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good-humor, and of pulling the ears and whiskers of men, and of striking and horse-play with them, to his last days. It does not appear that he listened at keyholes, or at least that he was caught at it. In short, when you have penetrated through all the circles of power and splendor, you were not dealing with a gentleman at last, but with an impostor and a rogue. And he fully deserves the epithet of Jupiter Scapin, or a sort of Scamp Jupiter.
In describing the two parties into which modern society divides itself, the democrat and the conservative, — I said Bonaparte represents the democrat, or the party of men of business, against the stationary or conservative party.
I omitted then to say what is material to the statement; namely, that these two parties differ only as young and old. The democrat is a young conservative: the conservative is an old democrat. The aristocrat is the democrat ripe, and gone to seed, because both parties stand on the one ground of the supreme value of property, which one endeavors to get, and the other to keep. Bonaparte may be said to represent the whole history of this party, - its youth and its age; yes, and, with poetie justice, its fate, in his own. The counterrevolution, the counter-party, still waits for its organ and representative in a lover and a man of truly public and universal aims.
Here was an experiment, under the most favorable conditions, of the powers of intellect without conscience. Never was such a leader so endowed and so weaponed; never leader found such aids and followers. And what was the result of this vast talent and power, of these immense armies, burned cities, squandered treasures, immolated millions of men, of this demoralized Europe? It came to no result. All passed away like the smoke of his artillery, and left no trace. He left France smaller, poorer, feebler, than he found it; and the whole contest for freedom was to be begun again. The attempt was, in principle, suicidal. France served him with life and limb and estate as long as it could identify its interest with him: but when men saw that after victory was another war; after the destruction of armies, new conscriptions; and they who had toiled so desperately were never nearer to the reward, — they could not spend what they had earned, nor repose on their down-beds, nor strut in their châteaux; they deserted him. Men found that his absorbing egotism was deadly to all other men. It resembled the torpedo, which inflicts a succession of shocks on any one who takes hold of it, producing spasms which contract the muscles of the hand, so that the man can not open his fingers; and the animal inflicts new and more violent shocks, until he paralyzes and kills his victim. So this exorbitant egotist narrowed, impoverished, and ab
sorbed the power and existence of those who served him; and the universal
of France and of Europe, in 1814, was, Enough of him!” “ Assez de Bonaparte ! ”
It was not Bonaparte's fault. He did all that in him lay to live and thrive without moral principle. It was the nature of things, the eternal law of man and of the world, which balked and ruined him; and the result in a million experiments will be the same. Every experiment, by multitudes or by individuals, that has a sensual and selfish aim, will fail. The pacific Fourier will be as inefficient as the pernicious Napoleon. As long as our civilization is essentially one of property, of fences, of exclusiveness, it will be mocked by delusions. Our riches will leave us sick; there will be bitterness in our laughter; and our wine will burn our mouth. Only that good profits which we can taste with all doors open, and which serves all men.
BORN APRIL 3, 1783, NEW YORK CITY.
DIED Nov. 28, 1859.
Leaving school at the age of sixteen, he commenced the study of law; but, after having traveled in Europe for his health, he gave up the law, though he had been admitted to the bar, and devoted himself to literary pursuits. Of all the kind remarks that all the critics have made of him, we will quote only the following :
“But allow me to speak what I honestly feel,
To a true poet-heart add the fun of Dick Steele;
James Russell Lowell's Fable for the Critics.
“Salmagundi;” “Sketch-Book;” “ History of New York, by Diedrich Knickerbocker;" Bracebridge Hall;" “Tales of a Traveler;'
" Life of Columbus;' “Chronicles of Conquest of Grenada; ' Alhambra;' " Tour of the Prairies;" “ Abbotsford and Newstead Abbey;" "Legends of the Conquest of Spain; ” “ Astoria;” “ The Adventures of Captain Bonneville;” “ Life of Goldsmith;” “Life of Washington.”
RIP VAN WINKLE.
A POSTHUMOUS WRITING OF DIEDRICH KNICKERBOCKER.
[The following tale was found among the papers of the late Diedrich Knicker, bocker, an old gentleman of New York who was very curious in the Dutch history of the province, and the manners of the descendants from its primitive settlers.
His historical researches, however, did not lie so much among books as among men; for the former are lamentably scanty on his favorite topic: whereas he found the old burghers, and, still more, their wives, rich in that legendary lore so invaluable to true history. Whenever, therefore, he happened upon a genuine Dutch family, snugly shut up in its low-roofed farmhouse, under a spreading sycamore, he looked upon it as a little clasped volume of black-letter, and studied it with the zeal of a book-worm.
The result of all these researches was a history of the province during the reign of the Dutch governors, which he published some years since. There have been various opinions as to the literary character of his work; and, to tell the truth, it is not a whit better than it should be. Its chief merit is its scrupulous accuracy, which, indeed, was a little questioned on its first appearance, but has since been completely established; and it is now admitted into all historical collections as a book of unquestionable authority.
The old gentleman died shortly after the publication of his work; and, now that he is dead and gone, it can not do much harm to his memory to say that his time might have been much better employed in weightier labors. He, however, was apt to ride his hobby his own way: and though it did now and then kick up the dust a little in the eyes of his neighbors, and grieve the spirit of some friends for whom he felt the truest deference and affection, yet his errors and follies are remembered
more in sorrow than in anger;” and it begins to be suspected that he never intended to injure or offend. But, however his memory may be appreciated by critics, it is still held dear by many folks whose good opinion is well wortlı having; particularly by certain biscuit-bakers, who have gone so far as to imprint his likeness on their New-Year cakes, and have thus given him a chance for immortality almost equal to the being stamped on a Waterloo medal or a Queen Anne's farthing.]
WHOEVER has made a voyage up the Hudson must remember the Catskill Mountains. They are a dismembered branch of the great Appalachian family, and are seen away to the west of the river, swelling up to a noble hight, and lording it over the surrounding country. Every change of season, every change of weather, indeed, every hour of the day, produces some change in the magical hues and shapes of these mountains; and they are regarded by all the good-wives far and near as perfect barometers. When the weather is fair and settled, they are clothed in blue and purple, and print their bold outlines on the clear evening sky; but sometimes, when the rest of the landscape is cloudless, they will gather a hood of gray vapors about their summits, which, in the last rays of the setting sun, will glow and light up like a crown of glory.
At the foot of these fairy mountains, the voyager may have descried the light smoke curling up from a village, whose shingleroofs gleam among the trees, just where the blue tints of the upland melt away into the fresh green of the nearer landscape. It is a little village of great antiquity, having been founded by some of the Dutch colonists in the early times of the province, — just about the beginning of the government of the good Peter Stuyvesant, (may he rest in peace !) and there were some of the houses of the original settlers standing within a few years, built of small yellow bricks brought from Holland, having latticed windows, and gable fronts surrounded with weathercocks.
In that same village, and in one of these very houses (which, to tell the precise truth, was sadly time-worn and weather-beaten), there lived many years since, while the country was yet a province of Great Britain, a simple, good-natured fellow, of the name of Rip Van Winkle. He was a descendant of the Van Winkles who figured so gallantly in the chivalrous days of Peter Stuyvesant, and accompanied him to the siege of Fort Christina. He inherited, however, but little of the martial character of his ancestors. I have observed that he was a simple, good-natured man. He was, moreover, a kind neighbor, an obedient, henpecked husband. Indeed, to the latter circumstance might be owing that meekness of spirit which gained him such universal popularity; for those men are most apt to be obsequious and conciliating abroad who are under the discipline of shrews at home. Their tempers, doubtless, are rendered pliant and malleable in the fiery furnace of domestic tribulation; and a curtain-lecture is worth all the sermons in the world for teaching the virtues of patience and long-suffering. A termagant wife may therefore, in some respects, be considered a tolerable blessing; and, if so, Rip Van Winkle was thrice blessed.
Certain it is that he was a great favorite among all the goodwives of the village, who, as usual with the amiable sex, took his part in all family squabbles, and never failed, whenever they talked those matters over in their evening gossipings, to lay all the blame on Dame Van Winkle. The children of the village, too, would shout with joy whenever he approached. He assisted at their sports, made their playthings, taught them to fly kites and shoot marbles, and told them long stories of ghosts, witches, and Indians. Whenever he went dodging about the village, he was surrounded by a troop of them, hanging on his skirts, clambering on his back, and playing a thousand tricks on him with impunity; and not a dog would bark at him throughout the neighborhood.
The great error in Rip's composition was an insuperable aversion to all kinds of profitable labor. It could not be from the
want of assiduity or perseverance; for he would sit on a wet rock, with a rod as long and heavy as a Tartar's lance, and fish all day, without a murmur, even though he should not be encouraged by a single nibble. He would carry a fowling-piece on his shoulder for hours together, trudging through woods and swamps, and up hill and down dale, to shoot a few squirrels or wild-pigeons. He would never refuse to assist a neighbor, even in the roughest toil; and was a foremost man at all country frolics for husking corn, or building stone fences. The women of the village, too, used to employ him to run their errands, and to do such little odd jobs as their less-obliging husbands would not do for them. In a word, Rip was ready to attend to anybody's business but his own; but as to doing family duty, and keeping his farm in order, he found it impossible.
In fact, he declared it was of no use to work on his farm : it was the most pestilent little piece of ground in the whole country: every thing about it went wrong, and would go wrong, in spite of him. His fences were continually falling to pieces; his cows would either go astray, or get among the cabbages; weeds were sure to grow quicker in his fields than anywhere else; the rain always made a point of setting in just as he had some outdoor work to do: so that though his patrimonial estate had dwindled
away under his management, acre by acre, until there was little more left than a mere patch of Indian corn and potatoes, yet it was the worst conditioned farm in the neighborhood.
His children, too, were as ragged and wild as if they belonged to nobody. His son Rip, an urchin begotten in his own likeness, promised to inherit the habits, with the old clothes, of his father. He was generally seen trooping like a colt at his mother's heels, equipped in a pair of his father's cast-off galligaskins, which he had much ado to hold up with one hand, as a fine lady does her train in bad weather.
Rip Van Winkle, however, was one of those happy mortals, of foolish, well-oiled dispositions, who take the world easy; eat white bread or brown, whichever can be got with least thought or trouble; and would rather starve on a penny than work for a pound. If left to himself, he would have whistled life away in perfect contentment; but his wife kept continually dinning in his ears about his idleness, his carelessness, and the ruin he was bringing on his family. · Morning, noon, and night, her tongue was incessantly going; and every thing he said or did was sure to produce a torrent of household eloquence. Rip had but one way of replying to all lectures of the kind; and that, by frequent use, had grown into a habit. He shrugged his shoulders, shook his head, cast up his eyes, but said nothing. This, however, always provoked a fresh volley from his wife: so that he was fain to draw