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The tales comprising this collection, with the exception of Carl Werner,' have been published, the author informs us in his preface, at various periods in his career of authorship. We trust that in their present collected form, they will advance his well-earned reputation.
The Far West: OR A TOUR BEYOND THE MOUNTAINS. In two volumes 12mo. pp. 300.
New-York: HABPER AND BROTHERS.
The West'has, within the last two or three years, been a favorite subject with many writers. Irving, Hoffman, Hall, and other well known authors, have delineated its scenery, and dilated upon nearly all that could interest us in the manners and customs of the settlers and the Indians, until the subject seemed to be entirely exhausted of interest, and nothing of importance remained to be added to our stock of knowledge. Still, the West continues to furnish food for native writers, and the present work carries us pleasantly over the same ground, which we have so often travelled with the author's literary predecessors.
The sketches which compose these volumes were originally written for the news papers, and like most republished newspaper correspondence, they might, we think, have been compressed into one volume, without lessening their interest or usefulness. The style of the writer is easy, but altogether too florid; and he seems to have skimmed agreeably over the surface, without descending into matters which would require varied or extensive knowledge. Perhaps, however, this circumstance may make bis work the more interesting to the mere general reader. A single extract, embodying a picture and a moral, is all for which we can find space :
"Reining up my tired steed at the door of a log cabin in the middle of the plain, the nature and extent of my necessities were soon made knowo lo an aged matron, who had come forth on my approach.
“'Some victuals you shall get, stran-ger; but you'll just take your creetur to the crib, and gin him his feed; bekase, d'ye see, the old man is kind o' drinkin' to-dayi yester was 'lection, ye know.' From the depths of my sympathetic emotions was I moved for the poor old body, who, with most dolorous aspect had delivered herself of this message; and I had proceeded forth with, agreeable to instructions, to satisfy the cravings of my patient animal, when who should appear but my tipsified host, in propria persona, at the door. The little old gentleman came toitering towards the spot where I stood, and, warmly squeezing my hand, whispered to me, with a most irresisti. ble serio-comic air, that he was drunk ;' and 'that he was four hours last night getting home from 'lection,' as he called it. Now, stran-ger, you won't think hard on me,' he continued, in his maudlin manner: 'I'm a poor drunken old fellow! but old Jim wa'n't al’ays so; old Jim wa' n't al’ays so !'he exclaimed with bitterness, burying his face in his toilworn hands, as, having now regained the house, he seated himself with difficulty upon the doorstep. Once, my son, old Jim could knock down, drag out, whip, lift, or throw any man in all Sangamon, if he uus a lectle fellow : but now – there's the receipt of his disgrace - there,' he exclaimed, with vehemence, thrusting forth before my eyes two brawny, gladiator arms, in which the volumed muscles were heaving and contracting with excitement; ironed hy labor, but shockingly mutilated. Expressing astonishment at the spectacle, he assured me that these wounds had been torn in the flesh by the teeth of infuriated antagonists in drunken quarrels, though the relation seemed almost too horrible to be true. Endeavoring to divert his mind from this disgusting topic, on which it seemed disposed 10 linger with ferocious delight, I made some inquiries relative to his farm – which was, indeed, a beautiful one, under high culture and respecting the habits of the prairie-wolf, a large animal of the species baving crossed my path in the prairie in the gray light of dawn. Upon the latter inquiry, the old man sat silent a moment with his chin leaning on his hands. Looking up at length with an arch expression, he said, 'Siran-yer, I haint no larnin ; I can'i read; but do n't the Book say somewhere about old Jacob and the ring-streaked catile ?'Yes. Well, and how old Jake's ring-streaked and round-spotted creeturs, after a leetle, got the better of all the stock, and overrun the unirarsal herd, do n't the Book say so?! "Something so. Well, now for the wolves: they're all colors but ring,streaked and VOL. XIII.
round-spotted ; and if the sucker-farmers do n't look to it, the prairie-wolves will get the better of all the geese, turkeys, and hins in the barn-yard, speckled or no!''
The volumes will commend themselves to general perusal, by their variety and liveliness. They are executed with the accustomed neatness of the publishers.
SOUTHERN PABSAGES AND PICTURES. By the Author of Atalantis,'The Yemassee,'
'Guy Rivers,' etc. In one volume. pp. 228. New-York: GEORGE ADLARD.
UTILITARIAN as this age may be, we cannot but think that this handsome volume, containing the collected poetical fugitives' of our author, will find numerous readers, Poetry of the affections will not fall upon barren ground, so long as there are love and friendship, pity and suffering, in the world ; and he who makes us vividly to feel what he has felt, or whom we know to have experienced what we have enjoyed or suffered, may be said to wield a power over the susceptible heart, well nigh as potent as that whieh money exerts over the plodding servant of the day-book and ledger, whose gold is his only god. Many of Mr. Simms' serious productions, as our readers have often seen, possess a solemn and composed beauty, while his pictures of nature are eminently spirited and artist-like. Now and then, it is true, we perceive a little exaggeration of thought, and something of vagueness in his conceptions; but these rare faults are abundantly overbalanced throughout the volume. Our author's portrayals of the heart' lack nothing of the manly tenderness of real passion, are never encumbered with injudicious and disproportioned ornament, and are wholly devoid of that idle, fanciful effeminacy of poetic love, which can only be sustained by constant effort, and which is always offensive. We have in our mind's eye a certain school of pseudo poets, fashionable, flashy, and artificial, and sustained before the public by a sort of battledore and shuttlecock intercourse of cork-and-feather compliments, who would do well to profit from the example of our author, in the particular alluded to. We should then have fewer writers from mere tread-mill imagination, and more from the heart. That was a shrewd observer, who once remarked, that poetry had this much in common with religion, that many professed to be entirely devoted to it, who had no good works to produce, in support of their pretensions. But this by the way. Mr. SIMMS has' good works' to produce, and we commend them cordially to the reader,
THE PRIVATE JOURNAL OF AARON BURR, DURING HIS RESIDENCE OF FOUR YEARS IN
EUROPE. With selections from his Correspondence. Edited by M. L. Davis. In two volumes. pp. 910. New-York: HARPER AND BROTHERS.
We have been sadly disappointed in these volumes. From the character of their subject, there was good reason to hope that they would at least prove entertaining; but we are compelled to say, that nine hundred and ten pages of more elaborate small talk, about nothing, for the most part, save trifling personal details, we have never seen collected togetber. The only redeeming portions of the work, are the letters to Colonel Burr, from some of the distinguished personages with whom he was brought in contact, while abroad. It is somewhat a matter of marvel, that a gentleman of acknowledged ability and sagacity, should sit down to compile a work like the one before us; and it is still more surprising, that he should send the same to his printers, read the proof-sheets deliberately, and permit them to be sent forth to the public, as evidenee of Colonel BURR's character and talents. If we were to judge of the subject of these volumes, from the intelleetual criteria which they afford, we might well be justified in considering him a fool as well as knave.
OUR ENGRAVING. We will not for one moment suppose, that the reader has never rejoiced over the delectable pages of that memorable work of our renowned predecessor and progenitor, DIEDRICH KNICKERBOCKER, the 'History of New-York, from the beginning of the World to the end of the Dutch Dynasty,' containing, beside, the amplest private memoirs of the three Dutch governors of New-Amsterdam; nor will we deem it possible, that having once read, he can ever have forgotten, that portion of the volumes, which recounts the chivalric achievments of 'Peter the Headstrong;' the warlike STUYVESANT. In the present number of the KNICKERBOCKER, the combined arts of painting and engraving have, as we think, depicted with much spirit and skill, a prominent scene in the life of that eminent worthy. The time chosen by the artist, is when that 'long, lank, long-winded, half Indian spy,' DIRK SCHUILER, brings to the ears of the Headstrong,' in presence of his trusty trumpeter, the disastrous news of the affair at Fort Casimir. Premising that Dirk has escaped from the garrison, on his errand of mortification to the governor, we shall suffer our historian to give the result in his own language. Surely, there is no considerate reader of these pages, but must admit, that there was abundant cause for the 'WRATH OF PETER STUYVESANT.'
'Dirk directed his flight toward his native place, New-Amsterdam, from whence he had formerly been obliged to abscond precipitately, in consequence of misfortune in business - that is to say, having been detected in the act of sheep-stealing. After wandering many days in the woods, toiling through swamps, furding brooks, swimming various rivers, and encountering a world of hardships, that would have killed any other being but an Indian, a back-woodman, or the devil, he at length arrived, half famished, and lank as a starved weasel, at Communipaw, where he stole a canoe, and paddled over to New-Amsterdam. Immediately on landing, he repaired to Governor Stuyvesant, and in more words than he had ever spoken before in the whole course of his life, gave an account of the disastrous affair.
'On receiving these direful tidings, the valiant Peter started from his seat - dashed the pipe he was smoking against the back of the chimney– thrust a prodigious quid of tobacco into his left cheek — pulled up his galligaskins, and strode up and down the room, humming, as was customary with him, when in a passion, a hidcous north-west ditty. But as I have before shown, he was not a man to vent his spleen in idle vaporing. His first measure, after the paroxysm of wrath had subsided, was to stump up stairs, to a huge wooden chest, which served as his armory, from whence he drew forth that identical suit of regimentals described in the preceding chapter. In these portentous habiliments he arrayed himself, like Achilles in the armur of Vulcan, maintaining all the while a most appalling silence, knitting his brows, and drawing his breath through his clenched teeth. Being hastily equipped, he strode down into the parlor, jerked down his trusty sword from over the fire-place, where it was usually suspended; but before he girded it on his thigh, he drew it from its scabbard, and as his eye coursed along the rusty blade, a grim smile stole over his iron visage. It was the first smile that · had visited his countenance for five long weeks; but every one who beheld it, prophesied that there would soon be warm work in the province!
MODERN ULTRAISM. We have been taking notes, for a few months past, from the novel theories evolved in the 'progress of reform,' with the intention of hereafter submitting an article containing a round dozen of 'improvements,' for the benefit of mankind in general, and the American people in particular. While waiting, however, for a reply to sundry queries which we have propounded to the president of the 'NorthAmerican Starvation Society,' of Massachusetts, touching the use of English bendleather and caoutchouc, as economical nutricious substances, we have great pleasure in presenting a theory, kindred in some respects to certain of our own, which we have received from a modest yet clever correspondent, to whom we extend the right hand of fellowship. He entitles his paper, the 'Cause of the present Shortness of Human Life,' and very clearly illustrates, in our judgment, a remark made by Ecclesiastes the Preacher, viz: 'I said in mine heart, concerning the estate of the sons of men, that they might see that they themselves are beasts.' 'Every one now-a-days,' says our theorist, ' would be a philosopher. We have ascertained that effects have causes, and have set about to learn what these causes are. The physician endeavors 10 account for some peculiarity in the law, and the lawyer turns his attention to solving the mysteries of man's physical organization. The man of God stoops to unravel some political phenomenon, and the politician aspires to explain God. He who labors with the spade and the mattock, seeks to expound a mechanical enigma, and the mechanic some riddle in commerce. Each one seems disposed to lend his aid in solving the mysteries with which the world abounds.
"There has recently come into existence a‘sect of philosophers,' who, if their assertions are to be relied on, have indeed discovered the philosopher's stone.' No one need be subject to disease, they say; God has nothing to do with the physical infirmities of mortals. A proper attention to exercise, diet, and cleanliness, is a sure protection against all bodily disorders, except such as are occasioned by accident. From this we may infer, that (accident aside,) man can live for ever. Another novel sect take the opposite ground, and maintain that the appetite should not be restrained, if we would prolong life; that whatever food is agreeable 10 the palate and stomach, should be offered them; and that if nature in this respect is allowed to have its own way, disease of every description may be avoided. Without stopping to consider the merits of these opposite doctrines, we shall proceed to suggest a few ideas, which have occurred to us, touching the cause of the shortness of human life, in these latter ages of the world.
“The present general posture of the body, we conceive to be the great cause of the difference between the length of life now, and in the first ages of the world. Before the flood, man lived many hundreds of years; now seventy years is the time allotted to him. The body was not originally erect. We have never, to our knowledge, been informed that its position was perpendicular, as it is now. On the contrary, we have reason to believe that it was horizontal; and that man, instead of venturing his body about the earth upon two legs, used his hands and feet for that purpose. It is true that Adam was created a man in stature ; but is it reasonable to suppose that, un acquainted as he was with the inany inventions which his sagacious posterity have found out, he should, intuitively, have arrived at the knowledge of locomotion that we possess ? Adam was, except in stature, a child in every thing. If this be correct, he certainly must, like all children, have moved his body upon all-fours. It is foolish to suppose otherwise. Six thousand years have passed away, and millions upon millions of human beings have lived since Adam, and how gradual has been their progress in locomotion ! Fifty years ago, travelling by steam would have been considered a miracle; and not a great many hundreds of years since, conveyance by means of carriages was an astonishing circumstance.' Did our time and limits allow, we ve no doubt that, by an 'analytical process,' we should be able to show conclusively, than man could not, in the first ages of the world, have moved himself from place to place, in any other way than upon his hands and feet.
"Another reason we have for supposing that our progenitors moved upon their hands and feet, is, that the serpent, that most lowly and subtle of all the beasts of the field,
'Squat like a toad, close at the ear of Eve,'
and tempted her by his whispers. If she allowed herself to listen to the conversation of serpents, she must have been in a situation to associate with them. If her position bad been erect, she would have shunned the approach and familiarity of so disgusting an animal, and thus have prevented the misery thereby occasioned. We are told, too, that Cain, when he murdered Abel, “rose up. This is an argument in favor of our theory, that none can gainsay. These men were rough and uncouth in their manners. Cain, particularly, was of a morose and quarrelsome disposition, naturally. Like a beast he lived, and like a beast he yielded to the impulse of every passion. Abel irritated him, and he, like modern bear infuriate, 'rose up' on his hind feet, and slew him.
'From the time of Adam, down to the deluge, the period of man's life was from six to nine hundred years. Blessed days! Then ages rolled one after another, and men continued to live on; and it was only ‘length of days,' as the Scriptures expressively term it, which, like sleep, silently and peacefully removed them to that state of forgetfulness, from which mortals never recover. After the flood, we find that the age of man immediately diminished to less than five hundred years. This we attribute to the habits acquired by the family of Noah, while in the ark. The apartments in that building, which belonged to this family, were so confined, that its occupants were obliged to sit and stand in an upright position. Thus they, in a measure, acquired an erect habit, by which their organs became disordered, and their lives shortened.
Man's disposition is such, that he would rather pursue a bad fashion, if it be new, than adhere to one infinitely better, if it be old. Under the influence of this propensity, the descendants of Noah conunued in what we shall call the perpendicular habit; and they soon began to imagine that it possessed very great advantages over the one to which their ancestors had been accustomed. At length, the habit became so fixed, that, instead of indulging in it occasionally, they gave themselves up entirely to it, and it gradually grew into a second nature. As the habit increased, age diminished, and human life dwindled down to the three-score and ten years which are now the period of man's sojourn on earth. Is it not reasonable that such should have been the case ? While the position of man was horizontal, his food was digested without that irritation of the organs which now exists. All the parts of the system were free from undue action, and the frequent interruptions to which they are now liable from the pressure of food.
'Doubtless there will be a great many foolish objections raised to this theory, as there are to all theories of importance. It will be sufficient to reply to such objections when they are started. There are one or two questions, however, that now suggest themselves, which it may be well to answer. It may be asked, how men could erect such a building as the ark, when they moved upon their hands and teet? It is not inconsistent with our doctrine, that hands were used for other purposes than locomotion. They must have been used in tilling the ground, and men either sat or knelt when thus occupied. The ark was built of gopher wood, which was a soft, pitchy substance, that could be moulded without much exertion of the body. It may be asked, also, why four-footed animals do not live to the great age of our first parents, if our doctrine be correct ? We answer, some species of quadrupeds do live to a great age; others, such as neat cattle, are naturally short-lived ; and we will venture to say, that when they shall attempt to walk upon their hind feet, they will not live to a fiftieth part of their present age!
"We have not sufficient time to extend our arguments farther, and if we had, we do not think we need say one word more, to insure conviction, in any convincible mind, of the truth of our doctrine. There is much force in the theory, that the great quantities of food, and the multifarious forms in which it is used, do more or less injury to the