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9. — The Poetry and History of Wyoming ; containing Camp
bell's " Gertrude," with a Biographical Sketch of the Huthor, by WASHINGTon Irving ; and the History of Wyoming, from its Discovery to the Beginning of the Present Century. By William L. Stone. New York and London : Wiley & Putnam. 16mo. pp. 324.
This book belongs to the first class of those richly-executed volumes, which the press is now sending forth in such profusion, as ornaments for the centre table, and intellectual food for the hours of amusement and relaxation. The pleasant valley of Wyoming, which Campbell had sung with the second-sight of a poet, though his bodily eye never saw it, is here set forth with all that garniture of history and tradition, which, in addition to its natural beauties, renders it one of the most attractive spots in our country. Mr. Stone has Jabored industriously in collecting his materials, and has put them together in a manner, which, although it lacks something of the gravity, polish, and nice arrangement of the historian's page, presents a faithful and animated picture of scenery and events, and makes an interesting chapter in the annals of our border settlements. Poetry and truth are here placed side by side, and we must allow, that the contrast is rather an amusing one. Campbell's elegant fancy had not room to go far astray in picturing the natural features of the spot, for we take it that all happy valleys, as portrayed in the bright but vague expressions of verse, bear a striking family likeness. It is but erecting a few beetling crags, spreading out a carpet of flowers, and sending a stream to meander through the whole, and the poet has all the necessary ground-work for his plan, and may proceed to finish it off to his liking, without fear of spoiling the resemblance. But to paint the character and situation of the inhabitants, when he gives to these fancies “a local habitation and a name,” is more hazardous work, for there is some risk of sending forth wolves in sheep's clothing. The early settlers of Wyoming, far from being a race
“Of happy shepherd swains with nought to do
Or skim perchance the lake with light canoe," appear to have been an intractable and lawless company, constantly engaged in skirmishes and bloodshed.
And the war, at the early period of which we speak, was no high-minded resistance to oppression, no gallant repulse of ferocious savages, but a mere conflict of land titles. It arose, like most other evils, from the thirst after filthy lucre, and was prosecuted with the determination which men usually show, when their purses are in danger.
The zeal and interest, with which Mr. Stone has hunted up all memorials of the terrible scene, which every one associates with the name of Wyoming, proceeded at first from his care for the reputation of Brant, or Thayendanegia, as it is now the fashion to call him, whom he has successfully vindicated from the charge of being present at and directing the massacre. Many a thrilling tale connected with that bloody event has he gleaned from the aged survivors of the battle ; and, though the mass of tradition needs to be winnowed a little, before absolute credit can be given to it, yet it furnishes good material for the historian, and a graphic commentary upon the pleasing tale by Campbell. The sketch of the earlier contests, of which this valley was the theatre, when the men of Connecticut disputed its ownership with those of Pennsylvania, is executed with great freedom and liveliness, though it is unequally done, and the writer should have been more scrupulous in admitting doubtful testimony. On the whole, he has made a pleasant and instructive book, the contents of which deserve the rich garb, with which the liberal spirit of the publisher has clothed it. Washington Irving has contributed to it a biographical sketch of the poet Campbell, for the fidelity and agreeableness of which his name is a sufficient guaranty. The English bard has no reason to be ashamed of the company in which he is placed before his American readers.
Notes on the United States of America during a Phrenological Visit in 1838 – 1840. By George COMBE. In Two Volumes. 16mo.
pp. 373 and 405.
There is no great instruction to be derived from these volumes, by readers either abroad or in this country ; but they are written generally with good sense, and throughout in an amiable vein, except when occasionally the author is provoked,
as who would not be ? - when he falls in with those who flout his hobby. We find no fault with what he apologizes for, his ample notices of objects and customs familiar to our own people. The book was prepared rather for foreign readers, and a traveller, writing with that design, does well to record such things minutely, while their novelty secures his own attention. The very fact, that they attract his notice, while they pass as a matter of course with those whom he is visiting, shows them to be characteristic. As to Mr. Combe's observa
tions and speculations upon the state of parties in this country, and the present and future working of its institutions, they are as good as would be made by any one fair-minded traveller in a hundred with his opportunities, which is not speaking very extravagantly in their praise. The work is pervaded by an excellent moral tone. It uses generous commendation when apparent circumstances warrant it. Reproof is sparingly administered, never in a fault-finding spirit, generally with good judgment, and always in a tone of frank and manly earnestness. As to taste, there is not much to except against, unless it be the stilted attitude, in which the most unquestionable verities are announced. But this comes of the vocation. It is hard for a preacher or a lecturer not to play Sir Oracle, even in a gossiping book of travels. Says Mr. Combe ;
“ I have endeavoured, in this work, to expound the principle, that mental action is the first requisite to moral and intellectual improvement. If we expect to confer on the British people intelligence, we must advocate them.” — Vol. 11. p. 318.
“ I earnestly press on your attention the great truth, that our affective faculties, both aninial and moral, are in themselves blind impulses, and that they stand in need of constant guidance." - Ibid.
And much more in the same style. Dr. Channing, of whoin Mr. Combe is a devoted admirer, sometimes writes in this way. But it requires all the graces of his eminent genius to make it tolerable. Smaller wits should beware of such experiments. Now and then, in a like ambitious mood, there is indited some ponderous generalization which the reader pauses and summons his faculties to master ; as,
“ The conflicts of your sects will do more for the improvement of Christianity than has been accomplished by all the commentators who bave labored in the field since the Reformation.” — Ibid. p. 346.
A statement which would be more satisfactory to the reader, did he better perceive that the conflicts of sects and the labors of commentators are two absolutely independent things. Again, the reader is put in the way to understand what is meant by “public opinion,” by the following lucid definition :
“What is public opinion? It is the outward expression of the particular group of faculties which may happen to predominate in activity in the majority of the people for the moment." Ibid.
334. To phrenology is awarded the credit of
“ Unfolding to us the great facts that we possess moral and intellectual faculties invested with authority to rule over and direct the animal propensities; and the propensities have all a legitimate sphere of action.” — Ibid. p. 340.
If Mr. Combe thinks that these “
were never unfolded before, and that phrenology unfolded them, it is less surprising that he holds it in such high esteem. It must be owned, however, that he does not obtrude it very much upon his readers, and his fellow-believers, whom the reference to it on the title-page may attract to his book, may naturally be disappointed in this particular. He gives statements of the degree of interest excited by his lectures upon it in different places, and occasionally describes the craniological developements of distinguished individuals. But for the most part the subject is made to give place to others commanding a more general sympathy, and it is only at the close of the work that it is prominently set forth as affording practical expedients of the most important efficiency. There the enthusiasm of this philosophy runs riot with him through some three or four unflinching pages.
11. — Miniature Romances from the German, with other Prolu
sions of Light Literature. Boston: C. C. Little & J. Brown. 1841. 12mo. pp. 324.
HAVING formerly noticed Mr. Tracy's beautiful translation of the most delicate of modern Romances, La Motte Fouqué's “ Undine,” it is unnecessary to say much of the present volume. We are glad to see that the merits of this translation have attracted the attention of the London publishers, and that a handsome edition has there been issued by the poetpublisher, Edward Moxon. The little volume now before us contains the translation of “ Undine," revised and improved, together with several other pieces ; some translated from the German, and some original. Among other things we notice a faithful and beautiful Italian version of Coleridge's most finished poem, Love,” which (the translation we mean) we have long been familiar with in manuscript, and long wished to see in print, by Mr. P. D’Alessandro, an Italian gentleman, whose literary accomplishments are well known and highly appreciated in this community. He has entered into the spirit of his exquisite original, and adhered to the very turns of expression with extraordinary fidelity, making it at the same time a very finished and harmonious Italian poem. This is to solve successfully the highest problem of translation.
QUARTERLY LIST OF NEW PUBLICATIONS. .
BIOGRAPHY AND MEMOIRS. The Life of Thomas Paine, Author of " Common Sense,” “Rights of Man,” “ Age of Reason,” &c. &c., with Critical and Explanatory Observations on his Writings, and an Appendix, containing his Letters to Washington, suppressed in his works at present Published in this Country. By G. Vale, Editor of the Beacon. New York: Published by the Author. pp. 221.
The Life and Times of Red-Jacket, or, Sa-Go-Ye-Wat-Ha; being the Sequel to the History of the Six Nations. By William L. Stone. New York: Wiley & Putnam. 8vo. pp. 484.
A Life of Washington, by J. K. Paulding. New York: Harper & Brothers. (Family Library Edition.) 2 vols. 12mo. pp. 267, 233.
The Book of the Indians, or, Biography and History of the Indians of North America, from its First Discovery to the Year 1841. By Samuel G. Drake, Fellow of the Royal Society of Northern Antiquaries at Copenhagen ; Honorary Member of the New Hampshire and New York Historical Societies. 81b Edition, with Large Corrections and Additions. Boston. 8vo. pp. 216. Antiquarian Book Store.
Memoirs of the Most Eminent American Mechanics. Also, Lives of Distinguished European Mechanics; Together with a collection of Anecdotes, Descriptions, &c. &c. Relating to the Mechanic Arts. Illustrated by Fifty Engravings. By Henry Howe. New York: Alexander & Blake. 12mo. pp. 482.
EDUCATION. Parisian Linguist; or, an Easy Method of acquiring a Perfect Pronunciation of the Language without a French Master. Intended for Academies and Schools in the United States and for American Trayellers in Europe. By an Americau resident in Paris. Boston : James Munroe & Co.
255. This little work was prepared by one of our countrymen, who has for some time resided abroad, and who fancied that a plan of instruction in French, which he had successfully used in his own family, might be profitably adopted in the seminaries of this country, and by those who designed to travel in Europe. The principal difficulty of learners consists in obtaining a correct pronunciation of the language, and this obstacle the writer labors to overcome by spelling the words as they are pronounced to an English ear, great care being taken to use such a combination of letters, that the pupil, following our own principles of sound and accentuation, cannot go far wrong in enunciating the French syllables. On opening the volume, an array of words most uncouth and novel in their aspect meets the eye, but on attempting to pronounce them in the English fashion, an VOL. LIII.
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