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spirit and a delicate loveliness in most of these pieces, and they are melodiously evolved. We are inclined to think very highly of the author of these poems, and we trust that he may be in his poetic youth. His are very thoughtful, very reverent, very beautiful strains; and we can very well forego the daring imagination for such words of wisdom, touching grace, and sweet songfulness.
An emphatic recommendation of the book must stand in place of any lengthy quotations. As a specimen of his masterly manner; clear, calm thoughtfulness; and fine finish ; we extract a sonnet:
THE PICTURE OF A MARTYRDOM.
Thou standest, budding to thy virgin prime,
Fair as a lily of thy southern clime
Even unto death which tries thee, doth sublime
Thy maiden modesty before the time
Heavenward, the while those glowing pincers tear
Thy dove-like bosom. In thy golden hair
Thy brutal judge looks on. But in the air
Thou seest the angel waiting with the prize.--p. 204. America contains the elements of great poetry, but we cannot say she is rich in written poetry of the loftiest kind. To be sure she has her Longfellow and Lowell, Bryant and Whittier, Poe and Reade, and many others who are crowding about the Templegate, but she cannot be said to have done great things in that way as yet. Perhaps it takes many years before the poetic tree strikes sufficient root in a new soil to enable it to bear the finest fruitage. All enduring things are necessarily of slow growth. However, she is learning to know that Poetry, like Charity, begins at home; that she need not come to the Old World to see what man can do and suffer. God is around them, the face of Nature is as full of meaning for them, and let them unroof the human heart, and they shall find the heroism, the chivalry, the self-sacrifice, and the might, that make up the glory of humanity. A new world of poetry exists in America, just as she existed unconsciously before discovered by Columbus; only let the discoverers arise. One of her most recent and best contributions of verse, is a book called 'Passion Flowers,' said to be written by a lady, but published anonymously. We have to object that the writer has not oftener looked homeward for subjects. The
volume contains many fine thoughts and noble lines, and we are occasionally reminded of Mrs. Browning's manner. The following from a piece entitled 'Rome,' is a fair specimen :
I saw l’Ariccia, where the artist's soul
And often, when I've seen the twilight drape
Their gift of shame—a bondsmaid's heritage.'-pp. 22, 23. * Poems,' by W. S. Sands, constitute a book well printed on fine paper, and filled with three hundred and eighteen pages of very smooth, gentlemanly verse. If the essence of it had been concentrated in a hundred pages, we might have called it poetry: As it is, all individuality is diluted into most vague generalities. Poetry must be exquisite or it is nothing. Poetry is the richest overflow of the finest natures the best life of their rarest moments—and not the mere casting on paper of all that comes uppermost at all times. Even Wordsworth twaddles when he comes to do that. Mr. Sands' Poems' seem like sleight of hand, rather than the result of brain-sweat and beating and burning of heart. Last century he would have made a reputation as a clever versifier, in this, he will find it difficult to get listeners. He has the merit of saying what he has to say without mysticism, only he has so little to say, and nothing that it was imperatively necessary to sing.
Poems by a Painter,' that is, William Bell Scott, indicate a deeper mine of thought, and perhaps a richer poetic spring than either of the other volumes in our list, and yet they are very unsatisfactory. Their abruptness and transitionary movement are very tantalizing. In these respects they are not unlike the poems of Emerson. There are fine outlines not filled in ; lofty altitudes of thought suddenly lost; snatches of music not sustained. They do not appear to be the outburst of an essentially musical mind. In fact, they are the poems of a painter rather than of a poet; and it is given to but very few to be Michael Angelos. The Muse is a jealous mistress, and tolerates no divided allegiance. They are often markedly original, but the originality sometimes grows into a self-assertive wilfulness, and sometimes dwindles into affectation. Mr. Scott's 'Poems' are well worth buying and reading. They have excited in us a strong interest, and we shall be glad to hear further of him when he has beaten out his music.
We have nothing to say to 'Robespierre, a Tragedy,' by Mr. Bliss, who advertises himself as one of her Majesty's counsel,' save that should the author ever be driven to perpetrate a murder more fatal than this of the queen's English, and one that is punishable by the laws of the land, he will have the melancholy satisfaction of being able to point to this book as printed evidence of his insanity. We trust it may be but temporary derangement, for the reputation of the profession to which he belongs. Mr. Bliss ought to appreciate our forbearance in abstaining from quotation. If 'Robespierre, a Tragedy,' be intended for a satire, we trust the author will forgive us for not seeing the joke. If, as we think, it has been committed in serious earnest, then · Where ignorance is bliss'—'tis folly for us to say any more about it.
We hope that James Henry Powell has found in rhyming its own reward, for we are afraid that he will get little other recompense. It is a pleasant exercise, and one that cannot fail to assist in culturing the mind, only let not the rhymer form too lofty expectations of results, or too flattering an opinion of his powers. If his leisure time cannot be more advantageously employed, let him go on rhyming. James Henry Powell has a certain sense of the common metre kind of music, and strong imitation—these set him singing. But these gifts alone will never entitle a man to set up as poet. Few are poets
, many are poetry-bitten. • Lyric Notes of the Russian War,' by Ruther, are cast mainly in the measure of 'In Memoriam.' The imitation of Tennyson's verse is servile and unsuccessful. The poem is a kind of chronicle of what has been done in the Crimea ; but paper correspondents has told the tale a hundred times more eloquently. Ruther does not play on a Spartan fife, or blow the exulting battle-trumpet ;-he reminds us of a child 'tooting' his
penny whistle in the rear of a victorious army. NS-VOL. IX.
any one of
ART. IV. - Report of the Meeting of the British Association for
the Advancement of Science. Liverpool. 1851. 'Athenæum,' Nos. 1401–1407.
The scientific history of the past year has not been distinguished by any great discovery. We cannot record the detection of a force before unknown, nor the effects of known agencies in new conditions. For many years light has been so steadily advancing upon the dark places of science, and has penetrated so many recesses of ignorance, that it has become almost a habit with those who watch the progress of scientific knowledge to anticipate novelties, and to imagine that nothing has been done if some startling discovery has not been announced. But uninterrupted conquest is not always the best evidence of progress. Great discoveries produce great excitement, and that is a state of mind unfavourable to the acquisition of those results in which society is most interested. Intervals of repose are necessary to correct errors, to arrange, or, it may be, to tabulate truths, and to view the extent and defects of our knowledge. These are the subjects with which science has been principally engaged during the past year; and if the results are less wonderful than many of those recently obtained by experimental research, they are certainly no less interesting and important.
It is essential to the success of every scientific'investigation that the instruments of observation should be perfect in their kind, or else we may register instrumental errors as scientific facts, and construct theories to account for differences which do not exist. One of the first things to be done, therefore, when science resolves to review her position, and estimate the value of her possessions, is to question the agents by which her assumed conquests have been made, and to ascertain whether those instruments have correctly reported the effects they were intended to discover and register.
There are certain departments of science, such as meteorology and navigation, in which all men are interested, and in which most men have been occasional observers. The barometer and thermometer, the chronometer and compass, are household instruments, and the persons who have not used them to obtain permanent records for science, have employed them to gain knowledge for themselves. For the last fifty years the changes they have exhibited have been watched and registered in every part of the habitable globe ; and the question is often asked why we are still adıling to catalogues which no one thoroughly investigates, and from which only doubtful results have been
obtained. We cannot prophesy from the appearances of to-day what the weather will be to-morrow much better than our grandsires; and although we have greatly increased the number of ships upon the ocean, we have not diminished the proportion of losses. The men of this generation go faster than the men of the last ; but, in matters of practical science, they move with so small an increase of safety that prudence suggests the necessity of inquiring, why, with so much more knowledge, there is not a proportionate amount of wisdom. The first step in this investigation is to test the accuracy of the instruments of observationto know whether we can depend upon the assistants we employ, and reason with safety upon the information they give us. would have been better to have made this inquiry before, but it is not too late now, for if by the discovery of error we are compelled to reject as useless much that we had before thought valuable, future errors will be avoided, if truth is not immediately gained.
It was probably with some such opinions as these that the British Association recommended the Kew Committee to examine the construction and test the accuracy of all the varieties of thermometer and barometer in common use. The utter worthlessness of a large proportion of these instruments was immediately discovered, for it was seldom that any two gave precisely the same reading under the same circumstances. This result, not altogether unexpected, proved the necessity of rejecting a large number of registered observations ; but at the same time, it suggested the importance of providing for scientific, if not for popular use, instruments of better character. The difficulty, so far as the thermometer was concerned, was soon over"come, for the value of its registrations entirely depends upon careful construction. But in the manufacture of a barometer attention must be paid to the circumstances under which the instrument is to be used. One that is suitable for observations on land will not necessarily give correct results at sea. A certain pumping of the mercury is produced by the motion of a ship, and to correct this there must be a contraction of the tube. To ascertain the degree of contraction requisite to destroy this oscillation of the mercurial column, experiments have been made under the direction of the Kew Committee, and many important facts in reference to the use and construction of the instrument have been discovered. Some years have been spent in these investigations, but the time has not been lost, for trustworthy barometers are now to be obtained at so low a price that accuracy may be secured for less
But although this is literally the truth, one instrument cannot be adapted to two conditions ; so that for the perfect registration of atmospheric