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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 ramiunee. 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 harem. 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 natchgvl 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! Alpha, 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 gay eties, coincides 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 shops and at-homes, in the beaux monde ox 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 thea< tre was rather unnecessary, for tha which certainly is the most rational and which might very easily be mad the most moral of all public places has, for some time, been almost en tirely deserted by the genteel inhab tants of Edinburgh. I am, Sir, yoi most obedient humble servant,
An Oi.j> India: Colter's Escapk from The Black
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 the imaginary case I allude to. It is extracted from Bradbury's Travels in America, a very instructive and a musing book. II.
"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
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, immediatelv 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 theupper 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 Psoralen esculenta."
EXTRACT FROM M. DE PEUDEMOTS.*
When one considers how very large a
Sroportion of his Majesty's subjects epend for a great part of their daily amusement upon the innocent and agreeable practice of novel-reading, it 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.
the virtuoso is very seldom a habitual gazer at sign-posts. The reader who is capable ot understanding Cervantes, Fielding, and Voltaire, is not likely to be a great patron of the Minerva Press; and riVe rersa, the consumers of the Minerva Press ware have no relish for any of the great works of fiction, either in poetry or in prose.
The reading public of Edinburgh do themselves the honour to suppose that they are the most enlightened and elegant reading public in the world. They have been confirmed, we suppose, in this vanity, by the practice of many of the best English writers in the present day, who publish their works in this city, rather than in London. But we fear there is, at bottom, very little foundation for the belief. Scotland possesses a few authors of great eminence; but, with the exception of these, we think her literary population is entitled to very little respect. Our ladies and gentlemen can indeed re-echo with much volubility the praises of any established author, in the words and phrases already consecrated to his use by the Edinburgh or Quarterly Reviews; but they have no real, intense, abiding delight either in poetry or in prose. They have already almost forgotten Scott' s poems, merely because he has not published any for some years, and, of consequence, has not been celebrated in any late numbers of the Reviews. For the same reason, Mackenzie is seldom spoken of, in comparison with Maturin; and Madame Darblay has been eclipsed by Miss Jane Porter. Indeed the whole true literature of our country is comparatively neglected, and any thing, to be noticed, must be new.
It is not long since this little volume possessed all the merits of novelty, and yet it is quite unknown. Had it been published by any great bookseller, and noticed in any great Review, it must at once have become popular; but such has not as yet been its fate.
It consists of various little tales and fragments, all written under the disguise of a translation from the French, and most of them exhibiting better specimens of Voltaire's mode of novelwriting than any we remember to have seen in our language. The author we guess to be a young man; but we predict that his name, whatever it be,
will, ere long, provided he makes a suitable use of his genius, become one of the best ornaments of his time. He is master of an elegant style, devoid of affectation, light, graceful, equally remote from the rumbling periodic style which is fashionable on this side of the Tweed, and the pernicious epigrammatic vulgarities which have lately become too common among our neighbours of the South. In this style he embodies lively and exquisite wit, delicate and manly feelings, bitter sarcasm and satire, and observations and reflections of no ordinary depth, all in their turn; and with such a sense* of propriety, such a delicacy of taste, that no one of these elements is ever allowed, in any measure, to neutralize the effect of the others.
The volume is a trifle, and we regard it merely as a promise. We shall not therefore, at present, enlarge at any greater length upon merits which we nope soon to see surpassed, or powers which, we doubt not, will yet be far more richly developed. Our object is merely to call the attention of our readers; and this, we are aware, can be done by no means so effectually as by an extract. We might have selected others, in which greater depth and power are manifested; but elegance is so much the desideratum in most writings of our time, that we have fixed, chiefly for its sake, upon the
"ONE NIGHT IN ROME.
"Know'st thou the pile the colonnade sustains, Its splendid chambers, and its rich domains. Where breathing statues stand in bright array. GOETBE.
"During those extraordinary times when Nero wantoned in every species of atrocity, a young man, by name Agenor, was brought up in one of the provinces of Italy. He lost both his parents, and finding himself his own master, set out to visit Home
"It was at dusk, after a fatiguing journey, when he first made his approach to that immense labyrinth of wonders and of crimes. I .ights were seen scattered over all the city. The sound of chariot wheels, vociferations, and musical instruments, reached him before his entry, and soon after stunned him, in passing along the streets, where senators, and women of rank, flumens, and gladiators, knights, thieves, matrons, orators, and debauchees, were strolling together in companies, and conversing in a thousand different tones, of drunkenness, derision, kindness, resentment, vulgarity, and highbreeding. In short, it was the festival of Cybele, the mother of the Gods, and all Rome was in an uproar.
"Our youth feels abashed in the metropolis. The number of countenances that wear a look of intelligence and penetration, without any stamp of moral goodness, dismays and confounds him. He falls into reveries upon the subject, and tries to conceive what style of manners would best protect him from ridicule in dealing with such men; or how he could endeavour to match their shrewdness, when it was accompanied by no respect for justice or truth.
"In the meantime, a scuffle took place among some slaves. One of them was wounded, and retired among the pillars of a temple, where he lay down, without receiving the least notice or comfort from any passenger. Agenor went up to the spot, and spoke to him. After inquiring into the nature of his hurt, he learnt the name and abode of his master, who was a praetor, and whom he next went to seek, for the purpose of procuring assistance.
"It was a magnificent house to which the slave had directed him. The master was out at supper, but his lady was giving an entertainment in his absence, and ere long came in person to learn what intelligence our youth had to communicate. She was a noble figure, had some beauty, with a gay look, and an eye full of a thousand meanings. While Agenor was telling his story she regarded him attentively. Indeed his cheek had a fine bloom, and his locks were as rich and exuberant as what we now behold on the forehead of the charming Antinous. As for his manner, it implied the most unbroken simplicity; so that, after giving orders for bringing home the wounded slave, she begged, in a matronly tone, that he would come up stairs, and partake of a repast along with some of her friends; * because,' added she, with a smile, * it is the festival of Cybele.' Agenor complied.
"There was a good deal of company in her saloon. Among others, a centurion, who did not appear so devout as Cornelius; an old senator, toothless and half blind; a Greek belonging to the theatre; several married women of the city; and a beautiful young girl, with dark eyes and modest lips, whose name was Phrosine, a niece of their absent host.
"It was upon this young person that our hero's thoughts were principally fixed during supper; although the lady of the house never allowed much time to pass without asking him some question, or sending a smile to meet his eye as it wandered over the table; and although she presented him with a sweetmeat, where there was a sprig of myrtle floating in the juice. Phrosine spoke little, but Agenor could observe she never missed any thing he said. This made him talk with animation, and gave his voice that sort of mellowness which quiets the female bosom into a delicious languor, while
it penetrates to its very core. An easy gayety prevailed throughout the company. The perfumes which were burnt in the chamber, together with the occasional strains of music performed by attendants, operated in producing that luxurious indolence which is averse to any sort of contention. Every disagreeable thought was turned aside by some dextrous pleasantry. No altercation had time to occur before it was solved by a jest. The choicest wines of the praetor were circulated with a liberal hand; and the old senator, from time to time, poured forth unmeaning gallantries, without knowing exactly to whom they were addressed. Agenor began to perceive the beauty of nonsense, which is almost the only thing that can relax the vigilance of our self-love, and enable us to live harmoniously together.
"In the meantime, a great deal of gossip took place among the married women. Nero's conduct was examined with freedom; but more as an object of ridicule than of detestation. The Greek enlarged upon some fine panthers then at the circus. The centurion drank assiduously, and lay in watch for any ambiguities of language that might happen to drop from the company. These he regularly followed up with such remarks as implied his adoption of their worst meaning; and he shewed an expertness in this exercise, which long practice only could have taught him. Indeed not one sentence escaped from the senator which he did not mould into some equivocal declaration or proposal. The reverend father himself had no suspicion of this, although shouts of laughter were constantly breaking forth among the male part of the company; and therefore he continued slowly bungling forward from one subject to another, while the long chasms between his ideas were filled up and garnished by the centurion, at his own discretion. In those days an old senator was considered as the finest butt in the world.
"When the party broke up, Agenor came near Phrosine, and said, for the pleasure of speaking to her, * How long does the festival of Cybele continue?' Any question will serve to accompany the looks of a lover. Phrosine replied, ' Only two days more; but in that time you will see much of the nature of Rome;' and then added, with a girlish ignorance of her own feelings,
* What a pleasant companion that old Senator is! I never spent a night so happily.'
* Nor I,' said Agenor, who knew the reason better.
"A servant was waiting at the door of the saloon. Agenor followed him; but, instead of being shewn down to the street as he expected, he was left in a solitary chamber, enriched with furniture and paintings of exquisite beauty. Here was an ivory couch, lined with purple; two Etruscan vases full of roses; and a Cupid of Parian marble, by one of the finest sculptors in Greece. The paintings were all of an ame