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the institution of farther investigations at some more conve. nient season.
Keeping this object uppermost in my mind, I made a visit of relaxation and pleasure to Wyoming in the summer of 1839, the result of which, through the kind assistance of my friend Charles Miner, and also of his nephew, Doctor Miner, was a collection of authentic materials sufficient for a small volume appertaining to the history of that valley alone.
The name of Mr. Miner will frequently appear in the notes and references of the present volume. He is an able man, a native of Norwich, Connecticut, and emigrated to the Valley of Wyoming in the year 1799 — being then nineteen years of age. He first engaged in school teaching. Having a brother, a year or two older than himself, who was a practical printer, he invited him to join him in his sylvan retreat, and establish a newspaper. The brother did so; and the twain conjointly established the “ Luzerne Federalist." This paper was subsequently superseded by “ The Gleaner,” but under the same editorial conduct — that of Charles Miner. It was through the columns of the Gleaner that Mr. Miner, for a long series of months, instructed and amused the American people by those celebrated essays of morals and wit, of fact and fancy, and delicate humour, purporting to come “ From the Desk of Poor Robert the Scribe," and which were very generally republished in the newspapers. The Gleaner and its editor became so popular, that the latter was invited to Philadelphia, as associate editor of the “Political and Commercial Register,” so long and favourably known under the conduct of the late Major Jackson.
Not liking the metropolis as well as he did the country, Mr. Miner soon retired to the pleasant town of Westchester, eighteen miles from Philadelphia, where, in connexion with his brother Asher, who had also removed from Wilkesbarré, he established the Village Record - a paper which became
as popular for its good taste, and the delicacy of its humour, as the Gleaner had been aforetime. Poor Robert here wrote again under the signature of “ John Harwood.” While a resident of Westchester, Mr. Miner was twice successively elected to Congress, in a double district, as a colleague of the present Senator Buchanan.
While in Congress Mr. Miner showed himself not only a useful, but an able member. In the subject of slavery he took a deep interest, labouring diligently in behalf of those rational measures for its melioration which were doing great good before a different feeling was infused into the minds of many benevolent men, and a different impulse imparted to their action on this subject. There is another act for which Mr. Miner deserves all praise. It was he who awakened the attention of the country to the silk-growing business. He drew and introduced the first resolution upon the subject, and wrote the able report which was introduced by the late General Stephen Van Rensselaer, as chairman of the committee on agriculture, to whom that resolution had been referred.
It is now about eight years since Mr. Miner relinquished business in Westchester, and, with his brother, returned to Wyoming, where both have every promise of spending the evening of their days most happily.
But to return from this digression : A farther illustration of the history of Wyoming having been determined on, the next question presented, was the manner in which it should be brought out. The idea occurred to me, when about to commence the composition of the historical portion of the present volume, six weeks ago, to prefix to the history, the poetry of Campbell — thus comprising, in a single portable volume, the Poetry and History of WYOMING. This suggestion was approved by Messrs. Wiley and Putnam, who are to be the publishers; and in addition to all, Mr. WASHINGTON ÍRVING has kindly furnished a biographical sketch of the author of Gertrude.
It is but justice to both publishers and printers to add, that neither pains nor expense have been spared to present the volume in a form that will reflect no discredit upon their respective branches of the art of book-making. The result of the experiment is before the reader.
W. L. S. New-York, Dec. 25th, 1840.
It has long been admitted as a lamentable truth, that authors seldom receive impartial justice from the world, while living. The grave seems to be the ordeal to which in a manner their names must be subjected, and from whence, if worthy of immortality, they rise with pure and imperishable lustre. Here many, who through the caprice of fashion, the influence of rank and fortune, or the panegyrics of friends, have enjoyed an undeserved notoriety, descend into oblivion, and it may literally be said “they rest from their labours, and their works do follow them.” Here likewise many an ill-starred author, after struggling with penury and neglect, and starving through a world he has enriched by his talents, sinks to rest, and becomes an object of universal admiration and regret. The sneers of the cynical, the detractions of the envi. ous, the scoffings of the ignorant, are silenced at the hallowed precincts of the tomb; and the world awakens to a sense of his value, when he is removed beyond its patronage for ever, Monuments are erected to his memory, books are written in
his praise, and mankind will devour with avidity the biography of a man, whose life was passed unheeded before their eyes. He is like some canonized saint, at whose shrine treasures are lavished and clouds of incense offered up, though while living the slow hand of charity withheld the pittance that would have relieved his necessities.
But this tardiness in awarding merit its due, this preference continually shown to departed authors, over living ones of perhaps superior excellence, may be ascribed to more charitable motives than those of envy and ill-nature. Of the former we judge almost exclusively by their works. We form our opinion of the whole flow of their minds and the tenor of their dispositions from the volumes they have left behind; without considering that these are like so many masterly portraits, presenting their genius in its most auspicious moments, and noblest attitudes, when its powers were collected by solitude and reflection, assisted by study, stimulated by ambition and elevated by inspiration. We witness nothing of the mental exhaustion and languor which follow these gushes of genius. We behold the stream only in the spring-tide of its current, and conclude that it has always been equally profound in its depth, pure in its wave, and majestic in its course.
Living authors, on the contrary, are continually in public view, and exposed to the full glare of scrutinizing familiarity. Though we may occasionally wonder at their eagle soarings, yet we soon behold them descend to our own level, and often sink below it. Their habits of seclusion make them less easy and engaging in society than the mere man of fashion, whose only study is to please. Their ignorance of the common topics of the day, and of matters of business, frequently makes them inferior in conversation to men of ordinary capacities, while the constitutional delicacy of their minds and irritability of their feelings, make them prone to more than