« AnteriorContinuar »
The Sea-Side Companion ; or, Marine Natural History. By MARY
ROBERTS, Author of “ Domesticated Animals," “ Conchologist's Companion,” “ Select Female Biography,” &c. With illustrative Wood Cuts, by Baxter. Whittaker, Treacher, and Co., Ave Maria Lane.
This is a book, the circulation of which cannot be too great. The mind is never so well disposed to proper and pious reflections as after the perusal of works of this description, especially when they are so ably written. Miss Roberts insinuates us, by the most pleasing means, into a great deal of the most important of the lore of natural history. If we might find a fault, we should say that reference is too often and too os. tentatiously made to the Deity, at the close of almost every chapter. Some of these aspirations should be left to the involuntary workings of the reader's mind. For ourselves, we always wish sacred subjects to be held most sacred. The iteration of them in works purely of instruction, is often misplaced. Bring the mind, by gentle allusion, to the contemplation of the beneficence of the Deity in every page, nay, if possible, in every sentence, but do not let us be continually breaking out into elaborate rhapsody, making the August name too often a pivot for the turning of an harmonious period, in books that are not confessedly doctrinal. The merits of this work are very great, the accumulation of interesting facts bearing upon the subject ample, and the selection of the matter judicious. Miss Roberts must also be well imbued with classical learning, as she is continually referring to ancient authors. The work before us has our hearty recommendation.
Considerations respecting the Trade with China. By Joseph THOMP
SON, late of the East India House. H. Allen and Co., Leadenhall Street.
The principal part of this book is occupied by a numismatic disquisi. tion as regards England, the East Indies, and China, useful only to the scientific merchant and the money broker. When this question has been more than amply discussed, we come to the author's considerations on the trade with China. On this subject, as on the other, his experience enables him very fully to descant. The information the book contains upon the actual state of our mercantile interests with those intractable celestials, is but brief, but the hypothetical advantage from his plans, he insists upon, will not only be manifold but grand. The principal remedy for all the grievances, under which Europeans labour in their China trade, is the getting into our military possession from the Portuguese, Macaoestablishing there a strong military and naval force to keep in order the terrestrial and celestial subjects of all nations, and pay the expense of this establishment, by laying a duty of ten per cent. upon every chest of opium, for which drug Macao is to be made the emporium. If Mr. Thompson wishes to involve this country into an actual war of aggression with China, he could not have devised a better means. We have before expressed ourselves to the effect, that China has given us sufficient cause for war-and, that terrible as war must always be, it is the only means of regenerating and civilizing that vast empire. We therefore say, with our author, let us get Macao if we can, only we differ materially with him as to the results of the policy of that act.
Sentiment not Principle; or, an Old Man's Legacy. 2 vols. Whit
taker and Co., Ave Maria Lane. Goodness seems to have a prescriptive right to be dull. No one will dispute this right, but against inflicting dullness upon others, we enter our caveat; and, principally, because we have the highest respect for goodness. The work before us is written with the best intentions; and, no doubt, by one of the best of persons. It inculcates piety, good will towards men, and the beauty of high moral conduct, and leaves the mind fully impressed with the high value of all these, and oppressed with intolerable ennui. The story, such as it is, is packed together by a pattern of pathos reading to a pattern of a family, a certain portion every even. ing of the “ Old Man's Legacy.” No doubt the author would be scandalized at having his stringed-up homilies designated as a novel; so even in the construction of the plan of his work, he has striven mightily to avoid any thing approaching to novelty. Well, from the“Old Man's Legacy” we learn, that having once been young, he marries a paragon of perfectiona perfect monster of morality. O that wife! Her interminable lectures upon the propriety of virtue and the virtue of propriety—the impropriety of vice, and viciousness of all impropriety. Then her looking at statues, and sighing for the mantua-maker to cover them. Even those stony personifications, who have their habiliments too low off their shoulders, have a higher corsage recommended to them. All that we can say is, that those who can discover impurity in cold marble, see much farther than most folks into the mysteries of that nice veil that shrouds innocence, and which we know once in paradise sanctified nakedness. Ultraism in every thing injures the cause to which it is attached; and were the ultra-proselyting pious permitted to fully follow out their own designs, much that is graceful and beautiful in life would be destroyed, the fine arts would droop, the sciences fall into disrepute, and the world retrograde several generations back into barbarism. There are many passages in these volumes, which, taken by themselves, are highly instructive, many that are amusing, and still more, such as would be no discredit to the most eloquent sermon. But these excellencies are misplaced. The moral to be inculcated is always too wearyingly insisted upon. We are too much lectured, when we expected something else. Notwithstanding the “ Old Man's Legacy," " cakes and ale” will have their lovers; and good sentiments will be found, if not equal to, the sure precursors of, good principles.
Random Shots from a Rifleman. By J. KINCAID, late Captain in,
and Author of “ Adventures in, the Rifle Brigade.” T. and W. Boone, New Bond Street.
This captain “ in Adventures," as he terms himself in his title-page, is a right merrie companion, and has given the world a very amusing, in giving it a very graphic, book. It is a production anti-splenetic in a very high degree. Cheerful lads these riflemen must have been when not fighting, always larking, laughing, or loving. The narrative is composed in a very peculiar style. It is not witty, nor is it fairly humorous. Buoyancy would perhaps be the better term by which to designate it. Sometimes, indeed, it would seem flippant, were it not for the author's innate manliness. We rejoice to see the soldierly and frank praise given throughout to the Duke of Wellington. We should think Captain Kincaid, notwithstanding his modest disclaimer, no bad tactician himself. He has evidently seen much and most hazardous service, and seen it too with the pleasant eye of a laughing philosopher. From slight, but effective sketches like these, the reader will gain more accurate informationinformation of which the memory is more deeply tenacious-of the man. ners, habits, and modes of various classes and countries, than from the most laboured productions. You cannot forget any one of the captain's cheerful stories, (shots he calls them, but they have none of the qualities of lead in them,) and in remembering them you also treasure up in your mind all the accessaries to them. Thus chronology, geography, and history, each leave their tribute behind with the remembrance of the story. Here and there the author slaps off his pieceat Priscian's head, and gives it a shrewd crack or two. But having seen so many worthy heads broken, and exposed his own so freely, he seems to have a prescriptive right to exercise his skill upon the venerable personification of grammar. Har. ing enjoyed this volume so much ourselves, we now cheerfully turn it over to our readers, and they will find, in turning it over, that it is a very delightful affair; and if they stumble upon some few parts of which they cannot approve, the Scotch Chieftain's Prayer for instance, they must hurry past and pardon them for the general fine spirit, and amusing qualities of the work. The “ Rifleman” will fire some more shots yet before death brings him down, and we are sure that, fire when he will, he will never miss the mark.
An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations.
By ADAM SMITH, LL.D. With a Commentary, by the Author of “ England and America." Charles Knight, Ludgate Hill.
To use a literary common-place, we hail the appearance of this first volume with delight. The first innovator upon an old system, the first reformer of a long-cherished abuse, if he reforms or innovates by the means of a book, must necessarily make that book a controversial one. Adam Smith's is eminently so; and this necessity has led him often into faults of arrangement, vagueness of meaning, and uncertain application of terms, which certainly require an able commentator to rectify. As far as we can judge from this first volume, we will say that such an able commentator Adam Smith has found in the present. The volume opens with an authentic account of the great political economist's life, his text is then given, and after each chapter follows the commentaries. The whole is well arranged, and the lucid manner in which the statements are made, entirely prevents any access of tedium. In political economy is, after all, to be found the very essence of morality. Had we no revelation, it ought to serve us in the place of religion. It is of that paramount importance, that it cannot be too widely studied. As a science, it is truly but in its infancy. It is, at present, overlaid by ignorance, and opposed by passion and prejudice. Almost every man, in arguing upon it, pleads only his individual case, or that of his caste. Till this science is properly understood, our laws cannot be strictly just, nor property secured upon a stable foundation. That we may be speedily able to establish correct first principles, and give an unchanging and adequate mean. ing to terms, we most earnestly desire. We think that the editor of this edition is well calculated to clear away much of the superincumbent rubbish under which the question is buried. We wish him success in his labours, and in the most friendly manner entreat him to use as much accuracy in his technical expressions as he can; for, upon one ill. understood term, a hundred baseless superstructures may be raised, that bring not only confusion in the intellects of the student, but also discredit upon this noblest of sciences.
The Modern Dunciad, Virgil in London, and other Poems. William
To war with dullness is a task more easy than to overcome it; but it is the least easy of all to make it, in ridiculing it, a source of wit. The “ Moderu Dunciad” is satirical without humour. Its strain of vituperation is cutting, its sarcasm searching : but still it is mere vituperation. The philosophy of the maniac, who was astonished at the officer carrying a sword to kill those who would so soon die if left alone, might be well studied by writers of this class, who are so valorous in the slaughter of small wits. We must concede to the author of these poems much power as well as polish of versification, and a more than sufficient quantity of that venom, which, like aqua fortis, blackens whilst it burns. There are, through the satirical parts, no delicate touches, nothing that makes us wish to confess a brother in the lampooner, or when he praises, to find a friend in the panegyrist. His maledictory verses are but musical abuse, his eulogium a variation upon the words good, good, good. Besides, we find in these pages many things repulsive to correct taste. What moral purpose can be answered in ill-naturedly recording the obesity of Theodore Hook, or torturing the crookedness of Sir Lumley Skeffington in exhalations of bad jokes? Of the poems professedly satirical we like best “ The Conversa. zione.” Of the serious pieces that follow, we request the author to think seriously, if ever his “ Dunciad” should reach another edition. Certainly that caustic poem will not be complete without there be a niche in it constructed to receive the author of “ Immortality,” “An Ode to the Nativity," and several very pious little hymns. We have found the notes the most amusing part of the work—the more amusing, as the author has shown by quotations that he has been thought worthy of abuse, which is something in these days of literary and worthless pretension.
The Prime Minister, a Poem, Political and Historical. By a Peer.
Edward Churton, Holles Street.
We are heart and soul with this peer. We love his patriotism, we admire his spirit, we would rally round him, his order, and his king, were the nation driven by the monster of democracy to a crisis. With him, we despise the Whigs, and detest the Radicals. Our admiration of Peel and Wellington, our attachment to our sovereign and his family, and that constitution they have sworn to defend, is equal to his-in all things this anonymous peer is a man after our own hearts, and fervently do we wish that every other nobleman was imbued with his fine, and, in the best sense, free spirit. But why—but why did he write this poem? Surely he might have spared himself and those who venerate him so much, an infliction so severe.
The Fudges in England, being a Sequel to the Fudge Family in Paris. By Thomas Brown the Younger, Author of the “ Twopenny Post Bag,” &c. &c. Longman, Rees, Orme, Brown, Green, and Longman, Paternoster Row.
This publication is in every sense the antipodes of the one noticed above. Tommy's arch wit is irresistible in every thing—but argument. Of course, all right thinking men will laugh with him, and side with that which he laughs at. The exquisite ridicule of which he is so complete a master, exists not in the things on which he hangs it, but in his own merry brain. These jocular poems are in every sense perfect creations. They are exces. sively droll, the more so, as they have so little reference to the things on which they are appended. Would that this Younger Brown, ere he loses his last grey hair, should just try, in order to show the versatility of his powers, to lampoon the Whigs. What a glorious Fudge Family would he not produce! However, as Thomas Brown has lately fudged to a tune so glorious as three hundred a-year, (certainly well deserved, if talent and genius can make desert, we may exhaust our aspirations in vain, and must hail bis humour, let it come in unison with whatever it may. Every one will distinguish between the cause into the service of which it is enlisted, and the high quality of the wit itself. Thomas has at length disposed of this particular Fudge Family very satisfactorily. The elderly Miss Fudge is married to a gentleman who has incurred all the author's wrath, and her expected fortune devolves on her niece, Kitty, who exchanges her blue predilections for those of a more tender nature, with a real Irish jontleman, with the real Irish name of Magan-so there's an end of that Fudge affair. Will nobody give us an insight into the manæuvres of a Whig Fudge Family? Of all the fudges that were ever fudged in this fudging world, radico-papistico-Whig fudgery is the most abominable. O for a little more- but we have said enough.
The Story of Justin Martyr, and other Poems. By RICHARD ChrNEVIX Trench, Perpetual Curate of Curdridge Chapel, Hants. Edward Moxon, Dover Street. We would not have these poems confounded with that general mass of mediocrity that is issuing from the press in a stream so perpetual only to inundate the cheesemongers' shops. A few more publications such as these, and the general taste might again rally, and verse be read. There is about the poems before us, an originality, both in the thoughts and the expressions that prove well that all the muse's sources of charming us have not yet been exhausted. They are principally of lofty strain, and imbued with the most excellent sentiment. e should think the author to be an old man,-if we be right in our conjectures, we pronounce that he has most faultily “hid his candle under a bushel.” Why we deem him aged, is that there seems vented forth in this little book in harmonious numbers treasured and favourite thoughts, for they are produced with that perfection that it would seem they must have been canvassed for years to reach. Again, there is a quaintness of style, to which he of many days is generally so prone, and of which he is so fond, and which to him we hold to be so graceful. Let our friends read this volume. They will find that, in our eulogium, we have neither deceived them, nor perhaps done justice to the author.
Ion, a Tragedy in Five Acts. By F. N. TALFOURD, Esq. For pri
vate Circulation. Undoubtedly this tragedy should be made public property. Charles Lamb has proved, by his beautiful essays on the plays of Shakspeare, that the best arena for the grand conceptions of the poet, is not on the gaudily decorated boards of a playhouse, but in the natural theatre of the reader's mind. As Shakspeare's plays are deteriorated in the acting, it is not discreditable to Mr. Talfourd to say, that his “ Ion” would not be