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

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

First of August, 1845

Among the holidays of the year, some portion of our people borrow one from another land.1 They borrow what they fain would own, since their doing so would increase, not lessen, the joy and prosperity of the present owner. It is a holiday, not to be celebrated, as others are, with boast, and shout, and gay procession, but solemnly, yet hopefully, in humiliation and prayer for much ill now existing—in faith that the God of good will not permit such ill to exist always—in aspirations to become His instruments for its removal.

We borrow this holiday from England. We know not that she could lend us another such. Her career has been one of selfish aggrandizement. To carry her flag every where where the waters flow, to leave a strong mark of her foot-print on every shore that she might return and claim its spoils, to maintain in every way her own advantage, is and has been her object as much as that of any nation on earth. The plundered Hindoo, the wronged Irish—for ourselves we must add the outraged Chinese (for we look on all that has been written as to the right of that war as mere sophistry2), no less than Napoleon, walking up and down in his ‘tarred green coat’ in the unwholesome lodge at St. Helenan—all can tell whether she be righteous or generous in her conquests. Nay! let myriads of her own children say whether she will abstain from sacrificing, mercilessly, human freedom, happiness, and the education of immortal souls, for the sake of gains in money! We speak of Napoleon, for we must ever despise, with most profound contempt, the paltry use she made of her power on that occasion.—She had been the chief means of liberating Europe from his tyranny,

____________________
1
Britain had abolished slavery at home and in all her colonies effective 1 August 1834.
2
As a result of the Opium War (1840–42), the losing Chinese signed the Treaty of Nanking, which ceded Hong Kong to the British, opened five Chinese treaty ports for British residence and trade, gave British nationals accused of violating Chinese law the right to be tried in British courts, and limited duties on trade goods.
n
Napoleon Bonaparte was banished for life to St. Helena after his defeat at Waterloo during his attempt to regain his rule.

-183-

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