Page images
PDF
EPUB

- In

at the boldness of the translator and publishers, who have presented a book like this to our community ordinarily so little disposed to patronize the mere virtue of thoroughness, and so ready to consider dulness as the unpardonable sin. It is an act as commendable as it is bold; but they must rely on the virtue of the musical community for their reward, a virtue which we sincerely hope will be found in it. We eonsess that the very first sentence in the book almost overcame our own spirit of perseverance, and gave us such a chilling anticipation of a bore, that we scarcely mustered the courage to proceed. order to acquire a just and accurate idea of musical sound and of the art connecled with musical sound, i. e. the musical art, we must begin with the idea of sound in general.Truly, we should as soon have thought it necessary, in order to acquire a just and accurate idea of the construction and practical operation of the American constitutions, to begin with the idea of the social relations of Adam and Eve in Paradise. But notwithstanding this appalling annunciation, we went on, and were rewarded by perceiving the adaptation of the work to give correct ideas only, to convey no smattering, superficial knowledge of the lovely art of which it treats, and to correct some of the loose and inaccurate modes of expression in musical language prevalent among us.

This is high praise, and we are glad to be able to award it ; while we cannot but regret the unnecessary formality that reigns over the work, rendering it unattractive both to scholar and master. It may be said the subject is necessarily dry, especially in the elementary department. We grant this to some extent, and think it the more necessary that pains should be taken to divest it of all stiffness in the mode of treatment, and all parade of useless erudition. As for learning music from a book, however well adapted it may be to self-instruction, we consider it not very probable that any one in his senses would attempt it ; and he must have an unparalleled memory, who could recollect, and a wonderful understanding who could comprehend, the rules which govern the formation and division of musical sounds, without practical illustration. Books, of the description of the one before us, are useful in reminding the master both what he must teach, and what he must not teach, and in helping the student to fix in his memory the true principles of the art. This is all they can do, and this the work of Weber is well adapted to assist in doing.

We cannot but hope that the subsequent Numbers, which will treat of higher departments of the art, will be more interesting; and in the mean while we desire to express our unqualified approbation of the manner in which the translator has acquitted himself of his task. We have had no opportunity to compare the translation with the original ; but that is not necessary in order to be convinced of the correctness of the version. There is an air of fidelity, and a manifest precision in the use of language, which show the habit of mind, and produce a conviction of accuracy, of the same kind with that which we feel in the truth of a portrait, when the painter has exhibited a thorough acquaintance with his art.

The “ Dictionary of Musical Terms,” with which this Number is enriched, is also the work of the translator, who has furnished three fourths of all it contains; and we do not hesitate to express our preference of it to any other dictionary of musical terms we recollect to have seen, for the accuracy, clearness, and precision of its definitions, its sufficient copiousness, and its freedom from all superfluity.

2.

- Lectures on the Sphere and Duties of Woman and other

Subjects. By George W. BURNAP, Pastor of the First
Independent Church of Baltimore. Baltimore : John
Murphy, Printer and Publisher. 1841.
272.

12mo. pp.

The demand for popular lectures has increased of late years with a rapidity and regularity, which hardly allow us to doubt that they will become a standard source of amusement and instruction for the inhabitants of our cities and larger towns. All classes of men are pressed into the service, and made to contribute their mite of general learning or pleasant disquisition for the profit of the multitude. Professional men are drawn away from the narrow sphere of their peculiar duties, and caused to revise their previous acquisitions in literature and science, in order to find some pleasant or profitable matter, wherewith to feed an hour's attention of a mixed audience. The information thus given must be sufficiently meagre and vague, and were the consequences limited to the immediate effects, we should be doubtful whether more harm than good did not result from the undertaking. Listening to a pleasant speaker requires even less exertion of mind, than to dawdle away the same space of time over an interesting, but profitless book. But an hour's leisure may be rescued in this way from amusernents of a more dubious or hazardous character. An evening in the Lyceum or the Institute is better spent, that if given to the more thrilling but bazardous excitement of the drama, or bestowed upon the inanity of a fashionable party. Harmless topics of conversation are obtained, and curiosity is perhaps excited on some point, which may lead to a course of severe study. Curious inquirers might find food for speculation in the fact, that performances of this sort prove so acceptable in this country while they are little relished in European cities. In Paris, particularly, lectures are daily given on all subjects in general science and literature, not at all technical in their character, with doors open to all comers ; and though the speakers are the most eminent men in France in their respective callings, the hearers are few and far between, consisting usually of a small band of men, who have a direct or prospective interest in the particular line of study. It requires the showy talent and brilliant declamation of a Cousin or a Villemain to fill the lecture rooms occasionally for short period with the ranks of beauty and fashion. Here, we nightly besiege the doors of spacious halls and transformed theatres to listen generally, it is true, to very able lecturers, but not unfrequently to witlings and quacks. We recommend this contrast to the attention of M. de Tocqueville in his future volumes.

Mr. Burnap has hardly stepped aside from the line of his profession by preparing and publishing this course of lectures. Their grave and didactic character is nearly as well suited to the pulpit as to the more informal speaker's desk. They are written in an easy and flowing style, which sometimes rises to elegance, but is seldom marked with striking points or brilliant turns of expression. The reader's taste is never offended by an over ambitious manner, nor his admiration excited by strong imagery or varied illustration. The turn of thought may be characterized in very similar terms. It is pleasing and instructive, but not often original or profound. The writer shows a calm and well-balanced mind, and a philanthropic spirit, which has prompted him to glance over the surface of society and manners with an eye watchful to detect the presence of evil, and an inclination to provide for it whatever remedy there may be in advice judiciously conceived and earnestly spoken. It is a favorable omen for the character of a large and busy city, that lectures executed in this way should find an eager and attentive audience, and that a call should subsequently be made for their publication. We believe this is our author's second appearance in such a character, a volume containing the lectures of a former winter, addressed exclusively to young men, having already been laid before the public.

Of the eight lectures contained in this book, four relate to the principal topic, — the sphere and duties of women. It is easy to say much on such a broad and interesting subject, but difficult, perhaps, to say it to the point, without offending delicacy, or running into vague generalities. All men are not Solons on such a theme, and he is wise, indeed, whose speech only, and at any period of his life, has shown bim deficient in tact or judgment, when woman was the object of his speculations. Mr. Burnap speaks ex cathedra on the subject, and his sober and judicious remarks had doubtless a proper effect on his fair auditors. The novel speculations which are beginning to go abroad respecting the limits of woman's rights and duties have not attracted the writer's attention, and it is perhaps fortunate for him and his bearers, if no stir in his vicinity has made him acquainted with their existence. The cautions and reproofs, which he does find occasion to administer, relate to evils or defects, which, for a long time, have afforded matter of frequent comment to preachers and philanthropists. The lecturer's conception of female character, as it ought to be, betokens delicate feeling, and a full power of appreciating the fine and pure traits which make up the ideal portraiture of man's proper companion.

The remainder of the volume is occupied with introductory matter, and lectures on the “Moral Uses of Poetry,” the “Moral Nature of Man," and the “Progress and Prospects of Society." The character of these performances is sufficiently indicated by the topics, and the circumstances under which they were delivered.' They show good taste and a highly cultivated mind, and those who listened to them with pleasure in the first instance, will doubtless be glad to improve their recollection by an attentive perusal. We have only to hiot to the writer, that in preparing such matter for the press, long poetical extracts, when taken from very familiar writers, may conveniently be shortened.

3. – 1. History of the Colonization of the United States. By

George BANCROFT. Abridged by the Author. Boston: Charles C. Little & James Brown, 1841. 2

vols. 16mo. pp. 332 and 317. 2. History of the United States, from their First Seltlement

as Colonies to the Close of the Administration of Mr. Madison, in 1817.

By Salma Hale. New York : Harper & Brothers.

1840. 24mo. pp. 295 and 292.

Here are two works prepared for the same purpose, that of introducing the history of this country in a compendious form to those who have not the leisure or the means for studying

it at large, and to the pupils of academies and common schools. The plan and execution of the two are very dissimilar, although each is good in its way. The high character of Mr. Bancrott's larger work has been repeatedly set forth in our pages, and its great circulation has probably left but a small portion of the reading community ignorant of its merits.

The present abridgment, undertaken at the publishers' request, “is not designed as a full abstract of the larger work,” but is intended “to give an authentic account of the colonization of the United States, in a sirople and continued narrative, adapted to the young.' The author has executed this secondary task with care ; but in order fully to obtain the end in view, we are not sure, but that the whole work ought to be remodelled and written anew. It is no easy task to adapt text-books to youthful or imperfectly instructed capacities, and history is perhaps the most difficult of all subjects to be presented in a complete yet intelligible form to this class of readers. The ornate and somewhat artificial manner of Mr. Bancroft, highly as it may gratify the cultivated taste of inany, will only perplex the schoolboy, and throw stumblingblocks, we fear, in the way of some children of a larger growth. Our author writes from a mind overflowing with general information; and the wide range and abundance of his allusions to general history, to say nothing of other subjects, must often oblige even reputed scholars to have recourse to works of general reference. He ought to have remembered, that the production of one who aspires to be a philosophical historian, though written in English, may require as copious annotations for young pupils, as the school editions of Livy and Tacitus. We open one of the volumes at random for an extract to illustrate these remarks, and light upon the following passage.

“ After the departure of Oglethorpe, the solithern colonies enjoyed repose ; for the war for colonial commerce had become merged in a vast European struggle, involving the principles and the designs which had agitated the civilized world for centuries. In France, Fleury bad adhered to the policy of peace, when, by the death of Charles the Sixth, the extinction of the male line of the house of Hapsburg raised a question on the Austrian succession. The pragmatic sanction, to which France was a party, secured the whole Austrian dominions to Maria Theresa, the eldest daughter of Charles the Sixth; while, froin an erudite genealogy of previous marriages, the sovereigns of Spain, of Saxony, and of Bavaria, each derived a claim to the undivided heritage. The interest of the French king, his political system, his faith, as pledged by a solemn treaty, the advice of his minister, demanded of him the recognition of the rights of Maria Theresa in their integrity; and yet, swayed by the intrigues of the Belle-Isles, and the hereditary hatred of Austria, without one decent pretext, he constituted himself

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »