« ZurückWeiter »
circulation than they have hitherto enjoyed. It was wise, therefore, to meet the spirit of the time, which, all-reforming as it is, most especially desires to bring down the price of books to a standard that will render them generally accessible to the middling and mechanical classes. The publishers have announced their intention of issuing a series of such reprints, as companions to the Waverley Novels. If they limit their enterprise to those works which, in the language of their prospectus, have been stamped by the "unerring voice of Fame!" they will soon come to a close. “Unerring voice of Fame!" We never before heard, that this celebrated distributor of laurels assumed to herself the attribute of infallibility. But even if that were the case, who is to be judge of the particular works which have been so fortunate, as to be favoured by her unerring admiration? Where are we to look for the evidence of it? Are we to find it in those pretty paragraphs which, somehow or other, find their way into certain newspapers, without the title of advertisement prefixed to them, but which the initiated, who are now indeed the public at large, easily detect at the first glance? Are these to be the proofs of your "unerring voice of fame?" or are we to collect them from the "New Monthly Magazine," whose independence in literary criticism is so unquestionable? Nous verrons. The first two numbers of the publication, containing the whole of the "Pilot," and "Caleb Williams," with handsome frontispieces, are now before us; and though the type and paper are not quite so good as we should wish, we must say that they form an auspicious beginning. We are certainly no admirers of the "Pilot," and we candidly confess that we have made many attempts to
read it, but never could succeed. We know others who have been placed in a similar predicament. But still the "voice of fame" has lauded this work to the skies; and though we cannot admit that, in this instance at least, it has been "unerring," it has convinced many readers that the "Pilot" is a capital novel. "Caleb Williams" has our vote and best interest. There, indeed, we are hand in hand with the publishers, to whose undertaking we wish every success.
ART. XII.-The Book of the Seasons; or, the Calendar of Nature. By William Howitt. 12mo., pp. 404. London: Colburn and Co. 1831.
THERE are few subjects which we more desire to see well treated than that so well chosen by Mr. Howitt. He would seem, in every respect, peculiarly fitted to shine in it. He loves nature with an unfeigned enthusiasm; he has traced with a tender vigilance all her various features and changes; her clouds and sunshine; her serene hours, and her angry tempests. His poetical tendencies have enabled him to detect, with a keen eye, the thousand stores of loveliness which she has hidden from the vulgar gaze, to catch the notes of the different songsters she has given to the woods and fields, to discover the many tufts of beauteous flowers which she has scattered, with a plentiful hand, along the hedges, and in the recesses of the mountains. To these excellent qualifications for a naturalist, Mr. Howitt adds a facility of diction, suitable to the subject, and in itself meritorious for its fluency and grace. Nevertheless, if we were asked whether this is the Book of the Seasons,'
which we want, we should say that it is not. It is a little better, because more minute, than the calendar which is usually inserted in the Almanacks, but it does not at all excel that which will be found in the "Time's Telescope" for the present year. The most important business of the farmer, this month, is to feed and comfort his dependent animals. Towards the end of this month, (February,) we are gladdened with symptoms of approaching spring. Thrashing, tending cattle, early lambs, calves, &c., continue, as in the last month, Occupy the thoughts and hands of the husbandman. Manures, too, are carried to grass lands.' These, and pages of sentences such as these, together with tables setting forth the migrations of birds, form the staple of Mr. Howitt's work, and may be seen in any of the Calendars already published, as well as in his. The fault that pervades the volume, and renders it, in our opinion, a failure, is this, that the matter is not connected with the man. The great charm of old Walton's angling lucubrations, consists in their being identified with his own feelings and reveries. If a person tell us that the month of March is the time when inhabitants are in their gar dens, some clearing away rubbish, some turning up the light and fresh smelling soil amongst the tufts of snow-drops, and rows of bright yellow crocuses which every where abound,' he tells us no more than we already know, or may find in any book of gardening. But, if he say," you shall come with me into the garden; the old gardener has cleared away all the rubbish of the winter, and there you may now see him turning up the soil. What a wholesome fragrance springs from the newly exposed earth! Look at these snow-drops,
how nun-like they cover with a white veil their modest and matchless charms! What a brilliancy do these crocuses impart to every bed they adorn! They are the heralds of the summer as well as of the spring!" With such a person as this, who, by expressing thoughts but faintly descriptive of his feelings, touches, nevertheless, the mystic chain of sympathy in our breast, we should at once quit the desk, and go to see the objects which have kindled his admiration. But this man is not Mr. Howitt. He never impels us to move into the fields, or, if we go there, we do not think of him, for Nature always surpasses, in her power of enchantment, the laboured catalogue of her charms which he has recorded. It would be unjust not to add that he has written some pretty passages; and that the verses from his own pen, as well as from that of his amiable lady, interspersed through the volume, are marked with genuine feeling and taste.
ART. XIII.-School and College Greek Classics. 1. Thucydides. 2. Herodotus. 3. Æschylus' Prometheus. 4. Euripides' Orestes. 8vo. All Booksellers.
YOUNG students, in whose hands these new editions of the Greek classics shall be placed, before they have been troubled with any others, can hardly be made to understand the deep obligations which they owe to Mr. Valpy, who has thus so materially lightened and abridged the difficulties, that have long beset this department of liberal education. Besides that in general the best texts are adopted, they are printed in a clear and handsome type, and are accompanied by English notes, in which sometimes the
various readings are mentioned,
ard English Authors. Under the Superintendence of A. J. Valpy, M. A. 12mo, pp. 278. London: A. J. Valpy. 1831. THERE can be no doubt that much useful information, and many happy thoughts lie scattered in the pages of English authors, who, on account of the distance of time at which they wrote, or other circumstances, are but little, if at all, known to modern readers. Neither is it to be denied, that the collected remains of some of these writers include a great deal that is unworthy of preservation. Again, we think it must be admitted, that copiousness of expression and diffuseness of style, too often characterize the works of even our most admired prose authors. If these facts be undisputed, and we see no reason to anticipate that they will be questioned by any but reasonable person, we need say little in commendation of a project, which proposes to give the quintescence of each of a certain description of eminent authors, freed either from such redundancies or peculiarities, as would prevent the easy comprehension of whatever is valuable in their works. It is evident, however, that the whole of the success of such a plan depends on the manner of its execution. The matter chosen for the leading essay in this novel enterprize, is Paley's Moral Philosophy. In the first place we observe, that this "concentration" is only of half the dimensions of the original work, yet we find that it faithfully preserves all the arguments of the great philosopher, and indeed omits nothing for which Paley's work is worth perusing. To a considerable extent the language of the original is adhered to, and in some instances the progress of the argument materially assisted. Every interpolation of this or any other kind, is distinguished by marks
ART. XIV. Paley's Moral and Political Philosophy condensed, being Vol. I. of an Epitome of English Literature: or a concentration of the Matter of Stand
which will at once inform the reader of their source; and whenever the editor or compiler suspects that he has not correctly expressed the meaning of his author by the substituted language, he adds in a note the words of the original. A fairer or more promising scheme of usefulness, it would be impossible to propose with such materials. It must be remembered, however, that it is by the taste and discretion of an individual, or, perhaps, a small body of individuals, that all these details are to be executed, and they will find it extremely difficult to satisfy every class of the public on every occasion, that the judgment of the compilers has been right. If, however, the first number be a faithful sample of what is to follow, we shall not be surprized to find the project completely successful.
ART. XV.-The Life of Napoleon Bonaparte. By M. de Bourienne, his Private Secretary. In three volumes 12mo, being vols. VII. VIII. and IX. of the "National Library." London: Colburn and Co. 1831.
THIS pretty novel of and concerning Napoleon's "sayings and doings," has been for some time going the round of various modes of publication in this country. It came over to us in French, was forthwith translated in a hasty and inaccurate manner for Messrs. Colburn and Co., was printed in a much better version in Constable's Miscellany, and now is reproduced in the " National Library" corrected, enlarged, and improved, by the addition of sundry notes. In the mean time those who have perused the work itself, either in the original, or in the English translations, have satisfied themselves that in point of fact
Bourienne was private secretary to Bonaparte during a period of little more than six years, viz. from April, 1796, to October, 1802, when he was dismissed for peculation, and never afterwards held any office, which could have enabled him to become familiar with the private and personal history of that extraordinary man. It follows, therefore, that all that part of the 'Life' which dates after 1802, must have been collected from other sources, although he has had the courage to pass off the whole as the fruit of his own individual knowledge. It is not to be wondered at then if he has fallen into many errors, some of which have been completely exposed by Generals Gourgaud and Belliard, Barons Meneval, De Stein, and Massias, the Counts d'Aure and Boulai' de la Meurthe, the Duke de Cambacérès, the Prince d'Eckinubl and others. Notwithstanding the contradictions that have been given by these individuals, to several im→ portant statements which are made by this biographer of Napoleon, the work has maintained its ground; and owing to the naive and interesting style in which it is written, and
the numberless anecdotes which it contains, will long hold a distinguished place among the works dedicated to the memory of the great master spirit of the continent. Every thing of any value in the original, is compressed into these three volumes, which are got up in a very creditable manner. Narratives and observations are added to it from other authorities, which throw light upon Bourienne's text, and, besides three capitally engraved portraits of Napoleon and his two wives, this edition is adorned by a variety of scenes from the campaigns of the great warrior, which are in general very fairly executed. The typography of the volumes is beautiful.
The cost of the whole is no more than eighteen shillings, whereas, three or four years ago, an octavo edition, with similar engravings, and containing the same quantity of matter, could not be bought under four or five times that sum ! Here it must be admitted that the " falling off" is a great public advantage.
ART. XVI.—A View of Ancient and Modern Egypt, with an outline of its Natural History. Vol. III. of the Edinburgh Cabinet Library. By the Reverend Michl. Russel, L.L.D. 12mo. pp. 480. Edinburgh Oliver and Boyd. London: Simpkin and Marshall. 1831.
some of the Greek and Latin authors, that have been hitherto deemed unintelligible. We should point out the account of the progress of the investigation which conducted to a knowledge of phonetic Hieroglyphics, as being one of the most valuable portions of this clever work.
ment in the selection of authorities, which marked the two former volumes of this valuable series, will be found in the present compilation of the ancient and modern history of Egypt. The reader will peruse in this little volume, small as are its dimensions, the results of the labours and researches of many able and indefatigable travellers. The peculiarities which distinguish the moral as well as geographical history of Egypt, are well known. The monuments of genius and power which are scattered through that country, will long remain as living incitements to stimulate our curiosity, respecting the people from whom such works have proceeded. The author of the volume before us, fully appreciating the sources of interest which his subject afforded, has given us a narrative of unfailing spirit and attraction to the very last page. The classical scholar will be delighted to meet in this volume with many curious explanations, derived from modern inquiries, which throw light on a great number of passages in
ART. XVII.—The Works of Lord Byron. In six volumes, 12mo. London Murray. 1831.
THE fifth and sixth volumes of this new and beautiful edition of Lord
Byron's works are now before us. They contain" Hours of Idleness,"
English Bards and Scotch Reviewers," "The Vision of Judg"Werner," and a great variety of other poems, which had been previously scattered in periodical journals and other fugitive publications, and are now for the first time collected under the sanction of Mr. Murray's name. By what process of reasoning that highly respected bookseller could have prevailed upon himself to take under his patronage, since the noble poet's death, so many compositions to which he refused to lend his Imprimatur during his lordship's life, is a question which we have not the means of discussing. We cannot even conjecture any plausible justification of so strange an inconsistency. And we will take leave to add, that Mr. Murray would, perhaps, have better consulted his own fame, if he had persevered in his original intention, of including nothing in his edition of Lord Byron's works at which innocence might have cause to blush. We shall now, of course, expect from Albemarle-street, the whole of "Don Juan" without emendation or omission.
THE same diligence and care, united with the same scrupulous judgment," " Age of Bronze,"