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JOHN LEDYARD, 1751–1788.
John LEDYAnd, the celebrated traveller, was born at Groton, Connecticut, in the year 1751. His father died when he was quite young, leaving his mother with four children, in very straitened circumstances. She is described as a woman of many excellencies of mind and character, well informed, resolute, generous, amiable, and, above all, eminent for piety. Such a mother is a priceless treasure; and Ledyard preserved to the end of his life a warm and most devoted affection for her. After a few years, he was taken to Hartford by his grandfather, and placed in a grammar-school. At the age of twenty-one, he went to Dartmouth College, with a view of qualifying himself to become a missionary among the Indians. But this project was soon abandoned, and Ledyard, after remaining at college about a year, returned to his father's house, sailing down the Connecticut to IIartford in a canoe which he made from the trunk of a tree. So early did his roving spirit manifest itself.
Soon after this adventure, he resolved to go to sca, and accordingly entered, as a common sailor, a vessel at New London, bound for Gibraltar. He returned home again after a year, but, having no means of support, concluded to go to England in search of some rich relations of his own name in London. He sailed from New York for Plymouth, and thence, without a penny in his pocket, walked to London, begging enough for subsistence on the road. When be arrived at the metropolis, he found one of the persons of whom he was in quest; but so coldly and distrustfully was he received, that the spirit of Ledyard would not allow him to sue for any favors.
Just at this time, Captain Cook was making preparations for his third and last voyage around the world. Ledyard offered his services to the renowned navigator, who was so much pleased with his manner and appearance, and with his enthusiasm for travel, that he immediately took him into his service, and appointed him corporal of marines. The expedition left England on the 12th of July, 1776, and returned after an absence of four years and three months. Ledyard kept a journal of the voyage; and his account of the scene at the Sandwich Islands, which resulted in the death of Captain Cook, is particularly valuable, as he was near his person at the time of the skirmish with the natives. For two years after his return to England he continued in the British navy, though in what capacity it is not known; and in December, 1782, he came home to visit his mother and friends. His restless spirit, however, could not long be tranquil, and he projected a voyage to the Northwest coast for furs; but, after trying in vain a whole year to persuade some merchants in New York and Boston to embark in the enterprise, he sailed
bras, and in every other respect is superior. It has a regular plan, in which all the parts are well proportioned and connected. The subject is fairly proposed, and the story conducted correctly through a series of advancements and retardations to a catastrophe which is natural and complete. The versification is far better, the poetry is in several instances in a good degree elegant, and in some even sublime.”
“Trumbull was undoubtedly the most conspicuous literary character of his day in this country. His society was much sought, and he was the nucleus of a band of brilliant geniuses, including Dwight, Hopkins, Alsop, Humphreys, &c."— Goodrich's Recollections.
for France. There he met with such continued disappointments as would have broken down any one who had not his persevering, adventurous spirit; but we find him the next year projecting a journey across Russia and Siberia to Okhotsk, which was warmly approved of by Sir Joseph Banks and other gentlemen of science in London. In December, 1786, Ledyard left London for Hamburg, to set out on his hyperborean tour. He arrived in Copenhagen in January, thence sailed to Stockholm, and reached St. Petersburg by the 20th of March. Here he suffered many vexatious delays before he could get his passport from the Empress to travel through her dominions. He at length left the imperial city on the 1st of June, in company with Mr. William Brown, a Scotch physician, who was going to the province of Kolyvan, in the employment of the Empress. In six days the party arrived at Moscow, where they stayed but one day. They hired a person to go with them to Kazan, a distance of 550 miles, and drive their kipitka with three horses. “Kibitka travelling,” says Ledyard, in his journal, “is the remains of caravan travelling; it is your only home; it is like a ship at sea.” They stayed a week at Kazan, and then commenced their journey to Tobolsk, where they arrived on the 11th of July. They remained here but three days, and then continued their journey to Barnaul, the capital of the province of Kolyvan. At this place Ledyard was to leave Dr. Brown and proceed alone. He, therefore, was prevailed upon to remain here a week, and enjoy the hospitalitics of the society. In his journal he writes thus of
The TARTARS AND RUSSIANS.
The nice gradation by which I pass from civilization to incivilization appears in every thing, in manners, dress, language; and particularly in that remarkable and important circumstance, color, which, I am now fully convinced, originates from natural causes, and is the effect of external and local circumstances. I think the same of feature. I see here among the Tartars the large mouth, the thick lip, the broad, flat nose, as well as in Africa. I see also in the same village as great a difference of complexion, from the fair hair, fair skin, and white eyes, to the olive, the black jetty hair and eyes; and these all of the same language, same dress, and, I suppose, same tribe. I have frequently observed in Russian villages, obscure and dirty, mean and poor, that the women of the peasantry paint their faces, both red and white. I have had occasion, from this and other circumstances, to suppose that the Russians are a people who have been early attached to luxury. The contour of their manners is Asiatic, and not European. The Tartars are universally neater than the Russians, particularly in their houses. The Tartar, how. ever situated, is a voluptuary; and it is an original and striking trait in their character, from the Grand Seignior, to him who pitches his tent on the wild frontiers of Russia and China, that
they are more addicted to real sensual pleasure than any other people.
After spending a week very agreeably at Barnaul, Ledyard made preparations for resuming his journey, and reached Yakutsk, on the Lena, on the 18th of September. Here he was told by the authorities that the journey to Okhotsk at that season was impracticable, a mild manner of telling him that he must not go. He therefore resolved to make the best use of his time, and lost no opportunity of gaining all the knowledge he could of the country and the people. The foilowing are two extracts from his journal at this place:—
PHYSIOGNOMY OF THE TARTARS.
The Tartar face, in the first impression it gives, approaches nearer to the African than the European; and this impression is strengthened on a more deliberate examination of the individual features and whole compages of the countenance; yet it is very different from an African face. The nose forms a strong feature in the human face. I have seen instances among the Kalmuks where the nose, between the eyes, has been much flatter and broader than I have ever witnessed in Negroes, and some few instances where it has been as broad over the nostrils quite to the end; but the nostrils in any case are much smaller than in Negroes. Where I have seen those noses, they were accompanied with a large mouth and thick lips; and these people were genuine Kalmuk Tartars. The nose protuberates but little from the face, and is shorter than that of the European. The eyes universally are at a great distance from each other, and very small; at each corner of the eye the skin projects over the ball; the part appears swelled; the eyelids go in nearly a straight line from corner to corner. When open, the eye appears as in a square frame. The mouth generally, however, is of a middling size, and the lips thin. The next remarkable features are the cheek bones. These, like the eyes, are very remote from each other, high, broad, and withal project a little forward. The face is flat. When I look at a Tartar en profile, I can hardly see the nose between the eyes, and if he blow a coal of fire, I cannot see the nose at all. The face is then like an inflated bladder. The forehead is narrow and low. The face has a fresh color, and on the cheek bones there is commonly a good ruddy hue.
The Tartars, from time immemorial, (I mean the Asiatic Tartars,) have been a people of a wandering disposition. Their converse has been more among the beasts of the forest than among men; and when among men, it has only been those of their own nation. They have ever been savages, averse to civilization, and have never, until very lately, mingled with other nations, and now
rarely. Whatever cause may have originated their peculiarities of features, the reason why they still continue, is their secluded way of life, which has preserved them from mixing with other people. I am ignorant how far a constant society with beasts may operate in changing the features; but I am persuaded that this circumstance, together with an uncultivated state of mind,-if we consider a long and uninterrupted succession of ages, must account, in some degree, for this remarkable singularity.
I have observed among all nations that the women ornament themselves more than the men; that, wherever found, they are the same kind, civil, obliging, humane, tender beings; that they are ever inclined to be gay and cheerful, timorous and modest They do not hesitate, like man, to perform a hospitable or generous action; not haughty, nor arrogant, nor supercilious, but full of courtesy and fond of society; industrious, economical, ingenuous; more liable in general to err than man, but in general also more virtuous, and performing more good actions than he. I never addressed myself in the language of decency and friendship to a woman, whether civilized or savage, without receiving a decent and friendly answer. With man it has often been otherwise. In wandering over the barren plains of inhospitable Denmark, through honest Sweden, frozen Lapland, rude and churlish Finland, unprincipled Russia, and the wide-spread regions of the wandering Tartar, if hungry, dry, cold, wet, or sick, woman has ever been friendly to me, and uniformly so; and to add to this virtue, so worthy of the appellation of benevolence, these actions have been performed in so free and so kind a manner, that, if I was dry, I drank the sweet draught, and, if hungry, ate the coarse morsel, with a double relish.
On the 29th of December Ledyard left Yakutsk to return to Irkutsk, which he reached in seventeen days. Here, by an order from the Empress, he was arrested, under the pretence of his being a spy, and was conducted by two guards, with all the speed with which horses and sledges could convey him, to Moscow, exposed to the extreme rigors of a Siberian winter, and thence to Poland. Here he was set at liberty, and told that if he ever entered Russia again it would be at the cost of his life. While on the journey, he thus writes on the
BLESSINGS OF LIBERTY.
Though born in the freest of the civilized countries, yet, in
the present state of privation, I have a more exquisite sense of the
amiable, the immortal nature of liberty than I ever had before.
It would be excellently qualifying if every man who is called to preside over the liberties of a people should once—it would be enough—actually be deprived of his liberty unjustly. He would be avaricious of it more than of any other earthly possession. I could love a country and its inhabitants if it were a country of freedom. There are two kinds of people I could anathematize with a better weapon than St. Peter's, those who dare deprive others of their liberty, and those who suffer others to do it.
From Poland he went to London, where he was received with great cordiality by that munificent patron of letters and science, Sir Joseph Banks. He had not been in London a day, before a plan was proposed to him to explore Central Africa; and being asked when he would be ready to set out, “To-morrow morning,” was the prompt answer; and, the preparations for his journey having been made, he left London on the 30th of June, under the patronage of the “African Association.” He went first to Paris, thence to Marseilles, thence sailed to Alexandria, and arrived at Cairo on the 19th of August. Here, after having spent three months in making every inquiry and preparation for his hazardous journey, just as he was about starting, he was attacked by a bilious fever. The best medical skill of Cairo was called to his aid, but without effect, and in November, 1788, in the thirty-eighth year of his age, he closed his life of vicissitude and toil at the moment when he imagined his severest cares were over, and when the prospects before him were more flattering than they had been at any former period.
Such was the end of one of the most remarkable of men, in whom the spirit of romantic adventure was ever conspicuous. That he accomplished little coinpared with the magnitude of his designs seems to have been his misfortune, not his fault. The acts of his life demand notice less on account of their results than of the spirit with which they were performed, and the uncommon traits of character which prompted to their execution. Such instances of decision, energy, perseverance, fortitude, and enterprise have rarely been witnessed in the same individual; and, in the exercise of these high attributes of mind, his example cannot be too much admired or imitated."
JAMES MADISON, 1751–1836.
JAMEs MADisox, the fourth President of the United States, was born in Orange County, Virginia, on the 5th of March, (0. S.,) 1751. After the usual preparatory studies, he entered Princeton College in 1767, and graduated in 1771. While at college, he studied so intensely as to impair his health, which it took some years to recover after his return home; during which he devoted a portion of his time to reading law and miscellaneous literature. In 1776, he was elected a member of the General Assembly of his native State. The next year he was appointed by the
* Read Sparks's Life of Ledyard: Quarterly Review, xxxviii. 85; North Amer. Rev., xxvii. 360; Amer. Quar., iii. 88.