« PreviousContinue »
OUR COUNTBY IN THE OLDEN TIME. — Through the kindness of an antiquarian bibhopolist, in London, we have been greatly amused, in turning over the leaves of an elaborate work, written and published in England, just after the American Revolution, by one J. FERDINAND D. Smyth, Esq., and entitled, 'A Tour in the United States of America; an account of the Country, Anecdotes of several members of the Congress, and general officers in the Army; with many other very singular and curious Occurrences.' The volumes are interesting, as affording a picture of this republic, which is in striking contrast with its present appearance and condition. The work appeared at a time when ‘nothing of the kind had been hitherto published,' and was written to gratify a universal craving in England, to hear more of a country, where had just occurred 'a great and very extraordinary revolution. In the list of subscribers to the book, the names of earls, dukes, and lords, among them Lord North, are conspicuous. Our author was forcibly struck, on first landing in Virginia, with a peculiar native annoyance, which he thus describes :
"We were assaulted by a great number of musketoes, a very noxious fly, which seems to be of the species of gnats, but larger and more poisonous, leaving a hard tumor wherever they bite, with an intolerable and painful itching. They penetrate the skin, fill themselves with blood, and make their principal attacks in the night, accompanied by a small, shrill
, disagreeable note, the very sound of which prevents you from sleep, after you have been once bit.'
He complains bitterly, also, of a kindred nightly tormentor, the species and character of which were so well indicated by the naïve query of the Frenchman: 'I was much dissatisfy last night in de bed wid a great many bites of -of - what you call dat dan animal dat lie awake in de day-times, and promenade my leg in de night, eh?' But the American frog seems to have borne away the palm; and if the following be not over-colored, we fear the race has greatly deteriorated :
"The bull-frogs emit a m tremendous roar, louder than the bellowing of a bull, from the similarity of whose voice they obtained their name; but their note is harsh, sonorous, and abrupt. They surprise a man exceedingly, as he will hear their boarse, loud, bellowing clamor just by him, and sometimes all around him, yet he cannot disco ver whence it proceeds; they being all covered in water, and just raising their mouth only a little above the surface, when they roar out, then instantly draw it under again. They are of the size of a man's foot.'
Our author is a zealous Briton, and seems to have made himself useful to his king. He was not always successful, however, in his loyal endeavors, but was once or twice imprisoned by the rebels.' On one occasion, he tells us, he was on his way through Pennsylvania, 'to join the royal standard erected at Norfolk, by the Earl of DUNMORE, His Majesty's Governor,' when he was arrested by some rebel Dutchmen,' and dragged before a committee of safety, from which he had recently escaped, and which consisted of 'a taylor, a leather-breeches-maker, a shoe-maker, a ginger-bread-maker, a butcher, and two publicans!' Here he was subjected to an examination, which evinces the spirit of the time. "Tamn you !' says one member, 'howst darsht you make an exshkape from dish honorablesh committish ?' 'Howsh der duyvel can you shtand sho shıyffor King Shorsh, akainsht dish koontery?' asked a second; while a third declared, that 'de committish would let King Shorsh know howsh to pehave hisself,' and that'dey would kill all de English tiefs as soon as von ox or von cow!
Philadelphia, at this time, had ' upward of thirty thousand inhabitants,' with a few praiseworthy public edifices, conspicuous among which were a lunatic asylum, and the 'convenient and handsome barracks of the king's troops.' Here it was that our author was imprisoned by the 'rebel' enemy; and where, if we may believe his story, he suffered every species of indignity, with many violent attacks upon his loyal principles. He mentions, among his occasional visitors and 'lecturers,' Dr. Benjamin Ruen, 'a member of congress, and a man eminent in physic, but more eminent in rebellion.' At some future day, we may revert to these volumes, for the purpose of sketching two national pictures of the past and present.
TAGALO Poetry. - Very grievous is it, to a generous and sensitive purveyor of literary edibles, that he should be unable to scatter to his thousands of readers those choice bits of chance provender, wherewith his own intellectual palate is often most delectably regaled. Such, not to say it boastingly, have been our emotions, while feasting upon iwo ihin volumes of Tagalo poetry, printed in 'Sampaloe, suburb of Manilla,' with which we have been kindly favored, by a correspondent in China. The externals of these pamphlet-tomes are worthy of note. A thin, gay paper cover, like that seen on tea-chests, envelopes some thirty leaves of whitish-brown paper, of the coarsest texture, bearing the impress of types which may have been stolen, as a foreign 'venture,' by some enterprising 'outside barbarian,' from the place named 'hell,' or Hades, by the printers, into wbich are cast all worn-out and irreclaimable letters. The volumes are entitled 'Salita At Bvhay na Nassapit ni Dona MARCELA, at nang isang Mercador sa Reinong Portuga, and Salita Nang Buhay na Pinagdaanan, nang Price cipe YGMIDIO, al nang Princesa GLORIANA, na anac nang Haring GRIMALDO, sa Caharian nang Gran-Cayro ;' or, in a Christian tongue, a ‘History of the Life and Adventures of Donna MARCELA and a Portuguese Merchant,' and a 'History of the Life and Wanderings of the Prince YGMIDIO, and the Princess Gloriana, daughter of King GRIMALDO, of the kingdom of Grand Cairo.' No sooner had we turned to the promising title-page, than we launched at once into the volumes, cruized outside the first two leaves, and presently found ourselves beyond our reckoning, and obliged to anchor. Indeed, we doubt if the following passage, the rock on which we split, be laid down in any of the literary charts:
Caya magsabica.t, houag cang maglihim
Matibay na uicang hindi mapapacnic
Cun sa camahalan aco po ay uala,
Now the premises of the enthuymem involved in these stanzas, we are not so much inclined to dispute; and as they will be equally clear to most of our readers, we look to be sustained in our judgment; but we would respectfully ask, if the collateral senti. ments here expressed, do not demand the severest rebuke from the friends of humanity and the rights of women ? 'Decidedly, these are the opinions,' in this meridian. In the annexed stanzas, from a minor poem, we think we recognise a translation of the first part of the popular song of Woodman, spare that Tree!' by our enterprising contemporary, General MORRIS:
Bucod pasa iyong !
Ynihatid co po,
Ang pangacong upa,
Ay upan macamtan?
Mayroon dao siyang,
Siyang ibibigay! If the above be indeed a veritable rendering of the first two stanzas of the song in question, and of this the reader can judge as well as ourselves, it must be admitted that the translator has taken some important liberties with our friend's production. Much of the spirit of the original has been permitted to evaporate. Nevertheless, we should be pleased to hear Mr. Russell sing the lines, at his next soirée. Harsh as they seem, he would doubtless evoke melody from them.
"The Corsair.' – Proposals have been issued for the publication of a weekly gazette 'of literature, dramatic news and criticism, fashion and novelty,' entitled as above, and to be under the direction of N. P. Willis and T. O. PORTER, Esquires. The first named gentleman, we are desired to state, will bring to the new journal not only the undivided aid of his own acknowledged talents and industry, but all the distinguished talent, domestic and foreign, which he has been enabled to direct to ihe columns of the periodical in which his own contributions have hitherto appeared, but with which he has recently relinquished all connection. Mr. PORTER is a gentleman of fine iasie, and so far as we have had an opportunity of judging, holds an agreeable and graceful pen. There is a touch of sly satire, we have good reason for 'guessing,' in that portion of the prospectus which alludes to the immunities afforded the editors by the piratical law of copy-right;' for although it is their purpose to collect the spirit not only of the English, but of the French and German belles-lettres, yet we are informed it is equally their design to elicit their share of the current wit, humor, and literature of our own country. Unlike the ALBION - one of the best weekly journals of English and foreign literature that is perused in the United Stales, and an indispensable work to general literary readers — the 'Corsair will combine choice American effort, in liberal proporLion with trans-Atlantic gatherings, including ample and impartial criticisms upon our drama, literature, arts, etc. In short, the editors propose to reap the 'harvest of event, wil, genius, and poetry,' at home as well as abroad; and we hazard little in predicting that they will do it successfully. At any rate, we desire for them a multitude of sheaves, and abundant stores of 'golden grain.' The first number of the work is soon to be issued, with distinguished beauty, it is hinted, in its externals of paper and printing.
SAINT NICHOLAS INTERLOPERS. - A veteran daily journalist, who knows all about it,' complains that the Saint Nicholas Society has very few of the old Dutch blood of the KNICKERBOCKERS among its supporters.' This must be the case; for the moderns are getting sadly out of the old paths.' Shade of Walter the Doubter! - no deliberation, no long smokings, and short speeches; but, contrariwise, long harangues, which, if pleasant to hear, are exceedingly hard to read, and all despatch in reporting proceedings for the papers! But DIEDRICH KNICKEKBOCKER will not desert them, while ihere is hope of amendment, and a return to the ancient ways, from which there have been backslidings; nay, though they misprint him in the daily journals, making nonsense of the toasts which he transmits to their annual festivals. We place on record the recent sentiment of our illustrious progenitor, with its accompanying note to the president, with the assurance that filial care hath been taken that no lapsus type should mar its benevolent intention :
"Ik hab gezeile in myn schip genaamt die Goede Vrouw,' van Albanie aan di Nieuw-Nederlandia, ende hier ben ik gevangt in het ystegen over Kinderhook :
Vor Zekers. Ik ben bedroeft dat ik can niet iniddag met u eeten.
"SOIREES MUSICALES.' We are glad to perceive that Mr. C. E. Horn proposes giving six concerts, or 'soirées musicales,' on Thursday of each alternate week, during the ensuing three months. The object of these performances is to present to the admirers of classical music an opportunity of hearing the works of HandeL Haydn, Mozart, SPOHR, Rossini, etc.; and the terms and arrangements are such as cannot fail to render them sociable and select. These may be ascertained, and tickets secured, at the music stores, and at the beautiful Repository of Arts' of Messrs. DavIS AND HORN, 411 Broadway. The first concert will take place on Thursday, the fourteenth of February. ORIGINAL POEM BY JOEL Barlow. - The following are extracts from an original poem, by Joel Barlow, author of the Colunibiad,' written in May, 1782, and enclosed in a letter to the widow of Hon. CHIEF JUSTICE HOSMER, of Connecticut, then recently deceased. The poem is entitled, 'An Elegy on the late Honorable Titus Hosmer, one of the Counsellors of the State of Connecticut, a Member of Congress, and a Judge of the Maritime Court of Appeals for the United States of America.' The style of the entire production is strikingly characteristic of the verse of that period; while some of the stanzas will compare with the best efforts of their author. The lines are placed in type from Mr. Barlow's own manuscript. After invoking the spirit of the departed to preside over his pen, the writer proceeds:
Come, in the form that glare-ey'd spirits dress,
When death's dim veil hath shrouded all their pride,
Where the lone moon-beam trembles through its side.
Come, on the gale that listening midnight heaves,
When freighted phantoms, bending with a bier,
And wake wild wonders in the startled ear!
The following stanzas succeed, and are immediately connected with, a description of the bereaved wife, and her blooming, fatherless children, scarcely conscious, as yel, of their great loss, and demanding their sire, with tears of artless innocence:'
So lonely Cynthia, on her evening tlirone,
And all her young-ey'd planetary train,
Down the still chambers of the western main.
Yet that broad beamer from his nightly race,
With rising radiance shall the day restore ;
And years and ages die to purchase more.
But thou, alas ! no more on earth wilt tread,
Nor one short hour thy blest employments learo,
Had doom'd thy helpless country to her grave.
Thy country, whose still supplicating moan
Implores thy counsel with an infant cry,
Which bore thy kindling spirit to the sky.
The annexed lines will bring forcibly back to the present reader the spirit (not less than the phraseology and pronunciation) of the time in which they were penned :
Wilt thou, in seats of blessedness above,
Where cares of empires claim the Eternal ear,
The hand to cherish and the heart to hear ?
There, while the dread sublimity of soul
O'er all the star-ey'd heaven exalts thy throne,
And show the well knowu circuit of thy owu;
Wilt thou remark the bluely-bending shore,
Where hills and champaigns stretch abroad their pride,
And heaps of heroes swell the crimson tide?
Wilt thou recognise that confused uproar,
Towns, curl'd in smoky columns, mounting high,
Amid the tumult, wilt thou sre afar,
Our laurell d beroes striving for the day?
Where the grim legions sweep the foes away ?
And while their deeds thy blest approvance claim,
While crowds of rival chiefs thy guidance share,
And be the best of heroes still thy care.
That hero, whose illuminating sword
Lights death and victory through the darkened field,
Their sire, their coul, their saviour, and their shield.
A pressure of matter prevents farther extracts for the present number. We shall lake another occasion to complete our quotations, many of which are not only striking records of the time, bui possess poetical nierit of a high order.
SUMMER IN THE LAP OF WINTER. — When the streets are covered with snow, the rivers, with slow and solemn movement, rolling their tributes of ice to the main, and & howling tempest filling all the air, it is a pleasant thing for a man, while, 'to make use of a strong expression,'
*Cold are his feelings, cold the weather!'
to step into long ranges of hot-houses, where breathes the very breath of midsummer, and on every hand are blooming flowers, of a thousand hues. Let us advise the city denizen to pay a visit to the garden of that nature's nobleman, Thomas Hogs, walk amidst his fruit-bearing or nge and lemon trees, and his amphitheatric rows of japonicas, countless in variety, and fresh as the loveliest damsel in whose hair they may fiourish, or in whose bouquet they may attract admiration, conversation, and perhaps beaux. In short, if the reader would see Summer dallying in Winter's lap, let him step up to Hugo's • New-York Botanic Garden,' at the junction of Broadway and Twentyfirst street, and he may remark that agreeable phenomenon.
KKICKERBOCKERIANA: CORRESPONDENTS, ETC. — Thera has been po month, since the establishment of this Magazine, in which so many names have heen added to its list of subscribers, as during the period which has elapsed since the issue of our last number. For this most substantial evidence of abundant public approbation, as well as for the testimony afforded in the almost uniform firm adbierence of older readers, we shall let slip no endeavor to be practically grateful. Several correspondents, whose valuable favors reached us too late for insertion in the present number, will appear in our next. “The Philosophy of Color,' * Tableaux Vivantes, Down East,' with other communications, the reception of which has beon privately acknowledged, are on file for insertion. In answer to an inquiry from several sources, we may state here, that the first and secondPsalm of Life,' and the Psalm of Death,' in late numbers of the KNICKERBOCKER, are from the pen of Professor HENRY W. LONGFELLOW, of Harvard University, an old and regular correspondent of this Magazine, whom the reader will find frequent occasion to welcome in these pages. Brief notices of the following works, although in type, are unavoidably omitted : Address before the Philomathic Society of Alabama University,'Kill's Poems, JAMES' Tales of the Passions,' the Ohio · Mouthly Chronicle,' and an • Examination of the Difficulties between France and Mexico.'
The continued absence of our theatrical correspoodent, must constitute our apology for the omission of our usual dramatic notices. The performances, however, have for the most par t been ruch as did not demand deliberate criticism, on the score either of novelty or interest. The fine tragedy of 'Velasco,' by Eres Sargent, Esq., has heen repeatedly brought forward at the Park Theatre. Its success, here and elsewhere, has been complote. Ji is pronounced, oo all bands, an acting play of a high order. Of its rare literary merits, we have already spoken. Mr. BURTON, comedian, of the Philadelphia theatres, whose series of amusing papers, entitled 'An Actor's Alloquy,' and other articles contributed to the KNICKERBOCKER, have made him favorahly knowo in our readers, has commenced a brief engagement at the National Theatre.