Page:The Cambridge History of American Literature, v3.djvu/174

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Travellers and Explorers, 1846-1900

son, Dr. Titus Munson Coan, has written a brochure on The Climate of Hawaii (1901) and on The Natives of Hawaii: A Study in Polynesian Charm (1901).

The South Seas enthrall the visitor with this "Polynesian charm"; a drifting away from material things on "tropic spray 'which knows not if it be sea or sun'"; a plunge into a conservatory of blossoms producing a sort of narcosis—at least such was the effect in former days, and Charles Warren Stoddard caught and presented this earlier delicioso in his classic South Sea Idyls (1873), "the lightest, sweetest, wildest things that ever were written about the life of the summer ocean," declares W. D. Howells in the introduction which he wrote, "No one need ever write of the South Seas again." Full of whales were these South Seas, too, as well as of the fragrance of tropic fruits, and the life of the whaler in pursuit of them there, as well as in the northern waters, has found numerous recorders. But who has painted it as delightfully, as masterfully, as Herman Melville[1] in Moby Dick? And who can forget, once lost in its wonderful glow, that other story of Melville's, the story of life among cannibals, told in Typee? And there is Omoo, hardly less absorbing, telling of life in Tahiti. These books of his belong to our American classics. He wrote also White Jacket, of life on a man-of-war, Redburn, and Mardi and a Voyage Thither.

"Wherever ship has sailed, there have I been," said Columbus, and the men and women of America were scarcely behind him in travel and exploration. They tested out the far far seas, the solitudes of continents, the innermost secrets of the rivers. But there was one river, wild, rock-bound, and recalcitrant, the Colorado, which, like a raging dragon, refused to come to terms and was so fierce withal that trapper and pioneer shunned its canyon tentacles and passed by. Finally the government sent Lieutenant J. C. Ives to attack it at its mouth, which is defended by a monstrous tidal wave, and to ascend in his little iron steamer, The Explorer. Ives reached the foot of Black Canyon, while Captain Johnson with another steamer succeeded in reaching a somewhat higher point. Johnson's journal has not been published, but Ives wrote an interesting Report upon the Colorado River of the West Explored

  1. See Book II, Chap. VII.