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creeping a fishing-smack, bringing its red-shirted owner out to bid us welcome. Piloted to a sheltered spot, our gallant ship dropped anchor in the midst of the whole fleet. The tide happened to be out just then, and was not expected in for some hours. Here then, was a fix. We must either return without a nearer view of this land of promise, and hungry, into the bargain, or run the risk of broken bones and soiled garments, in a scramble over the slimy rocks. Curiosity and hunger were more than a match for fear, in the breasts of nearly half the company. All, however, did not act as inclination prompted, for no one was absolutely independent. Many a gallant fellow was constrained to stay, while our city friend departed, sorely against his will
The space from the sloop to the rocks was soon got over; but no description can do justice to the anabasis from thence; you must imagine the toils and dangers of that weary journey, the little slips and accidents so laughable and provoking, the expedients devised to encourage and assist the weaker sex, through that interminable waste of seaweed. More slippery paths frail human virtue never trod. But goodnatured perseverance brought us, at length, comparatively safe, to terra firma.
And firm enough it was, 100—an everlasting granite rock, entirely bare, except in the fissures and hollows, where the deposit was of sufficient depth to sustain a pigmy cabbage-stalk. Had not the same providence, that causes rivers to flow by large towns, surrounded these barren isles with a prolific' sea, no living thing could subsist upon them. The natives live almost entirely on the products of the ocean—fish and clams for breakfast, lobsters and fish for dinner, and fish and oysters for supper. All they have and are, is either fish, or something procured in exchange for it. Fish was all they could give us to eat; all they had to show us was fish.
An enterprising angler had caught the genuine sea-serpent, and would exhibit the creature for a few dollars. While our dinner was being prepared, he led us across the island to his humble cot, and, surrounded by the gaping crowd, proceeded to unveil the monstrous creature. The sail that covered it removed, such a serpent as met our gaze! It was a curious animal, indeed; but as nearly related to our idea of his snakeship as is a toad to an alligator. Some of us began to smell a fish-story ; but the old salt assured us there was no humbug about it—it was the “ genuine critter,"— he had chased it many a time, and he knew it to be the real sea-serpent, though it sometimes went by the name of horse-mackerel. “It's a very fast-sailing craft, skippin' along, in and out, and in and out, so's to look sarpentine enough a little ways off ; and no wonder folks think it's a snake.”
From the exhibition we hurried to dinner; and here again I must leave room for your imagination.
“ But half our heavy task was done,” when a messenger arrived with orders to make haste and come on board. A thunder-storm was gathering, and we must get clear of the Shoals before it broke upon us. Fortunately, the tide was so high as to allow us to take boat at the quay ; and, leaving the good missionary with the Islanders, we were soon embarked again.
A precious half-hour was consumed in trying to weather the rocks and get out, where we came in. Baffled, and forced to take another channel, we were barely outside of the dangerous reef, with every thing snug, when the dreaded squall overtook us.
The incidents that followed are by no means distinctly recollected; it is all wind and water, noise and motion. We were tossed and buffeted about most mercilessly, till the darkness rendered it no longer safe to suffer it. Then, we came to anchor before a fishing hamlet on the beach, half a league to the leeward of Boar’s Head. The fearless seamen, guided by the lightning's glare, shoved their boats through the surf, and came to take us off.
Weary, wet, shivering and sick, we assembled on the beach that night, a miserable company of disappointed pleasure-seekers. Z.
QUALIFICATIONS AND AIMS OF THE HISTORIAN.
READER, can you endure a word upon that everlasting subject of History ? (Here the reader is supposed, with a shudder, to reply, “No Sir.” Accordingly the writer proceeds.)
History opens a wide field for investigation, for argument, for illustration, and reflection. It has to do with facts, with cause and effect, with the mysterious workings of Providence. It treats of the developments of human nature, as Philosophy does of the resources and attributes of the material universe. In its widest signification, it embraces all that has been said, or done, or written. It is the only teacher-speaks from the marble, from the canvas, from the mouldering monument—upon every pillar's summit wakens a voice, sweeter than the morning music of Memnon.
The field of History, then, is the world. Who is fitted to enter it as High Priest of its mysteries? It has been said, by one whose opinions are often adopted, that to be a really great Historian is perhaps the rarest of intellectual accomplishments. If we succeed in showing the requisites of such a character, the reason will appear obvious. It will be seen that nearly every one who has recorded the events of the past-the long line of “ illustrious deeds and memorable names,” though he has spread out for the good of his race the fruits of unwearied toil, of study and research, has yet failed in some important point to reach the maximum in his profession. For example, the Father of History might well be termed also the Father of Fiction. His tales excited interest in a simple and credulous age, and even now are read with admiration ; but, as storehouses of fact, are worthless. The early epic and lyric poems it is of course unfair to judge as Histories. Yet, though traditionary in their character, they were for a considerable period the only form of History. They were eminently adapted to inspire in the people a reverence for their ances. tors, and enkindle the fire of patriotism; but for the furtherance of any thing else than zeal—to temper ardor with knowledge, and to fit for the intricate labors of government, and the duties of private life, they were quite insufficient. The Bard could more easily rouse men to combat an invading foe, than promote the advancement of civilization and refinement. Some modern Historians, on the contrary, though caresul to present facts correctly, yet failing to trace results to their causes and to elevate their style to an equality with their subject, have failed, too, to please and instruct.
We think there is, also, an extremity of skepticism as well as of credulity in the Historian. Thus at one time the History of the regal period of Rome was received as of general authenticity. Scholars were blinded by reverence. It was to be expected that a reaction should take place. Still, it may be questioned whether Niebuhr, in rejecting nearly all as fabulous, has not erred as widely as his predecessors, though in an opposite direction. The dim light of tradition is potent to torture truth into wry, fantastic shapes, but it does not always bury it from the view.
It is clear that the governing purpose of the Historian should be to instruct posterity by the example of former ages. In examining some of the duties to be performed as a means to the end, we hope to show, that perfection in his work demands a union of mental vigor with a ripe judgment, of an active imagination with an honest and generous heart.
The first aim should be to present truth in its own fair proportions. There is not much temptation to falsify when the events are recent and known. The confidence of the reader, so essential to the influence of the writer, may not be thus hazarded with impunity. But in proportion as the veil of oblivion has been thrown over important events, when facts are disputed, or stated upon questionable authority, there is danger that some favorite hypothesis will stand in the way of common honesty. One advocates the theory of popular rule; he finds upon record statements of its utility in ancient states, and shutting his eyes upon proof of its ten thousand defects, virtually fortifies himself and others in an error of his own seeking.
But it is possible even to so present facts, as to do manifest injustice to an individual, or people. Nor is it necessary to this, that the writer studiously conceal public or private virtues. There is a delicate way of impugning the motives, the secret springs of action, of withholding palliating circumstances, that begets infinite evil. The thought is overlooked, that the age and the occasion are often sufficient to justify unusual measures.
Again, the narration must be made attractive by elegance of style and skill in arrangement. The poem is not perfect which does not promise to be read through time with undiminished interest, even though, in every other respect, it be beyond the reach of criticism. The same is true of History. An ephemeral History is no History. We have said that the end to be kept in view is instruction ; an end
properly attained by appeals to the judgment. But to expect men to read from a sense of duty, or even from any conception of utility, is ridiculous. Plato makes Socrates call men as senseless as children. It is at least clear, that men, like children, are often best instructed by the moral of a well-told tale. The narrative, then, must be made to enkindle the imagination and to arouse the feelings, or general good will be looked for in vain. The Historian must descend 10 private life. He must present a picturesque view of the whole society-their language and manners and intercourse. A King and his Court should never sit for a portrait of the age.
We will next view the Historian as a Philosopher. In this station his duties are indeed arduous, but his resource is the “experience of time.” It is a high attainment to be able to picture the past in natural colors. This would perhaps be sufficient if the reader were also a Philosopher. Most men, however, if they enter the path of truth at all, are to be led into it. We expect therefore of the Historian that useful facts will be referred to their proper causes, and that from cause and effect there shall be deduced safe and valuable theories. He should furnish to the private man some guide for the duties of private life. He must impress upon the political aspirant the duty and expediency of political honesty, and the insecurity of relying upon popular favor. He is also to be the teacher of nations. There is in the past a great amount of costly experience of kingdoms and states. It was all dearly bought. For much of it, the most precious, the price of existence was paid. The Historian records, for instance, the fact that 'the ancient Republics, so long as they were controlled by an enlightened and virtuous public sentiment, were secure from the waves of civil discord; that, once losing their powerful guard, they were tossed for a season upon the waves of popular passion, and then engulphed forever. If he find no exception to these results, he concludes with reason, that' virtue and intelligence are the proper conservatives of permanent liberty and existence.'
One other duty is incumbent upon the Historian, which perhaps, more than any other, will test the noble qualities of his soul—that he clearly unfold the great truth of “ God in History.” That like Milton,
“ To the height of his great argument
And vindicate the ways of God to man." History should present in one grand view the dealings of God with our race. By his very entrance into the world, man becomes bound to act a part in the great drama of life. The plot is laid and the action directed by an unseen hand. Yet, there is no confusion of characters. Nothing is done that has not its end. Nothing that unites not with all to acccomplish the designs of the Great Eternal. The apparent jarrings shall work out perfect harmony. Not the slighest action is forgotten. The crowded assembly shall applaud at last the success of infinite skill. We may say here with reverence, what the Prince
of Philosophers said of the first of Poems. There shall then be discovered in the mighty drama “a unity of plan, so perfect, and demonstrating in its structure a beginning, a middle and an end, so admirably marked, measured, proportioned, and articulated together, that there shall be no discordancy, deficiency, or redundancy, in all its extent.”
EDITORS' TABLE. We have time barely to notice a part of the recent works, received at the office of the Yale Literary Magazine, during the last month.
1. Thoughts on “ Curiosity,” by “ R.” 4to. 13 pp. New Haven, 1846.
This is a very well written production. It would make the printers' hearts ("speak. in in a figger,") leap for joy to see it. But although we would do any thing to make the hearts of those individuals leap, even figgeratively speaking, we feel obliged to decline the present opportunity.
2, “ There is a Memory of the Heart.” A Poem, in 12 Cantos, by “G.” 4to. N. Y., Mar. 18.16. The Poem beginneth thus:
"'Tis not a mere endeavor
Of intellectual power--" We think it is, sir, at least in the present instance. But do not be discouraged, by any means.
3. “A new Translation of the Third Chapter of Habakkuk, according to the critical suggestions of Gesenius, and other modern Exegetical Writers. With Notes and Explanations,” by “ Aleph.” Folio, 2 pp. Yale Seminary, Dec. 1845.
4. “ The Three Eras in National Existence,” by “ A. B. Z.” 4to. 4 pp. New Haven, Apr. 1846.
This work is faulty, both is theory and style. Who, except the author, ever heard of a “crescent pointing its spire to heaven?" Listen to the following: “This na. tional leprosy winds through the minutest arteries, and saturates the whole system with putrefaction, whence nothing good can emanate." We beg pardon of the reader for inflicting upon him even this quotation.
5. “ A Friend." A Poem, in 4 parts, 4to. New Haven, Mar. '46.
This appears to be a parody on some of Watts' Psalms and Hymns. The author has, however, shown great skill in selecting from several, so that the original has escaped our most diligent search. We would advise the author's friends to restrain him in future.
6-8. Three works, which, as the authors esteemed them more than we did our. selves, we have privately returned. One of these was too dry for the endurance even of the editorial corps. Lean Jack answered the calls for water, until his strength was exhausted, when the club repaired en masse to the pump
By the way, Lean Jack's last pun seems to have produced a decided sensation. We have always supposed that the joke lay in its being unintelligible ; but as the public will have it that there is meaning in it, if it could only be found out ,we will state that there is a gentleman in North College who gives an explanation, to all who desire it, free, gratis, for nothing. He is a connoisseur in the art of punning, and his explanation is the more valuable, as it is equally unintelligible with the pun itself. We advise the curious to give an early call.
D “ Aleph," " A. B. 2.," and "R.," will find their communications in the post. office.