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RECORD OF THE MONTHS.
The Neighbors: a Story of Every Day Life. By FREDERIKA BREMER. Translated by Mary Howitt.
No work of fiction that has appeared of late has met with so kindly a reception, on all hands, as this. In part this may be ascribed to our pleasure at getting a peep into the domestic life of a country hitherto little known to us, except in the broader, colder outline of history, but far more to the intrinsic merit of the work, its lively nature, wisdom, and gentle affectionate morality. The representation of character, if not deeply "motived" is faithful, and, though best in the range of such persons as Bear and his charming little wife, yet the bolder attempts in the sketches of Ma chère mère, Bruno, and Serena do not fail, if they do not entirely succeed. These persons are painted, not indeed as by one of their own rank, but as they may be seen from Fanny's point of view. The playfulness of the book seldom rises to wit, but is very light and pretty; the dew is on the grass, the insect on the wing, round the happy country home. The common sense is truly "the wisdom of nations," not the cold prudence of skepticism, but the net result of observations taken by healthy hearts and heads, educated in that golden mean which most harmoniously, if not most rapidly, unfolds the affections, the intellect, and the energies for active life.
The Last of the Barons. By Sir E. L. BULWER.
In a very different temper from the Swedish novel is this new volume from Bulwer, even more melodramatic than his last. It has his usual merits of lively conception, and flexibility of talent; there is no better scene painter than Bulwer; no writer weaves his plot more skilfully. The incidents do not indeed grow necessarily out of the characters; only in the works of highest genius, only in Shakspeare, Cervantes, Goethe, do we find this merit; but they fit the characters very well, they allow free play to its gestures. We are sure to read the book through once, as sure never to touch it again. - It is sad to see this man, with such desire for a deeper, simpler life, and not without glimpses at its nature, yet never taking a path that could lead him one step nearer to it. Always he is beating the bushes for game that has fled, always is on the outskirts of truth. He began at the wrong end, and has never, with all his defiance of cant, clearly seen that "the misery of our age is that we must get rid of the false, to arrive at the true." The apprenticeship of Zanoni, the "large, fatherly heart" of Warwick are seen
with an eye to the bystander, never simply for his own sake. How tedious the man of talent becomes when he would philosophize, would moralize, when he would enforce by a thousand repetitions what he supposes some great leading thought about "humanity," "democracy," the "Man of the Age." O fashionable writer, burn your books, burn off the ambitious crust from your life; be still and lonely in yourself a little while, be a child, then, perhaps you may grow to be a man, and know how to write about " humanity." But you will never pierce that secret, from without, as you hope. At present, all your talents, your industry, your quick perceptions, and your pains, for these, it must be confessed, are real, only serve to make you a more striking illustration of the falsities of your time.
Music Explained. By FRANCIS JAMES FETIS.
THIS little book brings just what is wanted by many among us, an account of the technical terms of the art, the scope and capabilities of the different instruments, and different kinds of composition. For it is not music explained, for that were an impossibility, but the modes of expression in music, defined and discriminated one from the other. It will be of use to the many who, with a pleasure in hearing music that they cannot let go, are continually disappointed and puzzled, because ignorance, as to the means and resources of the art, has occasioned their forming expectations which cannot be realized, and prevents their appreciating the degree in which expression is attained.
Music has been, in a sense, popular here, during the winter; that is to say, musical entertainments have drawn large audiences, but the frequent rudeness of talking during the finest performance, has shown that no small part of the andience were regardless of the divine expressions of thought they thus insulted, no less than of the feelings of those who might have enjoyed them, but for the neighborhood of these intruders. It ought to be understood that half a dollar buys a seat, and the privilege of hearing, but not that of making the same useless to all around. Strange, strange, that it should be necessary to say such things! Das versteht sich: that is understood of itself, say the Germans.
The Academy concerts have not satisfied the expectations excited by the ability with which they were conducted the previous winter. They have indeed repeated several times the fifth symphony of Beethoven, which is always heard with renewed delight, and the second symphony, but the Pastoral, not at all, and have given us no new piece from this master. The Jupiter was given only once; we cannot guess why; hearing it
once, and coldly performed, as it seemed to be, it made no impression; but the course the academy has heretofore pursued, was to study and repeat fine compositions, till they were understood, both by the performers and hearers. This winter they have preferred to amuse the public with showy overtures, well enough in their way, but not adapted to raise or purify the taste of those who are so immediately pleased with them, or to gratify those who have any deep feeling of music. One concert was made up of overtures, which reminded us of Timon's feast, only substituting bottles of cider (we can't say Champagne) for the warm water which he had prepared to balk his hungry guests.
The Handel and Haydn society have given the Messiah, Mendelsohn's St. Paul, and Rossini's Stabat Mater, as well as is possible with such a lack of good solo singers. -—The Stabat is a splendid and flowing composition, unworthy the theme, and unworthy the echoes that have answered to the sublime choruses of the Messiah, but full of life, of winged melody, and such excellencies as may be expected from Rossini. As Scott to Shakspeare is Rossini to Handel, so wide the gulf of difference, both as to depth of insight, and poetic power of representation;
but then again, wide as the distance between Bulwer and Scott is that between the imitators of Rossini and himself, the great green tree, blossoming full of vigor and joy, the fountain overflowing with enchanting, though superficial melody. It is Italy, it is Naples in its high coloring and profuse growths.
The younger Rakemann, who came to this country last autumn, has added a new and important page to our musical experiences. He has enjoyed the benefits of intercourse with the most wonderful pianists in this day of wonderful execution, and adds, to the great command of the instrument attainable by early and ardent study of their methods, a depth of feeling, range and force of expression far more admirable. He has a wide range, doing justice to delicate, to magnificent, or simple and solemn compositions. If it be possible that his genius be worthily developed in a country where is, as yet, no musical atmosphere, we hope he will remain to educate us for the enjoyment of his performance, and of the thoughts of his masters.
The Bible in Spain, or the Journeys, Adventures, and Imprisonments of an Englishman in an attempt to circulate the Scriptures in the Peninsula. By George Borrow. Author of "The Gipsies in Spain."
THIS is a charming book, full of free breezes, and mountain torrents, and pictures of romantic interest. Mr. Borrow is a selfsufficing man of free nature, his mind is always in the fresh air;
he is not unworthy to climb the sierras and rest beneath the cork trees where we have so often enjoyed the company of Don Quixote. And he has the merit, almost miraculous to-day, of leaving us almost always to draw our own inferences from what he gives us. We can wander on in peace, secure against being forced back upon ourselves, or forced sideways to himself. It is as good to read through this book of pictures, as to stay in a house hung with Gobelin tapestry. The Gipsies are introduced here with even more spirit than in his other book. He sketches men and nature with the same bold and clear, though careless touch. Cape Finisterre and the entrance into Gallicia are as good parts as any to look at.
MR. Browning was known to us before, by a little book called "Pippa Passes," full of bold openings, motley with talent like this, and rich in touches of personal experience. A version of the thought of the day so much less penetrating than Faust and Festus cannot detain us long; yet we are pleased to see each man in his kind bearing witness, that neither sight nor thought will enable to attain that golden crown which is the reward of life, of profound experiences and gradual processes, the golden crown of wisdom. The artist nature is painted with great vigor in Aprile. The author has come nearer that, than to the philosophic nature. There is music in the love of Festus for his friend, especially in the last scene, the thought of his taking sides with him against the divine judgment is true as
The Sleep Waker. A Tale. Translated from the German of HEINRICH ZSCHOKKE.
WE would call attention to this little tale, which is remarkably well translated. It is, in itself, very pleasing, and the natural affinities of character, as developed by means of the trance of animal magnetism, are treated with fineness of observation and sympathy. Nothing can be more graceful than the little scene in which the Rose is given, and the way in which it is made to bear on the conduct of the story. The sweet and sustained tone of the magnetized, the aloofness with which the soul regards the blemishes of its personal, temporal existence, are what may be divined by those who have ever seen so much as the smile which accompanies this sleep in the body, awaking into the spirit.
The Life and Times of Girolamo Savonarola; illustrating the progress of the Reformation in Italy, during the Fifteenth Century. By JOHN A. HERAUD. London: Whittaker & Co. 1843. 12mo. pp. 420.
HISTORICAL records, as ordinarily presented, may raise in us the idea, that great ininds are only permitted occasionally to appear, and but now and then, at long distant periods, one starts forth suddenly as a solitary, flitting meteor, leaving the welkin dark again. But were it possible, which we may safely affirm it is not, for the historian correctly to report the facts as they occurred, so that the reader shall be as well instructed as if he had been present, the course of humanity would give evidence of a very different law. God's spiritual dominion on earth is as continuously occupied by stars, as the material firmament. There is an unintermitted stream of inspiration and progress; and it is because it is observed only in part, and reported disjointedly, that we are insensible of the fact. Behind Shakspeare may be discovered a nebula of dramatic authors, whose success built up his, and whose genius aided the fame which eclipses their own. Milton is but the crowning stone until a happier poet shall carry the apex of sacred song one course higher.
Thus of Savonarola. Luther's eminence overshadows his fame; and the public mind having done justice to the idea of church reform, few readers, and fewer worshippers, are interested in apportioning shares of merit to the several persons who promoted it. Historic justice is, however, as beautiful in literature as pecuniary payment is needful in commerce. We, therefore, accept with gladness this effort to rescue the comparatively unknown Savonarola from undue obscurity. He was one link in that chain of intense minds which binds age to age, and man to man, which gives fresh evidence of the universal brotherhood of humanity, and which fails not to instruct us of that inmost and ruling Love, whose common paternity generates that brotherhood. Successively student, lover, monk, poet, reformer, priest, politician, prophet, enthusiast, contemplator, legislator, victim, martyr, he was undeviatingly the friend of man, the affectionate expounder of truth, the persevering writer, and the faithful servant of the most high, as far as consciousness was granted to him.
Born in times (1452) when the corruptions of the Church were quite or nearly at their height, such an ardent and true being must needs enter on a career ultimately involving his fate. The forms of virtue, always most rigidly maintained by man as he forgets the spirit in them, are yet sufficiently vivid to develop in such a soul the divine feelings of which they were originally the result.