Text: Edgar Allan Poe, Critical Notices, Southern Literary Messenger, Vol. II, no. 7, July 1836, 2:???-???


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LIFE ON THE LAKES.

Life on the Lakes: Being Tales and Sketches collected during a Trip to the Pictured Rocks of Lake Superior. By the author of” Legends of a Log Cabin.” New York. Published by George Dearborn.

The name of this book is in shockingly bad taste. After being inundated with the burlesque in the shape of Life in London, Life in Paris, Life at Crockford’s, Life in Philadelphia, and a variety of other Lives, all partaking of caricature, it is not easy to imagine a title more sadly out of keeping than one embracing on the same page this so travestied word Life and the — Pictured Rocks of Lake Superior. We have other faults to find with the work. It contains some ill-mannered and grossly ignorant sneers at Daniel O’Connell, calling him “the great pensioner on the poverty of his countrymen,” and making him speak in a brogue only used by the lowest of the Irish, about “the finest pisanlry in the world.” The two lithographs, (Picture Rocks and La Chapelle) the joint work of Messieurs Burford and Bufford, are abominable in every respect, and should not have been suffered to disgrace the well printed and otherwise handsome volumes. In the manner of the narrative, too, there is a rawness, a certain air of foppery and ill-sustained pretension — a species of abrupt, frisky, and self-complacent Paul Ulricism, which will cause nine-tenths of the well educated men who take up the book, to throw it aside in disgust, after perusing the initial chapter. Yet if we can overlook these difficulties, Life on the Lake, will be found a very amusing performance. We quote from the close of volume the first, the following piquant Indian Story, narrated by an Indian.

As our adventures are thus brought, for the day, to a premature close, suppose I give you an Indian story. If any body asks you who told it me, say you do not know.

Many years ago, when there were very few white men on the lake, and the red men could take the beaver by hundreds upon its shores, our great father, the president, sent a company of his wise men and his warriors to make a treaty with the Chippewas. They did not travel, as the poor Indians do, in small weak canoes; no, they were white warriors, and they had a barge so great she was almost a ship. The warriors of this party, like all our great fathers warriors, were exceeding brave; but among them all, the bravest was he whom the white men called the Major, but the red men called him Ininiwee, or the Bold Man. He was all over brave — even his tongue was brave; and Waab-ojeeg himself never spoke bolder words. For a while the wind was fair and the lake smooth, and the courage of Ininiwee ran over at his mouth in loud and constant boasting. At last they came to the mouth of Grand Marais, and here a storm arose, and one of the wise men — he was tall and large, and, on account of the color of his hair, and for other reasons, the Chippewa? called him Misco-Monedo* — told the warriors of our great father to take off their coats and their boots, so that if the great barge was filled with water, or if she turned over, they might swim for their lives. The words of Misco-Monedo seemed good to the warriors, and they took off their coats and boots, and made ready to swim in case of need. Then they sat still and silent, for the courage of the Major no longer overflowed at his lips; perhaps he was collecting it round his heart. They sat a long while, but at last the guide told them, ’It is over, the warriors are safe.’ Then, indeed, there was great joy among the white men; but Ininiwee made haste to put on his coat and his boots, for he said in his heart, ’If I can get them on before the other warriors, I can say I am brave; I did not take off my boots nor my coal; you are cowards, so I shall be a great chief.’ Ininiwee put on his coat, and then he thought to have put on his boots; but when he tried, the warrior who sat next him in the barge shouted and called for the Misco-Monedo. He came immediately, and saw that Ininiwee, whom they called the Major, in his haste and in his great fright, was trying to put his boot on another man’s leg.”

 


[[Footnotes]]

[The following footnote appears at the bottom of page ???:]

* Red Devil.

 


Notes:

None.


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[S:0 - SLM, 1836] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Works - Criticism - Criticial Notices (July 1836)