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« One of the most common causes of disease is moisture or dampness, whether combined with great heat or great coldness of the air. P. 167.
“The effects of cold upon the body are much more dangerous during sleep than when we are awake. More clothing is required by night than by day. Dry rooms, clean sheet and good warm blankets, will do more than any medicine to keep off attacks of cholera. P. 174.
“But supposing that the cholera is actually in the town in which you live, or even in the very street in which your house is, what then are you to do?
“The first consideration that would press itself on your thoughts at such a time would be, whether with all your care you and your family might not yet take the disease from some of your sick neighbours. You have been told how medical men differ on this subject. It has been mentioned to you that in a great number of instances the disease has seemed to be carried from one place to another by individuals or by their clothes or goods; and that yet so many persons escape who have had more or less communication with the sick that many doubt the possible communication of the malady from one person to another. Examples have been given of places and persons apparently secured from the disease by being carefully separated from others: and of other places from which no care or caution has appeared able to keep out the cholera. In the history given of cholera you must have remarked it has first appeared in sea-ports, seeming to be brought from other sea-ports: how much reason there is for thinking that it went by sea from Baku to Astrachan; and came by sea from Hamburgh to Sunderland. P. 176.
“Leaving, however, the settlement of this question to medical men, many of whom are willing to devote their time, and some of whom are ready to peril their lives in the investigation; it is, in the mean time, the part of every person of sound mind to act us if the contagion of cholera was positively proved.
“We must once more remind the reader that it is only a wise fear which we wish to excite in his mind, and not that extravagant terror which prevailed in the Indian army, where, the common people being unprepared by what has been recommended in this chapter in order to avoid the disease, fed in distraction, and left the sick to die, and the dead to be devoured by the fowls of the air. P. 177.
“Let no one give way to foolish fears; but rather feel quite sure that ordinary care will make the disease almost harmless; and that, if it should become more severe and general, every thing will be done that man's prudence and forethought can devise to preserve the lives of those attacked, and of all about them. Fear alone will sometimes produce irregular actions in the stomach and bowels; and it always lessens man's power of resisting disease as well as danger.
“After all, it would be unworthy of an enlightened and brave people to take fright at the cholera, and most disgraceful to run away by hundreds, or to turn robbers and desperadoes in the presence of such an enemy. Many men go into battle again and again, well knowing the danger. Many incur danger by sea and land, for pleasure's sake. Surely then, if the cholera does come, it ought to find us not only well prepared to keep it out, but, having done all we can, if we must fall, prepared to fall as becomes men and Christians.” Pp. 183-5.
Britain's Historical Drama; a series of National Tragedies,
intended to illustrate the Manners, Customs, and religious Institutions of different early Eras in Britain. By J. F. Pennie:
1 vol. 8vo. Maunder; London, 1832. In this fast-writing age, when books of all sorts come pouring in upon us quick as the shadows exhibited by the wierd sisters to the wondering gaze of the bloody Thane, we were not a little astonished, the other day, to find on our table a thick octavo, bearing the alarming title of “A Series of Tragedies." We fancied, before we recognised the name of the author, that they might turn out to be the overstrained productions of some ambitious student, who had mounted on the back of Pegasus, little deeming how unmanageable his steed might prove, and that his rider, while gazing at the stars, might be stayed in his onward flight, and fall, as did of old Bellerophon. In fact the appearance of the book had wellnigh startled us out of our humble wits. We are old enough in our vocation to know with what labouring throes a single readable tragedy (we speak of absolute, regular tragedy,) is produced; to say nothing of the next to certainty, now-a-days, of its being rejected as an acting one by the whole body of managers, stage managers, readers, actors, walking gentlemen, scene painters, prompters, and scene-shifters, nay down to the very call-boys and servants; the latter of whom run on and off the stage, fetching and carrying chairs, tables, candles, glasses, &c. with such wonderful celerity; and whose gandy liveries put to shame their unrouged and most tallow-like faces. When, therefore, a gentleman thinks it meet, right, and proper to put forth tragedies by the batch, amounting in pages to 547, and in lines or verses to the appalling number of nearly fifteen thousand, we may surely be excused a considerable portion of surprise, and, at the same time, may be pardoned, when we avow that it was not without brightening our intellects, late in the evening, with a cup of the finest gunpowder tea, from the depot of our countryman Davies, who, by the by, is the best selector of teas in this tea-drinking kingdom, together with the appliance of sundry pinches of Fribourg's Martinique and Bolongaro, that we sat down to the perusal of a larger allowance of poetry than is generally dealt out by the inspired brotherhood. But the tea, (and here we could break out into a rhapsody, little short of adoration, on this inestimable beverage,) and the sneeshin, as Edie Ocheltree hath it, made us reckless of all consequences, careless of our eyesight, prodigal of our midnight oil, and determined to admire the best, or laugh at the worst, which Mr. Pennie could bestow or inflict upon our literally benighted understandings. In short, we had worked ourselves up to the necessary pitch of phrenzy,
and as the author wrote, so we read. In for a penny, said we, (as undoubtedly determined he,) in for a pound.
Poets have often a great deal of fun, mingled with the proper quantity of pathos; and it is on the presumption that Mr. Pennie is not destitute of the former of these qualities, which we hold to be quite as requisite as the latter, that we have ventured to have a joke with hin, without having the pleasure of his acquaintance. But seriously, we are very much pleased with many parts of these same tragedies; and we think when their author's muse shall have gained a little more experience, so as to render her course more steady, while she retains all her loftiness of flight, the dramatic world will have to thank Mr. Pennie as one of those very few, who, in these degenerate days, may be the means of rescuing this school of literature from the ban of censure, which has been for some time so deservedly set upon it.
These tragedies are not the first production of Mr. Pennie, who we beg to say is known to us as the author of “the Royal Minstrel, or the Witcheries of Endor," besides “Rogould,” both epic poems, and “Scenes in Palestine,” which latter is an attempt, at all times hazardous, to illustrate sacred history, in a dramatic form.*
In naming his work “ Britain's Historical Drama,” the author has, very properly, not limited his stories to those of a purely Cambrian description; and has not disdained, although we suspect him to be a Cornish man, (and, as such, descended from a tribe of Britons,) to introduce characters and stories of the Saxons. The names of the plays are “Arixina,” “Edwin and Elgiva," “The Imperial Pirate," “The Dragon King." We have not space to give more than one or two extracts from their pages,
which we regret, because there are passages in them that we are sure need only be read to be admired. Defects in style and composition there certainly are, and as it is a much more ungracious thing to blame than to praise, and, withall, considerably more disagreeable to ourselves, we will get rid, very shortly, of the first of these duties. Mr. Pennie has, like many poets, (and good ones too,) an inveterate habit of using the exclamation O! In proof of this we refer him to page 43, wherein this loud monosyllable occurs no less than five times. Wolves, too, are favorite animals of our author, and whenever he would convey the idea of savage barbarism or relentless cruelty, these wild beasts are rendered of unlimited service. These defects will, we are sure, on a reconsideration, present themselves so as to prevent their repetition. But we are compelled to prefer a heavier charge against Mr. Pennie, viz. that of occasionally giving to the world, what he conceives to be poetry, when, in fact, he is perpetrating downright prose. We
All these are works of considerable merit.
will give but one example in point; and for the sake of proving how prosaic it really is, we will take the liberty of stripping it of its mantle of verse. The words, too, are put into the mouth of no less a personage than Julius Cæsar.
“I will meet them in my tent. They for their king shall have young Cymbeline, their own liege sovereign lord: he shall be reinstated in his rights without delay: his influence will extend, and that attachment which he feels to Rome, her manners and her glory, have great weight among these savage nations." ' P. 75.
We proceed to the more pleasurable task of noticing one or two instances of poetic power, wherein we perceive the capability of producing much greater things. We forbear to enter into the plot or story of any of the plays; but shall merely adduce specimens of style.
Cymbaline. “Not see her? when with fierce impatience burns,
In thy wrapt arms, and Heaven was all around thee!" Pp. 53-4.
“May the gods
Lift the glad shout of triumph!" P. 88.
The following passage from it brings before us the banquet, the din and the splendid, though barbarous, revelry of old, as exhi
bited in the poem of “The Hirlas Horn,” of Prince Owain Cyveiliog, so splendidly rendered into Saxon by our own ever delightful songstress, Felicia Hemans.
Edwin. “At length I have escaped the crowded hall,
While our next extract is replete with sweetest beauty, evincing, at once, the devotion of the faithful Consort, and the allegiance of the loving subject : Elgiva.
“Joy to my lord
pray with me,-God bless the king!" P. 178.
Where is the heart of man, too, that will not freshen with delight at the following brief epitome of that dear, and heavendescended jewel of our souls, woman's love?
Ambrosius. "O! what in strength can equal woman's love!
“The Dragon King" contains most spirit-stirring passages, from the life of the renowned Arthur Pen-Dragon, the Penteyrn, or chief king of Britain; and it is but justice to Mr. Pennie to say he has clothed it with great romantic interest, and for the most part with historic accuracy. The fame of Arthur is thus prognosticated by one of his generals. Meridoc.
“Fields of fame!