Слике страница
PDF
ePub

« « Methiuks,” says the Brahmin, you are describing a native of Canton or Pekin. But,' added he, after a short pause, though to a superficial observer man appears to put on very different characters, to a philosopher he is every where the same--for he is every where moulded by the circumstances in which he is placed. Thus; let him be in a situation that is propitious to commerce, and the habits of traffic produce in him shrewdness and address, Trade is carried on chiefly in towns, because it is there carried on most advantageously. This situation gives the trader a more intimate knowledge of bis species-a more ready insight into character, and of the modes of operating on it. His chief purpose is to buy as cheap, and to sell as dear, as he can; and he is often able to heighten the recommendations or soften the defects of some of the articles in which he deals, without danger of immediate detection; or, in other words, his representations have some influence with his customers. He avails himself of this circumstance, and thus acquires the habit of lying ; but, as he is studious to conceal it, he becomes wary, ingenious, and cunning. It is thus that the Phenicians, the Carthagenians, the Dutch, the Chinese, the New-Englanders, and the modern Greeks, have always been regarded as inclined to petty frauds by their less commercial neighbours.' I mentioned the English nation.

« • If the English," said he, interrupting me; who are the most commercial people of modern times, have not acquired the same character, it is because they are as distinguished for other things as for traffic : they are not merely a commercial people--they are also agricultural, warlike, and literary; and thus the natural tendencies of commerce are mutually counteracted.'

“We afterwards descended slowly; the prospect beneath us becoming more beautiful than my humble pen can hope to describe, or will even attempt to portray. · In a short time after, we were in sight of Venezuela. We met with the trade winds and were carried by them forty or fifty miles inland, where, with some difficulty, and even danger, we landed. The Brahmin and myself remained together two days, and parted-he to explore the Andes, to obtain additional light on the subject of his hypothesis, and I, on the wings of impatience, to visit once more my long-deserted family and friends. But before our separation, I assisted my friend in concealing our aerial vessel, and received a promise from him to visit, and perhaps spend with me the evening of his life. Of my journey home, little remains to be said. From the citizens of Colombia, I experienced kindness and attention, and means of conveyance to Caraccas ; where, embarking on board the brig Juno, captain Withers, I once more set foot in New-York, on the 18th of August, 1826, after an absence of four years, resolved, for the rest of my life, to travel only in books, and persuaded, from experience, that the satisfaction which the wanderer gains from actually beholding the wonders and curiosities of distant climes, is dearly bought by the sacrifice of all the comforts and delights of home."

We have thus placed before the reader an analysis of this in- , · teresting Satirical Romance. The time and space we have occu

pied sufficiently indicate the favourable sentiments respecting it with which we have been impressed. Of the execution of the satires, from the several extracts we have given, the reader will himself be enabled to judge. This is of course unequal, but gene- , rally felicitous. In the personal allusions which occur through the work, the author exhibits, as we have before noticed, a freedom from malice and all uncharitableness, and in many of them has attained that happy desideratum which Dryden considered a matter of so much difficulty:- ,

“ How easy is it,” he observes, “ to call rogue and villain, and that wittily! But how hard to make a man appear a fool, a blockhead, or a knave, without using any of those opprobrious terms! To spare the grossness of the names, and to do the thing yet more severely, is to draw a full face, and to make the nose and

[ocr errors]

cheeks stand out, and yet not to employ any depth of shadowing. This is the mystery of that noble trade, which yet no master can teach to his apprentice; he may give the rules, but the scholar is never the nearer in his practice ; nei. ther is it true, that this fineness of raillery is offensive. A witty man is tickled, while he is hurt, in this manner, and a fool feels it not; the occasion of an of fence may possibly be given, but he cannot take it. If it be granted, that, in effect, this way does more mischief-that a man is secretly wounded, and, though he be not sensible himself, yet the malicious world will find it out for binn; yet, there is still a vast difference betwixt the slovenly butchering of a man, and the fineness of a stroke that separates the head from the body, and leaves it standing in its place. A man may be capable, as Jack Ketch's wife said of his servant, of a plain piece of work, a bare hanging; but to make a malefactor die sweetly, was only belonging to her husband."*

In conclusion, we must express our regret, that the author should not have added notes to the work—the want of them will be seriously felt by every one; some of the satires, indeed, must escape the reader, unless he pay a degree of attention, which notes would have rendered unnecessary. In his next edition, we trust that this deficiency may be supplied ; and we anticipate as much instruction and entertainment, from the wide scope which such an undertaking will afford, as we have derived from the perusal of the text. Cheerfully would we extend to him, if required, the leisure claimed by Spenser, after he had composed the first six books of his “ Faerie Queene," provided he would promise us similar conditions :

“ After so long a race as I have run

Through Faery Land, which those six books compile,
Give leave to rest me, being half foredonne,

And gather to myself new breath awhile ;
“Then, as a steed refreshed after toyle,

Out of my prison will I break anew,
And stoutly will that second work assoyle,

With strong endeavour, and attention due.”

Art. IV.- The Life of John Ledyard, the American Travel

ler; comprising Selections from his Journals and Correspondence. By JARED SPARKS. Cambridge, Mass. 1828.

It is among the North American people that we might expect to find more men with the romantic spirit and other qualities required for exploratory travel, than elsewhere within the limits of civilization. What their ancestors did in opening and settling the old states, they have but recently performed in the new; and are now pursuing, in numbers, over the vast territory lying beyond the cultivated regions. The adventurous character distinctive of infant colonies; the restlessness and hardihood produced

* Dryden's Essay on Satire.

by migration, and the researches and struggles incident to it; the strong desire of action and improvement of condition, continuing from the original impulses ; have been transmitted almost throughout our Union, from the primeval down to the present generation:

“So came our ancestors, stern volunteers!
Who knew the dangers, yet despised the fears ;
Thus did they sever many a heart-knit tie,
Freedom and competence to win, or die;
And thus their hardy offspring dare to roam
Far in the West, to seek a happier home;
To push the red man from his solitude,
And plant refinement in the forest rude;
Thus daringly their glorious race to run,

Ev'n to the regions of yon setting sun.”—PAULDING. Every observer, acquainted with the European countries and these states, must have remarked the comparative sluggishness of the Europeans who have any domicile; or rather, their repugnance to distant excursions—their tenaciousness of the immediate scene of their birth or early occupation. It is observed, in those parts of Canada to which the natives of our republic emigrate, that, however well situated at first, they are ever ready to transplant themselves, whether at the distance of one or five hundred miles ; while the Irish or British emigrants are generally content with their one forced flight across the Atlantic, and cling to the spot upon which they chance to alight, or which may have been chosen for their residence.

The principal western states have been founded and peopled by rovers from what we call our land of steady habits, before that land could itself be said to be thickly settled, or contain any excess of population, or they had reached the condition of poverty, according to the European standard. The pictures which have been drawn, in books, of Yankee families, on their way to some remote and perhaps undetermined point of the wilderness, thousands of miles from their paternal hearths, can scarcely be taxed with exaggeration, singular as they are for European notions and experience. These expeditions, at the same time, hear no essential affinity to those of the Tartars or Arabs :-a fixed residence; a permanent seat for the prosperous exercise of some branch of civilized industry; the establishment of a thriving household ; the transmission of a respectable name, are the ultimate objects of nearly all our wanderers. They are not nomades in the proper sense. The extreme backwoodsmen-the hunters and trappers—mostly possess a home, with some of the conveniences, the guiding principles, the habits and ideas, which belong to the abode of their ancestors. However erratic or aboriginal their general modes of life, Christian civilization goes with them wherever they settle ; or at least enough of it to prevent degeneration into utter igno. VOL. III.-NO, 5.

I ?

rance or barbarism, and to ensure its final ascendancy. The substitution of the log hut for the wigwam, of the white forester for the tawny hunter, though these may appear to resemble each other in pursuits and manners, can scarcely be considered as a subject of regret for the philanthropist, when the state of things in the second or third generation is anticipated-neat and commodious mansions--productive, well-stocked farms—a hardy, vigorous race of citizens, more or less literate and enlightened.

If the migratory propensity of the Americans would seem providential in reference to the speedy and best settlement of our vast surface, we may view in the same light, also, the inclination prevalent in the west for insulated residence. Tourists in the south of Europe remark, that the fields or country have the aspect of being uninhabited: the agricultural labourers cluster in villages; there are, comparatively, but few farm-houses or rural dwellings of any description. The true western emigrant or cultivator is far from being thus gregarious; he prefers to live in the midst of his fields, shuns a thick settlement, and covets no very near neighbour. For inveterate cits, in whose scheme of pleasure and security such things as din and bustle, daily news and hourly gossip, the doctor and the constable, are indispensably comprised, this fond election of detached and unprotected life is altogether incomprehensible. A Colonel Boone, retreating to the verge of Missouri, to avoid the possible sight of the smoke of another's chimney, is a being whom we, as we complacently look from our window into the compact and thronged street, can hardly believe to be of the same species with ourselves. Yet the class of similar beings is very numerous beyond the Alleghany; and, as we have intimated, it is auxiliary to the gracious designs of the Most High, for the spread of our race and institutions over the immense territory which he has opened to our enjoyment.

American history, condition, and habits, all argue a greater number of men qualified for penetrating into unknown regions, and enlarging the field of geographical knowledge, than have ever existed in any other empire. The government has called forth, indeed, but too few of them ; such, however, as it has employed, were distinguished by the highest merits. We need only name Pike, Lewis, Clark, and Long. Carver, Bartram, and others of the early travellers, deserved the celebrity which they acquired. The leaders of the parties, who now traverse the Rocky Mountains, and ply a lucrative commerce with the internal Mexican provinces; the solitary hunters who cross the path of the British traders and trappers in the north-west, and who, like the Indians, would surely and fearlessly pass alone, from the remotest northern lake to the extreme south-western limits, by the most rugged and unfrequented routes; the officers of the corps of engineers employed in surveys that give them the character

[ocr errors]

of adventurous explorers, rendering manifold service all these might be cited as of a numerous order scarcely known in the more populous kingdoms of Europe. But the most curious, signal, and interesting example of that order or species, was, undoubtedly, Ledyard, whose extraordinary life and character, have at length been traced, in a satisfactory manner, in the volume, the title of which is placed at the head of this article. We say satisfactory, in reference to the use of the materials which the estimable biographer was able to obtain, and the nature and quantity of them, compared with the meagre sketches before extant: much, however, is still wanting of the details of his career, which can never be supplied, that would have excited even deeper concern, and warmer admiration, than are produced by what we have. Mr. Sparks has given to the world, all that it will probably ever possess concerning Ledyard. Accordingly, we proceed to lay before our readers such an account of the whole, as is consistent with the design of this journal. Perfect authenticity marks all the contents of the volume. It is from the immediate relatives of the traveller, that the facts and papers were procured; and these were collected, soon after his death, by one of his family, with a view to the composition of a biographical memoir. Our author has allowed his hero “to speak for himself,” wherever this plan was practicable; the man is exhibited in his letters and journals; his biographer is content with bringing him forward, as regularly and prominently as possible, and never obtrudes upon the reader with ostentatious learning, or superfluous sentiment. Mr. Sparks is as modest as judicious and well informed. His “only aim," seems, indeed, to have been to bring together a series of facts and quotations, which would do justice to his hero's character and fame; and such are the impressions which they have made on our minds, that if we did not contribute, as far as we can, with our means, to spread a knowledge of them, we should think that we sinned against our country, and almost against our moral nature.

John Ledyard was born at Groton, in Connecticut, in the year 1751, of very respectable parents. He lost his father at an early age, and his mother was left with but scanty means for the education of four children. To her he was indebted for cares and counsels, that made an indelible and most salutary impression on his heart. He received his education partly from her, but chiefly in the grammar school of Hartford. 'Being designed for the profession of the law, he pursued the study of that science for some time; with so little relish, however, that his friends yielded to his wish to adopt another career. At the age of nineteen, he proceeded to Dartmouth College, in order to qualify himself to become a missionary among the Indians. At the college, he acquired knowledge with ease; manifested more indo

« ПретходнаНастави »