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should teach me tenderness of feeling. That mother's voice found an echo in his heart, and he would not harm one feather of her plumage, &c.” Now, at page 133–4 the same humane hunter, actually goes out of his way, and takes the greatest pains, under our author's encouragement, as well as his own impulse, to shoot at a female eagle, who is watching her young. They do shoot at her, and, fortunately for her, their skill as marksmen is not more true than their humanity. In sparing the maternal duck, the hunter's feelings had no more to do with it than those of the man in the moon. He considered the duck as only taking care of his brood, and necessary to their growth for his future uses. A true hunter never kills anything out of season. It is your cockney sportsmen only who commit such blunders. Had our author but given himself time for reflection, he would have spared his eloquent pathos. He would have seen that the murderous attempt upon the eagle, in the same circumstances as the mother duck, was conclusive that any other than humane motives governed the proceedings of the hunter. The eagle was a bird of prey—a rival hunter—who would probably fasten his eye upon the same pretty little ducklings which the good hunter was willing to foster for his own uses. It was good policy to shoot her, the unfledged eaglets' claims to consideration being wholly out of the question. The mother slain, they would probably perish also. But the very same policy suggested the necessity of sparing the duck for her young. They deserved to be cherished—they should be fed—they would grow in growth, in beauty and fatness—and, another season, the hunter would then find his reward for his present forbearance. It is Mr. Headley's misfortune that he is always on the look out for something on which to expatiate with eloquent sentimentality. The practice is a bad one. The thing soon becomes overdone. The topic exhausts itself as well as the illustrative matter; and then all becomes laborious commonplace on stilts in the shape of pathos and reflection. The occasions for eloquent dilation must occur naturally. They must come to us—we cannot go to them. They will come to us, if we let ourselves alone. Had Mr. Headley suffered himself to pause and think, making the contrast that we have done, between his hunter's treatment of duck and eagle, in precisely the same circumstances, instead of dwelling upon the humanity and tender heart of the hunter, he would have been much more truly eloquent upon his deliberate, coldhearted selfishness. He, Headley, in lifting his weapon to kill the duck, obeyed an impulse which was not inconsistent with humanity. The
hunter, arresting his arm, obeyed an established law of self—a cool
calculating policy, which lacked equally in impulse and humanity. But we must leave it to our author to be tedious. Taken at the hour of the siesta, in the warm of the afternoon, and these letters will be found sprightly and amusing, with all their absurdities. We must not forget that the book is well printed and illustrated with some very sweet engra wings.
4. A Fable for Critics, or a glance at a few of our literary progenies, from the tub of Diogenes; by a Wonderful Quiz. G. P. Putnam. 1848.
THE above is only a portion of the fantastic title page of this slender volume. It is all that is written in black letter. Alternating with the black inscription are certain lines in red. The two, taken together, give us a string of doggerel verses, which afford no bad sample of the contents of the volume. We place, in due relation, the whole title page, that the reader may compass it without effort;
“Reader! walk up at once (it will soon be too late)
The preface, printed as prose, is nevertheless written as the above, in rhymes, which are neither better nor worse than the preceding; and the strains that follow are woven after a like fashion, showing a painful industry in the manufacture of ingenious terminations, which, in some future year of grace, may make us forgetful of Hudibras. The satire is ascribed to James Russell Lowell, of Boston. We are inclined to doubt the truth of this suspicion. The writings of Lowell have given us no reason to suppose him guilty of such a production. His poems are rather thoughtful and sentimental than satirical, and his verse usually has borne no sort of resemblance to that which is before us. This, however, is quite inconclusive as an objection. A writer of talent and facility, such as Lowell is, may readily assume new aspects and put on new disguises. But it is doubtful whether he would expend so much pains-taking and labor on such an object. Not that his satire lacks either point or merit. It is sharp and sometimes spicy, playful and fanciful, amidst much clumsiness and cumbrousness. But the fable is feeble, the point not often apparent, and the malice much more conspicuous than the wit. Its partialities and prejudices are of a kind seriously to discredit the claims of a real poet, to whose catholicity and justice, chiefly, we always look for the essentials of permanent authority. It is the misfortune of our fabler, that he adopts implicitly the vulgar parochial selfishness which disfigures so greatly the popular judgments of New England. This critic, for example, expends all his praise upon the children of the East. He finds no others in the country, or, if he does, he dismisses them with a scornful complacency that is rather absurd and amusing than destructive or severe. Cooper, for example, is treated most contemptuously ; though we should traffic unprofitably with the future to give his writings, loose and defective as they are, for all the pretentious literature of all New England. Irving is an exception. He is treated civilly, we might say graciously, but for a certain air of patronage which our satirist employs, and which, when addressed to a veteran like Irving, is sufficiently offensive, in spite of all the good things which are said. There may be reasons for this exception, by the way, in the fact that the works of Irving are now in course of publication by the same house which issues the satire. Besides, the reputation of Irving is no longer provocative of envy or rivalry. It is a settled reputation, at least for the present. It is no longer within the courts, and the tacit conclusion, among his contemporaries, is to leave his case entirely to the future. His genius was never of a combative character. He exhibited no salient points, in doctrine or imagination, about which opinion could quarrel; and he offended against no known proprieties. His style was at once sweet and unexceptionable, and he occupied a department which found him in nobody's way. The case is very different with such a writer as Cooper, whose faults are in due degree with his merits. His very originality must provoke questioning—his very audacity and courage excite spleen and anger. His career must necessarily have been a struggle, since, like the strong swimmer, he disdained to go only with the currents.-But to return to our muttons. Hear our satirist discourse on Emerson, whom he styles a “Greek head on Yankee shoulders,” and you fancy him one of the most marvellous men that the world has produced. A parallel is run between him and Carlyle, greatly to the discredit of the latter. None less than Plato will content him for a comparison. “Carlyle's the more burly,” but “Emerson's the rarer;” “Carlyle's the Titan,” but “Emerson the clear-eyed Olympian;” “the one's twothirds Norseman,” “the other's half Greek,” and so on through a long string of absurdities, in very clever doggerel. And all this said of a man who is really half-witted, and whose chief excellence consists in mystifying the simple and disguising commonplaces in allegory. One Mr. Alcott follows, of whom we know nothing, and our satirist does not much to enlighten us. He gives to this gentleman a chapter of homage, and shuts him up in a room with Plato, as a trusted brother, though, in all probability, from what is said, he has been pilfering from Plato's stores all his life already. Brownson has his chapter and Willis his—the latter being likened to Beaumont and Fletcher, and made the companion of Ben Jonson, though the flesh and blood of these stout quarter-staff men, would have shaken the very soul out of the cockney's breeches, at a single bout of the cudgel. Of Theodore Parker, we have a monstrous catalogue of comparisons, proving him to be every sort of a man, yet so much of a Jupiter Tonans in his way, as to be no man at all. He, it appears, is a Socinian preacher, who is too Socinian for the Socinians. He has beaten them at their own weapons, and, where they teach to believe little, he teaches them to believe nothing at all,—unless himself. We have long been prepared to believe that Boston would come to this. They have a school of teachers, possessing large popularity, intense self-esteem, and considerable ingenuity, who, with new isms and ologies daily, will some day contrive to throw down all their altars of belief. Were they a more inflammable race, with smaller bumps of caution, we might look for the advent among them of a Goddess of Reason, and a Reign of Terror, not imperfectly modelled upon those of the French. Their safety lies in their desire for the flesh-pots, and in the fact that they are already in possession of too large a share of worldly goods to venture much in dangerous experiments. Were they sans culottes, we should, in all probability, very soon behold a Temple of Reason in Boston, usurping that of Jesus Christ. With one more name we must dismiss the catalogue. Oliver Wendell Holmes has written several spirited lyrics, and some small pieces of a pleasant and good-natured humor. It is probable that none of his own calmly, truly judging friends would claim for him a higher degree of credit than this. But here his songs are rated above Campbell's, and the “New Timon,” (ascribed to Bulwer,) which possesses one quality, of invention—to which Holmes has no sort of pretension—and which is very good verse besides, is sneered at as “a huckleberry to Holmes's persimmon.” This is a rare sort of fooling verily. And now for a sample of this satire, in which the poet does honor to his mother State. We may forgive to a dutiful son the expression of an exaggerated tribute, particularly when this is a son of New-England, with whom such exaggerations are habitual. But we smile, nevertheless, when we find him appropriating, as peculiar, those possessions which not only did not originate with her, but which are very far from being confined to her territory. If her claims to poetry are to be founded upon her sledge and trip hammers, her mills and machinery, she may grind verses to all eternity, but will be suffered to set no one's teeth on edge with them but her own.
“Here, ‘Forgive me Apollo,” I cried, ‘while I pour
It is false! She's a Poet! I see, as I write,
With a single farther word, we must dismiss this performance. It is disfigured by frequent reflections upon the slave institutions of the South, some of which are exceedingly brutal, exhibiting in the author a bad, malicious heart, and a temper that scruples not at a falsehood in the expression of a prejudice. We take for granted that the Southern reader will reject with indignation every such publication, while we counsel the publisher to be wary in perilling his interests in lending himself to the purposes of fanaticism and hate.