« ZurückWeiter »
through, and water the surrounding country. The country, generally speaking, may be called open; affording a variety of well-timbered land, and prairies, sometimes interspersed with tall oaks and hickory, and varying in dimension, from one to six miles in circumference; bordered with lofty and dense forests, bountifully supplied with every variety of excellent timber, consisting chiefly of maple, hickory, oak, beach, walnut, white wood, bass wood, &c. It was during the latter part of August when I passed through, and the prairies were literally covered with flowers of the richest hues, from the lily-white to the imperial purple, rich orange, crimson, and pink. The growth of vegetation is remarkably luxuriant, and the streams abound with the purest water, running over gravelly beds, and evidently issuing from springs, from their extraordinary coldness. As an evidence of the fine grazing which the country affords, the person who supplied the people attending the treaty at Chicago with fresh beef, drove about two hundred head from Brownstown to Chicago, a distance of upwards of three hundred miles, in eighteen days, in the month of August; and it is a remarkable fact, that the beef was better when it reached the latter place, that when it left the former.”
Mr. Schoolcraft has devoted fifty or sixty pages, to “ Observations, interspersed with anecdotes, illustrative of Indian customs and character, and demonstrative of the existence of imaginative tales and oral poetry among the Chippewas.” It was our intention to enlarge upon this part of Mr. Schoolcraft's interesting work, but we are obliged to defer what we meant to offer on this subject to some future opportunity, when we propose to take up, in detail, the question of Indian character and tradition, considered as the subjects of poetry or romance.
We cannot part with Mr. Schoolcraft, without acknowledging the pleasure which the perusal of his journal has, on the whole, afforded us; and we cheerfully recommend it to our readers, as a work full of various and useful information. There are, of course, some things to object to; such as want of method in the arrangement, want of simplicity in the narration, and sometimes want of clearness in the scientific details. Among the parvæ maculæ, we are inclined to enumerate, the falling in with the silly fashion of the day, of beplastering our public men with titles they despise, and that with a contempt which is apt to fall upon the flatterer. To our ears, and we doubt not, to those of these distinguished individuals themselves, James Monroe, Dewitt Clinton, John C. Calhoun, and Lewis Cass, or the surnames, with plain Mr. or the names of their of
fices before them, sound quite as republican, quite as polite, and quite as sonorous, as the more obsequious epithets of his honour,' or his excellency. For heaven's sake, let us leave these fooleries to the grown infants of the old world, or at least let our eastern brethren, since they are so disposed, enjoy the exclusive right to all this pretty baby-play.
With regard to the style in which Mr. Schoolcraft's book is written, we are compelled to say, that it is in many respects inferior to that of his previous publications. Not that it has not its merits. It has roundness, fulness, dignity and strength; but it is often very deficient in simplicity, propriety, purity, and grace. Whenever Mr. Schoolcraft is geological, this defect is scarcely visible, because the style of scientific description must of necessity be latinised, and more or less Johnsonian. But in the narrative of his adventures, as well as in the detail of our petty Indian wars, the language of the author is apt to run into a stately polysyllabism, which is every thing but suited to the nature of the subject. Against one peculiarity of Mr. Schoolcraft's manner, we beg leave to file our yery particular exceptions; we mean the curious habit he has of taking sudden and starting leaps, from politics to poetry, from rhyme to mineralogy, from trilobites to trochees, and so back again, by the way of stanzas and statistics. All this is, certainly, in very bad taste; and in the next treatise that he gives us on the geology or topography of the western country, we entreat him to forget his Shenstone, his Goldsmith, and his Pope; his Damætas, bis Anon. his MSS. and his Old Play. But these are trifling faults; perhaps in the eyes of some, not faults at all; and so favorably do we think of the general merits of this book, that we feel it would have been illiberal to have mentioned these slight blemishes, had we not perceived a growing disposition in our younger writers, to prefer the gay mosaic of metre and matter of fact, to the simplicity and integrity of chaster composition. We conclude as we began, by expressing our acknowledgment of the services which Mr. Schoolcraft has rendered to the scientific world, by declaring our admiration of the honorable enthusiasm which has carried him through the toils and the perils of our wildernesses, and by assuring him, that a continuance of his labors must be followed by all the praise which it is the generous ambition of the man of science to merit and obtain.
Art. X.–Vies des plus celebres et anciens Poetes Provensaux
qui ont floury du temps des Comtes de Provence, &c. &c.Par Jehan de Nostre Dame, Procureur en la cour de Parlement de Provence. A Lyon, pour Alexandre Marsilij,
by !r. 6, laryant If this work has never been reviewed till the present moment, neither the author, nor his friends, nor the literati, have been to blame, for it was published long before the age of reviews or even of gazettes. When the author wrote, therefore, he must have written without the fear of criticism before his
eyes. He could not expect that his work would be made the subject of an elaborate article in the ponderous literary journal, nor even of a slighter notice in the newspaper. There was no class of writers in those days, whose function it was to call up the author before them, in the presence of the public, as a schoolmaster summons his pupil with his exercise in hand, to praise him moderately for what he had done, chide him soundly for what he had omitted to do, and read him a long and minute lecture on the faults and mistakes he had committed. There was no one to reprehend his arrangement, his orthography, or his diction—nobody to show him how careless he must have been, when, in his quotations from a Provensal poet, he spells the same word tousiours in one place, and touiour in another in the same page, and when he calls himself Jehan de Nostre Dame in the title page, and Jean de Nostradamus in the dedication--nor to point out that unlucky sentence, in which it is said of one of the Troubadours, that he " was in love with a noble lady, to the praise of whom he made many songs, and soon afterwards died, where the reader is left to suppose that the poet is dead, and that his biography is at an end, but on reading a little farther finds that the lady is dead, instead of the poet, who is not only in full life, but actually writing verses with all his might. In short, the work of Nostradamus may well be called, in the words of Sismondi, “destitute of all criticism” (dépourvu de tout critique) in more senses than one ; for not only it contains no criticism, but it was never made the subject of any. Even the lowest of those honors which our journals bestow, was never conferred upon it, that of being mentioned in the monthly or quarterly lists of new publications, or of being more pompously announced in the bookseller's advertisements. The lettered post alone, the immense column before the bookseller's shop, plastered with the
names of all the works sold within, informed the passing traveller, who was indolent enough to stop and examine it, that a new book had been given to the world.
But if there were some inconveniences to the author and his book in this state of things, there were also some advantages. If he could not expect that an ingenious literary friend should lift it into public favor by a cunning exposition of its latent merits, and an artful selection of fortunate passages, so neither could he apprehend that any ill-natured critic should injure its circulation, by caricaturing its defects, and making a bouquet of its absurdities and mistakes. Still less could he fear the machinations of any of those dexterous gentlemen, who, under color of reviewing a work, grow exceedingly learned by the aid of its contents, and ruin its sale entirely, by giving them to the public in a more concise and popular form
On the whole, those were happy times for the author of weak nerves or of doubtful merit. The troublesome race of pamphleteers who preceded the reviewers, and of whom the Grubstreet writers, in the reign of Queen Anne, are perhaps the most perfect specimen, had not then appeared--they were the spawn of a later age, and the plague of a more book-making generation. Nor did they pester any but the great, and those who had reputation enough to give notoriety and importance to the attacks made upon them, they were bull-dogs who fastened only on the largest and fattest of the herd. In the days of John of Nostradamus, the world must have been a sort of Elysium to the new author—the very fairy land of compliment. A thousand ill-natured things are said of a book that never come to the writer's ears ; but not one is printed which he does not read, and read too, let him pretend what he will, with some degree of emotion. In an age when criticism was not wont to deliver its oracles through the medium of the press, her voice must have been incredibly softened, when it addressed the author himself. The many civil things that well bred people would say to him about his book, the letters of his friends predisposed to regard it with a favorable judgment, and the smiles of the exalted personage to whom he had been permitted to dedicate it, would naturally seem to him the indications of public opinion, and fill his mind with a most delightful self-complacency. A very silly book might then be published, laughed at, and forgotten, while the author was all the while fancying himself a great benefactor to the world for having produced it. Even if he should be sensible of its passage to oblivion, he would, at least, have the melancholy satis.
faction of thinking that it died a natural death,-instead of seeing, as he must do at the present day, with all the agony of a parent at the destruction of his offspring, a crew of grim looking, hard-hearted ruffians, pouncing upon the sickly infant as soon as it is born, embruing their hands in its thin blood, and fairly murdering the poor thing in its swaddling clothes. Although the book should have been generally and decidedly condemned, he must have suffered much less from the expression of the public disapprobation than he would now do. What Chaucer calls the posterior trumpet of fame, would then have been sounded at a distance, and almost out of his hearing-at the present day, it is the fashion to blow it in his
very If John of Nostradamus, the writer of this little book, has been thus fortunate in his life-time, and for so many years after his death, it seems to us that the world is absolved from the obligation of all further forbearance, and we have therefore taken the liberty to make his work the subject of the present article. That he has even escaped so long, is owing probably to the great rarity of the book, the copies of which are extremely scarce. Nothing comes amiss to the thorough-bred reviewer, whatever may be its antiquity. He is an anatomist, who, from dissecting a carcass warm from the gallows, will turn to cut up a mummy from the catacombs of Egypt. Witness the great writers of former times, particularly those of foreign languages, whose repose, within a few years, has been troubled in this way with very little ceremony. We speak not now of the retrospective reviews, which drive a regular trade in the exhumation of buried literature, but of journals professedly devoted to the consideration of modern works. The fathers of German literature have been called from their tombs to furnish matter for many an article in the reviews. Petrarch, and Ariosto, and Tasso, with his venerable translator Fairfax, have been dragged from their slumbers to be made the subjects of critical discussion along with the writers of the day. The great Dante has not been suffered to sleep in his awful sepulchre ;—and shall the grave, and the lapse of two hundred and fifty years, protect John of Nostradamus, the humble procurator at the parliament of Provence, the laborious compiler of the biographies of greater men than himself?
The writer of this book was one who employed the intervals of a laborious profession in studying the old poets of his country, and in collecting the particulars of their lives from the Provensal biographers and putting them into barbarous