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The Printer's Guide. — Messrs. White, HAGER AND COMPANY have published the third edition of a work of some two hundred pages, entitled "The Printer's Guide, or an Introduction to the Art of Printing :' by C. S. VAN WINKLE. This book is not alone valuable to those for whose use it is perhaps mainly intended. Those portions of the volume which are devoted to the subject of punctuation and remarks on orthography, are of great importance to writers for the public press, and indeed to all who would write correctly, for any purpose. We could wish, especially, that our author's labors were in the hands of many a correspondent for this Magazine. The advice and directions to masters and apprentices are sound, practical, and judicious. In all the writer has to say, he comprebends an important meaning in a few words, and those which are the most expressive. His work deserves well, for various merits, at the hands of the public in general, but recommends itself particularly to the professors of the art preservative of all arts.'

MEMOIRS AND SELECT REMAINS OF Nevins. – Mr. John S. TAYLOR, Park-Row, has published, in a large and very beautiful volume, “The Select Remains of the late Rev. William Nevins, D. D.,' with a memoir of the author. The selections from his writings here presented have never before been published. They are characterized by the same plain, simple style, and breathe the same Christian purity and affectionate tenderness which have rendered the former productions of the writer so universally popular. A portrait of the author, well engraved by PARADISE, gives additional value to the volume.

DEARBORN'S LIBRARY OF STANDARD LITERATURE. - The thirteenth volume of the Library of Standard Literature' furms the fourth volume of Byron's works, and contains Manfred; Hebrew Melodies ; Ode to Napoleon Bonaparte; Monody on the Death of the Rt. Hon. R. B. Sheridan; The Lament of Tasso; Poems; Ode on Venice; The Prophecy of Dante; Cain ; Marino Faliero ; Sardanapalus; and the Two Foscari. A spirited picture of Gulnare' ornaments the work. Of the execution of the book we need not speak, farther than to say, that it is not inferior to the volumes which have preceded it.

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Memoirs or LUCIEN BONAPARTE: WRITTEN BY HIMSELF. - This work, translated from the original manuscript, under the immediate superintendence of the author, possesses all the interest which its title would seem to import. This interest, however, is lessened, and the value of the Memoirs not a little impaired, by a style which is singularly incorrect and involved — a style that is neither French nor English, but an awkward combination of both. The volume, however, has had an extensive sale, notwithstanding its defects of manner. SAUNDERS AND OTLEY, Ann-street.

"THE AMERICAN QUARTERLY MAGAZINE' is the title of a new quarterly publication, the first number of which was issued early in the month. It is under the supervision of an association of young gentlemen of the New York University, who have made a very favorable début, considering the necessary drawbacks always attendant upon a 'first appearance.' The typographical execution of the work is extremely neat, and reflects credit upon the press of Messrs. CLAYTON AND BUCKINGHAM.

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The Roue, ETC. Messrs. CAREY AND Hart have issued a new edition of "The Roué,' in two volumes, and a second emission of Conversations of Lord Byron with the Countess of BLESSINGTON,' in one volume. Both works have heretofore been noticed at length in this Magazine. A second edition evinces their popularity. The same publishers have issued an edition of Madame de Staël's 'Corinne.'

New EDITION OF Bulwer's Works. – Messrs. Carey And Hart, Philadelphia, have just published, in ewo large and well-printed volumes, the complete works of this popular writer. They are embelliehed with a portrait of the author, and are handsomely, although as it seems to us frailly, bound.

TALES OF THE WARS of MONTROSE. — A collection of tales, by the late JAMES Hogg, author of 'The Queen's Wake,' etc., many of which we remember to have read with much pleasure, in Edinburgh and London periodicals. Their titles are as follow : Some Remarkable Passages in the Life of an Edinburgh Baillie; The Adventures of Colonel Peter Aston: Julia M'Kenzie; Remarkable Adventures of Sir Simon Brodie ; Wat Pringle o' the Yair; and Mary Montgomery. The execution of the volumes is of the same character as that of 'The Farmer's Daughter' — or, if possible, even of a worse description.

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MACKENZIE'S WORKS. Another donation, from the ever-leeming press of the Brothers HARPER, of good old English literature. The Man of Feeling,' "The Man of the World,' 'Julia de Roubigné,' and various papers communicated to "The Lounger,' (a periodical paper, published at Edinburgh in the years 1785-'86, and "The Mirror,' in 1779-'80,) are here presented in a beautiful volume of upward of five hundred pages. A fine portrait of the author, from the graver of Dick, prefaces the volume.

Moral Philosophy. – Mr. T. H. Carter, Boston, has recently published 'The Philosophy of the Moral Feelings, by John ADERCROMBIE, M. D., F. R. S.,' etc., together with an introductory chapter, with additions and explanations, to adapt the work to the use of schools and academies; and also analytical questions for the examination of classes. By Jacob ABBOTT. It is a valuable work, and calculated to be widely use ful in American schools.

ANITHMETICAL GUIDE. – Mr. Henny Perkins, Philadelphia, and Messrs. HALL AND Voorsies, New-York, have given to the public a valuable aid to the every day business of life, in a small volume, entitled 'An Arithmetical Guide, in which the principles of Numbers are inductively explained.' From a cursory examination of the book, it appears to us simple and clear in its arrangement, and well adapted to the practical purposes for which it is intended.

Scholar’s REFERENCE Book. — The same publishers have issued "The Scholar's Reference Book,' containing a Dictionary of English Synonymes, tables of Greek and Latin Proper Names, and men of learning and genius, with a variety of other useful matter. The work comprises in a small space a large amount of matter connected with those subjects which are necessary to be known by the scholar, and for which he has frequently to search works of a more expensive description.

"Violet WoodvilLE, OR THE DANSEUSE,' is the title of a re-published novel, in two volumes, from the press of Messrs. Carey, LEA AND BLANCHARD, Philadelphia. It is a 'portraiture of human passions and character,' and possesses such merit as to elicit high encomiums, we perceive, from the London Examiner - a journal of repute, and one not given to indiscriminate puffery, like many of its contemporaries:

The Farmer's DAUGHTER, AND OTHER LAND AND SEA TALES. — These tales have far more merit than might be inferred from a first glance at the volumes which they comprise. The publishers' estimate of their value – to judge from the execution of the work — must be low enough. It is miserably printed, upon coarse brown paper.

ETIQUETTE. — A second edition of "The Laws of Etiquette, or Short Rules and Reflections for Conduct in Society,' with numerous additions and alterations, has just been published by Messrs. Carey, LEA AND BLANCHARD. The first edition was favorably noticed in this work, and the second is worthy of still higher praise.

'Astoria.' – This last and long-expected work of Washingtox laving has been published in two large and handsome volumes, by Messrs. CAREY, LEA AND BLANCHARD, Philadelphia. We shall notice it more in detail in the next number of this Magazine. New-York: WILEY AND LONG.

THE KNICKERBOCKER.

VOL. VIII.

DECEMBER, 1836.

NO 6.

AMERICAN POETRY.

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AMONG the subjects of those disputes which now agitate the literary world, to the destruction of many quills, and the waste of much Christian ink, modern poetry is one of the most prominent. Its title to esteem has been denied, and even its genuineness questioned by some, while the adverse majority revenge themselves by crying out against antiquity, and accusing their opponents of laboring under a fantastical affection for every thing which has been set aside as useless by public opinion.

Probably in some cases this accusation is true. The human mind is a thing obeying few regular laws, and its preferences are frequently not to be accounted for. It would be difficult to explain the reason why many men place their whole happiness in the collection and possession of worthless rarities. But whatever may be its cause, this passion may be supposed to be not unfrequently the source of that queer perversion of mind under which some labor, who are afflicted with a hankering after old books, and can find neither sense nor beauty in any thing written after the time of Queen Elizabeth. Many of those who fill up the ranks of that little phalanx, (whose every leader, however, is in himself a host,) which still stands firm in the cause of the old English classics, no doubt belong to this class, and therefore may be universally held in little esteem, according to general custom in such a case; since it is certainly nothing but reasonable that any body presuming to occupy himself with things in which the world can see no value, should be laughed at for his pains. But such persons actually compose but a small part of the mass to which they belong a body whose combined information, judgment, and taste, may safely challenge competition with the whole literary world. When Brougham, Coleridge, Lamb, and Jeffrey, in England, and our own Irving, at home, give their full voice on one side of any question of taste, it requires no great measure of sagacity to decide it: and it would probably argue not much modesty in any one who should treat their verdict with that mixture of pity and merriment which might be supposed to meet an antiquarian supposing such a monster to have yet been discovered in the list of American animals.

It is universally admitted, that we are not a poetical nation. It is also highly probable that we never shall be, to any great extent. Our natures are not fitted to it. To be a poet, one must have a mind rather imaginative than argumentative, and rather credulous than inquiring – or, at least, must be able to assume such a disposition VOL. VIII.

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at pleasure. But our national disposition is as far as possible re-moved from this. The strongest points in our character are our love for pure reason, and constant inclination to refer to facts. But these are hereditary characteristics, which we hold as a worthy legacy from our trans-atlantic ancestors, and share with their direct descendants. Why then should our literature be so barren of those poetical fruits which were the worthy produce and still existing glory of the youth of English genius?

There is scarcely any fact better established, in literary history, than that, in a free country, the earliest times are the brightest in poetry, while philosophy and eloquence form the particular excellencies of national maturity and old age. This is probably the reason that, while our debaters are perhaps unrivalled as a body, and our orators bid fair to arrive at still higher excellence, the few specimens of poetry which America has produced, bear all the marks which designate the productions of an advanced age; and while displaying pure taste, and high polish in their authors, and often rising into splendid, nervous eloquence, generally show a great want of the very spirit and essence of true poetry – that imagination which bodies forth the forms of things unknown; for the poet and the painter alike, if really deserving their names,

' Are of imagination all compact.' Has then a decree gone out against American literature, that it should never have a time of youth? It never has had, and never will have one, if distinguished as American. But in fact, it is a mere trick of reviewers, to consider it as in any way of a different race from those English writers that are over sixty years old. Before that time, America and England were one. The fountain-head of our literature is found in the time when those men wrote, to whose works the cultivated Englishman still looks with mingled pride and fondness. Our ancestors, as well as his, were their countrymen and readers. Our mutual forefathers met in the theatre when Hamlet first came upon the stage, and jostled each other in the crowd which thronged to gaze upon Sidney and Raleigh. Our language, our manners, our favorite authors, are the same, and our country was one, until the revolution severed us, and first gave birth to that distinction which interested parties have used to rob our share of British literature of its paternal name, as well as of that weight of glory which such a long ancestry of genius has conferred in partnership upon England and America.

Thus our writings bear the stamp of a national maturity. They are more correct and less original, more tasteful and less natural, and at once less beautiful and less deformed, than their prototypes. It would be unnecessary to give reasons why later writers find it easier to imitate than to invent : it is enough that such is the fact. Hence it is very seldom that

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beside very few of our modern writers of distinction give us any thing, except long-spun commentaries upon old texts — diluting, sweetening, and spicing the plundered ancients to the sugar-plum taste of the day, in a manner very nearly resembling that by which old wines are converted into sangaree. Thus, as if to verify the proverb about ill-gotten possessions, the

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powers of the writer are weakened, the public taste depraved, and hardly any thing made so scarce, as a specimen of that bold, fresh manliness of thought, and pure, natural, though polished style, which so nobly distinguish the old English writers. We admit that when the imitator possesses taste and talent, he may, and frequently does, correct many errors, and expurgate many improprieties. But yet we miss the sap and freshness of the wild flower. Often, however, still greater mischief is done ; and we look upon the mutilated remains with much the same feelings as those with which we should contemplate a noble oak transplanted by Gothic hands into a cabbage garden, and its foliage cut into some mathematical figure. Most of our readers have probably perused Pope's imitation of Donne's satires. They could scarcely find a better instance of the first case of re-writing — although Donne belonged to a degenerate age of English genius. His tuneless lines have been moulded into the perfection of harmony, and some of his strange inversions set right. But, on the other hand, his terse, nervous English is spun out to the last thread of connection; his humor evaporated, his unsparing satire blunted, and the whole reduced to several specimens of sparkling but pointless wit. Such is a favorable instance. But let us take another selection from Pope's works, as an instance of the way in which a noble passage may be degraded by imitation. Every one is familiar with the celebrated lines in the Essay on Man ;

'Superior beings, when of late they saw
A mortal man transcend all nature's law,
Admired such wisdom in an earthly shape,

And show'd a Newton as we show an ape.' Compare now these lines with that passage in the works of a longforgotten English dramatist, whence they were undoubtedly derived — where a caustic satirist speaks of the unruffled face and constant merriment of fools :

"While studious contemplation sucks the juice
From wise men's cheeks, who making curious search
For Nature's secrets, the First innating Cause
Laughs them to scorn, as man does busy apes,

When they will zany men.' One of the noblest passages in a department of genius where Milton and Sophocles thought it nothing unworthy to try their powers, mutilated and disfigured, in order that it might stand among the sophistries of a blundering essay in rhyme, without disgracing its companions! It is as if we had seen the Nazarite champion, in the full majesty of his supernatural strength and beauty, and then again looked upon him, eyeless, squalid, and filthy, working at the mill with the beasts and slaves of Gaza.

Under these two heads may be ranked the majority of imitators, There is yet a small body who are honorably distinguished from both. They are those who would themselves have been inventors, had the path into which their genius led them been previously unoccupied ; and as it is, they are in fact the most original of modern writers — carefully avoiding to borrow ideas from those whom they select as models, and giving their style and spirit to the reader.

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