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Atlantic Monthly, Volume 2, Issue 11, September, 1858 by Various

Part 5 out of 5

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persons in easy circumstances suffer much more from cold in
summer--that is, the warm half of the year--than in winter, or the
other half. You must cut your climate to your constitution, as much as
your clothing to your shape. After this, consult your taste and
convenience. But if you would be happy in Berkshire, you must carry
mountains in your brain; and if you would enjoy Nahant, you must have
an ocean in your soul. Nature plays at dominos with you; you must
match her piece, or she will never give it up to you.

----The schoolmistress said, in rather a mischievous way, that she was
afraid some minds or souls would be a little crowded, if they took in
the Rocky Mountains or the Atlantic.

Have you ever read the little book called "The Stars and the
Earth?"--said I.--Have you seen the Declaration of Independence
photographed in a surface that a fly's foot would cover? The forms or
conditions of Time and Space, as Kant will tell you, are nothing in
themselves,--only our way of looking at things. You are right, I
think, however, in recognizing the category of Space as being quite as
applicable to minds as to the outer world. Every man of reflection is
vaguely conscious of an imperfectly-defined circle which is drawn
about his intellect. He has a perfectly clear sense that the fragments
of his intellectual circle include the curves of many other minds of
which he is cognizant. He often recognizes those as manifestly
concentric with his own, but of less radius. On the other hand, when
we find a portion of an arc outside of our own, we say it _intersects_
ours, but are very slow to confess or to see that it _circumscribes_
it. Every now and then a man's mind is stretched by a new idea or
sensation, and never shrinks back to its former dimensions. After
looking at the Alps, I felt that my mind had been stretched beyond the
limits of its elasticity, and fitted so loosely on my old ideas of
space that I had to spread these to fit it.

----If I thought I should ever see the Alps!--said the schoolmistress.

Perhaps you will, some time or other,--I said.

It is not very likely,--she answered.--I have had one or two
opportunities, but I had rather be anything than governess in a rich
family.

Proud, too, you little soft-voiced woman! Well, I can't say I like you
any the worse for it. How long will schoolkeeping take to kill you? Is
it possible the poor thing works with her needle, too? I don't like
those marks on the side of her forefinger.

_Tableau_. Chamouni. Mont Blanc in full view. Figures in the
foreground; two of them standing apart; one of them a gentleman
of----oh,--ah,--yes! the other a lady in a white cashmere, leaning on
his shoulder.--The ingenuous reader will understand that this was an
internal, private, personal, subjective diorama, seen for one instant
on the background of my own consciousness, and abolished into black
non-entity by the first question which recalled me to actual life, as
suddenly as if one of those iron shop-blinds (which I always pass at
dusk with a shiver, expecting to stumble over some poor but honest
shop-boy's head, just taken off by its sudden and unexpected descent,
and left outside upon the sidewalk) had come down "by the run."

----Should you like to hear what moderate wishes life brings one to at
last? I used to be very ambitious,--wasteful, extravagant, and
luxurious in all my fancies. Head too much in the "Arabian Nights."
Must have the lamp,--couldn't do without the ring. Exercise every
morning on the brazen horse. Plump down into castles as full of little
milk-white princesses as a nest is of young sparrows. All love me
dearly at once.--Charming idea of life, but too high-colored for the
reality. I have outgrown all this; my tastes have become exceedingly
primitive,--almost, perhaps, ascetic. We carry happiness into our
condition, but must not hope to find it there. I think you will be
willing to hear some lines which embody the subdued and limited
desires of my maturity.

CONTENTMENT.

"Man wants but little here below."

Little I ask; my wants are few;
I only wish a hut of stone,
(A _very plain_ brown stone will do,)
That I may call my own:--
And close at hand is such a one,
In yonder street that fronts the sun.

Plain food is quite enough for me;
Three courses are as good as ten;--
If Nature can subsist on three,
Thank Heaven for three. Amen!
I always thought cold victual nice;--
My _choice_ would be vanilla-ice.

I care not much for gold or land;--
Give me a mortgage here and there,--
Some good bank-stock,--some note of hand,
Or trifling railroad share;--
I only ask that Fortune send
A _little_ more than I shall spend.

Honors are silly toys, I know,
And titles are but empty names;--
I would, _perhaps_, be Plenipo,--
But only near St. James;--
I'm very sure I should not care
To fill our Gubernator's chair.

Jewels are baubles; 'tis a sin
To care for such unfruitful things;--
One good-sized diamond in a pin,--
Some, _not so large_, in rings,--
A ruby, and a pearl, or so,
Will do for me;--I laugh at show.

My dame should dress in cheap attire;
(Good, heavy silks are never dear;)--
I own perhaps I _might_ desire
Some shawls of true cashmere,--
Some marrowy crapes of China silk,
Like wrinkled skins on scalded milk.

I would not have the horse I drive
So fast that folks must stop and stare;
An easy gait--two, forty-five--
Suits me; I do not care;--
Perhaps, for just a _single spurt_,
Some seconds less would do no hurt.

Of pictures, I should like to own
Titians and Raphaels three or four,--
I love so much their style and tone,--
One Turner, and no more
(A landscape,--foreground golden dirt;
The sunshine painted with a squirt).

Of books but few,--some fifty score
For daily use, and bound for wear;
The rest upon an upper floor;--
Some _little_ luxury _there_
Of red morocco's gilded gleam,
And vellum rich as country cream.

Busts, cameos, gems,--such things as these,
Which others often show for pride,
_I_ value for their power to please,
And selfish churls deride;--
_One_ Stradivarius, I confess,
_Two_ Meerschaums, I would fain possess.

Wealth's wasteful tricks I will not learn,
Nor ape the glittering upstart fool;--
Shall not carved tables serve my turn,
But _all_ must be of buhl?
Give grasping pomp its double share,--
I ask but _one_ recumbent chair.

Thus humble let me live and die,
Nor long for Midas' golden touch;
If Heaven more generous gifts deny,
I shall not miss them _much_.--
Too grateful for the blessing lent
Of simple tastes and mind content!

MY LAST WALK WITH THE SCHOOLMISTRESS.

(_A Parenthesis_.)

I can't say just how many walks she and I had taken together before
this one. I found the effect of going out every morning was decidedly
favorable on her health. Two pleasing dimples, the places for which
were just marked when she came, played, shadowy, in her freshening
cheeks when she smiled and nodded good-morning to me from the
schoolhouse-steps.

I am afraid I did the greater part of the talking. At any rate, if I
should try to report all that I said during the first half-dozen walks
we took together, I fear that I might receive a gentle hint from my
friends the publishers, that a separate volume, at my own risk and
expense, would be the proper method of bringing them before the
public.

--I would have a woman as true as Death. At the first real lie which
works from the heart outward, she should be tenderly chloroformed into
a better world, where she can have an angel for a governess, and feed
on strange fruits which will make her all over again, even to her
bones and marrow.--Whether gifted with the accident of beauty or not,
she should have been moulded in the rose-red clay of Love, before the
breath of life made a moving mortal of her. Love-capacity is a
congenital endowment; and I think, after a while, one gets to know the
warm-hued natures it belongs to from the pretty pipe-clay counterfeits
of it.--Proud she may be, in the sense of respecting herself; but
pride, in the sense of contemning others less gifted than herself,
deserves the two lowest circles of a vulgar woman's Inferno, where the
punishments are Small-pox and Bankruptcy.--She who nips off the end of
a brittle courtesy, as one breaks the tip of an icicle, to bestow upon
those whom she ought cordially and kindly to recognize, proclaims the
fact that she comes not merely of low blood, but of bad blood.
Consciousness of unquestioned position makes people gracious in proper
measure to all; but if a woman puts on airs with her real equals, she
has something about herself or her family she is ashamed of, or ought
to be. Middle, and more than middle-aged people, who know family
histories, generally see through it. An official of standing was rude
to me once. Oh, that is the maternal grandfather,--said a wise old
friend to me,--he was a boor.--Better too few words, from the woman we
love, than too many: while she is silent, Nature is working for her;
while she talks, she is working for herself.--Love is sparingly
soluble in the words of men; therefore they speak much of it; but one
syllable of woman's speech can dissolve more of it than a man's heart
can hold.

--Whether I said any or all of these things to the schoolmistress, or
not,--whether I stole them out of Lord Bacon,--whether I cribbed them
from Balzac,--whether I dipped them from the ocean of Tupperian
wisdom,--or whether I have just found them in my head, laid there by
that solemn fowl, Experience, (who, according to my observation,
cackles oftener than she drops real live eggs,) I cannot say. Wise men
have said more foolish things,--and foolish men, I don't doubt, have
said as wise things. Anyhow, the schoolmistress and I had pleasant
walks and long talks, all of which I do not feel bound to report.

--You are a stranger to me, Ma'am.--I don't doubt you would like to
know all I said to the schoolmistress.--I sha'n't do it;--I had rather
get the publishers to return the money you have invested in this.
Besides, I have forgotten a good deal of it. I shall tell only what I
like of what I remember.

--My idea was, in the first place, to search out the picturesque spots
which the city affords a sight of, to those who have eyes. I know a
good many, and it was a pleasure to look at them in company with my
young friend. There were the shrubs and flowers in the Franklin-Place
front-yards or borders; Commerce is just putting his granite foot upon
them. Then there are certain small seraglio-gardens, into which one
can get a peep through the crevices of high fences,--one in Myrtle
Street, or backing on it,--here and there one at the North and South
Ends. Then the great elms in Essex Street Then the stately
horse-chestnuts in that vacant lot in Chambers Street, which hold
their outspread hands over your head, (as I said in my poem the other
day,) and look as if they were whispering, "May grace, mercy, and
peace be with you!"--and the rest of that benediction. Nay, there are
certain patches of ground, which, having lain neglected for a time,
Nature, who always has her pockets full of seeds, and holes in all her
pockets, has covered with hungry plebeian growths, which fight for
life with each other, until some of them get broad-leaved and
succulent, and you have a coarse vegetable tapestry which Raphael
would not have disdained to spread over the foreground of his
masterpiece. The Professor pretends that he found such a one in
Charles Street, which, in its dare-devil impudence of rough-and-tumble
vegetation, beat the pretty-behaved flower-beds of the Public Garden
as ignominiously as a group of young tatterdemalions playing
pitch-and-toss beats a row of Sunday-school-boys with their teacher at
their head.

But then the Professor has one of his burrows in that region, and puts
everything in high colors relating to it. That is his way about
everything.--I hold any man cheap,--he said,--of whom nothing stronger
can be uttered than that all his geese are swans.----How is that,
Professor?--said I;--I should have set you down for one of that
sort.--Sir,--said he,--I am proud to say, that Nature has so far
enriched me, that I cannot own so much as a _duck_ without seeing in
it as pretty a swan as ever swam the basin in the garden of the
Luxembourg. And the Professor showed the whites of his eyes devoutly,
like one returning thanks after a dinner of many courses.

I don't know anything sweeter than this leaking in of Nature through
all the cracks in the walls and floors of cities. You heap up a
million tons of hewn rocks on a square mile or two of earth which was
green once. The trees look down from the hill-sides and ask each
other, as they stand on tiptoe,--"What are these people about?" And
the small herbs at their feet look up and whisper back,--"We will go
and see." So the small herbs pack themselves up in the least possible
bundles, and wait until the wind steals to them at night and
whispers,--"Come with me." Then they go softly with it into the great
city,--one to a cleft in the pavement, one to a spout on the roof, one
to a seam in the marbles over a rich gentleman's bones, and one to the
grave without a stone where nothing but a man is buried,--and there
they grow, looking down on the generations of men from mouldy roofs,
looking up from between the less-trodden pavements, looking out
through iron cemetery-railings. Listen to them, when there is only a
light breath stirring, and you will hear them saying to each
other,--"Wait awhile!" The words run along the telegraph of those
narrow green lines that border the roads leading from the city, until
they reach the slope of the hills, and the trees repeat in low murmurs
to each other,--"Wait awhile!" By-and-by the flow of life in the
streets ebbs, and the old leafy inhabitants--the smaller tribes always
in front--saunter in, one by one, very careless seemingly, but very
tenacious, until they swarm so that the great stones gape from each
other with the crowding of their roots, and the feldspar begins to be
picked out of the granite to find them food. At last the trees take up
their solemn line of march, and never rest until they have encamped in
the market-place. Wait long enough and you will find an old doting oak
hugging a huge worn block in its yellow underground arms; that was the
corner-stone of the State-House. Oh, so patient she is, this
imperturbable Nature!

--Let us cry!--

But all this has nothing to do with my walks and talks with the
schoolmistress. I did not say that I would not tell you something
about them. Let me alone, and I shall talk to you more than I ought
to, probably. We never tell our secrets to people that pump for them.

Books we talked about, and education. It was her duty to know
something of these, and of course she did. Perhaps I was somewhat more
learned than she, but I found that the difference between her reading
and mine was like that of a man's and a woman's dusting a library. The
man flaps about with a bunch of feathers; the woman goes to work
softly with a cloth. She does not raise half the dust, nor fill her
own eyes and mouth with it,--but she goes into all the corners, and
attends to the leaves as much as the covers.--Books are the _negative_
pictures of thought, and the more sensitive the mind that receives
their images, the more nicely the finest lines are reproduced. A
woman, (of the right kind,) reading after a man, follows him as Ruth
followed the reapers of Boaz, and her gleanings are often the finest
of the wheat.

But it was in talking of Life that we came most nearly together. I
thought I knew something about that,--that I could speak or write
about it somewhat to the purpose.

To take up this fluid earthly being of ours as a sponge sucks up
water,--to be steeped and soaked in its realities as a hide fills its
pores lying seven years in a tan-pit,--to have winnowed every wave of
it as a mill-wheel works up the stream that runs through the flume
upon its float-boards,--to have curled up in the keenest spasms and
flattened out in the laxest languors of this breathing-sickness, which
keeps certain parcels of matter uneasy for three or four score
years,--to have fought all the devils and clasped all the angels of
its delirium,--and then, just at the point when the white-hot passions
have cooled down to cherry-red, plunge our experience into the
ice-cold stream of some human language or other, one might think would
end in a rhapsody with something of spring and temper in it. All this
I thought my power and province.

The schoolmistress had tried life, too. Once in a while one meets with
a single soul greater than all the living pageant that passes before
it. As the pale astronomer sits in his study with sunken eyes and thin
fingers, and weighs Uranus or Neptune as in a balance, so there are
meek, slight women who have weighed all that this planetary life can
offer, and told it like a bauble in the palm of their slender hands.
This was one of them. Fortune had left her, sorrow had baptized her;
the routine of labor and the loneliness of almost friendless city-life
were before her. Yet, as I looked upon her tranquil face, gradually
regaining a cheerfulness that was often sprightly, as she became
interested in the various matters we talked about and places we
visited, I saw that eye and lip and every shifting lineament were made
for love,--unconscious of their sweet office as yet, and meeting the
cold aspect of Duty with the natural graces which were meant for the
reward of nothing less than the Great Passion.

----I never spoke one word of love to the schoolmistress in the course
of these pleasant walks. It seemed to me that we talked of everything
but love on that particular morning. There was, perhaps, a little more
timidity and hesitancy on my part than I have commonly shown among our
people at the boarding-house. In fact, I considered myself the master
at the breakfast-table; but, somehow, I could not command myself just
then so well as usual. The truth is, I had secured a passage to
Liverpool in the steamer which was to leave at noon,--with the
condition, however, of being released in case circumstances occurred
to detain me. The schoolmistress knew nothing about all this, of
course, as yet.

It was on the Common that we were walking. The _mall_, or boulevard of
our Common, you know, has various branches leading from it in
different directions. One of these runs downward from opposite Joy
Street southward across the whole length of the Common to Boylston
Street. We called it the long path, and were fond of it.

I felt very weak indeed (though of a tolerably robust habit) as we
came opposite the head of this path on that morning. I think I tried
to speak twice without making myself distinctly audible. At last I got
out the question,----Will you take the long path with me?--
Certainly,--said the schoolmistress,--with much pleasure.----Think,--I
said,--before you answer; if you take the long path with me now, I
shall interpret it that we are to part no more!----The schoolmistress
stepped back with a sudden movement, as if an arrow had struck her.
One of the long granite blocks used as seats was hard by,--the one you
may still see close by the Gingko-tree.----Pray, sit down,--I
said.----No, no,--she answered, softly,--I will walk the _long path_
with you!

----The old gentleman who sits opposite met us walking, arm in arm,
about the middle of the long path, and said, very charmingly,--"Good
morning, my dears!"

LITERARY NOTICES.

_The Life of John Fitch, the Inventor of the Steamboat_. By THOMPSON
WESTCOTT. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co.

What would not honest Sancho have given for a good biography of the
man who invented sleep? And will not the adventurous pleasure-tourist,
who has been jarred, jammed, roasted, coddled, and suffocated in a
railroad-car for a whole night, with two days to sandwich it, on being
deposited in an airy stateroom for the last two hundred miles of his
journey, think the man who invented the steamboat deserving of a
"first-rate" life? We well remember the time when nobody suspected
that person, whoever he might be,--and nobody much cared who he
was,--of any relationship to the individual whose memory Sancho
blessed, so great was the churning in the palaces that then floated.
But in our present boats this unpalace-like operation has been so
localized and mollified as to escape the notice of all but the
greenest and most inquisitive passengers. And now that we find the
luxury of travelling by water actually superior to that of staying at
home on land, we begin to feel a budding veneration for the man who
first found out that steam could be substituted, with such marvellous
advantage, for helpless dependence on the wind and miserable tugging
at oars and setting-poles. Who was he? What circumstances conspired to
shape his life and project it with so notable an aim? How did he look,
act, think, on all matters of human concernment? Here comes a book,
assuming in its title that one John Fitch, of whom his generation
seems not to have thought enough to paint his portrait, was the
inventor of the steamboat. It professes to be "The Life of John
Fitch"; but we are sorry to say it is rather a documentary argument to
prove that he was "the inventor of the steamboat." As an argument, it
is both needless and needlessly strong. We already knew to a certainty
that nobody could present a better claim to that honor than John
Fitch. True, the _idea_ did not wait for him. The engine could not
have been working a hundred years in the world without giving birth to
that. But till Watt invented it anew in 1782, by admitting the steam
alternately at both ends of the cylinder, it was too awkward and
clumsy to become a practical navigator. Moreover, though it could pump
admirably, it had not been taught to turn a crank. The French assert,
that experiments in steam-propulsion were made on the Seine, by Count
Auxiron and Perrier, in 1774, and on the Saone, by De Jouffroy, in
1782; but we know they led to no practical results, and the knowledge
of them probably did not, for some years, travel beyond the limits of
the French language. There is no satisfactory evidence that a boat was
ever moved by steam, within the boundaries of Anglo-Saxondom, before
John Fitch did it, on the 27th of July, 1786. His successful and every
way brilliant experiment on that occasion led directly to practical
results,--to wit, the formation of a company, embracing some of the
foremost men of Philadelphia, which built a small steam-packet for the
conveyance of passengers, and ran it during three summers, ending with
that of 1790. The company then failed, and broke poor Fitch's heart,
simply because the investment had not thus far proved lucrative, and
they were unwilling to make the further advances requisite to carry
out his moderate and reasonable plans. The only person who ever
claimed, in English, to have made a steamboat experiment before Fitch,
was James Rumsey, of Virginia, who, in 1788, published some testimony
to show that he had done it as early as April, 1786, that he had
broached the idea, _confidentially_, two years earlier, and that Fitch
_might_ have received it from one who violated his confidence. Fitch
promptly annihilated these pretences by a pamphlet, a reprint of which
maybe found in the Patent-Office Report for 1850. This, and a
contribution to Sparks's "American Biography," by Col. Charles
Whittlesey, of Ohio, seem quite sufficient to establish the historical
fact that John Fitch was the father of steam-navigation, whoever may
have been its prophets. Though the infant, with the royal blood of
both Neptune and Pluto in its veins, and a brand-new empire waiting to
crown it, fell into a seventeen years' swoon, during which Fitch died,
and the public at large forgot all that he had ever said or done, its
life did not become extinct. It was not created, but revived, by
Fulton, aided by the refreshing effusion of Chancellor Livingston's
money. We did not need a new book to make us more certain of these
facts, but we did need a more thorough biography of John Fitch, and,
with great respect for the industry and faithfulness of Mr. Westcott,
it is our opinion that we do still. He has demonstrated that the
materials for such a work are abundant, and a glance at the mortal
career of Fitch will show him to be an uncommonly interesting subject.

John Fitch was born in Windsor, Connecticut, in 1743. At the age of
five, while his father was absent from home, courting his stepmother,
he heroically extinguished a fire of blazing flax, which would
otherwise have consumed the house, and while he was smarting from his
burns was cruelly beaten by an elder brother, who misapprehended the
case of the little boy, very much as the world did that of the man he
became. The domestic discipline he encountered under the paternal roof
was of the severest New England pattern of those days, and between its
theology and its economy he grew out of shape, like a thrifty pumpkin
between two rocks. He loved to learn, but had few books and little
schooling. His taste tended to mechanism, and he was apprenticed to a
stingy clock-maker, who obliged him to work on his farm and kept him
ignorant of his trade. Getting his liberty at last, he set up
brass-founding, on a capital of twenty shillings, and made money at
it. Then he went into the manufacture of potash, in which he was less
successful. He married a wife who proved more caustic than the potash
and more than a match for his patience. He settled his affairs so as
to leave her all his little property in the most manageable shape, and
left her with two children, to seek a separate fortune in the wide
world. The war of the Revolution found him at Trenton, New Jersey, a
man of some substance, acquired as a silversmith and peddler of silver
and brass sleeve-buttons of his own manufacture. It made him an
officer and then an armorer in the Continental service. As a
fabricator of patriotic weapons, he incurred the displeasure of his
Methodist brethren by working on the Sabbath, and lost his orthodoxy
in his disgust at their rebukes. Towards the close of the Revolution,
getting poor in fact by getting rich in Continental money, he
endeavored to save himself by investing in Virginia land-warrants,
went to Kentucky as a surveyor, and became possessed of sixteen
hundred acres of that wilderness. On a second expedition down the
Ohio, early in 1782, he fell into the hands of the savages, in the
most melodramatic style, was led captive through the vast forests and
swamps to Detroit, had a very characteristic and remarkable
prison-experience under British authority at Prison Island, was
exchanged, and by a sea-voyage reached his home in Bucks County,
Pennsylvania, at the close of the same year. Immediately after the
establishment of peace, he formed a company to speculate in Ohio
lands, and made extensive surveys for the purpose of forestalling the
best locations. Mr. Westcott's book confuses this portion of his
chronology by misprinting two or three dates, on the 113th page. The
hopeful game was spoiled by unexpected measures of the Confederated
government; but Fitch's explorations had deeply impressed him with the
sublime character of the Western rivers, and when, in April, 1785, the
thought first struck him that steam could easily make them navigable
upwards as well as downwards, he cared no more for lands. He had
noticed the mechanical power of steam, but had never seen an engine,
and did not know that one existed out of his own brain. This is the
less wonderful, seeing there were only three then in America, and his
science extended only to arithmetic. When his minister showed him a
drawing of Newcomen's engine, in "Martin's Philosophy," he was
chagrined to find that his invention had been anticipated in regard to
the mode of producing the power, but he was confirmed in his belief of
its availability for navigation. With no better resources than a
blacksmith's shop could furnish, he set himself at work to make a
steam-engine to test his theory. His success is one of those wonders
of human ingenuity struggling with difficulties, moral, financial, and
physical combined, which deserve both a Homer and a Macaulay to
celebrate and record them. He was supposed by most people, and almost
by himself, to have gone crazy. If anything, at this day, is more
incredible than the feat which he accomplished, it is the derision
with which the public viewed his labors, decried his success, and
sneered at the rags which betokened the honesty of his poverty. To
every one who had brains capable of logic, he had demonstrated the
feasibility of his visions. But no amount of even physical
demonstration, then possible, could bring out the funds requisite to
pecuniary profit, against the head-wind of public scorn. It whistled
down his high hopes of fortune. At last, dropping the file and the
hammer, he took the pen, determined, that, if others must get rich by
his invention, he would at least save for himself the fame of it. The
result of his literary labors was an autobiography of great frankness
and detail, extending to several hundred pages, and embracing almost
every conceivable violation of standard English orthography, with
which he seems to have had very little acquaintance or sympathy. It
was placed under seal in the Philadelphia Library, not to be opened
for thirty years. At the expiration of that period, in 1823, the seal
was broken, and the quaint old manuscript, with the stamp of honest
truth on every word, stood ready to reveal what the world is but just
beginning to "want to know" about John Fitch. He afterwards went to
Europe to promote his steamboat interests,--to little purpose,
--wandered about a few years, settled in Bardstown, Kentucky,
made a model steamboat with a brass engine, drowned disappointment in
the drink of that country, and at last departed by his own will, two
years before the close of the last century. A life so full of truth
that is stranger than fiction ought not to be treated in the
Dry-as-dust style, quite so largely as Mr. Westcott has done it.

* * * * *

_Life Beneath the Waters; or, The Aquarium in America_. Illustrated by
Plates and Wood-Cuts drawn from Life. By ARTHUR M. EDWARDS. New York:
1858.

This book has appeared since the notice in our July number of two
English works on the Aquarium. Like so many books by which our
literature is discredited, it is a work got up hastily to meet a
public demand, and is deficient in method, thoroughness, and accuracy.
There is much repetition in it, and the observations of its author
seem to have been limited to the waters around New York, and to have
extended over but a short period. In spite of these and other minor
defects, it may be recommended as containing much useful information
for those just beginning an aquarium and forming an acquaintance with
the sea.

We trust that a misprint in our former notice has not brought
disappointment to any of our readers, by leading them to expose their
aquaria to too much sunshine; for the sunshine should be "_not_
enough" (and not, as it was printed, "_hot_ enough") "to raise the
water to a temperature above that of the outer air."

* * * * *

_The Exiles of Florida: or the Crimes committed by our Government
against the Maroons, who fled from South Carolina and other Slave
States, seeking Protection under Spanish Laws_. By JOSHUA R. GIDDINGS.
Columbus, Ohio: Follett, Foster, & Co. 1858.

A cruel story this, Mr. Giddings tells us. Too cruel, but too true. It
is full of pathetic and tragic interest, and melts and stirs the heart
at once with pity for the sufferers, and with anger, that sins not, at
their mean and ruthless oppressors. Every American citizen should read
it; for it is an indictment which recites crimes which have been
committed in his name, perpetrated by troops and officials in his
service, and all done at his expense. The whole nation is responsible
at the bar of the world and before the tribunal of posterity for these
atrocities, devised by members of its Cabinet and its Congress,
directed by its Presidents, and executed by its armies and its courts.
The cruelties of Alva in the Netherlands, which make the pen of Motley
glow as with fire as he tells them, the _dragonnades_ which scorched
over the fairest regions of France after the Revocation of the Edict
of Nantes, have a certain excuse, as being instigated by a sincere,
though misguided religious zeal. For Philip II. and Louis XIV. had, at
least, a fanatical belief that they were doing God service by those
holocausts of his children; while no motive inspired these massacres,
tortures, and banishments, but the most sordid rapacity and avarice,
the lowest and basest passions of the human breast.

And so carefully has the truth of this story been covered up with
lies, that, probably, very few indeed of the people of the Free States
have any just idea of the origin, character, and purposes of the
Seminole Wars, or of the character of the race against which they were
waged. And yet there is no episode in American history more full of
romantic interest, of heroic struggles, and of moving griefs. We have
been taught to believe that these wars were provoked by incursions of
the savages of Florida on the frontier, and, if the truth could not be
concealed, that an incidental motive of our war of extermination
against them was to be found in the sanctuary which the fugitive
slaves of the neighboring States found in their fastnesses. The
general impression has been, that these were mainly runaways of recent
date, who had made their escape from contemporary masters. How many of
our readers know that for more than three quarters of a century before
the purchase of Florida there had been a nation of negroes established
there, enjoying the wild freedom they loved, mingling and gradually
becoming identified with the Indians, who had made it their city of
refuge from slavery also? For the slaveholders of Carolina had no
scruples against enslaving Indians any more than Africans, until it
was discovered that the untamable nature of the red man made him an
unprofitable and a dangerous servant. These Indian slaves fled into
the wilderness, which is now the State of Georgia, pushing their way
even to the peninsula of Florida, and were followed, in their flight
and to their asylum, by many of their black companions in bondage. For
near seventy-five years this little nation lived happy and contented,
till the State of Georgia commenced the series of piratical incursions
into their country, then a Spanish dependency, from which they were
never afterwards free; the nation at last taking up the slaveholders'
quarrel and prosecuting it to the bitter and bloody end.

This whole story is told, and well told, by Mr. Giddings. And a most
touching picture it is. First, the original evasion of the slaves into
that peninsular wilderness, which they reclaimed as far as the supply
of their simple wants demanded. They planted, they hunted, they
multiplied their cattle, they intermarried with their Indian friends
and allies, their children and their children's children grew up
around them, knowing of slavery only by traditionary legend. The
original founders of the tribe passed away, and their sons and
grandsons possessed their corn-fields and their hunting-grounds in
peace. For many years no fears disturbed their security. Under the
Spanish rule they were safe and happy. Then comes the gradual
gathering of the cloud on the edges of their wilderness, its first
fitful and irregular flashes, till it closes over their heads and
bursts upon them in universal ruin and devastation. Their heroic
resistance to the invasion of the United States troops follows,
sublime from its very desperation. A more unequal contest was never
fought. On one side one of the mightiest powers on earth, with endless
stores of men and money at its beck,--and on the other a handful of
outcasts fighting for their homes, and the liberties, in no
metaphorical sense, of themselves, their wives, and their children,
and protracting the fight for as many years as the American Revolution
lasted.

Then succeeded the victory of Slavery, and the reduction to hopeless
bondage of multitudes who had been for generations free, on claim of
pretended descendants of imaginary owners, by the decision of petty
government-officials, without trial or real examination. More than
five hundred persons, some of them recent fugitives, but mostly men
born free, were thus reduced to slavery at a cost to us all of forty
millions of dollars, or eighty thousand dollars for each recovered
slave! Then comes their removal to the Cherokee lands, west of
Arkansas, under the pledge of the faith of the nation, plighted by
General Jessup, its authorized agent, that they should be sent to the
West, and settled in a village separate from the Seminole Indians, and
that, in the mean time, they should be protected, should not be
separated, "nor any of them be sold to white men or others." This,
however, was not a legitimate issue of a war waged solely for the
reduction of these exiles to slavery; and so the doubts of President
Polk as to the construction of this treaty were solved by Mr. John Y.
Mason, of Virginia, who was sandwiched in between two Free-State
Attorney-Generals for this single piece of dirty work, (of which
transaction see a most curious account, pp. 328-9 of this book,) and
who enlightened the Presidential mind by the information, that, though
the exiles were entitled to their freedom, under the treaty, and had a
right to remain in the towns assigned to them, "the Executive _could
not in any manner interfere to protect them_!"

The bordering Creeks, who by long slave-holding had sunk to the level
of the whites around them, longed to seize on these valuable
neighbors, and, indeed, they claimed rights of property in them as
fugitives in fact from themselves. The exiles were assured by the
President that they "_had the right to remain in their villages, free
from all interference or interruption from the Creeks_." Trusting to
the plighted word of the Head of the Nation, they built their huts and
planted their ground, and began again their little industries and
enjoyments.

But the sight of so many able-bodied negroes, belonging only to
themselves, and setting an evil example to the slaves in the spectacle
of an independent colony of blacks, was too tempting and too
irritating to be resisted. A slave-dealer appeared amongst the Creeks
and offered to pay one hundred dollars for every Floridian exile they
would seize and deliver to him,--he taking the risk of the title. Two
hundred armed Creek warriors made a foray into the colony and seized
all they could secure. They were repulsed, but carried their prisoners
with them and delivered them to the tempter, receiving the stipulated
pieces of silver for their reward. The Seminole agent had the
prisoners brought before the nearest Arkansas judge by Habeas Corpus,
and the whole matter was reviewed by this infamous magistrate, who
overruled the opinion of the Attorney-General as to their right to
reside in their villages, overrode the decision of the President,
repealed the treaty-stipulations, pronounced the title of the Creek
Indians, and consequently that of their vendee, legal and perfect, and
directed the kidnapped captives to be delivered up to the claimant! We
regret that Mr. Giddings has omitted the name of this wretch, and we
hope that in a future edition he will tell the world how to catalogue
this choice specimen in its collection of judicial monsters.

Then comes the last scene of this drama of exile. Finding that there
was no rest for the sole of their foot in the United States, these
peeled and hunted men resolved to turn their backs upon the country
that had thus cruelly entreated them, and to seek a new home within
the frontiers of Mexico. The sad procession began its march westward
by night, the warriors keeping themselves always in readiness for an
attack. The Creeks, finding that their prey had escaped them, went in
pursuit, but were bravely repulsed and fled, leaving their dead upon
the field,--the greatest disgrace that can befall, according to the
code of Indian honor. The exiles then pursued their march into Mexico
without further molestation. There, in a fertile and picturesque
region, they have established themselves and resumed the pursuits of
peaceful life. But they have not been permitted to live in peace even
there. At least one marauding party, in 1853, was organized in Texas,
and went in search of adventures towards the new settlement. Of the
particulars of the expedition we have no account. Only, it is known
that it returned without captives, and, as the Texan papers announcing
the fact admitted, "_with slightly diminished numbers_." How long they
will be permitted to dwell unmolested in their new homes no one can
say. Complaints are already abroad that the escape of slaves is
promoted by the existence of this colony, which receives and protects
them. And when the Government shall be ordered by its Slave-holding
Directory to add another portion of Mexico to the Area of Freedom,
these "outrages" will be sure to be found in the catalogue of
grievances to be redressed. Then they will have to dislodge again and
fly yet farther from before the face of their hereditary oppressors.

Mr. Giddings has done his task admirably well. It is worthy to be the
crowning work of his long life of public service. His style is of that
best kind which is never remarked upon, but serves as a clear medium
through which the events he portrays are seen without distortion or
exaggeration. He has done his country one more service in entire
consistency with those that have filled up the whole course of his
honorable and beneficent life. We have said that this is fit to be the
crowning work of Mr. Giddings's life; but we trust that it is far from
being the last that he will do for his country. A winter such as
rounds his days is fuller of life and promise than a century of vulgar
summers. He has won for himself an honorable and enduring place in the
hearts and memories of men by the fidelity to principle and the
unfaltering courage of his public course. Of the ignoble hundreds who
have flitted through the Capitol, since he first took his place there,

"Heads without name, no more remembered,"

his is one of the two or three that are household words on the lips of
the nation. And it will so remain and be familiar in the mouths of
posterity, with a fame as pure as it is noble. The ear that hath _not_
heard him shall bless him, and the eye that hath _not_ seen him shall
give witness to him.

* * * * *

OBITUARY.

The conductors of "The Atlantic" have the painful duty of announcing
to their readers the death of CALVIN W. PHILLEO, author of "Akin by
Marriage," published in the earlier numbers of this magazine. The plot
of the story was sketched at length, and in the brain of the writer it
was complete; but no hand save his own could give it life and form: it
must remain an unfinished work. The mind of Mr. Philleo was singularly
clear, his observation of nature and character sharp and
discriminating, and his feeling for beauty, in its more placid forms,
was intense and pervading. His previous work, "Twice Married," and the
various sketches of New England life, with which the readers of
magazine literature are familiar, are sufficient to give him a high
place among novelists. He was warm in his friendships, pure in life,
and his early death will be lamented by a wide circle of friends. _In
pace!_

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