« PoprzedniaDalej »
tions of all the other nations of Europe and America. But the present condition of the countries described in this work is a theme of still more interesting contemplation. “We do not believe,” says Mr. Baird, “that any other countries in the world, of a proportionate population, have developed so much talent and so much literary enterprise, as both Denmark and Sweden have done during the last fifty or sixty years ;” and in this remark Norway is associated with the former and Finland with the latter. Within the same period also great improvements have been made in the political, civil, physical and moral conditions of these countries. Norway is now a free state, with a constitution modelled in a great degree after that of our own government, and her example is exerting a powerful influence on the Danes and Swedes, who seem prepared for much greater political ameliorations than they have yet experienced. Their religious condition is also such as at once to excite our commiseration and encouragement ; and we cannot but hope that, in the progress of political reform, that separation of church and state will be effected, which the experience of our own country has shown to be so essential to the best interests of both.
On the whole, we have found ourselves deeply interested in the perusal of the work before us. To those of our readers who are not already familiar with the history and description of the countries to which it relates, we cheerfully recommend it. The author is well known to the American public as a zealous and efficient laborer in the cause of philanthropy and religion, and it was in the prosecution of several objects of benevolence, especially the cause of Temperance, that he made his journeys to Northern Europe. His statements may doubtless be relied on as correct, so far as he has given himself time for suitable examination of authorities; and we may add that the principal attractiveness of his volumes, as well as their value, consists in the variety of interesting topics to which they relate. He does not excel in description, and the reader will have occasion to regret the hurried manner in which this work has been prepared for the press. The interest attached to the countries described, and the importance and variety of the materials to be served up, would have demanded of the author, under any other circumstances than those of imperious necessity, more time and care to condense and arrange the mass of information he has given us, and thus to render his descriptions less prolix and repetitious. The work, however, is well worthy of perusal and will be found an acceptable gift of the author to his native country. It is handsomely got up by the publisher, and the numerous engravings, while they illustrate the scenes from which they are drawn, add to the attractiveness of the volumes.
4.-The French Revolution : A History in Three Volumes. By
Thomas Carlyle. Three Volumes in Two. Second American from the Second London Edition. New-York: William Kerr & Co. Boston: C. C. Little & J. Brown. Philadelphia : T. Cowperthwaite & Co. 1841. pp.
431, 474. To one who has never read any of Mr. Carlyle's writings we should despair of success in attempting to convey an adequate idea of his peculiarities. His style of thought and ex. pression are not only his own, but they are so unlike those of any other writer of the English tongue, that they are incapable of being illustrated by example in the whole range of our literature. His productions have exceedingly puzzled the critics both of the old and the new world. That his style is faulty in a high degree,-that it outrages all the laws of rhetoric, as established by the usage of the best writers, and that no man can attempt to imitate it but at the expense of his reputation for good sense and correct taste,-is now universally admitted. Yet Carlyle himself is an original, and as such he commands the toleration of the literary public, and even the admiration of many who would wage relentless war against the eccentricity, the affectation and the mannerism of his style, were they found anywhere but in the writings of this one man. But here they belong to himself. They are perhaps essential to the filling up of his character; and if these exuberances could be destroyed, it would probably be with greater loss than gain ; and so both readers and critics are beginning to adopt the conclusion that, in this case as in many others where remedy is impracticable, it is wise to
“Do as they do in Spain,
The reader may of course expect to find, in this history of the French Revolution, a singular, an eccentric production. It is unlike all other histories in prose. It is a prose epic, the plan of which was suggested by the thrilling and fearful events and transactions of that “reign of terror.” He accordingly groups his materials by a different law from that of their succession in time, and thus, by connecting the more trivial details with the prominent events, he clothes the whole story with an interest, which the ordinary style of narrative never produces. And the conception is not only epical, but the plot is developed with wit and irony, which to a reader somewhat familiar with the events referred to will appear to be well sustained. And, withal, Mr. Carlyle is a serious writer. In the language of an English reviewer, “ Duty,—the duty of acting,
in however small a sphere, it is his perpetual task to preach;" and he preaches it too with an earnestness, with which the wildest playfulness in details seldom interferes. On the whole, then, we strongly recommend the reading of this “great work” of Carlyle,—not as a history, but as an epic description of the French Revolution. It will wake up the mind to new and more vivid impressions of the scenes of that age of confusion than any history we have read. The edition before us is got up in a very neat and economical style of execution.
5.-Sacred Lyrics, or Psalms and Hymns, adapted to Public Wor.
ship. Selected by Nathan $. S. Beman. Troy, N. Y.:
A. Kidder. 1841. pp. 648. So many attempts have been made, and failed, within the last thirty years, to prepare a complete collection of Sacred Songs for public worship, that we have been accustomed, of late, to receive with caution every accession to the number of our books of Psalms and Hymns. Yet we have felt the need of a better book of this sort, than any one of the great variety now in use in our churches. Dr. Beman has turned his attention to this subject, with his usual energy and perseverance, and has prepared a work which it is hoped will supply the deficiency. His plan and the principles upon which he has made his selections, as exhibited in his preface, are certainly good, and indicate a mind thoroughly imbued with the spirit of his design, while his long experience, good sense and taste would lead us to expect no mean result from the labor he has be. stowed upon this undertaking. And having examined a large number of his Psalms and Hymns, we are happy to say, our expectations have not been disappointed. The book contains one or more versifications of each of the 150 Psalms of David, and 720 Hymns. “In the arrangement of the Psalms, Dr. Watts is the leading author. Many other versifications of high merit have been selected from Doddridge, Steele, Kenn, Newton, Montgomery, Conder and others, which have been arranged in their proper places with those of Watts, so that, it is believed, this part of the volume presents a greater number and a richer variety of Psalms adapted to singing, than
any book yet published in our language.” The author further remarks, that it has been his aim in respect to Watts' Psalms, “ not to throw away a single stanza of superior merit,” while “ whole Psalms, of inferior and prosaic character," and which are rarely if ever sung, “have been omitted” and others substituted in their places.
“The Hymns," says our author," have been selected from the productions of the best writers of this species of poetry in our language.” For the purpose of making his work as perfect as possible, he claims to have spent much time and labor in examining the best editions of the productions referred to, and to have made only such alterations and omissions as were imperatively demanded by a due regard to the principles of his compilation. The Hymns are arranged according to a proper succession of subjects in an order which is not only intelligible, but perspicuous; and the volume is accompanied with a complete Index of the first lines, and also one of subjects, which is as nearly perfect as it could well be made.
We do not hesitate to express our opinion as decidedly favorable to the claims of this book, and recommend it to the attention of pastors and the leaders of choirs, as worthy of their examination. We have marked a few errors in the printing, and would advise the author, in bringing out another edition, to look well to his proof-sheets.
6.-A Treatise on Domestic Economy, for the Use of Young La
dies at Home, and at School. By Miss Catherine E. Beecher, late Principal of the Hartford Female Seminary.
Boston: Marsh, Capen, Lyon & Webb. 1841. pp. 465. Miss Beecher makes a respectful apology for appearing before the public on a subject for which, in the judgment of her friends, she possesses peculiar qualifications. It may be remarked also that our author has entered upon her work with a feeling of deep earnestness, and, as we believe, with a sincere desire to make her experience, and extensive observation and study, available for the best good of the rising generation of American women. It is no fancy-work which she has undertaken. As a sensible woman and a Christian, she has set herself about doing good; and has written a book which all judicious mothers and female instructors will be glad to put into the hands of their daughters and pupils. It is on the whole a very sensible book. It contains, it is true, a great many things which are familiar to our best housekeepers, and in respect to which every “wise woman,” who “buildeth her
house,” has instructed her daughters. But even these things may be read with profit, as they tend to confirm the lessons of the well-instructed, while, to multitudes of young ladies whose domestic education has been neglected, they may be found indispensable to their due preparation for the duties and responsibilities of domestic life ; and much of what our author communicates in this volume has been derived from a wider field of inquiry than has been accessible to most mothers and teachers, and will be found instructive to all. Some may complain that she has gone too minutely into the details of little matters, such as keeping a clean handkerchief when nursing the sick, wetting the lip of the vial in dropping medicine, etc. etc.; but these little matters are not without their importance, and it is well for our daughters to be reminded of the minutest things, which may contribute to the perfection of their preparation for all the duties of those future domestic circles of which they are destined to be the centres, either of attraction or repulsion. We may add also that the scientific part of this work is communicated in a plain and intelligible form, and several anatomical illustrations are added which are suited to impress the lessons which it inculcates on the subjects of Physiology and the care of health. As a whole, we commend the work to mothers and daughters, as eminently fitted to be useful.
7.--Ancient Spanish Ballads ; Historical and Romantic. Trans
lated, with Notes, by J. G. Lockhart, Esq. A New Edition Revised ; with an Introductory Essay on the Origin, Antiquity, Character and Influence of the Ancient Ballads of Spain ; and an Analytical Account, with specimens of the Romance of the Cid. New-York: Wiley & Put
nam. 1842. pp. 272, 8vo. This beautiful volume is introduced by the following advertisement: “In reproducing the English version of the Ancient Spanish Ballads, it may be proper to observe that the late London edition has been strictly followed, no departure whatever being made from Mr. Lockhart's text. To add to the interest of the volume, the spirited article from the Edinburgh Review is given by way of Preliminary Essay; an analytical account of the Romance of the Cid, etc.; and at the end has been placed a Bibliographical List, prepared for the present edition, of the books containing the original Ballads, and of writings pertaining to the whole subject."
This work, then, is brought before the American public in