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HOMES OF THE New World: Impressions of America. By FREDRIKA BREMER. In two volumes: pp. 1300. New-York: HARPER AND BROTHERS.
A WORK by Miss BREMER, upon the country where she was cordially received and every where welcomed, on account of the hold which her works of fiction had taken of the public mind, could scarcely fail to attain to a wide circulation. We cannot think, however, that the present volumes are calculated to enhance her fame. The letters, translated into English by MARY Howitt, were not originally written for publication, but were addressed to the author's sister in Sweden. We must infer, however, that they underwent some revision afterward, for in many instances they seem too 'effulgently sweet' to be unpremeditated. Persons of both sexes, distinguished and undistinguished, are so elaborately bepraised, that the juxtaposition of the one class with the other must make the first regard the encomiums bestowed upon them as less complimentary than kind. Her description of character is peculiar, especially in the case of such men as EMEBson and HAWTHORNE, who, we are informed by those who know these gentlemen, are depicted in a very life-like manner. She gives a very good sketch of Mr. WASHINGTON IRVING, whom she visited at his charming nest of refinement and comfort at ‘Sunnyside;' but we think she somewhat over-estimates the faithfulness of the after-dinner pencil-sketch of the lineaments of our eminent author, which she took on that occasion. The upper part of the face was well represented, but if we remember rightly, she managed to run the nose of Mr. CRAYON into that of a neighboring gentleman who was at the table.
Miss BREMER deserves praise for writing of her entertainers in a cordial and genial spirit; and if she sometimes seems a little 'ower sweet to be wholesome,' it is a pardonable fault, compared with that of other foreign travellers among us, who have returned evil for good; reciprocating kindly hospitality with ridicule, and repaying the most generous attentions with misrepresentation and caricature. Miss BREMER does n't hesitate to speak her mind, however, concerning the social 'bores' she encountered; and we really hope that what she says, among other things, of our crowded, solemn, “protracted meetings,' miscalled dinner-parties, may not be without its effect. Her scope of travel while with us was extensive. She obeyed the impulse to 'Move on.' She went west to Minnesota; visited the upper waters of the Mississippi; bivouacked on the prairies; halted at nearly every town, large or small, on the banks of that river down to New Orleans; crossed over to Cuba; saw Mobile, Savannah, St. Augustine; in fact, every place of any importance in the country, except California. And of almost every step of her way she has given some account, while her work offers a kind of portrait-gallery of all the people from whom she received services.' That in certain things Miss BREMER should evince ignorance, and a sad lack of capable means of judging correctly, is not perhaps surprising; but we look to see some explanation of more serious misconceptions or misrepresentations, since the recent publication, in the daily journals, of a letter from Hon. GEORGE M. DALLAS, touching certain statements in her work, reflecting unjustly upon private character.
Hours of LIFE, AND OTHER Poeus. By SARAH HELEN WHITMAN. In one volume: pp. 227. Providence, Rhode Island : GEORGE H. WHITNEY. THE
poems which make up the collection before us are of more than usual merit and beauty. A fine ear for the melody of verse, a delicate taste, strong, pure feeling, a real love of nature, and a good degree of imagination, are their prominent characteristics. Both in tone and manner Miss WHITMAN frequently reminds us of Mrs. Hemans, although she is in no respect an imitator. Her thoughts are all her own, and well does she know how to clothe them. Those well capable of judging, pronounce her translations from the German, which diversify the matériel of her volume, to be very faithful to their originals, while the language in which they are presented is remarkable for its force and felicity of expression. We make room for two extracts, embodying, as we think, a fair example of the features of the original and translated portions of the work. Have the goodness to look at the succession of clear 'pictures in little embraced in Moon-rise in May,' so illustrative of the keen observation of nature, to which we have adverted: ‘Long lights gleam o'er the western wold With many-colored isles of light, Kindling the brown moss into gold; Purple and pearl and chrysolite, The bright day fades into the blue And realms of cloud-land floating far Of the far hollows, dim with dew : Beyond the horizon's dusky bar, The breeze comes laden with perfume Now, fading from the lurid bloom From many an orchard white with bloom, of twilight to a silver gloom, And all the mellow air is fraught
As the fair moon's ascending beam
'So fade the cloud-wreaths from my soul Lie trellised gardens, thickly sown
Beneath thy solemn, soft control,
Enchantress of the stormy seas,
Priestess of Night's high mysteries! And beds with purple pansies gloomed;
Thy ray can pale the north-light's plume, Cold snow-drops, jonqạils pale and prim, With their
And, where the throbbing stars illume And flamy tulips, burning dim In the cold twilight, till they fold
The holy cloisters of the night, In sleep their oriflammes of gold.
Thy presence can entrance iheir beams,
And lull them to diviner dreams. With many a glimmering interchange
To thee belong the silent spheres Of moss and flowers and terraced range,
Of memory – the enchanted years The pleasant garden slopes away
Of the dead Past - the shrouded woes Into the gloom of shadows grey,
That sleep in sculptural repose.
"Thy solemn light doth interfuse There the first violets love to blow
The magic world wherein I muse, About the head-stones, leaning low;
With something too divinely fair There, from the golden willows, swing
For earthly hope to harbor ihere; The first green garlands of the spring,
A faith that reconciles the will And the first blue-bird builds her nest
Life's mystic sorrow to fulfil: By the old belfry's umbered crest.
A benison of love that falls
From the serene and silent halls Beyond, where groups of stately trees Of night, till through the lonely room Waiting their vernas draperies,
A heavenly odor seems to bloom, Stand outlined on the evening sky,
And lilies of eternal peace The golden lakes of sun-set lie;
Glow thro' the moon-light's golden fieece.' From the 'Hours of Life' we had intended largely to extract; but pencilled stanzas and thumb-nailed passages must yield to that ‘NECESSITY which knows no ‘lar'' not only, but can scarcely afford to be civil.' "The Last Flowers,'as we read the monody in the country, looking out upon the falling leaves, and the fragile sprays of the frost-touched Alanthus, dropping from the vertebral-joints that held them to the parent-tree, seemed full of the very spirit of the scene which the poem depicted:
"Though the warm breath of Summer lingered still
In the lone paths where late her foot-steps passed,
Sighed dreamily, We are the last - the last!'
We parted then for ever; and the hours
Of that bright day were gathered to the past :
Sigh drearily, We are the last — the last!'
Of the translations we can present but one example; selected rather for its adaptation to our space, than as a preëminent representation of the excellence which distinguishes the renderings of our accomplished poetess. It is entitled 'The Cottage,' and is faithfully transferred from the German of GLEIM: ‘I HAVE a cottage by the hill;
l'A red-bird sings upon a spray, [long, It stands upon a meadow green;
Through the sweet summer-time nightBehind it flows a murmuring rill, And evening travellers, on their way,
Cool-rooted moss and flowers between. Linger to hear her plaintive song. * Beside the cottage stands a tree, “Thou, Maiden, with the yellow hair,
That flings its shadows o'er the eaves: The winds of life are sharp and chill; And scarce the sun-shine visits me, Wilt thou not seek a shelter there,
Save when a light wind rifts the leaves. In yon lone cottage by the hill
Brief and inadequate as is our notice of this handsome volume, we trust we have sufficiently indicated its qualities to make our readers ulous of its first perusal. It will be warmly and deservedly welcomed by the American press.
VENICE, THE CITY OF THE SEA: FROM 1797 to 1840. By Edmund Flaga, Consul at Venice. New-York: CHARLES SCRIBNER.
* VENICE, the City of the Sea.' There is a name for a book, and no sooner had we seen it than our brain swam like a gondola upon the Lido, and became incontinently filled with mysteries; and girls with dark eyes; and young gentlemen with handsome mantles, of unknown shape and stilettoes; and jealous old men and duennas; and getting drowned in canals, or stabbed upon piazze, and every thing nice' of that kind, with a group of bravi in the back-ground, and shadowy banditti in the back-er ground, and these words ringing within our ears: 'So saying, he struck him to the heart, and he died without a groan !
But when we opened Mr. Flagg's book, we found a carefully-compiled, poetically-written digest of the history of that glorious old Venice, its doges, its councils, its glory, and its woes, and a passionate, thrilling, yet accurate and sympathizing account of the last struggle for independence. The book is beautifully illustrated, and, like all SCRIBNER's publications, very carefully printed and neatly bound. We wish it the success which it merits.
*Down the River, November, 1853. * You will see by the date of this letter that I have shifted my quarters to the town for the winter, and send this by the penny-post, instead of by the great leather and padlocked-mail. I have written so much about Shanghaichickens, that we will just throw that pen aside, which is by this time wornout, lest you should get heartily sick of poultry, as many do about Thanksgive ing-times. As to the Shanghais, when the next agricultural fair comes around, I shall exhibit a matchless pair of my own raising, who take their rations every day from the head of a barrel, and sometimes with the gray colt out of a manger. With these I am to compete for the silver medal, (which I richly deserve,) and in the mean time abandon the whole race of chickens to the mercies of New-England, at present oppressed with gratitude for the good gifts of God.
'I have been waiting patiently for the delicious season known over the whole country as Indian-Summer, when a light haze softens the somewhat bleak landscape, and attempers the rays of the still warm but declining sun; when in contrast to the gorgeous and decaying leaves of the forest, the roses and flowering-shrubs burst forth anew, and the trees often re-blossom, as if they were to fruit again. This year the winter has taken a step in advance; and while the luscious flavor of the peach has lingered on the palate, snowballs have been made. Fickle and irascible has been the old and waning year, and has not exhibited that serene and regulated temper which so often precedes the winding-sheet and pall. Last winter, I tarried in the country and battled against the elements with woollen tippets and anthracite coal, daily looking at the great barrier of snow-covered mountains in the foreground, marking the overflow of the neighboring stream, and making occasional excursions to the banks of the river. The days passed pleasantly, in the main, but now and then I admit that they lagged wearily. A healthy life must be seasoned by the daily and habitual intercourse of friends. Sociality is a virtue which ought to be blighted and wax pale in no seclusion, and be discouraged by no studies, no predilections, no misanthropy, or experiences of men. For home, with all its privacy, is only more sacred when the lights blaze in cheerful and hospitable rooms.
As to the relative delights of town and country, they have been often enough discussed. When the bricks and pavements glow with heat, and the sensation of being hemmed in by walls is insufferable to those who cannot bear their wristbands or shirt-collars buttoned, then they make much of their country-friends, and are filled with pastoral emotions; and they like to talk with a farmer over a hedge, or to blow a flute upon a sea-bank, till crowded into narrow rooms, or bitten by mosquitoes, they no longer speak of the winds as zephyrs, or have another word to say about the sweet-breathing violets. To pic-nics and fishing-excursions they refer only in terms of unlimited disgust. They complain much of coarseness of fare, and look forward with a feeling of delight to the first of September. At that time the landladies are delighted to sweep their rooms clear of them, and their homes appear afterward like a paradise, when the sound of crying babies is no more heard, and nurses are not seen. Tastes vary; but while some 'babble of green fields, others enjoy and really feel the sweet security of streets.' To them a town-life has become at least a habit, if a previous sentiment or preference did not exist. They may have next-neighbors, however, who are perpetually dreaming of retirement, and of secluding themselves in some quiet nook for the end of their lives, as if the things around them were beneath them, or not according to their tastes. They at any rate would have it said of them that they had barred-up the windows of their town-houses for ever more. They would be less accessible to the common world. They would gather dignity from seclusion, while they might date their letters from some Hall, or Heath, or Park. There, no one will see them yawn.
“But he who has won a diploma as one of the oldest and most respectable citizens,' would as soon think of booking himself for Patagonia or Kamschatzka, as for a residence out of the city. He removes with his family for a few weeks in August to some plain farm-house, it is true, or some wateringplace of the more quiet order, but this short jaunt is not considered in the light of a removal. The servants are left behind to take care of the house, and the silver being safely deposited in bank, the police are not called in requisition. The little excursion is planned in a few days, and is soon completed. The milk-man makes his ordinary calls at the basement every morning; the papers are thrown into the area as usual; and before it can be ascertained that he has been out of town, this respectable old inhabitant is seen again at his window, with spectacles on nose, reading the news before breakfast. As to an ultimate retirement into the country, it is a theme which has never been broached, nor even remotely alluded to in the family. The young people have never dreamed of Yonkers, or of Hyde-Park, Fort-Hamilton, or Staten-Island; or if so, it has been only in connection with the fever-and-ague. Perhaps a bleak ride to a funeral in a close carriage when the snow has been on the ground, and crows hovered over the corn-field, has been to them a horrible reminiscence of the country.
*Very likely a city-gentleman of the above kind will be called an old fogy' by his modern neighbors, because he has lived in the same street a long time, and is systematic in his habits. He goes to market every morning, where the same butcher who has supplied him for fifty years, and whose face is still fresh and ruddy, (as if the raw meat and smell of blood gave health,) wel