Full Online Books
Authors Authors Short Stories Short Stories Long Stories Long Stories Funny Stories Funny Stories Love Stories Love Stories Stories For Kids Stories For Kids Poems Poems Essays Essays Nonfictions Nonfictions Plays Plays Folktales Folktales Fairy Tales Fairy Tales Fables Fables Learning Kitchen Learning Kitchen
Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional Free Classified Website Without Registration Free Classified Website Daniel Company
Twitter Twitter Add book
Full Online Book HomeNonfictionsJohn James Audubon - Chapter 3
Famous Authors (View All Authors)
John James Audubon - Chapter 3 Post by :kippstips Category :Nonfictions Author :John Burroughs Date :May 2012 Read :3593

Click below to download : John James Audubon - Chapter 3 (Format : PDF)

John James Audubon - Chapter 3


Finally, Audubon gave up the struggle of trying to be a business man. He says: "I parted with every particle of property I had to my creditors, keeping only the clothes I wore on that day, my original drawings, and my gun, and without a dollar in my pocket, walked to Louisville alone."

This he speaks of as the saddest of all his journeys--"the only time in my life when the wild turkeys that so often crossed my path, and the thousands of lesser birds that enlivened the woods and the prairies, all looked like enemies, and I turned my eyes from them, as if I could have wished that they had never existed."

But the thought of his beloved Lucy and her children soon spurred him to action. He was a good draughtsman, he had been a pupil of David, he would turn his talents to account.

"As we were straightened to the very utmost, I undertook to draw portraits at the low price of five dollars per head, in black chalk. I drew a few gratis, and succeeded so well that ere many days had elapsed I had an abundance of work."

His fame spread, his orders increased. A settler came for him in the middle of the night from a considerable distance to have the portrait of his mother taken while she was on the eve of death, and a clergyman had his child's body exhumed that the artist might restore to him the lost features.

Money flowed in and he was soon again established with his family in a house in Louisville. His drawings of birds still continued and, he says, became at times almost a mania with him; he would frequently give up a head, the profits of which would have supplied the wants of his family a week or more, "to represent a little citizen of the feathered tribe."

In 1819 he was offered the position of taxidermist in the museum at Cincinnati, and soon moved there with his family. His pay not being forthcoming from the museum, he started a drawing school there, and again returned to his portraits. Without these resources, he says, he would have been upon the starving list. But food was plentiful and cheap. He writes in his journal: "Our living here is extremely moderate; the markets are well supplied and cheap, beef only two and one half cents a pound, and I am able to supply a good deal myself. Partridges are frequently in the streets, and I can shoot wild turkeys within a mile or so. Squirrels and Woodcock are very abundant in the season, and fish always easily caught."

In October, 1820, we again find him adrift, apparently with thought of having his bird drawings published, after he shall have further added to them by going through many of the southern and western states.

Leaving his family behind him, he started for New Orleans on a flatboat. He tarried long at Natchez, and did not reach the Crescent City till midwinter. Again he found himself destitute of means, and compelled to resort to portrait painting. He went on with his bird collecting and bird painting; in the meantime penetrating the swamps and bayous around the city.

At this time he seems to have heard of the publication of Wilson's "Ornithology," and tried in vain to get sight of a copy of it.

In the spring he made an attempt to get an appointment as draughtsman and naturalist to a government expedition that was to leave the next year to survey the new territory ceded to the United States by Spain. He wrote to President Monroe upon the subject, but the appointment never came to him. In March he called upon Vanderlyn, the historical painter, and took with him a portfolio of his drawings in hopes of getting a recommendation. Vanderlyn at first treated him as a mendicant and ordered him to leave his portfolio in the entry. After some delay, in company with a government official, he consented to see the pictures.

"The perspiration ran down my face," says Audubon, "as I showed him my drawings and laid them on the floor." He was thinking of the expedition to Mexico just referred to, and wanted to make a good impression upon Vanderlyn and the officer. This he succeeded in doing, and obtained from the artist a very complimentary note, as he did also from Governor Robertson of Louisiana.

In June, Audubon left New Orleans for Kentucky, to rejoin his wife and boys, but somewhere on the journey engaged himself to a Mrs. Perrie who lived at Bayou Sara, Louisiana, to teach her daughter drawing during the summer, at sixty dollars per month, leaving him half of each day to follow his own pursuits. He continued in this position till October when he took steamer for New Orleans. "My long, flowing hair, and loose yellow nankeen dress, and the unfortunate cut of my features, attracted much attention, and made me desire to be dressed like other people as soon as possible."

He now rented a house in New Orleans on Dauphine street, and determined to send for his family. Since he had left Cincinnati the previous autumn, he had finished sixty-two drawings of birds and plants, three quadrupeds, two snakes, fifty portraits of all sorts, and had lived by his talents, not having had a dollar when he started. "I sent a draft to my wife, and began life in New Orleans with forty-two dollars, health, and much eagerness to pursue my plan of collecting all the birds of America."

His family, after strong persuasion, joined him in December, 1821, and his former life of drawing portraits, giving lessons, painting birds, and wandering about the country, began again. His earnings proving inadequate to support the family, his wife took a position as governess in the family of a Mr. Brand.

In the spring, acting upon the judgment of his wife, he concluded to leave New Orleans again, and to try his fortunes elsewhere. He paid all his bills and took steamer for Natchez, paying his passage by drawing a crayon portrait of the captain and his wife.

On the trip up the Mississippi, two hundred of his bird portraits were sorely damaged by the breaking of a bottle of gunpowder in the chest in which they were being conveyed.

Three times in his career he met with disasters to his drawings. On the occasion of his leaving Hendersonville to go to Philadelphia, he had put two hundred of his original drawings in a wooden box and had left them in charge of a friend. On his return, several months later, he pathetically recounts what befell them: "A pair of Norway rats had taken possession of the whole, and reared a young family among gnawed bits of paper, which but a month previous, represented nearly one thousand inhabitants of the air!"

This discovery resulted in insomnia, and a fearful heat in the head; for several days he seemed like one stunned, but his youth and health stood him in hand, he rallied, and, undaunted, again sallied forth to the woods with dog and gun. In three years' time his portfolio was again filled.

The third catastrophe to some of his drawings was caused by a fire in a New York building in which his treasures were kept during his sojourn in Europe.

Audubon had an eye for the picturesque in his fellow-men as well as for the picturesque in Nature. On the Levee in New Orleans, he first met a painter whom he thus describes: "His head was covered by a straw hat, the brim of which might cope with those worn by the fair sex in 1830; his neck was exposed to the weather; the broad frill of a shirt, then fashionable, flopped about his breast, whilst an extraordinary collar, carefully arranged, fell over the top of his coat. The latter was of a light green colour, harmonising well with a pair of flowing yellow nankeen trousers, and a pink waistcoat, from the bosom of which, amidst a large bunch of the splendid flowers of the magnolia, protruded part of a young alligator, which seemed more anxious to glide through the muddy waters of a swamp than to spend its life swinging to and fro amongst folds of the finest lawn. The gentleman held in one hand a cage full of richly-plumed nonpareils, whilst in the other he sported a silk umbrella, on which I could plainly read 'Stolen from I,' these words being painted in large white characters. He walked as if conscious of his own importance; that is, with a good deal of pomposity, singing, 'My love is but a lassie yet'; and that with such thorough imitation of the Scotch emphasis that had not his physiognomy suggested another parentage, I should have believed him to be a genuine Scot. A narrower acquaintance proved him to be a Yankee; and anxious to make his acquaintance, I desired to see his birds. He retorted, 'What the devil did I know about birds?' I explained to him that I was a naturalist, whereupon he requested me to examine his birds. I did so with much interest, and was preparing to leave, when he bade me come to his lodgings and see the remainder of his collection. This I willingly did, and was struck with amazement at the appearance of his studio. Several cages were hung about the walls, containing specimens of birds, all of which I examined at my leisure. On a large easel before me stood an unfinished portrait, other pictures hung about, and in the room were two young pupils; and at a glance I discovered that the eccentric stranger was, like myself, a naturalist and an artist. The artist, as modest as he was odd, showed me how he laid on the paint on his pictures, asked after my own pursuits, and showed a friendly spirit which enchanted me. With a ramrod for a rest, he prosecuted his work vigorously, and afterwards asked me to examine a percussion lock on his gun, a novelty to me at the time. He snapped some caps, and on my remarking that he would frighten his birds, he exclaimed, 'Devil take the birds, there are more of them in the market.' He then loaded his gun, and wishing to show me that he was a marksman, fired at one of the pins on his easel. This he smashed to pieces, and afterward put a rifle bullet exactly through the hole into which the pin fitted."

Audubon reached Natchez on March 24, 1822, and remained there and in the vicinity till the spring of 1823, teaching drawing and French to private pupils and in the college at Washington, nine miles distant, hunting, and painting the birds, and completing his collection. Among other things he painted the "Death of Montgomery" from a print. His friends persuaded him to raffle the picture off. This he did, and taking one number himself, won the picture, while his finances were improved by three hundred dollars received for the tickets. Early in the autumn his wife again joined him, and presently we find her acting as governess in the home of a clergyman named Davis.

In December, there arrived in Natchez a wandering portrait painter named Stein, who gave Audubon his first lessons in the use of oil colours, and was instructed by Audubon in turn in chalk drawing.

There appear to have been no sacrifices that Mrs. Audubon was not willing and ready to make to forward the plans of her husband. "My best friends," he says at this time, "solemnly regarded me as a mad man, and my wife and family alone gave me encouragement. My wife determined that my genius should prevail, and that my final success as an ornithologist should be triumphant."

She wanted him to go to Europe, and, to assist toward that end, she entered into an engagement with a Mrs. Percy of Bayou Sara, to instruct her children, together with her own, and a limited number of outside pupils.

Audubon, in the meantime, with his son Victor, and his new artist friend, Stein, started off in a wagon, seeking whom they might paint, on a journey through the southern states. They wandered as far as New Orleans, but Audubon appears to have returned to his wife again in May, and to have engaged in teaching her pupils music and drawing. But something went wrong, there was a misunderstanding with the Percys, and Audubon went back to Natchez, revolving various schemes in his head, even thinking of again entering upon mercantile pursuits in Louisville.

He had no genius for accumulating money nor for keeping it after he had gotten it. One day when his affairs were at a very low ebb, he met a squatter with a tame black wolf which took Audubon's fancy. He says that he offered the owner a hundred dollar bill for it on the spot, but was refused. He probably means to say that he would have offered it had he had it. Hundred dollar bills, I fancy, were rarer than tame black wolves in that pioneer country in those days.

About this time he and his son Victor were taken with yellow fever, and Mrs. Audubon was compelled to dismiss her school and go to nurse them. They both recovered, and, in October (1823), set out for Louisville, making part of the journey on foot. The following winter was passed at Shipping Port, near Louisville, where Audubon painted birds, landscapes, portraits and even signs. In March he left Shipping Port for Philadelphia, leaving his son Victor in the counting house of a Mr. Berthoud. He reached Philadelphia on April 5, and remained there till the following August, studying painting, exhibiting his birds, making many new acquaintances, among them Charles Lucien Bonaparte, giving lessons in drawing at thirty dollars per month, all the time casting wistful eyes toward Europe, whither he hoped soon to be able to go with his drawings. In July he made a pilgrimage to Mill Grove where he had passed so many happy years. The sight of the old familiar scenes filled him with the deepest emotions.

In August he left Philadelphia for New York, hoping to improve his finances, and, may be, publish his drawings in that city. At this time he had two hundred sheets, and about one thousand birds. While there he again met Vanderlyn and examined his pictures, but says that he was not impressed with the idea that Vanderlyn was a great painter.

The birds that he saw in the museum in New York appeared to him to be set up in unnatural and constrained attitudes. With Dr. De Kay he visited the Lyceum, and his drawings were examined by members of the Institute. Among them he felt awkward and uncomfortable. "I feel that I am strange to all but the birds of America," he said. As most of the persons to whom he had letters of introduction were absent, and as his spirits soon grew low, he left on the fifteenth for Albany. Here he found his money low also. Abandoning the idea of visiting Boston, he took passage on a canal boat for Rochester. His fellow-passengers on the boat were doubtful whether he was a government officer, commissioner, or spy. At that time Rochester had only five thousand inhabitants. After a couple of days he went on to Buffalo and, he says, wrote under his name at the hotel this sentence: "Who, like Wilson, will ramble, but never, like that great man, die under the lash of a bookseller."

He visited Niagara, and gives a good account of the impressions which the cataract made upon him. He did not cross the bridge to Goat Island on account of the low state of his funds. In Buffalo he obtained a good dinner of bread and milk for twelve cents, and went to bed cheering himself with thoughts of other great men who had encountered greater hardships and had finally achieved fame.

He soon left Buffalo, taking a deck passage on a schooner bound for Erie, furnishing his own bed and provisions and paying a fare of one dollar and a half. From Erie he and a fellow-traveller hired a man and cart to take them to Meadville, paying their entertainers over night with music and portrait drawing. Reaching Meadville, they had only one dollar and a half between them, but soon replenished their pockets by sketching some of the leading citizens.

Audubon's belief in himself helped him wonderfully. He knew that he had talents, he insisted on using them. Most of his difficulties came from trying to do the things he was not fitted to do. He did not hesitate to use his talents in a humble way, when nothing else offered--portraits, landscapes, birds and animals he painted, but he would paint the cabin walls of the ship to pay his passage, if he was short of funds, or execute crayon portraits of a shoemaker and his wife, to pay for shoes to enable him to continue his journeys. He could sleep on a steamer's deck, with a few shavings for a bed, and, wrapped in a blanket, look up at the starlit sky, and give thanks to a Providence that he believed was ever guarding and guiding him.

Early in September he left for Pittsburg where he spent one month scouring the country for birds and continuing his drawings. In October, he was on his way down the Ohio in a skiff, in company with "a doctor, an artist and an Irishman." The weather was rainy, and at Wheeling his companions left the boat in disgust. He sold his skiff and continued his voyage to Cincinnati in a keel boat. Here he obtained a loan of fifteen dollars and took deck passage on a boat to Louisville, going thence to Shipping Port to see his son Victor. In a few days he was off for Bayou Sara to see his wife, and with a plan to open a school there.

"I arrived at Bayou Sara with rent and wasted clothes, and uncut hair, and altogether looking like the Wandering Jew."

In his haste to reach his wife and child at Mr. Percy's, a mile or more distant through the woods, he got lost in the night, and wandered till daylight before he found the house.

He found his wife had prospered in his absence, and was earning nearly three thousand dollars a year, with which she was quite ready to help him in the publication of his drawings. He forthwith resolved to see what he could do to increase the amount by his own efforts. Receiving an offer to teach dancing, he soon had a class of sixty organised. But the material proved so awkward and refractory that the master in his first lesson broke his bow and nearly ruined his violin in his excitement and impatience. Then he danced to his own music till the whole room came down in thunders of applause. The dancing lessons brought him two thousand dollars; this sum, together with his wife's savings, enabled him to foresee a successful issue to his great ornithological work.

On May, 1826, he embarked at New Orleans on board the ship _Delos for Liverpool. His journal kept during this voyage abounds in interesting incidents and descriptions. He landed at Liverpool, July 20, and delivered some of his letters of introduction. He soon made the acquaintance of Mr. Rathbone, Mr. Roscoe, Mr. Baring, and Lord Stanley. Lord Stanley said in looking over his drawings: "This work is unique, and deserves the patronage of the Crown." In a letter to his wife at this time, Audubon said: "I am cherished by the most notable people in and around Liverpool, and have obtained letters of introduction to Baron Humboldt, Sir Walter Scott, Sir Humphry Davy, Sir Thomas Lawrence, Hannah More, Miss Edgeworth, and your distinguished cousin, Robert Bakewell." Mark his courtesy to his wife in this gracious mention of her relative--a courtesy which never forsook him-- a courtesy which goes far toward retaining any woman's affection.

His paintings were put on exhibition in the rooms of the Royal Institution, an admittance of one shilling being charged. From this source he soon realised a hundred pounds.

He then went to Edinburgh, carrying letters of introduction to many well known literary and scientific men, among them Francis Jeffrey and "Christopher North."

Professor Jameson, the Scotch naturalist, received him coldly, and told him, among other things, that there was no chance of his seeing Sir Walter Scott--he was too busy. "_Not see Sir Walter Scott_?" thought I; "I SHALL, if I have to crawl on all fours for a mile." On his way up in the stage coach he had passed near Sir Walter's seat, and had stood up and craned his neck in vain to get a glimpse of the home of a man to whom, he says, he was indebted for so much pleasure. He and Scott were in many ways kindred spirits, men native to the open air, inevitable sportsmen, copious and romantic lovers and observers of all forms and conditions of life. Of course he will want to see Scott, and Scott will want to see him, if he once scents his real quality.

Later, Professor Jameson showed Audubon much kindness and helped to introduce him to the public.

In January, the opportunity to see Scott came to him.

"_January 22, Monday_. I was painting diligently when Captain Hall came in, and said: 'Put on your coat, and come with me to Sir Walter Scott; he wishes to see you _now_.' In a moment I was ready, for I really believe my coat and hat came to me instead of my going to them. My heart trembled; I longed for the meeting, yet wished it over. Had not his wondrous pen penetrated my soul with the consciousness that here was a genius from God's hand? I felt overwhelmed at the thought of meeting Sir Walter, the Great Unknown. We reached the house, and a powdered waiter was asked if Sir Walter were in. We were shown forward at once, and entering a very small room Captain Hall said: 'Sir Walter, I have brought Mr. Audubon.' Sir Walter came forward, pressed my hand warmly, and said he was 'glad to have the honour of meeting me.' His long, loose, silvery locks struck me; he looked like Franklin at his best. He also reminded me of Benjamin West; he had the great benevolence of William Roscoe about him and a kindness most prepossessing. I could not forbear looking at him, my eyes feasted on his countenance. I watched his movements as I would those of a celestial being; his long, heavy, white eyebrows struck me forcibly. His little room was tidy, though it partook a good deal of the character of a laboratory. He was wrapped in a quilted morning-gown of light purple silk; he had been at work writing on the 'Life of Napoleon.' He writes close lines, rather curved as they go from left to right, and puts an immense deal on very little paper. After a few minutes had elapsed, he begged Captain Hall to ring a bell; a servant came and was asked to bid Miss Scott come to see Mr. Audubon. Miss Scott came, black haired and black-dressed, not handsome but said to be highly accomplished, and she is the daughter of Sir Walter Scott. There was much conversation. I talked but little, but, believe me, I listened and observed, careful if ignorant. I cannot write more now. I have just returned from the Royal Society. Knowing that I was a candidate for the electorate of the society, I felt very uncomfortable and would gladly have been hunting on Tawapatee Bottom."

It may be worth while now to see what Scott thought of Audubon. Under the same date, Sir Walter writes in his journal as follows: "_January 22, 1827. A visit from Basil Hall, with Mr. Audubon, the ornithologist, who has followed the pursuit by many a long wandering in the American forests. He is an American by naturalisation, a Frenchman by birth; but less of a Frenchman than I have ever seen--no dust or glimmer, or shine about him, but great simplicity of manners and behaviour; slight in person and plainly dressed; wears long hair, which time has not yet tinged; his countenance acute, handsome, and interesting, but still simplicity is the predominant characteristic. I wish I had gone to see his drawings; but I had heard so much about them that I resolved not to see them--'a crazy way of mine, your honour.'"

Two days later Audubon again saw Scott, and writes in his journal as follows: "_January 24_. My second visit to Sir Walter Scott was much more agreeable than my first. My portfolio and its contents were matters on which I could speak substantially, and I found him so willing to level himself with me for awhile that the time spent at his home was agreeable and valuable. His daughter improved in looks the moment she spoke, having both vivacity and good sense."

Scott's impressions of the birds as recorded in his journal, was that the drawings were of the first order, but he thought that the aim at extreme correctness and accuracy made them rather stiff.

In February Audubon met Scott again at the opening of the Exhibition at the rooms of the Royal Institution.

"_Tuesday, February 13_. This was the grand, long promised, and much wished-for day of the opening of the Exhibition at the rooms of the Royal Institution. At one o'clock I went, the doors were just opened, and in a few minutes the rooms were crowded. Sir Walter Scott was present; he came towards me, shook my hand cordially, and pointing to Landseer's picture said: 'Many such scenes, Mr. Audubon, have I witnessed in my younger days.' We talked much of all about us, and I would gladly have joined him in a glass of wine, but my foolish habits prevented me, and after inquiring of his daughter's health, I left him, and shortly afterwards the rooms; for I had a great appetite, and although there were tables loaded with delicacies, and I saw the ladies particularly eating freely, I must say to my shame I dared not lay my fingers on a single thing. In the evening I went to the theatre where I was much amused by 'The Comedy of Errors,' and afterwards, 'The Green Room.' I admire Miss Neville's singing very much; and her manners also; there is none of the actress about her, but much of the lady."

Audubon somewhere says of himself that he was "temperate to an intemperate degree"--the accounts in later years show that he became less strict in this respect. He would not drink with Sir Walter Scott at this time, but he did with the Texan Houston and with President Andrew Jackson, later on.

In September we find him exhibiting his pictures in Manchester, but without satisfactory results. In the lobby of the exchange where his pictures were on exhibition, he overheard one man say to another: "Pray, have you seen Mr. Audubon's collection of birds? I am told it is well worth a shilling; suppose we go now."

"Pah! it is all a hoax; save your shilling for better use. I have seen them; the fellow ought to be drummed out of town."

In 1827, in Edinburgh, he seems to have issued a prospectus for his work, and to have opened books of subscription, and now a publisher, Mr. Lizars, offers to bring out the first number of "Birds of America," and on November 28, the first proof of the first engraving was shown him, and he was pleased with it.

With a specimen number he proposed to travel about the country in quest of subscribers until he had secured three hundred. In his journal under date of December 10, he says: "My success in Edinburgh borders on the miraculous. My book is to be published in numbers containing four (in another place he says five) birds in each, the size of life, in a style surpassing anything now existing, at two guineas a number. The engravings are truly beautiful; some of them have been coloured, and are now on exhibition."

Audubon's journal, kept during his stay in Edinburgh, is copious, graphic, and entertaining. It is a mirror of everything he saw and felt.

Among others he met George Combe, the phrenologist, author of the once famous _Constitution of Man_, and he submitted to having his head "looked at." The examiner said: "There cannot exist a moment of doubt that this gentleman is a painter, colourist, and compositor, and, I would add, an amiable though quick tempered man."

Audubon was invited to the annual feast given by the Antiquarian Society at the Waterloo Hotel, at which Lord Elgin presided. After the health of many others had been drunk, Audubon's was proposed by Skene, a Scottish historian. "Whilst he was engaged in a handsome panegyric, the perspiration poured from me. I thought I should faint." But he survived the ordeal and responded in a few appropriate words. He was much dined and wined, and obliged to keep late hours--often getting no more than four hours sleep, and working hard painting and writing all the next day. He often wrote in his journals for his wife to read later, bidding her Good-night, or rather Good-morning, at three A.M.

Audubon had the bashfulness and awkwardness of the backwoodsman, and doubtless the naivete and picturesqueness also; these traits and his very great merits as a painter of wild life, made him a favourite in Edinburgh society. One day he went to read a paper on the Crow to Dr. Brewster, and was so nervous and agitated that he had to pause for a moment in the midst of it. He left the paper with Dr. Brewster and when he got it back again was much shocked: "He had greatly improved the style (for I had none), but he had destroyed the matter."

During these days Audubon was very busy writing, painting, receiving callers, and dining out. He grew very tired of it all at times, and longed for the solitude of his native woods. Some days his room was a perfect levee. "It is Mr. Audubon here, and Mr. Audubon there; I only hope they will not make a conceited fool of Mr. Audubon at last." There seems to have been some danger of this, for he says: "I seem in a measure to have gone back to my early days of society and fine dressing, silk stockings and pumps, and all the finery with which I made a popinjay of myself in my youth.... I wear my hair as long as usual, I believe it does as much for me as my paintings."

He wrote to Thomas Sully of Philadelphia, promising to send him his first number, to be presented to the Philadelphia Society--"an institution which thought me unworthy to be a member," he writes.

About this time he was a guest for a day or two of Earl Morton, at his estate Dalmahoy, near Edinburgh. He had expected to see an imposing personage in the great Chamberlain to the late queen Charlotte. What was his relief and surprise, then, to see a "small, slender man, tottering on his feet, weaker than a newly hatched partridge," who welcomed him with tears in his eyes. The countess, "a fair, fresh-complexioned woman, with dark, flashing eyes," wrote her name in his subscription book, and offered to pay the price in advance. The next day he gave her a lesson in drawing.

On his return to Edinburgh he dined with Captain Hall, to meet Francis Jeffrey. "Jeffrey is a little man," he writes, "with a serious face and dignified air. He looks both shrewd and cunning, and talks with so much volubility he is rather displeasing.... Mrs. Jeffrey was nervous and very much dressed."

Early in January he painted his "Pheasant attacked by a Fox." This was his method of proceeding: "I take one (a fox) neatly killed, put him up with wires, and when satisfied with the truth of the position, I take my palette and work as rapidly as possible; the same with my birds. If practicable, I finish the bird at one sitting,--often, it is true, of fourteen hours,--so that I think they are correct, both in detail and in composition."

In pictures by Landseer and other artists which he saw in the galleries of Edinburgh, he saw the skilful painter, "the style of men who know how to handle a brush, and carry a good effect," but he missed that closeness and fidelity to Nature which to him so much outweighed mere technique. Landseer's "Death of a Stag" affected him like a farce. It was pretty, but not real and true. He did not feel that way about the sermon he heard Sydney Smith preach: "It was a sermon to _me_. He made me smile and he made me think deeply. He pleased me at times by painting my foibles with due care, and again I felt the colour come to my cheeks as he portrayed my sins." Later, he met Sydney Smith and his "fair daughter," and heard the latter sing. Afterwards he had a note from the famous divine upon which he remarks: "The man should study economy; he would destroy more paper in a day than Franklin would in a week; but all great men are more or less eccentric. Walter Scott writes a diminutive hand, very difficult to read, Napoleon a large scrawling one, still more difficult, and Sydney Smith goes up hill all the way with large strides."

Having decided upon visiting London, he yielded to the persuasions of his friends and had his hair cut before making the trip. He chronicles the event in his journal as a very sad one, in which "the will of God was usurped by the wishes of man." Shorn of his locks he probably felt humbled like the stag when he loses his horns.

Quitting Edinburgh on April 5, he visited, in succession, Newcastle, Leeds, York, Shrewsbury, and Manchester, in quest of subscribers to his great work. A few were obtained at each place at two hundred pounds per head. At Newcastle he first met Bewick, the famous wood engraver, and conceived a deep liking for him.

We find him in London on May 21, 1827, and not in a very happy frame of mind: "To me London is just like the mouth of an immense monster, guarded by millions of sharp-edged teeth, from which, if I escape unhurt, it must be called a miracle." It only filled him with a strong desire to be in his beloved woods again. His friend, Basil Hall, had insisted upon his procuring a black suit of clothes. When he put this on to attend his first dinner party, he spoke of himself as "attired like a mournful raven," and probably more than ever wished himself in the woods.

He early called upon the great portrait painter, Sir Thomas Lawrence, who inspected his drawings, pronounced them "very clever," and, in a few days, brought him several purchasers for some of his animal paintings, thus replenishing his purse with nearly one hundred pounds.

Considering Audubon's shy disposition, and his dread of persons in high places, it is curious that he should have wanted to call upon the King, and should have applied to the American Minister, Mr. Gallatin, to help him to do so. Mr. Gallatin laughed and said: "It is impossible, my dear sir, the King sees nobody; he has the gout, is peevish, and spends his time playing whist at a shilling a rubber. I had to wait six weeks before I was presented to him in my position of ambassador." But his work was presented to the King who called it fine, and His Majesty became a subscriber on the usual terms. Other noble persons followed suit, yet Audubon was despondent. He had removed the publication of his work from Edinburgh to London, from the hands of Mr. Lizars into those of Robert Havell. But the enterprise did not prosper, his agents did not attend to business, nor to his orders, and he soon found himself at bay for means to go forward with the work. At this juncture he determined to make a sortie for the purpose of collecting his dues and to add to his subscribers. He visited Leeds, York, and other towns. Under date of October 9, at York, he writes in his journal: "How often I thought during these visits of poor Alexander Wilson. Then travelling as I am now, to procure subscribers he, as well as myself, was received with rude coldness, and sometimes with that arrogance which belongs to _parvenus."

A week or two later we find him again in Edinburgh where he breakfasted with Professor Wilson ("Christopher North"), whom he greatly enjoyed, a man without stiffness or ceremonies: "No cravat, no waistcoat, but a fine frill of his own profuse beard, his hair flowing uncontrolled, and his speech dashing at once at the object in view, without circumlocution.... He gives me comfort by being comfortable himself."

In early November he took the coach for Glasgow, he and three other passengers making the entire journey without uttering a single word: "We sat like so many owls of different species, as if afraid of one another." Four days in Glasgow and only one subscriber.

Early in January he is back in London arranging with Mr. Havell for the numbers to be engraved in 1828. One day on looking up to the new moon he saw a large flock of wild ducks passing over, then presently another flock passed. The sight of these familiar objects made him more homesick than ever. He often went to Regent's Park to see the trees, and the green grass, and to hear the sweet notes of the black birds and starlings.

The black birds' note revived his drooping spirits: to his wife he writes, "it carries my mind to the woods around thee, my Lucy."

Now and then a subscriber withdrew his name, which always cut him to the quick, but did not dishearten him.

"_January 28_. I received a letter from D. Lizars to-day announcing to me the loss of four subscribers; but these things do not dampen my spirits half so much as the smoke of London. I am as dull as a beetle."

In February he learned that it was Sir Thomas Lawrence who prevented the British Museum from subscribing to his work: "He considered the drawings so-so, and the engraving and colouring bad; when I remember how he praised these same drawings _in my presence, I wonder--that is all."

The rudest man he met in England was the Earl of Kinnoul: "A small man with a face like the caricature of an owl." He sent for Audubon to tell him that all his birds were alike, and that he considered his work a swindle. "He may really think this, his knowledge is probably small; but it is not the custom to send for a gentleman to abuse him in one's own house." Audubon heard his words, bowed and left him without speaking.

In March he went to Cambridge and met and was dined by many learned men. The University, through its Librarian, subscribed for his work. Other subscriptions followed. He was introduced to a judge who wore a wig that "might make a capital bed for an Osage Indian during the whole of a cold winter on the Arkansas River."

On his way to Oxford he saw them turn a stag from a cart "before probably a hundred hounds and as many huntsmen. A curious land, and a curious custom, to catch an animal and then set it free merely to catch it again." At Oxford he received much attention, but complains that not one of the twenty-two colleges subscribed for his work, though two other institutions did.

Early in April we find him back in London lamenting over his sad fate in being compelled to stay in so miserable a place. He could neither write nor draw to his satisfaction amid the "bustle, filth, and smoke." His mind and heart turned eagerly toward America, and to his wife and boys, and he began seriously to plan for a year's absence from England. He wanted to renew and to improve about fifty of his drawings. During this summer of 1828, he was very busy in London, painting, writing, and superintending the colouring of his plates. Under date of August 9, he writes in his journal: "I have been at work from four every morning until dark; I have kept up my large correspondence. My publication goes on well and regularly, and this very day seventy sets have been distributed, yet the number of my subscribers has not increased; on the contrary, I have lost some." He made the acquaintance of Swainson, and the two men found much companionship in each other, and had many long talks about birds: "Why, Lucy, thou wouldst think that birds were all that we cared for in this world, but thou knowest this is not so."

Together he and Mr. and Mrs. Swainson planned a trip to Paris, which they carried out early in September. It tickled Audubon greatly to find that the Frenchman at the office in Calais, who had never seen him, had described his complexion in his passport as copper red, because he was an American, all Americans suggesting aborigines. In Paris they early went to call upon Baron Cuvier. They were told that he was too busy to be seen: "Being determined to look at the Great Man, we waited, knocked again, and with a certain degree of firmness, sent in our names. The messenger returned, bowed, and led the way up stairs, where in a minute Monsieur le Baron, like an excellent good man, came to us. He had heard much of my friend Swainson, and greeted him as he deserves to be greeted; he was polite and kind to me, though my name had never made its way to his ears. I looked at him and here follows the result: Age about sixty-five; size corpulent, five feet five English measure; head large, face wrinkled and brownish; eyes grey, brilliant and sparkling; nose aquiline, large and red; mouth large with good lips; teeth few, blunted by age, excepting one on the lower jaw, _measuring nearly three-quarters of an inch square._" The italics are not Audubon's. The great naturalist invited his callers to dine with him at six on the next Saturday.

They next presented their letter to Geoffroy de St. Hilaire, with whom they were particularly pleased. Neither had he ever heard of Audubon's work. The dinner with Cuvier gave him a nearer view of the manners and habits of the great man. "There was not the show of opulence at this dinner that is seen in the same rank of life in England, no, not by far, but it was a good dinner served _a la Francaise._" Neither was it followed by the "drinking matches" of wine, so common at English tables.

During his stay in Paris Audubon saw much of Cuvier, and was very kindly and considerately treated by him. One day he accompanied a portrait painter to his house and saw him sit for his portrait: "I see the Baron now, quite as plainly as I did this morning,--an old green surtout about him, a neckcloth that would have wrapped his whole body if unfolded, loosely tied about his chin, and his silver locks looking like those of a man who loves to study books better than to visit barbers."

Audubon remained in Paris till near the end of October, making the acquaintance of men of science and of artists, and bringing his work to the attention of those who were likely to value it. Baron Cuvier reported favourably upon it to the Academy of Sciences, pronouncing it "the most magnificent monument which has yet been erected to ornithology." He obtained thirteen subscribers in France and spent forty pounds.

On November 9, he is back in London, and soon busy painting, and pressing forward the engraving and colouring of his work. The eleventh number was the first for the year 1829.

The winter was largely taken up in getting ready for his return trip to America. He found a suitable agent to look after his interests, collected some money, paid all his debts, and on April 1 sailed from Portsmouth in the packet ship _Columbia_. He was sea-sick during the entire voyage, and reached New York May 5. He did not hasten to his family as would have been quite natural after so long an absence, but spent the summer and part of the fall in New Jersey and Pennsylvania, prosecuting his studies and drawings of birds, making his headquarters in Camden, New Jersey. He spent six weeks in the Great Pine Forest, and much time at Great Egg Harbor, and has given delightful accounts of these trips in his journals. Four hours' sleep out of the twenty-four was his allotted allowance.

One often marvels at Audubon's apparent indifference to his wife and his home, for from the first he was given to wandering. Then, too, his carelessness in money matters, and his improvident ways, necessitating his wife's toiling to support the family, put him in a rather unfavourable light as a "good provider," but a perusal of his journal shows that he was keenly alive to all the hardships and sacrifices of his wife, and from first to last in his journeyings he speaks of his longings for home and family. "Cut off from all dearest me," he says in one of his youthful journeys, and in his latest one he speaks of himself as being as happy as one can be who is "three thousand miles from the dearest friend on earth." Clearly some impelling force held him to the pursuit of this work, hardships or no hardships. Fortunately for him, his wife shared his belief in his talents and in their ultimate recognition.

Under date of October 11, 1829, he writes: "I am at work and have done much, but I wish I had eight pairs of hands, and another body to shoot the specimens; still I am delighted at what I have accumulated in drawings this season. Forty-two drawings in four months, eleven large, eleven middle size, and twenty-two small, comprising ninety-five birds, from eagles downwards, with plants, nests, flowers, and sixty different kinds of eggs. I live alone, see scarcely anyone besides those belonging to the house where I lodge. I rise long before day, and work till nightfall, when I take a walk and to bed."

Audubon's capacity for work was extraordinary. His enthusiasm and perseverance were equally extraordinary. His purposes and ideas fairly possessed him. Never did a man consecrate himself more fully to the successful completion of the work of his life, than did Audubon to the finishing of his "American Ornithology."

During this month Audubon left Camden and turned his face toward his wife and children, crossing the mountains to Pittsburg in the mail coach with his dog and gun, thence down the Ohio in a steamboat to Louisville, where he met his son Victor, whom he had not seen for five years. After a few days here with his two boys, he started for Bayou Sara to see his wife. Beaching Mr. Johnson's house in the early morning, he went at once to his wife's apartment: "Her door was ajar, already she was dressed and sitting by her piano, on which a young lady was playing. I pronounced her name gently, she saw me, and the next moment I held her in my arms. Her emotion was so great I feared I had acted rashly, but tears relieved our hearts, once more we were together."

Mrs. Audubon soon settled up her affairs at Bayou Sara, and the two set out early in January, 1830, for Louisville, thence to Cincinnati, thence to Wheeling, and so on to Washington, where Audubon exhibited his drawings to the House of Representatives and received their subscriptions as a body. In Washington, he met the President, Andrew Jackson, and made the acquaintance of Edward Everett. Thence to Baltimore where he obtained three more subscribers, thence to New York from which port he sailed in April with his wife on the packet ship Pacific, for England, and arrived at Liverpool in twenty-five days.

This second sojourn in England lasted till the second of August, 1831. The time was occupied in pushing the publication of his "Birds," canvassing the country for new subscribers, painting numerous pictures for sale, writing his "Ornithological Biography," living part of the time in Edinburgh, and part of the time in London, with two or three months passed in France, where there were fourteen subscribers. While absent in America, he had been elected a fellow of the Royal Society of London, and on May 6 took his seat in the great hall.

He needed some competent person to assist him in getting his manuscript ready for publication and was so fortunate as to obtain the services of MacGillivray, the biographer of British Birds.

Audubon had learned that three editions of Wilson's "Ornithology" were soon to be published in Edinburgh, and he set to work vigorously to get his book out before them. Assisted by MacGillivray, he worked hard at his biography of the birds, writing all day, and Mrs. Audubon making a copy of the work to send to America to secure copyright there. Writing to her sons at this time, Mrs. Audubon says: "Nothing is heard but the steady movement of the pen; your father is up and at work before dawn, and writes without ceasing all day."

When the first volume was finished, Audubon offered it to two publishers, both of whom refused it, so he published it himself in March, 1831.

In April on his way to London he travelled "on that Extraordinary road called the railway, at the rate of twenty-four miles an hour."

The first volume of his bird pictures was completed this summer, and, in bringing it out, forty thousand dollars had passed through his hands. It had taken four years to bring that volume before the world, during which time no less than fifty of his subscribers, representing the sum of fifty-six thousand dollars, had abandoned him, so that at the end of that time, he had only one hundred and thirty names standing on his list.

It was no easy thing to secure enough men to pledge themselves to $1,000 for a work, the publication of which must of necessity extend over eight or ten years.

Few enterprises, involving such labour and expense, have ever been carried through against such odds.

The entire cost of the "Birds" exceeded one hundred thousand dollars, yet the author never faltered in this gigantic undertaking.

On August 2, Audubon and his wife sailed for America, and landed in New York on September 4. They at once went to Louisville where the wife remained with her sons, while the husband went to Florida where the winter of 1831-2 was spent, prosecuting his studies of our birds. His adventures and experiences in Florida, he has embodied in his Floridian Episodes, "The Live Oakers," "Spring Garden," "Deer Hunting," "Sandy Island," "The Wreckers," "The Turtles," "Death of a Pirate," and other sketches. Stopping at Charleston, South Carolina, on this southern trip, he made the acquaintance of the Reverend John Bachman, and a friendship between these two men was formed that lasted as long as they both lived. Subsequently, Audubon's sons, Victor and John, married Dr. Bachman's two eldest daughters.

In the summer of 1832, Audubon, accompanied by his wife and two sons, made a trip to Maine and New Brunswick, going very leisurely by private conveyance through these countries, studying the birds, the people, the scenery, and gathering new material for his work. His diaries give minute accounts of these journeyings. He was impressed by the sobriety of the people of Maine; they seem to have had a "Maine law" at that early date; "for on asking for brandy, rum, or whiskey, not a drop could I obtain." He saw much of the lumbermen and was a deeply interested spectator of their ways and doings. Some of his best descriptive passages are contained in these diaries.

In October he is back in Boston planning a trip to Labrador, and intent on adding more material to his "Birds" by another year in his home country.

That his interests abroad in the meantime might not suffer by being entirely in outside hands, he sent his son Victor, now a young man of considerable business experience, to England to represent him there. The winter of 1832 and 1833 Audubon seems to have spent mainly in Boston, drawing and re-drawing and there he had his first serious illness.

In the spring of 1833, a schooner was chartered and, accompanied by five young men, his youngest son, John Woodhouse, among them, Audubon started on his Labrador trip, which lasted till the end of summer. It was an expensive and arduous trip, but was greatly enjoyed by all hands, and was fruitful in new material for his work. Seventy-three bird skins were prepared, many drawings made, and many new plants collected.

The weather in Labrador was for the most part rainy, foggy, cold, and windy, and his drawings were made in the cabin of his vessel, often under great difficulties. He makes this interesting observation upon the Eider duck: "In one nest of the Eider ten eggs were found; this is the most we have seen as yet in any one nest. The female draws the down from her abdomen as far toward her breast as her bill will allow her to do, but the feathers are not pulled, and on examination of several specimens, I found these well and regularly planted, and cleaned from their original down, as a forest of trees is cleared of its undergrowth. In this state the female is still well clothed, and little or no difference can be seen in the plumage, unless examined."

He gives this realistic picture of salmon fishermen that his party saw in Labrador: "On going to a house on the shore, we found it a tolerably good cabin, floored, containing a good stove, a chimney, and an oven at the bottom of this, like the ovens of the French peasants, three beds, and a table whereon the breakfast of the family was served. This consisted of coffee in large bowls, good bread, and fried salmon. Three Labrador dogs came and sniffed about us, and then returned under the table whence they had issued, with no appearance of anger. Two men, two women, and a babe formed the group, which I addressed in French. They were French-Canadians and had been here several years, winter and summer, and are agents for the Fur and Fish Co., who give them food, clothes, and about $80 per annum. They have a cow and an ox, about an acre of potatoes planted in sand, seven feet of snow in winter, and two-thirds less salmon than was caught here ten years since. Then, three hundred barrels was a fair season; now one hundred is the maximum; this is because they will catch the fish both ascending and descending the river. During winter the men hunt Foxes, Martens, and Sables, and kill some bear of the black kind, but neither Deer nor other game is to be found without going a great distance in the interior, where Reindeer are now and then procured. One species of Grouse, and one of Ptarmigan, the latter white at all seasons; the former, I suppose to be, the Willow Grouse. The men would neither sell nor give us a single salmon, saying, that so strict were their orders that, should they sell _one, the place might be taken from them. If this should prove the case everywhere, I shall not purchase many for my friends. The furs which they collect are sent off to Quebec at the first opening of the waters in spring, and not a skin of any sort was here for us to look at."

He gives a vivid picture of the face of Nature in Labrador on a fine day, under date of July 2: "A beautiful day for Labrador. Drew another _M. articus. Went on shore, and was most pleased with what I saw. The country, so wild and grand, is of itself enough to interest any one in its wonderful dreariness. Its mossy, grey-clothed rocks, heaped and thrown together as if by chance, in the most fantastical groups imaginable, huge masses hanging on minor ones as if about to roll themselves down from their doubtful-looking situations, into the depths of the sea beneath. Bays without end, sprinkled with rocky islands of all shapes and sizes, where in every fissure a Guillemot, a Cormorant, or some other wild bird retreats to secure its egg, and raise its young, or save itself from the hunter's pursuit. The peculiar cast of the sky, which never seems to be certain, butterflies flitting over snowbanks, probing beautiful dwarf flowerets of many hues, pushing their tender, stems from the thick bed of moss which everywhere covers the granite rocks. Then the morasses, wherein you plunge up to your knees, or the walking over the stubborn, dwarfish shrubbery, making one think that as he goes he treads down the _forests of Labrador. The unexpected Bunting, or perhaps Sylvia, which, perchance, and indeed as if by chance alone, you now and then see flying before you, or hear singing from the creeping plants on the ground. The beautiful freshwater lakes, on the rugged crests of greatly elevated islands, wherein the Red and Black-necked Divers swim as proudly as swans do in other latitudes, and where the fish appear to have been cast as strayed beings from the surplus food of the ocean. All--all is wonderfully grand, wild-- aye, and terrific. And yet how beautiful it is now, when one sees the wild bee, moving from one flower to another in search of food, which doubtless is as sweet to it, as the essence of the magnolia is to those of favoured Louisiana. The little Ring Plover rearing its delicate and tender young, the Eider Duck swimming man-of-war-like amid her floating brood, like the guardship of a most valuable convoy; the White-crowned Bunting's sonorous note reaching the ear ever and anon; the crowds of sea birds in search of places wherein to repose or to feed--how beautiful is all this in this wonderful rocky desert at this season, the beginning of July, compared with the horrid blasts of winter which here predominate by the will of God, when every rock is rendered smooth with snows so deep that every step the traveller takes is as if entering into his grave; for even should he escape an avalanche, his eye dreads to search the horizon, for full well he knows that snow--snow is all that can be seen. I watched the Ring Plover for some time; the parents were so intent on saving their young that they both lay on the rocks as if shot, quivering their wings and dragging their bodies as if quite disabled. We left them and their young to the care of the Creator. I would not have shot one of the old ones, or taken one of the young for any consideration, and I was glad my young men were as forbearing. The _L. marinus is extremely abundant here; they are forever harassing every other bird, sucking their eggs, and devouring their young; they take here the place of Eagles and Hawks; not an Eagle have we seen yet, and only two or three small Hawks, and one small Owl; yet what a harvest they would have here, were there trees for them to rest upon."

On his return from Labrador in September, Audubon spent three weeks in New York, after which with his wife, he started upon another southern trip, pausing at Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, and Richmond. In Washington he made some attempts to obtain permission to accompany a proposed expedition to the Rocky Mountains, under Government patronage. But the cold and curt manner in which Cass, then Secretary of War, received his application, quite disheartened him. But he presently met Washington Irving, whose friendly face and cheering words revived his spirits. How one would like a picture of that meeting in Washington between Audubon and Irving--two men who in so many ways were kindred spirits!

Charleston, South Carolina, was reached late in October, and at the home of their friend Bachman the Audubons seem to have passed the most of the winter of 1833-4: "My time was well employed; I hunted for new birds or searched for more knowledge of old. I drew, I wrote many long pages. I obtained a few new subscribers, and made some collections on account of my work."

His son Victor wrote desiring the presence of his father in England, and on April 16, we find him with his wife and son John, again embarked for Liverpool. In due time they are in London where they find Victor well, and the business of publication going on prosperously. One of the amusing incidents of this sojourn, narrated in the diaries, is Audubon's and his son's interview with the Baron Rothschild, to whom he had a letter of introduction from a distinguished American banking house. The Baron was not present when they entered his private office, but "soon a corpulent man appeared, hitching up his trousers, and a face red with the exertion of walking, and without noticing anyone present, dropped his fat body into a comfortable chair, as if caring for no one else in this wide world but himself. While the Baron sat, we stood, with our hats held respectfully in our hands. I stepped forward, and with a bow tendered my credentials. 'Pray, sir,' said the man of golden consequence, 'is this a letter of business, or is it a mere letter of introduction?' This I could not well answer, for I had not read the contents of it, and I was forced to answer rather awkwardly, that I could not tell. The banker then opened the letter, read it with the manner of one who was looking only at the temporal side of things, and after reading it said, 'This is only a letter of introduction, and I expect from its contents that you are the publisher of some book or other and need my subscription.'

"Had a man the size of a mountain spoken to me in that arrogant style in America, I should have indignantly resented it; but where I then was it seemed best to swallow and digest it as well as I could. So in reply to the offensive arrogance of the banker, I said I should be _honoured by his subscription to the "Birds of America." 'Sir,' he said, 'I never sign my name to any subscription list, but you may send in your work and I will pay for a copy of it. Gentlemen, I am busy. I wish you good morning.' We were busy men, too, and so bowing respectfully, we retired, pretty well satisfied with the small slice of his opulence which our labour was likely to obtain.

"A few days afterwards I sent the first volume of my work half bound, and all the numbers besides, then published. On seeing them we were told that he ordered the bearer to take them to his house, which was done directly. Number after number was sent and delivered to the Baron, and after eight or ten months my son made out his account and sent it by Mr. Havell, my engraver, to his banking-house. The Baron looked at it with amazement, and cried out, 'What, a hundred pounds for birds! Why, sir, I will give you five pounds and not a farthing more!' Representations were made to him of the magnificence and expense of the work, and how pleased his Baroness and wealthy children would be to have a copy; but the great financier was unrelenting. The copy of the work was actually sent back to Mr. Havell's shop, and as I found that instituting legal proceedings against him would cost more than it would come to, I kept the work, and afterwards sold it to a man with less money but a nobler heart. What a distance there is between two such men as the Baron Rothschild of London, and the merchant of Savannah!"

Audubon remained in London during the summer of 1834, and in the fall removed to Edinburgh, where he hired a house and spent a year and a half at work on his "Ornithological Biography," the second and third volumes of which were published during that time.

In the summer of 1836, he returned to London, where he settled his family in Cavendish Square, and in July, with his son John, took passage at Portsmouth for New York, desiring to explore more thoroughly the southern states for new material for his work. On his arrival in New York, Audubon, to his deep mortification, found that all his books, papers, and valuable and curious things, which he had collected both at home and abroad, had been destroyed in the great fire in New York, in 1835.

In September he spent some time in Boston where he met Brewer and Nuttall, and made the acquaintance of Daniel Webster, Judge Story, and others.

Writing to his son in England, at this time, admonishing him to carry on the work, should he himself be taken away prematurely, he advises him thus: "Should you deem it wise to remove the publication of the work to this country, I advise you to settle in Boston; _I have faith in the Bostonians."

In Salem he called upon a wealthy young lady by the name of Silsby, who had the eyes of a gazelle, but "when I mentioned subscription it seemed to fall on her ears, not as the cadence of the wood thrush, or of the mocking bird does on mine, but as a shower bath in cold January."

From Boston Audubon returned in October to New York, and thence went southward through Philadelphia to Washington, carrying with him letters from Washington Irving to Benjamin F. Butler, then the Attorney General of the United States, and to Martin Van Buren who had just been elected to the presidency. Butler was then quite a young man: "He read Washington Irving's letter, laid it down, and began a long talk about his talents, and after a while came round to my business, saying that the Government allows so little money to the departments, that he did not think it probable that their subscription could be obtained without a law to that effect from Congress."

At this time he also met the President, General Jackson: "He was very kind, and as soon as he heard that we intended departing to-morrow evening for Charleston, invited us to dine with him _en famille. At the hour named we went to the White House, and were taken into a room, where the President soon joined us, I sat close to him; we spoke of olden times, and touched slightly on politics, and I found him very averse to the Cause of the Texans.... The dinner was what might be called plain and substantial in England; I dined from a fine young turkey, shot within twenty miles of Washington. The General drank no wine, but his health was drunk by us more than once; and he ate very moderately; his last dish consisting of bread and milk."

In November Audubon is again at the house of his friend Dr. Bachman, in Charleston, South Carolina. Here he passed the winter of 1836-7, making excursions to various points farther south, going as far as Florida. It was at this time that he seems to have begun, in connection with Dr. Bachman, his studies in Natural History which resulted in the publication, a few years later, of the "Quadrupeds of North America."

In the spring he left Charleston and set out to explore the Gulf of Mexico, going to Galveston and thence well into Texas, where he met General Sam Houston. Here is one of his vivid, realistic pen pictures of the famous Texan: "We walked towards the President's house, accompanied by the Secretary of the Navy, and as soon as we rose above the bank, we saw before us a level of far-extending prairie, destitute of timber, and rather poor soil. Houses half finished, and most of them without roofs, tents, and a liberty pole, with the capitol, were all exhibited to our view at once. We approached the President's mansion, however, wading through water above our ankles. This abode of President Houston is a small log house, consisting of two rooms, and a passage through, after the southern fashion. The moment we stepped over the threshold, on the right hand of the passage we found ourselves ushered into what in other countries would be called the antechamber; the ground floor, however, was muddy and filthy, a large fire was burning, a small table covered with paper and writing materials, was in the centre, camp-beds, trunks, and different materials, were strewed about the room. We were at once presented to several members of the cabinet, some of whom bore the stamp of men of intellectual ability, simple, though bold, in their general appearance. Here we were presented to Mr. Crawford, an agent of the British Minister to Mexico, who has come here on some secret mission.

"The President was engaged in the opposite room on some national business, and we could not see him for some time. Meanwhile we amused ourselves by walking to the capitol, which was yet without a roof, and the floors, benches, and tables of both houses of Congress were as well saturated with water as our clothes had been in the morning. Being invited by one of the great men of the place to enter a booth to take a drink of grog with him, we did so; but I was rather surprised that he offered his name, instead of the cash to the bar-keeper.

"We first caught sight of President Houston as he walked from one of the grog shops, where he had been to prevent the sale of ardent spirits. He was on his way to his house, and wore a large grey coarse hat; and the bulk of his figure reminded me of the appearance of General Hopkins of Virginia, for like him he is upwards of six feet high, and strong in proportion. But I observed a scowl in the expression of his eyes, that was forbidding and disagreeable. We reached his abode before him, but he soon came, and we were presented to his excellency. He was dressed in a fancy velvet coat, and trousers trimmed with broad gold lace; around his neck was tied a cravat somewhat in the style of seventy-six. He received us kindly, was desirous of retaining us for awhile, and offered us every facility within his power. He at once removed us from the ante-room to his private chamber, which, by the way, was not much cleaner than the former. We were severally introduced by him to the different members of his cabinet and staff, and at once asked to drink grog with him, which we did, wishing success to his new republic. Our talk was short: but the impression which was made on my mind at the time by himself, his officers, and his place of abode, can never be forgotten."

Late in the summer of 1837, Audubon, with his son John and his new wife-- the daughter of Dr. Bachman, returned to England for the last time. He finally settled down again in Edinburgh and prepared the fourth volume of his "Ornithological Biography." This work seems to have occupied him a year. The volume was published in November, 1838. More drawings for his "Birds of America" were finished the next winter, and also the fifth volume of the "Biography" which was published in May, 1839.

In the fall of that year the family returned to America and settled in New York City, at 86 White street. His great work, the "Birds of America," had been practically completed, incredible difficulties had been surmounted, and the goal of his long years of striving had been reached. About one hundred and seventy-five copies of his "Birds" had been delivered to subscribers, eighty of the number in this country.

In a copy of the "Ornithological Biography" given in 1844 by Audubon to J. Prescott Hall, the following note, preserved in the _Magazine of American History (1877) was written by Mr. Hall. It is reproduced here in spite of its variance from statements now accepted:--

"Mr. Audubon told me in the year 184- that he did not sell more than 40 copies of his great work in England, Ireland, Scotland and France, of which Louis Philippe took 10.

"The following received their copies but never paid for them: George IV., Duchess of Clarence, Marquis of Londonderry, Princess of Hesse Homburg.

"An Irish lord whose name he would not give, took two copies and paid for neither. Rothschild paid for his copy, but with great reluctance.

"He further said that he sold 75 copies in America, 26 in New York and 24 in Boston; that the work cost him L27,000 and that he lost $25,000 by it.

"He said that Louis Philippe offered to subscribe for 100 copies if he would publish the work in Paris. This he found could not be done, as it would have required 40 years to finish it as things were then in Paris. Of this conversation I made a memorandum at the time which I read over to Mr. Audubon and he pronounced it correct.


If you like this book please share to your friends :

John James Audubon - Chapter 4 John James Audubon - Chapter 4

John James Audubon - Chapter 4
CHAPTER IVAbout the very great merit of this work, there is but one opinion among competent judges. It is, indeed, a monument to the man's indomitable energy and perseverance, and it is a monument to the science of ornithology. The drawings of the birds are very spirited and life like, and their biographies copious, picturesque, and accurate, and, taken in connection with his many journals, they afford glimpses of the life of the country during the early part of the century, that are of very great interest and value. In writing the biography of the birds he wrote his autobiography as

John James Audubon - Chapter 2 John James Audubon - Chapter 2

John James Audubon - Chapter 2
CHAPTER IIAudubon was now eager to marry, but Mr. Bakewell advised him first to study the mercantile business. This he accordingly set out to do by entering as a clerk the commercial house of Benjamin Bakewell in New York, while his friend Rozier entered a French house in Philadelphia. But Audubon was not cut out for business; his first venture was in indigo, and cost him several hundred pounds. Rozier succeeded no better; his first speculation was a cargo of hams shipped to the West Indies which did not return one fifth of the cost. Audubon's want of business habits is