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extent that makes Shakspeare's adage, “ Life is as tedious as a trice told tale" quite out of date.
We have in brief, attempted to "show cause" for the fact, that while we still possess a galaxy of living names, which will vibrate on the tympanum of memory long as our language echoes in the cars of the children of men, they keep “the word of promise to the ear, but break it to the hope"-why, in a legitimate sense in short, we have no books to review. And now, ere we fitly welcome certain graceful ephemera of winter, the courtly annuals, shrines of the art of the engraver, but lately issued from ihe press of Messrs. Longman and Co., we avail ourselves of the opportunity of clearing off an old score or two. We have nothing to say of Mr. Mills's last novel, “the Stage Coach or the Road of Life,” because, like others of its ilk, it is off the road.
The Book of the Farm. BY HENRY STEPHENS. W. Blackwood
and Sons, Edinburgh and London. Several parts have reached us of this work. We defer to next month a notice of all but the fourteenth. This is a valuable number. It treats “Of the Lambing of Ewes," “Turning Dunghills and Composts," " Sowing Barley-sced,"
“ Hiring Farm Servants," “ Construction of Thorn-hedges,' &c. We opine that the intelligence of the ordinary farmer will scarcely embrace the extent and depth of science in this work. Mr. Stephens seems to have consummate experience in agricultural experiments, and a kind of ubiquitous information that is quite wonderful. We recommend our readers to turn to a curious account in this number of the grub that infests the oat-crop, and the part relative to the sowing of oat-secd. We shall give extracts next month. Heath's Picturesque Annual for 1844, being the American in Paris
during the summer; a companion to the Winter in Paris.' By Mons. JULES JANIN, &c., &c. Longman, Brown, Green, and Longmans.
This is a charming book -- a bonne bouche of the times. translated work not deficient in the spirit of the original: a courtly work written in the zealous love of citizen kingship; and yet boll, free, and faithful in almost
outline. It is written ofl-band, as a journalist indites his leading article; and it possesses the excellences and a few of the defects of this species of composition. We kuow of no better guide-book of Paris than these two volumes of M. Janin's. We know of no more elegant drawing room companion than this hook of two-fold graphic portraiture; this union of the genius of Eugène Lami and that of the practised littérateur. As the annual of 1843 described one phase of Parisian society, that of 1844 gives us another. In the latter, sketches are taken true to the life of the delightful villegginture in the environs of the French capital. In the peculiar turn for analysis cominon to our nciglıbours, M. Janin gives a history of the past and an augury for the future from the features of the present. Ever the culogist of the people's king, he labours to show that the policy of Louis Philippe is equal to that of Louis the Eleventh, while his virtue and moderation are more akin to that of Washington. His parallels and contrasts of some of the leading men in France are remarkable for sagacity. His mention of Guizot is worthy the pen of the historian. His defence of the good city, in its modern embellishments, against the attacks of such writers as M. Hugo, who have the mania of antiquity and restoration, is an eminently successful one; his touches of sentiment, though very national, are all in the right place. He paints forcibly, and sometimes coarsely; but, as far as a foreigner can conceive, we must adjudge to his pictures the rare merit of scrupulous fidelity. In boldness of
he recalls to us a writer who should not be forgottenHazlitt. He has the same love of antithesis, and, perhaps, the same affected straining after point; the same brilliancy of diction and universality of touch. We should like to read a volume of M. Janin's, dedicated to the works of Molière, in the same style as Hazlitt's “'Lectures on Shakspeare.”
We have, however, more to do with the sporting sketches in this “ Summer in Paris” than with its literature. The Chantilly Races, Steeple-chasing, a Tourney on the Waters, the Cirque Olympique-these are all something in
our way. M. Janin’s notions of racing are not exactly those of a sportsman ; but here is an extract of the closing scene at the Chantilly meeting:
“But there is yet another race, and the most difficult of all : this time it is the struggle of man to man and horse to horse, between the owners of these fine steeds. On this occasion the interest is increased, for the struggle which was between horses is to be between men. There is now at once a race and a danger. There is a field to cross and a hedge to clear. You must arrive and be the first to leap. There is a costume adopted expressly for this race, in which elegance and simplicity are happily combined : long boots, buckskin indispensables, a red silk shirt, a rich front, elegant cuffs, a little velvet cap on the head, and within all this a handsome young man of twenty-five years of age. Thus dressed, he mounts his horse, and you at once see that he is its master. Our cavaliers start, then, at the first signal, leaping the hedges as if they would break their own necks and kill their horses."
We will now give a sample of a French steeple-chase. After a very graphic sketch of the road, Janin continues
" Thus we arrive breathless upon the spot, between two ditches, between flowing streams, between two meadows, which are still wet, on the course of the Bæuf Couronné, near the Croix de Berny. Each one takes the best, position he can find: upon the road at the side of the stream, in the meadow, or in the garden of that pretty little house at the right—a fruitful garden on such a day, for it brings to its master as much as an estate of two hundred acres in Normandy. You would not know how to believe the drama which passes at this hour upon the high road. The general excitement is intense—the betting is at its height-those hazardous bets, eight to one.
All the horses which are entered are made the subject of conversation; their ages, their names, their exploits, their defeats, their paces, their genealogy-all is told, just as they would discuss a new-comer into the
diplomatic arena. In this agitated crowd more than one lady's heart secretly palpitates, so heavy is the stake now-a stake in which the heart takes so deep an interest! The moment is well chosen for this headlong race: the sun is brilliant, and yet moderate-the air is clear and transparent; you will certainly be able to see the cavaliers from a distance. This is the reason why so many await their arrival--why the anxiety is so general.
“ After an hour of this delightful expectation, do you not at last see in the distance, through the weeping willows, through the white branches of the poplars in the meadows—do you not see coming a light red or blue mist?
“ Yes; here they are : it is they—it is the racers of the day—all gentlemen riders. They have in five minutes shot over a league and a half of slippery and difficult ground; twice they have crossed the gracefully-winding Bièvre; they have leaped without hesitation more than twenty barriers; they run ! Will you applaud ?
“ But their task is not concluded : after all the barriers which they have leaped, a far more difficult one remains. Did I say a barrier? It is a terrible ditch! This ditch is at the end of the race, upon the Bæuf Couronné road, and full of water: the ascent to it is perpendicular; then, when you have reached the top of the acclivity, you must leap downwards across a formidable ravine, so much the more dangerous because it is impossible for the horses to discover it.”
The illustrations of Eugène Lami are exquisitely beautiful. This French annual made English, is without comparison superior to the others. Lady Blessington might take note of this, and give with delicate engravings and elegant hot-press paper something better than the idle laisser-aller of idle people. We cannot but think that the classes for which these pretty books are created would appreciate and recompense good composition.
In the “Keepsake,” the first engraving alone-the sweet portrait of the Queen of the Belgians-is worth the price of the book; besides which, there are other pretty subjects : “ The Daily Teacher," by R. Redgrave, R.A.-—“The Anglers," Louis David _“ The First Meeting,” E. Corbould—“The Gleaner,” a delicious engraving of Heath's from a drawing of P. F. Poole—&c., fully keep up, in our opinion, the old reputation of the “ Keepsake.'
The Book of Beauty" is rich in the portraits of the Ladies Villiers, Lady Charles Beauclerk, Miss Hope Vere, and Lady Arthur Lennox. The imaginary conversation of Walter Savage Landor is the best literary effort of its pages. This gentleman has also contributed some lines, full of sweetness, addressed to Lady C. Beauclerk on her marriage. For the rest, as in the “ Keepsake," the artists and engravers merited better expositors of their talent. Our predilection for these elegant souvenirs leads us to trust they will be fostered into a high excellence after their kind. Should another improve their literary caste, it will ensure them a more certain admission into the dwellings of persons of taste.
PUBLIC AMUSEMENTS OF THE METROPOLIS.
“ Malgrc tout le jargon de la philosophic
But for one melancholy fact of our present civilization, our social system would be a monstrously agreeable one, and the alternations of business and entertainment all that we could covet in the revolving phases of existence. The depressing knowledge that in this vast metropolis of abundance, thousands of types of " che noblest work of God” lack, even to perishing, the common comforts of life, and daily endure the moral and physical degradation of misery—this, and this alone, in a hicalthy mind, should quality the heartiness with which we echo the concilian's ejaculation « Vive la vie !" May those who inuch enjoy bear a thought on those who much suffer!—so shall the merry seasons of the world's city pass right wisely with “mirth and laughter.” The great winter festival has but now passed away; socially enjoyed we would fuin believe, by most of the denizens of London. Ayain has the great capital-in itself an empire, comprising numerous provinces-rung with the glee of the juvenile and of the mature, whose spirits are concocted of that precious metal that age cannot rust nor the world destroy. Novelty has been rife with us; the migratory swarins of the sons of pleasure have not disdained lo fly the country and enjoy town amusements--excellent new operas, charming ballets, and Christmas pantomimes.
Upon reviewing the list of temptations to eschew solitude and the pen, we find—eveu deducting royal progresses, prize cattle shows, Bordeaux attractions, and the like-chongh of novelty to satisfy the most enterprising and excitement-sccking votary of the muses; quite enough of recreation to rejuice the heart of man, and make him vociferate, in the teethi of Soloman's saw, and with de Gresset
“ Let philosophy commit a felo de se;
Our good toast shall be, sir—" Life to you and to me." Music, dancing, fun, and laughter, have fairly divided the playhouses between them, and usu ped the boards where crst-while Thalia and Melpomene trod; yet have ihe public fared daintily, although not upon the customary solids of dramatic repast. To begin with DRURY LANE, where Mr. Balfe's opera of “The Boliemian Girl" has created a furor musicale. Tlie digestible commodities of sound and sense tickle our eyes and our cars in this composition. The music is of a bigh class, even first-rate; many striking and numberless pleasing subjects are interspersed throughout, while its peculiar merit is the
completeness of the whole, combined with the elaborateness of the details. Indeed, without harmony of composition the most uneducated musical ear will remain a dissatisfied listener, even if unable to give a better reason than the scholar for his dislike to his master, in the old rhyme
“ I do not like you, Doctor Fell,
The reason why I cannot tell ;
There was a fault in the doctor, since he could not obtain the goodwill of the pupil; there is a fault in music that does not touch pleasantly our senses. For instance, in the otherwise attractive ballet "The Devil in Love," the music glaringly offends in the above-mentioned manner. Noisy unmeaning instrumentation supplies the place of original motives ; while disjointed morceaux continually reminded us of some one or other well-known
The effect was such as we might anticipate from a jumble of the music of the “ Messiah," “Blue Beard,” and “ Punch's Quadrilles" -a most unpleasant one, surely. While Mademoiselle Leroux cleverly enacted despair, doubt, love, agitation, or diablerie, an inexpressive accompaniment did its best to fiddle-de-dee the audience into deafness. This ballet, for the rest, is an interesting affair—the idea an amusing one (taken from the French, as a matter of course). A she-devil, landed on this planet, falls in love with her intended victim. In this role Leroux's dumb show and acting are superior to her mere pas de danse. As the dumb girl Fenella, in “ Masaniello," she early established her reputation in this country; nor has her excellence diminished in any respect. The male dancer, successor to Mons. Petipa (though scarcely his equal), is a dancer of the good school in which grace and precision are not rendered subservient to mere agility,
Talking of grace, we naturally turn to Miss Clara Webster, the young danseuse, who appears to us likely to out-rival every disciple of Terpsichore of these times. Surely this young lady combines every aptitude needful to her profession. 'Her redundant flexibility needs rather restraint than prodigality; and care and study will enable her to make use of the advantages so bounteously bestowed by Nature. Even with her present inefficient practice, she is a most delightful dancer.
At Mr. Balfe's benefit Madame Balfe appeared, and used to advantage a soprano of great power. The composer's benefit was a highly successful one, and we trust his career may be distinguished by many works equally honourable to his country as that which was so warmly applauded on this occasion.
Covent GARDEN was resurrectionised one night in the past month, very little, we fear, to the benefit of the lessee. A new actor, Mr. Wentworth, supported more than creditably the part of Hamlet. Miss Kelly, the inimitable, should have been welcomed by an audience, even more numerous then her spirit, pathos, and ability were wont of yore to collect around her. She enacted the chief character in “Of Age to-morrow;” and playing as she did, with little excep