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NIAGARA AND OTHER POEMS. By E. G. HOLLAND. In one Volume: pp. 170. New-York: RUDD AND CARLETON, Number 130 Grand-street.
'GREAT GOD!'-exclaimed FANNY KEMBLE, when first the 'Great Cataract,' amid mighty thunderings,' burst at once upon her vision, obliterating in a moment all previous conceptions of this 'Wonder of the World'— 'great GOD, who can describe Niagara!' She was right: for there speaks the voice of GOD, and there should Man be dumb. We seldom read a poem on Niagara : we have seen the subject: we have felt the impossibility of describing it. We pass in silence therefore the first portion of the little volume under notice. Mr. HOLLAND, the author, has heretofore appeared in these pages, with acceptance to our readers, as his lines to 'Weimar,' in our number for May, a year ago, will sufficiently attest: although among the poems composing the collection, only three or four have been previously published. Mr. HOLLAND has more and higher merit as a poet than will be likely to be appreciated in these stirring times but he has it in him,' and can well afford to wait. He has been much abroad; and has done good service to the literature of our country, in lecturing upon it in London, and other large towns and cities in Great Britain. To show how much a poet can evoke from what one would be apt to consider a meagre subject, we extract the lines 'To My Dictionary,' which most emphatically speak for themselves: '
'WHAT art thou, Book? A mass of words
All lifeless as a stone?
The fossil sounds of by-gone times
Thy space I measure with my hand,
And though I read thee many times, No spark shall light my zeal.
'Words! words! These and only these
An independent multitude
How cold and lifeless is thy page!
Yet there are books with magic fraught
That sway the hearts and lives of men
Fly days and nights beneath their spell
'Though charmless thou, I hold thee dear;
I know thy words are moving fast
They glow within the lover's speech
And yet, in Poet's lofty strain
That wakes eternal fame.
In sorrow's wail, in want's lone prayer,
In all that soul to soul reveals,
Thy words of life appear.
This hour, as 'neath the Castle's* walls
Thy words in myriad uses serve
Ten thousand hearts and minds.
In happiness, in misery,
In better and in worse:
In all that mortal natures feel
Of hope, of joy, of care,
When on the earth they reverent kneel
*THE Castle at Heidelberg, which as a ruin is second only to the Alhambra of Spain.
Or when in musings dark within
Thou art the book of human life,
Each word that stands upon thy page
Of that which in the world he found
Had Virtue ne'er been in the world
These words we ever prize so dear
'As elements in nature few
Compose the boundless whole,
So man thy words in myriad ways
And through the form each gives to thee
The wise, the fool, the good, the base,
While thou in ways unknown to them
As monument of man,
To mark the progress he has made
Both mind and nature hold the laws
MESSRS. RUDD AND CARLETON are winning for their publications a reputation for good printing and tasteful binding, which will be likely to stand them in good stead hereafter.
THE POETICAL WORKS OF SAMUEL WOODWORTH. Edited by his Sox. In two Volumes: pp. 571. New-York: CHARLES SCRIBNER, Grand-street.
WE remember having met one summer morning, many, many years ago, at the Variety-Store of his sons, we think it was in Broadway, (a place made famous by BONFANTI, whom our poet had rendered famous,) with SAMUEL WOODWORTH, the author of the two beautiful volumes of blue-and-gold, now lying before us. We recollect him as a man a little under the ordinary height, but stout and stubbed,' as they say 'down east,' or 'stocky,' as they say 'out west,' with a healthful complexion, a pair of bright, small, dark eyes, and an expression of amiability and cheerfulness animating his pleasant features. We should like to recall the remembrance of this casual meeting, by a portrait of some kind in the volumes before us. Mr. WOODWORTH was a poet so 'individual' in many of his writings; there was so much of himself; his reminiscences of childhood; his domestic affections; and his patriotism at a time when patriotism (as now, thank Heaven!) was an honor and a glory; there was so much of all this in many of his writings, that thousands would delight to look upon the 'counterfeit presentment' of the author of 'The Old Oaken Bucket,' 'See on Brooklyn Heights the Patriotic Diggers,' and 'The Hunters of Kentucky.' If it were possible in a second edition, (which there is small doubt will be called for,) to supply this omission, it would add very much to the attractions of the work.
Apropos of 'The Old Oaken Bucket,' which has been read, felt and enjoyed by millions of readers, since it was first given to the world, we find the following account of its inception and composition in an 'Introductory Notice of SAMUEL WOODWORTH, by GEORGE P. MORRIS,' which opens the first volume: 'It was written in the spring or summer of 1817. The family were living at
the time in Duane-street. The poet came home to dinner one very warm day, having walked from his office, somewhere near the foot of Wall-street. Being much heated with the exercise, he drank a glass of water New-York pump
water — exclaiming, as he replaced the tumbler on the table: 'That is very refreshing; but how much more refreshing would it be to take a good long draught, this warm day, from the old oaken bucket I left hanging in my father's well, at home!' Hearing this, the poet's wife, who was always a suggestive body, said: 'SELIM, why wouldn't that be a pretty subject for a poem ?' The poet took the hint, and, under the inspiration of the moment, sat down and poured out from the very depths of his heart those beautiful lines which have immortalized his name:' a pastoral song whose merit consists in the graphic accuracy of the description, the simplicity and nature of its sentiments, and the melodious flow of the versification. It appeals to feelings cherished in every human bosom, which, though they may be suppressed for a while, can never be extinguished. Gen. MORRIS well says, in conclusion, that the fame of such a writer may be safely left to time and his country.
AUTOBIOGRAPHY, LETTERS, AND LITERARY REMAINS OF MRS. PIOZZI, (THRALE.) Edited with Notes and an Introductory Account of her Life and Writings. By A. HAYWARD, Esq., Q.C. In one Volume: pp. 520. Boston: TICKNOR AND FIELDS.
THERE is surely variety enough in this corpulent, gossipy volume to satisfy the most fastidious reader, 'pleased with novelty.' When the papers of which the work is principally composed were laid before Lord MACAULAY, he gave it as his opinion that they afforded materials for 'a most interesting and durably popular volume.' They comprise Autobiographical Memoirs of Mrs. Prozzi; Private Letters; Fugitive Pieces, of her Composition, most of which have never before appeared in print; Manuscripts by her on WRAXALL'S Memoirs, and on her own published works, namely: 'Anecdotes of the late SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D., during the last twenty years of his life;' 'Letters to and from the late SAMUEL JOHNSON, LL.D.;' 'Observations and Reflections made in the course of a Journey through France, Italy, and Germany;' and 'Retrospection: or, Review of the most striking and important Events, Characters, Situations and their Consequences, which the last Eighteen Hundred Years have presented to the View of Mankind.' Aside from this original stock of materials, large and valuable additions reached the Editor while his work was in progress including a copy of BoswELL's Life of JOHNSON, plentifully sprinkled with marginal notes by Mrs. Piozzi; with curious passages from a copious diary or note-book, entitled "Thraliana,' kept by the same lady for upward of thirty years. A scholar, a wit, a poetess, and a woman of an understanding so large and comprehensive as to win the warm admiration, for a quarter of a century, of so acute an observer and so exacting a critic as the great Dr. JOHNSON, could scarcely fail to furnish a work of the rarest interest. We shall certainly refer to the volume again, for its pages were most liberally pencilled as we read, indicating the 'plums' which it is our intention to extract hereafter.
There is one thing recorded in this book, of which, much as we had learned of many incidents in Mrs. Prozzi's life, and examples of her character, from other works, we never heard before. It seems that when nearly eighty years of age, she took a fancy for the actor CONWAY, who afterward visited this country, played with much success at the old Park Theatre, and finally committed suicide by throwing himself over-board from a vessel at mid-night, while on a voyage from New-York to Charleston. CONWAY was well known in this city. He was six feet high, and a very handsome man ; but his advantages as an actor, at the period when the old lady fell in love with him, were regarded by the general English public as mainly physical. Not so Mrs. PIOZZI. This ci-devant jeune femme writes him in one of her love-letters:
'AND now, dear Sir, let me request of you to love yourself, and to reflect on the necessity of not dwelling on any particular subject too long, or too intensely. It is really very dangerous to the health of body and soul. Beside that, our time here is but short; a mere preface to the great book of eternity; and 't is scarce worthy of a reasonable being not to keep the end of human existence so far in view that we may tend to it, either directly or obliquely in every step. This is preaching—but remember how the sermon is written at three, four, and five o'clock by an octogenary pen heart (as Mrs. LEE says) twenty-six years old: and as H. L. P. feels it to be YOUR OWN. Suffer your dear noble self to be in some measure benefited by the talents which are left me; your health to be restored by soothing consolations while I remain here, and am able to bestow them. All is not lost yet. You have a friend, and that friend is ProZZI.'
THE HISTORY OF ENGLAND FROM THE ACCESSION OF JAMES THE SECOND. By Lord MACAUEdited by his Sister, Lady TREVELYAN. In one Volume: pp. 293. New-York: HARPER AND BROTHERS.
MORE than wonted interest attaches to this volume: which is sufficiently demonstrated by the fact, that two editions, the first of five thousand copies, and the second equally large, have been already called for from two publishing houses, one in New-York, the other in Boston. It was the last work of the ' good right hand' of the great historian which now lies mouldering in his deep grave in Westminster Abbey. The work is given to the world precisely as it was left no connecting link has been added; no reference verified; no authority sought for, or examined. The last thoughts of the great mind which has passed away from the world, have been preserved sacred from any touch but his own.
To enlarge upon the character of a work now so widely known, and that a production, and the last production of a historian like MACAULAY, would be an act of supererogation of which, even had we abundant space, we should take care not to be guilty. Suffice it to say, that it contains, in all particulars, the characteristics of his genius, and of his 'master-hand.' We have reserved one extract, and that a short one, only to call the reader's attention to the matchless condensation and picturesqueness of the style. Lord MACAULAY's description of that second 'Mississippi Bubble'-er, the Scotchman PATERSON, and his great 'Isthmus of Darien Colony' project, will appear in our July number.
HALL OF RERPESENTATIVES, WASHINGTON, MAY 1ST, 1861.
'MY DEAR KNICK: What a glorious thing is rest. Not that rest that remaineth to the saints, but that other rest which we mortals enjoy, when, after long days and nights of sleepless exposure, we stretch our weary limbs on the soft side of a pavement, and sink into the arms of oblivion. On that blissful state your correspondent has entered. For six blessed nights, on a marble bed, with my knapsack for a pillow, and my blanket for mattress and 'coverlid,' I have luxuriated in the enjoyment of that glorious invention on which Sancho Panza pronounced his immortal eulogium, while a thousand throats, pitched to every key of melodious snore, have sung me to repose. Under its reviving influence I am again 'as good as new,' and ready for a fight with the Southern tigers, or even for another twenty hours' march over those cursed Maryland sleepers.'
"The papers have told you of our arrival here, of our exploits at railway building, and of our 'moving accidents by flood and field;', but they have not told you of our manner of life since our arrival.
'It was a glorious June-like afternoon when the engine, puffing and panting with the unusual exertion, dragged its rickety limbs into the depot at Washington. Every house and every street-crossing that we passed seemed alive with people, and a crowd of men, women and children met us at the station, frantic with excitement. As we emerged from the cars, cheer after cheer for 'the gallant Seventh' went up from ten thousand throats, till the very roof trembled. I thought of how Joshua brought down the walls of Jericho, and momentarily expected to see the building 'cave.' It'stood the racket,' however, and we reached the open air in safety. Here again the wildest enthusiasm greeted us. The whole city appeared to have gathered around the station-house, and at the foot of Capitol Hill, to give us such a greeting as even the Seventh never received before. The hopes, the fears, the painful suspense and torturing anxiety the people had endured for the previous week, vanished with our arrival, and the long pent-up feelings of the populace found vent in shouts that made the welkin ring. Though wearied, foot-sore, and half-famished, we caught the prevailing enthusiasm, and forming in front of the station, marched with as firm a tread as ever shook Broadway, to the President's house. We had not, however, gone the length of a block before discovering that we had been made the victims of the treasonable practices of the metropolitan boot-makers. Nearly every man of us felt in his boots a countless number of sharp instruments, which pierced his sole like knives, and made marching a torture. My own feet bled at every pore, and I inwardly 43