« AnteriorContinuar »
though others may have been conducted in the paths of science by superior learning, and may have had a more dazzling career, the labours of no individual have been more honourable, meritorious, or practically useful.
The establishment of steam navigation will form an important epoch in the history of our species. -The name of the man who accomplished it will live to the remotest ages, if he be not robbed of the fame which is due to the employment of a superior genius, with surprising courage, industry, perseverance, and success.
Robert Fulton was born in the town of Little Britain, in the county of Lancaster, and state of Pennsylvania, in the year 1765; he was of a respectable though not opulent family. His father, Robert Fulton, was a native of Kilkenny, in Ireland. His mother was also of a respectable Irish family, by the name of Smith, established in Pennsylvania.
In his infancy he was put to school in Lancaster, in Pennsylvania, where he acquired the rudiments of a common English education.
His peculiar genius manifested itself at a very early age. In his childhood, all his hours of recreation were passed in the shops of mechanics, or in the employment of his pencil; and at this early period of his life he had no other desire for money than to supply himself with the necessary materials to indulge his taste for mechanism and drawing.
By the time he had attained the age of seventeen years, he became so much an artist with his pencil,
as to derive emolument from painting portraits and landscapes, in Philadelphia, where he remained till he was about twenty-one. this time he had made the acquaintance of our celebrated countryman Doctor Franklin, by whom he was much noticed.
Mr. Fulton throughout his course as a mechanist and civil engineer, derived great advantage from his talent for drawing and painting. He was an elegant and accurate draftsman.
It is gratifying to find, that Mr. Fulton ever felt as an American. His long residence abroad did not enfeeble his attachment to his country. Thoughts of her prosperity and welfare were connected with all his projects; and those that he thought might be of advantage to her, he communicated with a promptness and disinterestedness which marked his desire to serve her.
Ardour and perseverance were characters of Mr. Fulton's mind; when he had conceived what he thought a practicable and beneficial project, he left no means untried, and spared no pains for its accomplishment.
It may be well to notice here, a matter not otherwise of importance, than as it serves to mark the pliancy of Mr. Fulton's mind, and the versatility of his genius. At a time when he was taking a step which, as he thought, would be decisive to the fate of nations, which put his life at risk, and might determine his own fortune, he amused himself with making sketches from the scenery of Holland, and representations of the manners, figures, and costume of
the Hollanders; some of them are broad caricatures, which cannot but excite a smile. They are found in his port folio, and though in general they are but sketches, they show that they are from the hand of a master, guided by wit and genius.
Throughout the whole course of his experiments, no opposition or contradiction, no failure or disappointment, irritated, discouraged, or discomposed him. When his machines were broken or disordered, he, with the utmost calmness and composure, pointed out their defects or the causes of his disappointinent. If an experiment failed, though it had cost him great pains and labour in the preparation; and although the failure was frequently, and obviously, owing to the awkwardness or unskilfulness of those who assisted him, his temper could not be disturbed; he would not hear the scoffs of some of the numerous bystanders, which were frequently expressed in whispers intended to reach his ear. Not a fretful or angry word ever escaped him, and after a disappointment he recommenced his preparations with the same ardour, and with the same calmness, with which he at first began. Even when his physical strength must have been exhausted by his corporeal exertions, and the excessive fatigue he would sometimes undergo through a sultry day, his spirits were never for a moment depressed. On these occasions he showed himself as much a moral as a mechanical philosopher.
We have all witnessed with what zeal Mr. Fulton bestowed
his time, his talents, and his purse, for the promotion of the useful and the fine arts. One of the last acts of his life manifested this disposition. By his will, which was made but a few days before his death, he devised that, in certain events, his pictures, and one half of his property not otherwise disposed of, should go to an academy of fine arts, when such an academy should be established, at the place which may be the seat of the national government.
Mr. Fulton was about six feet high. His person was slender, but well proportioned, and well forined.-Nature had made him a gentleman, and bestowed upon him ease and gracefulness. He had too much good sense for the least affectation; and a modest confidence in his own worth and talents, gave him an unembarrassed deportment in all companies.-His features were strong, and of a manly beauty: he had large dark eyes, and a projecting brow, expressive of intelligence and thought: his temper was mild, and his disposition lively he was fond of society, which he always enlivened by cheerful, cordial manners, and instructed or pleased by his sensible conversation:-He expressed himself with energy, fluency, and correctness, and as he owed more to his own experience and reflections, than to books, his sentiments were often interesting from their originality.
In all his domestic and social relations he was zealous, kind, generous, liberal, and affectionate. He knew of no use for money but as it was subservient to charity, hospitality, and the sciences. But
what was most conspicuous in his character, was his calm constancy, his industry, and that indefatigable patience and perseverance, which always enabled him to overcome difficulties.
He was decidedly a republican. The determination which he often avowed, that he never would ac
cept an office, is an evidence of the disinterestedness of his politics; but his zeal for his opinions or party, did not extinguish his kindness for the merits of his opponents. Society will long remember and regret him; but he will be most lamented by those, by whom he was best known.
MANNERS, CUSTOMS, &c.
NATIONS AND CLASSES OF PEOPLE.
DESCRIPTION OF A SERTANEJO.
(From Koster's Travels. MAY give some description of my friend, who turned back to shew me the well, and this may be taken as the usual appearance of a travelling Sertanejo. He rode a small horse with a long tail and mane; his saddle was rather raised before and behind; his stirrups were of rusty iron, and his bit was of the same; the reins were two very narrow thongs. His dress consisted of long pantaloons or leggings, of tanned but undressed leather, of a rusty brown colour, which were tied tight round his waist, and under these are worn a pair of cotton drawers or trowsers, as the seat is left unprotected by the leather. He had a tanned goat-skin over his breast, which was tied behind by four strings, and a jacket also made of leather, which is generally thrown over one shoulder; his hat was of the same, with a very shallow crown, and small brim; he had slip-shod slippers of the same colour, and iron spurs
upon his naked heels,-the straps which go under the feet prevent the risk of losing the slippers. A long whip of twisted thongs hung from his right wrist; he had a sword by his side, hanging from a belt over one shoulder; his knife was in his girdle, and his short dirty pipe in his mouth. Fastened to his saddle behind, was a piece of red baize, rolled up in the form of a great coat, and this usually contains a hammock and a change of linen,—a shirt, and drawers, and perhaps a pair of nankeen pantaloons; his boroacas hung also on each side of the back of his saddle, and these generally contain farinha and dried meat on one side, and on the other a flint and steel, (dried leaves serve as tinder) tobacco, and a spare pipe. To this equipment is sometimes added, a large pistol, thrust partly under the left thigh, and thus secured. The usual pace of the Sertanejo's horse is a walk, approaching to a short trot; so that the horses of these people often have acquired the habit of dragging their hind legs, and throwing up
the dust. The usual colour of the Sertanejos is a dark brown; for even those who are born white, soon become as completely tanned as the dress which they wear, from exposure to the sun.
The colour of the Sertanejos varies from white, of which there are necessarily few, to a dark brown; the shades of which are almost as various as there are persons: two of exactly the same tint are scarcely to be met with. Children of the same parents rarely if ever are of the same shade; some difference is almost always perceivable, and this is, in many instances, so glaring, as to lead at first to doubts of the authenticity; but it is too general to be aught but what is right. The offspring of white and black persons leans, in most instances, more to one colour than to the other, when perhaps a second child will take a contrary tinge. These remarks do not hold good in the Sertam, but are applicable to all the country which I had opportunities of seeing. The Sertanejo, if colour is set aside, is certainly handsome; and the women, whilst young, have wellshaped forms, and many of them good features; indeed I have seen some of the white persons who would be admired in any country. Their constant exposure to the sun, and its great power at a distance from the sea, darkens the complexion more than if the same persons had resided upon the coast: but this gives them a decided dark colour, which has the appearance of durability, and is much preferable to a sallow sickly look, though of a lighter tint.
THE INDIAN NATIVES.
(From the same.)
The Indians of these villages, and indeed of all those which I passed through, are Christians; though it is said that some few of them follow in secret their own heathenish rites, paying adoration to the maraca, and practising all the customs of their religion, if I may use this word, of which so exact a description is given in Mr. Southey's History of Brazil. When the Roman Catholic religion does take root in them, it of necessity degenerates into the must abject superstition. An adherence to superstitious rites, whether of Roman Catholic ordination or prescribed by their own undefined faith, appears to be the only part of their character in which they show any constancy. Each village has its priest, who is oftentimes a vicar, and resident i life upon the spot. A directo is also attached to each village, who is supposed to be a white man; he has great power over the persons within his jurisdiction. Ifa proprietor of land is in want of workmen he applies to the director, who agrees for the price at which the daily labour is to be paid, and he commands his chief Indians to take so many men, and proceed with them to the estate for which they are hired.
The labourers receive the money themselves, and expend it as they please; but the bargains thus made are usually below the regular price of labour. Each village has two Juizes Ordinarios or mayors, who act for one year. One Juiz is a white man, and the other an Indian; but it may easily be supposed that the former has,