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THE SHIP OF GLASS: or, THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND. A Romance in 3 vols.
By HARGRAVE JENNINGS. Post 8vo. London: T. C. Newby. We have felt, like this author, oppressed with the everlasting facts of this working-day world, as doubtless have hundreds of readers in our overwrought age, when as much work is done and expected of a man in a day as in a month of the old leisurely barbaric time; and have also been ready to plunge into any stream of ideas, however unreasoning or unreasonable, that the dilated spirit might bathe” in the fiery floods of some glorious imagination. Seeking away from every-day life, to stray deep in the forest glens and necromantic regions of the Fairy Queen
Or call up him that left half-told
Where more is meant than meets the ear. It was therefore with a prejudice greatly in favour of the work that we sat down to it. “The Ship of Glass” was a poetic title, and seemed to bespeak that power of mingling the fancy with facts which made the
writings of the early romancers such enchanting reading. But we regret to say we have been disappointed : for so far from there being a wild and wondrous vein of thought in the tale, we find ourselves chained to fact in a most painful manner. For instance, in the midst of a narration of a violent brawl in a Spanish posado, we have a parenthesis of the following kind—"Viva! Viva ! Here are the bulls !" ("a proverbial Spanish exclamation of delight.") Now, a writer who is so extremely minute in his facts, is not very capable of sustaining the illusion of high romance.
The author has evidently made himself acquainted with the facts of magic and necromancy by the long list of magicians' names and works he quotes, but he gives no proof of being inspired with their genius. He does occasionally, however, soar out of the common-place, and Klypp, the magical ship-builder's character, has some felicitous touches. There is also something poetical in the prediction which leads to the main incident of the story. “The bold must put forth his one life to win a double. His ship must be of woven light, and shadowless must be his crew." But his dreadfully prosaic style cannot maintain or bring its flight above fact.
Yet the author has powers of description and finer sympathies, and We are loth to represent him too unfavourably to the reader. He has capacities, perhaps great ones in him, and if he would or could adopt a better style, might yet "enchant the eye or ear" of numerous readers. The following bespeaks" observations impregnated with feeling"-*
'“ Phroditis window looked down upon the ancient shipyard, where the slips of water gleamed, and all remote objects, and the towering buildings intermingled in dubious obscurity like the chiaro' seuro of a Rembrandt, or some of the oldest of the old Spanish painters, in whose amber shadows and dusky twilights, fat, even, and uniform as the tint may be, you are deceived in gradually distinguishing unsubstantial and incoherent shapes of structures and representations of objects, which in their uncertainty miglit be anything or nothing. In fact, in the very picturesqueness of the doubtfulness and immateriality and uncertainty of this southern twilight, filling and penetrating into the depths, and closing up into the corners of the ship-building domains you might have laid out, and arranged, and pictured to yourself a whole region of things, and persuaded your readily credulous imagination that there had been, and was still going on an actual wreathing into forms and embodiment of articulated shadows,
“Gaunt, giant like-nay awful, rose spire and turret., Doors looked more than doors. Holes looked dens. Every shadow quickened as if it could breed its ghost. Out of the depth and darkness below, rendered more curious from a strange sort of blue glow which spread abroad, you might have thought the moresco steeples, and the fretted and crocketted pinnacles, were happy in escaping into air, and catching the last warning light, and a glimpse of pale undecided moonshine, too grey for starlight, as it was too watery and shimmeringly yellow for moonlight.”
Atcherley is a tale connected with the Rye-house plot; and although it betrays the same want of artistic power, this deficiency is not felt to be so unpleasant, because it is not so antagonistic in style and subject as in the former story. The powers of description here also, displayed, and the delicacy of sentiment and feeling make us take leave of these volumes with regret mingled with expectation. Regret that an author of so much pleasing capacity should by the want of some one element of construction so mar his own powers, and with the expectation that we shall yet have from his hands a fine and noble fiction.
England's Colonial EMPIRE: an Historical, Political, and Statistical
Account of the Empire, its Colonies, and Dependencies. Vol. I. By
CHARLES PRIDHAM, Esq. B.A. Smith, Elder, & Co. Tuis undertaking, we fear too' gigantic to be completed in any rea. sonable limit of time, or mass of paper and printing, singularly enough commences with the small Island of Mauritius, and occupies a very closely printed volume in octavo of above four hundred pages. The history of an island discovered three centuries ago, and of which no valid trace beyond that period of time is to be found, required na
drawing upon ancient and obscure allusions about African navigation to assist in stating known facts. Our author in describing a modern island and people gives it to us in “ the manner of the ancients.” Thus the policy of the planters in giving allotments to the negro slaves, common once in our own colonies, was, it seems, derived from the Romans and their peculiarii! The early state of the French colony is compared to that of Corcyra from Thucydides. The chapter heads have Greek and Latin mottoes, and the first opens with statements from Herodotus, the Bible, and Pliny, about the discovery of Africa, all which is utterly superfluous and out of place. The volume itself is compiled from French accounts of the islands ; Bernardin de St. Pierre, English state documents, Montgomery Martin, and the Colonial Gazette, among the rest. The account of naval operations in the Indian seas, and a good deal of extraneous matter, too, swell the volume out most unreasonably. If a petty island be thus treated, to what extent must other colonies run, India from Alexander the Great, no doubt, and Bencoolen from the time of King Solomon and Ophir. To say nothing of the mother country or empire included in the title, where will the colonies and dependencies stop if the author go back to Ulysses under the head of the Ionian Islands, and to St. Paul for Malta! Mr. Pridham should have tact enough to perceive that such a history as he has projected must, to be successful, consist of condensed facts, confined to authenticated records, and well-ascertained dates of discovery. The design is praiseworthy, but the judgment displayed in the execution cannot receive the same measure of commerdation. Mr. Pridham must forget his college propensities, and use his classic knowledge with more discretion. His compilation is spun out too much, and he has not in consequence availed himself of that advantage which his materials afforded him in obtaining effect by their concentration. A good colonial and statistical history of the British dependencies is much wanted we trust Mr. Pridham will improve in his next volume, and, benefiting by experience, yet supply the existing deficiency in a satisfactory manner. The matter in the present volume shows that such a work, well carried out, will afford both amusement and information. It will serve the purposé also of giving the public an idea of the amazing extent and importance of our colonial possessions, which number in themselves, including India, upwards of one hundred and thirty-three millions of souls.
The statistical tables in the appendix, annexed to the history, are valuable records copied from various sources. The table of the climate of St. Louis is from Montgomery Martin on the same colony, others are from public communications and documents. They are all useful for reference, being particularly full. It is facts like these which are valuable. The system of taxation, the plague-spot of the British colonies from following the example of the mother country and giving extravagant salaries to employés, is here as visible in the state of the finances as elsewhere. The revenue, nearly £300,000 per annum, is about £2 per head, approximating closely to the ratio for the United Kingdom. Yet England is burthened with the pay of the troops and ordnance. Disgraceful, indeed, has been the neglect of our colonies and the extravagance of their establishments. Mr. Pridham has given an account of the natural history of the island, which will be read with interest, generally extracted from the French. Among the birds at the Isle Rodriguez is that remarkable one, the “ Solitaire," a large fowl the size of a turkey, of a very peculiar character. The vegetable productions of the island are also fully detailed and interesting to all who are curious in the beautiful productions of the tropics at once so profuse, various, and splendid.
The climate of the Mauritius is remarkably salubrious for one situated in the tropics. The temperature ranges from 77° to 96° of Fahrenheit in December, the hottest month, and in the coldest from 71° to 75o; but this is at Port Louis, which is extremely warm ; in the interior, and on higher ground it is 70 or 8° lower, with a remarkably pure atmosphere. There are no peculiar maladies in the island. Those of Europe prevail ; locked jaw more commonly than in Europe. Gout and paralysis attack those who are intemperate in diet. The small-pox has been very fatally felt, and cholera has fearfully visited the island. The mortality among the troops is very little above that of Europe, or between three and four per cent. annually. Those who drink arrack and spirits die of delirium tremens. There is much of interest to be found in this work which might be abridged to great advantage. We do not wish to discourage the continuance of such a publication, far from it, but we know that there are certain conditions under which alone it can be successful. We are very certain, too, that there are no obstacles in the way of success more weighty than those which we have pointed out and recommended for removal during its future progress.
GERMAN UNIVERSITY EDUCATION : or, THE PROFESSORS AND STUDENTS OF
GERMANY ; to which is added, a brief Account of the Public Schools of Prussia, with Observations on the Influence of Philosophy on the Studies of the German Universities. By WALTER C. PERRY, Phil. Dr. of the
University of Gottingen. Longman and Co. This is a well-timed publication, and redeems the German character in several of the states from the charge of neglecting popular education. In this good work Prussia stands prominent; then comes Bararia, which, within a mere trifle, expends in education among three millions and a half of population as much as all the German States of Austria ; even in Hanover, under her existing despotism, a large sum in proportion to her revenue is laid out in education. But Prussia is far in advance of the rest. Out of a revenue of eight millions and a half she expends £127,648 sterling in education, and of her youth nearly all must receive the benefit of her fostering care, since out of fifteen millions
or nearly that number of population in her different high and low schools, or in her “ Gymnasia," "Real Schools,” “Middle Schools," and " Elementary Schools," upwards of two millions and a quarter of her popu 'ation are well instructed. Without giving freedom, all is done which can be done. Prussia mainly owes her superiority in education to the reign of Frederick the Great, and an order given by him in 1779 ; but it was not until 1809, that the system was begun which is at present in full force. It commenced under the auspices of such distinguished men as Humboldt, Niebuhr, Nicolovius, &c. The schools are all under the control of the Minister for Ecclesiastical, Educational, and Medical Affairs, in the same manner as the universities, but more indirectly, through subordinate provincial authorities. In every province there is a provincial consistory, to which is committed the charge of the ecclesiastical, medical, and other institutions of its province. This body acts as a sort of privy council to the minister, and has a section called the Provincial-school Collegium for Affairs of Education, having a president, vice-president, and two school councillors, one for the Protestant, the other for the Catholic schools. These last are called Consistorial Councillors, and this body watches over the whole course of instruction in the province. The schools are either wholly Protestant, Catholic, or mixed. In the two first the teachers must be all of the respective creeds, and none but Catholic or United Evangelical Ministers are allowed to give religious instruction in them, which the scholars thus receive from the clergymen of their own church. The officials are, a head director, appointed by the King, who lays down annually the plan of study given out from the central government; he is the censor morum of the other teachers, and can make secret reports upon their conduct ; he enrols new scholars, and examines their testimonials and the scholars themselves. The money affairs of the schools are managed by a standing committee, elected by the local government, whether the funds are from a private foundation or by royal grant. The Director is himself expected to give instruction besides his other duties, from eight to fourteen hours every week. The teachers are of two classes, Ober Lehrer," or Upper Masters, and those who attend to the lower or middle forms, *Ordentliche Lehrer.” There are also assistant masters, or supernumerary teachers. The salaries are very moderate. The scholars are divided into six classes, which they pass through in nine years. The surveillance exercised over the scholar is very strict, even to criticism upon dress, should it be too smart. No corporal punishment is permitted. Obedience and industry are pretty certain to be procnred where the youth well knows that to set his master at defiance he defies all the authorities up to the King himself, and he may be left without testimonials of good conduct which will be ruinous to his views in after-life. The chief evil of the system seems to be that the boys are rendered too serious among a people like the Germans, who have naturally enough of phlegm, and that the happy thoughtlessness of childhood is too soon brought