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OUR MONTHLY CRYPT. “ As good almost to kill a man, as kill a good book : who kills a man, kills & reasonable creature, God's image ; but he who destroys a good book, kills Reason itself, kills the image of God, as it were, in the eye. Many a man lives a burden to the earth ; but a good book is the precious life-blood of a master-spirit, embalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life.”
What have the Whigs done? London: Painter. 1841. This is a very able and eloquent pamphlet on the Conservative side, showing that the Whigs have been able to do either nothing, or nothing well. There is a vigour and harmony in the style, which argue a power in the writer for more ambitious efforts. Memoranda on France, Italy, and Germany, &c. &c. By Edwin Lee, Esq.
M.R.C.S. London: Saunders and Otley. 1841. This is a very superior book, full of information, elegantly communicated. The Little Wife, and the Baronet's Daughter. By Mrs. Grey. Saunders
and Otley. 1841. These are two pretty tales by a lady who has already acquired some reputation. Her endeavour is to inculcate virtuous sentiments and conduct. Her plots are conducted with skill, and the execution is very good. We prefer the latter story, as exhibiting more individuality of character; and we give her credit in it for great liveliness in the style of treatment. In fact, the second piece is very clever. Three Years in Persia; with Travelling Adventures in Koordistan. By GEORGE FOWLER, Esq. In 2 vols. London: Henry Colburn. 1841.
These two volumes are, in part, a republication of the Persian REMINISCENCES, that lately appeared in this Magazine. Their merits are, accordingly, well known to our readers. The author has great powers of observation, and expresses himself in an easy, graphic and intelligible style. Having a thorough knowledge of Persian manners, from actual experience, and being a man of the greatest good sense, he is enabled to set before his readers a complete picture of life as it is in Persia and Koordistan. The work is, besides, illustrated with eight lithographic engravings, descriptive of the author's adventures. The publication deserves a place in every library.
A Love Gift. Second edition. London: George Bell, Fleet Street. 1841.
An exquisite little present, devoted to poetry, in which virtuous love is celebrated. The Spirit of Magna Charta ; or, Universal Representation the Genius of the
British Constitution. By WILLIAM ATKINSON, Author of “ The Principles of Political Economy," &c. London: Pelham Richardson, 23, Cornbill. 1841.
The author distinguishes between Universal Representation and Universal Suffrage. His pamphlet is, in all respects, excellent, and should be universally read. The Biblical Assistant, and Book of Practical Piety. Edited by the Rev.
D. G. GOYDER, Glasgow. London: W. Newbery, 6, Chenies Street, Bedford Square.
The number before us contains Mr. Emerson's brochure on NATURE. We remember that when we noticed this brief treatise, in a former number, we attributed it to Mr. Alcott. We are glad to have an opportunity of correcting our mistake. It is one of the most eloquent of the works of the American transcendentalists-equally Christian and philosophical.
Hlustrations of the Tragedies of Æschylus and Sophocles, from the Greek,
Latin, and English Poets; with an Introductory Essay. By J. F. BOYES, M. A., St. John's College. Oxford: J. Vincent. London: Whittaker and Co. 1841.
A delightful paper might be written on this brochure, had we space or leisure. The introduction to the work is, in all respects, instructive and true. The present number only contains the Agamemnon of Æschylus, with parallel passages from the Bible-Milton-Shakspere—the Elizabethan Poets—Shirley-Congreve-Sir Walter Scott-Shelley-Lord Byron-and namerous others. The Epicure's Almanac, or Diary of Good Living, &c. &c. By Benson
E. Hill, Author of “Recollections of an Artillery Officer," ' " A Pinch of Spuff,” &c. &c. Price 2s. 6d. How and Parsons, Fleet-Street.
Although this neat and cheap little book has, like its author, “merit enough to make enemies," a larger number of reviewers have awarded it unqualified praise, while we have read but two “slight, unworthy and ridiculous” remarks, of a depreciatory tone. First, that a comic expression, or so, in its pages, is “inelegant." Secondly, that, as all of its three hundred and sixty-five receipts are not for substantial eatables, it ought not to be called a Diary of Good Living.
Now, if drollery be a sin, Yamen forgive the wicked writer of “Home Service," "Playing About,” &c. &c., for he will have his joke; but all this did we know before, and never convicted the gentlemanly humorist of one coarse, gross, or vulgar idea. Directions for dressing of pigs' pettitoes need not be the less clear and useful for his rendering them “light” and "fantastic.” Ox-tails have often a certain waggery about them in life ; why not, then, allow them to retain it, embalmed in the stew “ Pan,” that “shall remain ?" If Mr. Hill cannot treat matters-of-fact in the old matter-of-course way, shall we feel disappointed, or angry, that his wit is not smothered in onions? His brain boiled down? As to the second objection, does not a pot of coffee, a bowl of punch, or a salad, contribute to our good living as much as might a calf's head, a bullock's heart, a flat-fish, a goose, or any other article of which certain critics naturally remind us? They must make what they fancy original remarks.
Now, from no new lights of our own, we perceive the difficulties of a task like Mr. Hill's; difficulties which he has so neatly and so cleverly mastered, that we wonder at the small number of his defects, not at their existence. To avoid tedious repetition, yet not only make your meaning clear, but keep your style “quite correct,” is almost impossible, in a receipt book. We are not “word-hunters, who live on syllables ;" we only assert that it is easier to fancy faults, than to find them; for every scribbler imagines he has taste, while very few of our newspaper critics have much of that more purchaseable affair-grammar.
We are not, by a Mrs. Candour-like defence, implying that Mr. Hill ever leaves one in doubt as to his meaning ; but that the accuracies and graces of composition most laudable, in this work, will be found by those who try his recipes. The book's best literary merit is its truth and utility; its respect for pockets and constitutions, the demands of small families, who wish to unite ornament with healthful fare of all kinds. This is Epicureanism, in its ancient and real sense. Our ex-officer, ex-actor, has viewed life, under a variety of contrasted phases, and in many scenes. Scotland, Ireland, France, Flanders, and the West Indies have added to his culinary stock of “actual experience.” He has been welcomed at the boards of good livers, in town and country. The ladies have transcribed choice notions, from their housekeeping books, for him. We have the result of all this in a portable shape, with an ample index, and pleasant explanatory Preface. Despite the author's pretended earnestness, and ironical, exaggerated zest, in the body of the work, we believe him to have serious cause for exerting his gay versatility, and for practising thrift, while prescribing hospitable expenditure. This conviction makes us doubly solicitous for the circulation of a venture well calculated to enhance his deserved celebrity. The man who has such "imagination of a feast," and communicates it so well for the benefit of his fellow beings, ought to find the effects of his industry, “ cloy the hungry edge of appetite," augment his store of coppers, or of tin, post the coal into his kitchen, and send him rhino wherewith to purchase such sauce as might render edible a haunch of Rhinoceros. 1. A Collection of English Sonnets. By ROBERT FLETCHER HOUSEMAN,
Esq. London: Simpkin and Co. 1841. 2. The Three Groats. Translated from the Italian (Li Trè Guili) of G. B.
Casti With a Memoir of the Author, and some Account of his other Works. A New Edition, with Numismatic Notes. By M. MONTAGU. London: Starie. 1841.
The first of these two works is indeed a treasure. Never was there afforded a more triumphant refutation of the dogma that the sonnet is opposed to the genius of the English language;-a dogma now, like many others enunciated by the same authority, pretty generally exploded. No longer can the sonneteer be considered "- a little contemptible poet," as defined by Dr. Johnson ; for the appellation has been appropriated by nearly all our living bards. In fact, the sonnet is peculiarly adapted to the idiom of our native tongue; although, like the Spenserian stanza, it very quickly exposes the poverty of a bad poet. Hence it is, that an apparently greater number of radically vicious compositions have been perpetrated in the shape of sonnets, than in that of any other measure. Its confined space precludes all opportunity for the oratorical display which is the main refuge of the mere versifier; and thus, if the real inspiration of poesy be absent, no concealment of the supervening deformity is possible. Other poems may be worked up with elaborate repetition until we are, perhaps, cheated of our plaudits; but a sonnet must evidently mean something, or it becomes impertinent and offensive. It will not allow a laborious commonplace to be clothed with a gorgeous mantle of phrase and alliteration, nor our sense to be tickled by the musical flow of numbers, that we might forget to notice the paucity of thought and sentiment. No tricks or artifices can be played with its construction; it must either stand in simple unadorned majesty, or sink into the most despicable insignificance. It is the touchstone of poetry, which at once exposes the baser metal of the pretender.
The rhyming difficulty, upon which so much stress has been laid, is an absurd hallucination; as every one the least experienced in the structure of Spenserian stanzas, or of sonnets themselves, can testify. The difficulty arises, not from a lack of rhymes, but a lack of thought. Have thoughts to express; and they will take the desired shape almost of their own accord. A light jingling measure, which is commenced and continued very nearly without an effort, may fit the mere poetaster ; but the man of genius will ever despise all such transparent resorts of idleness or incapacity.
Mr. Houseman's judicious Collection of English Sonnets must, therefore, be considered a valuable acquisition to the library of the general reader. It is preceded by a well-written preface, in which a full analysis of the sonnet is given; and the compatibility of the measure with our language vindicated. Among the specimens selected by Mr. Houseman, are some of the sweetest things in our literature, and we cordially hope that the book may obtain the popularity that it so richly merits.
The “THREE GROATS,” is a work that would put the most crabbed philosopher into a good humour. It consists of a translation of G. B. Casti's “ Tre Giuli,” a most sprightly and amusing performance. The poet having once upon a time borrowed three groats, becomes unable or unwilling to repay them, and accordingly his creditor most pertinaciously duns him for the amount. In these two hundred sonnets, therefore, he exercises his fancy in devising all imaginable means either to refuse, pacify, entreat, put off, alarm, or evade his dun, interspersed with some pathetic lamentations over his own misfortunes, and not very gentle malisons on his merciless tormentor; all of which he does with such wonderful ingenuity, that the interest of the reader never flags. Although at times rather stiffly rendered by the translator, these vivacious productions have already gone through two editions, and will, we hope, speedily reach a third. Letters from Italy to a Younger Sister. By CATHARINE TAYLOR. Vol. II.
London: Murray. 1841. Fully redeems the promise of excellence held out by the first volume. In our perusal, we have stumbled upon many very shrewd observations. Manners and Customs of Society in India ; including Scenes in the Mofussil
Stations, ge. &c. By Mrs. MAJOR CLEMONS. London: Smith, Elder and Co. 1841.
Contains some good practical directions for cadets. In other respects its merits are slender. The History of the British Empire in India. By EDWARD THORNTON, Esq.
Parts 1 and 2. London: Allen and Co. 1841. The want of a good history of the British Empire in India has long been grierously felt. The present undertaking promises to supply this desideratum in a very able and satisfactory manner. Mr. Thornton's work on the state and prospects of India was a masterly one. German Exercises, with a Grammatical Introduction: A Guide to German
Writing. By FRANCIS STROMEYER, Ph. D. London: Cradock and . Co 1841. An excellent and well-digested introduction to the German language.
THE GREEN ROOM.
TAGLIONI. WAILE we are writing these few remarks, the most inimitable of artists—the most graceful of women-Taglioni-is about to make her appearance at the Italian Opera House, the principal scene of her triumphs, and the grand focus of attraction to her admirers-the world!
We dull mortals certainly need some potent charm to war against our daily circumstances ; and if we seek it in the fanciful paraphernalia of the ballet, let it not be said that any human invention of spectacle can give us an inducement to change the medium of our delight, more especially with the following epigram haunting us, which contains not a bad account of our theatrical creed :
ON SEEING TAGLIONI DANCE.
By seers of old, declared, in spurious trance,
Divinity—as we do-in the dance.
Taglioni is a name which belongs to the history of civilization. As we have the generic appellations, Miltonic and Shaksperian, to describe the highest orders of poetry, so, in future ages, will “ Taglionic" express all that the imagination can conceive of perfection in the movements of the human form. To Taglioni belongs not merely the art of dancing, but the power of giving to the most refined feelings, and the most subtle sentiments, their impersonation in attitudes as full of meaning as of loveliness.
Descended from a Swiss on the mother's side, and an Italian on the father's, Taglioni possesses all the high and chivalrous qualities of the former nation, combined with the consummate flexibility and grace of the latter. The public know her well as the queen of the ballet, but they are not sufficiently acquainted with the sterling merits and unpretending virtue of her private character. Europe has placed her at the head of her profession-Emperors have done homage to her art; but the applause and temptations of public life have not injured the integrity of her disposition, nor has the envy of pseudo-competitors been able to detract from the purity of her reputation. She has proved to those intimate with her career, that the most public exercise of her talents is not inconsistent with the possession of great feminine delicacy; and that the plaudits of admiring spectators have not put to flight those hallowed feelings, which win the affection of friends, and give a pledge of social fidelity.
Taglioni is not one of those whose frequent brilliances cover a mul. titude of defects : no-her slightest movement is a perfect study, bespeaking not only physical flexibility of the most wonderful order, but a degree of fancy and mental precision by no means sufficiently appreciated-even by her admirers. Most of our readers, no doubt, remember the ballet L'Ombre, which, to every poetical mind, seemed a kind of spiritual episode in dramatic life-a gorgeous revelation of the adyta of fairy-land; soothing by its pathetic association with human sympathies, and startling by the superstitious dreaminess of its origin and destiny. Never was Taglioni's art better displayed than in this piece ;-her entrée was intensely absorbing, when, by passing behind the scenery, between it and a strong light, she appeared to the spectators as a disembodied “shade :" the attitudes by which she made her shadow express the emotions of a wandering and disconsolate ghost, gave to the scene all the truth of the reality it pictured, and filled with poetical meaning an effect, which, without the greatest talent, would have been a mere unexpressive outline. How shall we describe it? A gloomy room lighted by a few dying embers, and tenanted by an enthusiastic, dark-eyed, black-coated Pneumatologist for our companion, could not have rendered our hair less inclined to be submissive to the cultivation of the perruquier.
We take this simple and least important of Taglioni's “ points," to show the minute excellence which distinguishes them ;—the triumph which has attended her more ambitious efforts, needs no illustration ;
to whom is it not known?