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NICK OF THE WOODS, OR THE JIBBENAINOSAY! A Tale of Kentucky. By the Author
of Calavar,' 'The Infidel, etc. In two volumes. 12mo. Philadelphia : CAREY, LEA AND BLANCHARD. New-York : WILEY AND PUTNAM.
The author of 'Calavar' has won new laurels in this work, which it is no slight praise to say, is a decided improvement upon the best of his previous efforts. The scene is laid in Kentucky, at the time of its earliest settlement; and the principal personages, as will readily be supposed, are brought into frequent contact with the belligerent' abbregynes,' as Roaring Ralph would term them, who then inhabited that primeval and pleasant region. Of the two principal characters - for such we must consider Bloody Nathan and Roaring Ralph — we can scarcely speak in too exalted terms. No creation of any modern American novelist can lay claim to the originality, the strictly sui generis qualities, of the Quaker of the Woods; while Ralph Stackpole, as a Kentucky backwoods hero- a 'ring-tailed roarer' in every sensestands equally unrivalled.
The conception of the character of 'Bloody Nathan' is a bold one, but throughout the volumes the execution is every way successful. His whole career is one of intense interest ; and when, in the developments at its close, which have been adroitly hidden from the impatient reader, we lose sight of him, it is with a feeling of deep regret.
Roaring Ralph, the mal àppropos, the horse-stealer, the brave, swaggering Stack. pole, will convulse the sides of every reader. He is himself alone-'tarnal death to him, if he is n't;' and although sorely pressed for room, we must afford the reader a slight touch of his quality. He is here just liberated from an animated gallowsto which he had been noosed, in pursuance of a decision of Judge Lynch - by the hero, at the intercession of the heroine:
"Cut the tug, the buffalo-tug! shouted the culprit, thrusting his arms as far from his back as he could, and displaying the thong of bison-skin, which his struggles had almost buried in his flesh. A single touch of the steel, rewarded by such a yell of transport as was never before heard in those savage retreats, sufficed to sever the bond; and Stackpole, leaping on the earth, began to testify his joy in modes as novel as they were frantic. His first act was to fing his arms round the neck of his steed, which he hugged and kissed with the most rapturous affection, doubtless in requital of the docility it had shown when docility was so necessary to its rider's life; his second, to leap half a dozen times into the air, feeling his neck all the time, and uttering the most singular and vociferous cries, as if to make double trial of the condition of his wind-pipe; his third, to bawl aloud, directing the important question to the soldier, How many days has it been since they hanged me? War it to-day, or yesterday, or the day before? or war it a whole year ago ? For may I be next hung to the horn of a buffalo, instead of the linb of a beech-tree, if I did n'i feel as if I had been squeaking thar ever since the beginning of creation! Cock-a-doodle-doo! him that ar'nt born to be hanged, won't be hanged, no-how! Then running to Edith, who sat watching his proceedings with silent amazement, he ftung himself on his knees, seized the hem of her riding-habit, which he kissed with the fervor of an adorer, exclaiming with a vehement sincerity, that made the whole action still more strangely ludicrous, 'Oh! you splendiferous creatur'! you anngeliferous anngel! here am 1, Ralph Stackpole the Screamer, that can whip all Kentucky, white, black, mixed, and Injun; and I'm the man to go with you to the ends of the arth, to fight, die, work, beg, and steal hosses for you! I am, and you may make a little dog of me; you may, or a niggur, or a hoss, or a door-post, or à back-log, or a dinner, tarnal death to me but you may eat me! I'm the man to feel a favor, partickelarly when it comes to helping me out of a halter; and so jist say the word who I shall lick to begin on; for I'm your slave jist as much as that niggur, to go with you, as I said afore, to the ends of the 'arth, and the length of Kentucky over!
“Away with you, you scoundrel and jackanapes,' said Roland, for to this ardent expression of gratitude Edith was herself too much frightened to reply.
'Sirannger!' cried the offended horse-thief, 'you cut the tug, and you cut the halter; and so, though you did it only on hard axing, I'd take as many hard words of you as you can pick out of a dictionary - I will, 'tarnal death to me. But as for ma. dam thár, the anngel, she saved my life, and I go my death in her sarvice; and now's the time to show sarvice, for thar's danger abroad in the forest.'
"Danger ! echoed Roland, his anxiety banishing the disgust with which he was so much inclined to regard the worthy horse-thief ; 'what makes you say that ?"
“Strannger,' replied Ralph, with a lengthened visage and a gravity somewhat surprising for him,'' I seed the Jibbenainosay 'tarnal death to me, but I seed him as plain as ever I seed old Salt! I war a-hanging thar, and squeaking and cussing, and talking soft nonsense to the pony, to keep him out of bis tantrums, when what should I see but a great crittur' come tramping through the forest, right off yander by the fallen oak, with a big b'ar before him
Pishsaid the soldier,' what has this to do with danger ?' "Beca'se and because," said Ralph, when you see the Jibbenainosay, thar 's always abbregynes in the cover. I never seed the crittur before, but I reckon it war he, for thar 's nothing like him in natur'. And so I'm for cutting out of the forest jist on the track of a streak of lightning - now h'yar, now thar, but on a full run without stopping. And so, if anngeliferous madam is willing, thump me round the 'arth with a crab-apple, if I do n't holp her out of the bushes, and do all her fighting into the bar. gain - I will, 'tarnal death to me!
“'You may go about your business,' said Roland, with as much sternness as contempt. We will have none of your base conipany.'
" Whoop! whoo, whoo, whoo! do n't rifle me, for I'm danngerous !' yelled the demiþarbarian, springing on his stolen horse, and riding up to Edith : Say the word, marm,' he cried ; 'for I'll fight for you, or run for you, take scalp or cut 'stick, shake fist or show leg, any thing in reason or out of reason, Strannger, thar 's as brash as a new hound in a b'ar fight, or a young hoss in a cornfield, and no safe friend in a forest. Say the word, marm - - or if you think it ar’nt manners to speak to a strannger, jist shake your little finger, and I 'll follow like a dog, and do you dog's sarvice. Or if you do n't like me, say the word, or shake t'other finger, and 'tarnal death to me, bui I 'll be off like an elk of the prairies !!
The power of vivid description, which the reader will remember we pointed out, in our notice of Calavar' in these pages, as a striking merit in our author, is still more forcibly displayed in the volumes under notice. The following extract, which explains itself, will prove the justice of our encomiums :
"What is the matter ? cried Roland, riding to her assistance. Are we in enchanted land, that our horses must be frightened, as well as ourselves ?'
"'He smells the war-paint,' said Telie, with a trembling voice; 'there are Indians near us!'
"Nonsense !' said Roland, looking around, and seeing, with the exception of the copse just passed, nothing but an open forest, without shelter or harbor for an ambushed foe. But at that moment Edith caught him by the arm, and turned upon him a countenance more wan with fear than that she had exhibited upon first hearing the cries of Stack. pole. It expressed, indeed, more than alarm – it was the highest degree of terror, and the feeling was so overpowering, that her lips, though moving as in the act of speech, gave forth no sound whatever. But what her lips refused to tell, her finger, though shaking in the ague that convulsed every fibre of her frame, pointed out: and Roland, following it with his eyes, beheld the object that had excited so much emotion. He started himself, as his gaze fell upon a naked Indian stretched under a tree hard by, and sheltered from view only by a dead bough lately fallen from its trunk, yet lying so still and motionless, that might easily have been passed by without observation in the growing dusk and twilight of the woods, had it not been for the instinctive terrors of the pony, which, like other horses, and, indeed, all other domestic beasts in the settlements, often thus pointed out to their masters the presence of an enemy. “ The
rifle of the soldier was in an instant cocked and at his shoulder, while the pedlar and Emperor, as it happened, were too much discomposed at the spectacle to make any snch show of battle. They gazed blankly upon the leader, whose piece, settling down into an aim that must have been fatal, suddenly wavered, and then, to their surprise, was withdrawn.
" The slayer has been here before us,' he exclaimed the man is dead and scalped already!
“ With these words he advanced to the tree, and the others following, they beheld with horror, the body of a savage of vast and noble proportions, lying on its face across the roots of the tree, and glued, it might almost be said, to the earth by a mass of coagulated blood, that had issued from the scalped and axe-cloven skull. The fragments of a rifle, shattered, as it seemed, hy a violent blow against the tree under which he lay, were scattered at his side, with a broken powder born, a splintered knife, the helve of a tomahawk, and other equipments of a warrior, all in like manner shivered to pieces by the unknown assassin. "The warrior seemed to have perished only after a fearful struggle; the earth was torn where he lay, and his hands, yet grasping the soil, were died a double red in the blood of his antagonist, or perhaps in his own.
" While Roland gazed upon the spectacle, amazed, and wondering in what manner the wretched being had met his death, which must have happened very recently, and whilst his party was within the sound of a rifle-shot, he observed a shudder to creep over the apparently lifeless frame; the fingers relaxed their grasp of the earth, and then elutched it again with violence; a broken, strangling rattle came from the throat; and a spasm of convulsion seizing upon every limb, it was suddenly raised a little upon one arm, so as to display the countenance, covered with blood, the eyes retroverted into their orbits, and glaring with the sightless whites. It was a horrible spectacle— the last convulsion of many that had shaken the wretched and insensible, yet still suffering clay, since it had received its death-stroke. The spasm was the last and but momentary; yet it sufficed to raise the body of the mangled barbarian so far that, when the pang that excited it suddenly ceased, and with it, the life of the sufferer, the body rolled over on the back, and thus lay, exposing to the eyes of the lookers-on two gashes wide and gory on the breast, traced by a sharp knife and a powerful hand, and, as it seemed, in the mere wantonness of a malice and lust of blood which even death could not satisfy. The sight of these gashes answered the question Roland had asked of his own imagination; they were in the form of a cross ; and as the legend, so long derided, of the forest fiend recurred to his memory, he responded, almost with a feeling of superstitious awe, to the trembling cry of Telie Doe:
" " It is the Jibbenainosay ! she exclaimed, staring upon the corse with mingled horror and wonder ; 'Nick of the Woods is up again in the forest !""
The high-minded Virginian who sustains the important character of the hero, although he is made in reality rather a minor personage, and the noble-spirited yet gentle Edith, are well drawn and well sustained; while the subordinate creations are conceived and managed with judgment. The writer is no friend to the Indian, and has made him act a part accordingly; indeed, to our taste, there is quite too much of the extra-sanguinary in his pages. His canvass, however, is not generally overcrowded; and, save a little extravagance of scene and adventure, in two or three instances, the events are naturally and effectively wrought out. This is a great merit, and one which some of our more popular native authors would do well to emulate. It has become quite too common to interpolate a string of unconnected events upon a pre-conceived nucleus, with no bearing on the main plot, but which are introduced for the mere purpose of bringing in characters and conversations, which only serve to distraet the attention, and lessen the interest, of the reader. With these remarks, we commend Nick of the Woods,' with confidence, to the public, and are willing to stake our critical reputation upon its entire success.
GLEANINGS IN EUROPE : BY AN AMERICAN. In two volumes, 12mo. Philadelphia :
CAREY, LEA AND BLANCHARD. New-York : WILEY AND PUTNAM, and G. AND C. CARVILL AND COMPANY.
This is one of the most interesting and instructive books of travels that we remember to have read for many a long year. Mr. Cooper spent about eight years in England, and upon the continent, and from the duration of his stay, was enabled to make much more just and accurate observations upon the social and political system of France than any of our travelling-writers have hitherto done. He carried with him the spirit of a true American; not that which characterizes so many of our inditers of letters from beyond the seas, which seeks constantly for subjects by the discussion of which our country may be made to appear advantageously at the expense of another; but a heart whose patriotism did not carry it to the lengths of extravagant prejudice, and which could appreciate and speak of the excellence which any foreign country has attained, in any department of science or the arts, that we might be spurred to emulation by the recital, and not be left in a mist of ignorance and conceit by a servile silence respecting the very matters which it most behooves us to know. We regret that our limits will not allow us to extract, in this connection,
the portion of the second letter in the second volume of the work, wherein the author speaks of the relative civilization of this country and France. We commend the entire chapter to the attention of our readers. Mr. Cooper had the good fortune, when at Paris, to receive visits from Sir WALTER Scott, and was for some time an inmate of La Grange, where he found Gen. LAFAYETTE living à la Cincinnatus, and probably little anticipating the stormy events in which he was subsequently called to take part. The author was present, also, at one of the grands couverts of the king and royal family; and his description of those who then governed, or rather misgoverned, France, naturally brings with it reflections upon the mutability of human affairs, when we see the enfans de France, then so cherished and honored, exiles and wanderers on the face of the earth.
An account of some experiments in animal magnetism, near the end of the work, given in a very naïve manner, will, we think, go far to disabuse many minds, now laboring under a delusion respecting this — we beg pardon for the phrase, but we know of none so expressive — humbug.
In brief, we commend these volumes to our readers, as a work replete with sound and patriotic views; and we trust that Mr. Cooper has still enough left of unpublished gleanings' on the continent, to favor us with a continuation of the series, and that he will not forget still farther to apply the wholesome maxim, ' Fas est et ab hoste doceri,'
TWICE-TOLD Tales. By NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE. In one volume. pp. 334. Bos.
ton: American Stationers' Company. New-York : WILEY AND PUTNAM.
This modest volume, which comes before us without preface, or any sort of appeal to the public regard, is well calculated to stand on its own merits, and to acquire enduring popularity. The author possesses the power of winning immediate attention, and of sustaining it, by a certain ingenuous sincerity, and by the force of a style at once simple and graceful. In all his descriptions, whether of scenes or emotions, nature is his only guide. He reminds us, continually, of the author of 'Outre-Mer,' who, it is but just praise to say, stands nearer to Washington Irving, in his peculiar walk of literature, than any American author of our day. Let the reader peruse the following, from an essay entitled ' A Rill from the Town Pump,' and tell us if any thing could be more Lamb-like in its natural humor and beauty. The scene is at the corner of two principal streets in Salem, where the Town Pump is 'talking through its nose:'
"Noon, by the north clock ! Noon, by the east! High noon, too, by these hot sunbeams, which fall, scarcely, aslope, upon my head, and almost make the water bubble and smoke, in the trough under my nose. Truly, we public characters have a tough time of it! And, among all the town officers, chosen at March meeting, where is he that sustains, for a single year, the burthen of such manifold duties as are imposed, in perpetuity, upon the Town-Pump? The title of 'town-treasurer' is rightfully mine, as guardian of the best treasure that the town has. The overseers of the poor ought to make me their chairman, since I provide bountifully for the pauper, without expense to him that pays taxes. I am at the head of the fire department, and one of the physicians to the board of health. As a keeper of the peace, all water-drinkers will confess me equal to the constable. I perform some of the duties of the town-clerk, by promulgating public notices, when they are posted on my front. To speak within bounds, I am the chief person of the municipality, and exhibit, moreover, an admirable paitern to my brother officers, by the cool, steady, uprighi, downright, and impartial discharge of my business, and the constancy with which I stand to my post. Summer or winter, nobody seeks me in vain ; for, all day long, I am seen at the busiest corner, just above the market, stretching out my arms, to rich and poor alike; and at night, I hold a lantern over my head, both to show where I am, and keep people out of the gutters.
" At this sultry noontide, I am cupbearer to the parched populace, for whose benefit an iron goblet is chained to my waist. Like a dram-seller on the mall, at muster day, I cry aloud to all and sundry, in my plainest accents, and at the very tiptop of my voice. Here it is, gentlemen! Here is the good liquor! Walk up, walk up, gentlemen, walk up, walk up! Here is the superior stuff! Here is the unadulterated ale of father Adam better than Cognac, Hollands, Jamaica, strong beer, or wine of any price; here it is, by the hogshead or the single glass, and not a cent to pay! Walk up, gentlemen, walk up, and help yourselves !
It were a pity, if all this outcry should draw no customers. Here they come. A hot day, gentlemen! Quaff, and away again, so as to keep yourselves in a nice cool sweat. You, my friend, will need another cup-full, to wash the dust out of your throat, if it be as thick there as it is on your cowhide shoes. I see that you have trudged half a score of miles, to-day; and, like a wise man, have passed by the taverns, and stopped at the running brooks and well-curbs. Otherwise, betwixt heat without and fire within, you would have been burnt to a cinder, or melted down to nothing at all, in the fashion of a jelly-fish. Drink, and make room for that other fellow, who seeks my aid to quench the fiery fever of last night's potations, which he drained from no cup of mine. Welcome, most rubicund sir! You and I have been great strangers, hitherto; nor, to confess the truth, will my nose be anxious for a closer intimacy, till the fumes of your breath be a little less potent. Mercy on you, man! The water absolutely hisses down your redhot gullet, and is converted quite to steam, in the miniature tophet, which you mistake for a stomach. Fill again, and tell me, on the word of an honest toper, did you ever, in cellar, tavern, or any kind of a dram-shop, spend the price of your children's food, for a swig half so delicious ? Now, for the first time these ten years, you know the favor of cold water. Good-by; and, whenever you are thirsty, remember that I keep a constant supply, at the old stand. Who next? Oh, my little friend, you are let loose from school, and come bither to scrub your blooming face, and drown the memory of certain taps of the ferule, and other schoolboy troubles, in a draught from the Town-Pump. Take it, pure as the current of your young life. Take it, and may your heart and tongue never be scorched with a fiercer thirst than now! There, my dear child, put down the cup, and yield your place to this elderly gentleman, who treads so tenderly over the paving-stones, that I suspect he is afraid of breaking them. What! he limps by, without so much as thanking me, as if my hospitable offers were meant only for people, who have no wine-cellars. Well, well, sir - no harm done, I hope! Go draw the cork, tip the decanter : but, when your great toe shall set you a roaring, it will be no affair of mine. If gentlemen love the pleasant titillation of the gout, it is all one to the TownPump. This thirsty dog, with his red tongue lolling out, does not scorn my hospitality, but stands on his hind legs, and laps eagerly out of the trough. See how lightly he capers away again! Jowler, did your worship ever have the gout ?"
"Your pardon, good people! I must interrupt my stream of eloquence, and spout forth a stream of water, to replenish the trough for this teamster and his two yoke of oxen, who have come from Topsfield, or somewhere along that way. No part of my business is pleasanter than the watering of cattle. Look! how rapidly they lower the watermark on the sides of the trough, till their capacious stomachs are moistened with a gallon or two apiece, and they can afford time to breathe it in, with sighs of calm enjoyment. Now they roll their quiet eyes around the brim of their monstrous drinkingvessel. An ox is your true loper."
The annexed contains a delicate hint, which should not be lost upon the ultra advocates of temperance, who have done no small injury to the good cause by their own intemperance:
"Ahem! Dry work, this speechifying; especially to an unpractised orator. I never conceived, till now, what toil the temperance-lectures undergo for my sake. Hereafter, they shall have the business to themselves. Do, some kind Christian, pump a stroke or two, just to wet my whistle. Thank you, sir! My dear hearers, when the world shall have been regenerated, by my instrumentality, you will collect your useless vats and liquor casks, into one great pile, and make a bonfire, in honor of the Town-Pump. And, when I shall have decayed, like my predecessors, then, if you revere my memory, let a marble fountain, richly sculptured, take my place upon this spot. Such monuments should be erected everywhere, and inscribed with the names of the distinguished champions of my cause. Now listen ; for something very important is to come next.
" There are two or three honest friends of mine — and true friends, I know, they are - who, nevertheless, by their fiery pugnacity in my hehalf, do put me in fearful hazard of a broken nose, or even of a total overthrow upon the pavement, and the loss of the treasure which I guard. I pray you, gentlemen, let this fanlt be amended. Is it decent, think you to get tipsy with zeal for temperance, and take up the honorable