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colonies ? Who ever heard the name of a poet, or a painter, or a sculptor, or a great statesman, a colonist?
But to return to the work before us. The lovers of light literature have read the former books, which record the sayings and doings of Sam Slick, and some have been entertained by what they mistook for wit and humor. rate, their circulation has been such as to tempt the writer to work the vein still further. How far the blame of this proceeding is to be laid to the long ears of a “discerning public,” or to the suggestions of a partially successful author's vanity, we shall not undertake to say ; but thus much is quite certain, that the vein, such as it was, gave out long before the author did ; that all the humor, poor as it was, in the conception of Sam Slick's character, was exhausted long before the end of the first week of his official existence as Attaché to the American Legation at the court of St. James. In making out the plot of this work, the author was driven to adopt the most improbable absurdities ; not simple extravagancies, which genius may clothe with originality, and exalt into brilliant conceptions, by its kindling power ; but absurdities unredeemed by ingenuity or novelty, plausibility or wit. The supposition, that a person like Major Jack Downing could have been the intimate friend and adviser of the President of the United States, was an extravagance ; yet the originality and truth of the Major's character, the sagacity of his observations, the felicity and idiomatic point of his language, and the argumentative wit of his illustrations, redeemed the improbability of the first conception, and gave a wide and immediate popularity to his letters, almost unexampled in America. The idea of Sam Slick, the Attaché, is evidently borrowed from our friend the Major ; but the improbable part was taken, and all the wit was left behind. Sam Slick, the quondam pedler, is represented as appointed to a place on the most important foreign mission, with every possible vulgarity of thought, speech, and action in full blossom. He appears in England, is invited about in English society, associates with the statesmen and noblemen of that proud monarchy, and communicates to our author the results of his observations. All this is violently improbable. It is, in the first place, impossible for any such person, even in our abused and long-suffering democracy, to receive an appointment like that; and, secondly, if we could get over this impossibility, it would still be impossible for such an individual to obtain any access to the society which he is described as frequenting. Here, then, we have two stubborn impossibilities to start with. But we might pardon even these, if the character of the Attaché had been drawn with any truth and liveliness ; if his language had been other than coarse and gross, and false to the spirit of the American idioms. But nothing can equal the falsehood and vulgarity of the book, even after we have got over the outrageous extravagance of the main circumstances of the plot, except its incredible dulness. A writer of genius would certainly have the means, in the rich contrasts between the various phases of English life, and between English life as a whole and American life, to present a series of pictures at once amusing and instructive, even though the framework of the story were absurdity itself; and, in some passages, this author has shown feeble glimpses of a power to appreciate the capabilities of the subject. In some parts of Mr. Slick's description of what it is the author's pleasure to make him call a “juicy day," we see faint intimations of a sense of the humorous bearings of. the scene.
It is clumsily overwrought, and outrages nature and probability ; but some of the points are seized, and tolerably managed. The whole chapter is too long for quotation; we can only pick out, here and there, a “ juicy” passage. The following passage contains Mr. Slick's meditations on an English rainy day, and a little incident that befel him on his first morning at an English country-house, which he had been invited to visit.
“ A wet day is considerable tiresome, anywhere, or any way you can fix it; but it's wus at an English country house than anywhere else, cause you are among strangers, formal, cold, gallus polite, and as thick in the head-piece as a puncheon. You hante nothin' to do yourself, and they never have nothin' to do; they don't know nothin' about America, and don't want to. Your talk don't interest them, and they can't talk to interest nobody but themselves; all you've got to do is to pull out your watch and see how time goes; how much of the day is left, and then go to the winder and see how the sky looks, and whether there is any chance of holdin' up or no. Well, that time I went to bed a little airlier than common, for I felt considerable sleepy, and considerable strange, too ; so, as soon as I cleverly could, I off and turned in.
"Well, I am an airly riser myself; I always was from a boy. So I waked up jist about the time when day ought to break, and was a thinkin' to get up; but the shutters was too, and it was as dark as ink in the room, and I heerd it rainin' away for dear life. 'So,' sais I to myself,' what the dogs is the use of gettin' up so airly? I can't get out and get a smoke, and I can't do nothin' here; so here goes for a second nap.' Well, I was soon off agin in a most a beautiful of a snore, when all at once I heard a thump, thump agin the shutter, and the most horrid noise I ever heerd since I was raised; it was somethin' quite onairthly.
"Hallo!' says I to myself, what in nature is all this hubbub about? Can this here confounded old house be harnted? Is them spirits that's jabbering gibberish there, or is I wide awake or no?' So I sets right up on my hind legs in bed, rubs my eyes, opens my ears, and listens agin, - when whop went every shutter agin, with a dead, heavy sound, like somethin' or another thrown agin 'em, or fallin' agin 'em, and then comes the unknown tongues in discord chorus like. Sais I, 'I know now, it's them cussed navigators. They 've besot the house, and are a givin' lip to frighten folks. It's regular banditti.'
"So I jist hops out of bed, and feels for my trunk, and outs with my talkin' irons, that was already loaded, pokes my way to the window, shoves the sash up, and outs with the shutter, ready to let slip among 'em. And what do you think it was? Hundreds and hundreds of them nasty, dirty, filthy, ugly, black devils of rooks, located in the trees at the back eend of the house. Old Nick couldn't have slept near 'em; caw, caw, caw, all mixed up together in one jumble of a sound, like 'jawe.'
"You black, evil-lookin', foul-mouthed villains,' sais I, 'I'd like no better sport than jist to sit here all this blessed day with these pistols, and drop you one arter another, I know.' But they all was pets, was them rooks, and of course, like all pets, everlastin' nuisances to everybody else.
"Well, when a man's in a feeze, there's no more sleep that hitch; so I dresses and sits up. But what was I to do? jist half past four, and as it was a rainin' like every thing, I know'd breakfast wouldn't be ready till eleven o'clock, for nobody wouldn't get up, if they could help it, they wouldn't be such fools; so there was jail for six hours and a half.”
- p. 11.
Mr. Slick, like other mortals, cannot resist the attractions of English beauty. Hear him a little upon this point.
"Come, I'll try the women folk in the drawin'-room aign. Ladies don't mind the rain here; they are used to it. It's like
the musk plant, arter you put it to your nose once, you can't smell it a second time. Oh, what beautiful gals they be! What a shame it is to bar a feller out such a day as this. One on 'em blushes like a red cabbage, when she speaks to me; that's the one, I reckon, I disturbed this mornin'. Cuss the rooks! I'll pyson them, and that wont make no noise.
"She shows me the consarvitery. Take care, sir, your coat has caught this geranium,' and she onhitches it. Stop, sir, you'll break this jillyflower,' and she lifts off the coat-tail again; in fact, it's so crowded, you can't squeeze along scarcely, without a doin' of mischief somewhere or another.
"Next time she goes first, and then it's my turn. miss,' sais I, 'your frock has this rose tree over,' and I loosens it; once more, Miss, this rose has got tangled,' and I ontangles it from her furbeloes.
"I wonder what makes my hand shake so, and my heart it bumps so, it has bust a button off. If I stay in this consarvitery, I shan't consarve myself long, that's a fact; for this gal has put her whole team on, and is a runnin' me off the road. 'Hullo! what's that? Bell for dressin' for dinner.' Thank Heavens! I shall escape from myself, and from this beautiful critter, too, for I'm getting spoony, and shall talk silly presently.
"I don't like to be left alone with a gal, it 's plaguy apt to set me a soft-sawderin' and a courtin'. There's a sort of natteral attraction like in this world. Two ships in a calm are sure to get up alongside of each other, if there's no wind, and they have nothin' to do but look at each other; natur does it. Well, even the tongs and the shovel won't stand alone long; they're sure to get on the same side of the fire, and be sociable; one of 'em has a loadstone and draws t'other, that's sartain. If that's the case with hard-hearted things, like oak and iron, what is it with tender-hearted things, like humans? Shut me up in a 'sarvitory with a handsome gal of a rainy day, and see if I don't think she is the sweetest flower in it. Yes, I am glad it is the dinner-bell, for I ain't ready to marry yet, and when I am, I guess I must get a gal where I got my hoss, in Old Connecticut, and that State takes the shine off of all creation for geese, gals, and onions, that's a fact." p. 14.
The following story, illustrating the meaning of one of Sam's phrases, "t' other eend of the gun," is not ill told.
"Well, Squire,' said he, 'I am glad, too, you are agoin' to England along with me: we will take a rise out of John Bull, won't we? We've hit Blue-nose and Brother Jonathan, both, pretty considerably tarnation hard, and John has split his sides.
with larfter. Let's tickle him now, by feeling his own short ribs, and see how he will like it; we'll soon see whose hide is the thickest, his'n or ourn, won't we? Let's see whether he will say chee, chee, chee, when he gets to t'other eend of the gun.'
"Well, what is the meaning of that saying?' I asked. 'I never heard it before.'
“Why,' said he, when I was considerable of a grown-up saplin' of a boy to Slickville, I used to be a gunnin' for everlastingly a'most in our hickory woods, a shootin' of squirrels with a rifle, and I got amazin' expart at it. I could take the head off of them chatterin'-like imps, when I got a fair shot at 'em with a ball, at any reasonable distance, a'most in nine cases out of ten. Well, one day I was out as usual, and our Irish help, Paddy Burke, was along with me, and every time he see'd me a drawin' off the head fine on 'em, he would say, "Well, you've an excellent gun entirely, Master Sam. Oh, by Jakers! the squirrel has no chance with that gun; it's an excellent one entirely."
"At last, I got tired of hearin' of him a jawin' so for ever and a day about the excellent gun entirely; so, sais I, "You fool you, do you think it's the gun that does it entirely, as you say? ain't there a little dust of skill in it? Do you think you could fetch one down?"
""Oh, it's a capital gun entirely," said he.
"""Well," said I, "if 't is, try it now, and see what sort of a fist you'll make of it."
"So Paddy takes the rifle, lookin' as knowin' all the time as if he had ever see'd one afore. Well, there was a great red squirrel on the tip-top of a limb, chatterin' away like any thing, chee, chee, chee, proper frightened; he know'd it warn't me that was a parsecutin' of him, and he expected he'd be hurt. They know'd me, did the little critters, when they see'd me, and they know'd I never had hurt one on 'em, my balls never givin' 'em a chance to feel what was the matter of them; but Pat they didn't know, and they see'd he warn't the man to handle "Old Bull-dog." I used to call my rifle Bull-dog, cause she always bit afore she barked.
"Pat threw one foot out astarn, like a skullin' oar, and then bent forrads like a hoop, and fetched the rifle slowly up to the line and shot to the right eye. Chee, chee, chee, went the squirrel. He see'd it was wrong. By the powers!" sais Pat, "this is a left-handed boot," and he brought the gun to the other shoulder, and then shot to his left eye. "Fegs!" sais Pat, "this gun was made for a squint eye, for I can't get a right straight sight of the critter, either side." So I fixt it for him, and