In the 19th Century, the United States was a land of opportunity. Millions of European immigrants flocked to the U.S.A. where it was said the roads were made of gold. John Downe, a weaver from England, was a typical immigrant when he wrote a letter to his wife begging her to cross the Atlantic to join him in the “land of opportunity.”
In his pursuit to convince his wife that America is the best place for the both of them to live, he first tells her specific reasons as to why America is a beneficial place for the couple to reside. He begins his letter by explaining to his wife how much better their life can be in America. It can be inferred that in England, the couple was poor because how he emphasizes the simple ways to find work and food and when he states “ [there was]…nothing but poverty before me.” He begins by telling his wife of the abundance of food in America and how easy it has been for him to obtain it. He also explains how all people are equal in America saying “servants set down at the same table with their masters.”
In the second half of his letter he focuses more compassionately focuses on persuading his wife to leave England and to come to America. By saying that once his wife and children are with him in America, “only then [he] shall be happy.” He appeals to his wife’s emotions by leading her to believe that she will make America perfect for him. He is apologetic in saying to his wife the error he made in leaving without her.
Downe’s tone changes as the letter progresses through the two stages. In the beginning, it has excitement and eagerness as he explains his new situation in the factory and the other benefits. The American money, gallons of cider, food, and other advantages that Downe explains show his enthusiasm of being in America. However, after the first paragraph, Downe starts to speak to his wife in the tone of a husband, instead of a businessman. The tone shifts to be emotional and caring, focusing on his family back in England. He wants the best for them and says it plainly when he states, “I would rather cross the Atlantic ten times than hear my children cry for victuals once.” Finally he has found a job and future that his family can live with and he can live for. Coming to the U.S., he has found happiness and wants his family to have it as well. This in turn would complete Downe’s gratification. Downe ends his letter with a tone and style which concludes what he has been saying. When he says “a man can stand as a man” it emphasizes what America is all about. It is a strong conclusion with passion that his wife will read and hopefully be convinced about this great new land.
“The River-Merchant’s Wife: A Letter,” by Ezra Pound is not only a letter from a woman to her husband, but is also a narrative of a young woman’s sex life. It tells of a river merchant’s wife’s feelings on sex throughout her life and marriage. It also shows how her views change with time and circumstances. The poem starts with her early childhood, and then goes ...
The blending of diction and examples creates two distinct tones which frame Downe’s letter. Downe was evidently a thoughtful husband and father, who risked a new life in order to provide for his family. Hopefully he was successful in reuniting the two.