A new American Memory presentation, "American Notes: Travels in America, 1750-1920" is full of nuggets such as this from Latrobe. The presentation comprises 253 published narratives by Americans and foreign visitors recounting their travels in the colonies and the United States and their observations and opinions about American peoples, places and society from about 1750 to 1920. Also included is the 32-volume set of manuscript sources titled "Early Western Travels, 1748-1846," published between 1904 and 1907 after diligent compilation by the distinguished historian and secretary of the Wisconsin Historical Society Reuben Gold Thwaites.
Although many of the authors represented in "American Notes" are not widely known, the collection includes works by major figures such as Matthew Arnold, Fredrika Bremer, William Cullen Bryant, Fran?ois-Ren? de Chateaubriand, William Cobbett, James Fenimore Cooper, J. Hector St. John de Cr?vecoeur, Charles Dickens, Washington Irving, Benjamin Henry Latrobe, Sir Charles Lyell, William Lyon Mackenzie, Andr? Michaux, Thomas Nuttall, Frederick Law Olmsted and Robert Louis Stevenson. The narratives therefore range from the unjustly neglected to the justly famous and from classics of the genre to undiscovered gems. Together, they build a mosaic portrait of a young nation.
Commentary from Charles Dickens notes the following:
"But I may be pardoned, if on such a theme as the general character of the American people, and the general character of their social system, as presented to a stranger's eyes, I desire to express my own opinions in a few words, before I bring these volumes to a close.
"They are, by nature, frank, brave, cordial, hospitable and affectionate. Cultivation and refinement seem but to enhance their warmth of heart and ardent enthusiasm; and it is the possession of these latter qualities in a most remarkable degree, which renders an educated American one of the most endearing and most generous of friends. I never was so won upon, as by this class; never yielded up my full confidence and esteem so readily and pleasurably, as to them; never can make again, in half-a-year, so many friends for whom I seem to entertain the regard of half a life."