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The Doctor trembled; he did not perfectly comprehend the widow, but he felt, indistinctly, that he was about to be informed of some frightful mystery, and that this woman whom he idolized was on the point of revealing herself under some hideous form. “How ?" he said; “ Vachelier ? he died in my arms."
“ The other," said Madame Vachelier," the other, Jules Regnauld-you remember him, Doctor ?"
“Ah, my God!" said the Doctor ; "the subcarbonate of copper—the roast partridge—"
“ Was for Vachelier," said the widow, in a faint voice; "and the other hates me-he loves another. Two hours ago he came to mock at my despair and my love. Why did you not let him die, Doctor ? we would have been buried side by side; while now he lives, he is happy, he loves and is beloved-he is a husband, ah! of whom, my God!-of Justine, DoctorRegnauld loves Justine, Regnauld has married Justine."
The doctor, terrified at the tone in which she spoke, and at these fearful disclosures, started backward ; then he drew nearer the woman. “You are ill, Marie," he said, “ you are delirious."
I tell you that for love of Regnauld,” she added, in a deep and hollow voice, "I tried to poison my husband. You know what happened ; now it is my turn-I am dying.”
The Doctor leaped from his arm-chair, ran to the window, drew aside the curtains, opened the blinds, admitted the light and the fresh air into the chamber, then approached the chaise longue, upon which the young woman was reclining; he took Madame Vachelier's arm, and placed his fingers upon the artery of her wrist; he unfastened her dress, laid his hand upon her heart, and stood for a moment, motionless and silent. Madame Vachelier was dead.
“ Locusta !" he said, “ Locusta." Madame Vachelier had poisoned herself.
The most violent passions are appeased and extinguished in the face of death ; where hope vanishes, the heart closes, and if the young and beautiful frame has concealed a criminal soul, the change is complete and instantaneous.
“ A Locusta !" said the Doctor, as he returned home; “ a poisoner! I loved a Locusta! a pretty business !"
All passion was extinguished in the heart of Doctor Lafrenais, but not the memory
of this scene. He resisted the prayers of Madame Baudelot, the entreaties of his patients, left the faubourg Saint-Martin, and went to plant his standard in the faubourg Saint-Honoré. Notwithstanding the inequality of his shoulders, he was loved by a woman, whom he married, and for whose sake, he said, he was ready to do anything in the world, except to pass through the Rue des Lombards.
Jules Regnauld, who had married Mademoiselle Justine at the mayoralty of his arrondissement, and in the church of Saint-Méry, set out with his wife for Burgundy, a few hours after he had left Madame Vachelier, Madame Regnauld not minding a note of five hundred francs, more or less, and unwilling that he should see this woman again. He cultivated the paternal fields of his little Titine, bought a neat cabriolet, fine horses, prided himself upon making excellent wines, and became the best sportsman in the country; but never, under any pretext, would Madame Regnauld permit a roast partridge to appear upon her table.
As its double title premises, the work before us has two different aspects. The first portion (a portion out of all proportion,) leads the weary reader on the weary traveller's track, through two hundred and forty pages of wilderness, ere he reach the Eldorado-not “ The End," but the foot of the western slope of the Sierra Nevada.
In toiling through this portion of Mr. Bryant's work, we were forcibly reminded of the assertion in his preface, that " he has carefully avoided such embellishment as would tend to impress the reader with a false or incorrect idea of what he saw and describes. He has invented nothing to make his narrative more dramatic and amusing than the truth may render it.” We say that we were forcibly reminded of this assertion, and felt disposed to condense the statement thus," he has avoided all embellishment, and he has invented nothing."
Why is it that Fremont's report, though a mere narrative of his progress through the wilderness, has power to attract and interest the reader ; while in following Mr. Bryant's march over a part of the same ground, we experience a feeling which we will let him describe in his own words.
This change in the physical formation of the surface of the country, cheered us with the hope that we should obtain a view of the valley of the Sacramento bea fore night. But as we ascended elevation after elevation, with anticipations of a prospect so gratifying, our hopes were as often disappointed by a succession of hills or mountains rising one after another beyond us."
We will not undertake to answer our own question, and we summarily give it as our opinion that, with abundance of original and valuable matter, and a talent of no vulgar order, Mr. Bryant has altogether failed in reconciling us to his long loitering in the desert
. But lest we ourself incur the reproach which we have ventured to address, we here abruptly cross the dividing ridge, and imagine ourself near the shore of the great Pacific, in the emigrant's golden Hesperia, in Alta California, or rather in that portion of the territory so called, which is bounded at the east by the Sierra Nevada.
To give an approximative idea of the topography of this long, narrow strip, it may be sufficient to state, that it consists of iwo valleys watered respectively by the San Joaquin and Sacramento rivers, which, running from opposite directions, unite at the eastern extremity of that vast sheet of water called the bay of San Francisco. It must be understood, however, that in their course towards the ocean, these rivers receive, generally on their eastern side, many minor streams, the irrigators of many tributary valleys; that the character of the country is hilly, and that owing to the presence of dividing summits on the side of the Pacific, several torrents roll their fertilizing waters directly to the ocean, through valleys of no great extent, but of surpassing beauty and exuberance.
This view will at once enable the reflective reader to comprehend why no general description can well apply to California; why so many conflicting accounts have reached us; and why, until lately, it has remained a grazing
*What I saw in California : being the Journal of a Tour, by the Emigrant Route and South Pass of the Rocky Mountains, across the Continent of North America, ihe Great Desert Basin, and through California in the years 1846 and 1817. “All which I saw, and part of which I was." By Edwin Bryant, late Alcalde of St. Francisco. 12mo., pp. 455. New-York; D Appleton & Co.
country. A rolling region, with almost abrupt features, favored with a beautiful climate; bounded on one side by the sea, by snowy summits on the other ; subject to long droughts and sudden floods of rain, will naturally present the utmost variety. Travellers, enraptured with some sequestered dale, or disgusted with the wild oats and stunted timber of situations less favored, romance pro or con, at raudom, but in good faith; and the wiiness of a successful experiment spreads reports of fabulous crops to tempt Yankee cupidity. But the judicious and lazy Spaniard, considering the uncertainty of natural, the toil of artificial irrigation, the extraordinary mildness of the climate, the low price of the soil, and his own national preference for the general ease, but occasional excitement and adventure of a half nomadic life, would naturally forego the gain and steady toil of agriculture, and, enclosing within the fence of a Mexican title deed a whole vega or a whole range of hills, turn all his attention to the raising of cattle.
This will also account for the fact, that despite all its resources, mineral, agricultural, and pastoral—despite the known salubrity of its climate and its well merited reputation for longevity and human increase, California, though long settled, has never possessed population enough to be admitted as a State into the Mexican confederacy. The favorite pursuit of its residents is the very one that allows the fewest inhabitants to the acre.
Here a remark occurs to us, which will apply as well to Mr. Bryant as to other travellers. They very often describe, most circumstantially, some par. ticular site, stream, town, or seaport, but never think of conveying that general, though perhaps superficial, idea of a region, which the general reader loves to catch, as he would the effect of a painting, without the labor of studying out the details. Now it so happens that we are not all emigrants in expectancy, nor speculators in lithographed Monterey town lots; there are some of us who open a book of travel through mere curiosity or love of learning. To such it is somewhat immaterial to learn whereabouts in California a sulphur hill uprises, or the presence of gold has been suspected, or sure indications of bituminous coal discovered. But it is a matter of considerable interest to learn how the Spanish population of that country may view the rapid influx of foreigners; what their ways and manners might be under their former system, and how affected by contact with our own. Strange mistake of travel writers! In the midst of a peculiar civilization, surrounded by manners and customs, the growth of an unusual order of society, they leave these undescribed, and persist in exposing, by an abuse of printing, the names and domestic habits of some obscure Americans, who, though long settled on a distant shore, differ from their countrymen at home only in this, that they take their tea under circumstances less comfortable, and that they are some six months behind us in the fashion of the coats they
We acknowledge our partiality for the Spanish race.
Even where most fallen and degenerate, it preserves characteristics peculiarly its own. As the impoverished hidalgo has the talent of draping himself, not ungracefully, within his tattered cloak, so the descendants of the Spaniards excel in throwing a veil of dignity over the most abject degradation.
But the Spaniards in California are not a degenerate race; they are tall, active, bold in the rudest sports of the field, and some of our military commanders might render, and have rendered, a just account of their desultory prowess. Ere American enterprise had crossed the Rocky Mountains, California was as isolated from the world as any undiscovered island could be ; save the rare trading ship that at long intervals visited the seaports to exchange, for hides and tallow, English or American wares; save the occasional caravan that forced its way from Mexico through the dreary desert of Sono.
ra, escorting some new military commandante, this happy region owned no intercourse with the civilized world. Habits and customs therefore grew up, which, whether good or bad per se, were unquestionably sui generis, The large Indian population was kept in subjection, and rendered useful by the admirable management of the missions. The military organization of the province had little of war except its "pomp and circumstance;" there was but little oppression, for there was little power; but little crime, for the population was thin and scattered ; little fraud, for there was 110 money ; property was scarcely valuable, and there was no want.
The Californian gentleman passed his life-a long life usually—in ease, ignorance, and enjoyment. His property consisted of horses and horned cattle innumerable, whose management he intrusted to his vaqueros; his brand, of which a fac simile was registered at the proper office, marked and secured his ownership, and indicated transsers better than bills of sale or kindred inventions of our law. When he began a journey, his favorite vaquero would catch him a dozen horses, to be used in turn. Secure in his commodious Californian saddle, with his riata coiled around the pommel, (bis weapon for defence or for the chase,) he would ride a hundred miles in ten or twelve hours without fatigue or inconvenience; and it was no matter to him whether bis jaded caballada, which he now cast adrift, ever recovered from the exertion and regained their ancient pasturage, or perished on the road, or sed the grisly bear and cayota. It might be that his object in this rapid travelling was only to attend a fandango, given, perhaps, in honor of a funeral, or to allow his revenge at monte to some luckless caballero, of whom he had previously won more hides than would freight some of the foreand-afters that traded upon the coast.
At the table, the juicy haunch of the elk, the luscious meat of the half wild bullock he had helped to chase and brought down with his lasso, the more-than-Burgundy of his native hill-side, and the delicate fish of the bays and rivers of California, formed such a repast as no epicure would spurn. And if the dainty American guest shuddered at the tough tortilla that supplied the place of bread, the Californian could return the compliment, and disdain the unsubstantial refinements which more civilized palates might
A dance was quickly improvised—the band, a guitar and the performer's voice; and while the graceful señorita marked the wild measure with her tiny feet, happy the lover whose sombrero she consented to wear; it was returned afterwards solus cum sola, on conditions that neither would reveal and neither ever regretted.
We must take leave of this tempting subject, so tempting that the reviewer might forget his duty and turn poet. Besides, these remarks are now an account of the past and not of the present; so soon has the stamp of civilization blotted out the wild virtues and the poetry of the wild vices of the conquered Californians. Mr. Bryant says, in speaking of the town of San Francisco :
"Wherever the Anglo-Saxon race plant themselves, progress is certain to be displayed in some form or other. Such is their “go-ahead' energy, that things cannot stand still where they are, whatever may be the circumstances surrounding them. Notwithstanding the wars and insurrections, I found the town of San Francisco, on my arrival here, visibly improved. An American population had flowed into it; lots, which heretofore have been considered almost valueless, were selling at high prices; new houses had been built, and were in progress; new commercial houses had been established; hotels had been opened for the accommodation of the travelling and business public; and the publication of a newspaper had been commenced. The little village of two hundred souls,
when I arrived here in September last, is fast becoming a town of importance. Ships freighted with full cargoes are entering the port, and landing their merchandise to be disposed of at wholesale and retail on shore, instead of the former mode of vending them afloat in the harbor. There is a prevailing air of activity, enterprise, and energy; and men, in view of the advantageous position of the town for commerce, are making large calculations upon the future; calculations which I believe will be fully realized."
We may endorse his statement. He has forgotten, however, to mention the introduction of a class that never fails to follow in the rear of progressive inprovement; we mean the lawyers. They have flocked into this territory from every direction, even from the Sandwich Islands. The late attorneygeneral of his Hawaiian majesty is now, we believe, practising law in California. The lawyers prosper; let the reader, draw his own inference. We might point to several authorities to show that demoralization has thus far kept pace with improvement since the American conquest; let the following sig. nificant paragraph from the work under review suffice :
“During the evening I visited several public places, (bar-rooms,) where I saw men and women engaged promiscuously at the game of monte. Gambling is a universal vice in California. All classes and both sexes participate in its excite
The games, however, while I was present, were conducted with great propriety and decorum so far as the native Californians were concerned. The loud swearing and other turbulent demonstrations generally proceedled from the unsuccessful foreigners. I could not but observe the contrast between the two races in this respect. The one bore their losses with stoical composure and indifference; the other announced each unsuccessful bet with profane imprecations and maledictions. Excitement prompted the hazards of the former, avarice the latter. "
ments to some extent.
If we have been thus far somewhat severe upon Mr. Bryant's work, we must plead the critic's stern duty to the public and to writers, and Horace's consulatory extenuation :
6. Vitavi denique culpam
Non laudem mcrui." Nevertheless we cheerfully recommend a perusal of this book to our readers. In the latter part, that which relates to California, Mr. Bryant has embodied inany valuable and hitherto unpublished documents. His own views as far as they go, appear just and eminently impartial. Let the reader turn to his account of the suffering of the emigrants in the passes of the Sierra Nevada, an account which, far from exaggerated, is, we believe, slightly softened down from the awful truth; and to him who ponders over that tragedy, horror and disgust may whisper a sermon on charity.
In conclusion we would insert some extracts from the last chapter of the work before us. It is well written, and contains in a condensed form much valuable information.
" The natives formed an ardent and almost adorable attachment for their spiritual fathers, and were happy, quite happy, under their jurisdiction. Ever ready to obey them, the labor in the field and workshop met with ready compliance, and so prosperous were the institutions, that many of thein became wealthy, in the increase of their cattle and great abundance of their granaries. It was no unusual sight to behold the plains for leagues literally spotted with bullocks, and large fields of corn and wheat covering acres of ground. This state of things continued until the period when Mexico underwent a change in its political form of government, which so disheartened the feelings of the loyal missionaries, that they became regardless of their establishments, and suffered them to decline for want of attention to their interests. At length, civil discord and anarchy among the Californians prepared a more effective measure for their de