Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub

· Not a crime, mon Colonel,' said Rissolle, but it would be de ruin of me, as cook, should it be known to the world, ,--so I told his Lordship I must leave him; dat de butler had said, dat he saw his Lordship pui de salt into de soup, which was to proclaim to the universe dat I did not know de proper quantité of salt required to season my soup.'

An Address pronounced at the Opening of the New York Athenæum, December 14,

1824. By HENRY WHEATON. New York. 1824. 8vo. pp. 44. It is not unknown to our readers that, in emulation of the liberal endowment and patronage of the Boston Athenæum, a similar association was recently formed among the opulent and enlightened citizens of New York. Mr Wheaton's Address, at the opening of this institution, is very properly devoted to considering the intellectual progress of America thus far, and inquiring what is to be anticipated from the genius of our countrymen in future times. In the pursuit of this investigation, he casts a rapid but penetrating glance over a wide and fruit. ful field.

He hastily alludes to the embarrassments of our colonial condition, and the peculiar difficulties with which our country's young strength was forced to grapple, as being fully adequate to account for the tardy development of an elegant literature in the land. Our faculties were tasked in the hard duty of reclaiming a wilderness to the uses of civilized man; in ascertaining, defending, and enforcing free principles of civil polity; in achieving an independence not dearly bought with their blood; in laying deeply and broadly the foundations of a great republican government. Strangers in the crowded family of nations, enough was it for us, newly emerged from European guardianship, to make good our place in that mighty contention for wealth and power, in which empires, not men, are the competitors. But that period, he conceives, is now quickly passing away, and our country is beginning to afford allurements to something beside active, professional, and business talents,

Mr Wheaton refers to the want of a peculiar national language and literature, and the consequent servitude to foreign models and the habit of self-depreciation--the absence of patronage and of the aid of extensive libraries, as being serious obstacles to our advancement in the cultivation of objects of refined taste. But the injurious operation of all these circumstances, in his opinion, is counteracted by the advantages derived from the geographical features of the country-its federal constitution-its division into states, which will be emulous to excel as much in liberal arts and science as in affairs of government--and, above all, by the free spirit, which is the moving, animating, and sustaining power of all our institutions. The consideration of this last point leads him into remarks upon the question, whether there is any sympathy between civil freedom and the polite arts,—which occupy most of the residue of the Address.

Mr Wheaton is entitled to great praise for his persevering attention to literature, amid the cares of professional and public duties ; and every thing, which comes from him, evinces the liberal taste of a scholar, and is stamped with the marks of a vigorous and accomplished mind. The piece before us bespeaks a ready, practised, and skilful writer,

alike familiar with the classic lore of ancient and modern ages, and versed in the living wisdom of our own busy days. His subject led him, in some portions of it, over the same paths which Mr Everett trod in his Phi Beta Kappa Oration; and this last is so rich in pregnant matter, so profusely stored with admirable allusions in support of his opinions, that, in subsequently handling a kindred topic, Mr Wheaton sometimes inevitably falls into trains of thought, and adopts illustrations, which had been preoccupied by Mr Everett. But Mr Everett is an unfair writer, in the sense in which King Charles accused Dr Barrow of being an unfair preacher. His acute and comprehensive mind instantly seizes upon the strong points of a subject, and works up its best parts, so as to leave little for the diligence of aftercomers to glean, where his sickle had entered ;-and to such a man neither Mr Wheaton, nor any other American, need be unwilling to own acknowledgments.

The Refugee, a Romance. By Captain Matthew Murgatroyd, of the Ninth Conti

nentals in the Revolutionary War. In two vols. New York. 1825. 12mo.

pp. 325 and 328. We suppose it has happened to most persons, at some time in their lives, to be placed in situations which they felt to be awkward, and to conceal their own consciousness by a display of ease and vivacity, which, instead of imposing upon the bystanders, served only to make themselves more ridiculous. This seems to us to be precisely the case with the author of the work before us. Now when a person is so unfortunate as to get into such a predicament, without any fault of his own, it is the lieight of rudeness to attempt to aggravate his mortification by ridiculing, or even noticing it. Our novel-writer, however, being under no compulsion, and having put himself in this situation with his eyes open, cannot fairly shelter himself under any law of politeness, which is acknowledged by reviewers; and we have therefore the less hesitation in noticing the combination of restraint and counterfeit ease which seems to us to distinguish this work.

The hero of this story is Gilbert Greaves, of Welsh descent, and the son of an ex-officer in the British service, who resided on the banks of the Hudson at the commencement of the Revolutionary War. On that occasion, the father joins the British army in New York, and is followed by the son; the latter soon sees cause to repent, revolts to the American army, is taken prisoner, and hardly escapes execution as a deserter.

The scene is principally in New York and its vicinity. The characters are numerous į so much so, indeed, that it is difficult to keep them all in mind, whilst one is perusing the work. We find some returning, at the close of the second volume, whom we had utterly forgotten our introduction to, in the first. Like too many of our novelists, the author spreads bimself over too great a surface, apparently finding it easier to say a little of many persons and things, than to give an accurate, full, and lively description of any individual. There are many strange anachronisms in the course of the work, and occasionally a degree of levity in treating serious things, which we consider reprehensible. But the most serious objection to it, as we have already intimated, is the laborious affectation of the style. There is a continual effort to be

witty or sententious pervading the whole. We are obliged to think of the author instead of his persons; and whenever he does achieve wisdom or wit, we are naturally inclined to give him the less credit for his success, as he has so often tried in vain. He who shoots perpetually at the same mark, will sometimes hit it, but his success is more likely to be attributed to chance than skill. This air of pretension naturally prejudices the reader against the book, and leads him to set down much as indifferent, which, perhaps, if it came in humbler guise, might be regarded as respectable.

Seven Lectures on Female Education ; inscribed to Mrs. Garnett's Pupils, at Elm.

Wood, Essex County, Virginia. By James M. Garnett. Richmond. 1824. 12mo.

pp. 261.

The importance of the subject which this book professes to treat-the une qualified recommendations of the friends of the author,-and the echo of these same recommendations, with faint and equivocal censure from the tribunals qualified to decide upon its character, have given it a reputation, which it never deserved, and which its own merits never could have gained. We are not about to be severe upon an innocent little book; for it is the result no doubt of the best intentions, and as such is entitled to respect. But we wished merely to account upon the true principles for the facts, that two editions have been published in as many years, and that the public are now threatened with a third.

We have as high an opinion of the importance of female education as Mr Garnett, or any of the gentlemen whose names adorn and recommend his book; but we doubt if its best interests will be much subserved by his exertions as an author. And it is much to be regretted, that the influence of such distinguished names as John Marshall Esq. Chief Justice of the U. S., and the Right Rev. Richard Moore, Bishop of the Diocess of Virginia, and others which it is unnecessary to mention, should not be directed to some object more worthy of them, than giving currency to a book of such slender merit. We have read the work with considerable attention, and the more, because we were desirous of resisting the conclusion, which seemed to be forcing itself upon us, that the respectable names of friends, and the good motives of the author, were its chief recommendations. But such conclusion is settled, and we will give our reasons for it.

The preface,“ in which a summary view is taken of the principal obstacles to the progress of Education in general, but particularly to that of Females,” occupies thirty-seven pages, and is much the best part of the book. Then follows what the author cails the “Gossip's Manual,” filling thirty-one pages. These are ironical maxims, intended to saty rize some of the most common faults “in people of both sexes beyond the age of childhood.” They are generally very silly, and therefore must fail of their intended effect. The Lectures make up the book. These are upon the following topics. 1. The Moral and Rea ligious Obligations to the Improvement of Time. 2. The best Means of Improvement. 3. Temper and Deportment. 4. Foibles, Faults, and Vices. 5. Manners, Accomplishments, Fashions, and Conversations. 6. Associates, Friends, and Connexions. These several topics are discussed with some zeal and spirit; but we have not been able to discover one principle

unnecessary.

in education, which has not long since been much better stated and inculcated by almost all the most popular authors upon the subject. Fenelon, Archbishop of Cambray, although he wrote somewhat more than a century since, will afford more instruction upon the subject, than the volume before us. We recommend Miss Hamilton's Letters on the Elementary Principles of Education; and her Letters addressed to the Daughter of a Nobleman, on the formation of religious and moral principle, as much more complete and satisfactoryupon the subject than any thing Mr Garnett has written. Miss Edgeworth's works are worth Mr Garnett's consideration before he makes another edition of his book ; although we must always express regret, that she has not added to the motives she addresses to the young, “ In the name of the Lord Jesus.” These authors wrote for purposes more general, than those of Mr Garnett, but their works will nevertheless accomplish all his objects much better than his own. We might name various other authors who are decidedly preferable on every account to Mr Garnett, but it is, at present,

The work before us, therefore, offers nothing new upon the subject, and repeats what is old, in exceedingly coarse, vulgar, and disgusting language. This last remark we shall proceed to illustrate and justify by a few specimens.

“ If husbands and wives will live in that sort of amity which generally prevails between cats and dogs, they must expect that their daughters will play the cat too, whenever they have opportunities. If mothers and nurses will scold, and hector, and storm, and ravc, and fall into fits of *the sullens,' (a very malignant disease, by the way) either with or without any colour of excuse, the children under their management will certainly imitate their example.”

We have not the reputation of being remarkable for cant, but we think when the inspired writings are quoted with such levity as in the following passage, they must, at least, fail of their intended effect.

" Yet thus it is, (in thousands of instances,) by incalculating envy, and hatred, and malice, and all uncharitableness,' in the compendious form of emulation' a priori; and by the administration of birching without form, and often without measure, a posteriori, that the youth of our country are to be imbued with all those amiable qualities of the heart, and useful endowments of the understanding, which are to fit them for this world, and prepare them for the next.”

Mr Garnett discourses to his audience of a young ladies” of being Tygresses,

,"? Tartars," " Spitfires,She-Dragons,” and “She-Devilsand of becoming as loathsome as “hoge dressed in women's apparel.If this is appropriate language to be addressed to young ladies in Virginia, we hope the unqualified recommendations of the book which contains it, will not introduce it here. We could multiply instances of similar offences against decency, but are unwilling to disfigure our pages with any

more.

The Grecian Wreath of Victory. New York. 1824. 24to. pp. 120. In the course of the last year, an association of ladies in the city of New York caused a “Grecian Cross,” forty feet high, to be prepared, and placed at the disposal of General Swift, who had presided at a meeting,

held at Brooklyn, in 1822, at which meeting were passed “ various resolutions expressive of the sympathy of Americans in the struggle now carrying on by the Greeks.”

It was afterwards decided to plant the Cross on the Brooklyn Heights, and to surmount it with a wreath of victory, to be composed of the samno material with the victorious wreaths” of ancient Greece. What was this material, then became a question, for the solution of which the “ Grecian ladies” offered a gold medal of considerable value. This procured them various communications from gentlemen of high literary standing, and these communications compose the work before us. The profits of it are to be devoted to the purpose of procuring some memorial of American sympathy, to be presented to the Grecian senate.

When we consider the various respectable names connected with this little work, and remember that the whole matter of the cross and wreath is an affair of the ladies, we dare not say, that it sounds very silly to us. We can only venture to acknowledge, that we are so obtuse as not to see the point of this erecting of crosses, surmounted with pagan wreaths; and to hint, that if such a thing had been elevated on any of the heights in the neighbourhood of Boston, we should have shrugged our shoulders at the 6 notion."

But leaving the origin of the book, for its contents, we observe in the first place, that among those who took part in this discussion, and whose lucubrations are here published, are the names of Professors Moore and Anthon of Columbia College, Drs Hosack and King, Colonel Trumbull, Mr Genet, and Mr Bancroft of Round Hill. The principal arguments adduced are in favour of the palm, the laurel, the myrtle, and the olive. The claims of the latter are defended by Professor Anthon, in four several communications, which are decidedly the best in every point of view. The volume is closed by the decision of Professor Everett, in favour of the olive, a short essay by Governor Clinton, in which he comes to the same conclusion, and a translation of a Roman war song, by Professor Doane of Washington College. Professor Anthon seems, therefore, to have obtained the prize.

Considerable industry and learning are displayed in many of these essays, accompanied often with a very unnecessary display of exultation. Surely our professors ought to be able to quote Pliny, Plutarch, Potter's Antiquities, Lempriere's Classical Dictionary, Moore's Anacreon, and, if need be, even Pindar, Dion Cassius, or Tertullian, without glorification. There are also some pitiable juvenilities about the fair hands of the Grecian ladies, &c.; and, lastly, there is a metrical translation of the song of Callistratus, which is very bad indeed.

Now we wish well to the cause of the Greeks, and to every rational exertion in their behalf; but we think money might be applied to better purpose, and one quite as advantageous to the Greeks as that of setting up crosses, and dragging grave professors from their elbow chairs, to execute unskilful gambols before them, for the amusement of the public.

Decision, a Tale; By Mrs Hofland, author of Integrity, a Tale; Patience, a Tale;

The Son of a Genius; Tales of the Priory; Tales of the Manor, &c. &c. New
York. 1825. 18mo. pp. 264.
Mrs Hofland is known to the public as the author of several small vol-

« AnteriorContinuar »