« PreviousContinue »
show that he feels himself to be doing something effective, while the representatives around him from other parts of the country are quite in the dark respecting the relations of what he labors with so much fervor. The truth is, that he is haranguing his constituents respecting his claim to their suffrages at the coming election; and his argument, already in type, and now delivering at the Treasury's cost, will to-morrow morning go flying all abroad on the wings of the mail, to blast the schemes of his competitor for office in distant Alabama or Illinois.' Extracts, in bad taste and temper, are quoted from the 'excruciatingly withering' but slip-shod and desultory speeches of Mr. WISE, of Virginia, who in playing the imaginary part of a second 'Randolph of Roanoke' has always appeared to us to cut some such a figure as BosWELL would have done in enacting JOHNSON in a mixed company. The reviewer accompanies his extracts with the annexed comments:
"With such wretched babble does the gravity of an American Congress submit to be affronted. Mr. Wise has a reputation for abilities. He cannot expect much credit for them from such as know him only from reports of his oratorical exhibitions, till he has put his mind anew in training. Scarcely any thing can be worse, than the taste of all his harangues which we have seen. If he have talents, so much the worse for the effect of his style of speaking, as an example. Without the redeeming qualities of John Randolph, who was a scholar, and who, though he rambled insufferably in his argument, was terse and compact in single sentences, Mr. Wise's style is almost a caricature of the worst traits of that eccentric orator. Randolph of Roanoke was undoubtedly a person of brilliant parts, but no one can imitate him without ruin to his mind. Especially was it a dark day for American eloquence, when, because he was afflicted with a constitutional virulence of temper, abusive language, under the names of 'withering sarcasm' and the like, came to be regarded as a high achievement of
"Scarcely any thing, we said, can be worse than the taste of Mr. Wise's harangues. The ne plus ultra of untastefulness, however, we are forbidden to account them. What bad habits of speech make Mr. Wise's orations, with abilities (so say his coadjutors) the same, and yet worse, through similar habits, Mr. Duncan's speeches become, without them. Will posterity-unless some fate should forbid the intervening generations to come to their senses, or unless republics mean time should become a scoff and a by-word through the earth-believe that such matter as this was vented, in the nineteenth century, in a deliberative assembly of the first republic in the world!"
Passages from two or three of Dr. DUNCAN's speeches are here cited, including that brilliant forensic effort in which the orator quoted 'Barney leave the Girls alone,' with great unction, together with that sublime stanza:
'Mary Rogers are a case,
And so are Sally Thompson;
The tribute paid to that accomplished scholar and orator, Hon. HUGH S. LEGARE, of South-Carolina, is as deserved as the comments upon the different characteristics of Messrs. WISE and DUNCAN :
"His speeches invariably afford favorable specimens of the best manner fo be observed in the halls of the American Congress. We have nothing now to say of his plans, opinions, and reasonings, which, in our judgment, are not always sound. But his information is always afflucnt; his address is always dignified and gentleman-like; ample illustrations, supplied by the observations of genius, the reading of diligent years, the experience of life, office, and society, are ready at his command. His fluency is extraordinary; but not more so than his taste is cultivated. The allknowing ex-President excepted, he is probably the best scholar, whose voice has been heard in either house of Congress. A few such examples, (alas, that his is withdrawn!) could not fail to have some effect in recommending a better manner. The sculptors of the West detect their deficiencies while they discover their genius, and they betake themselves to Thorwaldsen and Greenough, to learn how to work up the good material within them. The great art of speeches does not come by inspiration, any more than the manipulations of the statuary."
'The Irish in America' is a defence of emigration and naturalization, 'the more the better,' and professes to be 'a fair statement of Ireland as it is, and Irishmen as they are.' We have not found leisure to peruse it attentively. The remaining article is a congeries of 'Critical Notices,' conspicuous among which is a rejoinder to the KNICKERBOCKER, in the matter of ANTHON'S 'Greek Reader.' We cheerfully leave this controversy with the public. 'It is a very good quarrel as it stands.' As the learned reviewer, driven from one false position to another, has abandoned each in turn, and at last contents himself with a desultory essay upon matters and things in general, we may safely leave him in the hands of his own judges.
EDITOR'S DRAWER. - We intermit our own desultory paragraphs in this department, to make room for a few favors from correspondents, which we have found it inconvenient, 'from causes known to types,' to insert elsewhere, or which have been awaiting their turn among a goodly company in our favorite drawer.
'LAURIE TODD' gossips agreeably in the subjoined reminiscence of our revolutionary history, every striking record of which is worthy of being treasured up, to be read with satisfaction even now, but with double interest hereafter.
'Ir has ever been the custom, friend KNICKERBOCKER, for men, whether in a civil or uncivilized state, to pay a decent respect to departed worth. The principle is honorable to human nature, and useful to society, since it stimulates to the practice of 'whatsoever things are pure, honest, lovely, and of good report. It is not as a burlesque on this praiseworthy practice, that I now give you an obituary notice of a house departed, but to keep up its remembrance, and to record a portion of its history. Know then that this house vanished from among the habitations of the living on the 27th of March, 1840. About two o'clock P. M., it took fire, and was burned to the ground. It stood on my premises; and from all I can learn on the subject, was raised in 1745. It was built in the genuine Dutch fashion, more for comfort than show; and was shingled all over, sides, roof, and ends. I have a living oracle near me, whose days amount to four score years and ten. He used to make fast his skiff at the ferry-house, corner of Broad and Garden (now Exchange) streets; and he says that in his young days this house was known all over the Island by the name of the Muckle House,' as at that time it was said to be the largest on Long-Island. It was only one and a half stories high, with four rooms and a garret, the largest room fifteen by twenty; and as there was no folding nor sliding doors in those days, it was impossible to throw two into one, for any festive purpose. Yet I have been told by old settlers, that from Huntington and Flushing, from Cow-Bay and Oyster-Bay, from MisquitoCove and Glen-Cove, from Frogs-Neck and Cow-Neck, they used to come hither to hold their husking, sleighing, and dancing frolicks, it being considered in their young days the largest hotel in these districts. Be this as it may like the Sugar-House in Liberty-street, this house occupied a conspicuous position in the history of the American Revolution. In August, 1776, Lord Howe, Piercy, and others, landed on Long-Island with twenty-five thousand troops. The battle of Flatbush was fought on the 28th of the same month; and the field of battle, in a straight line, is about three miles south of my dwelling. Part of the American army, in their retreat, passed through my premises, and crossed at Hell-gate ferry. They were followed by a strong body of British troops, who thinking they had beaten the Americans already, resolved to take it easy, and so came to a halt for the night, and the officers made their head-quarters in the Muckle House.' After the Americans had crossed, finding they were not pursued, they also made a halt for about half an hour, and fired a few cannon-balls by way of salute to the British, who were now bivouacking round the house. In making repairs some years ago, I found a ten-pound shot, which had lodged between the plaster and the clap-boards, in the end of the house facing the river. I have the ball in my possession, and would not part with it, even for a valuable consideration.'
Now you observe, friend KNICKERBOCKER, that this same Muckle House' was perhaps the means of saving from capture this portion of the poor and ragged American army; for the British officers, seeing that the house was a desirable place wherein to get drunk, it being a hotel, here partook
of wine, which made their hearts glad; they then sent forth a small scout of young Hessian standard-bearers, who soon returned with a company of substantial Dutch lasses, some of whom came with good-will, their fathers being Tories, but some against their will; but who nevertheless, as matters stood, thought it was better to coax the devil than to fight him. A full quorum of girls being mustered, they commenced a regular war-dance, which was kept up all night, even till the sun glanced in at the eastern windows: the officers, tired with war, wine, and dancing, slept until noon. The reveilée was beat, but they heard it not; and before the word 'Forward! was given, it was two o'clock in the afternoon. Not so did WASHINGTON: he never slept in the lap of Delilah, when his country's interests were at stake. Before the drowsy Britons awoke from their debauch, he was mustering his troops in Morristown. My informant was at this time a Major in the American army. He is full of anecdotes connected with those times, one of which I will give you, by way of conclusion. Some months before the British, Hessians, and 'Waldeckers' landed on Long-Island, the Whigs, that they might know their friends from their foes, sent forth a messenger with a blank-book, containing a pledge of their lives, fortunes, and most sacred honor, to support the independence of the country. His district was in Queens county, which swarmed with Tories; and he was very obnoxious to them. The night after the battle, his nearest neighbor came, with a party of Hessian soldiers, took him from his bed, led him out into his orchard, put a rope about his neck, and were in the act of suspending him on an apple-tree, when a Hessian officer came riding along the road, and hearing the noise, inquired the cause. 'We are hanging a Whig,' was the reply, in the Hessian tongue. Cut him down, you d-d rascals!' said the officer, 'or I'll sabre your skulls! Implicit obedience being the soldier's duty, he was at once cut down, and lived to a good old age. His Tory neighbor skulked about, hiding when the British were beaten, and showing his face when they were victorious. At length, when he heard of the capture of Burgoyne and the surrender of Cornwallis, he took himself off to Nova Scotia; and it is rather a remarkable coincidence, that this very man met his death by a fall from an apple-tree which he was trimming for his employer in Nova Scotia.'
THE subjoined stanzas are by the author of the lines on 'Greenwood Cemetery,' in the December number, which have been so generally admired and commended. Their accomplished author is now making the tour o Europe; and we can promise our readers the gratification of an occasional communion with him:
ON A MINATURE OF GARAPELIA, A GREEK GIRL, NOW DEAD PAINTED BY MISS ANN HALL.
BY JAMES K. ARMSTRONG.
THE story of thy life-I know it not;
But, looking on that melancholy brow,
And those bright eyes, whence tears should never flow,
Were Fortune just, I feel thine earthly lot
Hath been a harvest of enduring sorrow;
A night of clouds, through which Hope's star ne'er shone;
A day of storms, followed by no fair morrow;
A dreary waste, which thou hast trod alone.
They tell me thou art one from that far land
(Birth-place of art!) where erst the sculptor's hand
Fashioned the marble into things sublime;
Where names, yet floating on the stream of Time,
Grew into life; where young Philosophy
First looked on nature with a searching eye;
Where Plato taught in academic grove.
And Phaon's fated Sappho sung of hopeless love.
If true the tale, what strange chance bade thee come
Up-rooted flower of a far kindlier home,
What brought thee here, to wither and to die?
Say, was it love that made thee thus a ranger
I will not deem it thus; that hallowed face,
Perchance, remembrance of thy natal bowers,
Sleep without dreams to thee the op'ning grave
New-York, September, 1840.
J. K. A.
GILBERT DAVIS's paper, from one of his curious memorandum-books, upon the growth of the grape, and the manufacture of various Hock wines, will be found to contain information both novel and interesting to the American reader. The Prince 'knows whereof he speaks,' having himself seen all that he describes, when he was on his travels abroad, 'for the promotion,' as he says, and truly, 'of the best wines in the United States:'
THE Rheingau, or Hock district of the Rhine, commences at or near Bingen, and ends just below Mayence. Probably no description of wine is manufactured with more care, and with greater expense, than this wine; and the same may be said of the cultivation of the vine. Charlemagne, when residing at Inglehein, observed the snow to melt sooner in certain vallies of the Rhine than at other places; he therefore ordered some vines to be brought from Orleans and from Burgundy, and there planted. The Asmanshausen, or best Red Hock, is from the Burgundy vine, ordered by Charlemagne, and the best White Hock from the Orleans grape. This Hock district is admirably situated to receive the entire warmth of the sun; as the river at or immediately below Mayence runs nearly west, until it arrives at Bingen; it then pursues its usual north-northwest course. The vineyards are on the north side of the river, giving them a sunny exposure. In former times the grape was collected about the middle of October, but recently, it is permitted to remain upon the vine until from the first to the tenth of November. This, in a good season, carries the grape to that state of over-ripeness bordering almost upon decay; that is, they are rather dried up than full, but the juice is uncommonly rich. It produces less wine, but more strength and aroma. So particular are a few of the owners of these estates, that they select the grapes free from all imperfection; all those which are over-ripe, that sometimes fall off, are taken from the ground by a wooden fork. They are then moderately pressed, so as to prevent expressing the crude flavor from the skin or seeds. The second picking is pressed harder, and sells at lower prices. This wine is put into fresh casks, sulphurized, and remains until it begins to ferment; it is then changed into other casks; and this mode is continued until it has entirely ceased to effervesce, usually about five years. Immediately after this, it is bottled, and when two years in glass, is in its best state. In fact, this ' fifty years in glass' has exploded, not only in Germany but in England. Hock wines are now preferred at a moderate age. The practice of selecting perfect grapes, with so much care, is only followed by the estates of Steinberg and Johannisberg. Several others are cultivated with as much expense, but with less care in selecting the fruit. The vineyard of Asmanshausen, for example, is at the commencement of the Reisling, or wine district; and no doubt is one of the loftiest of the wine mountains. It commences at the margin of the Rhine, and ascends quite steep, some nine or ten hundred feet. The soil, or rather the slate rock, possesses hardly nutriment enough to supply the vine; hence walls are built up, and terraces made; and in many cases, the vine itself is planted in a sort of basket, so as to retain the soil and compost about their roots. All the soil and compost is carried in baskets upon the shoulders of men and women up this mountain vineyard. Many other estates are cultivated in the same manner, but with less expense. Numbers of the small vineyards belong to the cultivators; and should three successive years prove fatal to the ripening of the grape, it would well nigh ruin the owners; for whenever the autumn is cold and wet, it makes the grape sour, and productive of no other than ordinary wine, which is unfit for bottling or export.
All the fine hock estates are within the Duke of Nassau's dominions, except Hockheimer, which is some three miles from Mayence, on the road to Frankfort on the Maine. The Steinberg estate belongs to the Nassau family. A few years since, the Duke had a public sale of his cabinet wines, and one cask, called the Bride of the Cellar,' sold for the enormous price of six thousand one hundred florins. It was purchased by the tasteful Prince EMILE, of Hesse, who 'happened to have the money.' This cask contained about six hundred bottles, which is the highest price ever paid for a cask of wine.
This is about $5 75 per bottle, or equal to twenty-eight dollars per gallon a fair price. Previous to this sale, Johannisberg carried the palm in Hocks. This last estate now belongs to Prince Metternich; but within the last forty years it has had several owners. It formerly belonged to the Monks, attached to the convent of St. John. At the beginning of the present contury, the Prince of Orange held possession of it: but during Napoleon's career, the Great Captain took it and presented it to Gen. Lallemand. After the success of the Allies, the estate fell into the hands of the Emperor of Austria, who presented it to its present owner, for services rendered. The estate contains about fifty-seven acres, and in a good season produces about sixty butts of wine, each equal to thirteen hundred bottles, and valued at 80,000 florins. It costs 30,000 florins to cultivate it, and keep up the establishment. The next best estates are the following: Rudesheim-berg, Markobrunner, and Rothenberg, which possess much body and aroma: Hockheim, which grows on the Maine, ranks with the best of these second-class wines. Of the inferior Hocks, those of Erbach and Hattenheim are the best. Laubenheim and Nierstein are the best of the common table wines. Asmanshausen is the best Red Hock in Germany, and as I before stated, raised at great expense, owing to the artificial method of cultivating; in baskets, on the steep mountain side, to prevent the earth from being washed away by the rain... A word here in regard to the age and monstrous size of the vine. When properly cultivated, it will compare in bulk and age with the venerable oak. Miller tells us, in his 'Gardeners' Dictionary,' that in some parts of Italy the vine will hold good three hundred years, and may be considered young at one hundred years. We are also told that a statue of Jupiter, and columns in Juno's temple, were made from the grape-vine. It is positively declared, that the great doors of the Cathedral at Ravenna are made from the vine-tree plank, some of which are twelve feet long and fifteen inches broad. Strabo mentions a vine in Morgiana twelve feet in circumference. At Ecoan, the Duke of Montmorency's house, is a table of great dimensions, made from the vine-plank. Some travellers affirm that they saw vines near the Caspian Sea as large as a man's body. Pliny says he saw one that was six hundred years old, and that the ancients classed the vine among their trees. The roof of the Temple of Diana at Ephesus is ascended by a ladder made from one Cyprian vine. Some recent travellers mention, that they saw growing upon the Barbary coast vines eight and nine feet in circumference. Whether this species of vine be different from the usual grape vine, or whether its growth is owing to a peculiar soil, or to the air of the country, I profess not to know.
MURDER'S 'MIRACULOUS ORGAN.' 'Murder,' says Shakspeare, though it hath no tongue, yet speaks with most miraculous organ.' Among the numerous accounts of homicides which have made so prominent a feature in the newspapers of the Union, in the last twelvemonth, we can call to mind scarcely one, which it was intended by the perpetrator to conceal, that has not, by means oftentimes the most trivial, been laid open to the eyes of the world. A most striking instance was that of the murder in NewJersey. After the deed was done, and no human eye had seen it; when the body of the victim was buried beneath the floor, and even an explanation of its anticipated decay prepared for, the perturbed spirit of the murderer beheld in every man an accuser, and in every eye a witness. Blood had been spilled, and the damning dye 'would not out.' So he must needs purchase two rabbits, and go round with them in his hand to his acquaintances, complaining that they had bled upon his person, and on his floor, and offering them for sale; and in the 'black and dark night' he dared not to go near his dwelling alone, but offered artizans extravagant terms to sit up with him all night, for 'he could not sleep.' Conscience was in this case the 'miraculous organ' that ultitimately plucked out the heart of his awful mystery. So too of a recent murder in Virginia. It occurred on a Friday night; all day on Saturday the body remained; and the wretched prisoner says he endured all the agonies of hell during the day. He drank deep, to keep down the wild feelings that agitated his bosom. He dared not flee, for fear of the pursuer; he was afraid to look his fellow men in the face, lest his guilt should stand burned in characters of fire upon his forehead. At night he essayed to remove the body, but the apprehension that he was watched, prevented him: so moving a few things out of the house, he set it on fire, thinking thus to destroy all evidence of the murder. But after the last rafter had fallen in, and the dying embers had begun to pale, there, in the midst of the fire, lay unburned the headless trunk of his victim! He next