Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

prairies, for so long a period, Mr. Gregg had opportunities of observation superior to those enjoyed by any writers who have preceded him. No attempt has heretofore been made to present any full account of the origin of the Santa Fé trade and modes of conducting it; nor of the early history and present condition of the people of New Mexico; nor of the Indian tribes by which the wild and unclaimed regions of that department are inhabited. Most of the facts also, presented in the writer's sketch of the natural history of the prairies, and of the Indian tribes who inhabit them, are now published for the first time. He has not entered, in short, to any extent upon grounds which have already been occupied by other travellers. The work has been prepared chiefly from a journal, in which the author was careful to preserve memoranda of his observations while engaged in the Santa Fé trade, without however any purpose of publication. In addition to this, every opportunity was embraced of procuring authentic information through others upon such matters as were beyond the sphere of the writer's own observation. We perceive that Captain MarryAT'S • Monsieur VIOLET' has made free with Mr. Gregg as with Mr. KENDALL, by copying without acknowledgment certain of his published letters upon the history and condition of the Santa Fé trade, etc. The style of our author is simple and unpretending. The incidents, and objects described, he had the good sense to perceive, were abundantly interesting in themselves, and required no overlaying with words' to produce a decided impression. The work is illustrated by several spirited engravings on steel and wood, and by more faithful maps of the regions described than have hitherto been published. We take pleasure in warmaly commending volumes so creditable to American enterprise and American literature to the favor of the public.

EXCURSION THROUGH THE SLAVE STATES : from Washington on the Potomac to the Frontier of

Mexico: with Sketches of Popular Manners and Geological Notices. By G. H. FEATHERSTONHAUGH. In one pamphlet-volume. pp. 168. New-York: HARPER AND BROTHERS.

MR. FEATHERSTONHAUGH might have saved himself the trouble of writing his long explanatory and apologetic preface, wherein he sets forth what he terms the “reasons' why he has thought fit to contribute his share of misrepresentation and abuse of the manners and customs of Americans. Fortunately, while he was acquiring a knowledge of us, we were also acquiring such a knowledge of him, that any thing he might write, to aid in supplying the home demand for detraction, must needs be considered as unworthy of serious refutation, and scarcely indeed of any notice whatsoever. His domestic career; his tergiversations in and out of office; his unfaithfulness to one government and his sycophancy to another; these are matters in the history of our · United States' Geologist,' which are familiar to many persons in this country. Here is a very good synopsis of his book:

*Pervate character is assailed without so much as the cover of a mere initial; private conversations are detailed, which were evidently intended to go no farther than the bounds of that fireside, the hospitality of which should have rendered them sacred. And all this too as the mere sauce-piquante to a book, the great staple of which is a dull and dry and hard detail of geological statistics, the aggregation of many years stumping among rocks and stones, at the expense pf a government, which, while it was deriving no kind of benefit from the labors of its employée, was enabling him to lay up a fund upon which to draw thereafter, for the detraction and abuse of itself. · •THE omnibus in which our geologist, his wife, and my son' are carried from Barnum's in Baltimore, to the railroad station, is dirty; the driver has a 'characteristic twang' to his voice; the rest of the passengers are 'unshaven, unpromising looking fellows;' one of them has the misfortune to be a hump-back, a personal peculiarity which renders him very distasteful to the refined senses of our traveller; a mistake arises as to the settlement of fare, and the agent of the stage coach is obstinate,' and 'insolent,' and a 'cheat;' the remarkable pass of the Potomac at Harper's Ferry is no great things; at the warm springs of Virginia, the ladies were queer looking,' some of them had, and some of them had not tournures,' which were corsetted up in all sorts of ways, and their hair dressed in every possible form.' The men, of course, chewed, and smoked, and stared, and spat; the waiters were dirty, and impudent, and black; the landlord was a great dancer; and farther on, at White Sulphur Springs, every bedroom being full, there was no room for any more, a heinous offence in the eyes of our geological grumbler, his wife, and my son.' The people there were generally ill dressed, vulgar looking fellows;' milk was scarce; the kitchen was dark and cavernous, and the cooks looked like Cyclops ; at dinner

the company bolted their food like hounds in a kennel, and some of them seeing the author'curious about rocks and shells,' called him doctor, others dubbed him colonel, and as a general rule, the

blackys' called him judge! And so, and in such an amiable spirit, our author makes the whole tour across the Alleganies, through the Western States, up the Ohio, across the country to Arkansas, up the Red River, back again to the Mississippi, down to New-Orleans, through the Creek Nation to Augusta in Georgia, to Charleston in South Carolina, through the gold region of North Carolina and Virginia, back to the seat of the National Government and the principal theatre of his great professional services.'

We have had sufficient knowledge in this country of those blustering complainants, whom Mr. Cooper describes as persons who talk large, drink deep, and have a lofty disdain for every thing in the country, though it is very certain they are in better company where they are, than they have ever seen at home;' and their comments, adverse or otherwise, upon us and ours, have come to be estimated at precisely what they are worth.

WORKING A PASSAGE: OR LIFE IN A LINER Published for the Benefit of Young Travellers. By

C. F. B. New-York : JOHN ALLEN, office of the KNICKERBOCKER.

* PERHAPS in nine cases out of ten, the gravest fault that could be' alleged against a book, in these days of literary tradesmen,' would be, that there was too much of it; the tendency to over-write being glaringly apparent. Not so, however, with the little pamphlet-volume before us. There is not half enough of it; for being full of lively, graphic pictures, and replete with a sly humor, one does not like so soon to arrive at its end. But the writer tells his whole story, we suppose; certainly in such a way, that it is easy to see he relates nothing but actual occurrences. We have a shrewd guess at the author; and our readers may safely take our word for it, that the little volume will better repay perusal than any work of its size' which they have encountered for a twelvemonth. The hardships and perils which sailors suffer, that others may comfortably go down to the sea in ships, are here well set forth; and in the person of our author they seem to have been endured with a philosophical independence. Here is a pleasant description of the captain of the first vessel in which the writer undertook to return from Liverpool to New-York: Unlike all the other American ships in the dock, she was a very shabby, disorderly-looking, craft; her rigging all hanging in bights, points and gaskets flying from her yards, and her sides and bulwarks stained with iron rust, she looked as though she had been fitted out by the parish. Her decks were in confusion, and her mates looked like any thing but sailors. I stepped on board and asked for the captain: the cook, a Chinaman, pointed him out to me standing upon the poop. He was a feeble little old man, dressed in a long snuff-colored surtout; his hands were incased in a pair of buckskin mittens, and he was trying to screen himself from the penetrating mist by holding a faded green cotton umbrella over his head. The ship, her master, and her crew, seemed made for each other.' This miserable little captain (who was a tailor, that six months before had commanded a clothing-store in Philadelphia,) when a slight storm subsequently arose, 'walked back and forth in front of the poop, with his hands behind him, looking pale and frightened, and every now and then called one of his mates to him, and asked him what he thought about it! It was plain enough that the captain thought it a very doubtful prospect. Some idea of the comfortable quarters which our sailor enjoyed on board this nice craft may be gathered from the following passages: “The forecastle was a wretched hole. It was even with the ship's deck, a mere shelter from the rain, called a top-gallant-forecastle. The berths were merely rough boards loosely nailed together, and as the chain-cables led directly through it, warmth and comfort were utter impossibilities, for the hause-holes would admit water in all weathers, when there was the least motion to the ship, and the bulk-head was too slight and ricketty to keep out the wind. It was not a very encouraging prospect for a winter's passage across the Atlantic, particularly for me, as I had but a scant supply of sea-clothing; yet I was not disheartened by it.' But our space fails us. Buy the lively, gossiping booklet, (it costs but little more than nothing,) and confirm or reverse our judgment of its merits.

[blocks in formation]

A FRIENDLY REMONSTRANCE. — WE quote the following passage from the half-serious, half-jesting letter of an esteemed friend in the country, partly because of its pleasant manner, and partly that our readers may see how much we forfeit, in not being able to forego, even for a brief space, our never-ending, still-beginning labors for their entertainment: • Are you, or are you not the man, who some two months since made me a rash vow one morning, and straightway forgot it? Perhaps, Sir, you are the man. Perhaps you will not deny it. Perhaps you did covenant in a solemn manner to make up the odd point of our triangle. Well, Sir, twice thirty suns have gone up and down these heavens, and the stars have wheeled about and turned about in a style which the remainder of forty-four shall not look upon again, but as yet it has not suited your pleasure to even show a hand upon your profound calculations touching that promise. It would be curious to learn whether the thought of us, after the tremendous energy of that vow, did not react so far that it never found its way back again; or whether, like the bat, we may not have occasionally fitted across your vision, because there was nothing else afloat. But perhaps we are game that you will bag at your leisure. Perhaps we are to be warmed over, like a cold dinner! Thank you kindly; but it is quite possible that we should decline the process. But think you we are disconcerted in the slightest degree ? Certainly not; we are only profoundly indifferent. Why, Sir, these things are matters of nerve merely. How it would be with yourself in a like case, is another affair. As for instance : you visit the country in search of a tonic, and there learn what it is to make a passion of trifles. There you sleep under a shingle roof, the warm rain pattering down all night, and brag to yourself that you are learning a trick or two that the world knows nothing of. Then you wake with the feeling that something new is going on. A tolerable world, after all. Then you go about whistling and chanting to yourself, for lo! of a sudden some things are beautiful, many are strange, very many are wonderful, and all are new and glorious beyond any thing you have dreamed of. You write your friends to that effect, as news-items, matters of information, actual discoveries. And now your heart opens, your chest expands, you grow a lift taller every day, and if you do n't embrace every body, it is because every body won't let you. When, after leaping a hedge one morning, you come suddenly upon the young straw. berry-girl and kiss her unawares, why is n't she vexed ? Because she knows you could n't help it. You are sorry, very sorry, but there was not the slightest design; it was one of those involuntary and rhapsodical movements that somehow could n't be stopped till it was all over. Precisely because of this exuberance of heart, you now begin to think of old friends again, the distant, the far-away. They are dearer than ever. What wonders have you to tell them! What new worlds have rolled around to your vision! And now it comes to pass that the mail-hour is the important time of day. How bright is that morning when, by careful estimate of time and distance, you are to receive the expectant letter! You hurry your breakfast, and go bounding through the fields, stopping occasionally to ag. gravate the pleasure, and think over what you are to expect; the sly hits, the jokes, the eager questions, the infinite nothings of tremendous moment, the odd expressions, the nameless charm that shall be about it, though it contain only the signature of your friend. With what an indescribably happy manner you enter the office, elbowing your way through the crowd, and choking down your anticipations, lest your friends think you crazy, while now and then you steal a tip-toe look at the box that is to show you the chin and neatly-folded sheet which of all others is to be the crowning joy. Presently your parcels are thrown out, and dealing them over rapidly, you find the thick, dumpy letter, the business-letter, the halfsheet sealed with a wafer, and the member of congress, but the letter is not there. Then as by a sudden blow the world becomes dark to you, and with a confused brain, you steal away out of the hearing of others, to ask yourself what great event has happened, what earthquake has swallowed up your promise of the morning? But blessings on old Father Time! there are more mails to come. And so day after day, and week after week, you go the same round, wondering and inventing, chiding and forgiving, but hoping always, till at last, from sheer exhaustion, you calmly and deliberately write down that your friend is not your friend; that he is an ass, a great goose, and he may go hang; you care nothing about him.

“Now, Sir, how simply and ridiculously nervous is all that! You have then, the rheu. matic, the neuralgic, and almost the hysteric type ;' all from a bad state of the nerves. You may think that I have been quoting from some recent experiences touching yourself; but, Sir, do n't flatter yourself: we have done nothing of the kind. The man who has seen a fly die in a rotary manner will avoid any thing of a convulsive nature. But our gardens, and their occupants, those gentle-folk that seldom resent an unkindness though they wilt under it; they, Sir, have been on the look-out. There has been a tremendous vegetable effort among the potatoes, the peas, the early com, and such like country gentlemen ; but the greedy things have drank more water than I shall carry them again. Our sun-flower has nearly twisted his neck off in looking for you; and our strawberries, the plump beauties, they too had their blush at your coming; but they passed away after a little, and then we asked, how should we summer you in some sweet association, if you came not in time for raspberries ? But they too have gone by; and now, your name, that has been music to us, is so no longer. As if by common consent it has gradually gone out of use; and if any chance allusion is now and then made to its owner, it is in some round-about way that avoids the mention of a name. Don't imagine, Sir, that we look for you any more. Our candles have burned out in waiting, and every thing that brightened for awhile has fallen back into the ease and carelessness of country manners. The sheets that F. had written over, the embroidered pages of ‘L. G. C's.,'have long since been curled, whether into real or fancied flames, is no matter; but they are gone, lamp-lighters and all; and though I blush at the thought, I am not sorry that she has lost the trick of it. And so have gone the shouting feeling of the early morning, the swagger of the heart at the thought of a day that was to be so infinite in its pleasantries, so glorious in its happy nothings, and all from the arrival of one man; the mid-day speculation; the look-outs of the afternoon; the whispered queries and exclamations of that holiest time o' night, the early evening; all these are past, and even our dreams have ceased to wonder at the why of your not coming. But, Sir, we shall not altogether deny you, even at this late day. You may come ; that much is permitted; but if you look for us at the outer edge, you shall not find us; nor at the garden-gate; we shall not be there, even. We shall be “at home. You will knock, or ring the bell, as you please. Some one shall show you the way; but I will not promise that F shall rise at your entrance, or that her boy will not have unlearned the ‘Ollapod' that he has nearly choked himself to utter. No, Sir; you shall be tortured, and that too in an easy and pleasant manner, which you shall find impossible to resist. Your rooms, that have been darkened to the requisite coolness for these sultry days, shall be pleasant to you; the bobolink shall sing for you; the wines shall sparkle to your satisfaction; the pure air and bright sun shall be freely yours, to enjoy in your own way; and the waters that come down in thunder round about us may put you dreaming even at mid-day. Yet, there shall be some

thing wanting ; something undesigned but inevitable; not spoken, nor whispered, nor even hinted at; which shall tell you, not less plainly than the hand-writing on the wall, that you have tried too long the patience of your friends.'

6

THE GREAT BERKSHIRE JUBILEE. — We were about inditing a paragraph in reference to this approaching festival, something of which our readers have doubtless heard, through a public notice in the daily journals, signed by Messrs. Bryant, DEWEY, SEDGWICK, and other metropolitan · Berkshires, when the following eloquent communication, from an esteemed correspondent, resident in the very heart of the Berkshire district, was placed in our hands. We welcome it with cordial good will, and commend it as cordially to the attention and affections of our readers : "THERE may be some persons so ignorant, as not to know that the GREAT BERKSHIRE FESTIVAL is to take place on the twenty-second and twenty-third days of the present August. We say there may be such persons, but they certainly do not belong to our county. Here, every body knows it, and every body is “

• lotting upon it, from the boys who play ball under the elm-tree to the oldest man in town. Village folk and country folk, the daughter of the 'Squire and the farmers daughter, the weary laborers at the loom, and the hale tillers of the mountain soil, are all on the tip-toe of expectation and preparation for this unwonted gathering of children to their mother-land. Far back in the hill-towns, too far for the dam els to foot it, there is neither horse nor wagon to be engaged for that day, either for love or money. Every body means to go, and every body is getting ready. To the store-keeper at the corner, and to the mantua-makers, the prospect of it has brought a golden harvest; for many a bright dollar, laid by for a rainy day, has gone for ribbons and silks to furnish meet garniture for the festival.

A stranger, passing through our county, might smile at all this stir of expectation, and regarding our jubilee as an ordinary holiday only, set us down as a people so very rustic that we know nothing of the frequent festivals which the world keeps. But it is not so. Once indeed, before the Great Western Rail-road broke its way through our mountain barriers, we might have been called a rustic people. But now, why our very dairy-maids send their morning churnings to Boston, and our young ploughmen talk with as much familiarity of stock in the market as they do of stock in the barn. And then for festival days, though we are in little too direct a descent from the old Puritans to care much about Christmas or New Year's, who has not heard of the annual Berkshire Fair, the oldest and most famous agricultural anniversary of the whole country; of the glorious Fourth of July in Berkshire; of Berkshire Thanksgivings, observed with scrupulous exactness according to olden forms?

• It is not in this that the reason is to be found for all these stirring sounds of preparation for the Berkshire jubilee. The old man bowed upon his staff, and the grand-daughter who leads him along the path, have a chord which vibrates in common between them, as they converse about the coming day, other than that which regularly-returning festivals excite. It is that chord which is found every where, among all the sons and daughters of men, linking them together as a brotherhood in this world, and binding them firmly to another : it is the reünion of friends. The mother's eye is moistened in the expectation of clasping to her bosom again her long-absent son, and the heart of the ruddy-cheek'd mountain lass bounds joyfully in the hope of greeting once more under the old roof-tree the playmate of her childhood. Every class participates in this; the poor and the rich, the grave and the gay; and there is not a village or hamlet, nay there is scarcely a cottage or homestead, in the whole county, where hearts are not glad in prospect of welcoming home the loved ones of other days.

* In Pittsfield, which for its central location and ease of access has been selected as the place of the gathering, every body is astir. Usually we are the most quiet people in the

« ForrigeFortsæt »