« PreviousContinue »
viewer's article in the last number of the North American, and already beheld with the eye of fancy the total combustion of Mr. ANTHON's series. The disagreeable sensations, however, which the wise shepherds must soon after have experienced, when they found that they had been kindling a fire which they could not themselves control, and saw their pasture grounds ruined, and their flocks burnt to cinders, must have been very similar to the feelings which we should think the editors of the Boston 'Reader' now entertain, when, after attempting, without any provocation, to injure another, they find they have been only injuring themselves. So much for the 'battle of the Pyrenees,' and so much for one specimen (the only one with which we shall trouble our readers) of the extent of the reviewer's acquaintance with the principles of translation.
Our friend complains sadly of the dictatorial tone of Mr. ANTHON's notes. Thus, on one occasion, Mr. ANTHON says: "The more correct accentuation is undoubtedly 'ai;' and again: 'There can be but one opinion as to the inferiority of the common lection.' This is rather an amusing charge. According to the reviewer, an editor must never give any opinion of his own, but must merely state conflicting opinions, and leave the student to grope his way out of the darkness as he best may be able. The reviewer observes that this mode of writing annotations makes him feel 'extremely disagreeable.' Very probably it does; for people who read 'pocket editions' of the classics unsullied by 'notes or even the shadows of notes,' and who think too that they read the ancient authors 'just as their countrymen themselves read them,' are not very fond of being told of their blunders. If Mr. ANTHON, however, shocks the nerves of the reviewer by his bold and dictatorial tone, we are happy to say he has company in this offence, for we find among the notes of the Boston editors the following magisterial one on the very same Greek word about the accentuation of which Mr. ANTHON has spoken. Hear the Boston editors: 'I have with Brunck adopted the reading iλai, instead of the common pai, the seasons.' Now we confess this same note made us feel 'extremely disagreeable;' for we thought that we perceived in it very plain indications of a classical scuffle among the Boston editors, and that one of them had differed in opinion from his colleagues, since the phrase is worded in the singular number, 'I have adopted,' etc. We were soon, however, relieved from all our apprehensions, for we found that 'I' meant Mr. Dalzell, whose note the editors had taken as usual, but to which as usual they had forgotten to put his name!
The reviewer is very angry with Mr. Casserly for praising Mr. ANTHON in the dedication of the ninth edition of the 'Reader,' and also for saying that he is a better scholar than the editors of the Boston work. He thinks that Mr. ANTHON praises Mr. Casserly because Mr. Casserly praises Mr. ANTHON, and he tells a very capital story, exactly in point, about the wife of a militia colonel in one of the eastern states. What afforded us additional pleasure in reading this excellent hit, was the light which it threw on the authorship of a note in one of the Boston works, where it is said that the Romans always 'served in the militia' for a certain number of years. Our friend the reviewer must have contributed this very note himself. Who else could have written it? There is one little matter connected with Mr. Casserly's dedication, which we recommend to the reviewer's especial notice. Although living in the same city with him, Mr. Anthon is personally unacquainted with Mr. Casserly, and has never to his knowledge laid eyes upon him! As for the strong language employed by Mr. Casserly in his dedication to Mr. ANTHON this, we conceive, is very easily accounted for. It is probable that Mr. Casserly, when first he landed upon our shores, made some inquiries in relation to American scholars, and that immediately a number of young gentlemen presented themselves, with 'pocket editions' of the classics in their hands, unsullied by either 'notes or the shadows of notes,' and who told him that they 'read Homer and Sophocles as their countrymen had read them.' A very few questions, however, must have convinced Mr. Casserly of the true nature of their claims to the title of the scholars of America; and his disgust at their pretensions may have caused so strong a revulsion of feeling in favor of Mr. ANTHON, as to have betrayed him into the very warm encomiums which he bestowed on that gentle.
man's productions. If Mr. Casserly, therefore, went in this respect, beyond the bounds of sober moderation, the 'scholars of America,' who carry 'pocket editions' of the classics, are alone to be blamed for it.
The reviewer appears to think that Mr. ANTHON gets his title of Jay-Professor from a bird, and he calls him, therefore, very courteously, 'a Jay in the borrowed plumage of the peacock.' In making this remark, he adopts the French language, to show, very probably, that he is a French as well as German scholar; and he appears moreover to mean by the peacock the Boston edition of the 'Reader.' It is said that the old poet Ennius used to boast to his friends, the Roman 'militia-men,' that the soul of Homer had passed into his, the poet's body, through the medium of a peacock. Perhaps a similar destiny awaits, at no distant period, the great body of American learning, and the collected wisdom of by-gone ages is to animate its frame, through the all-vivifying medium of peacock scholarship.
The last feat of the reviewer, and the one which he probably considers the most astounding of all, is displayed in the department of Latin poetical composition. We have already shown, that in his eagerness to abuse, our friend is exceedingly careless of his own footsteps. The most amusing instance of the kind, perhaps, is the very one where he intends to be most severe. He selects a Latin quotation, the second line of which is a pentameter verse, and in order to bestow upon Mr. ANTHON the courteous appellation of 'a thief,' he perpetrates a pun, the mirth excited by which can hardly have yet ceased among the classical cognoscenti of Boston. Unluckily, however, his old propensity adheres to him. For his life he cannot avoid blundering, and he immortalizes himself in print by inserting a false quantity into a pentameter, in a way that would have subjected an English school-boy to the discipline of the birch. He seems, it is true, to have some misgivings himself; for, in offering the line, he begs pardon of the Muses with a familiar nod of the head. But what do the Muses know about such a man? Why, the very stream of Castaly itself would run up hill at his approach!
We have now reached, for the present, the termination of our labors. The controversy in which we have here engaged is not one of our own seeking. We have only undertaken the defence of a much injured individual, and all that we regret is, that our weapons have not been wielded by some more skilful hand than our own. Whether the contest is to be continued, depends entirely on those who commenced this most unwarrantable attack. If they persist in their aggressions, we will meet them at every step. Strong in the justice of our cause, we have that to say yet, compared with which what we have said will appear to be but weak and irrelevant; and if our opponents will still raise the cry of 'Delenda est Carthago,' we are resolved to have a voice in determining where that Carthage is situated. Mr. ANTHON is accused of being unfair toward his brother-scholars. The true scholars of his country, and their number, we are proud to say, is not small, know this charge to be false. He is also said to fancy himself ( an Anacharsis among Scythians.' What claims he may have to the character of an Anacharsis, we are unable to say; but his antagonists we do believe to be very Scythians; Scythians in feeling; Scythians in scholarship; and Scythians in their total departure from manly and honorable warfare.
GREYSLAER: A ROMANCE OF THE MOHAWK. By the Author of 'A Winter in the West,' etc. In two volumes, 12mo. pp. 503. New-York: HARPER AND BROTHERS.
AN extended notice of this excellent and very popular romance, by our townsman C. F. HOFFMAN, Esq., although in type, is for obvious reasons omitted from this department of the present number. It will appear in our next; and although it will doubtless accompany the fifth edition of the work to the public, yet we cannot forbear to place on record a synopsis of its character, and our high estimate of its various merits; although the labor may probably prove a supererogatory one, and the aid we would render it, altogether adscititious.
PRINCE PUCKLER MUSKAU. We derive the following interesting 'records of travel' from a friend and correspondent to whose kindness we have heretofore been indebted for means wherewith to edify our readers. The writer's long residence in the East, and his personal knowledge of the renowned German traveller, impart to his communication additional attraction: 'It is now about six years, since Prince PUCKLER MUSKAU commenced his travels in the East, by landing at Alexandria, and entering the territories of that extraordinary potentate, the Pacha of Egypt. The eminence he had attained in the republic of letters had preceded him. While making a short sojourn in Greece, studying its remains of antiquity, the manners and customs of its people, and their capacity for civil government, as developed under the new order of things, time was afforded to MEHEMET ALI to prepare for the distinguished traveller a reception only accorded to those who have actual claims to a place in the great family of rulers. From the representations, it is said, of the consuls of France and Austria, the Pacha had derived information of his acuteness as an observer, and his eloquence as a writer; and his work on England was alluded to, as commanding the respect of intelligent men, and as having placed him foremost among enlightened modern travellers. His visit to the East was assumed to have relation to the saine object; and his voyage to Egypt to become acquainted with the extraordinary man, whose genius and sagacity had formed, in that degraded and miserable region, the nucleus of an empire, which, though in its infancy, yet commands the attention of Europe. It was kindly intimated to the semicivilized Mehemet, that himself, his system of government, and the civil and social condition of his dominions, were to be submitted to the ordeal of a powerful intellect, and the result emblazoned to the civilized part of mankind.
"The reception, therefore, of PUCKLER MUSKAU at Alexandria, was flattering to himself as a man of letters, and creditable to the pacha, who had the discernment to appreciate, or the timidity to fear, a man of refined intellect, and approved abilities as a writer. The officers of the pachalic were directed to afford every facility for the investigations of the traveller, and to allow no obstacle to interfere with the complete accomplishment of his design. In process of time, the prince reached Cairo, and his reception there, by his 'illustrious friend,' was such as to encourage him to make a long sojourn in the country. He was received by the pacha with frankness and cordiality, which were allowed to result in an intimacy that afforded our traveller ample opportunity to study the character of the most singular person of our times, and which, if given to the world, may form an interesting addition to the biography of celebrated men. Upon his departure for Thebes and the Cataracts, Mehemet furnished the tourist with a firman, addressed to the functionaries of government, commanding protection to himself and his suite, and that all proper facilities should be afforded him for examining the antiquities of the country. A firman is one of those omnipotent missives, which, in the East, are only second
IT is a fact, not perhaps generally known, that there is not an article respecting Egypt, published in any of the periodicals or papers of Europe, but is, within a very short time, translated, and placed in the cabinet of the ever-watchful pacha at Cairo.
in power to the despot who dictates it. To the sight of an officer or peasant, it is synonymous with decapitation or confiscation; and they shrink from it with trembling and terror, until its contents are known to be peaceful. The use which the prince made of this document, will form a lively chapter in the history of the distinguished individual who received it. The substance of the incidents which follow, were related by the pacha himself, to several distinguished individuals at Cairo, in 1838.
'From some cause, yet unexplained, it appears that our traveller had failed to receive remittances from his banker; and his funds failing him somewhere in Upper Egypt, he commenced the system of settling his accounts by exhibiting the firman of the pacha. If a dragoman or guide was to be compensated; if a peasant presented a claim for the edibles of a day's sustenance for the prince and his suite; the potent parchment was thrust in the eyes of the astonished Arab: and the disappointed expectant of paras would shrink from the awful scroll, and genuflex his salaam of humility, with an accompanying 'it's well!' and disappear from the presence, to mutter in secret his curses on a document which deprived him of the merited reward of his labor, and the produce of his industry. Many and amusing are the accounts the pacha gives of the traveller's ingenuity in smoothing away the inconveniences originating from an exhausted exchequer. The season of drought was of no short continuance; but was near rivalling those days of short commons, in the reign of one of Mehemet's illustrious predecessors, the submarine Pharaoh. That which was adopted as a matter of expediency, in a pecuniary emergency, it is feared resulted in forming a part of our traveller's system of finance, while in the dominions of his patron. But the document was not exclusively applied to the liquidation of claims; it was found efficacious in various emergencies where, through folly or recklessness, he invoked consequences which a wise man would have avoided. The writer will not enter into particulars, although they have the authority of a monarch for their accuracy. A fact or two will be given, rather to illustrate the character of the pacha, than to reflect on the weaknesses of a traveller, one of a class which, when beyond the verge of civilization, often give the reins to those passions, which at home are either restrained by a high moral principle, or the opinions of society.
"The prince had visited the whole land of Egypt; he had seen all that tempts the man of intelligence or enthusiasm to visit it; he had been placed in a position from which to study its master, and the main-spring of his actions; he had perverted to unworthy uses a document of courtesy; and — I know not of a more comprehensive term --- he had 'diddled' his people; and now, with his suite, he had turned his back on its' fleshpots,' for those of Syria and Palestine. One lovely day, such an one as is peculiar to the Orient, our travellers arrived at the base of that cluster of eminences which, as a whole, bear a name as imperishable as their substance — that of Sinai. From time immemorial the Holy Mount has been the resort of pilgrims, whose piety has led them to visit the scene of some of the most extraordinary events in the world's history. Numerous monasteries scattered around, attest the piety of the devotees who for many ages have frequented it; and the traveller may find that the place has not yet lost its attractions for those who prefer seclusion and devotion rather than the cares and vexations of active life. The venerable monks who issued from the monastery at which our traveller had applied for admission and refreshment, beheld with astonishment that the train of the prince was not exclusively of males; but that the sanctity of their retirement was threatened and invaded by four of that sex, against whose approach the rules of their order interposed a distance as great and as severe as that of their brethren at Mount Athos; not even a hen, or a female quadruped, being tolerated within or upon the grounds of the sacred domain. The recluses of Sinai, for a small tribute paid annually into the exchequer of Cairo, receive from the master of Egypt and Syria a precarious protection against the marauding Bedouins, though his authority at times is as fluctuating as the sands of the intervening deserts. The monks of Sinai have sought no independence beyond their religious association; nor have their rules ever been scruti
nized, or in any way molested, by their liege-lord and protector. But an unexpected trial awaited them, in the application of PUCKLER MUSKAU for admission for himself and party within the precincts of their sacred retreat. The general request was politely rejected by the superior, who informed him of that rule of their order which excluded females from their walls; but there was no obligation to prevent the admission of the males of his train, to whom they were ready to accord all the hospitality a stranger had a right to expect or demand. The tourist would not listen to the invidious distinction; but demanded entrance in the name of the Pacha of Egypt; and presenting the magic document to the gaze of the venerable father, traced with his finger that which he had a right to command. It was in vain the monk urged rules inviolate for centuries; the sanctity of a religious retreat; the customs of Europe; the obligations of gentlemen to gentlemen. His reply was, the firman. He 'stood there upon his bond.' The community were obliged to yield; and the prince, his Circassians, and other followers, entered the sacred abode. An apartment overlooking the interior enclosure of the monastery was appropriated to the noble intruder, but rejected by him as unsuitable: another and another passed the ordeal of a similar judgment; and finally that part of the establishment most exposed to the gaze of the passer-by, was promptly chosen, and most reluctantly yielded to the dignitary and his females; where for weeks the Turk and Bedouin might perceive at the windows of the monastery rare sight in such a place! - a' christian harem,' as it was sometimes characterized by those jeering observers. The edifice was on a route occasionally traversed by caravans. The camel-drivers, as they watered their animals from the wells of the monastery, beheld with wonder and dismay the faces of females gazing upon them, while engaged in their avocations. They looked at each other, and then at the ladies; and inferred at once that the' true faith' was making progress, even in the strong-holds of its enemies. Such was their opinion; nor did they conceal it from the monastic servants, who, at the instigation of their superiors, were busily mingling with the caravans, and vainly endeavoring to persuade the followers of the Prophet that a Christian potentate was receiving the hospitalities of the holy fraternity, for a few days, and that the ladies were of his family. Though they pressed the facts and their excuses with energy, it was of no avail. Their exculpatory efforts were vanquished by the interposition of a query from a venerable Turk, from Damascus, whether Christian princes indulged in a plurality of wives, and if they chose them from among the daughters of the East? They remembered that in times past such things were never allowed by the pious fathers; yet they deigned no other reply to these plausibilities, than an unanimous shrug, and an interchange of sly smiles, with an occasional hint, in tones sufficiently loud to be overheard by the anxious inmates of the desecrated mansion, as well as by the 'noble author,' who, from a secluded position, was quietly enjoying the confusion of his hosts. This incident afforded the pacha much mirth, while relating it, as mentioned on a preceding page. It is necessarily stripped, however, of some of its eastern embellishments.
'PUCKLER MUSKAU was next mentioned as at Damascus, enjoying the superb scenery which environs that most ancient of cities, and occasionally developing peculiarities of character, quite unknown to his admirers in Europe. The history of his sojourn there is also identified with that of the everlasting firman. We find him afterward at Jerusalem. The magic firman opens the gates of the Mosque of Omar, and procures not only his admission into that edifice, but such an examination as perhaps no after-comer will probably dare attempt. In relating this part of our traveller's career, the pacha's manner became excited; but when he adverted to the desecration of the tomb of David, alike venerated by giaour and paynim; of its disruption and almost demolition, by the inquisitive tourist; the monarch evinced an excitement of feeling and passion, which plainly exhibited to the eyes of his listeners how far civilization had extended its inroads upon the prejudices of the Mahometan.
'During a sojourn in the Anatolian capital, the writer, in wandering among its VOL. XVI. 24