Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

The next move

In one

the interim every measure should be durance vile — for an afternoon; and taken to increase the revenue with a the taxes were paid up with marvelview to the reduction of the debt. lous rapidity. Heligoland, indeed, after a period of

of the opposition was bungling and robbery, was placed in the a petition, which was signed by three same financial position as the United hundred and fifty out of the two thouStates after a period of war.

sand islanders, and was sent into the case, as in the other, taxation was the Colonial Office, protesting against the only remedy. But the Heligolanders new constitution, and requesting the did not like their medicine, and, like abolition of all the ordinances which it children, protested that they were quite had passed. Since a certain occurrence well. They refused to entertain a new which took place in the reign of George and startling idea, --still less, to pay III., the British government has been for it. They had never heard of such a in the habit of paying most careful atthing before ; their fathers and grand- tention to all popular petitions from the fathers had never paid taxes, and why colonies, but this one, as may well be should they? It was no use telling imagined, was refused. The constituthem that other people paid taxes. tion being popular, and the taxes being They were not other people. They light, (there is but one person on the were Heligolanders. This, it seems, island who pays as much as £3 a year,) when spoken in their own patois, means and the population extracting considera great deal ; for they consider them- able wealth from their season visitors, selves intellectually and morally supe- they have no real grievance to complain rior to all the other nations of the of, and when last I heard from the island earth, whom they call, individually and I was informed that the public debt was collectively, skit, - a word in their lan- rapidly melting away, and that peace and guage signifying dirt. As soon as it good feeling had been quite restored. was known that "an ordinance enact- This Liliput Province, in which the ing taxation on real and personal prop- Governor is the only Englishman, and erty” had been “enacted by the Gov- his cow almost the only quadruped, ernor of Heligoland, with the advice deserves to be more frequently visited and consent of the Legislative Council, by tourists, as it is perfectly unique in and the concurrence of the Combined its way. It also merits the study of Court,” there was a grand disturbance. English politicians. This island rock A reactionary party immediately arose, is the Gibraltar of the North Sea. with the cry of The old state of things, With a few companies of infantry and and no taxation. When the tax-col- casemated batteries, it might be held lectors went round, the men laughed in against any force, and it commands the their faces, and the women called them mouths of the Weser and the Elbe.

It was in vain that the Gov- The Heligolanders are not Germans, ernor summoned a meeting of the in- ethnology perhaps would rather class habitants, and addressed them in very them with the Danes, - and they have excellent German, and gave them six no German sympathies. There can be months to turn the matter over in their no excuse, therefore, for giving up the minds. At the end of that time they island to Prussia, as has been seriously were still obstinate, the tax-collectors recommended in an English journal; resigned, and this victory was cele- though the objection to this — that by brated with festivities. But suddenly a so doing England might lose prestige British man-of-war appeared ; a file of upon the Continent - is a groundless marines marched on shore; the ring fear : at the present moment she has leaders of the reactionists were put into none to lose.

names.

REVIEWS AND LITERARY NOTICES.

Early and Late Papers, hitherto uncollected. For this is a book to be read many times

By WILLIAM MAKEPEACE THACKERAY. by those loving to feel the conscious felicity Boston: Ticknor and Fields.

of a writer who knows that every sentence

shall happily express his mind, and succeed It appears to us that the graceful art of in winning the reader to the next. The Thackeray was never more happily em- security is tacit in the earlier papers here ployed than in the first paper of this series. reprinted; in the later ones it is more deThe “Memorials of Gormandizing” is a clared, and becomes somewhat careless, record of thrilling interest, and every good though it can never beget slovenliness. It dinner described has the effect upon the appears to this great master that what he reader of a felicitous drama. He goes from does so easily can scarcely be worth doing, course to course, as from act to act of the and he mocks his own facility. play; he is agonized with suspense con- The spirit of the book is the same cerning the fate of the dishes, as if they throughout. It is not different from that of were so many heroes and heroines; if the Thackeray's other books, and it is that of steak is not justly cooked, it shall give a man too sensible of his own love of the him almost as great heart-break as a dis- advantages he enjoys from the existing appointment of lovers; when all is fortu- state of things ever to assail, with any great nately ended, he takes a long breath, as when earnestness of purpose, the errors and abthe curtain falls upon the picture of the surdities of the world, who trusted, for united young people, the relenting uncle, example, in one of his essays, never to be and the baffled villain. As good as a novel ? guilty of speaking harshly either of the There are mighty few novels that have so South or North of America, since friends in much of life and human nature in them as both sections had offered him equally good that simple and affecting history, given in claret. He is forever first in his art ; and this book, of a dinner at the Café de Foy, if we do not expect too much from him, he in Paris. But they make one hungry with gives us so much that we must rejoice over an inappeasable appetite, these “ Memorials every line of his preserved for our perusal. of Gormandizing," bringing to mind all the beautiful dinners eaten in Latin countries, and filling the heart with longing for the A Vindication of the Claim of Alexander M. hotels that look out on the Louvre at Paris, W. Ball, of Elizabeth, N. 7., to the Artthe Villa Reale at Naples, the Venetian thorship of the Poem, Rock me to Sleep, sunsets, the Arno at Florence, and even Mother.By A. O. MORSE, of Cherry for the railway restaurants which so en- Valley, N. Y. New York : M. W. Dodd. chantingly diversify the flat, monotonous, and desolate Flemish landscape.

It is no great while since Miss Peck We travel with Mr. Titmarsh to Bruges, proved to her own satisfaction her claim to Ghent, and Antwerp, through the latter what Mr. Morse would style the “materregion, and we enjoy every one of those nity” of “Nothing to Wear,” and now “Roadside Sketches,” so delicate, so unerr. hardly has Judge Holmes of Missouri deing, and so suggestive. Thackeray is a de- termined that the paternity of Shakespeare lightful traveller; for he, who can talk more is due to Bacon, when the friends of Mr. wisely of old clothes than most preachers Ball of New Jersey spring another trouble of eternity, gets out of the nothings that upon mankind by declaring him the author tourists see the very life and spirit of a of Mrs. Akers's very graceful and touching country. Here is something also about poem, “Rock me to Sleep, Mother,” which modern art and pictures in England and we all know by heart. In the present pamFrance, which comes as near not at all bor. phlet they give what evidence they can in ing as anything of that nature can ; but we Mr. Ball's behalf, and, to tell the truth, it is find the account of “ Dickens in France" not much. It appears from this and other so much more attractive, that we shall al- sources that Mr. Ball is a person of indeways read it by preference hereafter. pendent property, and a member of the New Jersey Legislature, who has written a great and placed her in the school in Leroy,” and quantity of verses first and last, but has the pamphleteer, turning to a bill rendered become all but "proverbial ” in his native by the principal of the Leroy school, “fixes State for his carelessness of his own po- the date called for by the writers in Februaetry; so that we suppose people say there ry, 1857,” at which time, according to the of a negligent parent, “His children are pamphleteer himself, Mr. Ball was on his as unkempt as the Hon. Alexander M. W. way to California in an ocean steamer ! Ball's poems"; or of a heartless husband, The postscript mentioned among the let.“ His wife is about as well provided for as ters is said to be dated at Brooklyn in 1858, Mr. Ball's Muse." Still Mr. Ball is not al. and merely asks Mr. Ball to "send by the together lost to natural feeling, and he has doctor” — not a dozen more bottles of his not thrown away all his poetry, but has invaluable Sarsaparilla, but — the poem eneven so far shown himself alive to its claims titled “Rock me to Sleep,” and this postupon him as to read it now and then to script has no signature, and is therefore friends, who have keenly reproached him worthless. with his indifference to fame. To such ac- It appears, then, that these letters do not cidents we owe the preservation in this establish a great deal ; the legal gent fixes pamphlet of several Christmas Carols and the time when he heard the poem by the other lyrics, tending to prove that Mr. Ball date of a paper which he thinks was drawn could have written “Rock me to Sleep" if up at a certain period; H. D. E. is sorry he had wished, and the much more impor- that he or she cannot remember, and then tant letters declaring that he did write it, distinctly remembers; the postscript is withand that the subscribers of the letters heard out signature ; two other friends declare him read it nearly three years before its that they heard Mr. Ball, in his own study, publication by Mrs. Akers. These letters read “Rock me to Sleep, Mother," at the are six in number, including a postscript moment when the poet was probably very and it is not Mr. Ball's fault if they all read sea-sick on a California steamer. Mr. Groa good deal like the certificates of other ver alone remains to persuade us, and we days establishing the identity of the Old respectfully suggest to that enthusiast whethOriginal Doctor Jacob Townsend. Two er it was not “Rock-a-by Baby” that he only of the six are signed with the writers' heard Mr. Ball read ? We do not think names; but these two have a special valid- that he or the other writers of these letters ity, from the fact that the writer of one is a intend deceit ; but we know the rapture very old friend, who has more than once ex- with which people listen to poets who read pressed his wish to be Mr. Ball's literary their own verses aloud, and we suspect that executor, while the writer of the other is these listeners to Mr. Ball were carried too evidently a legal gent, for he begins with far away by their feelings ever to get back "Relative to the controversy in re the au- to their facts. They are good folks, but not thorship,” etc., like a legal gent, and he critical, we judge, and might easily mistake concludes with the statement that he is able Mr. Ball's persistent assertion for an actual to fix the date when he heard Mr. Ball read recollection of their own. We think them “ Rock me to Sleep" by the date of a pa. one and all in error, and we do not believe per which he thinks he called to draw up that any living soul heard Mr. Ball read the at Mr. Ball's residence some time in the disputed poem before 1860, for two reaautumn of 1859. This is Mr. J. Burrows sons : Mrs. Akers did not write it before Hyde. Mr. Lewis C. Grover, who would that time, and Mr. Ball could never have like to be Mr. Ball's literary executor, is written it after any number of trials. more definite, and says that he heard Mr. Let us take one of Mr. Ball's “Christmas Ball read the contested poem with others Carols," – probably the poem which his in 1857, during a call made to learn where friends now recall as “Rock me to Sleep, Mr. Ball bought his damask curtains. H. Mother," — for all proof and comment upon D. E. is sorry that he or she cannot remem- this last fact:ber where he or she first heard Mr. Ball read it, but he or she distinctly remembers that

“ CHRISTMAS, 1856. it was in 1857 or 1858. L. P. and I. E. S. witness that they heard Mr. Ball read it in “And as time rolls us backward, we feel inclined to his study in 1856 or 1857, and state that the date may be fixed by reference to the time

[ocr errors]

As the spirit of our mother comes, to rock our

souls to sleep. “when Mrs. Ball took Maria to Dr. Cox's,

weep,

let him go be elected to the New York Common Council.

Of this pamphlet, aside from Mr. Ball, we have merely to say that it appears to be written by the most impudent and the most absurd man in America.

Literature and its Professors. By THOMAS.

PURNELL London : Bell and Daldy.

It raised my thoughts to heaven, and in converse

with them there I felt a joy unearthly, and lighter sat world's

care ; For it opened up the vista of an echoless dim

shore, Where my mother kindly greets me, as in good

days of yore." Here, then, is that quality of peculiarly hopeless poetasting which strikes cold upon the stomach, and makes man turn sadly from his drivelling brother. Do we not know this sort of thing? Out of the rejected contributions in our waste-basket we could daily furnish the inside and outside of a dozen Balls. It is saddening, it is pathetic; it has gone on so long now, and must still continue for so many ages ; but we can just bear it as a negative quality. It is only when such rubbish is put forward as proof that its author has a claim to the name and fame of a poet, that we lose patience. The verses given in this pamphlet would invalidate Mr. Ball's claim to the authorship of Mrs. Akers's poem, even though the Seven Sleepers swore that he rocked them asleep with it in the time of the Decian persecution. But beside the irrefragable internal evidence afforded by the specimens given of Mr. Ball's poetry, and by his “first draft” of the disputed poem, and by his "completed copy” of the poem, there is the well-known fact that Mr. Ball is a self-confessed plagiarist in one case, and a convicted plagiarist in several oth

He has lately allowed in a published letter that he used a poem by Mrs. Whitman in “concocting” one of his own. It was some years since proven that he had plagiarized other poems, – - even one from Mrs. Hemans.

Mr. Ball has some claims to forbearance and interest as a curious psychological study. Kleptomania is a well-known disorder. The unhappy persons affected steal whatever they can, wherever they can, and come home from evening parties with their pock. ets full of silver spoons, which are usually sent home with the apologies of mortified friends. We believe, however, this is the first instance of kleptomania of which the victim not only steals, but turns upon the person plundered and makes accusation that the stolen goods had been first filched from him. Mr. Ball is phenomenal, but is a legislative assembly the place for this sort of curiosity? If he is of sound mind, he is guilty of a very cruel and shameless wrong, meriting expulsion from any body that makes laws against larceny. If sane,

ers.

A CULTIVATED intellect, a fair degree of shrewd perception, an inviolable conscientiousness, a common sense frankly selfsatisfied, are some of the qualifications which Mr. Purnell brings to the discussion of literature as seen in modern journalism, and in the lives of Giraldus Cambrensis and Montaigne, – of Roger Williams, the literary statesman, -of Steele, Sterne, and Swift, essayists, of Mazzini, the literary patriot.

Many of the conditions of literary journalism alluded to in these essays are unknown in our country, where literature has not yet become merely a trade, and where we cannot see that literary men are sinking in popular esteem, and deservedly sinking, as being no better informed, or better qualified to control opinion, than their non-writing neighbors. We can better understand Mr. Purnell when he speaks of the imperfections and discrepancies of criticism, but are not better able to sympathize with all his ideas. The trouble is not, we think, that “ critics who conceive themselves to be men of taste give their opinions fearlessly, having no misgivings that they are right," and “if a book is bad, feel it is bad,” without being able to refer to a critical principle in proof, but that many who write reviews have not formed opinions and have not felt at all, and have rather proceeded upon a prejudice, a supposed law of æsthetics applicable to every exigency of literary development. A sense of the inadequacy of criticism must trouble every honest man who sits down to examine a new book; and it might almost be said, that no books can be justly estimated by the critic except those which are unworthy of criticism. Upon certain points and aspects of an author's work the critic can justly give his convictions, and need have no misgivings about them ; but how to present a complete idea of it, and always to make that appear characteristic which is characteristic, and that exceptional which is exceptional, is the difficulty. Still, criticism must continue : the perfect equipoise may never be attained, and yet

a

:

we must employ the balance, or nothing The College, the Market, and the Court; or, can be appraised, and traffic ceases.

Woman's Relation to Education, Labor, It appears to us that criticism would be and Law. By CAROLINE H. DALL. even more inadequate than it is, however, Boston: Lee and Shepard. if, as Mr. Purnell desires, it should have “to do solely with the disposal of the ma- HERE is a woman's showing of women's terials, and but incidentally with the qual- wrongs, a woman's appeal to men for simity of the materials themselves.” If the ple justice. All the facts of the matter are German critics whom we are asked to imi- grouped and presented anew with emphasis tate have taught us anything, it is to look and feeling; and a demand is finally made through form at the substance within, and for the right of suffrage as the protection to judge that. When criticism was supposed for women from all kinds of oppression. a science, it declared with a mathematical We do not care to discuss the wisdom of absoluteness that no drama was good or this conclusion ; but from the premises no great which did not preserve the unities. man can dissent. It is unquestionably true Yet Shakespeare has written since, and no that thousands of women in America suffer critic in the world thinks his plays bad or an oppression little less cruel than slavery; weak, - thanks, chiefly, to the German criti- that they toil incessantly in shops and garcism, which is an art, and not a science, as rets for a pittance that half sustains • life, Mr. Purnell desires us to think it. In fact, and at last drives them to guilt as the altercriticism is almost purely a matter of taste native of starvation; it is true that women and experience, and there is hardly any law are shut out from the practice of the liberal established for criticism which has not been professions; it is true that in the trades to overthrown as often as the French govern- which they are educated they often receive ment. Upon one point - namely, that a less pay than men for the same amount and critic should judge an author solely by his quality of work; it is true that the laws work, and never by anything known of him still bear unfairly upon them. If the right personally — we think no one will disagree of suffrage will open to them any means of with our essayist.

earning bread now forbidden them, if it will We hardly know how much or how little help in any way to give them an equal chance to value the clever workmanship of these with men in the world, they ought to have essays, which is characteristic of a whole it. We are all alike guilty of their wrongs, class of literature in England, though we. as long as they continue ; it is not the wretch suspect it has not much greater claim to who enslaves the needlewoman, - it is not praise than the art possessed by most Pa- the savage in whose “store” or emporirisians of writing dramatic sketches of Pa- um” the poorly paid shop-girl is forbidden risian society. It seems to come of a con- to sit down for a moment, and swoons away dition of things, rather than from an indi- under the ordeal,- it is not the rogue who vidual faculty. Still, it is remarkable, and gives a woman less wages than a man for a. even admirable, though in Mr. Purnell's man's service, - it is not these and their case it is not inconsistent with dealing kind who are alone guilty, but society itself somewhat prolixly with rather dry subjects, is guilty. The reform of very great evils and being immensely inconclusive upon will be cheaply accomplished if women by all important matters, and very painfully voting can right themselves. It must be conclusive on trivial ones. Our essayist confessed, to our shame, that we have failed says little that is new of Montaigne, and to right them; though it may at the same does not add to our knowledge of Steele, time be doubted whether the elective franSwist, and Sterne, though he speaks freshly chise, which is claimed as the means of and interestingly of Roger Williams as the justice, would not now belong to women, first promoter of religious toleration. He if it had been even generally demanded. requires seventeen pages (“Literary IIero- So far the responsibility is partly with woWorship’) to declare that a great poct ought man herself, who must also help to bear not to be thought great because he is not the blame for failure to ameliorate the cona great soldier, and vice versa ; he is ncat dition of her sex in the existing political and cold, and generally doubtful of things state. Mrs. Dall is by no means blind to accepted, and assured of things doubted, this fact, and she speaks candidly to woand, without being commonplace himself, men, as she speaks fearlessly to men. We he seenis to believe that he was born into think her arguments would have been the world to vindicate mediocrity of feeling. more forcible if they had been less com

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinua »