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that is great and glorious, has done incalculable mischief, not only in leveling weak minds to one mean standard, but in chilling the fervid aspirations of loftier ones, repressing wholesome enthusiasm, and even frittering away manly independence and force of character—while we duly appreciate this malign influence, and shall be on the watch to guard against it, -we do not mean the less on that account to spare the lash of satire where its discipline is required. Like all people, however sensible, our ingenious countrymen have yet their follies and extravagances. And you must know, immortal sir, that, promising as matters were in your day, the moment your influence over them was withdrawn, they relapsed into a worse condition than formerly. In manners, for instance, it is still the prevailing weakness to adopt the absurdities of others, instead, if such things must be had, of originating them for ourselves. In literature, young, fresh, and unhacknied as we are, we are already, by some strange fatuity, grievously given to twaddle; and—where one has a right to look for that wildness and exuberance, that almost savageness of invention, which so much in the German literature requires training and repression, while it betrays all the richness and vigour of a new mental soil-we find, to the neglect of our own few original models, a dotard fondness, a sickly longing for all the absurd trash of driveling sentimentality and pseudo-fashion, with which the shelves of our circulating libraries are filled from the London press. The taste, thus engendered, acts and re-acts in a thousand ways, till our writings and our approval of writings are both second-hand. We imitate the most flimsy productions which appear abroad, and then approve of these imitations as American,' while critics, afraid to be accused of a want of patriotism, sanction where they despise, and approve when they ought to condemn. But the mischief extends still further. Where originality is not required, every one may become a writer. The names of people, clever enough in their way, but by no means more deserving of distinction than hundreds of others equally accomplished, are trumpeted abroad with those of which the country has most reason to be proud, and our national standard of merit is brought into disgrace by having these raw conscripts reviewed side by side with the few tried warriors, who alone we are willing should challenge European criticism, as the champions of our new literature. Now, sir, dangerous as the attempt may be, and difficult as its execution necessarily is, we design in this publication to assume
and sustain a system of rigid and uncompromising criticism, unbiassed by any feeling of national prejudice, any considerar tion of personal popularity, by the partiality of private circles, or the favor of general society. It shall also be our aim, when recommending works of merit, to exercise as much discrimination as possible, in so relatively estimating and classing them, that injustice may not be done to those of rare merit, by sharing the praise, which is only their due, with writings that have a feebler claim to favor. And this in defiance of the economical custom of having but one standard of praise amongst us, and dubbing every clever writer 'a Bryant,' or 'an Irving.'”
We know not whether the last word, when it escaped our lips, operated suddenly like the presence of a talisman upon the enchanted objects around us; or whether the spell had been gradually breaking, and while, with our eyes cast upon the table, we were thus tasking the indulgence of our illustrious hearer with these egotistical details, he had slipped away, and withdrawn with him the mystic influence that so unaccountably changed the aspect of every thing around him. But upon looking up, as usual, in the pauses of our conversation, for his customary nod of encouragement to proceed, those never to be forgotten features were no longer there. The phantom-guest had gone more mysteriously even than he came. His place-his chair-was vacant. His chair?-it was no longer his chair. What! could that meagre, miserable, spindleshanked thing, have ever supported a form of his dignity? Could—but how did he withdraw? Through a carved panel, as is the wont of ordinary ghosts? There was none therethe sombre shining oak had again given place to tawdry paper. Did he take the favorite road of his patron, St. Nicho. las, and vanish up the chimney? Alas! that noble fire-place was gone, and a patent sweep alone could perforate the cramped vent of the narrow grate by which it was superseded. Through the window? Who ever heard of a spectre passing out of a window? No-sufficient for us that he was gonegone entirely-gone we fear forever: and so completely had each object around us recovered its vulgar every day appearance, that we might, without much difficulty, have convinced ourselves that the whole affair was but a dream, if not some grosser illusion—such as is said to assail the waking senses of persons of a melancholy temperament, living much in retirement—but that, upon examining the apartment for some trace
of what had occurred, a highly finished miniature portrait caught our view, as lying upon the table, its animated eye seemed almost to flash from the ivory, through the gathering gloom of twilight. It was the original of the bold engraving which the reader has already seen upon the cover of the Magazine, though he could hardly have suspected, while marking the knightly mien of that lion-faced warrior, that he beheld an authentic likeness of one whom the hand of genius has invested with associations any thing but romantic. Upon comparing the portrait which fell so strangely into our possession, with the other original of PETER STUYVERSANT that has long, among those of the ancient governors of New York, graced the gallery of the City Hall, the exact resemblance was at once acknowledged by every one present upon the occasion ; and it will be ever a source of deep regret to us, that almost immediately after our friend WIER had transferred its lineaments to the wood of the engraver, this valuable picture mysa teriously became missing, and can since then be no where found. The same admirable artist, however, has made all the amends in his power, for any possible neglect of his in guarding the treasure, by immortalizing with his pencil the scene in which it was discovered. Not a feature of which, excepting the table, which by some oversight presents the same appearance in the picture as does that upon which we are now: writing, has escaped him in the finished painting, from which with the omission of a figure representing our part in the conference—the bold sketch prefixed to this account was copied.
And now we would, if not humbly, yet sincerely and earns estly, ask the reader's pardon, for engrossing so much of his ats tention about our own particular matters upon so brief an acquaintance; but after thinking long upon the best method of having a frank and full exposition of the footing we are hereafter to be upon, we determined that there was nothing like taking him apart into our study, and talking over all our business preliminaries at once, leaving it for future occasions to develope our mutual powers of entertainment. Once having him to ourselves, however, we could not for the life of us help imparting an event among the most striking in our life, and which unquestionably has some mysterious and important connection with the future success of this Magazine. Besides, the affair must sooner or later have taken wind in some shape or another, when, if those wayward wags, the
newspaper editors, had got hold of it, no one can say in what form it might first have reached the reader's ear.
No! if there be an apology due, it is to thee only, lady reader; but as this is the first occasion when we were ever tête-a-tête with one so beautiful, without sooner manifesting our appreciation of such good fortune, so, when we promise that it is the last when the
presence of thy charms shall be for a moment forgotten, we hope to be forgiven. To thee, fair and gentle one, shall we delight here often to address ourselves. For thee shall the realms of taste and invention be ransacked, and many a gem of mind be garnered here. For thee shall wit and whim and fancy revel, and austere learning move in lively measure; proud science throw her pompous robes aside, and sober truth herself be gaily dressed in fiction. And may each impression ever made upon the leaves of thy life's volume, spring from hearts as warm for thy welfare, be traced by hands as true in thy service, as those that will toil for thy entertainment in the pages of THE KNICKERBACKER.
[ BY KENNETH QUIVORLEY. ]
I know thou dost love me-ay! frown as thou wilt,
And curl that beautiful lip,
Of burning its dew to sip;
They toward each other dip.
Though thou lookest so cold in these halls of light,
Mid the careless, proud, and gay,
And pilfer its thoughts away;
It dares to mock by day.
A RAMBLE IN THE WOODS ON SUNDAY, AND WHAT THE
WRITER SAW AND HEARD THERE.
[ BY J. K. PAULDING. ] I frequently spend a sabbath morning in the country, rambling alone in the melancholy woods, sometimes resting myself against the rough bark of a time worn tree; sometimes lingering on the woody heights looking far over the surrounding world; and at others reclining listlessly by the side of some clear brook, over whose rippling way the branches meet, and form nature's choicest canopy. Here I indulge my memory and imagination in a thousand devious wanderings; I recall the distant shadows of departed time that have by degrees faded almost into oblivion, and send my mind on errands to the future; a thousand recollections melancholy, yet exquisitely touching, throng about my heart, and a thousand anticipations beckon me onward in the path I am pursuing through this wayward world. At times I become so completely abstracted from the scenes around, as to forget where I am, and to lose almost the consciousness of being. I ruminate, I ponder, and I dream.
On one of these occasions, about the middle of the sultry month of August, when the dog-star rages, and all nature sinks into a sort of luxurious repose, I had become somewhat tired with a ramble longer than usual, and laid myself listlessly along the margin of a little twittering stream that stole its winding way among the deep obscurities of the wood, diffusing coolness, and inviting to repose. It was Sunday, and it seemed as if nature partook in its holy abstraction from worldly thoughts and worldly occupations. The voice of the ploughman cheering or chiding his team; the rattling of the sonorous wagon over the rough mountain road; the echoes of the woodman's axe; the explosion of the hunter's gun, and all the customary sounds that give life and animation to rural sports and rural occupations, had ceased. Nay, even the tinkling cowboll, which broke at intervals on the hallowed quiet of the day, seemed to come over me with a softened, mellowed tone, as if fearful of disturbing its repose, and awed by the solemnity of universal silence. Through the arched canopy of foliage that overhung the little stream, I could see it coursing its way on either hand among mossy rocks, glittering as if by moonlight, and disappearing after a thousand meanderings. It is impossible—at least with me it is impossible-to resist the influence