England, or the Confessions of a Prime Minister, 2 vols. Philadelphia:
Carey, Lea & Blanchard. In a long poetical dedication this book
is inscribed "to the immortal spirit of the illustrious Goethe" -- and
the design, title, and machinery are borrowed from the Faust of
that writer. The author, whoever he may be, is a man of talent, of fine
poetical taste, and much general erudition. But nothing less than the vitiated
state of public feeling in England could have induced him to lavish those
great powers upon a work of this nature. It abounds with the coarsest and
most malignant satire, at the same time evincing less of the power than
of the will for causticity -- and being frequently most feeble when
it attempts to be the most severe. In this point it resembles the English
Bards and Scotch Reviewers. The most glaring defect, however, in the structure
of the book is its utter want of keeping. It appears, moreover,
to have no just object or end -- unless indeed we choose to consider that
its object which is the object of the hero proper himself -- "the hell-doomed
son of Sin and Death Mephistopheles" -- to cherish and foster the malice,
the heart-burnings, and all evil propensities of our nature. The work must,
therefore, as a whole be condemned, notwithstanding tile rare qualities
which have been brought to its composition. To prove that these qualities
exist in a very high degree in the writer
"Between the acts the curtain rose for a divertisement, in which the incomparable Taglioni made her appearance. She was greeted with the loudest demonstrations of popularity front her numerous patrons, which she acknowledged by several graceful courtesies. 'Behold! said Mephistopheles, directing my attention to the evolutions of the dancer, the progress of civilization. If all this were not so graceful it would be indecent, and that such an exhibition has a moral tendency is more than doubtful. Look at that young girl in the pit. She has seen sufficient to crimson her face, neck, and shoulders with a blush of shame, and she hides her head from a sight which has shocked her sense of decency. There is no affectation there. She is an innocent girl fresh from the country who never saw a ballet in her life. Yet all the rest, man, woman and child, gaze on delighted. Every glass is raised the more closely to watch the motions of the figurante. Look! -- she makes a succession of vaults, and her scanty drapery flying above her hips discloses to her enraptured admirers the beauty of her limbs. A thousand hands beat each other in approbation. Now she pirouettes, and observe the tumult of applause which follows. She stands on her left foot, on the point of her great toe nail, extending her right leg until the top of her foot is in a parallel line with the crown of her head. In this position she bends with an appearance of the greatest ease, till her body nearly touches the ground, and then gradually rises with the same infinite grace amid enthusiastic bravos and ecstatic applause. Now on her tip-toe, her right leg still extended, she moves slowly round, liberally extending to all her patrons within sight the most favorable opportunity of scrutinizing the graces of her figure, while the whose house testify their infinite gratification at the sight by every species of applause. Again she comes from the back of the stage, turning round and round with the speed of a tetotum but with an indescribable and fascinating grace that seems to turn the head of every young man in the theatre. During the storm of approbation which ensues she stands near the footlights, smiling, courtseying, and looking as modest as an angel. Then comes Perrot, who is as much the idol of the ladies as Taglioni is the goddess of the gentlemen. He leaps about as if his feet were made of India rubber, and spins around as if he intended to bore a hole with his toe in the floor of the stage. Then a little pantomime love business takes place between the danseur and the danseuse, and they twirl away, and glide along, and hold eloquent discourse with their pliant limbs; and the affair ends by the gentleman clasping the lady round the waist, while he, bending his body in the most graceful attitude, so that his head shall come under her left arm, looks up in apparent ecstacy into her smiling face as the lady raised high above him on the extreme point of her left foot, extends her right hand at right angles with her body, and looks down admiringly upon her companion. Thus grouped the curtain drops, and every one cries bravo! thumps the floor with his stick, or beats his palms together till such a din is raised as is absolutely deafening.'
"' She is a charming dancer,' I observed.
" 'Yes' -- replied he -- 'she understands the philosophy
of her art better than any of her contemporaries: it is to throw around
sensuality such a coloring of refinement as will divest it of its grossness.
For this she is
The District School, or National Education, by J. Orville Taylor. Third Edition. Philadelphia: Carey Lea & Blanchard. This work has met with universal approbation, and is worthy of it. The book was first published only a short time ago, and the third impression will speedily be exhausted, as parents have a direct personal concern in the matter, and in the important truths, duties, and responsibilities, herein pointed out. Mr. Taylor is entitled to the gratitude of his countrymen for that beneficial impulse which his work has been, and will be the means of giving to the great cause of General Education. "If a parent," says Mr. Taylor, "does not educate his child-the world will." We sincerely hope so. As the District School now appears it has been entirely re-written, and such alterations and additions made as the experience of the author suggested. We heartily wish it all the success it so eminently deserves.
The New England Magazine for September is unusually rich. Among its numerous and very excellent articles we would particularly notice a paper called "My Journal" -- and more especially Scraps of Philosophy and Criticism from a recent work of Victor Hugo's. One of these Scraps on Style, we are sure we shall be pardoned for extracting.
"If the name here inscribed were a name of note --if
the voice which speaks here were a voice of power -- we would entreat the
young and brilliant talents on which depends the future lot of a literature
for three ages so magnificent to reflect how important is their mission,
and to preserve in their manner of writing the most worthy and severe habitudes.
The Future -- let them think well of it -- belongs only to the masters
of style. Without referring to the admirable works of antiquity,
and confining ourselves to our National Literature, try to take from the
thought of our great writers the expression which is peculiar to
it. Take from Moliere his lively, ardent, frank, and amusing verse, so
well made, so well turned, so well finished -- take from Lafontaine the
simple and honest perfection of detail -- take from the phrase of Corneille
the vigorous muscle, the strong cords, the beautiful forms of exaggerated
vigor, which would have made of the old poet half Roman, half Spanish,
the Michael Angelo of our tragedy if the elements of genius had mingled
as much fancy as thought -- take from Racine that touch in his style which
resembles Raphael, a touch chaste, harmonious, and repressed like that
of Raphael, although of an inferior power -- quite as pure but less grand,
as perfect though less sublimetake from Fenelon, the man of his age who
had the best sentiment of antiquity, that prose as melodious and severe
as the verse of Racine of which it is the sister -- take from Bossuet the
magnificent bearing of his periods --take from Boileau his grave and sober
manner at times so admirably colored -- take from Pascal that original
and mathematical style with so much appropriateness in the choice of words,
and so much logic in every metaphor -- take from Voltaire that clear, solid,
and indestructible prose, that crystal prose of Candide, and the Philosophical
Dictionary -- take from all these great writers that simple attraction
-- style: and of Voltaire, of Pascal, of Boileau, of Bossuet, of
The Western Journal of the Medical and Physical Sciences, edited by Daniel Drake, M. D. Professor of the Theory and Practice of Medicine in Cincinnati College, and formerly Professor of the same in Transylvania University, and the Jefferson Medical College, Doctors C. R. Cooper and S. Reed, assistant Editors and Proprietors. Vol. IX, No. 33. We have received this Journal with the greatest plea sure, and avail ourselves of the present opportunity to express our opinion concerning it. It is an invaluable addition to our Medical and Scientific Literature, and at the same time one of the very cheapest publications in the country, each number containing 168 pages of closely printed matter, and the subscription price being only $3 per annum. The work is issued on the first day of July, October, January, and April, and has lately been incorporated with the Western Medical Gazette. We sincerely wish the publication every possible success -- for it is well worthy of it. Its typographical and mechanical execution altogether are highly creditable to Cincinnati, and the able and well known collaborators, a list of whose names is upon the opening page of each number, and whose editorial offices are engaged in the service of the Journal, will not fail to impart a sterling character and value to the Medical, as well as purely Literary portions of the work. We take the liberty of extracting from page 79, of the present number, (that for July) an interesting account of a cure of partial spontaneous combustion, occurring in the person of Professor H. of the University of Nashville. The portion extracted is contained in a Review of An Essay on Spontaneous Combustion, read before the Medical Society in the State of Tennessee, at their annual meeting in May 1835. 1 y James Overton, M. D.
"Prof. H., of the University of Nashville, is a gentleman 35 years old, of middle size, light hair, hazle [[hazel]] eyes, and sanguinolymphatic temperament; he has been extremely temperate as to alcoholic stimulation of every kind; led a sedentary and studious life; and been subject to a great variety of dyspeptic affections. On the 5th of January, 1835, he left his recitation room at 11 o'clock, A.M., and walked briskly, with his surtout buttoned round him, to his residence, three quarters of a mile. The thermometer was at 8o, and the barometer at 29.248 -- the sky clear and calm. On reaching home he engaged in meteorological observations, and in 30 minutes, while in the open air about to record the direction of the winds --
"' He felt a pain as if produced by the pulling of
a hair, on the left leg, and which amounted in degree to a strong sensation.
Upon applying his hand to the spot pained, the sensation suddenly increased,
till it amounted in intensity to a feeling resembling the continued sting
of a wasp or hornet. He then began to slap the part by repeated strokes
with the open hand, during which time the pain continued to increase in
intensity, so that he was forced to cry out from the severity of his suffering.
Directing his eyes at this moment to the suffering part, he distinctly
saw a light flame of the extent, at its base, of a ten cent piece of coin,
and having a complexion which nearest resembles that of pure quicksilver.
Of the accuracy in this latter feature in the appearance of the flame,
Mr. H. is very confident, notwithstanding the unfavorable circumstances
" 'Believing the combustion to have been extinguish ed by the means just noticed, and the pain having greatly subsided, leaving only the feeling usually the effect of a slight burn, he untied and pulled up his pantaloons and drawers, for the purpose of ascertaining the condition of the part which had been the seat of his suffering. He found a surface on the outer and upper part of the left leg, reaching from the femoral end of the fibula in an oblique direction, towards the upper portion of the grastrochnemi muscles, about three-fourths of an inch in width, and three inches in length, denuded of the scarfskin, and this membrane gathered into a roll at the lower edge of the abraded surface. The injury resembled very exactly in appearance an abrasion of the skin of like extent and depth, often the effect of slight mechanical violence, except that the surface of it was extremely dry, and had a complexion more livid than that of wounds of a similar extent produced by the action of mechanical causes.' pp. 25-26.
"His drawers, composed of silk and wool, immediately over the abraded skin, were burnt entirely through, but the scorching had not extended in the slightest degree beyond. The pantaloons, made of broadcloth, were uninjured; but over the affected spot, the extremities of the wool were tinged with a kind of dark, yellowish matter, which could be easily scraped off with a knife.
"'Considering the injury not to be of a serious character,
Mr. H. bestowed upon its treatment no particular care or attention, but
pursued his usual avocations within doors and in the open air, which was
very cold, until the evening of the succeeding day. At this time the wound
became inflamed and painful, and was dressed with a salve, into the composition
of which the rosin of turpentine entered in considerable proportion. This
treatment was continued for four or five days, during which time the wound
presented the usual aspect of a burn from ordinary causes, except in its
greater depth and more tardy progress towards cicatrization, which did
not take place till after thirty-two days from the date of the infliction
of the injury. The part of the ulcer which healed last was the point of
The Classical Family Library. Numbers XV, XVI, and XVII. Euripides translated by the Reverend R. Potter, Prebendary of Norwich. Harper & Brothers, New York. These three volumes embrace the whole of Euripides -- AEschylus and Sophocles having already been published in the Library. A hasty glance at the work will not enable us to speak positively in regard to the value of these translations. The name of Potter, however, is one of high authority, and we have no reason to suspect that he has not executed his task as well as any man living could have done it. But that these, or that any poetic versions can convey to the mind of the merely general reader the most remote conception of either the manner, the spirit, or the meaning of the Greek dramatists, is what Mr. Potter does not intend us to believe, and what we certainly should not believe if he did. At all events, it must be a subject of general congratulation, that in the present day, for a sum little exceeding three dollars, any lover of the classics may possess him. self of complete versions of the three greatest among the ancient Greek writers of tragedy.
Ardent admirers of Hellenic Literature, we have still no passion for Euripides. Truly great when compared with many of the moderns, he falls immeasurably below his immediate predecessors. "He is admirable," says a German critic, "where the object calls chiefly for emotion, and requires the display of no higher qualities; and he is still more so where pathos and moral beauty are united. Few of his pieces are without particular passages of the most overpowering beauty. It is by no means my intention to deny him the possession of the most astonishing talents: I have only stated that these talents were not united with a mind in which the austerity of moral principle, and the sanctity of religious feelings were held in the highest honor."
The life, essence, and characteristic qualities of the ancient Greek
drama may be found in three things. First, in the ruling idea of Destiny
or Fate. Secondly, in the Chorus. Thirdly, in Ideality. But in Euripides
we behold only the decline and fall of that drama, and the three prevailing
features we have mentioned are in him barely distinguishable, or to be
seen only in their perversion. What, for example is, with Sophocles, and
still more especially with AEschylus, the obscure and
Again; the Chorus, which appears never to have been thoroughly understood by the moderns-the Chorus of Euripides is not, alas! the Chorus of his predecessors. That this singular, or at least apparently singular feature, in the Greek drama, was intended for the mere purpose of preventing the stage from being, at any moment entirely empty, has been an opinion very generally, and very unaccountably received. The Chorus was not, at any time, upon the stage. Its general station was in the orchestra, in which it also performed the solemn dances, and walked to and fro during the choral songs. And when it did not sing, its proper station was upon the thymele, an elevation somewhat like an altar, but with steps, in front of the orchestra, raised as high as the stage, and opposite to the scene -- being also in the very centre of the entire theatre, and serving as a point around which the semi-circle of the amphitheatre was described. Most critics, however, have merely laughed at the Chorus as something superfluous and absurd, urging the folly of enacting passages supposed to be performed in secret in the presence of an assembled crowd, and believing that as it originated in the infancy of the art, it was continued merely through caprice or accident. Sophocles, however, wrote a treatise on the Chorus, and assigned his reasons for persisting in the practice. Aristotle says little about it, and that little affords no clew to its actual meaning or purpose. Horace considers it "a general expression of moral participation, instruction, and admonition;" and this opinion, which is evidently just, has been adopted and commented upon, at some length, by Schlegel. Publicity among the Greeks, with their republican habits and modes of thinking, was considered absolutely essential to all actions of dignity or importance. Their dramatic poetry imbibed the sentiment, and was thus made to display a spirit of conscious independence. The Chorus served to give verisimilitude to the dramatic action, and was, in a word, the ideal spectator. It stood in lieu of the national spirit, and represented the general participation of the human race, in the events going forward upon the stage. This was its most extended, and most proper object; but it had others of a less elevate] nature, and more nearly in accordance with the spirit of our own melo-drama.
But the Chorus of Euripides was not the true and
unadulterated Chorus of the purer Greek tragedy. It is even more than probable
that he did never rightly appreciate its full excellence and power, or
give it any portion of his serious attention. He made no scruple of admitting
the parabasis into his tragedies* -- a license which although well suited
to the spirit of comedy, was entirely out of place, and must have had a
* The parabasis was the privilege granted the Chorus of addressing the spectators in its own person. [This footnote appears at the bottom column 2 on page 779.]
In respect to the Ideality of the Greek drama, a few words will be sufficient. It was the Ideality of conception, and the Ideality of representation. Character and manners were never the character and manners of every day existence, but a certain, and very marked elevation above them. Dignity and grandeur enveloped each personage of the stage -- but such dignity as comported with his particular station, and such grandeur as was never at outrance with his allotted part. And this was the Ideality of conception. The cothurnus, the mask, the mass of drapery, all so constructed and arranged as to give an increase of bodily size, the scenic illusions of a nature very different, and much more extensive than our own, inasmuch as actual realities were called in to the aid of art, were on the other hand the Ideality of representation. But although in Sophocles, and more especially in AEschylus, character and expression were made subservient and secondary to this ideal and lofty elevation -- in Euripides the reverse is always found to be the case. His heroes are introduced familiarly to the spectators, and so far from raising his men to the elevation of Divinities, his Divinities are very generally lowered to the most degrading and filthy common-places of an earthly existence. But we may sum up our opinion of Euripides far better in the words of Augustus William Schlegel, than in any farther observations of our own.
"This poet has at the same time destroyed the internal essence of tragedy, and sinned against the laws of beauty and proportion in its external structure. He generally sacrifices the whole to the effect of particular parts, and in these he is also more ambitious of foreign attractions, than of genuine poetical beauty."
The Early Naval History
of England. By Robert Southey, L. L. D. Poet Laureate. Philadelphia: Carey,
Lea & Blanchard. The early naval history of England, and by so
fine a writer as Southey undoubtedly is, either in poetry or prose, but
more especially in the latter, cannot fail of exciting a lively interest
among readers of every class. In the subject matter of this work we, as
Americans, have moreover a particular feeling, for it has been often remarked
that in no national characteristic do we bear a closer analogy to our progenitors
in Great Britain than in the magnificence and glory of our many triumphs
both over and upon the sea. To those who know Southey well, and we sincerely
hope there are not a few of our readers who do know him intimately, through
the medium of his writings at least, we shall be under no necessity of
giving any assurance that the History of which we are now speaking, is
a work of no common merit, and worthy of all their attention. Southey is
a writer who has few equals any where, either in purity of truly English
prose, or in melody of immortal verse. He is great in every department
of Literature which he has attempted. And even did we feel inclined at
present, with his very happily executed Naval History before us, to quarrel
with some of his too zealous friends for overrating his merely poetical
abilities, we could not find it in our hearts to place him second to any
one -- no, not to our own noble Irving in ---- we will not use the term
classical, but prefer repeating
The Gift: A Christmas and New Year's Present for 1836. Edited by Miss Leslie. Philadelphia: E. L. Carey and A. Hart. -- We are really sorry that we have no opportunity of noticing this beautiful little Annual at length, and article by article, in our present number: and this the more especially as the edition is even now nearly exhausted, and it will be hardly worth while to say any thing concerning the work in our next, by which time we are very sure there will not be a copy to be obtained at any price. The Gift is highly creditable to the enterprise of its publishers, and more so to the taste and talents of Miss Leslie. This we say positively -- the ill-mannered and worse-natured opinion of the Boston Courier to the contrary notwithstanding. Never had Annual a brighter galaxy of illustrious literary names in its table of contents-and in no instance has any contributor fallen below his or her general reputation. The embellishments are not all of a high order of excellence. The Orphans, for example, engraved by Thomas B. Welch from a painting by J. Wood, is hard and scratchy in manner, and altogether unworthy of the book -- while the head of the child in the Prawn Fishers, engraved by A. W. Graham from a painting by W. Collins, R. A. has every appearance of a cabbage. But the portrait of Fanny Kemble by Cheney, from Sully, is one of the finest things in the world, notwithstanding a certain wiriness above the hair. The likeness is admirable -- the attitude exquisite -- and the countenance is beaming all over with intelligence. The gem of the book, however, is the Smuggler's Repose, engraved by W. E. Tucker from a painting by J. Tennant. We repeat it, this is absolutely a gem -- such as any Souvenir in any country might be proud to possess, and sufficient of itself to stamp a high character upon the Gift.
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