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Full text of "John James Audubon"

THE BEACON BIOGRAPHIES 

EDITED BY 

M. A. DEWOLFE HOWE 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 

BY 

JOHN BURROUGHS 




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JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 



JOHN BURROUGHS 




BOSTON 

SMALL, MAYNARD & COMPANY 
MDCCCCII 



Copyright^ 1902 
By Small) Maynard sf Company 

(Incorporated) 



Entered at Stationers' Hall 



Press of 
Geo. H. Ellis Co.) Boston 



UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA 
SANA-BARABA COLLEGE LIBRART 



T&e photogravure used as a frontispiece 
to this volume is from an original painting 
by George P. A. Healy, London, 1838, 
now owned by the Boston Society of Natural 
History, Boston, to whom it was presented 
by the heirs of Josiah Bradlee. The pres- 
ent engraving is by John Andrew & Son, 
Boston. 



TO C. B. 



PEEFACE. 

TJie pioneer in American ornithology 
was Alexander Wilson, a Scotch weaver 
and poet, who emigrated to this country in 
1794, and began the publication of his 
great work upon our birds in 1808. He 
figured and described three hundred and 
twenty species, fifty-six of them new to 
science. His death occurred in 1813, be- 
fore the publication of his work had been 
completed. 

But the chief of American ornithologists 
was John James Audubon. Audubon did 
not begin where Wilson left off. He was 
also a pioneer, beginning his studies and 
drawings of the birds probably as early as 
Wilson did his, but he planned larger and 
lived longer. He spent the greater part of 
his long life in the pursuit of ornithology, 
and was of a more versatile, flexible, and 
artistic nature than was Wilson. He was 
collecting the material for his work at the 
same time that Wilson was collecting his, 



x PBEFACE 

but he did not begin the publication of it till 
fourteen years after Wilson's death. Both 
men went directly to Nature and underwent 
incredible hardships in exploring the woods 
and marshes in quest of their material. 
Auduborfs rambles were much wider, and 
extended over a much longer period of time. 
Wilson, too, contemplated a work upon our 
quadrupeds, but did not live to begin it. 
Audubon was blessed with good health, 
length of years, a devoted and self -sacrific- 
ing wife, and a buoyant, sanguine, and 
elastic disposition. He had the heavenly 
gift of enthusiasm a passionate love for 
the work he set out to do. He was a 
natural hunter, roamer, woodsman ; as un- 
worldly as a child, and as simple and trans- 
parent. We have had better trained and 
more scientific ornithologists since his day, 
but none with his abandon and poetic fervour 
in the study of our birds. 

Both men were famous pedestrians and 
often walked hundreds of miles at a stretch. 
They were natural explorers and voyagers. 



PEEFACE xi 

They loved Nature at first hand, and not 
merely as she appears in books and pictures. 
They both kept extensive journals of their 
wanderings and observations. Several of 
Audubon's (recording his European experi- 
ences') seem to have been lost or destroyed, 
but what remain make up the greater part 
of two large volumes recently edited by his 
grand-daughter, Maria E. Audubon. 

I wish here to express my gratitude both 
to Miss Audubon, and to Messrs. Charles 
Scribner's Sons, for permitting me to draw 
freely from the "Life and Journals" just 
mentioned. The temptation is strong to let 
Audubon's graphic and glowing descriptions 
of American scenery, and of his tireless 
wanderings, speak for themselves. 

It is from these volumes, and from the 
life by his widow, published in 1868, that I 
have gathered the material for this brief 



Audubon's life naturally divides itself 
into three periods : his youth, which was on 
the whole a gay and happy one, and which 



xii PREFACE 

lasted till the time of his marriage at the age 
of twenty-eight; his business career which 
followed, lasting ten or more years, and 
consisting mainly in getting rid of the fortune 
his father had left him ; and his career as 
an ornithologist which, though attended 
with great hardships and privations, brought 
him much happiness and, long before the 
end, substantial pecuniary rewards. 

His ornithological tastes and studies 
really formed the main current of his life 
from his teens onward. During his busi- 
ness ventures in Kentucky and elsewhere 
this current comes to the surface more and 
more, absorbed more and more of his time 
and energies , and carried him further and 
further from the conditions of a successful 
business career. 

J. B. 

WBST PAKK, NBW YORK, 
January, 1902. 



CHKONOLOGY. 

1780 

May 4. John James La Forest Audubon 
was born at Mandeville, Louisiana. 
(Paucity of dates and conflicting state- 
ments make it impossible to insert dates 
to show when the family moved to St. 
Domingo, and thence to France. ) 

1797 (?) 

Returned to America from France. Here 
followed life at Mill Grove Farm, near 
Philadelphia. 

1805 or 6 

Again in France for about two years. 
Studied under David, the artist. Then 
returned to America. 

1808 

April 8. Married Lucy Bakewell, and 
journeyed to Louisville, Kentucky, to 
engage in business with one Eozier. 

1810 

March. First met Wilson, the ornitholo- 
gist. 



xiv CHRONOLOGY 

1812 
Dissolved partnership with Eozier. 

1808-1819 

Various business ventures in Louisville, 
Hendersonville, and St. Genevieve, Ken- 
tucky, again at Hendersonville, thence 
again to Louisville. 

1819 

Abandoned business career. 
Became taxidermist in Cincinnati. 

1820 

Left Cincinnati. Began to form definite 
plans for the publication of his draw- 
ings. Returned to New Orleans. 

1822 

Went to Natchez by steamer. Gun- 
powder ruined two hundred of his 
drawings on this trip. Obtained posi- 
tion of Drawing-master in the college at 
Washington, Mississippi. At the close 
of this year took his first lessons in oils. 

1824 

Went to Philadelphia to get his draw- 
ings published. Thwarted. There met 
Sully, and Prince Canino. 



CHEONOLOGY xv 

1826 

Sailed for Europe to introduce his draw- 
ings. 

1827 
Issued prospectus of his " Birds. " 

1828 

Went to Paris to canvass. Visited 
Cuvier. 

1829 

Eeturned to the United States, scoured 
the woods for more material for his 
biographies. 

1830 
Eeturned to London with his family. 

1830-1839 

Elephant folio, The Birds of North Amer- 
ica, published. 

1831-39 

American Ornithological Biography pub- 
lished in Edinburgh. 

1831 
Again in America for nearly three years. 

1832-33 

In Florida, South Carolina, and the 
Northern States, Labrador, and Canada. 



xvi CHBONOLOGY 

1834 

Completion of second volume of ' ' Birds, ' ' 
also second volume of American Ornitho- 
logical Biography. 

1835 
In Edinburgh. 

1836 

To New York again more exploring ; 
found books, papers and drawings had 
been destroyed by fire, the previous 
year. 

1837 
Went to London. 

1838 

Published fourth volume of American 
Ornithological Biography. 

1839 
Published fifth volume of " Biography." 

1840 
Left England for the last time. 

1842 

Built house in New York on " Minnie's 
Land," now Audubon Park. 



CHEONOLOGY xvii 

1843 
Yellowstone Eiver Expedition. 

1840-44 

Published the reduced edition of his 
c l Bird Biographies. ' J 

1846 

Published first volume of "Quadru- 
peds." 

1848 

Completed Quadrupeds and Biography of 
American Quadrupeds. (The last vol- 
ume was not published till 1854, after 
his death.) 

1851 

January 27. John James Audubon died 
in New York. 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON. 



THERE is a hopeless confusion as to 
certain important dates in Audubon's 
life. He was often careless and unreli- 
able in his statements of matters of fact, 
which weakness during his lifetime 
often led to his being accused of false- 
hood. Thus he speaks of the "memo- 
rable battle of Valley Forge " and of two 
brothers of his, both officers in the 
French army, as having perished in the 
French Bevolution, when he doubtless 
meant uncles. He had previously stated 
that his only two brothers died in infancy. 
He confessed that he had no head for 
mathematics, and he seems always to 
have been at sea in regard to his own 
age. In his letters and journals there 
are several references to his age, but 
they rarely agree. The date of his birth 
usually given, May 4, 1780, is probably 
three or four years too early, as he 



2 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
speaks of himself as being nearly sev- 
enteen when his mother had him con- 
firmed in the Catholic Church, and this 
was about the time that his father, then 
an officer in the French navy, was sent 
to England to effect a change of prison- 
ers, which time is given as 1801. 

The two race strains that mingle in 
him probably account for this illogical 
habit of mind, as well as for his roman- 
tic and artistic temper and tastes. 

His father was a sea-faring man and 
a Frenchman j his mother was a Spanish 
Creole of Louisiana the old chivalrous 
Castilian blood modified by new world 
conditions. The father, through com- 
mercial channels, accumulated a large 
property in the island of St. Domingo. 
In the course of his trading he made 
frequent journeys to Louisiana, then the 
property of the French government. 
On one of these trips, probably, he mar- 
ried one of the native women, who is 
said to have possessed both wealth and 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 3 
beauty. The couple seem to have occu- 
pied for a time a plantation belonging to 
a French Marquis, situated at Mande- 
ville on the North shore of Lake Pont- 
chartrain. Here three sons were born 
to them, of whom John James La Forest 
was the third. The daughter seems to 
have been younger. 

His own mother perished in a slave 
insurrection in St. Domingo, where the 
family had gone to live on the Audubon 
estate at Aux Cayes, when her child was 
but a few months old. Audubon says 
that his father with his plate and money 
and himself, attended by a few faithful 
servants, escaped to New Orleans. What 
became of his sister he does not say, 
though she must have escaped with 
them, since we hear of her existence 
years later. Not long after, how long we 
do not know, the father returned to 
France, where he married a second time, 
giving the son, as he himself says, the 
only mother he ever knew. This woman 



4 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
proved a rare exception among step- 
mothers but she was too indulgent, 
and, Audubon says, completely spoiled 
him, bringing him up to live like a gen- 
tleman, ignoring his faults and boasting 
of his merits, and leading him to believe 
that fine clothes and a full pocket were 
the most desirable things in life. 

This she was able to do all the more 
effectively because the father soon left 
the son in her charge and returned to 
the United States in the employ of the 
French government, and before long 
became attached to the army under La 
Fayette. This could not have been later 
than 1781, the year of Cornwallis 7 sur- 
render, and Audubon would then have 
been twenty-one, but this does not square 
with his own statements. After the war 
the father still served some years in the 
French navy, but finally retired from 
active service and lived at La Gerbetiere 
in France, where he died at the age of 
ninety-five, in 1818. 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 5 
Audubon says of his mother: "Let 
no one speak of her as my step- mother. 
I was ever to her as a son of her own 
flesh and blood and she was to me a true 
mother.' 7 With her he lived in the city 
of Nantes, France, where he appears to 
have gone to school. It was, however, 
only from his private tutors that he 
says he got any benefit. His father de- 
sired him to follow in his footsteps, and 
he was educated accordingly, studying 
drawing, geography, mathematics, fenc- 
ing, and music. Mathematics he found 
hard dull work, as have so many men of 
like temperament, before and since, but 
music and fencing and geography were 
more to his liking. He was an ardent, 
imaginative youth, and chafed under all 
drudgery and routine. His foster-mother, 
in the absence of his father, suffered him 
to do much as he pleased, and he pleased 
to "play hookey' 7 most of the time, 
joining boys of his own age and disposi- 
tion, and deserting the school for the 



6 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
fields and woods, hunting birds' nests, 
fishing and shooting and returning home 
at night with his basket filled with 
various natural specimens and curiosi- 
ties. The collecting fever is not a bad 
one to take possession of boys at this 
age. 

In his autobiography Audubon relates 
an incident that occurred when he was 
a child, which he thinks first kindled 
his love for birds. It was an encounter 
between a pet parrot and a tame mon- 
key kept by his mother. One morning 
the parrot, Mignonne, asked as usual for 
her breakfast of bread and milk, where- 
upon the monkey, being in a bad humour, 
attacked the poor defenceless bird, and 
killed it. Audubon screamed at the 
cruel sight, and implored the servant to 
interfere and save the bird, but without 
avail. The boy's piercing screams 
brought the mother, who succeeded in 
tranquillising the child. The monkey 
was chained, and the parrot buried, but 



JOHN JAMES AUDTJBON 7 
the tragedy awakened in him a lasting 
love for his feathered friends. 

Audubon's father seems to have been 
the first to direct his attention to the study 
of birds, and to the observance of Nature 
generally. Through him he learned to 
notice the beautiful colourings and mark- 
ings of the birds, to know their haunts, 
and to observe their change of plumage 
with the changing seasons ; what he 
learned of their mysterious migrations 
fired his imagination. 

He speaks of this early intimacy with 
Nature as a feeling which bordered on 
frenzy. Watching the growth of a bird 
from the egg he compares to the unfold- 
ing of a flower from the bud. 

The pain which he felt in seeing the 
birds die and decay was very acute, but, 
fortunately, about this time some one 
showed him a book of illustrations, and 
henceforth 1 1 a new life ran in my veins, ' ' 
he says. To copy Nature was thereafter 
his one engrossing aim. 



8 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 

That lie realised how crude his early 
efforts were is shown by his saying : 
"My pencil gave birth to a family of 
cripples. 77 His steady progress, too, is 
shown in his custom, on every birthday, 
of burning these e Crippled 7 drawings, 
then setting to work to make better, 
truer ones. 

His father returning from a sea voy- 
age, probably when the son was about 
twenty years old, was not well pleased 
with the progress that the boy was mak- 
ing in his studies. One morning soon 
after, Audubon found himself with his 
trunk and his belongings in a private 
carriage, beside his father, on his way to 
the city of Eochefort. The father oc- 
cupied himself with a book and hardly 
spoke to his son during the several days 
of the journey, though there was no 
anger in his face. After they *were 
settled in their new abode, he seated his 
son beside him and taking one of his 
hands in his, calmly said : " My beloved 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 9 
boy, thou art now safe. I have brought 
thee here that I may be able to pay con- 
stant attention to thy studies ; thou 
shalt have ample time for pleasures, 
but the remainder must be employed 
with industry and care." 

But the father soon left him on some 
foreign mission for his government and 
the boy chafed as usual under his tasks 
and confinement. One day, too much 
mathematics drove him into making his 
escape by leaping from the window, and 
making off through the gardens attached 
to the school where he was confined. A 
watchful corporal soon overhauled him, 
however, and brought him back, where 
he was confined on board some sort of 
prison ship in the harbour. His father 
soon returned, when he was released, not 
without a severe reprimand. 

We next find him again in the city of 
Nantes struggling with more odious 
mathematics, and spending all his leis- 
ure time in the fields and woods, study- 



10 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 

ing the birds. About this time he began 
a series of drawings of the French birds, 
which grew to upwards of two hundred, 
all bad enough, he says, but yet real 
representations of birds, that gave him a 
certain pleasure. They satisfied his need 
of expression. 

At about this time, too, though the 
year we do not know, his father con- 
cluded to send him to the United States, 
apparently to occupy a farm called Mill 
Grove, which the father had purchased 
some years before on the Schuylkill 
river near Philadelphia. In New York 
he caught the yellow fever : he was 
carefully nursed by two Quaker -ladies 
who kept a boarding house in Morris- 
town, New Jersey. 

In due time his father's agent, Miers 
Fisher, also a Quaker, removed him to 
his own villa near Philadelphia, and 
here Audubon seems to have remained 
some months. But the gay and ardent 
youth did not find the atmosphere of the 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 11 
place congenial. The sober Quaker grey 
was not to his taste. His host was op- 
posed to music of all kinds, and to danc- 
ing, hunting, fishing and nearly all 
other forms of amusement. More than 
that, he had a daughter between whom 
and Audubon he apparently hoped an 
affection would spring up. But Audu- 
bon took an unconquerable dislike to 
her. Very soon, therefore, he demanded 
to be put in possession of the estate to 
which his father had sent him. 

Of the month and year in which he 
entered upon his life at Mill Grove, we 
are ignorant. We know that he fell 
into the hands of another Quaker, Will- 
iam Thomas, who was the tenant on the 
place, but who, with his worthy wife, 
seems to have made life pleasant for 
him. He soon became attached to Mill 
Grove, and led a life there just suited 
to his temperament. 

"Hunting, fishing, drawing, music, 
occupied my every moment ; cares I 



12 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
knew not and cared naught about them. 
I purchased excellent and beautiful 
horses, visited all such neighbours as I 
found congenial spirits, and was as 
happy as happy could be." 

Near him there lived an English 
family by the name of Bakewell, but 
he had such a strong antipathy to the 
English that he postponed returning the 
call of Mr. Bakewell, who had left his 
card at Mill Grove during one of Audu- 
bon's excursions to the woods. In the 
late fall or early winter, however, he 
chanced to meet Mr. Bakewell while out 
hunting grouse, and was so pleased with 
him and his well-trained dogs, and his 
good marksmanship, that he apologised 
for his discourtesy in not returning his 
call, and promised to do so forthwith. 
Not many mornings thereafter he was 
seated in his neighbour's house. 

"Well do I recollect the morning," 
he says in the autobiographical sketch 
which he prepared for his sons, "and 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 13 
may it please God that I never forget it, 
when for the first time I entered Mr. 
BakewelPs dwelling. It happened that 
he was absent from home, and I was 
shown into a parlour where only one 
young lady was snugly seated at her 
work by the fire. She rose on my en- 
trance, offered me a seat, assured me of 
the gratification her father would feel 
on his return, which, she added, would 
be in a few moments, as she would des- 
patch a servant for him. Other ruddy 
cheeks and bright eyes made their trans- 
ient appearance, but, like spirits gay, 
soon vanished from my sight ; and there 
I sat, my gaze riveted, as it were, on the 
young girl before me, who, half work- 
ing, half talking, essayed to make the 
time pleasant to me. Oh ! may God 
bless her ! It was she, my dear sons, 
who afterwards became my beloved 
wife, and your mother. Mr. Bakewell 
soon made his appearance, and received 
me with the manner and hospitality of 



14 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
a true English gentleman. The other 
members of the family were soon intro- 
duced to me, and Lucy was told to have 
luncheon produced. She now rose from 
her seat a second time, and her form, to 
which I had paid but partial attention, 
showed both grace and beauty ; and my 
heart followed every one of her steps. 
The repast over, dogs and guns were 
made ready. 

"Lucy, I was pleased to believe, 
looked upon me with some favour, and I 
turned more especially to her on leav- 
ing. I felt that certain l Je ne sais quoi ' 
which intimated that, at least, she was 
not indifferent to me." 

The winter that followed was a gay 
and happy one at Mill Grove ; shooting 
parties, skating parties, house parties 
with the Bakewell family, were of fre- 
quent occurrence. It was during one of 
these skating excursions upon the Perk- 
iomen in quest of wild ducks, that 
Audubon had a lucky escape from 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 15 
drowning. He was leading the party 
down the river in the dusk of the even- 
ing, with a white handkerchief tied to 
a stick, when he came suddenly upon a 
large air hole into which, in spite of 
himself, his impetus carried him. Had 
there not chanced to be another air hole 
a few yards below, our hero's career 
would have ended then and there. The 
current quickly carried him beneath the 
ice to this other opening where he man- 
aged to seize hold of the ice and to 
crawl out. 

His friendship with the Bakewell fam- 
ily deepened. Lucy taught Audubon 
English, he taught her drawing, and 
their friendship very naturally ripened 
into love, which seems to have run its 
course smoothly. 

Audubon was happy. He had ample 
means, and his time was filled with 
congenial pursuits. He writes in his 
journal : "I had no vices, but was 
thoughtless, pensive, loving, fond of 



16 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 

shooting, fishing, and riding, and had a 
passion for raising all sorts of fowls, 
which sources of interest and amusement 
folly occupied my time. It was one of 
my fancies to be ridiculously fond of 
dress ; to hunt in black satin breeches, 
wear pumps when shooting, and to dress 
in the finest ruffled shirts I could obtain 
from France." 

The evidences of vanity regarding his 
looks and apparel, sometimes found in 
his journal, are probably traceable to 
his foster-mother's unwise treatment of 
him in his youth. "We have seen how 
his father's intervention in the nick of 
time exercised a salutary influence upon 
him at this point in his career, directing 
his attention to the more solid attain- 
ments. Whatever traces of this self- con- 
sciousness and apparent vanity remained 
in after life, seem to have been more the 
result of a naive character delighting in 
picturesqueness in himself as well as in 
Nature, than they were of real vanity. 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 17 
In later years lie was assuredly nothing 
of the dandy ; he himself ridicules his 
youthful fondness for dress, while those 
who visited him during his last years 
speak of him as particularly lacking in 
self- consciousness. 

Although he affected the dress of the 
dandies of his time, he was temper- 
ate and abstemious. " I ate no butcher 7 s 
meat, lived chiefly on fruits, vegetables, 
and fish, and never drank a glass of 
spirits or wine until my wedding day. 77 
"All this time I was fair and rosy, 
strong and active as one of my age and 
sex could be, and as active and agile as 
a buck." 

That he was energetic and handy and 
by no means the mere dandy that his ex- 
travagance in dress might seem to indi- 
cate, is evidenced from the fact that 
about this time he made a journey on 
foot to New York and accomplished the 
ninety miles in three days in mid- 
winter. But he was angry, and anger is 
better than wine to walk on. 



18 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 

The cause of his wrath was this ; a 
lead mine had been discovered upon the 
farm of Mill Grove, and Audubon had 
applied to his father for counsel in regard 
to it. In response, the elder Audubon 
had sent over a man by the name of Da 
Costa who was to act as his son's partner 
and partial guardian was to teach him 
mineralogy and mining engineering, and 
to look after his finances generally. But 
the man, Audubon says, knew nothing 
of the subjects he was supposed to teach, 
and was, besides, "a covetous wretch, 
who did all he could to ruin my father, 
and, indeed, swindled both of us to a 
large amount. " Da Costa pushed his 
authority so far as to object to Audu- 
bon' s proposed union with Lucy Bake- 
well, as being a marriage beneath him, 
and finally plotted to get the young man 
off to India. These things very naturally 
kindled Audubon' s quick temper, and 
he demanded of his tutor and guardian 
money enough to take him to France 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 19 
to consult with his father. Da Costa 
gave him a letter of credit on a sort of 
banker-broker residing in New York. 
To New York he accordingly went, as 
above stated, and found that the banker- 
broker was in the plot to pack him off 
to India. This disclosure kindled his 
wrath afresh. He says that had he 
had a weapon about him the banker's 
heart must have received the result of 
his wrath. His Spanish blood began to 
declare itself. 

Then he sought out a brother of Mr. 
Bakewell and the uncle of his sweet- 
heart, and of him borrowed the money 
to take him to France. He took pas- 
sage on a New Bedford brig bound for 
Nantes. The captain had recently been 
married and when the vessel reached 
the vicinity of New Bedford, he discov- 
ered some dangerous leaks which neces- 
sitated a week's delay to repair damages. 
Audubon avers that the captain had 
caused holes to be bored in the vessel's 



20 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 

sides below the water line, to gain an 
excuse to spend a few more days with 
his bride. 

After a voyage of nineteen days the 
vessel entered the Loire, and anchored 
in the lower harbour of Nantes, and 
Audubon was soon welcomed by his 
father and fond foster-mother. 

His first object was to have the man 
Da Costa disposed of, which he soon 
accomplished j the second, to get his 
father's consent to his marriage with 
Lucy Bakewell, which was also brought 
about in due time, although the parents 
of both agreed that they were "owre 
young to marry yet. ' ' 

Audubon now remained two years in 
France, indulging his taste for hunting, 
rambling, and drawing birds and other 
objects of Natural History. 

This was probably about the years 
1805 and 1806. France was under the 
sway of Napoleon, and conscriptions 
were the order of the day. The elder 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 21 

Audubon became uneasy lest his son be 
drafted into the French army ; hence he 
resolved to send him back to America. 
In the meantime, he interested one 
Eozier in the lead mine and had formed 
a partnership between him and his son, 
to run for nine years. In due course the 
two young men sailed for New York, 
leaving France at a time when thousands 
would have been glad to have followed 
their footsteps. 

On this voyage their vessel was pursued 
and overhauled by a British privateer, 
the Rattlesnake, and nearly all their money 
and eatables were carried off, besides two 
of the ship's best sailors. Audubon and 
Eozier saved their gold by hiding it under 
a cable in the bow of the ship. 

On returning to Mill Grove, Audubon 
resumed his former habits of life there. 
"We hear no more of the lead mine, but 
more of his bird studies and drawings, 
the love of which was fast becoming 
his ruling passion. "Before I sailed 



22 JOHN JAMES ATJDUBON 
for France, I had begun a series of 
drawings of the birds of America, and 
had also begun a study of their habits. 
I at first drew my subject dead, by which 
I mean to say that after procuring a 
specimen, I hung it up, either by the 
head, wing, or foot, and copied it as 
closely as I could. " Even the hateful 
Da Costa had praised his bird pictures 
and had predicted great things for him 
in this direction. His words had given 
Audubon a great deal of pleasure. 

Mr. William Bakewell, the brother of 
his Lucy, has given us a glimpse of 
Audubon and his surroundings at this 
time. " Audubon took me to his house, 
where he and his companion, Eozier, 
resided, with Mrs. Thomas for an at- 
tendant. On entering his room, I was 
astonished and delighted that it was 
turned into a museum. The walls were 
festooned with all sorts of birds' eggs, 
carefully blown out and strung on a 
thread. The chimney piece was covered 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 23 
with stuffed squirrels, raccoons and opos- 
sums 5 and the shelves around were like- 
wise crowded with specimens, among 
which were fishes, frogs, snakes, lizards, 
and other reptiles. Besides these stuffed 
varieties, many paintings were arrayed 
upon the walls, chiefly of birds. He had 
great skill in stuffing and preserving 
animals of all sorts. He had also a trick 
of training dogs with great perfection, 
of which art his famous dog Zephyr was 
a wonderful example. He was an ad- 
mirable marksman, an expert swimmer, 
a clever rider, possessed great activity, 
prodigious strength, and was notable for 
the elegance of his figure, and the beauty 
of his features, and he aided Nature by 
a careful attendance to his dress. Besides 
other accomplishments, he was musical, 
a good fencer, danced well, had some 
acquaintance with legerdemain tricks, 
worked in hair, and could plait willow 
baskets.' 7 He adds that Audubon once 
swam across the Schuylkill with him 
011 his back. 



II. 

AUDUBON was now eager to marry, 
but Mr. Bakewell advised him first to 
study the mercantile business. This 
he accordingly set out to do by enter- 
ing as a clerk the commercial house of 
Benjamin Bakewell in New York, while 
his friend Eozier entered a French house 
in Philadelphia. 

But Audubon was not cut out for busi- 
ness ; his first venture was in indigo, and 
cost him several hundred pounds. Eo- 
zier succeeded no better ; his first specu- 
lation 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 shown by the state- 
ment that at this time he one day posted 
a letter containing eight thousand dollars 
without sealing it. His heart was in the 
fields and woods with the birds. His 
room was filled with drying bird skins, 
the odour from which, it is said, became 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 25 
so strong that his neighbours sent a con- 
stable to him with a message to abate 
the nuisance. 

Despairing of becoming successful bu- 
siness men in either New York or Phila- 
delphia, he and Eozier soon returned to 
Mill Grove. During some of their com- 
mercial enterprises they had visited 
Kentucky and thought so well of the 
outlook there that now their thoughts 
turned thitherward. 

Here we get the first date from Audu- 
bon ; on April 8, 1808, he and Lucy 
Bakewell were married. The plantation 
of Mill Grove had been previously sold, 
and the money invested in goods with 
which to open a store in Louisville, 
Kentucky. The day after the marriage, 
Audubon and his wife and Mr. Eozier 
started on their journey. In crossing 
the mountains to Pittsburg the coach in 
which they were travelling upset, and 
Mrs. Audubon was severely bruised. 
From Pittsburg they floated down the 






26 JOHN JAMES ATJDUBON 
Ohio in a flatboat in company with sev- 
eral other young emigrant families. The 
voyage occupied twelve days and was no 
doubt made good use of by Audubon in 
observing the wild nature along shore. 

In Louisville, he and Eozier opened 
a large store which promised well. But 
Audubon 7 s heart was more and more 
with the birds, and his business more 
and more neglected. Eozier attended to 
the counter, and, Audubon says, grew 
rich, but he himself spent most of the 
time in the woods or hunting with the 
planters settled about Louisville, be- 
tween whom and himself a warm attach- 
ment soon sprang up. He was not grow- 
ing rich, but he was happy. "I shot, I 
drew, I looked on Nature only," he 
says, "and my days were happy beyond 
human conception, and beyond this I 
really cared not." 

He says that the only part of the com- 
mercial business he enjoyed was the ever 
engaging journeys which he made to 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 27 
New York and Philadelphia to purchase 
goods. 

These journeys led him through the 
"beautiful, the darling forests of Ohio/ 
Kentucky, and Pennsylvania," and on 
one occasion he says he lost sight of the 
pack horses carrying his goods and his 
dollars, in his preoccupation with a new 
warbler. 

During his residence in Louisville, 
Alexander Wilson, his great rival in 
American ornithology, called upon him. 
This is Audubon's account of the meet- 
ing : " One fair morning I was surprised 
by the sudden entrance into our count- 
ing room at Louisville of Mr. Alexander 
Wilson, the celebrated author of the 
American Ornithology, of whose exist- 
ence I had never until that moment 
been apprised. This happened in 
March, 1810. How well do I remember 
him as he then walked up to me. His 
long, rather hooked nose, the keenness 
of his eyes, and his prominent cheek 



28 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
bones, stamped his countenance with 
a peculiar character. His dress, too, 
was of a kind not usually seen in that 
part of the country ; a short coat, trous- 
ers and a waistcoat of grey cloth. His 
stature was not above the middle size. 
He had two volumes under his arm, and 
as he approached the table at which I 
was working, I thought I discovered 
something like astonishment in his coun- 
tenance. He, however, immediately 
proceeded to disclose the object of his 
visit, which was to procure subscrip- 
tions for his work. He opened his 
books, explained the nature of his occu- 
pations, and requested my patronage. 
I felt surprised and gratified at the sight 
of his volumes, turned over a few of the 
plates, and had already taken my pen 
to write my name in his favour, when my 
partner rather abruptly said to me in 
French : ' My dear Audubon, what in- 
duces you to subscribe to this work! 
Your drawings are certainly far better ; 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 29 
and again, you must know as much of 
the habits of American birds as this gen- 
tleman. > Whether Mr. Wilson under- 
stood French or not, or if the suddenness 
with which I paused disappointed him, 
I cannot tell ; but I clearly perceived 
he was not pleased. Vanity, and the 
encomiums of my friend, prevented me 
from subscribing. Mr. Wilson asked 
me if I had many drawings of birds, I 
rose, took down a large portfolio, laid it 
on the table, and showed him as I would 
show you, kind reader, or any other per- 
son fond of such subjects, the whole of 
the contents, with the same patience, 
with which he had showed me his own 
engravings. His surprise appeared great, 
as he told me he had never had the most 
distant idea that any other individual 
than himself had been engaged in form- 
ing such a collection. He asked me if 
it was my intention to publish, and when 
I answered in the negative, his surprise 
seemed to increase. And, truly, such 



30 JOHN JAMES AUDUBOX 

was not my intention ; for, until long 
after, when I met the Prince of Musig- 
nano in Philadelphia, I had not the 
least idea of presenting the fruits of my 
labours to the world. Mr. Wilson now 
examined my drawings with care, asked 
if I should have any objection to lend- 
ing him a few during his stay, to which 
I replied that I had none. He then 
bade me good morning, not, however, 
until I had made an arrangement to ex- 
plore the woods in the vicinity along 
with him, and had promised to procure 
for him some birds, of which I had 
drawings in my collection, but which he 
had never seen. It happened that he 
lodged in the same house with us, but 
his retired habits, I thought, exhibited 
a strong feeling of discontent, or a de- 
cided melancholy. The Scotch airs 
which he played sweetly on his flute 
made me melancholy, too, and I felt for 
him. I presented him to my wife and 
friends, and seeing that he was all enthu- 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 31 
siasm, exerted myself as much as was in 
my power to procure for him the speci- 
mens which he wanted. 

"We hunted together and obtained 
birds which he had never before seen j 
but, reader, I did not subscribe to his 
work, for, even at that time, my collec- 
tion was greater than his. 

u Thinking that perhaps he might be 
pleased to publish the results of my re- 
searches, I offered them to him, merely 
on condition that what I had drawn, or 
might afterward draw and send to him, 
should be mentioned in his work as com- 
ing from my pencil. I at the same time 
offered to open a correspondence with 
him, which I thought might prove bene- 
ficial to us both. He made no reply to 
either proposal, and before many days 
had elapsed, left Louisville on his way 
to New Orleans, little knowing how 
much his talents were appreciated in our 
little town, at least by myself and my 
friends. " 



32 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 

Wilson's account of this meeting is in 
curious contrast to that of Audubon. 
It is meagre and unsatisfactory. Under 
date of March 19, he writes in his diary 
at Louisville: "Bambled around the 
town with my gun. Examined Mr. 

's [ Audubon' s] drawings in crayons 

very good. Saw two new birds he 
had, both Motatillae." 

"March 21. Went out this afternoon 
shooting with Mr. A. Saw a number of 
Sandhill cranes. Pigeons numerous. 7 ' 

Finally, in winding up the record of 
his visit to Louisville, he says, with pal- 
pable inconsistency, not to say falsehood, 
that he did not receive one act of civil- 
ity there, nor see one new bird, and 
found no naturalist to keep him com- 
pany. 

Some years afterward, Audubon hunted 
him up in Philadelphia, and found him 
drawing a white headed eagle. He was 
civil, and showed Audubon some atten- 
tion, but l i spoke not of birds or draw- 
ings." 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 33 
Wilson was of a nature far less open 
and generous than was Audubon. It is 
evident that he looked upon the latter as 
his rival, and was jealous of his superior 
talents ; for superior they were in many 
ways. His drawings have far more 
spirit and artistic excellence, and his 
text shows far more enthusiasm and 
hearty affiliation with Nature. In ac- 
curacy of observation, Wilson is fully 
his equal, if not his superior. 

As Audubon had deserted his busi- 
ness, his business soon deserted him ; he 
and his partner soon became discouraged 
(we hear no more about the riches Eo- 
zier had acquired), and resolved upon 
moving their goods to Hendersonville, 
Kentucky, over one hundred miles 
further down the Ohio. Mrs. Audu- 
bon and her baby son were sent back 
to her father's at Fatland Ford where 
they remained upwards of a year. 

Business at Hendersonville proved 
dull ; the country was but thinly in- 



34 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
habited and only the coarsest goods 
were in demand. To procure food the 
merchants had to resort to fishing and 
hunting. They employed a clerk who 
proved a good shot ; he and Audubon 
supplied the table while Rozier again 
stood behind the counter. 

How long the Hendersonville enter- 
prise lasted we do not know. Another 
change was finally determined upon, and 
the next glimpse we get of Audubon, we 
see him with his clerk and partner and 
their remaining stock in trade, consisting 
of three hundred barrels of whiskey, 
sundry dry goods and powder, on board 
a keel boat making their way down the 
Ohio, in a severe snow storm, toward 
St. Genevieve, a settlement on the Mis- 
sissippi Eiver, where they proposed to 
try again. The boat is steered by a long 
oar, about sixty feet in length, made of 
the trunk of a slender tree, and shaped 
at its outer extremity like the fin of a 
dolphin 5 four oars in the bow propelled 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 35 
her, and with the current they made 
about five miles an hour. 

Mrs. Audubon, who seems to have re- 
turned from her father's, with her baby, 
or babies, was left behind at Henderson- 
ville with a friend, until the result of the 
new venture should be determined. 

In the course of six weeks, after many 
delays, and adventures with the ice and 
the cold, the party reached St. Gen- 
evive. 

Audubon has given in his journal a 
very vivid and interesting account of 
this journey. At St. Genevieve, the 
whiskey was in great demand, and what 
had cost them twenty-five cents a gallon, 
was sold for two dollars. But Audubon 
soon became discouraged with the place 
and longed to be back in Hendersonville 
with his family. He did not like the low 
bred French- Canadians, who made up 
most of the population of the settlement. 
He sold out his interest in the business 
to his partner who liked the place and 



36 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
the people, and here the two parted 
company. Audubon purchased a fine 
horse and started over the prairies on 
his return trip to Hendersonville. 

On this journey he came near being 
murdered by a woman and her two des- 
perate sons who lived in a cabin on the 
prairies, where the traveller put up for 
the night. He has given a minute and 
graphic account of this adventure in his 
journal. 

The cupidity of the woman had been 
aroused by the sight of Audubon' s gold 
watch and chain. A wounded Indian, 
who had also sought refuge in the shanty 
had put Audubon upon his guard. It 
was midnight, Audubon lay on some bear 
skins in one corner of the room, feign- 
ing sleep. He had previously slipped 
out of the cabin and had loaded his 
gun, which lay close at hand. Presently 
he saw the woman sharpen a huge carv- 
ing knife, and thrust it into the hand of 
her drunken son, with the injunction to 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 37 
kill yon stranger and secure the watch. 
He was just on the point of springing up 
to shoot his would-be murderers, when 
the door burst open, and two travellers, 
each with a long knife, appeared. 
Audubon jumped up and told them his 
situation. The drunken sons and the 
woman were bound, and in the morning 
they were taken out into the woods and 
were treated as the Eegulators treated 
delinquents in those days. They were 
shot. Whether Audubon did any of the 
shooting or not, he does not say. But he 
aided and abetted, and his Spanish 
blood must have tingled in his veins. 
Then the cabin was set on fire, and the 
travellers proceeded on their way. 

It must be confessed that this story 
sounds a good deal like an episode in a 
dime novel, and may well be taken with 
a grain of allowance. Did remote prairie 
cabins in those days have grindstones 
and carving knives? And why should 
the would-be murderers use a knife when 
they had guns ? 



38 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 

Audubon reached Hendersonville in 
early March, and witnessed the severe 
earthquake which visited that part of 
Kentucky the following November, 1812. 
Of this experience we also have a vivid 
account in his journals. 

Audubon continued to live at Hender- 
sonville, his pecuniary means much re- 
duced. He says that he made a pedes- 
trian tour back to St. Genevieve to col- 
lect money due him from Eozier, walking 
the one hundred and sixty-five miles, 
much of the time nearly ankle- deep in 
mud and water, in a little over three 
days. Concerning the accuracy of this 
statement one also has his doubts. Later 
he bought a "wild horse, " and on its 
back travelled over Tennessee and a por- 
tion of Georgia, and so around to Phila- 
delphia, later returning to Henderson- 
ville. 

He continued his drawings of birds 
and animals, but, in the meantime, em- 
barked in another commercial venture, 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 39 

and for a time prospered. Some years 
previously lie had formed a co-partner- 
ship with his wife's brother, and a com- 
mercial house in charge of Bakewell had 
been opened in New Orleans. This 
turned out disastrously and was a con- 
stant drain upon his resources. 

This partner now appears upon the 
scene at Hendersonville and persuades 
Audubon to erect, at a heavy outlay, a 
steam grist and saw mill, and to take 
into the firm an Englishman by the name 
of Pease. 

This enterprise brought fresh disaster. 
"How I laboured at this infernal mill, 
from dawn till dark, nay, at times all 
night. 7 

They also purchased a steamboat 
which was so much additional weight to 
drag them down. This was about the 
year 1817. From this date till 1819, 
Audubon' s pecuniary difficulties in- 
creased daily. He had no business 
talent whatever ; he was a poet and an 



40 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
artist ; lie cared not for money, he 
wanted to be alone with Nature. The 
forests called to him, the birds haunted 
his dreams. 

His father dying in 1818, left him a 
valuable estate in France, and seventeen 
thousand dollars, deposited with a mer- 
chant in Eichmond, Virginia; but 
Audubon was so dilatory in proving 
his identity and his legal right to this 
cash, that the merchant finally died in- 
solvent, and the legatee never received 
a cent of it. The French estate he 
transferred in after years to his sister 
Eosa. 



m. 

FINALLY, Audnbon gave up the 
struggle of trying to be a business 
man. He says : "I parted with every 
particle of property I had to my credit- 
ors, 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. 



42 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 

{t 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, be- 
came 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." 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 43 
In 1819 lie 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 por- 
traits. 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 moder- 
ate ; 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 tur- 
keys 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 hav- 
ing his bird drawings published, after he 
shall have further added to them by 
going through many of the southern 
and western states. 



44 JOHN JAMES AUDUBOlSr 

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 por- 
trait 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 " Ornitho- 
logy," 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 ap- 
pointment never came to him. In March 
he called upon Vanderlyn, the historical 
painter, and took with him a portfolio 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 45 
of his drawings in hopes of getting a 
recommendation. Yanderlyn 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. 

' f The perspiration ran down my face, J J 
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 Yanderlyn 
and the officer. This he succeeded in 
doing, and obtained from the artist a 
very complimentary note, as he did also 
from Governor Eobertson of Louisiana. 

In June, Audubon left New Orleans 
for Kentucky, to rejoin his wife and 
boys, but somewhere on the journey en- 
gaged 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 



46 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
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 yel- 
low nankeen dress, and the unfortunate 
cut of my features, attracted much atten- 
tion, 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. 77 

His family, after strong persuasion, 
joined him in December, 1821, and his 
former life of drawing portraits, giving 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 47 
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 judg- 
ment of his wife, he concluded to leave 
New Orleans again, and to try his fort- 
unes elsewhere. He paid all his bills 
and took steamer for Natchez, paying 
his passage by drawing a crayon por- 
trait 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 oc- 
casion 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 



48 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
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, un- 
daunted, 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 pictur- 
esque in his fellow-men as well as for the 
picturesque in Nature. On the Levee 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 49 

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 ex- 
posed to the weather ; the broad frill of 
a shirt, then fashionable, flopped about 
his breast, whilst an extraordinary col- 
lar, 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, pro- 
truded 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 



50 JOKNT JAMES AUDUBOST 
I,' these words being painted in large 
white characters. He walked as if con- 
scious of his own importance ; that is, 
with a good deal of pomposity, singing, 
'My love is but a lassie yet 7 ; and that 
with such thorough imitation of the 
Scotch emphasis that had not his physi- 
ognomy suggested another parentage, I 
should have believed him to be a genu- 
ine Scot. A narrower acquaintance 
proved him to be a Yankee ; and anx- 
ious to make his acquaintance, I desired 
to see his birds. He retorted, 'What 
the devil did I know about birds f ' 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 stu- 
dio. Several cages were hung about the 
walls, containing specimens of birds, all 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 51 

of which I examined at my leisure. On 
a large easel before me stood an unfin- 
ished portrait, other pictures hung 
about, and in the room were two young 
pupils j and at a glance I discovered 
that the eccentric stranger was, like my- 
self, 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 en- 
chanted me. With a ramrod for a rest, 
he prosecuted his work vigorously, and 
afterwards asked me to examine a per- 
cussion 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 



52 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 

through the hole into which the pin 
fitted." 

Audnbon 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 les- 
sons in the use of oil colours, and was in- 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 53 
structed by Audubon in turn in chalk 
drawing. 

There appear to have been no sacri- 
fices that Mrs. Audubon was not willing 
and ready to make to forward the plans 
of her husband. { i My best friends, J J he 
says at this time, "solemnly regarded 
me as a mad man, and my wife and fam- 
ily 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 wan- 
dered as far as New Orleans, but Audu- 



54 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 

bon 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, revolv- 
ing various schemes in his head, even 
thinking of again entering upon mer- 
cantile 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 Au 
dubon'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. 



JOHN JAMES AUDTJBON 55 
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 Louis- 
ville, where Audubon painted birds, 
landscapes, portraits and even signs. In 
March he left Shipping Port for Phila- 
delphia, leaving his son Victor in the 
counting house of a Mr. Berthoud. He 
reached Philadelphia on April 5, and re- 
mained 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 emo- 
tions. 



56 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 

In August lie left Philadelphia for 
New York, hoping to improve his fi- 
nances, and, may be, publish his draw- 
ings in that city. At this time he hac 
two hundred sheets, and about one thou- 
sand birds. While there he again mei 
Yanderlyn and examined his pictures, 
but says that he was not impressed with 
the idea that Yanderlyn 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 atti- 
tudes. With Dr. De Kay he visited the 
Lyceum, and his drawings were exam- 
ined by members of the Institute. 
Among them he felt awkward and un- 
comfortable. " I feel that I am strange 
to all but the birds of America, 77 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 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 57 
idea of visiting Boston, he took pas- 
sage on a canal boat for Eochester. 
His fellow-passengers on the boat were 
doubtful whether he was a government 
officer, commissioner, or spy. At that 
time Eochester 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 sen- 
tence : " 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 ac- 
count 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 



58 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
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 draw- 
ing. Beaching Meadville, they had only 
one dollar and a half between them, but 
soon replenished their pockets by sketch- 
ing 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 ani- 
mals 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 



JOHK JAMES AUDUBOET 59 
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 Pitts- 
burg 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 com- 
pany 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 Ship- 
ping 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. 



60 JOHN JAMES AUDTJBON 

"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 danc- 
ing he soon had a class of sixty organ- 
ised. But the material proved so awk- 
ward 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 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 61 
thunders of applause. The dancing les- 
sons 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 inci- 
dents and descriptions. He landed at 
Liverpool, July 20, and delivered some 
of his letters of introduction. He soon 
made the acquaintance of Mr. Bath- 
bone, Mr. Eoscoe, Mr. Baring, and Lord 
Stanley. Lord Stanley said in looking 
over his drawings: "This work is 
unique, and deserves the patronage of 
the Crown. 7 ' In a letter fa) his wife at 
this time, Audubon said : "I am cher- 
ished by the most notable people in and 
around Liverpool, and have obtained 
letters of introduction to Baron Huni- 
boldt, Sir Walter Scott, Sir Humphry 
Davy, Sir Thomas Lawrence, Hannah 



62 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
More, Miss Edgeworth, and your dis- 
tinguished cousin, Robert Bake well." 
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 Eoyal Institution, an 
admittance of one shilling being charged. 
From this source he soon realised a 
hundred pounds. 

He then goes 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 natural- 
ist, 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?" thoughtl ; "ISHALL, iflhaveto 
crawl on all fours for a mile." On his 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 63 
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 paint- 
ing diligently when Captain Hall came 
in, and said : ' Put on your coat, and 
come with me to Sir Walter Scott j he 
wishes to see you now.' In a moment I 
was ready, for I really believe my coat 



64 JOHN JAMES ATJDUBON 
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. 7 His long, loose, silvery locks 
struck me ; he looked like Franklin at 
his best. He also reminded me of Ben- 
jamin West ; he had the great benevo- 
lence 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 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 65 
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 Napo- 
leon. 7 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 j a servant came and was asked 
to bid Miss Scott come to see Mr. Audu- 
bon. 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 



66 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
I was a candidate for the electorate of 
the society, I felt very uncomfortable 
and would gladly have been hunting on 
Tawapatee Bottom.' 7 

It may be worth while now to see what 
Scott thought of Audubon. Under the 
same date, Sir Walter writes in his jour- 
nal as follows: "January 22, 1827. A 
visit from Basil Hall, with Mr. Audu- 
bon, the ornithologist, who has followed 
the pursuit by many a long wandering 
in the American forests. He is an 
American by naturalisation, a French- 
man by birth ; but less of a Frenchman 
than I have ever seen no dust or glim- 
mer, or shine about him, but great sim- 
plicity of manners and behaviour ; slight 
in person and plainly dressed j 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 re- 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 67 
solved not to see them * a crazy way of 
mine, your honour. 7 " 

Two days later Audubon again saw 
Scott, and writes in his journal as fol- 
lows : " 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 viva- 
city 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 Eoyal Institution. 



68 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 

" 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 Eoyal 
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 : l Many such scenes, Mr. Audu- 
bon, 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 inquir- 
ing 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 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 69 

was much amused by l The Comedy of 
Errors/ and afterwards, 'The Green 
Boom.' I admire Miss Neville's sing- 
ing very much j and her manners also j 
there is none of the actress about her, 
but much of the lady." 

Audubon somewhere says of himself 
that he was " temperate to an intem- 
perate 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 ex- 
hibition, he overheard one man say to 
another : l ' Pray, have you seen Mr. 
Audubon' s collection of birds'? I am 
told it is well worth a shilling ; sup- 
pose we go now." 



70 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 

"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 subscrip- 
tion, and now a publisher, Mr. Lizars, 
offers to bring out the first number of 
" Birds of America/' and on Novem- 
ber 28, the first proof of the first engrav- 
ing 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 ex- 
isting, at two guineas a number. The 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 71 

engravings are truly beautiful 5 some of 
them have been coloured, and are now on 
exhibition. 7 

Audubon 7 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 sub- 
mitted to having his head " looked at. 7 ' 
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. 77 

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 7 s 
was proposed by Skene, a Scottish his- 
torian. " Whilst he was engaged in a 
handsome panegyric, the perspiration 



72 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
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 get- 
ting 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, bid- 
ding her Good-night, or rather Good- 
morning, at three A.M. 

Audubon had the bashfulness and 
awkwardness of the backwoodsman, and 
doubtless the nai'vet^ and picturesqueness 
also ; these traits and his very greal 
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 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 73 
(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 Ms 
room was a perfect levee. "It is Mr. 
Audubon here, and Mr. Audubon there j 
I only hope they will not make a con- 
ceited fool of Mr. Audubon at last." 
There seems to have been some danger 
of this, for he says : "I seem in a meas- 
ure to have gone back to my early days 
of society and fine dressing, silk stock- 
ings 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 Phila- 
delphia, promising to send him his 
first number, to be presented to the 
Philadelphia Society "an institution 



74 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
which thought me unworthy to be a 
member, 77 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 part- 
ridge,' 7 who welcomed him with tears 
in his eyes. The countess, i i a fair, fresh- 
complexioned woman, with dark, flash- 
ing eyes/ 7 wrote her name in his sub- 
scription 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, 77 he 
writes, " with a serious face and digni- 
fied air. He looks both shrewd and 
cunning, and talks with so much 



JOHN JAMES MJDUBON 75 
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 



76 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
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 scrawl- 
ing one, still more difficult, and Sydney 
Smith goes up hill all the way with 
large strides." 

Having decided upon visiting Lon- 
don, his friends persuaded him to have 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 77 
his hair cut before making the trip. 
This he did and chronicles the event 
in his journal as a very sad one, in 
which " the will of God was usurped by 
the wishes of man. 7 ' 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. 7 ' It only filled him 
with a strong desire to be in his beloved 



78 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
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 por- 
trait 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 replenish- 
ing his purse with nearly one hundred 
pounds. 

Considering Audubon's shy disposi- 
tion, 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, 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 79 
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 embassador." 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 Audu- 
don was despondent. He had removed 
the publication of his work from Edin- 
burgh to London, from the hands of Mr. 
Lizars into those of Eobert 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 col- 
lecting his dues and to add to his sub- 
scribers. 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 



80 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
travelling as I am now, to procure sub- 
scribers he, as well as myself, was re- 
ceived with rude coldness, and some- 
times with that arrogance which belongs 
to parvenus. 7 J 

A week or two later we find him 
again in Edinburgh where he break- 
fasted with Professor Wilson (" Chris- 
topher North 77 ), whom he greatly en- 
joyed, a man without stiffness or ceremo- 
nies : "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 comforta- 
ble himself.' 7 

In early November he took the coach 
for Glasgow, he and three other pas- 
sengers making the entire journey 
without uttering a single word : 1 1 We 
sat like so many owls of different spe- 
cies, as if afraid of one another. 7 7 Four 
days in Glasgow and only one sub- 
scriber. 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 81 

Early in January lie is back in Lon- 
don 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 pass- 
ing over, then presently another flock 
passed. The sight of these familiar 
objects made him more homesick than 
ever. He often went to Begent'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.'' 



82 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 

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 j when I remember how 
he praised these same drawings in my 
presence, I wonder that is all. 7 ' 

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 knowl- 
edge is probably small ; but it is not 
the custom to send for a gentleman to 
abuse him in one's own house." Au- 
dubon 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 subscrip- 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 83 
tions 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 Biver." 

On his way to Oxford he saw them 
turn a stag from a cart " before probably 
a hundred hounds and as many hunts- 
men. 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 miser- 
able a place. He could neither write nor 
draw to his satisfaction amid the ' l bustle, 
filth, and smoke.' 7 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 Eng- 



84 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
land. He wanted to renew and to im- 
prove about fifty of his drawings. Dur- 
ing this summer of 1828, he was very busy 
in London, painting, writing, and super- 
intending 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 sub- 
scribers has not increased ; on the con- 
trary, 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. Swain- 
son planned a trip to Paris, which they 
carried out early in September. It 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 85 
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 Ameri- 
cans 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 re- 
turned, 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 de- 
serves to be greeted j 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 j head large, face 
wrinkled and brownish ; eyes grey, brill- 



86 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 

iant and sparkling j 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 natu- 
ralist 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 Eng- 
land, no, not by far, but it was a good 
dinner served a la Frangaise." Neither 
was it followed by the " drinking 
matches ? 7 of wine, so common at Eng- 
lish tables. 

During his stay in Paris Audubon 
saw much of Cuvier, and was very 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 87 
kindly and considerately treated by 
him. One day lie accompanied a por- 
trait painter to his house and saw him 
sit for his portrait : "I see the Baron 
now, quite as plainly as I did this morn- 
ing, 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 acquaint- 
ance 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, pro- 
nouncing it "the most magnificent 
monument which has yet been erected 
to ornithology . " He obtained thirteen 
subscribers in France and spent forty 
pounds. 



88 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 

On November 9, lie is back in Lon- 
don, and soon busy painting, and press- 
ing 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, prose- 
cuting 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. 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 89 
Four hours' sleep out of the twenty- 
four was his allotted allowance. 

One often marvels at Audubon's ap- 
parent 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. Fort- 
tunately for him, his wife shared his be- 



90 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
lief 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 down- 
wards, 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 night- 
fall, when I take a walk and to bed.'' 

Audubon's capacity for work was ex- 
traordinary. His enthusiasm and per- 
severance were equally extraordinary. 
His purposes and ideas fairly possessed 
him. Never did a man consecrate him- 
self more fully to the successful com- 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 91 
pletion of the work of his life, than did 
Audubon to the finishing of his " Ameri- 
can 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 Louis- 
ville, 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." 



92 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 

Mrs. Audubon soon settled up her 
affairs at Bayou Sara, and the two set 
out early in January, 1830, for Louis- 
ville, thence to Cincinnati, thence to 
Wheeling, and so on to Washington, 
where Audubon exhibited his drawings 
to the House of Eepresentatives and re- 
ceived their subscriptions as a body. 
In Washington, he met the President, 
Andrew Jackson, and made the ac- 
quaintance 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 pub- 
lication of his " Birds, " canvassing the 
country for new subscribers, painting 
numerous pictures for sale, writing his 
' ' Ornithological Biography, ' ' living part 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 93 
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 ab- 
sent in America, he had been elected a 
fellow of the Eoyal 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 fortu- 
nate as to obtain the services of Mac- 
Gillivray, the biographer of British 
Birds. 

Audubon had learned that three edi- 
tions 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 MacGil- 
livray, 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, 



94 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
Mrs. Audubon says : ' i 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 pub- 
lished 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, repre- 
senting 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. 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 95 

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" ex- 
ceeded 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 Gar- 
den," "Deer Hunting," "Sandy Isl- 
and," "The Wreckers," "The Tur- 



96 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
ties," "Death of a Pirate," and other 
sketches. Stopping at Charleston, South 
Carolina, on this southern trip, he made 
the acquaintance of the Keverend John 
Bachman, and a friendship between 
these two men was formed that lasted 
as long as they both lived. Subse- 
quently, Audubon's sons, Victor and 
John, married Dr. Bachman 7 s two eld- 
est daughters. 

In the summer of 1832, Audubon, 
accompanied by his wife and two sons, 
made a trip to Maine and New Bruns- 
wick, 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 ' 7 at that early date ; "for on 
asking for brandy, rum, or whiskey, not 
a drop could I obtain." He saw much 



JOHK JAMES AUDUBON 97 
of the lumbermen and was a deeply in- 
terested spectator of their ways and 
doings. Some of his best descriptive 
passages are contained in these diaries. 

In October he is back in Boston plan- 
ning a trip to Labrador, and intent on 
adding more material to his " Birds 7 ' 
by another year in his home country. 

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

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 



98 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
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 difficul- 
ties. He makes this interesting observa- 
tion 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 under- 
growth. In this state the female is still 
well clothed, and little or no difference 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 99 
can be seen in the plumage, unless ex- 
amined." 

He gives this realistic picture of 
salmon fishermen that his party saw in 
Labrador : t i 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 bowk, 
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 appear- 
ance 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 



100 JOHN JAMES ATJDUBON 
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 hun- 
dred barrels was a fair season ; now one 
hundred is the maximum ; this is be- 
cause they will catch the fish both as- 
cending and descending the river. Dur- 
ing 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 
Eeindeer are now and then procured. 
One species of Grouse, and one of Ptar- 
migan, 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 pur- 
chase many for my friends. The furs 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 101 
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.' 7 

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 dreari- 
ness. 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 situa- 
tions, 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 

UNIVERSITY OP CALIFORNIA 
SANTA BAJRiiARA COLLEGE LIBRARY 



102 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 

from the hunter's pursuit. The peculiar 
cast of the sky, which never seems to be 
certain, butterflies flitting over snow- 
banks, probing beautiful dwarf flowerets 
of many hues, pushing their tender stems 
from the thick bed of moss which every- 
where 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, per- 
chance, an"d 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 fresh- 
water lakes, on the rugged crests of 
greatly elevated islands, wherein the Eed 
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 



JOHN JAMES ATJDUBON 103 
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 doubt- 
less is as sweet to it, as the essence of 
the magnolia is to those of favoured Lou- 
isiana. The little Eing 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 reach- 
ing 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, com- 
pared 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 



104 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
horizon, for full well he knows that 
snow snow is all that can be seen. I 
watched the Eing 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 drag- 
ging 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 de- 
vouring 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 Sep- 
tember, Audubon spent three weeks in 
New York, after which with his wife, he 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 105 
started upon another southern trip, paus- 
ing at Philadelphia, Baltimore, Wash- 
ington, and Eichmond. In Washington 
he made some attempts to obtain per- 
mission to accompany a proposed expe- 
dition to the Eocky Mountains, under 
Government patronage. But the cold 
and curt manner in which Cass, then 
Secretary of War, received his appli- 
cation, 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 Au- 
dubons 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 ob- 



106 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
tained 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 Koth- 
schild, to whom he had a letter of intro- 
duction from a distinguished American 
banking house. The Baron was not 
present when they entered his private 
office, but "soon a corpulent man ap- 
peared, 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 



JOHN JAMES AUDTJBON 107 
respectfully in our hands. I stepped 
forward, and with a bow tendered my 
credentials. 'Pray, sir, 7 said the man 
of golden consequence, ' is this a letter of 
business, or is it a mere letter of intro- 
duction f ' 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 man- 
ner of one who was looking only at the 
temporal side of things, and after reading 
it said, * This is only a letter of intro- 
duction, and I expect from its contents 
that you are the publisher of some book 
or other and need my subscription. J 

u Had a man the size of a mountain 
spoken to me in that arrogant style in 
America, I should have indignantly re- 
sented it ; but where I then was it 
seemed best to swallow and digest it as 
well as I could. So in reply to the of- 
fensive arrogance of the banker, I said I 
should be honoured by his subscription to 



108 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
the i l Birds of America. ' ' c Sir, 7 he said, 
1 1 never sign my name to any subscrip- 
tion list, but you may send in your work 
and I will pay for a copy of it. Gentle- 
men, I am busy. I wish you good morn- 
ing. J 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. Num- 
ber 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 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 109 
and not a farthing more ! 7 Bepresenta- 
tions were made to him of the magnifi- 
cence and expense of the work, and how 
pleased his Baroness and wealthy chil- 
dren would be to have a copy ; but the 
great financier was unrelenting. The 
copy of the work was actually sent 
back to Mr. HavelPs 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 Eothschild 
of London, and the merchant of Savan- 
nah!" 

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

In the summer of 1836, he returned 



110 JOHN JAMES ATJDUBON 
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 curi- 
ous 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 Nut- 
tall, 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 coun- 
try, I advise you to settle in Boston ; I 
have faith in the Bostonians." 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 111 
In Salem lie 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 depart- 
ments, that he did not think it prob- 



112 JOHtf JAMES AUDUBON 
able that their subscription could be 
obtained without a law to that effect 
from Congress. " 

At this time he also met the Presi- 
dent, 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 mod- 
erately ; his last dish consisting of bread 
and milk." 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 113 
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 u Quadrupeds of North 
America. 77 

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 Hous- 
ton. Here is one of his vivid, realistic 
pen pictures of the famous Texan : t i We 
walked towards the President's house, ac- 
companied by the Secretary of the Navy, 
and as soon as we rose above the bank, 
we saw before us a level of far-extend- 
ing prairie, destitute of timber, and 
rather poor soil. Houses half finished, 



114 JOHK JAMES ATJDUBOX 

and most of them without roofc, tents, 
and a liberty pole, with the capitol, 
were all exhibited to our view at once. 
We approached the President's man- 
sion, 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 thresh- 
old, on the right hand of the passage we 
found ourselves ushered into what in 
other countries would be called the 
ante- chamber ; the ground floor, how- 
ever, 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 intel- 
lectual ability, simple, though bold, in 
their general appearance. Here we 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 115 
were presented to Mr. Crawford, an 
agent of the British Minister to Mexico, 
who has come here on some secret mis- 
sion. 

"The President was engaged in the 
opposite room on some national busi- 
ness, 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 sur- 
prised that he offered his name, instead 
of the ca^sh 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 pre- 
vent the sale of ardent spirits. He was 
on his way to his house, and wore a 



116 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 

large grey coarse hat ; and the bulk of 
his figure reminded me of the appear- 
ance 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 disagree- 
able. 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 j 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 dif- 
ferent members of his cabinet and staff, 
and at once asked to drink grog with 
him, which we did, wishing success to 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 117 
his new republic. Our talk was short : 
but the impression which was made on 
my mind at the time by himself, his offi- 
cers, and his place of abode, can never 
be forgotten." 

Late in the summer of 1837, Audu- 
bon, with his son John and his new wife 
the daughter of Dr. Bachman, re- 
turned 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 " Biogra- 
phy > ' 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, incredi- 
ble difficulties had been surmounted, and 



118 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
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' 7 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 vari- 
ance 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 London- 
derry, Princess of Hesse Homburg. 

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



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 119 

"He further said that he sold 75 

copies in America, 26 in New York and 

24 in Boston ; that the work cost him 

27,000 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 con- 
versation I made a memorandum at the 
time which I read over to Mr. Audubon 
and he pronounced it correct. 

" J. PRESCOTT HALL." 



IV. 

ABOUT 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 spir- 
ited and life like, and their biographies 
copious, picturesque, and accurate, and, 
taken in connection with his many jour- 
nals, 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 well ; he 
wove his doings and adventures into his 
natural history observations. This gives 
a personal flavour to his pages, and is 
the main source of their charm. 

His account of the Eosebreasted Gros- 
beak is a good sample of his work in this 
respect : 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 121 
"One year, in the month of August, I 
was trudging along the shores of the 
Mohawk river, when night overtook me. 
Being little acquainted with that part of 
the country, I resolved to camp where I 
was ; the evening was calm and beauti- 
ful, the sky sparkled with stars which 
were reflected by the smooth waters, and 
the deep shade of the rocks and trees of 
the opposite shore fell on the bosom of 
the stream, while gently from afar came 
on the ear the muttering sound of the 
cataract. My little fire was soon lighted 
under a rock, and, spreading out my 
scanty stock of provisions, I reclined on 
nay grassy couch. As I looked on the 
fading features of the beautiful land- 
scape, my heart turned towards my dis- 
tant home, where my friends were doubt- 
less wishing me, as I wish them, a happy 
night and peaceful slumbers. Then were 
heard the barkings of the watch dog, and 
I tapped my faithful companion to pre- 
vent his answering them. The thoughts 



122 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 

of my worldly mission then came over 
my mind, and having thanked the Crea- 
tor of all for his never-failing mercy, I 
closed my eyes, and was passing away 
into the world of dreaming existence, 
when suddenly there burst on my soul the 
serenade of the Eosebreasted bird, so rich, 
so mellow, so loud in the stillness of the 
night, that sleep fled from my eyelids. 
Never did I enjoy music more : it 
thrilled through my heart, and sur- 
rounded me with an atmosphere of bliss. 
One might easily have imagined that 
even the Owl, charmed by such delight- 
ful music, remained reverently silent. 
Long after the sounds ceased did I enjoy 
them, and when all had again become 
still, I stretched out my wearied limbs, 
and gave myself up to the luxury of re- 
pose. " 

Probably most of the seventy-five or 
eighty copies of " Birds" which were 
taken by subscribers in this country are 
still extant, held by the great libraries, 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 123 
and learned institutions. The Lenox 
Library in New York owns three sets. 
The Astor Library owns one set. I 
have examined this work there ; there 
are four volumes in a set ; they are 
elephant folio size more than three 
feet long, and two or more feet wide. 
They are the heaviest books I ever 
handled. It takes two men to carry one 
volume to the large racks which hold 
them for the purpose of examination. 
The birds, of which there are a thousand 
and fifty-five specimens in four hundred 
and thirty-five plates, are all life size, 
even the great eagles, and appear to be 
unfaded. This work, which cost the 
original subscribers one thousand dol- 
lars, now brings four thousand dollars 
at private sale. 

Of the edition with reduced figures 
and with the bird biographies, many 
more were sold, and all considerable 
public libraries in this country possess 
the work. It consists of seven imperial 



124 JOHN JAMES AUDUBOX 

octavo volumes. Five hundred dollars is 
the average price which this work brings. 
This was a copy of the original English 
publication, with the figures reduced and 
lithographed. In this work, his sons, 
John and Victor, greatly assisted him, 
the former doing the reducing by the 
aid of the camera-lucida, and the latter 
attending to the printing and publishing. 
The first volume of this work appeared 
in 1840, and the last in 1844. 

Audubon experimented a long time 
before he hit upon a satisfactory method 
of drawing his birds. Early in his 
studies he merely drew them in out- 
line. Then he practised using threads 
to raise the head, wing or tail of his 
specimen. Under David he had learned 
to draw the human figure from a mani- 
kin. It now occurred to him to make 
a manikin of a bird, using cork or wood, 
or wires for the purpose. But his bird 
manikin only excited the laughter and 
ridicule of his friends. Then he con- 



JOHK JAMES AUDUBON 125 
ceived the happy thought of setting up 
the body of the dead bird by the aid 
of wires, very much as a taxidermist 
mounts them. This plan worked well 
and enabled him to have his birds per- 
manently before him in a characteristic 
attitude : "The bird fixed with wires on 
squares I studied as a lay figure before 
me, its nature previously known to me 
as far as habits went, and its general 
form having been perfectly observed." 
His bird pictures reflect his own 
temperament, not to say his nation- 
ality 5 the birds are very demonstra- 
tive, even theatrical and melodramatic 
at times. In some cases this is all right, 
in others it is all wrong. Birds differ 
in this respect as much as people do 
some are very quiet and sedate, others 
pose and gesticulate like a Frenchman. 
It would not be easy to exaggerate, for 
instance, the flashings and evolutions of 
the redstart when it arrives in May, 
or the acting and posing of the catbird, 



126 JOHN JAMES AUDUBOST 

or the gesticulations of the yellow 
breasted chat, or the nervous and em- 
phatic character of the large-billed 
water thrush, or the many pretty atti- 
tudes of the great Carolina wren ; but 
to give the same dramatic character to 
the demure little song sparrow, or to the 
slow moving cuckoo, or to the pedestrian 
cowbird, or to the quiet Kentucky 
warbler, as Audubon has done, is to 
convey a wrong impression of these 
birds. 

"Wilson errs, if at all, in the other 
direction. His birds, on the other hand, 
reflect his cautious, undemonstrative 
Scotch nature. Few of them are shown 
in violent action like Audubon' s cuckoo ; 
their poses for the most part are easy 
and characteristic. His drawings do 
not show the mastery of the subject 
and the versatility that Audubon' s do ; 
they have not the artistic excellence, 
but they less frequently do violence to 
the bird's character by exaggerated 
activity. 



JOHN JAMES ATJDUBON 127 

The colouring in Audubon's birds is 
also often exaggerated. His purple 
finch is as brilliant as a rose, whereas 
at its best, this bird is a dull carmine. 

Either the Baltimore oriole has 
changed its habits of nest-building since 
Audubon's day, or else he was wrong in 
his drawing of the nest of that bird, in 
making the opening on the side near the 
top. I have never seen an oriole 7 s nest 
that was not open at the top. 

In his drawings of a group of robins, 
one misses some of the most characteristic 
poses of that bird, while some of the at- 
titudes that are portrayed are not 
common and familiar ones. 

But in the face of all that he accom- 
plished, and against such odds, and tak- 
ing into consideration also the changes 
that may have crept in through engraver 
and colourists, it ill becomes us to indulge 
in captious criticisms. Let us rather re- 
peat Audubon's own remark on realising 
how far short his drawings came of rep- 



128 JOHK JAMES AUDUBON 

resenting the birds themselves: " After 
all, there 7 s nothing perfect but primi- 
tiveness." 

Finding that he could not live in the 
city, in 1842 Audubon removed with his 
family to ' i Minnie' s Land, ' ' on the banks 
of the Hudson, now known as Audubon 
Park, and included in the city limits ; 
this became his final home. 

In the spring of 1843 he started on his 
last long journey, his trip to the Yellow- 
stone Eiver, of which we have a minute 
account in his " Missouri Eiver Jour- 
nals" documents that lay hidden in 
the back of an old secretary from 1843 
to the time when they were found by 
his grand- daughters in 1896, and pub- 
lished by them in 1897. 

This trip was undertaken mainly in 
the interests of the Quadrupeds and 
Biography of American Quadrupeds, and 
much of what he saw and did is woven 
into those three volumes. The trip 
lasted eight months, and the hardships 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 129 
and exposures seriously affected Audu- 
bon's health. He returned home in 
October, 1843. 

He was now sixty-four or five years 
of age, and the infirmities of his years 
began to steal upon him. 

The first volume of his ' l Quadrupeds ' 7 
was published about two years later, and 
this was practically his last work. The 
second and third volumes were mainly 
the work of his sons, John and Victor. 

The ' ' Quadrupeds J > does not take rank 
with his " Birds." It was not his first 
love. It was more an after thought to 
fill up his time. Neither the drawing 
nor the colouring of the animals, largely 
the work of his son John, approaches 
those of the birds. 

"Surely no man ever had better 
helpers ' 7 says his grand-daughter, and a 
study of his life brings us to the same 
conclusion his devoted wife, his able 
and willing sons, were his closest helpers, 
nor do we lose sight of the assistance of 



130 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
the scientific and indefatigable MacGilli- 
vray, and the untiring and congenial 
co-worker, Dr. Bachman. 

Audubon's last years were peaceful 
and happy, and were passed at his 
home on the Hudson, amid his children 
and grandchildren, surrounded by the 
scenes that he loved. 

After his eyesight began to fail him, 
his devoted wife read to him, she walked 
with him, and toward the last she fed 
him. " Bread and milk were his break- 
fast and supper, and at noon he ate a 
little fish or game, never having eaten 
animal food if he could avoid it." 

One visiting at the home of our natu- 
ralist during his last days speaks of the 
tender way in which he said to his wife : 
"Well, sweetheart, always busy. Come 
sit thee down a few minutes and rest." 

Parke Godwin visited Audubon in j 
1840, and gives this account of his 
visit : 

"The house was simple and unpre- 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 131 
tentious in its architecture, and beau- 
tifully embowered amid elms and oaks. 
Several graceful fawns, and a noble 
elk, were stalking in the shade of the 
trees, apparently unconscious of the 
presence of a few dogs, and not caring 
for the numerous turkeys, geese, and 
other domestic animals that gabbled 
and screamed around them. Nor did 
my own approach startle the wild, 
beautiful creatures, that seemed as 
docile as any of their tame compan- 
ions. 

" 'Is the master at home?' I asked 
of a pretty maid servant, who answered 
my tap at the door ; and who, after in- 
forming me that he was, led me into a 
room on the left side of the broad hall. 
It was not, however, a parlour, or an or- 
dinary reception room that I entered, 
but evidently a room for work. In one 
corner stood a painter's easel, with the 
half-finished sketch of a beaver on 
the paper ; in the other lay the skin 



132 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
of an American panther. The antlers 
of elks hung upon the waDs ; stuffed 
birds of every description of gay plu- 
mage ornamented the mantel-piece ; and 
exquisite drawings of field mice, orioles, 
and woodpeckers, were scattered promis- 
cuously in other parts of the room, across 
one end of which a long, rude table was 
stretched to hold artist materials, scraps 
of drawing paper, and immense folio 
volumes, filled with delicious paintings 
of birds taken in their native haunts. 

"'This,' said I to myself, 'is the 
studio of the naturalist, ' but hardly 
had the thought escaped me when- the 
master himself made his appearance. 
He was a tall thin man, with a high- 
arched and serene forehead, and a 
bright penetrating grey eye ; his white 
locks fell in clusters upon his shoulders, 
but were the only signs of age, for his 
form was erect, and his step as light as 
that of a deer. The expression of his 
face was sharp, but noble and com- 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 133 

manding, and there was something in 
it, partly derived from the aquiline 
nose and partly from the shutting of 
the mouth, which made you think of the 
imperial eagle. 

"His greeting as he entered, was at 
once frank and cordial, and showed you 
the sincere true man. t How kind it is, J 
he said, with a slight French accent and 
in a pensive tone, ' to come to see me ; 
and how wise, too, to leave that crazy 
city.' He then shook me warmly by 
the hand. * Do you know, ' he contin- 
ued, l how I wonder that men can con- 
sent to swelter and fret their lives away 
amid those hot bricks and pestilent va- 
pours, when the woods and fields are all 
so near I It would kill me soon to be 
confined in such a prison house ; and 
when I am forced to make an occasional 
visit there, it fills me with loathing 
and sadness. Ah ! how often, when I 
have been abroad on the mountains, 
has my heart risen in grateful praise to 



134 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 

God that it was not my destiny to waste 
and pine among those noisome congre- 
gations of the city.' " 

Another visitor to Audubon during 
his last days writes : "In my interview 
with the naturalist, there were several 
things that stamped themselves indelibly 
on my mind. The wonderful simplicity 
of the man was perhaps the most re- 
markable. His enthusiasm for facts 
made him unconscious of himself. To 
make him happy you had only to give 
him a new fact in natural history, or 
introduce him to a rare bird. His self- 
forgetfulness was very impressive. I 
felt that I had found a man who asked 
homage for God .and Nature, and not 
for himself. 

"The unconscious greatness of the man 
seemed only equalled by his child-like 
tenderness. The sweet unity between his 
wife and himself, as they turned over the 
original drawings of his birds, and re- 
called the circumstances of the drawings, 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 135 
some of which had been made when she 
was with him ; her quickness of percep- 
tion, and their mutual enthusiasm re- 
garding these works of his heart and 
hand, and the tenderness with which 
they unconsciously treated each other, 
all was impressed upon my memory. 
Ever since, I have been convinced that 
Audubon owed more to his wife than the 
world knew, or ever would know. That 
she was always a reliance, often a help, 
and ever a sympathising sister-soul to 
her noble husband, was fully apparent 
to me." 

One notes much of the same fire and 
vigour in the later portraits of Audubon, 
that are so apparent in those of him in 
his youthful days. What a resolute 
closing of the mouth in his portrait taken 
of him in his old age " the magnificent 
grey-haired man ! ? ' 

In 1847, Audubon' s mind began to 
fail him ; like Emerson in his old age, 
he had difficulty in finding the right 
word. 



136 JOHK JAMES AUDUBON 

In May, 1848, Dr. Bachman wrote 
of him: "My poor friend Audubon ! 
The outlines of his beautiful face and 
form are there, but his noble mind is all 
in ruins.' 7 

His feebleness increased (there was 
no illness), till at sunset, January 27, 
1851, in his seventy-sixth year, the 
"American Woodsman, 77 as he was 
wont to call himself, set out on his last 
long journey to that bourne whence no 
traveller returns. 



Y. 

As a youth Audubon was an unwill- 
ing student of books ; as a merchant and 
mill owner in Kentucky he was an un- 
willing man of business, but during his 
whole career, at all times and in all 
places, he was more than a willing 
student of ornithology he was an 
eager and enthusiastic one. He brought 
to the pursuit of the birds, and to the 
study of open air life generally, the 
keen delight of the sportsman, united 
to the ardour of the artist moved by 
beautiful forms. 

He was not in the first instance a man 
of science, like Cuvier, or Agassiz, or 
Darwin a man seeking exact knowl- 
edge ; but he was an artist and a back- 
woodsman, seeking adventure, seeking 
the gratification of his tastes, and to put 
on record his love of the birds. He was 
the artist of the birds before he was their 
historian ; the writing of their biogra- 



138 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 

phies seems to have been only secondary 
with him. 

He had the lively mercurial tempera- 
ment of the Latin races from which he 
sprang. He speaks of himself as { i warm, 
irascible, and at times violent.' 7 

His perceptive powers, of course, led 
his reflective. His sharpness and quick- 
ness of eye surprised even the Indians. 
He says: "My observatory nerves never 
gave way." 

His similes and metaphors were 
largely drawn from the animal world. 
Thus he says, " I am as dull as a beetle," 
during his enforced stay in London. 
While he was showing his drawings to 
Mr. Eathbone, he says : "I was panting 
like the winged pheasant." At a din- 
ner in some noble house in England he 
said that the men servants " moved as 
quietly as killdeers." On another oc- 
casion, when the hostess failed to put 
him at his ease: " There I stood, mo- 
tionless as a Heron." 



JOHN JAMES ATJDUBON 139 

With all his courage and buoyancy, 
Audubon was subject to fits of depres- 
sion, probably the result largely of his 
enforced separation from his family. 
On one occasion in Edinburgh he speaks 
of these attacks, and refers pathetically 
to others he had had : < ' But that was in 
beloved America, where the ocean did 
not roll between me and my wife and 
sons." 

Never was a more patriotic American. 
He loved his adopted country above all 
other lands in which he had journeyed. 

Never was a more devoted husband, 
and never did wife more richly deserve 
such devotion than did Mrs. Audubon. 
He says of her : "She felt the pangs of 
our misfortune perhaps more heavily 
than I, but never for an hour lost her 
courage ; her brave and cheerful spirit 
accepted all, and no reproaches from her 
beloved lips ever wounded my heart. 
With her was I not always rich V J 

"The waiting time, my brother, is the 
hardest time of all." 



140 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
While Audubon was waiting for better 
luck, or for worse, lie was always listen- 
ing to the birds and studying them 
storing up the knowledge that he turned 
to such good account later : but we can 
almost hear his neighbours and ac- 
quaintances calling him an " idle, worth- 
less fellow." Not so his wife 5 she had 
even more faith in him than he had in 
himself. 

His was a lovable nature he won af- 
fection and devotion easily, and he loved 
to be loved ; he appreciated the least 
kindness shown him. 

He was always at ease and welcome 
in the squatter's cabin or in elegantly 
appointed homes, like that of his friends, 
the Eathbones, though he does complain 
of an awkwardness and shyness some- 
times when in high places. This, how- 
ever, seemed to result from the pomp 
and ceremony found there, and not 
because of the people themselves. 

" Chivalrous, generous, and courteous 



JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 141 
to his heart's core," says his grand- 
daughter, "he could not believe others 
less so, till painful experiences taught 
him j then he was grieved, hurt, but 
never imbittered ; and, more marvellous 
yet, with his faith in his fellows as strong 
as ever, again and again he subjected 
himself to the same treatment." 

On one occasion when his pictures 
were on exhibition in England, some one 
stole one of his paintings, and a warrant 
was issued against a deaf mute. ' l Gladly 
would I have painted a bird for the poor 
fellow," saidAudubon, u and I certainly 
did not want him arrested." 

He was never, even in his most des- 
perate financial straits, too poor to help 
others more poor than himself. 

He had a great deal of the old-fash- 
ioned piety of our fathers, which crops 
out abundantly in his pages. While he 
was visiting a Mr. Bently in Manchester, 
and after retiring to his room for the 
night, he was surprised by a knock at his 



142 JOHN JAMES AUDUBON 
door. It appeared that his host in pass- 
ing thought he heard Audubon call to 
him to ask for something : " I told him 
I prayed aloud every night, as had been 
my habit from a child at my mother's 
knees in Nantes. He said nothing for 
a moment, then again wished me good 
night and was gone." 

Audubon belonged to the early history 
of the country, to the pioneer times, to 
the South and the West, and was, on the 
whole, one of the most winsome, inter- 
esting, and picturesque characters that 
have ever appeared in our annals. 



BIBLIOGEAPHY. 

The works of Audubon are mentioned 
in the chronology at the beginning of 
the volume and in the text. Of the 
writings about him the following apart 
from the obvious books of reference in 
American biography are the main 
sources of information : 

I. PROSE WHITINGS OF AMERICA. By 
Eufus Wilmot Griswold. (Philadelphia, 
1847: Carey & Hart.) 

II. BRIEF BIOGRAPHIES. By Samuel 
Smiles. (Boston, 1861 : Ticknor & 
Fields.) 

III. AUDUBON, THE NATURALIST OF 
THE NEW WORLD : His ADVENTURES 
AND DISCOVERIES. By Mrs. Horace 
Eoscoe Stebbing St. John. (Eevised, 
with additions. Boston, 1864 : Crosby 
& Nichols. New York, 1875: The 
World Publishing House.) 



144 BIBLIOGRAPHY 

IV. THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF 
JOHN JAMES AUDUBON, THE NATURAL- 
IST. Edited, from materials supplied 
by his widow, by Eobert Buchanan. 
(London, 1868 : S. Low, son & Mars- 
ton.) 

Y. THE LIFE OF JOHN JAMES Au- 
DUBON. Edited by his widow, with 
an Introduction by James Grant "Wilson. 
(New York, 1869: Putnams.) 

VI. FAMOUS MEN OF SCIENCE. By 
Sarah Knowles Bolton. (Boston, 1889 : 
T. Y. Crowell&Co.) 

VII. AUDUBON AND HIS JOURNALS. 

By Maria E. Audubon. With Zoologi- 
cal and Other Notes by Elliott Coues. 
(New York, 1897 : Charles Scribner's 
Sons. Two volumes.) This is by far 
the most interesting and authentic of 
any of the sources of information. 



THE BEACON BIOGRAPHIES. 

M. A. DEWOLFE HOWE, Editor, 



The aim of this series is to furnish brief, read- 
able, and authentic accounts of the lives of those 
Americans whose personalities have impressed 
themselves most deeply on the character and 
history of their country. On account of the 
length of the more formal lives, often running 
into large volumes, the average busy man and 
woman have not the time or hardly the inclina- 
tion to acquaint themselves with American bi- 
ography. In the present series everything that 
such a reader would ordinarily care to know is 
given by writers of special competence, who 
possess in full measure the best contemporary 
point of view. Each volume is equipped with 
a frontispiece portrait, a calendar of important 
dates, and a brief bibliography for further read- 
ing. Finally, the volumes are printed in a form 
convenient for reading and for carrying handily 
in the pocket. 

SMALL, MAYNARD & COMPANY, Publishers. 

[OVER] 



THE BEACON BIOGRAPHIES. 



The following volumes are issued : 

Louis Agassiz, by ALICE BACHE GOULD. 
John James Audubon, by JOHN BURROUGHS. 
Edwin Booth, by CHARLES TOWNSEND COPELAND. 
Phillips Brooks, by M. A. DE WOLFE HOWE. 
John Brown, by JOSEPH EDGAR CHAMBERLIN. 
Aaron Burr, by HENRY CHILDS MERWIN. 
James Fenimore Cooper, by W. B. SHUBRICJC CLYMER. 
Stephen Decatur, by CYRUS TOWNSEND BRADY. 
Frederick Douglass, by CHARLES W. CHESNUTT. 
Ralph Waldo Emerson, by FRANK B. SANBORN 
David G. Farragut, by JAMES BARNES. 
Ulysses S. Grant, by OWEN WISTER. 
Alexander Hamilton, by JAMES SCHOULER. 
Nathaniel Hawthorne, by Mrs. JAMES T. FIELDS. 
Father Hecker, by HENRY D. SEDGWICK, Jr. 
Sam Houston, by SARAH BARNWELL ELLIOTT. 
"Stonewall" Jackson, by CARL HOVEY. 
Thomas Jefferson, by THOMAS E. WATSON. 
Robert E. Lee, by WILLIAM P. TRENT. 
Henry W. Longfellow, by GEORGE RICE CARPENTER. 
James Russell Lowell, by EDWARD EVERETT HALE, Jr. 
Samuel F. B. Morse, by JOHN TROWBRIDGE. 
Thomas Paine, by ELLERY SEDGWICK. 
Daniel Webster, by NORMAN HAPGOOD. 

John Greenleaf Whittier, by RICHARD BURTON. 

The following are among those in preparation : 
John Jacob Astor, by ARTHUR ASTOR CAREY. 

Benjamin Franklin, by LINDSAY SWIFT. 



THE WESTMINSTER BIOG- 
RAPHIES. 



The WESTMINSTER BIOGRAPHIES are uniform in plan 
size, and general make-up with the BEACON BIOGRAPHIES, 
the point of important difference lying in the fact that 
they deal with the lives of eminent Englishmen instead 
of eminent Americans. They are bound in limp red cloth, 
are gilt- topped, and have a cover design and a vignette title- 
page by BERTRAM GROSVENOR GOODHUE. Like the Beacon 
Biographies, each volume has a frontispiece portrait, a 
photogravure, a calendar of dates, and a bibliography for 
further reading. 

The following volumes are issued: 

Robert Browning, by ARTHUR WAUGH. 

Daniel Defoe, by WILFRED WRITTEN. 

Adam Duncan (Lord Camperdown), by H. W. WILSON. 

George Eliot, by CLARA THOMSON. 

Cardinal Newman, by A. R. WALLER. 
John Wesley, by FRANK BANKIELD. 

Many others are in preparation. 



SMALL, MAYNARD & COMPANY, Publishers. 






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