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the environs of the Kolima River. It freezes from the 20th of August to the beginning of September, and does not break loose from its icy bondage till the first days of une. It is true that the sun remains constantly on the horizon at Nijne-Kolimsk for fifty-two days, from the 15th of May to the 6th of July; but it rises so little above it that it merely gives light, but no heat. In July, myriads of mosquitoes appear, and are very annoying ; however, these insects are of great benefit to the inhabitants; for they drive thousands of reindeer from the forests and force them to repair to the sea-shore, where the winds disperse the mosquitoes, and where the hunters are prepared to kill great numbers of the deer. The fogs which arise from the sea at the time when it freezes, make the climate more tolerable in October ; but the cold then increases, and sometimes attains forty degrees in January. A night of thirty-eight days begins on the 22d of November; it would be insupportable, were it not for the brightness of the reflection, the brilliancy of the snow and the strong light of the Aurora Borealis. The beauty of the animal race presents a striking contrast to the desolate state of vegetation ; but the variety of species, and the great number of individuals, leaves the landscape inanimate. “ All shows here,” says M. de Wrangell, “ that the limits of the habitable world have been passed, and one tries in vain to understand how men should have crossed them to dwell in such solitudes.” The male population of the district of Kolimsk is, nevertheless, 325 Russians and Cossacks, 1,034 Ya. koutes, and 1,139 Youkaquires and men belonging to other tribes.

Spring is the most difficult season for those living on the shores of the Kolima. The produce of the fisheries in the autumn is consumed by that time, and famine appears under the most frightful aspect. M. de Wrangell witnessed this three times, Then immense flocks of sians, geese, ducks, and other fowl, arrive in time to save the people ; the fish, which were forced by the severity of the season to seek deeper water, are caught in nets stretched under the ice-which, when it breaks, causes frequently sudden inundations.

The winter is mostly spent in the interior of the dwellings, to which a small door leads, which is covered with a bear's or reindeer's skin ; it is lighted by a lamp filled with grease. All around the hut are the dogs, half buried in the snow, who, four times a day, and oftener when it is moonlight, interrupt the general si. lence by their horrid cries. Who could believe that, notwithstanding the climate, the absence of day, and the deprivations of all kinds to which they are subject, the inhabitants have a satisfied appearance, and are in some degree happy?

It is near the village of Potbischa that the flocks of reindeer are in the habit of crossing the Aniouy River when they fly from the mosquitoes which infest the forests in summer, and go to find a refuge on the shore of the ocean, and when they return thence in autumn. The produce of the fisheries is not sufficient to nourish the population, and their existence depends, in a great measure, on this chase of reindeer. In the spring, while the Aniouy is yet frozen, it can only be accomplished by means of the gun and the bow and arrow ; in autumn, the Youkaquires, in their boats, attack and kill the reindeer when they are swimming across the river; a good hunter can thus kill more than a hundred of them in half an hour. But sometimes the reindeer do not come.

Mr. Matiouckine witnessed the impression produced on the people when they learned that this had happened on the river which he was visiting, and that an immense herd which had appeared, instead of crossing the river, went off to the mountains. · Gladness,” he says,

left them, and despair filled their hearts; it was fearful ! for death threatened these poor wretches. The women and children were wringing their hands, and the air resounded with their lamentable cries; rolling themselves upon the snow, they dug it out, as if to prepare a tomb.”

The travellers continued their journey as far as the shores of the Arctic Sea, and the relation of their discoveries and the dangers they passed through, forms a very interesting part of this work, which we would notice more fully had we the time and the space necessary.


"What institutions,” said the Japanese Empe- { fields and living forms of loveliness and grace, for to a European traveller, “what institutions and he feels have you in your country for making poets ?" “ Sire,” replied the traveller, “ we have a beau

“ A presence that disturbs him with the joy

Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime tiful earth, a beautiful sky, and a holy religion.”

Of something far more deeply interfused, This answer, as philosophical as felicitous, Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns, might be returned by our countrymen to the And the round ocean, and the living air, doubters on the other side of the Atlantic, in And the blue sky, and in the mind of man; our own fatherland, if their questioning of our A motion and a spirit that impels poetical capabilities did not originate in a preju

All thinking things, all objects of all thought, dice sterner and more invincible than Japanese

And rolls through all things. Therefore is he

still ignorance. The arrogant incredulity of British critics, which a few years ago demanded who

A lover of the meadows, and the woods,

And mountains, and of all that we behold reads an American bock ?” has to be sure very

From this green earth.” considerably lowered its tone; and they concede, sometimes directly, and sometimes by fraudulent In all ages and nations the muses have had appropriation to themselves of our literary pro- their supposed chosen retreats. Pindus and duce, that we have uttered some very tolerable Pierus, Helicon and Parnassus, the fountains prose. Whether America ever has or ever will Castalia and Hippocrene, the honored haunts distinguish itself in the walks of poetry remains of their election, were thus distinguished in with them a question.

heathen mythology, only because in such There are some considerations worth our no. spots, nature disclosed her loveliness or her tice, which, a priori, would strongly indicate a grandeur, and invited to freer, nearer commu. distinguished eminence in imaginative and po- nion the imaginative mind of her child and disetic fame among the glowing prospects of this ciple. This was the hidden esoteric sense of young country, and justify the prediction that the mythus of the muses, that the poetic spirit by the broad streams, amid the solemn forests must draw its inspiration from the unveiled bo. and cloud-crowned mountains, and the bound- som of nature, and by beholding her face to less prairies of this western world, the harp of face in her retirement, and dwelling apart with poesy would be new strung, and, vibrating to her in her own bright and clear element, bethe touch of masters trained amid the magnifi- come by a transforming and transfusing pro. cent greatness and splendors of nature, would cess, a living harp, to utter her deep harmonies yield its sweetest harmonies and sublimest num- in the dwellings and to the listening hearts of bers. We all know how much external nature

Nature is thus to him, what she has has to do with awakening and developing the been in every age, the only true and everlastpoet's soul. What indeed is that peculiarly fit. ing muse. ting and forming education, which reveals the With this truth admitted of the influence of poet to himself and to the world, which ethere- external nature in the formation of mind and in alizes, warms and elevates his spirit, and touches the quickening of the imaginative powers, what his lips with hallowed fire, and fills his soul may we not expect from it in our own land with thoughts that burn for utterance like a with its bland yet bracing temperature, its beprophet's message! What is it but the impress nignant sky, and its glorious panorama of foand the inspiration of Nature, working around rests, mountains, prairies, rivers, lakes and him in her multiform operations and movements, seas, on a scale of magnificence, and in a style and breathing upon him her silent, subduing of splendor and beauty entirely its own. Naand kindling influence. It is nature, sincerely ture did much for Greece and Italy, but she has loved and watchfully observed, and passively, done infinitely more for America, and as by an gently yielded to with a child's reverence, that ordinance of nature the mind assimilates itself half creates the poet. He hears new music in to the objects with which it is conversant, it is the flow of waters, in the waving of tree-tops, not unreasonable to look for the ripest, richest in the voices of birds, in the low breathing fruits from intellects trained and nurtured among winds of summer; sees her greatness in storms natural scenery so grand, diversified, beautiful and heaving oceans and wild tornadoes, and is and sublime. The feelings and sentiments of touched with her beauty in flowers and green poesy find their natural aliment and home in THE CHRISTIAN PARLOR MAGAZINE,




such a country. The lyre and the harp were invented among the mountains of Thessaly; what wonder if their most perfect and thrilling strains shall be heard echoing among the mountains of America, or floating along her vales and streams.

It were a trifling consideration, if true, to be alleged that as yet no great poets have appeared among us. Rome had been built 500 years before she had one considerable poet. And hitherto the mind of this country has been by the force of circumstances otherwise occupied than in elegant literature and devotion to the muses. We have been of necessity a practical and working people, and yet we are not ashamed to offer the names of our Danas, Bryants, Longfellows, Spragues, Hallecks, and many others, for comparison with the best British poets who have written during the last twentyfive years. On this point we shall have occasion for additional remarks in the progress of this article.

II. In the second place, the free political institutions of this country greatly favor the generous nurture and development of poetic genius. Poesy and Freedom, have they not ever been companions and playmates, nestling together in the same mountain eyrie, invigorated by the same free breeze, and walking forth hand in hand with intentangled tresses over the same smiling fields ? So intimately related are they that they seem but one.

What indeed is practical freedom but the realized vision and prayer of poesy? And what influence is there worse for mind and all its great capabilities than that of an enthralling, benumbing political power? It is and always has been the great antagonist, and too often the successful one of ennobled, of aspiring and ex. panding intellect, ruling it an outlawed thing when it would not be rendered parasitical and subservient, bending the supple hinges of the knee to the will of despotism, and meanly cringing to the hest of iron power. Oppression, in its two principal forms, political and ecclesiastical, has thus far in all ages and countries crushed and smothered genius, or created an atmosphere in which it could not freely breathe. Mean things have trodden down the noble; the sordid have overridden the generous, the free, the high-thoughted. All despotism, but chiefly ecclesiastical, is in essence vulgar, selfish, malignant and exclusive, and conspires against the greatness and free utterance of lofty mind. It would reduce all men to become machines turn. ed by a single crank, or brutes reined and guided by a single bit. This unblessed and withering

experiment on the human spirit is, we trust, never to be made on any extensive scale in this country. We trust we have the elements and the spirit of a substantial freedom settled among

The genius of liberty abides here, and at a blast from her bugle, her children start like the war-clad clansmen of Roderick Dhu from their glens and fastnesses, and every vale, and hillock, and mountain slope teems with radiant men. We have faith to believe that the days of oppression are numbered, though its heavy shadows retire reluctantly, slowly; that the millenium of freedom is begun, and that henceforth, and in this land a literature free as the air, and asking no imprimatur from lords temporal or spiritual, will continue to bless us with its fruits. We hold it not unlikely indeed that there may yet be many a struggle for the maintenance of the rights of the mind, yet that those very struggles will be the means of intellectual development in its noblest forms, we are taught by all past experience to expect.

III. The religious character and tendencies of this country foretoken for it an elevated poetical fame. No correct estimate of our future literature can be made without noting the activity and influence of the religious principle upon the heart and mind of the nation. The literature and the religion of a people are as intimately related as cause and effect. In the case of a people wedded to a false and worn out religious faith, it is nearly certain that no strenuous mental efforts, especially in eloquence and poetry, will grace their history. The explanation is easy. Poetry is the utter. ance of our inner, higher nature, it is a voice from the depths of our being, it is music steal. ing from the hidden heart, elicited by the truth permeating and warming it, like the fabled music of Memnon struck by the ray of morning. It comes forth from those depths in us where belong our ideas and presentiments of immortality and the infinite, where are felt by the living spirit the unappeasable longings for the good, the beautiful, the true, the eternal. The religious principle, or, if you like it better, the religious susceptibility or craving is there, waiting for the light to shine down into it, to awaken it and make it vibrate celestial and audible harmonies, worthy of an instrument of God as it is. Our highest powers, the most delicate and sensitive that belong to us, like Hower plants amid cold, dark ruins, with hold their fragrance and beauty, till piercing some crevice, a ray of sunshine enters, and uncoiling themselves they emerge where it broke in, and spread their tendrils pale



and weakly to the breeze and the orient beam, and thence drink in life and joy, and become part of the poetry of nature.

What the light and air are to the sickly plant or flower, that the influence of religion is to poetic genius; it is its aliment, and life, and joy—the spirit predestined to educe from its chaos and darkness, a world of order, light, and beauty.

And is it not signally true, and worthy of our thankful acknowledgment, that to the American mind is allotted the blessed privilege of a training specially auspicious and hopeful in this regard? In no country in the world is religion less embarrassed in its transmission to the heart, or in its interspersion with those commanding influences which mould the national character and destiny, and give enlargement and dignity to the movements of mind.

" Poesy baptized In the pure fountain of eternal love Has eyes indeed; and viewing all she sees As meant to indicate a God to man Gives him his praise, and forfeits not her own."

They become mutually helpful, and shed grace and glory upon each other.

It may not be amiss, however, to remark, that the religion of which we speak as necessary to kindle and control the poetic fire, must itself be earnest and fervid, quite unlike that heartless, stupid, frozen thing, with which we are all familiar. It must come not in the dry, pedantic divisions of the divinity school, but in the living, leaping earnestness and joy of its own nature, and furnish nutriment and appeals to our highest and profoundest sentiments, and breathe upon our deepest nature, our heart of hearts, and fan open its innermost folds. It is impossible, says an eminent American writer, “not to discern an increased fervor of mind in every department of life, and this character is stamped very strongly on the literary productions of the age

Fiction is no longer a mere amusement, but transcendant genius, seizing upon this province of literature, turns it from a toy into a mighty engine, and under the light tale, is breathing through the community either its reverence for the old or its thirst for the new, communicating the spirit and lessons of history, unfolding the operations of civil and religious institutions, and defending or assailing systems of education and morals, by exhibiting them in life and action. The poetry of the age is equally characteristic. It has a deeper and more impressive tone than comes to us from what has been called the Augustan age of

English literature. The regular, harmonious, elaborate strains of Pope and his contemporaries, are regarded as playing too much on the surface of nature and the heart. We demand a more thrilling note, a poetry which pierces beneath the exterior of life to the depths of the soul, and which lays open its mysterious workings, borrowing from the whole outward creation, fresh images and correspondences with which to illuminate the secrets of the world within us. Extravagances of imagination and violations of taste and moral sentiment are easily forgiven when conjoined with what awakens strong emotion.

Hence the importance of a powerful religious influence, to conserve as well as quicken the poetic character, in the progress of the fervid civilisation of our times and country; and it is cheering to believe that an administration of Christianity, better tempered to human nature and adapted to its development and control, is taking the place of the old, crabbed, heartless, denunciatory fanaticism, of one sort, and the worldly apathy of another, which have been so long in vogue.

IV. But says the objector, “one grand element is wanted for the nurture of the poetical character in America; she has no traditions. She started at once into life, rude, rugged, sav. age, self-confident.

She has nothing to fall back upon in her history-no age of gold—no fabulous antiquity-no fairy land, out of which to carve a national poetry.” The Foreign Quarterly, in an article on this subject which would disgrace the most scurrilous diurnal in New York, whines dolorously over our newness as fatal to our poetical aspirations. We have even no modes of dress to reviveno grandmother's hoops—no voluminous wig, no buckles, no ruffs. A distressing case truly, if we could but be made to feel it, as at present we do not. We are accustomed 10 regard our past as anything but a blank and an oblivion. Our history, colonial and independent, may have little that is interesting, much less poetical, to a venal, one-sided, bragging Englishman, though if he had the wit as well as the grossness of Falstaff, he would in self-defence laud the courage of those who have whipped him time and again. We can assure our crabbed old neighbor, over the water, without any desire to sour the beer on his stomach, that we are well enough off for historical glory to spare his sympathy. If we have no fabulous age, we have volumes of facts stranger than fiction

- we have historic names fresh as the ungathered flower; already




“We give in charge Their fame to the sweet lyre. The historic muse, Proud of her ireasure, marches with it down To latest times; and sculpture in her turn Gives bond in stone and ever during brass, To guard them and to immortalize her trust.”

No, the spirit of poesy needs no obscure mythology, no dusky past, no feigned demi-gods and imaginary deeds of daring to fall back upon. The simple, truthful, unadorned annals of the country, are sufficiently romantic and exciting, for the loftiest imagination ; and we can dispense with the inspiration of old wives' tales and puerile legends. We have no occasion to people our solitudes with goblins borrowed from the old world, or our streams with naiads and nymphs, or our groves and glens with fairies. Our English reviewers are welcome to retain all this worn out machinery loaned them by a childish antiquity. We are satisfied with the inspiration of truth and nature, and are content to build up a national literature and a national poetry on the basis of truth and reason. These are the enchantments, the wizard rods of the muse of American poetry. Told in the simplest, most unexaggerated strain, the story of our country's birth and fortunes is itself a poem. Why should we invent one? The necessity of fiction, of invention, is obvious enough with most nations, as the means of concealing a base history or a low and mean origin. The Latin poets, for instance, to hide the fact that Rome was originally a mere asylum for every criminal that might flee to it from other countries, connect its history with the goddess-born Æneas, as you read in the elaborate fiction of Virgil. The British poets, in like manner, when boasting of English virtue and English liberty, are forced perpetually to falsify history and fall back upon the dust and dim distance of antiquity, the fogs of the past, thick and heavy as those in which Providence has doomed those islands to welter; so that it seems to be their belief that there can be no poetry without fiction and falsehood; and they generously pity us because our history is so a thing of yesterday that we can't lie it down, and of course can't make poetry. Those poetic visions of liberty, for instance, that dance on the stream of English verse like sunshine on a leaping river, if the honest truth were distilled out of them, would amount to no more of substance than is found in one of their elves, of whom ten thousand it is said can dance at once on the point of a cambric needle. English poetry boasts magnanimously and grandiloquently of liberty bought

with the blood of forefathers; but English history tells us it was purchased in every instance almost with money. “A great proportion of her best laws, including the great Charter itself, as confirmed by Henry III., were, in the most literal sense, obtained by pecuniary bargain with the crown. In many parliaments of Ed. ward III. and Richard II., this purchase of popular freedom is chaffered for, and retailed out, as distinctly and with as little apparent sense of disgrace, as the most legitimate traffic between two merchants would be transacted."* Well may English reviewers court for English poets the aid of fiction. As we said, on this subject the American muse needs it not. She bas but to sing the truth. Our fathers rose but yesterday from their baptism of blood. The bones of her martyrs are on every field. The bullets of her foes are in her shade-trees, not three-score years old. The stream of patriot blood still stains our halls. The pen that records it writes poetry!! And this is true of all American history. What imagination a century ago could have pictured all that history has realized with in that time on the territory of this republic ? We

go back to a very recent period, and the whole country is a wilderness; here and there are tribes of wild men, but they are homeless and in a state of nature :

From the small worm that creeps abroad at

midnight, To sip cool dews and feed on sleeping flowers, To the huge form that leads its quiet life Among his old contemporary trees.

Life in all its grades is animal merely and uneventful. The mountains lift their heads in lonely majesty. The silence of the forest is unbroken, save by the falling nut, or the rustling leaf. The streams are unrippled, save by the plash of the water-fowl or the beaver. Flowers spring unseen and die ungathered. The sullen Atlantic flaps the eastern coast with his broad, dark wing, and once in half a century flings a dead body on the untrodden beach, the moan of floods and forests mingling for å requiem. There is nothing even to perish.

" Ruin itself stands still for want of Work, And Desolation keeps perpetual Sabbath."

But look again, and note the mighty change. An Empire, whose western shore receives the eternal serenade of the Pacific, and whose eastern is saluted by the roar of the Atlantic ; its north barricaded by frosts, and its south receive

* See Hallam's Middle Ages, Vol. ii., p. 191.

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