Imagini ale paginilor

spondent a letter of affectionate but considerate religious expostulation, enclosing one from his mother, written when he was but four years old. We cannot deny ourselves the pleasure of extracting the letter of his (to us unknown) correspondent :-

“My dear sir,- I trust the purity of the motives by which I am actuated will find an apology in your bosom for the liberty I assume in addressing you on a subject which involves your eternal interest.

“Here, in the wilds of —, I have found an extract of a letter, written by your inestimable mother nearly sixty years ago, of which you are the principal subject; and a transcript of which I shall enclose for your perusal. Perhaps you will think me a weak, presumptuous being; but permit me, dear sir, to assure you, this does not proceed from a whim of the moment. It is not a mere transient gust of enthusiasm. The subject has long been heavy on my mind. i have more than once resolved to converse with you freely; to tell you how my own feelings were affected relative to your situation ; but my faltering tongue refused to obey the impulse of my soul, and I have withdrawn abruptly, to conceal that which I had not confidence to communicate. But meeting (I believe providentially) with this precious relic has determined me. I will write, and transmit it to you. I am too well convinced of the liberality of your sentiments; but I still believe you retain an inherent respect for the religion of your forefathers.

“I have often reflected on your trials, and the fortitude with which you have sustained them, with astonishment. Yours has been no common lot. But you seem to have forgotten the right use of adversity. Afflictions from Heaven "are angels sent on embassies of love. We must improve, and not abuse them, to obtain the blessing. They are commissioned to stem the tide of impetuous passion ; to check inordinate ambition; to show us the insignificance of earthly greatness; to wean our affections from transitory things, and elevate them to those realities which are ever blooming at the right hand of God. When afiiction is thus sanctified, the heart at once it humbles and exalts.'

“Was it philosophy that supported you in your trials? There is an hour approaching when philosophy will fail, and all human science will desert you. What then will be your substitute ? Tell me, Colonel Burr, or rather answer it to your own heart, when the pale messenger appears, how will you meet him—'undamped by doubts, undarkened by despair?"

“The enclosed is calculated to excite mingled sensations both of a melancholy and pleasing nature. The hand that penned it is now among 'the just made perfect.' Your mother had given you up by faith. Have you ever ratified the vows she made in your behalf? When she bade you a long farewell, she commended you to the protection of Him who had promised to be a father to the fatherless.

“The great Augustine, in his early years, was an infidel in his principles, and a libertine in his conduct, which his pious mother deplored with bitter weeping. But she was told by her friends that the child of so many prayers and tears could not be lost;' and it was verified to her happy experience, for he afterwards became one of the grand luminaries of the church of Christ. This remark has often been applied to you; and I trust you will yet have the happiness to find that 'the prayers of the righteous' have 'availed much.'

“One favour I would ask: when you have done with this, destroy it, that it may never meet the eye of any third person. In the presence of that God, before whom the inmost recesses of the heart are open, I have

written. I consulted him, and him only, respecting the propriety of addressing you; and the answer he gave was, freedom in writing,

with a feeling of the deepest interest impressed upon my heart. Z. Y.

" To Col. A. Burr.” pp. 21, 22.

There is something deeply affecting in this appeal of fervent, unostentatious piety. There is something inexpressibly melancholy in the fear that is forced upon us that it struck no responsive chord in the soul of the jaded sensualist to whom it was addressed, but was, perhaps, thrust aside into the vile repository of his licentious relics. If this letter had a different, and, for a moment, salutary influence, Mr. Davis does great and fearful injustice by neglecting to tell us so. We fear that it failed to have the least effect on the proof and bulwark of a callous heart. In his comment on Burr's preservation of all his licentious female correspondence, to which we have already referred, the biographer sees, or thinks that he sees, an analogy to some trait in the character and life of Lord Byron, and quotes a passage from the memoirs of the noble poet, to account for this disgusting appetite of his hero. Had he looked farther over the pages of the same volume he would have found an analogy of far more interest and moral beauty to the letter of Burr's unknown female correspondent. The literary reader need not be told that we refer to the touching letter written to Byron by Mr. Shepherd, enclosing his dying wife's prayer for the poet's welfare, which is preserved by Mr. Moore. Byron felt the appeal deeply, and with more than his ordinary generosity acknowledged the feeling in a letter, which, in point of beauty of sentiment and diction, is unsurpassed by any prose composition in the English language. He concluded his answer with these strong expressions of a softened heart, wholly inapplicable to him whose career of vice and insensibility we have been noticing :-“I can assure you that all the fame which ever cheated humanity into higher notions of its own importance would never weigh, in my mind, against the pure and pious interest which a virtuous being may be pleased to take in my welfare. In this point of view, I would not exchange the prayer of the deceased for the united glory of Homer, Cæsar, and Napoleon, could such be accumulated on a living head."

We must now bring to a close our views of Colonel Burr's life and character, and of Mr. Davis's book. The interest of the subject, and its intimate connection with a large portion of our history, have induced us to give them at greater length than usual. Of Mr. Davis's volume we have spoken in the tone that it deserves, and in a spirit of perfect good will to him, though of just severity to his ill-digested and ill-managed production. He has an inducement to continue his work which


[ocr errors]

will conquer all fear of criticism, in the assurance that all who bought his first volume will, for the sake of symmetry, buy the second. For such a volume he must still have vast materials in the personal reminiscences and correspondence of Colonel Burr, which we fervently trust he will use with greater prodigality and more dexterity than he has exhibited in his first part. Deficient, however, as this book is in all the elements of biographical merit

, it will have done some good by adding even its mite of historical truth for future use. Its ultimate fate, when the little novelty it contains shall be transferred to more enduring memorials, we need not trouble ourselves to predict. In giving this warning to Mr. Davis, we cannot do better than to endorse it with the significant hint, which a much sounder critic than ourselves gave to an author two hundred years ago. “We have few modern heroes who, like Xenophon and Cæsar, can write their own commentaries. And the raw memoir writings and unformed pieces of modern statesmen will, in another age, be of little service to support their memory or name; since, already the world begins to sicken with their kind.' 'Tis the learned, the able, and disinterested historian, who takes place at last. And when the signal poet or herald of fame is once heard, the inferior trumpets sink in silence and oblivion."

Since the preceding article went to the press, a careful examination of documentary evidence within our reach has satisfied us, not only that the panegyric which is bestowed on Burr's military talents is much exaggerated, but that several statements of matters of fact made by Mr. Davis are strikingly incorrect. One of the latter is too remarkable to be passed over without notice. At pages 67, 68, we have a very romantic account of an expedition by Burr in the disguise of a catholic priest, from the Chaudière pond to Montgomery, at Montreal. This was undertaken by Arnold's order, and the details of his various perils and escapes are fully set forth, and, among other things, the fact of his being detained by accident several days at Three Rivers before he reached head quarters. “ For three days,” says Mr. Davis, “ he was secreted in a convent at that place.” Now it appears from the official account of the expedition preserved in the collection of the Maine Historical Society, (now before us,) that the army reached the Chaudière pond on or about the first of November. On the 13th of November Arnold crossed the St. Lawrence and landed his troops at Wolfe's cove, and on the 19th he marched about

Shaftesbury's Advice to an Author; vol. i. p. 225.

seven leagues up the river to Point aux Trembles. On the thirtieth of November Arnold did send Burr to Montgomery, and on the first of December (but four days intervening) Montgomery and his troops arrived. The letter from Arnold to Montgomery is as follows:

"POIN AUX TREMBLES, 301 Nov. 1775. “Dear Sir,- This will be handed to you by Mr. Burr, a volunteer in the army, and son to the former president of New Jersey college. He is a young gentlemen of much life and activity, and has acted with great spirit and resolution on our fatiguing march. His conduct, I make no doubt, will be a sufficient recommendation to your favour.

"I am, dear sir,
"Your most obed't humble servant,

“ B. ARNOLD “Brig. Gen. Montgomery.”

This letter, which will be found at page 386 of the Maine Historical Society's collection, Vol. I., at once entirely discredits the whole narrative of Burr's adventurous exploit. There cannot be a word of truth in the whole story.


Art. VI.-Recherche Anatomique et Physiologique sur la

structure intime des Animaux et des Végetaux, et sur leur motilité. Par Dr. DUTROCHET: à Paris.

There is an elegance, as well as novelty, in the present mode of conducting experiments, which renders the study of the more abstruse branches of science peculiarly attractive. Whether it be owing to the circumstance that philosophy is divested of the jargon which rendered it unintelligible to common understandings, we know not; but certain it is, that the mystical word, science, once approached with such profound dread and reverence, is now an agreeable plaything for a leisure hour-a recreation, rather than a labour of the mind.

It is to the French Institute that the world is indebted for the advances that are making in science. It is to the members of that enlightened body that we owe our admission into the halls of philosophy, the doors of which were so long scrupulously closed against the many. Most especially is it owing to this

learned institution, that natural science has taken so elevated a position, and that the physiology of plants has come to be considered as the very stepping stone of that branch of scientific knowledge.

There are, to be sure, illustrious names in England; but for the elementary parts of the science under discussion for the investigation of fixed principles—where are there such men as Dr. Dutrochet, De Candolle, and others of this class, who have written so copiously, so ably, and so intelligibly, on this one important branch of philosophy-vegetable physiology?

The more minute our investigations in the animal kingdom, the more conspicuous will our ignorance appear; we shall be amazed to think with how much self-complacency we sat down content, under such a tissue of absurdities as disfigured the study before these men enlightened us. The great part which the electric and magnetic fluids take in arranging and propelling organic matter, is still unknown to us; when the time arrives for the full comprehension of the powers and laws of these two great principles, much of the beautiful system of internal organization will be revealed to us.

The life of man will not then hang on so slender a thread; chance, which more or less comes to the aid of the physician, will be succeeded by true knowledge. Man knows that he is born to die, but he knows, likewise, that he may aspire to live out his term-his threescore years and ten. It is his privilege to avert or lessen the evils which tend to shorten his brief career; and nothing is so likely to affect this object, as to become minutely acquainted with the internal structure of organized bodies.

Experiments on plants are conducted with more ease and certainty than on animals, for plants are completely in our power on account of their peculiar passiveness and rigidity. We have the aid, too, of good glasses and ingenious instruments; dissections, therefore, are not attended by those revolting, unpleasant feelings—those compunctious visitings---which render the study of animal physiology so disgusting, particularly when called upon to operate on living subjects.

Let it not be inferred, because the whole mass of inanimate or vegetable life is under the control of man, that power is to be exercised over it without any expenditure of those sympathies which we bestow when animal life is in question—that because the vegetable subject is incapable of complaint or resistance, we are to be divested of all concern for it. Whether plants are injured by casualties or neglect, or are wantonly destroyed, they are as much entitled to our regard as when they are in full health, and contribute to our wants and our pleasures. More refined motives than what result from the mere gratificaVOL. XXI.---NO. 41.


« ÎnapoiContinuați »