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The American Lyceum. — The Sixth Annual Meeting of this Society closed on the 9th of May, after a session of three days, in the Common Council Chamber of this city. Wm. V Dueb, Esq., President of Columbia College, and for several years President of the Lyceum, occupied the chair as much of the time as his other duties would allow; and the Rev. Mr. Ridgley, one of the numerous and respectable delegation from the Pennsylvania Lyceum, presided a part of the session.
This association is devoted to the promotion of education, particularly in common schools and lyceums; and during the five years of its existence, has labored in various ways for this object, although greatly embarrassed by the want of the funds necessary to carry into effect some of the most promising plans which it has devised and approved. One of its leading characteristics, is that of a representative body, in which the delegates of literary associations, particularly those of a popular nature, may consult and determine on questions relating to the objects of their pursuit. In every lyceum or society for mutual intellectual improvement, topics of interest often present themselves, which excite inquiry, conversation, and debate. Individuals of the number, at least, feel a desire to investigate them farther, and thus a wish arises for a larger sphere in which to introduce them. In some places, county or state lyceums offer such a wider sphere; and there, questions of real importance often gain in interest by discussion. Questions concerning the interest of common schools, the best means of improving education in them, and in associations, in endless variety, thus annually occupy the minds of some individuals; and some of these naturally find their way to the American Lyceum, and become topics of discussion among persons from a wider sphere. All known kindred associations are invited to send delegates to the annual meetings, where great freedom of debate, and a friendly spirit, have always prevailed.
Connected with this, is another feature of the association, viz: the influence it has in promoting acquaintance and cooperation among the friends of useful knowledge. This is effected in different ways. Not only are many of them annually brought together, but a correspondence is carried on with many more, the fruits of which are laid before the association at the anniversaries, and, in the published proceedings, (which have been gratuitously circulated,) very widely diffused. The Lyceum has published about thirty valuable lectures on various interesting topics, written and delivered at their request, by distinguished friends of learning in different parts of the Union, (for there is nothing sectional or limited in its plan,) and these have generally appeared in the Annals of Education, and subsequently in pamphlets.1 Three elegant productions, on subjects connected with the fine arts, have been published within a few months in this city.
The statistical information collected by the society concerning schools, literary associations, and operations, is also extensive, interesting, and useful. Of this a greater amount than ever was presented at" the recent annual meeting; and the public, we hope, will ere long be favored with published reports from such associations as the New-York City Lyceum, the Mercantile Library Association, the New-York Mechanics' Institute, the Brooklyn Lyceum, the United States' Naval Lyceum, the Juvenile Lyceums of our Public Schools, the Pennsylvania Lyceum, with the Teachers' and School Lyceums of Philadelphia, the Albany and the Troy Associations for Intellectual Improvement, the Worcester, (Mass.) Lyceum, etc.
The society had hopes of receiving this year, an Essay on the best means of obtaining uniform Meteorological Observations, with a plan, from a well qualified correspondent of this state; but this anticipated production was delayed for the present, because time is required to collect all the information which it is desirable to have comprised in a communication of such kind.
The American Lyceum, on the eve of their adjournment, feeling the importance of a general cooperation in favor of common education, adopted resolutions inviting the friends of knowledge and the country to contribute, either in money or active labor, to their operations. They request all those who may wish to subscribe to their funds, to transmit to William Forrest, Esq., New-York, and those who are willing to undertake to visit a school once a week, to form a lyceum, to deliver a public address in favor of education, to write on that subject in newspapers, or otherwise to assist in exciting a general and speedy improvement, to give specific information of the same to one of the corresponding secretaries of the society forthwith, and on or before the 1st of January next, again to communicate what they have done, with the results. In this way, it is evident, the efficiency of the society may bo greatly increased, both by the enlistment of new cooperators in their own neighborhoods, and by the collection of a large amount of statistics in that most interesting department of education, so important to our country, and so naturally the growth of our institutions — spontaneous and gratuitous instruction. One individual in each county in the union might thus accomplish a very useful task in the next few months; and the publication of the returns could not fail to encourage fourfold effects in the next year.
But the plans and operations of the society will be best understood from the documents which may be successively expected from the press. We will only add here, that one dollar will procure the ordinary monthly publications for the ensuing twelvemonth, either for a society or an individual; and three dollars the additional privilege to any individual, (with the approval of the executive committee,) of a seat at the next annual meeting, which is to be held in Philadelphia.
We have not room for the full list of officers, and shall therefore only mention the following, who reside in New-York: Wm. A. Duer, President; Wm. B. Kjnney, Recording Secretary; T. Dwisht, Jr., Corresponding Secretary; Wm. Fouxsr, 7V«o
Park Thcatri. — On the twenty-third day of April, in the year of Grace one thousand five hundred and sixty-four, there was born at Stratford-upon-Avon, one William Shakspeare, who some time about the year 1597, having then reached the full prime and vigor of manhood, did give to the world two plays, each of five acts, which he severally entitled 'The first and second parts of Henry IV.,' wherein it pleased him to introduce a strange sort of personage, 'a great fat man,' whom he christened 'Sir John FalstafT.' Now this ' Sir John,' by reason of the soul of humor wherewith Shakspeare had invested him, became a wonderful favorite with all sorts of people, who either made his acquaintance in the closet or upon the stage. Indeed, so particularly fond did some great personages become of this laughter-moving knight, that it is recorded how that even the good Queen Bess, of blessed memory, carried her admiration to the extent of an order to the bard for a second edition of the wag, with such improvements as the boy Cupid might suggest. Whereupon this same Shakspeare did speedily exhibit the knight in a new play, entitled the ' Merry Wives.of Windsor," wherein his susceptibilities were curiously operated upon by the little archer— to the increased diversion of her blessed majesty.
Now to represent truly this character of ' Sir John Falstaff,' has ever been an object of ambition among the players, but unfortunately the minimum that have succeeded in portraying the inimitable peculiarities of the favorite of Queen Bess, compared with the maximum who have failed therein, has been in the slender proportion of one to one hundred. The character seems indeed to present peculiar difficulties in the way of its representation — not merely, as some sapient critics have presumed, ' by reason of its fatness' — that overgrown obesity which 'lards the lean earth as it walks along" — but also in consequence of sundry sparklings of wit — the irradiation whereof is not always transferable, through the doughy expression of every 'human face divine,' the owner of which being dignified by the name of comedian, because 'laughing much himself, he sets on some quantity of barren spectators to laugh too.'
This preamble, containing as it does a vast fund of valuable information, is set forth by way of prelude to the announcement of the fact, that however great hitherto may have been considered the difficulties in the personation of Falstaff, by the predecessors as well as the successors of Betterton, they have been ably surmounted — utterly vanquished — completely annihilated — by a native American—in the nineteenth century — and that the stage of the Park Theatre has the honor of first exhibiting to the world — 'Falstaff made easy!' or the 'Triumph of matter over Mind,' as delineated in the personation of 'Sir John Falstaff,' by Mr. H Acre-it!
There cannot be a doubt, that among the many mirth-moving subjects which are so greedily caught up by the caricaturists of the day, none are so irresistible as those which come under the title of' national peculiarities,' and that among all the nations of the globe none are more open to ridicule, or possess more laughable peculiarities, than a certain portion of the inhabitants of the American continent who vegetate in that section of the universe, known and distinguished by the very definite soubriquet of 'Down East,' and who rejoice in the euphonius appellative of 'Yankee.' Now although this people did not exist either under the same name, or in this identical locality, Anno Domini 1597, yet inasmuch as they sprung from the same stock, and had their origin in the same country with the swan of Avon, it is quite probable that the germs at least of those humorous peculiarities which now distinguish them existed in England in the year of our Lord one thousand five hundred and sixty-four. Admitting this very plausible probability, it seems natural enough that Shakspeare, with his keen perception of every thing humorous or eccentric, would be the first to seize upon these peculiarities of his countrymen, as the irresistible means of exciting the cacchinations of the public — most especially when exhibited to them through the medium of such a 'fat-witted' rogue as he intended when he first conceived the idea of a Sir John Falstaff. Shakspeare, therefore, undoubtedly intended to make ' Falstaff,' what we in common stagejargon call a'Yankee character!' — a personage similar in all things (except perhaps in an excess of fat,) to that very natural, delicate and witty character, yclept 'Jonathan Dubikins.'
This reasoning, resulting as it does in absolute proof, gives us the true cause of the general failure of Mr. Hackett's predecessors, while at the same time it clearly unfolds the great secret of his own immense triumph in the arduous character of 'Sir John Falstaff.' Peace to all such! c.
American Theatre, Bowery.— 'Rienxi' dramatized by Miss Medina, from Bulwer's novel of that name, has been the crowning glory of the Bowery Theatre, for the last month. It has been produced with unwonted splendor of scenery and decoration; and the acting of Mr. Hamrun and Mrs. Flynn, as Rienzi and Nina, has been very justly commended.
'Memoirs or An American Lady,' Etc. — Mr. George Dearrorn has published in a volume of three hundred and fifty-four pages, ' Memoirs of an American Lady: with sketches of Manners and Scenery in America, as they existed previous to the Revolution.' It is by Mrs. Grant, of Laghan, Scotland, whom Lawrie Todd, not long since, so well described in these pages. 'As a picture,' says an appropriate' Notice' which introduces the book to the American reader, 'taken at the dawning of the Revolution, of the clouds which then passed along to have vanished otherwise forever, and as one of a series of works shedding light upon that momentous period of which the 'Pioneers' is its natural successor, its reappearance must be a welcome event in the marshalling of American literature now in progress.'
Eddy's Address To Youth. — Messrs. Leavitt, Lord And Company have published 'Addresses by A. D. Eddy, pastor of the first Presbyterian Church, in Newark, N. J., on the Duties, Dangers, and Securities of Youth.' From an introductory essay by the Hon. Theodore Frelinghuysen, setting forth the nature of the volume, we make the following extract: 'Whatever means can be applied to form the manners, to mould the character of our youth, deserves the favor of all who love their country. This volume may put in a fair claim to such intention. It embraces the whole range of duty, not so much by general maxims, as by particular and specific instructions, adapted to the various occasions of individual and social conduct.'
Boy's And Girl's Lirrary. — Nos. xxvi. and xxvu. of Harper's Juvenile Library are devoted to 'Uncle Philip's Conversations with the Children about the Whale Fishery and Polar Seas,' and are illustrated by divers wood-cuts. The good old man does"nt 'talk like a book' — he is more natural than the best; and little masters and misses will fancy themselves holding veritable converse with their garrulous and agreeable 'uncle.' Peter Parley must look to his bays. There is a formidable antagonist in the field — but both are 'working together for good,' and competition cannot be too great in such case.
'The Actress Op Padua, And Other Tales.' — The first portion of this work is a successful attempt to throw into the form of a tale, a drama by Victor Hugo, entitled • Angela Tr/rau de Padout.' The original is not very strictly adhered to, and the tale is all the better for it — for the extravagances of Hugo are not consonant with American taste, however the case may be with France, and we hope they never will be. Several of the other stories contained in these volumes we have read and admired, when first published by the author, Richard Penn Smith, Esq., in some of the popular periodicals of the day. That they will meet with favor, we cannot doubt.
New Works. — We have received and read, but at too late a period for notice in the present number, Raumer's 'England in 1835,' translated from the German by Mrs. Austin and H. E. Loyd; and our countrymen Cooper's ' Sketches of Switzerland.' We have only time and space to remark, that the first is unquestionably the best work upon England and her institutions that has ever appeared in this country, while the second will go far to retrieve the impression of melancholy literary decadence which the ill-judged publication of 'The Monnikins' created. Published by Carey, Lea And Blanckard. Wiley And Long.
Koningrmahke.—Volumes seven and eight of Harper's new uniform series of Paulding's Works, contain 'Koningsmarke; or Old Times in the New World.' The numerous admirers of the author will not like this old friend the less that it appears in a new and handsome dress, since there is no diminution of its keen satire and broad fun. We have on two or three occasions spoken of the present edition, as one both in cheapness and excellence of execution, well entitled to liberal demand at the hands of the public.
Author's Sallubt.— The Brothers' Harper have published, in a well-printed volume of three hundred and thirty-two pages, a new edition of Anthon's 'Sal lust,' witb various important alterations and improvements, such as an enlargement of the notes on the Jugurthine war, geographical and historical indexes, etc. This work enjoys a wide repute in this country, and two separate reprints, by different editors, have appeared in England.
The Morality or Poverty. — This is the first of a series of Lectures — (delivered in London by Rev. W. J. Fox, a divine well known for his sermons on various subjects, many volumes of which have attained wide popularity in this country,)—upon the general subject of 'Morality, as modified by the various classes into which society is divided.' It is a discourse well calculated to do good, and will, we trust, be extensively diffused. Tittle, Weeks And Dennett, Boston.
Works or Daniel Webster. — Mesrs. Perkins, Marvin And Company, Boston, and Henbv Perkins, Philadelphia, have published, in two large closely and beautifully printed volumes, the speeches and forensic arguments of Webster. These are fortyeight in number, and embrace every prominent effort of this eminent statesman. The volumes are embellished with a superb portrait of the author, and are every way most creditable to the liberality of the publishers. Wiley And Long, Broadway.
The Laws Of Etiquette. — A small volume, entitled 'Laws of Etiquette; or short rules and reflections for conduct in Society, by a Gentleman,' has been given to the public by Messrs. Carey, Lea And Blanchard. It contains many valuable aids to popular social intercourse, and some things little adapted to American society — but nothing that can make a gentleman, even outwardly, who does not first possess the attributes of one, in heart and feeling.
'The Hebrew Wipe." — The character of this volume, which we have found no leisure to peruse, may be gathered from its title: 'The Hebrew Wife: or the Law of Marriage examined in relation to the lawfulness of Polygamy.' The author is S. E. Dwioht, Esq., and the work is the result of official research, in instituting a prosecution for an incestuous marriage.
Letters, Conversations, And Recollections or S. T- Coleridge.— The admirers of Coleridge will find in the forty-five letters and numerous recollections and conversations embraced in this volume — all showing the attractions of a great mind unbent, in familiar, unconstrained moods — a treat of no common order. One volume: Harper, And Brothers.
Colton's Four Years In Great Britain. — This work, now thoroughly established in the popular favor, has passed to another excellent and cheap edition, in one volume. We have spoken at much length of these volumes heretofore—and it gives us pleasure to learn their many merits have been, as we predicted they would be, widely appreciated by the writer's countrymen.
Guide To The Environs Of New-york. — Mr. Distdrnell has published a neat little map, with all necessary descriptions accompanying it, of every place of interest in the vicinity of New-York. It is beautifully 'done up,' in colored morocco, and is worth to any stranger or citizen thrice its trifling cost.
Apologetic. — A notice of the National Academy of Design, and of two favors of correspondents, intended for the present number, will appear in the number for July.