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make the assertions of the preface simply ridiculous. In this latter respect, wide, indeed, is the interval between Defoe's
Plague Year' and the Travels of Monsieur Violet.' Defoe's grave assumption of an historic air is maintained by the most fertile invention and artful intertexture of the most natural and probable incidents. Monsieur Violet's 'Romantic Adventures' are so extravagantly improbable, as to make the serious preface absolutely ludicrous; as we have said, they can be compared to nothing but the Travels of Baron Munchausen. It requires something more than a serious face for one moment in the preface, to give veri-similitude to fiction. Mere hardihood and 'ineffable self-possession' are sufficient for the one, but there must be much more for the other.
Every epic poem, or historic novel, has, of course, its basis of fact, and its superstructure of fiction; and no ill consequence is likely to come of this, where the reader clearly understands, first, that it is a fiction which he is reading, and, secondly, what are the limits between the historical and the fictitious in the given case. Where the latter condition, indeed, is found, it is very possible that a reader may, even as regards history, derive positive advantages from reading well executed historic novels; he will, without being liable to be misled, obtain much more vivid and impressive views of events known to be historic, than from any history whatever. But the case is widely different, where the reader finds in the preface a declaration that the book is simply a narrative of facts, and yet, after seeing that the book itself gives the lie direct to such a supposition, finds that it gravely proffers information on various subjects, geographical, statistical, political, and historical, which may be true or not, but which yet, from his necessary ignorance of the tribes and countries in question, he cannot at all test, and as to which he can devise no method by which he may separate the residuum of truth from the monstrous mass of romance with which it is con. nected. And for these reasons we protest against such a book as the present.
In any case, indeed, the work must be considered a failure; for, whether it be regarded as a genuine collection of traveller's tales,' or simply a romance, probability is equally violated. How differently would either a genuine historian, or a genuine novelist, (like Defoe, for example,) have introduced the work to the reader. It is unnecessary,' says Capt. Marryatt, 'to inform the reader in what manner I became acquainted with the party from whose notes and memoranda I have compiled these volumes. Unnecessary! No. A man who was really writing the adventures of another at his dictation, or who, while really a novelist, wished to appear to be writing history, would have
thought such information most indispensable. A writer, like Swift or Defoe, would have given us a thousand ingenious incidents, and the minutest and most circumstantial details as to the when, the where, and the how, he became acquainted with his • Monsieur Violet.'
The hero of the adventures-a Frenchman, and, we presume, a Gascon—is an equal violation of all probability. He is the son of a French gentleman, who having adhered to the unfortunate Charles the Tenth, accompanies him to Holyrood; and, having seen him located at Prague, where the exiled monarch finally took up his residence, set out on his travels with his young son, then about nine years of age, through Italy, Sicily, Greece, Turkey, Egypt, and the Holy Land. On his return, he encounters in Italy an old friend, the Prince Seravalle, who had just returned from a long sojourn amongst the Shoshones or Snake Indians in California. The prince, who had, in earlier years, been unsuccessful in some political movements, persuades the French refugee, despairing of his country's fortunes and disgusted with European life, to accompany him back to the wilds of the far West, and take up his abode amongst the wigwams, scalps, and tomahawks of the 'noble' and chivalrous' Shoshones.
At this part of his story, Captain Marryatt indulges in some very brutifying, not to say brutal encomiums on the superiority of savage life. He says, "There was, perhaps, another feeling, even more powerful, which induced the Prince Seravalle to return to the Indians with whom he had lived so long, I refer to the charms and attractions which a wild life offers to a man of civilization, more particularly when he has discovered how hollow and heartless we become under refinement. He goes on-
• Not one Indian who has been brought up at school, and among the pleasures and luxuries of a great city, has ever wished to make his dwelling among the pale faces, while on the contrary many thousands of white men, from the highest to the lowest stations in civilization, have embraced the life of the savage, remaining with and dying among them, although they might have accumulated wealth and returned to their own country.'
That a life of wild adventure may for a time or even for a permanence, have great charms for an enterprising mind, if that mind has been but half developed, we can readily believe; but that a highly civilized man, with a really cultivated mind, can voluntarily embrace the life of a savage,' is quite another thing, and we do not believe it. That which would constitute the happiness even of the first-mentioned character would be the wild freedom-the constant activity--the robust
health-the strong physical enjoyment of such a life—not the adoption of savage habits and customs. Much as such adventurers may enjoy the boundless forest or prairie, we doubt not they would enjoy them all the more if there were no savages at hand. A civilized man may love the gigantic sports of the extreme west—the exciting charms of the buffalo hunt, with. out wishing to live in wigwams, or in the slightest degree to assimilate his manners, habits, customs or opinions, to those of savages. Captain Marryatt has confounded two thingsthe love of the forest and the prairie, and the love of savage
We never hear persons descanting on the superiority of savage life-its few wants—its simple pleasures, and so on, without thinking of Johnson's rebuke to one who was insisting on a similar doctrine. "Sir,' said he, the doctrine is brutal. A bull might as well say,—I have this meadow and this cow; and what can existence require more?'
But he immediately proceeds to show practically the vanity of his own eulogies. Prince Seravalle, and his French friend, in spite of all their grotesque passion for a savage life, are sufficiently slow to strip themselves of civilization. They take out with them a somewhat copious and various assortment of all the elements of a highly artificial existence, at least for men who contemplate a denizenship amongst savages. When poets talk of cottages,' says Cowper in one of his charming letters,
when poets talk of cottages, hermitages, and such like things, they mean a house with six sashes in front, two comfortable parlours, a smart staircase, and three bed chambers of convenient dimensions. In like manner, Captain Marryatt's Prince Seravalle, who is so enamoured of 'a savage life,' loaded his vessel with implements of agriculture, and various branches of the domestic arts; procured some old pieces of artillery, a large quantity of carabines from Liege, gunpowder, &c.; materials for building a good house, and a few articles of ornament and luxury. This is pretty well for a 'savage life. He had also engaged masons, smiths and carpenters, and he was to be accompanied by some of his former tenants, who well understood the cultivation of the olive tree and the vine. Several additions were made to the cargo, by Monsieur Violet, and, amongst the rest, an extensive library,' two missionaries, and a priest for the education of young Monsieur Violet; all which, instead of indicating that civilized man may become eager to embrace the life of a savage,' proves that he is determined, if possible, to enjoy civilized life even amongst savages. In accordance with this, the prince endeavours to introduce the practice of agricul. ture, and other arts of civilized life amongst bis 'noble friends ;
in other words, to reclaim them from savage life,—though with but indifferent success. This Captain Marryatt elsewhere represents as his aim, and with much more probability.
The education of Monsieur Violet, then little more than twelve years old, proceeds in the meantime most auspiciously, under the combined tuition of the priest and the savages, and he turns out a paragon both of civilized and barbarous accomplishments :
f in a number on bossel is wrecked the two or which
We had brought a very extensive and well selected library with us, and under their [his tutors) care I soon became acquainted with the arts and sciences of civilization; I studied history generally, and they also taught me Greek and Latin, and I was soon master of many of the modern languages. And as my studies were particularly devoted to the history of the ancient people of Asia, to enable me to understand their theories and follow up their favourite researches upon the origin of the great ruins in Western and Central America, the slight knowledge which I had gained at the Propaganda of Arabic and Sanscrit (!) was now daily increased.'
This is pretty well in a lad of sixteen.
By a series of opportune calamities-opportune for Monsieur Violet's 'romantic adventures'- the large company of pioneers of civilization or dilettanti savages, (we know not which to call them,) is reduced to the prince, the two Frenchmen, and the tutor. Their vessel is wrecked with the larger part of their number on board and the rest are summarily cut off in a land expedition : Prince Seravalle dies; and some time after that, Monsieur Violet's father, and then the hero's
adventures' properly commence. He becomes a chief, and is incessantly engaged in expeditions of hunting and war. One of his great projects is an attempt to combine the related tribes of Western America, the Shoshones, the Apaches, the Arrapahoes, the Comanches, (the three last represented to be off-shoots of the first,) in one grand confederacy. The Shoshones, he represents as by far the most intelligent, civilized, (if we may use the expression,) decent, and noble minded tribe of Indians on the great western continent. Unlike the eastern tribes they are, he says, open and magnanimous enemies-imitate not the cruel craft and cunning of their neighbours—do not torture their captives, and never take advantage of superiority of weapons ! He even invests them with the elements of chivalrous' usages, (which he thinks their founders might have brought with them from the Old World !) But of these matters, as well as of the disquisitions, historical and political, on the Texians, Mexicans, and Western States of the Union, we shall say nothing ; since, though written in a very sober style, the more romantic adventures of the book leave us utterly in doubt how far any such
matter is to be relied upon. It is evident, that, however the Indians may have taught Monsieur Violet, two out of the three ancient Persian accomplishments, namely, 'to ride a horse,' and to shoot with the bow,' (more especially the 'long bow,') they have not taught him the third—'always to speak the truth.' Or, rather, to leave the romantic Monsieur Violet, and turn to the worthy Captain, it is so impossible to tell what substratum of truth there may be in the graver parts of the narrative, or from what sources he has obtained them, and how far he has drawn on imagination for them, that they must go for little or nothing. His accounts of the Western States, and of Yankee frauds, meannesses, and dishonesty, are of course much to the same purpose with the representations which are to be found in his tour of the States. But, though we are sufficiently impressed with a notion of the detestable selfishness, the ineffable vulgarity, the mean, tricky, heartless, cruel character of no small number in that three-parts barbarous, and one-part civilized portion of the world,-cursed with the refuse of more polished communities,-criminals who have fled from justice,-wretches, who have grafted all the vices of civilized man on those of the savage ;-we know not how far we can trust the rapid generalizations of su prejudiced an observer as Captain Marryatt, especially, when accompanied by so 'romantic an adventurer, as Monsieur Violet. We prefer, therefore, taking the reader into two or three of our modern Munchausen's 'romantic adventures. They will at all events amuse them, and are often told with a graphic skill which one would have wished to see employed on more consistent and probable incidents. Monsieur Violet has the good luck to realize all the more ' romantic' adventures described in Cooper's, novels, especially, that of the panther scene in the ' Pioneers,' and that of the prairie fire in the 'Prairie,' as well as many more which a judicious novelist would not have ventured to depict, even in a professed fiction. We select two.
The first shall be Monsieur Violet's facile escape from a combination of slight accidents; to wit, several bites of a large rattlesnake, and a coup de soleil, all inflicted upon him on the same remarkable occasion. With Monsieur Violet, 'it never rains, but it pours:'
• While I was with the Comanches, waiting the return of the expe. dition, I had an accident which nearly cost me my life. Having learnt that there were many fine basses to be fished in a stream some twenty miles off, I started on horseback, with a view of passing the night there. I took with me a buffalo hide, a blanket, and a tin cup, and two hours before sunset I arrived at the spot.
* As the weather had been dry for some time, I could not find any worms, so I thought of killing some bird or other small animal, whose