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THE PRINCE AND THE PEDLAR. A Historical Romance. In two volumes, 12mo.
New-York: HARPER AND BROTHERS.
This very good novel is published with no other clue to the name and sex of the writer, than is afforded in the words, ‘By the author of 'The Heiress,'' Agnes Searle,' and 'The Merchant's Daughter.'' B we, in our sovereign capacity of knowing all that should be known, touching the doings of the literary world, are enabled to lift the veil, and satisfy the natural curiosity of our good friend the public, that always desires a real name on which to bestow its praises and its gratitude. In the present instance, we are the more pleased in having the power to disclose the secret, for that the pertinacity of this author in maintaining the anonymous, has been commented on, somewhat pettishly, as it seemed to us, in two or three of the daily journals. Be it known, then, that the "author of The Heiress, etc.,' is an English lady, ELLEN PICKERING by name; young we hope, pretty we take for granted, and clever' we affirm. Henceforth, let the name of ELLEN PICKERING be enrolled upon the long and brilliant catalogue of accomplished female authors.
Touching the Prince and the Pedlar,' as it is the last, so it is by far the best, of her novels. They are all richly endowed with the one most indispensable quality, interest ; but in this one, we perceive more freedom of execution, more vigor of style, more skill in grouping the characters, and more of the artist in bringing out the incidents, than in either of the others. Ellen Pickering was a novice in authorcraft when she wrote 'The Heiress;' she made her people all too good or too bad; lacked ingenuity in the management of her plots; and above all, she made her ladies and gentlemen talk a vast deal too much, and too much like books. In. The Prince and the Pedlar' there is little of the latter fault, and of the others none at all. Of the story itself, we will give no account, not even an outline; for the tale is one that many of our readers have doubtless made acquaintance with already, and those who have not, will be kind enough to take our advice, and do so as speedily as may be. It is for their own comfort and solace, that we impart the counsel.
Views OF THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE Heavens. In a series of Letters to a Lady.
By J. P. NICHOL, LL. D., F. R. S. E., Professor of Practical Astronomy in the Uni. versity of Glasgow. In one volume. pp. 222. Edinburgh: WILLIAM "Tait. London : SIMPKIN AND MARSHALL.
A more remarkable, nay, astounding book, we have not read in a long time. It gives, in clear and intelligible language, divested of technicalities, and those formidable calculations, which make works on astronomy so puzzling to unlearned readers, a general idea of the modern discoveries effected by Sir JOHN HERSCHEL with his father's mighty telescopes, and by STRUVE, and other European observers, with the splendid instruments of the FRAUENHOFFERS; as also of the magnificent conclusions at which these eminent persons have arrived, respecting the far-off wonders of the starry heavens. We cannot undertake to give even an outline of these amazing results and speculations; nor is it needful, as the book itself will ere long be forthcoming; but we will attempt a specimen, merely as a foretaste to our readers of the great things about to be offered for their study and their wonder.
The grandest feature of the theory now set forth — and it is founded on startling discoveries - is the belief, that the starry firmament which we behold, and of which our solar system is but an inconsiderable portion, is one only among thousands and
perhaps millions of such firmaments, each numbering its thousands upon thousands of stars, or rather suns, all attended by their systems of planets, satellites, comets, and perhaps other bodies to which science has yet affixed no name. Each of these firmaments, or mighty clusters, is supposed to have its perfect organization of times, and motions, and laws, by which these are governed; all the planets revolving orderly around their respective suns, and all the suns around some common centre, and all the clusters, or firmaments, revolving also, in orbits of inconceivable im. mensity, and in periods of which thousands of centuries are perhaps but elements.
Among the most brilliant discoveries of the present age, is that of suns in combination : double, triple, quadruple, and even quintuple stars have been distinctly seen in conjunctive revolution; with planets revolving around each, as it is believed, and all together, suns and planets, whirling around some common centre of attraction; and what is very curious, these stars are found to be of different colors; some of a dazzling white, others fiëry red, and others again of a brilliant blue; the whole variety of tint being detected in the same combination; the effect of which upon the hues of objects on the planets which these suns illuminate, must be wonderfully beautiful. But the most astonishing discovery, is that of an anomalous filmy substance, the nature of which has scarcely been even conjectured, existing in enormous masses, millions of times larger than our sun; and this is found in such a regularly progressive variety of forms, that it is believed to be the material of which new suns and planets are constantly in the process of formation; and it is even thought, by some of the most eminent astronomers, that they have discovered, not only the succession of forms through which it passes, in becoming regularly organized sidereal and planetary bodies, but even the very mode in which the transformation is effected. Such, oh reader! are a few of the stupendous revelations in Dr. Nicholl's' Architecture of the Heavens,' which is in progress of publication, as we hear, by the BROTHERS' HARPER.
BIOGRAPHY OF REVOLUTIONARY Heroes: Containing the Life of Brigadier General
William BARTON, and Captain STEPHEN OLNEY. By Mrs. WILLIAMS, Author of 'Religion at Home,' etc. In one volume. pp. 312. Providence: THE AUTHOR. New-York: WILEY AND PUTNAM.
If a copy of this small but comprehensive volume had reached us at an earlier period of the month, we should have given it an elaborate notice, which is more than our present limits will permit. Especially, should we have transferred to our pages certain noble sentiments, which we find in the preface; although we must needs have found occasion, also, to animadvert upon the foisting in of a discussion touching the affairs of a neighboring province, in mischievous connexion with thoughts and opinions, which would have won the suffrages of all readers. The tone of American spirit and feeling which pervade this portion of the work, has our heartiest commendation. The fearless truths in relation to the abuses of certain classes in Ame rican society; the sincere and heart-felt tribute to the patriots of the revolution; and the defence of women, with an exposition of their influence, deserve earnest approval and heed. Of the work itself we may say, that it is elaborate in relevant matter, and yet in manner concise. Even the facts which are not new, receive a fresh gloss at the hands of the author; while numerous circumstances, incidents, and anecdotes, for which we are indebted to the indefatigable research of the writer, impart additional interest to the work. We commend it, with confidence and pleasure, to every whole-hearted American, under whose eye these remarks may fall.
Rev. Mr. Bascom's SKETCH Of The Great CATARACT. — The following picture of Niagara, is from the pen of an eloquent divine, with whose high reputation our readers are not unacquainted. To those who have seen the Falls, it will recommend itself for its vivid truth; and to those who have not, we commend the writer's introductory note to the editor.
• My Dear Sir: In complying with your request, to furnish you with the following letter, for publication in the KNICKERBOCKER MAGAZINE, I must claim the protection of one of the most indulgent canons of criticism; that which suggests, that every production, claiming to be a mere revelation of personal impression and private feeling, should be judged of mainly in view of the mind's peculiar state, in giving it birth. The annexed sketch, except the last paragraph, was written upon an angle of 'Table Rock,' at the instance, and for the exclusive gratification, of a friend, and without any, the most remote, reference to publication, then or subsequently. It was produced under the influence of high-wrought feeling, and does little more than reveal the heart's mythology, in presence of one of the inost fearful manifestations of the power and grandeur of physical wature. If the feeling which gave birth to the fragment you have asked for publication, be responded to by the reader, I bave nothing to regret, and nothing farther to hope for.
Very truly and sincerely, New-York, February, 1839.
H. B. BASCOM.'
Cataract of Niagara, September 9, 18. My Dear E -:I have seen, surveyed, and communed with the whole !--- and awed and bewildered, as if enchanted before the revealment of a mystery, I attempt to write. You ask me, in your last, for some detailed, veritable account of the Falls, and I should be glad to gratify you; but how shall I essay to paint a scene, that so utterly baffles all conception, and renders worse than fruitless every attempt at description ? In five minutes after my arrival, on the evening of the fifth, I descended the winding. path from the 'Pavilion,' on the Canadian side, and for the first time in my life, saw this unequalled cascade from "Table Rock ;' the whole indescribable scene, in bold outline, bursting on my view at once. I had heard and read much, and imagined more, of what was before me. I was perfectly familiar with the often-told, the far-travelled story of what I saw; but the overpowering reality on which I was gazing, motionless as the rock on which I stood, deprived me of recollection, annihilated all curiosity; and with emotions of sublimity till now unfelt, and all unearthly, the involuntary exclamation escaped me, 'God of Grandeur ! what a scene!'
But the majesty of the sight, and the interest of the moment, how depict them ? Tie huge amplitude of water, tumbling in foam above, and dashing on, arched and pillared as it glides, until it reaches the precipice of the chute, and then, in one vast column, bounding, with maddening roar and rush, into the depths beneath, presents a spectacle so unutterably appalling, that language falters; words are no longer signs, and I despair giving you any adequate idea of what I saw and felt. Yet this is not all. The eye and the mind necessarily take in other objects, as parts of the grand pano
rama; forests, cliffs, and islands; banks, foam, and spray; wood rock, and precipice; dimmed with the rising fog and mist, and obscurely gilded by the softening tints of tbe rainbow. These all belong to the picture; and the effect of the whole is immeasurably heightened, by the noise of the cataract, now reminding you of the reverberations of the heavens in a tempest, and then of the eternal roar of ocean, when angered by the winds!
The concave bed of rock, from which the water falls, some two hundred feet, into the almost boundless reservoir beneath, is the section of a circle, which at first sight, from Table Rock, presents something like the geometrical curve of the rainbow; and the wonders of the grand 'crescent,' thus advantageously thrown upon the eye in combination, and the appropriate sensations and conceptions heightened by the crash and boom of the waters, render the sight more surpassingly sublime, than any thing I have ever looked upon, or conceived of. As it regards my thoughts and feelings at the time, I can help you to no conception of their character. Overwhelming astonishment was the only bond between thought and thought; and wild, and vague, and boundless, were the associations of the hour! Before me, the strength and fulness of the congregated 'lakes of the north,' were enthroned and concentrated, within a circumference embraced by a single glance of the eye! Here I saw, rolling and dashing, at the rate of twenty.fire hundred millions of tons per day, nearly one half of all the fresh water upon the surface of the globe! On the American side, I beheld a vast deluge, nine hundred feet in breadth, with a fall of one hundred and eighty or ninety, met, fifty feet above the level of the gulf, by a huge projection of rock, which seems to break the descent and continuity of the food, only to increase its fierce and overwhelming bound. And turning to the 'crescent,' I saw the mingled rush of foam and tide, dashing with fearful strise and desperate emulation - four hundred yards of the sheet rough and sparry, and the remaining three hundred a deep sca-like mass of living green – rolling and heaving like a sheet of emerald. Even imagination failed me, and I could think of nothing but ocean let loose from his bed, and seeking a deeper gulf below! The fury of the water, at the termination of its fall, combined with the columned strength of the catarac, and the deafening thunder of the food, are at once inconceivable and indescribable. No imagination, however creative, can correspond with the grandeur of the reality.
* I have already mentioned, and it is important that you keep it in view, the ledge of rock, the verge of the cataract, rising like a wall of equal height, and extending in semicular form across the whole bed of the river, a distance of more than two thousand feet; and the impetuous flood, conforming to this arrangement, in making its plunge, with mountain weight, into the great horse-shoe basin beneath, exhibits a spectacle of the sublime, in geographical scenery, without perhaps a parallel in
As I leaned over Table Rock, and cast my eye downward upon the billowy turbulence of the angry depth, where the waters were tossing and whirling, coiling and springing, with the energy of an earıhquake, and a rapidity that almost mocked my vision, I found the scene sufficient to appal a sterner spirit than mine; and I was glad to turn away and relieve my mind by a sight of the surrounding scenery; bays, islands, shores, and forests, every where receding in due perspective. The rainbows of the 'crescent' and American side, which are only visible from the western bank of the Niagara, and in the afternoon, seem to diminish somewhat from the awfulness of the scene, and to give it an aspect of rich and mellow grandeur, not unlike the bow of promise, throwing its assuring radiance over the retiring waters of the deluge.
The 'rapids,' which commence nearly a mile above the cataract, and sparkling in the sun, spread out before the eye like a sea of diamonds, seem admirably to give notice of what awaits below; and when examined from a position on Goat-Island, become ex. tremely interesting, from the dash and foam of the broken food, the noise of which, distinct from that of the great fall, would remind you of the lofty murmurs of an Al-. pine forest, in the rising swell of the coming storm. In crossing the river below the
Falls, you have one of the richest views of the whole cascade, that can possibly be imagined; and the rising bank and mossy rock, the lofty trees, and luxuriant shrubbery, on either side, are in fine keeping with the scene, and are essential to the unity and completeness of the picture. But what most interested me here, was the tumultuous tossing and whirling of the water, where its depth must be more than two hundred feet, and its width at least seven hundred yards. The whole mass seems to be heaving with infuriate life. A thousand counter-currents and eddies meet, break, and mingle, in the general torrent and whirlwind' of the waters. Within a circumference of two or three hundred yards, near the American shore, this singular action of the element gives the water an elevation of from five to seven feet, above the ordinary level; and the strong conflicting currents are seen tossing and struggling with volcanic force, like the Adriatic turned up from the bottom by a tempest.
But the most appalling combination of wonder andawe was felt, when, after descending the spiral stair-case at Table Rock, I passed under the great falling sheet. Divesting myself of the more burdensome part of my clothes, and girding an oil-cloth mantle about me, with a hood for the protection of the head, I entered the hollow space, half luminous, half obscure, between the projecting rock and the boundless mass of water pouring over its arch, like sea of molten lead. In this way I proceeded one hundred and fifty or sixty feet, to 'Termination Rock,' a point beyond which no human being has ever penetrated; and here, amid a tempest of wind and spray, almost depriving me of respiration, I paused to look up and around, awed and agitated by the stirring grandeur and sombre mysteriousness of all I could hear or see! The edge of the precipice, over which the water falls, is a projection of about fifty feet over the base where I stood. After remaining here for several minutes, and selecting some pebbles from the path at my feet, with an increased sense of danger, I effected my retreal, sincerely thankful, that I had not purchased the gratification of my curiosity with the loss of my life. I spent four days and nights, with the exception of a few hours for rest, in the examination of the Falls, and in solitude with the majesty of the engrossing scene - a majesty all its own- untyped and unshadowed by aught I had ever seen before; and having surveyed the great object of my visit, from nearly an hundred different points of view, I was more than satisfied, that the Cataract of Niagara is a wonder in nature, wholly unique in its kind, and affording a rich, if not an unequalled harvest, of interest and observation, to every beholder. Indeed, nature seems to have done her work here in a mood and upon a scale of the most creative prodigality; consulting alike, as the Pagan poet would say, her own amusement, and the admiration of man.
My last look at the Falls was a night view, from the upper portico of the Pavilion; the brilliant lamps and mooned loveliness of an autumnal heaven adding to the splen. dor of the vision. From this point, amid the tremulous shaking of the earth and the heavens, in silent communion with the mighty cataract, the eye takes in a more extended range- the most magnificent of prospects. The whole scenery, diversified and yet one, is spread out before you in living beauty and picturesque majesty. You see the plains and forests above, the cliffs, and rocks, and islands, around; the dreadful precipice, and the bold sweep of the watery mass, while the fall of the vast pervading column strikes your ear, like the thunder-chorus of the 'vasty deep,' warring with its bounds!
I felt about me a heart-reaching, a spirit-stirring influence, that detained me until midnight; and when I retired, fatigued and exhausted, and threw myself upon my pil. low, it was only to feel the more intensely the power and expression, the oneness, the depth, the nameless grandeur, of the scene; and ear and thought suill lingered, to catch and commune with the far-off chidings of the Flood, as they wailed to the one the requiem of departed waters, and murmured to the other the melancholy dirge of their passing away! VOL. XIII.