« ElőzőTovább »
tled a question definitely, but at the same time is willing to listen politely to any crude suggestions that you may have to throw out, Johnny crossed his legs, and thrust his hands into those wonderful trousers-pockets. I turned my face aside, for I felt a certain weakness creeping into the corners of my mouth. I was lost. In an instant the little head, covered all over with yellow curls, was laid upon my knee, and Johnny was crying, “I’m so very, very sorry!” I have said that Johnny is the terror of the neighborhood. I think I have not done the young gentleman an injustice. If there is a window broken within the radius of two miles from our house, Johnny's ball, or a stone known to come from his dexterous hand, is almost certain to be found in the battered premises. I never hear the musical jingling of splintered glass, but my porte-monnaie gives a convulsive throb in my breast-pocket. There is not a doorstep in our street that has n’t borne evidences in red chalk of his artistic ability; there is n't a bell that he hasn't rung and run away from at least three kundred times. Scarcely a day passes but he falls out of something, or over something, or into something. A ladder running up to the dizzy roof of an unfinished building is no more to be resisted by him than the back platform of a horse-car, when the conductor is collecting his fare in front. I should not like to enumerate the battles that Johnny has fought during the past eight months. It is a physical impossibility, I should judge, for him to refuse a challenge. He picks his enemies out of all ranks of society. He has fought the ash-man's boy, the grocer's boy, the rich boys over the way, and any number of miscellaneous boys who chanced to stray into our street. I can't say that this young desperado is always victorious. I have known the tip of his nose to be in a state of unpleasant redness for weeks together. I have known him to come home frequently with no brim to his hat; once he presented himself with only one
shoe, on which occasion his jacket was split up the back in a manner that gave him the appearance of an over-ripe chestnut bursting out of its bur. How he will fight ! But this I can say, - if Johnny is as cruel as Caligula, he is every bit as brave as Agamemnon. I never knew him to strike a boy smaller than himself. I never knew him to tell a lie when a lie would save him from disaster. At present the General, as I sometimes call him, is in hospital. He was seriously wounded at the battle of
.The Little Go-Cart, on the 9th instant.
On returning from my office yesterday evening, I found that scarred veteran stretched upon a sofa in the sittingroom, with a patch of brown paper stuck over his left eye, and a convicting smell of vinegar about him. “Yes,” said his mother, dolefully, “Johnny's been fighting again. That horrid Barnabee boy (who is eight years old, if he is a day) won't let the child alone.” “Well,” said I, “I hope Johnny gave that Barnabee boy a thrashing.” “Did n't I, though 2° cries Johnny, from the sofa. “I bet !” “O Johnny!” says his mother. Now, several days previous to this, I had addressed the General in the following terms: — “Johnny, if I ever catch you in another fight of your own seeking, I shall cane you.” In consequence of this declaration, it became my duty to look into the circumstances of the present affair, which will be known in history as the battle of The Little Go-Cart. After going over the ground very carefully, I found the following to be the state of the case. It seems that the Barnabee Boy– I speak of him as if he were the Benicia Boy —is the oldest pupil in the Primary Military School (I think it must be a military school) of which Johnny is a recent member. This Barnabee, having whipped every one of his companions, was sighing for new boys to conquer, when Johnny joined the institution. He at once made friendly overtures of battle to Johnny, who, oddly enough, seemed indisposed to encourage his advances. Then Barnabee began a series of petty persecutions, which had continued up to the day of the fight. On the morning of that eventful day the Barnabee Boy appeared in the school-yard with a small go-cart. After running down on Johnny several times with this useful vehicle, he captured Johnny's cap, filled it with sand, and dragged it up and down the yard triumphantly in the go-cart. This made the General very angry, of course, and he took an early opportunity of kicking over the triumphal car, in doing which he kicked one of the wheels so far into space that it has not been seen since. This brought matters to a crisis. The battle would have taken place then and there; but at that moment the schoolbell rang, and the gladiators were obliged to give their attention to Smith's Speller. But a gloom hung over the morning's exercises, – a gloom that was not dispelled in the back row, when the Barnabee Boy stealthily held up to Johnny's vision a slate, whereon was inscribed this fearful message:–
Johnny got it “put down in writin’” this time !
After a hasty glance at the slate, the General went on with his studies composedly enough. Eleven o'clock came, and with it came recess, and with recess the inevitable battle.
Now I do not intend to describe the details of this brilliant action, for the sufficient reason that, though there were seven young gentlemen (connected with the Primary School) on the field as war correspondents, their accounts of the engagement are so contradictory as to be utterly worthless. On one point they all agree, – that the contest was sharp, short, and decisive. The truth is, the General is a quick, wiry, experienced old hero; and it did n’t take him long to rout the Barnabee Boy, who was in reality a coward, as all bullies and tyrants ever have been, and always will be.
I don't approve of boys fighting; I
don't defend Johnny; but if the Gen
eral wants an extra ration or two of preserved pear, he shall have it!
I am well aware that, socially speaking, Johnny is a Black Sheep. I know that I have brought him up badly, and that there is not an unmarried man or woman in the United States who wouldn't have brought him up very differently. It’s a great pity that the only people who know how to manage children never have any! At the same time, Johnny is not a black sheep all over. He has some white spots. His sins —if wiser folks had no greater —are the result of too much animal life. They belong to his evanescent youth, and will pass away; but his honesty, his generosity, his bravery, belong to his character, and are enduring qualities. The quickly crowding years will tame him. A good large pane of glass, or a seductive bell-knob, ceases in time to have attractions for the most reckless spirit. And I am quite confident that Johnny will be a great statesman, or a valorous soldier, or, at all events, a good citizen, after he has got over being A Young Desperado.
REVIEWS AND LITERARY NOTICES.
The First Canticle [Inferno) of the Divine Comedy of DANTE ALIGHIERI. Translated by THoMAs WILLIAM PARsons. Boston: De Vries, Ibarra, and Company,
WHILE we must own that we have no sympathy with the theory of free translation, we recognize the manifold merits of execution in this work, and accept it as one which, together with Mr. Longfellow's version of the whole of Dante's Divina Commedia, and Mr. Norton's translation of the Vita Muova, will make the present year memorable in our literature. It does not necessarily stand in antagonism to works executed in a spirit entirely different, and we shall make no comparison of it with the “Inferno” by Mr. Longfellow, the admirers of which will be among the first to feel its characteristic and very striking excellences. In substituting the decasyllabic quatrain for the triple rhyme of the Italian, we suppose Dr. Parsons desired rather to please the reader's ear with a familiar stanza, than to avoid the difficulties (exaggerated, we think, by critics) of the terza rima, and he could certainly have chosen no more felicitous form after once departing from that of his original. He has almost re-created the stanza for his purpose, giving it new movement, and successfully adapting to the exigencies of dialogue and of narrative what has hitherto chiefly been associated with elegiac and didactic poetry. Something of this may be seen in the following passages (srom the description of the transit through the frozen circle of Caina), which moreover appear to us among the best sustained of the version.
“And as a frog squats croaking from a stream,
Livid as far as where shame paints the cheek,
Their aching hearts, their mouths the biting cold.”
“A thousand visages I saw, by cold Turned to dog-faces: horror chills me through Whenever of those frozen fords I think. And as we nearer to the centre drew, Towards which all bodies by their weight must sink,
There, as I shivered in the eternal chill,
“I held his tresses in my fingers wound, And more than one tuft had I twitched away As he, with eyes bent down, howled like a hound; When one cried out, “What ails thee, Bocca? say, Canst thou not make enough clack with thy jaws, But thou must bark too? What fiend pricks thee now?' “Aha!" said I, henceforth I have no cause To bid thee speak, thou cursed traitor thou ! I'll shame thee, bearing truth of thee to men." “Away !” he answered: “what thou wilt, relate: But, shouldst thou get from hence with breath again, Mention him too so ready with his prate.”
The encounter of Dante with Farinata and Cavalcante in their fiery tombs is also painted with such animated and fortunate strokes that we must reproduce some of them here : —
“‘O Tuscan thou who com'st with gentle speech, Through Hell's hot city, breathing from the earth,
Stop in this place one moment, I beseech:
Of that illustrious land I know thee sprung,
Then as I closer to my master drew,
“Turn back what dost thou?' he exclaimed in haste; “See : Farinata rises to thy view ; Now mayst behold him upward from his waist.’ “Full in his face already I was gazing, While his front lowered, and his proud bosom swelled, As though even there, amid his burial blazing, The infernal realm in high disdain he held.”
In this scene, however, the radical defect of Dr. Parsons's work appears: it is unequal, and unsustained even in some of its best parts. It seems scarcely credible that the poet who could produce the grand lines just given, could also mar the whole effect of the father's frantic appeal to know if his son Guido be no longer alive, by putting in his mouth the melodramatic words, “Sayest thou, “he had '? what mean ye 1 is he
But our translator does this, and he makes Ugolino report little Anselm as saying,
“Thou look'st so, father what's the matter, what?”
—a line that Melpomene herself could not read with tragic effect, — for,
“Disse: tu guardisi, padre; che hai?” As he likewise causes Francesca to say,
“Love quick to kindle every gentler breast Fired this fond being with the lorely shape Berest me so l’”
“Amor, che alcor gentil ratto s'apprende;
Indeed, we have to confess that the present is on the whole not a satisfactory translation of the episode of Francesca da Rimini. also, is rendered in a manner scarcely to be called successful, and not bearing comparison with that of the other rhyming translators, – Ford, Wright, and Cayley. As to the beginning of the seventh canto, we must think that Dr. Parsons was chiefly moved by the prevailing sentiment of mankind to translate
“Pape Satan pape Satan aleppe 1" into “Ho! Satan : Popes—more Popes—head Satan here 1"
The inscription on the gate of hell,
These and other blemishes arrest the most casual glance. The merits of any work are harder to prove than its faults, though they are quite as deeply felt; and, as we have already intimated, it is the misfortune of Dr. Parsons that some of his greatest defects are in passages otherwise the most generally successful. There are probably few pages of the translation which do not offend by some lapse; but at the same time there is no page which will not command admiration by sublime and striking lines. We think the whole of the following passage from the thirteenth canto (it is the well-known description of the sentient wood into which the self-violent are turned) has a peculiar strength and
“Amid the branches of this dismal grove,
This picture, also, of the apparition of the angel who opens the gates of Dis is done with a hand as firm as it is free :
“As frogs before their enemy, the snake,
On the dank ooze a huddling cluster make,
Flying from one who passed the Stygian bog,
At once the messenger of Heaven I kenned,
Ornithology and Oology of Mew England: containing full Descriptions of the Birds of Aew England, and adjoining States and Provinces, arranged by a long-approved Classification and Momenclature; together with a complete History of their Habits, Zimes of Arrival and Departure, their Distribution, Food, Song, Time of Breeding, and a careful and accurate Description of their Mests and Eggs: with Illustrations of many Species of the Birds, and accurate Figures of their Eggs. By EDward A. SAMUELs, Curator of Zoëlogy in the Massachusetts State Cabinet. Boston: Nichols and Noyes.
THE strong point of this book is, that it monopolizes the ground, and has no rivals. While no branch of natural history has called forth in America such arduous research as ornithology, or such eloquent writing, there has yet been for many years no popular manual in print. Audubon, Wilson, Nuttall, are all practically inaccessible to the ordinary purchaser. Moreover, there have been great advances in scientific classification, and also in field knowledge, since those earlier works appeared. There is therefore an admirable field for any new writer.
Mr. Samuels frankly acknowledges on his first page that he is mainly indebted to Professor Baird of the Smithsonian Institute for what is by far the most valuable portion of his book, - the classification, the nomenclature, and the generic and specific descriptions. He is only responsible for the popular descriptions; but even these consist so very largely of quotations that the whole book must evidently be judged rather as a compilation than as an original work.
Considered as a compilation, it is valuable, though its title-page unfortunately promises more than any work on natural history ever yet performed, and so prepares
the way for disappointment. Mr. Samuels appears to be a zealous and accurate ornithologist, with plenty of field-knowledge, but very little descriptive power. Being apparently conscious of this, he is shy of delineating the rarer birds, because he does not personally know them, while he passes hastily over the more familiar, because “their habits are known to all.” This last piece of abstinence is greatly to be regretted. For a local manual has two main objects, to furnish to young students the means of identifying species, and to give remote students the means of comparing species. For both purposes the commonest birds are most important, since everybody begins with these. A boy wishes, for instance, to identify the wood-thrush; or a Southern naturalist wishes to compare its traits with those of the mocking-bird. He finds that in this book the wood-thrush is dismissed with two pages, while there is a quotation from Wilson seven pages long upon the habits of the mocking-bird. When will naturalists learn that the first duty of each observer is to make a thorough study of his own locality, and meanwhile to let the rest of the world alone * One looks in vain in these pages for any good description of the song-sparrow, the blue-bird, the blue-jay, the kingfisher, or the oriole. These birds are allowed but a page or two each, although, for some reason, more liberal space is given to the robin and the crow. But there is no bird so familiar that it does not offer subjects for interesting speculation and study. The pretty nocturnal trill of the hairbird; the remarkable change which civilization has wrought in the habits of the cliff-swallow; the disputed question whether the cat-bird is or is not a mocker; —these and a hundred similar points relate to very common birds, and are accordingly unnoticed by Mr. Samuels. Eggs really interest him, and his descriptions and measurements of these constitute the most original part of the book, and are highly valuable. On the other hand, the notes of birds are very inadequately described, and sometimes not at all ; he does not mention that the loon has a voice. Again, he does full justice to the chronology of bird biography, and gives ample dates as to their coming and going, nesting and hatching. But as to their geographical distribution the information is scanty, and not always quite reliable. Thus the snowyowl is described (p. 78) as occurring “principally on the sea-coast,” whereas it is toler