Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 53.djvu/287

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Scientific Literature.


In the brief biography with which she prefaces the journals of her grandfather,[1] Miss Audubon believes that she has given the only correct account of his life that has been written. She complains of the manner in which the editor of a previous biography has treated the material furnished by Audubon's widow, and particularly of ascriptions in his notes of vanity and selfishness to the great naturalist, of which she finds no trace; but that in the nine journals "and in the one hundred or so of letters—written under many skies, and in many conditions of life, by a man whose education was wholly French, one of the journals dating as far back as 1822, and some of the letters even earlier—there is not one sentence, one expression, that is other than that of a refined and cultivated gentleman. More than that, there is not one utterance of 'anger, hatred, or malice.'" She has tried only to put Audubon the man before her readers, and in his own words so far as possible, "that they may know what he was, not what others thought he was." Since the journals of the Missouri and Labrador journeys came into the author's hands, about twelve years ago, others have been added which had been virtually lost for years. These documents, which furnish her chief sources of information, have been verified and supplemented by every means—by researches in Santo Domingo, New Orleans, and France, and by comparison. The biography of seventy-two pages which precedes the journals includes the sketch of his life to the time of his fiatboat journey from Cincinnati to New Orleans in 1820, which Audubon wrote for his sons, and was printed in Scribner's Magazine in 1893, from a manuscript found in a barn on Staten Island. The first of the journals to be printed is the European, recording the story of his journey in 1826 and his visits to Edinburgh, London, and Paris in the interests of his book—a story full of incident and notices of the men distinguished in literature and science whom he met, and shrewd comment. The modest simplicity of his nature is revealed in this journal in a remark that he found his situation in Edinburgh bordering "almost on the miraculous. With scarce one of those qualities necessary to render a man able to pass through the throng of the learned people here, I am positively looked upon by all the professors and many of the principal persons here as a very extraordinary man. I can not comprehend this in the least." The journal of the Labrador journey follows. This trip was made in 1833 for the purpose of procuring birds and making drawings of them for the continuation of the Birds of America. Its interest is that of science and of adventure in regions not even yet familiar. The narrative of the Missouri River journeys in 1843 is now for the first time published in full, the manuscript of the latter part of it, from September 16th to November 6th, having been lost and supposed to be no longer in existence till it was found in August, 1896, in the back of an old secretary where Audubon had put it 011 his return. This narrative is perhaps the most interesting of all, and is valuable from the point of view of the naturalist)

  1. Audubon and bis Journals. By Maria R. Audubon, with Zoological and other Notes by Elliott Cones. Two volumes.!New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. Price, $7.50.