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tions! What wonder if sensible men seven, but every day; and not through shrink from the fearful responsibility! | the medium of the auricular sense only, And still more, what wonder if of those but also through the acuter and more imwho have the temerity to undertake it so pressible sense of sight. Surely, then, very few succeed!
ought parents to look well to the characWe cannot, indeed, expect, and most ter and merits of the newspaper introassuredly never do find, that rare combi- duced into their families; for it is not to nation of excellences in any one man be regarded in the light of a casual viswhich we would regard such a desidera itor, or even of a temporary sojourner, tum in an editor. It is fortunate, how- whose opinions may be tolerated or reever, that where so vast an interest is atjected; but rather as an accredited and stake, the lack in the composition of indi- oracular member of the family, whose invidual character is greatly compensated troduction and commanding position are by the diversity of gifts and adaptations attributable to his acknowledged compefound in the corps editorial collectively; tency to judge, advise, and instruct. so that the deficiencies of one, or the Well may Christians, patriots, and phiwrong biases and hurtful influences gen- lanthropists feel a special interest in the erated in certain quarters, are measurably moral character and qualifications of the thwarted and perhaps repaired by counter editors of our country, invoking for them acting influences from other directions. the benign and illuminating influence of
To give practical exemplification of the the all-wise One. foregoing reflections I have only to allude! But the newspaper is not only a vehito the following ascertained statistics.cle of intelligence, and an engine of mighty To say nothing of the other daily papers power in the body politic and social ; it is of this city, these four, the Sun, the exerting a vast influence in the developHerald, the Tribune, and the Times, ment and training of the intellect of the land. have an aggregate circulation of at least And, unhappily, this view of the influence of one hundred and forty thousand. As these the newspaper is not very gratifying. Its several papers are often read by the vari tendency is to enfeeble the mind, and disous members of the family and by clerks, qualify it for solid reading and valuable &c., it is fair to presume that each copy acquisitions ; superinducing a state quite has upon an average at least three readers, congenial with the light, frippery, gossipwhich will give an aggregate for these / ing character of most of the conversation four papers of nearly half a million daily of society now-a-days, and preventing that readers! And when we take into calcu- deep reflection and commanding wisdom lation the weekly and semi-weekly issues which brings from its accumulated stores of these same journals, which I suppose that which should strengthen and enrich may be set down at double the number of the national mind. the dailies, we arrive at the astonishing Whether the newspaper can be made total of one million five hundred thousand ! greatly subservient to mental discipline, One million five hundred thousand indi or even add very much to our stores of viduals who look to these four journals for intellectual wealth, may, perhaps, be seritheir daily dish of news, and of reflections ously questioned. Nevertheless, if its thereon as well as upon business and poli- contents were properly and systematically tics, morals and religion, and who from classified, its yearly volume might prove a them receive impressions that give color to real pantology in science and general intheir sentiments and bias to their principles formation, and would contribute not a little
Do I overrate the influence of the ed-to augment the sum of human knowledge. itor? What other four men, be their Perhaps nothing, however, has so effiposition what it may, wield so potent a cient an influence in awakening the mind, scepter as that which these four editors and setting its various faculties into active sway over the willing minds of their mill- exercise, as the newspaper; and probably ion and a half of readers ?
no other one thing is half so efficient in “ Like pastor like people” has passed its molding influence upon our national into a current adage ; but the sentiment mind and national character as the uniis more truly verified in the relation of versal habit of newspaper reading, and the editor and readers—more truly, inasmuch fresh, active, independent spirit the ever as he addresses his readers not one day in present and living newspaper generates.
[For the National Magazine.]
the impression “ that a good name would
induce people to settle there." DISCOVERY OF AMERICA BY THE | Eirek was a worshiper of Thor and NORTHMEN.
Odin, the gods of the Scandinavians; but
his son Leif, having made a voyage to TT is less the purpose of this article to Norway, and having received flattering I make an attempt at vindicating or re- attentions from its Christian king, was infuting the claims set forth by the North-duced to embrace Christianity. Thus, on men to an early discovery of this conti- his return, was Christianity first intronent, than to give a brief review of those duced to this new country. pretensions, and the degree of favor with Greenland continued to flourish as well which they have been received.
as could be expected of so frigid a climate, In the midst of the dark ages, or from if indeed it did not in its most prosperous the ninth to the twelfth centuries, the times pass quite beyond all expectations. Scandinavians were preëminently the pio The settled provinces were known under neers of ocean navigation. The tastes the name of East and West Bygds, or and public sentiment of the Baltic penin- Districts, the latter containing at one sular nations were maritime, and perhaps, period of their history ninety farms and as we might now term it, piratical, though four churches, the former nearly two then honorable. So far from its bearing hundred farms, two towns, eleven churchany aspect of wrong to them, to have at- es, and a cathedral—the first bishop being tacked successfully and plundered some ordained in 1121. foreign seaport was an honorable and un | It is important to observe, that though questionable evidence of courage and history furnishes a very full and satisfacvalor.
tory account of the settlement, growth, This peculiar basis of national pride and and condition of Greenland from its disglory led these Northmen to an acquaint covery to the latter part of the fourteenth ance with, and attacks upon, all the Atlan- century, here it suddenly becomes silent, tic islands lying opposite their western and Greenland a blank for three centucoast. Hence Scotland, Ireland, andries. England were the frequent theaters of The accounts of ancient Greenland, their marauding expeditions,-hence also | found in early Icelandic writings, might their irruption into France, and the foun-well have been doubted, since, on the esdation of Normandy.
tablishment of the present settlements Iceland, first discovered by some of there were no evidences of such a previthese maritime rovers driven far to sea by ous population, but that recent research adverse winds, was colonized in the latter | has fully vindicated their truthfulness in part of the ninth century. The first at the ruins of churches and other extensive tempt at a settlement, made by Floki, structures, and particularly in certain from the severity of the season, brought monumental inscriptions bearing the date no further result than the loss of the ani- of the twelfth century. mals taken thither, discouragement and To the question how, when, or from final abandonment of the enterprise ; and, what causes Greenland perished, history as Floki's parting blessing as he left, the offers no direct reply ; though perhaps it name of Iceland, as well befitting a place may be said it appears incidentally that uninhabitable for man or beast.
from the moment Iceland and Greenland A more successful and the first per- became subject to European governments manent settlement was effected by Ingolf their decay commenced, and, chiefly by in 874. From this time onward the Ice- the commercial restrictions imposed on landers appear to have met with a fair the necessaries of life to replenish the degree of prosperity, remaining an inde- royal treasuries of Sweden and Denmark, pendent people for four centuries.
was hastened on to this calamitous and Not long after, the Icelanders having probably tragic termination. become aware of the uninhabited coast If the Norwegians discovered Iceland which lay skirting along their western and at a distance of six hundred miles, and southwestern horizon, a colony was es- the Icelanders within a century discovtablished there by Eirek (Eric), who gave ered and planted a colony upon a land at a to the place the name of Greenland, under still greater distance, is it possible that these same Northmen, residing on the with a crew of thirty-five men on a voyage to American coast of Greenland, continually this land.
"The first land which he made was that passing around Cape Farewell on their
which Bjarni had seen. Going on shore they route to and from Iceland and Europe,
found no herbage of any kind, but a bare, rugshould have remained four centuries within ged plain of broad flat rocks, from which they three hundred miles of the continent of gave it the name of Helluland, or Flat-rock
land. Continuing on, they arrived at a low, America, and never have become aware
level coast with numerous white, sandy cliffs, of its existence, or never have visited it? and thickly covered with wood, from which
From the known and indisputable his- | circumstance they call it Markland, or Woodtory of the discoveries of Iceland and land.
| “Two days' sail with a northeast wind Greenland we are not only prepared for
brought them to an island with a channel besuch a discovery, but that they should tween it, and a point projecting northward from have failed to make it, even in the absence the main-land. Proceeding westward through of all corroborative testimony, is in the
the channel, along the shore of the main-land, highest degree improbable.
they entered a river, passed up to a lake, and
disembarked at a place which they call LeifsThe attention of moderns was first
booths. The climate was temperate, there drawn to this early discovery by the being no severe cold during the winter, and the Scandinavians in a work issued by the
grass never losing its freshness. From the Danes, in 1705, purporting to be a trans
abundance of wild grapes the land was called
Vine-land. lation of certain Icelandic writings. Those
"Leif returning in the spring, gave so glowwhich related most particularly to the ing an account of the country that Thorvald, point in question were the Sagas (or nar his brother, made a voyage in 1002. ratives) of Eirek and of Thorfinn—docu
"On his return two years after Thorvald
sailed eastward from Leif's-booths, and then ments which, whether we can rely upon
northward past a remarkable headland which the internal evidence that they were with an opposite headland inclosed a bay. written in the twelfth century or not, Having been driven into shoal water by a viowere certainly transcribed upon the pres
lent wind he afterward sailed along the coast
eastward, and coming to a pine-wooded headent parchment before the year 1400. This
land, remarked, Here would I like to fix my fact is worthy of particular note, as it pre dwelling.' cludes all insinuation of forgery after the : "Afterward, being attacked by the natives, existence of the continent was fully known,
Thorvald was wounded, and finding death apand redeems it at once from all affinity
proaching addressed his companions as follows:
Bear me to the headland which I thought was with those accounts which have since been most fitting for a dwelling-place. It may be put forth claiming the honor of a prior that the word that fell from my lips about discovery. Thus we find in Hakluyt “ that abiding there was prophetic. There shall ye Madoc, Prince of Wales, sailed so far
bury me, and set up two crosses, one at my
head and the other at my feet, and call the west and south that he came to some part
place Cape Cross.' of that country whereof the Spaniards “In 1006 Thorfinn came from Iceland to affirm themselves to be the first finders.
Greenland, and passing the winter with Eirek, Whereupon it is evident that that country
and hearing much said of Vine-land, resolved to
plant a colony there. was discovered by Britains long before Co
“Having equipped three vessels he set sail lumbus led any Spaniards thither.”
in the spring, having on board one hundred and The antiquity of the history being thus sixty persons, and a supply of live stock. beyond cavil, the only remaining question
"They first sailed to the western district of
Old Greenland and to Bjarney, thence for two was to determine whether the sagas were
days in a southerly direction to Helluland, veritable histories or fictitious sketches. where they found foxes and the large flat The ruins and inscriptions recently found stones. Two days more brought them to so fully verify the accounts relating to
Markland-thence southwest for some time,
arriving at Cape Kul, where were trackless Greenland as to give the strongest assur
coasts, and white, sandy beaches. The coast ances of veracity in those relating to the afterward became more indented with bays and continent.
inlets, into one of which they entered. ConLet us now turn to the documents
tinuing their course, they entered a bay off the themselves, extracting here and there at
mouth of which was an island so crowded with
eider ducks that they could scarcely walk withpleasure sufficient to indicate the most out treading on the eggs. substantial points of proof:
"A strong current ran past this island, and
also further up the bay, from which they called “ Bjarni having on a voyage from Greenlandit Stream Isle. Having spent the winter here, to Norway descried a land to the south west, during which the wife of Thorfinn gave birth to Leif, son of Eirek, set out in the year 1000 | a son, Snorri, (from whom the celebrated sculptor Thorwaldsen was descended,) they proceed for two days in a southerly direction to ed south ward to where a river flows through a | Helluland. Leif first, after leaving Greenlake on its way to the sea, the mouth of which
| land, touched at Helluland. was so beset with sand-bars as to be accessible only at high water. To this beautiful place,
Their united descriptions of this place which abounded with wild grapes and corn, are, no herbage of any kind ; a bare, rugwith forests and game, rivers and fish, which ged plain of broad flat stones, extending possessed so mild a climate that no snow fell,
from the snow-clad mountains to the and the cattle remained at large during the winter, they gave the name Hop.
coast. “ Being continually troubled by the natives, This description, to prove anything, must and a battle having at length occurred, Thor- be sufficiently precise to distinguish one finn decided to return to Greenland. After
location from another. If it apply equally having touched at Markland, one vessel was driven by winds westward into a sea so infested to various places, it is evidently valueless with worms as necessitated them to abandon toward indicating any precise route. It is it. Those that took the boat made their way claimed that this Helluland is Newfoundto Dublin; the others were never more heard
land. Let us, then, compare these ancient of. Thorfinn with his ship arrived safely at Greenland in 1011.”
with modern notes:Such is the substance of these sagas of
“ The east half is generally low, and diversi
fied with trees of humble growth. The soil and Eirek and Thorfinn. It remained for
climate are well adapted for pasturage, potatoes, those who claimed for them the rank of and other crops. Vast herds of deer graze faithful histories to verify so unequivocal in the plains and woods of the interior"accounts, by showing that the configura
Mc Culloch. tion of the continental coast would admit
“Berry-bearing shrubs clothe every swamp of such descriptions. To this task they
and open tract. Loose rocks, scattered over have diligently applied themselves, and
the country, increase its general roughness.
Its sea-cliff's are, for the most part, bold and at the very fortunate transatlantic distance
acott's Gazetteer. to their own complacence have succeeded
This is not such a coincidence in particadmirably. That their expositions might
ulars as precludes all inclination to a furstrike a cisatlantic observer with a very
ther examination of these coasts. Of different degree of favor would be natural
Labrador itself, which some may possibly from the diverse points of view as well as
| be inclined to think Leif would have made of interest. The general exposition put
first, and which it is quite as probable forth by the antiquarians at Copenhagen,
Thorfinn would have reached in two days' and it is but just to say, accepted by
sail from Bjarney, we find the following Humboldt, and to quite an extent by the
descriptions :French and English savans, is nearly as follows:
“The coast is bleak, rugged, and desolate in
the extreme." “Leaving Greenland and sailing southwesterly "One of the most dreary regions on the globe, they struck Labrador, calling it Bjarney; thence exhibiting scarcely anything except rocks desonward, doubling Newfoundland, or Helluland,
titute of vegetation." past Nova Scotia, or Markland; Cape Cod, or Cape Kul; Martha's Vineyard, or Stream Isle ; Were it not for the authority with and finally up Narragansett Bay to Leif's-booths, which these translations are put forth, we not far from Mount Hope.”
should be inclined to say that, whatever While it would, perhaps, be indecorous other land these descriptions may identify for us to set aside such an array of author- | as Helluland, they certainly fall very far ity, and while we may aver that we have short of identifying Newfoundland as no such desire, it may fall within the scope the place. of propriety to advert to some of the dif- ! In two days more Thorfinn made Markficulties with which this exposition meets. | land—the time it took Leif is not stated.
So minute a description of three voy- The distance passed over in these two ages along the same coast to the same days, allowing that the most direct course destination, ought to leave little room for was taken to the nearest point of Nova doubt as to the course taken and the Scotia, -an utter improbability,—was four places visited.
hundred miles, or two hundred miles per Thorfinn sailed first to Old Greenland | day—a rate of speed of which, over an and thence to Bjarney, which we may sup- unknown sea, and along an unexplored pose was the land which Bjarni had seen coast, few modern craft can boast. to the southwest, that is, Labrador,—thence Nor is it altogether an unimportant fact that, though both of the voyagers said that it was given as the result of often mention their direction, neither of such observations as might have been thern in this instance speak as if there made from the vessel, then, most assuredhad been any change of course, certainly ly, is the language unfortunate for these not as if the change had been as great as localities; for opposite Nantucket there is it must have been in doubling the corner not only no appearance of any projection of Newfoundland. They both speak of northward, but there is one of ten or continuing the voyage.
twelve miles length extending southward. Markland is described as having a low, | In fact, the channel or bay into which they level coast, with numerous white, sandy entered is between an island and a point cliffs, covered with wood.
projecting southward. Compare this with that given above of But this is not all. The sentence “ enNewfoundland, and it is obvious that, tered a channel between an island and a while this island quite decidedly rejects point projecting northward from the mainthe appellation Helluland, it nearly as de- land," can have but one meaning as to cidedly invites that of Markland, scarcely location—the island must be north of the claimed by Nova Scotia in the following main-land. To insist, therefore, on an item from McCulloch :
application of the text to localities so com
pletely reversed must lead one to regard “The coast is fringed with rocks and
the whole history with suspicion. islands."
To the coasters who are familiar with Two days more brought Leif to Nan- both the land and water of that section, it tucket - another marvelous voyage of can but be amusing to learn that that part some four hundred miles in two days, tak- of the ocean lying between Nantucket and ing the most direct route.
the Cape, having a breadth of thirty miles, Thorfinn continuing some time in a | is regarded as a bay or inlet of a cape of southwest direction, arrived at Cape Cod, some half dozen miles in width. of which the coast afterward became more Continuing on, Thorfinn enters a bay, indented with inlets and bays, into one of -Buzzards,-off which was an island which they entered.
crowded with eider ducks' eggs. This It will, doubtless, be an item of no island was Martha's Vineyard, or Nauston. small interest to the multitude who do How fortunate for those present sea-girt business on the great waters off “the denizens could those good olden times back of the Cape,” to learn that between return again. The generous wish of the Race and Malabar, where they have never good-hearted Henry of France," that every been able to find a “snug retreat” save peasant might have a fowl in his pot," in one solitary instance, our sagacious might not then need to await ThanksEuropean friends discovered that it is in- giving or Christmas for its accomplishdented with inlets and bays.
ment. The identity of Cape Cod and Nan | As for these ducks, it is well known tucket is made out from the following that the eider is eminently a frigid waternotes : “ They entered a channel between | fowl, seldom on the European coast lower an island and a point of the main-land pro- than latitude sixty degrees, thermally fifty jecting northward.”
degrees on the American coast, or the viThis description, which is, perhaps, re- cinity of St. Lawrence Gulf. But what garded as one of the most unmistakable renders it more certain that Martha's Vineand corroborative of this exposition, so far yard could not have been the habitat menfrom proving what one might gather from tioned is the season of the year when they it at a glance, unfortunately for these were observed—not earlier than the first theorists, seems to prove quite a different of June, and more probably the last. It is result.
not improbable that the eider may someCape Cod can in no sense be said to be times winter in latitude as low as forty a point projecting northward from the degrees, but those migratory birds leave main-land to an observer off Nantucket. again before the first of May, and never If this description was given after diligent spend the summer in this latitude, as the investigation of the coast, it must have eggs fully show these were doing. been known that that part where it turns / Past this island, and further up the bay, northward was not the main-land. If it be | ran a stream.