Henry Livingston, Jr.
Henry Livingston's Prose

Happy Vale

For the New-York Magazine

Extract of a Letter from a Gentleman, to his Friend in Philadelphia, dated 15th February, 1791.

The inhabitants of this place have been of late exceedingly entertained with a discovery made by an English gentleman of the name of Thomas Millbray, who was midshipman on board the Cato, of 74 guns, commanded by Admiral Hyde Parker, and which was wrecked in 1781, on the coast of Ava. The following is copied verbatim from his journal.

"By a complication of fortunate circumstances, I, with three others, escaped the destruction which overwhelmed my commander and a hapless crew of 534 souls. we had no sooner reached the shore than we were secured by the natives, separated, and myself carried to the northern extremity of the kingdom of Ava, and put to work on a rice plantation belonging to one of our captors.

"I had been too long acquainted with adventures of enterprize to remain long in this situation. I determined to attempt a return to Europe, by a rout thro' the northern part of Indostan, by Ispahan in Persia, and hen by the shortest rout to Smyrna: from which frequented port I knew I could at any time embark for my native country.

"Agreeable to this plan, about midnight of the 6th of May, 1781, bid adieu to the plains of Ava, and in twenty hours entered the dominions of the descendant of Tamerlane. I travelled in perfect security, in the garb of a Banian mendicant; and as I well understood most of the oriental dialects, it was impossible to distinguish me from the character I assumed.

"I could not help observing, in travelling the immense regions of India, that in proportion as I receded from the haunts of Europeans, the manners of the inhabitants were less contaminated with the outrageous vices which infamously distinguish the western hemisphere.

"It was the 23d of July when I arrived at the feet of the mountains of Nanorocut, an enormous range of hills, whose southern promontories look down upon the mouths of the Ganges, and whose northern precipices frown in glooms upon the icy shores of Siberia.

"I observed, as advanced up these immense elevations, the lands to be more and more sterile, and population by small degrees entirely to cease. Altho' I found subsistence difficult, I still proceeded, -- sometimes elevated on azure summits, a neighbour of the clouds -- at theirs, immerged in vales never illumined by the sun.

"By degrees I found the country less rugged, and the climate more delightful: these favorable appearances grew every step more apparent, till found myself in a perfect paradise -- the sky all blue above, the ground all roseate beneath. I was regretting that so delicious a region should be destitute of occupants, when, on entering a vista of tamarinds, I saw at its termination the dwellings of men. These I approached, prepared to be once more shocked with the hedious train of turpitudinal spectres which but too frequently haunt the abodes of this world's tenants. But far otherwise; peace was in all their borders -- The golden age of the poets was realized -- and even the common infelicities incident to humanity, were not considered by the happy inhabitants as substantial evils.

"The very name of an army of enormities that mar the general human visage, was utterly wanting in their language. Alto' iron and steel were in use among them, in agricultural and domestic concerns, yet I never saw those metals employed for hostile purposes. There was no such thing as a court of justice in all the country; for why erect tribunals to take cognizance of crimes that never exist? There were no laws, because thee were no transgressors. The dictates of an unscarred conscience, and the precepts of an excellent traditional religion, were their only judicial code.

"Their civil government was patriarchal in its mildest form; and as its injunctions were never improper, they never were opposed. The arts and sciences were understood -- short, indeed, of their fanciful European length -- yet fully equal to the wants and embellishments of decent cultivated life. The art of healing consisted chiefly in alleviatives: the very name of nostrum is not to be found in their dispensatories. The profession of a merchant is unknown: they consider it as degrading to the husbandman, not to be able to barter the productions of his own skill and industry.

"They have not a wish to travel; for they are possessed of a tradition, that there is a world beyond their surrounding precipices that abounds in violence and wickedness: for that would I blushed every hour I was among them; and, altho' frequently required, I pertinaciously refused them its history.

"With respect to their own story, all I could surmise was, that at some very remote period, a revolution drove them from the confines of Persia to their present abode, too distant for their enemies to pursue or their friends to discover. But how the arts of war became totally extinguished, and the those of peace so perfectly retained -- how they possessed all the simplicity of savages without the barbarity; -- in short, how they blended the elegancies, the conveniencies, and all the decencies of life, in one perfectly happy society, I am yet to discover.

"I left these delightful regions suffused in tears: not like Adam, to launch into an unbounded wilderness; but to re-enter the abodes of artificial misery, rendered tenfold more disgustful by this poignant contrast."


New-York Magazine; or, Literary Repository
The Happy Vale
Vol. III No. I, pp.3-4; Jan 1792; by R


Writing,     Documents,     Letters,     Poetry,     Prose

Illustrated 1823 Night Before Christmas

All Henry Livingston's Poetry,     All Clement Moore's Poetry     Historical Articles About Authorship

Many Ways to Read Henry Livingston's Poetry

Arguments,   Smoking Gun?,   Reindeer Names,   First Publication,   Early Variants  
Timeline Summary,   Witness Letters,   Quest to Prove Authorship,   Scholars,   Fiction  

   Book,   Slideshow,   Xmas,   Writing,   The Man,   Work,   Illos,   Music,   Genealogy,   Bios,   History,   Games  

Henry's Home

Mary's Home

IME logo Copyright © 2003, InterMedia Enterprises