Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

THE WAIF: A COLLECTION OF POEMs. In one volume. pp. 144. Cambridge, Massachusetts:

Press of JOHN OWEN.

The purity and delicacy of the externals of this exceedingly handsome little volume, so creditable to the established taste of the worthy publisher, are in perfect keeping with its contents. Beside the contributions from the pen of the Editor, (which we suspect may be included as well in the designation 'ANONYMOUS' as in the proper name of `HENRY W. LONGFellow,') there are gathered together a goodly number of delightful effusions, various in kind, combining fancy, feeling, pure affection, and pictures of natural scenes, and embodying the cherished thoughts, not only of the more eminent modern poets, English and American, but those of the glorious bards who “illuminated the golden age of English song.' We are gratified, in looking over the pages before us, to find our own taste endorsed by so competent a judge as our accomplished friend. We remember to have transferred at different times, or copied passages from, a moiety at least of the charming poems that go to make up the collection, including Hood's touching · Bridge of Sighs ;' yet we have read them again with a renewed relish, while very many of them are entirely new to us. From the ‘Proem,' by the editor, we take these admirable stanzas:

6

[blocks in formation]

How sweet, how inexpressibly beautiful, are the following tender lines from the tender heart of Thomas Hood:

[blocks in formation]

We have no space, we are sorry to say, for farther extracts; and can only recommend all readers who desire an ornament to their libraries, in a double sense, to purchase at once the charming volume which we have been compelled so hastily to despatch.

CONVERSATIONS ON SOME OF THE OLD Poets. By JAMES RUSSELL LOWELL. In one volume.

pp. 263. Cambridge: JOHN OWEN.

Many readers of this volume will recognize in a large portion of its contents the substance of a series of papers which appeared formerly in the ‘Boston Miscellany,'a monthly magazine, which endured but for a season.' We remember to have read the articles with pleasure, and are not surprised to learn, from the author's preface, that in collecting them into a volume, he has only yielded to the solicitations of many friends, who in common with the public at large had received them with approbation. Mr. LOWELL, in the present volume, has thrown his essays into the form of conversations, after the manner of WALTER SAVAGE LANDOR, in order to give them greater freedom and an added interest. The author says of them, with equal modesty and felicity: 'I am not bold enough to esteem them of any great price. Standing as yet only in the outer porch of life, I cannot be expected to report of those higher mysteries which lie unrevealed in the body of the temple. Yet as a child, when he he has found but a mean pebble, which differs from ordinary only so much as by a stripe of quartz or a stain of iron, calls his companions to behold his treasure, which to them also affords matter of delight and wonder; so I cannot but hope that my little findings may be pleasant and haply instructive to some few.' We annex two brief passages :

• KEATS and TENNYSON are both masters of description, but KEATS had the finer ear for all the nice analogies and suggestions of sound, while his eye had an equally instinctive rectitude of perception in color. TENNYSON's epithets suggest a silent picture ; Keat's the very thing itself, with its sound or stillness.

JOEN.
I remember a stanza of TENNYSON'S which unites these excellences :

"A STILL, salt pool, locked in with bars of sand,

Left on the shore, which hears all night
The plunging seas draw backward from the land

Their moon led waters white.'

PHILIP.

PHILIP. "That is one of the most perfect images in any language, and as a picture of a soul made lonely and selfish by indulgence in over-refined philosophizing, it is yet more exquisite. But, if TENNYSON'S mind be more sensitive, Kear's is grander and of a larger grasp. It may be a generation or two before there comes another so delicate thinker and speaker as TENNYSON; but it will be centuries before another nature so spontaneously noble and majestic as that of KEATS, and so tender and merciful, too, is embodied. What a scene of despair is that of his, where Saturn finds the vanquished Titans !

SCARCE images of life, one here, one there,
Lay vast and edge ways, like a dismal cirque
Of Druid-stones upon a forlorn moor,
When the chill rain begins at shut of eve,

In dull November.' The subjoined thoughts upon death are impressive; but ah! they proceed from one who is yet upon the threshold of life, and who knows little whereof he speaks.

What we should do and what we can do, present differences which we hope our young poet may be long in discovering. Let the beloved companion of his bosom fade from his sight; let an infant perish like a blossom from the maternal arms; let the dear departed go down into the dust together, together to sleep the dreamless sleep of the grave; and sure we are, that to welcome death' would be deemed a task too hard for poor humanity:

* Why should men ever be afraid to die, but that they regard the spirit as secondary to that which is but its mere appendage and conveniency, its symbol, its word, its means of visibility? If the soul lose this poor mansion of hers by the sudden conflagration of disease, or by the slow decay of age, is she therefore houseless and shelterless? If she cast away this soiled and tattered garment, is she therefore naked? A child looks forward to his new suit, and dons it joyfully; we cling to our rags and foulness. We should welcome Death as one who brings us tidings of the finding of long-lost titles to a large family estate, and set out gladly to take possession, though, it may be, not without a natural tear for the humbler home we are leaving. Death always means us a kindness, though he has often a gruff way of offering it. Even if the coul never returned from that chartless and unmapped country, which I do not believe, I would take Sir John Davies's reason as a good one:

. But, as NoAr's pigeon, which returned no more,

Did show she footing found for all the food,
So, when good souls, departed through death's door,
Come not again, it shows their dwelling good.'

•The realm of Death seems an enemy's country to most men, on whose shores they are loathly driven by stress of weather; to the wise man it is the desired port where he moors his bark gladly, as in some quiet haven of the Fortuuate Isles; it is the golden west into which his sun sinks, and, sinking, casts back a glory upon the leaden cloud-rack which had darkly besieged his day.' ...We look at death through the cheap-glazed windows of the flesh, and believe him for the monster which the flawed and cracked glass presents him.'

The volume, we should not omit to mention, to the credit of the publisher, is characterized by the same neatness of execution for which LONGFELLOW's · Waif' is so remarkable.

[ocr errors]

AN ESSAY ON THE ANCIENT AND MODERN GREEK LANGUAGES: containing Remarks on the

Accents, Pronunciation, etc.: to which is added Extracts from Modern Greek Authors. By CHRISTOPHOROS Plato CASTANIS, of Scio, Greece. Andover : 1844.

MR. CASTANIS, who has been delivering lectures on the Greek Revolution, calculated to awaken a strong interest in the minds of those who by taste and education are inspired with a love for the history and literature of Greece, has written a pamphlet with the above title. His remarks on accents, etc., will be interesting to the scholar, as well as his notice of some modern authors, examples of poetry, and kindred topics. The fires which blazed in olden times still glow in their ashes. The mountains are the home of freedom, and the nurse of men whose souls are filled with a love of liberty, and with a corresponding grandeur. And songs are still rife, noble as that of Harmodius and ARISTOGITON; while the same knell which told the death of Hippias, has been lately made to ring exultingly through Greece. We have room but for an extract or two touching upon the Greek mountaineers :

"The mountaineers often make the vallies and precipices echo with voices of melody, while they march along, or dance the Pyrrhica. They are generally tall, with very slender waist and lofty brow. Dark and sometimes light hair, growing long, as with the ancients, depends over their shoulders : Black and frequently blue eyes are found, distinguished by sharpness and brilliancy; their limbs are well formed, and they answer to the description of HOMER :

[ocr errors]

• The bright-eyed, well-booted, long-haired Achaians.'

• Their valor is connected with noble qualities of the soul, resembling the god-like traits of the primeval occupants of Olympus. Before battle, they practise the strictest temperance. They drink usually no stimulants, and abstain from all effeminate indulgence, entertaining an opinion that the least gratification of sense imparts to the enemy's ball or sabre a fatal effect. With all their impetuosity, the Clepts are patient. Nicozares at the bridge of Pravi, on the river Carason, fought three days without provisions, under a driving snow-storm. A song commemorates the event. Before the fight that was fatal to Marco Bozzaris, he with his band, the same night, had in nine hours travelled foriy-two miles over precipices, mountains and torrents, in a deluge of rain.

* The Suliotes and Parganioies are less numerous than the Olympians and Parnassians, yet they have gained more credit by their bravery, among foreigners. Byron says:

Ox Suli's rock and Parga's shore,
Exists the remnant of 3 line,
Such as the Doric mothers bore;
And there, perhaps, some seed 19 sown,
Such as the Heraclidan blood might own!'

The Cleptic women, in general, have a fair complexion, slender waists, black and sometimes 'light hair, and dark or blue eyes. The female relatives of Marco Bozzaris are celebrated for their beauty. The dress of the Doric maidens is destitute of whale-bone and other artificial but destructive charms, and is usually more costly than the costume of the nyon. To display wealth, gold coins are strung for beads; the number of these specie neck-laces is an index of the lady's fortune. The prospects of the lover are exposed to view, without any deceit like that practised in other lands, where the maidens frequently make false pretensions to opulence, in order to ensnare an unsuspecting youth, in matrimony. : : . A large portion of IBRAHIM Pasha's army was routed by a party of Laconian women in the defiles of Taygetus. When they saw the descendants of Pharaoh advancing, they shouted, alluding to their marks of Ophthalmia, 'Death to the cross-eyed Egyptians!'

This · Essay' is exceedingly well executed, in a typographical point of view; and is thus worthy alike of preservation and perusal; which is more than can be said of a large portion of the pamphlet-works of this cheap' literary age. VOL. XXV.

22

[blocks in formation]

ANCIENT TRAVELLERS IN THE East. — We have been permitted, through the kind. ness of Messrs. BARTLETT AND WELFORD, antiquarian book-purveyers in Broadway, to inspect some old and curious books of travel, which form but a few out of their splendid collection. The titles of some of these are as follows: • The Navigations, Peregrinations, and Voyages made into Turkie; by NICHOLAS NICHOLAY, (not

NICHOLAS NICKLEBY,) Daulphinous. Lord of Arfeuila, Chamberlaine and Geographer Ordinarie to the King of France; containing sundrie singularities which the author hath there seene and obserued ; deuided into Foure Bookes, with Threescore figures naturally set forth, as well of men as women; with diuers faire and memorable histories. Translated out of the French, by T. Wash

INGTON, the younger. Imprinted at London, 1585.' 'A Geographical Historie of Africa, written in Arabic and Italian, by JOHN LEO A MORE, horne in

Granada, and brought up in Barbarie; wherein he has at large described not only the qualities, situations, and distances of the regions, cities, towns, mountains, etc. Translated and collected by John Pory, lately of Goneuill and Caius College, in Cambridge. London, 1600.'

*The Travels of Signor PIETRO DELLA VALLE, a noble Roman, into East India and Arabia Deserta.

London, 1665.

"SOME Yeares Travels into Africa and Asia the Great, especially describing the famous Empires of Persia and Industant: as also divers other kingdoms in the Orientall Indies and Iles adjacent: by

Sir THOMAS HERBERT. London, 1677.' "THE Six Voyages of John Baptista TRAVERNIER, a noble man of France, now living, through

Turkie into Persia and the East Indies. Finished in the year 1670. Giving an account of the state of those countries; illustrated with divers sculptures, together with a new relation of the present Grand Seignor's Seraglio, by the same author; made English by J. P.; to which is added a description of all the kingdoms wbich encompass the Euxine and Caspian Seas: by an English travel

ler: never before pripted. London, 1678.' "The Four Epistles of BUSBEQUIus, concerning his Embassy into Turkie; being remarks upon the

religion, customs, richex, etc.; to which is added bis advice how to manage war against the Turks. Done into English. London, 1694.'

a

These form but few of the titles of those antique volumes, with their eccentric figures and illustrations, their flourishes, and pictures designed in the bosom of initial letters, and their ponderous proportions covered with the dust of centuries ; which, standing by the flippant duodecimos of modern travels, would make the eye of the antiquary roll over them with delight. In examining their pages we are struck with that delightful simplicity of narrative, and that hearty old Saxon, which distinguish them. The men of that comparative antiquity told their tale with that delightful faith with which a child now-a-days would listen to a grand-father's stories. Both speakers and listeners are enveloped in the same atmosphere of romance, and carried along by the same spirit; and unwearied, unwearying, go on, charmed with each other's society, through the lengthened narrative. When Sir John MAUNDEVILLE tells 'straunge Marveilles in Inde or in the Holy Londe,' where he journeyed many years, he does it with an unflinching trust in the reader's credibility; or when he prefaces his strangest curiosities with they seyn, professing simply to give them at second-hand, he never pauses to bolster them up with proof or evidence, knowing full well that he has got the ear of his auditory; or with such common-placa remarks, as

6

“This may appear incredible ;' or “Truth is stranger than fiction ;' or We beg to assure the reader that this comes on the most undoubted authority;' or · Did we not receive this from a friend on whom we could rely, we should be disposed to set it down as a mere fiction of the brain.' But with a faithful reliance, and severe gravity of countenance, he makes you his confidant, and indeed does tell some very hard ones;' but looks you in the face so can. didly, that you are fain to receive them into good and honest hearts. How favorably does his straight-forward honesty, in simply spreading before you what he has seen or what he has 'heard tell,' contrast with the arrogance and assumption of our modern tourist, who is driven over the beaten ground, and after an absence of a few months, considerably wiser it may be than when he first set out, comes back to show you the penny that he dropped in Vesuvius, or the extremity of the noses chipped from the statues of Rome ; to enlighten you on the subject of religion and manners by the addition of his superficial reflections to the novelty of his narrative. The patience of sensible men is exhausted in listening to these fel. lows, who would sneer contemptuously at Sir John's stories, yet convey more false impressions in a single page of their books than he in a whole volume: with no freshness to recommend them, but a deal of vanity; and their positive opinions prefaced with,. When I was in England,' or 'When I was in France;' giving evidence of little enlargement of the mind; imbued with prejudice; stamped all over, like an American penny, with stars and liberty, and not worth a cent. We might mention a duzen such books, from recollection, or from simply letting the eye run over a catalogue or over a bookseller's shelves; but the task is invidious, and would scarcely serve any good purpose, at a time when the facilities of travel are so great, and that which is lightest and most full of emptiness' is first set in motion. These men gather distresses in Ireland, taxes in England, wonders and miracles in Spain or Italy, and manners in America. It is an easy matter now to get facts' and to build up statistics, and to make books, when the cost of transportation is only nominal; yet it is to be questioned if they are so honest, or ever so much to be relied on in the main, as in ancient times, when 'facts' were fewer, and with great difficulty arrived at, and were grasped by the eager traveller, to be carried to a great distance, by a most toilsome journey, before they had even grown into a small rumor. “Facts' may now be had by the basket-full, or made to order of any new theory. Impressed with the superficial nature of modern travels, it was refreshing to read these ancient narratives, and especially to mark their Doric plainness of style and matter-full' pages, compared with the wordy and spun-out narratives of our peripatetic philosophers. Sir Thomas HERBERT prefaces his travels to the famous Empires of Persia and Industant, as also diuers other kingdomes in the Orientall Indies and Iles adjacent,' with the following poetical address • To the Reader:'

*HERE thou at lesser pains than he
Mayest behold what he did see;
Thou participat'st his gaius,
But he alone reserves the pains.
He travelled not with lucre sotted ;
He went for knowledge—and he got it!
Then thank the author : thanks is light;
Who has presented to thy sight
Seas, lands, Men, Beasts, fishes and birds,
The rarest that the world affords.'

On Good Friday,' says our author, after stating that he took shipping at Deal, “with six great and well-manned ships in company, in a few hours coasting close by the lle of Wight, a sudden borasque or gust assaulted us, which after an hour's rage spent itself and blew us on the third day (double-solemnized that year by being the Feast of Mother and Son) upon the Lizzard's Point. The seven-and-twentieth day, sailing by Bilbo in Galletia, we launched into the Spanish Ocean, where we had no sooner entered but we descried seven tall ships, whom reputing enemies, we bore up to speak with ; howbeit they proved friends, Hollanders out of the Levant, who drunk our healths, and saluted us as they passed with a roaring culverin, and we in return vomited forth a like grateful echo. Thus plowing the

« AnteriorContinuar »