Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

Mrs. Norton, and Mrs. Hall among the contributors, by whom “The Amulet" for 1832 has been formed.

“ Tue WINTER'S WREATH." A very elegant volume, et voilà tout. It wants vigour, variety, and originality. Its pages give the idea of cultivated mind and refined taste, rather than talent. A Mr. J. R. Chorley is the cleverest writer of the set. His tale of “ The Persecuted” is very lively and new; and we like his “ Last Interview." German Jew," by W. Howitt, also deserves peculiar mention, as both wild and striking. Of the rest, we can only say, that the productions are just those of literary leisure, taking water-coloured copies of original pictures. Among the illustrations there are rather too many landscapes : but “ The Wreck,” by Williamson, is “ terribly beautiful,” and is a good contrast to the glad and sunny view of Naples. There are two pictures of Liverseege, full of imagination; but it is a moral duty to make maidens in such picturesque attitudes pretty,--a compliment we cannot pay to either of the ladies. “ The Village Suitor” is a lively and characteristic group.

“ THE HUMORIST." We know that people are very easily amused ; they may, therefore, be amused by this volume. The tail-pieces, many of which are quaint and odd, are better than the prints, which are often both coarse and far-fetched. Of the literary department we can only observe, that it is a very dull thing to be merry through a whole

volume. To select an example, what a ponderous specimen of pleasantry is “ The Cares of Corpulence.”

“ THE JUVENILE FORGET ME Not.”. Oh! that we were young again, in blue trowsers and shining sugar-loaf buttons ; or even in a white frock and red sash, were it only for the feeling of consequence that would (almost) enlarge our stature, to know that so pretty a volume was destined for our especial pleasure. Mrs. Hall's talents as a writer for children do not need our commendation ; and her assistants have most pleasantly assisted her. Miss Leslie's stories of America are quite delightful—such a freshness and novelty about them. The little “ History of Birds” will be a favourite with youthful readers.

« THE LITERARY SOUVENIR.” “A lovely female face of seventeen,” looking more arch than romantic, despite the guitar she is touching with her most fairy-like fingers, opens the volume; and we all know the old proverb “a fair face is a letter of recommendation;" perhaps it is on this principle that so many of the annuals of this year commence with portraits. It was the fashion some years since, after the preacher had finished his most eloquent appeal to the feelings, for some half dozen ladies to hold the plates, which were to receive the various offerings of those who were convinced of the blessings of education, and the hearts that had remained hardened in spite of the sermon, were softened at once by the sweet smiles of the personified charities at the portal. The ancient cry of the heralds to the knights

laissez aller ; brave knights, bright eyes behold you,” the laissez aller nowa-days, however, is addressed not to the spear but the purse. The same conviction of the irresistibility of female fascination is in these frontispieces, and we must say, they are annual temptations. The next picture is delicious; it is a scene from Boccaccio, and called a “supper by the fountain,” whose silvery waters are playing “in gentle and continued rain” over its marble basin. The scene is lighted

“ By waxen tapers struggling with the moon," and a group of dames and cavaliers are assembled round a wine and fruit covered board ; overbead the cypresses “ winnow the warm night air,” and the soft grass beneath their feet must be filled with fragrance and flowers. The Marchioness of Salisbury gives us the opportunity of remarking what we have long thought, that these titled portraits are far better kept to La Belle Assemblée with its gallery of the female nobility; no interest to the generality can at

was

tach to such a picture, and nothing can be written of it but some few lines of coarse flattery. The subjects for a work like this ought to be of a more imaginative character. We never saw a picture of Howard's which we liked so little as this of Numa and Egeria :-Egeria is positively bull-necked ; it has a beautiful poem attached to it by Harvey. Neither, for all the magic of her name, can we like Lady Jane Grey, and the friar and the executioner are both of them caricatures. Vespers is one of the very sweetest things we ever saw of Boxall's, such a subdued, gentle face as he has painted bending over her breviary! so meek a prayer must surely rise to heaven ;" it is not, however, well engraved. Of the productions by the French artists we cannot speak very highly. Going to Mass is our favourite, the face of the young peasant supporting her grandmother is very sweet. “ The Derevia Family” is theatrical and affected; people in fine clothes, to which they are evidently not accustomed, and standing to be looked at; but we do admire the fine old staircase, down which they are descending. The accessories in “ The Artist” are very richly painted : the principal figure too, is good; but the weak, vague-looking face of the female seems painted expressly to illustrate the proverb of “frightened out of her wits." The first poem to which we must direct our attention, is a “ Literary Squib” by the Editor, a sort of “ Retaliation,” where the guests and dishes are served up with vinegar and cayenne pepper as the very mildest of their condiments. We are very ready to grant that Mr. Watts has had “his provocations ;” the personal and sneering tone of criticism adopted by Frazer's magazine is offensive to decency, obnoxious to good taste, and degrading to literature. But to reply to abuse so contemptible is at best but injudicious. Authors overrate their consequence most unreasonably, when they expect the public to take part in all their petty bickerings and jealousy. What on earth can the generality of readers care to know that Mr. Watts has been railed upon by a Dr. Maginn, whom he designates as a reckless drunkard ? how indifferent must they be to the fact, that the said Doctor's coarseness is imitated, and his ribald jests retailed by a Mr. Frazer, whose name no one ever heard of before! Really, in a little time, we foresee that every man must be his own periodical, and the pages of “ each gentle Euphues” be filled with small quarrels and angry rejoinders. We infinitely prefer the poems written in the fly-leaves of Mr. Watts's favourite authors. The Souvenir opens with a spirited tale by Leitch Ritchie. This is followed by a rather over supply of inferior poetry, and we neither like the Indian nor the Scotch tale, nor do we very much admire the Bride of the Nile. Mrs. Watts has been far from equalling her exquisite piece of last year, one of the most touching poems we ever read; but we like her paper on “The Friends”

The Souvenir has had a new dress since last year, it is now attired in dark green morocco.

“ THE COMIC OFFERING." Miss Sheridan has evidently taken pains to be as merry as possible, and there are some amusing bits in this prettily attired volume. The two best tales are “ Odds and Ends,” and “ Some Passages in the Life of Timothy Blushmore.” Some of the prints have, we think, mistaken mere hideousness for humour; there is nothing so very entertaining in an ugly face. We must also animadvert on the strange taste for physical deformities, wooden legs, and loss of arms; these give us at least an impression of disgust. One of the best prints is called “ Short and Sweet;" a bunch of grapes hangs up quite out of the reach of a poor, little, white-frocked creature, at that happy age when cakes and fruit are a treat indeed.

“ Tue AMETHYST." A serious annual from the North, and very serious it is. Its only illustration is a pretty vignette of Cain and Abel sacrificing. This volume is really a neatly bound up collection of religious essays and sermons, together with some sacred poetry; but will doubtless be very acceptable to the more sober class.

“ The KEEPSAKE.” “ Ilow very lovely! beautiful! exquisitely finished !" Such were the exclamations with which we greeted the first three pages of the Keepsake. We understand, in gazing on the sweet face in the frontispiece, why the fairies in

very much.

olden time always endowed their favourite princesses with beauty," that gift divine.". With such a face as that, one's looking-glass must be a source of perpetual felicity. Next in our admiration is “ The repentance of Nineveh," one of Martin's most glorious conceptions; the sky, heavy with the thunder-cloud, and irradiated by the lightning, is full of magnificent poetry. It is a curious fact, that this picture was originally called “The opening of the Sibylline books at Rome,” when the appellation was altered to suit the poem with which Mr. Bernal has illustrated it. It would certainly suit the one scene as well as the other, but for an unlucky pillar, on whose summit is a sculptured group of the wolf suckling the Roman twins. Now Romulus and Remus had nothing to do at Nineveh.-Lord Byron's dream is a fine oriental landscape; almost as fine in the engraving as in the poem.—“Good Angels” is a superb allegory, most admirably executed.—“ The Zwinger Palace,” with its rich architecture, is fit to be the interior of one of Martin's; we cannot praise it more.

“ Constánce,” and “Do you remember it?" have somewhat too much of family resemblance; both represent females seated pensively “under the shade of old umbrageous trees," and the ladies in face are exceedingly alike; the landscapes in both are very pretty, and the attitude and sentiment highly graceful, Parts of “The Weddings are good; but however it might mar the ceremony, it would greatly improve the picture if the bridegroom were omitted. Let him return to the counters of Compton-street, from whence he certainly came. The female figure in “The Champion” is very picturesque, and the drapery is remarkably well managed." Scandal" is absolutely alarming; the child holding the ball to the little dog is a positive relief to the two ferocious dames, who are the ideal of Pope's line,

“ And at each word a reputation dies." “ The Countess at her toilette” is the only picture we dislike. A bold-looking, over-dressed woman is standing in a most unfeminine attitude, and displaying, to its fullest extent, a foot and ankle such as Atlas might leave as a family feature to one of his daughters : we have heard of the physiognomy of the feet, and on the strength of that call a foot a feature. We must say we do not admire the specimens of French art in our Annuals this year; they have just the attitude of the green-room, and the imagination of an Easter piece. Mr. Knowles has very ingeniously contrived a story to this picture; it begins oddly, goes on unexpectedly, and ends dramatically. The back-ground of « Caroline Dammerel" is very cleverly painted; we like the arm-chairs, the statue of the armed knight, the old woman, the attitude of the young one and all but her face. Two sweetly engraved landscapes complete the list, of which we can only say,

'-He were indeed in love with discontent

Who found not pleasure here." Now for the literary department. When we first glanced at the table of contents, truly we thought we had opened the Peerage by mistake. In spite of the Reform Bill, the English do dearly love a title, and to have lords and countesses pressed “ to do them service” gratifies the small leaven of equality to be found in their hearts. Why, we ourselves are not quite steeled to the fascination; who could be very ungentle on a poem written by a “ Ladye Emmeline." Alto gether it is a very pleasant volume; the tales are various, and several likely to be favourites. Lord Mulgrave need not have apologised for his “ Bridesmaid.” This is quite a matrimonial volume, for “ The Wedding” is a very pretty story, and we must mention with especial praise“ Lady Eleanor Saville's Three Trials, and“ The Young King." Hook has an actual pleasure in unveiling the undercurrent of deformities, that make

" The human heart seem hideous." “ The Dream" is a very original idea, so is that of “The Star of the Pacific;" but the last wants concentration, it is too long in telling. Query, what will the Board of Physicians say to the extraordinary cure performed in it;-a blind man restored to sight by a fash of lightning? The autobiography of a baby who lived four-and-twenty hours, is a very new thought, and most humorously executed. There is something exceedingly good in the creature's early impression of self-consequence, supposing that it is the victim of a conspiracy to crush the free and independent spirit it has too rashly manifested. There is some sweet poetry scattered through these pages; and a “ Party of pleasure up the river Jamar," is very entertainingly versified by Lady Morley. The Keepsake walks still " in crimson robe," and is a most beautiful book.

“ THE PICTURESQUE ANNUAL.” If “all's well that ends well,” this article, whose close we fast approach, is very good, for it is about to end very well indeed. The last, but certainly

Not the least in our dear liking." The exquisite scenes depicted in this volume make us hesitate whether

To order our wings and be off to the West," or to content ourselves with the luxurious enjoyment of having all this loveliness of other lauds brought to our very fire-side: we believe we should prefer the former if Cinderella would lend us her godmother for a season. As it is, we must content ourselves with flinging back the curtains, and placing the lovely landscapes before us in the best light. We hear that no artist is so easily engraved as Stanfield. Turner trusts much to the imagination he has excited, and in the progress of engraving his pictures, a perpetual reference, for filling in lines, &c. must be made to the artist, but in Stanfield, the engraver has only to copy accurately the perfectly finished drawing. We will select at random :That Swiss cottage near Breig is positively dangerous; we know how completely love in a cottage is now-a-days, exploded from all well-regulated minds, yet it is all but impossible not to look upon it and grow romantic. Verona, too, is a worthy " local habitation, and a name even for Shakespeare's genius. What a rich piece of foliage! is beside the “ Sesto Calende;" and the moonlight view on the Lake of Constance is the very perfection of art.

“The moonlight tremulous upon the wave

Which it hath turned to silver, one bright line,

Such as a spirit leaves." The scenes in the Tyrol are our great favourites ; wild, rocky, bearing the boldest character of the picturesque, they have too all the charm of novelty. Inspruck is a five old town; what a host of adventures and legends must belong to those antique-looking houses ! This mingling of Italian, Swiss, and German views, gives a delightful variety to this delightful volume; which will be an equal treat to the lovers of exquisite art, and of merely pretty pictures. The literary part is “excellently well done" by Mr. Leitch Ritchie; perhaps it is his best praise to say he deserves to travel in Mr. Stanfield's company. Spirited, graphic, at once amusing and romantic, his volume even “unadorned ” would be a very attractive one. He does not go “from Dan to Beersheba, and find all things barren;" and has just that rich imagination which heightens, not destroys, reality: he is the very one to wander through a land, “ where the ladies looked more like arrant damosels of romance, than farmers' wives and daughters."

We have now passed in review “the whole glittering array" of the Annuals which have yet appeared ; our opinions, like the rustic rector of the Deserted Village, have

leaned to Mercy's side." But it is impossible to turn from one elegant tome to another, combining all of luxury in literature or art, and retain a feeling of discontent: that they might be improved we think, but still they are very attractive as they are. There are beautiful faces, exquisite landscapes, sweet poetry, and amusing stories, enough to throw their demerits quite into the shade.

We will finish by saying, that if people are to be periodically geperous and affectionate, Annuals are the very perfection of gifts.

DISCUSSION ON THE FRENCH PEERAGE. It is one of the singular coincidences of this extraordinary period that two legislative questions of the gravest importance should, at the same moment, have been discussed by the two nations, with whose retrogradation or advancement the state of Europe and the interests of civilization are the most intimately connected. It would be impossible to liave a better occasion for remarking the differences in the social state, or the political situation of these rival countries. Their Governments have identical views, and yet how dissimilar their position! In England, the Prime Minister at the head of the movement party, rendering the monarchy popular, by associating it with popular opinions, asserting the rights of the aristocracy with the voice of the tribune of the people—the advocate for peace, because war would be the enemy of Reform! In France, the President of the Council, the chief of the • Centre,' in direct opposition to the march of the times, yielding to the cry of the country with the proud, reluctant tone of an aristocrat; trembling at a war, as the first prelude to civil convulsion! The fact is, that Monsieur Casimir Perier now stands where Lord Grey would have been if he had succeeded the Duke of Wellington in consequence of a revolution; or where Lord Grey soon will be, if the feelings of the people be not soothed, before excitement become a habit, by a full and speedy measure of conciliation. If Monsieur Casimir Perier had been the tranquil successor of Monsieur de Martignac, the constitutional Minister of Charles X. and able to carry the liberal ideas which he was then professing into execution ;—had he been the legal adviser of a legitimate sovereign, and the party of the Church and the Court not been strong enough to thwart his intentions; there can be little doubt that the Bourbons would still have been upon the throne of France, and the present Prime Minister as much lauded as a liberal, as he is now abused as a doctrinaire. There is a point to which all wise and prudent men are anxious to arrive in troublesome times; that point, in which every thing is granted to justice without any thing being conceded to clamour ; in such times, this is the only safe position for power; and this position is only safe if all its advantages are seized without a moment's delay. Machiavel, speaking of such crises in one of his writings, says—“ that a people can never be long united in demanding what is just, without being excited by resistance, to demand something more.” He then proceeds to argue whether a Government which succeeds to power when a nation is thus excited, will find it a better policy to resist or to yield to even extravagant demands; and after declaring the state in either case to be in imminent peril, he gives his opinion in favour of concession, as well as we remember, for these reasons. “ That men, when left to themselves, usually recur from any violent emotion that has misdirected them to a calm recollection of their self-interests. But that, on the contrary, every resistance to their passions is a call for still further passion in order to overcome that resistance ; until the popular fever, fed by fresh heat and excitement, becomes an unreflecting frenzy, in which all sense of private and public advantage is lost in a wild desire to promote general confusion.” Monsieur Casimir Perier seems to have read this passage, and to have been willing in a certain degree to profit by it. But if this was the case, he took up

« AnteriorContinua »