« PreviousContinue »
till, step by step, he reduced unhappy Paraguay to the state of desolation and slavery under which it now groans.
The following anecdotes will tend to show what was the basis of Francia's character; and subsequent records will elucidate how easily stern integrity may turn to sullen despotism; inflexible determination be warped to unrelenting barbarity.
It has already been observed that Francia's reputation, as a lawyer, was not only unsullied by venality, but conspicuous for rectitude.
He had a friend in Assumpcion of the name of Domingo Rodriguez. This man had cast a covetous eye upon Naboth's vineyard, and this Naboth, of whom Francia was the open enemy, was called Estanislao Machain. Never doubting that the young doctor, like other lawyers, would undertake his unrighteous cause, Rodriguez opened up to him his case, and requested, with a handsome retainer, his advocacy of it. Francia saw at once that his friend's pretensions were founded in fraud and injustice; and he not only refused to act as his counsel, but plainly told him that much as he hated his antagonist Machain, yet if he (Rodriguez) persisted in his iniquitous suit, that antagonist should have his (Francia's) most zealous support. But covetousness, as Ahab's story shows us, is not so easily driven from its pretensions; and in spite of Francia's warning, Rodriguez persisted. As he was a potent man, in point of fortune, all was going against Machain and his devoted vineyard.
At this stage of the question, Francia wrapped himself up one night in his cloak, and walked to the house of his inveterate enemy, Machain. The slave who opened the door, knowing that his master and the doctor, like the houses of Montagu and Capulet, were smoke in each other's eyes, refused the lawyer admittance, and ran to inform his master of the strange and unexpected visit. Machain, no less struck by the circumstance than his slave, for some time hesitated; but at length determined to admit Francia. In walked the silent doctor to Machain's chamber. All the papers connected with the law-plea-voluminous enough I have been assured were outspread upon the defendant's escritoire.
"Machain,' said the lawyer, addressing him, 'you know I am your enemy. But I know that my friend Rodriguez meditates, and will certainly, unless I interfere, carry against you an act of gross and lawless aggression; I have come to offer my services in your defence.'
The astonished Machain could scarcely credit his senses; but poured forth the ebullition of his gratitude, in terms of thankful acquiescence.
'The first escrito,' or writing, sent in by Francia to the Juez de Alzada, or Judge of the Court of Appeal, confounded the adverse advocates, and staggered the judge, who was in their interest. 'My friend,' said the judge, to the leading counsel, 'I cannot go forward in this matter, unless you bribe Dr. Francia to be silent.' 'I will try,' replied the advocate, and he went to Naboth's counsel with a hundred doubloons, about three hundred and fifty guineas,) which he offered him as a bribe to let the cause take its iniquitous course. Considering, too, that his best introduction would be a hint that this douceur was offered with the judge's concurrence, the knavish lawyer hinted to the upright one that such was the fact.
Salga V.,' said Francia, 'con sus viles pensamientos, y vilisimo oro de mi casa.' 'Out with your vile insinuations, and dross of gold from my house.'
Off marched the venal drudge of the unjust judge; and in a moment, putting on his capoté, the offended advocate went to the residence of the Juez de Alzada. Shortly relating what had passed between himself and the myrmidon,-'Sir,' continued Francia, 'you are a disgrace to law, and a blot upon justice. You are, moreover, completely in my power; and unless to-morrow I have a decision in favor of my client, I will make your seat upon the bench too hot for you, and the insignia of your judicial office shall become the emblems of your shame.'
"To-morrow did bring a decision in favor of Francia's client. Naboth retained his vineyard; the judge lost his reputation; and the young doctor's fame extended far and wide.
Alas! that an action so magnanimous in itself should be blighted by the record which historical truth exacts- - that no sooner had Francia vindicated the law and justice of his enemy's case, than old antipathy revived; and one of the many victims, at a subsequent period, of the dictator's displeasure, was the very Machain whom he had so nobly served.'
These domestic incidents will perhaps convey to you more distinctly than mere abstract delineation could do, the cruel, callous, pitiless nature of the man. His ambition was as unbounded as his cruelty. His natural talents were of a higher class than those which had been displayed by any one of his countrymen in either a public or private capacity. His education was the best which South America afforded; and he had much improved that education by his own desire to increase his general attainments. He possessed an exact knowledge of the character of the people of Paraguay. He knew them to be docile, simple, and ignorant, easily guided to good or to evil, and without moral or physical courage to resist oppression. He was sagacious, astute, patient, and persevering. No moral or religious principle was allowed to stand between him
and his plans; his end was absolute imperious sway; and in using his means for attaining it, he was prepared to view the commission of crime without fear, and to inflict every suffering which human nature could endure, without pity and without remorse. 'These were the elemental parts of the character of the governor and of the governed: and by these have been upheld, for twenty-five years, the extraordinary tyranny under which, during all that time, Paraguay has groaned.'
CARL WERNER: WITH OTHER TALES. By the author of 'Guy Rivers,' etc. In two volumes. New-York: GEORGE ADLARD.
THESE Volumes, by Mr. SIMMS, contain several tales, after the German school, and are well worth perusal. 'Carl Werner' and 'Conrade Weickhoff' please us better than the rest, though we doubt not that with some, the tales founded on Indian traditions may be greater favorites. In this collection, the author seems to us to have had in his eye, as respects style and subject, BULWER'S 'Pilgrims of the Rhine,' though he falls far below his model, in finish and effect. There is a peculiar manner, and a very careful elaboration, requisite to transfuse the German spirit into the English, and it is not a German castle nor a German heroine, that can insure a German tale. A thorough study of the language, an appreciation of the beauties of the German poets and novelists, a knowledge of the superstitions of the people, and of the traditions to which they have given rise, through the medium of their native tongue; these are essential pre-requisites to the proper understanding of the character and peculiarities of the Germans. To show how nearly, however, Mr. SIMMS has approached the external German style, we copy the following spirited passage, which, to stimulate curiosity for the work, we shall leave wholly unexplained:
'Demoniac, indeed, had been the taste which fitted up that apartment. Grotesque images stood glaring around upon them from the swaying and swinging tapestry. Sable shafts and columns, broken and cragged, seemed to glide about the walls. Gloomy and dark draperies hung over the doors and windows, fringed with flame-like edges; and sprinkled drops of blood, like a rain shower, as they entered the hall of doom, fell upon their dresses. Rodolphe clung to the arm of his friend, even as an infant in a sudden terror clings to that of a mother or a nurse. He was almost lifeless in his accumulating fears and fancies. But that laugh of Conrade, annoying as it was at every other period, had now the effect of reassuring him. It had in it a sort of scorn of all these objects of dread—so Rodolph thought-which re-nerved the apprehensive youth; and boldly they walked forward together. The board of death was spread; the board upon which Oberfeldt had slain himself. The outlines of his bloody form were printed upon its covering; and there, in an hour more, his successor was doomed to lie. And who was that successor? That was the question which Rodolph propounded momentarily to himself: 'Who? who?'
'There was no long time for deliberation. Conrade led the way. There was a strange cry of assembled voices from a neighboring apartment, seemingly from cells beneath the stone floor upon which they stood. It was like laughter, and yet Rodolph distinguished now and then a shriek in the dreadful chorus which followed it. Faint notes of music the sudden clang of a trumpet - and then the rapid rushing and the crash of closing doors, as if a sudden tempest raged without these were the sounds and images which accompanied the act, in which the fraternity now engaged, of drawing for the fatal lot.
'Blindly, madly, stupidly, and reeling like a drunken man, Rodolph, under the guidance of his friend's arm, approached the table, and the massive iron vase, from which the billet was to be taken. Desperately was his arm thrust forward into its fatal jaws. His fingers felt about its bottom, and he drew forth the eard. He knew not what he had drawn; he dared not look upon it. He believed his doom to be written.
'A signal announced the ceremony to be over the preparatory ceremony. A bright light played around the vase, and the several members of the college advanced with the lots which they had drawn.
"Give yourselves no trouble, my friends,' exclaimed one, whose voice Rodolph instantly recognised to be that of Conrade. You need not examine your billets, since mine tells me what yours must be. I have the good fortune to be chosen successor to our great founder. It is for me to set you an example in following that of Oberfeldt. The billet of death has fallen to my lot. And, as he spoke, he displayed the fearful and blood-written scroll loftily in the sight of the rest.'
The tales comprising this collection, with the exception of Carl Werner,' have been published, the author informs us in his preface, at various periods in his career of authorship. We trust that in their present collected form, they will advance his well-earned reputation.
THE FAR WEST OR A TOUR BEYOND THE MOUNTAINS. In two volumes 12mo. pp. 300.
THE 'West' has, within the last two or three years, been a favorite subject with many writers. IRVING, HOFFMAN, HALL, and other well known authors, have delineated its scenery, and dilated upon nearly all that could interest us in the manners and customs of the settlers and the Indians, until the subject seemed to be entirely exhausted of interest, and nothing of importance remained to be added to our stock of knowledge. Still, the West' continues to furnish food for native writers, and the present work carries us pleasantly over the same ground, which we have so often travelled with the author's literary predecessors.
The sketches which compose these volumes were originally written for the newspapers, and like most republished newspaper correspondence, they might, we think, have been compressed into one volume, without lessening their interest or usefulness. The style of the writer is easy, but altogether too florid; and he seems to have skimmed agreeably over the surface, without descending into matters which would require varied or extensive knowledge. Perhaps, however, this circumstance may make his work the more interesting to the mere general reader. A single extract, embodying a picture and a moral, is all for which we can find space:
"Reining up my tired steed at the door of a log cabin in the middle of the plain, the nature and extent of my necessities were soon made known to an aged matron, who had come forth on my approach.
"Some victuals you shall get, stran-ger; but you'll just take your creetur to the crib, and gin him his feed; bekase, d' ye see, the old man is kind o' drinkin' to-day; yester' was 'lection, ye know.' From the depths of my sympathetic emotions was I moved for the poor old body, who, with most dolorous aspect had delivered herself of this message; and I had proceeded forthwith, agreeable to instructions, to satisfy the cravings of my patient animal, when who should appear but my tipsified host, in propria persona, at the door. The little old gentleman came tottering towards the spot where I stood, and, warmly squeezing my hand, whispered to me, with a most irresistible serio-comic air, that he was drunk;' and 'that he was four hours last night getting home from 'lection,' as he called it. Now, stran-ger, you won't think hard on me,' he continued, in his maudlin manner: 'I'm a poor drunken old fellow! but old Jim wa' n't al'ays so; old Jim wa' n't al'ays so he exclaimed with bitterness, burying his face in his toilworn hands, as, having now regained the house, he seated himself with difficulty upon the doorstep. Once, my son, old Jim could knock down, drag out, whip, lift, or throw any man in all Sangamon, if he was a leetle fellow; but nowreceipt of his disgrace-there,' he exclaimed, with vehemence, thrusting forth before - there's the my eyes two brawny, gladiator arms, in which the volumed muscles were heaving and contracting with excitement; ironed by labor, but shockingly mutilated. Expressing astonishment at the spectacle, he assured me that these wounds had been torn in the flesh by the teeth of infuriated antagonists in drunken quarrels, though the relation seemed almost too horrible to be true. Endeavoring to divert his mind from this disgusting topic, on which it seemed disposed to linger with ferocious delight, I made some inquiries relative to his farm and respecting the habits of the prairie-wolf, a large animal of the species having which was, indeed, a beautiful one, under high culturecrossed my path in the prairie in the gray light of dawn. Upon the latter inquiry, the old man sat silent a moment with his chin leaning on his hands. Looking up at length with an arch expression, he said, 'Stran-ger, I haint no larnin; I can't read; but do n't the Book say somewhere about old Jacob and the ring-streaked cattle?' 'Yes.' 'Well, and how old Jake's ring-streaked and round-spotted creeturs, after a leetle, got the better of all the stock, and overrun the univarsal herd, don't the Book say so?' 'Something so.' 'Well, now for the wolves: they're all colors but ring-streaked and VOL. XIII.
round-spotted; and if the sucker-farmers do n't look to it, the prairie-wolves will get the better of all the geese, turkeys, and hins in the barn-yard, speckled or no!''
The volumes will commend themselves to general perusal, by their variety and liveliness. They are executed with the accustomed neatness of the publishers.
SOUTHERN PASSAGES AND PICTURES. By the Author of Atalantis,' The Yemassee,' 'Guy Rivers,' etc. In one volume. pp. 223. New-York: GEORGE Adlard. UTILITARIAN as this age may be, we cannot but think that this handsome volume, containing the collected poetical 'fugitives' of our author, will find numerous readers. Poetry of the affections will not fall upon barren ground, so long as there are love and friendship, pity and suffering, in the world; and he who makes us vividly to feel what he has felt, or whom we know to have experienced what we have enjoyed or suffered, may be said to wield a power over the susceptible heart, well nigh as potent as that which money exerts over the plodding servant of the day-book and ledger, whose gold is his only god. Many of Mr. SIMMS' serious productions, as our readers have often seen, possess a solemn and composed beauty, while his pictures of nature are eminently spirited and artist-like. Now and then, it is true, we perceive a little exaggeration of thought, and something of vagueness in his conceptions; but these rare faults are abundantly overbalanced throughout the volume. Our author's portrayals of 'the heart' lack nothing of the manly tenderness of real passion, are never encumbered with injudicious and disproportioned ornament, and are wholly devoid of that idle, fanciful effeminacy of poetic love, which can only be sustained by constant effort, and which is always offensive. We have in our mind's eye a certain school of pseudo poets, fashionable, flashy, and artificial, and sustained before the public by a sort of battledore and shuttlecock intercourse of cork-and-feather compliments, who would do well to profit from the example of our author, in the particular alluded to. We should then have fewer writers from mere tread-mill imagination, and more from the heart. That was a shrewd observer, who once remarked, that poetry had this much in common with religion, that many professed to be entirely devoted to it, who had no good works to produce, in support of their pretensions. But this by the way. Mr. SIMMS has' good works' to produce, and we commend them cordially to the reader.
THE PRIVATE JOURNAL OF AARON BURR, DURing his ResideNCE OF FOUR YEARS IN EUROPE. With selections from his Correspondence. Edited by M. L. DAVIS. In two volumes. pp. 910. New-York: HARPER AND BROTHERS.
We have been sadly disappointed in these volumes. From the character of their subject, there was good reason to hope that they would at least prove entertaining; but we are compelled to say, that nine hundred and ten pages of more elaborate small talk, about nothing, for the most part, save trifling personal details, we have never seen collected together. The only redeeming portions of the work, are the letters to Colonel BURR, from some of the distinguished personages with whom he was brought in contact, while abroad. It is somewhat a matter of marvel, that a gentleman of acknowledged ability and sagacity, should sit down to compile a work like the one before us; and it is still more surprising, that he should send the same to his printers, read the proof-sheets deliberately, and permit them to be sent forth to the public, as evidence of Colonel BURR's character and talents. If we were to judge of the subject of these volumes, from the intellectual criteria which they afford, we might well be justified in considering him a fool as well as knave.
We will not for one moment suppose, that the reader has never rejoiced over the delectable pages of that memorable work of our renowned predecessor and progenitor, DIEDRICH KNICKERBOCKER, the 'History of New-York, from the beginning of the World to the end of the Dutch Dynasty,' containing, beside, the amplest private memoirs of the three Dutch governors of New-Amsterdam; nor will we deem it possible, that having once read, he can ever have forgotten, that portion of the volumes, which recounts the chivalric achievments of 'Peter the Headstrong,' the warlike STUYVESANT. In the present number of the KNICKERBOCKER, the combined arts of painting and engraving have, as we think, depicted with much spirit and skill, a prominent scene in the life of that eminent worthy. The time chosen by the artist, is when that 'long, lank, long-winded, half Indian spy,' DIRK SCHUILER, brings to the ears of the Headstrong,' in presence of his trusty trumpeter, the disastrous news of the affair at Fort Casimir. Premising that Dirk has escaped from the garrison, on his errand of mortification to the governor, we shall suffer our historian to give the result in his own language. Surely, there is no considerate reader of these pages, but must admit, that there was abundant cause for the WRATH OF PETER STUYVESANT.'
'DIRK directed his flight toward his native place, New-Amsterdam, from whence he had formerly been obliged to abscond precipitately, in consequence of misfortune in business that is to say, having been detected in the act of sheep-stealing. After wandering many days in the woods, toiling through swamps, fording brooks, swimming various rivers, and encountering a world of hardships, that would have killed any other being but an Indian, a back-woodman, or the devil, he at length arrived, half famished, and lank as a starved weasel, at Communipaw, where he stole a canoe, and paddled over to New-Amsterdam. Immediately on landing, he repaired to Governor Stuyvesant, and in more words than he had ever spoken before in the whole course of his life, gave an account of the disastrous affair.
'On receiving these direful tidings, the valiant Peter started from his seat - dashed the pipe he was smoking against the back of the chimney- thrust a prodigious quid of tobacco into his left cheek pulled up his galligaskins, and strode up and down the room, humming, as was customary with him, when in a passion, a hideous north-west ditty. But as I have before shown, he was not a man to vent his spleen in idle vaporing. His first measure, after the paroxysm of wrath had subsided, was to stump up stairs, to a huge wooden chest, which served as his armory, from whence he drew forth that identical suit of regimentals described in the preceding chapter. In these portentous habiliments he arrayed himself, like Achilles in the armor of Vulcan, maintaining all the while a most appalling silence, knitting his brows, and drawing his breath through his clenched teeth. Being hastily equipped, he strode down into the parlor, jerked down his trusty sword from over the fire-place, where it was usually suspended; but before he girded it on his thigh, he drew it from its scabbard, and as his eye coursed along the rusty blade, a grim smile stole over his iron visage. It was the first smile that had visited his countenance for five long weeks; but every one who beheld it, prophesied that there would soon be warm work in the province !'