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thousands, and will continue to sell to the tune of tens of thousands.
In this state of public opinion and feeling on the subject of natural knowledge and science, what fears can be entertained for the success and glory of such an ornithologist as Audubon? We have seen that Professor Rennie classes him along with Levaillant, in the first order, into which none can be admitted but the sons of genius, who, in the spirit of philosophy, have pursued science over the bosom of Ñature. Of him, Swainson says, "there is a freshness and originality about his Essays, which can only be compared to the unrivalled biographies of Wilson. Both these men contemplated Nature as she really is, not as she is represented in books; they sought her in her sanctuaries. The shore, the mountain, and the forest, were alter nately their study, and there they drank the pure stream of knowledge at its fountain-head. The observations of such men are the cornerstones of every attempt to discover the system of Nature. Their writings will be consulted when our favourite theories shall have passed into oblivion. Ardently, therefore, do I hope, that M. Audubon will alternately become the historian and the painter of his favourite objects, that he will never be made a convert to any system, but instruct and delight us as a true and unprejudiced biographer of Nature." And Baron Cuvier, in a report made to the Royal Academy of Sciences of Paris, after having pronounced a splendid eulogium on Audubon's “Quatre cents dessins qui contiennent a-peu pres deux mille figures," thus concludes his " compte verbal." "Formerly European naturalists had to make known to America the treasures she possessed; but now the Mitchells, the Harlans, the Wilsons, the Charles Bonapartes, have repaid with interest the debt which America owed to Europe. The History of the Birds of the United States, by Wilson, already equals in elegance our most beautiful works in ornithology. If ever that of M. Audubon be completed, then it will have to be granted that America, in magnificence of execution, has surpassed the Old World." But before speaking of the magnificent design of Audubon, now
fast being accomplished, let us first acquaint our readers with the Man. In an auto-biographical sketch would that it had been a finished picture-prefixed to the volume now before us, he exhibits many traits of his simple, single-hearted, enthusiastic, enterprising, and persevering character, which it is impossible to regard without affectionate admiration. He calls himself, in the pride of genius and patriotism, an "American Woodsman." And when some five years ago, we first set eyes on him in a party of literati, in" stately Edinborough throned on Crags," he was such an American woodsman as took the shine out of us modern Athe nians. Though dressed, of course, somewhat after the fashion of ourselves, his long raven locks hung curling over his shoulders, yet unshorn from the wilderness. They were shaded across his open forehead with a simple elegance, such as a civilized Christian might be supposed to give his " fell of hair," when practising every man his own perruquier," in some liquid mirror in the forest-glade, employing, perhaps, for a comb, the claw of the Bald Eagle. His sallow finefeatured face bespoke a sort of wild independence, and then such an eye
keen as that of the falcon! His foreign accent and broken English speech-for he is of French descent
removed him still farther out of the commonplace circle of this everyday world of ours-and his whole demeanour-it might be with us partly imagination was coloured to our thought by a character of conscious freedom and dignity, which he had habitually acquired in his long and lonely wanderings among the woods, where he had lived in the uncompanioned love and delight of Nature, and in the studious observation of all the ways of her winged children, that for ever fluttered over his paths, and roosted on the tree at whose feet he lay at night, beholding them still the sole images that haunted his dreams. All this, we admit, must have had over it a strong tincture of imagination; for we had been told of his wandering life and his wonderful pencil; but the entire appearance of the man was most appropriate to what had for so many years been his calling, and bore upon
it, not to be mistaken for a moment or overlooked, the impress, not of sin gularity, but of originality; in one word, of genius-self-nursed, selfripened, and self-tutored among the inexhaustible treasures of the Fo
rest, on which, in one soul-engross ing pursuit, it had lavished its dearest and divinest passion. Nor will this language sound extravagant to those who know Audubon, and that the Man is never for an hour distinct, in his being, from the Ornithologist. But hear him speak of himself
"I received life and light in the New World. When I had hardly yet learned to walk, and to articulate those first words always so endearing to parents, the productions of Nature that lay spread all around, were constantly pointed out to me. They soon became my playmates; and before my ideas were sufficiently formed to enable me to estimate the difference between the azure tints of the sky, and the emerald hue of the bright foliage, I felt that an intimacy with them, not consisting of friendship merely, but bordering on frenzy, must accompany my steps through life;-and now, more than ever, am I persuaded of the power of those early impressions. They laid such hold upon me, that, when removed from the woods, the prairies, and the brooks, or shut up from the view of the wide Atlantic, I experienced none of those pleasures most congenial to my mind. None but aerial companions suited my fancy. No roof seemed so secure to me as that formed of the dense foliage under which the feathered tribes were seen to resort, or the caves and fissures of the massy rocks, to which the dark-winged cormorant and the curlew retired to rest, or to protect themselves from the fury of the tempest. My father generally accompanied my steps,-procured birds and flowers for me with great eagerness,-pointed out the elegant movements of the former, the beauty and softness of their plumage, the manifestations of their pleasure or sense of danger,—and the always perfect forms and splendid attire of the latter. My valued preceptor would then speak of the departure and return of birds with the seasons, would describe their haunts, and, more wonderful than all, their change of livery; thus exciting me to study them, and to raise my mind toward their Crea
gazed in ecstasy upon the pearly and shining eggs, as they lay imbedded in the softest down, or among dried leaves and twigs, or exposed upon the burning sand or weather-beaten rock of our Atlantic shores. I was taught to look upon them their opening, to see how Nature had as flowers yet in the bud. I watched provided each different species with eyes, either open at birth, or closed for some time after; to trace the slow progress of mire the celerity with which some of the young birds toward perfection, or adthem, while yet unfledged, removed themselves from danger to security.
"A vivid pleasure shone upon those days of my early youth, attended with a calmness of feeling, that seldom failed to rivet my attention for hours, whilst I
"I grew up, and my wishes grew with my form. These wishes, kind reader, were for the entire possession of all that I saw. I was fervently desirous of becoming acquainted with Nature. For many years, however, I was sadly disappointed, and for ever, doubtless, must I have desires that cannot be gratified. The moment a bird was dead, however beautiful it had been when in life, the pleasure arising from the possession of it became blunted; and although the greatest cares were bestowed on endeavours to preserve the appearance of nature, I looked upon its vesture as more than sullied, as requiring constant attention and repeated mendings, while, after all, it could no longer be said to be fresh from the hands of its maker. I wished to possess all the productions of Nature, but I wished life with them. This was impossible. Then what was to be done? I turned to my father, and made known to him my disappointment and anxiety. He produced a book of Illustrations. A new life ran in my veins. I turned over the leaves with avidity; and although what I saw was not what I longed for, it gave me a desire to copy Nature. To Nature I went, and tried to imitate her, as in the days of my childhood I had tried to raise myself from the ground and stand erect, before Nature had imparted the vigour necessary for the success of such an undertaking.
"How sorely disappointed did I feel for many years, when I saw that my pro. ductions were worse than those which I ventured (perhaps in silence) to regard as bad, in the book given me by my father! My pencil gave birth to a family of cripples. So maimed were most of them, that they resembled the mangled corpses on a field of battle, compared with the integrity of living men. These difficulties and disappointments irritated me, but never for a moment destroyed the desire of obtaining perfect representations of Nature. The worse my drawings were, the more beautiful did I see the originals. To have
been torn from the study, would have been as death to me. My time was entirely occupied with it. I produced hundreds of these rude sketches annually; and for a long time, at my request, they made bonfires on the anniversaries of my birth-day."
While yet a boy, he was sent to Paris, and studied drawing under David. Eyes and noses belonging to giants, and heads of horses represented in ancient sculpture, were my models. These, although fit subjects for men intent on pursuing the higher branches of the art, were immediately laid aside by me;" and at the age of seventeen, he returned from France to the woods of the New World with fresh ardour, and commenced a collection of drawings under the title of the "Birds of America. His father gave him a beautiful "Plantation" in Pennsylvania, refreshed during the summer heats by the waters of the Schuylkil river, and traversed by a creek named Perkioming. Its fine woodlands, its extensive fields, its hills crowned with evergreens, offered many subjects for his pencil. There too he married-and children were born unto him, whom he did not love the less ardently and deeply because of his love of the flowers of the field and the birds of the air.
In all his subsequent struggles with uncertain, if not with evil fortune, when all other friends frowned, and were too ready to blame his passion for ornithology, by which they saw that money might be lost but not won, his own family still approved of his pursuits, and cheered and cherished his enthusiasm, that was its own reward. His residence at the Pennsylvanian Plantation was short as sweet; and for twenty years his life was a succession of vicissitudes. Yet, amidst them all, his ruling passion never ebbed-it flowed on perpetually towards the forests. Any one unacquainted with the extraordinary desire I felt of seeing and judging for myself, would doubtless have pronounced me callous to every sense of duty, and regardless of every interest. I undertook long and tedious journeys, ransacked the woods, the lakes, the prairies, and the shores of the Atlantic. Years were spent away from
my family. Yet, reader, will you believe it? I had no other object in view, than simply to enjoy the sight of Nature. Never, for a moment, did I conceive the hope of becoming in any degree useful to my kind, until I accidentally formed an acquaintance with the Prince of Musignano (Charles Bonaparte) at Phiwith the view of proceeding eastladelphia, to which place I went, ward along the coast." This was in April 1824. It does not appear, however, that though
Boston is a pretty town,
And I'll have one myself eh? that any sweetmeats or crumbs of comfort were bestowed on Audubon, who was soon compelled elsewhere to seek for patronage. He went to with a kindness well suited to eleNew York, where he was received vate his depressed spirits; and afterwards ascending that noble stream, the Hudson, he glided over the broad lakes, and sought the wildest solitudes of the pathless and gloomy forests.
There it was, he tells us, in these forests, that, for the first time, he communed with himself as to the possible event of his visiting Europe. His drawings had multiplied on his hands in spite of all disastrous chances-and he began to fancy them under the hands of the graver. We say in spite of all disastrous chances.
"An accident which happened to two hundred of my original drawings, nearly put a stop to my researches in ornithology. I shall relate it, merely to show you how far enthusiasm-for by no other name can I call the persevering zeal with which I laboured-may enable the observer of nature to surmount the most disheartening obstacles. I left the village of Henderson, in Kentucky, situated on the bank of the Ohio, where I resided for several years, to proceed to Philadelphia on business. I looked to all my drawings before my departure, placed them carefully in a wooden box, and gave them in charge to a relative, with injunctions to see that no injury should happen to them. My absence was of' several months; and when I returned, after having enjoyed the pleasures of home for a few days, I enquired after my box, and what I was pleased to call my treasur
The box was produced, and opened; but, reader, feel for me-a pair of Norway rats had taken possession of the whole, and had reared a young family amongst the gnawed bits of paper, which, but a few months before, represented nearly a thousand inhabitants of the air! The burning heat which instantly rushed through my brain was too great to be endured, without affecting the whole of my nervous system. I slept not for several nights, and the days passed like days of oblivion,-until the animal powers being recalled into action, through the strength of my constitution, I took up my gun, my note-book, and my pencils, and went forth to the woods as gaily as if nothing had happened. I felt pleased that I might now make much better drawings than before, and, ere a period not exceeding three years had elapsed, I had my portfolio filled again.'
That such a heroic adventurer in the pursuit of knowledge should live and die obscure, was not in the power of the most malignant star. But Audubon was born under a lucky conjunction of propitious planets, and already anticipated his fame.
Happy days! and nights of pleasing dreams! I read over the catalogue of my collection, and thought how it might be possible for an unconnected and unaided individual like myself to accomplish the grand scheme. I improved the whole as much as was in my power; and as I daily retired farther from the haunts of men, determined to leave nothing undone, which my labour, my time, or my purse could accomplish." Eighteen months elapsedAudubon returned to his family, then in Louisiana, and having explored every portion of the vast woods around, at last sailed towards the Old World.
As he approached the coast of England, he tells us that the despondency of his spirits became great. True that he had with him letters from American friends, and statesmen of great eminence, but he knew not an individual in the country, and his situation appeared precarious in the extreme. For a few days in Liverpool, not a glance of sympathy did he meet in his wanderings;" and he sighed for his woods. But very soon all his prospects brightened; for those ardent friends of merit,
the Rathbones, the Roscoes, the Trails, the Chorleys, and the Mellies, and others too, took the stranger by the hand; " and so kind," says the grateful Audubon, " and beneficent, nay, so generously kind have they all been towards me, that I can never cancel the obligation. My drawings were publicly exhibited, and publicly praised. Joy swelled in my heart. The first difficulty was surmounted. Honours which, on application being made through my friends, Philadel phia had refused, Liverpool fairly awarded." In Manchester, his reception was equally honourable to the Greggs, the Lloyds, the Sergeants, the Holmes, the Blackwalls, the Bentleys, and many others-names which, as his gratitude delights to record, so is it pleasant to us to name them on this occasion. Had his reception in Liverpool and Manchester been cold or forbidding, in all probability Audubon had returned to America, and the world perhaps never have heard of him or his magnificent works. "Friends," says he, with a touching simplicity," pressed me to accompany them to the pretty villages of Bakewell, Matlock, and Buxton. It was a jaunt of pure enjoyment. Nature was then at her best, at least such was the feeling of our whole party; the summer was full of promise."
Soon after his arrival in Edinburgh, where he soon found many friends, he opened his Exhibition. Four hundred drawings-paintings in watercolours of about two thousand birds, covered the walls of the Institution-Hall, in the Royal Society Buildings, and the effect was like magic. The spectator imagined himself in the forest. All were of the size of life, from the wren and the humming-bird to the wild turkey and the bird of Washington. But what signified the mere size? The colours were all of life too-bright as when borne in beaming beauty through the woods. There too were their attitudes and postures, infinite as they are assumed by the restless creatures, in motion or rest, in their glee and their gambols, their loves and their wars, singing, or caressing, or brooding, or preying, or tearing one another into pieces. The trees, too, on which they sat or sported, all true to Na
ture, in bole, branch, spray, and leaf; the flowering-shrubs and the groundflowers, the weeds and the very grass, all American-so too the atmosphere and the skies-all Transatlantic. 'Twas a wild and poetical vision of the heart of the New World, inhabited as yet almost wholly by the lovely or noble creatures that " not man's dominion." There we beheld them all; there was a picture of their various life. How different from stuffed feathers in glass cases-though they too "shine well where they stand" in our College Museum! There many a fantastic tumbler played his strange vagaries in the air-there many a cloudcleaver swept the skies-there living gleams glanced through the forest glades-there meteor-like plumage shone in the wood-gloom-there strange shapes stalked stately along the shell-bright shores-and there, halcyons all, fair floaters hung in the sunshine on waveless seas. That all this wonderful creation should have been the unassisted work of one man-in his own country almost unknown, and by his own country wholly unbefriended, was a thought that awoke towards "the American woodsman" feelings of more than admiration, of the deepest personal interest; and the hearts of all warmed towards Audubon, who were capable of conceiving the difficulties, and dangers, and sacrifices, that must have been encountered, endured, and overcome, before genius had thus embodied these the glory of its innumerable triumphs.
The impression produced on all minds, learned and unlearned, by this exhibition, was such as to encourage Audubon to venture on the dangerous design of having the whole engraved. Dangerous it might well be called, seeing that the work was to contain Four Hundred Plates and Two Thousand Figures. "A work," says Cuvier, "conceived and executed on so vast a plan has but one fault, that its expense must render it inaccessible to the greatest number of those to whom it will be the most necessary. Yet is the price far from being exorbitant. One livraison of five plates costs two guineas; and thus the five livraisons can be had at no very great annual expense. Most desirable at least it is, as well for the
interests of art as of science, that all the great public bodies, and all persons of wealth who love to enrich their libraries with works of splendour, should provide themselves with that of Audubon." "It will depend," says Swainson, in the same spirit,
on the powerful and the wealthy, whether Britain shall have the honour of fostering such a magnificent undertaking. It will be a lasting monument, not only to the memory of its author, but to those who employ their wealth in patronising genius, and in supporting the national credit. If any publication deserves such a distinction, it is surely this; inasmuch as it exhibits a perfection in the higher attributes of zoological painting, never before attempted. To represent the passions and the feelings of birds, might, until now, have been well deemed chimerical. Rarely, indeed, do we see their outward forms represented with any thing like nature. In my estimation, not more than three painters ever lived who could draw a bird. Of these, the lamented Barrabaud, of whom France may be justly proud, was the chief. He has long passed away; but his mantle has, at length, been recovered in the forests of America."
Generous and eloquent-but, in the line printed in italics, obscure as an oracle. Barrabaud and Audubon are two-why not have told us who is the third? Can Mr Swainson mean himself. We have heard as much hinted; if so we cannot but admire his modesty in thus remaining the anonymous hero of his own panegyric. If not so, then has he done himself great injustice, for he is a beautiful bird-painter and drawer, as all the world knows, though assuredly in genius far inferior to Audubon. Is the third Bewick? If so, why shun to name "the genius that dwelt on the banks of the Tyne ?" If not so, MrSwainson may live and die assured, in spite of this sentence of exclusion from the trio, that Bewick will in sæcula sæculorum sit on the top of the tree of fame, on the same branch with the most illustrious, nor is there any fear of its breaking, for it is strong, and the company destined to bestride it, select.
Audubon speaks modestly of his great work, but with the enthusiasm and confidence, natural and becom