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NEW QUARTERLY REVIEW,
Digest of Current Literature,
BRITISH, AMERICAN, FRENCH, AND GERMAN.
FOR THE YEAR 1855.
THOMAS BOSWORTH, 215, REGENT STREET.
A. AND W. GALIGNANI & Co., PARIS.
OLIVER & BOYD, & J. MENZIES, EDINBURGH; D. ROBERTSON, & W. LOVE, GLASGOW.
CHESSON, BOMBAY; THACKER, SPINK, & Co., CALCUTTA; PARRY & Co., MADRAS.
NEW QUARTERLY REVIEW.
RETROSPECT OF ENGLISH LITERATURE.
SEEING that for many months the whole mind of England has been fixed upon a single subject and therein absorbed; the energy and perseverance of Paternoster-Row are astounding. To a common observer, the British public would seem to have neither eyes, ears, nor tongues, for any other purpose than to read, listen to, or repeat letters from the Crimea. It appeared probable that you might as well ask a somnambulist to take wine with you, as invite the "general reader" to settle down to a novel, or compose himself to a volume of memoirs. Yet here, on this First of January, 1855, while a red hurricane of war is raging, we have as many books upon as many different subjects as if the current of national affairs ran tranquil as a stream in calm summer twilight, when the lazy denizens of the waters indolently watch the flies, and hope for the excitement of a tiny splash.
There is a forge in the Crimea, where, day by day, new history is made; and the furnacesparks, and hammer-sounds, dazzle and deafen the world: yet Mr. Routledge busies himself industriously in multiplying copies of Prescott's histories of things done hundreds of years ago in America and Spain, and in re-producing Bencroft's narrative of events that our fathers seldom cared to remember. Boys are shutting up their Virgil and Horace, and are buying swords and uniforms; yet Mr. Bohn and Mr. Bogue continue to pour forth translations of rare classics, reprints of old chronicles, and cheap editions of English worthies, as rapidly as they did when no one had any incitement to leave his ordinary sphere of occupation. Mr.
Bentley pursues his publication of Whig correspondence, and finds a Cabinet Minister with leisure enough to edit it; nor does he think the time inopportune for commencing a new series of monthly volumes. Mr. Murray offers a tenth thousand copies of Layard's account of the Ruins of old Nineveh, undeterred by the interest involved in the ruins which Layard saw from the maintop of the Agamemnon. The Longmans do not despair of finding readers for a list, wherein a description of the Chinese Empire stands prominent. Messrs. Blackwood seek attention for Miss Strickland, who details the captivity and death of Mary Stuart. Simpkin and Marshall, Smith and Elder, and Hurst and Blackett, abate no jot of their usual announcements; and Sampson Low imports as many American books as ever.
This activity in production argues an undiminished continuance of demand. With the prospect of a long war before us, it is cheering to know that the arts of peace still exist and flourish; and that in the quiet homes of England the lamp is still lit, the chair still drawn to the fire-side, and the new book still read with quiet interest, as regularly as if no despot's ambition had disturbed the world.
But we must descend from speculations upon the general prospects of literature, to the examinations of particular achievements. We commence, as usual, with History.
The best historical book of the quarter is Mr. Creasy's "History of Turkey." Sir George Larpent's work upon the same country is also quasi historical in its character. The