xt7qbz616213 https://nyx.uky.edu/dips/xt7qbz616213/data/mets.xml Bradford, Mary Fluker. 1897  books b92-48-26951886 English [Press of L. Graham], : New Orleans : Contact the Special Collections Research Center for information regarding rights and use of this collection. Audubon, John James, 1785-1851. Audubon  / by Mary Fluker Bradford. text Audubon  / by Mary Fluker Bradford. 1897 2002 true xt7qbz616213 section xt7qbz616213 



















,

 










  AUDUBON




        BY

MARY FLUKER BRADFORD



NEW ORLEANS
  1897

 




























PRtss OF L. GRAHAM  SON, Ltd,
     207-211 Baronne Street,
         New Orleans.

 

      H E following Biographical Sketch of
,,t   Audubon was originally read before
the Quarante Club, a leading literary society of
New Orleans. It is now offered in printed form
to a larger circle of readers at the suggestion of
.some of the relatives and admirers of the famous
Louisianian, in the hope that it may create such
an interest in its subject as will ultimately lead to
the result long ardently desired by the writer-
the erection of a suitable monument in the
Crescent City in memory of our great ornithol-
ogist. The raison d'e/re of this unpretending
brochure being explained, the author begs for
it the kindly indulgence of a generous public,
and a hearty cooperation in the work, of which
it is hoped this modest effort may prove the
corner-stone.
  Our country is at last rapidly refuting the
traditional charge of the ingratitude of Repub-
lics to their noblest sons and though she has as
yet no Pantheon nor Westminster Abbey,

 
AUDUBON.



statues and monuments throughout the land per-
petuate the memory and deeds of her patriots,
scholars and heroes. We of the far South must
not be behindhand in this great movement.
Undismayed by difficulties and discourage-
ments, we must earnestly strive to do like
honor to our illustrious dead, and ennoble and
beautify our parks and public places with last-
ing memorials in bronze and marble-grand
object lessons of their lives and deeds.





  The entire proceeds from the sale of this
book will be contributed to the Audubon Monu-
ment Fund.



4


 
              IUDUBON.

         HILE it gives me great pleasure to have
(QYi     been selected to present to you this
    brief record of the life, labors and achieve-
    ments of John James Audubon, the great nat-
    uralist of America, I do so with extreme diffi-
    dence; and, disclaiming for myself any origi-
    nality, learning or eloquence, will rely for the
    success of my effortssolely upon yourown warm
    interest in the man himself, and in the personal
    details of his remarkable career, 'i more in-
    structive than a sermon, more romantic than a
    romance."
      The name and fame of Audubon are world-
    wide, yet nowhere should they be more highly
    honored and cherished than here among us-
    here in the very State where his ardent spirit
    first saw the light. To me, especially, is there
    a charm in the very name of Audubon, inter-
    woven as it is with the earliest and dearest
    recollections of my childhood and of my old

 
AUDUBON.



home in the Felicianas, where, I love to reflect,
he was in the olden time a frequent and ever
welcome guest. As a child, I listened eagerly
when any of the incidents connected with these
visits were recalled, and I early developed for
thegreat naturalist a most devoted hero-worship.
More fascinating than a fairy tale to my youth-
ful imagination was the account of his long
struggle with adversity and his ultimate tri-
umph. I heard with delighted curiosity of the
strange stuffed birds, and curious impaled in-
sects that filled his room in artistic disorder. And
more especially I took immense pride in the
thought that the familiar portraits which looked
down upon me from the walls were painted by
his hand; and I gloried in the knowledge from
the lips of my own dear mother, that " once
upon a time " she had been a pupil of his lovely
and gifted wife. But above all else I cherished
the family tradition that upon our plantation
near Bayou Sara, the great artist captured the
magnificent wild turkey from which he painted
then and there his celebrated master.piece.



6


 




































V   I

 This page in the original text is blank.

 
AUDUBON.



And so perfect was the picture it is further-
more said, so life-like in pose and appearance
that when finished and set to dry upon the
piazza, it attracted and deceived a flock of do-
mestic turkeys that came strutting upon the
scene, noisily gobbling and quarreling, and
actually tried to attack and drive out the lordly
forest intruder. The tribute paid to the old
Greek painter Zeuxis by the birds that flew at
his bunch of grapes and pecked at them upon
his canvas, sank into insignificance compared
with this triumph of art in our unclassic age.
The woods, the fields, the streams, were invested
with new beauty and romantic interest, when
I learned how he, the famous Audubon, then
poor and unknown, had spent days and nights
roaming among them, with only his dog and
gun to bear him company. My childish heart
overflowed with sympathy for the lonely
wanderer. Enthusiast and dreamer, all pro-
nounced him to be in those very practical days:
all, save the faithful wife who believed in her
husband's genius, and for his sake became the



9

 
AUDUBON.



patient bread-winner of the family by teaching
music, French, drawing and other accomplish-
ments among the most aristocratic country
families.  Reared among such influences, and
with these early memories still clinging to me,
the reader-will easily understand that it gives
me a peculiar pleasure to think and write of
Audubon-and that the labor of compiling
from various fragmentary and some private
sources of information, and arranging in a more
condensed form the story of his life, has been
to me trulv a labor of love.
  The name of Audubon is of French extrac-
tion and found only among the ancestors of the
naturalist, who were humble fisher-folk, dis-
tinguished for sturdy honesty and manly
courage. His grandsire, John Audubon, was
a native of Sables d'Olonne on the coast of
La Vendee. With a laudable ambition, it
would seem, to populate the New World as
well as the Old, he reared to maturity a family
of twenty-one children. Of this extraordinary
number the father of our Audubon was the



10

 
AUDUBON.



twentieth son; and he, at the age of twelve set
out to seek his fortune, with the slender equip-
ment of one shirt, a suit of clothes, a cane and
the paternal blessing. He went before the
mast, sailing in a vessel bound for America.
The career of this young sailor was a most re-
markable one, but after uncommon vicissitudes
he finally rose to position and wealth.  He
served in the army of Lafayette and Rocham-
beau, was the personal friend of Washington,
and later on became naval officer in the ser-
vice of France. It is interesting to trace the
influences of heredity on the character of the
famous descendant of this daring and im-
petuous Frenchman. Audubon doubtless in-
herited from him that adventurous spirit and
tremendous will-power, as well as the quick,
stormy temper which he describes as "rising
like the blast of a hurricane, and as suddenly
calmed. "
  In the course of his many voyages the suc-
cessful naval officer acquired valuable prop-
erties in San Domingo and large possessions in



11

 
AUDUBON.



the United States.  During one of his visits to
Louisiana he married a beautiful and wealthy
Spanish Creole, and there, on his plantation
not far distant from New Orleans, most prob-
ably at Mandeville, his youngest son, John
James Audubon, was born, either in 1780 or
1781, for strangely enough the exact date of
his birth is unknown. But he was fortunate
in the place of his birth,forsurely in all the earth
there could not be found a more auspicious spot
for the nativity of the future naturalist than this
fair land of Louisiana, so rich in its sources of
scientific interest and poetic inspiration. His
earliest recollections are of lying among the
fragrant blossoms under the orange trees,
watching the movements of the mocking-bird
and listening to its music.
  When very young Audubon accompanied
his motherto San Domingo, where she perished,
a victim of the insurrection of i79i. He was
afterward sent to France, where his father re-
married and settled at Nantes. His step-mother,
without children of her own, became passion-
'See addenda, p. 75.



12

 
AUDUBON.



ately attached to her youthful charge, who re-
turned her devotion most ardently, and, years
afterward, speaks of her as " chre maman,"
" adorable maman." "Her kindness," he says,
was "overwhelming." She indulged him in every
whim and extravagance, being determined that
"he should live and die a gentleman."  She
boasted in his presence that " he was the hand-
somest boy   in France," and supplied him
lavishly with pocket money and fine clothes. To
this overindulgence and injudicious praise may
perhaps be attributed the vanity and love of
dress of which Audubon was sometimes, and
not unjustly, accused. His life at Nantes was
free and joyous, and the embryo naturalist
fairly reveled in a carte-blanche on all the
confectionery and cake shops in the town, un-
troubled by any presentiment of the hardship
he was one day to endure in the depths of Ameri-
can forests. An intense love of natural scenery
and animated nature marked his earliest years
to a degree that " bordered on frenzy," he
tells us. And when a mere child he began draw-



13

 
A1UDUBON .



ing the birds he saw around him, and would
" gaze with ecstacy upon their pearly and shin-
ing eggs as they lay imbedded in the soft down
of their tiny nests."
  During his father's absence at sea he was
allowed the utmost latitude in the indulgence
of his tastes, to the utter neglect of his educa-
tion. " I usually made for the fields, where I
spent the day, instead of going to school, where
I should have been," he tells us, "my little
basket with me well supplied with good pro-
visions; and when I returned, either in winter
or summer, it was replenished with what I
called curiosities, such as birds' eggs, birds'
nests, curious lichens, flowers, and even peb-
bles."
  When the father of the young student of
nature returned from his cruise he was aston-
ished at the extent and variety of the boy's
collection, but none the less mortified by his
deficiencies of education of the ordinary kind.
He determined that his son should be educated,
and placed him at school to study either as an



14


 


























.4
41







E-




z
To













Q


E-

39

 This page in the original text is blank.

 
AUDUBON.



engineer or a naval cadet, to further which end
he had him carefully instructed in drawing and
mathematics. Young Audubon found mathe-
matics dull work, but acquired great proficiency
in drawing, as well as in dancing, fencing and
music. For the latter he evinced considerable
talent, and learned to play skilfully upon the
violin, flute and flageolet. How much he
owed to these accomplishments in after years
we shall presently see. For seven years he
had the advantage of the best drawing masters
in France; and in Paris studied under David,
the famous classic painter of the revolutionary
period (I748-i825). However, the genius of
Audubon could not be restricted by the rules
of books anti teachers, and he still sought the
woods and fields for his inspirations, "taking
the keenest delight in the examination of the
nests, eggs, young, and parents of any species
of bird."
  The star of Napoleon was now in the ascend-
ant, the two elder brothers of Audubon were
already in the French army, and his father was



11

 
AUDUBON.



ambitious that he, too, should win fame and
glory by following the victorious eagles of
France. But the soul of the boy naturalist
soared aloft to the eaglets of the sky, and a
soldier's life had for him no charm. So at the
age of I7 he was sent out to America to look
after the family interests in Pennsylvania.
  Arriving in New York he was seized with
vellow fever and nursed back to health by
some kind Quaker ladies of Morristown. Soon
afterward he was put in possession of his
father's beautiful farm, Mill Grove. It was
romantically situated on the Schuylkill river,
not far from Philadelphia, and it became a
haven of rest to the young wanderer, " a blessed
spot," he calls it, "where cares he knew not."
His life here, indeed, was ideally happy. The
natural scenery around him offered pleasing
subjects for the young artist's pencil, and he
pursued his favorite studies with as little con-
cern about the future as though the whole
world belonged to him. He rose at "daybreak
to begin his rambles, and returned at nightfall,



18


 


AUDUBON.



19



wet with dew, but happy if he bore a feathered



prize



His studio was a cave, and his room



soon



became a museum   of



Being regarded



rank and



natural curiosities.



as a young



expectations,



gentleman of



Audubon had the ad-



vantage



of the



best



social



intercourse



having unlimited leisure he



indulged freely in



all the sports and pleasures natural to



his



age,



such



as fishing,



hunting



and skating.



confesses



that he



was



" ; gay, pleasure-loving,



extravagant;



and though in America, cut



many foolish



pranks as



anys dandy in



Bond



Street or on Piccadilly, going hunting in black



satin



knee-breeches



and pumps, and wearing



and



He



as

 
AUDUBON.



the finest ruffled shirts he could obtain from
France.
  But the young lover of Nature was soon to
feel a rival passion to whose subtle influence
he quickly succumbed. Adjoining Mill Grove
was the estate of Fatland Ford, owned by Mr.
Bakewell, an English gentleman and a de-
scendant of the historic " Peveril of the Peak."
Audubon learned that his neighbor had several
handsome daughters, and also some fine pointer
dogs, but his French prejudices against every-
thing English caused him to remain utterly in-
different to both attractions, usually so irre-
sistible to the young masculine fancy, and only
accident, or perhaps Providence, brought about
his acquaintance with the family with which
he afterward became so closely united.  It
happened one day when the ground was cov-
ered with snow and he was hunting grouse
that he met Mr. Bakewell similarly engaged,
and accepted an invitation to visit his home.
  Audubon's impressions of the visit are best
told in his own language. " Well do I remem-



20

 
AUDUBON.



ber," he says, " and please God, I will never
forget, the morning when for the first time I
entered the Bakewell household. I was shown
into the parlor, where only one young lady was
snugly seated at work by the fire. It was she,
my dear Lucy Bakewell, who afterward be-
came my wife and the mother of my children.
When she arose from her seat her form seemed
radiant with beauty, and my heart and eyes
followed her every step. At parting, I felt, I
knew not why, that I was at least not indiffer-
ent to her." The two young people thus mu-
tually attracted met frequently after this intro-
duction and a devoted attachment sprung up be-
tween them. Their love tale is a charming
one, for she was a "maiden fair," and he an
ardent lover. The gentle Lucy taught him
English, once so heartily despised, and he gave
her drawing lessons in return, while each was
learning from the other the richest lore of all
the ages, the depth and purity and strength of
love of which the human heart is capable.
  But the happy course of his wooing was

 
AUDUBON.



soon rudely interrupted by the discovery of the
treachery of his father's agent, Da Costa, who
opposed his matrimonial plans, and attempted
to limit his finances. Audubon resolved to de-
mand a letter of credit and then to seek his
father. With characteristic energy he walk-
ed to New York in midwinter, but only to find
there was no money for him there; and that
Da Costa was actually planning to have him
seized and sent to China.  Furious at his
wrongs, he borrowed money and set sail for
Nantes.
  After elicotintering a heav  soale and other
vexatious delays he arrived in France, and was
soon in the arms of his parents. They joy-
fully welcomed him and sympathized in his
grievances, his father removing his unworthy
steward and consenting to his marriage. Au-
dubon spent one happy year with them in their
beautiful villa on the Loire, passing his time
as usual in rambling and drawing; and with
marvelous industry finished about two hundred
sketches of French birds. Though crude in



22

 
AUDUBON.



execution there is " life in them," and they
give evidence of the wonderful gift of the
future ornithologist. His success in after life
may doubtless be attributed to the high ideal
to which he consecrated himself in extreme
youth. In his biography he tells us of his earl)
passion for birds and flowers; of his grief
and disappointment when, in attempting to
copy them, his pencil gave birth to " a family
of cripples so maimed they resembled the
mangled corpses on a field of battle compared
with the integrity of living men." The worse
his drawings were, the more beautiful he found
the originals-and never, for a moment, did
he abandon the all-absorbing desire of repro-
ducing nature fresh and life-like, as though just
from the hand of its Maker.
  France was now about to engage in one of
her colossal struggles with hostile Europe, and
to avoid conscription, Audubon entered the
French marine service,-made one short cruise
and then obtained passports for America. The
perils and adventures which seemed ever to



23

 
AUDUBON.



beset him were not lacking on this voyage.
His vessel, though floating " the Stars and
Stripes," was seized by an English privateer,
the "Rattlesnake," overhauled and robbed.
Audubon, however, saved his gold by hiding
it under the cable in the ship's bows. Once
more he landed in New York and was soon
at Mill Grove, of which he was now the
owner. He returned to the woods of the New
World with fresh ardor and began a series of
illustrations which afterward formed part of
his great work, " The Birds of America,"
pronounced by Cuvier " the most gigantic
enterprise of the kind ever executed by a single
man." It is likely, too, that about this time
he began to formulate in his own mind the idea
of his Ornithological Biography.
  Ornithology, the branch of natural history
that Audubon specially loved and studied, is a
very ancient science. Birds are mentioned in
the earliest written records of man, and of all
the divisions of the animal creation they are
the most interwoven with the traditions and
mythologies of the human race.



24


 


AUDUBON.



r7 lie very oldest picture in the world



is said



by Egyptoloaists to be a fragment of a fresco



taken



from



a tomb, and



now



preserved



a museum



at Boulak.



It



dates



back



three



thousand
years ag



years



ro, and



B. C.,I



nearly five



reproduces



with



thousand
wonderful



/I



-d



i



fidelity



to nature in form



and coloring,



figures of



six geese.



Aristotle



is



the



first



known



writer



ornithology,



though



even



he,



  w   t
mrriting



three



hundred



and



twenty-six



years



before



Christian era, speaks of the works of his



decessors.



Tho Linnaeus,



the great



Swedish



25



in



the



on



the



pree

 
AUDUBON.



naturalist of the last century, we are indebted
for the scientific classification of birds and
other animals. Contemporary with him and
in more recent times we meet with a long
array of brilliant natural scientists, such as
Buffon, Cuvier and Agassiz. But in Audubon
alone we find combined the scientist, the artist
and the writer. Notwithstanding his high
aspirations and elevated tastes, " the gay young
Frenchman," as he was called, entered con
amore into all the social pleasures of the
neighborhood and was specially fond of music
and dancing. But though pleasure-loving, no
vice tainted the purity of his character. He was
a vegetarian in diet and so singularly temperate
that he had never tasted spirits until his wed-
ding day. As a natural consequence he was
" as rosy as a girl and as strong and agile as a
young buck," to use his own words. To this
mode of living he also attributed his iron con-
stitution and enormous powers of physical
endurance.
  Audubon had the gift of personal beauty in



26

 
AUDUBON.



an eminent degree, and judging from a pen-
and-ink sketch of himself he was not uncon-
scious of his attractions. He naively describes
himself at this time as " measuring 5 feet
10 1-2 inches; of fair mien, and quite a hand-
some figure; large, dark and rather sunken
eyes: light-colored eyebrows; aquiline nose;
a fine set of teeth; hair fine of texture and
luxuriant, divided and passing down behind
each ear in luxuriant ringlets as far as the
shoulders."
  The young master of Mill Grove seems to
have been regarded as a veritable Admirable
Crichton, and aside from his literary and
artistic talents he was a capital marksman, an
expert swimmer, a fearless rider, a skilful
musician and graceful dancer, besides being an
adept in the art of stuffing birds and training
dogs. He was as strong and active as an
ancient athlete, and once swam across the
Schuylkill with young Bakewell on his back.
But alas! Mr. Bakewell pere, a gentleman of
prudence as well as learning, could not see in



27

 
AUDUBON.



these varied acconplislhments anly means of
substantial support for the young couple, and
therefore insisted that his son-in-law elect
should learn something of commercial pursuits
before his marriage. He obtained for hirn a
p)oSitiOIl ill a counting house in New York, but
there oUr p)oo0 naturalist l)illed like an iinpris-
oxned bird within the city's walls, and sought
relaxation and pleasure in preparing specimens
of stuffed birds. Trlis made him obnoxious to
his neighbors, who strongly objected to the
odor of the drying skins, and demanded,
through the medium of a constable, an imme-
diate cessation of " the nuisance." During the
entire course of his mercantile education Audu-
bon demonstrated his utter unfitness for prac-
tical affairs, and succeeded only in losing
several hundred pounds by a bad speculation
in indigo.
  He relates of himself that he once posted
and neglected to seal, a letter containing eight
thousand dollars !
  After a most unsatisfactory probation he
gladly returned to Mill Grove.

 
AUDUBON.



  The great West was then opening up as a
sort of Eldorado for adventurous spirits, and
thither Audubon resolved to go and invest the
proceeds of his faimn, which he sold for that
purpose. In the spring of i8o8 he was mar-
ried to Lucv Bakewell, a union that proved
most fortunate. Audubon ever cherished the
nmost devoted and romantic affection for the
noble wife, to whose tender sympathy and un-
selfish devotion lie owed so much of his subse-
quent happiness and success.
  Their wedding journey to the " Land of
promise I was not without accident, the coach
in which they traveled to Pittsburg being upset
and the young bride seriously lurt.
  They floated down the Ohio river on a flat-
boat for twelve days, finally arriving at Louis-
ville, where Audubon and his partner, Rosier,
opened a store. Fancy our elegant young
" glass of fashion " and devotee of nature sell-
ing pork, flour and lard! However, he seems
to have paid but slight attention to business,
for he confesses " Birds were birds, then as



29


 
AUDUBON.



now, and my thoughts were ever turning to
them as the objects of my greatest delight. I
shot, I drew, I looked on nature, and my days
were happy beyond human conception."
  The young couple soon gathered around
them a large circle of friends, Audutbon's per-














sonal magnetism, attractive physique and
bright, lovable nature rendering him extremely
popular. He gratefully records in his faithfully
kept journal, the generous hospitality of the
Kentucky planters and their kind reception of
his young wife, whose "talents were above
par, and who was considered a gem." "lThe



30

 
AUDUBON.



simplicity and whole-heartedness of those
days," he continues, " I can not describe. The
people around us loved us, and we loved them
in return."
  At this period he was visited by Alexander
Wilson, of Paisley, who called to solicit sub-
scriptions for his work on American Ornithol-
ogy, little dreaming that lie had a formidable
rival in the Louisville merchant, who had even
then a collection superior to his own. Audu-
bon did not subscribe, but he showed the
Scotch naturalist his own portfolio, and offered
to give him his drawings to publish if he would
give the name of their author. Wilson seemed
astonished at the collection, but did not accept
-Audubon's proposition.  Audubon honestly
admired Wilson's talents and enthusiasm, and
showed him great kindness, presenting hinm to
his friends, hunting with him, and assisting him
to obtain new specimens. But Wilson could
not overcome his own jealousy, and never
mentioned Audubon in his writings; and of
Louisville wrote that neither " art nor literature
had a friend in the place."



31

 
AUDUBON.



  The pen of Audubon is as picturesque as
his pencil-we find in his journal most graphic
accounts of the years spent in Kentucky and
the West. The record is one of financial
failure and artistic success-of lively narrative
and tender pathos-of thrilling adventures and
hairbreadth escapes-of sharp contrasts of
poverty and ease-of buoyant hope and bitter
disappointment-of happy home-life and lonely
wanderings.
  Through it all we see the man himself,
dominated by one idea; his character and
genius developing into noble perfection by the
trials and misfortunes which assailed him.
Audubon seems to have had that indifference
to money-getting and that recklessness in re-
gard to the future, inseparable from the true
artistic temperament. He hated traffic as much
as he enjoyed intensely the long journeys to
the East " through the dear, the darling forests
of Kentucky, Ohio and Pennsylvania," and re-
lates that upon one occasion he lost sight en-
tirely of the pack-horses with their goods and



32

 
AUDUBON.



cash, to watch the movements of a woodland
warbler.
  Audubon's affairs did not prosper in Louis-
ville and he moved his family to Henderson,
from whence he made an excursion to St.
Genevieve in Missouri. His account of this
journey is a most realistic series of pen pictures
of frontier life.
  The party started in a snow-storm and their
boat becoming wedged in among huge masses
of ice, they were obliged to leave it and go
into winter quarters on shore. A band of In-
dians camped by them, and Audubon was de-
lighted with the opportunity of studying the
aborigines in such close proximity. They re-
mained thus over a month snow-bound and ice-
bound. Their provisions failing them, they lived
on pecan-soup, bear meat and opossum; ate the
breast of wild turkey for bread and bear-grease
for butter. Audubon gives a most amusing
account of his partner's discomfort, and his own
enjoyment of the situation, twenty miles from
any settlement. He says " the bones we threw



33


 

AUDUBON.



around our camp attracted many wolves, and
we had much sport in hunting them. Here
I passed six weeks pleasantly, investigating
the habits of deer, bears, cougars, raccoons and
wild turkeys and other animals; and I drew
much, by the side of our great camp fire, and












no one can have an idea what a good fire is who
has never seen one in the woods of America.
The Indians wove their baskets of cane; Mr.
Pope played on the violin; I accompanied
him with the flute; the men danced to the tunes;
the squaws looked on and laughed, while
the hunters smoked their pipes with such
serenity as only Indians can; and I never re-
gretted one day spent there."



34

 
ALI)UDUBN.



  When the ice at length broke they resumed
their perilous journey. Near C."ape Girardeau
Audubon saw for the first time the great bald
eagle, which he calls '"the bird of Washing-
ton " and paints so gloriously with brush and
pen.
  The outlook at St. Genevieve was not promis-
ing and Audubon returned to Henderson by
land, encountering en ,-oute the memorable
earthquake of I812, and narrowly escaping
assassination in a settler's cabin. He seemed
ever to bear a charmed life. Audubon re-
mained about seven years at Henderson;
bought land and slaves, and was supremely
happy in his cabin home, his ready rifle amply
supplying his table with forest luxuries.
  Prosperity seemed, for a time, to smile upon
him. He had all the elements of a pioneer,
and he readily adopted the wild life and rough
dress of a woodsman of those primitive days.
He mentions in his journal the pleasure lie
took in the society of that Prince of Hunters,
Daniel Boone. While living here he was vis-

 
AUDUBON.



ited by Rafinesque, an eccentric old naturalist,
grotesquely dressed, and bearing a bunch of
weeds upon his shoulders. Audubon presented
his learned guest to his family and put him into
a state bordering on ecstacy, by showing him
a new species of plant. He jumped and
danced and fairly hugged his kindly host, ex-
claiming that it was not only a new species but
a new genus. That night Audubon, hearing a
frightful noise in the stranger's apartment,
rushed to the rescue and found Rafinesque run-
ning around like a madman with the handle of
our artist's favorite violin, his valued Cremona,
the body of which the excited scientist had
completely shattered in trying to kill some bats
which, he declared, were " a new species."
  Audubon became more and more absorbed
in the study of Natural History, accomplishing
wonders by his patient, tireless industry. It
was in Kentucky that he laid the corner-stone
of his future greatness. There, too, his two
sons were born, and there his two infant
daughters were buried. He made many long



36

 
AUDUBON.



and tedious journeys, undismayed by danger
and hardship. Once he traveled one hundred
and sixty-five miles on foot; at another time he
rode a wild horse through Tennessee and
Georgia, and once he went down the Missis-
sippi river to New Orleans in a skiff.
  While living in Henderson he was the vic-
tim of a calamity that would have crushed a
less undaunted spirit. During a protracted
absence he placed for security in the warehouse
of a friend, a wooden box containing over two
hundred drawings. When he returned and
examined his treasures, he found, to use his
own words, " that a pair of Norway rats had
reared a young family among the bits of paper
that a few months ago represented over a
thousand inhabitants of the air." The poor
artist was overwhelmed at the greatness of the
disaster, and days of fever, almost of madness,
followed. Then, as he tells us, he took up his
gun, his sketch-book and pencil, and sallied
forth in the wilderness as gayly as if nothing
had happened, consoling himself with the



37

 
AUDUBON.



thought of making better drawings than those
he had lost, and in three years had refilled his
portfolio. Surely, if Audubon " was not always
a hero, lie was always a man," nobly illustrating
in his checkered life the admirable precepts of
James Freeman Clarke: " Take thy self-denial
cheerfully, and let the sunshine of thy gladness
fall on dark things and light alike-like the
smile of the Almighty."
  On the death of his father, Commodore Au-
dubon, our artist found himself possessed of
an estate in France. This he generously sur-
rendered to his sister Rosa, reserving for him-
self seventeen thousand dollars in money,
which was placed in the hands of a merchant
in Richmond, Va., who became insolvent be-
fore our unlucky legatee could collect a sou.
  Misfortunes now crowded upon him thick
and fast. The firm it) New Orleans of Audu-
bon  Co., in which all his capital was em-
barked, failed entirely, and all his enterprises
proved disastrous. Bills fell due, creditors
were clamorous, and poor Audubon was a



38

 
AUDUBON.



bankrupt. He gave up all he possessed, and
with his sick wife, his dog, his gun and his
precious drawings lie returned to Louisville.
"Cast down, but not in despair" his courage
mounted to the height of his necessities.
Determined, he said, "not to let his wife
and children suffer in the abundant land
of Kentucky, he began taking portraits in
crayon, and acquired some reputation but
little money, earning by his art the bare means
of subsistence, scarcely more than the wages of
a common day laborer. Later he accepted an
engagement to stuff birds for the museum in
Cincinnati. He spent six months i