Gambar halaman

self in procuring it, through M. de Simoulin, the Russian minister, and Grimm, the correspondent and private agent of the empress in Paris. Whilst impatiently waiting in Paris and its vicinity for a reply to this application, Ledyard wrote letters to his friends in America, which abound in characteristic traits. We extract the following.

-« About a fortnight ago, Sir James Hall, an English gentleman, on his way from Paris to Cherbourg, stopped his coach at our door, and came up to my chamber. I was in bed at six o'clock in the morning, but having flung on my robe de chambre, I met him him at the door of the antechamber. I was glad to see him, but surprised. He observed, that he had endeavored to make up his opinion of me with as much exactness as possible, and concluded that no kind of visit whatever would surprise me. I could do no otherwise than remark, that his opinion surprised me at least, and the conversation took another turn. In walking across the chamber, he laughingly put his hand on a six livre piece and a louis d'or, that lay on my table, and with a half stifled blush, asked me how I was in the money way. Blushes commonly beget blushes, and I blushed partly because he did, and partly on other accounts. “If fifteen guineas,' said he, interrupting the answer he had demanded, will be of any service to you, there they are;' and he put them on the table. I am a traveller myself, and though I have some fortune to support my travels, yet I have been so situated as to want money, which you ought not to do. You have


address in London.' He then wished me a good morning and left me. This gentleman was a total stranger to the situation of my finances, and one that I had by mere accident met at an ordinary in Paris.”

pp. 168–169. “I have once visited the Foundling Hospital, and the Hospital de Dieu, in Paris; twice I never shall. Not all the morality from Confucius to Addison could give me such feelings. Eighteen foundlings were brought the day of my visit. One was brought in while I was there. Dear little innocents! But you are, happily, insensible of your situations. Where are your unfortunate mothers? Perhaps in the adjoining hospital; they have to feel for you and themselves too. But where is the wretch, the villain, the monster- ? I was not six minutes in the house. It is customary to leave a few pence; I flung down six livres and retired. Determined to persevere, I continued my visit over the way to the Hospital de Dieu. I entered first the apartments of the women. "Why will you, my dear sisters,' I was going to say as I passed along between the beds in ranks, 'why will you be'-but I was interrupted by a melancholy figure, that appeared at its last gasp, or already dead. She 's dead,' said I to a German gentleman, who was with VOL. XXVII.-NO. 61.


We ap

[ocr errors]


me, and nobody knows or cares anything about it.' proached the bedside. I observed a slight undulatory motion in one of the jugular arteries. 'She 's not dead,' said I, and seized her hand to search for her pulse. I hoped to find life, but it was gone. The word dead being again pronounced, brought the nuns to the bed. My God !' exclaimed the head nun,' she's dead';

Jesu, Maria!' exclaimed the other nuns, in their defence, she's dead.' The head nun scolded the others for their mal-attendance. My God!' continued she, she is dead without the form.' • Dieu !' said the others, 'she died so silently.' 'Silence,' said the elder, “perhaps she is not dead; say the form. The form was said, and the sheet thrown over her face.” ' pp. 169, 170.

An allusion to Jefferson and to Lafayette very strikingly indicates Ledyard's discernment of their character and of the temper of the times.

666 Mr Jefferson is an able minister, and our country may repose a confidence in him equal to their best wishes. Whether in public or private, he is, in every word and every action, the representative of a young, vigorous, and determined state. His only competitors here, even in political fame, are Vergennes and La Fayette. In other accomplishments he stands alone. The Marquis de la Fayette is one of the most growing characters in this kingdom. He has planted a tree in America, and sits under its shade at Ver


p. 161.

Ledyard wished to commence his journey before the requisite permission arrived; but all his friends advised against such a step, as evincing a want of proper respect for the empress, especially after her consent had been formally requested. Five months having expired without any answer being returned to his application, he gladly accepted an invitation to sail to the Northwest Coast in an English vessel then ready for sea in London. He left Paris immediately, in six days made his appearance in the British capital, and speedily concluded an arrangement for his passage. His condition and views at this time, when so near to the attainment of his favorite object, are described by Mr Snith, the American secretary of Legation in London, who speaks of Ledyard in an official despatch, as being perfectly calculated for the attempt, and having an immense passion to make discoveries, which might benefit society and ensure him a small degree of honest fame.' The vessel dropt down the Thames from Deptford, and actually put to sea; and Ledyard thought it the happiest moment of his life. But he was doomed again to suffer the severest disappointment, inasmuch as the vessel was seized by order of the government, and the voyage broken off.

Ledyard returned to London with a heavy heart; but in the course of a month we find him restored once more to confidence and hope, and resuming his project of travelling through Siberia. To give him means to set out upon his journey, a small subscription was collected in London, under the patronage of Sir James Hall, Sir Joseph Banks, and Dr Hunter, which enabled him to leave London in December, 1786. On reaching Hamburg, he was induced to quit the direct course for Petersburg, and to repair to Copenhagen, in order to meet with a gentleman named Langborn, a traveller like himself, and as Ledyard conceived, a man of congenial spirit. The consequence of this imprudence was, that Ledyard nearly exhausted his own scanty means in relieving Langborn's necessities; and after all was obliged to proceed alone to Stockholm, and to travel on foot in the winter season around the gulf of Bothnia, through Swedish Lapland and the whole extent of Finland, to Petersburg. With unconquerable perseverance, he undertook this laborious task, rather than wait at Stockholm for the opening of the spring, and reached Petersburg within seven weeks of the time of leaving Stockholm, having travelled at the rate of two hundred miles a week. Unfortunately for him, the empress was now absent on her famous progress to Kerson and the Krimea ; and it was two months before he could obtain a passport. His pecuniary resources were wholly exhausted; and in his extremity, he drew a bill on Sir Joseph Banks for twenty guineas, which he found some friend willing to accept. Although Sir Joseph had not authorized Ledyard to draw, yet much to the honor of that munificent patron of science, it was immediately paid when presented.

Thus provided, Ledyard set out in June, in company with Dr Brown, a Scotch physician, who was going to the province of Kolyvan in the service of the empress; and by this means he travelled with facility and despatch through Moscow, Kazan, and Tobolsk, to Barnaoul, the capital of the province of Kolyvan, about three thousand miles from Petersburg. Taking leave of Dr Brown at Barnaoul, he proceeded to Irkutsk with the courier who had charge of the mail. From Irkutsk, continuing his journey by land to the river Lena, he embarked on that river in a small bateau, and floated down the current to Yakutsk, where he arrived on the eighteenth of September. Ledyard


was now but six or seven hundred miles from Okotsk; and was anxious to press forward immediately; but the commandant, to whom his letters were addressed, urged the inclemency of the climate and season as an insuperable obstacle to his further progress, and forced rather than persuaded him to consent to remain at Yakutsk until the spring. Subsequent events furnished too much ground for believing that the commandant alleged this only as a pretext for detaining Ledyard, and preventing him from finally completing his journey.

Nevertheless, as he could not well go on without the aid, or at least the consent, of the commandant, he was pelled to stop at Yakutsk. Our author gives copious extracts from Ledyaru's journal of his observations in Siberia, chiefly relating to the face of the country, and the manners, condition, and physical characteristics of the inhabitants. This last topic, especially, seems to have been a favorite subject of attention and speculation with Ledyard. At this period he entered in his journal the celebrated eulogy on women, which, having been altered in some of the transcripts, Mr Sparks reprints precisely as it was written; it being, as he justly observes, universally admired, not more for the sentiments it contains, and the genuine feeling that pervades it, than for its terse and appropriate language. It is in these words:

I have observed among all nations, that the women ornament themselves more than the men; that, wherever found, they are the same kind, civil, obliging, humane, tender beings; that they are ever inclined to be gay and cheerful, timorous and modest. They do not hesitate, like man, to perform a hospitable or generous action ; not haughty, nor arrogant, nor supercilious, but full of courtesy, and fond of society ; industrious, economical, ingenuous ; more liable in general to err than man, but in general, also, more virtuous, and performing more good actions than he. I never addressed myself in the language of decency and friendship to a woman, whether civilized or savage, without receiving a decent and friendly answer. With man it has often been otherwise. In wandering over the barren plains of inhospitable Denmark, through honest Sweden, frozen Lapland, rude and churlish Finland, unprincipled Russia, and the wide spread regions of the wandering Tartar, if hungry, dry, cold, wet, or sick, woman has ever been friendly to me, and uniformly so; and to add to this virtue, so worthy of the appellation of benevolence, these actions have been performed in so free and so kind a manner, that, if I was dry, I drank the sweet draught, and, if hungry, ate the coarse morsel, with a double relish.' pp. 264, 265.


Weary of remaining idle at Yakutsk, Ledyard resolved to make a visit to Irkutsk. He reached that place in January, and had been there but little more than a month, when he was arrested by a peremptory order from the empress, hurried into a kibitka between two guards, and conducted with the utmost speed to Moscow, exposed to all the rigors of a Siberian winter. From Moscow he was conveyed in the same manner to the frontiers of Poland, when he was given to understand that he might go where he pleased, but if he returned to the dominions of the empress, he would certainly be punished with death. Such was the unfortunate conclusion of Ledyard's expedition. He was made to perform a journey of six thousand versts in six weeks, dragged along in an open kibitka, and treated in all respects like a felon, except that he was obliged to support himself on such slender means as he possessed. The amazing rapidity with which he was borne over the whole extent of the vast Russian empire, exposed to the severity of the climate, and privation of proper and sufficient food, reduced him to mere skeleton, and well nigh overcame the strength even of his vigorous and hardened constitution. He arrived at Konigsberg in a destitute situation, without friends or money, his hopes blasted, and his health enfeebled. In this state of suffering and want, the only expedient which he could devise for his relief was to draw a second time upon the kindness and generosity of Sir Joseph Banks, and with the proceeds of a small draft of five guineas, he was enabled to pursue his journey to London.

It is not fully ascertained why the Empress of Russia treated Ledyard with such extreme cruelty and injustice. At Irkutsk, the local authorities gave out that he was a French spy; but the idea of a French spy in the extremities of Siberia is too absurd to be supposed capable of producing his arrest. Count Segur, who, as French minister in Russia, had been instrumental in procuring Ledyard's passport, has recently stated the avowed pretence of the Empress. She told count Segur that she would not render herself guilty of the death of this courageous American, by furthering a journey so fraught with danger, as that he proposed to undertake alone, across the unknown and savage region of northwestern America. This idle pretext of humanity is contradicted by the inhuman manner, in which, at the imminent risk of his life, Ledyard was hurried from Irkutsk to Poland. Our author proposes a very

« SebelumnyaLanjutkan »