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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 directed still 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 in a steady flow. They travel through the United States by an irresistible curiosity. Later many of them wrote books about their travels to tell Europe what they had seen the
new world the Jacksonian democracy were friendly. Some were highly critical meticulous observers of detail. When they bend our ear. Harry Miller professor of American the cure at Harvard University. You meet some of the populace to America here with their criticisms their advice their praise or their philosophy at all times the travelers speak in their own words quoted directly from their writing. They bend how IR is produced and recorded by the Lowy 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 and Brahma author of the homes of the new world impressions of America published in New York and the 1853.
Professor Perry Miller is your host and now writer. Julie Astor House in New York in October. 1849 became the celebrated Swedish novelist miss Frederick Abram are there to be greeted by Andrew Jackson downing America's foremost landscape gardener. They became friends at once. He's a young man about 60 with dark eyes and dark hair. Well the beautiful brown and soft like darling. In short I have quite a political appearance. You could see an average guy in those Asian downing asked the question Frederick Abram I was doing here a thousand times over in the next two years. Miss Bremerton. If you people are coming to welcome you. About 70 or 80 ladies and gentlemen Mr. Downing I am much too fatigued from my long voyage to go through such an ordeal. We must endeavor to do so. These Some Americans believe that everything is possible
before they arrive and I ask you. For what purpose you have come to America. What do you desire to see here. I desire to see the approaching one. Mr. Bremmer I beg your pardon did I hear you correctly the approaching one. One there is who has silently advanced onward 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 for which Thrones taught her and earthly purpose grows pale man in his original truth. For in the image of God. You were if 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 dominion of courts forms a new one of 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 problem humanity you desire to see. I I rather doubt that you shall see it this evening on that evening the 4th of October 1840. Bremmer indeed had not been home and in his original group 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 requests for autographs and so on. Fredricka RAMmers initiation America on this October was prophetic of her reception everywhere. Her novels about 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. You know the president's daughter the neighborhoods and the home of the most admired in America. Oh yes you were admired the books became fund of. What sort of person is she now the funniest little ferry person whom one could imagine with Briar Rose still retaining the freshness of the morning. She is worthy of being out 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 traveled the length and breadth of the 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 bugs and seldom permitted to stay and I'll tell you New York home while I live 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. Without you I could not have become acquainted with the whole of the new the whole of the New World was the titles I gave to her letters when she collected them in 1853. They were immediately translated. They are outpouring from heart to heart from your home 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 my mind you know America was too much occupied by thoughts of living to think of writing about life. Life was or overpowering. You found our society that stimulating a few Europeans of so far reported it is there in this world anything more wearisome more dismal more on fear about anything more calculated to kill both body and soul than a great dinner like New York. As bad as all that Miss Brown I have never heard. Just silence at 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 Newburgh. Fortunately the October weather was as bright as a me of how different some little vessels glide softly like
swimming seagulls on the bosom of the water. One for the river in the mountains with the Gordon Woods over the white littering of villages with the church spires and the wooded hills west feel like Misty of the Indian summer. Mr. Downing Whence comes this you Gyptian veil of mist. It comes from the Indian news when I'm smoking their pipes and they're great. 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 rock. Oh I like these fresh new scenes which have a vast future ruins enough in the Old World. But what those small lights that be even from out the dark shadows of the mountains. They are the cottages of the laborers on the railway not their
warships that are peeping out. The rocks don't close the openings to the mouth in the hole as we have been. We Scandinavians know all about it. I begin to see Mr. Dowd a right you and your wife became so devoted to Mr Brymer you were ordered to Boston I believe. Oh yes I'm 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 am 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 or how beautiful head with refined features. Back. I was full of fire dark complection by my own and lively but very nervous man.
She was a match for all of them. Miss Bremner even thought the ice cold reserve of Ralph Waldo Emerson and spend four days as his guest in Congress like. Yes I was a little staggered by the deprecating manner in which he expressed himself about things and persons whom I admire. Perhaps you teased him a little as you like to tease me. I am not certain whether our steadfastness and our pride so little look into my own did not tempt me to act the fox and the grapes. Sir is that Emerson's behavior and manner meet upon me an impression. Unlike that which other Hoffman natures produce and which it is easy for me to condemn as such or as such to despise and 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 spite of my admiration mood at times a week. And this is easily called forth his icy
nature repose even chilly. When I see one of the Young Farmers in Sunday clothes I feel the greatest respect for and joy in them. Because I know what pars and utilities are so meekly warm. What I wish to know they know what I would so gladly do. They care and do the 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 a farmer and not a writer admirers the farmer and the farmer. Doesn't the writer does not 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. We have not yet any poetry which can be said to represent the mind or the part of America is not yet come. When you were saying quite differently critic who stands so high that he can look down upon you. Yes that is excellent. Yes the man still remains an enigma even today. But I am still puzzled about that moment about life in America being so overpowering. But one thing remains Washington in 1850 to which i also a school where we witnessed the debate over the compromise of that year over the admission of California and the Fugitive Slave Law it was carried on with great violence and the stability of the Union was threatened every day. When I was able to see much of Daniel Webster during this crisis he often sits next to me. He does not. He's a sallow
complexion. Much apart from others is silent as a heavy and absent. He has extraordinary I guess when they open and fix their gaze upon you. You seem to be looking to a pact 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 that depth 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. Now it showed itself in the Senate timeline. I mark his words carefully. I will stand by the union and all who stand by. I propose to stand by the Constitution and no
other. Oh. I will do justice to the nation. I will recognize only our country and let the consequences to myself be whatever they may I trouble myself about that no man can suffer too much or won't. If we suffer and if all of the friends of this country's freedom and Constitution toward the end of the speech his cheek acquired the view he speaking became already Rick. He seemed slender and full of the paucity he stood in for Manly almost Apollo like beauty still without any apparent design. But. As if reposing himself happy and free in the quiet Granger of the song which he had. That he had but someone still more. You know you were not happy about the Great Compromise of
1850 these debates are famous in our history in those discussions I see nothing new. What I see and 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. Same passions great and small which make the great man the representatives of the great states frequently like childishly brawling children round red Curry-Demus Brummer to pass judgement of crowns of giants. Daniel Webster and neither of them but there is that greatness which I admire in the greatest statesmen of the world. Moses. The greatest statesman of the new world has not yet come. This brother was so agitated by these scenes that you fled for consolation. Unfortunately Mr. Downing you had and I think there's no way of comprehending how to our ears her pronouncement sounds like an inspired prophecy of Abraham Lincoln. But don't we must remember what
Emerson say about the compromise. I met him in the evening at Elizabeth Hall Rs. 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 upon me in a cabriolet which he himself brought and took me by the loveliest road leak which lay in the bosom of the forest. The place looked like a sanctuary of the kindly divinities of me Do you remember the name of it. I think it's called warden. It would be. But what do you want to talk about. Mr. Carson 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 a miracle community. By no means. There are 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 in this filthy enactment was made in the nineteenth century by people who could read and write I will not obey it. By God Mr. Webster did that to preserve the Union. Frankly once and for all the union is something 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. Word of a day in the mouth of Mr. Webster sounds like the word love in the mouth of a quarter. I know it where the old serpent lives also in the soil of the new world. Call it madmen 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 have a question 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 cooed 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 a great magical land of the West with its giant rivers and giant holes and giant lakes with its valley of the Mississippi and its rocky
mountains and of gold in the Pacific Ocean. It's buffaloes and it's golden hummingbirds. 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 be home let it come up to your expectations. 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 expectations. I'm sorry to annoy you again but of course we are curious pre-history there in that brilliant light it stretched itself far now didn't do the infinite its power as the eye could discern an ocean like extend. That we have which was sudden flowers
asters and generations. I thought some 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 Mr Rimmer you saw it still and thought it was a festival of light it was a really great and glorious sight. From my feeling less common and grander even than Niagara previous visitors report that travelling in these splendid areas was often a hardship where you was comfortable where one steamboat captain when he learned my name refused to receive me on board. He said he did not wish to have any offers on his boat who would laugh to scorn his accommodations and it would put him in a boat. You have to thank Mr. Trollop and like to go if I may distinguish it from the scenic brush 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 I ask about that great hope. The question we remember having revealed to me that first day in the Astor House the new humanity and 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 or he stands on more advantageous ground under more favorable circumstances as regards freedom true development which means that you did not find
your millennium in America. The United States represent the highest development of the individual and the public at large. These 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 go. And still later years by the railroads and telegraphic lines which extend over all parts of America. Yes but even so not the Mamiya. 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 in harmonious parts brought together by chance and adhering together by chance without any organized.
When I returned to Scandinavia I should speak against that and want to say no one who has lived for any length of time in the United States with 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 a religious and civil consciousness. I wonder Mr. Graham if you were not exercising the privileges of an imaginative writer that you are not romancing Heikki with the secret intention of breaking myself loose from fiction and I am compelled toward it more forcibly than ever. Realist going on in this so-called realistic country which has more of a poetical life 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.
I'm not one of the men of the West was standing on the shore of the Mississippi when a steam barrel locked in the air on which he exclaimed. By God the Americans are a great light in this country. We never stand still or stay where the dangers lie in another direction. But this free association is evidently an organizing and conservative principle of life who are forced to give law and centralization to the floating atoms. Truly this integrated elements may I ask you when you return to Europe is there any one accomplishment you observed 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 as a means by which the new human being is to be brought forth. So though you appreciate the meaning of steamboats and the teller I have travelled through the valley of the Mississippi the future home of more than two hundred and seventy five millions of the most generous estimate we have had yet but has been or we work here only arts are discouraged. There is much to be done with this and comprehensiveness of this hemisphere. The means of communication their abundance and facility which places them within the reach of every man. The extent of individual freedom the limited 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 own wood to the gold to the day of judgment and rumor but you explicitly
say we must not expect a utopia from America. What then. Frederick Abram Chung we do nations so much as this does the admonishing wood of Christ seems so applicable. Watch. Travelers to America they bend our ear. You have been listening to the views expressed by the Swedish novelist Frederick Bremmer In her book the homes of the new world. Impressions of America published in 53 as adopted by Perry Miller professor of American literature or Harvard University. The cast included Fred Warren and Robert Evans John Peters and the victor as Frederick Abram or Professor Mina was the narrator original music by Raymond wilding right.
This has been the final broadcast and they bend 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 travellers have spoken in their own words quoted directly from their writing. They bend our ear has been produced and directed by Allison Ridley for the Lowell Institute cooperative broadcasting Council production supervisor Lawrence Cross cars. 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. This is the enemy the B network.
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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.
Series Description
Dramatic readings of 14 travelers who came to the United States in 1820-1850 and wrote of what they saw.
Broadcast Date
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: 00:29:11
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Chicago: “They bent our ear; Fredrika Bremer,” 1964-03-09, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 25, 2024,
MLA: “They bent our ear; Fredrika Bremer.” 1964-03-09. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 25, 2024. <>.
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