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'This may appear incredible;' or 'Truth is stranger than fiction;' or 'We beg to assure the reader that this comes on the most undoubted authority;' or 'Did we not receive this from a friend on whom we could rely, we should be disposed to set it down as a mere fiction of the brain.' But with a faithful reliance, and severe gravity of countenance, he makes you his confidant, and indeed does tell some very hard ones;' but looks you in the face so candidly, that you are fain to receive them into good and honest hearts. How favorably does his straight-forward honesty, in simply spreading before you what he has seen or what he has 'heard tell,' contrast with the arrogance and assumption of our modern tourist, who is driven over the beaten ground, and after an absence of a few months, considerably wiser it may be than when he first set out, comes back to show you the penny that he dropped in Vesuvius, or the extremity of the noses chipped from the statues of Rome; to enlighten you on the subject of religion and manners by the addition of his superficial reflections to the novelty of his narrative. The patience of sensible men is exhausted in listening to these fellows, who would sneer contemptuously at SIR JOHN's stories, yet convey more false impressions in a single page of their books than he in a whole volume: with no freshness to recommend them, but a deal of vanity; and their positive opinions prefaced with, 'When I was in England,' or 'When I was in France;' giving evidence of little enlargement of the mind; imbued with prejudice; stamped all over, like an American penny, with stars and liberty, and not worth a cent. We might mention a dozen such books, from recollection, or from simply letting the eye run over a catalogue or over a bookseller's shelves; but the task is invidious, and would scarcely serve any good purpose, at a time when the facilities of travel are so great, and that which is lightest and most full of emptiness' is first set in motion. These men gather distresses in Ireland, taxes in England, wonders and miracles in Spain or Italy, and manners in America. It is an easy matter now to get facts' and to build up statistics, and to make books, when the cost of transportation is only nominal; yet it is to be questioned if they are so honest, or ever so much to be relied on in the main, as in ancient times, when facts' were fewer, and with great difficulty arrived at, and were grasped by the eager traveller, to be carried to a great distance, by a most toilsome journey, before they had even grown into a small rumor. Facts' may now be had by the basket-full, or made to order of any new theory. Impressed with the superficial nature of modern travels, it was refreshing to read these ancient narratives, and especially to mark their Doric plainness of style and matter-full' pages, compared with the wordy and spun-out narratives of our peripatetic philosophers. Sir THOMAS HERBERT prefaces his travels to the famous Empires of Persia and Industant, as also diuers other kingdomes in the Oriental! Indies and lles adjacent,' with the following poetical address 'To the Reader:'
'HERE thou at lesser pains than he
Mayest behold what he did see;
Thou participat'st his gains,
But he alone reserves the pains.
He travelled not with lucre sotted;
He went for knowledge-and he got it!
Then thank the author: thanks is light;
Who has presented to thy sight
Seas, lands, Men, Beasts, fishes and birds,
'On Good Friday,' says our author, after stating that he took shipping at Deal, with six great and well-manned ships in company, in a few hours coasting close by the Ile of Wight, a sudden borasque or gust assaulted us, which after an hour's rage spent itself and blew us on the third day (double-solemnized that year by being the Feast of Mother and Son) upon the Lizzard's Point. The seven-and-twentieth day, sailing by Bilbo in Galletia, we launched into the Spanish Ocean, where we had no sooner entered but we descried seven tall ships, whom reputing enemies, we bore up to speak with; howbeit they proved friends, Hollanders out of the Levant, who drunk our healths, and saluted us as they passed with a roaring culverin, and we in return vomited forth a like grateful echo. Thus plowing the
liquid seas in merriment till the thirtieth day, made us the sport of danger, struggling with such mighty waves as oftimes made us seem to climb up mountains of salt water, and straitway precipitated headlong as it were 'twixt cloven seas; a good while heaven and sea seeming undeuided. This put me in mind of the third ode in the first Lib. of HORACE, where 'tis said:
'A HEART of brass that man had sure,
The raging seas, not valuing life,
Midst fierce south-west and north-wind strife.'
Of the Canary Isles he remarks: A word of what they were. They knew no God but Nature; were ignorant of the use of fire; shaved with flint-stones; gave their children to be nursed with goats; cultured the earth with the horns of oxen; abominated the slaughter of beasts; for
-'how can they be good
Who dare each day imbrue their hands in blood?'
no meum and tuum; lust and carelessness vailing them so, as little difference was twixt them and other animals. Some glimmering, one would think, they had of the immortality of the soul, for the dead they washed and kept erected in a cave, a staff in one hand and a pail of milk and wine set near him to support and comfort him in his pilgrimage to Elysium. At this day they are reduced to civility, and become Spanish Christians. Canariæ, so called, a multitudine canorum, saith PLINY, about which there is no small difference among writers, some placing them at the Azores, some at the Hesperides; but certain it is they were undiscovered, but more certainly uninhabited, till the yeare 1328, by one MACHAN, an Englishman, from whose relation one LEWIS DE CORDEZA two years after sailed thither.' Proceeding on his voyage, 'the air and ocean contending who should make the greater noise, nevertheless hoping in the LORD, and having the ships of our fleet, which were all disperst, meet joyfully at the Cape of Good Hope, I had better leisure to contemplate that ironiquest satyr of JUVENAL:
'I nunc et ventis animam committe.''
The author rather doubts the limits of the dominion of that mighty potentate PRESTER JOHN, concerning whom the Roman emissaries have spoken liberally: he will not call it a pious fraud, but they assumed too great a liberty in blazoning the success of their labors. After stating at much length the conclusive reasons for his belief, our author says: 'We may well question the extent of his empire, and give it equal credit as we do the library of the European friers found in the Castle of Amara, where, among the rest, were some MS. of ENOCH and LIVY! Of St. Helena he remarks: The Ile is hard to be ascended: not that the passage is craggy, but that it is so precipitous. The sailors have an ironick proverb, 'The way is such as a man may chuse whether he will break his heart going up or his neck coming down.' But being once up, scarce any place can yield a more large and delightful prospect. The land is very even and plain at the top, and swells no where to a deformed rising. Some springs above be sweet which below are brackish. The reason may be, that in their drilling descent they may relish of the salt hills through which it cuts its passage, so that they become salt both by their own composition and the salt breath which the sea evaporates. Nevertheless, there are but two noted rivulets, the one which bubbles down toward the Chappel, the other into the Lemon valley. There are also some ruins of a little town lately demolished by the Spaniards, in that it became a magazine of private trade, in turning and returning out of both Indies. No other monuments or antiquities are there found. Human inhabitants there are none, nor were of late, save that in the year 1591 Captain RENDALL, weighing anchor sooner than was expected, one LEGUR, a mariner, was accidentally left ashore. Eighteen months after, Captain PARKER coming to anchor, found poor LEGUR alive, but so amazed, or rather overjoyed, at his arrival, that he dyed suddenly; by which we see that sudden joy is not easily digested. Howbeit of hogs and goats, here are plenty who agree well-favouredly, and multiply
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 Gybral tar, were by storm driven further west than they desired, 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 is 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 able 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 twinings; and their eye-balls of fire bursting from their heads; while, as they extended their withered arms, and tapering fingers, furnished with blood-hound 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 carniverous 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
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 quivered. 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 see-boy! from the Vampyres-groans from the negroes!) Gentlemen of color! I 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 TITAN 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 dignified 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, the 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 the 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 ST. 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 fetters discarded, and our chains dissolved, we shall stand liberated, 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 has 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 poet must travel in order to reach home. She is continually offending the ear by harsh lines, and the eye with words that are coined or clipped of their rightful syllables. At times she even uses 'las! for alas! Her study of the Hebrew Prophets and ESCHYLUS 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 fancy 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,