Page images
PDF
EPUB

of that fairy foot, that trembles in very ecstasy. Now she trips along, with a soft music in her step, like the small rain of an April shower, just heard in the still evening, as it patters upon the bosom of a quiet lake. A sylph might acknowledge that graceful step. You who now gaze in silent wonder upon that airy form, are searching for the wings which you could swear gave their aid to that last elastic flight, which seemed to bear her figure into mid-air! But words are dull - prose is flat, tame, common-place-and, in the rapture of our admiration, we cannot do less than herald her a sylph at once; and devoutly do we believe in her consanguinity, at least, to that airy people : for are not her attributes those which Beranger declares belong to those beings of the air? Audita utraque parte judicia!

Oui, vous naissez au sein des roses,

Fils de l'Aurore et des Zephyrs :
Vos brillantes métamorphoses

Sont le sécret de nos plaisirs.
D'un souffle vous séchez nos larmes ;

Vous épurez l'azur des cieux:
Jen crois ma Sylphide et ses charmes

Sylphes légers, soyez mes dieux.
• J'ai dévine son origine,

Lorsqu'au bal, ou dans un banquet,
J'ai vu sa parure enfantine

Plaire par ce qui lui manquait;
Ruban perdu, boucle défaite;

Elle était bien, la voila mieux.
C'est de vos sours la plus parfaite,

Sylphes légers, soyez mes dieux.
"Que de grace en elle font naître,

Vos caprices toujours si doux !
C'est un enfant gaté peut-être,

Mais un enfant gaté par vous.
J'ai vu, sons un air de paresse,

L'amour réveur peint dans ses youx.
Vous qui protégez la tendresse,

Sylphes légers, soyez mes dieux.
Mais son aimable enfantillage

Cache un esprit aussi brillant
Que tous les songes qu'au bel âge

Vous nous apportez en riant.
Du sein de vives étincelles,

Son vol m'élérait jusqu'aux cieux ;
Vous dont elle empruntait les ailes,

Sylphes légers, soyez mes dieux.

[ocr errors]

Editors' DRAWER. But three moons have waxed and waned, since our drawer made a clean breast of it,' and disgorged its entire contents; but lo! it is again full, insomuch that it runneth over with a superflux. Let us again address ourselves to an examination of the claims of patient expectants.

The author of 'New-York and New-England,' in a late number of this Magazine, little knows what a hornei's nest he has punctured, by the promulgation of the opinions which were contained in his article. From among several protestandos which have been entered, we select the following, which, rather than to omit, we are compelled to abridge for this department. The illustrative quotations, from a paper so recent, are hardly required. The writer sets about demolishing the sweeping, Trollopean charges of his adversary, in right good earnest. After a few preliminary remarks, he observes :

“Certain it is, that for reasons given by the author of .New-York and New-England,' the foreign traveler uniformly arrives at incorrect conclusions as to our character. He overlooks those peculiarities and modifications that necessarily exist in the different sections of a country so vast, and in a nation so free. The enterprise of our citizens, the spirit-stirring genius of the age, so forcibly illustrated in the tide of emigration flowing

!

*

to the far-off West, where, as by enchantment, the dark forests put on the livery of the lamed landscape, while towns, villages, and even cities, rise to our astonished vision ; and in the bending of our own forests, the dwindling of our own mountains, causing rivers, lakes, and oceans in one food to blend – render a nice and just discrimination of character more difficult. To this may be ascribed the unsatisfactory accounts (caricatures we might say) of our manners and habits. They have taken the peculiarities of an individual as illustrative of a section of our country. From this superficial and hasty observation, so well described by our author -- from that 'overlooking of the under-current of society' – he himself has been insensible to those changes of character and opinion constantly going on, by which numerous errors have been palmed upon the public.

“Our author asserts, that the emigrant's wending his way to New-York in search of better soil, is the great cause of the difference between the two sections, i.e. 'in their habits, tastes, politics and religion!'. The connection between cause and effect here, is not apparent. It is for the writer alone to understand and explain the modus operandi of the soil affecting the politics or religion of the emigrant!

“ Again: How the early emigrant 'burst away from those puritanical restraints, blue laws — from a land cursed by savage barbarity, manifesting a murderous thirst for religious opinions, yet possessing those very opinions, cherishing those very laws and principles, from which they 'burst away' - is also left unexplained.

Again : 'These emigrants became independent in bearing, chivalrous in privation,' etc. We should think that the very act of separation, of 'bursting,' shows most conclusively, that there was an independence in bearing, even before they located themselves within the precincts of 'New Amsterdam ;' if so, our author's loca mutantur,' etc., falls to the ground; for effects, in New-England, seldom precede the cause.

"As to New-England' remaining stationary, bigoted,' etc., nothing is wider from the truth; and the declaration is but another instance of the writer's guessing at facts. But what is and has been the character of New-England, can be gathered from her institutions and her acts. True, the puritans had their faults; they imbibed errors, but they were those of the times. The puritans, feeling that they owed a higher allegiance to Him,

"Who wheels his throne upon the rolling worlds,' than to any earthly power, resolved to emigrate to the then 'New World.' Scarce had they been here ten years, in this howling wilderness, before they founded and endowed the University of Cambridge, and that institution was nursed by them, and now stands erect, in the midst of her offspring, clothed with her ancient glory and native dignity, and lovelier by her age. Their language at that time was:

*** After God carried us safe to New-England, and we had builded our houses, provided necessaries for our livelihood, reared convenient places for God's worship, and settled the civil government, one of the next things we longed for and looked after, was 10 advance learning, and to perpetuate it to posterity.'*

"From these authenticated facts, we can arrive at the character of the puritans, their zeal in the cause of religious freedom — their enterprise — their love of letters. If there was not chivalry exemplified in their conduct - contempt of danger, patient endurance of toil, and physical hardihood - we shall search in vain for illustrations of those attributes.

“But the picture does not end here. Their early political organization was radically republican. They declared the people to be the legitimate source of power. On this was based their institutions - thus their magistrates were chosen - thus their colonial legislature. After the first charter, they recognised the great rights secured by the Magna Charta of England. They also struck at the very root of a colonial nobility, by the passage of a law for the distribution of intestate estates.

" True, the puritans had their errors, the grand one of which was, the supposed necessity of a union between Church and State the investing the civil magistrate with the power of taking care of religious matters. Thus the secular arm was raised for the suppression of heresy. But it may here be observed, that although she first lighted up the fire of religious persecution, she first proclaimed the human mind free. She declared 'that the conscience should be free, and men should not be punished for worshipping God in the way they were persuaded he required.'

“ 'In 1647,' says Hutchinson, they ordered every township of fifty house-holders to maintain a public school, at public expense; and every township of one hundred householders to maintain, in like manner, a grammar school, to instruct youth and fit them for the University, to the end,' say they in this law, 'that learning may not be buried in the graves of our forefathers, in the church and commonwealth.'

" It is to this system of public instruction to which the sons of New-England look

[blocks in formation]

- more

back and point the traveler with pride, and not to family nor any artificial distinction. This system has been carried out. Free schools have thus been brought into every neighborhood. The high and the low, the rich and the poor, are blessed with the means of education - and they are embraced. They then early understand their rights — that 'knowledge is power and drink in and exemplify the great lesson of human life, 'nec vero satis est habere virtutem nisi utare.' So universal is this instruction, that we are prepared to hazard the assertion, that there is not one hundred New-England families that cannot read, write, and compute numbers: that are ignorant of the geography of our country. Again, there are more quarterlies, monthlies, and newspapers literary, religious, and political publications- taken in Massachusetts, than in the great, populous, and wealthy State of New-York. So in the other states in proportion. They are emphatically a reading and a thinking people; they foster talent wherever found.

“There are distinctions in society —the upper and lower classes' — yet they are rarely the result of wealth and family, but of moral qualities, united with high intellectual endowments. The same reverence that, in New York, is paid to wealth, is in New-England paid to intellect. In New-England there are but few very rich, and but few very poor,

"If we look at Massachusetts, we shall find her most literary and talented men occupying her most important stations. See Adams, Davis, Webster, Everett, Saltonstall, and Cushing, in the political department; and where are the men of equal powers employed in the empire state? With one or two exceptions, they are in private life. This constitutes the difference between the policy of the two states. There, genius, talents, and high attainments, are primary considerations - here, secondary at best.

“As to the charge of New-England's 'unaltered puritanical notions, and her claims to superior sanctity,' we would remark, that there are not ten churches there that

dhere to the old puritanical platform. Cambridge and Yale have put forth an influence favorable to liberal principles, that is felt 10 the extremes of the Union. The night has long since closed upon that period when opinions, political or religious, were received on trust. Cambridge has done much, and Yale has done more, among the puritans. The new school divinity, which is liberal in its bearing, has already gained over seven-eighths of the churches of the old-fashioned puritans.

“True, the emigrant from New England seeks the exuberantly-fertile soil of NewYork, and undergoes a change by his contact with his new neighbors; but of the character of this change, all can judge. He is removed from a reading to a moneymaking community. He loses his taste for reading, and the New-England party-mingling spirit, and how to make money, absorbs the whole power of his soul. He thus continues of the opinion he imbibed when he read, and had materials of which to form an opinion. This is visible on the face of our Yankee or New-England population in New-York - this is the transformation a New-England man undergoes in coming to New-York; this accounts for his peculiarities.

“On the remark that emigrants become chivalrous, daring, hardy, patient under privations, upon coming here, we would observe, that the history of New-England is but a catalogue of hardships, privations, and deeds of noble daring. There was the cradle of liberty' -- there was the ball of revolution put in motion. Lexington, Bunker's Hill, Bennington, Saratoga, Trenton, Yorktown, and Brandywine, or in still later times, Plattsburgh, Bridgewater, Chippewa, as well as Champlain and Erie, tell of the bravery of her sons. Here we would point our author to periods and places that tried men's souls. On these occasions, the buoyant youth, the vigorous man, the declining age, of New-England, went down to the bosom of their mother earth, in glorious fight! New-England need take no lessons of her sisters, to show that she possessed the unbought grace of life,' as Burke called chivalry. No! The fame of New-England is beyond the reach of circumstances: the pillar may fall, the triumphal arcb may crumble, but each successive generation of her sons become living monuments of the excellence of her institutions of her public schools. She needs no beaming ægis to stand between her and oblivion. Her fame is unsullied and immortal.”

Ithaca, (N. Y.) October, 1836.

C. R.

'Make tracks!' reader, or in other words, stand out of the way, and let 'POETASTER' illustrate the Ornithichnites, or huge stony bird-tracks, of Professor HITCHCOCK, said to have been found on the red-sandstone of the Connecticut Valley. 'On reading the account of these,' says our correspondent, 'published in the twenty-ninth volume of the American Journal of Science, it occurred to me that there was at least probability enough in the theory advanced in that work, to make it lawful to use it in verse ; and as there came up in my imagination the bird that formed the enormous Ornithichnites Giganteus, perhaps fifteen or twenty feet high, and with a foot seventeen inches in length,

my long dormant muse was aroused to action; and before I was aware of it, I was astride of my Pegasus ; and although, from original malformation or long disuse,

"he scrambled up and down

On disproportioned legs, like kangaroo,' yet he did not pause till he had finished his fight.' The reader shall have a glance at his paces.

The writer supposes a geologist, solus, examining traces of the Ornithichnites Gigan. teus on the sand-stone, whose shade he apostrophizes thus :

A THOUSAND pyramids bave moulder'd down,
Since on this rock thy foot-priut was impress'd;
Yet here it stands upalter'd : though since theu
Earth's crust has been upheav'd, and fractur'd oft:
And deluge after deluge o'er her driven,
Has swept organic life from off her face.
Bird of a former world! - would that thy form
Might reappear in these thy former haunts!
O for a sorceress nigh, to call thee up
From thy deep sandstone-grave, as erst of old
Bhe broke the prophet's slumbers! But her arus
She may not practice in this age of light.

ENTER SORCERESS.

"Let the light of science shine!
I will show that power is mine.
Skeptic, cease my art to mock,
When the dead starts from the rock.
Bird of sandstone era, wake!
From thy deep, dark prison, break!
Spread thy wings upon our air-
Show thy huge, strong talons here :
Let them print the muddy shore,
As they did in Jays of yore.
Præadamic bird, whose sway
Ruld creation in thy day,
Come, obedient to my word:
Stand before creation's lord."

The sorceress vanish'd; but the earth around,
As wben an earthquake swells her bosom, rock'd;
And stified groans, with sounds ne'er heard before,
Broke on the startled ear. The placid stream
Began to heave and dash its billows on the shore;
Till soon, as wben Balæna spouts the deep,
The waters suddenly leap'd toward the sky;
And up flew swiftly, what a sawyer seemd,
But prov'd a bird's neck, with a frightful beak.
A huge-shaped body follow'd; stilted high,
As if two main masts propp'd it up. The bird
Of sandstone fame was truly come again ;
And shaking his enormous plumes and wings,
And rolling his broad eye around, amaz'd,
He gave a yell so loud and savage too
Though to Iguanodons and kindred tribes,
Music it might have seem'd - on human ear
It grated harshly, like the quivering roar
That rushes wildly through the mountain gorgle,
When storms beat heavy on its brow. Apon,
On wings like mainsails, Alapping on the air,
The feather'd giant sought the shore, where stood,
Confounded, ke wlio called the sorceress' aid.

Awhile, surveying all, the monster paus'd;
The mountain, valley, plain — the woods, the fields,
The quiet stream, the village on its banks,
Each beast and bird. Next the geologist
Was scann'd, and scaun'd again, with piercing glance,
Then arching up bis neck, as if in scorn,
His bitter, taunting plaint he thus began :

•Creation's lord! The magic of those words
My iron slumbers broke: for in my day

I stood acknowledg'd as creation's head ;*
In stature and in mind surpassing all:
But now --O strange degeneracy! - one,
Scarce six feet high, is styled creation's lord!
If such the lord, what must the servants be!
Oh how unlike Iguanodon, Dext me
In dignity, yet moving at my nod.
Then Mega, Plesi, Hyla, Saurian tribes,
Rank'd vexi along the grand descending scale:
Testudo next: below, the Nautilus,
The curious Ammonite, and kindred forms;
All giants to these puny races here,
Scarce seen, except by Ichthyas aurian eye. t
Gone, too, the noble palms, the lofty ferns,
The Calamite, Stig maria, Voltzia — all : 1
And 0, what dwarfs, unworthy of a name,
(Iguanodon could scarce find here a meal,)
Grow o'er their graves! Here, too, where ocean rollid,
Where coral groves the bright green waters grac'd,
Which glorious monsters made their frolic haunts;
Where the long sca-weed strew'd its oozy bed,
And fish, of splendid forms and hues, rang'd free,
A shallow brook, (where only creatures live,
Which in my day were Sauroscopic called,)
Scarce visible, now creeps along the waste.
And ah! this chilling wind! - a contrast sad
To those soft, balmy airs, from fragrant groves,
Which fanu'd the never-varying summer once.
E'eu he who now is call'd creation's lord,
(I eall bim rather nature's blasted slave,)
Must smother in these structures, dwellings call'd,
(Creation's noble palace was my home,)
Or these inclement skies would cut him off.
The sun himself shines but with glimmering light --
And all proclaims the world well nigh worn out:
Her vital warmth departing, and her tribes
Organic, all degenerate, puny, soon
In nature's icy grave to sink for aye.
Sure't is a place for punishment design'd;
And not the beauteous, happy spot I loy'd;
These creatures here seem discontented, sad;
They hate each other, and tbey hate the world :
O who would live in such a dismal spot ?
I freeze, I starve, I die! — with joy I sink
To my sweet slumbers with the noble dead.'

Strangely and suddenly the monster sunk.
Earth oped and closed her jaws - and all was still.
The vex'd geologist now call'd aloud -
Reach'd forth his hand to seize the sinking form -
But empty air alone he grasp'd. Chagrinned,
That he could solve no geologic doubis,
Nor learn the history of sandstone days,
He pour'd out bitter words 'gainst sorcery's arts :
Forgetting that the lesson taught his pride
Was better than new knowledge of lost worlds.

• Before the discovery of these Ornithichnites, the most perfect animals that had been found, as low down in the rocks as the new red-sandstone, were a few reptiles, called Saurians : so that birds must have been decidedly the most persect animals that then existed: though it bas been recently sunounced in the journals, that the tracks of quadrumanous ani. mals have been found on new red-sandstone in Germany. But until I have seen the details of this discovery, I am not disposed to let it spoil my poetry : for as to some quadrumanous animals, I think that birds might successfully compete with them for the palm of superiority.

+ The Ichthy asaurus, another huge and extinct Saurian animal, was remarkable for the size of its eye ; the orbit in some specimens measuring ten inches in length, and seven in breadth.

1 The organic remains found in the rocks of the temperate and frigid zones correspond more pearly to those now found alive in the torrid zone, than to those in the temperate and frigid zones. Indeed, there can be no doubt but the northern hemisphere was once covered with tropical forests : such as the palm and the ferns of huge size. The Caja. mite, Sigmaria, and Voltzia, are names given to plants found in the new red-sandstone, which do not correspond to any now found upon the globe.

$ If it be admitted that the climate, vegetation, and animals of thia valley were tropical, when this bird lived, who will say that its present condition would not seem, even to a rational being, in similar circumstances, to be one of deterioration and approaching rain ?

« PreviousContinue »