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The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 05, No. 27, January, 1860 online

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Caernarvon expressed a willingness, at any time, to entertain proposals
for the surrender of franchises or territory; and in 1848, Sir J.H.
Pelly, Governor of the Company, thus expressed himself in a letter to
Lord Grey: - "As far as I am concerned, (and I think the Company will
concur, if any great national benefit would be expected from it,) I
would be willing to relinquish the whole of the territory held under the
charter on similar terms to those which it is proposed the East India
Company shall receive on the expiration of their charter, - namely,
securing the proprietors an interest on their capital of ten per cent."

At the adjournment of the Canadian Parliament and the retirement of the
Derby Ministry, in the early part of 1859, the position and prospects of
English colonization in Northwest America were as follows: -

1. Vancouver's Island and British Columbia had passed from the
occupation of the Hudson's Bay Company into an efficient colonial
organization. The gold-fields of the interior had been ascertained to
equal in productiveness, and greatly to exceed in extent, those of
California. The prospect for agriculture was no less favorable, - while
the commercial importance of Vancouver and the harbors of Puget's Sound
is unquestionable.

2. The eastern slope of the Rocky Mountains and the valleys of the
Saskatchewan and Red River were shown by explorations, conducted under
the auspices of the London Geographical Society and the Canadian
authorities, to be a district of nearly four hundred thousand square
miles, in which a fertile soil, favorable climate, useful and precious
minerals, fur-bearing and food-yielding animals, in a word, the most
lavish gifts of Nature, constituted highly satisfactory conditions for
the organization and settlement of a prosperous community.

3. In regard to the Hudson's Bay Company, a disposition prevailed not to
disturb its charter, on condition that its directory made no attempts
to enforce an exclusive trade or to interfere with the progress of
settlements. All parties anticipated Parliamentary action. Letters from
London spoke with confidence of a bill, drafted and in circulation
among members of Parliament, for the erection of a colony between Lakes
Superior and Winnipeg and the eastern limits of British Columbia, with
a northern boundary resting on the parallel of 55°; and which, although
postponed by a change of ministry, was understood to represent the views
of the Duke of Newcastle, the successor of Sir E.B. Lytton.

4. In Canada West, a system of communication from Fort William to Fort
Garry, and thence to the Pacific, was intrusted to a company - the
"Northwest Transit" - which was by no means inactive. A mail to Red
River, over the same route, was also sustained from the Canadian
treasury; and Parliament, among the acts of its previous session, had
conceded a charter for a line of telegraph through the valleys of the
Saskatchewan, with a view to an extension to the Pacific coast, and even
to Asiatic Russia.

Simultaneously with these movements in England and Canada, the citizens
of the State of Minnesota, after a winter of active discussion,
announced a determination to introduce steam-navigation on the Red
River of the North. Parties were induced to transport the machinery
and cabins, with timber for the hull of a steamer, from the Upper
Mississippi, near Crow Wing, to the mouth of the Cheyenne, on the Red
River, where the boat was reconstructed. The first voyage of the steamer
was from Fort Abercrombie, an American post two hundred miles northwest
of Saint Paul, _down north_ to Fort Garry, during the month of June. The
reception of the stranger was attended by extraordinary demonstrations
of enthusiasm at Selkirk. The bells of Saint Boniface rang greeting,
and Fort Garry blasted powder, as if the Governor of the Company were
approaching its portal. This unique, but interesting community, fully
appreciated the fact that steam had brought their interests within the
circle of the world's activities.

This incident was the legitimate sequel to events in Minnesota which had
transpired during a period of ten years. Organized as a Territory in
1849, a single decade had brought the population, the resources, and the
public recognition of an American State. A railroad system, connecting
the lines of the Lake States and Provinces at La Crosse with the
international frontier on the Red River at Pembina, was not only
projected, but had secured in aid of its construction a grant by the
Congress of the United States of three thousand eight hundred and
forty acres a mile, and a loan of State credit to the amount of twenty
thousand dollars a mile, not exceeding an aggregate of five million
dollars. Different sections of this important extension of the
Canadian and American railways were under contract and in process of
construction. In addition, the land-surveys of the Federal government
had reached the navigable channel of the Red River; and the line of
frontier settlement, attended by a weekly mail, had advanced to the same
point. Thus the government of the United States, no less than the
people and authorities of Minnesota, were represented in this Northwest
movement.

Still, its consummation rests with the people and Parliament of England.
Sir Edward Bulwer Lytton was prepared with a response to his own
memorable query, - "What will he do with it?" Shall the Liberal party be
less prompt and resolute in advancing the policy, announced from the
throne in 1858, of an uninterrupted series of British colonies across
the continent of North America? This will be determined by the
Parliamentary record of 1860.




ART.

PALMER'S "WHITE CAPTIVE."


Once on a time a maiden dwelt with her father, - they two, and no
more, - in a rude log-cabin on the skirts of a grand old Western
forest, - majestic mountains behind them, and the broad, free prairie in
front.

Cut off from all Christian companionship and the informing influences
of civilized arts, all their news was of red men and of game, their
entertainments the ever-varying moods of Nature, their labors of the
rudest, their dangers familiar, their solacements simple and solitary.
Alone the sturdy hunter beat the woods all day, on the track of
panthers, bears, and deer; alone, all day, his pretty daughter kept the
house against perils without and despondency within, - the gun and the
broom alike familiar to her hand.

Commissioned to illumine the murk wilderness around her with the glow
of her Christian loveliness and faith, Nature had touched her with
inspirations of refinement, with a culture as unconscious as the growing
of the grass, and the clear intuitions of a spiritual life full of
heaven-born inclinations. Nature, too, had endowed her with fine lines
of beauty, attitudes of grace, movements of dignity and love, and all
the charmfulness that had learned its shapes from flowers and its arts
from birds. Nature's officers, the elements, had bestowed on her each
his appropriate gift, - the Air its crispness, the Earth its variety, the
Sun its brightness and its ruddy glow, the very Water from the well its
freshness and its fluent forms; the stars repeated their friendliness in
her eyes, the grass dimpled her pliant feet, the breeze tossed her brown
hair in triumphs of the unstudied becoming, and from the wildness all
about her she had her wit and her delightful ways; Morning lent her her
cheerfulness, Evening her pensiveness, and Night her soul.

But Night, that had given her the Christian soul, true and wise,
self-reliant and aspiring, brought also the surprise and the peril that
should put it to the proof; for once, when the hunter was belated on his
path, and sudden midnight had caught him beyond the mountain, far
from the rest of his hearth and the song of his darling, came the red
Pawnees, a treacherous crew, - doubly godless because ungrateful, who had
broken the hunter's bread and slept on the hunter's blanket, - and laid
waste his hearth, and stole away his very heart. For they dragged her
many a fearful mile of darkness and distraction, through the black
woods, and grim recesses of the rocks; and there they stripped her
naked, and bound her to a stake, as the day was breaking. But the
Christian heart was within her, and the Christian soul upheld her, and
the Christian's God was by her side; and so she stood, and waited, and
was brave.

And here still she stands, as the sculptor's soul sat down before her,
in a vision of faith and tenderness, to receive her image, - stands and
waits for the pity and the help of you and me, her brothers and her
lovers. We long to rescue her and take her to our hearts; we are touched
by her predicament, as Michelet tells us the heart of the beholder is
moved by the bound Andromeda of Puget, - that great artist in whom
dwelt the suffering soul of a depraved age, and who all his life long
sculptured forlorn captives, - "Ah, would I had been there to rescue the
darling!"

But we are told of the Andromeda, that, unconscious and almost dead, she
knows not where she is, nor who has come to set her free; for, paralyzed
by the chafing of her chains, and even more by fear, she cannot stand,
and seems utterly exhausted.

Not so with our Andromeda. Horror possesses her, but indignation also;
she is terrified, but brave; she shrinks, but she repels; and while all
her beautiful body trembles and retreats, her countenance confronts her
captors, and her steady gaze forbids them. "Touch me not!" she says,
with every shuddering limb and every tensely-braced muscle, with
lineaments all eloquent with imperious disgust, - "Touch me not!"

Her lips quiver, and tears are in her eyes, (we do not forget that it
is of marble we are speaking, - there _are_ tears in her eyes,) but they
only linger there; she is not weeping now; her chin trembles, and one of
her hands is convulsively clenched, - but it is with the anguish of her
sore besetting, not the spasm of mortal fear. Though Heaven and Earth,
indeed, might join to help her, we yet know that the soul of the maiden
will help itself, - that her hope clings fast, and her courage is
undaunted, and her faith complete.

Among her thronged emotions we look in vain for shame. Her nakedness is
a coarse chance of her overwhelming situation, for which she is no more
concerned than for her galled wrists or her dishevelled hair. What is it
to such a queen as she, that the eyes of grinning brutes are blessed by
her perfect beauties?

The qualities which constitute true greatness in a statue such as this
are, if we apprehend them aright, - first, that sublime simplicity of
Idea which omnipotently sways the beholder, and alike inspires his
coarseness or his culture; next, that personality, that moving humanness
of feeling, which holds him by his very heart-strings, and makes him
forget its marble, to accept its flesh and blood; and, finally, that
wondrous skill of nice manipulation, which, neglecting nothing in the
myriad of anatomical and physiological details, - not even the faintest
sigh or the dimmest tremor, - tells, fibre by fibre, a tale that all may
read, and comes to us with a story "to hold children from play and old
men from the chimney-corner."

Tried by this definition, we believe the "White Captive" proves its
claim to genuine greatness, and that it will presently take its place,
with the world's consent, in the front rank of modern statues, - good
among the best, in the flesh-and-bloodness and the soul of it. It is
original, it is faithful, it is American; our women may look upon it,
and say, "She is one of us," with more satisfaction than the Greek women
could have derived from the Venus de' Medici, with its insignificant
head and its impossible spine.

Especially true to the American type, as compared in statues with the
familiar Greek, the head of the "White Captive" is large; but that it
is too large, or in excess of the least of a thousand female heads that
have been gathered around it since it was first exposed to the
public scrutiny, we have failed to discover in repeated and careful
examinations; and we are constrained to commend such as may be exercised
on that point to the critical flippancies of the jaunty gentlemen who
find the hips at once too broad and too narrow, the bosom too full and
too young, the arms too meagre and too stout.




FOREST PHOTOGRAPHS.


We call the attention of our readers to a series of twelve photographic
views of forest and lake scenery published by Mr. J.W. Black, Boston,
from negatives taken by Mr. Stillman in the Adirondack country. The
points of view are chosen with the fine feeling of an artist, and the
tangled profusion and grace of the forest, with the moment's whim of
sunfleck and shadow, are given with exquisite delicacy. Whatever
the all-beholding sun could see in those woodland depths we have
here, - sketches of the shaggy Pan snatched at unawares in sleep. One may
study these pictures till he becomes as familiar as a squirrel with fern
and tree-bark and moose-wood and lichen, till he knows every trunk and
twig and leaf as intimately as a sunbeam.





REVIEWS AND LITERARY NOTICES.


_Plutarch's Lives._ The Translation called Dryden's. Corrected from the
Greek, and Revised, by A.H. CLOUGH, sometime Fellow and Tutor of
Oriel College, Oxford, and late Professor of the English Language and
Literature at University College, London. Boston: Little, Brown, &
Company. 1859. Five vols. 8vo.

In these five handsome volumes, we have, at length, a really good
edition in English of Plutarch's Lives. One of the most delightful books
in the world, one of the few universal classics, appears for the first
time in our language in a translation worthy of its merits.

Mr. Clough, whose name is well known, not only by scholars, but also by
the lovers of poetry, has performed the work of editor with admirable
diligence, fidelity, and taste. The labor of revision has been neither
slight nor easy. It has, indeed, amounted to not much less than would
have been required for the making of a new translation. The versions in
the translation that bears Dryden's name, made, as they were, by various
hands, and apparently not submitted to the revision of any competent
scholar, were unequal in execution, and were disfigured by many
mistakes, as well as by much that was slovenly in style. At the time
they were made, scholarship in England was not at a high point. Bentley
had not yet lifted it out of mediocrity, and the translators were not
stimulated by the fear either of severe criticism or of comparison
of their labors with any superior work. The numerous defects of this
translation are spoken of by the Langhornes, in the Preface to their
own, with a somewhat jealous severity, which gives unusual vigor to
their sentences. "The diversities of style," say they, "were not the
greatest fault of this strange translation. It was full of the grossest
errors. Ignorance on the one hand, and hastiness or negligence on the
other, had filled it with absurdities in every Life, and inaccuracies on
almost every page." This is a hard, perhaps an extreme judgment; but it
serves to show the difficulties that would attend a revision of such a
work. These difficulties Mr. Clough has fairly met and overcome. We
do not mean to say that he has reduced the whole book to a perfect
uniformity, or even to entire elegance and exactness of style; but he
has corrected inaccuracies, he has removed the chief marks of negligence
or haste; and, after a careful comparison of a considerable portion of
the work as it now appears with the Greek text, we have no hesitation in
saying that this translation answers not merely to the demands of
modern scholarship, but forms a book at once essentially accurate and
delightful for common reading.[A] We think, moreover, that Mr. Clough
was right in choosing the so-called Dryden's translation as the basis of
his work. Its style is not old enough to have become antiquated, while
yet it possesses much of the savor and raciness of age. The book
is interesting from Dryden's connection with it, but still more
so - considering how slight that connection was, his only contribution to
it being the Life of Plutarch - from the fact, that the translations of
some of the Lives were made by famous men, as that of Alcibiades by Lord
Chancellor Somers, and that of Alexander by the excellent John Evelyn;
while others were made by men who, if not famous, are at least well
remembered by the lovers of the literature of the time, - as that of
Numa by Sir Paul Rycaut, the Turkey merchant, and the continuer of Dr.
Johnson's favorite history of the Turks, - that of Otho by Pope's friend,
the medical poet, Dr. Garth, - that of Solon by Creech, the translator of
Lucretius, - that of Lysander by the Honorable Charles Boyle, whose name
is preserved in the alcohol of Bentley's classical satire, - and that of
Themistocles by Edward, the son of Sir Thomas Browne.

[Footnote A: For the sake of illustration of the care and labor given by
Mr. Clough to the revision, we open at random on the Life of Dion, Vol.
V., p. 291, and, comparing it with the original _Dryden_, we find, that
in ten pages, to the end of the Life, there are but three, and they
short sentences, in which changes of more or less consequence have not
been made. These changes amount sometimes to entire new translation,
sometimes consist merely in the correction of a few words. Throughout,
the hand of the thorough scholar is apparent. The earlier volumes of the
series would, probably, rarely exhibit such considerable alterations.]

But Mr. Clough's labors have not been merely those of reviser and
corrector. He has added greatly to the value of the work by occasional
concise foot-notes, as well as by notes contained in an appendix to each
volume. So excellent, indeed, are these notes, so full of learning and
information, conveyed in an agreeable way, that we cannot but feel a
regret (not often excited by commentators) that their number is not
greater. In addition to these, the fifth volume contains a very
carefully prepared and full Index of Proper Names, which is followed by
a list for reference as to their pronunciation.

When this version, to which Dryden gave his name, was made, there was no
other in English but that of Sir Thomas North, which had been made, not
from the Greek, but from the French of Amyot, and was first published in
1579. It was a good work for its time, and worthy of being dedicated to
Queen Elizabeth, although, as the knight declares, "she could better
understand it in Greek than any man can make it English." Its style is
rather robust than elegant, partaking of the manly vigor of the language
of its time, and now and then exhibiting something of that charm of
quaint simplicity which belongs to its original, Montaigne's favorite
Amyot. "Of all our French writers," says the incomparable essayist,
"I give, with justice, I think, the palm to Jacques Amyot";[B] and
thereupon he goes on to praise the purity of his style, as well as the
depth of his learning and judgment. But, although Amyot had "a true
imagination" of his author, he was not always exact in giving his
meaning. The learned Dr. Guy Patin says: "On dit que M. de Meziriac
avoit corrigé dans son Amyot huit mille fautes, et qu'Amyot n'avoit
pas de bons exemplaires, ou qu'il n'avoit pas bien entendu le Grec de
Plutarque."[C]

[Footnote B: _Essays_, Book II. 4.]

[Footnote C: _Patiniana_.]

Amyot's eight thousand errors were not diminished in passing into Sir
Thomas North's English; but their number mattered little to the readers
of those days, who found in the thick folio enough of interest to spare
them from making inquiry as to the exactness of its rendering of the
meaning of Plutarch. From the time of its first publication, for more
than a hundred years, it was one of the most popular books of the
period, as was proved by the appearance of six successive editions in
folio.[D] Some of these clumsy volumes may, no doubt, have been put
to uses as ignoble as that which Chrysale, in "Les Femmes Savantes,"
suggests for his sister's similar copy of Amyot: -

"Vos livres éternels ne me contentent pas;
Et, hors un gros Plutarque à mettre mes rabats,
Vous devriez bruler tout ce meuble inutile"; -

but duller books of the same size, of which there were many in those
days of patient readers, would have had an equal value for such
economical purposes as this, and "The Lives of the Noble Grecians and
Romans by that Grave Learned Philosopher & Historiographer Plutarch"
were too entertaining to young and old to be left for any length of time
quietly upon the shelf. They were the familiar reading of boys who
were to become the actors in the great drama of the Rebellion and the
Commonwealth, or who a little later were to frequent the dissolute court
of Charles, presenting in their own lives, whether in camp or court, as
patriots or as traitors, parallels to those which they had read in the
weighty pages of the old biographer.

[Footnote D: In 1579, 1595, 1602, 1631, 1657, 1676. Mr. Hooper, in his
Introduction to Chapman's Homer, London, 1857, says, that "the edition
of 1657 was published under the superintendence of the illustrious
Selden." We do not know his authority for this statement. The fact, if
it be one, is very remarkable, as Selden's death took place in 1654.]

Nor in more recent times has North's version failed of admirers. Godwin
declared, that, till this book fell into his hands, he had no genuine
feeling of Plutarch's merits, or knowledge of what sort of a writer he
was. But the chief interest of this translation at the present day,
except what it possesses as a storehouse of good mother-English, comes
from the fact that it was one of the books of Shakespeare's moderate
library, and one which he had thoroughly read, as is manifest from the
use that he made of it in his own works, especially in "Coriolanus,"
"Julius Caesar," and "Antony and Cleopatra." It was from the worthy
knight's folio that he got much of his little Latin and less Greek. He
helped himself freely to what was to his purpose; and a comparison of
the passages which he borrowed from with the scenes founded upon them is
interesting, as showing his use of the very words of the author before
him, and as exhibiting the new appearances which those words take on
under his plastic hand. We have no space for long extracts; but a short
illustration will serve to show that Shakespeare is the best translator
of Plutarch into English that we have had. Compare these two passages: -

"Therefore, when she [Cleopatra] was sent unto by divers letters, both
from Antonius himself and also from his friends, she made so light of
it, and mocked Antonius so much, that she disdained to set forward
otherwise, but to take her barge in the river of Cydnus; the poop
whereof was of gold, the sails of purple, and the oars of silver, which
kept stroke in rowing after the sound of the musick of flutes, bowboys,
citherns, viols, and such other instruments as they played upon in the
barge. And now for the person of herself, she was laid under a pavillion
of cloth of gold of tissue, apparelled and attired like the goddess
Venus, commonly drawn in picture; and hard by her, on either hand of
her, pretty fair boys apparelled as painters do set forth god Cupid,
with little fans in their hands, with which they fanned wind upon her.
Her ladies and gentlewomen also, the fairest of them were apparelled
like the Nymphs Nereides (which are the Myrmaids of the waters) and like
the Graces; some steering the helm, others tending the tackle and ropes
of the barge, out of the which there came a wonderful passing sweet
savour of perfumes, that perfumed the wharf's side, pestered with
innumerable multitudes of people. Some of them followed the barge all
along the river side; others also ran out of the city to see her coming
in. So that in the end there ran such multitudes of people one
after another to see her, that Antonius was left post alone in the
market-place, in his imperial seat to give audience." - NORTH'S
_Plutarch, Life of Antonius_, p. 763. Ed. of 1676.

_Enobarbus._ When she first met Mark Antony, she pursed up his heart
upon the river of Cydnus.

_Agrippa._ There she appeared, indeed; or my reporter devised well for
her.

_Eno._ I will tell you.
The barge she sat in, like a burnish'd throne,
Burnt on the water: the poop was beaten gold;
Purple the sails, and so perfumed that
The winds were lovesick; with them the oars were silver,
Which to the tune of flutes kept stroke, and made
The water, which they beat, to follow faster,


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Online LibraryVariousThe Atlantic Monthly, Volume 05, No. 27, January, 1860 → online text (page 17 of 20)