Mr. Siegfried's allegation that I made frequent portages is grossly and maliciously false. That honor belongs to him, as a few facts will show. In giving the guide as his authority he is most illogical, for in his first article (on three separate pages) he wholly discredits this same man. Again, some information: there are five portages above Aitkin, as follows: first, into the western gulf of Lake Cass, saving six miles; second, Little Winnipeg Lake into a stream leading to the Ball Club Lake (missing the great tributary Leech Lake River); third, at White Oak Point, below the Eagle's Nest Savannah; fourth, Pokegama Falls, a carry of two hundred yards on the left bank (a necessity); and fifth, a cut-off above Swan River, saving six miles. This last was the only portage (except the falls) made by my party, and was availed of to reach good camping-ground before dark. Indeed, as to portaging I must yield the palm to my vainglorious successor. Behold his record! He jumped twenty-six miles in the Ball Club Lake portage, and was still unhappy because he could not ride from the landing below Pokegama to Aitkin (one hundred and fifty miles; see p. 288) on the small steamboat that sometimes runs to the lumber-camp. Reaching Muddy River (now Aitkin), in the language of a free pass, he boarded "the splendid railway" for—Minneapolis!—thus again skipping two hundred and forty-four miles of the river at one bound, and escaping the French Rapids, Little Falls, Pike, Wautab and Sauk Rapids, while I was foolish enough to paddle down to Anoka (as near as I cared to go to St. Anthony's Falls). Thence I portaged to Minnehaha Creek, as he did—another strange coincidence—whence, by daily stages, I descended to Alton, seven hundred and seventy-five miles, where I took steamer for St. Louis, New Orleans, and, finally, New York. Mr. Siegfried, on the contrary, in a distance of six hundred and ninety-six miles from the sources to St. Anthony (Nicollet's official measurement; see U. S. Senate Doc. 237, Twenty-sixth Congress, 2d Session, Appendix), jumped exactly two hundred and sixty miles, or about two-fifths of his whole journey! Some of that water, too, which he so conveniently escaped is very unpleasant, even dangerous, especially Pike Rapids, into which I was drawn unawares, and had to run through at considerable risk to my boat.
I am, sir, yours,
The Crew of the Dolly Varden.
PHILADELPHIA, August 21, 1880.
FATE OF AN OLD COMPANION OF NAPOLEON III.
L'Independant, published at Boulogne, gives some interesting details about a personage that played an important role in the history of the last emperor of the French, and has not had much cause to be proud of the gratitude of his patron. This personage was the famous tame eagle that accompanied Prince Louis in his ridiculous expedition to Boulogne, and which was taught to swoop down upon the head of the pretender—a glorious omen to those who did not know that the attraction was a piece of salted pork! This unfortunate eagle was captured at the same time as his master, but while the latter was shut up at Ham, the eagle was sent to the slaughter-house at Boulogne, where he lived many years—an improvement in his fate, says L'Independant, since his diet of salt pork was replaced by one of fresh meat. In 1855, Napoleon III. went to Boulogne to review the troops destined for the Crimea and to receive the queen of England. While there some one in his suite spoke to him of this bird, telling him that it was alive and where it was to be found. But the emperor refused to see his old companion, or even grant him a life-pension in the Paris Jardin des Plantes. The old eagle ended his days in the slaughter-house, and to-day he figures, artistically taxidermatized, in one of the glass cases of the museum of Boulogne—immortal as his master, despite the reverses of fortune.
A NATURAL BAROMETER.
Everybody has admired the delicate and ingenious work of the spider, everybody has watched her movements as she spins her wonderful web, but all do not know that she is the most reliable weather-prophet in the world. Before a wind-storm she shortens the threads that suspend her web, and leaves them in this state as long as the weather remains unsettled. When she lengthens these threads count on fine weather, and in proportion to their length will be its duration. When a spider rests inactive it is a sign of rain: if she works during a rain, be sure it will soon clear up and remain clear for some time. The spider, it is said, changes her web every twenty-four hours, and the part of the day she chooses to do this is always significant. If it occurs a little before sunset, the night will be fine and clear. Hence the old French proverb: "Araignee du soir, espoir."
LITERATURE OF THE DAY.
L'Art: revue hebdomadaire illustree. Sixieme annee, Tome II. New York: J. W. Bouton.
Nowhere but in Paris could the resources, the technical knowledge and perfect command of all the appliances of bookmaking be found to sustain such a publication as L'Art. In six years it has not abated by one tittle the perfection with which it first burst upon the world. Its standard is as high, its subjects are as inexhaustible, as ever. We hear now and then of a decline in French art: the great artists who carried it to the high-water mark of modern times have all, or nearly all, passed away, but there is certainly no sign of a vacuum. The activity of production is as great as ever, the interest in art as vital. L'Art draws its material from past as well as present; the work of older artists is kept alive in its pages by the most perfect reproductions; and in its special department of black and white there is advancement rather than decline. The importance of such a publication to the interests of art throughout the world is incalculable. It absorbs the best thought and production of the day. Its high standard and breadth of scope render it impossible for any particular clique to predominate in its pages, while its independent tone and encouragement of individual talent make it a powerful counteracting influence to the conventionalism which forms the chief danger to art in a country where technical rules have become official laws. In fact, L'Art has constituted itself a government of the opposition. It has its Prix de Florence for the education in Italy of promising young sculptors—its galleries in the Avenue de l'Opera, which are used for the purpose of "independent" exhibitions or for the display of work by one or another artist. It examines and reports the progress of art all over the world, rousing the latent Parisian curiosity as to the achievements of foreign artists, and, what is of more importance (to us at least), it shows the world what is being done and said and thought in the art-circles of Paris. The perusal of its comprehensive index alone will give the reader a clear outline of the state of art in Russia, Japan, Persia and Algeria, as well as in the better-known countries. Such a work is not for the delight of one people alone: it comes home to art-lovers everywhere.
The principal art-event of last spring was the Demidoff sale. About half the etchings in the volume before us are reproductions of pictures in that collection. M. Flameng has forgotten all the perplexities and intricacies of the nineteenth century to render the placid graciousness of a beauty whose portrait was painted in the eighteenth by Drouais. M. Trimolet has etched in a Dutch manner a landscape of Hobbema in the Louvre, but M. Gaucherel translates a Ruysdael from the Demidoff collection into an exquisite delicacy and airiness of line which is the language of etching in its most modern expression. A Demidoff Rembrandt, a Lucrezia, reproduced by the needle of M. Koepping, is an example of the naivete of an art which gave itself no thought for archaeology. Lucrezia is a simple Dutch maiden in the full-sleeved, straight-bodied Flemish costume. Her innocent, childish face tells of real grief, but not of a tragic history. It is interesting to compare the type with that of Raphael's Lucrezia, with its clinging classic drapery and countenance moulded on that of a tragic mask.
The most striking etching in this volume is that of M. Edm. Ramus, after a portrait in this year's Salon. The name of the painter, Van der Bos, is Flemish, but if his picture had any qualities not distinctively French the genius of the etcher has swept them away. The conception, the character, the pose would all pass for a work of the most advanced French school. Its qualities belong to Paris and to-day. A young woman of a somewhat hard, positive type, neither beautiful nor intellectual, but chic to her finger-tips, jauntily dressed—hat with curling feathers, elbow sleeves, long gloves—standing in an erect and completely unaffected attitude,—that is the subject. The execution is simply superb. Every line is strong and effective: the modelling, the poise of the figure and the breadth of the shadows in dry point, are masterly. The Salon articles, five in number, are from the pen of M. Ph. Burty, the most radical, incisive and original writer on the staff—champion of the Impressionists, bitter enemy of the Academics and warm admirer of any fresh, sincere and individual talent. In his short review of the work of American artists in the Salon his sympathies are frankly with those who have ranged themselves under unofficial leadership in their adopted city. He has warm eulogy both for Mr. Sargent and Mr. Picknell, refusing to believe that the excellence of the latter is due in any way to his instruction at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts. M. Burty concludes the notice of American pictures with a "Hurrah pour la jeune ecole Americaine! hurrah!" which will be gratefully responded to by those of us who are proud of our growing school.
The "Silhouettes d'Artistes contemporains" are continued in two papers on De Nittis, accompanied by some exquisite reproductions of etchings by that artist; and there are a couple of articles of great interest by M. Veron on Ribot, illustrated by fac-similes of the powerful work of one whom M. Veron unhesitatingly ranks among the greatest names in modern French art. There is both literary and artistic interest in the engravings after pen-and-ink sketches made by Victor Hugo, showing that the poet is able to throw his personality and wonderful imagination into an art which he did not practise till pretty late in life, and then simply as a recreation and without attempting to master its technique. Victor Hugo is stamped as plainly upon these drawings—made, not by line and rule, but by following up the ideas suggested by the direction of a blot of ink—as on the pages of his most deliberate works. In offering homage to the poet L'Art does not depart from its line, which embraces art in its manifold forms. The newest products of the stage are discussed as well as those of the studios, and contemporary literature is reflected in more ways than one in its pages.
Mrs. Beauchamp Brown. (Second No-Name Series.) Boston: Roberts Brothers.
Were this story as good as its name or half as good as some of the undeniably clever things it contains, it might be accepted as a very fair book of its kind. It was written with the evident intention of saying brilliant and witty things; but this brilliance and wit sometimes miss their effect, as, for instance, on the very first page, where Dick Steele's famous compliment is bestowed upon Lady Mary Wortley Montagu instead of the Lady Elizabeth Hastings. We might mention other thwarted attempts, which give much the same jar to our sensibilities as when some one thinks to afford us pleasure by singing a favorite air out of tune. The facility with which the characters are transported from the ends of the earth to meet at a place called Plum Island surpasses any trick in legerdemain. Unless we had read it here we should never have believed that life on the coast of Maine could be so exciting, so cosmopolitan in its scope, so thrilling in its incidents. There is a jumble of notabilities—leaders of Boston and Washington society, a Jesuit Father, an English peer, a brilliant diplomatist on the point of setting out on a foreign mission, a Circe the magic of whose voice and eyes is responsible for most of the mischief which goes on, Anglican priests, a college professor, collegiates, at least one raving maniac, beautiful young girls and representative Yankee men and women. From this company, most of whom conduct themselves in manner which fails to prepossess us, Mrs. Beauchamp Brown alone emerges with a distinct identity. Her zealous adherence to herself, her unconsciousness of weakness or defect even in the most rashly-chosen part, are good points. The writer allows her to express herself without too elaborate canvassing of her character and motives. When the Fifth Avenue Hotel is burning the great lady is amazed at such behavior, and shrieks peremptory orders to have the fire put out immediately. When she reaches Plum Island, and is transferred from the steamboat to the skiff which is to carry her ashore, she is "angrily scared at the seething waters and the grinning rocks."
"'Man! this thing is full of water: my feet are almost in it!' shrieked Mrs. Beauchamp Brown as the gundalow lurched and heaved shoreward.
"The White man looked over his shoulder, and slowly wrinkled his leathern cheeks into an encouraging smile. 'Like ter near killed a woggin,' replied he sententiously. 'Will be ashore in a brace of shakes.'"
The Yankees are all capitally done, and the "local color" is excellent. There is not much to be said for the other characters in the book. Margaret, who is supposed to be irresistible, raises surprise if not disgust. Her conversation is crude and infelicitous, her conduct excessively ill-bred. Indeed, for a company of so-called elegant people, the talk and doings are singularly bald and crude. Even the Jesuit Father seems to have a dull perception about nice points of good behavior, and we have a doubt which amounts to an active suspicion as to the reality of the writer's experience of Jesuitical casuistry and social wiles. Certainly, Father Williams fails to make us understand how his order could have ever been considered dangerous. It seems a pity that the author should have tried such a wide survey of human nature. Her talent does not carry her into melodrama, to say nothing of tragedy, but there are many evidences in her book of very fair powers in the way of light comedy.
Studies in German Literature. By Bayard Taylor. With an Introduction by George H. Boker.—Critical Essays and Literary Notes. By Bayard Taylor. New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons.
It would be impossible to name a better representative of American men of letters, if there be such a class, than the late Bayard Taylor. We have a few writers, easily counted, who are distinctively poets, novelists or essayists; but the common ambition is to unite these titles and add a few others—to enjoy, in fact, a free range over the whole field of literature, exclusive only of the most arid or least attractive portions. Taylor's versatility exceeded that of all his competitors: he attempted a greater variety of tasks than any of them, and he failed in none. And his writings, while so diverse, have a distinct and pervading flavor. Though he travelled so extensively, imbibed so deeply of foreign literature, and wrote so much on foreign themes, his tone of thought and sentiment not only remained thoroughly American, but was always suggestive of his early life and surroundings, his quiet Pennsylvania home and its sober influences. His pictures of these are not the least noteworthy portion of what he has given to the world, but in all his productions the same spirit is visible—not flashing and impulsive, but habituated to just conceptions and exact performance; not to be startled or dazed by novelties, but capable of measuring and assimilating whatever best suited it. On the whole, his nature, while retaining its individuality and poise, was rather a highly receptive than a strongly original one. Its growth was a steady accretion of knowledge, ideas, experiences and aptitudes, without the exhibition of that power which in minds of a rarer order reacts upon impressions with a transforming influence. There is more appearance of freedom, of spontaneousness—paradoxical as this may seem—in his translation of Faust than in any of his other performances, while deliberate, conscientious workmanship is a leading characteristic of all, not excepting the short notices of books reprinted from the New York Tribune in one of the volumes now before us. The matter of both these volumes is chiefly critical, and the characterizations of men as well as of books are always discriminating, generally just, often happily expressed, but seldom vivid. The articles on Rueckert, Thackeray and Weimar, which deal chiefly with personal reminiscences, are especially pleasant reading; but the lectures on Goethe, however well they may have served their immediate purpose, contain little that called for preservation, being neither profound nor stimulating. While, however, these volumes may add nothing to their author's reputation, they are no unworthy memorials of a laborious, well-spent and happy life, of a nature as kindly as it was earnest and sincere, and of talents that had neither been buried nor misapplied. We find in a short paper on Lord Houghton the remark that "there is an important difference between the impression which a man makes who has avowedly done the utmost of which he is capable, and that which springs from the exercise of genuine gifts not so stimulated to their highest development." It cannot be doubted that the former description is that which would apply to Taylor himself, and probably with more force than to almost any of his contemporaries.
The American Art Review, Nos. 8 and 9. Boston: Estes & Lauriat.
These two numbers of the Art Review contain some critical writing of a really high order in a couple of papers by Mrs. M. G. Van Rensselaer, entitled "Artist and Amateur." They present an earnest plea for the pursuit of culture for its own sake in this country. Taking "culture" in the true sense of the word, as the opening and development of all the faculties, a positive and electric not a negative and apathetic force, Mrs. Van Rensselaer points out that it is not the natural birthright of a select few, but is to be won by none without hard endeavor. The endeavor, the intelligence and, to a certain extent, the desire for culture, already exist here, but are constantly misapplied, and this, as Mrs. Van Rensselaer aims to prove, through a misconception of the relative positions of artist and amateur. All instruction is directed toward execution, which is the artist's province, instead of understanding and appreciation, which are the gifts of culture. The effort to make the execution keep pace with the teaching confines the latter, for the majority of learners, to the lowest mechanical rules, leaving intellectual cultivation altogether to artists. Mrs. Van Rensselaer argues that the time and money spent by young ladies of slender talent in learning to paint pottery would, if given to study of the principles of technique and of the history and aims of art, leave them with more trained perceptions, an intelligent delight in works of art and a wider intellectual range. She does not confine the application of her ideas to painting, but extends it to other arts, making the aim in music the substitution of appreciative listeners for mediocre performers. Another interesting article, which the two numbers before us divide between them, is one on Elihu Vedder by Mr. W. H. Bishop. It does not force any very definite conclusions upon the reader, but it gives him some idea of the career of this much talked-of painter, and is finely illustrated with an etching of The Sea-Serpent by Mr. Shoff, an unusually strong full-page engraving of The Sleeping Girl by Mr. Linton, and a very tender and beautiful little cut by Mr. Kruell of The Venetian Model.
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. By Edward Gibbon. With Notes by Dean Milman, M. Guizot and Dr. William Smith. 6 vols. New York: Harper & Brothers.
Health and Healthy Homes. By George Wilson, M. A., M. D. With Notes and Additions by J. G. Richardson, M. D. Philadelphia: Presley Blakiston.
A Model Superintendent: A Sketch of the Life, Character and Methods of Work of Henry P. Haven. By H. Clay Trumbull. New York: Harper & Brothers.
Monsieur Lecoq. From the French of Emile Gaboriau. Boston: Estes & Lauriat.