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creontic poem in praise of water, the sole beverage of the Greenlanders, and which is kept by them, according to Crantz, generally in copper vessels, and cooled from time to time with
ice or snow.
POETRY OF THE ESQUIMAUX.
The title of this article may, at the first flush, surprise some of our reading and not merely nominal readers. It is not very probable that the extremely novel little work before us has fallen into the hands of any of them. Messrs. Peabody & Co. believe that they are the sole possessors of a copy, on this side of the Atlantic; but, like other publishers, and other people, they are extremely liable to be mistaken; since the intercourse carried on over the waste of waters is nearly as miscellaneous as the flight of birds in the upper element. Before this notice may see the light of publicity, half a dozen other enterprising monthlies in this country may possibly get a copy of Professor Skallagrimston's work.* But it is doubtful. Messrs. Peabody & Co. are not inclined to believe it; and we feel as if we were treading, in some measure, on fresh and original, dew-bespangled, or rather frost-congealed ground.
Dr. Thorlief Glum Skallagrimston is well known to all who take any interest in, or have heard of, the proceedings of the “Foreign Missionary and Tract Society of Great Britain and Ireland," as the accomplished and able translator of the Gospels and a portion of the Apocrypha, into the language of the
universal Esquimaux nation.” We parody a phrase which has been bestowed on our eastern fellow-citizens, of which they have reason to be proud; and think that we do it legitimately. Whoever has been taught "geography and the use of the globes,” and will take the trouble to consider the nature of the arctic circle, and the contiguous portions of ice, water, and earth, must be satisfied that those who, from choice or necessity, live in such high latitudes, can easily find the ways and means of circumventing the pole, and be nearly as well off any-where, in the same parallel. The Esquimaux, or Iskimoes, (as Doctor Skallagrimston calls them, by way of un-frenchifying their genuine title,) seem to have been of this opinion; for they settled and squatted in nearly all the frozen
Specimens of the Poetry of the Iskimoes. don, 1832
Shaw, Smith & Scroggius. Lon
regions, except Captain Symmes's hole, the aspect of which, it seems, did not please them. But we are anticipating our extracts from Doctor Skallagrimston's selections, in which a curious reference is made to that aperture. The Esquimaux did make themselves a universal nation, by taking independent possession of all the ground they could find, which the occupants could not keep with the strong hand, in the extreme northern latitudes: and as the result of the exploration of all modern navigators has been that there is very little of it, perhaps they are more excusable than some other people.
We feel that we are writing in a sirain of levity, which may be thought misplaced. But it is impossible to refrain from smiling at the idea of poetic inspiration being kindled in regions where alcohol freezes; and natural wonder at the fact that such is the case, is accompanied, more or less, with amusing associations.
May our apology be accepted; and let us proceed with Dr. Thorlief Glum Skallagrimston's specimens of the poetical literature of the Esquimaux. We love his name, because it is hard to utter, and, being learned, is difficult to disremember, as we have heard certain of our countrymen say, when crossquestioned in courts. Next to Dr. Bowring, he is probably the most erudite man alive, in the languages of the northern regions of the globe; and he has made that of the Samoieds his favorite and particular study. By some cultivated English scholars, his metrical versions both from the Celtic and the Gothic poets are preferred to those of Dr. Bowring. And, if our opinion were of any recognized value, we should not hesitate to say that there is a sameness and a oneness about Bowring's translations, which makes less touching and effectual the joys and the woes of that kind of people who do not know each other from Adam; and who, moreover, are unapprised of the fact that Adam was their common father.
Not that they have been sophisticated, by reading Voltaire's Universal History; for they are innocent of knowing any letters; but that they have lost even the commonest and most universal of the early traditions. Still they are homoio-pathetical with the great family of man; while, as nations, they have idiosyncrasies which arise from circumstances, and give a definite and distinct character to the poetry of each tribe or people. Bowring makes them all sing to the same tune. They do not. The peculiarities of all the large human families which have ramified out from among the descendants of Shem, Ham, and
Japhet, are as distinctly marked in their poetry, as they are in their complexions and craniological features.
Dr. Skallagrimston is of Icelandic extraction, and of a very old and respectable Danish family in that island, of which the inhospitable nature of the climate is so strongly contrasted with the hospitable manners of the inhabitants. He has resided, however, in the vicinity of London, for the last ten years, dedicating his time and talents to the prosecution of his studies in the northern dialects. There is a daily beauty and respectable simplicity about his private life; while his philosophical researches have already done much to advance the great cause of learning, by illustrating the history of the past. He is the personal friend of the Rev. Egil Peter Geirson; with whose name some of our readers may be more familiar than with
Of sledge-borne heroes, o'er the cold bright waste,
Whom mighty dogs, rejoicing, drew to war,
Round where the unfathomed cave extends afar.
And saw new suns, and many a fiery star,
Wonderful are thy doings, Witch of Cold!
The frozen gossamer web that cuts the skin,
Substantial hills, the sea that boils within
Until the frost-smoke clears, and first the thin
Queen of the long long winter, when the sleep
Of living death is wrapped round bears and men!!
Well pleased with those I love my lowly den;
Or mark the bright moon shining now and then;
Now hath he gone--and ere the sacred feast
Again invites to his returning blaze, I'll sing the deeds of Karalit* at least,
If thou inspire and these repeat my lays.
Of giant conquerors in the olden days;
Who met the bearded Auaks, and defied
Their tusks, and smote with never-failing lance Neitsek and Neitsersoak,s that in their pride
Deemed the whole ocean their inheritance, Till the whole ocean with their blood was dyed
O'er the heaven-spanning ice-bridge dared advance, And now have joined the Gods in mimic wars, Or drive the devious foot-ball mid the stars.
From the brazen kettle bring
* Karalit; a name given to themselves by the Esquimaux.
† Kaiak; the smaller boat of the men of Greenland, “sharp at head and stern just like a weaver's shuttle, scarce a foot and a half broad in the broadest middle part, and hardly a foot deep."
| Auak; the sea-cow or walrus. "On both its lips, and on each side of its nose, is a kind of skin, a hand's-breadth, stuck with a plantation of bristles, that are a good span long and as thick as a straw; they are like a three-stranded cord, pellucid, and give the animal a majestic though a grim aspect.”—Crantz's History of Greenland.
Neitsek and Neitsersoak; two kinds of seals,—the latter the largest.
TO CORRESPONDENTS. The pigeon-holes of our cabinet are already lined with communications, and we cannot better keep them in order, than by at once distributing their contents under their respective heads of " accepted,” • rejected," and " for advisement," observing always, however, most religiously, the request, when made by correspondents, to bave their contributions passed over in silence.
To begin with grave subjects, we shall always be happy to have answered through our pages, any questions upon literature or antiquities, like that preferred by Celticus; and we regret that his own letter was not intended for publication. That important ground once occupied with so happy an effect by the London Gentleman's Magazine, when it was the medium through which men of taste, science, and literature, communicated with each other upon every class of subjects, has been so deserted by modern periodicals, that it may be necessary for us here to remind our readers, that we shall always be happy when they exchange their views with each other, as well as with the public, through our Magazine. In the meantime, though but little versed in the abstruse points of chronology, about which Celticus is so curious, we believe (upon the authority of Gillacoeman's list of the heathen monarchs of Ireland,) that the commencement of the Milesian monarchy was coincident with the reign of Solomon in the east. As to the period of time when the Irish language was fixed, it must be almost impossible to name it with any precision, when we recollect that according to the most received opinions of philologists—while many of the terms and all the construction of that ancient tongue, have been derived from early commerce with the Phænicians-it is composed from fewer Celtic dialects, than any other tongue among the continental Cells, and involves the remains of the primeval language of Europe.
Quevedo's “Resuscitations of forgotten Bards." is misnamed. Quivedo is a resurrection man, not a resuscitator, and he should recollect that reviewers dis. sect none but living subjects—a dead one is of no more use to them than to a recruiting officer.
“C," « Lake ERIE," and “Robin Hood's" article on Rifle Shooting are under consideration. We think we should like to hear from the author of the second in prose, We like the subject of the ihird, but it might have been handled better. R. H. should have consulted Col. Hawker's book for information, upon percussion locks, before attempting to decide upon the relative advantage between them and flint locks.' The idea of the action of the percussion powder depressing the piece, we believe is exploded.
“ The OBSERVATORY” shall appear in our next.
We like “ LJON" so much as to wish to keep him for the present in our menag. erie, but as yet do not know what use to make of him.
Hogan Mogan's “Vision” is received. But Hogan Mogan has forgotten that though a man may dream when he is asleep, yet he should always be awake when he relates his dreams. The poetical part, the Ode to Black Hawk particularly, he has imitated from Halleck's Marco Bozzaris. But such an imitation
-It is as flat and fulsome to our ears
As howling after musie.We sha!l be happy to hear from Inigo JONES, on “Domestic Architecture," though the want of room, of which he complains at large parties, might in some measure be remedied by the gentlemen entering into terms with the ladies, to give up carrying their hats into a ball-room, upon condition that their fair enemies will sacrifice so much of their sleeves as occupies an equal space in the crowd.
The lines signed Conrad will never do—they are too deep in the autumnal tint. What an opening.
" What life o'erhanging cloud, whose tearful showers
It is enough