They, with their limited views, were the discoverers to Europe of the Ohio, which, in the language of the tribe that dwelt on the bank from which the white man first beheld it, signified Beautiful Water. This the French translated into their own language, and by the term of La Belle River it was long known in the histories of the Jesuit and Franciscan missions, which, until the land the Ohio watered became the property of the second North American race, were its only chronicles. Not until a later day did it become known to the English colonists, and then so slightly, that even in the reign of Charles II. authority was given to the English governor of Virginia, Sir William Berkeley, to create an hereditary order of knighthood, with high privileges and brilliant insignia, eligibility to which depended on the aspirant having crossed the Alleghany Ridge, and added something to the stock of intelligence of the region beyond, the title to all of which had been conferred by royal patent on the colony at Jamestown.
Possessed of Canada, with strongly defended positions at Fort Duquesne (Pittsburg) and Fort Chartres, near the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi, with the even then important city of New Orleans, the wily statesmen of the reign of Louis XIV. conceived the plan of enclosing the English colonies in a network of fortifications, and ultimately of controlling the continent. So cherished was this policy that treaties made in Europe between the crowns of France and England never extended their influence to America, and for almost a century continued a series of contests, during which Montcalm, de Levi, Wolf and Braddock distinguished themselves and died. The result is well known, Canada became English, the northern point d'appui of the system was lost, and the Ohio was no longer under their control. This prologue to the beautiful engraving of Cincinnati is given because, though Pittsburg and Louisville are important cities, Cincinnati is the undoubted queen of the river.
It was not, however, until the war of the Revolution that serious attention was generally directed to the Ohio, for the brilliant expedition of Clarke against Kaskaskia (which is almost unknown, though in difficulty and daring it far exceeded Arnold's against Quebec,) was purely military. Immediately on the termination of the war, emigrants began to hurry to the Ohio, and by one of the hardiest of these, Cincinnati was commenced in 1789. By the gradual influx of population into the west Cincinnati throve, and soon became the chief city of the region.
For a long while Cincinnati was merely the depot of the Indians and fur trade, the most valuable of the products of which required to be transported across the mountains and through forests to the seaboard. At that time Cincinnati presented a strange appearance; the houses were of logs, and here and there through the broad streets its founders so providentially prepared, were seen the hunter, in his leathern jerkin, the Indian warrior in full paint, and the husbandman returning home from his labors. Almost from the establishment of the northwest territory Cincinnati had been the home of the governor; and it was the residence of St. Clair, long the only delegate in congress of the whole northwest—a wilderness then, but now teeming with three million of men, and sending to Washington thirty-four representatives.
Cincinnati was the point de depart of many of the expeditions against the Indians between the revolution and the war of 1812. When that war broke out it acquired new importance. Military men replaced the hunter and Indian, and every arrival brought a reinforcement of troops. From it Taylor and Croghan marched with Gen. Harrison northward, and to it the victorious army returned from the Thames. When peace returned, a new activity was infused into Cincinnati; the vast disbursements made by the government had attracted thither many adventurers. Then commenced the era of bateau navigation, and the advent of a peculiar race of men, of whom now no trace remains. Rude boats were built and freighted with produce, which descended the river to New Orleans, where the cargo was disposed of, and the boat itself broken up and sold. The crew, after a season of dissipation, returned homeward by land, through the country inhabited by the Chactas and Chickasas, and the yet wilder region infested by thieves and pirates. It was no uncommon thing for the boatmen never to return. Exposure to danger made them reckless; and they were often seen floating down the bosom of the stream, with the violin sounding merrily, but with their rifles loaded, and resting against the gunwales, ready to be used whenever an emergency arose. All the west even now rings with traditions of the daring of this race; and the traveler on the waters of the west often has pointed out to him the scene of their bloody contests and quarrels.
The era of steam began, and this state of things passed away. The mighty discovery of Fulton created yet more activity in the west; and a current of trade, second in importance to none on the continent, except, perhaps, those of New York and Philadelphia, sprung from it. As the States of Kentucky and Ohio began to fill up, the farmers and planters crowded to Cincinnati with their produce, and the character of the population changed. The day of the voyageur was gone, and lines of steamboats crowded its wharf. The peculiar character of the country around it, teeming with the sustenance for animals and grazing, made it the centre of a peculiar business which, unpoetical as it may seem, doubled every year, until in 1847 it amounted to more than the value of the cotton crop of the whole Atlantic frontier.
Other branches of industry also grew up. Ship-yards lined the banks of the river, and more than one stately vessel has first floated on the bosom of the Ohio, in front of Cincinnati, been freighted at its wharves, and sailed thence to the ocean, never again to return to the port of its construction.
Long before the reign of merchant princes began, stately churches, colleges, and commodious dwellings had arisen, and replaced the hut of the early settlers, so that Cincinnati, with the exception of Philadelphia, is become the most regular and beautiful city of the Union. The scene of the accumulation of large fortunes, cultivation has followed in their train, so that it is difficult for one who first visits it from the east to realize that he is seven hundred miles from the seaboard.
Fulton had by his discovery overcome the difficulties of communication, and opened a market for its immense products; but yet another discovery was to contribute to its prosperity. By means of the magnetic telegraph communication between the seaboard of the Atlantic and the lakes is more easy than between New York and Brooklyn, and with the whole west Cincinnati has acquired new importance. It can not but continue to advance and acquire yet more influence than now it has.
BY ELIZABETH J. EAMES.
Enchantress queen! whose empire of the heart With sovereign sway o'er sea and land extended, Whose peerless, haunting charms, and syren art, Won from the imperial Caesar conquests splendid; Rome sent her thousands forth, and foreign powers, Poured in thy woman's hand an empire's treasures; Was Fate beside thee in those gorgeous hours When monarchs knelt, slaves to thy merest pleasures? When but a gesture of thy royal hand Was to the proud Triumvirs a command.
O, bright Egyptian Queen! thy day is past With the young Caesar—lo! the spell is broken That thy all-radiant beauty o'er him cast; His eye is cold—wo! for thy grief unspoken! Yet thy proud features wear a mask, which tells How true thou art to thy commanding nature:— Once more, in all thy wild bewildering spells, Thou standest robed and crowned, imperial creature: Thy royal barge is on the sunny sea, Oh! sceptered queen—goest thou victoriously?
But hark! a trumpet's thrilling call "to arms!" O'er the soft sounds of lute and lyre ringeth. Doubt not thy matchless sovereignty of charms, But haste—the victor of Philippi bringeth His shielded warriors and lords renowned— With spear and princely crest they come to meet thee, Arrayed for triumph, and with laurels crowned, How will their stern and haughty leader treat thee? He comes to conquer—lo! on bended knee The spell-bound Roman pleads, and yields to thee!
Once more the world is thine. Exultingly Thy beautiful and stately head is lifted; He lives but in thy smile—proud Antony— The crowned of empire—he, the grandly gifted. The spoils of nations at thy feet are laid— The wealth of kingdoms for thy favor scattered: Oh! Syren of the Nile! thy love has made The royal Roman's ruin! crowns were shattered And kingdoms lost. Fame, honor, glory, power, Were playthings given to grace thy triumph-hour.
Another change!—the last for thee, doomed queen, Now calmly on thine ivory couch reclining— The impassioned glow hath left thy marble mien— And from thine night-black eyes hath past the shining. But still a queen! that brow, so icy cold, Its diadem of starry jewels beareth— Robed in the royal purple, and the gold, No conqueror's chain that form imperial beareth. To grace Death's triumph was but left for thee, Daughter of Afric, by the asp set free!
REVIEW OF NEW BOOKS.
An Universal History of the Most Remarkable Events of All Nations, from the Earliest Period to the Present Time, forming a Complete History of the World. Vol. 1. Ancient History. William H. Graham: New York.
This is one of the most useful works now issuing from the American press. Its publication has been commenced in this country somewhat in advance of the London and Leipsic editions, which have been previously advertised; thus securing an immediate circulation in the three great reading nations of the world. The entire work will embrace about twenty numbers, appearing at intervals of a month. The first four of these, two numbers of which are before us, are devoted to Ancient History, extending to the Fall of the Roman Empire.
No province of literature has been so modified by the vast increase of books as the writing of History. While the republican idea, which has struck such deep root into the world's politics, seems to tend toward an equalization of human intellect, it has, perhaps, made the deeps of thought shallower, and weakened the concentration and devotion of mind which marked the scholars of former centuries. The fields of knowledge, once but a small manor, have broadened into a kingdom; and, grasping at total possession, men prefer the shortest and easiest ways of obtaining it. Works of the imagination, and fictions, illustrative of life and society, which are now multiplied to an indefinite extent, unfit the common mind for those grave and serious studies which were once almost the only road to literary distinction.
The consequence of this is, that books are written with a view to their being read; and where the subject is addressed to the understanding alone, polished and classic language, or more frequently an assumed peculiarity of style, is used to hold the ear captive, and through it the intellect. The modern writers of history especially, seize upon scenes and situations which involve strong dramatic effect, endeavoring, as it were, to reproduce the past, by painting its events with the most vivid colors of description. They do not give the polished, stately bas-reliefs of the old historians, but glowing pictures, perhaps less distinct in their outlines, but conveying a stronger impression of real life. The works of Prescott, (who has maintained, however, a happy medium between these styles,) Michelet, Lamartine, and Carlyle, furnish striking examples of this.
The present work fills a blank which has long existed among historical works—that of a Universal History, which, embracing the prominent events of all ages, placed before the reader in a clear and comprehensive arrangement, shall yet be so simple and brief as to command the perusal of the great laboring classes, who would shrink from the study of Rollin or Rotteck, as a task too serious to be undertaken. The abridgment of Schlosser's "Weltgeschichte," which we believe has never been translated, contains these qualifications in an eminent degree; yet its high philosophical tone is rather adapted to the scholar than the general reader. Gibbon's great work, from its magnificence of language, long retained a place in popular favor, and will always be read by the diligent historical student, but of late years it has ceased to be in common use. Our knowledge of ancient history has been wonderfully extended by the study of the modern Asiatic languages, and the restoration of tongues, which had been forgotten for centuries, and the Roman Empire, which once included in its history that of the greater part of the ancient world, is almost equaled in interest and importance by the records of Egypt, India, and China. What is wanted, therefore, is a concise abstract, which shall embody the labor of all former histories and the discoveries of modern research.
The author of this work, judging from that portion of it already published, is equal to this task. He comes to it prepared by twenty years of study, and a familiar acquaintance with all the necessary authorities, not only those to whom we look for the solid record of fact, but those who have gone beneath the surface of events, and tracked the source of political convulsions by a thousand pulses back to the hidden heart of some great principle. This Philosophy of History, which has become almost a distinct branch of literature, gives vitality to the narrative, by leading us to causes which may still exist; thus connecting our interest in the Present with the fate of the Past. In this country, where every man is more or less a political philosopher, a history possessing merit of this character, is likely to become exceedingly popular.
The utility of the present work to the general reader is greatly increased by the geographical and statistical accounts of the countries, which are given in connection with their history. In fact, some knowledge of their physical character, climate, and productions is necessary to a comprehensive idea of the people who sprung up and flourished upon them. These descriptions would become still more valuable if they were accompanied with maps; and we would suggest that this defect be remedied, if possible, in the succeeding numbers.
The author has chosen the epistolary form, as combining ease of style with a certain familiar license of language, and therefore better adapted for popular instruction. Commencing at the traditionary period from which we date the origin of man, he describes the gradual formation of society, and marks out the first broad divisions of the race from which sprung the great empires of Egypt and the East. The geographical account of these countries is extended and complete, embracing also a graphic view of their modern condition. We notice that in common with several distinguished German historians, the author gives to the Hindoos the distinction of being the earliest race of men. "Above all the historical records of other nations," says he, "the Hindoos have brought forth the best evidence of the highest antiquity, and the earliest civilization. Therefore the supposition of those may be correct, who presume that man's first abode was somewhere in the neighborhood of the Himalaya mountains, which are the most stupendous on the globe."
The two remaining numbers devoted to Ancient History, will bring us down to A. D. 476. The author dedicates his work to M. A. Thiers, as the "orator, statesman, historian, and friend of liberty."
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Lectures on Shakspeare. By H. N. Hudson. New York: Baker & Scribner. 2 vols. 12mo.
We suppose that few of our readers are unacquainted with Mr. Hudson, the lecturer on Shakspeare, and the writer of various brilliant and powerful articles in the American Review. The lectures which compose the present volume have been delivered, at various times, in the principal cities of the Union, and have everywhere been welcomed as productions of the highest merit in one of the most difficult departments of critical art. The author has delayed the publication until the present time, in order that they might be subjected to repeated revision, and every opinion they contain cautiously scanned. Many of the lectures have been re-written a dozen times; and probably few books of the size ever published in the country, have been the slow product of so much toil of analysis and research. Almost every sentence gives evidence of being shaped in the "forge and working-house of thought." All questions which rise naturally in the progress of the work are sturdily met and answered, however great may be their demand on the intellect or the time of the author. Every thing considered, subtilty, depth, force, brilliancy, comprehension, we know of no work of criticism ever produced in the United States which equals the present, either in refinement and profundity of thought, or splendor and intensity of expression. Indeed, none of our critics have devoted so much time as Mr. Hudson to one subject, or been content to confine themselves so rigidly to the central sun of our English literary system. We doubt, also, if there be any work on Shakspeare, produced on the other side of the Atlantic, which is so complete as the present in all which relates to Shakspeare's mind and characters. It not only comprehends the highest results of Shaksperian criticism, but it is a step forward.
This may to some appear extravagant praise, but for its justice we confidentially appeal to the record. The plays which have most severely tried the sagacity of Shakspeare's critics, are Hamlet, Macbeth, Lear, and Othello. We do not hesitate to say that Mr. Hudson's analysis and representation of these are the most thorough, accurate, and comprehensive which exist at present either in English or German. Compare him or these tragedies with Goethe, with Schlegel, with Coleridge, with Hazlitt, with Ulrici, and it will be found that he excels them all in completeness. It is needless to add that he is able to excel them only by coming after them; and that it is by diligently digesting all the positive results of Shaksperian criticism that he has been enabled to advance the science. He has grasped the principles which Schlegel and Coleridge established, and applied them to the discovery of new truths. By the most patient and toilsome analysis he has fully brought out many things which they simply hinted, and distinctly set forth conclusions which lay dormant in their premises. And in the analysis of individual character, meaning by that the resolving each Shaksperian personage into its original elements, and indicating the degree of general truth it covers, our countryman has hardly a rival. Few even of Shakspeare's diligent readers are aware of the vast stores of thought and knowledge implied in Shakspeare's characters, because the fact is so commonly stated in general terms. Mr. Hudson proves that the characters are classes intensely individualized, by showing how large is the number of persons each character represents, or of whom it is the ideal. He thus indicates the extent of Shakspeare's range over the whole field of humanity, and the degree of his success in classifying mankind. No one, therefore, can read Mr. Hudson's interpretative criticisms without new wonder at the amazing reach and depth of Shakspeare's genius.
It would be impossible in the space to which we are necessarily confined, to do justice to Mr. Hudson's powers of analysis and representation, as exercised through the wide variety of the Shaksperian drama. The volumes swarm with strong and striking thoughts on so many suggested topics, that it is difficult to fix upon any particular excellence for especial praise. The first quality which will strike the reader will be the author's opulence of expression and profusion of wit. Analogies with him are as cheap as commonplaces are to other men. He has no hesitation in announcing his analysis in a witticism, and condensing a principle into an epigram. His page often blazes and burns with wit. South, Congreve, and Sheridan are hardly richer in the precious article. In Mr. Hudson, also, the quality has an individual character, and is the racier from its genuineness and from its root in his intellectual constitution. This wit is, perhaps, the leading characteristic of his style, though his diction varies sufficiently with the varying demands of his subjects, and often glides from the tingling concussion of antithesis into the softest music, or rises from sarcastic brevity and stinging emphasis into rich and sonorous amplification. The analysis of Iago, and the analysis of the Weird Sisters, indicate, perhaps, the extremes of his manner. Throughout the volumes, whether the subject be comic or tragic, humorous or sublime, there is never any lack of verbal felicities. These seem to grow spontaneously in the soil of his mind; and there is no American writer whose style is more wholly free from worn and wasted images, phrases, and forms of expression. He is neither mediocre in thought nor expression.
We cannot resist the temptation to give a few of Mr. Hudson's sentences, illustrative of his manner of stinging the minds of his readers and enforcing their attention. Speaking of Sir Thomas Lucy, on whose manor Shakspeare is said to have poached, Hudson remarks: "This Warwickshire esquire, once so rich and mighty, is now known only as the block over which the Warwickshire peasant stumbled into immortality." Referring to those purists who regard words more than things in their strictures on licentiousness, he calls them persons "whose morality seems to be all in their ears." Speaking of Hume, "an exquisite voluptuary among political and metaphysical abstractions," he puts him in a class of men who "study art as they study nature, only in the process of dissection—a process which, of course, scares away the very life which makes her nature; so that they get, after all, but a sort of post-mortem knowledge of her." Again, he observes—"Pope, for example, was the prince of versifiers, and Hume the prince of logicians: with the one versification strangled itself in a tub of honey; with the other logic broke its neck in trying to fly in a vacuum. It is by no means strange, therefore, that the thousand-eyed philosophy of Shakspeare should have seemed a perfect monster to the one-eyed logic of Hume." Perhaps the finest answer to the charge that Shakspeare was an unregulated genius, full of great absurdities and great beauties, is contained in Hudson's ironical statement of it: "He has sometimes been represented as a sort of inspired and infallible idiot, who practiced a species of poetical magic without knowing what he did or why he did it; who achieved the greatest wonders of art, not by rational insight and design, but by a series of lucky accidents and lapsus naturae; who, in short, went through life stumbling upon divinities, and blundering into miracles."
By the publication of these lectures Mr. Hudson takes his place among the first thinkers and writers of the country. He has that in his writings which will make him popular, and that which will make him permanent. It is unnecessary to say that a book so strongly marked by individuality as his is calculated to provoke criticism. It contains many things which will be severely assailed by those whose opinions on certain theories of government and society are in exact opposition to those of the author. Some positions, critical and political, which he confidently states as settled, are still open to discussion. But take the work as a whole, as an embodiment of mental power, and there are few men in the country on whom it would not confer honor. It needs but a very small prophetic faculty to predict for a work so fascinating and instructive a circulation commensurate with its merits.
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The Military Heroes of the Revolution. With a Narrative of the War of Independence. By Charles J. Peterson. Philadelphia: Wm. H. Leary. 487 pp. octavo.
This is one of the most elegant books which has ever been issued from the American press. The type is large and clear, and the paper is of the finest quality. It is embellished with nearly two hundred engravings, consisting of portraits of all the chief actors of the Revolution, spirited representations of almost every engagement, with numerous views of noted places. This, together with the picturesque style in which the book is written, gives a peculiar charm, and leaves on the mind of the reader impressions more vivid and lasting than any other work which we have seen on the same subject.
The design of the work is to furnish brief analytical portraits of those military heroes who, either from their superior ability or superior good fortune, played the most prominent part in the war of independence. The volume contains thirty-three biographies. Of these Washington's, Putnam's, Arnold's, Moultrie's, Warren's, Marion's, Hamilton's, and Burr's, are, in our opinion, the most spirited. The biography of Washington affords a keen analysis of that great hero's character, and conclusively proves, we think, that he was not only a great patriot, but a great general. This is a somewhat new view of his character, the fashion having been to exalt his undoubted goodness at the expense of his skill, the result of positive ignorance of his character during the war of independence. Those were no weak achievements which Napoleon acknowledged to have been the examples which first fired him with the spirit and plan of his own victories! And our author justly remarks, that "if four generals in succession, beside several entire armies, failed to conquer America, it was not on account of want of talent or means on the part of the enemy, but because the genius of Washington proved too gigantic for any or all of his competitors."
The most of these biographies are, as it were, the frames to battle pictures: thus, in the history of Putnam, we have a graphic description of the contest on Bunker Hill; in that of Moultrie, of the defence of Fort Sullivan; and in that of Washington, of the battle of Trenton. The actions from the skirmish at Lexington to the surrender of Cornwallis, are all admirably and graphically told in a style animated without being florid, and chaste without being stiff. The straight forward honesty of the diction, leaves the mind of the reader to be carried on with the simple but intense spirit of the action, as if he were a spectator rather than reader. The description of the battle of Trenton is the most complete ever published.
The author, in his preface, says he does not claim exemption from errors, that no one can who writes on a subject so obscure in many respects as that of the Revolution. We think his decisions, however, are generally unimpeachable. Wherever we have been able of testing them, we have found them accurate; and this induces us to believe that in other cases he is correct. But we should like to have seen his evidence of the second battle of Assunpink, for Hull, in his diary, mentions nothing of it. We think, too, that Arnold was not personally present at Stillwater, though Burgoyne was of opinion that he was, for he complimented him for his behaviour on that occasion. We notice some misprints in the volume, a thing almost unavoidable in a book of this size; one or two are glaring ones—but these can be corrected in a second edition.
The narrative of the war, in all its relations, is well told. It gives a comprehensive picture of the rise and progress of the contest, and abounds with much new matter, showing a thorough knowledge of the great history of that period. We notice many anecdotes which we have never before seen in print.
The public has long needed a good popular history of the Revolution; for Batta's, and others of that stamp, are too long; and, beside, much new light has been lately thrown on that portion of our annals. We have such a book here, and it is for this reason that we hail it with peculiar pleasure.
We cannot close this notice without quoting the following somewhat remarkable passage from Mr. Peterson's preliminary chapter, which was evidently written long before the late events in Europe—more than two years ago, according to the preface.
"It is evident," he says, "that the old world is worn out. There are cycles in empires as well as dynasties; and Europe, after nearly two thousand years, seems to have finished another term of civilization. The most polite nation in the eastern hemisphere is now where the Roman empire was just before it verged to a decline—the same system of government—the same extremes of wealth and poverty—the same delusive prosperity characterizing both. Europe stands on the crust of a decayed volcano, which at any time may fall in. The social fabric in the old world is in its dotage." Part of this prediction has already been verified, and we wait with impatient expectation for the fulfillment of the rest.
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Old Hicks, the Guide; or Adventures in the Camanche Country in Search of a Gold Mine. By Charles W. Webber. New York: Harper & Brothers. 2 parts.
Here is a book "to stir a fever in the blood of age"—full of wild adventure, and running over with life. It seems to have been composed on horseback. The sentences trot, gallop, leap, toss the mane, and give all other evidences of strength and activity in the race of expression. The author fairly gives the reins to his thoughts and fancies, and they sweep along the dizziest edges of rhetoric with a jubilant hip! hip! hurrah! We have rarely known so much daring rewarded with so much success. The critic is expecting every moment to see the author break his neck by a sudden descent from the sublime to the ridiculous, but is continually disappointed. The vigor of old Kentucky bounds in the veins and "lives along the heart" of this most stalwart and defiant Kentuckian. He charges critical batteries with the force of Harney's dragoons. We accordingly surrender at discretion. Captain Scott need but to point his rifle, and the coon comes down at once.
Seriously, Mr. Webber's book is one of the most captivating of its kind ever produced in the United States. It shows the scholar and the practiced writer amid all its rampant energy, and many passages are full of eloquence. The scenery and events are of that kind most calculated to fasten on the popular imagination. The author has a singular faculty of condensing narration and description, and bringing the scene and deed right before the eye, without any of the tedious minutiae in which most descriptive writers indulge. Consequently his observations are flashed upon the mind of the reader rather than conveyed to it, piece by piece. If Mr. Webber would soften a little the ravenousness of his style, and treat his subjects with a little more regard to artistic propriety, he might produce a work of fiction of very great merit, both as regards plot and characterization. The present volume indicates a vitality of mind, to which creation is but an appropriate exercise. It evinces more genius than Typee or Omoo.
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Cookery in America. Illustrated by Martin the Younger. Wm. H. Graham, New York.
Fair and funny. It is time that the lex talionis should be applied to those who have so often made themselves merry at our expense.
Several characteristic spellings and instances of punctuation were left as in the original, as representing the usage of the times—while a number of obvious printer's errors and omissions were corrected silently.