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Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 1, No. 7, May, 1858 by Various

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These, we believe, are the only instances in which Mr. Halliwell has
ventured to give any opinion upon the text, except as to a palpable
misprint, here and there. Two of these we have already cited. There is
one other,--"p. 46, line 10. _Iuconstant_.--An error for _inconstant_."
Wherever there is a real difficulty, he leaves us in the lurch. For
example, in "What you Will," he prints without comment,--

"Ha! he mount Chirall on the wings of
fame!" (Vol. I. p. 239,)

which should be "mount cheval," as it is given in Mr. Dilke's edition
(Old English Plays, Vol. II. p. 222). We cite this, not as the worst,
but the shortest, example at hand.

Some of Mr. Halliwell's notes are useful and interesting,--as that
on "keeling the pot," and some others,--but a great part are utterly
useless. He thinks it necessary, for instance, to explain that "_to
speak pure foole_, is in sense equivalent to 'I will speak like a pure
fool,'"--that "belkt up" means "belched up,"--"aprecocks," "apricots."
He has notes also upon "meal-mouthed," "luxuriousnesse," "termagant,"
"fico," "estro," "a nest of goblets," which indicate either that the
"general reader" is a less intelligent person in England than in
America, or that Mr. Halliwell's standard of scholarship is very low.
We ourselves, from our limited reading, can supply him with a reference
which will explain the allusion to the "Scotch barnacle" much
better than his citations from Sir John Maundeville and Giraldus
Cambrensis,--namely, note 8, on page 179 of a Treatise on Worms, by Dr.
Ramesey, court physician to Charles II.

Next month we shall examine Mr. Hazlitt's edition of Webster.

_Waverley Novels_. Household Edition. Boston: Ticknor & Fields. 16mo.

This beautiful edition of Scott's Novels will be completed in
forty-eight volumes. Thirty are already published, and the remaining
eighteen will be issued at the rate of two volumes a month. As this
edition, in the union of elegance of mechanical execution with cheapness
of price, is the best which has yet been published in the United States,
and reflects great credit on the taste and enterprise of the publishers,
its merits should be universally known. The paper is white, the type new
and clear, the illustrations excellent, the volumes of convenient size,
the notes placed at the foot of the page, and the text enriched with the
author's latest corrections. It is called the "Household Edition";
and we certainly think it would be a greater adornment, and should be
considered a more indispensable necessity, than numerous articles of
expensive furniture, which, in too many households, take the place of
such books.

The success of this edition, which has been as great as that of most new
novels, is but another illustration of the permanence of Scott's hold on
the general imagination, resulting from the instinctive sagacity with
which he perceived and met its wants. The generation of readers for
which he wrote has mostly passed away; new fashions in fiction have
risen, had their day, and disappeared; he has been subjected to much
acute and profound criticism of a disparaging kind; and at present
he has formidable rivals in a number of novelists, both eminent and
popular;--yet his fame has quietly and steadily widened with time, the
"reading public" of our day is as much his public as the reading public
of his own, and there has been no period since he commenced writing when
there were not more persons familiar with his novels than with those of
any other author. Some novelists are more highly estimated by certain
classes of minds, but no other comprehends in his popularity so many
classes, and few bear so well that hardest of tests, re-perusal. Many
novels stimulate us more, and while we are reading them we think they
are superior to Scott's; but we miss, in the general impression they
leave on the mind, that peculiar charm which, in Scott, calls us back,
after a few years, to his pages, to revive the recollection of scenes
and characters which may be fading away from our memories. We doubt,
also, if any other novelist has, in a like degree, the power of
instantaneously withdrawing so wide a variety of readers from the
perplexities and discomforts of actual existence, and making them for
the time denizens of a new world. He has stimulating elements enough,
and he exhibits masterly art in the wise economy with which he uses
them; but he still stimulates only to invigorate; and when he enlivens
jaded minds, it is rather by infusing fresh life than by applying fierce
excitements, and there is consequently no reaction of weariness and
disgust. He appeases, satisfies, and enchants, rather than stings and
inflames. The interest he rouses is not of that absorbing nature which
exhausts from its very intensity, but is of that genial kind which
continuously holds the pleased attention while the story is in progress,
and remains in the mind as a delightful memory after the story is
finished. It may also be said of his characters, that, if some other
novelists have exhibited a finer and firmer power in delineating higher
or rarer types of humanity, Scott is still unapproached in this, that he
has succeeded in domesticating his creations in the general heart and
brain, and thus obtained the endorsement of human nature as evidence of
their genuineness. His characters are the friends and acquaintances of
everybody,--quoted, referred to, gossipped about, discussed, criticized,
as though they were actual beings. He, as an individual, is almost lost
sight of in the imaginary world his genius has peopled; and most of
his readers have a more vivid sense of the reality of Dominie Sampson,
Jennie Deans, or any other of his characterizations, than they have of
himself. And the reason is obvious. They know Dominie Sampson through
Scott; they know Scott only through Lockhart. Still, it is certain that
the nature of Scott, that essential nature which no biography can give,
underlies, animates, disposes, and permeates all the natures he has
delineated. It is this, which, in the last analysis, is found to be the
source of his universal popularity, and which, without analysis, is felt
as a continual charm by all his readers, whether they live in palaces or
cottages. His is a nature which is welcomed everywhere, because it is at
home everywhere. The mere power and variety of his imagination cannot
account for his influence; for the same power and variety might have
been directed by a discontented and misanthropic spirit, or have obeyed
the impulses of selfish and sensual passions, and thus conveyed a bitter
or impure view of human nature and human life. It is, then, the man
in the imagination, the cheerful, healthy, vigorous, sympathetic,
good-natured, and broad-natured Walter Scott himself, who, modestly
hidden, as he seems to be, behind the characters and scenes he
represents, really streams through them the peculiar quality of life
which makes their abiding charm. He has been accepted by humanity,
because he is so heartily humane,--humane, not merely as regards man in
the abstract, but as regards man in the concrete.

We have spoken of the number of his readers, and of his capacity to
interest all classes of people; but we suppose, that, in our day, when
everybody knows how to read without always knowing what to read, even
Scott has failed to reach a multitude of persons abundantly capable of
receiving pleasure from his writings, but who, in their ignorance of
him, are content to devour such frightful trash in the shape of novels
as they accidentally light upon in a leisure hour. One advantage of such
an edition of his works as that which has occasioned these remarks is,
that it tends to awaken attention anew to his merits, to spread his fame
among the generation of readers now growing up, and to place him in
the public view fairly abreast of unworthy but clamorous claimants for
public regard, as inferior to him in the power to impart pleasure as
they are inferior to him in literary excellence. That portion of the
public who read bad novels cannot be reached by criticism; but if they
could only be reached by Scott, they would quickly discover and resent
the swindle of which they have so long been the victims.

_A Dictionary of Medical Science_, etc. By ROBLEY DUNGLISON, M.D., LL.D.
Revised and very greatly enlarged.

It does not fall within our province to enter into a minute examination
of a professional work like the one before us. As a Medical Dictionary
is a book, however, which every general reader will find convenient at
times, and as we have long employed this particular dictionary with
great satisfaction, we do not hesitate to devote a few sentences to its
notice.

We remember when it was first published in 1833, meagre, as compared
with its present affluence of information. A few years later a second
edition was honorably noticed in the "British and Foreign Medical
Review." At that time it was only half the size of Hooper's well-known
Medical Dictionary, but by its steady growth in successive editions it
has reached that obesity which is tolerable in books we consult, but
hardly in such as we read. The labor expended in preparing, the work
must have been immense, and, unlike most of our stereotyped medical
literature, it has increased by true interstitial growth, instead of
by mere accretion, or of remaining essentially stationary--with the
exception of the title-page.

We can confidently recommend this work as a most ample and convenient
book of reference upon Anatomy, Physiology, Climate, and other subjects
likely to be occasionally interesting to the general reader, as well as
upon all practical matters connected with the art of healing.

In the present state of education and intelligence, he must be a dull
person who does not frequently find a question arising on some point
connected with this range of studies. The student will find in this
dictionary an enormous collection of synonymes in various languages,
brief accounts of almost everything medical ever heard of, and full
notices of many of the more important subjects treated,--such as
Climate, Diet, Falsification of Drugs, Feigned Diseases, Muscles,
Poisons, and many others.

Here and there we notice blemishes, as must be expected in so huge
a collection of knowledge. Thus, _Bronchlemmitis_ is not _Polypus
bronchialis_, but _Croup_.--The accent of _larynqeal_ and _pharyngeal_
is incorrectly placed on the third syllable. In this wilderness of words
we look in vain for the New York provincialism "Sprue." The work has
a right to some scores, perhaps hundreds, of such errors, without
forfeiting its character. If the Elzevirs could not print the "Corpus
Juris Civilis" without a false heading to a chapter, we may excuse a
dictionary-maker and his printer for an occasional slip. But it is a
most useful book, and scholars will find it immensely convenient.

_Scenes of Clerical Life_. By GEORGE ELIOT. Originally published in
"Blackwood's Magazine." New York: Harper & Brothers. 1858.

Fiction represents the character of the age to which it belongs, not
merely by actual delineations of its times, like those of "Tom Jones"
and "The Newcomer," but also in an indirect, though scarcely less
positive manner, by its exhibition of the influence of the times upon
its own form and general direction, whatever the scene or period it may
have chosen for itself. The story of "Hypatia" is laid in Alexandria
almost two thousand years ago, but the book reflects the crudities of
modern English thought; and even Mr. Thackeray, the greatest
living master of costume, succeeds in making his "Esmond" only a
joint-production of the Addisonian age and our own. Thus the novels of
the last few years exhibit very clearly the spirit that characterizes
the period of regard for men and women as men and women, without
reference to rank, beauty, fortune, or privilege. Novelists recognize
that Nature is a better romance-maker than the fancy, and the public is
learning that men and women are better than heroes and heroines, not
only to live with, but also to read of. Now and then, therefore, we get
a novel, like these "Scenes of Clerical Life," in which the fictitious
element is securely based upon a broad groundwork of actual truth, truth
as well in detail as in general.

It is not often, however, even yet, that we find a writer wholly
unembarrassed by and in revolt against the old theory of the necessity
of perfection in some one at least of the characters of his story.
"Neither Luther nor John Bunyan," says the author of this book, "would
have satisfied the modern demand for an ideal hero, who believes nothing
but what is true, feels nothing but what is excellent, and does nothing
but what is graceful."

Sometimes, indeed, a daring romance-writer ventures, during the earlier
chapters of his story, to represent a heroine without beauty and without
wealth, or a hero with some mortal blemish. But after a time his
resolution fails;--each new chapter gives a new charm to the ordinary
face; the eyes grow "liquid" and "lustrous," always having been "large";
the nose, "naturally delicate," exhibits its "fine-cut lines"; the mouth
acquires an indescribable expression of loveliness; and the reader's
hoped-for Fright is transformed by Folly or Miss Pickering into a
commonplace, tiresome, _novelesque_ Beauty. Even Miss Bronte relented
toward Jane Eyre; and weaker novelists are continually repeating,
but with the omission of the moral, the story of the "Ugly Duck."
Unquestionably, there is the excuse to be made for this great error,
that it betrays the seeking after an Ideal. Dangerous word! The ideal
standard of excellence is, to be sure, fortunately changing, and the
unreal ideal will soon be confined to the second-rate writers for
second-rate readers. But all the great novelists of the two last
generations indulged themselves and their readers in these unrealities.
It is vastly easier to invent a consistent character than to represent
an inconsistent one;--a hero is easier to make (so all historians have
found) than a man.

Suppose, however, novelists could be placed in a society made up of
their favorite characters,--forced into real, lifelike intercourse with
them;--Richardson, for instance, with his Harriet Byron or Clarissa,
attended by Sir Charles; Miss Burney with Lord Orville and Evelina;
Miss Edgeworth with Caroline Percy, and that marvellous hero, Count
Altenburg; Scott with the automatons that he called Waverley and Flora
McIvor. Suppose they were brought together to share the comforts (cold
comforts they would be) of life, to pass days together, to meet every
morning at breakfast; with what a ludicrous sense of relief, at the
close of this purgatorial period, would not the unhappy novelists
have fled from these deserted heroes and heroines, and the precious
proprieties of their romance, to the very driest and mustiest of human
bores,--gratefully rejoicing that the world was not filled with such
creatures as they themselves had set before it as _ideals!_

To copy Nature faithfully and heartily is certainly not less needful
when stories are presented in words than when they are told on canvas or
in marble. In the "Scenes from Clerical Life" we have a happy example of
such copying. The three stories embraced under this title are written
vigorously, with a just appreciation of the romance of reality, and with
honest adherence to truth of representation in the sombre as well as the
brighter portions of life. It demands not only a large intellect, but a
large heart, to gain such a candid and inclusive appreciation of life
and character as they display. The greater part of each story reads like
a reminiscence of real life, and the personages introduced show little
sign of being "rubbed down" or "touched up and varnished" for effect
The narrative is easy and direct, full of humor and pathos; and the
descriptions of simple life in a country village are often charming from
their freshness, vivacity, and sweetness. More than this, these stories
give proof of that wide range of experience which does not so much
depend on an extended or varied acquaintance with the world, as upon an
intelligent and comprehensive sympathy, which makes each new person with
whom one is connected a new illustration of the unsolved problems of
life and a new link in the unending chain of human development.

The book is one that deserves a more elegant form than that which the
Messrs. Harper have given it in their reprint.

_Twin Roses: A Narrative._ By ANNA CORA RITCHIE, Author of
"Autobiography of an Actress," "Mimic Life," etc. Boston: Ticknor &
Fields. 16mo.

This volume belongs to a series of narratives intended to illustrate
Mrs. Ritchie's experiences of theatrical life, and especially to do
justice to the many admirable people who have adopted the stage as
a profession. Though it has many defects, in respect to plot and
characterization, it seems to us the most charming in style and
beautiful in sentiment of Mrs. Ritchie's works. The two sisters, the
"twin roses," are, we believe, drawn from life; but the author's own
imagination has enveloped them in an atmosphere of romantic sweetness,
and their qualities are fondly exaggerated into something like
unreality. They seem to have been first idolized and then idealized, but
never realized. Still, the most beautiful and tender passages of the
whole book are those in which they are lovingly portrayed. The scenes
in the theatre are generally excellent. The perils, pains, pleasures,
failures, and triumphs of the actor's life are well described. The
defect, which especially mars the latter portion of the volume, is the
absence of any artistic reason for the numerous descriptions of scenery
which are introduced. The tourist and the novelist do not happily
combine. Still, the sentiment of the book is so pure, fresh, and
artless, its moral tone so high, its style so rich and melodious, and
its purpose so charitable and good, that the reader is kept in pleased
attention to the end, and lays it down with regret.

* * * * *

EDITORIAL NOTE.

In our review of Parton's Life of Burr, published in the March number,
the following passage occurs, as a quotation from that work:--"Hamilton
probably implanted a dislike for Burr in Washington's breast."

Upon this the author of the biography has had the effrontery to bring
against us a charge of _forgery_. He affirms that neither the sentence
above quoted nor any resembling it can be found in his book.

Mr. Parton, speaking of Washington's refusal to nominate Burr to the
French mission, (p. 197,) speaks of the President's dislike for him;
and, endeavoring to account for it, says: "Reflecting upon this
circumstance, the idea will occur to the individual long immersed in the
reading of that period, _that this invincible dislike of Colonel Burr
was perhaps implanted, certainly nourished, in the mind of General
Washington by his useful friend and adherent, Alexander Hamilton."_

We do not wonder that Mr. Parton should have been annoyed by so damaging
a criticism of his book, but we can account for his forgetfulness only
by supposing that he has been so long "immersed in the reading of
that period" as to have arrived nearly at the drowning-point of
insensibility.

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