Text: Burton R. Pollin, “January 1837 (Texts),” The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe — Vol. V: SLM (1997), pp. 326-358 (This material is protected by copyright)


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[page 326, continued:]

Texts of January [[1837]]

1. William Cullen Bryant. Poems. Fourth Edition.

2. [Beverley Tucker]. George Balcombe.

3. Washington Irving. Astoria.

4. J[eremiah] N. Reynolds. Address on the Subject of a Surveying and Exploring Expedition to the Pacific Ocean and the South Seas.

5. Charles Anthon. Select Orations of Cicero. [page 327, column 1:]

1

BRYANT.

Poems by William Cullen Bryant. Fourth Edition. New York: Harper and Brothers.

Mr. Bryant’s poetical reputation, both at home and abroad, is greater, we presume, than that of any other American. British critics have frequently awarded him high praise, and here, the public press have been unanimous in approbation. We can call to mind no dissenting voice. Yet the nature, and, most especially the manner, of the expressed opinions in this case, should be considered as somewhat equivocal, and but too frequently must have borne to the mind of the poet doubts and dissatisfaction. The edition now before us may be supposed to embrace all such of his poems as he deems not unworthy his name. These (amounting to about one hundred) have been “carefully revised.” With the exception of some few, about which nothing could well be said, we will speak briefly of them one by one, but in such order as we may find convenient.

The Ages, a didactic piece of thirty-five Spenserian stanzas, is the first and longest in the volume. It was originally printed in 1821, With about half a dozen others now included in this collection. The design of the author in this poem is “from a survey of the past ages of the world, and of the successive advances of mankind in knowledge and virtue, to justify and confirm the hopes of the philanthropist for the future destinies of the human race.” It is, indeed, an essay on the perfectability of man, wherein, among other better arguments some in the very teeth of analogy, are deduced from the eternal cycle of physical nature, to sustain a hope of progression in happiness. But it is only as a poem that we wish to examine The Ages. Its commencement is impressive. The four initial lines arrest the attention at once by a quiet dignity of manner, an air of placid contemplation, and a versification combining the extremes of melody and force —

When to the common rest that crowns our days,

Called in the noon of life, the good man goes,

Or full of years, and ripe in wisdom, lays

His silver temples in their last repose —

The five concluding lines of the stanza, however, are not equally effective —

When, o’er the buds of youth, the death-wind blows,

And brights the fairest; when our bitterest tears

Stream, as the eyes of those that love us close,

We think on what they were, with many fears

Lest goodness die with them, and leave the coming years.

The defects, here, are all of a metrical and of course minor nature, but are still defects. The line

When o’er the buds of youth the death-wind blows,

is impeded in its flow by the final th in youth, and especially in death where w follows. The word tears cannot readily be pronounced after the final st in bitterest; and its own final consonants, rs, in like manner render an effort necessary in the utterance of stream which commences the next line. In the verse

We think on what they were, with many fears

the word many is, from its nature, too rapidly pronounced for the fulfilment of the time necessary to give weight to the foot of two syllables. All words of two syllables do not necessarily constitute a foot (we speak now of the Pentameter here employed) even although the syllables be entirely distinct, as in many, very, often, and the like. Such as, without effort, cannot employ in their pronunciation the time demanded by each of the preceding and succeeding feet of the verse, and occasionally of a preceding verse, will never fail to offend. It is the perception of this fact which so frequently forces the versifier of delicate ear to employ feet exceeding what are unjustly called legitimate dimensions. For example. We have the following lines —

Lo! to the smiling Arno’s classic side,

The emulous nations of the West repair!

These verses are exceedingly forcible, yet, upon scanning the latter we find a syllable too many. We shall be told possibly that there should be an elision of the e in the at the commencement. But no — this was not intended. Both the and emulous demand a perfect accentuation. The verse commencing Lo!

Lo! to the smiling Arno’s classic side,

has, it will be observed, a Trochee in its first foot. As is usually the case, the whole line partakes, in consequence, of a stately and emphatic enunciation, and to equalize the time in the verse succeeding, something more is necessary than the succession of Iambuses which constitute the ordinary English Pentameter. The equalization is therefore judiciously effected by the introduction of an additional syllable. But in the lines

Stream, as the eyes of those that love us close,

We think on what they were with many fears,

lines to which the preceding observations will equally apply, this additional syllable is wanting. Did the rhyme admit of the alteration, everything necessary could be accomplished by writing

We think on what they were with many a fear,

Lest goodness die with them and leave the coming year.

These remarks may be considered hypercritical — yet it is undeniable that upon a rigid attention to minutiae such as we have pointed out, any great degree of metrical success must altogether depend. We are more disposed, too, to dwell upon the particular point mentioned above, since, with regard to it, the American Monthly, in a late critique upon the poems of Mr. Willis, has evidently done that gentleman injustice. The reviewer has fallen into what we conceive the error of citing, by themselves, (that is to say insulated from the context) such verses as

The night-wind with a desolate moan swept by.

With difficult energy and when the rod.

Fell through, and with the tremulous hand of age.

With supernatural whiteness loosely fell.

for the purpose of animadversion. “The license” he says “of turning such words as ‘passionate’ and ‘desolate’ into two syllables could only have been taken by a pupil of the Fantastic School.” We are quite sure that Mr. Willis had no purpose of turning them into words of two syllables — nor even, as may be supposed upon a careless examination, of pronouncing them in the same time which would be required for two ordinary, syllables. The excesses of measure are here employed (perhaps without any definite design on the part of the writer, who may have been guided solely by ear) with reference to the proper equalization, of balancing, if we may so term it, of time, throughout an entire sentence. This, we confess, is a novel idea, but, we think, perfectly tenable. Any musician will understand us. Efforts for the relief of monotone will necessarily produce fluctuations in the time of any metre, which fluctuations, if not subsequently counterbalanced, affect the ear like unresolved discords in music. The deviations then of which we have been speaking, from the strict rules of prosodial art, are but improvements upon the rigor of those rules, and are a merit, not a fault. It is the nicety of this species of equalization more than any other metrical merit which elevates Pope as a versifier above the mere couplet-maker of his day, and, on the other hand, it is the extension of the principle to sentences of greater length which elevates Milton above Pope. Knowing this, it was, of course, with some surprise that we found the American Monthly (for whose opinions we still have the highest respect,) citing Pope in opposition to Mr. Willis upon the very point to which we allude. A few examples will be sufficient to show that Pope not only made free use of the license referred to, but that he used it for the reasons, and under the circumstances which we have suggested.

Oh thou! whatever title please thine ear,

Dean, Drapier, Bickerstaff, or Gulliver!

Whether thou choose Cervantes’ serious air,

Or laugh and shake in Rabelais easy chair.

Any person will here readily perceive that the third line

Whether thou choose Cervantes’ serious air,

differs in time from the usual course of the rhythm, and requires some counterbalance in the line which succeeds. It is indeed precisely such a verse as that of Mr. Bryant’s upon which we have commented,

Stream, as the eyes of those that love us close,

and commences in the same manner with a Trochee. But again, from Pope we have —

Hence hymning Tyburn’s elegiac lines

Hence Journals, Medleys, Mercuries, Magazines.

——

Else all my prose and verse were much the same,

This prose on stilts, that poetry fallen lame.

——

And thrice he lifted high the birth-day brand

And thrice he dropped it from his quivering hand.

——

Here stood her opium, here she nursed her owls,

And here she planned the imperial seat of fools.

——

Here to her chosen all her works she shows;

Prose swell’d to verse, verse loitering into prose.

——

Rome in her Capitol saw Querno sit

Throned on seven hills, the Antichrist of wit.

——

And his this drum whose hoarse heroic bass

Drowns the loud clarion of the braying ass.

——

But such a bulk as no twelve bards could raise

Twelve starveling bards of these degenerate days.

——

These are all taken at random from the first book of the Dunciad. In the last example it will be seen that the two additional syllables are employed with a view of equalizing the time with that of the verse,

But such a bulk as no twelve bards could raise —

a verse which will be perceived to labor in its progress — and which Pope, in accordance with his favorite theory of making sound accord with sense, evidently intended so to labor. It is useless to say that the words should be written with elision-starv’ling and degen’rate. Their pronunciation is not thereby materially affected — and, besides, granting it to be so, it may be as well to make the elision also in the case of Mr. Willis. But Pope had no such intention, nor, we presume, had Mr. W. It is somewhat singular, we may remark, en passant, that the American Monthly, in a subsequent portion of the critique alluded to, quotes from Pope as a line of “sonorous grandeur” and one beyond the ability of our American poet, the well known

Luke’s iron crown and Damien’s bed of steel.

Now this is indeed a line of “sonorous grandeur” — but it is rendered so principally if not altogether by that very excess of metre (in the word Damien) which the reviewer has condemned in Mr. Willis. The lines which we quote below from Mr. Bryant’s poem of The Ages will suffice to show that the author we are now reviewing fully appreciates the force of such occasional excess, and that he has only neglected it through oversight in the verse which suggested these observations.

Peace to the just man’s memory —

let it grow Greener with years, and blossom through the flight

Of ages — let the mimic canvass show

His calm benevolent features.

——

Does prodigal Autumn to our age deny

The plenty that once swelled beneath his sober eye?

——

Look on this beautiful world and read the truth

In her fair page.

——

Will then the merciful One who stamped our race

With his own image, and who gave them sway

O’er Earth and the glad dwellers on her face,

Now that our flourishing nations far away

Are spread, where’er the moist earth drinks the day,

Forget the ancient care that taught and nursed

His latest offspring?

——

He who has tamed the elements shall not live

The slave of his own passions.

——

——————— when liberty awoke

New-born, amid those beautiful vales.

——

Oh Greece, thy flourishing cities were a spoil

Unto each other.

——

And thou didst drive from thy unnatural breast

Thy just and brave.

——

Yet her degenerate children sold the crown.

——

Instead of the pure heart and innocent hands —

——

Among thy gallant sons that guard thee well

Thou laugh’st at enemies. Who shall then declare —

&c.

——

Far like the comet’s way thro’ infinite space.

——

The full region leads

New colonies forth.

——

Full many a horrible worship that, of old,

Held o’er the shuddering realms unquestioned sway.

——

All these instances, and some others, occur in a poem of but thirty-five stanzas — yet in only a very few cases is the license improperly used. Before quitting this subject it may be as well to cite a striking example from Wordsworth —

There was a youth whom I had loved so long,

That when I loved him not I cannot say.

Mid the green mountains many and many a song

We two had sung like gladsome birds in May.

Another specimen, and one still more to the purpose may be given from Milton whose accurate ear (although he cannot justly be called the best of versifiers) included and balanced without difficulty the rhythm of the longest passages.

But say, if our Deliverer up to heaven

Must re-ascend, what will betide the few

His faithful, left among the unfaithful herd,

The enemies of truth? who then shall guide

His people, who defend? Will they not deal

More with his followers than with him they dealt?

Be sure they will, said the Angel.

The other metrical faults in The Ages are few. Mr. Bryant is not always successful in his Alexandrines. Too great care cannot be taken, we think, in so regulating this species of verse as to admit of the necessary pause at the end of the third foot — or at least as not to render a pause necessary elsewhere. We object, therefore, to such lines as

A palm like his, and catch from him the hallowed flame.

The truth of heaven, and kneel to Gods that heard them not.

That which concludes Stanza X, although correctly cadenced in the above respect, requires an accent on the monosyllable the, which is too unimportant to sustain it. The defect is rendered the more perceptible by the introduction of a Trochee in the first foot.

The sick untended then

Languished in the damp shade, and died afar from men.

We are not sure that such lines as

A boundless sea of blood and the wild air.

The smile of heaven, till a new age expands.

are in any case justifiable, and they can be easily avoided. As in the Alexandrine mentioned above, the course of the rhythm demands an accent on monosyllables too unimportant to sustain it. For this prevalent heresy in metre we are mainly indebted to Byron, who introduced it freely, with the view of imparting an abrupt energy to his verse. There are, however, many better ways of relieving a monotone.

Stanza VI is, throughout, an exquisite specimen of versification, besides embracing many beauties both of thought and expression.

Look on this beautiful world and read the truth

In her fair page; see every season brings

New change, to her, of everlasting youth;

Still the green soil with joyous living things

Swarms; the wide air is full of joyous wings;

And myriads, still, are happy in the sleep

Of ocean’s azure gulfs, and where he flings

The restless surge. Eternal love doth keep

In his complacent arms the earth, the air, the deep.

The cadences, here, at the words page, swarms, and surge respectively, cannot be surpassed. We shall find, upon examination, comparatively few consonants in the stanza, and by their arrangement no impediment is offered to the flow of the verse. Liquids and the most melodious vowels abound. World, eternal, season, wide, change, full, air, everlasting, wings, flings, complacent, surge, gulfs, myriads, azure, ocean, sail, and joyous, are among the softest and most sonorous sounds in the language, and the partial line after the pause at surge, together with the stately march of the Alexandrine which succeeds, is one of the finest imaginable of finales —

Eternal love doth keep

In his complacent arms, the earth, the air, the deep.

The higher beauties of the poem are not, we think, of the highest. It has unity, completeness, — a beginning, middle and end. The tone, too, of calm, hopeful, and elevated reflection, is well sustained throughout. There is an occasional quaint grace of expression, as in

Nurse of full streams, and lifter up of proud

Sky-mingling mountains that o’erlook the cloud —

or of antithetical and rhythmical force combined, as in

The shock that hurled

To dust in many fragments dashed and strown

The throne whose roots were in another world

And whose far-stretching shadow awed our own.

But we look in vain for something more worthy commendation. At the same time the piece is especially free from errors. Once only we meet with an unjust metonymy, where a sheet of water is said to

Cradle, in his soft embrace, a gay

Young group of grassy islands.

We find little originality of thought, and less imagination. But in a poem essentially didactic, of course we cannot hope for the loftiest breathings of the Muse.

——

To the Past is a poem of fourteen quatrains — three feet and four alternately. In the second quatrain, the lines

And glorious ages gone

Lie deep within the shadow of thy womb.

are, to us, disagreeable. Such things are common, but at best, repulsive. In the present case there is not even the merit of illustration. The womb, in any just imagery, should be spoken of with a view to things future; here it is employed, in the sense of the tomb, and with a view to things past. In Stanza XI the idea is even worse. The allegorical meaning throughout the poem, although generally well sustained, is not always so. In the quatrain

Thine for a space are they —

Yet shalt thou yield thy treasures up at last;

Thy gates shall yet give way

Thy bolts shall fall, inexorable Past!

it seems that The Past, as an allegorical personification, is confounded with Death.

——

The Old Man’s Funeral is of seven stanzas, each of six lines — four Pentameters and Alexandrine rhyming. At the funeral of an old man who has lived out his full quota of years, another, as aged, reproves the company for weeping. The poem is nearly perfect in its way — the thoughts striking and natural — the versification singularly sweet. The third stanza embodies a fine idea, beautifully expressed.

Ye sigh not when the sun, his course fulfilled,

His glorious course rejoicing earth and sky,

In the soft evening when the winds are stilled,

Sinks where his islands of refreshment lie,

And leaves the smile of his departure spread

O’er the warm-colored heaven, and ruddy mountain head.

The technical word chronic should have been avoided in the fifth line of Stanza VI —

No chronic tortures racked his aged limb.

——

The Rivulet has about ninety octo-syllabic verses. They contrast the changing and perishable nature of our human frame, with the greater durability of the Rivulet. The chief merit is simplicity. We should imagine the poem to be one of the earliest pieces of Mr. Bryant, and to have undergone much correction. In the first paragraph are, however, some awkward constructions. In the verses, for example

This little rill that from the springs

Of yonder grove its current brings,

Plays on the slope awhile, and then

Goes prattling into groves again.

the reader is apt to suppose that rill is the nominative to plays, whereas it is the nominative only to drew in the subsequent lines,

Oft to its warbling waters drew

My little feet when life was new.

The proper verb is, of course, immediately seen upon reading these latter lines — but the ambiguity has occurred.

———

The Prairies. This is a poem, in blank Pentameter, of about one hundred and twenty-five lines, and possesses features which do not appear in any of the pieces above mentioned. Its descriptive beauty is of a high order. The peculiar points of interest in the Prairie are vividly shown forth, and as a local painting, the work is, altogether, excellent. Here are moreover, evidences of fine imagination. For example —

The great heavens

Seem to stoop down upon the scene in love —

A nearer vault and of a tenderer blue

Than that which bends above the eastern hills.

——

Till twilight blushed, and lovers walked and wooed

In a forgotten language, and old tunes

From instruments of unremembered form

Gave the soft winds a voice.

——

——— The bee

Within the hollow oak. I listen long

To his domestic hum and think I hear

The sound of the advancing multitude

Which soon shall fill these deserts.

——

Breezes of the south!

Who toss the golden and the flame-like flowers,

And pass the prairie-hawk that poised on high,

Flaps his broad wing yet moves not!

There is an objectionable ellipsis in the expression “I behold them from the first,” meaning “first time;” and either a grammatical or typographical error of moment in the fine sentence commencing

Fitting floor

For this magnificent temple of the sky —

With flowers whose glory and whose multitude

Rival the constellations!

Earth, a poem of similar length and construction to The Prairies, embodies a noble conception. The poet represents himself as lying on the earth in a “midnight black with clouds,” and giving ideal voices to the varied sounds of the coming tempest. The following passages remind us of some of the more beautiful portions of Young.

On the breast of Earth

I lie and listen to her mighty voice;

A voice of many tones-sent up from streams

That wander through the gloom, from woods unseen

Swayed by the sweeping of the tides of air,

From rocky chasm where darkness dwells all day,

And hollows of the great invisible hills,

And sands that edge the ocean stretching far

Into the night — a melancholy sound!

——

Ha! how the murmur deepens! I perceive

And tremble at its dreadful import. Earth

Uplifts a general cry for guilt and wrong

And Heaven is listening. The forgotten graves

Of the heart broken utter forth their plaint.

The dust of her who loved and was betrayed,

And him who died neglected in his age,

The sepulchres of those who for mankind

Labored, and earned the recompense of scorn,

Ashes of martyrs for the truth, and bones

Of those who in the strife for liberty

Were beaten down, their corses given to dogs,

Their names to infamy, all find a voice!

In this poem and elsewhere occasionally throughout the volume, we meet with a species of grammatical construction, which, although it is to be found in writing of high merit, is a mere affectation, and, of course, objectionable. We mean the abrupt employment of a direct pronoun in place of the customary relative. For example —

Or haply dost thou grieve for those that die —

For living things that trod awhile thy face,

The love of thee and heaven, and how they sleep,

Mixed with the shapeless dust on which thy herds

Trample and graze?

The note of interrogation here, renders the affectation more perceptible.

——

The poem To the Apenines resembles, in meter, that entitled The Old Man’s Funeral, except that the former has a Pentameter in place of the Alexandrine. This piece is chiefly remarkable for the force, metrical and moral, of its concluding stanza.

In you the heart that sighs for Freedom seeks

Her image; there the winds no barrier know,

Clouds come and rest and leave your fairy peaks;

While even the immaterial Mind, below,

And Thought, her winged offspring, chained by power,

Pine silently for the redeeming hour.

——

The Knight’s Epitaph consists of about fifty lines of blank Pentameter. This poem is well conceived and executed. Entering the Church of St. Catherine at Pisa, the poet is arrested by the image of an armed knight graven upon the lid of a sepulchre. The epitaph consists of an imaginative portraiture of the knight, in which he is made the impersonation of the ancient Italian chivalry.

——

Seventy-six has seven stanzas of a common, but musical versification, of which these lines will afford an excellent specimen.

That death-stain on the vernal sword,

Hallowed to freedom all the shore —

In fragments fell the yoke abhorred —

The footsteps of a foreign lord

Profaned the soil no more.

——

The Living Lost has four stanzas of somewhat peculiar construction, but admirably adapted to the tone of contemplative melancholy which pervades the poem. We can call to mind few things more singularly impressive than the eight concluding verses. They combine ease with severity, and have antithetical force without effort or flippancy. The final thought has also a high ideal beauty.

But ye who for the living lost

That agony in secret bear,

Who shall with soothing words accost

The strength of your despair?

Grief for your sake is scorn for them

Whom ye lament, and all condemn,

And o’er the world of spirit lies

A gloom from which ye turn your eyes.

The first stanza commences with one of those affectations which we noticed in the poem “Earth.” Matron, the children of whose love, Each to his grave in youth have passed, And now the mould is heaped above The dearest and the last.

——

The Strange Lady is of the fourteen syllable metre, answering to two lines, one of eight syllables, the other six. This rhythm is unmanageable, and requires great care in the rejection of harsh consonants. Little, however, has been taken, apparently, in the construction of the verses

As if they loved to breast the breeze that sweeps the cool clear sky.

And thou shoudst chase the nobler game, and I bring down the bird.

Or that strange dame so gay and fair were some mysterious foe,

which are not to be pronounced without labor. The story is old — of a young gentleman who going out to hunt, is inveigled into the woods and destroyed by a fiend in the guise of a fair lady. The ballad character is nevertheless well preserved, and this, we presume, is nearly every thing intended.

——

The Hunter’s Vision is skilfully and sweetly told. It is a tale of a young hunter who, overcome with toil, dozes on the brink of a precipice. In this state between waking and sleeping, he fancies a spirit-land in the fogs of the valley beneath him, and sees approaching him the deceased lady of his love. Arising to meet her, he falls, with the effort, from the crag, and perishes. The state of reverie is admirably pictured in the following stanzas. The poem consists of nine such.

All dim in haze the mountains lay

With dimmer vales between;

And rivers glimmered on their way

By forests faintly seen;

While ever rose a murmuring sound

From brooks below and bees around.

He listened till he seemed to hear

A strain so soft and low

That whether in the mind or ear

The listener scarce might know.

With such a tone, so sweet and mild

The watching mother lulls her child.

——

Catterskill Falls is a narrative somewhat similar. Here the hero is also a hunter — but of delicate frame. He is overcome with the cold at the foot of the falls, sleeps, and is near perishing- but being found by some woodmen, is taken care of, and recovers. As in the Hunters Vision, the dream of the youth is the main subject of the poem. He fancies a goblin palace in the icy network of the cascade, and peoples it in his vision with ghosts. His entry into this palace is, with rich imagination on the part of the poet, made to correspond with the time of the transition from the state of reverie to that of nearly total insensibility.

They eye him not as they pass along,

But his hair stands up with dread,

When he feels that he moves with that phantom throng

Till those icy turrets are over his head,

And the torrent’s roar as they enter seems

Like a drowsy murmur heard in dreams.

The glittering threshold is scarcely passed

When there gathers and wraps him round

A thick white twilight sullen and vast

In which there is neither form nor sound;

The phantoms, the glory, vanish all

Within the dying voice of the waterfall.

There are nineteen similar stanzas. The metre is formed of Iambuses and Anapests.

——

The Hunter of the Prairies (fifty-six octosyllabic verses with alternate rhymes) is a vivid picture of the life of a hunter in the desert. The poet, however, is here greatly indebted to his subject.

——

The Damsel of Peru is in the fourteen syllable metre, and has a most spirited, imaginative and musical commencement —

Where olive leaves were twinkling in every wind that blew,

There sat beneath the pleasant shade a damsel of Peru.

This is also a ballad, and a very fine one-full of action, chivalry, energy and rhythm. Some passages have even a loftier merit-that of a glowing ideality. For example —

For the noon is coming on, and the sunbeams fiercely beat,

And the silent hills and forest-tops seem reeling in the heat.

——

The Song of Pitcairn’s Island is a sweet, quiet and simple poem, of a versification differing from that of any preceding piece. We subjoin a specimen. The Tahetian maiden addresses her lover.

Come talk of Europe’s maids with me

Whose necks and cheeks they tell

Outshine the beauty of the sea,

White foam and crimson shell.

I’ll shape like theirs my simple dress

And bind like them each jetty tress,

A sight to please thee well,

And for my dusky brow will braid

A bonnet like an English maid.

There are seven similar stanzas.

——

Rispah is a scriptural theme from 2 Samuel, and we like it less than any poem yet mentioned. The subject, we think, derives no additional interest from its poetical dress. The metre resembling, except in the matter of rhyme, that of “Catterskill Falls,” and consisting of mingled Iambuses and Anapaests, is the most positively disagreeable of any which our language admits, and, having a frisky or fidgetty rhythm, is singularly ill-adapted to the lamentations of the bereaved mother. We cannot conceive how the fine ear of Mr. Bryant could admit such verses as,

And Rispah once the loveliest of all

That bloomed and smiled in the court of Saul, &c.

——

The Indian Girl’s Lament and the [[sic]] Arctic Lover have nearly all the peculiarities of the “Song of Pitcairn’s Island.”

——

The Massacre at Scio is only remarkable for inaccuracy of expression in the two concluding lines —

Till the last link of slavery’s chain

Is shivered to be worn no more.

What shall be worn no more? The chain — but the link is implied.

——

Monument Mountain is a poem of about a hundred and forty blank Pentameters and relates the tale of an Indian maiden who loved her cousin. Such a love being deemed incestuous by the morality of her tribe, she threw herself from a precipice and perished. There is little peculiar in the story or its narration. We quote a rough verse —

The mighty columns with which earth props heaven.

The use of the epithet old preceded by some other adjective, is found so frequently in this poem and elsewhere in the writings of Mr. Bryant, as to excite a smile upon each recurrence of the expression.

In all that proud old world beyond the deep —

There is a tale about these gray old rocks —

The wide old woods resounded with her song —

——— and the gray old men that passed —

And from the gray old trunks that high in heaven.

We dislike too the antique use of the word affect in such sentences as

 

———— they deemed

Like worshippers of the elder time that God

Doth walk in the high places and affect

The earth-o’erlooking mountains.

Milton, it is true, uses it — we remember it especially in Comus —

‘Tis most true

That musing meditation most affects

The pensive secrecy of desert cell —

but then Milton would not use it were he writing Comus to-day.

——

In the Summer Wind, our author has several successful attempts at making “the sound an echo to the sense.” For example —

For me, I lie

Languidly in the shade, where the thick turf

Yet virgin from the kisses of the sun

Retains some freshness.

——

All is silent, save the faint

And interrupted murmur of the bee

Settling on the sick flowers, and then again

Instantly on the wing.

All the green herbs

Are stirring in his breath; a thousand flowers

By the road side, and the borders of the brook

Nod gaily to each other.

——

Autumn Woods.

This is a poem of much sweetness and simplicity of expression, and including one or two fine thoughts, viz:

the sweet South-west at play

Flies, rustling where the painted leaves are strewn

Along the winding way.

——

But ‘neath yon crimson tree

Lover to listening maid might breathe his flame,

Nor mark within its roseate canopy

Her flush of maiden shame.

——

The mountains that unfold

In their wide sweep the colored landscape round,

Seem groups of giant kings in purple and gold

That guard the enchanted ground.

All this is beautiful — the sentences italicized especially so. Happily to endow inanimate nature with sentience and a capability of moral action is one of the severest tests of the poet. Even the most unmusical ear will not fail to appreciate the rare beauty and strength of the extra syllable in the line

Seem groups of giant kings in purple and gold.

——

The Distinterred Warrior has a passage we do not clearly understand.

Speaking of the Indian our author says —

For he was fresher from the hand

That formed of earth the human face,

And to the elements did stand

In nearer kindred than our race.

There are ten similar quatrains in the poem.

——

The Greek Boy consists of four spirited stanzas, nearly resembling, in metre, The Living Lost. The two concluding lines are highly ideal.

A shoot of that old vine that made

The nations silent in its shade.

——

When the Firmament Quivers with Daylight’s Young Beam, belongs to a species of poetry which we cannot be brought to admire. Some natural phenomenon is observed, and the poet taxes his ingenuity to find a parallel in the moral world. In general, we may assume, that the more successful he is in sustaining a parallel, the farther he departs from the true province of the Muse. The title, here, is a specimen of the metre. This is a kind which we have before designated as exceedingly difficult to manage.

——

To a Musquito, is droll, and has at least the merit of making, at the same time, no efforts at being sentimental. We are not inclined, however, to rank as poems, either this production or the article on New England Coal.

——

The Conjunction of Jupiter and Venus has ninety Pentameters. One of them

Kind influence. Lo! their orbs burn more bright, can only be read, metrically, by drawing out influence into three marked syllables, shortening the long monosyllable, Lo! and lengthening the short one, their.

June is sweet and soft in its rhythm, and inexpressibly pathetic. There is an illy subdued sorrow and intense awe coming up, per force as it were to the surface of the poet’s gay sayings about his grave, which we find thrilling us to the soul.

And what if cheerful shouts, at noon,

Come, from the village sent,

Or songs of maids, beneath the moon

With fairy laughter blent?

And what if, in the evening light,

Betrothed lovers walk in sight

Of my low monument?

I would the lovely scene around

Might know no sadder sight nor sound.

I know, I know I should not see

The season’s glorious show,

Nor would its brightness shine for me

Nor its wild music flow;

But if, around my place of sleep,

The friends I love should come to weep,

They might not haste to go

Soft airs, and song, and light, and bloom

Should keep them lingering by my tomb.

——

Innocent Child and Snow-White Flower, is remarkable only for the deficiency of a foot in one of its verses.

White as those leaves just blown apart

Are the folds of thy own young heart.

and for the graceful repetition in its concluding quatrain —

Throw it aside in thy weary hour,

Throw to the ground the fair white flower,

Yet as thy tender years depart

Keep that white and innocent heart.

——

Of the seven original sonnets in the volume before us, it is somewhat difficult to speak. The sonnet demands, in a great degree, point, strength, unity, compression, and a species of completeness. Generally, Mr. Bryant has evinced more of the first and the last, than of the three mediate qualities. William Tell is feeble. No forcible line ever ended with liberty, and the best of the rhymes — thee, he, free, and the like, are destitute of the necessary vigor. But for this rhythmical defect the thought in the concluding couplet —

The bitter cup they mingled strengthened thee

For the great work to set thy country free —

would have well ended the sonnet. Midsummer is objectionable for the variety of its objects of allusion. Its final lines embrace a fine thought —

As if the day of fire had dawned and sent

Its deadly breath into the firmament —

but the vigor of the whole is impaired by the necessity of placing an unwonted accent on the last syllable of firmament. October has little to recommend it, but the slight epigrammatism of its conclusion —

And when my last sand twinkled in the glass,

Pass silently from men — as thou dost pass.

The Sonnet To Cole, is feeble in its final lines, and is worthy of praise only in the verses —

Paths, homes, graves, ruins, from the lowest glen

To where life shrinks from the fierce Alpine air.

Mutation, a didactic sonnet, has few either of faults or beauties. November is far better. The lines

And the blue Gentian flower that, in the breeze,

Nods lonely, of her beauteous race the last,

are very happy. A single thought pervades and gives unity to the piece. We are glad, too, to see an Alexandrine in the close. In the whole metrical construction of his sonnets, however, Mr. Bryant has very wisely declined confining himself to the laws of the Italian poem, or even to the dicta of Capel Lofft. The Alexandrine is beyond comparison the most effective finale, and we are astonished that the common Pentameter should ever be employed. The best sonnet of the seven is, we think, that To-. With the exception of a harshness in the last line but one it is perfect. The finale is inimitable.

Ay, thou art for the grave; thy glances shine Too brightly to shine long; another Spring Shall deck her for men’s eyes, but not for thine Sealed in a sleep which knows no wakening. The fields for thee have no medicinal leaf, And the vexed ore no mineral of power; And they who love thee wait in anxious grief Till the slow plague shall bring the fatal hour. Glide softly to thy rest, then; Death should come Gently to one of gentle mould like thee, As light winds wandering through groves of bloom Detach the delicate blossom from the tree. Close thy sweet eyes, calmly, and without pain, And we will trust in God to see thee yet again.

To a Cloud, has another instance of the affectation to which we alluded in our notice of Earth, and The Living Lost.

Whose sons at length have heard the call that comes

From the old battle fields and tombs,

And risen, and drawn the sword, and on the foe

Have dealt the swift and desperate blow,

And the Othman power is cloven, and the stroke

Has touched its chains, and they are broke.

——

Of the Translations in the volume it is not our intention to speak in detail. Mary Magdelen, from the Spanish of Bartoleme Leonardo De Argensola, is the finest specimen of versification in the book. Alexis, from the Spanish of Iglesias, is delightful in its exceeding delicacy, and general beauty. We cannot refrain from quoting it entire.

Alexis calls me cruel —

The rifted crags that hold

The gathered ice of winter,

He says, are not more cold.

When even the very blossoms

Around the fountain’s brim,

And forest walks, can witness

The love I bear to him.

I would that I could utter

My feelings without shame

And tell him how I love him

Nor wrong my virgin fame.

Alas! to seize the moment

When heart inclines to heart,

And press a suit with passion

Is not a woman’s part.

If man come not to gather

The roses where they stand,

They fade among their foliage,

They cannot seek his hand.

——

The Waterfowl is very beautiful, but still not entitled to the admiration which it has occasionally elicited. There is a fidelity and force in the picture of the fowl as brought before the eve of the mind, and a fine sense of effect in throwing its figure on the background of the “crimson sky,” amid “falling dew,” “while glow the heavens with the last steps of day.” But the merits which possibly have had most weight in the public estimation of the poem, are the melody and strength of its versification, (which is indeed excellent) and more particularly its completeness. Its rounded and didactic termination has done wonders: on my heart, Deeply hath sunk the lesson thou hast given And shall not soon depart. He, who, from zone to zone, Guides through the boundless sky thy certain flight In the long way that I must tread alone Will lead my steps aright. There are, however, points of more sterling merit. We fully recognize the poet in Thou art gone — the abyss of heaven Hath swallowed up thy form. There is a power whose care Teaches thy way along that pathless coast — The desert, and illimitable air — Lone, wandering, but not lost. The Forest Hymn consists of about a hundred and twenty blank Pentameters of whose great rhythmical beauty it is scarcely possible to speak too highly. With the exception of the line The solitude. Thou art in the soft winds, no fault, in this respect, can be found, while excellencies are frequent of a rare order, and evincing the greatest delicacy of ear. We might, perhaps, suggest, that the two concluding verses, beautiful as they stand, would be slightly improved by transferring to the last the metrical excess of the one immediately preceding. For the appreciation of this, it is necessary to quote six or seven lines in succession

Oh, from these sterner aspects of thy face

Spare me and mine, nor let us need the wrath

Of the mad unchained elements, to teach

Who rules them. Be it ours to meditate

In these calm shades thy milder majesty,

And to the beautiful order of thy works

Learn to conform the order of our lives.

There is an excess of one syllable in the lines italicized. If we discard this syllable here, and adopt it in the final line, the close will acquire strength, we think, in acquiring a fuller volume.

Be it ours to meditate

In these calm shades thy milder majesty,

And to the perfect order of thy works

Conform, if we can, the order of our lives.

Directness, boldness, and simplicity of expression, are main features in the poem.

Oh God! when thou

Dost scare the world with tempests, set on fire

The heavens with falling thunderbolts, or fill

With all the waters of the firmament

The swift dark whirlwind that uproots the woods,

And drowns the villages.

Here an ordinary writer would have preferred the word fright to scare, and omitted the definite article before woods and villages.

——

To the Evening Wind has been justly admired. It is the best specimen of that completeness which we have before spoken of as a characteristic feature in the poems of Mr. Bryant. It has a beginning, middle, and end, each depending upon the other, and each beautiful. Here are three lines breathing all the spirit of Shelley.

Pleasant shall be thy way, where meekly bows

The shutting flower, and darkling waters pass,

And ‘twixt the o’ershadowing branches and the grass.

The conclusion is admirable —

Go — but the circle of eternal change,

Which is the life of Nature, shall restore,

With sounds and scents from all thy mighty range,

Thee to thy birth-place of the deep once more;

Sweet odors in the sea air, sweet and strange,

Shall tell the home-sick mariner of the shore,

And, listening to thy murmur, he shall deem

He hears the rustling leaf and running stream.

——

Thanatopsis is somewhat more than half the length of The Forest Hymn, and of a character precisely similar. It is, however, the finer poem. Like The Waterfowl, it owes much to the point, force, and general beauty of its didactic conclusion. In the commencement, the lines

To him who, in the love of nature, holds

Communion with her visible forms, &c;.

belong to a class of vague phrases, which, since the days of Byron, have obtained too universal a currency. The verse

Go forth under the open sky and list —

is sadly out of place amid the forcible and even Miltonic rhythm of such lines as —

Take the wings Of morning, and the Barcan desert pierce, Or lose thyself in the continuous woods Where rolls the Oregon But these are trivial faults indeed and the poem embodies a great degree of the most elevated beauty. Two of its passages, passages of the purest ideality, would alone render it worthy of the general commendation it has received.

So live, that when thy summons comes to join

The innumerable caravan that moves

To that mysterious realm where each shall take

His chamber in the silent halls of death,

Thou go not, like the quarry slave at night,

Scourged to his dungeon; but sustained and soothed

By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave

Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch

About him, and lies down to pleasant dream.

——

The hills

Rock-ribbed and ancient as the sun — the vales

Stretching in pensive quietude between —

The venerable woods- rivers that move

In majesty, and the complaining brooks

That make the meadows green — and, poured round all,

Old Ocean’s gray and melancholy waste —

Are but the solemn decorations all

Of the great tomb of man.

Oh, fairest of the Rural Maids! is a gem, of which we cannot sufficiently express our admiration. We quote in full.

Oh, fairest of the rural maids!

Thy birth was in the forest shades;

Green boughs and glimpses of the sky

Were all that met thine infant eye.

Thy sports, thy wanderings when a child

Were ever in the sylvan wild;

And all the beauty of the place

Is in thy heart and on thy face.

The twilight of the trees and rocks

Is in the light shade of thy locks,

Thy step is as the wind that weaves

Its playful way among the leaves.

Thine eyes are springs, in whose serene

And silent waters Heaven is seen;

Their lashes are the herbs that look

On their young figures in the brook.

The forest depths by foot impressed

Are not more sinless than thy breast;

The holy peace that fills the air

Of those calm solitudes, is there.

A rich simplicity is a main feature in this poem — simplicity of design and execution. This is strikingly perceptible in the opening and concluding lines, and in expression throughout. But there is a far higher and more strictly ideal beauty, which it is less easy to analyze. The original conception is of the very loftiest order of true Poesy. A maiden is born in the forest —

Green boughs and glimpses of the sky

Are all which meet her infant eye —

She is not merely modelled in character by the associations of her childhood — this were the thought of an ordinary poet — an idea that we meet with every day in rhyme — but she imbibes, in her physical as well as moral being, the traits, the very features of the delicious scenery around her — its loveliness becomes a portion of her own —

The twilight of the trees and rocks

Is in the light shade of her locks,

And all the beauty of the place

Is in her heart and on her face.

It would have been a highly poetical idea to imagine the tints in the locks of the maiden deducing a resemblance to the “twilight of the trees and rocks,” from the constancy of her associations — but the spirit of Ideality is immeasurably more apparent when the “twilight” is represented as becoming identified with the shadows of her hair.

The twilight of the trees and rocks

Is in the light shade of her locks,

And all the beauty of the place

Is in her heart and on her face.

Feeling thus, we did not, in copying the poem, italicize the lines, although beautiful,

Thy step is as the wind that weaves

Its playful way among the leaves,

nor those which immediately follow. The two concluding verses however, are again of the most elevated species of poetical merit.

The forest depths by foot impressed

Are not more sinless than thy breast —

The holy peace that fills the air

Of those calm solitudes, is there.

The image contained in the lines

Thine eyes are springs in whose serene

And silent waters Heaven is seen —

is one which, we think, for appropriateness, completeness, and every perfect beauty of which imagery is susceptible, has never been surpassed — but imagery is susceptible of no beauty like that we have designated in the sentences above. The latter idea, moreover, is not original with our poet.

In all the rhapsodies of Mr. Bryant, which have reference to the beauty or the majesty of nature, is a most audible and thrilling tone of love and exultation. As far as he appreciates her loveliness or her augustness, no appreciation can be more ardent, more full of heart, more replete with the glowing soul of adoration. Nor, either in the moral or physical universe coming within the periphery of his vision, does he at any time fail to perceive and designate, at once, the legitimate items of the beautiful. Therefore, could we consider (as some have considered) the mere enjoyment of the beautiful when perceived, or even this enjoyment when combined with the readiest and truest perception and discrimination in regard to beauty presented, as a sufficient test of the poetical sentiment we could have no hesitation in according to Mr. Bryant the very highest poetical rank. But something more, we have elsewhere presumed to say, is demanded. Just above, we spoke of “objects in the moral or physical universe coming within the periphery of his vision.” We now mean to say, that the relative extent of these peripheries of poetical vision must ever be a primary consideration in our classification of poets. Judging Mr. B. in this manner, and by a general estimate of the volume before us, we should, of course, pause long before assigning him a place with the spiritual Shelleys, or Coleridges, or Wordsworths, or with Keats, or even Tennyson, or Wilson, or with some other burning lights of our own day, to be valued in a day to come. Yet if his poems, as a whole, will not warrant us in assigning him this grade, one such poem as the last upon which we have commented, is enough to assure us that he may attain it.

The writings of our author, as we find them here, are characterized by an air of calm and elevated contemplation more than by any other individual feature. In their mere didactics, however, they err essentially and primitively, inasmuch as such things are the province rather of Minerva than of the Camenae. Of imagination, we discover much — but more of its rich and certain evidences, than of its ripened fruit. In all the minor merits Mr. Bryant is pre-eminent. His ars celare artem is most efficient. Of his “completeness,” unity, and finish of style we have already spoken. As a versifier, we know of no writer, living or dead, who can be said greatly to surpass him. A Frenchman would assuredly call him “un poete des plus correctes.”

Between Cowper and Young, perhaps, (with both of whom he has many points of analogy,) would be the post assigned him by an examination at once general and superficial. Even in this view, however, he has a juster appreciation of the beautiful than the one, of the sublime than the other — a finer taste than Cowper — an equally vigorous, and far more delicate imagination than Young. In regard to his proper rank among American poets there should be no question whatever. Few — at least few who are fairly before the public, have more than very shallow claims to a rivalry with the author of Thanatopsis.

2

GEORGE BALCOMBE.

George Balcombe. A Novel. New York: Harper and Brothers.

The scene of this novel is laid partly in Missouri, and partly in Virginia. The hero proper of the book that is to say, the object of the narration is a Mr. William Napier of Craiganet, in the Old Dominion — George Balcombe, although the most important of the dramatis personie, being merely what, in critical parlance, is termed the machinery.

The mother of our hero, then, was one of two daughters, the only children of Mr. Raby, a man of great wealth. This wealth, however, consisted principally of property entailed on the possessor’s male descendants, with remainder to a distant English relative. There proved to be no male issue — the wife dying in giving birth to her second daughter, the mother of our hero — and the widower refusing to marry again. Moreover, through scruples of conscience, he declined taking measures for docking the entail, and even when the revolution rendered it invalid, declared his children should not profit by such invalidation. “He accordingly executed a will devising the entailed property to the remainder-man; and this will, properly attested, he transmitted to him in England.” Thus matters stood until the two daughters married, and the birth, in 1799, of a grandson, our hero, excited an interest in the heart of the old gentleman. He claimed the child from its mother, and informed the father that a new will had been made, devising the whole property to be divided into two equal parts — one part for the grandson, the other to be again divided between the two daughters. This will, he added, was in the hands of a confidential friend. The name of the friend was not mentioned, and delicacy forbade inquiry.

It appears that Edward Montague, an orphan protégé of Mr. Raby’s, was the depositary of this instrument. Upon the death of the old gentleman he was applied to. At first he disclaimed any knowledge of the paper; being on oath, how ever, hie owned having once seen it, but denied that he knew what had become of it. In the meantime the devisee under the former testament brought it forward, and, none other appearing, established it. The elder Mr. Napier took no active measures to recover the lost will, and, having inherited nothing from Mr. Raby, all of whose non-entailed property was involved, died just before the ruin of his family became manifest. Upon our hero’s coming of are, therefore, he finds himself penniless. The action of the novel grows out of his search for the missing will.

In the opening of the narrative we are introduced to Napier in a prairie of Missouri. He is in pursuit of Montague, with the vague hope of extorting from him, either by force or guile, some information respecting the document in question. As this beginning evinces the hand of a master, we quote it. The abruptness here is not without object. The attention is attracted at once and rivetted with skill.

At length, issuing from the wood, I entered a prairie, more beautiful than any I had yet seen. The surface, gently undulating, presented innumerable swells, on which the eye might rest with pleasure. Many of these were capped with clumps and groves of trees, thus interrupting the dull uniformity which generally wearies the traveller in these vast expanses. I gazed around for a moment with delight; but soon found leisure to observe that my road had become alarmingly indistinct. It is easy indeed, to follow the faintest trace through a prairie. The beaten track, however narrow, wears a peculiar aspect, which makes it distinguishable even at a distance. But the name of Arlington, the place of my destination, denoted at least a village; while the tedious path which I was travelling seemed more like to terminate in the midst of the prairie than to lead to a public haunt of men. I feared I had missed my way, and looked eagerly ahead for some traveller who might set me right if astray. But I looked in vain. The prairie lay before me, a wide waste without one moving object. The sun had just gone down; and as my horse, enlivened by the shade and the freshness of evening seemed to recover his mettle, I determined to push on to such termination as my path twilight lead to. At this moment a shout from behind reached my car. I turned and saw a man on horseback standing between me and the sky, on the top of the east swell. Through a quarter of a mile off, his figure stood out in such distinct relief, that every limb was conspicuous and well defined on the bright back ground. He was stationary, standing erect in his stirrups, and twisted around, so that his back and his horse’s head were both towards me. After repeating a shout, which I found was a call to a dog, he put his horse in motion, and advanced at a brisk trot. I was now in no hurry, and he soon overtook me.

This rencontre is of essential advantage to our hero. The stranger proves to be George Balcombe, also a protege of old Mr. Raby’s. Mr. N. accompanies him home, and discovers that he is well versed in the family affairs of the Rabys and Napiers; that he is acquainted with the matter of the will; that, with Montague, he was a witness to the instrument; and that Montague reside in the neighborhood. Balcombe believes that M. was the depositary spoken of by old Mr. Raby. Circumstances, also, induce him to think that the paper is still in existence, and in the possession of M. The train of events which have led to this conclusion — a train laid by Balcombe himself — serves admirably to develop his character.

Montague, it seems, was always, even when an open reprobate, superstitious; and, though a great liar, would at no time have sworn to a literal lie. In the interval between the death of Mr. Raby and the establishment of the first will, he became gloomy and serious, and joined the church. Balcombe, who knew his character, could thus easily conceive how the villain might have deemed “ the form of religion and literal truth a sufficient salvo for wronging the dead and plundering the living by moral perjury.” It was probable, he thought, that some plan had been devised, by means of which Montague had spoken the literal truth when he swore in court that “ he knew not what had become of the will.” The document had been handed to him by Mr. Raby in the presence of Balcombe, and a letter received by the latter from the old gentleman, and written just before his decease, a letter full of affection for his grandson, was sufficient assurance that the testament had never been revoked. At the probate of the will found, Balcombe did not appear — being absent from the country and not hearing of the death of Mr. Raby. Upon Montague’s coming, however, to live near him in Missouri, and coming in evidently improved circumstances, with plenty of money, and only affecting to practise law, he immediately suspected the truth, and set on foot a system of observation. One day, having need of eastern funds, he applied to a merchant for the purpose of purchasing a bill on New York. The merchant furnished one drawn by Montague on a house there, for the desired amount, one thousand dollars, and, in the course of conversation, mentioned that M. drew regularly, at the same time every year, on the same house, for the same sum. Here then was an annuity, and the question was — unde derivatiur?

The bill was bought and sent to a correspondent in New York, with instructions to get English funds in payment. This was done, and a draft obtained upon a Liverpool house, accompanied by a letter of advice. The Liverpool correspondent was instructed in like manner to take a draft on Northumberland — this being the shire where resided the remainder-man. This latter draft was also obtained, with a letter of advice, duplicates being furnished in each instance. These several letters ran thus. To George Balcombe, Esq.

Dear Sir, — I wrote you, under date of March tenth, that the bill remitted by you for one thousand dollars, drawn by Edward Montague, on the house of Tompkins and Todd of this city, had been paid by a draft on Bell and Brothers, of Liverpool, England. This draft I remitted, according to your directions, to my friend, John Ferguson, of the house of Ferguson and Partridge, our correspondents there, with instructions to obtain if possible, from the same house, a draft on the country of Northumberland. In this he succeeded, by procuring a draft on Edward Raby, Esq. of that county, for a like amount.

Enclosed you have the seconds of the several bills, and duplicates of the letters of advice accompanying, the same. At my request, Mr. Ferguson waited on Mr. Raby in person. The money was promptly paid, but not without a good deal of grumbling. Nothing very intelligible was said; but Mr. Ferguson could distinguish in the mutterings of Mr. Raby, such words as “harpy,” “rapacious scoundrel,” &c.

Your obedient servant,

JAMES LANGSTON.

New York, June 1, 1820. ——

To Messrs. Bell and Brothers, Merchants, Liverpool.

Gentlemen, — A draft drawn by Edward Montague, Esq. for one thousand dollars, was this day presented, and paid by us in pursuance of your standing instructions. We have accordingly drawn on you in favor of Mr. James Langston of this city, for a corresponding amount. We remain, gentlemen,

Your obedient servants,

TOMPKINS & TODD.

New York, March 9, 1820. ——

To Edward Raby, Esq. of Raby Hall, Northumberland.

Sir, — The draft of Messrs. Tompkins and Todd, on account of Mr. Montague’s annuity, is to hand, and has been duly honored. We have this day drawn on you for the amount, in favor of Mr. John Ferguson, of this place. Hoping that it may be quite convenient for you to meet the draft, and begging a continuance of your favors, we remain, sir,

Your most obedient, humble servants,

BELL & BROTHERS.

Liverpool, April 10, 1820.

Here then Balcombe found his suspicions completely verified. Montague was in receipt of an annuity — an annuity grudgingly paid — and derived from the devisee under the primitive will. There could be little doubt that the money was granted as hush-money by the devisee, Montague still possessing the second testament, and holding it in terrorem. B. was about communicating with Mr. Napier upon this head, when accident threw them together in the prairie. Our hero now receives the benefit of Balcombe’s energy and sagacity in many varied attempts to get possession of the will. Keizer, an original vagabond, is also a most efficient diplomatist and ally. The adventures of the trio in pursuit of the missing document, eminently display, in the author of George Balcombe, that rarest of all qualities in American novelists, and that certainly most indispensable — invention. With permission, we will go through these adventures one by one — doing this with the less scruple, because we intend to do it so briefly as not to interfere with the main interest of the book itself, and because, with this object in view, we have purposely delayed our notice until the volumes had been some time is possession of the public.

In a conversation between Balcombe and Napier, occurring in the early part of the first volume, we learn some particulars in regard to Mary Scott, daughter of Mr. Raby’s overseer. Both Montague and Balcombe, we have already said, were proteges of the old gentleman, and resided atone period in his family. Both were enamored of Mary, who was “beautiful and intelligent — gay, sprightly and impassioned,” and imbued with the spirit of romance. She, however, loved only Montagne, and seeing the necessity of arming Balcombe against himself, frankly told him of her pre-engaged affections. The lover thus rejected, became the friend and confidant. At first, Montague would have been glad to have made Mary his wife; but as his circumstances improved, he discovered that Scott was even poorer than he had supposed, and his selfish heart grew chill at the supposition. A certain elderly maiden too, of wealth, was said to look kindly on him. His visits to Mary, therefore, grew less frequent. In one of them, Balcombe was witness to a circumstance which led him to suspect dishonorable intentions. Suspicion, unfortunately, was not all; it appears that the intentions were accomplished. Balcombe sought a private interview with the villain.

“Montague,” said I, “do you love Mary Scott?”

He hesitated, muttering something about the strangeness of the question.

“Understand him, sir,” said I, “I do not ask your confidence. I would not accept it. I demand to know the fact, for my own purposes, and to be used at my own discretion. Mark me. I do not ask whether you profess to love her. I know that you do. I have that from her own lips. I demand to know whether you do love her in very truth.”

“Oh!” said he, in the mildest tone, “if she has made you her confidant, I have no need to be secret. Therefore I acknowledge to you that I do love her with all my heart.”

“Why, then,” said I, “do you not marry her?”

He paused again.

“Speak on,” said I, “and speak out.”

“Why, really, Mr. Balcombe, I do not understand this peremptory tone.”

“You understand it well,” said I, “and you understand perfectly that I will have an answer. I want it for my own purpose, again, and to be used at my own discretion. Answer you shall. Truly or falsely, is your own concern. I hardly expect the truth, and do not care to have it. But I will know on what footing you place this thing.”

“Well!” said he, “you know I have a will of old Mr. Raby’s in my hands, in which I am handsomely provided for by a bequest of valuable lands. I am, therefore, careful not to offend him; and I have reason to believe this marriage would not be agreeable to him. Poor as I am, he would regard it as a duty I owe my ancestors, not to ally myself to his overseer.”

“And is this,” said I, “the reason you assign to her for your delay to claim her hand?”

“It is.”

“Then you have told her what is false.”

“How can you say that?” said he. “I wrote the will. You never read it.”

“That is true,” said I, “but I witnessed it.”

“What of that?”

“Why, this, sir. It is witnessed only by us two. What can you claim under it by your own testimony? Would you, the wary, the crafty, the selfish, rapacious Edward Montague, have been content to have a will of lands, under which you expect to claim, so witnessed? Shame upon you, sir. Would you palm such a bare-faced lie on me, as well as on that poor, confiding, generous, true-hearted girl? I will undeceive her instantly.”

I shall never forget the grim smile in which something like triumph seemed struggling to free itself from the mire of degradation into which 1 was trampling him.

“You will use your own pleasure about that,” said he. “I mean to marry her when circumstances will permit. Before that I cannot.”

“Marry her you never shall,” said I.

“Will you take her off my hands?” said he, with the same incomprehensible smile. I sprung at him, I know not why. But he darted through the door, and jerked it after him. I did not pursue him.

Balcombe now sought Mary, and found her in tears. Still unsuspecting the whole truth, he revealed to her the deception practised upon her by Montague, and concluded with an offer of his own hand. Made sensible now of the value of Balcombe’s affection, and alive to all the villainy of Montague, she divulges, in the first moment of her despair, the secret of her seduction Balcomb’e reluctantly abandons her, and departs to the west. Scott did not long survive the ruin of his daughter’s peace, and Mary, with her mother and little brother, was obliged to seek another home. Here, after the lapse of some time, Montague was seen to renew the visits which had been discontinued since the period of his interview with Balcombe. No one else visited the house — but from being steeped in poverty, the little family seemed rising above pecuniary trouble. This mystery is explained in a subsequent part of the first volume, when, shortly after the rencontre in the prairie, James, the brother of Mary, brings a letter from her to Balcombe in Missouri.

She writes that, after the departure of B. and the death of old Mr. Scott, Montague sought to renew his visits — that she refused to see him, and urged her mother to order him from the house — that Mrs. Scott was overcome, however, by his protestations, and pressed her to meet him — that, without undeceiving Mrs. S., she was unable to carry her opposition farther, and that finally, she consented. In a private interview he stated that Balcombe had misunderstood him, in supposing him to speak of lands, as the property bequeathed, and that no explanation had been offered before because he (Montague) had been forbidden the house by her father. He came now, he said, to offer reparation and marriage. She rejected the offer with scorn — and he left her, after taking measures for the comfort of Mrs. Scott, and the education of little James.

Old Mr. Raby now died, and Mary saw nothing of Montague for two months. She heard from him, indeed, and, though he did not express himself distinctly, she inferred from what he wrote that he had not been disappointed in the will. At length he called to see her, accompanying the English devisee, and requested again a private interview. She remarked a great attraction in his manner, for it was about this time that he joined the church. He professed deep contrition for his wrong to Mary — again offered marriage — offered every service in his power, and, being rejected in all offers, wound up by requesting a favor. He placed in her hand a packet as large as a dozen newspapers, and well secured with twine and seals. This he asked her to keep, and she promised to do so. He begged her to promise farther that no eye should see the contents of the packet. She did so. He mused awhile, and then added, “It is of great importance to me that that packet should never see the light.” “Then why not destroy it?” said Mary. “I don’t wish to destroy it,” said he, “it may be of some importance hereafter. Put it away.” She took it to her room and looked it up. On her return, he rose to take leave, but paused at the door, and said, hesitatingly, “Perhaps you had better destroy that packet.” She replied, “I will do so.” He paused again, and said, “No! — maybe better not.” “As you please,” she returned, “which shall I do?” “I really do not know,” he said, after a thoughtful pause. “Do as you will with it. If it is in your way, throw it into the fire. If not, keep it until I call for it.” He now departed, and Mary, doubting him much, determined to preserve the packet. It will be seen that the conduct of Montague in this matter was such as Balcombe had suspected, and that it enabled the conscientious rogue to swear, when summoned upon the probate, that he “could not tell what had become of the will.”

Mary did not see him again for some months, and he then endeavored to get possession of the packet — first by asking for it as a matter of course — and, upon being refused, by force. He was foiled, however, in his attempt — and left the country with precipitation, after stopping the pension of Mrs. Scott. It was probable that he thought no new provocation could make matters worse. Mary proceeds, in her letter, to inform Balcombe, that thirteen years of seclusion having rendered her totally ignorant of what was going on in the world, and having no one to advise with, she had no means of conjecturing the nature of the mysterious packet. It was obvious to her, however, that its possession or destruction was an object eagerly sought by Montague, and, she doubted not, for some villainous end. Although willing to bear her own lot without murmuring, she felt it her duty to alleviate, if possible, the want she had entailed upon her mother and brother. This, her knowledge of Montague’s earnest desire for the packet, would enable her to accomplish — and she felt no scruple in using such means. We give her plan in her own words.

I have just learned where he is by means of a gentleman, who, for some purpose of his own, has been endeavoring to find him out. About the same time I ascertained by mere chance, that you, my only friend, were in the same part of the country. The coincidence seemed to point out the course 1 should pursue. I would gladly have your counsel, and have determined to secure to myself all the benefits of it by doing nothing that you do not approve. I have accordingly directed

James to find you out, and hand you this letter. He carries one also to Montague, which contains a demand of a suitable provision for my poor mother, and of such aid as may enable James to resume his studies, and qualify himself for a profession. Is this exacting too much? Of that I constitute you sole judge. If you disapprove the measure altogether, send James back as he goes. If you approve it, then I must ask that your justice and honor may preside over what is done. Your knowledge of the past, and of Montague’s present condition, will make you the best judge of what it is suitable he should do. In making this demand, I do not propose to continue to hold the rod over him. It might seem too much like retaining the means of future and indefinite exaction. I have accordingly placed in James’ hands a second communication, the receipt of which will enable Montague to recover the packet. This last will be delivered when you direct it, and not before; and I have to ask that you will direct it when that which is right in your judgement that Montague should do, is done, or so promised as to secure performance . . . Do I then ask too much when I beg that you will yourself see Montague, and hand him the first letter, which James will give you; and that, when he shall have done what is right, you will direct James to deliver to him the parcel with which he is charged. You will perceive to him the parcel with which he is charged. You will perceive that it is not my wish that this poor boy shall understand any think of what is done, lest by possibility he might come to the knowledge of what would drive him to acts of desperate revenge.

Montague having called upon Colonel Robinson, Balcombe father-in-law, with the view of purchasing land, he is there encountered by our hero and Balcombe. In a conversation dexterously introduced and sustained by the latter, the rogue is led to betray himself so egregiously that no farther doubts of his guilt are entertained, or of the surety of the grounds upon which the two friends have to proceed. Keizer is engaged to prevent, by force, if necessary, his departure from the neighborhood — but this is not attempted, and Balcombe and James obtain another interview with him in the woods near a camp meeting. The letter from Mary is handed him by James. It states that she had put the packet out of the reach of his violence, and in the hands of a third person, who would deliver it only on presentation of a certain token, together with the name of the depositary of the packet, was contained in the parcel in James’ possession. Upon reading this letter Montague declares himself ready to do and submit to whatever might be required, upon the condition specified — the receipt of the parcel. Balcombe demands an advance of a thousand dollars, and ten bonds for three hundred each, payable to James Scott at the end of each of ten successive years, with good security to each bond. To this, Montague, having no alternatives, agrees — promising to deliver the money and bonds, and receive the parcel from the hands of James Scott, at the same spot, on the following Saturday evening. His real design, however, is somewhat different. Having decoyed Balcombe and James to the rendezvous, he purposes with the aid of some of his agents, to get possession of the parcel by force, before paying the money; and afterwards with a view of preventing discovery, to carry our friends across the Missouri, and leave them to perish in the wilderness. This design is easily anticipated by Balcombe, who converts it ingeniously to his own advantage. Had he possession of the token handed to James by Mary, it is clear that nothing further would be necessary in order to obtain the missing will. But James has been especially directed to deliver the parcel into no hands but those of Montague — and his scruples are not to be overcome. Neither can B. reconcile it with his conscience to pick James’ pockets while asleep. He determines, therefore, to let M. get possession of his object in the manner designed. This accomplished, he, Balcombe, will have acquired the right to retake it.

Keizer, the wily agent of Balcombe, is bound to that gentleman by many ties of gratitude. Of this Montague is unaware, and having frequently tampered with him in other cases wherein B. had no concern, does not hesitate to seek his assistance in the present scheme of villainy. This also B. has anticipated, and instructs Keizer not to refuse the rogue any service required — lest he might employ other agents.

 

In all this scheming, however, Balcombe is somewhat overreached. Montague discovers, by accident, the league between Keizer and B. — affects to have perfect confidence in the former and appoints as the spot of rendezvous where Balcombe is to be entrapped, a spot at some distance from the true scene of action. By these means Keizer is placed out of the way, and his interference in Balcombe’s favor prevented. It must be understood that (as expected) Montague, before his suspicions of Keizer were aroused, had engaged his services with those of a couple of his Indian friends, for the robbery and abduction of Scott and B., and Balcombe’s plan was to turn the villain’s false allies against himself. Coming, however, with James to the rendezvous, in full assurance that Keizer and the Indians were to be the agents employed against him, B. finds himself in the power of Montague and three unknown desperadoes. Montague, getting possession of the parcel, retires, while the rest of the party hurry off our two friends in the direction of the Missouri.

In the meantime, Keizer, with his Indians, having waited an undue time at the false rendezvous appointed him by Montague, comes at length to a suspicion of the true state of affairs, starts immediately in pursuit, and overtakes the enemy — in good season for a rescue. Two of the villains escape — the third, one Ramsay, is shot dead by an Indian and his body thrown by Keizer into the river.

The time having arrived for the return of Balcombe and Scott, Napier becomes uneasy, and disclosing the matter to Colonel Robinson, they proceed together to Montague’s residence — thinking there to meet with some clue for further proceedings. As they approach, the door opens, and in the darkness they can just see Montague enter. Watching him through a window they perceive him opening the identical parcel of which so much has been said. It contained a casket, and this again a broken ring and a scrap of paper. Napier taps familiarly at the door, and Montague opens it, after being seen to throw the casket hastily in a drawer. Napier approaches the drawer at once, and obtains possession of the treasure. The villain is entirely taken by surprise, and in his terror indicates the route of his agents, professing at the same time his innocence of all designs to commit murder. Taking him with them, the Colonel and Napier proceed to the river, and finding blood, with other similar traces, return home in despair, supposing Balcombe to have perished, when they are agreeably disappointed by his presence, with that of Scott and Keizer and the Indians — not forgetting Montague

The content of the casket are found to be a fragment of a gold ring, and a slip of paper with the words “Mammy Amy, the old housekeeper at Raby Hall.” Montague is dismissed with an injunction from Balcombe to be, forthcoming on the Monday ensuing — an injunction which it was supposed he would be unwilling, under the circumstances, to disobey. Here, however, Balcombe reckons without his host. Although Montague has not the broken ring, yet he has read the slip of paper, and may easily persuade Mammy Amy to deliver him the will. This idea now forces itself upon Balcombe — but too late — for the arch-rogue is already far on his way to Virginia. Lest Balcombe should pursue him, he has managed, by an ingeniously laid trail of circumstances, to bring about his arrest, with that of Scott and Keizer, on a charge of murdering Ramsay. This man it will be remembered, after being shot by one of the Indians, was thrown into the river by Keizer.

The accused party, however, after much difficulty, are admitted to bail, and Keizer starts for St. Louis in pursuit of the runaway — followed the next day by Napier. About half way between St. Charles and St. Louis, our hero encounters K. on his return, attended by a party of men, and with his feet tied together under the belly of his horse. Montague finding his steps dogged by K. in St. Louis, had obtained his arrest as a party to the murder. Napier enters into conversation with one of the company, who proves to be an attorney retained especially by Montague in support of the prosecution. The statement of N. puts this gentleman in possession of the true state of the case, and as Keizer had already been arrested and discharged on bail, he is set free, by means of a habeas corpus, at St. Charles. Montague, however, has effected his escape, and is fairly on his way to Virginia. Nothing is now left but to write to Mary Scott, and trust to the chance of the letter’s reaching her before his arrival.

In the meantime the trial comes on. This is the most interesting, portion of the book — and very different is it indeed from the caricature of judicial proceeding to be met with occasionally in the novels of the day. Fiction, thus admirably managed, has all the force and essential value of truth. And here we cannot bring ourselves to mar the vivid and most ingenious details by any attempt at a digest or paraphrase. Balcombe’s defence is beyond measure acute, and in every respect characteristic — the party are acquitted, however, mainly through the agency of Keizer, who, taking advantage of his bail, crosses the Missouri, and, travelling night and day in search of a material witness, arrives with him just in time for the decision.

Napier now departs for Virginia, accompanied by Balcombe and Keizer. At Cape Girardeau, the whole are arrested. This is done at Montague’s instance. The affidavit being shown, it proves to be a copy of that by means of which Keizer was arrested in a similar manner at St. Louis. Balcombe, however, having taken care to get a duly authenticated record of his acquittal, the villain’s efforts to delay the party are defeated, and they proceed. Just after leaving Wheeling, they are again subjected to danger through the machinations of their arch-enemy, who, on his way home, it appears, has bribed some ostlers, connected with the line of stages, to attack the one carrying our hero.

At length, reaching Craiganet in safety, Balcombe there finds a letter from Mary Scott, detailing events at home since the date of her former communication. The rapidity of Montague’s journey, it appears, defeated his own object. Suspicions were entertained of him on account of James’ non-appearance, and the silence of Balcombe. A few days after the former’s departure for Missouri, old Mrs. Scott died of a paralytic stroke; and, about the same time, Mammy Amy, the housekeeper, was taken ill at Raby Hall. Mary became her nurse, and also (at the request of Major Swann, the steward of the English Mr. Raby) assumed her duties as housekeeper. In this new vocation she continued, the old woman never recovering her activity. Matters were thus situated when Montague made his appearance at the Hall, and entering the old woman’s room, endeavored to obtain from her the packet. Mary suddenly presenting herself, however, the villain is betrayed by his confusion, and fails altogether in his design. He calls again the next day, and again the next, using every artifice to get the packet, and closing with an offer of marriage. Calling in Major Swann, as witness to this offer, Mary desires the hypocrite to repeat it in his presence. With this request, fairly caught, he complies — and having done so, is rejected with disdain. The advantage hereby derived to Mary is of much importance to herself. It entitles her to full credence in the history of her wrongs; and having given this history in full to her kind friends, the Major and his wife, she is received and cherished by them with more than parental affection. The next day Montague again appears, and with a bold face, demanding, in the name of the law, his property of Major Swann, and speaking of a search-warrant. To this the Major replies, that he himself, being a justice of the peace, will furnish him with the necessary authority, upon his calling in the morning. Montague takes the hint, and disappears. In the meantime, Mary receives the letter from Balcombe, and is put au fait in regard to the nature of the packet, and Montague’s anxiety respecting it. She, at first, thought to hand the letter and packet to Major Swann; but it occurred to her that, by so doing, she might place him in a delicate situation, between his duty to his employer, and his duty as a man. She resolved, therefore, to let things talk their course, but at the same time to use effectual measures to keep the packet from falling into Montague’s hands. We here quote a passage of much interest. Mary, it will be remembered, is writing to Balcombe.

Before I gave it to Mammy Amy, I had put it into a small toy trunk, which I locked, keeping the key myself. Near the hearth was a place where a hole had been burned in the floor, and here a short plank had been laid down. This was loose. I took it up, put down the trunk, and, with the broom handle, pushed it away to the wall. I had taken the precaution to tie a bit of tape to the handle, the end of which I left in reach, but too far under to be seen without stooping low, and putting the face to the hole. I did this while my nurse was out, so that I alone knew where it was. Having thus completed my arrangements, I patiently awaited the approach of the enemy. About noon Montague arrived. The constable was already there. Montague was a long time closeted with the Major, I supposed engaged in coining a suitable affidavit. At length they all came together to my room. The kind old gentleman apologized with the utmost courtesy and deference to my feelings, for what he was about to do, and handed me Montague’s affidavit. This testified, that six years ago he lad left at my mother’s a packet, which be described by external marks and seals; that he had reason to believe, and did believe, that I had got possession of it, and that it was secreted somewhere in the house. The search was now commenced, and every corner of the room w as ransacked. Montague took little part in it, but kept his eyes on me, and pointed out suspected places. I became at last impatient of his insolent gaze; I felt my spirit rise, and was conscious of that flash of the eye before which his always quails, even when he sees it in the face of a woman. I now kept my eye on him, and his avoided it, though he occasionally stole a furtive glance. At length, walking across the floor, he felt the loose plank move under his feet. He stooped and raised it. I felt my courage give way; and as he lifted himself up after his short and fruitless search, our eyes met, and I was conscious that mine had blenched. I felt that thick throbbing of the heart which always displays itself in the countenance, and again stole a look at him to see if, he had observed me. He had replaced the plank, and looked on the protracted search with less apparent interest than before. I saw, indeed, that he was weary of its continuance, and he soon expressed himself satisfied. They now left the room — Montague last of. There is no fastening to the door but a large bar, inconveniently heavy, and a slight latch. This caught as he closed the door after him and I was once more alone. I listened a moment, and heard the trampling of many feet, and the sound of many voices die away along the passage. My uneasiness now took its natural course. I ran to the hole and lifted the plank. At the moment the door opened, and Montague reappeared. The sagacity of the cunning wretch had taught him to expect what I would do under the influence of my alarmed and excited feelings. He had stopped at the door while the rest went on, and came in suddenly, as soon as he had allowed time for nature to do her work. He now sprang forward, while I, powerless with alarm, sank into a chair. He stooped down, and looked eagerly along the dark hole, and finally, groping, got hold of the end of the string. He drew it out, and I heard the little trunk come grating along over the laths below. I screamed, and sprang to him. He pushed me back, drew out the trunk, crushed it with his heel, and, seizing the packet, flung it into the fire.

It was a mild October day, and there was just so much fire as an old sworn needs to comfort her rheumatic limbs. I rushed to it to rescue the packet. He seized and held me back, and I struggled, still screaming. The Major, who had missed Montague, and was returning to look for him, alarmed at my cries, hurried back. As soon as I saw him, I exclaimed, “ In the fire — in the fire!” He understood me, and approached the hearth. Montague flung me across the room to my bed, on which I fell half insensible. But I saw Montague rudely seize the Major around the waist, and jerk him back, when, at the moment, Charles, my foster brother, entered. He darted at Montague, and, with one blow of his fist, felled him to the floor. The Major, disengaged, rescued the package from the fire, where its surface only was scorched, and turned to confront Montague, who slowly recovered his feet.

Here Montague’s over-eagerness has again thwarted him. The only result of throwing the packet in the fire is, that the seals and other external marks of identification, sworn to in the affidavit, are melted and burned off. The Major offers, however, to deliver it up upon M’s. identifying the contents. This, of course, the rogue declines, and the packet remains in the Major’s possession, who declares his intention of resigning it, unopened, to the first person who shall show a just claim to it. The scene ends by Montague’s being ordered to quit the premises. Shortly afterwards he attempts to fire the house, but fails, and in escaping, receives a shot through the shoulder.

But the difficulties touching the will are not yet altogether ended. The case is laid before an attorney. As there was no doubt of the result, if the papers could be secured, he determined to take such a course as would at once put them safely into the custody of the law. A bill is drafted, to which Mr. Edward Raby in England is made defendant, setting forth the whole transaction. Major Swann is also made defendant, charged with the possession of the will, and called on to produce it. As anticipated, he disclaims the possession of any such paper, and files the packet with his answer. It is necessary that the papers shall reach the court (at Fredericksburg) without having ever been in possession of Mr. Napier and they are accordingly given in charge of James. Mr. Napier, Balcombe, and Keiser accompany him. On the road, a short distance from Fredericksburg, the party are attacked by Montague, with some of his agents, and in the struggle which ensues, M. is killed by the hand of James, who, having accidentally discovered the secret of his sister’s wrong, has been long burning for revenge. In conclusion — through the instrumentatilty of Keizer, our friends are saved a world of legal trouble, and Mr. Napier’s claims to a large inheritance are finally established.

Thus is given — and given very scantily — only the general thread of the narrative — which is really crowded with incident. We have spoken of no love adventures of our hero — but it must not be supposed that he is therefore without them. They are omitted because altogether episodical — yet they form some of the most truly interesting portions of the book, and certainly the most original. In lieu of speaking farther on this head we copy a passage of rare beauty and full of a rich and meaning philosophy. Napier loves his cousin Ann, with whom his days of childhood and boyhood were spent in unreserved communion. He has reason to think himself beloved — but friends have their own plans to arrange, and a misunderstanding of each other’s true feeling, arises between the lovers. Ann thus allows herself to be plighted to another, thinking the heart of her cousin pre-occupied. Things thus situated, N. as the protector and friend of Ann, speaks to her of her contemplated marriage. The passage we cite occurs in a conversation between Balcombe and Napier. The latter is confided to B. the secret of his love.

“And what answer will you give?” I said.

She hesitated, changed color, trembled, and seemed to restrain her tears with great difficulty. I continued.

“Ann, dear Ann! if you knew how deep an interest I take in this question, you would not withhold the answer. Our lives from infancy have been spent together; each, as it were, a part of the other, ‘like twin cherries growing on one stalk,’ and shall we separate now?”

I saw her bite her lip, and her cheek flushed a little, while her countenance assumed an expression of slight indignation.

“Would you urge me then,” said she, “to accept the hand of Howard?”

“To accept Howard’s hand!” exclaimed I, “to place any man on earth between you and me! Oh, Ann, who can be dearer to you than I have been? And how can I endure that any other should ever occupy that place in your heart where I have lived so long; where all I know, all I can imagine of earthly bliss is centred?”

The fervor of my manner, I suppose, more than my words, made her at length perceive any meaning. She started, drew back, and gazed at me with a countenance in which amazement and grief contended for the mastery. The later presently prevailed, and exclaiming, “Oh William, this from you! “ the sluices of her heart seemed to open all at once; and with a look and air of utter desolation and self-abandonment, she threw her face on the arm of the sofa and dissolved in a flood of tears. I was inexpressibly shocked and amazed. I tried to soothe her, but in vain. She wept on, speechless from sobbing, until exhausted, she sank down on the sofa, and I saw by her white lip and glazing eye that she had fainted. I screamed for help, and she was carried to her room. I saw her no more that evening. The next morning my sister Jane handed me this note.

“What I would have said yesterday, William, could I have found utterance, I say now. My astonishment and grief at the ungenerous conduct of one I had deemed faultless; at receiving insult from my only protector, and wrong from one whose whole life had been one act of kindness, need not be expressed in words. But I owe it to myself and all concerned, to insist that the subject of yesterday’s conversation shall never be resumed. I will try to forget it, and deport myself towards you as if that conversation had never taken place. Help me, dear William, to forget that you have ever for a moment thought of being any thing but a brother to A.N.”

“There is surely some strange misunderstanding here,” said I. “Can I see her?”

“Not at this moment, certainly, for she keeps her bed to day. But 1 will know whether she thinks it right to afford you another interview, when she can sit up.

To afford me another interview! “ said I. “This is indeed strange. Doubtful whether it be right that I should have an interview with one with whom my whole life has been spent as with a sister!”’

“A sister, William! “ said Jane. “You forget that your strange words, yesterday, have put an end to that relation. But I will let her know of your wish”

She left me, and soon returned with this pencilled paper.

“To what purpose, William, offer explanation of what could not be misunderstood? To what purpose resume, a subject on which, after all that is passed, I cannot listen with propriety, nor you speak without offence? No William, that subject must never be named between us again. You are soon to go on a distant journey; and I tell you distinctly that nothing but a solemn promise not to renew it, shall induce me to leave my room till you are gone. Don’t force me to this, dear William. It would grieve me to have my earliest and dearest friend part from me without receiving a farewell, which may be the last.”

“Saw you ever any thing like that?” said I, as Balcombe sat gazing at the paper with a musing and abstracted countenance.’Dear William!’ ‘Her earliest and dearest friend!’ Are not those words there? Was ever any thing more affectionate, more tender? It had been just so all the time. And when she left her room (for of course I gave the promise) it was still the same. She was pale and sad, and I saw that she felt for me. In all things else her manner was the same as in the days of our most cordial intimacy. She had kept her room some days, and I was dreading the embarrassment of our first meeting. But she dispelled it all. She met me, indeed, with a slight tremor; I saw her lips quiver, but her eye was steady, and dwelt upon my face with an expression of holy and confiding affection. She walked directly up to me, put her arms about my neck, and kissed me as she had always done on like occasions. Her manner was graver and more tender; that was all the difference. She rested her cheek, too, a moment on my bosom, and murmured, ‘Thank you, dear William, thank you for your promise.’ “

“Was no one present?” said Balcombe.

“Oh yes! Jane accompanied her into the room; but that very evening she took my arm and said. ‘Come, let, me show you my confidence in your word. Come, take a walk with me.’ “

“And did you go alone?”’

“Yes; Jane moved as if to go with us, but Ann stopped her.”

“And what did you talk about?”

“Of old times; of the scenes and sports of infancy and early youth; of blended thoughts; of mingled feelings; of united hearts. She led the way herself. I could but listen to the soft tones of her voice, as she poured forth her feelings in language which showed how much her heart delighted in such recollections. ‘Dear, dear William,’ she said in conclusion, ‘my own and only brother, let it be always thus.’ You may believe that my heart responded to the wish. But is it not strange that while she was thus uttering words that condemned me to despari, I was supremely happy? It was no ordinary pleasure; it was a delirium of bliss. I felt as she seemed to feel at the moment, as if all my heart had ever coveted was mine. I responded to her sentiments in a like tone of chastened arid refined tenderness; our hearts overflowed in the contemplation and actual fruition of this new scheme of happiness; we revelled in all the luxury of perfect sympathy and unbounded confidence; we seemed to have found a source of enjoyment too delicate to pall, too abounding ever to fail; our spirits rose as we quaffed the nectared flow of thoughts, and sentiments, and feelings, all congenial; and we returned to the house with faces glowing with affection and happiness. Is it not strange? How can it be that this, the paramount desire of my heart by which I know that I love her, should be reciprocated by her without a corresponding sentiment?”

“If your metaphysics can find an answer to that question,” said Balcombe, “I will consent that you shall believe that she does not love you. As it is, I have no doubt that her union with any other man would be more fatal to her than to you. But I see nothing unaccountable in what you tell me. Love, disguise it as you will, is the food that satisfies the heart of love; and that her conduct was the fruit of one of those strong delusions, with which love alone can cheat us, I have no doubt. I know something, William, of the joys of mutual passion; but never have I experienced, nor can I conceive, a scene of more thrilling rapture than you have described. Such things cannot last, indeed; but then what can? Illusions are dispelled, but realities perish.”

The misunderstanding is finally rectified, through the agency of Balcombe, and the cousins are married. Besides this love affair, there are no passages of an episodical nature — unless we choose to speak of Balcombe’s account of a skirmish with Indians — a duel scene between Balcombe and Howard, Ann’s rejected lover — an anecdote relating to Colonel Boon, the backwoodsman — and a vividly drawn picture of a camp-meeting. This later we will be pardoned for giving entire.

In the bosom of a vast forest, a piece of ground nearly an acre in extent, and in form almost a square, was enclosed on three sides by a sort of shed, sloping outward, and boarded up on the outside. This was divided into something like stalls, separated from each other, and closed in front by counterpanes, blankets and sheets, disposed as curtains. Some of these were thrown up, and within we saw coarse tables, stools, and preparations for eating and sleeping, such as piles of straw, beds tied up in bundles with bed-clothes, knives and forks, plates, porringers and platters, loaves of bread, skimmed-milk cheeses, jirked meat, hams, tongues, and cold fowls. Children and dogs were nestling in the straw, and mothers sat on stools, nursing their infants. The whole centre of the area was occupied by hewn logs, placed in extended parallel lines, with the ends resting on other transverse logs, so as to form rows of rude benches. On these were seated a promiscuous multitude, of every age, sex, condition, and hue, crowded densely towards the front, and gradually thinning in the rear, where some seats were nearly vacant, or partially occupied by lounging youngsters, chatting, smoking, and giggling, and displaying, both in dress and manner, a disposition to ape the foppery and impertinence of fashion. Of this, indeed, they saw so little in these remote wilds, that the imitation was of course awkward, but none the less unequivocal.

At the open end of the area was the stand, as it is called. This was formed by raising a pen of logs to a convenient height, over which a platform of loose planks was laid, surmounted by a shelter to keep off the sun and rain. The platform was large enough for a dozen chairs, occupied by as many preachers. It was surrounded by a strong enclosure, about twenty yards square, over the whole of which a deep bed of straw was laid. This, as I understood, was intended to save the bones of those who might be unable to keep their feet, under the eloquence of the preacher, the workings of conscience, the conviction of sin, or the delirious raptures of new-born hope.

The preachers were, for the most part, men whose dress and air bespoke a low origin and narrow circumstances. Conspicuous among them was a stout old man, whose ray hair and compressed lips, ensconced between a long nose and hooked chin, would hardly have escaped observation under any circumstances. He alone was on his feet, and moved about the platform with noiseless step, speaking in whispers to one or another of the preachers. At length he took his seat, and the officiating minister rose. He was a tall, slender youth, whose stripling figure lost nothing of its appearance of immaturity by being dressed in clothes which he had obviously outgrown. The bony length of naked wrist and ankle set off to the best advantage his broad hands and splay feet, the heels of which were turned out, as lie moved forward to his place in front of the platform. His nearly beardless face was embrowned by the sun, his features were diminutive, and only distinguished by a fill round forehead, and a hazel eye, clear, black, and imaginative. He gave out a hymn, which was sung, and then offered up a prayer, which, though apparently meant to pass for extemporaneous, was obviously spoken from memory, and made up, for the most part, of certain forms of speech, taken from all the prayers and all the creeds that have ever been published, and arranged to suit the taste of the speaker, and the peculiar doctrines of his sect. Then came another hymn, and then the sermon. It was a doctrinal essay, a good deal after the manner of a trial sermon, in which not a little acuteness was displayed. But the voice vas untrained, the language ungrammatical, the style awkward, and the pronunciation barbarous. The thing went off heavily, but left on my mind a very favorable impression of the latent powers of the speaker. But he was not (to use the slang of the theatre) “a star.” He was heard with decorous, but drowsy attention, and took his seat without having excited a shout or a groan. I could not help suspecting that the poor young fellow, being put forward as a foil for some popular disclaimer, had had his discourse pruned of all exuberance of language or fancy, and reduced to a mere hortus siccus of theological doctrine. A closing prayer by an old minister, in which the effort of the “young brother” was complimented with a patronizing air, was followed by another hymn, and the temporary dispersion of the assembly.

Now came the turn of the old minister I first described. The audience had been wearied with a discourse not at all to their taste. They were now refreshed and eager for some stimulus to help digestion. At first I thought they would be disappointed; for he talked for a long time in a dull prosing way, about himself and the church; and was listened to with an air which led me to conclude that he had established a sort of understanding with his hearers, that whatever he might say must be worth hearing, and taken with thankfulness. At length, however, he seemed to warm by slow degrees. His voice became lender, his utterance more rapid, his gestures more earnest; and an occasional groan from the crowd bespoke their awaking sympathy. Presently he began to catch his breath, to rant and rave and foam at the mouth, and to give all the conventional tokens of enthusiasm and eloquence. The signals were duly answered by the groans, the sobs, the cries, the shouts, the yells of the multitude. Some sprang to their feet and clapped their hands; some grasped the hands of others with smiles and tears of sympathy and mutual gratulation some fell down and were hoisted over into the pen, where they lay tossing among the straw, and uttering the most appalling shrieks. The discourse was abruptly closed; and several of the preachers came down into the enclosure, and, kneeling among the prostrate penitents, poured forth prayer after prayer, and shouted hymn after hymn, in which the whole audience joined in one wild burst of discord broken down into harmony by the very clashing of jarring sounds. The sun went down on this tumultuous scene.

Of the dramatis personæ we will speak in brief. Elizabeth, the shrinking and matronly wife of Balcombe, rising suddenly into the heroine in the hour of her husband’s peril, (we have not mentioned her in our outline) as a painting, is admirable — as a portrait, appears to want individuality. She is an exquisite specimen of her class, but her class is somewhat hacknied. Of Jane, Napier’s sister, (neither have we yet alluded to her) it is sufficient now to say that she is true to herself. Upon attentively considering the character of Mary Scott, who holds the most prominent female part in the drama, it will be perceived that, although deeply interesting, it cannot be regarded as in any degree original, and that she owes her influence upon the mind of the reader mainly to the incidents with which she is enveloped. There are some most effective touches, however, in her delineation. Of Ann we have already spoken. She is our favorite, and we doubt not the favorite of the author. Her nature is barely sketched; but the sketch betrays in the artist a creative vigor of no ordinary kind. Upon the whole, no American novelist has succeeded, we think, in female character, even nearly so well as the writer of George Balcombe.

Napier himself is, as usual with most professed heroes, a mere non-entity. James is sufficiently natural. Major Swann, although only done in outline, gives a fine idea of a decayed Virginia gentleman. Charles, a negro, old Amy’s son, is drawn roughly, but to the life. Balcombe, frank, ardent, philosophical, chivalrous, sagacions — and, above all, glorying in the exercise of his sagacity — is a conception which might possibly have been entertained, but certainly could not have been executed, by a mind many degrees dissimilar from that of Balcombe himself, as depicted. Of Keizer, a character evidently much dwelt upon, and greatly labored out by the author, we have but one observation to make. It will strike every reader, not at first, but upon reflection, that George Balcombe, in John Keizer’s circumstances, would have been precisely John Keizer. We find the same traits modified throughout — yet the worldly difference forms a distinction sufficiently marked for the purposes of the novelist. Lastly, Montague, with his low cunning, his arch-hypocrisy, his malignancy, his quibbling superstition, his moral courage and physical pusillanimity, is a character to be met with every day, and to be recognized at a glance. Nothing was ever more minutely, more forcibly, or more thoroughly painted. He is not original of course; nor must we forget that were he so, he would, necessarily, be untrue, in some measure, to nature. But we mean to say that the merit here is solely that of observation and fidelity. Original characters, so called, can only be critically praised as such, either when presenting qualities known in real life, but never before depicted, (a combination nearly impossible) or when presenting qualities (moral, or physical, or both) which, although unknown, or even known to be hypothetical, are so skilfully adapted to the circumstances which surround them, that our sense of fitness is not offended, and we find ourselves seeking a reason why those things might not have been, which we are still satisfied are not. The latter species of originality appertains to the loftier regions of the Ideal.

Very few objections can be urged to the style of George Balcombe. The general manner is that of a scholar and gentleman in the best sense of both terms — bold, vigorous, and rich — abrupt rather than diffuse and not over scrupulous in the use of energetic vulgarisms. With the mere English, some occasional and trivial faults may be found. Perhaps it would have been better to avoid such pure technicalities as “anastomozing.” Of faulty construction, we might, without trouble, pick out a few instances. For example. “Returning, to dinner, a note was handed to the old gentleman, which he read and gave to Balcombe.” Here it is the note which returns to dinner. “Upon his return to dinner,” or something of that kind, would have rendered the sentence less equivocal. Again — “My situation is any thing but pleasant, and so impatient of it am I that I trust I do not break faith with my client when I hint to you that Mr. Balcombe will have more need of the aid of counsel than he is aware of.” The meaning here is, “I am so impatient of my situation that I even warn you of Balcombe’s great danger, and advise you to seek counsel for him. In so doing I trust I am not breaking faith with my client.” The original sentence implies, however, that the consequence of the speaker’s impatience was the speaker’s trusting that lie would not break faith — whereas the advice was the consequence. The trust cannot in any manner be embodied with the sentence, and must be placed in a separate one, as we have placed it.

For the occasional philosophy of Balcombe himself, we must not, of course, hold the author responsible. It might now and then be more exact. For example. “I am not sure that we do not purchase all our good qualities by the exercise of their opposites. How else does experience of danger make men brave? If they were not scared at first, then they were brave at first.

If they were scared, then the effect of fear upon the mind has been to engender courage.” As much, perhaps, as the effect of truth is to engender error, or of black paint to render a canvass white. All our good qualities purchased by the exercise of their opposites! Generalize this dogma, and we have, at once, Virtue derivable from vice. In the particular instance here urged — that courage is engendered by fear — the quibble lies in shifting the question from “danger’” to “fear,” and using the two ideas as identical. But “danger” is no more “fear,” than age is wisdom, than a turnip-seed is a turnip, or than any other cause is its own usual effect. In proportion, we grant, to the frequency of our “experience of danger,” is our callousness to its usual effect, which is fear. But when, following Mr. Balcombe to the finale of his argument, we say that the effect of the frequent “experience of fear,” upon the mind is to engender courage, we are merely uttering the silly paradox that we fear less in proportion as we fear more.

And again. “Value depends on demand and supply. So say the political economists, and I suppose they are right in all things but one. When truth and honor abound, they are most prized. They depreciate as they become rare.” Now truth and honor form no exceptions to the rule of economy, that value depends upon demand and supply. The simple meaning of this rule is, that when the demand for a commodity is great, and the supply small, the value of the commodity is heightened, and the converse. Apply this to truth and honor. Let them be in demand — in esteem — and let the supply be small — that is, let there be few men true and honest; then truth and honor, as cotton and tobacco, rise in value — and, vice-versa, they fall. Mr. Balcombe’s error is based upon the pre-supposition, (although this pre-supposition does not appear upon the face of his statement) that all who esteem truth and honor, are necessarily true and honest. To sustain the parallel, then, he should be prepared to admit the absurdity that the demanders of cotton and tobacco are necessarily stocked with cotton and tobacco. Let, however, the full extent of the question be seen. Truth and honor, it is asserted, are most prized when they most abound. They would be prized most of all then were no contrary qualities existing. But it is clear that were all men true and honest, then truth and honor, beyond their intrinsic, would hold no higher value, than would wine in a Paradise where all the rivers were Johannisberger, and all the duck-ponds Vin de Margaux.

We have thus spoken at length of George Balcombe, because we are induced to regard it, upon the whole, as the best American novel. There have, been few books of its peculiar kind, we think, written in any country, much its superior. Its interest is intense from beginning to end. Talent of a lofty order is evinced in every page of it. Its most distinguishing features are invention, vigor, almost audacity, of thought — great variety of what the German critics term intrigue, and exceeding ingenuity and finish in the adaptation of its component parts. Nothing is wanting to a complete whole, and nothing is out of place, or out of time. Without being chargeable in the least degree with imitation, the novel bears a strong family resemblance to the Caleb Williams of Godwin. Thinking thus highly of George Balcombe, we still do not wish to be understood as rating it with the more brilliant fictions of some of the living novelists of Great Britain.

In regard to the authorship of the book, some little conversation has occurred, and the matter is still considered a secret. But why so? — or rather, how so? The mind of the chief personage of the story, is the transcript of a mind familiar to us — an unintentional transcript, let us grant; but still one not to be mistaken. George Balcombe thinks, speaks, and acts, as no person, we are convinced, but Judge Beverly Tucker, ever precisely thought, spoke, or acted before.

3

ASTORIA.

Astoria: Or, Anecdotes of an Enterprize beyond the Rocky Mountains. By Washington Irving. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea and Blanchard.

Mr. Irving’s acquaintance at Montreal, many years since, with some of the principle partners of the great North-West Fur Company, was the means of interesting him deeply in the varied concerns of trappers, hunters, and Indians, and in all the adventurous details connected with the commerce in peltries. Not long after his return from his late tour to the prairies, he held a conversation with his friend, Mr. John Jacob Astor, of New York, in relation to an enterprize set on foot, and conducted by that gentleman, about the year 1812, — an enterprize having for its object a participation, on the most extensive scale, in the fur trade carried on with the Indians in all the western and northwestern regions of North America. Mr. I. fully alive to the exciting interest of this subject, Mr. Astor was induced to express a regret that the true nature and extent of the enterprize, together with its great national character and importance, had never been generally comprehended; and a wish that Mr. Irving would undertake to give an account of it. To this he consented. All the papers relative to the matter were submitted to his inspection; and the volumes now before us (two well-sized octavos) are the result. The work has been accomplished in a masterly manner — the modesty of the title affording no indication of the fulness, comprehensiveness, and beauty, with which a long and entangled series of detail, collected, necessarily, from a mass of vague and imperfect data, has been wrought into completeness and unity.

Supposing our readers acquainted with the main features of the original fur trade in America, we shall not follow Mr. Irving in his vivid account of the primitive French Canadian Merchant, his jovial establishments and dependants — of the licensed traders, missionaries, voyageurs, and conurers des bois — of the British Canadian Fur Merchant — of the rise of the great Company of the “North-West,” its constitution and internal trade; its parliamentary hall and banquetting room; its boatings, its huntings, its wassaillings, and other magnificent feudal doings in the wilderness. It was the British Mackinaw Company, we presume, — (a Company established in rivalry of the “North-West,”) the scene of whose main operations first aroused the attention of our government. Its chief factory was established at Michilimackinac, and sent forth its perogues, by Green Bay, Fox River, and the Wisconsin, to the Mississippi, and thence to all its tributary streams — in this way hoping to monopolize the trade with all the Indian tribes on the southern and western waters of our own territory, as the “North-West” had monopolized it, along the waters of the North. Of course we now began to view with a jealous eye, and to make exertions for counteracting, the influence hourly acquired over our own aborigines by these immense combinations of foreigners. In 1796, the United States sent out agents to establish rival trading houses on the frontier, and thus, by supplying the wants of the Indians, to link their interests with ours, and to divert the trade, if possible, into national channels. The enterprize failed — being, we suppose, inefficiently conducted and supported; and the design was never afterwards attempted until by the individual means and energy of Mr. Astor.

John Jacob Astor was born in Waldorf, a German village, near Heidelberg, on the banks of the Rhine. While yet a youth, he foresaw that he would arrive at great wealth, and, leaving home, took his way, alone, to London, where he found himself at the close of the American Revolution. An elder brother being in the United States, he followed him there. In January, 1781, he arrived in Hampton Roads, with some little merchandize suited to the American market. On the passage he had became acquainted with a countryman of his, a furrier, from whom he derived much information in regard to furs, and the manner of conducting the trade. Subsequently he accompanied this gentleman to New York, and, by his advice, invested the proceeds of his merchandize in peltries. With these he sailed to London, and having disposed of his adventure advantageously, he returned the same year (1784) to New York, with a view of settling in the United States, and prosecuting the business thus commenced. Mr. Astor’s beginnings in this way were necessarily small;but his perseverance was indomitable, his integrity unimpeachable, and his economy of the most rigid kind. “To these,” says Mr. Irving, “were added an aspiring spirit, that always looked upward; a genius bold, fertile, and expansive; a sagacity quick to grasp and convert every circumstance to its advantage, and a singular and never wavering confidence of signal success.” These opinions are more than re-echoed by the whole crowd of Mr. Astor’s numerous acquaintances and friends, and are most strongly insisted upon by those who have the pleasure of knowing him best.

In the United States, the fur trade was not yet sufficiently organized to form a regular line of business. Mr. A. made annual visits to Montreal for the purpose of buying peltries; and, as no direct trade was permitted from Canada to any country by England, he shipped them, when bought, immediately to London. This difficulty being removed, however, by the treaty of 1795, he made a contract for furs with the North-West Company, and imported them from Montreal into the United States — thence shipping a portion to different parts of Europe, as well as to the principal market in China.

By the treaty just spoken of, the British possessions on our side of the Lakes were given up, and an opening made for the American fur-trader on the confines of Canada, and within the territories of the United States. Here, Mr. Astor, about the year 1807, adventured largely on his own account; his increased capital now placing him among the chief of American merchants. The influence of the Mackinaw Company, however, proved too much for him, and he was induced to consider the means of entering into successful competition. He was aware of the wish of the Government to concentrate the fur-trade within its boundaries in the hands of its own citizens; and he now offered, if national aid or protection should be afforded, “to turn the whole of the trade into American channels.” He was invited to unfold his plans, and they were warmly approved, but, we believe, little more. The countenance of the Government was nevertheless of much importance, and, in 1809, he procured, from the legislature of New York, a charter, incorporating a Company, under the name of the “American Fur Company,” with a capital of one million of dollars, and the privilege of increasing it to two. He himself constituted the Company, and furnished the capital. The board of directors was merely nominal, and the whole business was conducted with his own resources, and according to his own will.

We here pass over Mr. Irving’s lucid, although brief account of the fur-trade in the Pacific, of Russian and American enterprize on the North-western coast, and of the discovery by Captain Gray, in 1792, of the mouth of the river Columbia. He proceeds to speak of Captain Jonathan Carver, of the British provincial army. In 1763, shortly after the acquisition of the Canadas by Great Britain, this gentleman projected a journey across the continent, between the forty-third and forty-sixth degrees of northern latitude, to the shores of the Pacific. His objects were “to ascertain the breadth of the continent at its broadest part, and to determine on some place on the shores of the Pacific, where Government might establish a post to facilitate the discovery of a north-west passage, or a communication between Hudson’s Bay and the Pacific Ocean.” He failed twice in individual attempts to accomplish this journey. In 1774, Richard Whitworth, a member of Parliament, came into this scheme of Captain Carver’s. These two gentlemen determined to take with them fifty or sixty men, artificers and mariners, to proceed up one of the branches of the Missouri, find the source of the Oregon, (the Columbia) and sail down the river to its mouth. Here a fort was to be erected, and the vessels built necessary to carry into execution their purposed discoveries by sea. The British Government sanction ed the plan, and every thing was ready for the under taking, when the American Revolution prevented it.

The expedition of Sir Alexander Mackenzie is well known. In 1793, he crossed the continent, and reached the Pacific Ocean in latitude 52° 26’ 48”. In latitude 52° 30’ he partially descended a river flowing to the South, and which he erroneously supposed to be the Columbia. Some years afterwards he published an account of his journey, and suggested the policy of opening an intercourse between the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans, and forming regular establishments “through the interior and at both extremes, as well as along the coasts and islands.” Thus, he thought, the entire command of the fur trade of North America might be obtained from latitude 48° north to the pole, excepting that portion held by the Russians. As to the “American adventurers” along the coast, he spoke of them as entitled to but little consideration. “ They would instantly disappear,” he said, “ before a well regulated trade.” Owing to the jealousy existing between the Hudson’s Bay and North-west Company, this idea of Sir Alexander Mackenzie’s was never carried into execution.

The successful attempt of Messieurs Lewis and Clarke was accomplished, it, will be remembered, in 1804. Their course was that proposed by Captain Carver in 1774. They passed up the Missouri to its head waters, crossed the Rocky Mountains, discovered the source of the Columbia, and followed that river down to its mouth. Here they spent the winter, and retraced their steps in the spring. Their reports declared it practicable to establish a line of communication across the continent, and first inspired Mr. Astor with the design of “grasping with his individual hands this great enterprize, which for years had been dubiously yet desirously contemplated by powerful associations and maternal governments.”

His scheme was gradually matured. Its main features were as follows. A line of trading posts was to be established along the Missouri and Columbia, to the mouth of the litter, where was to be founded the chief mart. On all the tributary streams throughout this immense route were to be situated inferior posts trading directly with the Indians for their pelties. All these posts would draw upon the mart at the Columbia for their supplies of goods, and would send thither the furs collected. At this latter place also, were to be built and fitted out coasting vessels, for the purpose of trading along the North-west coast, returning with the proceeds of their voyages to the same general rendezvous. In this manner the whole Indian trade, both of the coast and the interior, would converge to one point. To this point, in continuation of his plan, Mr. Astor proposed to despatch-, every year, a ship with the necessary supplies. She would receive the peltries collected, carry them to Canton, there invest the proceeds in merchandize, and return to New York.

Another point was also to be attended to. In coasting to the North-west, the ship would be brought into contact with the Russian Fur Company’s establishments in that quarter; and as a rivalry might ensue, it was politic to conciliate the good will of that body. It depended chiefly for its supplies upon transient trading, vessels from the United States. The owners of these vessels, having nothing beyond their individual interests to consult, made no scruple of furnishing the natives with fire arms, and were thus productive of much injury. To this effect the Russian government had remonstrated with the United States, urging to have the traffic in arms prohibited — but, no municipal law being, infringed, our government could not interfere. Still it was anxious not to offend Russia, and applied to Mr. Astor for information as to the means of remedying the evil, knowing him to be well versed in all the concerns of the trade in question. This application suggested to him the idea of paying a regular visit to the Russian settlements with his annual ship. Thus, being kept regularly in supplies, they would be independent of the casual traders, who would consequently be excluded from the coast. This whole scheme Mr. Astor communicated to President Jefferson, soliciting the countenance of Government. The cabinet “joined in warm approbation of the plan, and held out assurance of every protection that could, consistently with general policy, be afforded.”

In speaking of the motives which actuated Mr. Astor in an enterprize so extensive, Mr. Irving, we are willing to believe, has done that high-minded gentleman no more than the simplest species of justice. “He was already,” says our author, “wealthy beyond the ordinary desires of man, but lie now aspired to that honorable fame which is awarded to men of similar scope of mind, who by their great commercial enterprizes have enriched nations, peopled wildernesses, aud extended the bounds of empire. He considered his projected establishment at the mouth of the Columbia, as the emporium to an immense commerce; as a colony that would form the germ of a wide civilization; that would, in fact, carry the American population across the Rocky Mountains, and spread it along, the shores of the Pacific, as it already animated the shore of the Atlantic.”

A few words in relation to the North-west company. This body, following out in part the suggestion of Sir Alexander Mackenzie, had already established a few trading posts on the coast of the Pacific, in a region lying about two degrees north of the Columbia — thus throwing itself between the Russian and American territories. They would contend with Mr. Astor at an immense disadvantage, of course. They had no good post for the receipt of supplies by sea; and must get them with great risk, trouble and expense, over land. Their peltries also would have to be taken home the same way-for they were not at liberty to interfere with the East India company’s monopoly, by shipping them directly to China. Mr. Astor would therefore greatly undersell them in that, the principal market. Still, as any competition would prove detrimental to both parties, Mr. A. made known his plans to the North-west company, proposing to interest them one third in his undertaking. The British company, however, had several reasons for declining the proposition not the least forcible of which, we presume, was their secret intention to push on a party forthwith, and forestall their rival in establishing a settlement at the mouth of the Columbia.

In the meantime Mr. Astor did not remain idle. His first care was to procure proper coadjutors, and he was induced to seek them principally from among such clerks of the North-west company, as were dissatisfied with their situation in that body-having served out their probationary term, and being still, through want of influence, without a prospect of speedy promotion. From among these (generally men of capacity and experience in their particular business), Mr. A. obtained the services of Mr. Alexander M’Kay (who had accompanied Sir Alexander Mackenzie in both of his expeditions), Mr. Donald M’Kenzie, and Mr. Duncan M’Dougal. Mr. Wilson Price Hunt, a native citizen of New Jersey, and a gentleman of great worth, was afterwards selected by Mr. Astor as his chief agent, and as the representative of himself at the contemplated establishment. In June 1810, “articles of agreement were entered into between Mr. Astor and these four gentlemen, acting for themselves, and for the several persons who had already agreed to become, or should thereafter become, associated under the firm of “The Pacific Fur Company.” This agreement stipulated that Mr. A. was to be the head of the company, to manage its affairs at New York, and to furnish every thing requisite for the enterprize at first cost and shares, provided an advance of more than four hundred thousand dollars should not at any time be involved. The stock was to consist of a hundred shares, Mr. Astor taking fifty, the rest being divided among the other partners and their associates. A general meeting seas to be held annually at Columbia river, where absent members might vote by proxy. The association was to continue twenty years-but might be dissolved within the first five years, if found unprofitable. For these five years Mr. A. agreed to bear all the loss that might be incurred. An agent, appointed for a like term, was to reside at the main establishment, and Mr. Hunt was the person first selected.

Mr. Astor determined to begin his enterprize with two expeditions — one by sea, the other by land. The former was to carry out every thing necessary for the establishment of a fortified post at the mouth of the Columbia. The latter, under the conduct of Mr. Hunt, was to proceed up the Missouri and across the Rocky Mountains to the same point. In the course of this over-land journey, the most practicable line of communication would be explored, and the best situations noted for the location of trading rendezvous. Following Mr. Irving in our brief summary of his narrative, we will now give some account of the first of these expeditions.

A ship was provided called the Tonquin, of two hundred and ninety tons, with ten guns, and twenty men. Lieutenant Jonathan Thorn of the United States navy, being on leave of absence, received the command. He was a man of courage, and had distinguished himself in the Tripolitan war. Four of the partners went in the ship — M’Kay and M’Dougal, of whom we have already spoken, and Messieurs David and Robert Stuart, new associates in the firm. M’Dougal was empowered to act as the proxy of Mr. Astor in the absence of Mr. Hunt. Twelve clerks were also of the party. These were bound to the service of the company for five years, and were to receive one hundred dollars a year, payable at the expiration of the term, with an annual equipment of clothing to the amount of forty dollars. By promises of future promotion, their interests were identified with those of Mr. Astor. Thirteen Canadian voyageurs, and several artisans, completed the ship’s company. On the 8th of September, 1810, the Tonquin put to sea. Of her voyage to the mouth of the Columbia, Mr. Irving has given a somewhat ludicrous account. Thorn, the stern, straight-forward officer of the navy, having few ideas beyond those of duty and discipline, and looking with supreme contempt upon the motley “lubbers” who formed the greater part of his company, is painted with the easy yet spirited pencil of an artist indeed; while M’Dougal, the shrewd Scotch partner, bustling, yet pompous, and impressed with lofty notions of his own importance as proxy for Mr. Astor, is made as supremely ridiculous as possible, with as little apparent effort as can well be imagined; — the portraits, however, carry upon their faces the evidence of their own authenticity. The voyage is prosecuted amid a series of petty quarrels, and cross purposes, between the captain and his crew, and, occasionally, between Mr. M’Kay and Mr. M’Dougal. The contests between the two latter gentlemen were brief, it appears, although violent. “Within fifteen minutes,” says Captain Thorn in a letter to Mr. Astor, “they would be caressing each other like children.” The Tonquin doubled Cape Horn on Christmas day, arrived at Owhyhee on the eleventh of February, took on board fresh provisions, sailed again with twelve Sandwich islanders on the 28th, and on the 22d of March arrived at the mouth of the Columbia. In seeking a passage across the bar, a boat and nine men were lost among the breakers. On the way from Owhyhee a violent storm occurred; and the bickerings still continued between the partners aud the captain — the latter, indeed, grievously suspecting the former of a design to depose him.

The Columbia for about forty miles from its mouth is, strictly speaking, an estuary, varying in breadth from three to seven miles, and indented by deep bays. Shoals and other obstructions render the navigation dangerous. Leaving this broad portion of the stream in the progress upwards, we find the mouth of the river proper — which is about half a mile wide. The entrance to the estuary from sea is bounded on the south by a long, low, and sandy beach stretching into the ocean, and called Point Adams. On the northern side of the frith is Cape Disappointment, a steep promontory. Immediately east of this cape is Baker’s bay, and within this the Toniquin came to anchor.

Jealousies still continued between the captain and the worthy M’Dougal, who could come to no agreement in regard to the proper location for the contemplated establishment. On April the fifth, without troubling himself farther with the opinions of his coadjutors, Mr. Thorn landed in Baker’s bay, and began operations. At this summary proceeding, the partners were, of course, in high dudgeon, and an open quarrel seemed likely to ensue, to the serious detriment of the enterprize. These difficulties, however, were at length arranged, and finally on the 12th of April, a settlement was commenced at a point of land called Point George, on the southern shore of the frith. Here was a good harbor, where vessels of two hundred tons might anchor within fifty yards of the shore. In honor of the chief partner, the new post received the title of Astoria. After much delay, the portion of the cargo destined for the post was landed, and the Tonquin left free to proceed on her voyage. She was to coast to the north, to trade for peltries at the different harbors, and to touch at Astoria, on her return in the autumn. Mr. M’Kay went in her as supercargo, and a Mr. Lewis as ship’s clerk. On the morning of the 5th of June she stood quietly out to sea, the whole number of persons on board amounting to three and twenty. In one of the outer bays Captain Thorn procured the services of an Indian named Lamazee, who had already made two voyages along the coast, and who agreed to accompany him. as interpreter. In a few days the ship arrived at Vancouver’s island, and came to anchor in the harbor of Neweetee, much against the advice of the Indian, who warned Captain Thorn of the perfidious character of the natives. The result was the merciless butchery of the whole crew, with the exception of the interpreter and Mr. Lewis, the ship’s clerk. The latter, finding himself mortally wounded and without companions, blew up the ship and perished with more than a hundred of the enemy. Lamazee, getting among the Indians, escaped, and was the means of bearing the news of the disaster to Astoria. In relating at length the thrilling details of this catastrophe, Mr. Irving takes occasion to comment on the headstrong, although brave and strictly honorable character Lieutenant Thorn. The danger and folly. on the part of agents, in disobeying the matured instructions of those who deliberately plan extensive enterprizes such as that of Mr. Astor, is also justly and forcibly shown. The misfortune here spoken of, arose, altogether, from a disregard of Mr. A’s often repeated advice — to admit but few Indians on board the Tonquin at one time. Her loss was a serious blow to the infant establishment at Astoria. To this post let us now return.

The natives inhabiting the borders of the estuary were divided into four tribes, of which the Chinooks were the principal. Comcomly, a one-eyed Indian, was their chief. These tribes resembled each other in nearly every respect, and were, no doubt, of a common stock. They live chiefly by fishing — the Columbia and its tributary streams abounding in fine salmon, and a variety of other fish. A trade in peltries, but to no great amount, was immediately commenced and carried on. Much disquiet was occasioned at the post by a rumor among the Indians that thirty white men had appeared on the banks of the Columbia, and were building houses at the second rapids. It was feared that these were an advance party of the North-west company endeavoring to seize upon the upper parts of the river, and thus forestall Mr. Astor in the trade of the surrounding country. Bloody feuds in this case might be anticipated, such as had prevailed between rival companies in former times. The intelligence of the Indians proved true — the “North-west” had erected a trading, house on the Spokan river, which falls into the north branch of the Columbia. The Astorians could do little to oppose them in their present reduced state as to numbers. It was resolved, however, to advance a counter-check to the post on the Spokan, and Mr. David Stuart prepared to set out for this purpose with eight men and a small assortment of goods. On the fifteenth of July when this expedition was about starting, a canoe, manned with nine white men, and bearing the British flag, entered the harbor. They proved to be the party dispatched by the rival company to anticipate Mr. Astor in the settlement at the mouth of the river. Mr. David Thompson, their leader, announced himself as a partner of the “North-west” — but otherwise gave a very peaceable account of himself. It appears, however, from information subsequently derived from other sources, that he had hurried with a desperate haste across the mountains, calling at all the Indian villages in his march, presenting them with British flags, and “proclaiming formally that he took of the country for the North-west company, and in the name of the king of Great Britain.” His plan was defeated, it seems, by the desertion of a portion of his followers, and it was thought probable that he now merely descended the river with a view of reconnoitering. M’Dougal treated the gentlemen with great kindness, and supplied them with goods and provisions for their journey back across the mountains — this much against the wishes of Mr. David Stuart, “who did not think the object of their visit entitled them, to any favor.” A letter for Mr. Astor was entrusted to Thompson.

On the twenty-third of July, the party for the region of the Spokan set out, and after a voyage of much interest, succeeded in establishing the first interior trading post of the company. It was situated on a point of land about three miles long and two broad, formed by the junction of the Oakinagan with the Columbia. In the meantime the Indians near Astoria began to evince a hostile disposition, and a reason for this altered demeanor was soon after found in the report of the loss of the Tonquin. Early in August the settlers received intelligence of the fate. They now found themselves in a perilous situation, a mere handful of men, on a savage coast, and surrounded by barbarous enemies. From their dilemma they were relieved, for the present, by the ingenuity of M’Dongal. The natives had a great dread of the smallpox, which had appeared among them a few years before, sweeping off entire tribes. They believed it an evil either inflicted upon them by the Great Spirit, or brought among them by the white men. Seizing upon this latter idea, M’Dougal assembled several of the chieftains whom he believed to be inimical, and informing them that he had heard of the treachery of their northern brethren in regard to the Tonquin, produced from his pocket a small bottle. “The white men among you,” said he, “are few in number, it is true, but they are mighty in medicine. See here! In this bottle I hold the smallpox safely corked up; I have but to draw the cork and let loose the pestilence, to sweep man, woman and child from the face of the earth!” The chiefs were dismayed. They represented to the “Great Small-Pox Chief” that they were the firmest friends of the white men, that they had nothing to do with the villains who murdered the crew of the Tonquin, and that it would be unjust, in uncorking the bottle, to destroy the innocent with the guilty. M’Dougal was convinced. He promised not to uncork it until some overt act should compel him to do so. In this manner tranquillity was restored to the settlement. A large house was now built, and the frame of a schooner put together. She was named the Dolly, and was the first American vessel launched on the coast. But our limits will not permit us to follow too minutely the details of the enterprize. The adventurers kept up their spirits, sending out occasional foraging parties in the Dolly, and looking forward to the arrival of Mr. Hunt. So wore away the year 1811 at the little post of Astoria. We now come to speak of the expedition by land.

This, it will be remembered, was to be conducted by Mr. Wilson Price Hunt, a native of New Jersey. He is represented as scrupulously upright, of amiable disposition, and agreeable manners. He had never been in the heart of the wilderness, but having been for some time engaged in commerce at St. Louis, furnishing Indian traders with goods, he had acquired much knowledge of the trade at second hand. Mr. Donald M’Kenzie, another partner, was associated with him. He had been ten years in the interior, in the service of the North-west Company, and had much practical experience in all Indian concerns. In July 1810, the two gentlemen repaired to Montreal, where every thing requisite to the expedition could be procured. Here they met with many difficulties — some of which were thrown in their way by their rivals. Having succeeded, however in laying in a supply of ammunition, provisions, and Indian goods, they embarked all on board a large boat, and with a very inefficient crew, the best to be procured, took their departure from St. Ann’s near the extremity of the island of Montreal. Their course lay up the Ottawa, and along a range of small lakes and rivers. On the twenty-second of July, they arrived at Mackinaw, situated on Mackinaw island, at the confluence of Lakes Huron and Michigan Here it was necessary to remain some time to complete the assortment of Indian goods, and engaged more voyageurs. While waiting to accomplish these objects, Mr. Hunt was joined by Mr. Ramsay Crooks, a gentleman whom he had invited, by letter, to engage as a partner in the expedition. He was a native of Scotland had served under the North-west Company, and been engaged in private trading adventures among the various tribes of the Missouri. Mr. Crooks represented, in forcible terms, the dangers to be apprehended from the Indians — especially the Blackfeet and Sioux — and it was agreed to increase the number of the party to sixty upon arriving at St. Louis. Thirty was its strength upon leaving Mackinaw. This occurred on the twelfth of August. The expedition pursued the usual route of the fur-trader — by Green bay, Fox and Wisconsin rivers, to Prairie du Chien, and thence down the Mississippi to St. Louis, where they landed on the third of September. Here, Mr. Hunt met with some opposition from an association called the Missouri Fur Company, and especially from its leading partner, a Mr. Manuel Lisa. This company had a capital of about forty thousand dollars, and employed about two hundred and fifty men. Its object was to establish posts along the upper part of the river and monopolize the trade. Mr. H. proceeded to strengthen himself against competition. He secured to Mr. Astor the services of Mr. Joseph Miller. This gentleman had been an officer of the United States’ Army, but had resigned on being refused a furlough, and taken to trading with the Indians. He joined the association as a partner, and, on account of his experience and general acquirements, Mr. Hunt considered him a valuable coadjutor. Several boatmen and hunters were also now enlisted, but not until after a delay of several weeks. This delay, and the previous difficulties at Montreal and Mackinaw, had thrown Mr. H. much behind his original calculations, so that he found it would be impossible to effect his voyage up the Missouri during the present season. There was every likelihood that the river would be closed before the party could reach its upper waters. To winter, however, at St. Louis would be expensive. Mr. H. therefore, determined to push up on his way as far as possible, to some point whose game might be found in abundance, and there take up his quarters until spring. On the twenty-first of October he set out. The party were distributed in three boats — two large Schenectady barges and a keel boat. By the sixteenth of November they reached the mouth of the Nodowa, a distance of four hundred and fifty miles, where they set up their winter quarters. Here, Mr. Robert M’Lellan, at the invitation of Mr. Hunt, joined the association as a partner. He was a man of vigorous frame, of restless and impetuous temper, and had distinguished himself as a partisan under General Wayne. John Day also joined the company at this place — a tall and athletic hunter from the backwoods of Virginia. Leaving the main body at Nodowa, Mr. Hunt now returned to St. Louis for a reinforcement. He was again impeded by the machinations of the Missouri Fur Company, but finally succeeded in enlisting one hunter, some voyageurs, and a Sioux interpreter, Pierre Dorion. With these, after much difficulty, he got back to the encampment on the seventeenth of April. Soon after this period the voyage up the river was resumed. The party now consisted of nearly sixty persons — five partners, Hunt, Crooks, M’Kenzie, Miller, and M’Lellan; one clerk, John Reed; forty Canadian voyageurs; and several hunters. They embarked in four boats, one of which, of a large size, mounted a swivel and two howitzers.

We do not intend, of course, to proceed with our travellers throughout the vast series of adventure encountered in their passage through the wilderness. To the curious in these particulars we recommend the book itself. No details more intensely exciting are to be found in any work of travels within our knowledge. At times full of life and enjoying the whole luxury to be found in the career of the hunter — at times suffering every extremity of fatigue, hunger, thirst, anxiety, terror, and despair — Mr. Hunt still persisted in his journey, and finally brought it to a successful termination. A bare outline of the route pursued is all we can attempt.

 

Proceeding up the river, our party arrived, on the twenty-eighth of April, at the mouth of the Nebraska, or Platte, the largest tributary of the Missouri, and about six hundred miles above its junction with the Mississippi. They now halted for two days, to supply themselves with oars and poles from the tough wood of the ash, which is not to be found higher up the river. Upon the second of May, two of the hunters insisted upon abandoning the expedition, and returning to St. Louis. On the tenth, the party reached the Omaha village, and encamped in its vicinity. This village is about eight hundred and thirty miles above St. Louis, and on the west bank of the stream. Three men here deserted, but their place was luckily supplied by three others, who were prevailed upon, by liberal promises, to enlist. On the fifteenth, Mr. Hunt left Omaha, and proceeded. Not long afterwards, a canoe was descried navigated by two white men. They proved to be two adventurers who, for some years past, had been hunting and trapping near the head of the Missouri. Their names were Jones and Carson. They were now on their way to St. Louis, but readily abandoned their voyage, and turned their faces again toward the Rocky Mountains. On the twenty-third Mr. Hunt received, by a special messenger, a letter from Mr. Manuel Lisa, the leading partner of the Missouri Fur Company, and the gentleman who rendered him so many disservices at St. Louis. He had left that place, with a large party, three weeks after Mr. H., and, having heard rumors of hostile intentions on the part of the Sioux, a much dreaded tribe of Indians, made great exertions to overtake him, that they might pass through the dangerous part of the river together. Mr. H., however, was justly suspicious of the Spaniard, and pushed on. At the village of the Poncas, about a league south of the river Quiceurt, he stopped only long enough to procure a supply of dried buffalo meat. On the morning of the twenty-fifth, it was discovered that Jones and Carson had deserted. They were pursued, but in vain. The next day three white men were observed, in two canoes, descending the river. They proved to be three Kentucky hunters — Edward Robinson, John Hoback, and Jacob Rizner. They also had passed several years in the upper wilderness, and were now on their way home, but willingly turned back with the expedition. Information derived from these recruits induced Mr. Hunt to alter his route. Hitherto he intended to follow the course pursued by Messieurs Lewis and Clarke — ascending the Missouri to its forks, and thence, by land, across the mountains. He was informed, however, that, in so doing, he would have to pass through the country of the Blackfeet, a savage tribe of Indians, exasperated, against the whites, on account of the death of one of their men by the hands of Captain Lewis. Robinson advised a more southerly route. This would carry them over the mountains about where the head waters of the Platte and the Yellowstone take their rise, a much more practicable pas than that of Lewis and Clarke. To this counsel Mr. Hunt agreed, and resolved to leave the Missouri at the village of the Arickaras, at which they would arrive in a few days. On the first of June, they reached “the great bend” of the river, which here winds for about thirty miles round a circular peninsula, the neck of which is not above two thousand yards across. On the morning of June the third, the party were overtaken by Lisa, much to their dissatisfaction. The meeting was, of course, far from cordial, but an outward appearance of civility was maintained for two days. On the third, a quarrel took place, which was near terminating seriously. It was, however, partially adjusted, and the rival parties coasted along opposite sides of the river, in sight of each other. On the twelfth of June, they reached the village of the Arickaras, between the forty-sixth and forty-seventh parallels of north latitude, and about fourteen hundred and thirty miles above the mouth of the Missouri. In accomplishing thus much of his journey, Mr. Hunt had not failed to meet with a crowd of difficulties, at which we have not even hinted. He was frequently in extreme peril from large bodies of the Sioux, and, at one time, it was a mere accident alone which prevented the massacre of the whole party.

At the Arickara village our adventurers were to abandon their boats, and proceed westward across the wilderness. Horses were to be purchased from the Indians; who could not, however, furnish them in sufficient numbers. In this dilemma, Lisa offered to purchase the boats, now no longer of use, and to pay for them in horses, to be obtained at a fort belonging to the Missouri Fur Company, and situated at the Mandan villages, about a hundred and fifty miles further up the river. A bargain was made, and Messieurs Lisa and Crooks went for the horses, returning with them in about a fortnight. At the Arickara village, if we understand, Mr. Hunt engaged the services of one Edward Rose. He enlisted as interpreter when the expedition should reach the country of the Upsarokas or Crow Indians, among whom he had formerly resided. On the eighteenth of July the party took up their line of march. They were still insufficiently provided with horses. The cavalcade consisted of eighty-two, most of them heavily laden with Indian goods, beaver traps, ammunition, and provisions. Each of the partners was mounted. As they took leave of Aricara, the veterans of Lisa’s company, as well as Lisa himself, predicted the total destruction of our adventurers amid the unnumerable perils of the wilderness.

To avoid the Blackfeet Indians, a ferocious and implacable tribe of which we leave before spoken, the party kept a south-western direction. This route took them across some of the tributary streams of the Missouri, and through immense prairies bounded only by the horizon. Their progress was at first slow, and, Mr. Crooks falling sick, it was necessary to make a litter for him between two horses. On the twenty-third of the month, they encamped on the bunks of a little stream nicknamed Big River, where they remained several days, meeting with a variety of adventures. Among other things they were enabled to complete their supply of horses from a band of the Cheyenne Indians. On the sixth of August the journey was resumed, and they soon left the hostile region of the Sioux behind them. About this period a plot was discovered on the part of tie interpreter, Edward Rose. This villain had been tampering with the men, and proposed, upon arriving among his old acquaintances the Crows, to desert to the savages with as much booty as could be carried off. The matter was adjusted, however, and Mr. Rose, through the ingenuity of Mr. Hunt, quietly dismissed. On the thirteenth Mr. H. varied his course to the westward, a route which soon brought him to a fork of the Little Missouri, and upon the skirts of the Black Mountains. These are an extensive chain, lying about a hundred miles east of the Rocky Mountains, stretching north-easterly from the south fork of the river Platte to the great north bend of the Missouri and dividing the waters of the Missouri from those of the Mississippi and Arkansas. The travellers here supposed themselves to be about two hundred and fifty miles from the village of the Arickaras. Their more serious troubles now commenced. Hunger and thirst, with the minor difficulties of grizzly bears, beset them at every turn, as they attempted to force a passage through the rugged barriers in their path. At length they emerged upon a stream of clear water, one of the forks of Powder river, and once more beheld wide meadows and plenty of buffalo. They ascended this stream about eighteen miles, directing their march towards a lofty mountain which had been in sight since the seventeenth. They reached the base of this mountain, which proved to be a spur of the Rocky chain, on the thirtieth, having now come about four hundred miles since leaving Arickara.

For one or two days they endeavored in vain to find a defile in the mountains. On the third of September they made an attempt to force a passage to the westward, but soon became entangled among rocks and precipices, which set all their efforts at defiance. They were now too in the region of the terrible Upsarokas, and encountered them at every step. They met also with friendly bands of Shoshonies and Flatheads. After a thousand troubles, they made some way upon their journey. On the ninth they reached Wind river, a stream which gives its name to a range of mountains consisting of three parallel chains, eighty miles long, and about twenty-five broad. “One of its peaks,” says our author, “is probably fifteen thousand feet above the level of the sea.” For five days Mr. Hunt followed, up the course of Wind river, crossing and recrossing it. He had been assured by the three hunters who advised him to strike through the wilderness, that by going on up the river, and crossing a single mountain ridge, he would come upon the head waters of the Columbia. The scarcity of game, however, determined him to pursue a different course. In the course of the day after coming to this resolve, they perceived three mountain peaks, white with snow, and which were recognized by the hunters as rising just above a fork of the Columbia. These peaks were named the Pilot Knobs by Mr. Hunt. The travellers continued their course for about forty miles to the south-west, and at length found a river flowing to the west. This proved to be a branch of the Colorado. They followed its current for fifteen miles. On the eighteenth, abandoning its main course, they took a north-westerly direction for eight miles, and reached one of its little tributaries issuing from the bosom of the mountains, and running through green meadows abounding in buffalo. Here they encamped for several days, a little repose being necessary for both men and horses. On the twenty-fourth the journey was resumed. Fifteen miles brought to a stream about fifty feet wide, which was recognized as one of the head waters of the Columbia. They kept along it for two days, during which it gradually swelled into a river of some size. At length it was joined by another current, and both united swept off in an unimpeded stream, which from its rapidity and turbulence had received the appellation of Mad river. Down this they anticipated an uninterrupted voyage, in canoes, to the point of their ultimate destination — but their hopes were very far from being realized.

The partners held a consultation. The three hunters who had hitherto acted as guides, knew nothing of the region to the west of the Rocky Mountains. It was doubtful whether Mad river could be navigated, and they could hardly resolve to abandon their horses upon an uncertainty. The vote, nevertheless, was for embarkation, and they proceeded to build the necessary vessels. In the meantime Mr. Hunt, having now reached the head waters of the Columbia, reputed to abound in beaver, turned his thoughts to the main object of the expedition. Four men, Alexander Carson, Louis St. Michel, Pierre Detayé and Pierre Delaunay, were detached from the expedition, to remain and trap beaver by themselves in the wilderness. Having collected a sufficient quantity of peltries, they were to bring them to the depôt at the mouth of the Columbia, or to some intermediate post to be established by the company. These trappers had just departed, when two Snake Indians wandered into the camp, and declared the river to be unnavigible. Scouts sent out by Mr. Hunt finally confirmed this report. On the forth of October, therefore, the encampment was broken up, and the party proceeded to search for a post in possession of the Missouri Fur company, and said to be somewhere in the neighborhood, upon the banks of another branch of the Columbia. This post they found without much difficulty. It was deserted — and our travellers gladly took possession of the rude buildings. The stream here found was upwards of a hundred yards wide. Canoes were constructed with all despatch. In the meantime another detachment of trappers was cast loose in the wilderness. These were Robinson, Rezner, Hoback, Carr, and Mr. Joseph Miller. This latter, it will be remembered, was one of the partners — he threw up his share in the expedition, however, for a life of more perilous adventure. One the eighteenth of the month (October) fifteen canoes being completed, the voyagers embarked, leaving their horses in charge of the two Snake Indians, who were still in company.

In the course of the day the party arrived at the junction of the stream upon which they floated, with Mad river. Here Snake river commences — the scene of a thousand disasters. After proceeding about four hundred miles, by means of frequent portages, and beset with innumerable difficulties of every kind, the adventurers were brought to a halt by a series of frightful cataracts raging, as far as the eye could reach, between stupendous ramparts of black rock, rising more than two hundred feet perpendicularly. This place they called “The Caldron Linn.” Here Antoine Clappine, one of the voyageurs, perished amid the whirlpools, three of the canoes stuck immoveably among the rocks, and one was swept away with all the weapons and effects of four of the boatmen.

The situation of the party was now lamentable indeed — in the heart of an unknown wilderness, at a loss what route to take, ignorant of their distance from the place of their destination, and with no human being near them from whom counsel might be taken. Their stock of provisions was reduced to five days allowance, and famine stared them in the face. It was therefore more perilous to keep together than to separate. The goods and provisions, except a small supply for each man, were concealed in caches (holes dug in the earth), and the party were divided into several small detachments which started off in different directions, keeping the mouth of the Columbia in view as their ultimate point of destination. From this post they were still distant nearly a thousand miles, although this fact was unknown to them at the time.

On the twenty-first of January, after a series of almost incredible adventures, the division in which Mr. Hunt enrolled himself struck the waters of the Columbia some distance below the junction of its two great branches, Lewis and Clarke rivers, and not far from the influx of the Wallah-Wallah. Since leaving the Caldron Linn, they had toiled two hundred and forty miles through snowy wastes and precipitous mountains, and six months had now elapsed since their departure from the Arickara village on the Missouri — their whole route from that point, according to their computation, having been seventeen hundred and fifty-one miles. Some vague intelligence was now received in regard to the other divisions of the party, and also of the settlers at the mouth of the Columbia. On the thirty-first, Mr. Hunt reached the falls of the river, and encamped at the village of Wish-Ram. Here were heard tidings of the massacre on board the Tonquin. On the fifth of February, having procured canoes with much difficulty, the adventurers departed from Wish-Ram, and on the fifteenth, sweeping round an intervening cape, they came in sight of the long-desired Astoria. Among the first to greet them on their landing, were some of their old comrades who had parted from them at the Caldron Linn, and who had reached the settlement nearly a month before. Mr. Crooks and John Day, being unable to act on, had been left with some Indians in the wilderness — they afterwards came in. Carriere, a voyageur, who was also abandoned through the sternest necessity, was never heard of more. Jean Babtiste Prevost, likewise a voyageur, rendered frantic by famine, had been drowned in the Snake river. All parties had suffered the extremes of weariness, privation and peril. They had travelled from St. Louis, thirty-five hundred miles. Let us now return to Mr. Astor.

As yet he had received no intelligence from the Columbia, and had to proceed upon the supposition that all had gone as he desired. He accordingly fitted out a fine ship, the Beaver, of four hundred and ninety tons. Her cargo was assorted with a view to the supply of Astoria, the trade along the coast, and the wants of the Russian fur company. There embarked in her, for the settlement, a partner, five clerks, fifteen American laborers, and six Canadian voyageurs. Mr. John Clarke, the partner, was a native of the United States, although he had passed much of his life in the north-west, having been employed in the fur trade since the age of sixteen. The clerks were, chiefly, young American gentlemen of good connexions. Mr. Astor had selected this reinforcement with the design of securing an ascendancy of American Indians at Astoria, and rendering the association decidedly national. This, from the peculiar circumstances of the case, he had been unable to do in the commencement of his undertaking.

Captain Sowle, the commander of the Beaver, was directed to touch at the Sandwich islands, to enquire about the fortunes of the Tonquin, and ascertain, if possible, whether the settlement had been erected at Astoria. If so, he was to enlist as many of the natives as possible and proceed. He was to use great caution in his approach to the mouth of the Columbia. If every thing was found right, however, he was to land such part of his cargo as was intended for the post, and to sail for New Archangel with the Russian supplies. Having received furs in payment, he would return to Astoria, take in the peltries there collected, and make the best of his way to Canton. These were the strict letter of his instructions — a deviation from which was subsequently the cause of great embarrassment and loss, and contributed largely to the failure of the whole enterprize. The Beaver sailed on the tenth of October, 1811, and, after taking in twelve natives at the Sandwich islands, reached the mouth of the Columbia, in safety, on the ninth of May, 1812. Her arrival gave life and vigor to the establishment, and afforded means of extending the operations of the company, and founding a number of interior trading posts.

It now became necessary to send despatches over land to Mr. Astor at New York, an attempt at so doing having been frustrated some time before by the hostility of the Indians at Wish-Ram. The task was confided to Mr. Robert Stuart, who, though he had never been across the mountains, had given evidence of his competency for such undertakings. He was accompanied by Ben. Jones and John Day, Kentuckians; Andri Vallar and Francis Le Clarke, Canadians; and two of the partners, Messieurs M’Lellan and Crooks, who were desirous of returning to the Atlantic states. This little party set out on the twenty-ninth of June, and Mr. Irving accompanies them, in detail, throughout the whole of their long and dangerous wayfaring. As might be expected, they encountered misfortunes still more terrible than those before experienced by Mr. Hunt and his associates. The chief features of the journey, were the illness of Mr. Crooks, and the loss of all the horses of the party through the villainy of the Upsarokas This latter circumstance was the cause of excessive trouble and great delay. On the thirteenth of April, however, the party arrived in fine health and spirits at St. Louis, baying been ten months in performing their perilous expedition. The route taken by Mr. Stuart coincided nearly with that of Mr. Hunt, as far as the Wind river mountains. From this point the former struck somewhat to the south-east, following the Nebraska to its junction with the Missouri.

War having at length broken out between the United States and England, Mr. Astor perceived that the harbor of New York would be blockaded, and the departure of the annual supply ship in the autumn prevented. In this emergency he wrote to Captain Sowle, the commander of the Beaver, addressing him at Canton. The letter directed him to proceed to the factory at the mouth of the Columbia, with such articles as the establishment might need, and to remain there subject to the orders of Mr. Hunt. In the meantime nothing had yet been heard from the settlement.. Still, not discouraged, Mr. A. determined to send out another ship, although the risk of loss was so greatly enhanced that no insurance could be effected. The Lark was chosen — remarkable for her fast sailing. She put to sea on the sixth of March, 1813, under the command of Mr. Northrop, her mate — the officer first appointed to command her having shrunk from his engagement. Within a fortnight after her departure, Mr. A. received intelligence that the North-west company had presented a memorial to Great Britain, stating the vast scope of the contemplated operations at Astoria, expressing a fear that, unless crushed, the settlement there would effect the downfall of their own fur trade, and advising that a force be sent against the colony. In consequence, the frigate Phbe was ordered to convoy the armed ship Isaac Todd, belonging to the North-west company, and provided with men and munitions for the formation of a new establishment. They were directed “to proceed together to the mouth of the Columbia, capture or destroy whatever American fortress they would find there, and plant the British flag on its ruins.” Upon this matter’s being represented to our government, the frigate Adams, Captain Crane, was detailed for the protection of Astoria; and Mr. A. proceeded to fit out a ship called the Enterprize, to sail in company with the frigate, and freighted with additional supplies Just, however, as the two vessels were ready, a reinforcement of seamen was wanted for Lake Ontario, and the crew of the Adams were, necessarily, transferred to that service. Mr. A. was about to send off his ship alone, when a British force made its appearance off the Hook, and New York was effectually blockaded. The Enterprize therefore was unloaded and dismantled. We now return to the Beaver.

This vessel, after leaving at Astoria that portion of her cargo destined for that post, sailed for New Archangel on the fourth of August, 1812. She arrived there on the nineteenth, meeting with no incidents of moment. A long time was now expended in negotiations with the drunken Governor of the Russian fur colony — one Count Baranoff — and when they were finally completed, the mouth of October had arrived. Moreover, in payment for his supplies, Mr. Hunt was to receive seal-skins, and none were on the spot. It was necessary, therefore, to proceed to a seal-catching establishment belonging to the Russian company at the island of St. Paul, in the sea of Kamschatka. He set sail for this place on the fourth of October, after having wasted forty-five days at New Archangel. He arrived on the thirty-first of the month — by which time, according to his arrangement he should have been back at Astoria. Now occurred great delay in getting the peltries on board; every pack being overhauled to prevent imposition. To make matters worse, the Beaver one night was driven off shore in a gale, and could not get back until the thirteenth of November. Having at length taken in the cargo and put to sea. Mr. Hunt was in some perplexity as to his course. The ship had been much injured in the late gale, and he thought it imprudent to attempt making the mouth of the Columbia in this boisterous time of the year. Moreover, the season was already much advanced; and should he proceed to Astoria as originally intended, he might arrive at Canton so late as to find a bad market. Unfortunately, therefore, he determined to go at once to the Sandwich islands, there await the arrival of the annual ship from New York, take passage in her to the settlement, and let the Beaver proceed on her voyage to China. It is but justice to add that he was mainly induced to this course by the timid representations of Captain Sowle. They reached Woahoo in safety, where the ship underwent the necessary repairs, and again put to sea on the first of January, 1813, leaving Mr. Hunt on the island.

At Canton, Captain Sowle found the letter of Mr. Astor, giving him information of the war, and directing him to convey the intelligence to Astoria. He wrote a reply, in which he declined complying with these orders, saying that he would wait for peace, and then return home. In the meantime Mr. Hunt waited in vain for the annual vessel. At length, about the twentieth of June, the ship Albatross, Captain Smith, arrived from China, bringing the first news of the war to the Sandwich islands. This ship Mr. H. chartered for two thousand dollars, to land him, with some supplies, at Astoria. He reached this post on the twentieth of August, where he found the affairs of the company in a perishing condition, and the partners bent upon abandoning the settlement. To this resolution Mr. Hunt was finally brought to consent. There was a large stock of furs, however, at the factory, which it was necessary to get to a market, and a ship was required for this service. The Albatross was bound to the Marquesas, and thence to the Sandwich islands; and it was resolved that Mr. H. should sail in her in quest of a vessel, returning, if possible, by the first of January, and bringing with him a supply of provisions. He departed on the twenty-sixth of August, and reached the Marquesas without accident. Commodore Porter soon afterwards arrived, bringing intelligence that the British frigate Phbe, with a store-ship mounted with battering pieces, together with the sloops of war Cherub and Racoon, had all sailed, from Rio Janiero, on the sixth of July, bound for the mouth of the Columbia. Mr. H. after in vain attempting to purchase a whale ship from Commodore Porter, started, on the twenty-third of November, for the Sandwich islands, arriving on December the twentieth. Here he found Captain Northrop, of the Lark, which had suffered shipwreck on the coast about the middle of March. The brig Pedlar was now purchased for ten thousand dollars, and, Captain N. being put in command of her, Mr. H. sailed for Astoria on the twenty-second of January, 1814, with the view of removing the property there, as speedily as possible, to the Russian settlements in the vicinity — these were Mr. Astor’s orders sent out by the Lark. On the twenty-eighth of February the brig anchored in the Columbia, when it was found that, on the twelfth of December, the British had taken possession of the post. In some negotiations carried on, just before the surrender, on the part of the North-west company and M’Dougal, that worthy personage gave full evidence that Captain Thorn was not far wrong in suspecting him to be no better than he should be. He had been for some time secretly a partner of the rival association, and shortly before the arrival of the British, took advantage of his situation as head of the post, to barter away the property of the company at less than one third of its value.

Thus failed this great enterprize of Mr. Astor. At the peace, Astoria itself, by the treaty of Ghent, reverted with the adjacent country to the United States, on the principle of states ante bellum. In the winter of 1815, Congress passed a law prohibiting all traffic of British traders within our territories, and Mr. A. felt anxious to seize this opportunity for the renewal of his undertaking. For good reasons, however, he could do nothing, without the direct protection of the government. This evinced much supineness in the matter; the favorable moment was suffered to pass unimproved; and, in despite of the prohibition of Congress, the British finally usurped the lucrative traffic in peltries throughout the whole of our vast territories in the North-west. A very little aid from the sources whence he had naturally a right to expect it, would have enabled Mr. Astor to direct this profitable commerce into national channels, and to render New York, what London has now long been, the great Emporium for furs.

We have already spoken of the masterly manner in which Mr. Irving, has executed his task. It occurs to us that we have observed one or two slight discrepancies in the narrative. There appears to be some confusion between the names of M’Lellan, M’Lennon and M’Lennan — or do these three appellations refer to the same individual? In going tip the Missouri, Mr. Hunt arrives at the Great Bend on the first of June, — the third day after which (the day on which the party is overtaken by Lisa) is said to be the third of July. Jones and Carson join the expedition just above the Omaha village. At page 187, vol. 1, we are told that the two men “who had joined the company at the Maha village” (meaning, Omaha, we presume), deserted and were pursued, but never overtaken — at page 199, however, Carson is recognized by an Indian who is holding a parley with the party. The Lark too, only sailed from New York on the sixth of March, 1813, and on the tenth, we find her, much buffetted, somewhere in the near vicinity of the Sandwich islands. These errors are of little importance in themselves, but may as well be rectified in a future edition.

4

SOUTH-SEA EXPEDITION.

Address on the subject of a Surveying and Exploring Expedition to the Pacific Ocean and South Seas. Delivered in the Hall of Representatives on the Evening of April 3, 1836. By J. V. Reynolds. With Correspondence and Documents. New York: Published by Harper and Brothers.

In the Messenger for last August we spoke briefly on this head. What we then said was embraced in the form of a Critical Notice on the “Report (March 21, 1836,) of the Committee on Naval Affairs to whom was referred Memorials from sundry citizens of Connecticut interested in the Whale Fishery, praying that an exploring expedition be fitted out to the Pacific Ocean and South Seas.” It is now well known to the community that this expedition, the design of which has been for ten years in agitation, has been authorized by Congress; sanctioned, and liberally provided for, by the Executive; and will almost immediately set sail. The public mind is at length thoroughly alive on the subject, and, in touching upon it now, we merely propose to give, if possible, such an outline of the history, object, and nature of the project, as may induce the reader to examine, for himself, the volume whose title forms the heading of this article. Therein Mr. Reynolds has embodied a precise and full account of the whole matter, with every necessary document and detail.

In beginning we must necessarily begin with Mr. Reynolds. He is the originator, the persevering and indomitable advocate, the life, the soul of the design. Whatever, of glory at least, accrue therefore from the expedition, this gentleman, whatever post he may occupy in it, or whether none, will be fairly entitled to the lion’s share, and will as certainly receive it. He is a native of Ohio, where his family are highly respectable, and where he was educated and studied the law. He is known, by all who know him at all, as a man of the loftiest principles and of unblemished character. “His writings,” to use the language of Mr. Hamer on the floor of the House of Representatives, “have attracted the attention of men of letters; and literary societies and institutions have conferred upon him some of the highest honors they had to bestow.” For ourselves, we have frequently borne testimony to his various merits as a gentleman, a writer and a scholar.

It is now many years since Mr. R’s attention was first attracted to the great national advantages derivable from an exploring expedition to the South Sea and the Pacific; time has only rendered the expediency of the undertaking more obvious. To-day, the argument for the design is briefly as follows. No part of the whole commerce of our country is of more importance than that carried on in the regions in question. At the lowest estimate a capital of twelve millions of dollars is actively employed by one branch of the whale fishery alone; and there is involved in the whole business, directly and collaterally, not less probably than seventy millions of property. About one tenth of the entire navigation of the United States is engaged in this service — from 9 to 12,000 seamen, and from 170 to 200,000 tons of shipping. The results of the fishery are in the highest degree profitable-it being not a mere inter change of commodities, but, in a great measure, the creation of wealth, by labor, from the ocean. It produces to the United States an annual income of from five to six millions of dollars. It is a most valuable nursery for our seamen, rearing up a race of hardy and adventurous men, eminently fit for the purposes of the navy. This fishery then is of importance — its range may be extended — at all events its interests should be protected. The scene of its operations, however, is less known and more full of peril than any other portion of the globe visited by our ships. It abounds in islands, reefs and shoals unmarked upon any chart — prudence requires that the location of these should be exactly defined. The savages in these regions have frequently evinced a murderous hostility — they should be conciliated or intimidated. The whale, and more especially all furred animals, are becoming scarce before the perpetual warfare of man — new generations will he found in the south, and the nation first to discover them will reap nearly all the rich benefits of the discovery. Our trade in ivory, in sandal-wood, in biche le-mer, in feathers, in quills, in seal-oil, in porpoise-oil, and in sea-elephant oil, may here be profitably extended. Various other sources of commerce will be met with, and may be almost exclusively appropriated. The crews, or at least some portion of the crews, of many of our vessels known to be wrecked in this vicinity, may be rescued from a life of slavery and despair. Moreover, we are degraded by the continual use of foreign charts. In matters of mere nautical or geographical science, our government has been hitherto supine, and it is due to the national character that in these respects something should be done. We have now a chance of redeeming ourselves in the Southern Sea. Here is a wide field open and nearly untouched — ” a theatre peculiarly our own from position and the course of human events.” Individual enterprize, even acting especially for the purpose, cannot be expected to accomplish all that should be done — dread of forfeiting insurance will prevent our whale-ships from effecting any thing of importance incidentally — and our national vessels on general service have elsewhere far more than they can efficiently attend to. In the meantime our condition is prosperous beyond example, our treasury is overflowing, a special national expedition could accomplish every thing desired, the expense of it will be comparatively little, the whole scientific world approve it, the people demand it, and thus there is a multiplicity of good reasons why it should immediately be set on foot.

Ten years ago these reasons were still in force, and Mr. Reynolds lost no opportunity of pressing them upon public attention. By a series of indefatigable exertions lie at length succeeded in fully interesting the country in his scheme. Commodore Downes and Captain Jones, with nearly all the officers of our navy, gave it their unqualified approbation. Popular assemblages in all quarters spoke in its favor. Many of our commercial towns and cities petitioned for it. It was urged in Reports from the Navy and Messages from the Executive Department. The East India Marine Society of Massachusetts, all of whose members by the constitution must have personally doubled either Cape Horn, or the Cape of Good Hope, were induced to get up a memorial in its behalf; and the legislatures of eight different states-of New York, New Jersey, Rhode Island, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Ohio, North Carolina, and, we are happy to add, of Virginia, recommended the enterprize in the most earnest manner to the favorable consideration of Congress.

As early as January 1823, Mr. Reynolds submitted to the Speaker of the House of Representatives, a letter upon the subject accompanied with memorials and petitions. Among these memorials was one from Albany, dated October 19th, 1527, and signed by his Excellency Nathaniel Pitcher, lieutenant governor of the State of New York; the honorable Erastus Root, speaker of the house of delegates; and by nearly all the members of the legislature. Another, dated Charleston, South Carolina, May 31st, 1827, was signed by the mayor of tie city; the president of the chamber of commerce; and by a very long list of respectable citizens. A third was dated Raleigh, North Carolina, December 24th, 1827, and contained the signatures of his Excellency James Iredell, the governor; the honorable B. Yancey, speaker of the senate; the honorable James Little, speaker of the house of commons; and a large proportion of each branch of the legislature. A fourth was dated Richmond, Virginia, January 1st, 1828, and was sustained by a great number of the most influential inhabitants of Virginia; by the honorable Linn Banks, speaker of the house of delegates; and by a majority of the delegates themselves. For reference, Mr. Reynolds handed in at the same period a preamble and resolution of the Maryland Assembly, approving in the strongest terms the contemplated expedition. The matter was thus for the first time, we believe, brought into a shape for the official cognizance of the government.

The letter was referred to the committee on Naval Affairs. That body made application to Mr. R. for a statement, in writing, of his views. It was desired that this statement should contain his reasons for general results, a reference to authorities for specific facts, as well as a tabular statement of the results and facts, so fal as they might be susceptible of being stated in such form. To this application Mr. R. sent a brief yet comprehensive reply, embracing a view of the nature and extent of our whale-fisheries, and the several trades in the sea otter skin, the fir seal skin, the ivory sea elephant tooth, land animal fur, sandal wood, and feathers, together with observations on the general benefits resulting from these branches of commerce, independent of the wealth they bring into the country.

The Secretary of the Navy was also called upon for his opinion. In his reply he strongly commended the design, using the main arguments we have already adduced. He stated, moreover, that Mr. Reynolds’ estimate of the value of our commerce in the regions in question, had been much augmented, in the view of the department, through the reports, made under its orders, of our naval officers, who had commanded vessels of war in the Pacific.

Nothing was done, however, until the next session of Congress. A bill was then proposed but did not become a law. In consequence of its failure, the House of Representatives passed a resolution requesting the President of the United States “to send one of our small vessels to the Pacific Ocean and South Seas, to examine the coasts, islands, harbors, shoals, and reefs in those seas, and to ascertain their true situation and description,” and authorizing the use of such facilities as could be afforded by the Navy Department without further appropriation during the year. There was, however, no suitable national vessel in condition, at the time, to be despatched upon the service. The Peacock, therefore, was placed at the New York navy yard, to be repaired and fitted out, and an additional vessel of two hundred tons engaged, upon the agreement that Congress should be recommended to authorize the plu chase-the vessel to be returned if the recommendation were not approved. These arrangements the Secretary of the Navy communicated to Congress in November, 1828. A bill now passed one house, but was finally lost.

Mr. Reynolds did not cease from his exertions. The subject of the expedition was not effectually resumed, however, until January 1835. Mr. Dickerson then transmitted to Congress, a Report by Mr. R., dated September 24th, 1828. This report had been drawn up at the request of Mr. Southard, in June, when that gentleman was called upon by the Committee on Naval Affairs. It occupies about forty pages of the volume now before us, and speaks plainly of the assiduity and energy of the reporter. He repaired, immediately, upon Mr. Southard’s expressing a wish to that effect, to New-London, Stonington, New-Bedford, Edgartown, Nantucket, and other places where information might be found of the Pacific Ocean and South Seas. His desire was to avail himself of personal data, afforded by the owners and masters of the whaling vessel, sailing from those ports. His main objects of inquiry were the navigation, geography and topography presented by the whole range of the seas from the Pacific to the Indian and Chinese oceans, with the extent and nature of our commerce and fisheries in those quarters. He found that “all he had before heard was confirmed by a long train of witnesses, and that every calculation he had previously made fell very far short of the truth.” In February 1835, the Committee on Commerce strongly recommended Mr. Reynolds’ design, and in March 1836 the Committee on Naval Affairs made a similar report. On May the 10th, a bill authorizing the expedition, but leaving nearly every thing to the discretion of the Chief Magistrate, finally passed both houses of Congress. The friends of the bill could have desired nothing better. The President gave orders forthwith to have the exploring vessels fitted out with the least possible delay. The frigate Macedoian, now nearly ready, will be the main vessel in the enterprize. Captain Thomas Ap C. Jones will command her. She has been chosen instead of a sloop of war, on account of the increased accommodations she will afford the scientific corps, which is to be complete in its organization, including the ablest men to be procured. Sb will give too, extended protection to our commerce in the seas to be visited, and her imposing appearance will avail more to overawe the savages, and impress upon them a just idea of our power, than even a much larger real force distributed among vessels of less magnitude. She will be accompanied by two brigs of two hundred tons each, two tenders, and a store-ship.

In regard to the time of sailing there can be but little choice — the vessels will put to sea as soon as every thing is ready. The scientific corps, we believe, is not yet entirely filled up; nor can it be well organized until the preparations in the frigate are completed. Many gentlemen of high celebrity, however, have already offered their services. In the meantime, Lieutenant Wilkes of the Navy has been despatched to England and France, for the purpose of purchasing such instruments for the use of the expedition, as cannot readily be procured in this country. In all quarters he has met with the most gratifying reception, and with ardent wishes for the success of the contemplated enterprize.

Mr. Reynolds has received the highest civil post in the expedition that of corresponding secretary. It is presumed that he will draw up the narrative of the voyage, (to be published under the patronage of government) embodying, possibly, and arranging in the same book, the several reports or journals of the scientific corps. How admirably well he is qualified for his task, no person can know better than ourselves. His energy, his love of polite literature, his many and various attainments, and above all, his ardent and the honorable enthusiasm, point him out as the man of all men for the execution of the task. We look forward to this finale — to the published record of the expedition — with an intensity of eager expectation, which we cannot think we have ever experienced before.

And it has been said that envy and ill-will have been already doing their work — that the motives and character of Mr. Reynolds have been assailed. This is a matter which we fully believe. It is perfectly in unison with the history of all similar enterprizes, and of the vigorous minds which have conceived, advocated, and matured them. It is hardly necessary, however, to say a word upon this topic. We will not insult Mr. Reynolds with a defence. Gentlemen have impugned his motives — have these gentlemen ever seen him or conversed with him half an hour?

We close this notice by subjoining two interesting extracts from the eloquent Address now before us:

It is the opinion of some, as we are aware, that matters of this description are best left to individual enterprize, and that the interference of government is necessary. Such persons do not reflect, as they ought, that all measures of public utility which from any cause cannot be accomplished by individuals, become the legitimate objects of public care, in reference to which the government is bound to employ the means put into its hands for the general good. Indeed, while there remains a spot of untrodden earth accessible to man, no enlightened, and especially commercial and free people, should withhold its contributions for exploring it, wherever that spot may he found on the earth, from the equator to the poles!

Have we not shown, that this expedition is called for by our extensive interests in those seas — interests which, from small beginnings, have increased astonishingly in the lapse of half a century, and which are every day augmenting and diffusing their beneficial result throughout the country? May we not venture on still higher rounds? Had we no commerce to be benefitted, would it not still be honorable; still worthy the patronage of Congress; still the best possible employment of a portion of our naval force?

Have we not shown, that this expedition is called for by national dignity and honor? Have we not shown, that our commanding position and rank among the commercial nations of the earth, makes it only equitable that we should take our share in exploring and surveying new islands, remote seas, and, as yet, unknown territory? Who so uninformed as to assert, that all this has been done? Who so presumptuous as to set limits to knowledge, which by a wise law of Providence, can never cease? As long as there is mind to act upon matter, the realms of science must be enlarged; and nature and her laws be better understood, and more understandingly applied to the great purpose of life. If the nation were oppressed with debt, it might, indeed it would, still be our duty to do something, though the fact, perhaps, would operate as a reason for a delay of action. But have we any thing of this kind to allege, when the country is prosperous, without a parallel in the annals of nations?

Is not every department of industry in a state of improvement? Not only two, but a hundred blades of grass grow where one grew when we became a nation; and out manufacturers have increased, not less to astonish the philosopher and patriot, that to benefit the nation; and have not agriculture and manufactures, wrought up by a capital of intelligence and enterprize, given a direct impulse to our commerce, a consequence of our navy? And if so, do they not impose new duties on every statesman?

Again, have we not shown that this expedition is demanded by public opinion, expressed in almost every form? Have not societies for the collection and diffusion of knowledge, towns and legislatures, and the commanding voice of public opinion, as seen through the public press, sanctioned and called for the enterprize? Granting, as all must, there is no dissenting voice upon the subject, that all are anxious that our country should do something for the great good of the human family, is not now the time, while the treasury, like the Nile is fruitful seasons, is overflowing its banks? It this question is settled, and I believe it is, the next is, what shall be the character of the expedition? The answer is in the minds of all — one worthy of the nation! And what would be worthy of the nation? Certainly nothing on a scale that has been attempted by any other country. If true to our national character, to the spirit of the age we live in, the first expedition sent out by this great republic must not fall short in any department — from a defective organization, or from adopting too closely the efforts of other nations as models for our own. We do, we always have done things best, when we do them in our own way. The spirit evinced by others is worthy of all imitation; but not their equipments. We must look at those seas; what we have there; what requires to be done; — and then apply the requisite means to accomplish the ends. It would not only be inglorious simply to follow a track pointed out by others, but it could never content a people proud of their fame and rejoicing in their strength! They would hurl to everlasting infamy the imbecile voyages, who had only coasted where others had piloted. No; nothing but a goodly addition to the stock of present knowledge, would answer for those most moderate in their expectations.

But, not only to correct the errors of the former navigators, and to enlarge and correct the charts of every portion of sea and land that the expedition might visit, and other duties to which we have alluded; but also to collect, preserve, and arrange every thing valuable in the whole range of natural history, from the minute madrepore to the huge spermaceti, and accurately to describe that which cannot be preserved; to secure whatever may be hoped for in natural philosophy; to examine vegetation, from the hundred mosses of the rocks, throughout all the classes of shrub, flower and tree, up to the monarch of the forest; to study man in his physical and mental powers, in his manners, habits, disposition, and social and political relations; and above all, in the philosophy of his language, in order to trace his origin from the early families of the old world; to examine the phenomena of winds and tides, of heat and cold, of light and darkness; to add geological to other surveys, when it can be done in safety; to examine the nature of soils — if not to see if they can be planted with success — yet to see if they contain any thing which may be transplanted with utility to our own contr; in fine, there should be science enough to bear upon every thing that may present itself for investigation.

How, it may be asked, is all this to be effected? By an enlightened body of naval officers, joining harmoniously with a corps of scientific men, imbued with the love of science, and sufficiently learned to pursue with success the branches to which they should be designated. This body of men should be carefully selected, and made sufficiently numerous to secure the great objects of expedition. These lights of science, and the naval officers, so far from interfering with each other’s fame, would, like stars in the milky-way, shed a lustre on each other, and all on their country!

These men may be obtained, if sufficient encouragement is offered as an inducement. They should be well paid. Scholars of sufficient attainments to quality then for such stations, do not hang loosely upon society; they must have fixed upon their professions or business in life: and what they are called to do, must be from the efforts of ripe minds; not the experiments of youthful ones to prepare them for usefulness. If we have been a by-word and a reproach among nations for pitiful remuneration of intellectual labors, this expedition will afford an excellent opportunity of wiping it away. They stimulus of fame is not a sufficient motive for a scientific man to leave his family and friends, and all the charms and duties of social life, for years together; but it must be united to the recompense of pecuniary reward, to call forth all the powers of an opulent mind. The price you pay will, in some measure, show your appreciation of such pursuits. We have no stars and ribands, no hereditary titles, to reward our men of genius for adding to the knowledge or to the comfort of mankind, and to the honor of the nation. We boast of our men of science, our philosophers, and artists, when they have paid the last tribute to envy by their death. When mouldering in their graves, they enjoy a reputation, which envy and malice and detraction may hawk at and tear, but cannot harm! Let us be more just, and stamp the value we set on science in a noble appreciation of it, and by the price we are willing to pay,

It has been justly remarked, that those who enlighten their country by their talents, strengthen it by their philosophy, enrich it by their science, and adorn it by their genius, are Atlases, who support the name and dignity of their nation, and transmit it unimpaired to future generations. Their noblest part lives and is active, when they are no more; and their names and contributions to knowledge, are legacies bequeathed to the whole world! To those who shall thus labor to enrich our country, if we would be just, we must be liberal, by giving to themselves and families an honorable support while engaged in these arduous duties!

If the objects of the expedition are noble, if the inducements to undertake it are of a high order — and we believe there can be no difference of opinion on this point — most assuredly the means to accomplish them should be adequate. No narrow views, no scanty arrangements, should enter the minds of those who have the planning and directing of the enterprize. At such a time, and in such a cause, liberality is economy, and parsimony is extravagance.

Again, if the object of the expedition were simply to attain a high southern latitude, ten two small brigs or barks would be quite sufficient. If to visit a few points among the islands, a sloop of war might answer the purpose. But are these the objects? We apprehend they only form a part. From the west coast of South America, running down the longitude among the islands on both sides of the equator, though more especially south, to the very shores of Asia, is the field that lies open before us, independence of the higher latitudes south, of which we shall speak in the conclusion of our remarks. Reflecting on the picture we have sketched of our interests in that immense region, all must admit, that the armament of the expedition should be sufficient to protect our flag; to succor the unfortunate of every nation, who may be found on desolate islands, or among hordes of savages; a power that would be sufficient by the majesty of its appearance, to awe into respect and obedience the fierce and turbulent, and to give facilities to all engaged in the great purposes of the voyage. The amount of this power is a question upon which there can be but little difference of opinion, among those thoroughly acquainted with the subject; the best informed are unanimous in their opinion, that there should be a well-appointed frigate, and five other vessels — twice that number would find enough, and more than they could do. The frigate would form the nucleus, rough which the smaller vessels should perform the labors to which we have already alluded, and which you will find pointed out in all the memorials and reports hitherto made on this subject, and which may be found among the printed documents on your tables. Some might say, and we have heard such things said, that this equipment would savor of individual pride in the commander; but they forget that the calculations of the wise are generally secured by the strength of their measure. The voyage is long — the resting places uncertain, which makes the employment of a storeship, also, a matter of prudence and economy. It would not do to be anxious about food, while the expedition was in the search of an extended harvest of knowledge.

The expectations of the people of the United States from such an expedition, most unquestionably would be great. From their education and past exertions through all the history of our national growth, the people are prepared to expect that every public functionary should discharge his duty to the utmost extent of his physical and mental powers. They will not be satisfied with any thing short of all that men can perform. The appalling weight of responsibility of those who serve their country in such an expedition, is strikingly illustrated by the instructions given to Lewis and Clarke, in 1803, by President Jefferson. The extended views and mental grasp of this distinguished philosopher no one will question, nor can any one believe that he would be unnecessarily minute.

The sage, who had conceived and matured the plan of the expedition to the far west, in his instructions to its commander under his own signature, has left us a model worthy of all imitation. With the slight variations growing out of time and place, how applicable would those instructions be for the guidance of the enterprize we have at present in view? The doubts of some politicians, that this government has no power to encourage scientific inquiry, most assuredly had no place in the mind of that great apostle of liberty, father of democracy, ans strict constructionist! We claim no wider range than he has sanctioned; including as he does, animate and inanimate nature, the heavens above, and all on the earth beneath! The character and value of that paper are not sufficiently known. Among all the records of his genius, his patriotism, and his learning, to be found in our public archives, this paper deserves to take, and in time will take rank, second only to the Declaration of our Independence. The first, imbodied the spirit of our free institutions, and self-government; the latter, sanctioned those liberal pursuits, withouta just appreciation of which, our institutions cannot be preserved, or if they can, would be scarcely worth preserving.

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To complete its efficiency, individuals from other walks of life, we repeat, should be appointed to participate in its labors. No professional pique, no petty jealousies. should be allowed to defeat this object. The enterprize should be national in its object and sustained by the national means, belongs of right to no individual, or set of individuals, but to the country and the whole country; and he who does not view it in this light, or could not enter it with this spirit, would not be very likely to meet the public expectations were he entrusted with the entire control.

To indulge in jealousies, or feel undue solicitude about the division of honors before they are won, is the appropriate employment of carpet heroes, in whatever walk of life they may be found. The qualifications of such would fit them better to thread the mazes of the dance, or to shine in the saloon, than to venture upon an enterprize requiring men, in the most emphatic sense of the term.

There are, we know, many, very many, ardent spirits in our navy — many whom we hold among the most valued of our friends — who are tired of inglorious ease, and who would seize the opportunity thus presented to them with avidity, and enter with delight upon this new path to fame.

Our seamen are hardy and adventurous, especially those who are engaged in the seal trade and the whale fisheries; and innured as they are to the perils of navigation, are inferior to none on earth for such a service. Indeed, the enterprize, courage and perseverance of American seamen are, if not unrivalled, at least unsurpassed. What man can do, they have always felt ready to attempt, — what man has done, it is their character to feel able to do, — whether it be to grapple with an enemy on the deep, or to pursue their gigantic game under the burning line, with an intelligence and ardor that insure success, or pushing their adventurous barks into the high southern latitudes, to circle the globe within the Antarctic circle, and attain the Pole itself; yea, to cast anchor on that point where all the meridians terminate, where our eagle and star-spangled banner may be unfurled and planted, and left to wave on the axis of the earth itself! — where, amid the novelty, grandeur and sublimity of the scene, the vessels, instead of sweeping a vast circuit by the diurnal movements of the earth, would simply turn round once in twenty-four hours!

We shall not discuss, at present, the probability of this result, though its possibility might be easily demonstrated. If this should be realize, where is the individual who does not feel that such an achievement would add new lustre to the annals of American philosophy, and crown with a new and imperishable wreath the nautical glories of our country!

5

ANTHON’S CICERO.

Select Orations of Cicero: with an English Commentary, and Historical, Geographical, and Legal Indexes. By Charles Anthon, LL. D. Jay-Professor of Ancient Literature in Columbia College, and Rector of the Grammar School. New York: Harper and Brothers.

Last May, we had occasion to express our high opinion of Professor Anthon’s Sallust, and of his literary labors in general. We then said what we have long, thought, and still think, that this gentleman has done more for sound scholarship at home, and for our classical reputation abroad, than any other individual in America. In England he is particularly appreciated. His vast additions to Lempriere are there justly regarded as evincing a nice perception of method, great industry, and extensive as well as accurate erudition. We know that two separate editions of his Sallust have appeared in London from the hands of different editors, and without any effort on the part of the author to procure a republication — this fact speaks plainly of the value set upon the work. His books, too, have been adopted as text-books at Cambridge and Oxford (for which meridian, indeed, they are especially intended) — an honor to be properly understood only by those acquainted with the many high requisites for attaining it.

The present edition of Cicero, the text of which is based upon the work of Ernesti, embraces only the four orations against Catiline, together with those for Archias, Marcellus, the Manilian Law, and Muirenca. The statutes of Columbia College require that the first six of these orations shall be read by candidates for admission into the Freshman Class, and they have accordingly been selected with an eye to this regulation. The orations for the Manilian Laws, and for Murena, “have been added,” says Mr. Anthon, “as favorable specimens of Cicero’s more elaborate style of eloquence, especially the latter; and they may, it is conceived, be read with advantage at the beginning of an undergraduate course.” Without reference to the rules of particular colleges (most of which, however, accord with the institution of New York in regard to the speeches against Catiline and for Archias), it may be assumed that no better selection of Cicero could be made — if the intention be, as it mainly should, to convey the spirit of the orator and of the man. We confess, however, and we believe Professor Anthon will half accord with us in our confession, that we should have been pleased to see the vivacious defence of the dissolute Coelius, and (that last oration of the noble Roman,) the fourteenth of his indignant Philippics against Antony.

The work is gotten up in the same beautiful style as the Sallust. It is a thick duodecimo of 518 pages. Of these, 380 are well occupied with Explanatory Notes; Legal, Geographical, and Historical Indexes. An acute analysis of the life and writings of Cicero fills about 40 pages in the front of the book, and will be recognized as an imitation, in manner, of the Brutus, sive de Claris Oratoribus, of the Latin author under examination.

As a critic and commentator, Professor Anthon must be retarded with the highest consideration. Although still young, he has evinced powers of a nature very unusual in men whose lives, like his own, have been mainly devoted to the hortus siccus of classical erudition. The simplicity and perfect obviousness of most of the readings wherein he has differed from commentators of the first celebrity, entitle to him respect as the philosopher, no less than as the philologist. He has dared to throw aside the pedant, and look en homme du monde upon some of the most valued of the literary monuments of antiquity. In this way he has given the world evidence of a comprehensive as well as of an acute and original understanding, and thus the abundant notes to his editions of the Latin classics will do him lasting honor among all who are qualified to give an opinion of his labors, or whose good word and will he would be likely to consider as worth having.

 


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Notes:

None.


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[S:0 - BRP5S, 1997] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Editions - The Collected Writings of Edgar Allan Poe (B. R. Pollin) (January 1837 (Texts))