Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

with half-closed eyes, some pleasing book — Wordsworth, it may be, or the Sketch-Book, or that sweetest of all earthly books, the Elia of Charles Lamb! Byron may not thus be read, nor Shelley. They agree not with the quiet mood which your segar induces. They will awake you, in spite of yourself, from your dreamy, half-sleeping reverie.

I can fancy, at such a time, that a beautiful and benevolent spirit is concealed within that blue cloud of wreathing smoke too heavenly to linger long on earth, yet moving slowly on its upward course ; at first, as if it would dwell longer with the mortals it has blessed, and then darting away, by a fresh impulse, to the very highest Heaven of glory. But, my segar is out.

J. D.

[blocks in formation]

CRITICAL NOTICES.

The Monikins. Edited by the Author of · The Spy.' 2 vols.

12mo. Philadelphia: Carey, Lea & Blanchard. THERE is no living author who has been treated uniformly with more kindness and forbearance, than J. Fenimore Cooper, the author of the 'Spy. For his grand and original conceptions — for the ‘Spy,' 'Pilot,” • Pioneers,' 'Red Rover,' • Water-Witch,' &c., although deformed by various unsightly defects, he has received ample praise, from critics and the public. They have generously overlooked a clumsy and forced style, a disregard of probability in the construction of plots, and a vast quantity of colloquial stupidity and twaddle, in consideration of certain beauties which serve to diversify the pages of these works. But, of late, the powers of our author appear to have been rapidly declining. The · Bravo! was worse than any of its predecessors ; and the Heidenmauer,' and 'Headsman,' baffled the exertions of many a professed novel-reader. Now comes the • Monikins. It is worse, incredible as this may seem, than Cooper's 'Letter to his Countrymen.'

The story, if it can be called such, is briefly this. The son of a vulgar Englishman, John Goldencalf, inherits an immense property, without a particle of common sense to enable him to enjoy it. He thinks it will be idolatry to wed the girl he loves, and therefore avoids her, while he purchases estates, and embarks in speculations in various parts of the world, that he may enlarge his views, and multiply the ties which connect his interests with those of his fellow-creatures. In Paris, where he makes the acquaintance of Captain Noah Poke, of Stonington, (Conn.) he rescues four monkeys from the hands of a Savoyard, and discovers that they can speak French, and are a learned doctor, an old duenna, lord Chatterino and lady Chaterrissa, (two noble lovers) belonging to the kingdom of Leaphigh. Thither, the Englishman, now Sir John Goldencalf, departs with the Monikins,' and with Captain Noah Poke arrives safely at the monkey kingdom, after encountering a multitude of dangers. Some hundreds of pages are taken up with describing the men, manners, and institutions of the kingdom of Leaphigh, and the adjacent republic of Leaplow — or, in other words, with satirizing, or attempting to satirize mankind. The author, in following the trait of Swift, probably forgot that, although he possessed an abundance of dull malignity, he had neither the sparkling wit, the keen sarcasm, nor the polished style of the English satirist. But, having once embarked in his hazardous speculation, our author blunders on, pell-mell, striking prodigious blows to the right and left, but, unfortunately, never hitting anything but himself. Although his piece never carries to the mark, it wounds him with the recoil.

But, we forget that we are endeavoring to trace an outline of the story. After various adventures, Sir John Goldencalf returns to Paris or rather, he has never left - Leaphigh and Leaplow, with their inhabitants, being the creations of a delirious brain. Sir John gets a glimpse of the truth, namely — that he was crazy when he wrote his account of the monkey-land. And truly, it is just such an affair as any Bedlamite might produce. except that it lacks the vivacity and excitement of the mad-house. In conclusion, we cannot help expressing the opinion, that no one — who has, like ourselves, read the five hundred pages of the “Monikins,' struggling throughout with the drowsiness and disgust, which cannot fail to influence the reader — will ever be tempted to take up any future work bearing “the author of the Spy' on the title-page — that misguided and mistaken personage (we understand that he is not old enough to be superannuated) having made a complete wreck of what reputation he possessed in the two volumes which our duty compelled us to peruse.

The New Practical Translator ; or, an Easy Method to learn

how to translate French into English. By Mons. B. F. Bugard. Boston: Munroe f. Francis. 1835.

Books of instruction are growing rapidly upon our hands ; the world is full of books ; indeed, they crowd so fast upon us, that we almost despair, at times, of our ability to pay that attention to them, which is necessary, in order to discriminate between the good and the bad. The above work is one that we most cordially recommend, not only to pupils in the French language, but to scholars who are desirous of keeping up the knowledge which they have already acquired upon the subject. Its design is to facilitate students in translating French into English, and is, we understand, to be followed by another work, upon the same plan, designed to familiarize the scholar in translating English into French ; or, in other words, to give a correct habit of speaking the latter tongue. Its principal merits may be thus briefly enumerated. Those who have but a common knowledge of the English grammar, may, without the aid of an instructer, learn to translate French into English with ease. It supplies the use of three books to the student, being divided into three parts, namely : the grammar, the exercises, and a vocabulary, or dictionary, of the words used. The grammar being especially framed for the purpose of teaching translation, all the rules, necessary to the learner in speaking with facility, are discarded — making the steps of the learner more easy and intelligible to him. The excellent arrangement of the exercises, and their interesting and moral character united, are of great advantage, to the younger classes of pupils especially. The notes, attached to the exercises, are exceedingly well adapted to explain difficulties, which meet every student of this language ; and the means taken to render the student familiar with the variations and different meanings of the parts of speech, and especially with the verbs, are particularly deserving of notice. And lastly: the lively comedy of Moliere — Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme'— at the end of the book, carefully expurgated and refined, is worth, of itself, the price of the whole work.

[blocks in formation]

Popular Cyclopedia of History. By F. A. Durivage.

This valuable work, which was announced as being in the press some months since, has at length appeared. It is a quarto volume, containing more than seven hundred pages, printed in a fine type, and embracing an immense amount of matter. It is, what it professes to be, 'a copious Historical Dictionary of celebrated institutions, persons, places, and things ; with notices of the present state of the principal cities, countries, and kingdoms of the world, and a chronological view of memorable events.'

Although intended particularly for young persons, it may safely be consulted by readers of any class, for ocasional reference, as it is distinguished by a scrupulous and scholar-like accuracy. The opening words of the preface give some insight into the editor's design. “Every general reader,' he says, 'has frequent occasion to consult some authority for historical and biographical dates and facts. The only works suitable for such a purpose are the Encyclopedia of Lieber, Rees, Brewster, and others of a similar kind. These are costly and extensive works, and are therefore in the hands of comparatively few persons ; besides, they are too cumbrous for easy and frequent reference. The importance, then, of a volume like the present, that may lie familiarly upon the table, or the shelf, ready at call to answer the thousand questions that arise on historical points, is too plain to require discussion. Its utility, at all events, its convenience, even to those who possess ample libraries, and whose minds are stored with historical data, appears to the writer to be great. But, it is more especially designed for family use, and for the young.'

The compilation appears to have been made with great judgement and care, while the numerous original articles are written in an easy and engaging style. The relation of facts is enlivened by the introduction of characteristic anecdotes ; and the biographies, particularly of those personages who are ever objects of interest to young readers, are highly interesting.

The work is printed on fine paper, and illustrated with numerous engravings, some of which, in point of execution, vie with those splendid specimens of the xylographic art, which have adorned the London publications, of late years. Mr. E. R. Broaders, of this city, receives subscriptions for the work.

Erato. By William D. Gallagher.

This is a duodecimo pamphlet, of thirty-six pages, purporting to be the first of a series, which will be published should the author meet with due encouragement. It is a collection of the author's fugitive pieces, many of which we have seen in the corners of newspapers before, and some of them we have liked. Mr. Gallagher tells us, in his preface, that his works may be likened to gold, silver, and brass, and that, though this first number may be found to contain nothing but brass, still, he has gold on hand, and will produce it in good time. Now we think he has shewn some gold already, but so mixed with base metal, that we doubt if it is worth our while to separate it.

Without a metaphor, it does appear to us that Mr. Gallagher is a man of decided talent, lively fancy, and ardent temperament; one, in short, who, with proper care and cultivation, may one day do honor to American literature. At the same time, it is plain to us, that few, who have hitherto ventured into print, have had more need of care and study. Judging solely from his lines, we will venture to affirm

that he has not had the advantages of education, or of any instructer, to direct his studies or form his taste. What he is, he has made himself. He has read, but he has not read wisely ; he has written, and he has produced some good lines, but they are seen in bad company. He has no knowledge of the rules of rhythm, and his taste is wretched. His metre is, at times, abominable. Still, there is that in him, which, if it passeth not shew, at least exempts him from an unqualified sentence of condemnation. We hope he will continue to publish his poems ; and we also hope that, before he resolves upon letting any one of them pass to the public, he will take the file in both hands, and do his very best to polish it ; not only that, but that he will submit his MSS. to the inspection of some candid and competent critic, and follow his advice implicitly. Especially do we recommend to him, when he undertakes a poem of some length, on a serious subject, not to break it into five or six different measures — pentameters, trochees, iambics, and the hop-skip-andjump versification of Sir Walter Scott. Such is the case with “The Penitent,' a work which we could praise, with a safe conscience, were it only purged of its prose, and arranged in good taste. We do not despair of Mr. Gallagher. We have another rhymer in our eye, who began in the same way — writing from impulse, producing trash and beauty in much-to-be-admired confusion, and betraying his ignorance in every second line. By degrees, he educated himself, and has since produced some of the most beautiful things in the English language. We say to Mr. G., “Go thou and do likewise ;' and he must take this advice in good part ; for, if we did not see great charity in him, we would not take the trouble to give it. Who shall say, that one capable of such lines as the following, cannot write well, if he will ?

• And there she stood — unshrinking -grand

A being of a moment's birth :
The stars were bright, the air was bland

A silvery glory robed the earth;
And silence, deep as that which dwells
In hermit caves and sainted cells,
Or, deeper still, like that which reigns

In chambers where the hand of Death
Is icing the last stirring veins
The dying body still retains,

And the suppressed and struggling breath
Of those who stand around the bed,
With swollen eye and drooping head,
Alone is heard — such silence dwelt

Around us in that lonely wood ;
Where, powerless still, on earth I knelt,

And where, all withering still, she stood.'

The Horticultural Register and Gardener's Magazine. Con

ducted by T. G. Fessenden and T. E. Teschemacher. Boston: George C. Barrett.

A strong impulse has been recently given to the elegant art of horticulture ; and one of its effects is the establishment of periodicals designed to convey the latest botanical intelligence, and embodying information highly important to the cultivator of fruits and flowers. Of American works of this nature, we have no hesitation in pronouncing the “Horticultural Register' the best. The reputation of the editors is well-earned ; and we are happy to hear that their periodical has received

« ZurückWeiter »