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Washington left a medico as an infant nation appeal and I may add a virtuous Republic but the government of the country has undergone as much change and as everything else and it has now settled down into anything but a pure democracy. They bend our ear travels to America. In the 1820s to the eve of the Civil War. Europeans came to America in a steady flow. They travelled through the United States by an irresistible curiosity. Many of them wrote books about their travels.
To tell Europe what they had seen in the new world of Jacksonian democracy. Some were friendly. Some were highly critical. All women to kill us observers of detail. In the event. Yeah. Written by a Miller professor of American literature at Harvard University. You will meet some of the travelers to America who bend our ear with their criticisms their advice their praise or their philosophy. You already know others are new acquaintances at all times the travellers speak in their own words quoted directly from their writing. They bend our ear is produced and recorded by the Lowell Institute cooperative broadcasting comes under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. Today's encounter is with Captain Frederick Marriott the author of Mr. Midshipman Easy who wrote the diary and America in 1839 in
six volumes. Professor Perry Miller is your host and I write. I have not written this book for the Americans. They have hardly entered my thoughts during the whole time that I've been employed upon it and I'm perfectly indifferent either to their censure all their praise my object in writing these pages is to point out the effects of a democracy upon the models the happiness and the due apportionment of liberty to all classes to show that if in the balance of rights and privileges the scales should turn on one side or the other. How much safer it is. How much more equitable I may add it is that it should preponderance in favor of the intelligent and in lightened portion of the nation. This is how Captain Frederick Marriott explained a diary in America the book he published in 1839 as a result of his travels in this country in 1837
1838. By the way Captain you had a long experience of danger as an officer in the British Navy. You served for how long. From eight you know six to eight hundred thirty. Twenty four years. And you saw a fair amount of action in the Napoleonic wars did you considerable. And later a bit of fighting in India in Burma and 1824 I was in commanded Langrune. You did some rather remarkable deeds as I understand it. Did you not get a medal for jumping overboard at eminent risk of your own life to save the crew but I thought well the Royal Humane Society gave me a little thing. And since 1830 when you resigned from the Navy you have been a successful novelist bookseller. What are your latest blunders. Just before I came to America not published too. I missed Midshipman Easy and Japhet in search of a father. Oh well I will see dog Ike you all must be accustomed to hardship. I take it you've traveled in America mainly by coach was that if it got to the American
stage coaches such as experiences found out to be the most suitable to the American roads and you have not ridden in them five miles before you were along for the delightful springing of four horses upon the level roads of England what seems to be the trouble. The most disagreeable feeling arises from the body of the coach not being up on springs but hung from leather braces running under it and supporting it on each side. And when the roads are bad or US sand or rapidly descend the pitches as they term short heroes the motion is very similar to that of being tossed in a blanket often throwing it up to the top of the coach so as to flatten your hat. If not your head that I suppose was a normal hazard of travel in 1838 Were there other annoyances. I had to travel by coach for six days and nights from Wheeling to Baltimore as it may be supposed I was not a little tired before my journey was half over. I therefore was glad when the coach stopped a few hours to throw off my coat and lie down on a bed. I'd been reposing more than two hours when my dog was
thrown open. I beg your pardon sir but I'm not dress NEVER MIND AND WE DOn't CARE captain. What do wrong. Are you Captain Mariette. Yes I am aware and I reckon I wouldn't allow you to go through our town without seeing you and I have only humans you are the one I want to see the most but I'm highly flattered when I'll just tell you. I'll just sit right down here on your bed and tell you I said to the chap at the bar captain in your house. Yes says he and worries me says I. Oh says he's going into his own room unlocked itself. He's a dirty nourished a crayon and will drink at the bar with other gentlemen. So thought I. I really can't marriage works here and I'll be swamped if he's an aristocrat of the tarnal I'll go around I see. So here I am and you were no aristocrat and I should think not. But permit me to move my feet. All Don't move. Never mind me. Can't know I'm quite comfortable. How do you find
yourself by this time. Very well and I suspicion this much now do you see. I left a good fellow named Jean Cummings down below wishes to see you. I set out to go in at first and come on down to him. Thank you scamp. We don't like you should pass through our town without showing your little American hospitality. Jimmy may go up there get married this is James Calder and pleased to meet you can't imagine Eames I was telling the captain we wish to show him a little less American hospitality. What shall I be gentleman. What do you say. A bottle of Madera Yan stared over him I forgot my beret my experience gentlemen recollect that I should be most happy to take a glass of wine with you but in my own room the wine must be at my expense. And your experience get one hand if it must be I don't care. Your experience they get and if you say so. Well you see we must show you a little American hospitality as I said to Jimmy here down below. Didn't I do it and she did. I can see how that
might be I have never faced in his Majesty's service cap and how did the event end it ended in my hospitable friend's drinking three bottles. And then they shook hands with medicating how happy they should be if I came to the town again and allowed them to show me a little more American hospitality. Such events must have helped to give you an unpleasant impression of the American that had not been Suppose for a moment dined in my net eating this as a sarcasm of an American hospitality in general. There are certainly conditions usually attached to the hospitality if you wish to profit by it to any extent. And one is that you do not venture to find fault with their manners. All that institutions. Thus Captain Frederick Marriott's a diary in America joined in 1839 the line of British conservative criticisms of the United States in the tradition already formulated by his fellow sailor Captain Aull and Imus's trollop. Of course the Americans had by now learned how to defend
themselves against such critics. This is another of those precious specimens of books with which John Bull is now regularly humbugged three or four times a year. This intelligent British officer claims a consideration which is due to a scholar and a gentleman. Oh no he is not the highest exemplary that title. There is no great scope or originality in his speculation nor of any profound insight. And the more refined tone of his work is somewhat marred by the same flippancy and affectation of superior taste which gives such a cut they put in as to so many of his countrymen's written observations. When this country is the theme. But then as Captain Marriott said he was not writing for the Americans. He had another purpose. I wish that the contents of these pages may render those who led away by generous feelings and abstract ideas of right to pause before they consent to grant to those below them. What may appear to be a boon but who in reality prove a source of misery and danger to all parties.
If I've succeeded in the most trifling degree and affecting these and which I consider vitally important to the future welfare to be England if I have in any way assisted the cause of conservatism I'm content. I take it then Captain Marriott that you do not agree with your distinguished countrywoman was how do you know. I do not Miss Martineau asserts that America has solved the great problem that a Republican exist for fifty years. But such is not the case. Why not. It has lasted 50 years. America has proved the time to procure good advantages. A people can govern themselves for fifty years. These fifty years have afforded another proof what is necessary. How short sighted infallible I am and how impossible it is to keep anything in a state of perfection here Washington left America as an infant nation a pure and I may add a virtuous Republic. But the government of the country has undergone as much change as everything else and it is now settled down into anything but a pure democracy. May I interrupt to ask Captain if
by your philosophy of society and of human nature you find this surprising. It could not be otherwise. But a public may be formed and may continue in his SEE existence when regulated by a small body of men. But as men increase and multiply so do they deteriorate. The closer they are packed the more vicious they become and consequently the more vicious become that institutions. And you think we should change the form of our government right here and now in this year 1838 that it must eventually be changed is true but the time of its change must be determined by so many of events hidden in futility which may accelerate or to Todd the conviction that it would be presumptuous for anyone to attempt to name a period when the present form of government will be broken up and the multitude shall separate and re embody themselves under a new institution. All right but before we get into argument about so controversial a topic it is worth asking you Captain Marriott since you are a novelist whether you found the language of
America interesting. The Americans boldly assert that they speak better English than we do. But it is remarkable have it debased the language has become in a short period in America. We'll let you call it debased if you insist but you are a writer and a good one though I have to tell you that in the 20th century you were not much read anymore and you like picture as language now weren't you especially intrigued would to speech of Yankee New England. I had a genuine Yankee story from a New Englander who had migrated to New York and was a passenger with me on the Hudson River steamboat. I was enquiring how severe the winters were and whether the Hudson ever was frozen up why I had to cower my lot up the river. Last winter she got in among the ice was carried down three miles for we could get her out again. Consequences been nothing but ice creams ever since. And now Captain Marriott if you have a good enough sense of humor to appreciate that story you must have found the Yankees at least amusing. I was fascinated with their custom of
whittling what custom whittling. It is a habit arising from the natural restlessness of the American when he's not employed of cutting a piece of stick or anything else with his knife. You've found a habit peculiarly prevalent in New England. Some are so wedded to it from long custom that if they have not a piece of stick to cut they will fit on the back of chairs or anything within their reach. A Yankee shown into a room to await the arrival of another has been known to whittle away nearly the whole of the mantel piece. Lawyers in court whittle away at the table before them and judges will cut through their own bent. Now surely this is one of your English exaggeration not to door in some courts. They put sticks before noted witless to save the furniture. Besides the habit serves a function. The Yankees whittle away when they're making a bargain as it fills up the courses gives them time for reflection and moreover prevents an examination of the continents. But in bargaining like in the game of brag the countenances very carefully watched as an index to the issues. Are you sure you are not pulling our leg.
I was once witness to a bargain made between two respectable Yankees who wish to agree about a fountain. They sat down on a log of wood about three or four feet apart from each other with their faces turned opposite ways. One had a piece of soft wood and was sawing it with his penknife the other had an un bark hickory stick which he was peeling for a walking stick. Well. Would modern and. Yet take Wadley again. And I should think there was a heap of money for this but I have a notion it will never go for 3000 and how there's a fine climate on the north side whereas the sun ripened McCaughan sun shines on all
alike. Not exactly through a grandma healer I can tell you the drive off for me as much as I say if I recollect right. Money not always to be depended upon. Money not always both coming. Yeah I reckon I should make an elegant back you stop one of these pieces. I have a notion this is a Freddie Gray stickers ever come out of the wood. I shouldn't mind $2500 time given it couldn't buy more than six months land ever goes at that price. Well that might sort me. Why do you say that. I spose it must be Shawn it's Sabahi and then come on then let's look around it. I trust they enjoyed their drink. I'm sure the Americans can fix nothing
without a drink. If you meet you drink. If you part you drink. If you close a bug in your drink they quarrel in their drink and they make it up with the drink they drink because it is hot. They drink because it is code. If successful in elections they drink and rejoice. If not they drink and swear they begin to drink early in the morning they leave off late at night. They commence it early in life and they continue it until they drop down into the grave. Do use their own expression the way they drink is quite a caution. But there are temperance societies. Yes but you know what one of my medic and friends said when asked to join was already good for navigation and how did you make out with this national habit Captain Marriott. Well I was always willing to accommodate the Americans in this particular As far as I could but at times I drank much more than I wished is certain yet still I gave most serious offense because I would not drink early in the morning or before dinner. And had I drunk with the more I should have been in the same state
as many of them were which was that is not really so before three or four weeks at a time to come but the subject of Yankee speech if we may. Captain Marriott did you find that the New England girls spoke more classically than the man I employed a Yankee goddess of seven and in interviewing her I asked her if she had followers or sweethearts. Well now I can't exactly say ugh Jesus saw no soul to know it. I reckon MORRIS Yes. Then I sought to know did she work for you long not for long but long enough for a minute of speaking to get on my nerves. The Americans develop on their words when they speak a customer rising I presume from their cautious calculating habits and they've always more or less of a nasal twang. I once asked disco Why do you draw a lot of words in that way. Well I draw all the way from Maine to Georgia rather
than my words. You English people do. I can imagine that a gallant and romantic sailor such as you can hardly help being interested in American women. There are many points the Americans have to a certain degree arrived at that equality which they profess to covet and in no one perhaps more than in the fit distribution of good looks among the women. They are the prettiest in the world. Are they equally charming to talk to. They wish in everything to improve upon the old country as they call us and affect to be excessively defined in their language. The seven words which are never used in America but an absurd substitute is employed. What do you mean. Well I cannot particularized them lest I should be accused of indelicacy myself. But when it Niagara Falls I was escorting a young lady with whom I was on friendly terms but she had been standing on a piece of a rock the better to view the scene when she slipped down and was evidently hurt by the fall. She limped a little and walking home and I said
Did you hurt your leg. Captain how did it go bad if I offended you. Captain Matthews I have you understand that I am a lady and I expect you to conduct yourself as a gentleman and I beg you what have I done to displease you. Captain Matt it is only because I do know you well but I couldn't bring myself to mention this painful subject. But since you are a guest in this country perhaps I should warn you. You know America the wood leg is never mentioned before ladies I apologize for my want of refinement. You see I'm accustomed only to English society. But do tell me as such articles must occasionally a bit of Ferd too even in the most polite circles of America. Perhaps you would inform me by what name I can mention them without shocking the company is use. I'm very much obliged to you. I am not so particular as some people are but I know those who always say of a table or live model
piano. I gather that even before you went home to write your book you spoke your mind rather openly. Did the democracy accept your criticisms. I was denounced everywhere its interests they paraded through the streets. I concluded that with few and remarkable exceptions model courage is almost prostrated emetic and that is a sweeping statement. The most decided specimen I met with to the contrary was at Cincinnati when a large portion of the principal inhabitants ventured to express that opinion contrary to the will of the majority in my defense and boldly proclaim their opinions by inviting me to a public dinner. The newspaper said I was gong cool if being called a coup was all you had dissolve or got it and it couldn't have been so bad. Oh no no generally the press was done right violent about me. It amounted to pure defamation and defamation defamation is the greatest curse of the United States. Let any man rise above his fellows by superior talent let him hold a consistent honest career and he's
exalted only into a pillar to be pelted at and be defiled with all of you. False accusations the basest insinuations are industriously circulated his public and private character are equally a supposed truth is wholly disregarded what you call defamation exists all over the world but it is incredible to what extent this vice is cut it in America. It is a disease which pervades the land which renders every man suspicious and cautious of his neighbor creates. I service and hypocrisy fosters the bitterest and most malignant passions and unceasingly irritates the most sensibility so remarkable among all classes of the American people. This vice as you call it arises out of the political animosities of a free and enlightened people governing them Sams after the hostile feelings have subsided. The Hydra sinks to ripple. This cannot be the case a vice like detraction so congenial to our imperfect natures is not to be confined to one general. It is a vice which when one is called
into action and unchecked by fear of punishment or shame must exist and be fed. It becomes a confirmed habit and the effect upon society is dreadful. Do you really find American society dreadful captain out of it. Who indeed from the prevalence of this vice Society of America appears to be in a state of constant warfare. Indian more fair if everyone is crowded just watching for an opportunity to scout the reputation of his neighbor. They exist in fear and trembling afraid to speak afraid to act or follow their own will. For In America there is no free will. I might point out Captain Marriott that the century after you said the saying certain critics were still suggesting that the spirit of conformity is indeed powerful in America. Supposing then that you are at least partially right. What do you think is the reason the licentiousness of the press feeds the habit but I'm rather inclined to imagine that the real source of it is to be found in the peculiar attitude of your institutions. What do you mean under democracy. There are but two means
by which a man can rise above his fellows wealth and character. And when all are equal and each is struggling to rise above the other. If you cannot rise above another by your own method you can at least so far equalize your condition by pulling down to your own level kept in matter yet. Supposing for a little longer as Mr. narrator loves that you are correct. Do you see any reality that wasn't noticed ocracy at the time of the Independence non-phonetic stock receive Title about a much superior one and had a stock recy of great powerful and leading man who looked up to and imitated it is the wonder of this out of stock or sick that is totally the standard of models in America and it is the revival of it that must restore to the people of the United States the morality they've lost. That's a problem. Pasta side and that is stock is not only not incompatible but absolutely necessary for the duration of a democratic form of government it is the third estate so necessary to preserve the balance of power between the executive and the people
and which has unfortunately disappeared. And that a stock is as necessary for the models as for the government of a nation. Society must have a head to lead it and without that head there will be no fixed standard of morality and things must remain in the chaotic state in which they are at present. Do you think we ever will have an aristocracy. I granted no single people has by its own freewill created an out of stock recy but circumstances will make one in spite of the people and if there is no added stock recy who have power to check a despotism may be the evil arising from the want of it. At present America is the new people. But let them look forward to the time when the population should become denser. What will then be the result of division between the rich and the poor will naturally take place and what is that but the foundation if not the formation of an outer structure say Captain Marriott. You saw something did you not of this filling up of the continent. I saw the immigrants being put ashore all along the banks of Lake Erie.
I watched them carefully counting over their little property and the iron tea kettle to the heavy chest it was their home fortune and invaluable to them. The nest egg by which with industry the children were to rise to affluence. And you saw that other stream coming from North Carolina into Indiana and Illinois every night. The banks of the Ohio lighted up with as high as these caravans consist of two or three covered wagons full of women and children furniture and other necessities each drawn by a team of horses broodmares with food by their sides following half a dozen or more cars flanked on each side but the man with the long rifles on their shoulders. Sometimes a boy or two and a half grown girl on horseback. And you say that these people need an aristocracy to protect them. The Americans possess courage presence of mind perseverance and energy are not these virtues. They may be considered rather as in diamonds than as virtues they are propelling powers which will advance them as a people. And where they regulated and tempted by religious and model feeling would make them
great and good. But without these Act junks they can only become great and vicious Bosche. You're really cool calm calm Captain Marriott. Are you absolutely sure of your prediction. On my first arrival I perceived little difference between the city of New York and one of the principal provincial towns I've been to three weeks in the city and I said that is certainly not much to write about but in a short time I wanted my opinion even in New York. The English appearance of the people wore away my perception of character became more keen. My observance consequently more nice and close and I found that there was a great deal to reflect upon and investigate. And now that you have reflected and investigated tell us frankly what is really your deepest innermost conclusion that America and the American people are indeed an enigma. Travelers to America they banned all.
You've been listening to Captain Frederick MAOIs account of his travels in the United States adopted from a six volume diary in America. I carry Miller the fastener of American look at your Harvard University. The cast included model McLachlan Edward going to John Peters. And Louis Edmonds us Captain Maria. Professor M.O.s and I write our. Original theme music by Raymond Wilding Mike. This has been the fifth broadcast in they bend our ear the stories told by the host of travelers to America during the period from the 1820s to the 1850s in subsequent broadcasts you will meet more such travelers at all times they speak in their own words quoted directly from their writing. Next week an account by an American who went to England and then came back to this country. James Fenimore Cooper.
Air is produced and directed by Allison Ridley for the Lowell Institute cooperative broadcasting Council production supervisor Lawrence Cross cough. This series has been recorded in the studios of station WGBH FM. And produced under a grant from the Educational Television and Radio Center in cooperation with the National Association of educational broadcasters. This is the end where.
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They bent our ear
Captain Frederick Marryat
Producing Organization
WGBH Educational Foundation
Contributing Organization
University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Episode Description
This program focuses on Captain Frederick Marryat and his "Diary In America."
Series Description
Dramatic readings of 14 travelers who came to the United States in 1820-1850 and wrote of what they saw.
Broadcast Date
Marryat, Frederick, 1792-1848--Travel--America.
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: 56-6-5 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:02
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Chicago: “They bent our ear; Captain Frederick Marryat,” 1964-01-14, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed May 29, 2023,
MLA: “They bent our ear; Captain Frederick Marryat.” 1964-01-14. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. May 29, 2023. <>.
APA: They bent our ear; Captain Frederick Marryat. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from