« PreviousContinue »
public welfare, or had even difficult private affairs of importance on their hands; nor can we refuse to believe that it was well worth their while to travel very many leagues, even over snow and ice, to take the benefit of so much cool and comprehensive prudence as our author (though so young an observer when residing there) has given us the means of being assured they would find in that house.
A great number of pleasing details, some of them very curious, are given of the domestic system, the hospitalities, the young inmates entertained and educated in the family, the manners of the negroes, and the agricultural arrangements. Every thing relating to Mrs. Schuyler's personal character and habits, is extremely interesting; and we do not believe that any of her friends could have given a more lively description of her manners, or a stronger exhibition of the leading principles of her character, her eminently sound judgement, her incessantly active beneficence, and it is very gratifying to add, her habitual piety. Her literary attainments were, for such a state of society, respectable; she could speak several of the European languages, and had read the best English authors of the popular class: she always continued to read as much as the active economy of her life would permit. But the wisdom which commanded such general respect was chiefly the result of a long exercise of a vigorous understanding on practical affairs and real characters, aided too, as we must have it, and as Mrs. Grant indeed represents, by the society of her enlightened husband; who was considerably her senior, and was also streņuously occupied, during his whole life, in promoting the public good. They are described as having been congenial in a very uncommon degree; their long union was eminently happy, and the manner in which the survivor at once evinced, and endeavoured to conceal, the excesses of her grief for the loss, was more allied to poetry than probably any thing that happened before or after in the back settlements of New York.
Having no children of her own, this lady in effect adopted a great number of children, in succession, partly those of her relations; but in directing their education she did not, like divers sensible ladies that we have beard of, suffer, her whole time and attention to be engrossed by it, and exalt the error into a merit. She knew that a matron, lessens her importance in the estimate of children, by appearing to be constant course of always at their service; she felt that a intellectual and religious discipline was due to her own mind; and that a person of sense and property has also duties of a
more general nature, than those relating exclusively to her own immediate circle.
What we should deem perhaps the principal fault of the book, is too much length of detail concerning the numerous collateral relations of Mr. and Mrs. Schuyler. Except in the instance of the widow of that gentleman's brother, it is impossible to take much interest in a long and perplexing enumeration of persons and personal histories, of no importance in themselves, and serving only to spread out, but to spread out by interrupting and dispersing, the memoir of the principal character; the accident of their being related to her, forming the sole claim of most of them to be so much as mentioned.
Before the contest between the American States and the Mother Country had taken a very serious turn, Mrs. S. with many other intelligent colonists, felt a perfect conviction that the connexion could not continue long, and would be ut terly useless to both countries while it lasted. She retained however much of the ancient attachment to England; but was too highly respected by both parties to experience any indignity, or material inconvenience, in the military competition of which she lived to see the commencement, but not the close she died in 1788 or 1789, not much short of the age of eighty.
The house of this distinguished family having been frequented by the principal commanders in the Canadian wars, short sketches are given of some of their characters, together with narratives of some of the most remarkable of their proceedings; especially of the fatal attempt on Ticonderoga, in which the author's father was present, and of the bold and intelligent schemes executed at fort Oswego by Colonel Duncan, a brother of the late Admiral Lord Duncan.'
A very large proportion of these volumes relates to the Indian tribes, and affords many most interesting descriptions and observations. The author used often to visit some detached families of the Mohawks (which denomination she seems, in one or two instances, to apply to the whole of the Five Nations, though the Mohawks were only one tribe of that league) that encamped in the neighbourhood of Albany during the summer, and kept up a friendly and intimate intercourse with the settlers. Some of these Indians were Christians; and a very pleasing account is given of the benevolent efforts which had long been made by some of the families, especially the female part of them, to insinuate Christian knowledge and habits among these wild but not unreflecting tribes.
In the course of a journey to lake Ontario, our author was
presented at the court, or at least in the palace, of the most famous warrior of the Five Nations; and she gives a most amusing account of his manners, and of her feelings on the occasion. In addition to what she saw of the Indians herself, she eagerly listened to the innumerable accounts of them given by the traders and the military men who had been among them. From the impression made by the boldness and the wildness of the Indian character on her young imagination, we do not wonder to see a strong tincture of favourable partiality in her representations and reasonings concerning those nations; yet we rather wonder to see, in a lady's description, the epithets 'high-souled and generous' applied to these heroes, just two pages after the account of the most miserable state of slavery and oppression in which their wives are uniformly held. No one is disposed to deny that there are certain modifications of the savage character analogous to virtue in some tribes, especially perhaps the Mohawks; but it is now quite too late in the day for us to accept any estimate of the condition of any savage people whatever, as, on the whole, otherwise than profoundly depraved and miserable.
Our author gives a very striking view of the process by which the American tribes have lost their independence, and are very fast losing even their existence, in consequence of their intercourse with their civilised neighbours. Her explanation of this point is introduced by some general speculations on the progress of civilisation in Europe, which should rather have been reserved to be rendered more simple and precise by maturer consideration.
The roguery of the American citizens, in the district now called Vermont, deprived the author's father of a valuable portion of land, several years previously to the period at which he would have been certain to lose it as a loyalist. Nothing to be sure can be much more odious and disgusting than that system of deception, chicane, and rascality, which she describes as having overspread that part of the country, and driven her father to desert his plantation, and return to Europe, even before he had lost all hope of supporting his claims. We have not much to object to, in her many spirited observations on the American character and government. But we cannot very well comprehend the reasonableness of those animadversions on the assumption of independence by the American States, which seem to proceed on the principle that either they should always have continued dependent, or should have waited till England should voluntarily set them free. The former is obviously absurd; and how many thousand years must they have waited to realise the
latter? Nor can we work ourselves into any thing like an animated sympathy with certain high-flown sentiments of patriotism, which, in remonstrance against the desire to emigrate from a land of taxes, would seem to go far towards telling a man who is anxiously considering how his family are to live, that the proud recollection that he is in the country that has produced Milton and Newton,' is a much better thing than to have plenty of good corn, bacon, cabbage, &c. &c., in such a low-minded place as America.
There is one passage relative to the puritan settlers in the northern provinces, which we read with surprise.
The people of New England left the mother country as banished from it by what they considered oppression; came over foaming with religious and political fury, and narrowly missed having the most artful and able of demagogues, Cromwell himself, for their leader and guide. They might be compared to lava, discharged by the fury of internal combustion, from the bosom of the commonwealth, while inflamed by contending elements. This lava, every one acquainted with the convulsions of nature must know, takes a long time to cool; and when at length it is cooled, turns to a substance hard and barren, that long resists the kindly influence of the elements, before its surface resumes the appearance of beauty and fertility. Such were the almost literal effects of political convulsions, aggravated by a fiery and intolerant zeal for their own mode of worship, on these self righteous colonists.' Vol. 1. p. 197.
Is it possible that some idle partiality to the House of Stuart can have had the influence to prompt this strange piece of absurdity? Whatever has prompted, it does really seem very foolish not to know, that the emigrants in question were the most devout and virtuous part of the English nation, and were glad to escape to a melancholy desert from the pillories and prisons of such tutelar saints of Britain as Laud.
While noticing faults, we may apprise the reader that these volumes, apparently from haste, are written with much carelessness and incorrectness of expression. But he will find every where great animation, and ease, and variety; and in many places elegance and energy. The descriptions are beautiful, and various, and new, in the highest degree: we will for conclusion transcribe one of them; we might tran scribe a third part of the book.
In one place, where we were surrounded by hills, with swamps lying between them, there seemed to be a general congress of wolves, who answered each other from opposite hills, in sounds the most terrific. Probably the terror which all savage animals have at fire was exalted into fury, by seeing so many enemies, whom they durst not attack. The bull frogs, the harmless, the hideous inhabitants of the swamps, seemed determined not to be out-done, and roared a tremendous bass to
this bravura accompaniment. This was almost too much for my love of the terrible, sublime: some women, who were our fellow-travellers, shrieked with terror: and finally, the horrors of that night were ever after held in aweful remembrance by all who shared them.' pp. 117, 118. Art. XI. The Fathers of the English Church; or a Selection from the Writings of the Reformers and early Protestant Divines of the Church of England. Vol. II. containing various Tracts, and Extracts from the Works of Launcelot Ridley, and Hugh Latimer; also the Catechism of King Edward VI. With Memorials of their Lives. 8vo. Price 10s. Hatchard, Rivington, Seeley. 1809. HAVING already stated our cordial approbation of this
undertaking, in our review of the first volume (Ecl. Rev. iv. p. 427), and strongly recommended it to the patronage of our readers and the public at large, we cannot deem it necessary to go into any length of preliminary disquisition in giving an account of the second, or to describe very minutely the benefits which it is calculated to afford: It would involve us, indeed, in a general repetition of the remarks we have before submitted to the public; as the contents of the present volume are alike favourable to the determination of controversies on the theological tenets of the established church, to the correction of erroneous sentiment among private Christians, and the practical improvement of the character. In these respects, we beg leave to repeat qur strenuous recommendation of the volume now on our table, to all classes of religious men, but more especially to the members of the Establishment. It contains selections from the writings of Dr. Launcelot Ridley, cousin to the bishop of that name; and from the sermons of that eminent divine and faithful preacher Dr. Hugh Latimer, who was for a short time during the reign of Henry VIII. Bishop of Worcester, and was afterwards burnt for his adherence to the protestant faith during the persecution under Queen Mary. Beside these, we have King Edward's Catechism, and prefixed to it the royal injunction with which it was originally published. In a note are given the 42 articles, which received the sanction of the clergy in convocation at the same time as the catechism. There are also lives of Latimer, and King Edward, from Fox's Martyrology, containing a great deal of very interesting matter. The short account of Ridley and his writings is collected from various quarters.
The selections from Dr. Ridley consist of two entire commentaries on the Ephesians and Philippians, which are now extremely scarce; and a short extract from an exposition on St. Jude: His writings are grave, plain, and practical: not practical in the sense, which perhaps many persons affix to that word; for they are full of scripture doctrines. But