Amongst this lady's criticisms upon English poets, we remarked some names, very highly lauded, of which we in England have heard little or nothing. This, in our crowded literature, where so much of both what is good and what is bad escapes detection, is no proof of an erroneous judgment on her part. We, on the contrary, may have been culpably neglectful. But when we looked at the quotations she makes to support the praise she gives, we were speedily relieved from any self-reproach of this description. Passages are cited for applause, in which there is neither distinguishable thought, nor elegance of diction, nor even an attempt at melody of verse; passages which could have won upon her only (and herein these quotations, if they fail of giving a fair representation of the poet, serve at least to characterise the critic,) could have won upon her only by a seeming air of profundity, by their utter contempt of perspicuous language, and a petulant disregard of even that rhythm, or regulated harmony, which has been supposed to distinguish verse from prose. For very manifest reasons, however, these are not the occasions on which we prefer to test the critical powers of Mrs Margaret Fuller. It is more advisable to observe her manner when occupied upon established reputations, such as Scott, and Byron, and Southey.
Our critic partakes in the very general opinion which places the prose works of Sir Walter Scott far above his poetry. It is an opinion we do not share. Admirable as are, beyond all doubt, his novels, Sir Walter Scott, in out humble estimation, has a greater chance of immortality as the author of the Lay of the Last Minstrel, than as the author of Waverley. That, perhaps, is our heresy, and Mrs Fuller may be considered here as representing the more orthodox creed. And thus it is she represents it.
"The poetry of WALTER SCOTT has been superseded by his prose, yet it fills no unimportant niche in the literary history of the last half century, and may be read, at least once in life, with great pleasure. Marmion, The Lay of the Last Minstrel, &c., cannot, indeed, be companions of those Sabbath hours of which the weariest, dreariest life need not be destitute, for their bearing is not upon the true life of man, his immortal life." (If Mrs Fuller wrote in the language of the conventicle this would be intelligible; but she does not; what does she mean?) "Coleridge felt this so deeply, that in a lately published work, he is recorded to have said, 'not twenty lines of Scott's poetry will ever reach posterity; it has relation to nothing.'" (Vol. i. p. 63.)
If Coleridge said this in the haste and vivacity of conversation, it was great in justice to his memory to record and print it. "Not twenty lines!"—"relation to nothing!" Why, there are scores of lines in his earliest poem alone, which will ring long in the ears of men, for they have relation to the simple unalterable, universal feelings of mankind.
"Oh, said he that his heart was cold!"
We will not believe it. We are tempted to answer with a torrent of quotation; but this is not the place.
"To one who has read," continues Mrs Fuller, "Scott's novels first, and looks in his poems for the same dramatic interest, the rich humour, the tragic force, the highly wrought, yet flowing dialogue, and the countless minutiae in the finish of character, they must bring disappointment." He who looks for all and exactly the same things in the poems which he had found in the novels, will assuredly, like other foolish seekers, be disappointed. Sir Walter Scott did not put his Bailie Nicol Jarvie nor his Andrew Fairservice into rhyme; nor does a lay of border chivalry embrace all that variety of character, or of dialogue, which finds ample room in the historical romance.
Amongst a certain class of critics, it has been long a prevailing humour to decry one Alexander Pope. Mrs Margaret Fuller is resolved that if not first in the field against this notorious pretender, no one shall show greater hardihood than herself in the attack upon him. It is one of those occasions when, though surrounded by a goodly company of friends, she yet finds opportunity for an individual act of heroism. They are but a few words she utters—but match them if you can! We do not flinch, we Amazonian warriors. It is a-propos of Lord Byron that she takes occasion to point a shaft, or rather to throw her battle-axe, at the head of this flagrant impostor. The whole passage must be quoted:
"It is worthy of remark that Byron's moral perversion never paralysed or obscured his intellectual powers, though it might lower their aims. With regard to the plan and style of his works, he showed strong good sense and clear judgment. The man who indulged such narrowing egotism, such irrational scorn, would prime and polish without mercy the stanzas in which he uttered them." (Wonderful! that an egotist and a misanthrope should have been kept from defacing his own verses. Then follows our terrible bye-blow.) "And this bewildered idealist was a very bigot in behoof of the common-sensical satirist, the almost peevish realist—Pope!" (P. 76.)
With what consummate disdain does she condescend to give the coup-de-grace to the unhappy lingering author of the "Epistle to Arbuthnot," and "The Rape of the Lock!" These poems of the "peevish realist," shall have no place, since Mrs Margaret Fuller so determines it, in the new literature of America. We will keep them here in England—in a casket of gold, if we ever possess one.
One other specimen of the lady's eloquence and critical discrimination must suffice. She is characterising Southey.
"The muse of Southey is a beautiful statue of crystal, in whose bosom burns an immortal flame. We hardly admire as they deserve, the perfection of the finish, and the elegance of the contours, because our attention is so fixed on the radiance which glows through them."—(P. 82.)
Of this poet, who has so much flame in him that we cannot distinctly see his features, it is said in almost the next sentence, "Even in his most brilliant passages there is nothing of the heat of inspiration, nothing of that celestial fire which makes us feel that the author has, by intensifying the action of the mind, raised himself to communion with superior intelligences.(!) It is where he is most calm that he is most beautiful; and, accordingly, he is more excellent in the expression of sentiment than in narration." (The force of the "accordingly" one does not see; surely there may be as much scope for inspiration in sentiment as in narration.) "Scarce any writer presents to us a sentiment with such a tearful depth of expression; but though it is a tearful depth, those tears were shed long since, and Faith and Love have hallowed them. You nowhere are made to feel the bitterness, the vehemence of present emotion; but the phoenix born from passion is seen hovering over the ashes of what was once combined with it."
The young phoenix rises from the ashes of the old; so far we comprehend. This, metaphorically understood, would infer that a new and stronger passion rose from the ashes of the old and defunct one. But into the allegorical signification of Mrs Fuller's phoenix, we confess we cannot penetrate. We have a dim conception that it would not be found to harmonise very well with that other meaning conveyed to us in so dazzling a manner by the illuminated statue. Pity the lady could not have found some other poet to take off her hands one of those images: we are not so heartless as to suggest the expediency of the absolute sacrifice of either.
It is not to be supposed that this authoress is always so startling and original as in these passages. She sometimes attains, and keeps for a while, the level of commonplace. But we do not remember in the whole of her two volumes a single passage where she rises to an excellence above this. If we did, we should be happy to quote it.
"Tales, by Edgar A. Poe," is the next book upon our list. No one can read these tales, then close the volume, as he may with a thousand other tales, and straightway forget what manner of book he has been reading. Commonplace is the last epithet that can be applied to them. They are strange—powerful—more strange than pleasing, and powerful productions without rising to the rank of genius. The author is a strong-headed man, which epithet by no means excludes the possibility of being, at times, wrong-headed also. With little taste, and much analytic power, one would rather employ such an artist on the anatomical model of the Moorish Venus, than intrust to his hands any other sort of Venus. In fine, one is not sorry to have read these tales; one has no desire to read them twice.
They are not framed according to the usual manner of stories. On each occasion, it is something quite other than the mere story that the author has in view, and which has impelled him to write. In one, he is desirous of illustrating La Place's doctrine of probabilities as applied to human events. In another, he displays his acumen in unravelling or in constructing a tangled chain of circumstantial evidence. In a third, ("The Black Cat") he appears at first to aim at rivalling the fantastic horrors of Hoffman, but you soon observe that the wild and horrible invention in which he deals, is strictly in the service of an abstract idea which it is there to illustrate. His analytic observation has led him, he thinks, to detect in men's minds an absolute spirit of "perversity," prompting them to do the very opposite of what reason and mankind pronounce to be right, simply because they do pronounce it to be right. The punishment of this sort of diabolic spirit of perversity, he brings about by a train of circumstances as hideous, incongruous, and absurd, as the sentiment itself.
There is, in the usual sense of the word, no passion in these tales, neither is there any attempt made at dramatic dialogue. The bent of Mr Poe's mind seems rather to have been towards reasoning than sentiment. The style, too, has nothing peculiarly commendable; and when the embellishments of metaphor and illustration are attempted, they are awkward, strained, infelicitous. But the tales rivet the attention. There is a marvellous skill in putting together the close array of facts and of details which make up the narrative, or the picture, for the effect of his description, as of his story, depends never upon any bold display of the imagination, but on the agglomeration of incidents, enumerated in the most veracious manner. In one of his papers he describes the Mahlstrom or what he chooses to imagine the Mahlstrom may be, and by dint of this careful and De Foe-like painting, the horrid whirlpool is so placed before the mind, that we feel as if we had seen, and been down into it.
The "Gold Bug" is the first and the most striking of the series, owing to the extreme and startling ingenuity with which the narrative is constructed. It would be impossible, however, to convey an idea of this species of merit, without telling the whole story; nor would it be possible to tell the story in shorter compass, with any effect, than it occupies here. The "Murders of the Rue Morgue," and "The Mystery of Marie Roget," both turn on the interest excited by the investigation of circumstantial evidence. But, unlike most stories of this description, our sympathies are not called upon, either in the fate of the person assassinated, or in behalf of some individual falsely accused of the crime; the interest is sustained solely by the nature of the evidence, and the inferences to be adduced from it. The latter of these stories is, in fact, a transfer to the city of Paris of a tragedy which had been really enacted in New York. The incidents have been carefully preserved, the scene alone changed, and the object of the author in thus re-narrating the facts seems to have been to investigate the evidence again, and state his own conclusions as to the probable culprit. From these, also, it would be quite as impossible to make an extract as it would be to quote a passage from an interesting case as reported in one of our law-books. The last story in the volume has, however, the advantage of being brief, and an outline of it may convey some idea of the peculiar manner of Mr Poe. It is entitled "The Man of the Crowd."
The author describes himself as sitting on an autumnal evening at the bow-window of the D—— coffee-house in London. He has just recovered from an illness, and feels in that happy frame of mind, the precise converse of ennui, where merely to breathe is enjoyment, and we feel a fresh and inquisitive interest in all things around us.
The passing crowd entertains him with its motley variety of costume and character. He has watched till the sun has gone down, and the streets have become indebted for their illumination solely to the gas lamps. As the night deepened, the interest of the scene deepened also, for the character of the crowd had insensibly but materially changed, and strange features and aspects of ill omen begin to make their appearance.
With his brow to the glass of the window, our author was thus occupied in scrutinising the passengers, when suddenly there came within his field of vision a countenance, (it was that of a decrepid old man of some sixty-five or seventy years of age) which at once arrested and absorbed all his attention. It bore an expression which might truly be called fiendish, for it gave the idea of mental power, of cruelty, of malice, of intense—of supreme despair. It passed on. There came a craving desire to see the face of that man again—to keep him in view—to know more of him. Snatching up his hat, and hastily putting on an over-coat, our excited observer ran into the street, pursued the direction the stranger had taken, and soon overtook him.
He noticed that the clothes of this man were filthy and ragged, but that his linen, however neglected, was of finest texture. The strong light of a gas lamp also revealed to him a diamond and a dagger. These observations it was easy for him to make, for the stranger never looked behind, but with chin dropped upon his breast, his glaring eyes rolling a little to the right and left in their sunken sockets, continued to urge his way along the populous thoroughfare.
By and by he passed into a cross street, where there were fewer persons. Here a change in his demeanour became apparent. He walked more slowly, and with less object than before—more hesitatingly. He crossed and re-crossed the way repeatedly without apparent aim. A second turn brought him to a square, brilliantly lighted and overflowing with life. The previous manner of the stranger now re-appeared. With knit brows, and chin dropped upon his breast, he took his way steadily through the throng. But his pursuer was surprised to find that having made the circuit of this crowded promenade, he turned, retraced his steps, and repeated the same walk several times.
It was now growing late, and it began to rain. The crowd within the square dispersed. With a gesture of impatience, the stranger passed into a bye-street almost deserted. Along this he rushed with a fearful rapidity which could never have been expected from so old a man. It brought him to a large bazaar, with the localities of which he appeared perfectly acquainted, and where his original demeanour again returned, as he forced his way to and fro, without aim, amongst the host of buyers and sellers, looking at all objects with a wild and vacant stare.
All this excited still more the curiosity of his indefatigable observer, who became more and more amazed at his behaviour, and felt an increased desire to solve the enigma. The bazaar was now about to close; lamps were here and there extinguished, every body was preparing to depart. Returning into the street, the old man looked anxiously around him for an instant, and then with incredible swiftness, threaded a number of narrow and intricate lanes which led him out in front of one of the principal theatres. The amusements were just concluded, and the audience was streaming from the doors. The old man was seen to gasp as he threw himself into the crowd, and then the intense agony of his countenance seemed in some measure to abate. He took the course which was pursued by the greater number of the company. But these, as he proceeded, branched of right and left to their several homes, and as the street became vacant, his restlessness and vacillation re-appeared. Seized at length as with panic, he hurried on with every mark of agitation, until he had plunged into one of the most noisome and pestilential quarters, or rather suburbs of the town. Here a number of the most abandoned of the populace were reeling to and fro.
"The spirits of the old man," the author shall conclude the story in his own words, "again flickered up, as a lamp which is near its death hour. Once more, he strode onward with elastic tread. Suddenly a corner was turned, a blaze of light burst upon our sight, and we stood before one of the huge, suburban temples of intemperance—one of the palaces of the fiend, Gin.
"It was near day-break; but a number of wretched inebriates still pressed in and out of the flaunting entrance. With a half shriek of joy, the old man forced a passage within, resumed at once his original bearing, and stalked backward and forward, without apparent object among the throng. He had not been thus long occupied, however, before a rush to the doors gave token that the host was closing them for the night. It was something even more intense than despair that I then observed upon the countenance of the singular being I had watched so pertinaciously. Yet he did not hesitate in his career, but, with a mad energy, retraced his steps at once to the heart of the mighty London. Long and swiftly he fled, while I followed him in the wildest amazement, resolute not to abandon a scrutiny in which I now felt an interest all-absorbing. The sun arose while we proceeded, and when we had once again reached that most thronged mart of the populous town, the street of the D—— Hotel, it presented an appearance of human bustle and activity scarcely inferior to what I had seen on the evening before. And here, long, amid the momently increasing confusion, did I persist in the pursuit of the stranger. But, as usual, he walked to and fro, and during the day did not pass out of the turmoil of that street. And, as the shades of the second evening came on, I grew wearied unto death, and stopping fully in front of the wanderer, gazed at him steadfastly in the face. He noticed me not, but resumed his solemn walk, while I, ceasing to follow, remained absorbed in contemplation. 'This old man,' I said at length, 'is the type and the genius of deep crime. He refuses to be alone. He is the man of the crowd. It will be in vain to follow, for I shall learn no more of him, nor of his deeds.'"
In this description it would be difficult to recognise the topography of London, or the manners of its inhabitants. That Square brilliantly illuminated and thronged with promenaders, the oldest inhabitant would scarcely find. He closes his gin-palace at the hour when, we believe, it would be about to re-open; and ejects his multitude from the bazaar and the theatre about the same time. When he lays his scene at Paris there is the same disregard to accuracy. There is no want of names of streets and passages, but no Parisian would find them, or find them in the juxtaposition he has placed them. This is a matter hardly worth remarking; to his American readers an ideal topography is as good as any other; we ourselves should be very little disturbed by a novel which, laying its scene in New York, should misname half the streets of that city. We are led to notice it chiefly from a feeling of surprise, that one so partial to detail should not have more frequently profited by the help which a common guide-book, with its map, might have given him.
Still less should we raise an objection on the manifest improbability of this vigilant observer, a convalescent too, being able to keep upon his legs, running or walking, the whole of the night and of the next day, (to say nothing of the pedestrian powers of the old man.) In a picture of this kind, a moral idea is sought to be portrayed by imaginary incidents purposely exaggerated. The mind passing immediately from these incidents to the idea they convey, regards them as little more than a mode of expression of the moral truth. He who should insist, in a case of this kind, on the improbability of the facts, would find himself in the same position as that hapless critic who, standing before the bronze statue of Canning, then lately erected at Westminster, remarked, that "Mr Canning was surely not so tall as he is there represented;" the proportions, in fact, approaching to the colossal. "No, nor so green," said the wit to whom the observation had been unhappily confided. When the artist made a bronze statue, eight feet high, of Mr Canning, it was evidently not his stature nor his complexion that he had designed to represent.
Amongst the tales of Mr Poe are several papers which, we suppose, in the exigency of language, we must denominate philosophical. They have at least the merit of boldness, whether in the substratum of thought they contain, or the machinery employed for its exposition. We shall not be expected to encounter Mr Poe's metaphysics; our notice must be here confined solely to the narrative or inventive portion of these papers. In one of these, entitled "Mesmeric Revelations," the reader may be a little startled to hear that he has adopted the mesmerised patient as a vehicle of his ideas on the nature of the soul and of its immortal life; the entranced subject having, in this case, an introspective power still more remarkable than that which has hitherto revealed itself only in a profound knowledge of his anatomical structure. As we are not yet convinced that a human being becomes supernaturally enlightened—in mesmerism more than in fanaticism—by simply losing his senses; or that a man in a trance, however he got there, is necessarily omniscient; we do not find that Mr Poe's conjectures on these mysterious topics gather any weight whatever from the authority of the spokesman to whom he has intrusted them. We are not quite persuaded that a cataleptic patient sees very clearly what is going on at the other side of our own world; when this has been made evident to us, we shall be prepared to give him credit for penetrating into the secrets of the next.
In another of these nondescript papers, "The Conversation of Eiros and Charmion," Mr Poe has very boldly undertaken to figure forth the destruction of the world, and explain how that great and final catastrophe will be accomplished. It is a remarkable instance of that species of imaginary matter of fact description, to which we have ventured to think that the Americans show something like a national tendency. The description here is very unlike that with which Burnet closes his "Theory of the Earth;" it is confined to the natural history of the event; but there is nothing whatever in Mr Poe's manner to diminish from the sacredness or the sublimity of the topic. With some account of this singular and characteristic paper we shall dismiss the volume of Mr Poe.
The world has been destroyed. Eiros, who was living at the time, relates to Charmion, who had died some years before, the nature of the last awful event.
"I need scarcely tell you," says the disembodied spirit, "that even when you left us, men had agreed to understand those passages in the most holy writings which speak of the final destruction of all things by fire, as having reference to the orb of the earth alone. But in regard to the immediate agency of the ruin, speculation had been at fault from that epoch in astronomical knowledge in which the comets were divested of the terrors of flame. The very moderate density of these bodies had been well established. They had been observed to pass among the satellites of Jupiter without bringing about any sensible alteration either in the masses or in the orbits of these secondary planets. We had long regarded the wanderers as vapoury creations of inconceivable tenuity, and as altogether incapable of doing injury to our substantial globe, even in the event of contact. But contact was not in any degree dreaded; for the elements of all the comets were accurately known. That among them we should look for the agency of the threatened fiery destruction, had been for many years considered an inadmissible idea. But wonders and wild fancies had been, of late days, strangely rife among mankind; and although it was only with a few of the ignorant that actual apprehension prevailed upon the announcement by astronomers of a new comet, yet this announcement was generally received with I know not what of agitation and mistrust.
"The elements of the strange orb were immediately calculated, and it was at once conceded by all observers that its path, at perihelion, would bring it into very close proximity with the earth. There were two or three astronomers, of secondary note, who resolutely maintained that a contact was inevitable. I cannot very well express to you the effect of this intelligence upon the people. For a few short days they would not believe an assertion which their intellect, so long employed among worldly considerations, could not in any manner grasp. But the truth of a vitally important fact soon makes its way into the understanding of even the most stolid. Finally, all men saw that astronomical knowledge lied not, and they awaited the comet.
"Its approach was not, at first, seemingly rapid, nor was its appearance of very unusual character. It was of a dull red, and had little perceptible train. For seven or eight days we saw no material increase in its apparent diameter, and but a partial alteration in its colour. Meantime the ordinary affairs of men were discarded, and all interest absorbed in a growing discussion, instituted by philosophers in respect to the cometary nature."
That no material injury to the globe, or its inhabitants would result from contact (which was now, however, certainly expected) with a body of such extreme tenuity as the comet, was the opinion which gained ground every day. The arguments of the theologians coincided with those of men of science in allaying the apprehensions of mankind. For as these were persuaded that the end of all things was to be brought about by the agency of fire, and as it was proved that the comets were not of a fiery nature, it followed that this dreaded stranger could not come charged with any such mission as the destruction of the globe.
"What minor evils might arise from the contact were points of elaborate question. The learned spoke of slight geological disturbances, of probable alterations in climate, and consequently in vegetation, of possible magnetic and electric influences. Many held that no visible or perceptible effect would in any manner be produced. While such discussions were going on, their subject gradually approached, growing larger in apparent diameter, and of a more brilliant lustre. Mankind grew paler as it came. All human operations were suspended.
* * * * *
"It had now taken, with inconceivable rapidity, the character of a gigantic mantle of rare flame, extending from horizon to horizon. Yet a day, and men breathed with freedom. It was clear that we were already within the influence of the comet; yet we lived. We even felt an unusual elasticity of frame and vivacity of mind. The exceeding tenuity of the object of our dread was apparent; for all heavenly bodies were plainly visible through it. Meantime our vegetation had perceptibly altered; and we gained faith, from this predicted circumstance, in the foresight of the wise. A wild luxuriance of foliage, utterly unknown before, burst out upon every vegetable thing.
"Yet another day, and the evil was not altogether upon us. It was now evident that its nucleus would first reach us. A wild change had come over all men; and the first sense of pain was the wild signal for general lamentation and horror. This first sense of pain lay in a rigorous constriction of the breast and lungs, and an insufferable dryness of the skin. It could not be denied that our atmosphere was radically affected; and the conformation of this atmosphere, and the possible modifications to which it might be subjected, were now the topics of discussion. The result of investigation sent an electric thrill of the intensest terror through the universal heart of man.
"It had been long known that the air which encircled us was a compound of oxygen and nitrogen gases, in the proportion of twenty-one measures of oxygen and seventy-nine of nitrogen in every one hundred of the atmosphere. Oxygen, which was the principle of combustion and the vehicle of heat, was absolutely necessary to the support of animal life, and was the most powerful and energetic agent in nature. Nitrogen, on the contrary, was incapable of supporting either animal life or flame. An unnatural excess of oxygen would result if it had been ascertained, in just such an elevation of the animal spirits as we had latterly experienced. It was the pursuit, the extension of the idea which had engendered awe. What would be the result of a total extraction of the nitrogen? A combustion, irresistible, all-devouring, omniprevalent, immediate;—the entire fulfilment, in all their minute and terrible details, of the fiery and horror-inspiring denunciations of the prophecies of the Holy Book.
"Why need I paint, Charmion, the now disenchained frenzy of mankind? That tenuity in the comet which had previously inspired us with hope, was now the source of the bitterness of despair. In its impalpable gaseous character was clearly perceived the consummation of fate. Meantime a day again passed, bearing away with it the last shadow of hope. We gasped in the rapid modification of the air. The red blood bounded tumultuously through its strait channels. A furious delirium possessed all men; and with arms rigidly outstretched towards the threatening heavens, they trembled and shrieked aloud. But the nucleus of the destroyer was now upon us;—even here in Aidenn, I shudder while I speak. Let me be brief—brief as the ruin that overwhelmed. For a moment there was a wild lurid light alone, visiting and penetrating all things. Then—let us bow down, Charmion, before the excessive majesty of the great God!—then there came a shouting and pervading sound, as if from the mouth itself of HIM; while the whole incumbent mass of ether in which we existed, burst at once into a species of intense flame, for whose surpassing brilliancy and all-fervid heat even the angels in the high heavens, of pure knowledge, have no name. Thus ended all."
"Mosses from an Old Manse," by Nathaniel Hawthorne, is the somewhat quaint title given to a series of tales, and sketches, and miscellaneous papers, because they were written in an old manse, some time tenanted by the author, a description of which forms the first paper in the series. We, have already intimated our opinion of this writer. In many respects he is a strong contrast to the one we have just left. For whereas Mr Poe is indebted to whatever good effect he produces to a close detail and agglomeration of facts, Mr Hawthorne appears to have little skill and little taste for dealing with matter of fact or substantial incident, but relies for his favourable impression on the charm of style, and the play of thought and fancy.
The most serious defect in his stories is the frequent presence of some palpable improbability which mars the effect of the whole—not improbability, like that we already remarked on, which is intended and wilfully perpetrated by the author—not improbability of incident even, which we are not disposed very rigidly to inquire after in a novelist—but improbability in the main motive and state of mind which he has undertaken to describe, and which forms the turning-point of the whole narrative. As long as the human being appears to act as a human being would, under the circumstances depicted, it is surprising how easily the mind, carried on by its sympathies with the feelings of the actor, forgets to inquire into the probability of these circumstances. Unfortunately, in Mr Hawthorne's stories, it is the human being himself who is not probable, nor possible.
It will be worth while to illustrate our meaning by an instance or two, to show that, far from being hypercritical, our canon of criticism is extremely indulgent, and that we never take the bluff and surly objection—it cannot be!—until the improbability has reached the core of the matter. In the first story, "The Birth Mark," we raise no objection to the author, because he invents a chemistry of his own, and supposes his hero in possession of marvellous secrets which enable him to diffuse into the air an ether or perfume, the inhaling of which shall displace a red mark from the cheek which a beautiful lady was born with; it were hard times indeed, if a novelist might not do what he pleased in a chemist's laboratory, and produce what drugs, what perfumes, what potable gold or charmed elixir, he may have need of. But we do object to the preposterous motive which prompts the amateur of science to an operation of the most hazardous kind, on a being he is represented as dearly loving. We are to believe that a good husband is afflicted, and grievously and incessantly tormented by a slight red mark on the cheek of a beautiful woman, which, as a lover, never gave him a moment's uneasiness, and which neither to him nor to any one else abated one iota from her attractions. We are to suppose that he braves the risk of the experiment—it succeeds for a moment, then proves fatal, and destroys her—for what? Merely that she who was so very beautiful should attain to an ideal perfection. "Had she been less beautiful," we are told, "it might have heightened his affection. But, seeing her otherwise so perfect, he found this one defect grow more and more intolerable, with every moment of their united lives." And then, we have some further bewildering explanation about "his honourable love, so pure and lofty that it would accept nothing less than perfection, nor miserably make itself contented with an earthlier nature than he had dreamed of." Call you this "pure and lofty love," when a woman is admired much as a connoisseur admires a picture, who might indeed be supposed to fume and fret if there was one little blot or blemish in it. Yet, even a connoisseur, who had an exquisite picture by all old master, with only one trifling blemish on it, would hardly trust himself or another to repair and retouch, in order to render it perfect. Can any one recognise in this elaborate nonsense about ideal perfection, any approximation to the feeling which a man has for the wife he loves? If the novelist wished to describe this egregious connoisseurship in female charms, he should have put the folly into the head of some insane mortal, who, reversing the enthusiasm by which some men have loved a picture or a statue as if it were a real woman, had learned to love his beautiful wife as if she were nothing else than a picture or a statue.
Again, in the "Story of the Artist of the Beautiful," we breathe not a word about the impossibility of framing out of springs and wheels so marvellous a butterfly, that the seeming creature shall not only fly and move its antennae, and fold and display its wings like the living insect, but shall even surpass the living insect by showing a fine sense of human character, and refusing to perch on the hand of those who had not a genuine sentiment of beauty. The novelist shall put what springs and wheels he pleases into his mechanism, but the springs and wheels he places in the mechanist himself, must be those of genuine humanity, or the whole fiction falls to the ground. Now the mechanist, the hero of the story, the "Artist of the Beautiful," is described throughout as animated with the feelings proper to the artist, not to the mechanician. He is a young watchmaker, who, instead of plodding at the usual and lucrative routine of his trade, devotes his time to the structure of a most delicate and ingenious toy. We all know that a case like this is very possible. Few men, we should imagine, are more open to the impulse of emulation, the desire to do that which had never been done before, than the ingenious mechanist; and few men more completely under the dominion of their leading passion or project, because every day brings some new contrivance, some new resource, and the hope that died at night is revived in the morning. But Mr Hawthorne is not contented with the natural and very strong impulse of the mechanician; he speaks throughout of his enthusiastic artisan as of some young Raphael intent upon "creating the beautiful." Springs, and wheels, and chains, however fine and complicate, are not "the beautiful." He might as well suppose the diligent anatomist, groping amongst nerves and tissues, to be stimulated to his task by an especial passion for the beautiful.
The passion of the ingenious mechanist we all understand; the passion of the artist, sculptor, or painter, is equally intelligible; but the confusion of the two in which Mr Hawthorne would vainly interest us, is beyond all power of comprehension. These are the improbabilities against which we contend. Moreover, when this wonderful butterfly is made—which he says truly was "a gem of art that a monarch would have purchased with honours and abundant wealth, and have treasured among the jewels of his kingdom, as the most unique and wondrous of them all,"—the artist sees it crushed in the hands of a child and looks "placidly" on. So never did any human mechanist who at length had succeeded in the dream and toil of his life. And at the conclusion of the story we are told, in not very intelligible language,—"When the artist rose high enough to achieve the Beautiful, the symbol by which he made it perceptible to mortal senses became of little value to his eyes, while his spirit possessed itself in the enjoyment of the reality."
It is not, perhaps, to the stories we should be disposed to refer for the happier specimens of Mr Hawthorne's writing, but rather to those papers which we cannot better describe than as so many American Spectators of the year 1846—so much do they call to mind the style of essay in the days of Steele and Addison.
We may observe here, that American writers frequently remind us of models of composition somewhat antiquated with ourselves. While, on the one hand, there is a wild tendency to snatch at originality at any cost—to coin new phrases—new probabilities—to "intensify" our language with strange "impulsive" energy—to break loose, in short, from all those restraints which have been thought to render style both perspicuous and agreeable; there is, on the other hand—produced partly by a very intelligible reaction—an effort somewhat too apparent to be classical and correct. It is a very laudable effort, and we should be justly accused of fastidiousness did we mention it as in the least blameworthy. We would merely observe that an effect is sometimes produced upon an English ear as if the writer belonged to a previous era of our literature, to an epoch when to produce smooth and well modulated sentences was something rarer and more valued than it is now. It will be a proof how little of censure we attach to the characteristic we are noticing, when we point to the writings of Dr Channing for an illustration of our meaning. They have to us an air of formality, a slight dash of pedantry. We seem to hear the echo, though it has grown faint, of the Johnsonian rhythm. They are often not ineloquent, but the eloquence seems to have passed under the hands of the composition-master. The clever classical romance, called "The Letters from Palmyra," has the same studied air. It is here, indeed, more suited to the subject, for every writer, when treating of a classical era, appears by a sort of intuitive propriety to recognise the necessity of purifying to the utmost his own style.
In some of Mr Hawthorne's papers we are reminded, and by no means disagreeably, of the manner of Steele and Addison. "The Intelligence Office" presents, in some parts, a very pleasing imitation of this style. This central intelligence office is one open to all mankind to make and record their various applications. The first person who enters inquires for "a place," and when questioned what sort of place he is seeking, very naively answers, "I want my place!—my own place!—my true place in the world!—my thing to do!" The application is entered, but very slender hope is given that he who is running about the world in search of his place, will ever find it.
"The next that entered was a man beyond the middle age, bearing the look of one who knew the world and his own course in it. He had just alighted from a handsome private carriage, which had orders to wait in the street while its owner transacted his business. This person came up to the desk with a quick determined step, and looked the Intelligencer in the face with a resolute eye, though at the same time some secret trouble gleamed from it.
"'I have an estate to dispose of,' said he with a brevity that seemed characteristic.
"'Describe it,' said the Intelligencer.
"The applicant proceeded to give the boundaries of his property, its nature, comprising tillage, pasture, woodland, and pleasure ground, in ample circuit; together with a mansion-house replete with gorgeous furniture and all the luxurious artifices that combined to render it a residence where life might flow onward in a stream of golden days.
"'I am a man of strong will,' said he in conclusion, 'and at my first setting out in life as a poor unfriended youth, I resolved to make myself the possessor of such a mansion and estate as this, together with the revenue necessary to uphold it. I have succeeded to the extent of my utmost wish. And this is the estate which I have now concluded to dispose of.'
"'And your terms?' asked the Intelligencer, after taking down the particulars with which the stranger had supplied him.
"'Easy—abundantly easy!' answered the successful man, smiling, but with a stern and almost frightful contraction of the brow, as if to quell an inward pang. 'I have been engaged in various sorts of business—a distiller, a trader to Africa, an East India merchant, a speculator in the stocks—and in the course of these affairs have contracted an encumbrance of a certain nature. The purchaser of the estate shall merely be required to assume this burden to himself.
"'I understand you,' said the man of intelligence, putting his pen behind his ear. 'I fear that no bargain can be negociated on these conditions. Very probably, the next possessor may acquire the estate with a similar encumbrance, but it will be of his own contracting, and will not lighten your burden in the least.'"
Mr Hawthorne is by no means an equal writer. He is perpetually giving his reader, who, being pleased by parts, would willingly think well of the whole, some little awkward specimen of dubious taste. We confess, even in the above short extract, to having passed over a sentence or two, whose absence we have not thought it worth while to mark with asterisks, and which would hardly bear out our Addisonian compliment.
"But again the door is opened. A grandfatherly personage tottered hastily into the office, with such an earnestness in his infirm alacrity that his white hair floated backward, as he hurried up to the desk. This venerable figure explained that he was in search of To-morrow.
"'I have spent all my life in pursuit of it,' added the sage old gentleman, 'being assured that To-morrow has some vast benefit or other in store for me. But I am now getting a little in years, and must make haste; for unless I overtake To-morrow soon, I begin to be afraid it will finally escape me.'
"'This fugitive To-morrow, my venerable friend,' said the man of intelligence, 'is a stray child of Time, and is flying from his father into the region of the infinite. Continue your pursuit and you will doubtless come up with him; but as to the earthly gifts you expect, he has scattered them all among a throng of Yesterdays.'"
There is a nice bit of painting, as an artist might say, under the title of "The Old Apple-dealer." We have seen the very man in England. We had marked it for quotation, but it is too long, and we do not wish to mar its effect by mutilation.
In the "Celestial Railroad," we have a new Pilgrim's Progress performed by rail. Instead of the slow, solitary, pensive pilgrimage which John Bunyan describes, we travel in fashionable company, and in the most agreeable manner. A certain Mr Smooth-it-away has eclipsed the triumphs of Brunel. He has thrown a viaduct over the Slough of Despond; he has tunnelled the hill Difficulty, and raised an admirable causeway across the valley of Humiliation. The wicket gate, so inconveniently narrow, has been converted into a commodious station-house; and whereas it will be remembered there was a long standing feud in the time of Christian between one Prince Beelzebub and his adherents (famous for shooting deadly arrows) and the keeper of the wicket gate, this dispute, much to the credit of the worthy and enlightened directors, has been pacifically arranged on the principle of mutual compromise. The Prince's subjects are pretty numerously employed about the station-house. As to the fiery Apollyon, he was, as Mr Smooth-it-away observed, "The very man to manage the engine," and he has been made chief stoker.
"One great convenience of the new method of going on pilgrimage we must not forget to mention. Our enormous burdens, instead of being carried on our shoulders, as had been the custom of old, are all snugly deposited in the luggage-van." The company, too, is most distinguished and fashionable; the conversation liberal and polite, turning "upon the news of the day, topics of business, politics, or the lighter matters of amusement; while religion, though indubitably the main thing at heart, is thrown tastefully into the background." The train stops for refreshment at Vanity Fair. Indeed, the whole arrangements are admirable—up to a certain point. But it seems there are difficulties at the other terminus which the directors have not hitherto been able to overcome. On the whole, we are left with the persuasion that it is safer to go the old road, and in the old fashion, each one with his own burden upon his shoulders.
The story of "Roger Malvin's burial" is well told, and is the best of his narrative pieces. "The New Adam and Eve," and several others, might be mentioned for an agreeable vein of thought and play of fancy. In one of his papers the author has attempted a more common species of humour, and with some success. For variety's sake, we shall close our notice of him, and for the present, of "The American Library," with an extract from "Mrs Bullfrog."
Mr Bullfrog is an elegant and fastidious linen-draper, of feminine sensibility, and only too exquisite refinement. Such perfection of beauty and of delicacy did he require in the woman he should honour with the name of wife, that there was an awful chance of his obtaining no wife at all; when he happily fell in with the amiable and refined person, who in a very short time became Mrs Bullfrog.
An unlucky accident, an upset of the carriage on their wedding trip, giving rise to a strange display of masculine energy on the part of Mrs B. and disarranging her glossy black ringlets and pearly teeth, so as to occasion their disappearance and reappearance in a most miraculous manner, has excited a strange disquietude in the else happy bridegroom.
"'To divert my mind,' says Mr Bullfrog, who tells his own story, 'I took up the newspaper which had covered the little basket of refreshments, and which now lay at the bottom of the coach, blushing with a deep red stain, and emitting a potent spirituous fume, from the contents of the broken bottle of kalydor. The paper was two or three years old, but contained an article of several columns, in which I soon grew wonderfully interested. It was the report of a trial for breach of promise of marriage, giving the testimony in full, with fervid extracts from both the gentleman's and lady's amatory correspondence. The deserted damsel had personally appeared in court, and had borne energetic evidence to her lover's perfidy, and the strength of her blighted affections. On the defendant's part, there had been an attempt, though insufficiently sustained, to blast the plaintiff's character, and a plea, in mitigation of damages, on account of her unamiable temper. A horrible idea was suggested by the lady's name.
"'Madam,' said I, holding the newspaper before Mrs Bullfrog's eyes—and though a small, delicate, and thin visaged man, I feel assured that I looked very terrific—'Madam,' repeated I, through my shut teeth, 'were you the plaintiff in this cause?'
"'Oh my dear Mr Bullfrog,' replied my wife sweetly, 'I thought all the world knew that!'
"'Horror! horror!' exclaimed I, sinking back on the seat.
"Covering my face with both hands, I emitted a deep groan, as if my tormented soul were rending me asunder. I, the most exquisitely fastidious of men, and whose wife was to be the most delicate and refined of women, with all the fresh dew-drops glittering on her virgin rosebud of a heart! I thought of the glossy ringlets and pearly teeth—I thought of the kalydor—I thought of the coachman's bruised ear and bloody nose—I thought of the tender love-secrets, which she had whispered to the judge and jury, and a thousand tittering auditors—and gave another groan!
"'Mr Bullfrog,' said my wife.
"As I made no reply, she gently took my hands within her own, removed them from my face, and fixed her eyes steadfastly on mine.
"'Mr Bullfrog,' said she, not unkindly, yet with all the decision of her strong character, 'let me advise you to overcome this foolish weakness, and prove yourself, to the best of your ability, as good a husband as I will be a wife. You have discovered, perhaps, some little imperfections in your bride. Well, what did you expect? Women are not angels.'
"'But why conceal these imperfections?' interposed I, tremulously.
"'Now, my love, are you not a most unreasonable little man?' said Mrs Bullfrog, patting me on the cheek. 'Ought a woman to expose her frailties earlier than on the wedding day? Well, what a strange man you are! Pooh! you are joking.'
"'But the suit for breach of promise!' groaned I.
"'Ah! and is that the rub?' exclaimed my wife. 'Is it possible that you view that affair in an objectionable light? Mr Bullfrog, I never could have dreamt it! Is it an objection, that I have triumphantly defended myself against slander, and vindicated my purity in a court of justice? Or do you complain, because your wife has shown the proper spirit of a woman, and punished the villain who trifled with her affections?'
"'But,' persisted I, shrinking into a corner of the coach, however; for I did not know precisely how much contradiction the proper spirit of a woman would endure; 'but, my love, would it not have been more dignified to treat the villain with the silent contempt he merited?'
"'That is all very well, Mr Bullfrog,' said my wife, slily; 'but in that case where would have been the five thousand dollars which are to stock your drygoods' store?'
"'Mrs Bullfrog, upon your honour,' demanded I, as if my life hung upon her words, 'is there no mistake about these five thousand dollars?'
"'Upon my word and honour there is none,' replied she. 'The jury gave me every cent the rascal had; and I have kept it all for my dear Bullfrog?'
"'Then, thou dear woman,' cried I, with an overwhelming gush of tenderness, 'let me fold thee to my heart! The basis of matrimonial bliss is secure, and all thy little defects and frailties are forgiven. Nay, since the result has been so fortunate, I rejoice at the wrongs which drove thee to this blessed lawsuit—happy Bullfrog that I am!'"
 Views and Reviews of American Literature. By the author of The Yemassee, &c. &c. The Wigwam, and The Cabin. By the same. Papers on Literature and Art. By S. MARGARET FULLER. Tales. By EDGAR A. POE. Mosses from an old Manse. By NATHANIEL HAWTHORNE.
 For that strong nationality which ballads and other rude productions written in a rude age exhibit, America comes, of course, too late. But we doubt not that an attentive examination would already detect in the productions of the American mind as striking traits of national character as are usually seen in the works of civilized epochs. A new species of wit is one of the last things which a student of Joe Miller would have thought it possible to invent. Yet this the Americans have achieved. Whatever may be the value attached to it, many a laugh has been created by that monstrous exaggeration, so worded as to give a momentary and bewildering sense of possibility to something most egregiously absurd, which as decidedly belongs to America as the bull does to Ireland. "A man is so tall that he has to climb a ladder to shave himself." Not only is the feat impossible, but no conception can be formed of its manner of execution, yet the turn of the expression for an instant disguises, before it reveals, its most flagrant nonsense. There is also a certain grave hoax, where some fabulous matter is most veraciously reported, in which the Americans have shown great success and something of a national predilection. Some time ago we were all mystified by what seemed a most authentic account of the sudden subsidence of the falls of Niagara. The wall of rock over which the waters rush had been worn away, and, contrary to the expectations of geologists, the bed of the river, immediately behind it, had proved to be of a soft soil that could not resist the torrent. The river had therefore formed for itself an inclined plane, and the great fall had been converted into a rapid of equally astonishing character. If we do not mistake, the true and particular account of certain animals which Herschel discovered in the moon at the time he moved his great telescope, we believe, to the Cape of Good Hope, came to us from the same quarter. It is a pity that Gulliver's Travels are already in existence. It is a book the Americans should have written; they have been unjustly forestalled and defrauded by that work. No doubt, other peculiar and national traits, and of a higher order, would suggest themselves to any one who made it a subject of examination.
 The following summing-up by a judge on a trial for murder gives us a singular specimen (if it can be depended on) of the dignity of the ermine as sustained in South Carolina some half century ago. A murder had been committed on one Major Spencer; the details, natural and supernatural, we have no space for; suffice it to say, that the evidence against the accused left no doubt of his guilt. The judge (an Irishman by birth,) "who it must be understood was a real existence, and who had no small reputation in his day in the south," thus charged the jury. "'Fore God," said the judge, "the prisoner may be a very innocent man, after all, as, by my faith, I do think there have been many murderers before him; but he ought nevertheless to be hung as an example to all other persons who suffer such strong proofs of guilt to follow their innocent misdoings. Gentlemen of the jury, if this person Macleod, or Macnab, didn't murder Major Spencer, either you or I did; and you must now decide which of us it is! I say, gentlemen of the jury, either you, or I, or the prisoner at the bar, murdered this man; and if you have any doubts which of us it was, it is but justice and mercy that you should give the prisoner the benefit of your doubts; and so find your verdict. But, before God, should you find him not guilty, Mr Attorney there can scarcely do any thing wiser than to put us all upon trial for the deed." (P. 31.)
UNITS: TENS: HUNDREDS: THOUSANDS.
The first long vacation of my career as a barrister was at hand: and as my professional gains had already exceeded the sum of L5, 4s. 11d., I considered myself entitled to a few months' recreation. Of my learned brethren there were numbers in similar circumstances with myself; all of whom seemed convinced that the labours of the winter required some pleasing way of renewing the elasticity of the mind. It was soon evident that "travel," was to be the order of the summer. And as the days grew longer and the sun brighter, a change gradually came over the general topics of conversation among us. There was less of the politics of the day, and the ordinary chit-chat of bar appointments and doings: while on every side you heard of "the Rhine," "the Danube," "the Pyramids," and even "the Falls of Niagara." Frequent mention was made also of "the Land o' Cakes;" and some adventurous men, it was said, were even preparing kilts for their excursion. The more confined imaginations of others reached no farther than Wales, or the Cumberland Lakes. Ireland, however, was scarce ever named. It was the year derisively named "the Repeal year:" and the alarming accounts of proceedings in it diverted the feet of "Saxon" travellers to other lands. For my own part, I had made up my mind to follow the herd at large, and submit to foreign extortion and uncleanness, when circumstances occurred to alter my plans. Unforeseen family affairs rendered it imperative on me to go to Dublin, on business connected with a brother who was quartered there; and who, in consequence of the prevailing alarms, was unable to procure even one fortnight's leave of absence. Hitherto, among my companions, I had talked merely of "the Geysers," "the Ural Mountains," or "the Caspian Sea:" but when I found how matters stood, I determined to make the best of my position. Accordingly, a day or two after, when solicited by some acquaintances to join a "Rhine party," I expressed my resolution of visiting Ireland. It was with difficulty I could persuade them that I was not in jest: and when they did feel convinced that I was really in earnest, numerous arguments were advanced to dissuade me from so suicidal an act. Argument was followed by advice; and numerous were the cautions I received, and the precautions I was recommended to take. Among those present, was a friend of mine named Thomson, who was rather given to be cynical in his remarks, and was besides addicted to the study of phrenology. He declared that for his part he was not so apprehensive concerning me on account of the pikes of the Repealers as of the darts of Cupid.
"Beware," said he, "of the Irish ladies. Truly they are bewitching; but alas! they are seldom helps-meet for the Briefless."
He then went on to say, that his hopes of my safety consisted principally in my deficiency in "Constructiveness;" for that "Amativeness" was developed, while "Caution," was all but absent.
"Be sure," said my worthy aunt as I took leave of her,—"be sure not to venture out of Dublin, else you will certainly be killed; and promise me that you will join me in a fortnight at Cheltenham."
I promised faithfully.
"Invariably wear a bullet-proof dress," said Thomson; "to be sure, it will reduce you to a skeleton; but it is better (for the present) that the skeleton should have a soul than be without one!"
Edward Russell had been my school-fellow and college chum. Like myself, he had been destined for the Lord Chancellorship, when the death of an elder brother freed him from the probable burden of keeping her majesty's conscience. The same event also relieved him of certain obstacles in the way of proposing for, and obtaining the hand of Fanny Felworth. Mrs Russell—at this time about two years married—was the only daughter of Col. Felworth, who some years previous had held a staff appointment in the south of England. Her brother, Russell, and I, had been school-fellows some ten years before the time I speak of; and I may add, that the Emerald Isle, fruitful as it is in such characters, never produced a more light-hearted youth than Frederick Felworth. The days of school are quickly followed by the active business and the varied events of life. Russell and I went to Cambridge; Felworth obtained a commission in a regiment then in India. Soon after, Col. Felworth retired from the service, and went to reside on his property in Ireland, accompanied by his daughter and a widowed sister, his wife having died several years before.
In early youth, correspondence is seldom regularly persevered in for any length of time. Felworth wrote twice or thrice from India, and then his letters ceased. Russell succeeded to his property some time before his collegiate course was finished; and as soon as he took his degree, went to Ireland. In his travels there, he visited the Felworths, (which I suspect was his principal object,) and the natural consequences followed. Immediately on his marriage, Russell went to the Continent, where he remained until a few weeks previous to the time of which I speak. Of Frederick Felworth, I saw occasional mention in the Indian newspapers; such as his distinguishing himself in tiger-shooting expeditions, riding horse-races, and the like. Latterly, however, I had heard nothing of him.
On my way to Ireland, I diverged a few miles from the line of railway, for the purpose of spending a day with the Russells. I found the "little Fanny" of former years now the staid matron, with the apartment called the nursery not altogether untenanted. When Russell and I were alone, we fell (as persons in such circumstances invariably do) into conversation about old times and old friends. It is needless to say that I made special inquiry after Frederick Felworth. I found that he had returned from India a short time before Russell's marriage: and that, when about to rejoin his regiment after a few months' leave of absence, the Colonel feeling lonely after the departure of his daughter, and finding infirmities growing upon him, compelled him to sell out.
"You remember," said Russell, "the passion he had for horses when a boy; well, this madness (for it can be called by no other name) has ever since continued on the increase;—and between farming, magisterial duties, and his horses, he finds occupation and amusement sufficient. The Colonel is daily feeling more and more the effects of age, so that all matters devolve on Frederick. I was writing to him this morning, and I promised that you would pay him a visit when in Ireland. The house is called Craigduff, about forty miles from Dublin."
"I will very gladly do so," I replied; "but my stay will be short, as I am under a positive promise of speedy return."
"I am happy," added Russell, "to hear you will go. I have only to add that the country about Craigduff is tranquil;—and (you are still single,) though there is no charmer in the house, there is one not far off."
I did not see much of Mrs Russell during my stay, as some matters seemed to engage a good deal of her attention. In a brief conversation, however, which I had with her in the evening, I found that she, like my friend Thomson, was a believer in the science of Phrenology.
Having been always accustomed to treat the subject as a butt for the shafts of ridicule, I fear I did not then speak of it with due respect. Conjecturing that "the baby" must have a fine development, I ventured to ask what bumps were the most prominent.
She immediately replied, that "number" was as largely developed on his head as on his Uncle Frederick's. "But there is little use," she said, "in talking to an unbeliever like you on the subject:—but this I have to say, now that you are going to Craigduff, beware of Units! (Edward, recollect you are not to explain.) Mark my words, Beware of Units! And now, good-night! You are to go, you say, by the early train, so that I shall not see you in the morning; but when you come to visit us on your return, I trust you will be able to tell me that you did beware of Units."
After her departure, in every way, and with all legal ingenuity, did I tempt the allegiance of her husband, but in vain. At last, when I felt sure, that my cross-examination had left him no loophole for escape, he gravely replied—"That he was not yet long enough married to disobey his wife; but he hoped for better times in the future."
The life of officers in garrison, and the dinners at mess; the charms of the daughters of Erin, and the splendid residence of viceroyalty; the Wellington testimonial, and the late Mr Daniel O'Connell—have all been described by competent and incompetent hands. At the period of my visit, the Government, prepared for any emergency, had fortified the barracks throughout the country, and poured a large body of troops into every available position. There never was a more agreeable time for those stationed at Dublin. The number of organised forces at the disposal of the Government was so great, that no alarm of personal danger prevailed in the capital; while the frightful state of the provinces (the northern parts excepted) not only drove a number of families into it, but prevented many from leaving it who otherwise would have done so. These circumstances served to render the town much gayer than it would otherwise have been at that period of the year.
The business which took me to Ireland was not finished until the end of the allotted fortnight. However, I determined to pay my promised visit at Craigduff. Accordingly I addressed a letter to my respected relative, stating that three days more were all that were required for me to remain in Ireland; and that on the fifth I hoped to be with her at Cheltenham. I need scarcely say that I took care not to alarm the worthy lady, by telling her how I intended to spend the intervening time.
The last evening of my stay in Dublin was spent at a Mr Flixton's, in one of the squares. This gentleman had a son who was in the same regiment to which Felworth had belonged, and who, about a month previous, had been on a visit to his former friend. This young man spoke of him in the highest terms. He said he had talents for any subject to which he might turn his attention; but that his horses altogether engrossed him; "and such a collection as he has!"
I had no further conversation with young Flixton at that time; but at a subsequent part of the evening he came up to me with his partner, to whom he introduced me. The lady appeared about eighteen years of age. Her expression was one of combined intelligence and sweetness, while her figure was symmetry itself.
"I have just told Miss Vernon," said he, "that you are a friend of Frederick Felworth, and that you are going to Craigduff in the morning; and she says that you will most effectually show your friendship for him by shooting Units. In this I perfectly agree with Miss Vernon."
Ere I had time to make any reply the music commenced, and they moved off to take their places in the dance, but not before I observed a semi-malicious smile pass over the countenance of the lady, at the conclusion of her partner's remark. Presuming on the introduction my young friend had given me, no sooner did I see her disengaged, than I requested the honour of her hand in the next dance. She declined, however, saying that her mamma was just about to leave the party, as they had a journey before them the next day. At a signal from an elderly lady, she arose and left the room. I was now doubly anxious to unravel the mystery of "Units," whoever or whatever he, she, or it might be; whom the one lady advised me to "beware of," for my own sake—the other to "shoot," for my friend's sake. I resolved to ask young Flixton, but he was nowhere to be found.
"What a nice girl Miss Vernon is!" said my brother on our way home; "and she has got twenty thousand pounds, too."
"She is the most lovely girl that was in the room to-night," said I; "but tell me all you know about her."
"I can do so in a few words. Her father was a West India merchant; her mother and she have been in Dublin for a few weeks; they are going back to their residence to-morrow, which is situated somewhere near Craigduff. I believe they are related to the Felworths. And now my story is finished. But you had better retire to rest as soon as you can, for you have but a few hours to sleep."
Though I lay in bed, sleep forsook my eyelids. This may, in some degree, have been owing to the excitement of the party; but still my mind was strangely perplexed with the expression "Units." I felt that Mrs Russell's expression, though uttered in jest, contained a good deal of seriousness. "Shoot Units!" "Beware of Units!" What could be the meaning? There are times certainly in which one is more given to superstitious feelings than he is at others, and such, perhaps, was my case at that time; I could not banish the thought that my future fate in life was somehow connected with the unknown "Units."
"After all," said I, throwing myself out of bed, "the nearest expression to Mrs Russell's that I know of is, 'Take care of Number One.' It is an older precept, and most likely a wiser one; and henceforward I will be doubly careful to observe it."
The day after (or, more correctly, the same day) I arrived at Craigduff, where I received a hearty Irish welcome. The first evening with young Felworth was passed much in the same manner as a previous one with Russell. After tea, three rubbers of long whist closed the evening. Though I listened with close attention, I never heard the word "Units" mentioned.
The following morning, Frederick Felworth took me over the grounds and farm, where I saw much to admire. Every thing was well arranged; and even in the minutest matters I could detect the constant superintendence of a master.
"We will keep the stables for the last," said Felworth, "because they are the best; and I flatter myself I can show you a stud unrivalled in numerous respects."
These words were spoken with an increased animation, giving clear evidence wherein his tastes lay.
"These two stables on this side of the yard each contain four horses. There is a harness-room, you see, between them, and a loose-box at the lower end of the farthest. We may as well go into the first one, although you will see nothing in it but two fat family carriage-horses and two ponies. The first of these lesser quadrupeds is my Aunt's, which she drives in a small car on her numerous charitable visits. The other is the Governor's, which he occasionally rides. Now let us come to the next stable, which is mine solely and peculiarly; and if my stud does not astonish and delight you, all I can say is I will be much disappointed."
With this preface we entered. The stable was well fitted up in every respect. There were three horses in the stalls, and one in a loose-box, which opened into the stable. Felworth stood for several minutes in a sort of admiring gaze, merely remarking that he had not seen his "pets" that day before, while they showed every symptom of pleasure at his appearance. During this time I took a preliminary look at the favourites individually. The first was an active-looking, compact, black horse, with a fierce, unsettled expression of eye, and several blemishes on his legs, while a chain attached from the wall to the post prevented the unwary stranger from approaching too close. The second was a powerful bay mare, with many good points, but little beauty. The third was a remarkably handsome bay horse, of high breeding. He was out of work, however, one of his legs being bound up. The fourth was a thoroughbred gray horse, one of the finest animals I ever beheld.
"Now," said Felworth, "I would much like to have an 'opinion' from you. Tell me candidly what you think of my nags."
"I am no great critic," I replied; "but every one nowadays must be a judge of horse-flesh. Whether or not the schoolmaster is abroad, there is no excuse for ignorance on that subject. It strikes me that there is great variety in your stud."
"You are right there."
"I do not much like the bearing of the black horse. I fear he is rather eccentric."
"He is a little wayward."
"I cannot say that I admire the mare very much; she appears a homely, useful sort of animal."
"She is a real good one though; much better than she looks. She is famous in the shafts with the black horse before her; but I hope you will have ocular demonstration of that to-morrow. What think you of the bay?"
"He is a very nice horse; but he is in the stall of sickness, and therefore we will pass over him; but the gray delights me. I would say he is a Ganymede, a regular cupbearer."
"Well," said Felworth, "since you have spoken so discreetly, I will tell you all about them; and, first of all, their names. The black horse I call 'UNITS.'"
"Units! Units! Units!!!" exclaimed I.
"Yes, Units. The bay mare 'TENS;' the bay horse 'HUNDREDS;' and the gray 'THOUSANDS.' I must give you the reasons of their nomenclature. The first cost me L5; the second L20. I bought her from a tenant on the property who was emigrating to Canada; and, very unjockey-like, I gave him just what he asked. I designed her for the farm; but her paces proved so good that she was advanced to the exalted position in which you see her. The bay horse I purchased in England, and gave 70 guineas for him. I call him 'Hundreds,' because he is worth hundreds. He is a beautiful horse in appearance, and then he is an excellent roadster, and a well-trained hunter. He met with an accident at the end of the season, but is in the fair way of recovery. His temper is unequalled."
"I presume he resembles Units in that particular," said I.
"Indeed he is far from it; but here we are with my gallant gray. Ganymede you are, and Ganymede I hope you will be! Win the county cup but once more, old fellow, and then it will be our own! This horse was bred on the farm here; he is the produce of a gray mare that you may recollect my father mounted on in our birch-rod days. He deserves the name of 'Thousands' undeniably; for Lord Oxfence, who was in the regiment with me, offered a 'carte blanche' for him."
"No wonder," said I, "that your sister is so devout a believer in phrenology, when she sees such effects of the development of 'number.' But you have said nothing as yet of Units. I have heard of him before, and I confess I have a singular interest in him."
"Oh! never mind what Fanny says about him, for she entertains unfounded prejudices against him."
"Perhaps she does; but tell me what is that contrivance in the ceiling right above him? A pulley, is it not?"
"It is a pulley," replied Felworth; "but, since you are desirous to hear, I had better begin from the commencement, and tell you the entire history of this extraordinary animal, whose fame has reached Westminster Hall. The man who owns the coach which passes this house attended an auction in Dublin of cast horses from a dragoon regiment about a year and a half since, and among them was exhibited the horse before you. Of course he had managed to get a private opinion from the sergeant in charge; and the account he heard of my dark friend was, 'that they had had him only three months, and that he was an untamable devil.' When a regiment could not subdue him, who could? Notwithstanding, from his superior shape, the proprietor bid for him, and purchased him for something under five pounds. When he took him to his stables, he found that the horse would not suffer an article of harness to be put on him. This was bad enough. However, some days after, by the assistance of all the men about the yard, they did succeed. The horse was allowed to remain in that state all night, and was put in as near-side wheeler in the coach which was to leave Dublin that morning. The proprietor himself undertook to drive him—for he is a famous hand in that way, and many a vicious horse has he brought to reason. By good luck I happened to be a passenger myself.—(Look, I beg of you, at the intelligence of his expression! He knows we are talking of him.) Well, as I said, I was on the coach, and beside the proprietor, while the regular coachman was immediately behind us. The horse started pretty fairly. To be sure he made a plunge or two, but the traces were strong, and his companions stout and steady. For several miles we came along as pleasantly as needs be, and never did I see a horse do his business in better style. It was during this period that I heard the horse's previous history; and further, I was told that, in the way of harnessing him, once the saddle was on his back, (though it was no easy task to get it there,) the remainder of the business had been easy. I hope you are not tired.—Well, as you wish me, I will finish my history. Just at the third milestone I felt a shock on the soles of my feet as if I had been receiving the bastinado. I need not say this was from the heels of Units on the under side of the board on which my feet rested. In a moment after, the performance was repeated, with this difference, that the blow was rather lower. But it was more serious; for on this occasion he struck the front-boot with such force, that he was unable to withdraw his foot, which went right through the board; and the consequence was, that he fell against the pole. Had the other wheel-horse not been as steady as a rock, we would have gone right over. As it was, the driver pulled up at once; and immediately the coachman and I were at the heads of the other horses. After several terrific struggles, Units contrived to disengage himself. You see the marks of the transaction still on his pastern; but do not go too near him, for he is too thoroughly Irish to endure a Saxon. As soon as we had loosed him from the coach, the proprietor directed the coachman to take him back to Dublin, and to bring another horse. 'And tell the fore-man' said he, 'to have him shot before I return this evening. I shall lose only five pounds, and I will have no person's blood on my head for that sum.' 'Stay,' said I, 'I will give you five pounds for him, and take him with all his imperfections on his head, and on his heels too.' I must say that the man was unwilling, but I carried my point."
"And what on earth did tempt you to buy such a brute?"
"The fact was, the hunting season was over, and I wanted some amusement, as I was rather in delicate health. India is severe on the liver."
"Had you foreseen your circumstances, you might have brought a tiger home with you. But how did you get the horse to Craigduff?"
"In the neatest and quickest possible way. I borrowed a rope from the guard, and having made a temporary halter, I went to the back part of the coach, and led him the whole way. It is forty miles, at seven miles an hour, and he did the journey with ease. I was sure then that I was possessed of a trump. But I must cut the matter short; for it would keep you the whole day if I told you how we succeeded in managing him. It was altogether by kindness, and a gradual discovery of his little peculiarities. The pulley you inquired about, I look upon as the greatest invention. It lets down the saddle upon his back, and then, as I told you, he is quiet. It annually saves the life of a man or two."
"I told you," said I, taking advantage of a momentary pause, "that I had a great interest in the horses: pray tell, me, can you make any use of him?"
"Any use of him! why he is the most useful animal in the world:—an excellent saddle-horse; a first-rate jumper. He was not in my possession three weeks when I won the five pounds he cost me. My neighbour, Sir Edward, rode over here one morning on his famous horse Thunderbolt, and he thought proper to call my new purchase 'Beelzebub.' This rather provoked me; and I offered to bet him the sum I spoke of that I would pound him in twenty minutes; and this I did, in half the time, by jumping his own park wall, which is near six feet high. The horse must be ridden in a snaffle, as young Flixton could tell you. He thought himself very wise, and insisted on having a curb: the consequence was, that the very moment 'Units' felt it, he started off right across the country, and his rider and he parted company in the river below, near Mrs Vernon's house. Flixton was not the least hurt; but a muddier, wetter, or angrier man you never saw. Alice Vernon and I happened to be witnesses of the whole affair; and she laughed,—how she did laugh!" (I will not display my horsemanship before her, thought I.) "He is a pleasant horse in single harness," continued Felworth; "and, if he did kick the market-cart to pieces, it was owing to the carelessness of the servant in letting the reins fall down about his feet. And if he did upset the gig and break my collar-bone, it was my own fault. I knew he could not bear the sudden opening out of an umbrella; and I ought to have called out to the man, or turned the horse's head away. He is an excellent leader in tandem, and very safe. He is certainly playful in starting with the other horse behind him; but then we know his ways. But you will have ocular demonstration of his performance in that way to-morrow, for I am obliged to attend at sessions, in a village about seven miles off, and we shall drive over after breakfast. Your curiosity about 'Units' is now, I am sure, more than satisfied."
As we were entering the house, Felworth informed me that Mrs and Miss Vernon were to join their family party at dinner that day; and that we would be obliged to walk home with them in the evening. The time passed most agreeably, and the walk was delightful! I shall not attempt to describe the younger lady, for no words of mine can do her justice. A great variety of the fairest and loveliest of the sex have been depicted by writers of fiction from Sir Walter Scott downwards: and few young gentlemen exist who have not at some time been "over head and ears" in love. Now, it is a matter of fact, that the latter look upon their Lucys, or Amys, or Dianas (for the time being) as considerably excelling any of those with whose verbal portraiture they are familiar. Need I say that I formed any exception? On that moonlight night, as I parted from her, I felt satisfied that there was no more lovely person in the world than Alice Vernon.
The first words spoken on our return were by Felworth. "Perhaps you are aware that Miss Vernon has a large fortune?"
Rather surprised by the abruptness of the remark, I answered that I was so; but that I would admire her just as much if she had not a farthing in the world.
"I have no doubt you would," was my companion's reply; "but that is not the matter in consideration at present. I merely wish to tell you an anecdote of Lieutenant Flixton. He is very easily roused, but soon calms again. On this hint I spoke; and in the evening of the day of the river business, as he and I were sitting together, I delicately hinted to him the amusement he had afforded to Miss Vernon in the morning. I wish you had seen him: his face grew red as scarlet, and he exclaimed, "Put a side-saddle on 'Units,' and put 'tens of thousands' on it, and they will be a well-matched pair!" I kept him in a state of fever the whole time he remained, by threatening to tell the lady the compliment he paid her. You know the Vernons are connexions of ours, and that is one reason why they are residing at Violet-Bank now. But I am sorry they are soon going away: for when Richard Vernon returns from the West Indies, (and he is expected in two months,) his mother and sister are going to live with him in London."
These remarks of Felworth served to remove some unpleasant matters from my mind. I saw that I would experience no rivalry from him; and I thought myself a match for Flixton if I had but a fair field.
I must confess that the next morning I did entertain serious apprehensions of the proposed tandem expedition. And, had I been able to devise any feasible plan of carrying Mrs Russell's advice into execution, I would eagerly have adopted it. My difficulties, however, seemed to be removed, as I perceived that the gig was brought to the door with "Tens" alone in it but vain was my expectation!
"You will please take your seat," said Felworth, "and make yourself comfortable, and I will follow your example."
We did so. "Units" was now led forward to his place in front by one man, who held a cloth over his eyes, while another arranged the reins, and gave them into Felworth's hand. The traces were still unfastened.
"Now we go, Tens, Units! get along!"
At the signal given, the horse made a tremendous plunge forward, while Felworth, adroitly yielding his hand for the moment, drew him in firmly but gently, while the two men, running alongside, attached the traces.
"Strange way 'Units' has of leaving home!" quietly remarked Felworth; "but he is a peaceable animal after all, for you remark he never kicks back. And can any thing be more steady than 'Tens?' You would not depreciate her now."
"Certainly not; a female Socrates is a good companion to that male Xantippe."
Felworth then went on to say, that the horse was perfectly safe as a leader; and that, if he was not sure that he was so, he would not consider himself justified in risking the life of any one. He added that there were only two things of which he had the least dread;—the one was, the sudden opening of an umbrella; but there was no risk of that in weather such as we were then enjoying; the other was, a shot fired near the horse; but then there was little danger in that way either, for there was not a gun in the neighbourhood, nor any thing at which to fire. When I expressed an opinion that he and I afforded pretty fair marks ourselves, and that I had heard of such being selected, he burst out laughing, and asked me if I had made my will before I left England; and did I believe the half of the stories I heard there about Ireland? He then remarked that a whip would last for several generations if one always drove horses like "Units" and "Tens." Before we arrived at our destination, he said he had directed his servant to be in readiness to take home the gig from Violet-Bank, for that we could return by another road, and call there.
"I like your arrangement much," said I, "as I wish to pay my respects to Mrs Vernon before I leave."
"It is all very proper," said Felworth, "but there was no occasion to lay such emphasis on the 'Mrs.'"
After strolling about the village for an hour, Felworth despatched his business, and we turned homewards. He did not appear so much inclined for conversation as he had been in the morning; and we both soon lapsed into comparative silence. The very act of driving has at any time a tendency to produce a ruminating mood; and my thoughts naturally turned on Alice Vernon. It was true, I had seen her only twice, and on the first occasion only for a few minutes; yet, even now, I could not bear the thought of her becoming the wife of another. I knew I would probably see her in London when her brother returned; but how many things might happen in the mean time? I felt she could look on me only as a stranger. I wished much that I could have remained longer at Craigduff; but for several reasons that was out of the question. It was true I had been much pressed to prolong my stay, but I had said that my visit was a stolen one. And now would I not look excessively foolish, when it appeared that "imperative circumstances" were turned into moonshine by a moonlight walk? I was aroused from my reveries by an exclamation from Felworth, "There is Alice Vernon, I am positive! You see her walking on the road before us under the row of beech-trees. We will overtake her by the time she comes to the end of them, by the quarry on the right." He proved himself accurate; for we were only a few yards behind her, as she came into the bright sunshine. At this moment (as was natural for any lady to do) she opened out her parasol in the direct view of Units. The consequence was that he made a sudden stop, so that the mare came against him; this was followed by a quick bound to one side, so as almost to pull "Tens" off her balance. Felworth, however, had the horses well in hand; and even yet all matters might have gone right. But just at that moment an explosion took place at the quarry beside us. I saw the infuriate beast make a jump at the fence on the left. I fancy I heard a crash—but I have no recollection of any thing more.
"He lives!—thank God, he lives!—and it was all my fault!" were the first words I heard in returning consciousness. I felt very faint and weak, but the tones sounded sweetly in my ears. I then heard some directions to keep me "perfectly quiet."
But I need not detail the progress of my recovery. I was in Violet-Bank, near to which the accident had occurred. My brother soon after came to see me; and even my worthy aunt, in her anxiety, ventured into "that horrid country." Pleasant, indeed, were the hours I passed in the period of my convalescence.
As soon as was permitted by the doctor, I had a visit from Felworth.
"Thank Providence," said he, "all is right with you now, but it was a very doubtful matter for some hours. It was a bad business altogether. Units was killed, and you nearly so."
"But tell me exactly how you got off yourself: I perceive your forehead cut, and your arm in a sling."
"You see the whole of the injuries I received; but the mare is much cut and bruised; both shafts of the gig were broken. I have preserved, as a sad memorial of the day, the stone against which your head came when you were pitched out. Fortunately, for me, I fell in a soft place; and I was on my legs before the quarry-men gathered about you, and carried you into the house. What presence of mind Alice had! She sent for the doctor without a moment's delay; but women always act best in such circumstances."
"But Units, what of him?"
"Why, one trace broke in his attempt to leap into the field; and, fortunately for Tens, the other soon gave way; and then he galloped home."
"I thought you said he was killed."
"And so he was, but not by fair play. My father, unfortunately, met the man who was leading home the mare; and when he heard what had occurred, he brought down his own pistols, and had the horse led out, and shot on the spot. It was not out of vengeance that he did so, for he was not aware at the time of the dangerous state you were in; but he said that the horse would be the cause of death to some one yet. It was from a kind motive he did so, but it was a sad blow to me. I will never see the like of Units again."
It was arranged that Alice and I were to be married in the following September.
"You were a sad truant," said my aunt, "to go from Dublin after the cautions I gave you; but I give my full pardon under the circumstances."
I had a silent but powerful, advocate near me.
Shortly after my recovery, I went to London, for the purpose of making necessary arrangements for my marriage. When there, I called upon Thomson, and narrated to him the entire events.
"You are a very lucky fellow!" he said. "I look upon this horse 'Units' as having been your guardian angel. I told you you were deficient in 'Constructiveness,' and your story proves it. Had it not been that you got your head broken, or some other fortuitous event occurred, you would have remained a bachelor to the end of your days."
RESEARCH AND ADVENTURE IN AUSTRALIA.
The confident mariner, spreading his canvass to the fickle gale, and launching forth upon unknown seas in search of uncertain shores, to combat the kraken and fish the pearl, scarcely exhibits more daring, or braves greater perils, than the hardy landsman, who, on horse's back or dromedary's hump, or his own mocassined feet, plunges into tangled jungle and pathless prairie, adventuring himself, a solitary pioneer, thousands of miles from the abodes of civilisation. If shoal and squall and treacherous reef, pirates and storms, and tropical calms scarce less terrible, when parched lips blacken for thirst in the midst of boundless waters, await the seaman, dangers equally imminent and inevitable, and more incessant beset the path of the wanderer in the desert. The sailor has his days and weeks of safety and repose and rude luxury, whilst the stately ship scuds merrily before favouring breezes over a summer sea, and the light routine of duty is but sufficient to give zest to the junk ration, the grog kid, and the tobacco pipe. The storm over, he swings easily in his hammock, recruiting strength for fresh exertion; and even when the winds howl their worst, give him a tight ship and sea-room, and he holds himself safe and laughs at the tempest. The explorer of trackless plain and aboriginal forest is in a very different predicament. He is never safe; his toils and tribulations are unceasing; danger may not exist, but he must ever guard against it, for he knows not where it may lurk. With him, security is temerity and eventual destruction. The ambushed savage, the crouching beast of prey, the silent and deadly reptile, the verdant swamp, flower-strewn and fathomless, wooing to destruction, the rushing torrent and resistless hurricane, are but a few of the dangers through which he threads his way. And when, at close of day, weary and hungry, foot-sore or saddle-galled, he halts for refreshment and repose, it seems but the beginning of his labours. Wood must be cut and collected, the fire lit, the meal prepared, often its very materials must be sought in pool and thicket, before the wanderer can be at rest, and the cravings of appetite appeased. The hardly-won repast concluded, the ground offers a comfortless couch to his stiffened and jaded limbs, where to snatch such sleep as the necessity of strict guard, and the ominous and mysterious noises of a night in the desert, allow to descend upon his eyelids.
With a thorough knowledge and appreciation of the many difficulties, dangers, and discomforts, inseparable from such an expedition, Dr Ludwig Leichhardt, a German gentleman, remarkable for enterprising spirit and scientific zeal, left Moreton Bay, upon the east coast of Australia, in September 1844, to proceed overland in a north-westerly direction to Port Essington, on the north coast, a distance of more than three thousand miles. The Doctor was no novice in such wanderings; he had already devoted two years to exploring the district north of Moreton Bay; undaunted by hardship, his thirst for knowledge unappeased, he had scarcely returned when he was ready to start again. Many dissuaded him, pointing out the vast field of research afforded within the limits of New South Wales, urging innumerable dangers—some imaginary, but more real—taxing him with overstrained enthusiasm, and inordinate lust of fame; even blaming him as a madman and a suicide. He was neither to be deterred nor cajoled from his expedition, but made his preparations, limiting as much as possible the amount of provisions and stores, in consideration of the difficulties of the route and encumbrance of baggage. He was also compelled, in conformity with the plan he had formed, and with the smallness of his means, to restrict the number of his companions, and reject the offers of many adventurous young men eager to accompany him. His party, at first composed of six persons, had swelled to ten, when, upon the 30th September, it left Jimba, the advanced post of the white man. The stores consisted of sixteen head of cattle, twelve hundred pounds of flour, two hundred pounds of sugar, eighty pounds of tea, and twenty of gelatine, eight bags of shot, and thirty pounds of powder. Each man had two pairs of strong trousers, three shirts, and two pairs of shoes,—certainly no very sumptuous equipment for a journey expected to last seven months, but which occupied fifteen. Fortunately, as they advanced, game and wild animals, at first rare, became more plentiful; and although the flour was expended at the end of the eighth month, they managed, with the aid of kangaroos, emus, waterfowl, and other beasts and birds, to protract their beef till their arrival at Port Essington. The party comprised (besides Dr Leichhardt) Messrs Calvert, Roper, Hodgson and Gilbert, John Murphy, a lad of sixteen, a convict of the name of William Phillips, Caleb, an American negro, and Messieurs Harry Brown and Charley, Australian aborigines, mutinous but useful, of whose character and propensities we learn more than of those of any other member of the party. The Doctor is, indeed, remarkably silent with respect to his fellow-labourers in the vineyard of Tasmanian discovery. Eight men of the adventurous disposition implied by their engaging in such an expedition, could hardly be thrown together for a year or more without displaying flashes of character, and greater or less eccentricity, the result of their exceptional position, of the many shifts and devices they had to resort to. Of characteristic traits, however, we obtain few hints from Dr Leichhardt, the most amiable, but the most matter-of-fact of travellers. His sympathies and attention are engrossed by the stocks and stones, the beasts, birds, trees and flowers around him. In them he finds tongues and books, and with and of them he loves to discourse. Although evidently a good comrade and considerate chief, his enthusiasm as a naturalist and man of science preclude much heed of his companions' peculiarities—if such they had. Enough that they are at hand, ready to aid him in catering for a meal, in chasing stray bullocks, replacing fallen baggage, and in the many other toils and labours in which he manfully bears his share. Nothing less than the departure of one, and the death of another, can elicit a passing hint of their character and qualities. Mr Hodgson shot a kangaroo; Mr Roper brought in eight cockatoos; Mr Phillips found a flesh-coloured drupaceous fruit; Mr Calvert shot a native companion—not one of the aborigines, but a bird so called; and thus the book goes on, every thing put down with the dry brevity of a seaman's log. Hence Dr Leichhardt's volume, though highly valuable and interesting to naturalists and emigrants, will scarcely be appreciated by the general reader. Learned and well written, the amusing element, which readers of the present day are apt to make a condition for their favour, is but scantily scattered through its pages. But it is a work of unquestionable merit and utility, and its author's name will justly stand high upon the honourable list of able and enterprising men, whose courage, perseverance, and literary abilities, have contributed so largely to our knowledge of the geography and productions of our distant southern colonies.