« السابقةمتابعة »
of citation one of the things that Park- on the wearying monotony of border feman stood for to those young men on that rocities, and to grasp the splendid details summer's day.
of an historic climax. Again, he had before him in one, at But this love of his art did not swerve least, of his contemporaries a too con- him from his lifelong purpose, and the scious habit of infusing into the narra- last work which he has given us shows tive a somewhat vapid philosophical sen- the completion of his labors, in which timent, running at times into platitudes. he struggled with the infelicities of that The skill of Parkman in telling a story bewildering period of minor conflicts required no such adventitious aid to im- with the courage that belonged to him. part a meaning. He made the course of It was this faithfulness to an artistic ideal, events carry its own philosophy. This no less than a steady adherence to his was another thing in historical science plan, that Parkman also stood for to those which Parkman stood for.
inquiring minds. I recollect he once said to me that he There is nothing that separates the had never ceased to regret that he had modern spirit from the old-time convenwritten that portion of his Pioneers which tionalism more clearly than the percepcovers the conflict of Spaniard and Hu- tion that much, perhaps one might almost guenot on our southern coast without first say very much, of what we read for histohaving visited the sites of the action of ry is simply the accretion, inherited from the story, so that he could write of the many generations of narrators, of opintopography and surrounding nature with ions and prejudices and sentiment. It personal knowledge. I happened to see requires some courage to strip the mumhim at a later day, when he had the re- mied fact of these cerements of symvision of that volume in hand, and he pathies. Parkman, as the opportune was to start on the morrow for a South- forerunner of the newer historic sense, ern tour. He seemed to feel like a man showed this courage never more conspicwho had made up his mind to undo an uously than in his treatment of the deinjustice. He had a feeling that his fame portation of the Acadians. Ideal virwas at stake if this journey of apology tues were subjected by him to crucial were not made. Here again it was for tests, and he dared to tell the world that the integrity of his art that Parkman the figments which make a poem are not stood to those young men.
the truths that underlie the story. This There was a period in the French courage, unbending to criticism, was one domination in Canada, intervening be- of the noblest qualities that our friend tween the death of Frontenac and the stood for to those who believe that truth more immediate beginning of the great is not to be bartered for prejudice or for struggle for the possession of a conti- an affected sensibility, or even made to nent, a half-century of conflict, in which yield to the misguided assumptions of events were sporadic, and the tensions what is sometimes held to be the deof cause and effect were loosened. He mands of religion. shrank from it with the instincts of an Parkman has been said to represent epic poet. It had no beginning, no cul- in the highest degree the picturesque elemination, but to tell its disjointed story ment in the schools of history. It is an was a part of his task. The study of it element which is better calculated than came next in the order of progress ; but any other to engage attention and secure I know the delight with which he wel- fame. It is also an element that natucomed the chance of using the Mont- rally flourishes with the graceful aids of a calm papers which had come to him, as brilliant style. But it is a characteristic it gave an excuse to postpone his work that is apt to make us forget the consum
mate research which, in the case of Park- man’s, when he found that he was obliged, man, accompanied it. He is certainly because of the new disclosures, in considless demonstrative of his material than is erable parts to rewrite his book. There now the fashion ; but while, in this sup- is nothing more discouraging to an hispression, he sometimes disappoints the torian than these recurrent revelations students who would track his movements, when a work is supposed to be done. there is no question that he has gained in The lesson should not be lost: it is alpopular regard. But even the scholar ways hazardous to be determinate on sees that he has left some things untold, insufficient knowledge, and pardonable not because he did not know them, but only when every effort, as in Parkman's because his sense of proportion was that case, has been exhausted. of an artist rather than of a chronicler. In a field in which so much is in the
I would say to any young student of process of development as in American history that he could make no more for history, it is doubly to be regretted that tunate choice for Mentor than Parkman. such an historian as Parkman was, so He can be valued not only for what he perfect in his art of collocation, should accomplished, but for the obstacles he not have been able to complete a final overcame, whether of his condition or his revision of his works, and embody the subject. He had been obliged to print latest evidences which had accumulated. his Discovery of the Great West with a With this purpose in view, and with the consciousness that some essential materi- expectation, which he sometimes exal was beyond his reach. The keeper of pressed to me, that he might yet run his an important department of the French monographs into one connected story, Archives had been so far unfaithful to he died with his harness on. He has his trust as to reserve for his own pri- left us with the glories of the victor and vate use some of its documentary proofs. the honors of the vanquished, like his Parkman was aware of the fact, but the own Wolfe and Montcalm. In Francis publication of his book could hardly be Parkman we have laid away the warrior delayed in the hope of a disclosure of who had long waged a stubborn fight, and which there was no promise. At a later without a buckler, with the physical ills day, it was largely through the instru- which beset him. Nature has parted mentality of the disappointed historian with a student of her mysteries who that this recusant archivist was enabled taught even the lilies an unwonted floresto make his own collection public by the cence. The historian has gone to the aid of the American government. The companionship of Marquette and La consequent revelations would have daunt- Salle, to the presence of Champlain and ed a less determined spirit than Park- Frontenac.
the Iliad, Forsyth's Life of Cicero, Colo
nel Higginson's Epictetus, a new edition In the summer of 1865 I had occasion of Edmund Burke's writings, and the almost daily to pass by the pleasant win- tasteful reprint of Froude's History of dows of Little, Brown & Co., in Boston, England, just in from the Riverside and it was not an easy thing to do with Press. One day, in the midst of such out stopping for a moment to look in time-honored classics and new books on upon their ample treasures. Among the well-worn themes, there appeared a stranfreshest novelties there displayed were ger that claimed attention and aroused to be seen Lord Derby's translation of curiosity. It was a modest crown octavo, clad in sombre garb, and bearing is the charm of an historic past as full of the title Pioneers of France in the New romance as any chapter whatever in the World. The author's name was not fa- annals of mankind. The Alleghanies as miliar to me, but presently I remem- well as the Apennines have looked down bered having seen it upon a stouter vol- upon great causes lost and won, and the ume dabeled The Conspiracy of Pontiac, Mohawk Valley is classic ground no less of which many copies used to stand in than the banks of the Rhine. To apprea row far back in the inner and dusky ciate these things thirty years agorequired regions of the shop. This older book the vision of a master in the field of hisI had once taken down from its shelf tory; and when I carried home and read just to quiet a lazy doubt as to whether the Pioneers of France, I saw at once that Pontiac might be the name of a man or
in Francis Parkman we had found such a place. Had that conspiracy been an a master. The reading of the book was event in Merovingian Gaul or in Borgia's for me, as doubtless for many others, a Italy, I should have felt a twinge of con- pioneer experience in this New World. science at not knowing about it, but the It was a delightful experience, repeated deeds of feathered and painted red men and prolonged for many a year as those on the Great Lakes and the Alleghanies, glorious volumes came one after another only a century old, seemed remote and from the press, until the story of the strugtrivial. Indeed, with the old-fashioned gle between France and England for the study of the humanities, which tended to possession of North America was at last keep the Mediterranean too exclusively completed. It was an experience of which in the centre of one's field of vision, it the full significance required study in was not always easy to get one's histori
many and apparently diverse fields to cal perspective correctly adjusted. Scenes realize. By step after step one would and events that come within the direct alight upon new ways of regarding Amerline of our spiritual ancestry, which until ica and its place in universal history. yesterday was all in the Old World, be- First and most obvious, plainly visible come unduly magnified, so as to deaden from the threshold of the subject, was our sense of the interest and importance its extreme picturesqueness. It is a wideof the things that have happened since spread notion that American history is our forefathers went forth to grapple with commonplace and dull; and as for the the terrors of an outlying wilderness. We American red man, he is often thought find no difficulty in realizing the historic to be finally disposed of when we have significance of Marathon and Châlons, of stigmatized him as a bloodthirsty demon the barons at Runnymede or Luther at and groveling beast. It is safe to say that Wittenberg; and scarcely a hill or a mead- those who entertain such notions have ow in the Roman's Europe but blooms never read Mr. Parkman. In the theme for us with flowers of romance. Litera- which occupied him his poet's eye saw ture and philosophy, art and song, have nothing that was dull or commonplace. expended their richest treasures in add- To bring him vividly before us, I will ing to the witchery of Old World spots quote his own words from one of the inand Old World themes.
troductory pages of his opening volume : But as we learn to broaden our horizon “ The French dominion is a memory of the perspective becomes somewhat shift- the past, and when we evoke its departed. It begins to dawn upon us that in ed shades they rise upon us from their New World events there is a rare and graves in strange, romantic guise. Again potent fascination. Not only is there the their ghostly camp fires seem to burn, and interest of their present importance, which the fitful light is cast around on lord and nobody would be likely to deny, but there vassal and black-robed priest, mingled
with wild forms of savage warriors, knit gician's touch that should invest its rivin close fellowship on the same stern ers and hillsides with memories of great errand. A boundless vision grows upon days gone by. Parkman's sweep has been us: an untamed continent; vast wastes of a wide one, and many are the spots that forest verdure; mountains silent in pri- his wand has touched, from the cliffs of meval sleep; river, lake, and glimmering the Saguenay to the Texas coast, and pool; wilderness oceans mingling with the from Acadia to the western slopes of the sky. Such was the domain which France Rocky Mountains. conquered for civilization. Plumed hel- I do not forget that earlier writers mets gleamed in the shade of its forests, than Parkman had felt something of the priestly vestments in its dens and fast- picturesqueness and the elements of dranesses of ancient barbarism. Men steeped matic force in the history of the conquest in antique learning, pale with the close of our continent. In particular, the charbreath of the cloister, here spent the noon acteristics of the red men and the inciand evening of their lives, ruled savage dents of forest life had long before been hordes with a mild, parental sway, and made the theme of novels and poems, stood serene before the direst shapes such as they were. I wonder how many of death. Men of courtly nurture, heirs people of to-day remember even the to the polish of a far-reaching ancestry, names of such books as Yonnondio or here, with their dauntless hardihood, put Kabaosa. All such work was thrown into to shame the boldest sons of toil.” the shade by that of Fenimore Cooper,
When a writer, in sentences that are whose genius, though limited, was undemere generalizations, gives such pictures niable. But when we mention Cooper, as these, one has much to expect from we are brought at once, by contrast, to his detailed narrative glowing with sym- the secret of Parkman's power. It has pathy and crowded with incident. In long been recognized that Cooper's IndiParkman's books such expectations are ans are more or less unreal. Just such never disappointed. What was an un- creatures never existed anywhere. When couth and howling wilderness in the world Corneille and Racine put ancient Greeks of literature he has taken for his own or Romans on the stage, they dressed domain, and peopled it forever with liv- them in velvet and gold lace, flowing ing figures, dainty and winsome, or grim wigs and high buckled shoes, and made and terrible, or sprightly and gay. Never them talk like Louis XIV.'s courtiers. shall be forgotten the beautiful earnest- In seventeenth-century dramatists the ness, the devout serenity, the blithe cour- historical sense was lacking. In the next age of Champlain ; never can we forget age it was not much better. When Rousthe saintly Marie de l'Incarnation, the seau had occasion to philosophize about delicate and long-suffering Lalemant, the men in a state of nature, he invented lion-like Brébeuf, the chivalrous Maison- the noble savage, an insufferable creaneuve, the grim and wily Pontiac,
that ture whom any real savage would justly man against whom fate sickened of con- loathe and despise. The noble savage tending, the mighty and masterful La has figured extensively in modern literSalle. These, with many a comrade and ature, and has left his mark upon Coopfoe, have now their place in literature as er's pleasant pages, as well as upon many permanent and sure as Tancred or St. a chapter of serious history. But you Boniface, as the Cid or Robert Bruce. cannot introduce unreal Indians as facAs the wand of Scott revealed unsuspect- tors in the development of a narrative ed depths of human interest in Border without throwing a shimmer of unreality castle and Highland glen, so it seems that about the whole story. It is like bringNorth America was but awaiting the ma- ing in ghosts or goblins among live men
and women ; it instantly converts sober Now, it was Parkman's good fortune, narrative into fairy tale; the two worlds at an early age, to realize that, in order will no more mix than oil and water. to do his work, it was first of all necesThe ancient and mediæval minds did not sary to know the Indian by personal felfind it so, as the numberless histories lowship and contact. It was also his encumbered with the supernatural testi- good fortune that the right sort of Infy, but the modern mind does find it dians were still accessible. What would so. The modern mind has taken a little not Prescott have given, what would not draught, the prelude to deeper draughts, any student of human evolution give, 'at the healing and purifying well of for a chance to pass a week, or even a science, and it has begun to be dissatis- day, in such a community as the Tlascala fied with anything short of exact truth. of Xicotencatl or the Mexico of MonteWhen
unsound element enters into zuma! That phase of social developa narrative, the taint is quickly tasted, ment has long since disappeared. But and its flavor spoils the whole.
fifty years ago, on our great Western We are thus brought, I say, to the plains and among the Rocky Mountains, secret of Parkman's power. His Indians there still prevailed a state of society esare true to the life. In his
Pon- sentially similar to that which greeted tiac is a man of warm flesh and blood, the eyes of Champlain upon the St. as much so as Montcalm or Israel Put- Lawrence, and of John Smith upon the This solid reality in the Indians Chickahominy.
Chickahominy. In those days the Oremakes the whole work real and convin- gon Trail had changed but little since cing. Here is the great contrast between the memorable journey of Lewis and Parkman's work and that of Prescott Clark. In 1846, two years after taking in so far as the latter dealt with Ameri- his bachelor degree at Harvard, young can themes. In reading Prescott's ac- Parkman had a taste of the excitements count of the conquest of Mexico one feels of savage life in that primeval wilderone's self in the world of the Arabian He was accompanied by his kinsNights ; indeed, the author himself, in oc- man, Mr. Quincy Shaw. They joined a casional comments, lets us see that he is roving tribe of Sioux Indians, at a time unable to get rid of just such a feeling. when to do such a thing was to take His story moves on in a region that is their lives in their hands, and they spent unreal to him, and therefore tantalizing to a wild summer among the Black Hills the reader; his Montezuma is a person- of Dakota, and in the vast moorland ality like none that ever existed beneath solitudes through which the Platte River the moon. This is because Prescott sim- winds its interminable length. In the ply followed his Spanish authorities not chase and in the wigwam, in watching the only in their statements of physical fact, sorcery of which the Indian religion chiefbut in their inevitable misconceptions of ly consisted or in listening to primitive the strange Aztec society which they en- folk-tales by the evening camp fire, Mr. countered; the Aztecs in his story are Parkman learned to understand the red unreal, and this false note vitiates it all. man, to interpret his motives and his In his Peruvian story Prescott followed moods. With his naturalist's keen and safer leaders in Garcilasso de la Vega accurate eye and his quick poetic appreand Cieza de Leon, and made a much hension, that youthful experience formed truer picture ; but he lacked the ethnolo- a safe foundation for all his future work. gical knowledge needful for coming into From that time forth he was fitted to touch with that ancient society, and one absorb the records and memorials of often feels this as the weak spot in a nar- the early explorers, and to make their rative of marvelous power
strange experiences his own.