Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

The Poetical Works of Alexander Pope. Edited by Robert CarUtilERS. Illustrated by portraits and original designs. In four volumes. London : Nat. Cooke. 1853.—The writings of Pope will be among the last to stale in the estimation of the readers and students of English literature. His wit, taste, propriety and humour, the general excellence of his moral, the beauty of his versification, his strong common sense, constitute essentials of authority in art and literature which no generation will venture wholly to depreciate. With little of the spiritual or the intense in his poetry, he rarely allows us, while we read, to feel their deficiency; and he appeals to us from so many strong points, that we readily forgive and forego, and, while in his hand, rarely feel the want of other essentials of the great poet. An edition of his works, such as the present, is a desideratum. Three out of the four volumes promised are now before us, in very beautiful style for the library, on the finest paper, in excellent print, and teeming with such illustrations from the hands of the engraver, as tend greatly to the satisfaction of our curiosity with respect to the distinguished persons, his contemporaries, the friends he loved and honoured, and the enemies and subjects whom he victim. ized. We have here, among other heads, those of the heroes of the Dunciad. But the chief value of this edition consists (apart from its mechanical beauty and cheapness of cost) in its completeness. It contains the latest biographical intelligence; in providing which, the editor possesses, at this day, a vast deal more of material than could be found fifty or even twenty-five years ago. The text has been carefully revised, and the variations distinguished ; and the emendations of different editions, at different periods of time, so compared and contrasted, as to show us the varying moods of the author, and the growth and decline of his friendships and antipathies. Altogether, the present is probably one of the most acceptable of all the editions of Pope, leaving little to be supplied by future editors, and giving us all that is valuable in the labours of preceding ones.

Historical and Descriptive Sketches of Norfolk, and vicinity, including Portsmouth, and the adjacent counties, during a period of two hundred years. Also, Sketches of Williamsburg, Hampton, Suffolk, Smithfield, and other places, with descriptions of some of the principal objects of interest in Eastern Virginia. By William S. FOREST. Philadelphia : Lindsay & Blakiston. 1853.—Local chronicles and collections, like the one before us, are the best sources of authentic history. They provide the details which the historian condenses into symmetrical narrative, and which he weighs separately, and groups together with

judicial circumspection. They are, accordingly, in very high degree, valuable to the student. They constitute, apart from this, a very interesting study for those who like to dwell upon the birth and growth of places, whose small beginnings are particularly grateful, as remembrances, when one beholds the great city, with its towers and its temples, spreading and stretching away on every hand, in search of continued resources for life, and in proof of still advancing prosperity. Norfolk, in our American chronology, may be considered an old city. It is the fault of its own people, that it has not become a more imposing one. Its natural advantages are rivalled by few. Its connection with the sea is immediate. Its access is easy. Its harbour is magnificent. It occupies a central position, between North and South, on the Atlantic, and might bave drawn boundless tribute from both sections. It has slept above its treasures. But the sleep, we are told, is broken, and this volume shows us that her citizens are bestirring themselves. Mr. Forest has done his work with industry and a praiseworthy patriotism. His book is full of interesting details, showing the gradual progress of the city and surrounding country, from infancy to strength and power. In this progress, he gives us many curious and instructive narratives. He does not confine himself to the physical history of the region, but includes the personal and intellectual in his researches. We have, accordingly, a sketch of the liierature of Norfolk in these pages, and brief biographies of its great men. The volume is a valuable contribution to our historical annals, which will make its way into our libraries. It deserves to do so. It is a well printed and handsome octavo.

The Life of Martin Luther, in fifty pictures. From designs by Gustav König. London : Nathaniel Cooke. 1854.—A very beautifully printed and illustrated volume, imperial octavo. The life of the great German reformer, in pictures, is something of a novelty. The life

-the text-was written to illustrate the pictures. The history of the work is briefly this : It appears that a few years ago the leading events in the career of Luther, were sketched in regular order by an artist named König. So spirited and beautiful were the Gesigns, that they occasioned a lively sensation in the city of Munich where they were produced. It was resolved to publish them, and the letter press was undertaken by M. Gelzer, who seems to hare aimed at little more than to illustrate the designs of König, by brief, but correct statements of the particulars which elicited them. These follow each other accordingly, in proper order; and, in the text, the writer properly attempts nothing beyond the mere fact. The book is thus unique, and, with the pictures, affords us a striking summary, step by step, of Luther's progress from the cradle to the grave. At the close, there is a more copious history of the “rise and progress of the reformation in Germany." Of the merits of this, which we have not read, we can say nothing. For the rest, regarding the book rather as the medium for the publication of the pictures, we have only to repeat that it is very beautiful. The designs are at once free, spirited and graceful; the engravings, though on wood, exceedingly soft and of nice finish.

Mrs. Mowatt's Autobiography of an Actress. Ticknor, Reed & Fields.-An artless and genial volume, unfolding the life of a fair and talented woman, through scenes of fluctuating interest, much trial and an honourable and somewhat distinguished career. The details will be found instructive to many, and the narrative may be read with pleasure by all. Mrs. Mowatt, naturally enough, mistakes her position, and errs somewhat, we think, in the estimate which she tacitly makes of her own claims. But a certain degree of egotism is absolutely the life of an autobiography, and a too indulgent estimate of self is inseparable from its plan. Mrs. Mowatt is neither a great author nor a great actress. She is simply a woman of delicate and graceful mind, with a lively fancy, good taste and correct principles. Her experience constitutes the chief attraction of her volumes, and this experience, in the case of an actress, virtuous and lovely, must necessarily possess considerable interest. Beyond this, nothing can be said. Her writings, though genial and pleasant, are of moderate nuerit only.

Brillat Savarin's Physiology of Taste, has long been a favourite study with those who had a relish for transcendental Gastronomy; and what person of taste was ever without it. We have, in the handsomely printed volume before us (from the press of Lindsay & Blakiston), a good translation from the last Paris edition. It is not improbable that we shall return to this volume, in order to do justice to the subject and its author; meanwhile, we commend it to all philosophers who understand how completely the cabinet depends upon the kitchen ; and who appreciate the vital truth that the bowels are really very necessary to the brains, if not the affections.

The Ecclesiastical History of Socrates, surnamed Scholasticus ; or the Advocate, comprising a History of the Church. London: H. G. Boun. 1853.- Mr. Bohn, in his library, classical, historical and miscellaneous, is opening to popular use an immense body of the most

interesting literature, hitherto locked up in almost inaccessible obscurity. The history of the Church, by Socrates, is a work of this description. Socrates, our author, was a rative of Constantinople, born somewhere about 380. His history of the Church opens with the conversion of Constantine, and closes with the elevation of Thalassius, as Bishop of Cæsarea in Cappadocia, A. D. 439—covering a period of 140 years. The narrative includes necessarily a most curious and instructive history, various and important in event, and of a character higbly attractive to the Christian reader. In this edition the translator is not mentioned. There is a sketch of the author's life, which is also anonymous. Copious notes, from Valesius, illustrate the text, and render the volume complete for the uses of the student.

Classic and Historic Portraits. By James Bruce. New-York: Redfield. 1854.- A collection of biographical sketches, male and fe. male, beginning with Sappho and Æsop, and ending with Madame de Stael. The sketches are usually short, but contain pretty much all that is important and interesting in the lives of their subjects.

Corinne, or Italy. (H. C. Baird.)—This beautiful and powerful romance, the chef d'ouvre of Madame de Stael, the author, is here given to us in a style of mechanical beauty which is worthy of the merits of the volume. The reader need not be told that Corinne is the personification of the Italian Improvissatrice, with the full genius of the poet and all the intense passions of her people. As a portrait of Italy--the glow, the beauty, the picturesque ; the women, the genius of the country--the picture is incomparably exquisite ; truthful, with all the colouring of romance ; romantic, with all the simplicity of truth.

Beckford's Vathek. (Henry C. Baird.)—This wild, but fantastic tale, is renowned as an inimitable imitation of the most gorgeous of the Arabian fictions; showing a genius as creative and commanding, a fancy as rich, an imagination as vigorous, and a knowledge of Eastern customs and superstitions, which leaves the author never at fault for the requisite materials for bis invention. Lord Byron, whose knowledge of the East is not to be questioned, asserts its correctness of costume and beauty of description to far surpass all European imitations. He is, no doubt, quite right when he gives it a preference to the Rasselas of Dr. Jobpson. The author bad certain qualities, absolutely essential to Arabian fiction-which Johnson scarcely possessed at all-in the warmth of his art and the rich colouring of his fancies. His conception of the “ Hall of Eblis" possesses a grandeur worthy of Milton. That such a word as “Vathek” should be written by a youth of twenty, is one of the most remarkable facts in the history of invention.

Heroic Women of the West. By Joun Frost, LL.D. Philadelphia : A. Hart. 1854.--Mrs. Ellet, by her interesting narratives of the “ Women of the Revolution,” has opened the way for a host of inferior followers. Among these is the compiler of the volume before us, who has done nothing more for his work, than simply compile from scattered sources the material which it contains. It is, perhaps, well that he has been content to attempt nothing farther. He is fit for nothing better. In a collection of this sort, indeed, we desire nothing more than the facts themselves. These are necessarily interesting. They form a body of interesting anecdotes of those strong-minded pioneer women of the country, with brave souls and hardy sinews-the result of training in a perilous time and region—who could pick up the rifle when their husbands had fallen, and revenge their fate with an aim as unerring as their own. The volume is illustrated with engravings.

Ranke's Servia.-A history of Servia and the Servian revolution, with a sketch of the insurrection' in Bosnia, from the pen of Leopold Ranke, promises large, if not thorough information, in respect to a region and events of great interest. Its author, known as one of the most searching and able of modern historians, affords the reader the best of guaranties in behalf of his sagacity and truthfulness. The translation is made by Mrs. Alexander Kerr. The volume constitutes one of the neatly designed and compact volumes of the standard library of Henry G. Bohn. An account of the slave Provinces of Turkey, from the French of Cyprian Robert, forms a supplementary narrative in the saine volume, and greatly increases its interest and value.

The Barclays of Boston. By Mrs. Harrison Gray Otis. Boston: Ticknor, Reed & Fields. 1854.-A story of society in Boston scarcely implies any peculiarities in the materials. Society, in all the large American cities, varies very little. There are always so many classes, or orders, of it, each of which possesses certain recommendations for certain people. There are the tip-tops—“our set;"--and the “middles," or good people's set; and the "slip-slops," your set, perhaps; but one which you will not readily acknowledge. Our fair author introduces us to representatives of each of these sets, which are delineated in colours more or less attractive or disparaging. The persons of the drama are

« AnteriorContinuar »