Page images

the illustrious Chateaubriand, but possesses very quence which I must think find their excuse rather little value as the result of the reflections of a in his seventy-eight years, than in the necessities sage and philosopher. It bears too evidently under which he was writing, quotes with ostenthe mark of the political school in which the au- tatious humility a flattering letter from the Mayor thor received his early and abiding impressions. of St. Malo, written in October, 1831, informing I doubt if any one can read the chapter, even him that a romantic spot on the sea-shore, near remembering the date, A. D., 1822, without a that town, which he desired to have for a grave, smile, which the illustrious author of the “ Me- had been finally secured for him: and he thus moires d'outre-tombewould deem any thing concludes his preface—“I shall rest then beside but complimentary.

the sea I have so much loved! If my decease He says touching these Memoirs, in the pre- takes place out of France, I desire that my body face written 14th April, 1816, that hard necessity, shall not be brought back to my country till fifty which through his whole life had kept foot upon years shall have elapsed from the date of my his throat, had compelled him to sell them. “No- death. Let my remains be protected from sacbody can know what I suffered in being obliged rilegious autopsy. Let no one take the trouble to mortgage my tomb.” His design had been to seek in my icy brain and in my extinguished to leave the Memoirs to Madame de Chateaubri- heart, the mystery of my being. Death reveals and; who would have used her discretion in pub- not the secrets of life. The idea of a corpse lishing or suppressing them. If he were still travelling post is horrible to me. Bleached and master of them he would, he says, either keep light bones may be easily transported. They them in manuscript, or forbid their publication will be less fatigued during this last journey than till after the lapse of fifty years. “ The Memoirs when I was wearily dragging them hither and have been written,” he continues, " at different thither, laden with my sorrows." epochs and in different countries. Hence the If the above extract had formed a portion of necessary prologues which describe the places his last will and testament, or if it had found where I happened to be and the thoughts which place in a diary, the private record of current occupied me at the moment of resuming the thoughts and feelings, never intended to meet thread of my narrative. It is thus that the the public eye, it would have legitimately claimchanging forms of my life are mingled one with ed the sympathy and respect of the reader. But another. In my moments of prosperity I have it was written only two years ago, the matter of had to speak of my days of adversity : and in the grave having been determined seventeen deep afiliction I have had to wander back to and years ago. He knew that a few weeks after his describe my hours of happiness. My youth pen- death it would be published as the feuilleton of a etrating my old age, the grave experience of years newspaper. Was he, like Alexander Dumas and saddening the frivolity of youth, the rays of my the other feuilletonists of the Parisian press, strisun, from its aurora to its setting, crossing and ving to furnish so many hundred lines in considmingling with each other, have produced in my eration of the ninety-six thousand francs receivrecital a sort of confusion, or if you please, a ed ? or is it simply to be deemed the egotistic sort of undefinable unity. My cradle has some- garrulity of second childhood ? I adopt the latthing of my tomb: my tomb has something of ter hypothesis as the most respectful to the memmy cradle. My sufferings become pleasures, my ory of Chateaubriand. pleasures, pains, so that after reading my Me- Before proceeding with the extract of his chapmoirs I hardly know whether they proceed from ter on the United States, let me aid him in giva brown or a hoary head. I know not whether ing publicity to the correction of an error into this melange will please or displease. There was which he had led the world respecting his name no help for it. It is the fruit of the inconstancy and age. Chateaubriand, it seems, was an auof my fate. The tempests have often left me no thor of world-wide reputation before he knew table whereon to write save the breakers which his own name or age. He publishes verbatim wrecked me. I have been urged to publish du- an extract from the register of births of the comring my life certain portions of these Memoirs. mune of St. Malo, where he was born, and reI prefer to speak from my grave. My narrative marks after it-" It is perceived that I have been will then be accompanied by those voices which mistaken in my published works, wherein I state are sacred, because they issue from the tomb. myself to have been born the 14th October, inIf I have suffered sufficiently in this world to be- stead of the 4th October, 1768. My given names come a blessed shade, in the next, a ray darting are François René, and not François Aufrom the Elysian Fields, shall shed upon my last guste.” pictures a protecting light.

Life becomes me ill. He farther gives some interesting information Perhaps death will be more graceful.” M. Cha- touching the origin of his family name. It turns teaubriand then with a volubility and want of se-Tout to be a much more common name in the

United States than most of us had supposed. Ipilgrimages to the West and to the East, I had add a passage upon this subject :

not discovered the passage to the pole; I had not “My name was originally written Brien, after- ravished glory from the banks of the Niagara, wards Briant and Briand, as French orthogra- whither I had gone to seek her: and I had left phy changed. William of Brittany writes Cas- her seated upon the ruins of Athens. tum-Briani. There is not a name of France First a traveller in America, then a soldier in which does not offer these changes of letters. Europe, I pursued to the end neither of these The Brien family towards the beginning of the careers. An Evil Genius snatched from me the eleventh century, gave their name to a consider- staff and the sword, and placed in my hand the able chateau in Brittany, and this chateau be- pen. came the chief-place of the Barony of Chateau- It was after fifteen other years had rolled by that briand. The arms of Chateaubriand were origi- I found myself in Sparta, gazing one night upon nally pommes de pin,* with the motto, Je sême the heavens, and thinking of the countries which l'or.f Geoffry, baron of Chateaubriand, accom- had formerly witnessed my peaceful or troubled panied St. Louis to the Holy Land. Made pris- slumbers. Amid the forests of Germany, upon the oner at the battle of Massoure, he returned home, heaths of England, on the fields of Italy, in midand his wife Sybille died of joy and surprise upon ocean, and in the woods of Canada, I had bailed beholding him again. St. Louis to recompense the same stars which I then saw burning over his services, granted to Geoffry and his heirs in the country of Helen and Menelaus. But why place of his ancient coat-of-arms a shield of complain to the stars, those unmoving witnesses gules, strewed with fleurs de lys of gold. Cui et of my wandering destiny? One day they will ejus haeredibus, attest the records of the priory of cease to be weary with watching me: and now, Bérée, sanctus Ludovicus tum Francorum rex, indifferent to my fate, I will not ask of these propter ejus probitatem in armis flores lilii auri, stars to shed upon it a sweeter influence, or to loco pomorum pini auri contulit.

restore to me that portion of life which the travI will delay no longer the chapter on the Uni- eller leaves in the regions which he visits. ted States. It was in 1790-91 that Chateaubri

Vere now to revisit the United States I and visited our country.

should not recognize them. Where I left forests, W. W. M. I should find cultivated fields: where I cleared

me a path through the bush-wood, I should travel

upon high-ways. At Natchez, where stood the "Memoirs from Beyond the Tomb." hut of Celuta, now stands a city of five thousand

inhabitants. Chactas might be at present a

member of Congress. I have recently received VOLUME II,

a pamphlet, printed among the Cherokees, which,

in behalf of those savages, is addressed to me as London-- from April to September 1822.” a defender of the liberty of the press. There is

among the Muscogees, the Seminoles, the Chick“Why is it that the solitudes of Erie and On- asaws, a City of Athens, another City of Maratario present themselves now to my imagination thon, another of Carthage, another of Memphis, with a charm which the memory of the brilliant another of Sparta, another of Florence. You Bosphorus does not possess ? The reason is, that find there a county of Columbia, a county of when travelling in the United States I was yet Marengo. The glory of all countries has placed full of illusions. The troubles of France were a name in those very solitudes where I met commencing at the same time with my own ex- father Aubry and the obscure Atala. Kentucky istence. Nothing was finished in me, nothing shows a Versailles, and a territory called Bourfinished in my country. The memory of those bon has a Paris for its capital. All the exiled days is sweet to me, because they recall associa- and all the oppressed who have found refuge in tions of family and of youthful pleasures. Fif- America, have borne there the memory of their teen years later, after my travels in the Levant, country. the Republic, swollen with wrecks and with tears, had rushed, like a torrent of the deluge, into

falsi Simoentis ad undam Despotism. I no longer amused myself with

Libabat cineri Androinache. chimeras ; my souvenirs, taking their origin

The United States possess, under the protecthenceforth in society and in the passions, lost tion of liberty, an image and a souvenir of nearly their virgin whiteness. Disappointed in my two all the celebrated places of antiquity and of mod

* This means what we call the pine-burr, or cone of the ern Europe. In the garden of his country-seat pine tree: not the fruit pine-apple, a species of anana. near Rome, Adrian caused to be imitated all the + I sow, stiew or scatter gold.

monuments of his empire.



Thirty-three highways now lead from Wash- his attention. Thrown by various causes upon ington, as formerly Roman roads started from a desert soil, agriculture and commerce have the capital. They end, after numerous ramifica- been the object of his care. One must provide tions, at the outer limits of the Union, and trace the necessities of life before he can become a lines of communication 25,747 miles in length. thinker. Before planting trees, he must fell the Upon a great number of these roads posts are forest and till the earth. The original colonists, established. One may take the stage for Ohio or whose minds were so engrossed with religious for Niagara, as in my time one took a guide or an controversies, carried, it is true, the passion for Indian interpreter. The means of transport are dispute into the bosom of these forests : but they two fold. Lakes and rivers exist every where had to proceed immediately, axe upon the shoulcounected by cavals. One may travel, beside der, to the conquest of the wilds; and their only the highways, in row-boats and sail-boats, or in pulpit, in the intervals of labor, was the elm tree barges drawn by horses, or in steamers. Fuel is they were hewing. The Americans, as a people, inexhaustible, for immense forests cover mines of have not passed through the several stages of coal rising to the very surface of the earth. age. They left in Europe their childhood and

The population of the United States has in- youth. The innocent accents of the cradle are creased every ten years from 1790 to 1820 at the unknown to them. They never tasted the sweets rate of thirty-five per cent. It is presumed that of the domestic fireside, unaccompanied with rein 1830 the population will amount to 12,875,000 gret of a country they had never seen, which souls. Continuing to double itself every twenty they were never to see; and whose charms, as five years, in the year 1855 it will have reached recounted to them in stories, they sighed for in 25,750,000, and twenty-five years later, in 1880 vain. it will exceed 50,000,000.

There is not in the new Continent either clasThis human sap is making the desert to bloom sic, romantic, or Indian literature. For classic , in every direction. The lakes of Canada, lately literature the Americans have no models; for without sails, are now like docks where frigates romantic they have no middle age; for Indian the and sloops of war, cutters and barques, are con- Americans despise the savages and hold the fortinually crossing the paths of the Indian skiffs ests in horror, as they would a prison in which it and canoes, as the ships and galleys mingle with had been intended to confine them. shallops, punks and long-boats in the waters of It is not therefore a substantive literature, a Constantinople. The Mississippi, the Missouri literature properly so called, that it is to be found and the Ohio no longer flow in solitude. Ships in America. It is a literature of working-men, ascend them. More than two hundred steam- of merchants, of sailors, of tillers of the earth. boats impart animation to their banks. The Americans only succeed in mechanics and

This immense internal navigation, which alone the sciences, because the sciences have their mawould suffice to insure the prosperity of the Uni- terial side. Franklin and Fulton seized lightted States, interrupts not at all their foreign com- ning and steam for the benefit of men. It bemerce. Their ships traverse every sea, they are longed to America to endow the world with the engaged in every species of adventure, bearing discovery, by the aid of which no continent can the star-spangled banner from the West to those henceforth escape the researches of the navigashores of the East, which have never known tor. Poetry and the imagination, cultivated by other than the state of slavery.

a very small number of men of leisure, are reTo complete this surprising picture, one must garded in the United States as puerilities of the figure to himself cities like Boston, New York, earliest and latest stages of life. But the AmerPhiladelphia, Baltimore, Charleston, Savannah, icans have never had an infancy, nor have they New Orleans, lighted at night, filled with horses yet had an old age. and carriages, adorned with Cafés, museums, From this it results that the men engaged in libraries, dancing-rooms, theatres, and offering serious studies must have necessarily taken an all the enjoyments of luxury.

active part in the affairs of their country in order Still you must not seek in the United States to obtain a knowledge of them. They must for that which distinguishes man from other have been actors in their revolution. But it is created beings, for that which is his certificate of sad to remark the prompt degeneracy of talent immortality, which is the ornament of his days. which has taken place from the earlier men of Letters are unknown in the new republic, 'al- the American revolution to those of later days. though they are invited there by a crowd of lite- Yet the latter immediately succeed the former. rary institutious. The American has substituted The first presidents of the republic have a relipositive for intellectual operations. But do not gious, simple, elevated, calm character, of which impute to inferiority his mediocrity in the Arts: is found no trace in the bloody turmoils of our for it is not in that quarter that he has directed own republic and revolution. The solitude with

which the Americans were surrounded reacted There is a gallery of the portraits of distinupon their own nature : and they worked out guished Americans in four volumes octavo: and their liberty in silence. Washington's farewell more singular still, a biography containing the address to the people of the United States might lives of more than a hundred principal Indian have been pronounced by the gravest personages chiefs. Logan, chief of Virginia, pronounced beof antiquity. “How far in the discharge of my fore Lord Dunmore these words : official duties," says the General “I have been

“Colonel Cresap the last Spring, in cold blood guided by the principles which have been delin

and unprovoked, murdered all the relations of eated, the public records and other evidences of my conduct must witness to you and to the world. There runs not a drop of my blood in the veins

Logan not even sparing my women and children. To myself the assurance of my own conscience of any living creature. This called on me for is, that I have at least believed myself to be guided revenge I have sought it; I have killed many: by them.

I have fully glutted my vengeance. For my “Though, in reviewing the incidents of my ad- country I rejoice at the beams of peace. But do ministration, I am unconscious of intentional

not harbor a thought that mine is the joy of fear. error, I am nevertheless too sensible of my many Logan never fealt fear. He will not turn on his defects not to think it probable that I may have heel to save his life. Who is there to mourn for committed many errors. Whatever they may be, Logan ? Not one.” I fervently beseech the Almighty to avert or mitigate the evils to which they may tend. I shall Without loving nature the Americans have apalso carry with me the hope that my country plied themselves to the study of Natural History. will never cease to view them with indulgence ; Townsend, starting from Philadelphia, has travand that, after forty-five years of my life dedica- ersed a-foot the regions which separate the Atted to its service with an upright zeal, the faults lantic from the Pacific ocean, and committed to of incompetent abilities will be consigned to ob- a diary his numerous observations. Thomas livion, as myself must soon be to the mansions of Say, a traveller in Florida, and among the Rocky rest."

Mountains, has published a work upon American Jefferson, in his residence at Monticello, writes, entomology. Wilson, a weaver, turned author, after the death of one of his two children,

has some tolerably finished paintings. "My loss is great indeed. Others may lose of

Coming now to literature, properly so called, their abundance, but I, of my want, have lost though it be, indeed, but a small affair, there are even the half of all I had. My evening prospects nevertheless some writers to be cited in the order now hang on the slender thread of a single life. of novelists and poets. The son of a Quaker, Perhaps I may be destined to see even this last Brown, is the author of Wieland, which Wieland cord of parental affection broken.”

is the source and model of the romances of the Philosophy, rarely affecting, is so here to a New School. Unlike his countrymen, “ I presovereign degree. This is not the idle plaint of fer," said Brown, “wandering in the forests to recluse who had never borne his part in the strifes threshing wheat.” Wieland—the hero of the of life. Jefferson died 4th July, 1826, in the story, is a Puritan whom heaven has commanded 84th year of his age and the fifty-fourth of his to slay his wife. country's independence. His remains repose * • I brought thee hither to fulfil a divine combeneath a single stone, having for epitaph only mand. I am appointed thy destroyer and dethese words,

stroy thee I must.' Saying this I seized her THOMAS JEFFERSON

wrists. She shrieked aloud and endeavored to Author of the Declaration of Independence.*

free herself from my grasp: but her efforts were

vain. “Surely, surely, Wieland, thou dost not Pericles and Demosthenes had pronounced the mean it! Am not thy wife and wouldst thou funeral oration of the young Greeks who fell for kill me? Thou wilt not: and yet-I see-thou a people which disappeared soon after them. art Wieland no longer! A fury-resistless and Brackenridge, in 1827, celebrated the death of the horrible possesses thee-spare me-spare meyoung Americans from whose blood a people has help!-help!' Till her breath was stopped she started forth.

shrieked for help-for mercy!" Wieland stran* M. Chateaubriand has not correctly quoted the inscrip. Igles his wife and experiences unspeakable raption on Mr. Jefferson's lomb. It is as follows:

ture beside the lifeless corpse. The horror of Here lies buried

our modern inventions is here surpassed. Brown THOMAS JEFFERSON

formed himself by the reading of Caleb Williams; Author of the Declaration of American Independence,

and he imitated in Wieland a scene of Othello. Of the Statile of Virginia for Religious Freedoin,

At present the American novelists, Cooper and And Father of the University of Virginia. Washington Irving, are forced to betake them


rest, the

selves to Europe to find criticism and readers. as the United States had near them only the The tongue of the great English writers has be- colonies of a trans-atlantic kingdom, no serious come creolized, provincialized, barbarized, and yet war was probable. But now are not rivalries to has acquired no energy in the midst of virgin be apprehended? Let both sides rush to arms; nature. They have been obliged to compile a let a military spirit take possession of the chilglossary of American expressions.

dren of Washington, and some great captain As for the American poets, their versification may arise and mount the throne. Glory loves is agreeable, but they rise little above the com- crowns. mon level, still the ode To the Evening Wind- I have said that the States of the North, of the Sun-rise upon the MountainThe Rivulet, and South and of the West, were divided in intersome other poems are worth reading. Halleck ests. Every one knows this. If these States has sung the death of Bozzaris, and George Hill secede from the Union, will it be attempted to rehas wandered among the ruins of Greece. Of duce them by force? Then what a ferment of Athens he sings

hostilities is cast into the social body! Will the

seceding States maintain their independence ? "There sits tbe queen of temples.-gray and lone. Then what discords will burst forth among the Sbe, like the last of an imperial line,

emancipated States ? These republics, beyond Has seen her sister structures, one by one, To Time their gods and worshippers resign."

seas, disunited, will form but feeble unities, of

no weight in the social balance. They would, It is pleasant to me who have visited as a one after another, be subjugated by some one of traveller the shores of Hellas and Atlantis to the republics. (I pass without allusion to the hear the independent voice of a land unknown grave subjects of foreign alliances and intervento antiquity, mourning over the lost liberty of the tions.) Kentucky, peopled by a more rustic, ancient world.

hardy, war-like race of men, would seem des

tined to become the conquering State. In this Dangers for the United States.

State, which would swallow



of one would not fail to erect itself upon the Will America preserve its form of government ? ruins of the power of all. Will there not be a separation of the States ? I have spoken of the dangers of war. I must Has not a deputy from Virginia already advo- also speak of the dangers of a long peace. The cated the system of antique liberty with slavery, United States, since their independence, have, the offspring of paganism, against a deputy from except during a few months, enjoyed the most Massachusetts, who argued for modern liberty profound peace. While a hundred battles were without slaves, such as christianity has made it ? shaking Europe to its foundations, they were culThe States of the North and South, are they not tivating their fields in safety. Hence an overopposed to each other in character and interests? flowing of population and wealth with all the Will not the States of the West, too distant from inconveniences of excess of riches and population. the Atlantic, desire to have a distinct govern- Suppose hostilities were committed upon an ment? On one side, is the Federal Government unwarlike people ; can they resist? Would forsufficiently strong to maintain the Union, and tunes and habits consent to sacrifices ? How confine each State within its limits ? On the other, forego the pleasant habitudes, the comforts, the if the Executive power be increased, will not indolent ease of life ? China and India, listless despotism, with the guards and privileges of the in their muslin, have been ever subjected to foreign dictator, be the result ?

domination. The condition suited to a free society The isolation of the United States has allowed is one of peace, moderated by war, and of war temthem to rise and Aourish. It is doubtful whether pered by peace. The Americans have already they could have survived and grown in Europe. worn for too long a time, without interruption, Federal Switzerland subsists in the midst of us. the olive crown. The tree which furnishes it is Why? Because it is small, poor, occupying a not indigenous to their shores. The mercantile little space at the foot of the mountains, a nur- spirit begins to invade them. Interest is becomsery of soldiers for kings, and the rendezvous for ing their national vice. Already the play of the fashionable travellers.

banks of the different states is producing embarSeparated from the old world, the population rassment, and bankruptcy threatens the public of the United States yet inhabits the solitudes. fortune. So long as liberty produces gold, an Its wilds have been its liberty. But already the industrial republic performs wonders; but when conditions of its existence are being modified. the gold is gained, or spent, then vanishes its love The existence of the democracies of Mexico, of of independence, which was not founded upon Columbia, of Peru, of Chili and Buenos-Ayres, moral sentiment, but was the product of the troubled though they be, is a danger. So long thirst of gain and of the passion of industry.

« PreviousContinue »