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Like all such wayward subjects, Monsieur Tonish seems to have been made a universal pet, laughed at and humoured. He was suffered to do pretty much as he liked, and to that delightful privilege he did not fail to give a very liberal interpretation. He was, however, useful on the whole; and though his escapades frequently interfered with the success of better arrangements, he went on much as usual, assigned his mishaps to the awkwardness of others; and when no excuse, either plausible or impudent, was at hand, he never failed to indemnify himself for his disgrace, by fierce flagellation of the hapless pack-horses committed to his care. There was another attache, a personage of a very different stamp, Pierre Beatte by name; a hybrid equally divided between French and Osage, but, in habits and impulses, more allied to the savage than the civilized half of his parentage. His portrait is not captivating.
'I confess I did not like his looks when he was first pointed out to me. He was lounging about in an old hunting frock and metusses, or leggings, of deer skin soiled and greased, and almost japanned by constant use. He was apparently about thirty-six years of age, square and strongly built. His features were not bad, being shaped not unlike those of Napoleon; but sharpened up, with high Indian cheekbones. Perhaps the dusky greenish hue of his complexion added to his resemblance to an old bronze bust I had seen of the Emperor. He had, however, a sallow, saturnine expression, set off by a slouched woollen hat, and elf-locks that hung about his ears. Such was the appearance of the man, and his manners were equally unprepossessing. He was cold and laconic; made no promises nor professions; stated the terms he required for the services of himself and his horse, which we thought rather high, but he showed no disposition to abate them, nor any anxiety to secure our employ.'
Yet, this man proved serviceable and trustworthy, while the little rascally Frenchman, save in his capacity of cook, and sometimes even in that, did less good than mischief. Both of them, though Beatte was the only skilful practitioner, hunted the wild horse by means of the lariat, equivalent to the lasso of South America, though neither so vigorously nor so gracefully employed as by the Spanish hunter. The party was at length collected; the expedition set forth; and its progress is described by Mr. Irving with all the happy and unexaggerated ease and distinctness which have given him celebrity as one of the most skilful pen-and-ink artists of the day. Circumstances which others would pass by as trifling, he converts to valuable purpose. With a few masterly touches, he can give interest to the slightest incident: a horse lost and found, a wounded elk, a stray-dog, are in his hand, effective episodes. We take the last for an instance, not as the best, but the most brief.
'' As we were passing through a forest, we were met by a forlorn, half-famished dog, who came rambling along the trail, with inflamed eyes and bewildered look. Though nearly trampled upon by the foremost rangers, he took notice of no one, but rambled heedlessly among the horses. The cry of "mad dog!" was immediately raised, and one of the rangers levelled his rifle, but was stayed by the ever ready humanity of the Commissioner. "He is blind!" said he; "it is the dog of some poor Indian, following his master by the scent. It would be a shame to kill so faithful an animal." The ranger shouldered his rifle, the dog blundered blindly through the cavalcade unhurt, and keeping his nose to the ground, continued his course along the trail, being a rare instance of a dog surviving a bad name.'
On went the party, over hill and dale, rock and plain, through brake and briar, forest and prairie, amid the usual vicissitudes of the hunter's life, alert and joyous, with the daily alternations of the march, the chase, the halt, and the bivouac. Commonly, the larder was well supplied: venison and game abounded; and a tough steak of buffalo beef was satisfactorily discussed when tenderer and more savoury fare was not at hand. Sometimes, indeed, and especially towards the termination of the journey, they were on short allowance; but, on the whole, it was a merry life, and might remind Mr. Irving at least, if not his companions, of the olden tales touching the wood of Ardennes and the free rangers of Sherwood Forest. We shall give one more example of Mr. I.'s descriptive and decorative faculty; scenery and legend skilfully combined.
'As the night thickened, the huge fires became more and more luminous, lighting up masses of the overhanging foliage, and leaving other parts of the grove in deep gloom. Every fire had its goblin groupe around it; while the tethered horses were dimly seen, like spectres, among the thickets, excepting that here and there a gray one stood out in bright relief. The grove, thus fitfully lighted up by the ruddy glare of the fires, resembled a vast leafy dome, walled in by opake darkness; but every now and then two or three quivering flashes of lightning, in quick succession, would suddenly reveal a vast champaign country, where fields, and forests, and running streams, would start, as it were, into existence for a few brief seconds, and before the eye could ascertain them, vanish again into gloom.
'A thunder-storm on a prairie, as upon the ocean, derives grandeur and sublimity from the wild and boundless waste over which it rages and bellows. It is not surprising that these awful phenomena of nature should be objects of superstitious reverence to the poor savages, and that they should consider the thunder the angry voice of the Great Spirit. As our half-breeds sat gossiping round the fire, I drew from them some of the notions entertained on the subject by their Indian friends. The latter declare that extinguished thunderbolts are sometimes picked up by hunters on the prairies, who use them for the heads of arrows and lances; and that any warrior thus armed is invincible. Should a thunder-storm occur, however, during battle, he is liable to be carried away by the thunder and never heard of more. A warrior of the Konza tribe, hunting on a prairie, was overtaken by a storm, and struck down senseless by the thunder. On recovering, he beheld the thunderbolt lying on the ground, and a horse standing beside it. Snatching up the bolt, he sprang upon the horse, but found, too late, that he had bestrode the lightning. In an instant he was whisked away over prairies, and forests, and streams, and deserts, until he was flung senseless at the foot of the Rocky Mountains, from whence, on recovering, it took him several months to return to his own people. This story reminded me of an Indian tradition, related by a traveller, of the fate of a warrior, who saw the thunder lying upon the ground, with a beautifully wrought moccasin on each side of it. Thinking he had found a prize, he put on the moccasins, but they bore him away to the land of spirits, from whence he never returned.'
vOL. XIII. n. s. G G
Our readers will by this time have been enabled to form their own judgement of the volume before us; and it only remains for us to say, that, notwithstanding the privations and fatigue which attended the return, the party reached their starting-point, ' much 'tattered, travel-stained, and weather-beaten, but in high health 'and spirits.' And thus, adds Mr. Irving, 'ended my foray into 'the Pawnee hunting-grounds.' What next?
Art. III. The Autobiography of a Dissenting Minister. Third Edition, with a Vindicatory Preface. 12mo, pp. 227- London, 1835.
:*S7'HEN a man makes the public his confessor, and the press *" his confessional, he must needs be either a self-denying penitent or a great hypocrite. Assuming the disclosures contained in this volume to be genuine, the narrative is that of a man who, having entered upon the Dissenting ministry without piety, and failed of attaining either high respectability or usefulness, now comes forward to revenge his ill success upon the whole body, by a caricature of their institutions. Like all transgressors, he lays the blame of his sin upon the circumstances in which he was placed,—upon his parents, his early associates, his teachers, and the system; and he seems to consider himself as making a clean conscience by traducing all whom he has had to do with. It has often been said, that it is generally the greatest rogue who turns king's evidence. There can be no mistake as to the character of a man who thinks to make a satire upon a religious community an apology for an ill-spent life.
Could we have regarded it merely as a fictitious narrative, the production of some third-rate Smollett, written from no worse motive than that which usually stimulates the brain of needy authors, we confess that we should not have judged of it thus harshly. Although it displays nothing of the higher qualities of imagination, it is written with a vivacity and naivete which give to the serio-comic recital a good effect. An air of burlesque simplicity is thrown over the whole narrative, which is well adapted to excite a smile; and we could have laughed heartily at some of the portraitures of country-town life, could we have forgotten that they were exhibited, not as pictures of manners, like Crabbe's faithful delineations of the borough and the village, but as serious evidence against a religious body. We do not dispute the truth and reality of the Author's descriptions: they are sufficiently true to human nature, which will be found to furnish, in every section of society, abundant materials for the satirist; and we might easily find a counterpart to this autobiography, in the experience of many a poor curate, struggling through life with still more serious difficulties and corroding mortifications than this Dissenting Minister is made to endure. But what would be thought of the candour or justice of adducing such individual instances of the working of the system, as a serious argument against Establishments? If 'a sneering, snarling, anonymous 'romance' is to be cited as valid evidence of the evils of Dissent, why then Sterne and Fielding and Smollett must be put into the witness-box against the Church; and Dr. Syntax shall be subpoenaed on the side of the Dissenters. The eagerness with which this anonymous satire upon Dissenting institutions has been laid hold of by Quarterly Reviewers and other partisans of the Establishment, as material for grave argument, and a warranty for sweeping allegations against Dissent, strikes us as anything rather than creditable to the cause which stands in need of such desperate aid. Is it come to this, that the Established Church, for lack of better champions, is reduced to take into her pay the literary assassin, the ferocious renegade, and the venal satirist? Are the Gathercoles, and Greenwoods, and Meeks, and Scargills, become the chosen and bishop-bepraised advocates of a falling cause? Such is not our inference; and yet it might seem almost warranted by the exorbitant importance attached to the flimsy, coarse, and abusive publications referred to. But we respect the feeling which leads the Christian Observer to exclaim: 'The Church of 'England needs no such miserable aid.' *
We say that we should not quarrel with the volume before us as satire; for, though we do not believe that people are often made better by being brought under the lash of the satirist, smaller follies may be laughed off the scene by being exhibited
* Yet, of such 'miserable aid ', the Christian Guardian, British Magazine, and Christian Remembrancer, &c., eagerly avail themselves!
in caricature. Nay, had the Author of this volume been anything but a Dissenting Minister, we should scarcely have complained of the severity or unfairness of the satire. We should have set down the Writer as a stranger, in a great degree, to Dissenting institutions, who had picked up enough for his purpose; and we should not have felt that we wronged him, in referring him to that numerous class who seek to extract from the failings and follies of 'the saints,' an excuse for their own irreligion. Coming from an individual of this description, the Work would not have appeared to us chargeable with greater license than the author of fictitious narrative is generally allowed to claim; and the sorry jokes and stale anecdotes would not have seemed out of character. But when we find ourselves compelled to believe that the volume is the actual production of one who has sustained the office of a minister of religion among the body whom he affects to characterise, and that he offers this burlesque narrative as his grave testimony against the entire religious system of the evangelical Nonconformists,—when we find him affirming that there has been * no attempt at exaggeration or high 'colouring,' everything being 'set down calmly and almost 'literally,'—when we find that his misrepresentations are pointed by intention, and envenomed by a vindictive purpose,—we turn with loathing from the display of such mingled impiety and baseness.
On this account, we confess that we felt no inclination to undertake the task of noticing the volume; and seeing a pompous announcement of a third edition with an answer to the Reviewers, we have waited to see whether the Author had any excuse to offer in mitigation of the sentence which has been passed upon him, not only by Dissenting journalists, but by Episcopalians. Justly has the Christian Observer characterised it as ' the effusion of 'some splenetic, disappointed individual, who must vent his gall, 'but has not the honesty to affix his name to his statements.' In the Preface to the present edition, the Writer says: 'There is a 'disadvantage to the work in its being anonymous: there would 'be a greater disadvantage to the author, if it were not anony'mous.' The latter assertion may be true enough: the former is the reverse of truth, for to its being anonymous the work owes half of the curiosity which it has excited. Again, he says, 'the 'public would not have taken so much notice of the work as to 'carry off two large impressions, had they not felt that it con'tained the truth.' So then, the sale of a slanderous work is a proof of the veracity of its author! People never buy fictitious works! Nothing sells, but what the public feel to be truth! But what is the feeling which even the Quarterly Reviewer betrays in reference to many of the statements contained in this volume? 'Here,' says the Reviewer, 'the Autobiographer has been guilty