Billeder på siden

and embellishments of his rank in society. The sight of his own greatness would soon afford him but little enjoyment, and the appetite for riches, itself, would have no edge, if it were not sharpened by the frequent bursts of admiration from others. Hence it is that until they, themselves, can be willing to sink into obscurity and forgetfulness, they cannot do less than zealously oppose the retreat of those upon whose applause they literally feed, and hence they will be furnished with much to say which to a slight observer may sound like the language of pure philanthropy; whilst every expression is really the dictate of an unamiable selfishness. Under this view of the subject it would be easy to impeach the honesty of many of my accusers, who are apt to associate with that life of the Recluse, which I have been stickling for, the dreariness and barrenness of a cloister, such as many a monkish tale has impressed upon their imaginations. But I shall content myself with this ingenuous exposition of my own motives in thus stealing away as a voluntary exile, or, to use the law phrase, into a civil death. Happy shall I be, if, whilst indulging my wearied limbs, in the repose of this refreshing retirement, my heart may be permitted to expand itself by an occasional excursion, in this friendly manner, to the neighbourhood of that society which I have corporeally relinquished forever! And thrice happy shall I indeed consider myself if, without even a hope of benefiting others, by my exertions, I may be allowed to gather up what I can and carry with me to the shades. “Happy shades!” to make use of the language of

celebrated panegyrist of the Chartreuse de Grenoble, “whither he who has been chafed and heated by terrestrial attachments may go to refresh himself and renew his mind by tasting that secret joy which is experienced under the empire of Religion when submitted to without reserve. And here,” says he, “I speak of that religion which, far from every kind of idolatry,*

* Je parle ici de cette religion qui, loin de toute espèce d'idolâtrie, consiste à retrouver Dieu en soi-même, à se confier à lui, à l'adorer, à l'aimer, dans les vives espérances d'un bonheur que lui seul dispense. Ce n'est qu'ainsi du moins que l'homme désabusé doit fuir le monde, et innocence s'abriter des mechans.

Opircion de Mercier sur les Sepultures Privées.


consists in coming back again to the Divine principle within
oneself, in confiding in it, in adoring it, and in becoming ena-
moured of it, filled with the hopes of a happiness which it alone
can dispense. It is in this manner only, that a man who is no
longer deceived by the world, is at liberty to fly from it, and that
innocence may cspeet to find a safe asylum from the importu-
nate molestations of the wicked."
Seminary Rangr.



Iucliiquin, the Jesuit's Letters, during a late residence in the United States of

America; being a Fragment of a Private Correspondence accidentally discovered in Europe; containing a favourable view of the manners, literature, and state of society of the United States, and a refutation of many of the aspersions cast upon this country, by former Residents and Tourists. By some unknown Foreigner. I. Riley, New-York, 1810. 1.p. 165.



This is a work of no common stamp- the exuberant, and we believe, hasty production of no common pen. Though small, it possesses great merit-in many parts real excellence, both of argument, style, matter and manner. The first and highest of moral excellencies it certainly can boast, for it has a broad and substantial basis in truth. Its literary character will also, as we believe, bear the test of the severest ordeal, without sinking in the stream or evaporating in the fire. Still, however, it is not perfect. It is not--we are persuaded it is not, the chef d'oeuvre of the hand that wrote it. The author of Inchiquin's Letters is capable of being the author of a superior work—a work, the origin of which he need not, from an excess of modesty, an apprehension of being mortified by public neglect, or a morbid, shrinking sensibility of any kind, attempt to transfer to another or bury in fable.

The real source to which the public are indebted for this interesting production, we regard as a matter of secondary mo


[ocr errors]

ment Whatever gratification we might experience from being made acquainted with the author of so distinguished a performance, we cannot suffer our want of knowledge on that head to effect any serious discount on the pleasure and instruction to be derived from his labours. On such an occasion, instead of inquiring “too curiously,” we hold it is wisest to follow the advice of the Grecian minstrel, and take the good the gods provide us.” When we quench our thirst in the pure and translucent waters of the rill, the refreshment thence received is nothing the less from our not having leisure to trace the stream to its source, and gratify our curiosity by a view of the chrystal fountain from whence it issues. Whether the original manuscript of the work in question was purchased in the streets of Antwerp or in a book-store in Newyork-whether it was written by an Irish jesuit, or an American statesman--by a hermit of Nevjersey pining in a cave, or a gentleman of Philadelphia com. fortable in liis closet----from whatever source it may have originated, from whatever quarter of the world it may have come, are matters of no consequence. It is sufficient that the work is now before us, with all its faults and all its excellencies, capable of analysis and inviting attention.

With what may be called the machinery or plot of this little work, we have nothing to do. Though it is a pretended correspondence carried on by four individuals; and though the letters under the signatures of the several characters differ materially from each other in style and manner (a circumstance which bespeaks a happy and commanding versatility in the talents of the writer) the whole is evidently the production of the same pen. Nor does this slight embroidery of fiction which the author has contrived to throw around his plan, tend in any measure to detract from its merit. On the other hand we think it rather adds to its excellence, certainly to the interest with which it is. perused, inasmuch as it brings before the public in a more pleasing and attractive form, and thereby renders more distinct and impressive, the several points proposed for discussion.

Viewing the Letters of Inchiquin surrounded, brightened, and enhanced by all the circumstances and considerations which tend to give them character, are hail their appearance

with a peculiar welcome. We will treat them with courtesy; but it shall not be courtesy unmingled with justice. A work of the kind has been long wanted-long a desideratum in American literature. We have only to regret that the production before us is not more extensive that it does not conduct us through the entire field which was unquestionably in the view, and might have been so easily embraced in the scope of the writer. Its limited range is, in our view, its greatest fault.

Attached as we are to the United States by every tie that can bind an individual to the land of his nativity--the land in which the ashes of his forefathers are inurned, we cannot without cmotions of scorn and indignation listen to the flippant slanders, the ill-contrived falsehoods, the wanton defamation, which for thirty years past have been heaped on our country by foreign writers. We cannot without an abhorrence of the profligacy and a contempt for the shallowness of those engaged in the nefarious and pitiful plot, witness the various attempts that have been made, and are still making, to degrade in the eye of the world our fellow citizens and all that is American, from that proud and honourable standing to which we know them to be justly entitled, and which we are confident they will ultimately acquire and retain.

On this head even the philosophers and statesmen of the old world are sufficiently faulty. But having never visited the western hemisphere themselves, and being, no doubt, misled by the fictions of travellers, they have fallen into a venial transgression. They have not sinned voluntarily—have not outraged the evidence of their senses. We therefore excuse their errors, and pity their weakness, while we regret their prejudices, and blame their credulity. The principal wrongs our country has sustained in its reputation have been inflicted by a different and very

dissimilar class of writers. We allude to that turba proterva, that malapert and profligate gang of tourists, whom, like the recrement of the pool, or the spume of the troubled ocean, poverty, disappointment, the dread of justice, a stagnation of wholesome employment, a spirit of state intrigue, the commotions of Europe, or a temperament of mind habitually discontented, have from time to time discharged on oiir shores.

[ocr errors]

We allude to such idle visionaries as Brissot, such wordy gossips as Liancourt, such disgusting obloquists as Bulow, such unprincipled ingrates as Weld, whose tongue could drop venom on the hospitable hand that fed him, such contemptible fictionmongers as Ashe, who slandered and lied, as if by profession, till even he himself grew sick of his calling and to that suing, wooing, amatory, half-prose, half-verse, licentious defamer, Anacreon Moore. Against this latter tourist, in particular, it becomes us to point arrows of scorn trebly keen, and level bolts of indignation “red with uncommon wrath.” To the distinguished and fascinating beauties of his pen, when worthily employed, we bear no reluctant testimony. In some respects we think him unrivalled. With all the stores of classical literature at his command-stores calculated to purify the heart, chasten the morals, refine the taste, and elevate the mind-with an imagination bounded in its range only by what bounds our knowledge of creation with the whole paradise of fancy open to his curious eye and discriminating choice—with all that belongs to the elegant scholar combined with all the witchery of the poet, he could be at no loss for subjects to adorn by his powers of song-at no loss for materials to weave for his brow an unfading chaplet. At proh pudor ! quantum mutatus ab illo ! how disgracefully changed ! how ingloriously fallen! He, whom nature had formed to be a swan in song and the bird of Jove in the strength of his pinions, has stooped from his sphere to calumniate in obscene ribaldry and pitiful doggerel a people entitled to the costliest tribute his gratitude could pay>A people who had received him to their bosom with parental affection, and whose hospitality and attention had strewed flowers on his path. What terms of scorn and indignation can recompence the meanness and profligacy of such a character, when he wantonly assails such a people in a strain of invective imbued with all the aconite of his nature, and composed of a tissue of cold blooded falsehoods! Nor, to finish our catalogue, must we omit to mention the infidel Volney, who, though superior in intellect, yet a match for his colleagues in moral depravity, cohors fratrum nobilis, Arcades omnes, could descend to pollute with statements which he knew to be unurite, the page which might have been other


« ForrigeFortsæt »