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New York James Fenimore Cooper

New York

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That which is true of the towns, in this respect, is equally true of the whole country. A dwelling that has stood half a century is regarded as a sort of specimen of antiquity, and one that has seen twice that number of years, of which a few are to be found, especially among the descendants of the Dutch, is looked upon with some such reverence as is felt by the modern traveller in gazing at the tomb of Cecilia Metella[3] , or the amphitheatre of Verona.[4]

The world has had a striking example of the potency of commerce as opposed to that of even the sword, in the abortive policy of Napoleon[5] to exclude England from the trade of the Continent. At the very moment that this potentate of unequalled means and iron rule was doing all he could to achieve his object, the goods of Manchester found their way into half of his dependent provinces, and the Thames was crowded with shipping which belonged to states that the emperor supposed to be under his control.

As to the notion of there arising any rival ports, south, to compete with New York, it strikes us as a chimera. New Orleans will always maintain a qualified competition with every place not washed by the waters of the great valley; but New Orleans is nothing but a local port, after all--of great wealth and importance, beyond a doubt, but not the mart of America.

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New York is essentially national in interests, position, and pursuits. No one thinks of the place as belonging to a particular State, but to the United States. The revenue paid into the treasury, at this point, comes in reality, from the pockets of the whole country, and belongs to the whole country. The same is true of her sales and their proceeds. Indeed, there is very little political sympathy between the places at the mouth of the Hudson, and the interior--the vulgar prejudice of envy, and the jealousy of the power of collected capital, causing the country to distrust the town.

We are aware that the governing motive of commerce, all over the world, is the love of gain. It differs from the love of gain in its lower aspects, merely in its greater importance and its greater activity. These cause it to be more engrossing among merchants than among the tillers of the soil: still, facts prove that this state of things has many relieving shades. The man who is accustomed to deal in large sums is usually raised above the more sordid vices of covetousness and avarice in detail. There are rich misers, certainly, but they are exceptions. We do not believe that the merchant is one tittle more mercenary than the husbandman in his motives, while he is certainly much more liberal of his gains. One deals in thousands, the other in tens and twenties. It is seldom, however, that a failing market, or a sterile season, drives the owner of the plough to desperation, and his principles, if he have any, may be preserved; while the losses or risks of an investment involving more than the merchant really owns, suspend him for a time on the tenter-hooks of commercial doubt. The man thus placed must have more than a common share of integrity, to reason right when interest tempts him to do wrong.

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New York
James Fenimore Cooper

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