Page images
PDF
EPUB

in the hope, that our writers will more frequently treat of native scenes and events, in the literary periodicals of the day:

[blocks in formation]

THE subjoined is not altogether 'literary matter,' but is nevertheless written with so much spirit, and evinces so fine an eye for the grand and picturesque, with not a little of true national feeling, that we have pleasure in giving it publicity through our pages. The writer dates from that queen of western cities, Buffalo :

'GENTLEMEN: Oh, that 'DIEDRICH KNICKERBOCKER, JR.' could have been here to see what I saw this morning! I stood at the upper end of the 'Main-street' of this spirited town, and beheld, in the light of a glorious day, such a scene! The many-colored wo ods around me, landward, and along the Canada shore, were gleaming in the clear bright sunlight of an October morning; the city spread widely out its 'polypus arms' below, sprinkled with domes, steeples, and cupolas, which threw back the beams of the sun; and the broad blue sea, to whose borders the town descends with a gentle slope, stretched to hazy infinity in the distance, here sparkling in the day-beam, and there lying greenly in shadow. It was a sublime and beautiful sight; and as I was gazing at the numerous sail which were flitting into dimness on the verge of the western horizon, a fleet of some ten or twelve majestic steamers, with their colors flying, blackened a league's width of that blue waste, with rolling billows of thick smoke, which poured out from the chimneys, to die away far astern, spreading low, and dissolving upon the bosom of the waters. Fifty of these steam-craft are controlled here; and two thousand souls were borne to western regions, this morning, in those noble vessels; a floating village, variously bound, along the linked lakes, whose united navigation is more than a thousand miles, stretching, in all directions, into the heart of the most fertile country in the world; a country alive with enterprise; teeming with embryo canals, railroads, and every species of internal improvement, which can be effected by associated individual capital, or state and government aid; a country, in short, where space is fast being annihilated; where, as Carlyle says, 'they may dig up certain black stones from the bosom of the earth, and say to them, Transport us and our products at the rate of thirty miles an hour,' and they will do it! And do you see, reader, as you look with me, in your mind's eye, upon this magnificent and far-reaching country, how this same town upon which I am looking down, (and in which, let me say, for fear of misapprehension, I am neither a land, tenement, nor property-holder,) do you see how it serves as the natural gate to the Atlantic sea-board, sitting, like New-York herself, in the midst of the sea --yes, of half a dozen seas- and centering here, as at the apex of an opened fan, the advancing tides of those vast inland regions, stretched beyond the sight? What a focus of the East and West!-an occidental Constantinople-destined to sit, in more than eastern splendor, upon her high,vantage-ground. * * Twelve or thirteen years ago, I am informed, the town had not more than two thousand inhabitants; now it numbers upward of twenty-two thousand. What will it become, when that magnificent work, the Erie canal, shall have been widened to a navigable river?- when the Erie Rail-road, sweeping its long 'iron course' through fertile southern districts, and the

1

Boston and New-York Rail-road, traversing equally productive sections, both with diverging branches into rich vales, and to prosperous villages-what, I repeat, will the town become, when these works shall have been completed? Then, too, the important improvements going on, under government, in her far-famed harbor; the sale of the immense tracts of adjacent Indian lands; and the inexhaustible water-power at Black Rock, (already a part of the city,) and Niagara, both linked, even now, to the town by rail-road. This water power is inexhaustible, and available at all seasons- - sufficient to convert into bread-stuffs all the grains of the great valleys of the Mississippi and its tributary streams, and the country bordered by the great lakes a country that may be made the granary of the world, and which is capable of sustaining a population larger than that of China. What a point is this, for the exchange and transhipment of the merchandise of the east, and the products of the mighty west! The ships and steamboats traversing the western lakes and rivers, may 'dump' their stores at the very doors of the numerous mills already erected, or imperiously demanded, and while their cargoes, reduced, in effect, to bread, are sweeping to the sea-board, on an artificial river, the vessels are on their return trips, filled to overflowing with the merchandise demanded by the vast country of the lakes.'

'Such is but one of the thousand views which may be taken, in different quarters of this great and growing country. Prophecy has always belied us, how extravagant soever her predictions. In fifty years, Buffalo will be larger than is now New-York. I put this (that is, I hope I do,) upon a permanent record, in your pages, and so the prediction will be tested. Is it doubted? I would ask how long ago it is, since the Indian roamed alone here, and the unscared stag came down to the shores of the 'great lake and river of the cataract,' painting a dancing shadow of his antlers in the blue water, then undivided by a keel, and undisturbed by the rush of the swift fire-ship? If in the weak infancy of our existence and improvement, we have seen such wonders, what marvels may not be deemed to exist in the onward distance? The energies of the American people are resistless. Revulsions are not only borne, but overborne, by native spirit and enterprise. We have seen the proof of this, very recently. It is but a little while, since it might almost be said, that

'through the ports which skirt our wide domain,

For trade's loud buzz, a lonely languor reigned;
The slumbering merchant o'er his desk reclined,
And round her grave the ghost of Commerce pined!'

But not long was there languor; for a brief space only, did the merchant slumber; and never yet dawned such an era of wealth and prosperity, as is rising upon us now.'

We are at a nonplus. An ambassador from the 'printing-house' records 'eight pages over!' when that amount was deemed lacking. A great mistake. Hence, we must close the drawer, but only to open it again in due season. The favor of a kind friend, 'A Digest, etc., with Reflections,' is excluded, and a consideration of the following, postponed for a brief period: A Spark from an Old Crone's Pipe,' 'Down East and Soforth,' 'The Memories of the Past,' 'Autumn Evenings,' 'The Lioness and the Queen of Birds,' 'Nature,' 'A Father,' in brief thoughts on Education, 'Reminiscences of a New-England Teacher,' 'Lines written at Fort Putnam,' and 'nameless numbers moe,' which we have not time to specify.

MINIATURE PAINTING. Every now and then, we hear of some young native artist bursting into reputation, if we may so speak, as his pent-up talent finds room for enlargement and display. The West has furnished her full quota of artists of genius. POWELL, but recently arrived among us, has taken rank at once; and Mr. GEORGE H. HITE, a young miniature-painter from Kentucky, will remain here but a short time, before he also will make himself favorably known to the lovers of art. He has had considerable experience in his profession, in Louisiania, Alabama, Georgia, and South Carolina, and has received the advantages of study with, and the counsel of, such eminent artists as FRAZER, MALBONE, etc. Mr. HITE's style is free, bold, and rich, and his taste refined and chaste. Some of his portraits of well known citizens are not more remarkable for their fine finish, than for the truth to nature which, as likenesses, they display. Mr. HITE's rooms are at the Astor House; and those who may desire to 'reign on ivory, lovers, children, sisters, friends,' may receive the requisite touches at the facile hands of our artist.

[blocks in formation]

NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW, FOR THE OCTOBER QUARTER.We have read this number of the 'North American,' with more than common pleasure. There is a good variety in the reviews, while there is not one which can be pronounced dull, or a mere dissertation, in which the merits and character of the book under discussion are swallowed up and forgotten. The article on SPARKS' Life of WASHINGTON, in our copy, is disfigured with pencil-marks and dog's-ears; but for the extracts which they indicate, we have unfortunately little space. Of the necessity of the 'Life,' and its collateral records, and its importance in a national point of view, the reviewer eloquently

observes:

'Of the auspicious influence of the principles of Washington over public opinion throughout the country, which happily is stll highly operative, much must be ascribed to the unexpended force of his personal ascendancy, and the freshly-remembered power of his personal intercourse. These, with the lapse of time, must daily grow fainter. His contemporaries are nearly all gone. Of those, who in any way took counsel with him, scarce one remains to counsel us. One solitary eyewitness of his exploits and risks on Braddock's field is known to survive. Occasionally, at a public gathering, a fourth of July assemblage, or a Cincinnati celebration, we have an opportunity of taking the hand which Washington had taken. That trembling old man, who is groping his way toward a seat, was, at a time when his hands could wield something more formidable than a crutch, one of his body-guard at Brandywine and Germantown; and here is one who saw him, when, pale with indignation, he encountered General Lee on his retreat, at Monmouth. As you come down to the period of his Presideucy, the number of course increases of those who were entering on public affairs toward the close of his career; but the solitary survivor of the first Senate of the United States, and of the company who broke bread with the Father of his Country on the day of his first inauguration as President, has passed off the stage within a few months. A race has risen up who knew not Joseph, but to whom his revered memory, loaded with the praises of his country and mankind, has descended as a precious legacy.'

The influence of WASHINGTON's example upon mankind at large, is set forth with felicitous force, in the annexed passage:

'When men are ready. like Brutus, in despair to fly to the conclusion, that there is no sphere of activity for goodness, in the province of civil government; that this world belongs of necessity to a political anti-christ; a character like Washington arises, like the sun of righteousness, with healing in its wings. Virtue, sneered at and mocked, takes courage. Disinterested labor for the good of others, emerges from the parochial charity. The intelligence of the mass of mankind, long derided as visionary, and set at nought as impracticable, feels itself vindicated and fortified. The world for a while looks on in incredulous wonder. Distrustful expectation watches the steps of the hero. His gracious words are heard with incredulity; his generous acts surveyed with doubt. The time is sorrow fully foreboded, when the delusion will be over, the mask be dropped, and the meagre, people-loving Consul, will expand into the sleek and purple Dictator. But, if he persevere in the path of patriotism and duty; if he march from victory to victory, with unelated brow, and cling to the cause in disaster as well as triumph; if he consecrate his sword to the protection of the law; and, when the warfare is ended, if he send his army to their homes, and abdicate the power which their devotion confers on him, then, indeed, it is cold praise to say he has served, or even saved, his country. He has served, and, humanly speaking, has saved his race. 6 He has given ardor to virtue and confidence to truth.' He has led forth patriotism from a cell, and placed her on a throne. He has robbed the tyrant of his plea, and shown that it is not necessary that mankind should be enslaved; and from that time forward, till the voice of history is struck dumb, wheresover on the face of the globe an effort is made to establish constitutional government, there his example is present, to furnish an ever-ready answer to the ever-ready objection, that, though the theory is good, it is impossible to put it to practice.'

We are glad to learn from this article, that the entire work is to be published in England, and all essential portions of it translated into French, by M. Guizor, and into German, by Mr. VON RAUMUR, assisted by the accomplished daughter of Professor TIECK. Thus will WASHINGTON be borne to the firesides of the hundred millions in Europe, who receive their supplies of intellectual food through the French and German languages.'

The 'Proceedings of the American Health Convention,' at Boston, furnish the text for the next paper, which treats that latest of ultra humbugs, the Grand' North-American Dried-Apple and Potato Society,' with proper ridicule and contempt. Alluding to the position assumed by one of the clerical delegates to the Massachusetts Starvation Convention, that all disease and sickness is crime,' and that clergymen sin against great light, in praying for guilty bed-ridden sufferers in their churches, the reviewer says:

"Sir, we must throw the responsibility of each person's health on himself, and make him alone feel accountable for it.' Avaunt. then, ye bed-ridden reprobates, whom only sentimental fools will pity and wish to succor. A gibbet for a cancerous eruption; a dungeon and hard labor for life for a pulmonary tubercle; imprisonment in the common gaol from thirty days to six months, for

a rheumatic shoulder, according to the aggravation of the offence. Parents must be made to feel, that for the sickness of their children, they are themselves responsible.' So make no pretence, tearful mother, of regretting what you yourself have done, nor wear out the long watches of the night over the couch of your fevered child; but away to the whipping-post, for a baggage as you are, and take the deserts of such as you!'

In the same vein is the summing up the merits of this newly-discovered apple-andpotato system:

'The dish that erst ran away with the spoon' did a good thing for itself, and henceforth it has need of that and of that only; knife and fork are obsolete abominations. The times of self-complacent Jack Horner are gone by; nobody, while he eats Christmas pie, may henceforward give himself credit for a spark of goodness. As, in our innocence, we used to read our Bibles, the thriving of the holy children when they lived on pulse, yet rivalled in vigor and comeliness the sharers of Nebuchadnezzar's own board, was altogether contrary to nature, and was simply a miraculous result. We are to be better instructed now; the elements of their rotundity and fair liking were in their generous food. Sterne thought he had added a touch to the picture of his prisoner's discomfort, when he threw in the water-cruse and crust. Nothing could be more mistaken, as presently the honest citizen will show; he will take care to have such abuses righted, reclaiming those delicacies for himself, while the convict will be made to work through his time of durance on champagne and oysters, plum-pudding and roasted pig. We were brought up to pity or banter the Irish for their fare of potatoes relished with butter-milk. Sly rogues! the laugh has been all along rightfully on their side. They wanted no competition, and so were too knowing to tell us how things stood; now that we are wiser, we must count them the most enviable of nations, and grudge them all but their butter-milk, which is just so much de trop. But we must look higher yet. We dishonor such a great matter by regarding it with personal considerations. The interests of humanity are suspended on a pot-hook. The womb of events in the learned, the social, and the religious world, is the seething cauldron of the house-hold hearth. The seminal principles of human progress are in the herbgarden. All flesh is grass, and if man grows, it must be grass that expands him.'

This capital paper is followed by a review of ROBERTS' 'Embassy to the Eastern Courts of Cochin-China, Siam, and Muscat,' etc., (heretofore noticed at large, in these pages, and, as in the North American, with deserved commendation,) and a pamphlet entitled 'Outline of a Consular Establishment for the United States, in Eastern Asia.' We are well pleased to see here, a just and spirited rebuke of the disgraceful system of making our functionaries abroad, dependent upon petty fees extorted from merchants, or wrung from the wages of distressed seamen. Very high praise is awarded, and justly, to DEWEY'S 'Moral Views of Commerce, Society, and Politics,' and the 'Letters from Rome,' so familiar to the readers of the KNICKERBOCKER. Kenrick's 'American Orchardist forms the basis of a copious paper on Horticulture, considered in all its departments, which is well written, and evinces various knowledge of, not to say practical experience in, the subject in hand. The last article is, as usual, a batch of minor and brief 'critical notices,' strung together like a bunch of onions, gradually narrowing in length, and finally tapering down to the most sententious and 'curtailed abbreviations, compressing particulars.' In these, among others, are notices of COOPER'S 'Homeward Bound,' in which the author is by no means flattered; Mrs. GILMAN'S works; 'Joanna of Naples,' by the author of ' Miriam ;' GUIZOT's Lectures; JEWETT'S 'Passages of Foreign Travel,' and HALL'S 'Notes on the Western States.' In this latter, the critic assumes quite too much in his own behalf. He may rest assured, that what Judge HALL administered to the 'North American' in his 'Preface,' is regarded by the public as a most trenchant castigation; and what is more, the reviewer himself evidently so regards it. We have heard precisely such advice to 'keep cool,' and not to 'be incensed,' as the critic tenders to Judge HALL, given în a tremulously mild tone, by a virago, who was at the same moment bursting with rage, and pale with mortification, at a signal defeat, the full consciousness of which no affectation could conceal.

The last of the 'critical notices,' is a very brief and non-committal reference to the handsome volume of poems, by our contemporary, Col. MORRIS, of the 'Mirror' literary journal. In these notices, which, if they answer at all to their title, should be 'nothing if not critical,' one might suppose that at least an opinion of the literary merits of a work would be expressed; but we defy the reader to discover one, in the following, which is the entire 'review' in question:

'The poems of Col. MORRIS have enjoyed so wide a newspaper celebrity, that it would be affectation in us to pretend to introduce them to our readers. Some of them, moreover, have been united to Mr. Russell's music, and said and sung in the saloons of the fashionable world. Their author has now collected them in a volume, which, for elegant type and luxurious paper, is surpased by no book

hitherto issued from the American press. We intended to have invited him to speak for himself in our columns, in the Lines for Music,' but we find ourselves too soon at the end of our sheet.'

Will not such cavalier notices as this, of a volume got up with much typographical beauty, and liberality of expenditure, give disaffected authors cause to insist upon the justice of the charge sometimes brought against the 'North American,' of undue sectional jealousy, in matters of native literature?

In striking contrast with this brief and indefinite notice, is an elaborate eulogium of the beautifully-executed volume in question, from a friendly hand, in the last number of the 'Southern Literary Messenger,' (a monthly literary journal, published at Richmond, Virginia,) which has failed to reach us, and for the late perusal of which, we are indebted to the courtesy of a friend. The critic regards Col. MORRIS's prose as 'graceful, flowing, and full of admirable humor,' and cites, especially, in proof of the justice of his opinion, 'The Monopoly and the People's Line,' and 'The Little Frenchman and his Water Lots,' which he affirms have 'no superior in the works of any American writer.' This praise should have been qualified, as we think, by the exception, at least, of WASHINGTON IRVING, PAULDING, SANDS, and LONGFELLOW. The reviewer remarks, elsewhere, that our author's wit 'does not sparkle, but glows, and warms the heart with its genial and laugh-exciting influences;' and he expresses the hope, that all his spirited prose writings will yet be collected, and published in volumes. In relation to Col. MORRIS's simple effusions, the writer observes: 'His pen is in poetry, what the harp is in music; gentle, soothing, light, and graceful, shedding a twilight over the soul;' and that in one of his pieces, 'the reader might fancy himself perusing a newlydiscovered manuscript poem of CHAUCER OF SPENSER.' Of the lines commencing, 'On the lake where droop'd the willow, Long time ago!'

the critic says: 'For touching pathos, gentle versification, delicacy and purity of fancy, this little lyrical gem is not surpassed by any thing on the other side of the Atlantic ; even by the divine MOORE himself.' 'Woodman, spare that Tree!' we are informed, has been repeatedly parodied in the newspapers, 'one of the strongest tests of unequivocal popularity.' 'On this delightful lyric,' adds the reviewer, 'and one or two others, will our author's reputation, as a lyrical poet, principally rest.' We remember to have seen but one parody upon this song, which, coupled with Mr. RUSSELL'S, fine musical voice, has been made familiar to many of our readers in the Atlantic cities. It contained, among other lines, the following, which must, we think, have made even the parodied author himself laugh heartily, during the first moment of its perusal :

[merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small][merged small]

The stanzas of our author on the 'Death of Gen. DELEVAN,' are pronounced 'martial and spirited,' but injured by the 'introduction of the name of the deceased.' We marvel that the reviewer did not quote the 'Lines to a Whippoorwill,' recently published, which we have no hesitation in saying, are, in our judgment, the best stanzas that ever proceeded from Col. MORRIS's pen. We do not remember ever to have perused the complimentary ode to LAFAYETE, however, upon which the critic places a high estimate, and with which the aged veteran himself is declared to have been so delighted, that he 'was in the habit of humming it aloud, whenever occasion offered.' The critic has put for ever at rest an envious slander, which had generally obtained, that MORRIS was not the writer of the celebrated play of 'Briar-Cliff.' He says:

'Col. MORRIS is the sole and unassisted author; for on one occasion, we remember his saying to some friends at table, who rallied him on the subject, 'Gentlemen, that play is entirely my own; I

« PreviousContinue »