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New York James Fenimore Cooper

New York

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New York has none of this adventitious aid. Both of the Governments, that of the United States and that of the State, have long been taken from her, leaving her nothing of this sort but her own local authorities. But representation forms no part of the machinery of American policy. It is supposed that man is too intellectual and philosophical to need it, in this intellectual and philosophical country, PAR EXCELLENCE. Although such is the theory, the whole struggle in private life is limited to the impression made by representation in the hands of individuals. That which the Government has improvidently cast aside, society has seized upon: and hundreds who have no claim to distinction beyond the possession of money, profit by the mistake to place themselves in positions perhaps that they are not always exactly qualified to fill. Of all social usurpations, that of mere money is the least tolerable--as one may have a very full purse with empty brains and vulgar tastes and habits. The wisdom of thus throwing the control of a feature of society, that is of much more moment than is commonly supposed, into the chapter of commercial accidents may well he questioned

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Some crude attempts have been made to bring the circles of New York within the control of a code prepared and promulgated through the public press. They who have made these abortive attempts have been little aware of the power with which they have to contend. Napoleon himself, who could cause the conscription to enter every man's dwelling, could not bring the coteries of the Faubourg under his influence. In this respect, society will make its own laws, appeal to its own opinions, and submit only to its own edicts. Association is beyond the control of any regular and peaceful government, resting on influences that seem, in a great measure, to be founded in nature--the most inflexible of all rulers. Tastes, conditions, connections, habits, and even prejudices, unite to form a dynasty that never has yet been dethroned. New York is nearer to a state of nature, probably, as regards all its customs and associations, than any other well-established place that could be named. With six hundred thousand souls, collected from all parts of Christendom--with no upper class recognized by, or in any manner connected with, the institutions, it would seem that the circles might enact their own laws, and the popular principle be brought to bear socially on the usages of the town--referring fashion and opinion altogether to a sort of popular will. The result is not exactly what might be expected under the circumstances, the past being intermingled with the present time, in spite of theories and various opposing interests; and, in many instances, caprice is found to be stronger than reason.

We have no desire to exaggerate, or to color beyond their claims, the importance of the towns of Manhattan. No one can better understand the vast chasm which still exists between London and New York, and how much the latter has to achieve before she can lay claim to be the counterpart of that metropolis of Christendom. It is not so much our intention to dilate on existing facts, as to offer a general picture, including the past, the present, and the future, that may aid the mind in forming something like a just estimate of the real importance and probable destinies of this emporium of the New World.

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New York
James Fenimore Cooper

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