Page images
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

ing the Homily to the public, with the appendage of a copious Glossary, instead of a Translation, the sole object of the editor is to promote, in however subordinate a capacity, a cause in which he has long felt a deep and undiminished interest, - the cause of Saxon letters.” It was his desire to produce, novelty in Saxon literature, a cheap book.”

Consequently beginners have now within their reach a very good text-book, small in compass and in price. We commend it to their attention.

or that

8. — The Analyst; a Collection of Miscellaneous Papers. New

York : Wiley & Putnam, 1840. 12mo. pp. 174.

This is a volume well worthy to be read. It gives proof of reflection, observation, and literary culture; and its style is always clear, sometimes forcible and terse, though not often elegant. It abounds with shrewd remarks, happy criticisms, and well-drawn traits of character. But it is not executed with equal felicity throughout. The author imitates largely in some parts of his book; he writes not from his own mind, and after his own fashion, but draws from others both matter and form. The series of papers, in which he attempts to delineate certain characters, are not, taken as a whole, very well done, though they contain many single touches of great merit. They constantly remind us of other writers and other times; they are Theophrastus and the French and English essayists remoulded. To paint faithfully a series of characters, to draw them from the life, requires the reflective powers of the philosopher, and the experience of the man of the world; a quick eye to perceive the real peculiarities of men, and a rapid power of combination; a style at once clear, graphic, and discriminating, and that force of imagination which breathes the breath of life into the conceptions of the mind.

It is not enough, therefore, to be familiar with the admired models of this species of writing, belonging to other ages and to different states of society. The characters of Theophrastus are drawn with consummate skill ; they betray numberless delicate touches, which mark them as genuine pictures taken from living realities, that passed before the author's eye. The few specimens that Aristotle gave, are not quite so individual as those of Theophrastus; they rest more upon the universal principles of human nature, and upon transient traits; but still they are touched with the spirit of life and truth. Some of the French authors have been equally successful; and many characters drawn by the British essayists live in our memories with as distinct an individuality as the best known personages of history.

Now the author of these papers has taken more from these sources than from the observation of nature. He relies more upon imitation than experience. His characters do not rise before us like living beings, but are only faded copies of pictures that represent another age. He has not embodied the form and pressure of the times. His characters are like wooden images, dressed out in the costumes of our ancestors. They are cold and artificial combinations of certain qualities of human nature in general, with the oddities, extravagances, or peculiarities, not which lend a variety to the aspect of society now, but which figure in the literature that represents the aspect of society in days long since departed.

But the critical papers show much more ability. The “ Thoughts on the Writings of Bulwer" contain more truth, in a short space, upon the works of that great mystagogue of modern frivolity and nonsense, than we have elsewhere seen. The paper on La Bruyère is excellent ; that on the Old English Comedy, is just and discriminating, and does honor to the moral feeling as well as to the literary taste of the author. But the disquisition on the Scotch, German, French, and English philosophies, is simply absurd. It begins with the remark, that, "in order more clearly to elucidate the spirit of each, a few observations on the national characteristics of each people may not be irrelevant." This task he undertakes to accomplish. He despatches these four great schools of philosophy, preliminary remarks and all, in six pages. There is an air of pretension about this attempt to dash off such great subjects, which it is painful to see deforming the pages of a writer of so much merit ; to say nothing of the false and sweeping generalities which make up the whole of this precious little morsel of philosophical disquisition. Among other bold and unfounded assertions, he says, that Stewart is only a “flimsy declaimer, the elegant, learned, polished Stewart, — the master of the best philosophical style of this age ; — whose periods, pregnant with thought, attuned to a beautiful melody, adorned with graceful poetical allusions, remind us of the magnificent eloquence of Cicero, more than any modern author, — to be called by this essayist, or anybody else, a “flimsy declaimer"! The arrogance of literary conceit has rarely led to a more astounding absurdity.

Though we like this author's style very well, in general, we do not like the affected quaintnesses, into which it sometimes

runs. To write 't is for it is, is merely attempting to put on the air of our great-grandfathers; to say doth and hath, answers no mortal purpose but to confound the peculiarities of different ages, and make an author's language a disagreeable patchwork of affected and incongruous archaisms.

9. – 1. An Address, delivered before the Eumenian and Philan

thropic Societies of Davidson College, North Carolina, July 31st, 1839. "By the Rev. P. J. Sparrow, A. M., Professor of Languages in Davidson College. Raleigh :

Turner & Hughes. 1839. 8vo. pp. 32. 2. Introductory Address, delivered before the Louisiana Insti

tute for the Promotion of Education, December 16th, 1839, By Professor H. H. GIRD. New Orleans. 1839. 8vo.

pp. 21.

3. An Address, delivered at Amherst before the Literary Socie

ties of Amherst College, August 27th, 1839. By Daniel D. BARNARD. Albany : Hoffman & White. 1839.

8vo. pp. 63. 4. Oration, delivered before the Biennial Convention of the

Alpha Delta Phi Society, at New Haven, Conn., August 151h, 1839, on the Law and Means of Social Advancement. By Samuel Eells, President of the Convention. Cincinnati : Kendall & Henry. 1839. 8vo. pp. 69.

Mr. Sparrow is a clear, sensible, and tasteful writer. His subject is, the duty of the educated young men of this country; and he handles it ably. He points out the defects in American education, their causes and their remedies ; then he discusses the duty of elevating the standard of professional character ; and, lastly, he considers the duties of educated young men with respect to literature, to the cause of general education, and to the country as patriots. Under all these heads, the author presents considerations of great importance, in an impressive manner and an elegant style. The only thing we see to find fault with, is, his extravagant eulogy upon that absurd, pedantic, and bigoted poem, Pollok's " Course of Time."

Mr. Gird's Address is rather carelessly written, but contains valuable suggestions to the citizens of Louisiana, upon the state of education there, the dangers to which the youth of VOL. L. No. 107.

68

the State are exposed, the proper means to be taken to guard against them, and so on. He speaks with approbation of the establishment of a Board of Education ; and there is a singular contrast between bis judicious views upon this subject, and the recent report of the Committee on Education before the Massachusetts legislature.

Mr. Barnard's Address discusses the importance of telling the truth to the people. He shows, that the leading men, of all parties, have used fraud, deception, lies, by which they have been able to lead astray their dupes. He points out the ruinous consequences of this state of things, and insists strongly on a reform. His discourse is marked by sound common sense, and just and right feeling, rather than by vigor or eloquence. The influence of such opinions and views cannot be other than good. The only fault of the oration is its length.

The Oration of Mr. Eells is upon social progress. He ranges over the entire history of the world, and exhibits, under the successive forms of the political institutions and social states, the hidden principles which led to their overthrow. He illustrates his views by examples drawn from a wide extent of reading, and shows himself to be a very well-informed

But he deals too largely in historical and other common-places ; he undertakes to prove what nobody denies ; he wants compression, vigor, and logical order. His Oration is spun out to an excessive length, filling sixty-nine large pages. If the really good things in it were brought into half the space, by striking out unnecessary words, and taking for granted what everybody knows, the oration would be excellent.

man.

10.

Rejected Addresses, or the New Theatrum Poetarum.
From the Nineteenth London Edition ; carefully revised,
with an Original Preface and Notes, by the Authors.
Boston: William D. Ticknor. 1840. 16mo. pp. 159.

We notice this little work, not for the purpose of undertaking the superfluous task of commenting on its merits, but merely to express our pleasure in seeing it reprinted here, with the amusing preface and notes of the authors, in so handsome a form. The good-humored wit of the imitations has given a celebrity and a permanent value to this jeu d'esprit,

which never before were attained by similar burlesques. The book was wholly out of print here, and the republication will be welcomed, as well by those who laughed over the pages of the work on its first appearance, as by the younger generation of readers, who have only heard its fame.

11.- An Address delivered before the New England Society in

the City of New York, December 23d, 1839. By Robert C. WINTHROP. Boston : Perkins & Marvin. New York : Gould, Newman, & Saxton. 1840. 8vo. pp. 60.

We have rarely read an occasional or historical address with more pleasure than Mr. Winthrop's, delivered before the New England Society, in New York. The principles and characters of our Pilgrim fathers are set forth with a graceful eloquence, and an accuracy of historical knowledge, which show, that Mr. Winthrop has by no means neglected the pursuits of elegant literature amidst the cares and labors of political life. He writes in a grave, earnest, and polished style, which is excellently suited to the gravity, earnestness, and dignity of his sentiments, and to the solemn and interesting character of the occasion. He appreciates justly, and describes forcibly, the conduct of the men, to whom was intrusted, by Providence, the mighty task of founding the New England colonies. He calls up, with warm and reverential interest, the terrific scenes they were summoned to pass through, and delineates, with a glowing pencil, the great consequences to the cause of human liberty all over the world, which have flowed from that, at first sight, well-nigh desperate enterprise. We had marked one or two striking passages to extract, but are compelled to suppress them,

12. - The Farmer's Companion; or, Essays on the Principles

and Practice of American Husbandry. Second Edition. By the late Hon. Judge Buel, Conductor of the “ Cultivator.' Boston : Marsh, Capen, Lyon, and Webb. 1840.

The publication of this valuable volume, and the reception it has met with, afford new evidence of an increasing interest in the subjects it so ably discusses, and in the

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »