« ElőzőTovább »
SCHOOLCRAFT.—Letters on the Condition of the African Race. These letters are by a lady of South-Carolina, from the pen, in fact, of Mrs. Henry R. Schoolcraft, whose husband has been doing good service in the cause of letters, and for the red men of Americă, for a very long period of time. Mrs. Schoolcraft admirably seconds her husband in his labours; and, as we see in the well considered brochure before us, sometimes asserts herself independently, in her own. These letters are addressed to her brother, Gen. Howard, of SouthCarolina, and constitute a very excellent contribution to the now rather large body of pro-slavery literature. Mrs. Schoolcraft has had sufficient opportunities for seeing and describing the life of the negro as he exists as a nominal slave in the South, and a nominal freeman in the North. We commend her portraits of both, to those who admire striking contrasts. While we are writing of Mrs. Schoolcraft, it may not be amiss, in this place, to say a few words in respect to her husband. We owe to this gentleman the second volume of his splendid quarto, on the subject of the red men, of which work we must speak more fully hereafter. Enough here to say, that it does honour to the government under whose patronage it issues, ard great credit to the taste, talent and industry of the able and indefatigable editor. As a work of typographic and pictorial beauty, it has rarely been equalled in this, and seldom surpassed in any, country. In connection with Mr. Schoolcraft and his Indian w gs, it appears that we bave fallen into some mistakes, which will be found in our department of “Critical Notices," for last January. A friend writes to us to correct these mistakes, and we do not know that we can do better than to give the letter, at length, which proposes to set us and our public right.
“By referring," says our correspondent, “to the Literary World of the last fall, you will perceive that George H. Derby & Co., Publishers of Buffalo, N. Y., are severely reprimanded by Mr. Schoolcraft for presuming to publish, without his knowledge, a work under his name, called “ American Indians, their history, condition and prospects, from original notes, and manuscripts.” The text of this surreptitious book of the Derby's, was published by Mr. Schoolcraft in 1844, under the title of “Oneota, or the Indian in bis Wigwam." It was an Indian Miscellany-a mere fragment, which embodied only eight numbers, and was designed by Mr. S. to be finished at some future day. But Mr. S. was not permitted to use his own property at his pleasure, and his surprise may be conjectured, to discover the cute publishers-perfect strangers to himself--taking advantage of the reputation acquired by his great national publication, seizing upon the title of his new book, and sending forth under it, the unfinished fragments of Oneota.' The object was to take the
wind out of the sails of the greater vessel, and to sell a book for $2, which bore the same title with one for which $15 is demanded. You will perceive from this statement, that, for one of the works noticed in your review and ascribed to Mr. Schoolcraft, that gentleman is entirely irresponsible. Let me bring your notice to another matter. In the course of your comments, you seem to think that Mr. Schoolcraft's first wife was an Indian woman--a simple squaw, and native to the wigwam. This is quite a mistake, though it is one which has obtained some currency. His wife was the daughter of Mr. Johnston, of Ireland: a gentleman of courtly manners, high aristocratic pretension and superior education, and one whose wealth enabled him to keep up an almost princely hospitality, in his capacious mansion at Sault St. Marie. He came to this country, a romantic
young man, seeking adventure, and became enamoured of the beautiful daughter of the celebrated Indian Chief, Wabojeeg, married her, and his first daughter, who became Mr. Schoolcraft's wife, he sent, in her early childhood, over to Ireland to be educated there, under the supervision of his family. Mr. Johnston was nearly related to the Bishop of Dromore, to Mr. Sauren, AttorneyGeneral of Ireland, and to other distinguished families, so that his daughter had every possible advantage of education and accomplishment, as well as of the best society. When she returned to this country, Mr. Schoolcraft, who happened to be at Sault St. Marie, became immediately enamoured of her cultivated and poetical mind, and personal attractions, sued for and obtained her hand. On the subject of her taste, talent and christian education, there can be no sort of question. I may say to you that I have myself been frequently permitted to peruse the journals, wbich she kept during the whole term of her married life, and I never read a single sentiment contained therein, which did not compel my admiration of the beautiful refinement, and high toned sympathies and feelings, which were everywhere exhibited. True, she was a perfect mistress of the language of the redmen of her nation, but her English was not the less excellent in consequence. The romantic pride which she felt, because of her descent, on the mother's side, from one of the native kings of the country, induced her to perfect herself in the Indian language : thus it was that she became of such eminent service to Mr. Schoolcraft in promoting his knowledge of, and influence among, the tribes. I suppose I need not remind you that the present wife of Mr. Schoolcraft is from your own State : a lady highly esteemed in Washington, devoted to her • Chief,' and his amanuensis.”
We have nothing to add to this letter, which sufficiently explains and corrects our errors.
Lays of the Scottish Cavaliers. (Redfield.) These poems are by Wm. Edmondstowne Aytoun, Professor of Belles-Lettres in the University of Edinburgh, and Editor of Blackwood's Magazine. They belong to that class of verse of which Macaulay's Lays of Rome are an admirable specimen. They are the performances, rather of a belles-lettres professor than of a poet; significant rather of fine tastes, and superior art and polish, than of any peculiar endowment from Apollo. Mr. Aytoun writes with equal smoothness and
energy, but he never rises into famous phrenzies, never strikes out new paths in verse, or soars into the regions of fine air to which the better breathing bard aspires. He does not once attempt to penetrate the province of the imagination. Even his fancies are cold and sterile; and his sole reliance for success is upon good and just thoughts, forcibly expressed; noble sentiments, the true, the loyal, the courageous; a smooth and easy form of verse --that which is the most natural and familiar to the English ear, the Balladand the local and national interest of his subjects. These are all Scottish, and all thoroughly loyal, illustrating at once the fidelity and devotion of the Scottish Cavaliers to their monarch, in all vicissitudes, their
courage and endurance, and the events most prominent in the career of several of the greatest leaders. The poems called " Edinburgh after Flodden," and the “Heart of the Bruce," do not, in subject, belong to this collection, but are the same in character. The remaining poems are “The Execution of Montrose,
," "The Burial March of Dundee,” “ The Widow of Glencoe,” “ The Island of the Scots," “ Charles Edward at Versailles," and “ The Old Scottish Cavalier.” To these follow “Miscellaneous Poems," a small collection, partly translations. Each of that class of poems, which gives the title to the volume, is preceded by an interesting historical essay, explanatory of the subject. A copious appendix follows having the saine object. In these prose essaysfor they are such, and very carefully and elegantly written,-Professor Aytoun takes occasion to rap son e of the historians over the knuckles. Amorg these, Mr. Macaulay is the chief sufferer. Mr. Aytoun shows this gentleman to have been equally wanton and illinformed in several points of his history--to have shown, in fact, a most discreditable amount of ignorance, and a most unscrupulous indifference to the claims of character. His statements and arguments, it is impossible to gainsay. They are quite conclusive. To return to the poems of our author, we have only to repeat, that they are graceful, energetic, full of spirit and loyal sentiment, and, though in a humbler rank of poetical merit, worthy to be coupled with Macaulay's Lays of Rome, and Lockhart's version of the Spani sh Ballads, to which class of writings they properly belong. They
are such poems as are best suited for recitation,—their merits lying wholly on the surface,--full of bold, sonorous declamation, popular sentiment, and marked by polish, facility and energy.
The Bohn Libraries. The American publishers of the various libraries, or collections of books in different departments, issued from the British press of Henry G. Bohn, are Messrs. Bangs & Brothers of New-York. Such a special agency in this country is of eminent service, and greatly facilitates the acquisition of a series of publications, which we should like to see in even larger circulation among us than they have yet attained. Not that their merits are unknown, and not that these issues are not greatly in demand. We know, indeed, of few publications of the press which have acquired so speedy a recognition of their claims, and which enjoy a more steady, and steadily increasing circulation. But such, generally, is the standard value of the volumes contained in these collections, so generally well are they chosen, from such authentic sources, put forth in a style so neat and at a cost so small, and so carefully edited, that we could wish, for the better improvement of the common taste among our people, that they could find their way into all our libraries. There are no books, indeed, more worthy of a place in them than these, or more likely to afford the finest intellectual recreation and instruction to those who read them. It is not our purpose to refer to these issues, seriatim ; our space will allow us a passing reference only. The collections of Bohn are six in number, under the several heads of-1. The Scientific Library; 2. Antiquarian Library; 3. Ecclesiastical Library; 4. Classical Library; 5. Illustrated Library; and 6. Library Cyclopædia. Of these several collections, some of them already count more than twenty volumes, others are just begun. It will suffice, to show to our readers the highly valuable character of the works chosen to fill these collection, to give the names of the volumes most recently issued, upon some of which it is our purpose to comment hereafter, at a moment of greater leisure. We have before us, lately received, the following publications: 1. Humboldt's Travels ; 2. Pye Smith's Geology and Scripture; 3. Battles of the British Navy; 4. Pindar, in a prose translation ; 5. James' Life of Louis XIV.; 6. The History of the Mormons; 7. Boswell's Life of Johnson. The two last are beautifully illustrated books, fine engravings on wood or steel appearing on almost every page. Each of the volumes, indeed, is adorned with one or more pictorial pages. The work of Boswell on Johnson, one of the most fascinating works in the British literature, is contained in four volumes, the latest edition, with the advantage of revision and illustration from the ablest hands. It constitutes a library in itself. The History of the Mormons, strange
as it may seem, will be new and curious to most American readers. It is certainly a subject to surprise us, that we should owe to an European the best account extant of a superstition so peculiarly American. The rise and progress of this remarkable sect of fanatics is well and fully narrated, forming a history quite worthy to be coupled with that of the Arabian Prophet. We shall refer to this interesting book in future pages. Of Humboldt's works, we have only to remind the reader that he ranks among the most wonderful travellers, and the noblest writers of our, or of any, age. Pye Smith's Geology and Scripture is a work of high authority among the controversialists on the subject of the Unity and Diversity of Human Races. The Battles of the British Navy, a new compilation, affords a theme of continuous interest, tracing the progress of the wondrous
power of Great Britain upon the high seas, from its earliest beginning, in the crusades against the Turks, to its recent crusades against the Chinese; we say crusades, since all British wars have found their justification, in some way or other, in the faith. The first volume of this work only is before us. It is illustrated with numerous portraits. Pindar, in clear English prose, is certainly a most desirable volume to those wbe have never studied him in his own language, and who cannot be reproached for not understanding him in the complicated, clumsy, villainous English verse in which he has usually been made known to them. James' Life of Louis XIV. is full, well narrated, and from the pen of one who knows as well as any man living how to bring out, and impress us, with the striking features of his subject. We need not remark upon the prolific interest of the period of which he writes. As we said, we shall return to some of these volumes at a period of more space and leisure. We content ourselves now with commending, in general terms, these collections of Bohn, as among the most desirable, of all current publications, for the library of the American.
Warburton's Darien. (Harpers.) Elliot Warburton, the author of this story, is well known as the writer of an interesting voluine of Eastern travel, (the Crescent and the Cross,) and more recently of a history of Canada, which supplied a deficiency in the popular library. The tale before us has an historical value also, including, among its chronicles, the account, now little known, of an early Scottish settlement at the isthmus of Darien, which failed lamentably; and narrating the career of Patterson and Medina, two merchants, the one Scottish, the other Spanish, or rather Morescan, from either of which the second title of the book, “ The Merchant Prince,” is borrowed. There is another historical character in the book, the notorious financier and Mississippi bubble manufacturer, John Law, depicted in his early years, before he became famous, or