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The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 1, Issue 2, December, 1857 by Various

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The exact time when the millions of the North and of the South shall
rise upon this puny mastership, and snatch from its hands the control
of their own affairs, we cannot tell,--nor yet the authentic shape
which that righteous insurrection will take unto itself. But we know
that when the great body of any nation is thoroughly aroused, and
fully in earnest to abate a mischief or to right a wrong, nothing can
resist its energy or defeat its purpose. It will provide the way, when
its will is once thoroughly excited. Men look out upon the world they
live in, and it seems as if a change for the better were hopeless and
impossible. The great statesmen, the eminent divines, the reverend
judges, the learned lawyers, the wealthy landholders and merchants are
all leagued together to repel innovation. But the earth still moves
in its orbit around the sun; decay and change and death pursue their
inevitable course; the child is born and grows up; the strong man
grows old and dies; the law of flux and efflux never ceases, and lo!
ere men are aware of it, all things have become new. Fresh eyes look
upon the world, and it is changed. Where are now Calhoun, and Clay,
and Webster? Where will shortly be Cass, and Buchanan, and Benton, and
their like? Vanished from the stage of affairs, if not from the face
of Nature. Who are to take their places? God knows. But we know that
the school in which men are now in training for the arena is very
different from the one which formed the past and passing generations
of politicians. Great ideas are abroad, challenging the encounter of
youth. Angels wrestle with the men of this generation, as with the
Patriarch of old, and it is our own fault if a blessing be not
extorted ere they take their flight. Principles, like those which in
the earlier days of the republic elevated men into statesmen, are now
again in the field, chasing the policies which have dwarfed their sons
into politicians. These things are portentous of change,--perhaps
sudden, but, however delayed, inevitable.

And this change, whatever the outward shape in which it may incarnate
itself, in the fulness of time, will come of changed ideas, opinions,
and feelings in the general mind and heart. All institutions, even
those of the oldest of despotisms, exist by the permission and consent
of those who live under them. Change the ideas of the thronging
multitudes by the banks of the Neva, or on the shores of the
Bosphorus, and they will be changed into Republicans and Christians in
the twinkling of an eye. Not merely the Kingdom of Heaven, but the
kingdoms of this world, are within us. Ideas are their substance;
institutions and customs but the shadows they cast into the visible
sphere. Mould the substance anew, and the projected shadow must
represent the altered shape within. Hence the dread despots feel, and
none more than the petty despots of the plantation, of whatever may
throw the light of intelligence across the mental sight of their
slaves. Men endure the ills they have, either because they think them
blessings, or because they fear lest, should they seek to fly them, it
might be to others that they know not of. The present Bonaparte holds
France in a chain because she is willing that he should. Let her but
breathe upon the padlock, and, like that in the fable, it will fade
into air, and he and his dynasty will vanish with it. So the people of
the North submit to the domination of the South because they are used
to it, and are doubtful as to what may replace it. Whenever the
millions, North and South, whom Slavery grinds under her heel, shall
be resolutely minded that her usurpation shall cease, it will
disappear, and forever. As soon as the stone is thrown the giant will
die, and men will marvel that they endured him so long. But this can
only come to pass by virtue of a change yet to be wrought in the
hearts and minds of men. Ideas everywhere are royal;--here they are
imperial. It is the great office of genius, and eloquence, and sacred
function, and conspicuous station, and personal influence to herald
their approach and to prepare the way before them, that they may
assert their state and give holy laws to the listening nation. Thus a
glorious form and pressure may be given to the coming age. Thus the
ideal of a true republic, of a government of laws made and executed by
the people, of which bards have sung and prophets dreamed, and for
which martyrs have suffered and heroes died, may yet be possible to
us, and the great experiment of this Western World be indeed a Model,
instead of a Warning to the nations.


Oft round my hall of portraiture I gaze,
By Memory reared, the artist wise and holy,
From stainless quarries of deep-buried days.
There, as I muse in soothing melancholy,
Your faces glow in more than mortal youth,
Companions of my prime, now vanished wholly,--
The loud, impetuous boy, the low-voiced maiden.
Ah, never master that drew mortal breath
Can match thy portraits, just and generous Death,
Whose brush with sweet regretful tints is laden!
Thou paintest that which struggled here below
Half understood, or understood for woe,
And, with a sweet forewarning,
Mak'st round the sacred front an aureole glow
Woven of that light that rose on Easter morning.


_Homoeopathic Domestic Physician_, etc., etc. By J. H. PULTE,
M.D., Author of "Woman's Medical Guide," etc. Twenty-fourth
thousand. Cincinnati: Moore, Wilstach, Keys, & Co. London: James Epps,
170, Piccadilly, 1857.

Of course the reader understands the following notice to be written by
a venerable practitioner, who carries a gold-headed cane, and does not
believe in any medical authority later than Sydenham. Listen to him,
then, and remember that if anything in the way of answer, or
remonstrance, or controversial advertisement is sent to the
head-quarters of this periodical, it will go directly into the basket,
which, entering, a manuscript leaves all hope behind. The "old salts"
of the "Atlantic" do not go for non-committal and neutrality, or any
of that kind of nonsense. Our oracle with the gold stick must have
the ground to himself, or keep his wisdom for another set of
readers. A quarrel between "Senex" and "Fairplay" would be amusing,
but expensive. We have no space for it; and the old gentleman, though
he can use his cane smartly for one of his age, positively declines
the game of single-stick. Hear him.

--The book mentioned above lies before us with its valves open,
helpless as an oyster on its shell, inviting the critical pungent, the
professional acid, and the judicial impaling trident. We will be
merciful. This fat little literary mollusk is well-conditioned, of
fair aspect, and seemingly good of its kind. Twenty-four thousand
individuals,--we have its title-page as authority,--more or less
lineal descendants of Solomon, have become the fortunate possessors of
this plethoric guide to earthly immortality. They might have done
worse; for the work is well printed, well arranged, and
typographically creditable to the great publishing-house which honors
Cincinnati by its intelligent enterprise. The purchasers have done
very wisely in buying a book which will not hurt their eyes. Mr. Otis
Clapp, bibliopolist, has the work, and will be pleased to supply it to
an indefinite number of the family above referred to.

--Men live in the immediate neighborhood of a great menagerie, the
doors of which are always open. The beasts of prey that come out are
called diseases. They feed upon us, and between their teeth we must
all pass sooner or later,--all but a few, who are otherwise taken care
of. When these animals attack a man, most of them give him a scratch
or a bite, and let him go. Some hold on a little while; some are
carried about for weeks or months, until the carrier drops down, or
they drop off. By and by one is sure to come along that drags down the
strongest, and makes an end of him.

Most people know little or nothing of these beasts, until all at once
they find themselves attacked by one of them. They are therefore
liable to be frightened by those that are not dangerous, and careless
with those that are destructive. They do not know what will soothe,
and what will exasperate them. They do not even know the dens of many
of them, though they are close to their own dwellings.

A physician is one that has lived among these beasts, and studied
their aspects and habits. He knows them all well, and looks them in
the face, and lays his hand on their backs daily. They seem, as it
were, to know him, and to greet him with such _risus sardonicus_
as they can muster. He knows that his friends and himself have all
got to be eaten up at last by them, and his friends have the same
belief. Yet they want him near them at all times, and with them when
they are set upon by any of these their natural enemies. He goes,
knowing pretty well what he can do and what he cannot.

He can talk to them in a quiet and sensible way about these terrible
beings, concerning which they are so ignorant, and liable to harbor
such foolish fancies. He can frighten away some of the lesser kind of
animals with certain ill-smelling preparations he carries about
him. Once in a while he can draw the teeth of some of the biggest, or
throttle them. He can point out their dens, and so keep many from
falling into their jaws.

This is a great deal to promise or perform, but it is not all that is
expected of him. Sick people are very apt to be both fools and
cowards. Many of them confess the fact in the frankest possible
way. If you doubt it, ask the next dentist about the wisdom and
courage of average manhood under the dispensation of a bad tooth. As a
tooth is to a liver, so are the dentists' patients to the doctors', in
the want of the two excellences above mentioned.

Those not over-wise human beings called patients are frequently a
little unreasonable. They come with a small scratch, which Nature
will heal very nicely in a few days, and insist on its being closed at
once with some kind of joiner's glue. They want their little coughs
cured, so that they may breathe at their ease, when they have no lungs
left that are worth mentioning. They would have called in Luke the
physician to John the Baptist, when his head was in the charger, and
asked for a balsam that would cure cuts. This kind of thing cannot be
done. But it is very profitable to lie about it, and say that it can
be done. The people who make a business of this lying, and profiting
by it, are called quacks.

--But as patients wish to believe in all manner of "cures," and as all
doctors love to believe in the power of their remedies and as nothing
is more open to self-deception than medical experience, the whole
matter of therapeutics has always been made a great deal more of than
the case would justify. It has been an inflated currency,--fifty
pretences on paper, to one fact of true, ringing metal.

Many of the older books are full of absurd nostrums. A century ago,
Huxham gave messes to his patients containing more than four hundred
ingredients. Remedies were ordered that must have been suggested by
the imagination; things odious, abominable, unmentionable; flesh of
vipers, powder of dead men's bones, and other horrors, best mused in
expressive silence. Go to the little book of Robert Boyle,--wise man,
philosopher, revered of cures for the most formidable diseases, many
of them of this fantastic character, that disease should seem to have
been a thing that one could turn off at will, like gas or water in our
houses. Only there were rather too many specifics in those days. For
if one has "an excellent approved remedy" that never fails, it seems
unnecessary to print a list of twenty others for the same
purpose. This is wanton excess; it is gilding the golden pill, and
throwing fresh perfume on the Mistura Assafoetidae.

As the observation of nature has extended, and as mankind have
approached the state of only _semi_-barbarism in which they now
exist, there has been an improvement. The materia medica has been
weeded; much that was worthless and revolting has been thrown
overboard; simplicity has been introduced into prescriptions; and the
whole business of _drugging_ the sick has undergone a most
salutary reform. The great fact has been practically recognized, that
the movements of life in disease obey laws which, under the
circumstances, are on the whole salutary, and only require a limited
and occasional interference by any special disturbing agents. The list
of specifics has been reduced to a very brief catalogue, and the
delusion which had exaggerated the power of drugging for so many
generations has been tempered down by sound and systematic

Homoeopathy came, and with one harlequin bound leaped out of its
century backwards into the region of quagmires and fogs and mirages,
from which true medical science was painfully emerging. All the
trumpery of exploded pharmacopoeias was revived under new names. Even
the domain of the loathsome has been recently invaded, and simpletons
are told in the book before us to swallow serpents' poison; nay, it is
said that the _pediculis capitis_ is actually prescribed in
infusion,--hunted down in his capillary forest, and transferred to the
digestive organs of those he once fed upon.

It falsely alleged one axiom as the basis of existing medical
practice, namely, _Contraria contrarues curantur_,--"Contraries
are cured by contraries." No such principle was ever acted upon,
exclusively, as the basis of medical practice. The man who does not
admit it as _one_ of the principles of practice would, on
_medical_ principles, refuse a drop of cold water to cool the
tongue of Dives in fiery torments. The only unconditional principle
ever recognized by medical science has been, that diseases are to be
treated by the remedies that experience shows to be useful. The
universal use of both _cold_ and _hot_ external and internal
remedies in various inflammatory states puts the garrote at once on
the babbling throat of the senseless assertion of the homaeopathists,
and stultifies for all time the nickname "allopathy."

It falsely alleged a second axiom, _Similia similibus
curantur_,--"Like is cured by like,"--as the basis of its own
practice; for it does not keep to any such rule, as every page of the
book before us abundantly shows.

It subjected credulous mankind to the last of indignities, in forcing
it to listen to that doctrine of infinitesimals and potencies which is
at once the most epigrammatic of paradoxes, and the crowning exploit
of pseudo-scientific audacity.

It proceeded to prove itself true by juggling statistics; some of the
most famous of which, we may remark, are very well shown up by
Professor Worthington Hooker, in a recent essay. And having done all
these things, it sat down in the shadow of a brazen bust of its
founder, and invited mankind to join in the Barmecide feast it had
spread on the coffin of Science; who, however, proved not to have been
buried in it,--indeed, not to have been buried at all.

Of course, it had, and has, a certain success. Its infinitesimal
treatment being a nullity, patients are never hurt by drugs, _when
it is adhered to_. It pleases the imagination. It is image-worship,
relic-wearing, holy-water-sprinkling, transferred from the spiritual
world to that of the body. Poets accept it; sensitive and spiritual
women become sisters of charity in its service. It does not offend the
palate, and so spares the nursery those scenes of single combat in
which infants were wont to yield at length to the pressure of the
spoon and the imminence of asphyxia. It gives the ignorant, who have
such an inveterate itch for dabbling in physic, a book and a doll's
medicine-chest, and lets them play doctors and doctresses without fear
of having to call in the coroner. And just so long as unskilful and
untaught people cannot tell coincidences from cause and effect in
medical practice,--which to do, the wise and experienced know how
difficult!--so long it will have plenty of "facts" to fall back
upon. Who can blame a man for being satisfied with the argument, "I
was ill, and am well,--great is Hahnemann!"? Only this argument serves
all impostors and impositions. It is not of much value, but it is
irresistible, and therefore quackery is immortal.

Homaeopathy is one of its many phases; the most imaginative, the most
elegant, and, it is fair to say, the least noxious in its direct
agencies. "It is melancholy,"--we use the recent words of the
world-honored physician of the Queen's household, Sir John
Forbes,--"to be forced to make admissions in favor of a system so
utterly false and despicable as Homaeopathy." Yet we must own that it
may have been indirectly useful, as the older farce of the weapon
ointment certainly was, in teaching medical practitioners to place
more reliance upon nature. Most scientific men see through its
deceptions at a glance. It may be practised by shrewd men and by
honest ones; rarely, it must be feared, by those who are both shrewd
and honest. As a psychological experiment on the weakness of
cultivated minds, it is the best trick of the century.

--Here the old gentleman took his cane and walked out to cool himself.


It is an old remark of Lessing, often repeated, but nevertheless true,
that Frenchmen, as a general rule, are sadly deficient in the mental
powers suited to _objective_ observation, and therefore eminently
disqualified for reliable reports of travels. Among the host of French
writing travellers or travelling writers, on whatever foreign
countries, there have always been very few who looked at foreign
countries, nations, institutions, and achievements, with anything like
fairness of judgment and capacity of understanding. For an average
Frenchman, Moliere's renowned juxtaposition of

"Paris, la cour, le monde, l'univers,"

is a gospel down to this day; and no country can so justly complain of
being constantly misunderstood and misrepresented by French tourists
as ours. The more difficult it is for a Frenchman not to glance
through colored spectacles from the Palais Royal at whatever does not
belong to "the Great Nation," the more praise those few of them
deserve who give to the world correct and impartial impressions of
travel and reliable ethnological works.

Such is the case with two works which we are glad to recommend to our
readers. The first is

_La Norwege_, par LOUIS ENAULT. Paris: Hachette. 1857.

Norway, though a member of the European family, with a population once
so influential in the world's history, is comparatively the least
known of all civilized countries to the world at large, and what
little we know of it is of a very recent date,--Stephens's and Leopold
von Buch's works being not much more than a quarter of a century old,
while Bayard Taylor's lively sketches in the "New York Tribune" are
almost wet still, and not yet complete. The latter and M. Enault's
book, when compared with each other, leave not the slightest doubt
that each observes carefully and conscientiously in his own way, that
both possess peculiar gifts for studying and describing correctly what
there is worth studying and describing in this _terra incognita_, and
that we can rely on both. Mr. Taylor is more picturesque, lively,
fascinating, and drastic; M. Enault more thorough, quiet, and reserved
in the expression of his opinions. The parts seem to be
interchanged,--the Frenchman exhibiting more of the Anglo-Saxon, the
American more of the French genius; but both confirm each other's
statements admirably, and should be read side by side. If our readers
wish to make themselves thoroughly acquainted with the workings of the
laws and institutions, with the statistical, economical, and
geographical facts, the society and manners, the later history and
future prospects of Norway, they will find here a work trustworthy in
every respect.

_Les Anglais et l'Inde_, avec Notes, Pieces justificatives et
Tableaux statistiques, par E. DE VALBEZEN. Paris. 1857.

This is no narrative of travel, though evidently written by one who
has been for a considerable time an eyewitness of Indian affairs, and
by a man of acute mind and quick and comprehensive perception,
thoroughly versed in the history and condition of India. It is a
treatise on all those topics bearing upon the present political,
social, and commercial state of things there, beginning with the
exposition of the English governmental institutions there existing,
describing the country, its productions and resources, its various
populations, its social relations, its agriculture, commerce, and
wealth, and concluding with statistical and other documents in support
of the author's statements. It gives a nearly systematical and
complete picture of Indian affairs, enabling the reader to understand
the present situation of the country and its foreign rulers, and to
form a judgment on all corresponding topics. The style is classical,
though somewhat concise and epigrammatic, giving proof everywhere of a
mind that forms its own conclusions and takes independent,
statesmanlike views. The author refrains from obtruding his own
opinions on the reader, leaving things to speak for themselves. He is
not ostensibly antagonistic to the English, as we should expect from a
true Frenchman,--is no cordial hater of "_perfide Albion_." You
cannot, from his book, with any show of reason, infer that he is a
Jesuit, a French missionary, a merchant, a governmental employe, or a
simple traveller; but you feel instinctively that he is wide-awake,
shrewd, and reserved, and that you may trust his reports in the
main. He refers, for proof of his statements, mostly to English
documents, and does not try to preoccupy your mind. Particularly
noteworthy is what he says of the political economy of India; he
controverts effectively the prevailing opinion that it is the richest
country in the world,--showing its real poverty, in spite of its great
natural resources, and the almost hopeless task of improving these
resources. For the American merchant this is a very readable book,
warning him to refrain from too hastily investing his capital and
enterprise in Indian commerce,--India being the most insecure of all
countries for foreign commercial undertakings; and in general, there
are so many entirely new and startling revelations in it, that, to any
one interested in Indian matters, it well repays reading.

_Histoire de la Revolution Francaise_, (1789-1799,) Par
THEOD. H. BARRAU. Paris: Hachette. 1857.

We cannot vouch that we have here a new, original history of this
important epoch, based on an independent study of historical sources;
but it is the very first history of the French Revolution we have
known, not written in a partisan spirit, and bent on falsifying the
facts in order to make political capital or to flatter national
prejudices. It bears no evidence of any tendency whatever,--perhaps
only because, with its more than five hundred pages, it is too short
for that.

_Histoire de France au XVI. Siecle_, par MICHELET. Tom. 10.
_Henri IV. et Richelieu_.

Michelet is too well known as a truly Republican historiographer and
truly humane and noble writer, and the former volumes of this history
have been too long before the public, to require for this volume a
particular recommendation. It begins with the last _decade_ of the
sixteenth century, and concludes with the year 1626. We are no
particular admirers of Michelet's historical style and method of
delineation, but we acknowledge his sense of historical justice, his
unprejudiced mind, and his Republicanism, even when treating a subject
so delicate, and so dear to Frenchmen, as Henry IV. Doing justice to
whatever was really admirable in the character of this much beloved
king, he overthrows a good many superstitious ideas current concerning
him even down to our days. He shows that the Utopian, though
benevolent project, ascribed to Henry, of establishing an everlasting
peace by revising the map of Europe and constituting a political
equilibrium between the several European powers, never in fact existed
in the king's mind, nor even in Sully's, whom he equally divests of
much unfounded glory and fictitious greatness. No doubt, but for his
fickleness and inconsistency, Henry could have done a good deal toward
realizing such ideas and reforming European politics; but it is saying
too much for Henry's influence on the popular opinions of Europe, to
affirm, what Michelet gives us to understand, that he could have
combined the nations of Europe against all their depraved rulers

_La Liberte_, par EMILE DE GIRARDIN. Paris. 1857.

This book contains a discussion between the author and M. de
Lourdoueix, ex-editor of the "Gazette de France," written in the form
of letters, on the various topics connected with the notion of
Liberty. Girardin is, no doubt, the most genial of all living French
writers on Socialism and Politics. He belongs neither to the fanatical
school of Communists and Social Equalizers by force and "_par ordre
da Mufti_," nor to the class of pliable tools of Imperial or Royal
Autocracy. He is the only writer who, in the face of the prevailing
restrictions upon the press in France, dares to speak out his whole
mind, and to preach the Age of Reason in Politics and in the Social
System. He is full of new ideas, which should, we think, be very
attractive to American readers; and it is, indeed, strange that his
writings are so little read and reviewed on this side of the
ocean. His ideas on general education, on the total extinction of
authority or government, on the abolition of public punishments of
every kind, on the doing away with standing armies, war, and tyranny,
and on making the State a great Assurance Company against all
imaginable misfortunes and their consequences, are a fair index of the
best philosophemes of the European mind since the last Revolution. We
do not say that we approve every one of his issues and conclusions,
but we insist most earnestly, that this book and similar ones, bearing
testimony to what the political and social thinkers of the day in
Europe are revolving in their minds, should be read and reviewed under
the light of American institutions and ideas. The reader enjoys in the
present book the great advantage of seeing the ideas of the Social
Reformers discussed _pro_ and _contra_,--M. Lourdoueix being
their obstinate adversary.

_Memoires de M. Joseph Prudhomme_, par HENRI MONNIER. 2
vols. Paris. 1857.

This is not what is commonly called _memoires_,--to wit,
historical recollections modified by the subjective impressions of
eyewitnesses to the past; it is rather a novel or romance in the form
of _memoires_, ridiculing the predominant _bourgeoisie_ of
the Old World, and sketching the whole life of a _bourgeois_,
from infancy to green old age. For readers, who, through travel in
Europe and acquaintance with French literature and tastes, are enabled
to understand the many nice allusions contained in this novel, it is a
very entertaining book.

1. _Kraft und Stoff_. By G. BUeCHNER. Fourth edition. 1857.

2. _Materie und Geist_. By the same. 1857.

It is certainly a remarkable sign of the times, that a book treating
of purely scientific matters,--physiological facts and ideas,--like
the first of these, of which the second is the complement, should in a
very few years have attained to its fourth edition in Germany. All
those works on Natural Science, by Alexander von Humboldt, Oersted, Du
Bois-Raymond, Cotta, Vogt, Moleschott, Buechner, Rossmaessler, Ule,
Mueller, and others, which have appeared since the Revolution of 1848,
uniting a more popular and intelligible style with a purely scientific
treatment of the matter-of-fact, irrespective of the religious and
political dogmas that conflict with the results of natural science,
have met with decided success in Germany and France. They are
extensively read and appreciated, even by the less educated and
learned classes. Among these works, that of Buechner ranks high, and
it is therefore strange that we have seen it hitherto reviewed in no
American journal. This may serve us as an excuse for noticing this
fourth edition, though it is little improved over the former ones. It
exhibits the last results of the science of physiology, in a
scientific, but rather popular method of exposition. There is quite a
hive of new ideas and intuitions contained in it,--ideas conflicting,
it is true, with many received dogmas, and irreconcilable with
orthodoxy; but it is of no use to shut our eyes to these ideas, as
though the danger threatening from this side could be averted by
imitating the policy of the ostrich. They should be faced and
examined; the danger is far greater from ignoring them. It is
impossible that ideas, largely entertained and cultivated by a nation
so expert in thinking, so versed in science and literature as the
Germans, should have no interest for the great, intelligent American
public. Natural Science may be said to form, at present, an integral
portion of the religion of the Germans. It is, at least, a matter of
ethnological and historical interest to learn in what regions of
thought and speculation our German contemporaries are at home, and
wherein they find their mental happiness and delight.

_Die deutsche komische und humoristische Dichtung seit Beginn des
16. Jahrhunderts bis auf unsere Zeit_. Von IGNAZ HUB. Nuernberg:
Ebner. 1857.

Two volumes of this interesting work are coming out at the same
time,--one containing the second of the five parts into which the
prose anthology is divided, with comical and humorous pieces from the
sixteenth century, (for instance, extracts from "Fortunatus," the
"Historia" of Dr. J. Faust, "Die Schildbuerger," Desid, Erasmus's
"Gespraeche," etc.,)--the other containing a collection of poetry of
the same kind, belonging to the present century, and forming part of
the third volume, with pieces by Uhland, Eichendorff, Rueckert,
Sapphir, Wm. Mueller, Immermann, Palten, Hoffmann, Kopisch, Heine,
Lenau, Moericke, Gruen, Wackernagel, and many others. The anthology is
accompanied with biographical and historical notes, and explanations
of provincialisms and such words as to the American reader of German
would he likely to be otherwise unintelligible; so that he may thus,
without too much trouble, satisfactorily enjoy this treasury of
entertainment. The Germans may well be proud of such literary riches,
in which England alone surpasses them.

_Thueringer Naturen, Charakter-und Sittenbilder in
Erzaehlungen_. Von OTTO LUDWIG. Erster Band. _Die Heiterethei und
ihr Widerspiel_. Frankfurt. 1857.

This is one of the numerous imitations of the celebrated
"Dorfgeschichten," by Berthold Auerbach. The latter introduced, in a
time of literary poverty, a wide range of new subjects for epical
treatment,--the life of German peasants, with their simple, healthy,
vigorous natures undepraved by a spurious civilization. In painting
these sinewy figures, full of a character of their own, he was very
felicitous, had an enormous success, and drew a host of less gifted
followers after him. Herr Ludwig is one of these. We shall not despair
of his becoming, at some future time, a second Auerbach; but he is not
one yet. There is, in this work, too much spreading out and
extenuation of a material which, in itself not very rich and varied,
requires great skill to mould into an epic form. But the author has a
remarkable power of drawing true, lifelike characters, and developing
them psychologically. It is refreshing to see that the German literary
taste is becoming gradually more _realistic,_ pure, and natural,
turning its back on the romantic school of the French.

_May Carols._ By AUBREY DE VERE. London.

The name of Aubrey de Vere has for some years past been familiar to
the lovers of poetry, as that of a scholarly and genial poet. His
successive volumes have shown a steady growth in poetic power and
elevation of spirit. While gaining a firmer mastery over the
instruments of poetry he has struck from them a deeper, fuller, and
more significant tone. In this his last volume, which has lately
appeared, his verse is brought completely into the service of the
Church. The "May Carols" are poems celebrating the Virgin Mary in her
month of May. For that month, and for the Roman church, Mr. De Vere
has done in this volume what Keble did for the festivals of the year,
and the English church, in his "Christian Year." Catholicism in
England has produced no poet since the days of Crashaw so sincere in
his piety, so sweet in his melody, so pure in spirit as De Vere. And
the volume is not for Roman Catholic readers alone. Others may be
touched by its religious fervor, and charmed with its beauties of
description or of feeling. It is full and redolent of spring. The
sweetness of the May air flows through many of its verses,--of that
season when

Trees, that from winter's gray eclipse
Of late but pushed their topmost plume,
Or felt with green-touched finger-tips
For spring, their perfect robes assume.

While, vague no more, the mountains stand
With quivering line or hazy hue;
But drawn with finer, firmer, hand,
And settling into deeper blue.

Mr. De Vere is an exquisite student of nature, with fine perceptions
that have been finely cultivated. Take this picture of the lark:--

From his cold nest the skylark springs;
Sings, pauses, sings; shoots up anew;
Attains his topmost height, and sings
Quiescent in his vault of blue.

And here is a description of the later spring:--

Brow-bound with myrtle and with gold,
Spring, sacred now from blasts and blights,
Lifts in a firm, untrembling hold
Her chalice of fulfilled delights.

Confirmed around her queenly lip
The smile late wavering, on she moves;
And seems through deepening tides to step
Of steadier joys and larger loves.

The little volume contains many passages such as these. We have space
to quote but one of the poems complete, to show the manner in which
Mr. De Vere unites the real, the symbolic, and the external, with the
spiritual. Like most of his poems, it is marked by artistic finish and
grace, and many of the lines have a natural beauty of unsought
alliteration and assonance.

When all the breathless woods aloof
Lie hushed in noontide's deep repose
The dove, sun-warmed on yonder roof,
With what a grave content she coos!

One note for her! Deep streams run smooth:
The ecstatic song of transience tells.
O, what a depth of loving truth
In thy divine contentment dwells!

All day with down-dropt lids I sat
In trance; the present scene foregone.
When Hesper rose, on Ararat,
Methought, not English hills, he shone.

Back to the Ark, the waters o'er,
The primal dove pursued her flight:
A branch of that blest tree she bore
Which feeds the Church with holy light.

I heard her rustling through the air
With sliding plume,--no sound beside,
Save the sea-sobbings everywhere,
And sighs of the subsiding tide.

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