Obrázky na stránke
PDF
ePub

incident, and we venture to say, that hardly any narration, whether true or fictitious, will excite and sustain a deeper interest. This account is not an original communication to the Collections, but appears to have been written several years since; we suppose from the date subjoined to it, in the year 1798. The editors observe, In this number of the Collections we have commenced publishing a narrative of the captivity of Mrs Johnson, who was taken from Charlestown, in the county of Cheshire, in this state, in the year 1754. This work was written many years since, by a gentleman of distinguished literary reputation, and though a work of his early years, contains many just and accurate observations on the dangers and hardships of settling a new country, and the cruelties which awaited those who were taken into captivity by the Indians.' The sufferings, which were endured by Mrs Johnson, and those who were led into captivity with her, are such as to give a most impressive, and affecting idea of the toils, and dangers, and privations, incident to the situation of those of our ancestors, who first made inroads into these western wilds. The account of those sufferings is written in a manner so plain and vivid, and with such marks of truth, that, when reading it, we can hardly fail to see the forms, and hear the yells of the savages, who, before the light of morning returned, broke into the house where the captured family dwelt; we behold the boundless forest, and the elevated mountains; we follow with intense interest the captives in their fatiguing journey, with their bleeding feet and woeworn countenances; we sail with them on the waters of Lake Champlain, and sympathize in their sufferings in the prisons of Montreal. The future poet will find his imagination kindling, when he reflects on scenes and situations, such as are described in this narration, and it will yet be, since they afford themes so rich with incident, that the woes, and dangers, and trials of our ancestors, shall live in the enduring monuments of immortal song.

The republication of ancient historical tracts, and the history of particular towns, churches, and individuals, which are objects that come within the plan of the publication under notice, will be of essential service to future historians. In this way, as many

of the events in our history are still recent, and as persons are yet living, who can give information, that may be relied on, some of the errors, which have crept into our books of history, may be corrected. There is an instance of such a correction in the June number of these Collections, for the year 1823, in a historical notice of the town of Rochester. Dr Belknap, in giving an account of the events, which happened in New Hampshire, 1746, speaks of a person being killed in Rochester in such a manner as to leave it to be understood, that he was killed by the savages. The man's name was Roberts, and he was slain, not by the savages, but by one of his own townsmen. He was stationed, as we learn from the Collections, not far from the brook, called Norway Plain brook. About a quarter of a mile up the hill, on the main road to Dover, another sentinel was stationed near the garrison house. The advanced sentinel, Roberts, from some circumstance or other, became terrified, and retreated. The sentinel on the hill hearing a noise in the bushes, and seeing them wave, suspected that the savages had passed by Roberts, and were approaching to make an attack on the garrison. He accordingly discharged his gun and shot Roberts, who died the next morning, blaming himself, and justifying the man that shot him.

We consider it a matter of real consequence, that every error of this kind, though it should relate merely to the destiny of a single individual, should, if possible, be corrected. American history will cease to be valuable, when there is reason for suspecting it to be filled with inaccuracies. We wish that it may go down to posterity, an unimpeached and unimpeachable monument. The early periods of our history are unlike those of Greece and Rome, and almost all other countries, since nearly every fact of interest can be satisfactorily ascertained, and the traits of almost every prominent character are preserved in the written records of our nation. Very little obscurity rests even on the remotest periods of our history as a people, and, with this exception that there are probably a few inaccuracies, which, it is to be hoped, time and further research will correct, the history of the American nation, including both our fortunes as a confederacy, and events of merely a local and individual character, is in a great measure well authenticated. While, however, it remains a fact, that further information as to some points may be expected and is desirable, both for correcting errors, and embodying many incidents and portions of history in productions of more interest, and a purer taste, than those in which they have hitherto appeared, we trust every effort, which shall have a tendency to secure these effects, will meet with its due encouragement.

As the articles in the Collections are written by different pens, a difference in the structure and the merits of the style may be observed; but, although they are in general well written, we are not at liberty to bestow that commendation on all of them, which we thought justly due to the narrative of Mrs Johnson. There are some specimens of composition in this work, which would do no credit to productions of far inferior pretensions, and which certainly would not be tolerable in this, were it not that it grounds its claims to the public approbation, rather on the diligence of its search after authenticated facts, than on the graces of an elaborate diction. It is with pleasure that we notice the recent formation of a Historical Society in New Hampshire, which will essentially aid the exertions of the editors of this publication in their laudable attempts, if, as may naturally be expected, the society should make this publication the organ of its communications to the public. New Hampshire has been behind some of her sister states, in the formation of a society for historical inquiries. The Massachusetts Historical Society, which was the first that went into operation in New England, was instituted at Boston, in January 1791, and incorporated in February 1794. The New York Historical Society was instituted, December 10th, 1804. The Essex Historical Society was incorporated in 1820. The Historical Society of Rhode Island commenced its operations in 1822; the Society of New Hampshire was incorporated, June 13th, 1823. One of the causes, which delayed the formation of this society, is probably the circumstance of the principal seminary of the state being situated in its extreme western part. It is a seminary, which, in consequence of the circumstances, and the object of its origin, is remembered with feelings of regard and interest by those, who take pleasure in witnessing the spread of the Gospel, and probably the majority of the literary men of New Hampshire are indebted to the Dartmouth Institution ; still it is too far from the centre of the state to operate, as an efficient bond of union to such

men, and to unite and strengthen the literary spirit and enterprise of the upper and lower counties. New Hampshire has secured to herself a highly respectable name among the states of the confederacy; a name which has been won and will be sustained, we trust, by the industry and enterprise of her inhabitants, by their patriotism, and by the favorable disposition which is prevalent, towards a general dissemination of useful knowledge. From the first settlement of the country, she was ever willing to do her part towards the military expeditions, which were fitted out against the French and the savages, and it was not often that any portion of her soldiers shrunk from toils and hardships, or dishonored their name by discovering a deficiency of courage. Those, who take pleasure in recalling the periods of our wars and fightings, will associate with this state the names, among others, of Stark, Sullivan, and Miller; men, who have secured to their memories a durable renown.

We do not know that poetry has found many votaries among the sons of New Hampshire, but we have at times seen specimens of their efforts, which show that her mountains and lakes are beheld by some, who can inhale the breath of their inspiration, and rejoice in the surrounding sublimities of nature. There are few portions of the Union, which can furnish more to gratify and to excite the powers of an imagination truly poetic, one that is fond of the marvellous in incident, and of the wild and enrapturing in scenery: The wonderful stories, which were told in the primitive times, of Passaconaway the Penacook, of Paugus the chief of the Pequacketts, and of Wohawa, who, though a Frenchman by birth, invaded the frontier settlements with more than the cruelty of a savage, are yet remembered and repeated with interest. Even Jocelyn and Darby Fields are not forgotten, and many an untutored lad has been more than half persuaded to leave the unpoetic roof of his forefathers, and emulate the marvellous wanderings of those early adventurers, by going to search for carbuncles on the Chrystal Hills. We are not of that number who imagine that poetry is an useless art, and, though republicans by birth and by principle, we think that Plato devised but a poor plan, when he contemplated the banishment of the sons of the lyre beyond the precincts of his ideal commonwealth. It is true, we have to lament, as all well meaning men will lament, the unhallowed use of their powers by some of the great poets of the day, and we sincerely confess that we should wish our hills and waters to remain unsung; incidents, worthy of a long remembrance, to continue unconsecrated; and the breath of the Muses' enchantment never to be heard, rather than our soil should be burdened and contaminated by a race of poets, who cannot keep away infidelity and impurity from their strains. But we hope better things from American poets ; Bryant has set them a good example, both in the purity of his taste, and the serious and heart ennobling tone of his sentiments. Poetry is chiefly valuable, when, by revealing the odiousness of vice, and displaying the charms of virtue, it is able to secure an elevation to the thoughts, and to correct the errings of the affections. It is not necessary that it should lose sight of these great ends, even when it undertakes to paint the deepest and wildest of the human passions, and to embody, in the forms of language, whatever is beautiful, and picturesque, and sublime in nature.

Art. III.-- The Sirth Annual Report of the American So

ciety for Colonizing the Free People of Color of the United States; with an Appendix. Washington City, 1823. If we should be thought to come forward at a late hour, in noticing the labors of a Society, formed in this country more than seven years ago, for the purpose of adopting some efficient plan of colonizing the free people of color, we trust our negligence will be attributed to any other cause, than a want of deep interest in the objects of the Society, or indifference to the zeal with which these objects have been pursued. The broad foundation on which the schemes of this Society are built, as well as the character of its patrons, raises it to an importance, not to be claimed by any other private association in this country. Its aims have a pointed bearing on our political concerns, and, if successful, cannot fail to operate most favorably on our civil institutions, and our domestic peace and happiness.

Coming to us in this shape, and patronized as it is by some of our most enlightened statesmen and disinterested

« PredošláPokračovať »