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dictum about autobiographies; and so was who strive to see themselves; – her mirDr. Kitchener, in his about hares. First ror is too small to reflect anything more catch your perfectly sincere and uncon- than the mulier formosa supernè. scious man. He is even more uncommon We looked for a great prize in Meshach than a genius of the first order. Most Browning's account of himself, and have men dress themselves for their autobi- been disappointed. Not that some very ographies, as Machiavelli used to do for "fair grains of wheat may not be had for reading the classics, in their best clothes; the winnowing, but the proportion of chaff they receive us, as it were, in a parlor is disheartening. Meshach has been editchilling and awkward from its unfamiliar- ed, and has not come out of that fiery furity with man, and keep us carefully away nace unscathed. Mr. Stabler has not let from the kitchen-chimney-corner, where him come before us in his deerskin huntthey would feel at home, and would not ing-shirt, but has made him presentable look on a lapse into nature as the unpar- by getting him into a black dress-coat, the donable sin. But what do we want of a uniform of perfect respectability and tirehospitality that makes strangers of us, or of someness. He has corrected Meshach's confidences that keep us at arm's-length? style for him! He has made him write Better the tavern and the newspaper; for that unexceptionable English which neiin the one we can grumble, and from the ther gods nor men, but only columns, alother learn more of our neighbors than we low. (The kindness of an anonymous care to know. John Smith's autobiogra- correspondent, however, enables us to asphy is commonly John Smith's design for sure him that lay, and not laid, is the pretan equestrian statue of himself, — very erite of lie.) One page of Meshach's own fine, certainly, and as much like him as writing would have been worth all his like Marcus Aurelius. Saint Augustine, bear-stories put together. Many men may kneeling to confess, has an eye to the pic- shoot bears, but few can write like backturesque, and does it in pontificalibus, re- woodsmen. We shall expect an edition solved that Domina Grundy shall think of " The Rivals " from Mr. Stabler, with all the better of him. Rousseau cries, “I Mrs. Malaprop's epitaphs revised by the will bare my heart to you!” and, throw- “Aids to Composition.” Luckily, Meing open his waistcoat, makes us the con- shach himself will never know the wrong fidants of his dirty linen. Montaigne, in- that has been done him. On the contradeed, reports of himself with the impar- ry, he probably pleases himself in finding tiality of a naturalist, and Boswell, in his that he is made to write President's Engletters to Temple, shows a maudlin irre- lish, and admires the new leaves and aptentiveness; but is not old Samuel Pepys, ples not his own. But, in his polishing, after all, the only man who spoke to him- American letters have met as great a loss self of himself with perfect simplicity, as American fiction did when the deposifrankness, and unconsciousness ? - a crea- tions of the survivors of Bunker's Hill, ture unique as the dodo,-a solitary speci- taken fifty years after the battle, were men, to show that it was possible for Na- burned. ture to indulge in so odd a whimsey! An However, he who knows how to read autobiography is good for nothing, unless with the ends of his fingers may yet find the author tell us in it precisely what he good meat in the book. An honest promeant not to tell. A man who can say vincialism has escaped Mr. Stabler's weedwhat he thinks of another to his face is ing-hoe here and there, and we get a few a disagreeable rarity ; but one who could glimpses, in spite of him, into log-cabin inlook his own Ego straight in the eye, and teriors when the inmates are not in their pronounce unbiased judgment, were wor- Sunday-clothes. We learn how much a thy of Sir Thomas Browne's Museum. Had sound stomach has to do with human feCheiron written his autobiography, the licity ; that a bride may make her husband consciousness of his equine crupper would happy, though her whole outfit consist of have ridden him like a nightmare; should two cups and saucers, two knives and forks. a mermaid write hers, she would sink the and two spoons; that a man may be hosfish's tail, nor allow it to be put into the pitable in a cabin, twelve by fifteen, with scales, in weighing her character. The only the forest for his larder; and that an mermaid, in truth, is the emblem of those American needs only an axe, a rifle, and nary red, for his start in life. Meshach the parent Bull? It is time Bull began to Browning finds in his Paradise very much reconcile himself to it. what our first parents found outside of One of the most amusing passages in theirs. At nineteen he is the husband of Meshach's autobiography is that in which pretty Mary McMullen, and joint-proprietor he relates his military experience as capwith the rest of mankind of all-outdoors, – tain of a company of militia. The comit being an eccentricity of McMullen père pany appear to have gone into action only to prefer a back to a front view of his sons- once, and that was on occasion of a muster in-law. Meshach, who is sure of a com- when they undertook to lick their comfortable fireside wherever there are trees, mander, with whom, for some reason or moves into the nearest bit of wilderness, other, they were discontented. As well as builds a house with the timber felled to we can make out, the result seems to have make a clearing, plants his acre or two, been, that the captain licked them; though and forth with shoots a bear, whose salted our Cæsar's Commentaries are naturally flesh will keep him and his wife alive till so confused on this topic, that we almost harvest. Thus in 1800 was a family found- feel, after reading them, as if we had been ed, which fifty years later had increased through the fight ourselves. to one hundred and twenty-two, of whom The book should have been shorter by sixty-seven, as their progenitor says proud- at least two-thirds,- for one bear-story is ly, were “capable of bearing arms for the just like another, and Meshach's style of defence of their country,” – though, to be narrative is one that cannot bear the prossure, the Harper's Ferry affair leaves us in perity of print. However, we find much some doubt as to the direction in which they that is interesting in the volume, as in all would bear them. The community of which records of real experience. the Brownings, man and wife, became mem- Mr. Milburn's account of himself we bers at their marriage was a wholly self-sub- have also found very entertaining. In sistent one. The men wore deerskins pro- some respects it belongs on the same shelf cured by their own rifles and dressed and with Meshach Browning's; for we think tailored by themselves,— while the women the best chapters in it are those which bring spun and wove both flax and wool. Pow. us into contact with Cartwright and other der and lead seem to have been the only Methodist ministers, the frontiersmen and things for which they were dependent on bushfighters of the Church, who do not outsiders. Browning's father was an Eng- bandy subtilties with Mephistopheles, nor lish soldier, who, escaping from Brad- consider that the Prince of Darkness is a dock’s massacre, deserted and settled in gentleman, but go in for a rough-andthe highlands of Western Maryland, -as tumble fight with Satan and his imps, as a place, we suppose, equally safe from with so many red Injuns undeserving of the provost-martial of the redcoat and the the rights and incapable of the amenitomahawk of the red man. It is curious ties of civilized warfare. We confess a to think of the great contrast between fa- thorough liking for these Leatherstockings ther and son : the one a British soldier of of the clergy, true apostolic successors of the day of strictest powder and pigtail; the heavy-handed fisherman, Peter. Their the other, a man who never wore a hat, rough-and-ready gospel is just the thing except in fine weather, - and in the house, for men who feel as if they could not get of course, like the rest of his countrymen. religion, unless from a preacher who can In this case, we find the very purest Amer- “whip" them as well as thunder doctrine ican type (for Meshach has not a single at their ears. Old-World notion) produced in a single We prefer those parts of Mr. Milburn's generation. We ourselves have known a book in which he tells us what he saw parallel instance in the children of a Brit. (if we may say it of a blind man) to ish soldier who deserted during the War those in which he undertakes to tell us of 1812; in tone of thought, accent, dia- what he was. The history of the growth lect, and physique they were unmistaka- of his mind is not of vital importance bly Yankee. If the backwoods Ameri- to us, and we should be quite willing canize men so fast, is it wonderful that to have “returned unexperienced to our two centuries of the Western Hemisphere graves,” like Grumio's fellow-servants. should have produced a breed so unlike We think there is getting to be altogether too much unreserve in the world. We An aunt called upon for more stories doubt if any man have the right to take and no wonder, when she tells them so mankind by the button and tell all about well — resolves to play the Nereïd, and himself, unless, like Dante, he can sym- takes her little ones in fancy down among bolize his experience. Even Goethe we the slopes and dells of Ocean to watch the only half thank, especially when he kisses lovely growths and the strange creatures and tells, and prefer Shakspeare's indif- in which, through plant and mineral, or ference to the intimacy of the German. what seem such, Life is yearning upward Silence about one's self is the most gold- toward the higher individuality of Volien of all, as men commonly discover af- tion. She tells us (for we seemed among ter babbling. Mr. Milburn, in one of his her hearers as we read, and drew our stool chapters, gives an account of his passage nearer) all about the sea-anemones and through what he is pleased to call neology corals, the coral-reefs, the jelly-fishes, starand rationalism. He represents himself as fishes, and sea-urchins, — which last are having sounded the depths of German met- not to be confounded with the buoys so aphysics, criticism, and æsthetics. But a frequently to be met with in our harbors. man who is able to write a sentence in That the stories have the sanction of Agaswhich Lessing's Works are spoken of as if siz is warrant of their scientific accuracy, the reading of them tended to make men while the feminine grace with which they “transcendentalists of the supra-nebulous are told is a science to be learned of no order" no more deserves a scourging by professor. angels for his devotion to German litera- Since the fairies are all dead, it is pleasture than Saint Jerome did for being a ant to know that Pan can be brought to Ciceronian. No truly thorough course of life again for children by the study of Nastudy ever weakened or unsteadied any ture. Now that the wonders of the invisman's mind, for it is the surest way to ible world are closed, the little ones can make him think less of himself, - and we have no better set-off than in the beauty cannot help believing that the disease Mr. and marvel of God's visible creation. Here Milburn went through was nothing more also are food for the imagination and matenor less than sentimentalism, a complaint as rial for poetry. Whatever teaches a child common to a certain period of life as mea- to observe teaches him to think, and sles. But while we think him mistaken in strengthens memory, a faculty which in his diagnosis, we cannot but commend the fitting conjunction is cumulative genius. good sense and manliness of his course of We dislike the science that is sometimes treatment.
forced down youthful throats by the Mrs. Bating the egotism unavoidable in a Squeerses of polite learning, a vile comwork of the sort, the style of Mr. Mil- pound of treacle and brimstone; but there burn's book is agreeable, and the anec- is a vast difference between science as dotes of various kinds with which it dead fact and science as living poetry,– • abounds render it very amusing. It is of the harvest of the child's own eyes, gathparticular interest as showing how much ered on seashores and hillsides, in fields a blind man may accomplish both for him- and lanes. We like the aim and tenself and others, that the loss of sight may dency of this little book, because it is likebe borne with cheerfulness as well as res- ly to draw children away from books, and ignation, and that the sufferer by such to entice them into that admirably ventia calamity is sure of kindness and sym- lated schoolroom of out-doors which will pathy from his fellow-men.
give them sound lungs and stomachs and muscular limbs. It teaches them, too,
without their knowing it; which is the A First Lesson in Natural History. By only true way ; for they contrive to make
Actxa. Boston: Little, Brown, & Co. their minds duck's-backs, under the as1859. pp. 82.
siduous watering-pot of instruction. The
knowledge it gives them is real, and not This is an altogether charming little merely a thing of terms and phrases. book. Simple, clear, and methodical, the Moreover, the kind of it is suitable; a great style leaves nothing to be desired, and sug- thing; for we hold a Pascal in a pinafore gests no wish that anything were away. to be as great an outrage as a learned pig.
We have found the generality of books than the grace and tenderness of literature. written for children of late so thoroughly Few of our country women have written bad, as void of invention as they are full better poems, and her little book gives finer of vulgarisms in thought and language, food for thought and fancy than many a that it is a downright pleasure to meet more bulky volume. Is it ungracious to with one so fresh and graceful as this of charge her with affectation? for this is the Actæa's. We hope she will follow it with clinging curse of modern poetry, and one a series, for she has shown herself qualified may trace it even in the noble idyls of to do for science what Hawthorne has done the greatest English poet now alive. The for mythology.
Brownings overflow with it, and it is the chief characteristic of scores of the lesser
poets of the day. If all who write verses Poems. By Anne Watney. New York : could learn how sacred language is, how Appleton & Co. 1859.
full of beauty is its austere simplicity,
they would cease from their endless tricks This modest volume is a collection of of word-painting and the Florentine mo• Miss Whitney's previously printed poems, saics of speech. Miss Whitney offends less
scattered about in forgotten newspapers, than many in this way, and has shown with perhaps as many more, which now some of the rarer gifts of that indefinable appear in print for the first time. The being, - a true poet. uncommon merit of some of her early poems, especially “Bertha,” “Hymn to the Sea,” and “Lilian,” (here most unpoet- Sword and Gown. A Novel : by the Author ically called “Facts in Verse,"') long ago of “ Guy Livingstone." Boston: Tickawakened a desire in lovers of good poetry
nor & Fields. to know more of Miss Whitney and what she had written ; and the desire is grati- This is rather a brilliant sketch than a fied by the publication of this book. We carefully wrought and finely finished ro. can hardly say that the new poems are mance. The actors are drawn in bold outbetter than the old ; though some of them, lines, which it does not appear to have as “ The Ceyba and the Jaguey,” “ Un- been the purpose of the author to fill up dine,” “Dominique,” and “My Window," in the delicate manner usually deemed are marked by the same quick insight, the necessary for the development of characsame force and dignity of expression, which ter in fiction. But they are so vigorously charm us in the earlier verses. We still drawn, and the narration is so full of power, find “Lilian” the best of all, as it is the that few readers can resist the fascination longest; there are in it passages of descrip- of the story, in spite of the intrusive littion as clear and vivid as the landscapes tle digressions which everywhere appear, of Church and Turner, and touches of pro- and which, jumping at random through found and glowing imagination ; and the passages of history, religion, art, politics, whole poem, in spite of its obscurity, af- literature, as a circus-rider forsakes his fects the mind like a strain of high and steed to dash through the many-colored mournful music. The Sonnets are all more tissue screens that are invitingly held out or less harsh and unintelligible,
-a criti- to him, interfere quite seriously with its cism which applies to many of the other progress. It is certainly a book in which poems Miss Whitney evidently despises the interest is positive, and from which the foot-notes as utterly as Tennyson, and attention is seldom allowed to wander ; leaves much unexplained in her titles and and is, so far, a success. in the poems themselves, which might But there is also another relation in help us to understand them, if we knew it. which it is to be considered. Without Obscurity of thought and a lack of facil- being much of a moralist, one may clearly ity in versification cause evident defects in perceive that its tone is unhealthy and its her otherwise fine book; on the other hand, sentiment vicious. What it aims at we she is never flat and seldom feeble, but would not assume to decide ; what it acwrites as one whose thoughts and feelings complishes is, to secure a sympathy for a move on a high level, sustained by a famil- reckless and dare-devil spirit which drives iarity with the strength and beauty, rather the hero through a tolerably long career of more than moderate iniquity, and leaves main near her lover, on his promise of him impenitent at the end. It will hardly good behavior! What follows cannot be do to say that the object of the book is averted, — who would expect that it should only to amuse. Dealing with the subjects be? The elopement which is planned, howit does, it must work good or evil. Its ever, is prevented by the interference of a theme is this : An imperious beauty, whose third party, and the lovers submit to their heart has been seared in earliest youth, destiny of separation. They meet once and whose passions are half supposed to again, but it is only when the hero, morbe dead, is brought in contact, at a French tally wounded in a Crimean battle, lies exwatering-place, with a man whose life has piring at Scutari. With the bitter agony of been passed in wildest excesses, whose the dying farewell, the scene closes. The amatory exploits have echoed through Eu- characters remain unchanged to the end. rope, and who knows no higher human The Sword, though stained in many plamotive of action than the prosecution of ces with impurities, still glistens with a selfish and sensual enjoyment. His good lustre that bewilders and confuses the qualities are dauntless personal courage,
The Gown-which seems introwhich, however, often sinks into brutal duced at all only for the purpose of mockferocity, and occasional touches of gen- ery, its representative being invested with erous emotion towards his friends. The all contemptible and unmanly attributes young girl's heart-strings are again set in still lies covered with the reproach that tune, and made to quiver in harmony with has been cast upon it. those of the determined conqueror. Just The moral of such a book is not a good as her soul is yielded, the intelligence that one. The author does his best, by various her lover has a living wife is imparted to arts, to make the reader look kindly upon her. Here a resemblance to a striking in- a guilty love, and to regard with admiracident in “ Jane Eyre" may be detected; tion those who are animated by it, notwithbut mark the difference in the result :- standing the hero is no better at the end Jane Eyre, resolute in her righteous con- than he was at the opening, and the herovictions, flies from a struggle which she ine is rather worse. And such is his unperhaps feels herself incapable of sustain- deniable power, that with many readers he ing; the present heroine consents to re- will be too likely to carry his point.
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