In short, he

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