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Some people-men of good sense and discretion, too-seem to have a very singular way of deciding whether the moral influence of a book is good or bad. They take it to pieces, examine carefully all its parts, put all its wholesome moral lessons in one scale, and its moral impurities and obliquities in another, and determine whether the book is to be welcomed to the bosoms of their families, or banished from their society, by the scale that preponderates. But we must beg to dissent from any such standard of judging. If the mind of a youth receive the germ of a vicious sentiment, it is no offset to that sentiment to inculcate a lesson of virtue; and if by the recital of tales of depravity and vice, the finer sensibilities have become blunted, the heart rendered cold and callous to the claims of humanity, and the leprosy of moral pollution

have begun its work of death in the soul, of how much value are a score of pretty sayings about honesty, and benevolence, and generosity, and the whole sisterhood of virtues?

That the works of Dickens are liable to the objections we have stated, no candid reader of them will deny. The only question is, of what weight these objections ought to be, and this question different individuals will answer differently. But will men and women of stern principle-will Christians, with a knowledge of these facts, consent to tolerate all the evil of these works, for the sake of the good they find in them? For the honor of religion, for the sake of humanity, and morality, and virtue, we hope that they, at least, will seek a purer literature than that of Charles Dickens and his satellites.

NOTICES OF NORTHERN RUSSIA.

BY C. W. BAIRD.

A WORK of much interest has recently appeared in Russia, a translation of which has been published in Paris.* The author was sent by the Russian government in 1820, in company with other gentlemen of distinction, on an expedition to Northern Siberia, among the tribes dwelling on the coast of the Arctic Sea. Of this important and interesting book we will give some notices.

While the northern coast of America had been explored by Ross, Parry, and Franklin, the geography of Northern Asia was but little known. The first voyage made to the coast extending between the Straits of Behring and the Sea of Karsk was performed in 1580, by two Englishmen, Peto and Jackman.

Since

that time several voyages have been made thither; at one time by a Cossack chief, sent there for the purpose of subjecting some tribe to the fur tax; at another time by a member of some geographical and commercial society. These made some new discoveries, but the result of their researches was far from being sat

Le Nord de la Siberie, voyage parmi les peuplades de la Russie Asiatique et dans la Mer Glaciale, entrepris par ordre du gouvernement Russe, et executé par MM. de Wrangell, Matiouchkine et Kozmine. Paris, 1842.

isfactory. Little was known of those countries save the mere outline of the coast. The Emperor Alexander resolved, therefore, to send two officers of the navy for the purpose of making new researches in those regions. This expedition, at the head of which was M. de Wrangell, was to visit the countries near the mouth of the Kolima River. A residence of four years in the polar regions is so rare, that the twenty years which have elapsed since have not at all diminished its interest. Besides, as the manners and customs of the tribes which dwell there depend essentially on the phenomena of that severe climate, they are always the

same.

After having crossed Mount Oural, or, as the natives call it, the belt of stone, the traveller enters Siberia, the capital of which is Irkoutsk. After This city is the limit of civilisation. making the necessary preparations, M. de Wrangell embarked on the majestic Lena, one of the largest rivers of Europe. In twenty-seven days he reached Yakoutsk, a city of four thousand inhabitants, where, in the middle of July, there was no sign of summer, except the absence of snow. Yakoutsk is the centre of a considerable part of the commerce of Northern

NOTICES OF NORTHERN RUSSIA.

135

Siberia.

Farther on, it is seldom that the traveller meets with beaten roads, and generally he is obliged to travel on horseback. A long rope stretches from the head of each horse to the tail of the preceding one. Two guides, the one before and the other behind the line, take care of the procession; and thus about twenty-five miles are daily travelled.

Passing along a forest of mulberry and pine trees, M. de Wrangell remarked several trees whose large trunks were covered with tufts of horsehair; many sticks, decorated in the same manner, were standing around them. The guide who directed the troop stopped at this place, tore some hair from his horse's mane, and placed it on the trunk of one of these trees with great appearance of devoutness; he then said with joyful looks that this offering made sure the protection of the Spirit of the forests, and that thenceforth their expedition would be fortunate. The superstition of the guides did not end here; for, that the goodwill of the Spirit might be more certain, they continually celebrated, in their sad and monotonous songs, the imagined beauties of those regions which they supposed were subject to its rule.

The Yakoutes (such is the name of the inhabitants of this country) are of the race of Tartary; all their wealth consists in the horses and flocks of horned cattle which they own. Accustomed to the cold, they seem not to feel it, and use scarcely any means to protect themselves from it: In their travels, they spread the cloth which covers their horses on the snow, wrap themselves up in their overcoats, stretch themselves on this bed, and sleep profoundly in a season when the cold is of twenty or thirty degrees. Their summer dwellings are kinds of tents, of a conical shape, made of the bark of a tree, fastened to a frame; they live a wandering life, and, while their flocks are in their pastures, they make their provision of hay for the winter. During the latter season they live in huts covered with a thick coat of sods, straw, and clay, into which light enters only by two little holes, in which they place pieces of ice instead of glass. Though most of the Yakoutes have been baptized, and though several portions of the Gospel have been translated into their language, they perform many pagan ceremonies, and they place a blind confidence in the sorcery of their chamans. These people are of a dissimulating, quarrelsome, and vindictive character. After the traveller has passed the chain of the Verkho Yansk mountains, distances of many miles separate the various dwellings; this

dispersion is not occasioned by the want of sufficient pasture, but by the unsociable disposition of the inhabitants. In their meetings, however, they make up for their long isolation by interminable tales; the Siberians are great story-tellers, and they frequently alter the truth for the sake of rendering their narrations more interesting.

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The chain of the Verkho Yansk mountains divides the flow of the waters of the Lena and Yana; towards the south, the pine and larch grow, while towards the north the cedar, the poplar, and the willow are seen. To cross these mountains is the most difficult part of the journey from Yakoutsk to Nijne-Kolimsk. Beyond them, in the midst of an extensive plain, is the small city of Zachiversk, where, at that time, was still living a venerable priest, Father Michael. During more than sixty years, in which," says M. de Wrangell," he has fulfilled his mission, he has been instrumental in converting to Christianity by the power of the Word, and by his virtuous example, more than fifteen thousan Yakoutes, Toungouses, and Youkaquires, whose manners and habits he has been enabled to change. At present, notwithstanding his advanced age, he makes his annual journey, and travels many hundred miles on horseback; that is, he visits all the villages of his vast parish, to communicate the Divine Word, to console the afflicted, to distribute alms to the poor, and to help the sick." What a life of self-denial! We admire it the more because it is unknown, and finds its only recompense in the work of devotion which it accomplishes.

Beyond the great lake of Orinkine, all bears the signs of desolation; the traveller crosses immense marshes, whose surface is merely dried, not consolidated, during the summer; a thick layer of ice which never melts, is a few feet below it; and this alone preserves the traveller from the dangers which he would have to pass through during that season; but it was in October, when the cold was of 24 degrees, that M. de Wrangell crossed this region. As the Kolima is approached the scenery becomes less severe; however, soon the forests disappear entirely and nothing but a few shrubs and bushes are met with. The latter part of the journey is accomplished with great rapidity in sledges drawn by dogs. After two hundred and twenty-four days of travelling, the expedition reached the miserable village of Nijne-Kolimsk, which was to be the centre of its operations for three years.

The severity of the climate is very great in

the environs of the Kolima River. It freezes from the 20th of August to the beginning of September, and does not break loose from its icy bondage till the first days of June. It is true that the sun remains constantly on the horizon at Nijne-Kolimsk for fifty-two days, from the 15th of May to the 6th of July; but it rises so little above it that it merely gives light, but no heat. In July, myriads of mosquitoes ap pear, and are very annoying; however, these insects are of great benefit to the inhabitants; for they drive thousands of reindeer from the forests and force them to repair to the sea-shore, where the winds disperse the mosquitoes, and where the hunters are prepared to kill great numbers of the deer. The fogs which arise from the sea at the time when it freezes, make the climate more tolerable in October; but the cold then increases, and sometimes attains forty degrees in January. A night of thirty-eight days. begins on the 22d of November; it would be insupportable, were it not for the brightness of the reflection, the brilliancy of the snow and the strong light of the Aurora Borealis. The beauty of the animal race presents a striking contrast to the desolate state of vegetation; but the variety of species, and the great number of individuals, leaves the landscape inanimate. "All shows here," says M. de Wrangell," that the limits of the habitable world have been passed, and one tries in vain to understand how men should have crossed them to dwell in such solitudes." The male population of the district of Kolimsk is, nevertheless, 325 Russians and Cossacks, 1,034 Yakoutes, and 1,139 Youkaquires and men belonging to other tribes.

Spring is the most difficult season for those living on the shores of the Kolima. The produce of the fisheries in the autumn is consumed by that time, and famine appears under the most frightful aspect. M. de Wrangell, witnessed this three times. Then immense flocks of swans, geese, ducks, and other fowl, arrive in time to save the people; the fish, which were forced by the severity of the season to seek deeper water, are caught in nets stretched under the ice-which, when it breaks, causes frequently sudden inundations.

The winter is mostly spent in the interior of the dwellings, to which a small door leads, which is covered with a bear's or reindeer's skin; it is lighted by a lamp filled with grease. All around the hut are the dogs, half buried in the snow, who, four times a day, and oftener when it is moonlight, interrupt the general silence by their horrid cries. Who could believe that, notwithstanding the climate, the absence of day, and the deprivations of all kinds to which they are subject, the inhabitants have a satisfied appearance, and are in some degree happy?

It is near the village of Potbischa that the flocks of reindeer are in the habit of crossing the Aniouy River when they fly from the mosquitoes which infest the forests in summer, and go to find a refuge on the shore of the ocean, and when they return thence in autumn. The produce of the fisheries is not sufficient to nourish the population, and their existence depends, in a great measure, on this chase of reindeer. In the spring, while the Aniouy is yet frozen, it can only be accomplished by means of the gun and the bow and arrow; in autumn, the Youkaquires, in their boats, attack and kill the reindeer when they are swimming across the river; a good hunter can thus kill more than a hundred of them in half an hour. But sometimes the reindeer do not come. Mr. Matiouckine witnessed the impression produced on the people when they learned that this had happened on the river which he was visiting, and that an immense herd which had appeared, instead of crossing the river, went off to the mountains. "Gladness," he says, "left them, and despair filled their hearts; it was fearful! for death threatened these poor wretches. The women and children were wringing their hands, and the air resounded with their lamentable cries; rolling themselves upon the snow, they dug it out, as if to prepare a tomb."

The travellers continued their journey as far as the shores of the Arctic Sea; and the relation of their discoveries and the dangers they passed through, forms a very interesting part of this work, which we would notice more fully had we the time and the space necessary.

THE POETRY AND POETS OF AMERICA.

"WHAT institutions," said the Japanese Emperor to a European traveller, "what institutions have you in your country for making poets?" "Sire," replied the traveller, "we have a beautiful earth, a beautiful sky, and a holy religion." This answer, as philosophical as felicitous, might be returned by our countrymen to the doubters on the other side of the Atlantic, in our own fatherland, if their questioning of our poetical capabilities did not originate in a prejudice sterner and more invincible than Japanese ignorance. The arrogant incredulity of British critics, which a few years ago demanded "who reads an American bock?" has to be sure very considerably lowered its tone; and they concede, sometimes directly, and sometimes by fraudulent appropriation to themselves of our literary produce, that we have uttered some very tolerable prose. Whether America ever has or ever will distinguish itself in the walks of poetry remains with them a question.

There are some considerations worth our notice, which, à priori, would strongly indicate a distinguished eminence in imaginative and poetic fame among the glowing prospects of this young country, and justify the prediction that by the broad streams, amid the solemn forests and cloud-crowned mountains, and the boundless prairies of this western world, the harp of poesy would be new strung, and, vibrating to the touch of masters trained amid the magnificent greatness and splendors of nature, would yield its sweetest harmonies and sublimest numbers. We all know how much external nature has to do with awakening and developing the poet's soul. What indeed is that peculiarly fitting and forming education, which reveals the poet to himself and to the world, which etherealizes, warms and elevates his spirit, and touches his lips with hallowed fire, and fills his soul with thoughts that burn for utterance like a prophet's message! What is it but the impress and the inspiration of Nature, working around him in her multiform operations and movements, and breathing upon him her silent, subduing and kindling influence. It is nature, sincerely loved and watchfully observed, and passively, gently yielded to with a child's reverence, that half creates the poet. He hears new music in the flow of waters, in the waving of tree-tops, in the voices of birds, in the low breathing winds of summer; sees her greatness in storms and heaving oceans and wild tornadoes, and is touched with her beauty in flowers and green

fields and living forms of loveliness and grace, and he feels

"A presence that disturbs him with the joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of setting suns,
And the round ocean, and the living air,
And the blue sky, and in the mind of man;
A motion and a spirit that impels

All thinking things, all objects of all thought, And rolls through all things. Therefore is he still

A lover of the meadows, and the woods,
And mountains, and of all that we behold
From this green earth."

In all ages and nations the muses have had their supposed chosen retreats. Pindus and Pierus, Helicon and Parnassus, the fountains Castalia and Hippocrene, the honored haunts of their election, were thus distinguished in heathen mythology, only because in such spots, nature disclosed her loveliness or her grandeur, and invited to freer, nearer communion the imaginative mind of her child and disciple. This was the hidden esoteric sense of the mythus of the muses, that the poetic spirit must draw its inspiration from the unveiled bosom of nature, and by beholding her face to face in her retirement, and dwelling apart with her in her own bright and clear element, become by a transforming and transfusing process, a living harp, to utter her deep harmonies in the dwellings and to the listening hearts of men. Nature is thus to him, what she has been in every age, the only true and everlasting muse.

With this truth admitted of the influence of external nature in the formation of mind and in the quickening of the imaginative powers, what may we not expect from it in our own land with its bland yet bracing temperature, its benignant sky, and its glorious panorama of forests, mountains, prairies, rivers, lakes and seas, on a scale of magnificence, and in a style of splendor and beauty entirely its own. Nature did much for Greece and Italy, but she has done infinitely more for America, and as by an ordinance of nature the mind assimilates itself to the objects with which it is conversant, it is not unreasonable to look for the ripest, richest fruits from intellects trained and nurtured among natural scenery so grand, diversified, beautiful and sublime. The feelings and sentiments of poesy find their natural aliment and home in

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The winter is mostly spent in the interior of the dwellings, to which a small door leads, which is covered with a bear's or reindeer's skin; it is lighted by a lamp filled with grease. All around the hut are the dogs, half buried in the snow, who, four times a day, and oftener when it is moonlight, interrupt the general silence by their horrid cries. Who could believe that, notwithstanding the climate, the absence of day, and the deprivations of all kinds to which they are subject, the inhabitants have a satisfied appearance, and are in some degree happy?

the environs of the Kolima River. It freezes
from the 20th of August to the beginning of
September, and does not break loose from its
icy bondage till the first days of June. It is
true that the sun remains constantly on the ho-
rizon at Nijne-Kolimsk for fifty-two days, from
the 15th of May to the 6th of July; but it rises
so little above it that it merely gives light, but
no heat. In July, myriads of mosquitoes ap-
pear, and are very annoying; however, these
insects are of great benefit to the inhabitants;
for they drive thousands of reindeer from the
forests and force them to repair to the sea-shore,
where the winds disperse the mosquitoes, and
where the hunters are prepared to kill great
numbers of the deer. The fogs which arise from
the sea at the time when it freezes, make the
climate more tolerable in October; but the cold
then increases, and sometimes attains forty de-
grees in January. A night of thirty-eight days
begins on the 22d of November; it would be
insupportable, were it not for the brightness of
the reflection, the brilliancy of the snow and
the strong light of the Aurora Borealis. The
beauty of the animal race presents a striking
contrast to the desolate state of vegetation;
but the variety of species, and the great num
ber of individuals, leaves the landscape
"All shows here," says M

It is near the village of Potbischa that the flocks of reindeer are in the habit of crossing the Aniouy River when they fly from the mosquitoes which infest the forests in summer, and on the shore of the ocean,

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