Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

1. The New and the Old; or California and precisely what they could do for them

India in Romantic Aspects. By J. W. selves, that he has made a catalogue of PALMER, M. D. New York: Rudd & the natural objects to be found in a certain Carleton. 1859.

number of acres, which differs from the lit2. Up and Down the Irawaddi; being Pas- erary efforts of an auctioneer only in this,

sages of Adventure in the Burman Em- that each line begins with a capital and pire. By the Same.

contains the same number of syllables. He

counts the number of cabbages in a field, It has passed into a scornful proverb, of cows in a pasture, and tells us how that it needs good optics to see what is not many times a squirrel ran up (or down) a to be seen, and yet we should be inclined given tree in a given time. He informs us to say that the first essential of a good that the bark of the shagbark is shaggy, traveller was to be gifted with eyesight of that the sleep-at-noon slumbers at mid-day, precisely that kind. All his senses should that moss is apt to grow on fallen treebe as delicate as eyes; and, above all, he trunks in damp places, — treats us as the should be able to see with the fine eye of old alchemists do, who give us a list of the imagination, compared with which all the materials out of which gold (if it had any other organs with which the mind grasps moral sense) would at once consent to be and the memory holds are as clumsy as made, but somehow won't, - and leaves us thumbs. The demand for this kind of impressed with that very dead certainty, traveller and the opportunity for him in that things are so-and-so, which is the recrease as we learn more and more ninute- sult of verses that are only so-so. ly the dry facts and figures of the most Readers of the “Atlantic” need not be inaccessible corners of the earth's surface. told that Dr. Palmer is not a descriptive There is no hope of another Ferdinand poet of this fashion. They have known Mendez Pinto, with his statistics of Dream- how to appreciate his sketches of East Inland, who makes no difficulty of impress- dian life, so vivid, picturesque, and iming "fourscore thousand rhinocerots” to aginative that they could make “Grifdraw the wagons of the King of Tartary's fins ” feel twinges of liver-complaint, and army, or of killing eight hundred and fifty 80 true that we have heard them prothousand men with a flourish of his quill, nounced "incomparable" by men familiar - for what were a few ciphers to him, with India. Dr. Palmer is no mere dewhen his inkhorn was full and all Chris- scriber; he sees with the eye of a poet, tendom to be astonished ? — but there is touches only what is characteristic, and, all the more need of voyagers who give us while he seems to surrender himself wholsomething better than a census of popula. ly to the Circe Imagination, retains the tion, and who know of other exports from polished coolness of the man of the world, strange countries than can be expressed by and the brownness of the man of the nine$- Give us the traveller who makes teenth century. Ile not only knows how to us feel the mystery of the Figure at Saïs, observe, but how to write, - both of them whose veil has a new meaning for every accomplishments rare enough in an age beholder, rather than him who brings back when everybody is ready to contract for a photograph of the uncovered counte. their display by the column. His style nance, with its one unvarying granite sto- is nervous and original, not harassingly ry for all. There is one glory of the pointed like a chestnut-burr, but full of Gazetteer with his fixed facts, and another esprit or wit diffused, - that Gallic leaven of the Poet with his variable quantities which pervades whole sentences and paraof fancy. The fixed fact may be unfix- graphs with an indefinable lightness and ed next year, like an almanac, but the palatableness. It is a thoroughly Amerihasty sketch of the true artist is good for- can style, too, a little over-indifferent to ever.

tradition and convention, but quite free of Crities have a good-natured way of stig. the sic-semper-tyrannis swagger. Uncle Bull, matizing, for the initiated, all poetry that who is just like his nephew in thinking is not poetry, by saying that it is "ele- that he has a divine right to the world's gant," "harmonious," or, worse than all, oyster, cannot swallow it properly till he "descriptive." This last commonly means has donned a white choker, and refuses to that the author has done for his readers be comforted when Jonathan disposes of

it is

rapid

ay

..the shell for a

telectual capacity. Sothing is more

to a manner in is proper place to state way of a ways treating

the min wan sentiment de the beshest enerated, and like a book is the more fx lav az an dental caror.

But it is no mercy or chiety as being among the ekverest and liveliest of not enn lizenterature that we value Dr. Palm er'. 4. They have a true poetic val ue, and instruct as mach as they entertain. While he is telling as a San Francisco story, the truth of the accessories and the skill with which they are grouped bring the California of 1619 before us with unmatched vividnes. We have been get ting knowledge and learning a deep moral without suspecting it, as if by our own ob servation and experience. In the same way “ Asirvadam the Brahmin" is a prose poem that lets us into the secret of the Indian revolt. It is seldom that we meet with volumer of more real power than these, or whose force is so artistically masked under case and playfulness. We prefer the "Old” part of the book to the " New.” It seems to us to show a better style of handling. There is something of melodrama in the style of the California stories,-a flavor of blue lights and burnt cork. At the same time, we must admit that there is a melodramatic taint in our American life:-witness the Sickles vulgarity. Young America is b'hoyish rather than boyish, and perhaps the “ New” may be all the truer to Nature for what we dislike in it.

The New and the Old ” is fittingly dedicated to the Autocrat of all the Breakfast-Tables, than whom no man has done more to demonstrate that wit and mirth are not incompatible with seriousness of purpose and incisiveness of thought.

must be limited because his mural sense is smalyes no mistake is more common. Sapnuon the Third may play an important part in History, thoegh bg no grosibility an kerore coe In resting this little volumé, de cannot fail to be struck with the presence of mind and the absence of heart of which it gives evidence. It is the ad. vertisement of a charlatan. wbose sole inheritance is the right to manufacture thre Sapoleonic pill, and we read with maroidable distrust the vouchers of its wonderful efficacy. We do not fancy the Bonapartist grape-cure, por believe in it.

Mr. Dorr's translation is excellent. He understands French, and is able to do it into English elegantly and accurately without any trace of foreign idiom. This is no easy thing; for our general experience has been that translators read French like Englishmen and write English like Frenchmen.

Country Life By R. MORRIS COPELAND. Boston : John P. Jewett & Company. 1859.

Ix an article on “Farming Life in New England," published in a former volane of the “ Atlantic," a valued contributor drew attention to the painful lack of beanty in the lives and homes of our rural population. Some attempts were made to show that his statements were exaggerated; but we are satisfied that they were true in all essential particulars. The abolition of entails, (however wise in itself,) and the consequent subdivision of estates, will always put country life, in the English sense of the words, out of the question here. Our houses will continue to be tents; trees, without ancestral associations, will be valued by the cord ; and that cumulative charm, the slow result of associations, of the hereditary taste of many generations, must always be wanting. Age is one of the prime elements of patural beauty ; but among us the love of what is new so predominates, that we have known the largest oak in a county to be cut down by the selectmen to make room for a shanty schoolhouse, simply because the tree was of “no account," being hollow and gnarled, and otherwise delight

Napoleonic Ideas. By Prince NAPOLEON

Louis BONAPARTE. Translated by JAMES A. DORR. New York : D. Appleton & Company. 1859.

This publication has at least that merit which is one of the first in literature,- it is timely. Though we look upon the Emperor of the French as a kind of imperial Jonathan Wild, it does not the less concern us to make a true estimate of his in

fully picturesque. Our people are singu- with its grand thunder-cloud of foliage, its larly dead also to the value of beauty in bee-haunted cones of bloom, and its polishpublic architecture ; and while they cleared fruit so uselessly useful to children, away a tree which the seasons have been Bushy Park is answer enough on that two centuries in building, they will put score ; but we cordially appreciate his up with as little remorse a stone or brick taste and ability. His book will justify a abomination that shall be a waking night. warm commendation. It is laid ont on mare for a couple of centuries to come true principles of landscape-farming. The But selectmen are not chosen with ref- stiff and square economical details are reerence to their knowledge of Price or lieved by passages of great beauty and Ruskin.

picturesqueness. The cockney who owns Mr. Copeland's book is specially adapt- a snoring-privilege in the suburbs will be ed to the conditions of a community like stimulated to a sense of latent beauty in ours. Its title might have been “Rural clouds and fields; and the farmer who looks

Esthetics for Men of Limited Means, or on the cosmic forces as mere motive-power the Laws of Beauty considered in their for the wheels of his money-mill will find Application to Small Estates.” It is a the truth of the proverb, that more water volume happily conceived and happily ex- runs over the dam than the miller wots of, ecuted, and meets a palpable and increas- and learn that Nature is as lavish of Beauing want of our civilization. Whatever ty as she is frugal in Use. Even to the adds grace to the daily lives of a people, editor, whose only fields are those of literand awakens in them a perception of the ature, and whose only leaves grow from a beauty of outward Nature and its healthful composing-stick, the advent of a book like reaction on the nature of man,- whatever this is refreshing. It enables him to lav tends to make toil unsordid, and to put it out with a judicious economy the gardens in relations of intelligent sympathy with attached to his Spanish manor houses, and the beautiful progression of the seasons, - to do his farming without risk of loss, in adds incalculably to the wealth of a coun- the most charming way of all, (especially try, though the increase may not appear in July weather,) by proxy. Without in the Report of the Secretary of the In- leaving our study, we have already raised terior.

some astonishing prize-vegetables, and our Mr. Copeland's volume is calculated to fat cattle have been approvingly mentiondo this, and his own qualifications for the ed in the committee's report. We have task he has undertaken are manifold. found an afternoon's reading in Mr. CopeChief among them we should reckon a land's book almost as good as owning true enthusiasm for the cause he advo- that “place in the country” which almost cates, and a hearty delight in out-of-doors- all men dream of as an ideal to be reallife. He writes with the zeal and warmth ized whenever their visionary ship comes of a reformer; but these are tempered by in. practical knowledge, and such a respect for the useful as will not sacrifice it to the merely pretty. His volume contains not High Life in New York. By JONATHAN only suggestions in landscape-gardening Slick. Philadelphia: Peterson & Brothguided always by the true principle of ers. making Nature our ally rather than attempting to subdue her, but minute direc The advantages of a favorable introtions for the greenhouse, grapery, conser- duction are very obvious. A person who vatory, farm, and kitchen-garden. One enters society fortified with eulogistic let. may learn from it how to plant whatever ters, giving assurance of his trustworthigrows, and to care for it afterwards. En ness, so far as respectability and good begravings and plans make clear whatever havior are concerned, is tolerably sure of needs illustration. The book has also the a comfortable reception. But if, unable to special merit of not being adapted to the sustain the character his credentials asmeridian of Greenwich.

cribe to him, he immediately begin to disWe do not always agree with Mr. Cope play bad manners, ignorance, and folly, land; we dissent especially from his preju- he not only forfeits the position to which dice against the noble horsechestnut-tree, he has gained accidental access, but also

brings discredit upon his too hasty in- grimage by imparting the stain to our dorser.

carpets. In literature it is not different. The In this book, as in most of its class, the collection of printed matter which appears Yankee dialect is employed throughout, under the title of “ High Life in New the author evidently believing that bad York” is accompanied by a note, signed spelling and bad grammar are the legitby the publishers, who are naturally sup- imate sources of New England humor. · posed to know something of the real value This shows that he mistakes means for of the works they issue, in which "edi. ends, – just as one who supposes that Mr. tors are forewarned that it is a volume Merryman, in the circus, must, of neces. which, for downright drollery and hearty sity, be funny, because he wears the mothumor, has never had its equal in the pro- ley and his nose is painted red. The ductions of any American pen," and are Yankee dialect is Mr. Jonathan Slick's otherwise admonished in various ways cal principal element of wit; his second is the culated to inspire lofty expectations, and onion. The book is redolent of onions. to fill the mind with exalted visions of That odorous vegetable breathes from coming joy. But when it appears, on every page. A woman weeps, and onions examination, that the book is as utter- are invoked to lend aromatic fragrance to ly unworthy of these elaborate commen- a stale comparison. In one place, onions dations as any book can possibly be, and education are woven together by that it is from beginning to end nothing some extraordinary rhetorical machinery ; but a dead level of stagnant verbiage, a in another, religion is glorified through desolate waste of dreary platitude, - the the medium of the onion; until at last reader cannot but regard the publishers' the narrative seems to resolve itself into ardent expressions of approbation as go- a nauseating nightmare, such as might ing quite beyond the license allowable in torture the brain of some unhappy dreampreliminary puffs

er in a bed of onions. “ High Life in New York” represents Why such works are ever written at a class of publications which has, of late, all, it is difficult to imagine ; but how in many ways, been set before the public it is, that, when written, they find pubwith too great liberality. The sole object lishers, is inconceivable. seems to be to exhibit the “Yankee" character in its traditional deformities of stupidity and meanness, otherwise de- Great Auction-Sale of Slaves, at Sarannah, nominated simplicity and shrewdness. Mr. Georgia. New York: Published by the Jonathan Slick is in no respect different American Anti-Slavery Society. from the ordinary fabulous Yankee. An illiterate clown he is, who, visiting New This little pamphlet, reprinted from the York, contrives by vice of impudence, to columns of the “New York Tribune," interfere very seriously with certain con- possesses a double interest. It furnishes ventionalities of the metropolis. He over the best and most minute description of an throws, by his indomitable will, a great auction-sale of slaves that has erer been many social follies. He eats soup with a published; and it admirably illustrates the knife and fork; wears no more than one enterprise and prompt energy which often shirt a week; forces his way into ladies' distinguish the journalism of America chambers at unseemly hours, to cure them above that of any other country. of timidity; and introduces sundry other The slave-sale of which it is a record reforms, all of which are recorded as evi- took place on the second and third days of dences of glorious independence and a March last, in the city of Savannah. For true nobility of spirit. Sometimes he goes many reasons, it had been looked forward farther, — farther than we care to follow to with more than usual interest. The him. It would be easy to show where position of the owner, Mr. Pierce M. But. in he is offensive, not to say disgusting; ler, of Philadelphia, and the large number but we are not so disposed. It is not (no less than four hundred and thirty-six) considered necessary for the traveller and superior quality of the human chattels who has dragged his way over a muddy offered for sale, added to the importance road to prove the nastiness of his pile of the event. The “ Tribune" had one

of its best descriptive writers, Mr. Morti- Popular Tales from the Norse. By GEORGE mer Thomson, on the spot. The duty WEBBE DAsent, D. C. L. With an InMr. Thomson undertook was not without troductory Essay on the Origin and Difdanger; for a somewhat extensive noto- fusion of Popular Tales. New York: riety as an attaché of the “Tribune" was D. Appleton & Co. 12mo. pp. Ixix., not likely to insure him the most cordial 379. reception at the South. Had his presence been discovered, the temper of the people The tales of which this volume presents of Savannah would speedily have betrayed the first English translation — though, as itself; and had his purpose been suspected, regards some of them, hardly the first their wrath would assuredly have culmi- English version appear to have been nated in wreakages of a nature unfavor collected about twenty or twenty-five years able to his personal comfort. But with cau- ago. Two gentlemen, Messrs. Asbjörnsen tion, and the aid of Masonic influences, he and Moe, (the name of the first of whom escaped detection, and accomplished his begets much confidence in his ability for aim. The result of his observations was the task,) went out among the most una report of considerable length, in which lettered and rudest of the common folk of every striking incident of the sale was Norway and Sweden, and there, from the narrated with accurate fidelity. Although lips of old women and little children, gathwritten mostly on the rail and against ered these stories of the antique time. Of time, under circumstances which would what age the stories are, nobody knows,be fatal to the labors of any man not in those who listened to them in their childured by newspaper experience to all sorts hood, to relate them in turn in their deof literary hardships, the style is clear, clining years, least perhaps of all. For distinct, and often eloquent. The scene they are a part of the inheritance common and the transaction are brought vividly to to all the races that have sprung from the the reader's mind. The throng of eager Asiatic ancestor, who, at periods the nearspeculators, - the heavy-eyed and brutal est of which is far beyond the ken of hisdrivers, — the sprightlier representatives tory, and at intervals of centuries, sent off of Chivalry,- the unhappy slaves, aban- descendants to find a resting-place in Eudoning hope as they enter the mart, ex- rope; and it is one great object, if not the cepting in rare cases, where, grasping at principal object, of the original collectors straws, they pray in trembling tones that and the translator of these tales to exhibit their ties of love may remain unsevered in them a bond of union among all Eu- the operations of the sale, -the shirink- ropean peoples. ing women, standing submissively under Indeed, the tales in their present form the vile jests of the reckless crowd, may be regarded as examples in point are portrayed with all the emphasis of appended to the translator's Essay which truth. One little episode in particular, opens the volume. For they will add little the love-story of Jeffrey and Dorcas, is a to our stock of available stories, for either more affecting history than romance can youthful or adult reading. The best of show.

them already are a part of our nursery The effect of this publication in the lore, and are known to the English race “ Tribune” was prodigious. It was widely under forms better adapted to English circulated through all the journals of the taste and sympathies than those under North. The Anti-Slavery Society pre- which they are here presented; and nearly served it in a pamphlet. The ire of a all of those that are exceptions to this regood portion of the Southern journals was mark are unfitted for "home consumption," ludicrous to witness, and proved how either by the objectionable nature of their keenly the blow was felt. The report subjects, by the still more objectionable was republished in Great Britain,- first in tendency of their teaching, or by a yet the London “Times," and subsequently, more fatal demerit,- their lack of interest. as a pamphlet, in Edinburgh, in Glasgow, They are in some respects notably tame and in Belfast. In one publisher's an and puerile,- with a puerility which is not nouncement, at least, it was advertised childish simplicity, but a lack of inventive as “Greeley's Account of the Great Slave- fancy, and which exhibits itself in bald Sale."

repetition. The giant, for instance, always

« ElőzőTovább »