ePub 版

to the door, that you may ride a few miles forwards, and take a view of the operations, or ogle Soult through a telescope. Pedro then commences his culinary operations forthwith. The beef -and what-not besides-is whipped into the saucepan; the saucepan is set among the embers upon the hearth: and there it stands-not boiling-scarcely simmering suppose we say digesting -throughout the forenoon, and till you are ready to eat. Long before dinner, savoury steams announce a normal process of the cuisine, a process both leisurely and effectual. At length, crowned with laurels, and, like all heroes, hungry after fighting, you return from the skirmish in front, having barely escaped a stray cannon-ball that made your horseoh, did'nt it ?-spin round like a teetotum. The rich repast awaits youthe whole is turned out, and smokes upon the table-the bouilli is tender, the "jus" appetising and substantial, the tout-ensemble excellent. And if, with an eye to his own interest in the concern, Pedro has slipped in a handful or so of garlic, why, you live all day in the open air-so it doesn't much signify.

Well, so much for Irish stew. We wound up the evening with shipbiscuit aud brandy-and-water-ration brandy-French-superb. What an exchange for the horrid agoardente of Lisbon, that excoriated your palate, indurated your gizzard, and burnt a hole in your liver! I happened to mention my morning visit to St Sebastian. All my three companions had seen St Sebastian during the siege were present at the storming. "Sorry I was not ordered up in time," said I. "You'll never see anything like that," said the doctor.

"Well, can't you tell me something about it ?"

"No, no," replied he; "rather too late for that to-night. I must be moving."

"Come, gentlemen; mix another tumbler round," said "my friend." "If we cannot go into particulars, at least, for the satisfaction of Mr Y-, let us each relate some one incident, which we witnessed when the city was taken by storm. Come, doctor; you shall begin."

"Really," said the doctor, "it was

such a scene of slaughter and confusion, I can hardly recollect anything distinctly enough to tell it. I got into the town almost immediately after the troops, to look after the wounded; just those that required to be operated on at once. Found my way into a by-street; came among some of our fellows, who were carrying on such a game, drinking, plundering, firing at the inhabitants, and I don't know what-all besides, I was glad enough to escape with my life, and got out of the place as fast as I could. Don't really remember any particular occurrence to relate. Oh, yes; just as I was coming away, I saw one old woman-beg pardon; ought to have said elderly gentlewoman-pinned to a post with a bayonet, for defending her daughter's virtue."

Well, gentlemen, said "my friend," "I also will relate an incident, connected with that dreadful day. But, first of all, I must show you something. What, would you say, is the value of that, doctor?" He produced a very handsome diamond ring. "Worth fifty dollars at least," said the doctor, holding it to the lamp. "I say, worth it; that is, in the trade. Would sell, in Bond Street, for more than double that price, as they'd set it in London." The doctor, I should mention, was the son of a fashionable watchmaker-bore the sobriquet of Tick.

"Well," continued my friend, "how do you think I became possessed of that ring? Just after the town was carried, I watched a lull in the firing from the castle, and went in over the breach. Only one or two round-shot fell, as I was climbing up. Met there an English sailor, a man-ofwar's man, coming along in high good humour, perhaps a little the worse for liquor. He was shouting, laughing, holding up his two hands, as if he wanted me to look at them. The fellow had been plundering; plundering a jeweller's shop. "Now I'm dressed out for a ball," said he, "all for one like a Spanish lady." What d'ye think he had done? All his fingers, both hands, were covered down to the tips with splendid rings, rings set with precious stones, as thick as curtain - rods. Brilliants, rubies, emeralds, amethysts, he had stuck them on, one after the other, till

[ocr errors]

there was no room left. Told him I'd buy them: offered him a dollar for the lot; two dollars; five dollars. 'Avast,' said he, I'm a gentleman. Don't want none of your dumps, messmate. Shouldn't mind giving you one, though, for good luck. Here, take this big un.' It was a great ugly Brazilian topaz. 'No, no,' said I; 'give me this little one.' He gave it me; I thanked him; and he walked away, laughing and shouting. -Worth fifty dollars, you say. Is it though, doctor? For forty-five down, you shall have it."

The doctor made no reply; and, for a few seconds, there was a dead silence. "Come, Mr Pagador senior," said he; "I've got three gunshot wounds, an ague, and a dysentery.— Must see them all, before I go to bed. Please to proceed.'

"I think," said my fellow-clerk, "our host had a good chance of being shot, when he mounted the breach; for the French, I remember, kept up a fire on all who passed that way, long after it was carried. You're sure you got that ring on the breach, are you? I, also, had a narrow escape, after I got into the town. I was walking up one of the streets, and passed a wine-shop, where a lot of our fellows were assembled, within and without. A few yards beyond was a corner; another street crossed. Just at the crossing, in the middle of the road, lay an English soldier, dead. There was nothing particular in that; for I had passed several dead before, as I came along. Walking on, I noticed two soldiers looking at me and talking. Better tell him, then,' said one of them. Tell him yourself,' said the other; I shan't tell him. He's only a commissary.' Just before I reached the corner, some one gently laid hold of my arm. I turned round. It was that officer of the engineers-Gabion-yes, Captain Gabion. Wouldn't advise you to go beyond the corner,' said he.-'Why not?' said I. 'Don't you see that man lying on the road?' said he.-'Any danger?' said I. 'I'll soon let you see that,' said he have the kindness to lend me your hat.' I gave him my hat-staff-hat-bought it new at Vittoria. He stepped forward, held it out by one end, just poked about half


[ocr errors]

Crack! a

of it beyond the corner. rifle-bullet came clean through it. The French,' said he, still occupy that street. I set a sentry here just now, to keep people from passing on. But he's off; plundering, I suppose, or getting drunk. I'm sorry for your hat, though.' Rum trick, that of Captain Gabion's, I must say. I thought it very unkind. Kept me from getting shot; much obliged to him for that. But spoiled my new staffhat-cost me ten dollars."

"Yes," said the doctor, "that's just what he is; always up to some practical piece of wit, and grave as a judge. Grave? I should rather say melancholy. Such a fellow for joking, too! Why, he'd crack a joke if a shell was fizzing at his feet. One of the coolest officers in the service."

"Where is Captain Gabion now?" said I.

"Oh, somewhere in advance," said the doctor; "you may be sure of that; somewhere with the troops in the south of France. He and his friend, that major of the artillery, had a narrow escape, though, in the winter. Must needs go paying a morning visit to a French family just this side of St Jean de Luz, before the enemy were driven across the Nivelle. Just escaped a party of them by hard riding. Don't see, though, that your hat, Mr Pagador, is much the worse, merely for being pinked."

"It makes people stare so," said he, "that's all I care about. Looks just exactly as if one had been shot through the head."

"Shouldn't mind giving you my new foraging cap and a dollar for it," said "my friend." Again there was a short silence. It was clear, in fact, that "my friend's" disposition to barter and bargain was not altogether admired.

"Well, gentlemen," said I, "you have all been good enough to tell me something about St Sebastian. Now, I'll tell you something. Did you ever see a dead man swim?"

"I've seen a dead man float," said the doctor; "never saw one swim."

"Well, that's what I saw this morning. And you may see it to-morrow, if you choose to go and look. I'll tell you how it was. The tide was up, and the river Urumea nearly full. I was standing on that part of the


rampart, where, as you know, the rubbish dislodged by the springing of the mine is shot down into the bed of the river. In that vast heap, no doubt many of the storming party found a grave, where they still lie buried, under tons upon tons of shattered masonry. In some instances, however, the sufferers were not entirely overwhelmed by the explosion; and their remains are still partly visible, bleached by the sun and wind. The water was perfectly clear; you might see the rocks in the bed of the stream. My eye, measuring the shattered pile on which I was standing, mechanically descended from its summit to its base, which juts out far into the river. Just under water, I noticed something in motion. The appearance attracted my attention. Descending the mound to the water's edge, what do you think I saw? A man half emerging from the fragments, and swimming, yes, swimming beneath the surface, striking out with both hands, as if struggling to get free. So visible was the object, so distinctly I saw every movement, my first impulse

was to step down into the water, drag him out from the rubbish before he was drowned, and land him on terra firma. I looked again-he was long past drowning. There he had swum, at high water, every day since the city was stormed, and the mine was sprung. His bones, half bared of flesh, were still held together by the ligaments; the mine, by its explosion, had buried him up to the middle; but from the loins he was free: the play of the waves tossed him to and fro; the water, in its flux and reflux, now caught his arms and spread them out from his sides to their full extent, now brought them back again :-anybody would have said it was a man swimming. Well, I shall dream of it tonight. I shall again be standing on that breach before daylight; fancy I see the dead man swimming out beneath my feet; and perhaps hear him calling for help under water. Only hope I mayn't fancy it's myself."

"It's curious," said the doctor, "when a fellow first joins, how a thing of that kind strikes him as remarkable. Well, good night all."


THERE is a class of literature peculiarly American, and unlikely to be rivalled or imitated to any great extent on this side the Atlantic, for which we entertain a strong predilection. It is the literature of the forest and the prairie, of the Indian camp and the backwood settlement, of the trapper's hunting ground, and, we now must add, of the Californian gold mine. It comprises the exploits and narratives of the pioneer in the Far West, and the squatter in Texas; of the military volunteer in Mexico, and the treasure-seeking adventurer on the auriferous shores of the Pacific. In common with millions of Europeans, we have watched, for years

past, with wonder, if not always with admiration, the expansive propensities of that singularly restless people, who, few in number, in proportion to their immense extent of territory, and prosperous at home under the government they prefer, yet find themselves cramped and uneasy within their vast limits, and continually, with greater might than right, displace their neighbour's boundary-mark and encroach upon his land. The mode in which this has been done, in a southerly direction, by the settlement of emigrants, who, gradually accumulating, at last dispossess and expel the rightful owner, has been often described and exemplified; and no

Sights in the Gold Regions, and Scenes by the Way. By THEODORE T. JOHNSON.

New York: 1849.

The California and Oregon Trail: being Sketches of Prairie and Rocky Mountain Life. By FRANCIS PARKMAN, Jun. New York and London: 1849.

Los Gringos; or an Inside View of Mexico and California: with Wanderings in Peru, Chili, and Polynesia. By LIEUTENANT WISE, U.S.N. New York and Lon

don : 1850.

where more graphically than by Charles Sealsfield, in his admirable Cabin Book and Squatter Nathan. The Anglo-German-American, deeply impressed by the virtues of his adopted countrymen, and especially by that intelligence and enterprising spirit which none can deny them, sees merit rather than injustice in the forcible expulsion of the Spaniard's descendants, and makes out the best possible case in defence of the Yankee spoliator. Still, when stripped of factitious colouring and rhetorical adornments, the pith of the argument seems to be that the land is too good for the lazy "greasers," who must incontinently absquatilate, and make way for better men. for Indians, they are of no account whatever. "Up rifle and at them!" is the word. In utter wantonness they are shot and cut down. Let us hear an American's account of the process.


"When Captain Sutter first settled in California he had much trouble with the Indians, but he adopted, and has pursued steadily from the first, a policy of peace, combined with the requisite firmness and occasional severity. Thus he had obtained all-powerful influence with them, and was enabled to avail himself

of their labour for moderate remuneration. Now all was changed: the late emigrants across the mountains, and especially from Oregon, had commenced a war of extermination, shooting them down like wolves-men, women, and children-wherever they could find them. Some of the Indians were undoubtedly bad, and needed punishment, but generally the whites were the aggressors; and, as a matter of course, the Indians retaliated whenever opportunities occurred; and in this way several unarmed or careless Oregonians had become, in turn, their victims. Thus has been renewed in California the war of extermination against the aborigines, commenced in effect at the landing of Columbus, and continued to this day, gradually and surely tending to the utter extinction of the race. And never has this policy proved so injurious to the interests of the whites as in California."-(Sights in the Gold Regions, p. 152-3.)

Mr Johnson illustrates by examples the system he thus condemns, and shows us war-parties of white men issuing forth for razzias upon Indian

villages, receiving, as they depart, the valedictory benediction of the patriarch of the settlement, a veteran backwoodsman, well known in the Rocky Mountains as a guide and pioneer, and who, after a long and adventurous career, has at last located himself, with his active, reckless, halfbreed sons in the beautiful and romantic valley of the Saw Mill. This bloody-minded old miscreant, John Greenwood by name, boasted of having shot upwards of a hundred Indians

ten of them since his arrival in California-and hoped still to add to the murder-list, although incapacitated by age from distant expeditions. His cabin was the alarm-post where the foragers assembled, and whither, on their return from their errand of blood and rapine, they brought their illgotten spoils, the captive squaws, and the still reeking scalps of their victims. With male prisoners they rarely troubled themselves; although, upon one occasion during Mr Johnson's stay in their vicinity, they brought in a number, and shot seven of them in cold blood, because, "being bad-looking and strong warriors," it was believed they had participated in the murder of five English miners, surprised and slain a short time previously. Expeditions of this kind are called "warparties ;" and the propriety of the system of which they form a part is as fiercely and passionately defended by the Americans in California, as is the propriety of slave-holding by the free and enlightened citizens of the southern states of the Union. It were far in Florida or Louisiana; at the "digfrom prudent to preach emancipation gins" it is decidedly unsafe to call the shooting of Indians by the harsh name of murder. "We saw a young mountaineer, wild with rage, threaten the life of an American who had ventured to suggest that the murders committed by these Indians were provoked by many previous murders of the whites, and that they should not be avenged by indiscriminate slaughter, but by the death of the guilty." The horrible character of the frequent massacres is aggravated by the adoption, on the part of the white savages, of the repugnant and barbarian usages of the unfortunate heathens whom they first provoke and then hunt to the death,

by the tearing off of scalps, and suchlike hideous and unchristian abominations. Unfortunately, these scenes of slaughter and atrocity are of constant occurrence, not only in that faroff land where gold is to be had for the gathering, but wherever the white man and the red come in contact. The air of the prairie and backwoods seems fatal to all humane and merciful feelings, and the life of the Indian is held no dearer than that of skunk or buffalo. Mr Parkman tells us of " a young Kentuckian, of the true Kentucky blood, generous, impetuous, and a gentleman withal, who had come out to the mountains with Russel's party of California emigrants. One of his chief objects, as he gave out, was to kill an Indian-an exploit which he afterwards succeeded in achieving, much to the jeopardy of ourselves and others, who had to pass through the country of the dead Pawnee's enraged relatives." No censure is passed upon this generous and gentlemanly young murderer by Mr Parkman, whose book would nevertheless indicate him to be a man of education and humanity, but who is apparently unable to discern any moral wrong in wantonly drilling a hole through the painted hide of a Pawnee. The system of extermination seems practically inseparable from the aggrandisement of American territory at Indian expense. When Mexicans are to be ejected, the process is more humane, or at least less cold-blooded and revolting in its circumstances. But, although the barbarity diminishes, the injustice is as great. By American annexators and propagandists, respect of property may be set down as an Old World prejudice; still it is one by which we are contented to abide; and we cannot see the right of any one to turn a man out of his house because he does not keep it in repair and Occupy all the rooms, or to pick a quarrel with him as a pretext for appropriating a choice slice of his garden. A considerable portion of the people of the United States are evidently convinced that they are the instruments of Providence in the civilisation and population of the New World, and look forward to the time as by no means remote when

their descendants and form of government shall spread south and north, to the exclusion of British rule and Spanish-American republics, from Greenland to Panama. As a preparatory step, their pioneers are abroad in all directions; and some of them, being handy with the pen as well as with the rifle, jot down their experiences for the encouragement of their countrymen and edification of the foreigner. Before us are three books of the kind completely American in tone and language, and of at least two of which it may safely be affirmed that none but Americans could have written them. In fact they are written in American rather than in English; particularly Mr Johnson's "Sights," of which we can truly say that, but for our intimate acquaintance with the language of the United States, acquired by much study of this particular sort of literature, we should have made our way through it with difficulty without reference to the dictionary, which we presume to exist, of American improvements on the English tongue. The book swarms with Yankeeisms, vulgarisms, and witticisms; the latter of no elevated class, and seldom rising above a very bad pun; notwithstanding which, Sights in the Gold Regions is a very amusing, and, to all appearance, a very honest account of life at the diggings. The other two books are the work, the one of a philosopher in the woods, and the other of a sailor on horseback. Mr Parkman, who, as regards literary skill, is superior to either of the companions we have given him—although his book has less novelty and pungency than either of theirs-left St Louis in the spring of 1846, on a tour of curiosity and amusement to the Rocky Mountains, with the especial object of studying the manners and character of Indians in their primitive state. He has a good eye for scenery and tolerable descriptive powers, and some of the adventures and anecdotes he relates are striking and interesting. But, for a fine specimen of rich rough-spun Yankee narrative, commend us to Lieutenant Wise of the United States navy. There is no mistake about the gallant author of Los Gringos. He makes no more pretence to style or elegance than a boatswain's mate

« 上一頁繼續 »