Par. “Mars dote on you for his novices.”
All’s Well that ends Well.
No one, who is familiar with the bustle and activity of an American commercial town, would recognize, in the repose which now reigns in the ancient mart of Rhode Island, a place that, in its day, has been ranked amongst the most important ports along the whole line of our extended coast. It would seem, at the first glance, that nature had expressly fashioned the spot to anticipate the wants and to realize the wishes of the mariner. Enjoying the four great requisites of a safe and commodious haven, a placid basin, an outer harbour, and a convenient roadstead, with a clear offing, Newport appeared, to the eyes of our European ancestors, designed to shelter fleets and to nurse a race of hardy and expert seamen. Though the latter anticipation has not been entirely disappointed, how little has reality answered to expectation in respect to the former. A successful rival has arisen, even in the immediate vicinity of this seeming favourite of nature, to defeat all the calculations of mercantile sagacity, and to add another to the thousand existing evidences “that the wisdom of man is foolishness.”
There are few towns of any magnitude, within our broad territories, in which so little change has been effected in half a century as in Newport. Until the vast resources of the interior were developed the beautiful island on which it stands was a chosen retreat of the affluent planters of the south, from the heats and diseases of their burning climate. Here they resorted in crowds, to breathe the invigorating breezes of the sea. Subjects of the same government, the inhabitants of the Carolinas and of Jamaica met here, in amity, to compare their respective habits and policies, and to strengthen each other in a common delusion, which the descendants of both, in the third generation, are beginning to perceive and to regret.
The communion left, on the simple and unpractised offspring of the Puritans, its impression both of good and evil. The inhabitants of the country, while they derived, from the intercourse, a portion of that bland and graceful courtesy for which the gentry of the southern British colonies were so distinguished did not fail to imbibe some of those peculiar notions, concerning the distinctions in the races of men, for which they are no less remarkable Rhode Island was the foremost among the New England provinces to recede from the manners and opinions of their simple ancestors. The first shock was given, through her, to that rigid and ungracious deportment which was once believed a necessary concomitant of true religion, a sort of outward pledge of the healthful condition of the inward man; and it was also through her that the first palpable departure was made from those purifying principles which might serve as an apology for even far more repulsive exteriors. By a singular combination of circumstances and qualities, which is, however, no less true than perplexing, the merchants of Newport were becoming, at the same time, both slave-dealers and gentlemen.