網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

passage. It will show the character of the work. Nay, it is but a paragraph or so; and I may as well give the whole of it, therefore: 66 PREFACE.

"I wrote LOGAN for an experiment. My object was, to do what nobody else had done, or would have the impudence to attempt. "I succeeded-but perhaps, it would have been better for me if I had failed.

"I have written SEVENTY-SIX for another and a better reason. I have written it in the hope, that they who have been bothered and frightened with the rambling incoherency, passion, and extravagance of LOGAN, may have an opportunity of getting into a better humour with the author, and, if possible, with themselves.

"LOGAN, I find, has been attributed to several persons, most of whom are remarkable for nothing but belles-lettres foppery, and pretension; while the rest are mad-stark, staring mad; nay, one of them, I believe, is actually under confinement in the Pennsylvania Hospital, while I am writing.

"I feel the compliment. It is highly creditable to the good sense of the public; and I do not despair of hearing SEVENTY-SIX attributed to some other ninnyhammer quite as foolish, if not quite so outrageous.

"But whatever may be the reception of SEVENTY-SIX, I shall feel neither gratitude nor resentment toward the public. I have lived long enough to know that they are never right, where it is possible to be wrong; that popularity is no proof of merit;, and that sudden popularity is never the reward of great talent; and I have come to the conclusion, that whatever may be the neglect of the public, it is more comfortable for the author to attribute it to bad printing-bad paper -want of zeal in the publishers-stupidity, obstinacy, bad taste, prejudice, degeneracy, or infatuation, if you please, in the literary world:-nay, to any thing and every thing, rather than to incompetency in himself. Such is my rule; and I have found great comfort in the application of it.

"On the other hand, however successful an author may be, he must be a hypocrite or a fool, if he pretend to feel any gratitude to the public for their favour. Would they buy his book unless they had their money's worth-would they?" Pho-pho-I cannot copy my own writing; but here is enough, I hope, of the Preface, to give you an idea of the book, whoever you are.

Well, SEVENTY-SIX too was re-published here, and by the Whittakers. Enough to turn the head of a writer who knew as little of re-publishing, as I did then. A critique appeared-a very favourable critique too-but where? In the La Belle Assemblée. I was the happiest creature alive-my fortune was made, I thought-for I was able to write, I knew, one such novel a month. I was ready to run out into the highway and shake hands with every body that I saw-for the honour of our native literature. I even heard from another quarter, and believed it-God forgive me!—that another magazine here had popped in a short notice about my book, a paragraph, the substance of which was, that the critic regarded the novel as another of the Lake School-that, soberly speaking, it was full of horror, torn flesh, &c. &c.—and that he never could tell whether I was praying or swearing, &c. &c. Indeed, indeed, I was very happy; I tried to

wear a natural expression of the face for a day or two, but I could not-I was too, too happy for such a thing, and whenever anybody looked at me, though it were in church, I smiled in spite of my teeth. By and by it was reported, that both books were translated into French and German, &c. &c. and that I was getting to be thought well of throughout Europe. N. B.-Nobody knew that the La Belle Assemblée, in which one critique appeared, was a trifling affair, the property of the Whittakers, who, it will be remembered, were the publishers of the book; and that the other, if I do not mistake, was the opinion of Sir Richard Phillips, or some other grave writer, thoroughly versed in the prodigies of North American literature; nor that the Whittakers were only the Whittakers.

In a word, such was the effect of these idle reports, and idler puffs, that I went to work forthwith, and knocked off three other novels:— one, RANDOLPH, which appeared in July, 1823; another, ERRATA, which appeared in November, 1823; and another, called the YANKEE, at first, I believe, and BROTHER JONATHAN afterwards-which having been wrought up and up, and over and over again, was published here by Blackwood some six or eight months ago. More of all these hereafter.

Just now, I have only to say what led me directly to the determination which brought me here:-I was anxious to see the people of Europe at home. I knew very well, that great as the sacrifice would be to throw up my profession, just when it had come to be a sure and genteel support for me, and go abroad without any means of support, save such as I might carry with me, and which could not possibly keep me above six months or so, it would be greater and greater, the longer I should delay it. I had hopes too, that if I were able to write a book a month, a book of three or four volumes, I should not be permitted to starve in a place where books that I had written at much greater speed, (for one I wrote in less than a month, while I was occupied a greater part of the day with professional duties,) while such books of mine were published and puffed, one after another, the last in spite of the cold reception which the first probably met with. I persuaded myself too, that if SEVENTY-SIX were well received, RANDOLPH and ERRATA Would be much better received, for they were bolder, and, if possible, yet more out of the common way. It never entered my head, I confess, that, peradventure, Randolph and Errata might never be heard of in Great Britain till I should come to speak of them myself, as I do now. On the contrary, I took it for granted that the former would be re-published, without loss of time, and that whenever it appeared, it would excite a stir in the literary world. N. B.-I think so still.

Now for the catastrophe. I had written a play. I felt persuaded that I could write another, and a better one. I fell to work-I dashed off a plot (a thing which I had omitted in my first play) and a few capital scenes. I made a discovery-it was indeed a discovery; and so, having satisfied myself, I went to eat a family dinner with a friend. I talked over the affair with him-he was a clear-headed, warm-hearted, worthy fellow. We agreed, that if I could only get to London, I should cut a figure in the literary world. He went so far indeed as to say, that I never should return to America; for my value

would be known here; and after it was known, would the people of this country ever think of parting with such a prize? I got up from the table-I went to the fire-I stood leaning my forehead on the mantel-piece. "By the Lord then," said I," by the Lord, Harry, (his name was Harry,) I will go." "Go-go where?" said he, starting up; for he had hardly thought me serious before, and my eagerness terrified him: "go where?" "To England," said I. It was done. I made all my arrangements before the sun set on that very day; and before three weeks were over, I had closed my affairs, got my letters ready, transferred my clients to a successor and a friend, put a young lawyer into my office, borrowed cash enough, added to the little that I had, to pay my passage and support me for a few months here and set sail for England, satisfied of three things:-First. That, happen what would, if people gave any thing for books here, they would not be able to starve me, since I could live upon air, and write faster than any man that ever yet lived.-Secondly. That by the time I arrived here, RANDOLPH would be out; and that of course, I should have little to fear after that.-And thirdly. That should all my other hopes and resources fail, I had a copy of ERRATA with me, the property of which I might secure by law, so that no body should pilfer it and publish it, as SEVENTY-SIX and LOGAN were published, without my approbation or knowledge, and without a penny of profit for me; that I had also a manuscript of another novel, the best that I had ever written by far; and that, if the worst came to the worst, I would write half a score tragedies, and reform the British drama, without more ado.

Particulars in our next.

N.

DESTRUCTION OF AN ELEPHANT AT GENEVA, IN MAY, 1820. [WE have been induced to give this narrative from the interest which was excited during this month, by a similar occurrence in this metropolis.-ED.]

FOR about a fortnight a fine Bengal elephant* had been exhibited at Geneva. The elephants of this species are taller than those of Africa. They have an elevated cranium, which has two protuberances on its summit; the frontal bone is rather concave, and the head proportionably longer; their tusks are smaller than those of the African elephant. The animal in question had but one; he had lost the other by some accident. He was nine feet high, and of a dark-brown colour. He was ten years old, and was bought in London six years ago. Mademoiselle Garnier, (the niece of his proprietor,) to whom he was much attached, always travelled with him. This lady was the proprietor of the elephant which broke loose at Venice a few years ago, and which was killed by a cannon-shot, after it had committed considerable ravages in the city.

The one in question was of a much gentler character, and had excited a general interest during its stay in Geneva, by its docility and

Elephas Indicus (Cuvier); Elephas Maximus (Linn.)

intelligence; it performed, at the command of its keeper, all the usual tricks which are taught these animals, with a promptitude of obedience, a dexterity, and one might almost say, a grace, which were quite remarkable. Whenever Mademoiselle Garnier witnessed his exercises, which was frequently the case, her presence seemed to call forth all these qualities to an extraordinary degree.

We learnt from this lady that he was so familiar and social that he had more than once appeared on the stage in large towns, as for instance at Lille, Antwerp, &c. playing the principal part in a procession, and seeming proud to carry the lady who acted the princess, before whom he would kneel to take her on his back. So far from being frightened at the lights, the music, and the noise of the house, he seemed delighted to take a part in the ceremony.

Accustomed as he was to liberty, and much as he loved it, he yet endured confinement with great patience, and when his keeper came to fasten him up for the night, he used to stretch out his foot to receive the iron ring by which he was chained till morning, to a post deeply fixed in the earth.

He did not travel in a cage; he was led from one town to another by night; he had three drivers, his keeper, properly so called, and two others, one of whom had always inspired him with more fear than attachment.

During the latter part of his stay at Geneva he had exhibited some symptoms of excitement and restlessness, arising from two causes-the one the frequent discharges of musketry from the soldiers who were exercised near his habitation, at which he was greatly irritated; the other the paroxysms to which these animals are subject for several weeks in the spring. Nevertheless, he had never disobeyed nor menaced his keepers.

His departure from Lausanne was fixed for the 31st of May. He left Geneva at midnight, the gates and drawbridges having been opened for that purpose by permission of the magistrate at the head of the military police.*

He was driven by his keeper and his two assistants, who carried a lantern. Mademoiselle Garnier was to follow in the morning. He made no difficulty in crossing the drawbridge, and took the road to Switzerland, apparently in high spirits. But before he had got more than a quarter of a league from the town, and from some cause which has never been discovered, he appeared out of humour with the keeper, and disposed to attack him. The keeper ran away towards the city; the elephant pursued him up to the gate, which the officer on guard opened, on his own responsibility, wisely calculating that it would be more easy to secure him within the town than without it, and that he might do immense mischief on the high roads. He re-entered the town without any hesitation, pursuing, rather than following his keeper and guides, between whom and himself all influence, whether of attachment or of fear, seemed at an end. From this moment he was his own master.

He walked for some time in the place de Saint Gervais, appearing

The syndic of the guard.

+ The 31st of May was Wednesday-market-day at Geneva.

to enjoy his liberty and the beauty of the night. He lay down for a few minutes on a heap of sand, which had been prepared for some repairs in the pavement, and played with the stones collected for the same purpose. Perceiving one of his guides, who was watching him at the entrance of one of the bridges over the Rhône, he ran at him, and would have attacked him, and probably done him some serious injury, if he had not escaped just in time.

Mademoiselle Garnier being informed of what had passed, immediately hastened to him, and trusting to the attachment he had always showed for her, she ventured to try her influence in leading him to some place of safety; she went up to him with great courage, and having furnished herself with some dainties, of which he was particularly fond, and speaking to him with gentleness and confidence, she led him into a place enclosed with walls near the barrack he had inhabited, into which he could not be induced to return. This place, called the Bastion d'Hollande, adjoined a shed containing caissoons, waggons, and gun-carriages; there were also cannon-balls piled up in an adjoining yard. The animal being left alone, and the gate shut upon him, he amused himself with trying his strength and skill upon every thing within his reach; he raised several caissoons and threw them on their sides, and seemed pleased at turning the wheels; he took up the balls with his trunk, and tossed them up in the air, and ran about with a vivacity which might have been ascribed either to gaiety or to irritation.

At two in the morning, the syndic of the guard being informed of the circumstance, went to the spot to consult on the measures to be taken. He found Mademoiselle Garnier in a state of the utmost distress and agitation, entreating that the elephant might be killed in the most speedy and certain way possible. The magistrate, who shared in the general feeling of interest this noble and gentle creature had excited in the town, at first opposed this resolution. He represented to his mistress that he was now in a place of security against all danger, whether to the public or himself; that his present state of irritation was, in its very nature, transient, and would soon yield to a proper regimen. These representations were ineffectual, Mademoiselle Garnier having still present to her mind the occurrences at Venice, and feeling the whole weight and responsibility of the management of the animal thrown on herself alone, (for the keeper and guides had decidedly refused to attend upon him again, and it was not easy to find successors who would undertake the task, or whom the elephant would suffer to approach him,) persisted in her demand. The magistrate would not give his consent until it was put in writing and signed.

From that moment arrangements were made for putting him to the most sure and speedy death, either by poison or fire-arms. On the one hand the chemists were laid under contribution for the necessary drugs, while, on the other, two breaches were made in the wall, at each of which a four-pounder was placed, which was to be the ratio ultima if the poison failed in its effect.

M. Mayor, an eminent surgeon, a learned lover of natural history, and one of the Directors of the Museum, had taken great delight in visiting the elephant during the whole time of his stay, and the animal had evinced a particular affection for him. This fact, which was

« 上一頁繼續 »