« AnteriorContinuar »
torical sketch of the progress of musical taste and education in New England, delivered at the opening of the Musical Festival in Boston, in May, 1857.
C. C. S.
The MASSACHUSETTS HISTORICAL SOCIETY is the oldest of our historical societies; and, from the first, it has done its full share in promoting the objects for which it was incorporated. The thirty-seven volumes of its Collections, and the seven volumes of its Proceedings, have been compiled with rare judgment; and together they form a reference library, to which every student of our earlier or later annals must have frequent and satisfactory recourse. The most recent volume bearing the imprint of the Society comprises the Proceedings from January, 1866, to April, 1867 ; * and, like several of the later volumes, has been mainly edited by Mr. Charles Deane, one of the ablest and best known of our American antiquaries. Beside the record of the monthly meetings, and of the special meeting held in commemoration of Mr. Sparks, the volume contains several papers of much interest and value. First
these in the order of publication is an able, elaborate, and well-considered essay, by Professor Parker, on “The Origin, Organization, and Influence of the Towns of New England," written with great clearness and force, and exhibiting much careful research. Next in order is a “ Memoir of President Quincy,” by the Rev. Dr. Walker, covering nearly seventy-five pages, and presenting a most admirable sketch of the life and character of that remarkable man. Lucid in statement and dispassionate in tone, it is characterized throughout by that calm, practical wisdom which is found in every production of Dr. Walker's pen, and is in all respects a model biography. Another paper of more than ordinary interest is Mr. Amory's “ Vindication of General Sullivan from the Misrepresentations of Mr. Bancroft, in the ninth volume of his History of the United States ; ” and there is also an interesting paper on “ The Early Painters and Engravers of New England,” by Mr. W. H. Whitmore. The volume also contains a reprint of Wheelwright's famous "Fast-day Sermon,” preached in 1636; “Bacon's and Ingram's Proceedings;” and several other documents, of scarcely inferior interest. As a whole, it is one of the best and most interesting of the miscellaneous volumes published by the Society.
C. C. S.
* Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, 1866–1867. Published at the charge of the Peabody Fund. Boston: Published for the Society, by Wiggin & Lunt. 1867. 8vo, pp. 524.
SLAVERY is dead, to begin with. So might some American Dickens begin a new“ Carol,” and summon the spirits of freedom past, present, and future
to tell the story of what might have been, what is, and what may be, the lot of our Southern freedmen. That there is no doubt about the death of slavery, is clear enough ; since, otherwise, how account for the appearance of its ghost, which rises before us in such books as the volume of “ Slave Songs"? * Probably, Professor Allen would disclaim the rôle we have thus assigned him, and deny that the ghostly presence comes at his bidding. But it is there, nevertheless; and few persons will take up these Songs without soon feeling, that they are not only learning the hymns and tunes which these people sang, but are also reading the “crushed hopes, keen sorrow, and dull, daily misery which covered them as hopelessly as the fog from the rice swamps." The negro “Spirituals," or “ Shout Songs,” brought together in the volume before us, show the utter worthlessness of the slaveholders' plea, that the blacks, though wisely kept in ignorance respecting “secular” knowledge, were yet instructed in religion, and had the gospel preached to them. What sort of a religion slavery taught, and what this Southern gospel was, has never been revealed so clearly as in these “ Slave Songs,” — the fossil remains of the slave-epoch in our national history. One is inclined, at first, to smile, upon meeting with many of the words and phrases with which these songs abound. It is hard to recognize the reverence of the Hebrew, “O Jehovah !” in the negro's “ Jehoviah, hallelujah ; " and we can hardly help laughing, in comparing the sublime opening of the twenty-third psalm, with the ridiculous translation in the “Sperichils” of “De Lord is perwide.” The meaningless refrain, so common in the shout songs of “Roll, Jordan,” reminds us of the comic, rather than the sacred, poem concerning that ancient stream; while the Scriptural quotations and allusions make such ludicrous patchwork, as almost to destroy the real pathos of many of their peculiar versions and idioms. But the impression, on the whole, which these songs leave on the mind, is one of sadness, and not of mirth; and the description which the woman “ Molsy” gives in the preface of her sister's experience in searching for religion, may be
Slave Songs of the United States. New York: A. Simpson & Co., 1867.
applied to the slaves as a class : “ Couldn't fin' dat leetle ting — hunt for 'em huntin' all de time."
Merely to describe the book, belongs to the department of advertising; and criticism finds little scope in so unique a production as this.* Its value as a contribution to musical literature, is certainly very great. Not that we should like to see Mrs. Kemble’s suggestion carried out, and the “fortune of an opera” made by the “ skilful adaptation" of these melodies. The “Shout Songs" of the American freedmen will take their own place, as most original and unique specimens of what, for want of a inore exact phrase, we must term ballad music. Too fragmentary to be called ballads in the ordinary meaning of that word, they are yet genuine products of what, if we were Germans and theologians, we might call the ballad-making consciousness. For confirmation of this view of the “ Sperichils," we refer the reader to page xvii. of Professor Allen's preface, where the method of their composition is discussed. It is difficult for a reviewer to add much to the valuable explanations which this preface contains, or indeed to offer any criticism on the book itself. We were struck, when at Port Royal, with the peculiar mode of beating time in the
shout,” of which we find no mention in this work. Instead of clapping the hands in unison with the accented parts of the measure, the singers uniformly beat the time in syncopation; i.e. striking the hands together immediately after the accented notes were sung.
H. G. S.
MR. TUCKERMAN's crowded and valuable book † presents a multitude of attractions for the large class who are interested in the subject wbich it treats. It is a history of American art, embodied in a connected series of biographical sketches of American artists, including between two and three hundred names. The author has lingered over his theme with a fond fidelity of research which nothing of importance has escaped. He brings to his task a nature richly endowed with the love of the beautiful and good, a mind stored with the fruits of a varied and sedulous culture, a heart and memory full of the cherished results of æsthetic studies and of life-long friendships with artists. The work abounds with racy and genial anecdotes; with romantic incidents and descriptions; with distinct portraitures of original characters; with careful discussions of the nature and rise of art, with sound and stimulative patriotic sentiment, and with winsome accounts of that leisurely life of observation, meditation, and refined ideal pursuits, which is as yet so little cultivated by our emulous and utilitarian people.
e copy the following memoranda from a private note: “ The words in the succession of verses of No's. 17 and 19, are quite char. acteristic. Those of 17, I arranged with some care. 26 I think remarkably sweet, and no doubt it is genuine. 29 is very odd. 33' is characteristic; also 47. 48 is especially worth noticing. The wide range, geographical and in variations, of 93 (45) and 22 (100) is very interesting. Very interesting pieces are also 10, 38, 74, 75, 82, 87, 89, 98, 102, 112; and all the Tennessee and Louisiana ones, particularly 132 and 133. I wish the book were more handsomely got up: it was hurried, and then printed on inferior
paper, so as to make the price less than announced, — I think, a mistake."
+ Book of the Artists : American Artist Life, comprising Biographical and Critical sketches of American Artists ; preceded by an Historical count of the Rise and Progress of Art in America. By HENRY T. TUCKERMAN. With an Appendix containing an Account of Notable Pictures and Private Collections. Royal 8vo, p. 639. New York: G. P. Putnam & Son, 1867.
It would be easy to cite from Mr. Tuckerman's book examples of carelessness in style, of vague rhetoric, of loose or diffuse thought, and feeble moralizing. But these are exceptional faults, and comparatively so trifling, as not much to alloy the hearty praise we are glad to give to a work which is, as a whole, so instructive, so genial, so elevated, and so timely. Let all who are interested in the cause of fine culture in America place this excellent “ Book of the Artists” their tables.
W. R. A.
A few interesting facts of domestic life in the royal homes of Egypt and Turkey are given in Miss Lott's latest book ;* but, as a whole, her revelations are neither new nor valuable. She has no skill in description, and spoils her pictures of palace and garden by tedious multiplication of details. She has a quick eye for the materials of dress, but no power of showing the person who wears the dress. Perhaps those queens and favorites of the harem have really no character: they certainly hare done in Miss Lott's pages. The heroine of the book is the author of the book; yet it does not appear that she did much or that she suffered much. She frequently mentions her " sensitiveness” and her “delicacy,” and notices affronts offered to her high-born dignity. That refinement, however, does not appear in her allusions and her epithets, which are often strangely indelicate ; in her account of the furniture of the rooms, and especially in her constant talk about the “eunuchs," — “phantoms of humanity,” “ spectres of humanity,” as she calls them constantly, while she more than once says that they hold criminal relations with the women that they guard, and become the fathers of numerous children. There is no evidence, in Miss Lott's volume, of any peculiar delicacy of feeling, or any large culture. She writes indifferent English ; connects singular nouns with plural verbs; says
* Harem Life in Egypt and Constantinople. By EMMELINE Lott, late Governess to His Highness the Grand Pacha Ibrahim, son of His Highness Ishmael Pacha, Viceroy of Egypt, authoress of “Nights in the Harem.” Philadelphia : T. B. Peterson & Bros. 12mo, pp. 357.
us Europeans," instead of “we Europeans ;” and jumbles her pronouns in annoying confusion. No Jew or Greek ever talked in Egypt, as she makes a Jew and a Greek talk with her in the car, when she goes up from Alexandria to Cairo; and the cheat is incautiously revealed by the words “kind reader,” which slip into the Jew's remarks. From the small portion of the face shown in Miss Lott's portrait, in the frontispiece, we should judge that her fears of being violently adopted among the favorites of the pacha's harem, were quite groundless. There is no intimation that any of the wives or damsels in the palaces were jealous of the English woman's beauty. Miss Lott ought to have some Irish blood in her veins, as she calls the young boy-prince “the very prototype” of his deceased grandfather; and speaks of the wholesale massacre of the Memlooks as their “ decimation.”
The short closing chapter of the volume sums up the iniquities of harem life, and pronounces a damning sentence upon the conduct and conversation of the caged beauties. But that chapter has no connection with any thing that has been told in the accounts of the daily life, which are rather suggestive of vanity and laziness, than of immorality. There are no pictures of intrigue and licentiousness in the actual story of Miss Lott's observations, no such tales of love, jealousy, and sensual indulgence, as we find in the stories of Parisian life, or the disclosures of the convent. The only chapter of intrigue in the book is in the highly colored narrative of an Italian count's daring stratagem in penetrating the palace of Mehemet Ali, in woman's clothes, and its half-tragic result.
The substance of what Miss Lott tells us is, that Ishmael Pacha, the ruler of Egypt, is very rich and very rapacious; that his palaces and steamboats are very splendid ; that his three wives and their attendants have a great many jewels, and silks in profusion ; that the boy-prince of half a dozen years is good-humored and bright, but cruel, grasping, and vindictive; that the Nubian black nurse is a cun