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4. The Continental Annual and Romantic Cabinet for 1832. With Illustrations by Samuel Prout, Esq. F. S. A., Painter in Water Colours in ordinary to His Majesty. Edited by William Kennedy, Esq. 8vo, pp. 313. Thirteen Embellishments. London : Smith, Elder, & Co.
5. The New Year's Gift, and Juvenile Souvenir. Edited by Mrs. Alaric A. Watts. 12mo, pp. 240. Eight Embellishments. London: Longman and Co. 1832.
6. Geographical Annual, or Family Cabinet Atlas. Designed and engraved by Thomas Starling. London: Bull. 1832.
OUR anticipations with respect to the literary merits of the new volume of the Souvenir have not, we regret to say, been sulfilled. We know not where or how we received the impression that it had been got up with more than common success this year, both as to its embellishments and the papers of which it is composed. The former are, indeed, generally of the highest order of beauty; but the latter are, with very few exceptions, of a character below mediocrity. The editor has thought fit to devote no fewer than thirty pages of his work to a satirical production of his own, called ‘The Conversazione,’ in which he attacks a number of critics and other literary men and women, all of whom, we believe, he had on various occasions enrolled amongst his friends. The manner, in which he has executed this ignoble task, reflects no credit either upon his head or his heart. As a poem it is a most miserable affair. As a satire it betrays more of bad temper and malignant feeling, than any thing of the kind that has ever fallen under our notice. We can speak of it with impartiality, because we are not included amongst the parties whom the writer so atrociously assails, and we have no hesitation in declaring, that it is so disgraceful in every respect to Mr. Watts, that it ought to lessen any future claim which he may set up to the patronage of the public. It is no part of our duty to enter into any of the low bickerings, in which this gentleman may have been engaged with some of the scribes who abound in this capital. Those whom he ranks amongst his enemies, may possibly deserve every thing that he has written against them. Of the names of some of them we have heard for the first time, and we therefore say nothing about them. Of the others we have little more than a public knowledge, and it would not be difficult to persuade us, that much of what Mr. Watts has advanced to their discredit is perfectly true. But, admitting this, we ask whether a work like the Literary Souvenir, intended for the drawing-room, very frequently within our own experience presented as a Christmas gift to youth of both sexes, and hitherto looked upon as a collection of amusing, light, and inoffensive articles, should be made the channel for such a scurrilous composition as this ‘Conversazione?' We are quite sure that if Messrs. Longman and Co. had any intimation of the editor's intention to
insert it in this volume, they would have insisted upon its being cancelled, before they would have allowed so scandalous a production to have gone out to the world under the sanction of their respectable names. We shall quote a single specimen of this poem, in order to justify the feelings of disgust with which we have spoken of its general character. “Thus have I seen some blow-fly small, Over a noble sirloin crawl— On Giblett's ample counter placed, Tainting the meat it could not taste; And thus, for even the meanest things Can void their filth and use their stings, The veriest vermin of the press, The power of mischief still possess; For jests inflict a double smart, “When some low blockhead points the dart:” And dirt is dirt, and mud annoys, Even from a knot of blackguard boys Collected in the public street, To run-a-muck at all they meet; Who, as their ordure round they scatter, And every decent coat bespatter, Conceive themselves—the more's the pity— Youths of a vein immensely witty; And deem no humour half so good As calling names and throwing mud.’ - Literary Souvenir, pp. 239, 240. Poetry like this is certainly not of the description, which we should wish to see in the hands of any young person, and we hope that the specimen, which we have given, will induce many persons to deliberate, whether they ought to admit the volume that contains it within their family circle. It is a question, which the purchasers of books and periodical publications do not in general sufficiently consider, how far they become responsible, in a moral point of view, by patronizing works of an improper tendency. There is not in any part of the civilized world, a press so debased as that, from which the Sunday papers of this metropolis make their appearance. The lies which they unblushingly onvent and give to the world, concerning the proceedings and motives of public men, usually carry with them their own exposure, and are soon forgotten. But the editors of most of those journals make a business of prying into the private affairs, not only of public men, but of men who have never quitted the shade of their retirement, and they wantonly inflict upon sensitive minds, wounds of the most painful nature. They are no better than prostitutes, for they carry on an open trade in vice, the odious vice of scandal, for the base purposes of lucre. Pecuniary gain they must acquire, for they are otherwise so poor, that they could not carry on their publications for a fortnight without very liberal assistce from the inhabitants of the metropolis, as well as from many rsons in the country. It is evident, therefore, that if there were readers of such calumnious trash, there would be no writers of or at least no publishers; there would be no “Age,” no “John ull.” Now then, we ask, can the patrons of such newspapers ild themselves free from responsibility, for the circulation of the le falsehoods and infamous satires which those journals publish to e world from week to week " There is no sound moralist who will it agree with us in the opinion, that every person who buys one these papers, or contributes in any way to support them by oney or by approbation, participates in the guilt of the abandoned en who conduct them. Mr. Watts denies the imputation that is one of the regular writers for the “Age.” We give full edit to his assertion; but we must add, that he has shewn, in his Jonversazione,' talents which would well fit him for that disgraceI employment. It would have been well if he had submitted this precious comisition, to the better judgment of the intelligent and amiable oman who bears his name, and who, we have no doubt whatever, buld have counselled its exclusion, or at least given to it someing of that dignified tone of reproof, which sheds so sweet a charm er the following verses from her own pen.
If she cannot stoop to find
Painting hath resigned her wand;—
* If, when self-conceit be near,
Literary Souvenir, pp. 43–45.
We suspect that we are indebted to the same graceful pen for the following highly interesting account of the habits of the female “Friends.” To its other intrinsic merits, it adds the rare qualification of being also in a great measure novel to general readers.
‘It hath fallen to my lot, in the earlier period of my life, to be thrown into the society of not a few of the most distinguished families of the Sect. On my first acquaintance, I was greatly at a loss to distinguish any difference in the female part of the fraternity. In their instance, youth and age seemed to have lost their usual characteristics, when attired in the same sombre livery; and when, at length, I learned at a glance to distinguish the matron from the maiden, I found that it required a still keener perception to distinguish one maiden from another; the same brown gown and poke-bonnet were common to them all; and it was not until after a twomonths' residence among them, that I learned to separate the smart from the staid. By the end of that period, however, I became familiar with the nice distinction of a plaited and drawn-crowned bonnet; between the bonnet lined with white, and the bonnet lined with the same colour; between the gaiety of white strings, as compared with the gravity of strings made of the palest drab
“On my first introduction to a Friend's family, the peculiarity that most struck (and, I must confess, surprised) me, was the entire absence of all finesse in the manners of the ladies. To my sophisticated taste, there was something, as it seemed to me, too unveiled—too straight forward—both in appearance and manner; a sort of angularity, which appeared to me to want rounding off. They asked questions without circumlocution, and returned answers without any softening qualification. It hath been said, that “a Quaker never gives a direct answer.” This saying appears to me to belong to that family of jests which are more distinguished for their piquancy than their truth. I should say that the reverse of this maxim is the fact; but that I fear to attempt, by my individual strength, to remove what has been considered a land-mark. “Another peculiarity, which forcibly struck me in their conversation, is what Mrs. Malaprop would call, a “nice derangement of epitaphs;” in other words, an extreme propriety of diction—their strict attention to the strictest rules of Lindley Murray. With them, our excellent friend, Hannah More, could have no pretext for reiterating her favourite precept of “calling things by their right names.” With them “pink is pink, and not scarlet!” In their conversation there is an utter absence of all exaggeration, or embellishment; and I am almost tempted to believe that their children are born with a knowledge of the degrees of comparison—of the distinction subsisting between positive and superlative. However this may be, I am quite certain that a mere child would stand a chance of severe reprehension, who should be guilty of characterising an accident as a misfortune. “But my reader must not imagine that I gained all this information as easily as he does. No, indeed! it required some tact to approach very near the gentle sisters, (of the brothers, I profess to know nothing), for they have a profound horror of ridicule, and a shrinking sort of distrust for all who are clad in motley. This feeling does not arrive from coldness, but is the result of a retired education, and a secluded life. To a Quaker, the presence of a silly woman of fashion would inspire more restraint than that of a whole body of profound philosophers. ‘Their peculiarity of language, too, which they value as the hedge of their “garden enclosed,” tends to place a great gulf between them and the rest of the world; they cannot ask you how you do, without feeling that they have not even words in common with their fellow-creatures. This presents a free interchange of ideas, and may be one cause why they are so little known; they seldom, perhaps, feel quite at their ease, excepting in the society of persons of their own persuasion. ‘And here I cannot but remark, how seldom a correct version of the Quaker phraseology is to be met with, even in the works of such writers as have chosen members of that body for their dramatis persona. Our great novelist, Sir Walter Scott, has made worthy Joshua Geddes guilty of swearing at little Benjie; and his gentle sister, Rachael, manifests small respect for the rules of grammar. The sentiments imputed to these good people are, however, more in accordance with those of the “Society” than their phraseology; the acquisition of which would seem to be a matter of some difficulty, since their trusty friend, and well-beloved champion, Charles Lamb, is not entirely guiltless of now and then murdering Friends' English. “But if any adventurer, urged by curiosity, or a better feeling, will take the trouble to break the ice, and pierce beyond the veil, I do not think that he will find his labour ill bestowed. He will immediately be struck