« PreviousContinue »
"Brother; We are told that you have been preaching to the white people in this place. These people are our neighbours. We are acquainted with them. We will wait a little while, and see what effect your preaching has upon them. If we find it does them good, makes them honest and less disposed to cheat Indians; we will then consider again of what you have said.
"Brother; You have now heard our answer to your talk, and this is all we have to say at present.
"As we are going to part, we will come and take you by the hand, and hope the Great Spirit will protect you on your journey,
and return you
safe to your
As the Indians began to approach the missionary, he rose hastily from his seat and replied, that he could not take them by the hand; that there was no fellowship between the religion of God and the works of the devil.
This being interpreted to the Indians, they smiled, and retired in a peaceable manner.
It being afterwards suggested to the missionary that his reply to the Indians was rather indiscreet; he observed, that he supposed the ceremony of shaking hands would be received by them as a token that he assented to what they had said. Being otherwise informed, he said he was sorry for the expressions.
FOR THE ANTHOLOGY.
FROM AN AMERICAN TRAVELLER IN EUROPE, TO HIS FRIENDS IN THIS COUNTRY.
LETTER TWENTY EIGHTH.
ROME, NOVEMBER 23, 1804.
IN my last from Marseilles I promised you a detailed letter from Italy, and although immersed as you are in business or pleasure, you may receive it rather as an unwelcome interruption than as an agreeable relaxation, I think however I owe it to you as a testimony of that warm and sincere friendship, which a thousand events, in addition to the ties of kindred, have contributed to establish.
You see by the date, that I am now surrounded with objects highly interesting to a mind in any degree acquainted with the writings of the classicks; and although fourteen years active and laborious pursuit of our profession had in a great measure effaced those strong impressions, which the fine writers of Greece and Rome must necessarily have made upon a character so easily and so strongly impressible as mine, yet I have found those impressions very easily and forcibly renewed by the presence of the objects themselves.
In Italy, without enthusiasm I say it, in Italy every thing bears the marks of that august power, which the Romans, of all the nations of antiquity alone, were enabled to acquire, and of that refined taste for which they were in a certain and the most brilliant part of their history distinguished.
There certainly must be something in the climate of Italy peculiarly favourable to the exertions of human genius. It is impossible that you can attribute the superiour progress and state of the fine arts to the encouragement given by the emperours; because no country has been in a more wretched political situation than Italy since the revival of letters; always either convulsed by intestine divisions, or a prey to the ambition of other powers. Yet it has been almost as superiour to other nations of late years, as it was in ancient times. The highest pretensions that any painter of England or France can make, is to be a tolerably successful imitator of Raphael, of Corregio, of Guido, or of fifty other masters, all of whom have been excellent in their respective styles. In sculpture, there have been no attempts to equal Michael Angelo or Bernini, and even at the present day the magick powers of the chisel are perceived only at Rome.
In architecture, it is still more true that the Italians have preserved their superiority, and Italy is still the school, as Greece formerly was to Rome, for all the Europeans who would excel in this most excellent and useful art. Perhaps the fine specimens of ancient architecture and sculpture which have escaped the ravages of the Goths, or the more destructive fury of modern Vandals, together with the inheritance of the reputation of their ancestors, may have excited the Italians to imitate and to attempt to equal the glory of their predecessors.
You will be anxious to inquire whether there are still existing such specimens of Roman art as would serve to excite emulation, and form taste.
There are innumerable specimens of this nature, and so multiplied, that if you cannot see perfection in any one relick, you are sure to find it in several. Every order of architecture, from the hands of the first Grecian or Roman artists, still exists in a perfect state, and if you do not find them all united in the same building, you can with very little pains combine them from several. The same remark may be applied to sculpture. A small proportion of the fine models of Rome are left, yet there are specimens of each sort; of the colossal, and of miniature; of the strong, and of the beautiful; of Hercules and of Venus; of the gods and of men; of their Jupiters, Pallases, Mercuries, Apollos; and of their Senecas, Caesars, Ciceros, Homers, and distinguished men. You can see the manner in which they made the passions live in marble; you can shudder at the agonizing horrours of the Laocoon; you can weep with Niobe; and can laugh with Bacchus, and can almost riot with the Fauns.
I have said above, that the specimens of ancient art have suffered from the ravages of modern Vandals. Too much cannot be said upon this subject, nor the disgrace attached to such conduct be spread too far.
After the barbarians had exhausted all their fury upon these works of fine taste, there still remained enough to admire, and to excite a spirit of emulation and a taste for perfection. Long after the revival of letters, and when these ancient relicks became valuable, the popes and their nephews, who had an unlimited control over this country, began to take great liberties with the remains of antiquity; some they robbed to build palaces; others they stripped to ornament churches; and even the accomplished family of the Medicis, the Maecenases of modern Italy, are accused of having cut off the fine heads from the statues in bas relief on the arch of Constantine!!!
One hardly knows which most to admire, the savage and barbarous disregard of the fine arts, or the want of policy which this conduct betrayed.
Italy, no longer admired for her power, for her heroes, or great men, will be an object of attraction so long only as she preserves these precious vestiges of former and more splendid times. I cannot refrain giving you one example of that destroying spirit which has, I dare say, often excited the indignation of strangers of taste. The Colisoeum, as it is vulgarly called, in reality the theatre of Vespasian, was the noblest and most perfect monument of antiquity, which the Goths and time had spared. It is yet a very elegant and august edifice. Yet Popes Paul II. and III. destroyed a moiety of this incomparable edifice to erect two sumptuous palaces of bad taste, and in no degree a reparation for the loss which taste and science have sustained by the demolition of the ancient edifice.
Enough, however, of ancient edifices; I dare say you are tired of them. I know no man who took a livelier interest than you did in the campaigns of Bonaparte in Italy. I have been over the ground which the French have signalized so much, and with no common interest, and I dare say, you will choose to hear a word or two from me upon this subject. Objects, my dear friend, viewed at a distance, appear in a very different, and generally a grander light than they will bear upon approach. Heroes and great men (and the remark may be equally applied to their actions) appear more perfect when viewed only through the medium of their own pompous accounts, or the descriptions of their parasites, than they do to the eye of an observer who approaches them, and procures his information through less partial channels. I will suppose that your geographical knowledge of Italy was as limited as my own. I hope you will pardon the supposition. I had an idea that the ground on which the French fought was very difficult of passage; that there was something almost above human powers in passing the Alps with an army; and when I heard of fording or crossing the rivers of Italy, I fancied rivers and torrents like the Merrimack, the Connect-> icut, and the Hudson. The Tyrol, in particular, I believed to be a rough, mountainous country, in which an army could act but with great difficulty.
These ideas were generally erroneous. No country is more. indefensible in its nature than the plains of Lombardy, in which Bonaparte reaped his chief laurels. Its surface is flat, without
hills, without dangerous passages; its rivers, in general, but large brooks. It has been in all ages easily conquered; Charlemagne conquered it; the Spaniards possessed it; the Austrians, too, have held the sovereignty; in all cases it has been an easy, and of course an inglorious prey. But it may be said, that Bonaparte did not merely oppose the enervated Italians; he fought and defeated the veteran troops of Austria. And what did Charles V.? Did he not conquer, on the plains of Pavia, on the same spot, the French army, composed of the bravest and finest troops of France? Did he not annihilate the French power in Italy, and make a prisoner of their gallant monarch, Francis I. ?
But Bonaparte has twice passed the Alps with an army. Is not this a wonderful exploit? The Alps are not defended by a single fortress, nor did one soldier oppose his march; at least, I never heard of any opposition. It is not so difficult nor so dangerous an expedition for any army to pass the Alps without cannon, as Bonaparte did, as for a private gentleman to pass them with ladies. In what consists the danger? If the best mode of passing them is on foot, as it certainly is, and if one person can pass them without difficulty, it is as easy for forty thousand to do it, if no enemy opposes. When he arrived in Italy, Bonaparte met with a people already subdued; a poor, degenerate, dejected race of men, oppressed by their lords and priests; he offered them the phantom of liberty, and they flew to his standard. But he fought some hard battles with the Austrians. Admit it; but take with that concession the known fact, that the same spirit of liberty pervaded the Austrian ranks, and paralized their force; and also the assertion of some respectable writers, that bribery and treachery had no small share in these splendid victories.
But the bridge of Lodi!! That is the dazzling point of the history of this hero, and no doubt you had, like myself, formed the idea of an extensive river, and a very respectable bridge. The river itself is small and shallow, and the bridge a despicable one; and the inhabitants of Lodi represent the French heroes as staggering about the streets in a state of intoxication immediately before the battle. When therefore we consider that all the reputation of the new emperour rests upon his victories in Italy; that his Egyptian expedition has added not one sprig to the laurels he had before won; that he never gained a battle in any other station; and that the battle of Marengo was gained by chance, as all Frenchmen allow, the day having been completely lost, and finally retrieved by Gen. Dessaix, only through an error of the Austrians; when we reflect also that Italy has been conquered by the Romans, for they too were invaders, by the Goths, by the French, by the Spaniards, and lastly by the Austrians, and often under circumstances more honourable to the victors, than those of the late conquests by the French, it appears to me that impartial history, in its account of these campaigns, will place the French in the rank of other conquerors only, and will not, as some of us have done, consider them as prodigies of the present age only, sent by heaven to shew us what brave men are, and what can be achieved by a nation of heroes. This language is gratifying
enough to French pride; but I have always thought, and now fully believe, that they are not, nor have ever been superiour to the rest of mankind, stimulated by the same love of plunder, and the same false ideas of superiority.
But I presume I have already been sufficiently tedious; so I will bid you adieu, repeating only that we soon hope to set our faces homeward; to enjoy again the pleasures of our native country, dearer to us than any which Europe can boast.
Frustra jam vestes, frustra mutantur amictus
TIBUL. Lib. 1. El. 8.
THE Remarker has generally preferred the publick investigation of literary or scientifick topicks to the discussion of the petites morales of female customs and deportment. Let it not be supposed, however, that those important and intricate subjects have never been the objects of his attention. It would be inconsistent both with his office and inclination to neglect them. Many a time when his fair readers, if fair readers he has had the good fortune to obtain, have supposed him peeping at the constellations or the rainbow, he has been scrutinizing the colours of their dress; and often, perhaps, when they thought him busy in the examination of some elegant painting, he has been speculating on the tints of their complexion. At the theatre he has sometimes observed their decent tears and snowy cambricks, called forth by a stroke of pathos; and to lay aside the gravity of the third person, which is more suited to an ambassadour's despatches, than to a free and candid address to the ladies, I have often found in the publick walks opportunities of judging on their taste and manners.
My illustrious predecessor, the Spectator, in one of his lucubrations, has taken notice of an alarming change in the female appearance, occasioned by the assumption of riding habits, very similar to those of the men. He relates, that in one of his equestrian excursions he came up with a young gentleman of a very fair complexion and graceful ringlets waving round his cheeks; his face seemed rather effeminate; and looking down, the cloven foot appeared, he saw a skirt peeping out from under the riding dress. The seasonable admonition of our ancestor checked the progress of the evil at that time, but the disposition was not eradicated, and last summer