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The United States represent the highest development of the individual and the public at large. The enlightenment of the moral and intellectual being by means of a school education common to all. Such is the foundation upon which the new world will wreck did store minyan such the means by which the new human being is to be brought forth. They bend our ear travels to America. From the 1820s to the eve of the Civil War. Europeans came to America and a steady flow they travelled through the United States driven by an irresistible curiosity.
Later many of them wrote books about their travels. To tell Europe what they had seen in the New World the Jacksonian democracy. Somewhere friendly somewhere highly critical all women to kill us observers of detail. When they bend our ear. That guy Perry Miller professor of and I can look you are at Harvard University. You meet some of the travelers to America who bent our air with their criticisms their advice their praise or their philosophy. At all times the travellers speak in their own words quoted directly from their writing. They vent our air is produced and recorded by the Lowell Institute cooperative broadcasting Council under a grant from the educational television and radio center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. Today's encounter is with Frederick O'BRIEN On author of the homes of the new world
impressions of America published in New York in 1853. Professor Perry Miller is your host and now a writer. Julie Astor House in New York in October 18 49 became the celebrated Swedish novelist Miss Fredricka Bremmer there to be greeted by Andrew Jackson downing America's foremost landscape gardener. They became friends at once. He's a young man about 30 with dark eyes and dark hair the beautiful brown and softly curling. In short of quite a political appearance you could see in their first conversation downing asked the question Fredricka Bremmer was doing here a thousand times over in the next two years. Mr. Bremmer if you people are coming to welcome you about 70 or 80 ladies and gentlemen Mr. Darling I am not too far from my long voyage to go through
such an ordeal. We must endeavor to do so. All these Americans believe that everything is possible well before they arrive May I ask you for what purpose you have come to America. What do you desire to see. I desire to see the approaching one. Miss Bremmer I beg your pardon did I hear you correctly. The approaching one. There is who has silently advanced our word through time from the beginning. Oh I see. Bloody ages brilliantly splendid epithets are merely dissimilar chambers through which he advances until he reaches that period on the threshold of which he now stands. Contemplated by many with rapture by many too with fear. May I ask Whose is this form before which Thrones totter and earthly purple grows pale men in his original truth formed in the image of God. Did you were you
do do you expect to behold him in the United States. I wish to see humanity as she presents herself in the new world now that she has cast off for the minyan of courts forms and you will know forms which have become oppressive burdens in the Old World. Now that she has here on the new soil erected for herself a kingdom and an asylum for all nations according to no other law than that promulgated in the Christian revelation and within her own breast. So that is the form of humanity you desire to see. I I rather doubt that you shall see it this evening on that evening the 4th of October 1840 and Frederick Abram or indeed not be no man in his original troop but you did see a press of humanity. I had nothing to do but to receive visits to see it or to stand in a grand parlor and merely turn from one to another receiving the salutations and shaking hands with sometimes half a dozen new acquaintances at once. Gentlemen
of all professions and all nations ladies who invite me to their house and home besides a number of letters which I could do no more than merely break open all requests for autographs and so on. Fredricka RAMmers initiation to America on this October was prophetic of her reception everywhere. Her novel is about Sweden with their slow movement and a minimum of action today seem dull but in America they were as widely read as those of Dickens. I'm afraid we shall have to ask Mr. Downing for even the titles of the president's daughter. The neighbors and the home are the most admired in America. Oh yes. You were admired the books became fund of. What sort of person is she. Oh the funniest little ferry person whom one could imagine with Briar Rose still retaining the freshness of the morning.
She is worthy of being the maiden aunt of the whole human race. She was forty eight years of age when she landed in New York and very frail and I was the last she indomitably to travel the length and breadth of the land of Charleston and Georgia to Wisconsin and a barely settled Minnesota to Ohio and New Orleans. And she even took in Cuba. Everywhere she was overwhelmed with hospitality given free passes on trains coaches steam boats and seldom permitted to stay in a hotel in your home. It was while I lived there with you as a sister with her brothers and sisters. They were rich during familiar intercourse with you and without you they could not have been what they now. For without you I could not have become acquainted with the homes of the new Were the home of the New World was the title she gave to her letters when she collected them in 1853. They were immediately translated.
They are outpouring from heart to heart from your homes to my home in speed. When I wrote tight little thought of committing them to the prayer I believe there were some critics who rather doubted your protests broke my mind in America was too much occupied by thoughts of living to think of writing about life. Life was overpowering. You found in our society that stimulating a few Europeans of so far reported it is there in this world anything more wearisome more dismal more unbearable anything more. It took you both body and soul more than a great dinner at New York. As bad as all that Miss Brown I have never heard such a silence as that those great dinners. But in order not to go to sleep I am obliged to eat to eat without being hungry and dishes too which do not agree with me that is why as soon as possible I took was Brimmer up the Hudson by steamboat to my little villa in Newburgh.
Fortunately the October weather was perfect. The river is bright is a me of how different some little vessels glide softly like swimming seagulls on the bosom of the water were over the river in the mountains with the golden woods over the white glittering villages with their church spires and the wooded hills west ATHENE. I missed Stevie all of the Indian summer. Mr. Downing Whence comes this huge Gyptian veil of mist. It comes from the Indians. When I was smoking up pipes of their great Parkins I wish you to have an accurate idea of things you know. I think nobody can tell what is the real cause. Do you not miss the ruins and legends of the rock and moan Oh I like these fresh new scenes which have a vast future. Ruins enough in the Old World. But what those small lights that even from out the dark shadows
of the mountains. They are the cottages of the laborers on the railway not their height wharfs that are peeping out of the rocks and hose the openings to the mouth the horrors we have begun. We Scandinavians know all about it. I begin to see Mr. Darling why you and your wife became so devoted to Mr. Bremmer. You was ordered to Boston I believe. Oh yes I am a New Yorker and not really at home in Boston but people there say complimentary things about my work. Miss Bremen needed no patronage However the Athens of America had read her novels and she met everybody almost as soon as I arrived I had a visit from the Quaker N. poet one of the poorest and most gifted of the poetical mines of the northern states. He has a good exterior in figure is slender and toll or beautiful head with refined features. Eyes full of fire dark complection finds
mire and lively but very nervous man eyes are sure she was a match for all of them. Miss Bremner even thought the ice cold reserve of Ralph Waldo Emerson. And spent four days as his guest in Congress I confess I was a little staggered by the deprecating manner in which he expressed himself about the dozen persons whom I admired. Perhaps you teased him a little as you like to tease me. I'm not certain whether our steadfastness and our pride so little akin to my own did not tempt me to act the fox and the grapes certain it is that Emerson's behavior and manner meet upon me an impression unlike that which other haughty natures produce and which it is easy for me to condemn as such or as such to despise and need a near approximation was as it were imperfect because our characters and views are fundamentally dissimilar from that secret antagonism which exists in me towards
him. Well in spite of my admiration mood at times a week. And this is easily called forth his icy nature repulsive and chilly. When I see one of our young farmers in Sunday clothes I feel the greatest respect for and joy in them because I know what powers and utilities are so meekly warm when I wish to know they know what I would so gladly do. They care and do. The cold gloomy day the rough rocky pasture of the swamps are invitations and opportunities to them. And yet there is no arrogance in their bearing but a perfect gentleness. They know how to take care of cattle how to raise and cure and keep their crops. Why a writer should be vane on a farm and not though the writer admires the farmer and the farmer doesn't admire the writer does not appear nice to him verse and the force and beauty you give to your watch would be nice
if he is your peculiar power over the American mind. Your poetry contains the American character. Well you must not be too good natured. No we have not yet any poetry which can be said to represent the mind of our world. Part of America is not yet come when he has he will sing quite differently. A critic who stands so high that he can look down upon himself. Yes that is excellent. Yes the man still remains an enigma even today but I am still puzzled about that adjective you used a moment ago about life in America being so overpowering that for one thing she means Washington in 1015 to which I also was corridor where we witnessed the debate over the compromise of that year over the admission of California and the Fugitive Slave Law get us carried on with great violence and the stability of the Union was threatened every
day. Misprint I was able to see much of Daniel Webster during this crisis. He often sits next to me at in there. He does not. He is a sallow complection keeps himself much apart from others is silent as a heavy and absent. He has extraordinary I as well. Point and fix their gaze upon you. You seem to be looking to a catechumen for the ancient wisdom. Still he's not very conversational anymore. They say he once was not much of this wisdom comes out into every day conversation and social life. But deep the lies deep enough in that magnificently for it. He seems to me to be one of those whose powers show themselves most beautifully on a great and momentous occasions. And now it showed itself in the Senate. I mark his words carefully
and no more stand by the Constitution and no other justice. Nations I will recognise. Let the consequences to myself be whatever they may I trouble myself about that. No man can suffer too much if they suffer. And if all of the friends of this country's freedom and Constitution toward the end of the speech his cheek acquired the glow of youth his figure became more direct. He seemed slender and full of that city. He stood in for Manly almost Apollo like beauty still calm without any apparent design but as if we posing himself happy and free in the quiet Granger of the song which he had sung. That he had but son
one still more. You know you were not happy about the Great Compromise of 1850 these debates are famous in our history in the past discussions I see nothing new. What I see in them the same bitterness and injustice between political parties as in the kingdoms of yore up the same distrust of each other's honesty of purpose the same passions great and small which make the great man the representatives of the great states frequently like childishly brawling children who have great courage Mr. Bremmer to pass judgment of crowns of giants as Daniel Webster and require neither of the embers as that greatness which I admire in the greatest statesmen of the Old World. Moses. The greatest statesman of the new world has not yet caught Miss Bramlett was so agitated by these scenes that you fled to Emerson for consolation. Unfortunately Mr. Downing you had an eighteenth of no way of comprehending how to our ears her pronouncement sounds like an
inspired prophecy of Abraham Lincoln. But don't we Miss Bremmer. What did Emerson say about the compromise. I met him in the evening at Elizabeth whole hours. I said I must leave the next morning. Oh no you must not think of that I've been proposing to myself to drive you to one of our beautiful little Forest Lakes in the neighborhood and the following day he called for me in a cabriolet which he himself drove and took me by the loveliest road twin. A little leak which lay in the bosom of the Far East. The place looked like a a sanctuary of the kindly divinities of need. Do you remember the name of it. I think it is called warden. It would be. But what do you want to talk about. Mr. Emerson do you consider the intellectual culture of the New England states to have attained its acme might we not see in these our type of the perfected American community.
By no means. There are at this time a number of German isms and other European ideas even ideas from Asia which are now for the first time finding their way into the life of mind and which will there produce new development. Then what do you think of the late political concession especially the Fugitive Slave Law. This filthy enactment was made in the 19th century by people who could read and write. I will not obey it by God. But Mr. Webster did it to preserve the Union. Frankly once and for all the Unionists the flag is hateful and the biggest lie in New York as I passed through a great birthday dinner was given Mr. Webster and all the toasts were to liberty the word liberty and the mouth of Mr. Webster sounds like the word love in the mouth of a cortisone. I know it where the old serpent lives also in the soil of the new world. Call it Mammon worship slavery
despotism mob ocracy or by whatever name you please. Indicative of the principle of selfishness and lies as it lives. It grows here as the tares among the wheat. Here is a spring famous for its excellent water. May I give you a glass of water. How much may be comprised in this gift. Well I've questioned with myself in what consisted this power of Emerson spirit over me while I so much disapproved of his mode of thinking. It is precisely this crystal pure fresh water in his individual character in his writings which has refreshed and will again and yet again refresh me that glass of water carried Mr. runner with renewed confidence into the wild regions of all great magical land of the West with its giant rivers and giant balls and
giant lakes with its valley of the Mississippi and its rocky mountains and its land of gold in the Pacific Ocean with its buffaloes and its golden humming birds. The land which nourishes States is the children of men and where cities grow great in a human life where the watchword of existence is growth progress. This enigmatic promised land this land of the future I now behold. Did it come up to your expectations. No I was again and again tormented with the old tiresome questions how do you like America how do like the States. Does Illinois look according to your expectation. I'm sorry to annoy you again but of course we are curious and preliminary there in that brilliant light it stretched itself our far out into the infinite as far as the eye could discern an
ocean like extent that we have which was sudden flowers asters and generations. Right son flowers nodded and beckoned in the wind as if inviting millions of beings to the festival set out on the rich table of the earth. Yes Miss Bruno you saw it still and to me it was a festival of light. It was a really great and glorious sight to my feeling less common and grander even than Niagara itself. Previous visitors report that travelling in the splendid areas was often a hardship. Were you comfortable with one steamboat captain when he learned my name refused to receive me on board. He said he did not wish to have any authors on his boat who would laugh to scorn his accommodations and it would put him in a boat. This you have to thank Mrs. Trollope and Dickens. But the human spectacle if I may distinguish it from the scenic
you get impression if for a single state in the union is like a perfect realm with almost all the various circumstances and resources of a European Kingdom it excites at the same time both joy and despair. To know that there is an all hands so much that is new and so much which is yet unknown. And so much which I shall never know. But while we are delighted to hear you say these things what may I ask about that great hope. The question may remember having revealed to me that first day in the Astor House or the new humanity in the sight of its future on the soil of the new world. Yes what about that. Have you found a new humanity. It is only just to say that the human being of the new world is not better than he of the old order. He stands on more advantageous ground under more favorable
circumstances as regards free and true development which means that you did not find your millennium in America. The United States represents the highest development of the individual and the public at large. This internal social movement of humanity is assisted from without by the free circulation and communication which is afforded by the numerous navigable rivers of North America upon which thousands of steamboats goal went and still later years by the railroads and telegraphic lines which extend over all parts of America. Yes but even so not the monium. I have still hope although I have lost my faith in the millennium of the great West. Perhaps we should simply have to reconcile ourselves to what many of your countrymen believe the United States are merely an aggregate of in harmonious parts brought together by chance and adhering together by
chance without any organized at all. I hope when I return to Scandinavia I should speak against that opium you know really and want to say no one who has lived for any length of time in the United States with the leisure to study their life can fail to perceive that they are within themselves possessed of a common creative principle of life which is vital in the highest degree and this principle in their religious and civil consciousness. I wonder if you were not exercising the privileges of an imaginative writer that you were not romancing i key with the secret intention of breaking myself loose from fiction. And I am compelled toward it more forcibly than ever in this realistic going on in this so-called realistic country but which has more of a poetical life in it than people have any idea of in Europe.
Here I have experienced more of the romance of life than I have done for many years. We are in the form of Rabat. I'm not one of the men of the West was standing on the shore of the Mississippi when a steamer up in the air on which he exclaimed. By God the Americans are great. How do you live in this country. We never stand still or stay home. The dangers lie in another direction. But this free association is evidently an organizing and conservative principle of life called forced to give law and centralization to the floating atoms to the disintegrated elements grammar. May I ask you when you return to Europe is there any one accomplishment you observe in America that you will tell your countrymen I mean any outstanding achievement. Yes the enlightenment of the moral and intellectual
being by means of a school education common to all. Such is the foundation upon which the New World would erected St. minyan such a means by which the new human being is to be brought forth. So though you appreciate the meaning of steamboats in the telegram I have travelled through the valley of the Mississippi. The future home of more than two hundred and seventy five millions up to the most generous estimate we have had yet most probably but has been or we work here only are to discouraged it is much to be done. A vast and comprehensiveness of this hemisphere the means of communication there are abundance and facility which places them within the reach of every man. The extent of individual freedom the unlimited scope for competition and the nervous temperament of the climate with its stimulating effect upon a race whose inborn energy impels them on wood and carrying all other people along with them even accelerates their speed with the force of the
avalanche onward to the goal or to the day of judgment as to Miss Bremerton. But you explicitly say we must not expect a utopia from America. What then. Fredricka Bremmer shall we do two nations so much as this. Does the admonishing word of Christ seem so applicable. Watch. Travelers to America. They banned our air. You have been listening to the views expressed by the Swedish novelist Frederick Bremmer and her book the homes of the new world. Impressions of America. Published in 1953 as adopted by Perry Miller professor of American literature and Harvard University. The cast included Fred Warren aka Robert Evans John Peters and the victor as Frederick Abram or. Professor Miller was the narrator original theme music by Raymond
Wilding. Mike this has been the final broadcast and they bent our ear the stories told by the host of travelers to America during the period from the 1820s to the 1850s at all times the travelers have spoken in their own words quoted directly from their writing. They bend our ear has been produced and directed by Allison mid-late for the Lowell Institute cooperative broadcasting Council production supervisor Lawrence Cross cause this series was recorded in the studios of station WGBH AF am. And produced under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcaster.
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They bent our ear
Fredrika Bremer
Producing Organization
WGBH Educational Foundation
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program focuses on the writings of Fredrika Bremer and her experiences in the United States.
Other Description
Dramatic readings of 14 travelers who came to the United States in 1820-1850 and wrote of what they saw.
Bremer, Fredrika, 1801-1865--Travel.
Media type
Host: Van Dusen, Henry P. (Henry Pitney), 1897-1975
Producer: Lowell Institute
Producing Organization: WGBH Educational Foundation
Writer: Miller, Perry, 1905-1963
AAPB Contributor Holdings
University of Maryland
Identifier: 56-6-13 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:25
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Chicago: “They bent our ear; Fredrika Bremer,” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 29, 2022,
MLA: “They bent our ear; Fredrika Bremer.” University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. June 29, 2022. <>.
APA: They bent our ear; Fredrika Bremer. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from