ePub 版

80 still. In this respect, it has been a twisted Eoglish in which they are ex. good deal dispara ged-apropos of Words pressed. All this shows too much litera worth, especially. But it is right in the ture, and too little life. It is from life main. For, after all, poetry is not a thing poetry growe, not from the belles lettres. of wildness, novelty, or extravagance, but when the life of a nation is sound and a thing of the common feelings, passions, worthy, its poetry will be sound and and expressions of our nature. Poetry is worthy; not otherwise, we imagine. the flower of common sense ; and ad- - In Daniel Webster's writings. lately dresses itself to the common perceptions published, we have Jefferson giving an of us all. That is the idea of the Edin account of Patrick Henry, such as would burgh Review, apparently. In the article not lead us to think much of the latter, it we speak of, it quotes Bacon and Aristotle we had not already koowo the bistory of on poetry, and agrees with the last. Bacon his genius and eloquence. Henry, it would talks of it as “ the pleasure of a lie.” Beem, was the opposite of that other great The Greek says it is “ the pleasure of na- orator, Edmund Burke. The speeches of ture.” The latter is the true criticism ; the latter flew over the heads of his audiand Bacon, who is the representative of ence and wearied them in a great degree ; his country's intellect, is utterly wrong. Bo that those wbo bad beard him often He had no poetry in his nature ; and this said they never appreciated bim till they quashes the theory somebody is now sup saw his orations in pript. Henry, on the porting - that he wrote some of Shake contrary, like Lord Chatham, and all oraspeare's plays! The Revieo goes on the tors of the first rank, produced his finest principle of Aristotle, and is, we think, effects in the rostrum, so to speak. Jefferperfectly just to those callow children of son says bis eloquence was impressive and Captor Apollo. It comes out against the sublime, and seemed directly to the point: spasmodic and intensifying style, and vin

but that, after the barangue was over, he dicates the real innate power of these (Jefferson) bad often asked himself young men, against the extravagant in- “What the devil bas be said ?" without spiration that runs away with their judg- being able to tell. He says the pronunments. It is amusing enough to see that ciation of Henry was vulgar and vicious. it is a young Irish poet whom it considers Jefferson was not a man of glowing sentithe most judicious and poetio of the ment, and could not, perhaps, appreciate whole of them—that is, William Alling the bold style of the forest-born Demos bam. One would bave thought the Celt thenes, though he could recognize its would have been the wildest and most excellent effects, and acknowledge them. passion-tearing. It is a good thing to see He tells us that Henry was a man without poetry brought to the test of nature and knowledge, who never cared to read books, common sense. It has been too long a and could not get through a volume of matter of imitation, claesic or otherwise— Hume's Essays; that he liked low society, save as regards the songs and lyrics, which and enjoyed it as often as possible, living are generally truest to true feeling. The out in forest campe, and changing bis shirt poetry of these young men, though ex- or bis clothes only at long intervals. hibiting much power, is vitiated by their In all this, Jefferson is setting forth the imitation of Shelley, Tennysor, Festus modes and propensities of genius, which Bailey, and others. The flash of youth is always delights in everything that brings now in their favor ; when that goes, we it closer to the simplicity of nature. fear some of them will become mere mono- Burns loved the company of what were maniacs of the muse, tiresome and repeti- called “blackguards," and said so; and tionary. None of them seems to improve. Shakespeare loved the enjoyments of the Gerald Massey, in his Craigcrook Castle, ale-house--not to speak of Ben Jonson only shows himself a redundant imitator and a bundred others. Heory was one in of Tennyson. The turgid, wild-worded wbom the bigb impulses of the mind and indistinct lexis of these young bards is generally grow strongest—for they grow far more barassing than poetically touch- naturally. Jefferson thought his want of ing to the reader, who, when he perceives a reading taste was a defect. In that lay & fine sentiment or a true feeling, is his strength. He never dissipated his shocked and repulsed by the dreadfal, mind nor allowed it to be distracted or cowed by any of the canons of style or the

Bat the critic objects to the thoughts of others. He could not write, quality of the facetiousness; and, though Jefferson says; be had no dexterity with he speaks of Jerrold, glances, doubtless, at the pen. So much the better, perbaps. the Punch school of wit, and the elaborateHenry, such as he was, was a genuine ness of the satire and fun cultivated for character ; his genius grew from life, not some time in England-most of it being from literature; and this was the secret of to real wit, what farce is to comedy. But his greatness.


we feel ourselves somewhat brought up -Major Sears has been constructing a here, with respect to the nature of with diring-roachine, which he calls a Nautilus about which definitions differ 80 much. (we are famous for our flowery-poetical Without stoppiog to go into that question, and fairy names of things; though we we have a general impression that our think hippopotamus would be a more biza- prevalent fashion of wit is something that ble and fitting appellation for it), and has leads to frank absurdity and a kind of been making experiments in the bay of New jargonism. Think of Don Quixote and York. It lies like a big buoy on the water, Sancho Panz of Sir John Falstaff-of and need not be suspended to anything, the Tale of a Tub—the Advice to Servants, it goes down and comes up, motu proprio and the good things of Sydney Smithof itself. It bas certain chambers of air and then think of Thackeray's Jeames, and and water, by which its specific gravity the funny spelling and the grotesque slang can be modified, and a raising or lowering of our later jokers. Compare the old wit motion given to it. The force thus pro- with the tremendous modern work of makduced enables it to remove great weights ing the history of England or of Rome at the bottom, or bring them up. The comic, and making law itself and Blackoperators walk along the lower ground stone comic! The history of literature and do their business. In this way men has nothing to sbow 80 violently grotesque can fish for pearls, coral, sponges, gold, and extravagant as this last. It will be and so forth-mining and delving under argued, it is not so much wit as fun, and is water with much ease, and by a kind of 80 meant. There is, no doubt, a certain light wbich is better than daylight for all quality of fun in it; but, even coming to submarine purposes.

These are dead- that lower estimate, it still shows too lights in the top of the machine ; and peo

much effort for the genuine laughter--comple get in by a little hatchway, after pelling facetiousness, which takes with which they let in water and go down. everybody. If you continue to inhale the Those who bave gone down talk of a heavy odor of a rose, you lose it. It ie the same sort of sensation at first, and a pressure with true pleasantry; it cannot be kept too acting on the ear; but this wears off. The long on the stretch and worked at too working of the Nautilus will be an inter- steadily, without palling on the percep esting speculation. Sunken sbips can be tions. But it is not easy to express the raised by means of it, and treasures dis general feeling in this respect; only that covered that bave long lain in the oozy any one who sets out to tell funny things bed of the sea. The Major can go to a with a broad grin and goes on, laughing submarine California and become a miner. violently, will very soon damp the jocose“Full many a gem of purest ray serepe, the ness of his bearers. History and law are dark, unfathomed caves of ocean bear," and bad subjects for fun; the slang phonetics it is likely he will be able to get at some of Jcames are far better. Indeed, these of these things in the line of industry be last are good fun-provokers, and are not can so conveniently follow, down among to be sneezed at; but they take with most the dead men, and in and out of the rocks, people, and that is a good test. With with the mermen.

respect to the republication of old pleas– One of the popular English reviews antry, we think it bazardous, unless it is very severe on Douglas Jerrold, for the bas something to sustain it beyond the republication of Mrs. 'Caudle's Lectures. mere fun. Old fun is apt to grow stale This seems rather severe on what made us and lose its charm. But old wit keeps all laugh so pleasantly, a few years ago, like old wine. Douglas Jerrold has no and which may still make others laugh, to wit, and his style in general is too whom they will be new. Joe Miller still clumsy to convey pleasantries agreeably.

Mrs. Caudle read very well, at prst, in of letting mother nature coddle them in weekly installments. Taken altogether, it the dark for six months or 80. We can will be apt to tire the reader. There is take to pieces, but we cannot pat together nothing very witty, after all, in that Our chemistry has not helped us to a new incessant growl, growl, growling, of a food, or more of the old. It does better silly little woman into a man's ear after (that is, worse) with the drinks. The time he has got into bed. The fun is too fogy will probably come, when men will feed ish.

and sustain themselves by some other means - It is very interesting to turn aside than those of nature. Io process of time, from the somewhat threadbare amenities the earth, being enormously peopled, must of light literature to the considerations of (should it escape the comets) cease to feed science, severer, apparently, but, certainly, its millions on the vegetating principle ; not less striking to the fancy when proper- and then science must draw nutriment dily meditated. The wonderful science is rectly from the elements. Fire will come now, as of old, that of chemistry. It de- from water, and food from chemical factomonstrates for us some of the grand prob ries—that is, 60 much phosphoric acid, liglems of ages, and reveals the secrets of nin, gelatine, sodlum. some hydrogen, gome nature lying about our feet, and in our oxygen, some carbonic acid, and wbat-not, daily ways.

It shows that the air we conveyed in bottles, every housekeeper breathe is metallic—the source of all the knowing, of course, how to mix them, in solidity we stand on and see-and this order to bave the various foods and drinks seems curiously to justify the Mosaic sayconstituting their daily aliment. Cheming, that the earth came out of nothing, istry is a vast field, and men are only and the opinion of the old Greek philoso scratcbing it up with their nails at present. phers, that all things grew from ether. -It has been said a thouennd times, that Those early notions and beliefs of the world the costumes of the present day-those of were not so sballon as some bave imagined. the men, especially-are very ungraceful But we meant to speak of the science, as it and ugly. From this opinion we would familiarly affects our lives and doings. It is except the ladies, in a great measure. Thu curious to perceire bow backward we are in flowing nature of their dress is favorable making use of what it teaches. We know to our ideas of ornament and gracefulness. that copper, and zinc, and an acid, make a It is a positive pleasure to look at an elepower called electro-magnetism ; but we gantly-dressed woman sometimes ; and we have not yet employed that power, except really think the female costume, saving in some slight ways and the swift work of that mean covering for the bead, was never the telegraph. Then there is the fiery more graceful than at present. But the principle of hydrogen ; that, also, lies masculine dress is very bad, making the almost dormant, and so does the antagon. man a stiff, padded, tigbtened, and cramped ism of hot and cold, which is another strong being, from head to heel. The daguerreo motor. These lie imperfect or idle. Again, types show this remarkably. Portraitwe koow the virtue of the chlorides and painting has an eye to effect; but the forhot air in removing malaria ; but balf the mer give the plain, rigid truth ; they show ships go without them, and carry sickness how the sister art flatters the human pro and pestilence all about the world. Hos portions. The coat and trowsers are dispitals and houses are but imperfectly bene. figuring to the human shape in these true fited by these things. This comes of our“ types ;" they murder all symmetry of ignorance of the air we breathe. We think person and limb. Nothing, we think, is it a light matter, whereas, it is the life and more disagreeable and incongruous than to solidity of the world. At the same time, look at a fine bead and face—such as would we have much skill in finding out the com- do bonor to any Greek or Roman shoulders ponent parts of things; but we have none that ever existed—and then see the way in newly arranging tbose parts. That is, the coat comes in, and the whole figure we know the acids, alkalis, glaten, and so ends. The man looks as if he was cut off forth, composing, say a potato, a cherry, a somewbere : the trowsers, with its irongrain of wheat, or a bit of leather ; but we looking legs, seems to hide a pair of short have no notion of producing a potato and or crippled limbs. Never does the dress the rest, except in the old, roundabout way we wear look more miserable and ridicu.


lous than in these pictures. They should sweeps on to Aristotle, then touches on never give more than the bust. As for the two kings of Prussia, after, which, bringing costume, it is useless, we suppose, to cry

in Blanco White and St. Augustine, he out about it. It is utilitarian ; it is the comes, over the path of two Latin quotabest for people that wish to dress in a tions, to the Emperor Nero and that wild barry, and do business in offices, stores, wish of his. Then we are carried to the and so forth. It is wonderful that fashion Hipdoo Nirwana and the general millennidoes not do something in the way of varie- um, from which we skip to the Crimea, and ty and the picturesque effects, if it were jump to the Crusades, and so come lightly only for a gay extravagance. But fashion in to the gist of the matter—the illibuster, is the stapidest, dreariest, and least original Lieutenant Jennings Estelle. The rest of thing amongst us. It makes its dull uni- the article is matter-of-fact, such as the forms, and puts us all into them; and so common run of editors would produce. we go, all dressed and cropped alike, like The Saturday Review laughs at such a style. people in a penitentiary.

But, after all, that is the style which takes. -The London Saturday Review, we per- It shows learning, and a certain scope of ceive, has been criticiziog the style of the mind which accompanies power. These Jupiter Tonans of the pgeas, apropos of are not such bad things. It is evident the some sarcastic advice how to write “ lead- Times man is a young fellow, out of one of ing articles." It imitates pretty well the the colleges, flush of classic, historic, and style of the new hand that now writes the literary koowledge ; a full man, athletic general leaders of the Times. We forget from discipline. Such are the men who the particular allusions it makes, but have have given the Times its peculiar characbefore us an article which illustrates its ter, and that mere fact shows they are not criticism. The Times writer has the babit to be despised. That pointed, illustrative of makiog, first, a generalizing sweep, and style has long distinguished the chief Longathering up, in a free-and-easy way, a don weekly journals; and the Times is number of historic or literary facts, or wealthy enough to afford it as the everyday passages, bearing, nearly or remotely, on aliment of its readers. The most ignorant the matter in hand, which, after all, comes people prefer the stylish and the striking, in more like one more instance of the propo- to the mean, hard, slip-slop matter-of-fact, sition, than an independent theme. Here, in whatever they read. The Times' writers in a leader on Walker and his men, is are the best to be bad; and the Times Nicaragua, be begins with Robin Hood, paper is at the head of the press.

[blocks in formation]
[ocr errors]

THE summer, this year has been loth to leave 08. She has lingered with us, seeming still about to go, but ever look. ing backward with reluctant smiles, cheering the chill November, ay, and the bleak December, too, with dreamy memories of June. But she has flown at last, and the cordial northern winter comes, when we must find our summer in-doors, and make ap for the silence of the streams, and of the trees, and for the fading out of color from the earth and sky, with bappy voices in our homes, and smiles in the faces of those we love.

The necessities of winter life, in a city, try men's tempers sharply, and show us

what we are, perbaps, more fairly than the summer can, in pleasant places among the bills, or by the sea, where it is luxury enough to breathe, and no merit for us to be easy in mind as we are in body.

For, in the closer circle which the winter draws about us, we are called upon to contribute ourselves more freely to our friends ; and upon the manner of our response to this call it depends wbether the winter sball be the most genial or the most odious season of all the year. A loveless, frivolous spirit seems to others and to itself a haodred times more detestable, and is a hundred times more unbappy “ New

[ocr errors]

when it is continually brought into con- do God's blessed sunligbt, when they sbut, tact with others, and falsifying all the fine out the day, and make a premature night chemistry of nature, generates gossip for of glittering gas within their homes. But sympatby, and silly selfishness for septi- you would not level the church-wall with ment, and impertinence for interest, and the street, because silly and senseless pea folly for gaiety.

ple improve the occasion of a quiet hour Let us hope that all of our readers may in their pews, for the exbibition of their bear the test of the winter so bravely that best toilets, to other silly and senseless it will be a superfluous thing in us to wish people, wbo, having no ears to hear the them a “Happy New Year.” Yet, super service, have nothing to do but to employ fluous as we trust it may be, we must at- their eyes on their neighbors. The reality ter the wish ; for good wishes are, after all, of anything in lbis world lies not in its only the voice of good-will, as prayer is possible abuses but in its possible uses, and the voice of faith, and you never wish it is in these that we must look for the “good morning” balf so heartily to any justification of our visiting on one as to the one person wbose presence Year's Day." The custom has, at once, bas already made the morning good. a flavor of classic antiquity, and a grace

A happy New Year to all our friends! of modern Christianity. You may wink We need no fast-driving, much-scolded yourself engaged in no very lofty pursuit, coachman to carry us from house to house when you array yourself, after an early of all these smiling thousands ; the obe breakfast, in the full dress of the latest dient steam takes us upon the round of evening, and draw on your spotless gloves, our “New Year's visits ;” and we are not and sally forth, unabashed, into the suncompelled to make our bow and 'go, just light, and dit, with the speed of a swallow, as soon as we have come and made our from house to house, all over the city, bow, but can spend the whole day, ay, and resting at each no longer than the swallow the pleasant evening, too, with each and might, and chirping out sweet platitudes every one of our friends, though our as monotonous as the swallow's twitter. It cheerful day's walk follows the circuit of may seem to you rather ridiculous wben the squ from Maine to California.

you recall its events. this long day of And, wherever we go, we shall stop jast short calls, throughout which you bave long enough to bint to our beloved hosts been speaking at so many people, and how good a thing it would be for them to speaking with 80 few. And when you adopt, in all their separate homes, the come bome at night, and throw your overgood old Gothamite custom which our tour coat in one direction and your bat in anrepresents.

other, and cast yourself down wearily on New Year's Day in New York is one of your sofa, you may feel disposed to prothe best days of our western year. It is nounce the whole matter & sad humbug, an Independence day on which we rejoice and yourself a sorry simpleton for the to acknowledge our mutual dependence pains you have been at to do this nothing on one another--a sort of universal birth- 80 diligently. But if this is your thougbt day, and everybody's fête, on which the at midnight, it will be changed with the dropped threads of social life may be morning. You will see then how full caught up, and the smouldering ashes of even this familiar custom is of meaning, contention quite smothered, and a mo- and how impossible it would be for us ment's Interchange of smiles and courte- now to dispense with such a symbol of 80ous words may make an easy atonement cial cordiality in our life of city isolation for the conscious or the annonscious omis and intensely personal pursuits. Do away sions of the past, and become the “ Fu- with this custom and what would the New ture's pledge and band.” It is a wise and Year's Day become ! A day in which fear kindly institution, and all the follies graft- milies, already separated enough from ed on its goodly stock cannot make that the world, and from each other, would feel stock less goodly in our philosophic eyes. more absolutely drawn within themselves No doubt it is a pity that people should -a day for the settling of accounts with turn this graceful festival of good-will your personal creditors, and the presenta into an opportunity of ridiculous display, tion of gifts to your personal friends and outrage its simple significanoe as they alone.

« 上一頁繼續 »