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Atlantic Monthly, Volume 3, Issue 15, January, 1859 by Various

Part 5 out of 5

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choice and noble diction was quite as well understood in his day as in
ours is evident from the praises bestowed by his contemporaries on
Drayton, and by the epithet "well-languaged" applied to Daniel, whose
poetic style is as modern as that of Tennyson; but the endless
absurdities about the comparative merits of Saxon and Norman-French,
vented by persons incapable of distinguishing one tongue from the
other, were as yet unheard of. The influence of the Normans in
Romanizing our language has been vastly overrated. We find a principle
of _caste_ established in certain cases by the relation of producer and
consumer,--in others by the superior social standing of the conquering
race. Thus, _ox_, _sheep_, _calf_, _swine_, indicate the thing
produced; _beef_, _mutton_, _veal_, _pork_, the thing consumed.[5] It
is the same with the names of the various grains, and the product of
the cheaper kinds when ground,--as _oat-meal_, _barley-meal_,
_rye-meal_; while the generic terra for the crop becomes _grain_, and
the meal of the variety used by the higher classes is turned into
_flour_. To _bury_ remains Saxon, because both high and low must be
hidden under ground at last; but as only the rich and noble could
afford any pomp in that sad office, we get the word _funeral_ from the
Norman. So also the serf went into a Saxon _grave_, the lord into a
Norman _tomb_. All the parts of armor are naturally named from the
French; the weapons of the people, as _sword_, _bow_, and the like,
continued Saxon. So _feather_ is Saxon; but as soon as it changes into
a _plume_ for the knight, it turns Norman,--and Latin when it is cut
into a _pen_ for the _clerk_. _Book_ is Saxon; but a number of books
collected together, as could be done only by the rich, makes a
_library_. _Darling_ would be murmured over many a _cradle_ in Saxon
_huts_; but _minion_ came into the language down the back stairs of the
Norman _palace_. In the same way, terms of law are Norman, and of the
Church, Latin. These are familiar examples. But hasty generalizers are
apt to overlook the fact, that the Saxon was never, to any great
extent, a literary language. Accordingly, it held its own very well in
the names of common things, but failed to answer the demands of complex
ideas, derived from them. The author of "Piers Ploughman" wrote for the
people, Chaucer for the court. We open at random and count the Latin[6]
words in ten verses of the "Vision" and ten of Chaucer's "Romaunt of
the Rose," (a translation from the French,) and find the proportion to
be seven in the former and five in the latter.

The organs of the Saxon have always been unwilling and stiff in
learning languages. He acquired only about as many British words as we
have Indian ones, and we believe that more French and Latin was
introduced through the pen and the eye than through the tongue and the
ear. For obvious reasons, the question is one that must be settled by
reference to prose-writers, and not poets; and it is, we think, pretty
well settled that more words of Latin original were brought into the
language in the century between 1550 and 1650 than in the whole period
before or since,--and for the simple reason, that they were absolutely
needful to express new modes and combinations of thought.[7] The
language has gained immensely by the infusion, in richness of synonyme
and in the power of expressing nice shades of thought and feeling, but
more than all in light-footed polysyllables that trip singing to the
music of verse. There are certain cases, it is true, where the vulgar
Saxon word is refined, and the refined Latin vulgar, in poetry,--as in
_sweat_ and _perspiration_; but there are vastly more in which the
Latin bears the bell. Perhaps there might he a question between the old
English _again-rising_ and _resurrection_; but there can be no doubt
that _conscience_ is better than _inwit_, and _remorse_ than
_again-bite_. Should we translate the title of Wordsworth's famous ode,
"Intimations of Immortality," into "Hints of Deathlessness," it would
hiss like an angry gander. If, instead of Shakspeare's

"Age cannot wither her,
Nor custom stale her infinite variety,"

we should say, "her boundless manifoldness," the sentiment would suffer
in exact proportion with the music. What homebred English could ape the
high Roman fashion of such togated words as

"The multitudinous sea incarnadine,"--

where the huddling epithet implies the tempest-tossed soul of the
speaker, and at the same time pictures the wallowing waste of ocean
more vividly than the famous phrase of AEschylus does its rippling
sunshine? Again, _sailor_ is less poetical than _mariner_, as Campbell
felt, when he wrote,

"Ye mariners of England,"

and Coleridge, when he preferred

"It was an ancient mariner"

"It was an elderly seaman";

for it is as much the charm of poetry that it suggest a certain
remoteness and strangeness as familiarity; and it is essential not only
that we feel at once the meaning of the words in themselves, but also
their melodic meaning in relation to each other, and to the sympathetic
variety of the verse. A word once vulgarized can never be
rehabilitated. We might say now a _buxom_ lass, or that a chambermaid
was _buxom_, but we could not use the term, as Milton did, in its
original sense of _bowsome_,--that is, _lithe, gracefully bending_.[8]

But the secret of force in writing lies not in the pedigree of nouns
and adjectives and verbs, but in having something that you believe in
to say, and making the parts of speech vividly conscious of it. It is
when expression becomes an act of memory, instead of an unconscious
necessity, that diction takes the place of warm and hearty speech. It
is not safe to attribute special virtues (as Bosworth, for example,
does to the Saxon) to words of whatever derivation, at least in poetry.
Because Lear's "oak-cleaving thunderbolts," and "the all-dreaded
thunder-stone" in "Cymbeline" are so fine, we would not give up
Wilton's Virgilian "fulmined over Greece," where the verb in English
conveys at once the idea of flash and reverberation, but avoids that of
riving and shattering. In the experiments made for casting the great
bell for the Westminster Tower, it was found that the superstition
which attributed the remarkable sweetness and purity of tone in certain
old bells to the larger mixture of silver in their composition had no
foundation in fact. It was the cunning proportion in which the ordinary
metals were balanced against each other, the perfection of form, and
the nice gradations of thickness, that wrought the miracle. And it is
precisely so with the language of poetry. The genius of the poet will
tell him what word to use (else what use in his being poet at all?);
and even then, unless the proportion and form, whether of parts or
whole, be all that Art requires and the most sensitive taste finds
satisfaction in, he will have failed to make what shall vibrate through
all its parts with a silvery unison,--in other words, a poem.

We think the component parts of English were in the latter years of
Elizabeth thus exquisitely proportioned one to the other. Yet Bacon had
no faith in his mother-tongue, translating the works on which his fame
was to rest into what he called "the universal language," and affirming
that "English would bankrupt all our books." He was deemed a master of
it, nevertheless; and it is curious that Ben Jonson applies to him in
prose the same commendation which he gave Shakspeare in verse, saying,
that he "performed that in our tongue which may be compared or
preferred either to _insolent Greece or haughty Rome_"; and he adds
this pregnant sentence:--"In short, within his view and about his time
were all the wits born that could honor a language or help study. Now
things daily fall: wits grow downwards, eloquence grows backwards." Ben
had good reason for what he said of the wits. Not to speak of science,
of Galileo and Kepler, the sixteenth century was a spendthrift of
literary genius. An attack of immortality in a family might have been
looked for then as scarlet-fever would be now. Montaigne, Tasso, and
Cervantes were born within the same fourteen years; and in England,
while Spenser was still delving over the _propria que maribus_, and
Raleigh launching paper navies, Shakspeare was stretching his baby
hands for the moon, and the little Bacon, chewing on his coral, had
discovered that impenetrability was one quality of matter. It almost
takes one's breath away to think that "Hamlet" and the "Novum Organon"
were at the risk of teething and measles at the same time. But Ben was
right also in thinking that eloquence had grown backwards. He lived
long enough to see the language of verse become in a measure
traditionary and conventional. It was becoming so, partly from the
necessary order of events, partly because the most natural and intense
expression of feeling had been in so many ways satisfied and
exhausted,--but chiefly because there was no man left to whom, as to
Shakspeare, perfect conception gave perfection of phrase. Dante, among
modern poets, his only rival in condensed force, says, "Optimis
conceptionibus optima loquela conveniet; sed optimae conceptiones non
possunt esse nisi ubi scientia et ingenium est;... et sic non omnibus
versificantibus optima loquela convenit, cum plerique sine scientia et
ingenio versificantur."[9]

Shakspeare must have been quite as well aware of the provincialism of
English as Bacon was; but he knew that great poetry, being universal in
its appeal to human nature, can make any language classic, and that the
men whose appreciation is immortality will mine through any dialect to
get at an original soul. He had as much confidence in his homebred
speech as Bacon had want of it, and exclaims,--

"Not marble nor the gilded monuments
Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme."

He must have been perfectly conscious of his genius, and of the great
trust which he imposed upon his native tongue as embodier and
perpetuator of it. As he has avoided obscurities in his sonnets, he
would do so _a fortiori_ in his plays, both for the purpose of
immediate effect on the stage and of future appreciation. Clear
thinking makes clear writing, and he who has shown himself so eminently
capable of it in one case is not to be supposed to abdicate
intentionally in others. The difficult passages in the plays, then, are
to be regarded either as corruptions, or else as phenomena in the
natural history of Imagination, whose study will enable us to arrive at
a clearer theory and better understanding of it.

While we believe that our language had two periods of culmination in
poetic beauty,--one of nature, simplicity, and truth, in the ballads,
which deal only with narrative and feeling,--another of Art, (or Nature
as it is ideally reproduced through the imagination,) of stately
amplitude, of passionate intensity and elevation, in Spenser and the
greater dramatists,--and that Shakspeare made use of the latter as he
found it, we by no means intend to say that he did not enrich it, or
that any inferior man could have dipped the same words out of the great
poet's inkstand. But he enriched it only by the natural expansion and
exhilaration of which it was conscious, in yielding to the mastery of a
genius that could turn and wind it like a fiery Pegasus, making it feel
its life in every limb. He enriched it through that exquisite sense of
music, (never approached but by Marlowe,) to which it seemed to be
eagerly obedient, as if every word said to him,

"_Bid me_ discourse, I will enchant thine ear,"--

as if every latent harmony revealed itself to him as the gold to
Brahma, when he walked over the earth where it was hidden, crying,
"Here am I, Lord! do with me what thou wilt!" That he used language
with that intimate possession of its meaning possible only to the most
vivid thought is doubtless true; but that he wantonly strained it from
its ordinary sense, that he found it too poor for his necessities, and
accordingly coined new phrases, or that, from haste or carelessness, he
violated any of its received proprieties, we do not believe. We have
said that it was fortunate for him that he came upon an age when our
language was at its best; but it was fortunate also for us, because our
costliest poetic phrase is put beyond reach of decay in the gleaming
precipitate in which it united itself with his thought.

We do not, therefore, agree with Mr. Matthew Arnold, that the
extravagance of thought and diction which characterizes much of our
modern poetry is traceable to the influence of Shakspeare. We see in it
only the futile effort of misguided persons to torture out of language
the secret of that inspiration which should be in themselves. We do not
find the extravagances in Shakspeare himself. We never saw a line in
any modern poet that reminded us of him, and will venture to assert
that it is only poets of the second class that find successful
imitators. And the reason seems to us a very plain one. The genius of
the great poet seeks repose in the expression of itself, and finds it
at last in style, which is the establishment of a perfect mutual
understanding between the worker and his material.[10] The secondary
intellect, on the other hand, seeks for excitement in expression, and
stimulates itself into mannerism, which is the wilful obtrusion of
self, as style is its unconscious abnegation. No poet of the first
class has ever left a school, because his imagination is
incommunicable; while, just as surely as the thermometer tells of the
neighborhood of an iceberg, you may detect the presence of a genius of
the second class in any generation by the influence of his mannerism,
for that, being an artificial thing, is capable of reproduction. Dante,
Shakspeare, Goethe, left no heirs either to the form or mode of their
expression; while Milton, Sterne, and Wordsworth left behind them whole
regiments uniformed with all their external characteristics. We do not
mean that great poetic geniuses may not have influenced thought,
(though we think it would be difficult to show how Shakspeare had done
so, directly and wilfully,) but that they have not infected
contemporaries or followers with mannerism.

That the propositions we have endeavored to establish have a direct
bearing in various ways upon the qualifications of whoever undertakes
to edit the works of Shakspeare will, we think, be apparent to those
who consider the matter. The hold which Shakspeare has acquired and
maintained upon minds so many and so various, in so many vital respects
utterly unsympathetic and even incapable of sympathy with his own, is
one of the most noteworthy phenomena in the history of literature. That
he has had the most inadequate of editors, that, as his own Falstaff
was the cause of the wit, so he has been the cause of the foolishness
that was in other men, (as where Malone ventured to discourse upon his
metres, and Dr. Johnson on his imagination,) must be apparent to every
one,--and also that his genius and its manifestations are so various,
that there is no commentator but has been able to illustrate him from
his own peculiar point of view or from the results of his own favorite
studies. But to show that he was a good common-lawyer, that he
understood the theory of colors, that he was an accurate botanist, a
master of the science of medicine, especially in its relation to mental
disease, a profound metaphysician, and of great experience and insight
in politics,--all these, while they may very well form the staple of
separate treatises, and prove, that, whatever the extent of his
learning, the range and accuracy of his knowledge were beyond precedent
or later parallel, are really outside the province of an editor.

That Shakspeare did not edit his own works must be attributed, we
suspect, to his premature death. That he should not have intended it is
inconceivable. That the "Tempest" was his latest work we have no doubt;
and perhaps it is not considering too nicely to conjecture a profound
personal meaning in it. Is it over-fanciful to think that in the master
Prospero we have the type of Imagination? in Ariel, of the
wonder-working and winged Fantasy? in Caliban, of the half-animal but
serviceable Understanding, tormented by Fancy and the unwilling slave
of Imagination? and that there is something of self-consciousness in
the breaking of Prospero's wand and burying his book,--a sort of sad
prophecy, based on self-knowledge of the nature of that man who, after
such thaumaturgy, could go down to Stratford and live there for years,
only collecting his dividends from the Globe Theatre, lending money on
mortgage, and leaning over his gate to chat and bandy quips with
neighbors? His thought had entered into every phase of human life and
thought, had embodied all of them in living creations;--had he found
all empty, and come at last to the belief that genius and its works
were as phantasmagoric as the rest, and that fame was as idle as the
rumor of the pit? However this may be, his works have come down to us
in a condition of manifest and admitted corruption in some portions,
while in others there is an obscurity which may be attributed either to
an idiosyncratic use of words and condensation of phrase, to a depth of
intuition for a proper coalescence with which ordinary language is
inadequate, to a concentration of passion in a focus that consumes the
lighter links which bind together the clauses of a sentence or of a
process of reasoning in common parlance, or to a sense of music which
mingles music and meaning without essentially confounding them. We
should demand for a perfect editor, then, first, a thorough
glossological knowledge of the English contemporary with Shakspeare;
second, enough logical acuteness of mind and metaphysical training to
enable him to follow recondite processes of thought; third, such a
conviction of the supremacy of his author as always to prefer his
thought to any theory of his own; fourth, a feeling for music, and so
much knowledge of the practice of other poets as to understand that
Shakspeare's versification differs from theirs as often in kind as in
degree; fifth, an acquaintance with the world as well as with books;
and last, what is, perhaps, of more importance than all, so great a
familiarity with the working of the imaginative faculty in general, and
of its peculiar operation in the mind of Shakspeare, as will prevent
his thinking a passage dark with excess of light, and enable him to
understand folly that the Gothic Shakspeare often superimposed upon the
slender column of a single word, that seems to twist under it, but does
not,--like the quaint shafts in cloisters,--a weight of meaning which
the modern architects of sentences would consider wholly unjustifiable
by correct principle.

It would be unreasonable to expect a union of all these qualifications
in a single man, but we think that Mr. White combines them in larger
proportion than any editor with whose labors we are acquainted. He has
an acuteness in tracing the finer fibres of thought worthy of the
keenest lawyer on the scent of a devious trail of circumstantial
evidence; he has a sincere desire to illustrate his author rather than
himself; he is a man of the world, as well as a scholar; he comprehends
the mastery of imagination, and that it is the essential element as
well of poetry as of profound thinking; a critic of music, he
appreciates the importance of rhythm as the higher mystery of
versification. The sum of his qualifications is large, and his work is
honorable to American letters.

Though our own studies have led us to somewhat intimate acquaintance
with Elizabethan literature, it is with some diffidence that we bring
the criticism of _dilettanti_ to bear upon the labors of five years of
serious investigation. We fortify ourselves, however, with Dr.
Johnson's dictum on the subject of Criticism:--"Why, no, Sir; this is
not just reasoning. You _may_ abuse a tragedy, though you cannot make
one. You may scold a carpenter who has made a bad table, though _you_
cannot make a table; it is not your trade to make tables." Not that we
intend to abuse Mr. White's edition of Shakspeare, but we shall speak
of what seem to us its merits and defects with the frankness which
alone justifies criticism.

We have spoken of Mr. White's remarkable qualifications. We shall now
state shortly what seem to us his faults. We think his very acumen
sometimes misleads him into fancying a meaning where none exists, or at
least none answerable to the clarity and precision of Shakspeare's
intellect; that he is too hasty in his conclusions as to the
pronunciation of words and the accuracy of rhymes in Shakspeare's day,
and that he has been seduced into them by what we cannot help thinking
a mistaken theory as to certain words, as _moth_ and _nothing_, for
example; that he shows, here and there, a glimpse of Americanism,
especially misplaced in an edition of the poet whose works do more than
anything else, perhaps, to maintain the sympathy of the English race;
and that his prejudice against the famous corrected folio of 1632 leads
him to speak slightingly of Mr. Colier, to whom all lovers of our early
literature are indebted, and who alone, in the controversy excited in
England by the publication of his anonymous corrector's emendations,
showed, under the most shameful provocation, the temper of a gentleman
and the self-respect of a scholar. But after all these deductions, we
remain of the opinion that Mr. White has given us the best edition
hitherto published, and we do not like him the less for an occasional
crotchet. For though Shakspeare himself seemed to think with regret
that the dirge of the hobby-horse had been sung, yet, as we ourselves
have given evidence, it is impossible for any one to write on this
subject without taking an occasional airing on one or more of those
imaginary steeds that stand at livery with no risk of eating off their
own heads. We shall take up the subject again in our next number, and
by extracts justify both our commendation and our criticisms of Mr.
White.

[Footnote 1: _The Works of William Shakspeare_. Edited, etc., by
RICHARD GRANT WHITE. Vols. II., III., IV, and V. Boston: Little, Brown,
& Co. 1858.]

[Footnote 2: As where Ben Jonson is able to say,--"Men may securely
sin, but safely never."]

[Footnote 3: "Vulgarem locutionem appellamus eam qua infantes
adsuefiunt ab adsistentibus cum primitus distinguere voces incipiunt:
vel, quod brevius dici potest, vulgarem locutionem asserimus _quam sine
omni regula, nutricem imitantes, accepimus_." Dante, _de Vulg.
Eloquio_, Lib. I. cap. i.]

[Footnote 4: Gray, himself a painful corrector, told Nicholls that
"nothing was done so well as at the first concoction,"--adding, as a
reason, "We think in words." Ben Jonson said, it was a pity Shakspeare
had not blotted more, for that he sometimes wrote nonsense,--and cited
in proof of it the verse

"Caesar did never wrong but with just cause."

The last four words do not appear in the passage as it now stands, and
Professor Craik suggests that they were stricken out in consequence of
Jonson's criticism. This is very probable; but we suspect that the pen
that blotted them was in the hand of Master Heminge or his colleague.
The moral confusion in the idea was surely admirably characteristic of
the general who had just accomplished a successful _coup d'etat_, the
condemnation of which he would fancy that he read in the face of every
honest man he met, and which he would therefore be forever indirectly
palliating.]

[Footnote 5: Scott, in _Ivanhoe_.]

[Footnote 6: We use the word _Latin_ here to express words derived
either mediately or immediately from that language.]

[Footnote 7: The prose of Chaucer (1390) and of Sir Thomas Malory
(translating from the French, 1470) is less Latinized than that of
Bacon. Browne, Taylor, or Milton. The glossary to Spenser's _Shepherd's
Calendar_ (1579) explains words of Teutonic and Romanic root in about
equal proportions. The parallel but independent development of Scotch
is not to be forgotten.]

[Footnote 8: We believe that for the last two centuries the Latin
radicals of English have been more familiar and homelike to those who
use them than the Teutonic. Even so accomplished a person as Professor
Craik, in his _English of Shakspeare_, derives _head_, through the
German _haupt_, from the Latin _caput_! We trust that its genealogy is
nobler, and that it is of kin with _coelum tueri_, rather than with the
Greek [Greek: kephalae], if Suidas be right in tracing the origin of
that to a word meaning _vacuity_. Mr. Craik suggests, also, that
_quick_ and _wicked_ may be etymologically identical, _because_ he
fancies a relationship between _busy_ and the German _boese_, though
_wicked_ is evidently the participial form of A.S. _wacan_, (German
_weichen_,) _to bend, to yield_, meaning _one who has given way to
temptation_, while _quick_ seems as clearly related to _wegan_, meaning
_to move_, a different word, even if radically the same. In the _London
Literary Gazette_ for Nov. 13, 1858, we find an extract from Miss
Millington's _Heraldry in History, Poetry, and Romance_, in which,
speaking of the motto of the Prince of Wales,--_De par Houmout ich
diene_,--she says, "The precise meaning of the former word [_Houmout_]
has not, I think, been ascertained." The word is plainly the German
_Hochmuth_, and the whole would read, _De par (Aus) Hochmuth ich
diene_,--"Out of magnanimity I serve." So entirely lost is the Saxon
meaning of the word _knave_, (A.S. _cnava_, German _knabe_,) that the
name _nauvie_, assumed by railway-laborers, has been transmogrified
into _navigator_. We believe that more people could tell why the month
of July was so called than could explain the origin of the names for
our days of the week, and that it is oftener the Saxon than the French
words in Chaucer that puzzle the modern reader.]

[Footnote 9: _De Vulgari Eloquio_, Lib. II. cap. i. _ad finem_. We
quote this treatise as Dante's, because the thoughts seem manifestly
his; though we believe that in its present form it is an abridgment by
some transcriber, who sometimes copies textually, and sometimes
substitutes his own language for that of the original.]

[Footnote 10: Pheidias said of one of his pupils that he had an
inspired thumb, because the modelling-clay yielded to its careless
sweep a grace of curve which it refused to the utmost pains of others.]

* * * * *

REVIEWS AND LITERARY NOTICES.

_A History of Philip the Second, King of Spain_. By WILLIAM H.
PRESCOTT. Vol. III. Boston: Phillips, Sampson, & Co. 1858.

A cordial welcome from many quarters will greet this third instalment
of a work which promises, when completed, to be the most valuable
contribution to European history ever made by an American scholar. This
will in part be owing to the importance of the subject, which, though
professing to be the history of a single country and a single reign, is
in fact the great program of the politics of Christendom, and of more
than Christendom, during a period when the struggles of rival powers
and of hostile principles and creeds kept the world in agitation and
prolonged suspense,--when Romanism and Reform, the Crescent and the
Cross, despotic power and constitutional freedom, were contending for
mastery, and no government or nation could stand wholly aloof from a
contest in which the fate, not of empires alone, but of civilization,
was involved. Spain, during that period, was the bulwark of the Church
against the attacks of the Reformers, and the bulwark of Christendom
against the attacks of the Moslem. The power of Spain towered high
above that of every other monarchy; and this power was wielded with
absolute authority by the king. The Spanish nation was united and
animated by an intense, unwavering devotion to the ancient faith, which
was entwined with all the roots of the national life,--which was
Spanish, in fact, far more than it was Italian; and of this spirit
Philip the Second was the fitting representative, not merely from his
position, but from his education, his intellect, and his character.
Therefore it is that the historian of this single country and this
single reign, standing upon a central eminence, must survey and depict
the whole vast field of which we have spoken.

The materials for such a survey are abundant. But down to a very recent
period, the most valuable and authentic portion of them--letters of the
actors, records, written not from hearsay, but from personal knowledge,
documents of various kinds, private and official, that fill up the
hiatuses, correct the conjectures, establish the credibility, and give
a fresh meaning to the relations of the earlier writers--were neglected
or concealed, inaccessible, unexplored, all but unknown. Now these
hidden sources have been revealed. A flood of light streams back upon
that bygone age, filling every obscure nook, making legible and plain
what before could neither be read nor understood. Or rather, the effect
is such as when distant objects, seen dimly and confusedly with the
naked eye, are brought within the range of a powerful telescope, which
dissolves the seeming masses, and enables us to scrutinize each
separate form.

Glance for a moment through this instrument, so adjusted as to bear
upon a figure not undeserving of a closer study. Night has fallen on
the bleak and sombre scenery of the Sierra Guadarrama. The gray
outlines of the Escorial are scarcely distinguishable from those of the
dusky hills amid which it stands. No light is thrown forth from its
eleven thousand windows, save in this retreating angle formed by the
junction of the palace with the convent, or--to speak according to the
architect's symbolical design--of the "handle" with the "gridiron." The
apartment from which this feeble ray emerges is of small size,--not
more than sixteen feet square,--but having on two sides arched recesses
that somewhat increase its capacity. One of these alcoves contains a
bed, and a door opening into an adjoining oratory, which has immediate
communication with the chancel of the great church, so that an occupant
of the bed might, if supported in a sitting posture, have a view of the
high altar and witness the elevation of the host. This alcove is decked
with many little images of saints, which, with a few small pictures, of
rare beauty,--the subjects all of a religious character,--and two
cabinets of a curious, agate-colored marble, a product of the New
World,--are the only ornaments that relieve the extreme simplicity of
the apartment, with its plain white walls and floor of brick. The other
alcove is occupied by a writing-table, where sits, intent on the
employment that consumes by far the greater portion of his time, the
potent monarch of Spain, the "most pious and most prudent" Philip the
Second. A drowsy secretary, who waits for the completion of the
document which he is to copy, is his only attendant.

Does it not seem strange that ambassadors and nuncios should become
confused and lose all recollection of the addresses they had committed
to memory, in the presence of a prince whose exterior so ill accords
with the grandeur of his titles and the vastness of his power? His form
is below the middle height and very slender, the limbs having even an
attenuated look. The whole appearance is that of a man of delicate and
even feeble organization. The blonde complexion, the pale blue eyes,
and the light sandy hue--save where they are prematurely touched with
gray--of the hair, moustache, and short, pointed beard, all indicate
the Flemish origin of one who would fain be regarded as "wholly a
Spaniard." The protruding under-jaw is another proof of his descent
from the Burgundian rulers of the Netherlands. The expression of the
countenance, as we find on a closer inspection, is not so easy to
define. There is no variable play of light and shade upon the features,
no settled look of joy or sorrow, no trace of anger or of weariness. Is
it because the subject with which his pen is busied is too unimportant
to call forth any emotion in the writer? It may be a mere matter of
routine, connected with the regular business of his household or the
ordinary affairs of state. But if it be an answer to the dispatch from
Flanders giving information of the outburst of iconoclasm and
rebellion, or a subtly-conceived plan for the secret execution of
Montigny or the assassination of Escovedo, or an order for the
imprisonment--or the death--of the heir-apparent to the throne, you
shall perceive nothing in that face, unruffled as a mask, by which to
conjecture the sentiment or purpose of the mind. As little will he in
the presence of others exhibit any signs of agitation on the reception
of extraordinary news, or the occurrence of some great event. The fleet
which he sent out under his brother, John of Austria, in conjunction
with the Papal and Venetian armaments, to decide by a single blow the
long struggle with the Infidel,--all Europe awaiting the issue with
trembling anxiety and suspense,--has won a memorable and unexpected
victory, and destroyed forever the _prestige_ of the Moslem power. An
official, bursting with the intelligence, carries it to the king, who
is hearing a service in his private chapel. Without the slightest
change of countenance, Philip desires the priest, whose ear the
thrilling whisper has reached, and who stands open-mouthed, prepared to
burst forth at once into the _Te Deum_, to proceed with the service;
that ended, he orders appropriate thanks to be offered up.

As in triumph, so in disaster. The _armada_, which had been baptized
"Invincible," is destroyed. The great navy collected from many states,
equipped at the cost of an enormous treasure, manned with the choicest
troops of Spain and her subject dominions, lies scattered and wrecked
along the English shores, which it was sent forth to conquer. Again the
sympathies of Europe are excited to the highest pitch. Protestantism
triumphs; Catholicism despairs. He who had most at stake alone
preserves his calmness, on hearing that all is lost. He neither frowns
upon his unfortunate generals nor murmurs against Providence. Again he
orders thanks to be offered up, for those who have been rescued from
the general ruin,--for those, also, who in this holy enterprise have
lost their lives and joined eternal glory.

Neither does any private grief--the death of children, of a parent, or
of a wife--move him either to real or simulated agitation.[1] Nor will
intense physical suffering overpower this habitual stoicism. He has
seen unmoved the agony of many victims. He will himself endure the like
without any outward manifestation of pain. In yonder bed he will one
day suffer tortures surpassing those to which he has so often consigned
the heretic and the apostate Morisco; there he will expire amid horrors
that scarce ever before encompassed a death-bed;--but no groan will
reveal the weakness of the flesh; the soul, triumphant over nature,
will bear aloft her colors to the last, and plant them on the breach
through which she passes into the unknown eternity.

But while we have been thus discoursing, the king has finished his long
dispatch, and now hands it to the secretary. The latter, having vainly
struggled with his sleepiness, has at length begun to nod. Hearing his
name pronounced, he starts to his feet, takes the document, which is
not yet dry, to sand it, and, desirous to show by his alertness that he
has been all the time wide awake, empties over it--the contents of the
inkstand! Awkward individual!--there he stands, dumfounded and aghast.
His master quietly resumes his seat, procures fresh materials, and,
though it is long past midnight, begins his task anew with that
incomparable patience which is "his virtue."

The perfect equanimity on all occasions, which was the trait in
Philip's character that most impressed such of his contemporaries as
were neither his adherents nor his enemies,--for example, the Venetian
envoys at his court,--was not produced by a single stroke of Nature's
pencil, but had a three-fold origin. In the education which, from his
earliest years, had prepared him for the business of reigning, the
_alpha_, and the _omega_ of every lesson had been the word
"dissimulation." _Qui nescit dissimulare, nescit regnare_. By this
maxim it was not intended--at least, openly or cynically--to impress on
youthful royalty the duty and propriety of lying. All it professed to
inculcate was the necessity of wearing an habitual veil before the
mind, through which no thought or feeling should ever be discernible.
Every politician, in the sixteenth century, had learned that lesson.
William of Orange, the best and purest statesman of the age, was the
greatest of all masters in the art of dissimulation. In vain might
Granvelle strive to pry into that bosom, to learn whether its designs
were friendly or hostile to the plans of tyranny. Not till it was
extorted by events could the secret be discovered.

In the second place, Philip, as a Spaniard, and one whose manners were
to furnish a model for the Spanish court, had, of course, been trained
to that demeanor which was regarded in Spain as the distinctive mark of
high breeding. "All the nobles of this court," writes an Italian
contemporary, "though amazingly ignorant and unlettered, maintain a
certain haughty tranquillity of manner which they term _sosiego_."
Foreigners found it difficult to define a quality which differed as
much from the composure and self-possession everywhere characteristic
of the gentleman as Spartan endurance or Stoical apathy from ordinary
fortitude or self-control. It was a glacier-like repose, incrusting a
mountain of pride. The beams, that gilded, might not thaw it; the storm
did but harden and extend it. It yielded only to the inner fires of
arrogance and passion, bursting through, at times, with irrepressible
fury.

These occasional outbreaks were never witnessed in Philip.[2] He was
exempted from them by the third element which we proposed to notice,
and which, as nature takes precedence of habit, ought perhaps to have
been the first. A Spaniard by birth and education, a Spaniard in his
sympathies and in his tastes, he had inherited, nevertheless, some of
the peculiarities, intellectual as well as moral, of the other race to
which by his origin, and, as we have already said, by his physical
characteristics, he belonged. He had none of the more pleasing
qualities of the Netherlander; but he had the sluggish temper, the slow
but laborious mind. "He is phlegmatic as well from natural disposition
as from will," remarks an Italian contemporary. "This king," says
another Venetian minister, "is absolutely free from every kind of
passion." The word "passion" is here used in a strict, if not the most
correct sense. Philip could, perhaps, love; that he could hate is what
no one has ever ventured to dispute; but never did either feeling,
strong, persistent, indestructible, though it might be, rise in
turbulent waves around his soul. In religion he was a bigot,--not a
fanatic. "The tranquillity of my dominions and the security of my
crown," he said, "rest on an unqualified submission in all essential
points to the authority of the Holy See." In the same deliberate and
impressive style, not in that of a wild and reckless frenzy, is his
famous saying, "Better not to reign at all than to reign over
heretics." His course in all matters of government was in conformity
with the only chart by which he had been taught to steer. He boasted
that he was no innovator,--that he did but tread in the footsteps of
his father. Nor, though he ever kept his object steadily in view, did
he press towards it with undue haste. He was content that time should
smooth away the difficulties in his path. "Time and myself against any
other two" was not the maxim of a man who looked to effect great
changes or who felt himself in danger of being driven from his course
by the gusts of passion.

To a person of this character it mattered little, as far as the
essentials of existence were concerned, whether his life were passed
upon a throne or at an attorney's desk. In the latter situation, his
fondness for using the pen would well have qualified him for the
drudgery, his admirable patience would have been sufficiently
exercised, and the mischief he was able to do would have been on a more
contracted scale. On the throne, his labors, as his admirers tell us,
were those of "a poor clerk earning his bread," while his recreations
were those of a Jeronymite monk. His intercourse with mankind was
limited to the narrowest range of which his position would allow. Even
with his ministers he preferred to communicate in writing. When he went
abroad, it was in a carriage so constructed as to screen him entirely
from view, and to shut out the world from his observation. He always
entered Madrid after nightfall, and reached his palace by streets that
were the least frequented. He had an equally strong aversion to bodily
exercise. Such was his love of quiet and seclusion, that it was
commonly believed he waited only for a favorable opportunity to follow
the example of his father, resign his power and withdraw to a
convent.[3]

In the volume before us are two chapters devoted to the character and
personal habits of Philip, a picture of his court, his method of
transacting business, his chief advisers, the machinery of his
government, and his relations with his subjects. As usually happens, it
is in details of a personal and biographical kind that the author's
investigations have been the most productive of new discoveries. It is
a question with some minds, whether such details are properly admitted
into history. The new luminary of moral and political science, the
Verulam of the nineteenth century, Mr. Henry Buckle, tells us that
biography forms no part of history, that individual character has
little or no effect in determining the course of the world's affairs,
and that the historian's proper business is to exhibit those general
laws, discoverable, by a strictly scientific process of investigation,
which act with controlling power upon human conduct and govern the
destinies of our race. We readily admit that the discovery of such laws
would exceed in importance every other having relation to man's present
sphere of existence; and we heartily wish that Mr. Buckle had made as
near an approach to the discovery as he confidently believes himself to
have done. But even had he, instead of crude theories, unwarranted
assumptions, and a most lively but fallacious train of reasoning,
presented us with a grand and solid philosophical work, a true _Novum
Organon_, he would still have left the department of literature which
he has so violently assailed in full possession of its present field.
Our curiosity in regard to the character and habits of the men who have
played conspicuous parts on the stage of history would have been not a
whit diminished. The interest which men feel in the study of human
character is, perhaps, the most common feeling that induces them to
read at all. It is to gratify that feeling that the great majority of
books are written. The mutual influences of mind upon mind--not the
influences of climate, food, the "aspects of Nature," thunder-storms,
earthquakes, and statistics--form, and will ever form, the great staple
of literature. Mr. Buckle's own book would not have been half so
entertaining as it is, if he had not, with the most natural
inconsistency, plentifully besprinkled his pages with biographical
details, some of which are not incorrect. Lord Macaulay, whom Mr.
Buckle is unable to eulogize with sufficient vehemence without a
ludicrous as well as irreverent application of Scriptural language, is
of all writers the most profuse in the description of individual
peculiarities, neatly doing up each separate man in a separate parcel
with an appropriate label, and dismissing half his personages, like
"ticket-of-leave men," with a "character," and nothing more.

In truth, while the office of the speculative philosopher is to explore
the principles that have the widest operation in the revolutions of
society, the office of the historian is to represent society as it
actually exists at any given period in all its various phenomena. The
_science_ of history has been first invented--at least, he tells us
so--by Mr. Buckle. The _art_ of history is older than Herodotus, older
than Moses, older than printed language. It is based, like every other
art, on certain truths, general and special, principles and facts; its
process, like that of every other art, is the Imagination, the creative
principle of genius, using these truths as its rules and its materials,
working by them and upon them, applying and idealizing them. That there
is such a thing as historical art has also, we know, been disputed. It
is one of the exceedingly strong convictions--he will not allow us to
call them opinions--entertained by the distinguished author of "Modern
Painters," and expressed by him in a lecture delivered at Edinburgh,
that past ages are to be studied only in the records which they have
themselves left,--letters, contemporary memoirs, and the like sources.
Works built upon these he calls "restorations," weak and servile
copies, from which the spirit of the original has fled. He accordingly
advises every one who would make himself really acquainted with the
manners and events of a former period to go at once to the
fountain-head and learn what that period said for itself in its own
dialect and style. It might be sufficient mildly to warn any person who
thinks of adopting this advice, that, unless the field of his intended
researches be very limited, or the amount of time which he proposes to
devote to the study very great, the result can scarcely be of a
satisfactory nature. But there is another answer to Mr. Ruskin, which
has more force when addressed to one so renowned as a critic and
exponent of Art. The eye of Genius seizes what escapes ordinary
observation. The province of Art is to _reveal_ Nature, to elucidate
her obscurities, to present her, not otherwise than as she _is_, but
more truthfully and more completely than she _appears_ to the common
eye. Of what use were landscape-painting, if it did not teach us how to
look for beauty in the real landscape? Who has not seen in a good
portrait an expression which he then for the first time recognized as
that which best represented the character of the original? When we
applaud the personations of a great actor, we exclaim, as the highest
praise, "How true to Nature!" We must, therefore, have seen before the
look and gesture, and heard the tone, which we thus acknowledge as
appropriate to the passion and the scene. And yet they had never
stamped themselves upon our minds, when witnessed in actual life, from
which the actor himself had copied them, with half that force and
vividness which they receive from his delineation. In like manner, the
historian--one to whom history is a genuine vocation--applies to the
facts with which he has to deal, to the evidence which he has to sift,
to the relations which he has to peruse, a faculty which shall detect a
meaning where the common reader would find none,--which shall conceive
a whole picture, a complete view, where another would see but
fragments,--which shall combine and reproduce in one distinct and
living image the relics of a past age, which lie broken, scattered, and
buried beneath the mounds of time. Such a work has Niebuhr performed
for early Roman history, and Michelet for the confused epochs of
mediaeval France. The spirit, instead of escaping in the process, was
for the first time made visible. The historian did not merely anatomize
the body of the Past, but with magic power summoned up its ghost.

It cannot be said that the claims of history have ever been disallowed
by the reading public. There is, indeed, no class of literature so
secure of receiving the attention which it demands. While the novelist
modestly confines himself to a brace of spare duodecimos, and, if his
story be somewhat extended, endeavors to conceal its length in the
smallness of the print, the historian unblushingly presents himself
with three, six, a dozen, nay, if he be a Frenchman or a German, with
forty huge tomes, and is more often taken to task for his omissions
than censured for the fulness of his narrative. It is respectable to
buy his volumes, and respectable to read them. We don't put them away
in corners, but give them the most conspicuous places on our shelves.
Strange to say, that kind of reading to which we were once driven as to
a task, which our fathers thought must be useful because it was so
dull, has of late outstripped every other branch in its attractiveness
to the mass. Nobody yawns over Carlyle; people set upon Macaulay as if
quite unconscious that they were about to be led into the labyrinths of
Whig and Tory politics; and gentlemen whirled along in railway-cars
bend over the pages of Prescott, and pronounce them as fascinating as
any romance. Stranger still, these modern historians excel their
predecessors as much in learning and depth of research as in dramatic
power, artistic arrangement and construction, and beauty and
picturesqueness of style. Compare the meagre array of references in the
foot-notes of Watson's "History of Philip the Second" with the
multitude of authorities cited by Mr. Prescott. It may be doubted,
whether any printed book, however rare or little known, which could
throw the least glimmer of light upon his subject, has been overlooked
or neglected by the last-mentioned author; while thousands of
manuscript pages, gathered from libraries and collections in almost
every part of Europe, have furnished him with some of his most curious
particulars and enabled him to clear up the mystery that shrouded many
portions of the subject.

We shall not attempt to determine the exact place that ought to be
assigned in an illustrious brotherhood to our American historian. The
country is justly proud of him, as one whose name is a household word
in many lands,--who has done more, perhaps, than any other of her
living writers, with the exception of Washington Irving, to obtain for
a still youthful literature the regard and attention of the world,--who
has helped to accomplish the prediction of Horace Walpole, that there
would one day be "a Thucydides at Boston and a Xenophon at New York"; a
prediction which seemed so fanciful, at the time it was made, (less
than two years before the declaration of Independence,) that the
prophet was fain to link its fulfilment with the contemporaneous visit
of a South American traveller to the deserted ruins of London.[4] His
writings have won favor with hosts of readers, and they have received
the homage of learned and profound inquirers, like Humboldt and Gulzot.
They have merits that are recognizable at a glance, and they have also
merits that will bear the closest examination. They occupy a field in
which they have no compeers. They are the products of a fertile soil
and of laborious cultivation. The mere literary critic, accustomed to
dwell with even more attention on the form than on the substance of a
work, commends above all the admirable skill shown in the selection and
grouping of the incidents, the facile hand with which an obscure and
entangled theme is divested of its embarrassments, the frequent
brilliancy and picturesqueness of the narrative, the judicious mixture
of anecdote and reflection, and the harmony and clearness of the style.
These are the qualities which make Mr. Prescott's histories, with all
their solid learning and minute research, as pleasant reading as the
airiest of novels. And yet not these alone. A charm is felt in many a
sentence that has a deeper origin than in the intellect. No egotism
obtrudes itself upon our notice; but the subtile outflow of a generous
and candid spirit, of a genial and singularly healthy nature, wins for
the author a secure place in the affections of his readers.

The third volume of the "History of Philip the Second" is, we think,
superior to its predecessors. It contains, perhaps, no single scene
equal in elaborate and careful painting to the death of Count Egmont.
It has no chapter devoted to the elucidation of the darker passages in
Philip's personal history, like that which in a former volume traced to
a still doubtful end the unhappy career of Don Carlos, or such as will
doubtless, in a future volume, shed new light on that of Antonio Perez.
But there is a more continuous interest, arising from a greater unity
of subject. With the exception of the two chapters already referred to,
the narrative is taken up with the contest waged by the Spaniards
against those Moslem foes whom they hated with the hereditary hate of
centuries, the mingled hate that had grown out of diversity of
religion, an alien blood, and long arrears of vengeance. When that
contest was waged upon the sea or on a foreign soil, it was at least
mitigated by the ordinary rules of warfare. But on Spanish soil it knew
no restraint, no limitation but the complete effacement of the Moorish
population. The story of the Morisco Rebellion, which we remember to
have first read with absorbed attention in Dunham's meagre sketch, is
here related with a fulness of detail that exhausts the subject, and
leaves the mind informed both of causes and results. Yet the march of
the narrative is rapid and unchecked, from the first outbreak of the
revolt, when Aben-Farax, with a handful of followers, facing the
darkness of night and the blinding snow, penetrated into the streets of
Granada, shouting the cry so long unheard in air that had once been so
familiar with its sound, "There is no God but Allah, and Mahomet is the
prophet of God!"--through all the strange and terrible vicissitudes of
the deadly struggle that ensued, the frightful massacres, the wild
_guerrilla_ battles, the fiery onslaughts of the Spanish chivalry, the
stealthy surprises of the Moorish mountaineers,--down to the complete
suppression of the insurrection, the removal of the defeated race, the
overthrow and death of Aben-Aboo, "the little king of the Alpujarras,"
and the ghastly triumph in which his dead body, clothed in the robes of
royalty and supported upright on a horse, was led into the capital
where his ancestors had once reigned in peaceful splendor, after which
the head was cut off and set up in a cage above the wall, "the face
turned towards his native hills, which he had loved so well."

On such a theme, and in such localities, Mr. Prescott is more at home
than any other writer, American or European. His imagination, kindled
by long familiar associations, burns with a steady flame. The
characters are portrayed with a free and vigorous pencil, the contrast
between the Orientalism of the Spanish Arab and the sterner features of
the Spanish Goth being always strongly marked. The scenery, painted
with as much fidelity as truth, is sometimes brought before the eye by
minute description, and sometimes, with still happier effect, by
incidental touches,--an epithet or a simile, as appropriate as it is
suggestive. As we follow the route of Mundejar's army, the "frosty
peaks" of the Sierra Nevada are seen "glistening in the sun like
palisades of silver"; while terraces, scooped out along the rocky
mountain-side, are covered with "bright patches of variegated culture,
that hang like a garland round the gaunt Sierra." At their removal from
Granada, the remnant of what had once been a race of conquerors bid a
last farewell to their ancient homes just as "the morning light has
broken on the _red_ towers of the Alhambra"; and scattered over the
country in small and isolated masses, the presence of the exiles is
"sure to be revealed by the minute and elaborate culture of the
soil,--as the secret course of the mountain-stream is betrayed by the
brighter green of the meadow."

We had marked for quotation an admirable passage, in which our author
passes judgment on the policy of the Spanish government, its cruelty
and its mistakes. But want of space compels us here to take leave of a
book which we have not pretended to analyze, but to which we have
rendered sincere, though inadequate, praise.

[Footnote 1: "Sempre apparisce d'un volto e d'una temperatura medesima;
la qual cosa a chi, considerato gli accidenti che gli sono occorsi
delle morti dei figliuoli e delle mogli, ha fatto credere che fusse
crudele." _Relaz. Anon._ (1588.)]

[Footnote 2: None of the anecdotes in which Philip is represented as
giving way to violent bursts of anger will bear examination. Take, for
example, the story of his pent-up wrath having exploded against the
Prince of Orange, when he was quitting the Netherlands in 1559. The
Prince, it is said, who had accompanied him to the ship, endeavored to
convince him that the opposition to his measures, of which he
complained, had sprung from the Estates; on which the king, seizing
William's sleeve, and shaking it vehemently, exclaimed, "No, not the
Estates, but you,--you,--you!"--_No los Estados, ma vos,--vos,
--vos!_--using, say the original relator and the repeaters of
the story, a form of address, the second person plural, which in the
Spanish language is expressive of contempt. Now it is true that _vos_,
applied to an equal, would have been a solecism; but it is also true
that it was the _invariable_ form employed by the sovereign, even when
addressing a grandee or a prince of the Church. (See the _Papiers
d'Etat de Granvelle, passim_.) Moreover, the correspondence of the time
shows clearly that neither Philip nor Granvelle had as yet conceived
any deep suspicion of the Prince of Orange, much less had any of the
parties been so imprudent as to throw off the usual mask. The story is
first told by Auberi, a writer of the seventeenth century, who had it
from his father, to whom it had been told by an anonymous eye-witness!]

[Footnote 3: _Relazione di Pigafetta._]

[Footnote 4: Walpole to Mason, Nov. 24, 1774.]

* * * * *

_The Courtship of Miles Standish_. By HENRY WADSWORTH LONGFELLOW.
Boston: Ticknor & Fields. 1858.

The introduction and acclimatization of the _hexameter_ upon English
soil has been an affair of more than two centuries. The attempt was
first systematically made during the reign of Elizabeth, but the metre
remained a feeble exotic that scarcely burgeoned under glass. Gabriel
Harvey,--a kind of Don Adriano de Armado,--whose chief claim to
remembrance is, that he was the friend of Spenser, boasts that he was
the first to whom the notion of transplantation occurred. In his "Foure
Letters," (1592,) he says, "If I never deserve anye better
remembraunce, let mee rather be Epitaphed, the Inventour of the English
Hexameter, whome learned M. Stanihurst imitated in his Virgill, and
excellent Sir Phillip Sidney disdained not to follow in his Arcadia and
elsewhere." This claim of invention, however, seems to have been an
afterthought with Harvey, for, in the letters which passed between him
and Spenser in 1579, he speaks of himself more modestly as only a
collaborator with Sidney and others in the good work. The Earl of
Surrey is said to have been the first who wrote thus in English. The
most successful person, however, was William Webb, who translated two
of Virgil's Eclogues with a good deal of spirit and harmony. Ascham, in
his "Schoolmaster," (1570,) had already suggested the adoption of the
ancient hexameter by English poets; but Ascham (as afterwards Puttenham
in his "Art of Poesie") thought the number of monosyllabic words in
English an insuperable objection to verses in which there was a large
proportion of dactyles, and recommended, therefore, that a trial should
be made with iambics. Spenser, at Harvey's instance, seems to have
tried his hand at the new kind of verse. He says,--"I like your late
Englishe Hexameters so exceedingly well, that I also enure my penne
sometimes in that kinde.... For the onely or chiefest hardnesse, whych
seemeth, is in the Accente, which sometime gapeth, and, as it were,
yawneth ilfauouredly, coming shorte of that it should, and sometime
exceeding the measure of the Number, as in _Carpenter_; the middle
sillable being vsed shorte in Speache, when it shall be read long in
Verse, seemeth like a lame Gosling that draweth one legge after hir:
and _Heaven_, being used shorte as one sillabie, when it is in Verse
stretched out with a _Diastole_, is like a lame dogge that holdes up
one legge. But it is to be wonne with Custome, and rough words must be
subdued with Vse. For why a God's name may not we, as else the Greekes,
have the kingdome of our owne Language, and measure our Accentes by the
Sounde, reserving the Quantitie to the Verse?" The amiable Edmonde
seems to be smiling in his sleeve as he writes this sentence. He
instinctively saw the absurdity of attempting to subdue English to
misunderstood laws of Latin quantities, which would, for example, make
the vowel in _debt_ long, in the teeth of use and wont.

We give a specimen of the hexameters which satisfied so entirely the
ear of Master Gabriel Harvey,--an ear that must have been long by
position, in virtue of its place on his head.

"Not the like _Discourser_, for Tongue and head: to be found out;
Not the like _resolute Man_, for great and serious affayres;
Not the like _Lynx_, to spie out secretes and priuities of States;
_Eyed_ like to _Argus, Earde_ like to _Midas, Nosd_ like to _Naso_,
Wingd like to _Mercury_, fitist of a Thousand for to be employed."

And here are a few from "worthy M. Stanyhurst's" translation of the
"AEneid."

"Laocoon storming from Princelis Castel is hastning,
And a far of beloing: What fond phantastical harebraine
Madnesse hath enchaunted your wits, you townsmen unhappie?
Weene you (blind hodipecks) the Greekish nauie returned,
Or that their presents want craft? is subtil Vlissis
So soone forgotten? My life for an haulf-pennie (Trojans)," etc.

Mr. Abraham Fraunce translates two verses of Heliodorus thus:--

"Now had fyery Phlegon his dayes reuolution ended,
And his snoring snowt with salt waues all to bee washed."

Witty Tom Nash was right enough when he called this kind of stuff;
"that drunken, staggering kinde of verse which is all vp hill and downe
hill, like the waye betwixt Stamford and Becchfeeld, and goes like a
horse plunging through the myre in the deep of winter, now soust up to
the saddle, and straight aloft on his tiptoes." It will be noticed that
his prose falls into a kind of tipsy hexameter. The attempt in England
at that time failed, but the controversy to which it gave rise was so
far useful that it called forth Samuel Daniel's "Defence of Ryme,"
(1603,) one of the noblest pieces of prose in the language. Hall also,
in his "Satires," condemned the heresy in some verses remarkable for
their grave beauty and strength.

The revival of the hexameter in modern poetry is due to Johann Heinrich
Voss, a man of genius, an admirable metrist, and, Schlegel's sneer to
the contrary notwithstanding, hitherto the best translator of Homer.
His "Odyssey," (1783,) his "Iliad," (1791,) and his "Luise," (1795,)
were confessedly Goethe's teachers in this kind of verse. The "Hermann
and Dorothea" of the latter (1798) was the first true poem written in
modern hexameters. From Germany, Southey imported that and other
classic metres into England, and we should be grateful to him, at
least, for having given the model for Canning's "Knifegrinder." The
exotic, however, again refused to take root, and for many years after
we have no example of English hexameters. It was universally conceded
that the temper of our language was unfriendly to them.

It remained for a man of true poetic genius to make them not only
tolerated, but popular. Longfellow's translation of "The Children of
the Lord's Supper" may have softened prejudice somewhat, but
"Evangeline," (1847,) though incumbered with too many descriptive
irrelevancies, was so full of beauty, pathos, and melody, that it made
converts by thousands to the hitherto ridiculed measure. More than
this, it made Longfellow at once the most popular of contemporary
English poets, Clough's "Bothie"--a poem whose singular merit has
hitherto failed of the wide appreciation it deserves--followed not long
after; and Kingsley's "Andromeda" is yet damp from the press.

While we acknowledge that the victory thus won by "Evangeline" is a
striking proof of the genius of the author, we confess that we have
never been able to overcome the feeling that the new metre is a
dangerous and deceitful one. It is too easy to write, and too uniform
for true pleasure in reading. Its ease sometimes leads Mr. Longfellow
into prose,--as in the verse

"Combed and wattled gules and all the rest of the blazon,"--

and into a prosaic phraseology which has now and then infected his
style in other metres, as where he says

"Spectral gleam their snow-white _dresses_,"--

using a word as essentially unpoetic as _surtout_ or _pea-jacket_. We
think one great danger of the hexameter is, that it gradually accustoms
the poet to be content with a certain regular recurrence of accented
sounds, to the neglect of the poetic value of language and intensity of
phrase.

But while we frankly avow our infidelity as regards the metre, we as
frankly confess our admiration of the high qualities of "Miles
Standish." In construction we think it superior to "Evangeline"; the
narrative is more straightforward, and the characters are defined with
a firmer touch. It is a poem of wonderful picturesqueness, tenderness,
and simplicity, and the situations are all conceived with the truest
artistic feeling. Nothing can be better, to our thinking, than the
picture of Standish and Alden in the opening scene, tinged as it is
with a delicate humor, which the contrast between the thoughts and
characters of the two heightens almost to pathos. The pictures of
Priscilla spinning, and the bridal procession, are also masterly. We
feel charmed to see such exquisite imaginations conjured out of the
little old familiar anecdote of John Alden's vicarious wooing. We are
astonished, like the fisherman in the Arabian tale, that so much genius
could be contained in so small and leaden a casket. Those who cannot
associate sentiment with the fair Priscilla's maiden name of Mullins
may be consoled by hearing that it is only a corruption of the Huguenot
Desmoulins,--as Barnum is of the Norman Vernon.

Indifferent poets comfort themselves with the notion that contemporary
popularity is no test of merit, and that true poetry must always wait
for a new generation to do it justice. The theory is not true in any
general sense. With hardly an exception, the poetry that was ever to
receive a wide appreciation has received it at once. Popularity in
itself is no test of permanent literary fame, but the kind of it is and
always has been a very decided one. Mr. Longfellow has been greatly
popular because he so greatly deserved it. He has the secret of all the
great poets,--the power of expressing universal sentiments simply and
naturally. A false standard of criticism has obtained of late, which
brings a brick as a sample of the house, a line or two of condensed
expression as a gauge of the poem. But it is only the whole poem that
is a proof of the poem, and there are twenty fragmentary poets, for one
who is capable of simple and sustained beauty. Of this quality Mr.
Longfellow has given repeated and striking examples, and those critics
are strangely mistaken who think that what he does is easy to be done,
because he has the power to make it seem so. We think his chief fault
is a too great tendency to moralize, or rather, a distrust of his
readers, which leads him to point out the moral which he wishes to be
drawn from any special poem. We wish, for example, that the last two
stanzas could be cut off from "The Two Angels," a poem which, without
them, is as perfect as anything in the language.

Many of the pieces in this volume having already shone as captain
jewels in Mana's carcanet, need no comment from us; and we should,
perhaps, have avoided the delicate responsibility of criticizing one of
our most precious contributors, had it not been that we have seen some
very unfair attempts to depreciate Mr. Longfellow, and that, as it
seemed to us, for qualities which stamp him as a true and original
poet. The writer who appeals to more peculiar moods of mind, to more
complex or more esoteric motives of emotion, may be a greater favorite
with the few; but he whose verse is in sympathy with moods that are
human and not personal, with emotions that do not belong to periods in
the development of individual minds, but to all men in all years, wins
the gratitude and love of whoever can read the language which he makes
musical with solace and aspiration. The present volume, while it will
confirm Mr. Longfellow's claim to the high rank he has won among lyric
poets, deserves attention also as proving him to possess that faculty
of epic narration which is rarer than all others in the nineteenth
century. In our love of stimulants, and our numbness of taste, which
craves the red pepper of a biting vocabulary, we of the present
generation are apt to overlook this almost obsolete and unobtrusive
quality; but we doubt if, since Chaucer, we have had an example of more
purely objective narrative than in "The Courtship of Miles Standish."
Apart from its intrinsic beauty, this gives the poem a claim to higher
and more thoughtful consideration; and we feel sure that posterity will
confirm the verdict of the present in regard to a poet whose reputation
is due to no fleeting fancy, but to an instinctive recognition by the
public of that which charms now and charms always,--true power and
originality, without grimace and distortion; for Apollo, and not Milo,
is the artistic type of strength.

* * * * *

_Thoughts on the Life and Character of Jesus of Nazareth_. By W.H.
FURNESS, Minister of the First Congregational Unitarian Church in
Philadelphia. Boston: Phillips, Sampson, & Co. 1859.

Here is a book, written, not for "orthodox believers," but for those
whom the orthodox creeds have wholly repelled from its subject. It is
quite distinct from three other books on the same general theme, by the
same author. It has, indeed, some objects in view, at which neither of
those books directly aimed.

It will overwhelm with horror such readers as may stumble upon it, who
do not know, till they meet it, that there is any view of Jesus Christ
but that which is presented in the widely circulated issues of the
Tract Society and similar institutions. Our attention has already been
called to one very absurd and unjust attack upon it, in a Philadelphia
paper, intended to catch the prejudices of such persons. But the views
by which we found this attack accompanied, in the same journal, led us
to suspect that some political prejudice against the author's
anti-slavery had more to do with the onslaught than any deeply seated
love of Orthodox Christianity. To another class of readers, who have
been wholly repelled from any interest in Jesus Christ, by whatever
misfortune of temperament or training, the careful study of these
"Thoughts" would be of incalculable value. We suppose this class of
readers, through the whole extent of our country, to be quite as large
as the first class we have named. To a third class, which is probably
as large as both the others put together, who are neither repelled nor
attracted by the received ecclesiastical statements regarding the
Saviour, but are willing to pass, without any real inquiry or any firm
opinion, his presence in the world, and his influence at this moment on
every event in modern life, the book might also have an immense value,
if it could be conceived that any thunder-clap could wake them from
that selfish and comfortable indifference as to the central point of
all the history, philosophy, life, and religion, in which they live.

We have no intention of entering into a discussion of the remarkable
and very clear views presented in this volume. We have only to say that
the author does not do himself justice when he asserts that there is no
system in its arrangement. It is a systematic work, leading carefully
along from point to point in the demonstration attempted. One may read
it through in an afternoon, and he will then have a very clear idea of
what the author thinks, which does not always happen when one has read
a book through. If he be one of the class of readers for whom it was
written, he will have, at the very least, a deeper interest in the
study of the life of Jesus of Nazareth than he had when he began. He
will have read a reply to Dr. Strauss, Mr. Parker, Dr. Feuerbach, and
Mr. Hittel, which, he will confess, is written in an appreciative and
candid spirit, quite different from that of some of the _ex-cathedra_
works of controversy, which have failed to annihilate these writers,
although they have taken so arrogant a tone. As we have said, we do not
attempt to analyze the argument or the statement of which we thus
speak. We have only to say that it is positive, and not
negative,--constructive, and not destructive,--reverent, and not
flippant,--courteous to opponents, and never denunciatory. These are
characteristics of a work of theology of which those can judge who do
not affect to be technical theologians. Had we to give our own views of
the matters presented in so interesting a form, we should not, of
course, attempt to condense our assent or our dissent with the author
into these columns; but where we differed or where we agreed, we should
gladly recognize his eagerness to be understood, his earnest hope to
find the truth, and his sympathy with all persons seeking
it,--qualities which we have not always found in our study of
theologians by profession.

In making the suggestion, however, that these "Thoughts" would be of
special value to those who have fallen into the habit of disbelieving
the Gospels, they hardly know why, we know that there is no more
probability that they will read a book with this title than there is
that young men should read "Letters to Young Men," or young women
should read "Letters to Young Women." We suppose that the unconverted
seldom read "Hints to the Unconverted," and that undecided fools never
read "Foster on Decision of Character." Recurring, then, to Mr.
Everett's story of the Guava jelly, which was recommended to invalids,
but would "not materially injure those who are well," we may add to
what we have said, that all readers of this volume will find valuable
suggestions in it for the enlightenment of the gospel narratives.
Theologians who differed fundamentally from Dr. Furness have been eager
to express their sense of the value of his "Jesus and his Biographers,"
as affording some of the most vivid and scenic representations in all
literature of that life which he has devoted all his studies to
illustrating. It does not fall in the way of this book to attempt many
such illustrations; but it is full of hints which all readers will
value as lightening up and making fresh their notion of Scripture.

Critically speaking, the most prominent fault in the book is the
occasional interpolation of matter not connected directly with its
argument. That argument is simply laid out. In the first part is the
direct plea of the author for the gospel narrative as a whole,
earnestly and effectively sustained. The second part examines Mr.
Theodore Parker's arguments against the truth of parts of it. The third
book discusses other objections. So far as this is done from the
author's leading point of view, the book is coherent and effective. But
occasionally there comes in a little piece of fanciful criticism on the
text, or a comment on some side-view or transaction, or the suggestion
of a probability or a possibility, which remind one of the thin
puerilities of the commentators whom Dr. Furness despises more than of
the general drift of his own discussion.

* * * * *

_Vernon Grove; or Hearts as they are_. A Novel. New York: Rudd &
Carleton.

This volume makes a pleasant addition to the light reading of the day.
It is the more welcome as coming from a new field; for we believe that
the veil of secrecy with regard to its authorship has been so far blown
aside, that we shall be permitted to say, that, although it is written
by a lady of New England birth, it may be most properly claimed as a
part of the literature of South Carolina. It is a regular novel,
although a short one. It is an interesting story, of marked, but not
improbable incidents, involving a very few well-distinguished
characters, who fall into situations to display which requires nice
analysis of the mind and heart,--developed in graceful and flowing
narrative, enlivened by natural and spirited conversations. The
atmosphere of the book is one of refined taste and high culture. The
people in it, with scarce an exception, are people who mean to be good,
and who are handsome, polite, accomplished, and rich, or at least
surrounded by the conveniences and even luxuries of life. It is a
story, too, for the most part, of cultivated enjoyment. There are
sufferings and sorrows depicted in it, it is true; without them, it
would be no representation of real life, which it does not fail to be.
Some tears will undoubtedly be shed over it, but the sufferings and
sorrows are such that we feel they are, after all, leading to
happiness; and we are not made to dwell upon pictures of unnecessary
misery or unavailing misfortune. Let it not be supposed, however, that
we are speaking of a namby-pamby tale of the luxuries and successes of
what is called "high life," for this book has nothing of that
character. We mean only to point out, as far as we may, without
entering upon the story itself, that it tells of pleasant people, in
pleasant circumstances, among whom it is a pleasure to the reader for a
time to he. Many a novel "ends well" that keeps us in a shudder or a
"worry" from the beginning to the end. Here we see the enjoyment as we
go along. Indeed, a leading characteristic of "Vernon Grove" is the
extremely good taste with which it is conceived and written; and so we
no more meet with offensive descriptions of vulgar show and luxury than
we do with those of squalor or moral turpitude. It is a book marked by
a high tone of moral and religious as well as artistic and esthetic
culture. Without being made the vehicle of any set theories in
philosophy or Art, without (so far as we know) "inculcating" any
special moral axiom, it embodies much good teaching and suggestion with
regard to music and painting, and many worthy lessons for the mind and
heart. This is done, as it should be, by the apparently natural
development of the story itself. For, as we have said, the book is
really a novel, and will be read as a novel should be, for the story,
and not, in the first instance and with deliberation, with the critical
desire to find out what lessons it teaches or what sentiments it
inspires.

The narrative covers a space of several years, but is so told that we
are furnished with details rather than generalities; and particular
scenes, events, and conversations are set forth vividly and minutely.
The descriptions of natural scenery, and of works of Art, many of which
come naturally into the story, show a cultivated and observant eye and
a command of judicious language. The characters are well developed,
and, with an unimportant exception, there is nothing introduced into
the book that is not necessary to the completion of the story. "Vernon
Grove" will commend itself to all readers who like works of fiction
that are lively and healthy too; and will give its author a high rank
among the lady-novelists of our day and country.

* * * * *

_Arabian Days' Entertainments_. Translated from the German, by HERBERT
PELHAM CORTIS. Boston: Phillips, Sampson, & Co. 1858.

In this famous nineteenth century of ours, which prides itself on being
practical, and feeds voraciously on facts, and considers itself almost
above being amused, we for our part rejoice to greet such a book as
this. Our great-great-grandfathers, when they were boys, were happy in
having wise and good grandfathers who told them pleasant stories of
what never happened,--and who loved well to tell them, because they
were truly wise men, and knew what the child's mind relished and
fattened upon,--nay, and because, like all truly good men, they
themselves indulged a fond, secret, half-belief that these child's
stories of theirs were, if the truth could be got at, more than half
true. We should be sorry to believe that this good old life of
story-telling and story-hearing had utterly gone out. It belonged to an
age that only very foolish men and very vulgar men laugh at without
blushing.

"We of the nineteenth century" have a certain way of our own, however,
of enjoying that most rarely fascinating class of literary productions
known as _stories_,--a critical, perhaps over-intellectual, way,--but
still sufficing, it is comfortable to know, to keep the story at very
near its ancient dignity in the realm of letters. Perhaps it is a true
sign of the perfect story, that it ministers at once to these two
unsympathizing mental appetites, and pleases completely, not only the
man, but his--by this aide--ever-so-great-grandfather, the child.

Everybody thinks first of the "Arabian Nights' Entertainments," when we
fall into such remarks as these,--that marvellous treasure, from which
the dreams of little boys have been furnished forth, and the pages of
great scholars gemmed with elegant illustration, ever since it was
first opened to Western eyes. With this book the title which Mr. Curtis
has so happily selected for his translation invites us to compare it;
and it is not too much praise to say that it can well stand the
comparison,--we mean as a selection of stories fascinating to old and
young. As to the matter of translation itself, the versions we have of
the "Arabian Nights" are notoriously bad. These stories, which Mr.
Curtis has laid all good children and all right-minded grown people
under perpetual obligation by thus collecting and presenting to them,
are the productions of a single German writer, and, with the exception
of three or four separately published in magazines, have, we believe,
never before been translated into English. They present some very
interesting points of contrast with the ever-famous book of Eastern
stories,--such as open some very tempting cross-views of the German and
the Eastern mind, which, for want of opportunity, we must pass by now.

The scenes of most of them are laid in the East,--of a few in Germany;
but the robust _method_ of the German story-writer is apparent in each.
We wish we could quote from one or two which have particularly charmed
us; but though this is impossible within any decent limits, we can at
least provoke the appetite of readers of all ages by the mere
displaying of such titles as these:--"The History of Caliph Stork";
"The Story of the Severed Hand"; "The Story of Little Muck"; "Nosey the
Dwarf"; "The Young Englishman"; "The Prophecy of the Silver Florin";
"The Cold Heart," etc. What prospects for winter evenings are here! And
while we can assure the adult reader that the promise which these
titles give of burlesque or humorous description, and bold, romantic
narrative, shall be more than kept, it may be well also to say, for the
comfort of those whom we hope to see buy the book for their children's
sake, that the stories in it are entirely free from certain objections
which may be fairly urged against the "Arabian Nights" as reading for
young people. The "Arabian Days" have nothing to be ashamed of in the
nature of their entertainments.

The translation itself is a performance in a high degree creditable,
not only to the German, but to the English, scholarship of Mr. Curtis.
We perceive scarcely any of that peculiar stiffness of style which
makes so many otherwise excellent translations painful to read,--the
stiffness as of one walking in new boots,--the result of dressing the
words of one language in the grammatical construction of another. Mr.
Curtis gives us the sentiment and wit and fancy and humor and oddity of
the German's stories, but in an English way. Indeed, his is manly and
graceful English, such as we hope we are not now by any means seeing
the last of.

To the right sort of reader, as _we_ consider him, of the "Arabian
Days," a word about the pictures (for observe, that the proper name for
the illustrations of a story-book is _pictures_) may be fitly spoken.

There are no less than sixteen very nice pictures to this
story-book,--well done, even for Mr. Hoppin, artistically, and well
conceived for the refreshing of the inner eye of him, her, or _it_ that
reads. And we must be permitted, also, who have read this book by
candle-light, as only such a book should be read, to congratulate the
readers who come after us upon the good type and good paper in which
the publishers have very properly produced it.

We hope and believe this publication will before long be given as a
boon to the rising generation, our second-cousins, across the water.
They, however, cannot have it (as we fully intend that certain small
bodies, but huge feeders on fiction, among our acquaintance, shall have
it) on Christmas morning,--the dear old festival, that, as we write, is
already near enough to warm our hearts with anticipation.

* * * * *

_The Stratford Gallery: or the Shakspeare Sisterhood_. Comprising
Forty-five Ideal Portraits, described by HENRIETTA LEE PALMER.
Illustrated. New York: D. Appleton & Co.

This book is what it purports to be,--not a collection of elaborate
essays devoted to metaphysical analysis or to conjectural emendations
of doubtful lines,--but a series of ideal portraits of the women of
Shakspeare's plays. The reader may fancy himself led by an intelligent
cicerone who pauses before each picture and with well-chosen words
tells enough of the story to present the heroine, and then gives her
own conception of the character, with such hints concerning manners and
personal peculiarities as a careful study of the play may furnish. The
narrations are models of neatness and brevity, yet full enough to give
a clear understanding of the situation to any one unacquainted with it.
The creations of Shakspeare have a wonderful completeness and vitality;
and yet the elements of character are often mingled so subtilely that
the sharpest critics differ widely in their estimates. Nothing can be
more fascinating than to follow closely the great dramatist, picking
out from the dialogue a trait of form here, a whim of color there, and
at last combining them into an harmonious whole, with the truth of
outline, hue, and bearing preserved. Often as this has been done, there
is room still for new observers, provided they bring their own eyes to
the task, and do not depend upon the dim and warped lenses of the
commentators.

It is very rarely that we meet with so fresh, so acute, and so
entertaining a student of Shakspeare as the author of this volume. Her
observations, whether invariably just or not, are generally taken from
a new stand-point. She is led to her conclusions rather by instinct
than by reason. She makes no apology for her judgments.

"I have no reason but a woman's reason;
I think her so because I think her so."

And it would not be strange, if womanly instinct were to prove
oftentimes a truer guide in following the waywardness or the apparent
contractions of a woman's nature than the cold logical processes of
merely intellectual men.

To the heroines who are most truly _women_ the author's loyalty is pure
and intense. Imogen, the "chaste, ardent, devoted, beautiful"
wife,--Juliet, whose "ingenuousness and almost infantile simplicity"
endear her to all hearts,--Miranda, that most ethereal creation, type
of virgin innocence,--Cordelia, with her pure, filial devotion,--are
painted with loving, sympathetic tenderness.

Altogether, this is a book which any admirer of the poet may read with
pleasure; and especially to those who have not ventured to think wholly
for themselves it will prove a most useful and agreeable companion.

It is a matter of regret that the characters of the greatest of
dramatists should not have been embodied by the greatest of painters.
But no Michel Angelo, or Raphael, or Correggio, has illustrated these
wonderful creations; and the man who is capable of appreciating
Miranda, or Ophelia, or Desdemona, finds the ideal heads of the
painters, of our day at least, tame, vapid, and unsatisfactory. The
heroine, as imaged in his mind, is arrayed in a loveliness which limner
never compassed. We cannot promise our readers that the engravings in
this beautifully printed and richly bound volume will prove to be
exceptions to the usual rule. They are from designs by English
artists,--"Eminent Hands," in the popular phrase; the faces are often
quite striking and expressive, and, up to a certain point,
characteristic; moreover, they are smoothly finished, and will compare
favorably with those in fashionable gift-books. Without being in the
least degree examples of a high style of Art in its absolute sense,
they answer well the purpose for which they were designed. Indeed, if
they were more truly ideal, and, at the same time, more truly human,
they would doubtless be far less popular.

* * * * *

_Ernest Carroll, or Artist-Life in Italy_. A Novel, in Three Parts.
Boston; Ticknor & Fields. 1858.

This book is not strictly of the kind which the Germans call the
Art-Novel, and yet we know not how else to class it. The author has
spun a somewhat improbable story as the thread for his reflections on
Art and his reminiscences of artists and travel. We confess that we
should have liked it better, had he made his book simply a record of
experience and reflection. But there are many admirable things in this
little volume, which is evidently the work of a person of refined
artistic culture and clear intelligence. Of especial value we reckon
the reminiscences of Allston and his methods; and it seems a little
singular, since the scene is laid chiefly in Florence and in 1847, that
we get nothing more satisfactory than a single anecdote about the elder
Greenough, whose life and works and thoroughly emancipated style of
thought have done more to honor American Art than those of any other
man, except Allston.

We rather regret that the author had not made his book more of a
journal, and recorded directly his own impressions, because he shows a
decided ability in bringing scenes before the eye of the reader. The
sketches of Doney's _Caffe_ and the Venetian _improvvisatore_ are
especially vivid; so is that of the old picture-dealer; though in all
we think some of the phrases might have been softened with advantage.
We enter our earnest protest also against the Raskin chapter. The
scenes at Graefenberg are fresh, lively, and interesting. The book is
also enlivened by many entertaining anecdotes of living American
artists and _savans_, which are told with the skill of a practised
_raconteur_. We hope to hear from the author again, and in a form which
shall enable his knowledge and experience in matters of Art to have
freer play than the exigencies of a novel allow them, and in which his
abilities in the discussion of aesthetics shall have more scope given
them than that of the _obiter dicta_ in a story.

* * * * *

_Hymns of the Ages_. Being Selections from the Lyra Catholica,
Apostolica, Germanica, and other Sources, with an Introduction by PROF.
F.D. HUNTINGTON. Boston: Phillips, Sampson, & Co. 1859. Square 8vo. pp.
300.

In this exquisitely-printed volume the editors have collected specimens
of the devotional poetry of the Christian Church, including
translations from the Roman Breviary, as well as from German hymns,
with a few from English sources. There has been no attempt, evidently,
to conform to the requirements of any creed; the devout Catholic, as
well as the Episcopalian Churchman, will find here the favorite
aspirations, penitential strains, and ascriptions of praise, which have
been consecrated by generations of worshippers. To American readers the
collection will be substantially new, since hardly a dozen of the hymns
are to be found in the volumes in use in our churches. If it had been
the purpose of the editors to gather all the classic religious poetry,
to form a sacred anthology, it would have been necessary to print a
great number of the hymns in modern collections; and the volume would
in that case have lost in novelty what it gained in completeness.

Those who like to go back to the ancient forms of worship for
inspiration, who feel the force of association in the lyrics which have
come down from almost apostolic times, will find in this book an aid to
devotion and religious contemplation. With a little more care in
excluding strongly-marked doctrinal stanzas, the "Hymns of the Ages,"
if less characteristic, would have been more truly _catholic_, and
therefore acceptable to a larger portion of the Church Universal.

Book of the day: