Imagens das páginas

as have been in the habit of considering the existence of the Great Sea Serpent as little deserving of credit, we do not deem it necessary to encroach further upon their patience. Our chief object in the preceding examination has been to shew, not only that certain animals, which, by a great majority of voices, have been long regarded as inseparable from the legends of fable and romance, do actually exist, but also, that the proof of their existence is not to be attributed solely, as some have supposed, to the discoveries of recent writers; on the contrary, that all the most remarkable and characteristic features in their forms and habits, may be found recorded in the works of the Scandinavian authors who flourished about and preceding the middle of the last century. In regard to the Kraken, which formed the subject of our first communication, it may be observed, that it is still exceedingly difficult to form a very decisive opinion of its real nature, or to separate its genuine history from the dense mass of fiction and exaggeration with which it is at present obscured. At the same time, we certainly consider the different accounts to which we have referred, however vague and uncertain they may be deemed, quite sufficient to establish the existence of an enormous marine animal, the attributes of which are of a nature sufficiently singular to account for the addition of those fabulous and almost supernatural powers with which it has been gifted by the superstitious apprehensions of the vulgar. An attentive consideration of such of its characters as may be relied upon, seems to warrant the conclusion, that the great northern animal, called the Kraken, is more nearly allied to the Colossal Cuttle Fish of the Indian and African seas, than to any other creature of which we have ever heard; and that these two species should be regarded as analagous, differing only in as far as animals of the same genus are found to differ from each other, the nature of whose physical and geographical position is so entirely dissimi


As to the Sea Serpent, it is unnecessary to point out an agreement so obvious, as that which might be perceived to exist between the accounts of the Norwegian writers and those given of the same or a similar animal

by the Orcadians and Americans. Its appearance in the finest months of summer, during the calmest and most settled weather; its resemblance, while on the surface of the water, to a long chain of casks or floats; the rapidity of its motions; and its general aspect and character; are described in such a manner by the one, as immediately to recal to recollection the words of the other. The existence of both these animals, we think, may be relied upon, although the exact nature of the former is mysterious, and that of the latter sufficiently obscure. Νο doubt much has been accomplished by the assiduity of modern naturalists, yet it is evident that much remains still to be done. "There are more things in heaven and earth than are dream't of in our philosophy." W.



If any of your readers (who have arrived at the years of discretion) were inclined to hesitate about adopting the conclusions of my former letter, I imagine the answer to that letter, which has since appeared in your Magazine,* must have greatly contributed to remove their scruples. The young lady, who has done me the honour to be so witty at my expense, was not aware, when she composed her smart paragraphs, that she was, in truth, advocating, with all her might, the cause she supposed herself to be confounding. How she has happened to discover me under the signature of " an Old Indian," I cannot exactly discover; but it may be as well for me, before I go any farther, to confess very frankly to you and to your readers, that the hints she has given you respecting my person are, upon the whole, pretty correct. I am old and gouty, Mr Editor, but that is nothing to the arguments of Miss Alpina. It is sufficient for all the purposes of the present controversy, that I can hear and see. I also have made my discoveries, but of these in the sequel.

There is only one thing in the letter of Miss Alpina, which can be by any sophistry twisted into an argument in

* See No XI.

[ocr errors]

favour of the rout-and-ball-system. will, it was the papistry of flirtation. It is this, that so far from the oppor- He had his relics like a good Catholic, tunities of gallantry and flirtation be- his fan, his glove, or his thimble ; a miniature, if he could procure one, was a treasure above all price. He was a saint-worshipper, and the supremacy of some favourite Catharine or Bridget did not prevent him from reserving an abundant portion of his veneration for Cecilia, Martha, Agnes, and all the fair innocents of his calendar. Alpina will say that the reformation is a blessing; I doubt whether the adoption of a less stately ceremonial has been as useful in the temple of Love, as in that of Religion.

ing lessened by the discontinuance of small parties, they are, in fact, multiplied beyond all calculation, by means of the necessary bustle, confusion, neglect, and hubbub of great ones. She says well, that in the thick of a rout, or in the lobby of a house turned upside down by a ball; or, in the chaos of a supper for forty or fifty people packed into a bed-closet, there occur abundant occasions for sapping, in detail, all the outworks of courtship, or even for popping the match destined to blow up the citadel itself. Alpina is herself a melancholy example, that, however favourable might be the opportunity, it is not unfrequently neglected. It seems that there is nothing to prevent the enemy from drawing his line as close, as he pleases; there is every reason to suspect that he might easily gain a party within the fortress, who would be happy, by all means in their power, to facilitate his entrance; -surely he is not much set upon the conquest, otherwise he would make some use of" the favourable hour."

The truth is, that there is no want of flirtation among our young gentlemen and ladies my complaint is, that there is too much flirtation of one kind, the false, the superficial, the coxcombical, the non-chalant; and very, very little of another kind, which I prefer the true, the hearty, the sentimental, the Philandering, old-fashioned flirtation. It moves my spleen, Mr Editor, when I go into a ball-room, or a routroom, to see with what a confident, self-satisfied, free-and-easy manner, the Alpinas of the present day suffer themselves to be addressed by their beaux. When a young gentleman of my time approached a young lady, you could read love in some one or other of its shapes or shadings, in all the workings of his countenance. His general deportment was one of a faroff, respectful, almost adoring, submission; a smile shone upon him like a beam from above, he received a whisper with the veneration due to an oracle of Heaven.

When the humility of his devotion procured for him a moment of communion with his deity, his countenance glowed with the fervency of a more than earthly rapture. His worship was formal, no doubt; if you

I am by no means desirous of being severe on matters at home, but I must confess my conviction, that a British ball-room is a thing, the absurdities of which are in a great measure peculiar and unrivalled. I remember when things wore a very different aspect; but the present mode of dancing is, I think, indeed an abomination. Without the airiness of French, the sentiment of German, or the splendour of Spanish execution, it is a vain and fruitless attempt to ingraft the graces of continental dancing upon the aboriginal coarseness of the reel. When I was a young man, I used to see the country lads and lasses dance pretty much in the same manner at their kirns, and I thought it suited them and their habits extremely well. Aş for the quadrille, that is a late importation, the use of which has not yet, and I believe never will, become familiar to us. I never see four grave, gloomy, Edinburgh beaux, figuring in it with four stiff, prim, saddled misses, without being reminded, in the most lively manner, of some of the cuts in Holbein's dance of death.The waltz is not so bad a thing abroad as it is here. Foreigners continue to smile it off as a matter of a course, but our waltzing couples seem always to be impressed with a consciousness of guilt. With them it has quite the appearance of a serious and deliberate offence; but perhaps Miss Alpina may be of opinion that all this adds to the gout.

The young ladies may depend upon it, that this vile system of dancing is a poor substitute for the elegant and stately minuets which I remember to have seen performed by their grandmothers, in an assembly room far smaller, but far more splendid, grace

ful, and attractive, than that of George Street. In dancing, as in every thing else, the old barriers have been broken down. The revolutionary spirit has been at work. Loose, vulgar, and democratic ideas have been introduced into the world of fashion. For my part, I am still a stickler for all the old prejudices, the divine right of beauties, and the legitimate subjection of beaux. Perhaps my aversion to a modern ball is rendered more intense by the habits of my long Indian life. I confess that I have been so much used to associate the idea of dancing with those attributes which belong to its practitioners in Hindostan, that I do not find it easy to look on any of our home exhibitions with the eyes of an Englishman. I doubt whether, even if our young ladies should revive minuets, I should be able to look at them without being reminded of a ramjunee. I remember hearing my friend, old Jonathan Duncan, governor of Bombay, tell a story of a native of high rank, who once visited him at the Presidency. Mrs Duncan, it seems, had a ball in the evening, and the Mussulman was a looker on, while all the beauty and fashion of the station mingled in the mazes of the dance. After one or two country dances had been gone through, he drew Jonathan into a window, and signified to him, that a particular young lady (I forget her name) had pleased his eye, and that he hoped the governor would permit him to add her to his haram. Jonathan was struck with horror, and endeavoured with all his eloquence, to convince his guest that the thing was impossible, the lady perfectly virtuous, &c. &c. The Mussulman bowed himself, and appeared satisfied, but afterwards told a friend of mine, that he saw well enough the crafty old gentleman wished to keep the natch gul to himself. I am afraid the ladies will not easily pardon me for saying, that I really sympathise at times with the blunder of this Oriental.

So much for a ball, Mr Editor-as for routs, I confess very honestly that the squeeze is the principal cause of my hatred to them. The heat, the crushing, the buzz, the elbowing, the chattering, the pawing, are very good for those that like them. I have seen the young lady who answered my first

letter, undergo the whole process, at least fifty times within these two years; but alas! alas! Alpina, what has come of it? You know as well as I do, that by far the greatest part of the pinching and rubbing falls to the share of the heiresses. You know they are the only persons who hear the question popped, and I leave it with you to decide whether that would not go on as well without the squeeze as with it. At all events, I hope the ladies who invite me to their routs will henceforth keep some little antichamber for frail toes and whist.

I am no admirer of Calvinistic divinity, Mr Editor,-I was bred a nonconformist, and I am still an Episcopalian,-but I own to you I have been extremely flattered to find, that my notions, in regard to these modern gayeties, coincide very nearly with those of the most popular preacher of this church-going city. Upon the report of one of my nieces (who backbit him a whole evening after coming from church) I ventured to go to St George's a few Sundays ago, and certainly had the satisfaction to hear all my own opinions touching these matters, supported by a host of arguments which I had never thought of. In short, I find that King David, St Paul, &c. were all " Old Indians" in their day, and set their faces, as stoutly as I do mine, against the crowded hops and at-homes, in the beaux monde of their city. As I have no personal acquaintance with any of the presbyterian clergy, I take this way of returning my best thanks to the ingenious preacher; long may he rebuke the givers and frequenters of balls and routs, and may all his sermons leave upon the minds of his hearers the same warm impression which I am conscious I myself received, in favour of the good venerable system of fat-dinners and suppers for the old-and quiet, sedate, sentimental tea-drinkings for the young. I may add, that I think his abuse of the theatre was rather unnecessary, for that which certainly is the most rational, and which might very easily be made the most moral of all public places, has, for some time, been almost entirely deserted by the genteel inhabitants of Edinburgh. I am, Sir, your most obedient humble servant,





IN your Eleventh Number I read a very striking letter, said to be translated from the German, describing the supposed author's preservation from death at sea. I suspect, however, from internal evidence, that that letter is merely the fiction of some man of poetical genius, for, along with much truth and nature, it contains some touches, here and there, which betray the quarter from which it came, and seem to be any thing but natural. The following is an instance of preservation from death on land, plainly recited,and though true, no less wonderful than themaginary case I allude to. It is extracted from Bradbury's Travels in America, a very instructive and amusing book.


"THIS man came to St Louis in May 1810, in a small canoe, from the head waters of the Missouri, a distance of 3000 miles, which he traversed in thirty days; I saw him on his arrival, and received from him an account of his adventures after he had separated from Lewis and Clarke's party: one of these, from its singularity, I shall relate. On the arrival of the party on the head waters of the Missouri, Colter, observing the appearance of abundance of beaver being there, he got permission to remain and hunt for some time, which he did in company with a man of the name of Dixon, who had traversed the immense tract of country from St Louis to the head waters of the Missouri alone. Soon after he separated from Dixon, and trapped in company with a hunter named Potts; and aware of the hostility of the Blackfeet Indians, one of whom had been killed by Lewis, they set their traps at night, and took them up early in the morning, remaining concealed during the day. They were examining their traps early one morning, in a creek about six miles from that branch of the Missouri called Jefferson's Fork, and were ascending in a canoe, when they suddenly heard a great noise, resembling the trampling of animals; but they could not ascertain the fact, as the high perpendicular banks on each side of the river impeded their view. Colter immediately pronounced it to be occasioned by In

[ocr errors]

dians, and advised an instant retreat, but was accused of cowardice by Potts, who insisted that the noise was caused by buffalo, and they proceeded on. In a few minutes afterwards their doubts were removed, by a party of Indians making their appearance on both sides of the creek, to the amount of five or six hundred, who beckoned them to come ashore. A retreat was now impossible, Colter turned the head of the canoe to the shore; and at the moment of its touching, an Indian seized the rifle belonging to Potts; but Colter, who is a remarkably strong man, immediately retook it, and handed it to Potts, who remained in the canoe, and on receiving it, pushed off into the river. He had scarcely quitted the shore when an arrow was shot at him, and he cried out, Colter, I am wounded.' Colter remonstrated with him on the folly of attempting to escape, and urged him to come ashore. Instead of complying, he instantly levelled his rifle at an Indian, and shot him dead on the spot. This conduct, situated as he was, may appear to have been an act of madness; but it was doubtless the effect of sudden, but sound reasoning; for, if taken alive, he must have expected to be tortured to death, according to their custom. He was instantly pierced with arrows so numerous, that, to use the language of Colter, he was made a riddle of They now seized Colter, stripped him entirely naked, and began to consult on the manner in which he should be put to death. They were first inclined to set him up as a mark to shoot at; but the chief interfered, and seizing him by the shoulder, asked him if he could run fast? Colter, who had been some time amongst the Kee-katsa, or Crow Indians, had in a considerable degree acquired the Blackfoot language, and was also well acquainted with Indian customs; he knew that he had now to run for his life, with the dreadful odds of five or six hundred against him, and those armed Indians; therefore cunningly replied, that he was a very bad runner, although he was considered by the hunters as remarkably swift. The chief now commanded the party to remain stationary, and led Colter out on the prairie three or four hundred yards, and released him, bidding him to save himself if he could. At that instant the horrid war whoop sounded in the ears

of poor Colter, who, urged with the hope of preserving life, ran with a speed at which he was himself surprised. He proceeded towards the Jefferson Fork, having to traverse a plain six miles in breadth, abounding with the prickly pear, on which he was every instant treading with his naked feet. He ran nearly half way across the plain before he ventured to look over his shoulder, when he perceived that the Indians were very much scattered, and that he had gained ground to a considerable distance from the main body; but one Indian, who carried a spear, was much before all the rest, and not more than a hundred yards from him. A faint gleam of hope now cheered the heart of Colter; he derived confidence from the belief that escape was within the bounds of possibility, but that confidence was nearly being fatal to him, for he exerted himself to such a degree, that the blood gushed from his nostrils, and soon almost covered the fore part of his body. He had now arrived within a mile of the river, when he distinctly heard the appalling sound of footsteps behind him, and every instant expected to feel the spear of his pursuer. Again he turned his head, and saw the savage not twenty yards from him: Determined, if possible, to avoid the expected blow, he suddenly stopped, turned round, and spread out his arms. The Indian, surprised by the suddenness of the action, and perhaps at the bloody appearance of Colter, also attempted to stop, but exhausted with running, he fell whilst endeavouring to throw his spear, which stuck in the ground, and broke in his hand. Colter instantly snatched up the pointed part, with which he pinned him to the earth, and then continued his flight. The foremost of the Indians, on arriving at the place, stopped till others came up to join them, when they set up a hideous yell. Every moment of this time was improved by Colter, who, although fainting and exhausted, succeeded in gaining the skirting of the cotton wood trees, on the borders of the fork, through which he ran, and plunged into the river. Fortunately for him, a little below this place there was an island, against the upper point of which a raft of drift timber had lodged, he dived under the raft, and after several efforts, got his head above water a◄

mongst the trunks of trees, covered over with smaller wood to the depth of several feet. Scarcely had he secured himself, when the Indians arrived on the river, screeching and yelling, as Colter expressed it, like so many devils.' They were frequently on the raft during the day, and were seen through the chinks by Colter, who was congratulating himself on his escape, until the idea arose, that they might set the raft on fire. In horrible suspense he remained until night, when hearing no more of the Indians, he dived from under the raft, and swam silently down the river to a considerable distance, when he landed, and travelled all night. Although happy in having escaped from the Indians, his situation was still dreadful: he was completely naked under a burning sun: the soles of his feet were entirely filled with the thorns of the prickly pear; he was hungry, and had no means of killing game, although he saw abundance around him, and was at least seven days journey from Lisa's Fort, on the Bighorn branch of the Roche Jaune river. These are circumstances under which almost any man but an American hunter would have despaired. He arrived at the fort in seven days, having subsisted on a root much esteemed by the Indians of the Missouri, now known by naturalists as Psoralea esculenta."

[blocks in formation]

WHEN one considers how very large a proportion of his Majesty's subjects depend for a great part of their daily agreeable practice of novel-reading, it amusement upon the innocent and must appear to be a very strange thing indeed, that any man of talents who chooses to write a novel should ever undergo the mortification of seeing his work neglected. The truth is, that the character of a great novel-reader implies the most perfect incapacity to judge between a good novel and a bad one. No man who knows the luxury of bestriding an Arabian, will submit to be jolted upon a carrion-hack; and

Fragments and Fictions, translated from the French of Jean Pococurante de

Peudemots, sometime Secretary to the. Prince de Talleyrand. 12mo, pp. 138. Macredie, &c. Edinburgh. 1817.

« AnteriorContinuar »