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Diary in America, Series Two   By: (1792-1848)

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Diary in America Series Two, by Captain Marryat.

In the late 1830s Captain Marryat, already a famous literary figure in North America, visited the United States and Canada, writing his observations in two Series of volumes, each containing three books.

These were published in Britain as the six books, but were published in America as two books with small print and thin paper, thus enabling the Diary to be published as two books only. It is from first editions of the American version that we have worked, though we do possess three of the British first edition of six volumes.

While some of the observations are trivial, and some even possibly misleading, there is a great deal of useful fact in these books, making them well worth looking at. There are some tables that may not reproduce well in the PDA version of these books.

Marryat used his knowledge of America to write a novel based in the more southerly part, especially California and Texas.




I believe that the remarks of a traveller in any country not his own, let his work be ever so trifling or badly written, will point out some peculiarity which will have escaped the notice of those who were born and reside in that country, unless they happen to be natives of that portion of it in which the circumstance alluded to was observed. It is a fact that no one knows his own country; from assuetude and, perhaps, from the feelings of regard which we naturally have for our native land, we pass over what nevertheless does not escape the eye of a foreigner. Indeed, from the consciousness that we can always see such and such objects of interest whenever we please, we very often procrastinate until we never see them at all. I knew an old gentleman who having always resided in London, every year declared his intention of seeing the Tower of London with its Curiosities. He renewed this declaration every year, put it off until the next, and has since left the world without having ever put his intention into execution.

That the Americans would cavil at portions of the first part of my work, I was fully convinced, and as there are many observations quite new to most of them, they are by them considered to be false; but the United States, as I have before observed, comprehend an immense extent of territory, with a population running from a state of refinement down to one of positive barbarism; and although the Americans travel much, they travel the well beaten paths, in which that which is peculiar is not so likely to meet the eye or even the ear. It does not, therefore, follow that because what I remark is new to many of them, that therefore it is false. The inhabitants of the cities in the United States, (and it is those who principally visit this country), know as little of what is passing in Arkansas and Alabama as a cockney does of the manners and customs of Guernsey, Jersey, and the Isle of Man.

The other day, one American lady observed that, "it was too bad of Captain Marryat to assert that ladies in America carried pigtail in their work boxes to present to the gentlemen;" adding, "I never heard or saw such a thing in all my life." Very possible; and had I stated that at New York, Philadelphia, Boston, or Charleston, such was the practice, she then might have been justifiably indignant. But I have been very particular in my localities, both in justice to myself and the Americans, and if they will be content to confine their animadversions to the observations upon the State to which they belong, or my general observations upon the country and government, I shall then be content; if, on the contrary, their natural vanity will not allow any remarks to be made upon the peculiarities of one portion of society without considering them as a reflection upon the whole of the Union, all I can say is that they must, and will be annoyed... Continue reading book >>

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