Page images

even to admiration; happy in their ease and safety till ships arrive there for their refreshment.' He passes the islands called the Gorgades ; leaving these on a more westerly course, coasted part of the American continent, Guiano, Florida, Virginia, New-England. 'Desiring rather in this place,' proceeds the author, to vindicate the truth, which of long time has been either defamed, or so eclipst, as the reality of the first discovery is not well known, being nevertheless attributed to COLUMBUS; I shall therefore, in the first place, see what, either by prophetic pens or reason, otherwise upon record, that may point toward that great, nay greatest part of the world, which for upward of five thousand years, and during those mighty contests for an universal supremacy by the monarchs of the earth, was concealed; so as, until the only wise God thought fit to give more perfection to navigation, it seemed totally unknown and undiscovered. Plato, who was contemporary with ALEXANDER the Great, is one of the first. He, in his dialogue betwixt TIMÆUS and Critios, discour. ses, but obscurely, of a large Occidental Iland, which being without a name, from the view he seems to make into the Atlantic seas, gives it the name of Atlas; land in greatness comparable to Asia and Africa united. ARISTOTLE, his condisciple, approves of his conjecture, albeit he takes it only as a supposition. Theophrastus also, in his book of Rarities, published two thousand years ago, among other things, relates how that some merchants sailing through the Straits of Gybraltar, were by storm driven further west than they de. sired, by which accident they descried land, but found it unpeopled. It is the opinion of most that that land was the Azores, for the iles Columbus first found out when he made his first discovery were fully planted. The author then proceeds to discourse in an interesting manner of the landing of Welshmen upon these shores ‘somewhere about the yeare 1100. But of these antique travels more anon.

SANDS' • BLACK VAMPYRE.'— Our closing passage of the Black Vampyre' left the African Prince, attended by his new wife ZEMBO, standing near the spot where her three husbands, several children, and the remains' of her first baby, were deposited in a row.' The story proceeds to describe the exhumation of the body of the late widow's last-buried son ; the extraction of the still fresh heart, from which the blood is pressed, and commended to the lips of the astounded mother. • Swear,' cried the Vampyre, ‘or if that against your principles, affirm, by this dirty blood and bloody dirt; by this watery blood and bloody water; by this watery dirt and dirty water; that you will never disclose in any manner what you have seen and shall see this night! Swear and drink!' The affrighted woman declines taking the oath ; at which her new husband foams with madness, 'till the white slaver flows down his sable limbs.' He stamps violently on the earth, which seems to heave as with the throes of an earthquake: 'Immediately the tumuli yawned ! The ponderous stones and slabs were shaken from their ancient sockets; and the ghastly dead, in uncouth attitudes, crawled from their nooks; with their hair curling in tortuous and serpent iwinings; and their eye-balls of fire bursting from their heads; while, as they extended their withered arms, and tapering fingers, furnished with blood-bound claws, their gory shrouds fell in wild drapery around them! The lady now finds herself surrounded by spectres, and loses all consciousness. When reason returned, she found herself in the same place; and it was also the midnight hour. She was lying by the grave of Mr. PERSONNE, and her breast was stained with blood. A wide wound appeared to have been inflicted there, but was now cicatrized. Imagine if you can her surprise, when, by a certain car. niverous craving in her maw, and by putting this and that together, she found that she was a — VAMPYRE! and gathered from her indistinct reminiscences of the preceding night, that she had been then sucked ; and that it was now her turn to eject the peaceful tenants of the grave! With this delightful prospect of immortality before her, and believing the Prince a potent magician, who could rouse the dead from their cerements and turn the planets from their courses, she obeyed his command to follow him. They prosecuted their

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

nocturnal march through closely-wooded and solemn groves, until they descended into a profound valley, where the light of the pale planet of magic adoration streamed and quiv. ered. By continual descent, they seemed to have penetrated the bowels of a cavern, whose ramifications ran under the sea; as they heard a murmuring roar, as of the ocean, above their heads: 'Its largest chamber was, to speak catachrestically, so artfully concealed by nature, that no one, not instructed by an adept in its subterranean topography, could ever have detected the secret of its existence. It had been in former days a place of deposit and asylum for the Buccaniers; and its situation had been since known only to the professors of the Obeah art, who held here their midnight orgies. It seemed, at first view, a vast hall of Arabian romance; supported by immense shafts, and studded with precious stones; so various and beautiful were the hues which the different spars assumed, in the light of an hundred torches, blazing in every quarter, and illuminating the farthest recesses of the cave. The walls were decorated with other appendages, which added to the mystery, if not to the embellishment of the scene; being irregularly stained with blood; decorated with rude tapestry of many-colored plumage, and stuccoed with the beaks of parrots; the teeth of dogs, and alligators; bones of cats ; broken glass and egg-shells; plastered with a composition of rum and grave-dirt, the implements of Negro witchcraft! At one extremity of the extensive apartment, on a kind of natural throne, sat several blackamoors in sumptuous Moorish apparel; whom, by their swollen forms, and remarkable eyes, Mrs. Personne knew to be Ghouls; and among whom she recognised her late husband. The whole range of this vast amphitheatre, sweeping from before the throne, was occupied by slaves, rudely attired, and imperfectly armed with clubs and missiles; a decent platoon of black-guards were posted before the Vampyre monarchs; and in the centre, a band of musicians performed an exquisite symphony. The soft strains of the Merriwang; the lively notes of the Dundo; and the martial accompaniment of the Goombay, made, with their united noises, a discordant harmony, whose powers the lyre of Orpheus could not equal; and which would certainly be enough to frighten all the hosts of Pandemonium.'

The speech of the African Prince, which succeeds, we suspect to be a “palpable hit at the bombast which the Irish Counsellor Phillips had at that time rendered so popular:

*THE oratorio being finished, the African Prince arose, and making an obeisance to the company, cleared his throat, and began to address them as follows: 'Gentlemen and Vampyres!' - but the Vampyres expressing their resentment against this breach of etiquette, he corrected himself: "Vampyres and Gentlemen!' - but the negroes were no more willing to come last than the Vampyres, and a loud growl, accompanied by a slight hiss, again interrupted the orator. He was not, however, disconcerted, but like Mr. Burke, thundered out an iteration of the offensive sentence. "Yes,' said he, 'I repeat it, Vampyres and Gentlemen! Shall not the immortal precede the mortal ? Shall not those whose diet surpasses the nectar and and ambrosia of celestials, precede the ephemeral race who fatten on the unclean juice of brutes, the rank essence of esculent productions, or the nauseous liquor of the distillery ? (Applause --- hear ! hear ! and sec-boy! from the Vampyres— groans from the negroes !) Gentlemen of color! 1 appeal to yourselves; shall not the descendants of the gods be named before the offspring of the earth-born image, whom TITAN impregnated with celestial fire ? For PROMETHEUS was the first Vampyre. You must all know, as you have undoubtedly read ÆsCHYLUS, that the vulture which preyed on his liver was neither fish, flesh, nor fowl. He is called a dog, which makes him a quadruped; he is represented as creeping, which proves him an insect; and is said to have wings, which shows that he was a bird. Now, from this amphibious monster have descended the Crows, the Jackalls, and the Blood-hounds, the pirate Bat of Madagascar, and the man-killing Ivunches of Chili; the Sharks; the Crocodiles; the Krakens; the Horse-leeches; the Cape-cod Sea Serpents; the Mermaids; the Incubi; and the Succubi! (Loud cheering from the Vampyres.) From Tıran himself, descended the Cyclopes, and all other ancient and modern Anthropophagi; and, in lineal descent, the Moco tribe of our own Eboes, to whom I have the honor of being related. These of you, too, are his posterity, who, after your deaths, return to your native land, the true Elysium; where the balmy bowl of the Coco, the soft bloom of the Anana, and the coal-black beauties of the clime of love, shall forever reward your fortitude, and steep in forgetfulness the memory of your wrongs. (hear ! hear from the negroes.) But none of these genera or species of our order must longer engage your dignitied and charitable attention. I come to ourselves, full-blooded, unadulterated, immortal blood-suckers! To ourselves, whether Ghouls, or

Afrits, or Vampyres; Vroucolochas, Vardonlachos, or Broucolokas; to ourselves, the terror of the living and of the dead, and the participants of the nature of both; to ourselves, tho emblems at once of corruption and of vitality ; blotted from the records of existence, and replenished to repletion with circulating life ; abandoned by the quick, and unrecognised by tho dead; • at once relics and relicts; rocked on the bases of our own eternities; the chronicles of what was — the solemn and sublime mementoes of what must be! (unqualified approbation from both sides of the house.) The estate of Vampyrism is a fee-tail, and may be docked in two different ways. The first mode is the sanguinary practice of perforating the subject with a stake ; and this is final. The other is produced by the gentler operation of the narcotic potion you behold in this phial; by whose lenient and opiate influence the individual is restored to the plight in which he was previous to his death, or his becoming a Vampyre; it belongs to the Obeah mysteries. But to come to the object of our present meeting. Sublime and soul-elevating theme! The emancipation of the negroes! The consecration of the soil of Sr. DOMINGO to the manes of murdered patriots in all ages! No matter whether the bill of sale was scrawled in French or in English; no matter whether we were taken prisoners in a battle between the Leophares and the Jakoffs, or in a skirmish between the Samboes and the Sawpits; no matter whether we were bought for calico and cotton, or for gunpowder, or for shot; no matter whether we were transported in chains or in ropes, in a brig, or a schooner, or a seventy-four! The first moment we come ashore on St. Domingo, our souls shall swell like a sponge in the liquid element; our bodies shall burst from their fetters, glorious as a curculio from its shell; our minds shall soar like the car of the æronaut, when its ligaments are cut; in a word, O my brethren! we shall be free! Our setters discarded, and our chains dissolved, we shall stand liberatod, redeemed, emancipated, and disenthralled by the irresistible genius of UNIVERAL EMANCIPATION!' (Unparalleled bursts of unprecedented applause !!)

Such was the report of this oration, 'taken down in short-hand by ZEMBO;' and with this we take our leave of · The Black Vampyre.'


Miss BARRETT's Poems. – Graham's Magazine for January has a criticism upon the recently-published poems of Miss ELIZABETH B. BARRETT, which may perhaps surprise the readers of certain other criticisms upon the same work which have appeared in this meridian; unless indeed it should chance to be generally known why it is, that much praise may spring reciprocally from a very little. Volumes have sometimes been written upon a note. The germ being favorable, a · large growth' is a natural consequence. The critique of our contemporary yields, as did the KNICKERBOCKER, ample credit to Miss BARRETT's genius ; yet it is compelled to admit that she is a great offender against the laws of taste, and advises her to choose some mental ground where she can be met by the general mind. The subjoined is equally forcible and just :

•Her poetic feeling is greater than her poetic power, She has more of the vision than of the faculty' divine. Her poetry is the production of a mind reared in solitude, and keeping company chiefly with the great of old.' She has had little of the mental discipline which comes from a familiarity with the actual life of men and women. Her own existence has been passed chiefly in the world of thought and imagination. She bas brooded, and studied, and meditated more than she has written, or conversed. She has not much skill in the use of language. nor much knowledge of those avenues to the heart and understanding through which the words of the poct must travel in order to reach home. She is continually offending the ear by harsh lines, and the eye with words that are coinod or clipped of their rightful syllables. At times she even uses 'las! for alas ! Her study of the Hebrew Prophets and Æschylus has impressed her mind with a gigantic grandeur of feeling, which she can only express in a phraseology elaborately indefinite, or inartistically rugged. The formless and the unutterable she admires in their formlessness and unutterability. Sometimes a vague grandeur, a sublime obscurity, a mysterious and unspeakable something, which is substance without name or form, seems to weigh heavily upon her heart, and to crush her thoughts and fancies into a confused mass of half-shaped images and broken fragments of ideas. She often heaps words on words, and metaphor on metaphor, to no other purpose than to form a pile of magnificent language, which still does not reach up to the thought. Things swell into indistinct but colossal proportions as her eye lights on them, and their corporal substance is turned into huge masses of vapor. Some of her poems remind the reader of a cloudy day, without rain, occasionally lit by a keen flash of lightning or a warm burst of sunshine. Words are personified instead of things, and capital letters take the place of ideas. She hymns praises to the dark, and falls into raptures with the inscrutable. Her funcy resembles a sombre hall, through which occasionally a strain of sweet or powerful music winds or peals,

· And shapes, which have no certainty of shape,
Drift duskly in and out.'

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

CONVERSATION. — There is a freshness, a flash, a brilliancy of conversation, which is indescribable, when kindred spirits meet, and the time present seems like some happiest segment of a spiritual existence. But to keep up the impression; to chain down the lightning; to transmit or render abiding that unrestricted play of passion, wit, and sentiment, the eloquence which speaks directly from the heart, at the same time to render intelligible the quick and subtle transitions of thought — what rapid dexterity of Art can do it? And thus every day is a kind of treasure lost, of which the subtle charm escapes forever, and no vestige can be preserved from time. This is a destruction which none seem duly to estimate. For complete works of art, which are decayed or lost, we are scarcely consoled by the ample riches which remain. Many a noble poem has perished ; many a splendid work is only known to have existed; many a fragment lies neglected in the dust, to show how glorious was the full conception; and when Alexandria shone with that baleful fire which consumed in one night the learning and poetry of ages, the eyes which looked on their destruction were suffused with tears, and the lamentation of the world has been a perpetual epitaph over their ashes. But none regard as things lost, or stop to compute iheir value if gained, of the bright intelligence and converse of the hour. Alas! are a few short and pithy sayings all which have come down to us of the wise men of Greece? Is the 'know thyself' of Solon, and the several adages of Chico, PITTACUS, Bias, PerianDER, CLEOBULUS and THALES, all the wisdom which escaped from their lips at times when they spoke not as professed teachers, but whatever the occasion prompted? We know DEMOSTHENES at the bar, Cicero at the forum, Cæsar on the battle-field; what would we give to know them where the hard-earned, impetuous diction of the first, the profuse polish of the second, the versatile attainments of the latter, and the studied art of all, should forget themselves; all frigid ceremonial be banished from the social board, and thought burst from the rules and precepts which bind it down, and soar away into a more elastic element ? Conversation may be erratic though brilliant; it may be hard to appreciate its fine connexion ; it may pour forth volumes in an hour, garnered from every treasury of knowledge; but if the links are many, the chain may be all golden. It admits of every variety, adapts itself to all tastes, and begets more novelty and splendor than the hardest study can infuse into composition. It exhibits gems brighter than those of poetry, reasonings deep as the logic of the schools, eloquence more transcendent than the orator's; but better than all, it is too sudden, 100 natural, to admit of any disguise ; it involuntarily reveals the whole inner structure and affections of the heart. No wit is apt to be so subtle, no pathos so touching, no fancy so daring, as that which does not ó smell of the lamp,' and which the very occasion brings forth. Even as in music, the tenderest and most passionate is not that which has resulted from some fixed determination to compose it, but which has never been written down in notes, simply because it was impossible. It does not consist in themes varied by great masters; not in the crash of instruments; not in the anthem which rolls like thunder through the cathedral arches; not in the overwhelming chorus; not in the utmost passion which art feigns upon the strings; but that which, from some instant impression upon the heart, the brain, is born in an instant, like the blush of modesty or the tints of the rainbow, which is no sooner past than obsolete. One sits down to an instrument, and would ex. press some feeling too deep to be told in words. The time, the hour, may be one which disposes the mind 10 tenderness, when twilight melts into the evening shades, and memory calls up some dear image from the dead. The strings are passive. A few chords are waked; artless, but understood. Then some spirit seems to arouse, like that of an Æolian harp, which swells like a blast of the wild wind, and dies away in the sweetest murmurs. Like that Miserére which is played during Passion Week at Rome, which begins sadly and scarce audibly in the darkness of the cathedral, and has not rapt you into transport until the whole place is blazing with light. We have often thought how much impassioned music has van. ished forever into air with the ecstacy which gave it birth. What combinations! what

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

sudden chords! what quick thoughts of genius conceived, expressed, filling the soul brimfull; then gone beyond recovery! So in conversation. It is the merit of preserving so much of the passing hour, that has rendered Boswell's book the most charming of its kind. The written works form but small part of the emanations of a great mind, of the sparks and scintillations which attrition kindles. There is the flash of wit, so sudden and so subtle in its elements, that its very nature is to evanesce; the apt thought, which must not be changed in its apt expression; the spontaneous eloquence, which gathers its passion from the passing object; from the thunder-cloud which breaks that instant overhead, from the sunshine which bursts suddenly on the valley, from the voice of a small bird, or the expanding beauties of a flower; there are the gorgeous visions, painted by a single dash of description ; the inspiration, enkindled in a moment, but which vanishes like the early cloud or like the morning dew. Who is there that can watch a man so closely as to lose nothing of the divine essenc

sence of genius which is continually escaping, as a candescent body tbrows off its particles of light?

GossIP WITH READERS AND CORRESPONDENTS. - It is not our wont to stretch the contributors to this Magazine upon a Procrustean bed; to make them say precisely what we should wish them to say, up 'n all subjects. It is sufficient for us, if the purpose which they aim to serve is a desirable one in the main. In this regard it was, that we placed unclipped in the hands of the printer the initial paper of the present number, which we deem somewhat too sweeping and general in its conclusions; and yet the national cheerfulness and independence which it would inculcate, and the tendency to ultraism in every thing, for which as a country we are remarkable, which it condemns, will receive the approbation of all candid and sensible minds. : THANKS to a favorite contributor for the following sketch of an odd. philosopher’-friend of his. The theme is done to a turn' in the individual specimen: “To draw out' certain characters where you find them distinctly marked, and distinguished from the common herd (especially if their matériel be somewhat soft and dactile,) is a capital amusement, though it may be a little cruel; yet it is excusable, on the same ground that you run a pin through specimens' of insects. Some men have so many traits entirely original, that you scarce think of them in connection with the genus homo. They stand aloof. You forget that they have many bidden points of resemblance; that they have like passions; you only notice that in them which is different. As you would not call a monkey a man, so you hardly think of those who possess these mental eccentricities as fellow-beings. Such a one is not a man: he is 'a TOMPKINS.' There goes “a BRUMMEL.' I have been inspecting “a Bilcox' to day. What is a Bilcox ? What I have in view is the very shallowest philosopher. The current has no depth, and scarcely covers, much less conceals, the pebbles. Yet it has a certain sparkling vivacity. With a thin stream it goes squirming about; meets a big stone, and runs around it; encounters a stick, and is confounded a moment; then runs on in precipitate haste, and glories in its shallowness; comes foul of an opposing current and dances round, then on again; and however checked, somehow gets beyond the obstacle, and bears upon its surface a smile and a dimple of eternal complacence. Such is the small-beer philosophy which makes so many corks to pop, and contains within it such an 'industrial principle ;' an exemplification of which I saw ' working on a hot Sunday last August. An old woman, who kept a stand by Washington-Square, had a regular pitched battle with one of her bottles, which got spreeing on sassafras-roots. Pop! wbiz-z! phiz-Z-Z-zz!-- down it fell on the pavement, and the unruly element gushed out; snatched in her arms, it flew cascading into the willow tree; and after a sharp contention, she got her thumb over the stopper, whence it succeeded in forcing itself out laterally, and few into her eyes, until the unruly spirit was exhausted. That fuss, it is to be feared, cost the old lady sixpence! But to return to Bilcox, He is not worth a brass farthing; nay, he is "extremely indebted' to all his friends ; VOL. XXV.


« PreviousContinue »