« AnteriorContinuar »
task as a writer could undertake-(how wonderfully has Shakspeare done this in his Hamlet! only that he is gloomy, instead of wild)--the chief difficulty being that such a person's inconsistency is, in fact, always consistent with itself. The man who always abandons principle to impulse, is called, and rightly so, inconsistent; but consider the fact that he always acts so, and you find that, in truth, he is consistent. It is in the attaining the knowledge of this fact, and the motive to it, that the difficulty lies. Michael Níutford is a most inconsistent man, and, as such, he is most ably and admirably depicted ; and the source of his inconsistency, or, to speak more correctly, the first link of the chain of events which has so fettered his mind, is traced with exceeding skill, and, moreover, is made assistant to the moral--the information, of the whole story.
Upon this, the third point, more may be said than on either of the others. Mr. Banim, as has already been asserted, has certainly, more than any writer of fiction of the present day, assiduously laboured to combine important instruction, in no unimportant patriotic question, with amusement : and his instruction, at least up to the appearance of “ The Smuggler,” has been confined and concentrated to one object; namely, the proving that the wretchedness and the debasement of Ireland were, in a great measure, attributable to the long withholding of that now, at last, extorted boon-Catholic Emancipation. Every tale of his, from “ Peter of the Castle” to “ The Last Baron of Craur,” has had this object, more or less, ostensibly for its pivot. He has exhibited scenes of the most harrowing horror, and shown pictures of disgusting depravity; and he has been blamed for so doing, and even accused by some short-sighted critics of doing injustice to his countrymen; for they did not see what was the real end of these descriptions. They did not ask,
Why does all this evil exist ?" or, " Why does the writer-an Irishman, and a man seemingly fond of his country-dwell so long on such painful scenes ?" It was for the purpose of tracing the evil to its source--of showing that where there is oppression there must be evil, both with the oppressors and the oppressed--and that before a hope could be entertained of ameliorating the moral condition of the latter, that cause which rendered them immoral must be removed from them.
Although it might be absurd to say that Mr. Banim contributed to the passing of the Catholic Relief Bill--although it may be pronounced certain that the Duke of Wellington would have found it expedient to have introduced, and Sir Robert Peel to have acceded to, that measure, if the “ Tales of the O'Hara Family” had never been written-nevertheless, it may with great truth be asserted, that the perusal of those works produced a change in the tone of the minds of many men, weakening the opposition of its opponents, and strengthening the advocacy of its adherents; and, so far, it undeniably did good : if but a drop in the stream, it must be remembered a stream is but composed of many drops.
In “ The Smuggler,” Mr. Banim has entered upon a new field. What hitherto he has done for Ireland, he has now done, though on a smaller scale, for England. In both cases, his object was to show that certain laws produced demoralization and crime. In Ireland, the evils he exposed were extended over the whole land ; those he has now touched upon are of a more confined, but hardly of a less pernicious, influence : and if any one is desirous of knowing what effect the Smuggling and Bastardy Laws are likely to work-indeed, are absolutely working on the minds, the habits, and the morals of that class of people most immediately under their sway, he cannot do better than peruse “ The Smuggler."
Mr. Banim, with great powers of fiction, evidently depends much upon observation. Many of his characters, and of the incidents in this work, may be, and probably are, fictitious; but, on the other hand, there are many that bear the inimitable stamp of truth. Such a character as Sam Geesin-a liar and a hypocrite, a midnigbt robber, and all but a murderer-is the natural offspring of a system which, in defiance of every principle of sound jurisprudence, offers a premium to a breach of a mere fiscal law; and, wholly disregarding the sanction of public opinion, places interest in direct opposition to obedience. It is the unavoidable result of such a state of laws, that they will surely be broken, and by many who will argue that, in committing this breach, they are not committing any crime. A smuggler, who would never dream of despoiling another individual of his property-who, in all
ordinary transactions between man and man, may have a character of unblemished probity—will nevertheless not hesitate to commit acts which, by the law, shall submit him to penalties as severe as those to which the swindler or thief are liable ; and he will reason in his own case, that he is an honest trader with others, giving value for value ; and that if he can succeed in disposing of his stock to his own advantage, he commits no individual injustice, does no individual injury, and only cheats the Government. To how terrible a state of demoralization and anarchy such a method of reasoning and acting must inevitably form the stepping-stone, it is needless to say. The only excuse--and it is a miserably poor one-that can be offered for a Legislature that could enact and continue such laws, is to suppose its members ignorant, not only of the fundamental laws of our nature, but also of the state of things which their own edicts have effected, and which it is their bounden duty to inquire into, and, if needful, to rectify.
With regard to the Bastardy Laws, a very few observations will here suffice. Although not so obviously calculated to inspire a wish to evade or disobey tbe law, still, as an incentive to the crime of perjury at least, they are hardly less hurtful; nay, considering their more extended influence, quite as much so. Several instances of this baneful influence are pointed out in “The Smuggler,” told powerfully-coarsely, say some critics—and efficiently : many others might be brought forward, all tending to show, that the main result of this branch of our altogether defective system of Poor Laws, is of the most injurious and demoralizing tendency.
Such must ever be the result of a system of government in which laws are, undisguisedly even, made for the rich, and against the poor. It is most earnestly to be wished-hardly to be hoped, that such a system will not be of much longer duration. It is most earnestly perhaps, above all things, to be desired, that those who frame our laws should be impressed with the truth, how much better it is to prevent, than to punish crime; and should, therefore, turn their thoughts to the cultivation of morals and the spread of knowledge, rather than rest contented with passing measures, by which an enormous stock of pains and penalties is prepared for an almost indiscriminate application to every conceivable offence. In short, that evil should be diminished by the increase of good; as weeds are most surely eradicated, not by mowing them down from time to time, but by the proper culti. vation of the soil. Let each man, according to his abilities, strive to bring about so desirable an end ; and, if his opportunities will enable him to do no more than has been done by the author of these tales, he may yet feel that he has by no means lived in vain. Edinburgh Cabinet Library, No. V.-Early English Navigators.
Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh. We have already noticed two of these excellent compilations, Egypt and Palestine ; second to none of the similar works which have appeared lately in this country. The present contains the lives of Drake, Cavendish, and Dampier, including an introductory view of the earlier discoveries in the South Sea, and the history of the Buccaneers. This volume, besides the lives of three great names in our naval history, is not confined to them alone ; much of naval affairs in their times is given, so that, by cotemporary circumstances, their biography may be more easily comprehended. The character of Drake has been little understood. He was by no means the rough unpolished being some accounts represent him. It is melancholy to find how the great spirits of that time were cramped by the deficiencies of the materiel put at their disposal for service. Diseases now unknown at sea, thinned the crews of their vessels; the ships themselves appear to have been small miserable craft; so that when we reflect on what the great seamen of the reigns of Elizabeth and James I. performed, we wonder at the might of the achievements with such smallness of means, and more than ever marvel at the undaunted characters of the great men with whose names they are connected. This is a most interesting volume, every page of which makes the heart of a true Englishman exult. The times were dark, the morality of many of the exploits questionable in our time; but that cannot dim the glory round the names of Drake, Cavendish, Raleigh, Howard, Frobisher, Hawkins, or, later, round the name of Dampier, whose fate it seems is unknown, but whose adventures and skill in navigation equalled any that preceded him in interest. We recommend this volume as a worthy successor to the Egypt and Palestine, though on a very different subject.
Chaupt of the Cholera. Songs for Ireland. By the Authors of the
“ O'Hara Tales,” &c. Cochrane and Co. We know not what we can say of this little volume more than that the first poem is strikingly in the manner of Mr. Banim in his novels, but that he has been unfortunate in the measure, which is connected in the mind rather with the sprightly than the terrible. The following is an extract, and is illustrative of Mr. Banim's power, which we take; it, however, tells best in his prose :He deems me an Avenger!
And, o'er his slumbers bending That in rage I sally forth,
My dark and spasmy face, Blow for blow to give him
Breathe out the breath which maketh In his distant howling North !
A pest-house of the place-
And with my spume-lips kiss him-
And with my shaking hand When Freedom wars with Might! Press down his heart, and press it,
Tillits throb is at a standHe is in his lazaretto,
Low laughing, while an horror
His despot eye-ball dims--
And my cramp'd and knotty limbs !
Kings !--tell me my commission, For he knows no watch can bar me,
As from land to land I go, When I would work my will !
And the time, and place, and season,
For me my strength to show ? He knows that I can pass them,
Am I here and there, so near ye, As they whisper there of me,
To watch ye, every one, And at midnight deep be with him For justice, and for judgment, In his chamber, lonelily
And the changes drawing on!
Modern Infidelity considered with respect to its Influence on Society.
By the late Rev. Robert Hall. Small size. Stockley. This is a cheap edition of the celebrated sermon of a very remarkable and gifted divine. It is already so well known to the public for its powerful arguments and eloquence, that we need only state that a memoir of his life is prefixed to it, and that it is published at the price of sixpence, in order to insure it a more extensive circulation among the lower classes_a measure which cannot but be useful.
Remarks on the Cholera Morbus, containing a Description of the Dis
ease, its Symptoms, Causes, and Treatment, together with Suggestions as to the best Means of guarding against its Attack, &c. &c. By H. Young, M.D. 8vo. Pp. 78. Smith, Elder, and Co. We last month noticed the work of Mr. Kennedy upon this subject. The present writer has also been an eye-witness of the disease, at the first moment of its displaying itself in Bengal, in 1817. In the main points, except that of contagion, Dr. Young agrees with Mr. Kennedy. Both, however, seem to meet in union on so many points of interest regarding the disease, that we are convinced the only medical opinions worthy of consideration are those of eye-witnesses to it in its natal site.
Divines of the Church of England ; with a Life of each Author, a Sum
mary of each Discourse, Notes, &c. By the Rev. T. S. Hughes, B.D. No. XVIII.—Hall's Contemplations, Vol. I. Valpy. This is a continuation of Mr. Valpy's “ Divines," and contains the works of one of the worthiest prelates that ever adorned the history of the English Church in her brighter days. The “ Contemplations of Bishop Hall are noble productions, full of honest, undaunted plain-dealing. The mention of hell to “ ears polite” was not, in his mode of preaching, a breach of good manners, as in our day. How apropos, at the present moment, is the following passage :-" The conceit of authority in great persons many times lies in the way of their own safety, whilst it will not let them stoop to the ordinary courses of inferiors : hence it is that heaven is peopled with so few great ones : hence it is that true contentment seldom dwells high, whilst men of humbler spirits enjoy both earth and heaven.” Listen to this, “ my Lords spiritual and temporal, in Parliament assembled !”
Cases of Insanity; with Medical, Moral, and Philosophical Observa
tions, and Essays upon them. By M. ALLEN, M.D. Part I. Vol. I. Swire.
Mr. Allen is, we believe, a medical practitioner who has made the study of the disease of insanity the principal object of his pursuit, and always keeps, under his own especial superintendence, a select number of unfortunate persons of that description, whom he treats in a very different manner from that commonly adopted in such cases. Mr. Allen contends that harshness and coercion is Lot the proper method of treatment, and that (except, of course, in cases of raving madness, which indeed may be called the delirium of the disorder) kind treatment and assiduous attention give the mastery and the affections of the patient to those who attend upon him. Mr. Allen seems borne out in the justice of his opinions by the success of his treatment, even in cases incurable ; for his patients, not being in a state of undue restraint, exhibit no desire to leave him. In the choice of attendants, however, we are struck with Mr. Allen's remark, that he is careful never to employ any who have had the care of insane persons before, from the coarse habits of such, and the particular dislike which they infuse into the patients. Mr. Allen gives us numerous cases of patients, with the distinct character of the disease as manifested in each. These are highly interesting. No. o. seems almost an enviable character to the sane ; for he delights night and day in being of service to others, in making himself happy and all who are near him. His insanity discovers itself in his propensity to relate absurdly marvellous stories, whenever he can obtain a listener to them. Mr. Allen follows up these cases by remarks on the influ. ence of the atmosphere upon the animal spirits ; in which there is a good deal of very just inference : these remarks, we must observe, particularly refer to the insane. • It is a great mistake,” says Mr. Allen, “ to suppose the insane are to be treated as if they were wholly irrational ; in many cases they are not so, and are accessible to reason, and in all cases should be treated as if they were so. To suppose with some, that the mere mechanism of attention is enough, an attention which some cold rules prescribe, is a great mistake ; a mistake equally fatal to the comfort, as it is to the cure, of the insane.” These remarks, and those which follow on the character of the individual who directs an asylum for the insane, are well worthy of attention, and prove that Mr. Allen is qualified, far beyond the majority of those who undertake the management of unhappy lunatics, for their medical treatment and superintendence. Mr. Allen has some remarks, not entirely new, upon “ Lunar Influence ;” and he seems to lean to the old opinion, that the moon's changes have some effect in unsettling the minds of the insane, by exciting or irritating the bodily system. We cannot follow Mr. Allen here, for want of space. The deaths of thirty patients are mentioned, to show that at the period of increased excitement, which Dr. Allen observes to take place two days before new and full moons, twenty-six occurred at those periods, and four only at the period of diminished excitement. The deaths of thirty patients during the four seasons show that eight died in spring, during what Dr. Allen calls the period of increased excitement; only six during diminished excitement in summer; eleren in the autumn season of increased excitement; and five during the period of diminisbed excitement in winter. Dr. Allen also treats of “ Diurnal Influence" as well as “ Planetary. Afterwards, we hardly know wherefore, our author digresses into a notice of the Cholera Morbus. He then goes back to describe new cases of insanity ; which we peruse with melancholy interest, when we reflect on the humiliation to which the proudest of mortals are liable, and we close the perusal of his volume with a sigh. Mr. Allen's work is well worth notice, not only by the faculty, but by all who have relations afflicted with that fearful malady, for it shows, at least, that the old system of restraint and cruel coercion, often of brutal violence, is as useless as it is inhuman. We shall meet the second part of his work with satisfaction.
Plato's Four Dialogues—the Crito, Hippias, Alcibiades, and Sisyphus ;
with English Notes, and Examination Questions. Longman and Co. To this work the whole of Heindorf's notes are subjoined in English. It is a valuable book for schools, and is an addition to the Greek works now so commendably publishing with English notes instead of Latin ones. The text is from Mss. of the first authority, principally that of Bekker. We can safely recommend it for general adoption, as well calculated for instruction.
A Treatise on Geometry ; comprising a compendious Demonstration of the Elements of Euclid, &c. &c. By ROBERT WALLACE, A.M. Tegg.
A very good work, admirably caleulated for the use of students, and recom mended by simplicity and clearness in its demonstrations.
Biographical Sketches and Authentic Anecdotes of Quadrupeds. By
CAPTAIN Thomas Brown, F.L.S. 12mo. Simpkin and Marshall. This work is intended as a companion to two volumes, which have been already published, relating to dogs and horses. It contains two hundred and ninety-three anecdotes, which are stated to have been properly authenticated; and the compilation is therefore a very valuable one for lovers of natural history. The illustrations are engraved on steel by Scott, and the genera are scientitically arranged. Some of the anecdotes are quite new, and the collection is, in many points, a most desirable one to possess : there is nothing abstruse or learned in the remarks, and we have rarely seen a work so pregnant with instruction in the history of animals, and so amusing at the same time. The anecdotes of the elephant and of the cat are particularly interesting.
The Journal of the Royal Geographical Society of London, 1830-1.
Murray. This is the first Number emanating from the new Geographical Society; and, we are happy to say, it is a most excellent one. The articles are of very high interest. The first is an account of the state of the Swan River colony, extracted from Captain Stirling's Report, by John Barrow, Esq. ; secondly, a general view of the botany of the vicinity of Swan River, by R. Brown, Esq.; and, a description of the natives of King George's Sound, by Mr. Scott Hind. Captain A. T. E. Vidal, R.N. has furnished a paper on the Vigia called Atkins's Rock. In all, there are thirteen papers of very great interest : there are, moreover, two analyses of geographical works, and much miscellaneous information. If the Transactions of the Society continue to afford so much interest and useful knowledge, it will not yield to any of its brethren in science established in this country, for character or usefulness. The maps and plates are very well executed, and are not stinted in number or size-a thing too observable in many modern scientific works.
Family Classical Library, No. XXIII.-- Plutarch, Vol. I. Valpy. We have here before us Langhorne's Plutarch, in Mr. Valpy's cheap edition of the Classics. We have, too, the recommendation of the pocket size,--the first time, we believe, in which Plutarch has ever been so printed, and we know no work more worthy of being the pocket companion of every description of persons. Except the sacred history, we may well agree with Menage, “ that if all the books in the world were on fire,” Plutarch is that which we should snatch from the flames. It is a fund of never-tiring instruction and amusement combined. In no other of Mr. Valpy's Classics, is the conveniency of the edition more apparent than in this.
The Sisters' Budget; a Collection of Original Tales in Prose and
Verse, &c. &c. 2 vols. 8vo. Whittaker and Co. These two volumes consist of the contributions of the “ Authors of the Odd Volume,”—Mrs. Hemans, Miss Mitford, Miss Jewsbury, Mrs. Hodgson, Mrs. Kennedy, Mr. M.Farlane, Mr. Kennedy, Mr. H. G. Bell, Mr. Malcolm, &c. Whether these latter four names should not each be preceded by Mrs. or Miss to make out the title, we can hardly answer. It is true, a lady's budget, or reticule, may contain many odd things, even gentlemen, if it be fabricated large enough; we suppose that is the case in the present instance. These tales, though the majority are not original but translated, which little slip of the press, under the fair hands of the editors, must be set down as no very deadly sin in the censure of the critical inquisitors, are pleasant reading, and will amuse an idle hour in the dreary months of hours we must pass before Nature looks smilingly upon us again. Spirit of Hayley, Parson Dudley, and the Morning Post! look lightly upon Miss Mitford and her Myrtle Parson-it recalls your times indeed! Mrs. Hemans has some sweet stanzas, and there is more very pleasing poetry. The prose is amusing, but there is nothing surpassingly excellent, as there should be in a work in which a number of individuals of acknowledged talent have clubbed their productions together. That the work will contribute to amuse we have already observed, and know not what more we can say of it, than that it is worthy of the reader's attention for this end.
Maturini Corderii Colloquiorum Centuria Selecta ; secundum Editio
nem GuliELMI WILLYMOT, &c. &c. Oliver and Boyd, Edinburgh. A very good edition of this elementary work of instruction. We know not that it calls for any further remark, than that the type is good and clear, and the size convenient.