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posed on every ground to form a high estimate of a history that assumes so becoming an appearance, and has evidently had to contend with no ordinary difficulties.
Among the singularities which mark the connection of the Jews with Egypt, and which have been noticed by travellers, inducing a belief that Moses drew a great deal of his system of polity from his acquaintance with Egyptian learning and customs, Mr. Sharpe says that the Egyptians carved the praises of their gods and heroes upon their buildings, Moses enjoined the Jews to write the words of the law on their door-posts. The Egyptians added wings to gods, to worms, serpents, and even to the sun ; the Jews placed cherubs with wings over the mercy-seat. In a procession of Rameses III. an ark is borne after the god Chem, two cubits and a half long and a cubit and a half high, exactly of the size and form of that which the Jews were ordered to make. When the Jews were bitten by serpents, Moses made a brazen serpent and set it on a pole ; among the Egyptian standards the same serpent on a pole is seen. The golden calf made by Aaron was a representation of the animal (Mnevis) they had perhaps seen worshipped at Heliopolis. The coincidence might be extended further of this borrowing from Egypt. On the sarcophagi of the Egyptian kings there is a representation of the conquest of the “ Eternal Serpent, the great enemy of mankind : how often is the serpent used in this sense among the Jews! Swine were an abomination to both people. The Egyptians had a veiled tabernacle for oracular worship, still seen on their sculptures. The priest-code in Egypt seemed copied in the Levites : many of their accompaniments, even the holy candlesticks and the table of shewbread are found sculptured on Thebes' temples. Such a history as that of Mr. Sharpe's thus possesses a new interest from the connection, far closer than was imagined to exist half a century ago, between the customs and ceremonies of the two nations. We must further accord our approval of that portion of the history in a particular manner, which touches upon the learned men, Christians others, from the reign of Antoninus to the conclusion in the melancholy end of Alexandria. It contains a good deal of interesting information in a small space, and shows how much the world was indebted to Egypt for the prolongation of learning when Gothic darkness was everywhere else extinguishing its salutary influence. We close our notice of this History with reluctance, but not without a hearty recommendation of it, at a moment when Egypt is again beginning to assume a visible form, we may almost say, among “civilised nations ;” and the re-opening of the ancient road to India has taken place under circumstances that must make all relating to its history doubly valuable. There is no history like that of Egypt for furnishing the reflective mind with materials for thinking, or from which so much is to be gathered tending to trace out the course of human destiny under all its aspects ; a History of Egypt is, therefore, inoits general utility a valuable present to philosophy.
LEONTINE; or, the Court of Louis the Fifteenth. By MRS. MABERLY,
Author of " Melanthe,” &c. 3 vols. 8vo. London: H. Colburn. This is another of those mixtures of excitement and sentimentality that have become, we suppose, the fashion with the circulating libraries. We cannot think very highly of the intellect of those who patronise them, nor does it say much for the wisdom or sense of the higher classes that such is the pabulum on which their minds delight to feast. Hereditary prejudices are mingled with manners equally hereditary, nor do the writers seem at all out of the regular routine by their style or their descriptions. In all we find the same stereotype of phrase, the same outline of description :-" the same faultless regularity of form ;"_"the forehead was perhaps a little more high ;"_"a vision of such transcendent loveliness ;' " the voice of the speaker appeared to thrill through the frame of the person she addressed.”—Or, for description, take the following; and surely it is to be found in every romance, from Mrs. Radcliffe's “Udolpho” to the present time, and would induce us to believe that, having described the extreme of the circle in Sir Walter Scott, we are now returning to the point from whence we started on the novel-writing career:-“Yes, cried the pretended friar, tearing off his disguise, and throwing himself at the feet of the Duchess. Yes, it is Richelieu, the Richelieu whom you have scorned, the friend whom you have distrusted, the lover whom you have forsaken, but who, however scorned, however abandoned, will never forsake you.'
The concoction of novels of this kind has become a trick, or, at all events, a trade, and a very poor business it must be. A trifling acquaintance with history, a very little knowledge of fashionable modes ; a good assortment of set phrases ; an extensive reading in the romantic fiction of the last thirty years, with a dash of the previous age ; a fanciful taste for piquant names; a considerable flow of words, and an undaunted disregard of common sense will set up a hundred such writers.
With respect to delineation of character, or the capacity to propound any new observations on human affairs, no one who peruses the present works of fiction need trouble themselves. It is true, indeed, that the present race of novelists do not indulge in such a vicious display of a disordered imagination as did the more antiquated supporters of the Minerva press. The increased common sense of the age will not përmit it, and they have been compelled to keep within the bounds of better taste. But their human beings are equally unreal; and though they do not absolutely draw monsters that the slightest reflection will prove to be impossibilities ; still they manufacture personages that could have no actual existence. Their incongruities are not so startling, but consequently the false notions thus disseminated are the more injurious, precisely because they are more insidious.
We cannot turn to a page of the present novel without being struck by the amount of contagiousness there is in such literature. We find in every sentence the flowers of former novelists carried, unintentionally perhaps, into these pages. There seem to have been thrown into the language a certain amount of phrases that pass like current coin, and
which are seized by each without regard to the originator. “The haughty and impetuous duke,' “ the crafty prelate," “this monster in human form,
,92 ts though his foot had trodden on the neck of his enemy; and even“ haughty foe,” and “hurling defiance,” are not yet discarded.
There is, however, a worse evil attending this class of writing than even these errors against taste. A kind of talent, akin to that of the cook in culinary matters, has been generated, which knows how, by a little setting and toning, to sharpen the appetite and nourish the passions. We have descriptions of exciting emotions, the details of
happy and mysterious love,” all pointedly and piquantly narrated. Descriptions of “ gorgeous luxuries are minutely given. Realities are indeed taken as the groundwork, but fancy is so employed in heightening and exaggerating them, that they become more intoxicating than the wildest dreams of oriental romance. We are in no danger of mistaking these latter for delineations of human nature, nor of being betrayed into absurd notions of the real world by their perusal ; but many, if not most of the readers of modern romance, imagine themselves instructed in a knowledge of character, and emerge from the library into the world, ready to attach to every man, whose outward characteristics agree with the novelist's description, the properties of a villain or a philanthropist, a Richelieu or a Guesclin. Like all excitement, there can be no doubt this overwrought stuff unfits the reader's mind it catches hold of for the true affections and business of life. There is doubtless some powers of composition required, some talent exercised in the description, and some taste in occasional passages; but it is highly desirable that these powers should be applied to better purposes than the misleading the weak, stimulating the feverish, and confounding the inquiring.
Mrs. Maberly is not particularly to blame. Judged by its competitors, “ Leontine” may stand with " Emilia Wyndham,” “The Eventful Epoch,” or any of the sentimental class of fiction it has been of late our fate to peruse. It is a decaying part of our literature, as those know who are practically engaged in the distribution of books; and the sooner it is utterly obliterated the better for the mass of undistinguishing readers who support our circulating libraries. A sounder and a healthier literature is gradually superseding it; and it is the duty of all, who have the power, to aid the one and denounce the other. We maké no crusade against fiction, believing it to be one of the readiest means of disseminating the most important knowledge—the knowledge of human nature ; but we do think it incumbent to expose the false guide who, while affecting to delineate character, is only indulging his fancy; and who, assuming the garb of the philosopher, turns out to be a common juggler. PROSE FROM THE SOUTH. By John EDMUND READE, Author of Italy," &c.
In Two Volumes. London: Charles Ollier. On the subject of books of travels an extremely false theory too commonly prevails. It is supposed that the source of novelty lies in the
country traversed, not in the traveller. The contrary is the fact. A man may write in an extremely trite and hackneyed style, of a newlydiscovered region, while another may invest with freshness a country previously described by a thousand writers. Mr. Reade's present volumes may be adduced in illustration of this truth. They are in many parts highly original, because the author, basing his remarks on his own idiosyncracies, rather controverts the opinions of others than echoes them. Where he has to treat of things universally acknowledged to be excellent, this, of course, is less palpably the case; but often, while agreeing with his predecessors, he gives different reasons for his decisions, and appears to have arrived at his conclusions in a different way. His criticisms on Art are distinguished by a fine taste and a most delicate appreciation of beauty. They are brief, moreover, and pithy, and rendered piquant by the introduction of numerous characteristic anecdotes. This judicious intermingling of criticism with narrative, and of both with poetical and highly-coloured descriptions of scenery, render his work exceedingly amusing. He has collected, in moving along, many legends and traditions, which he relates in a light airy style, well calculated to render them agreeable. There is throughout, however, a dash of pensiveness, or we should rather perhaps say, of melancholy, which, infusing itself into the stories and into the descriptions and criticisms, imparts to them a sort of fascination. This is experienced more especially in what relates to the wanderings among the higher Alps; but the feeling is not altogether dissipated by the bright warm sun of Italy. The reader who has perused all the modern works on that country will experience most pleasure in going through Mr. Reade's volumes, because he will best know how to appreciate his accuracy and his enthusiasm,-things by no means incompatible. It is, on the contrary, impossible to be accurate, in writing of Italy, without being enthusiastic. On two other points we differ from Mr. Reade : he overrates Voltaire, and underrates Dante and Petrarca. It may not, perhaps, be difficult account for this fact: Mr. Reade's own gloom is overwhelmed by the gloom of Dante, from whom he desires to escape, as from a saddening and oppressive thought,. while Petrarca's metaphysical and airy love appears to his Northern apprehension too much like a dream. But although in these cases we decline to accept the decision of his judgment, we admire the manly candour with which he states his opinion. It is almost a guarantee that when he deals in eulogium his words are the true representatives, of his feelings. Here and there short disquisitions are introduced, on topics naturaliy connected with the subject, though forming, striotlyspeaking, no part of it, which may be mentioned as an additional source, of originality. These extraneous matters are interwoven into the narrative with much skill, and so that it requires a nice eye to detect the point of transition. The style is flowing and picturesque, but occasionally, perhaps, too ambitious. In many places, however, where the author is engaged in narrating, it is sprightly and easy, and remarkable for its gracefulness.
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