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SPECIMENS OF FOREIGN STANDARD LITERATURE. Volumes 1. and 11. Philosophical
Miscellanies, translated from the French of Cousin, JOUFFROY, and B. CONSTANT, with Introductory and Critical Notices by GEORGE RIPLEY. Boston: HILLIARD, GRAY AND COMPANY.
To Boston, beside the initiative steps toward the blessings of freedom, we owe many of the brightest productions of the American press. While in other cities haste has marred the beauty and the correctness of typography, and the consumer has been willing to gain time at the expense of that outward grace which beseems the pinductions of the human intellect, the Boston press has at all times been calm and cunscientious, ever issuing publications worthy the dignity of letters. The volumes before us wear the customary aspect of the books of the 'Literary Emporium,' and are among the most valuable of recent publications. The design of giving forth a series of important foreign literary works, which, however familiar many readers may be with the language in which they are written, are rarely to be met with here, is in consonance with the simplifying spirit of the day; with the spirit of restless eager inquiry, seeking to know all of modern discovery which illustrates the science of the intellect. We know not whether, like all light, it comes to us from the East; but the philosophic ray seems every where to shed its beams upon the young national mind; the cant against metaphysics is abolished, and the bigotry of set logical forms is fast disappearing. Men are curious to learn something of the mental texture of powerful thinkers ; to become acquainted with original minds, through their opinions; and this is surely one of the inducements of the universal inquiry respecting not only the simpler, but the most abstruse, forms of philosophie doctrine.
These specimens, so far as a cursory perusal has enabled us to judge of them, serve as an admirable introduction to the modern philosophy of the European continent. Of the qualifications of the editor, we are disposed to entertain a highly favorable opinion; and the three authors selected for his début, are the three brightest stars in the philosophical constellation of France. M. Cousin is already well known to the public, through the medium of Professor Henry's translation of his Psychology; and we believe that in the editor of the 'Boston Quarterly Review,' he has a still more devout and enthusiastic follower. He has been censured as an eclectic; as advocating a characterless philosophy ; flitting from system to system, without venturing to hazard upon any the whole stake of his reputation. But we believe that in this his mind typifies the thought of the day; uncertain, wavering between the past and the present; between history and reality ; between a spiritual philosophy, and the positive tenets of this material age. We are grateful to him, therefore, who has by turns interpreted ancient and modern doctrine, and revealed to us the sublimity of Plato, the casuistry of Descartes, in juxtaposition with the sensualism and transcendentalism of Locke and of Kant. There is something touching in his reverential awe for the master minds. We respect his modesty and unfeigned diffidence, and sympathize in that deference toward superior genius, which hesitates to assign to it its grade in the expensive realms of thought. We would ask, moreover, what is not eclectic in our day? Is it not the common aim to extract from the known universum each essence of beauty, each form of grace? And is not each generation, or rather should it not be, a résumé of all the excellencies of past experience ?
To all the respect of M. Cousin for the primitive thinkers, M. JOUFFROY unites more originality, with less erudition. He is a sober, earnest meditator, whose heart and head seem to have equal share in the formation of his doctrine. He aims at conciseness, and is lucid. He makes war against scepticism, advocates the higher destiny of the human soul, and presents, with great clearness, new illustrations, afforded by the history of philosophy. 'I he name of BENJAMIN CONSTANT, associated with social and intellectual revolutions, strikes a familiar chord in many bosoms. But our speculations are carrying us already too far. We took up the pen to say, that we like the design and execution of these volumes, and not least, because the philosophy they exhibit is eclectic.
The BUBBLES OF CANADA. By Sam Slick. In one volume. Philadelphia : LEA AN
There is a gross deception in the title of this book, of which we imagine that the respectable publishers have been the greatest victims; although it was intended, no doubt, to operate exclusively upon the innocent public. From the imitative 'Bubbles,' stolen from Sir Francis Head, and the popular nom de literature of SAM Slick, readers had a right to expect a work upon Canada and its tribulations, similar in character to the sprightly and amusing volumes heretofore put forth, in the name of that shrewd and sarcastic personage, upon Nova Scotia and Yankee-land, et quibusdam aliis rebus ; but the production before us has neither the lively galloping sketchiness of the gallant baronet, whose favorite attitude of 'standing with folded arms,' will doubtless immortalize his name, nor the quaint humor and keen satirical observation of the already immortal clock-maker. The 'Bubbles of Canada' is in fact nothing more than a solemn attempt to prove that the French Canadians, technically called habilans, are a set of dishonest, mutinous, rebellious rascals; that their recent attempts to meliorate their political condition, were a most unrighteous and outrageous exhibition of ingratitude and treachery; and that there never was in this world a more frightful instance of unprovoked aggression upon British clemency, generosity, and magnanimity. It is the work of a bitter partisan ; ingenious, certainly, and plausible, but not to be taken without very large grains of allowance, at least until we can have an opportunity of knowing what is to be said upon the other side. A very considerable portion of its pages, nearly one half, we should think, is occupied with official documents; and most of the remainder are devoted to a highly-colored narrative of the various contests between the House of Assembly of Lower Canada and the colonial governors; or, in other words, between the habi. tans and what is called 'the British party.' The only portion that we have found interesting, is that giving an account of the feudal tenures, the 'droils de seigneurie,' and sundry other remarkable features of the Canadian system, originally established under the old French government, and still retained as a curious anomaly among the extensive foreign possessions of Great Britain. The book was written for England; and in that light we have no objection to urge against it. But we do protest against the substitution of Sam Slick for the Hon. JUDGE HALIBURTON, on the title-page, as a flagrant and deliberate fraud upon the public.
THE PRINCE AND THE PEDLAR. A Historical Romance. In two volumes, 12mo.
New-York: HARPER AND BROTIIERS.
This very good novel is published with no other clue to the name and sex of the writer, than is afforded in the words, ‘By the author of 'The Heiress,'' Agnes Searle,' and 'The Merchant's Daughter.'' But we, in our sovereign capacity of knowing all that should be known, touching the doings of the literary world, are enabled to lift the veil, and satisfy the natural curiosity of our good friend the public, that always desires a real name on which to bestow its praises and its gratitude. In the present instance, we are the more pleased in having the power to disclose the secret, for that the pertinacity of this author in maintaining the anonymous, has been commented on, somewhat pettishly, as it seemed to us, in two or three of the daily journals. Be it known, then, that the author of The Heiress, etc.,' is an English lady, ELLEN PICKERING by name ; young we hope, pretty we take for granted, and clever' we affirm. Henceforth, let the name of ELLEN PICKERING be enrolled upon the long and brilliant catalogue of accomplished female authors.
Touching the ' Prince and the Pedlar,' as it is the last, so it is by far the best, of her novels. They are all richly endowed with the one most indispensable quality, interest ; but in this one, we perceive more freedom of execution, more vigor of style, more skill in grouping the characters, and more of the artist in bringing out the incidents, than in either of the others. Ellen Pickering was a novice in authorcraft when she wrote 'The Heiress;' she made her people all too good or too bad; lacked ingenuity in the management of her plots; and above all, she made her ladies and gentlemen talk a vast deal 100 much, and too much like books. In 'The Prince and the Pedlar' there is little of the latter fault, and of the others none at all. Of the story itself, we will give no account, not even an outline; for the tale is one that many of our readers have doubtless made acquaintance with already, and those who have not, will be kind enough to take our advice, and do so as speedily as may be. It is for their own comfort and solace, that we impart the counsel.
Views OF THE ARCHITECTURE OF THE HEAVENs. In a series of Letters to a Lady. By J. P. NICHOL, LL. D., F. R. S. E., Professor of Practical Astronomy in the University of Glasgow. In one volume. pp. 222. Edinburgh: WILLIAM Tait. London : SIMPKIN AND MARSHALL.
A more remarkable, nay, astounding book, we have not read in a long time. It gives, in clear and intelligible language, divested of technicalities, and those formidable calculations, which make works on astronomy so puzzling to unlearned readers, a general idea of the modern discoveries effected by Sir John HERSCHEL with his father's mighty telescopes, and by STRUVE, and other European observers, with the splendid instruments of the FRAUENHOFFERS; as also of the magnificent conclusions at which these eminent persons have arrived, respecting the far-off wonders of the starry heavens. We cannot undertake to give even an outline of these amazing results and speculations; nor is it needful, as the book itself will ere long be forthcoming; but we will attempt a specimen, merely as a foretaste to our readers of the great things about to be offered for their study and their wonder.
The grandest feature of the theory now set forth — and it is founded on startling discoveries — is the belief, that the starry firmament which we behold, and of which our solar system is but an inconsiderable portion, is one only among thousands and perhaps millions of such firmaments, each numbering its thousands upon thousands of stars, or rather suns, all attended by their systems of planets, satellites, comets, and perhaps other bodies to which science has yet affixed no name. Each of these firmaments, or mighty clusters, is supposed to have its perfect organization of times, and motions, and laws, by which these are governed; all the planets revolving orderly around their respective suns, and all the suns around some common centre, and all the clusters, or firmaments, revolving also, in orbits of inconceivable im. mensity, and in periods of which thousands of centuries are perhaps but elements.
Among the most brilliant discoveries of the present age, is that of suns in combination : double, triple, quadruple, and even quintuple stars have been distinctly seen in conjunctive revolution; with planets revolving around each, as it is believed, and all together, suns and planets, whirling around some common centre of attraction; and what is very curious, these stars are found to be of different colors; some of a dazzling white, others fiëry red, and others again of a brilliant blue; the whole variety of tint being detected in the same combination; the effect of which upon the hues of objects on the planets which these suns illuminate, must be wonderfully beautiful. But the most astonishing discovery, is that of an anonialous filmy substance, the nature of which has scarcely been even conjectured, existing in enormous masses, millions of times larger than our sun; and this is found in such a regularly progressive variety of forms, that it is believed to be the material of which new suns and planets are constantly in the process of formation; and it is even thought, by some of the most eminent astronomers, that they have discovered, not only the succession of forms through which it passes, in becoming regularly organized sidereal and planetary bolies, but even the very mode in which the transformation is effected. Such, oh reader! are a few of the stupendous revelations in Dr. Nicholl's' Architecture of the Heavens,' which is in progress of publication, as we hear, by the BROTHERS' HARPER.
BIOGRAPHY OF REVOLUTIONARY Heroes: Containing the Life of Brigadier General
William BARTON, and Captain STEPHEN Olney. By Mrs. WILLIAMS, Author of 'Religion at Home,' etc. In one volume. pp. 312. Providence: THE AUTHOR. New-York: WILEY AND PUTNAM.
If a copy of this small but comprehensive volume had reached us at an earlier period of the month, we should have given it an elaborate notice, which is more than our present limits will permit. Especially, should we have transferred to our pages certain noble sentiments, which we find in the preface; although we must needs have found occasion, also, to animadvert upon the foisting in of a discussion touching the affairs of a neighboring province, in mischievous connexion with thoughts and opinions, which would have won the suffrages of all readers. The tone of American spirit and feeling which pervade this portion of the work, has our heartiest commendation. The fearless truths in relation to the abuses of certain classes in Ame rican society; the sincere and heart-felt tribute to the patriots of the revolution; and the defence of women, with an exposition of their influence, deserve earnest approval and heed. Of the work itself we may say, that it is elaborate in relevant matter, and yet in manner concise. Even the facts which are not new, receive a fresh gloss at the hands of the author; while numerous circumstances, incidents, and anecdotes, for which we are indebted to the indefatigable research of the writer, impart additional interest to the work. We commend it, with confidence and pleasure, to every whole-hearted American, under whose eye these remarks may fall.
Rev. Mr. Bascom's Sketch Of The Great CATARACT. — The following picture of Niagara, is from the pen of an eloquent divine, with whose high reputation our readers are not unacquainted. To those who have seen the Falls, it will recommend itself fur its vivid truth; and to those who have not, we commend the writer's introductory note to the editor.
•My Dear Sir: In complying with your request, to furnish you with the following letter, for publication in the KNICKERBOCKER MAGAZINE, I must clain the protection of one of the most indulgent canons of criticism; that which suggests, that every production, claiming to be a merc revelation of personal impression and private feeling, should be judged of mainly in view of the mind's peculiar state, in giving it birth. The annexed sketch, except the last paragraph, was written upon an angle of Table Rock,' at the instance, and for the exclusive gratification, of a friend, and without any, the mo:t remote, reference to publication, then or subsequently. It was produced under the influence of high-wrought feeling, and does little more than reveal the heart's mythology, in presence of one of the inost fearful manifestations of the power and grandeur of physical uature. If the feeling which gave birth to the fragment you have asked for publication, be responded to by the reader, I have nothing to regret, and nothing farther to hope for.
Very truly and sincerely, New-York, February, 1839.
H. B. BASCOM.
Cataract of Niagara, September 9, 18, My Dear E- -:I have seen, surveyed, and communed with the whole !- and awed and bewildered, as if enchanted before the revealment of a mystery, I attempt to write. You ask me, in your last, for some detailed, veritable account of the Falls, and I should be glad to gratify you; but how shall I essay to paint a scene, that so utterly baffles all conception, and renders worse than fruitless every attempt at description ? In five minutes after my arrival, on the evening of the fifth, I descended the winding. path from the 'Pavilion,' on the Canadian side, and for the first time in my life, saw this unequalled cascade from "Table Rock ;' the whole indescribable scene, in bold outline, bursting on my view at once. I had heard and read much, and imagined more, of what was before me. I was perfectly familiar with the often-told, the far-travelled story of what I saw; but the overpowering reality on which I was gazing, motionless as the rock on which I stood, deprived me of recollection, annihilated all curiosity; and with emotions of sublimity till now unfelt, and all unearthly, the involuntary exclamation escaped me, 'God of Grandeur! what a scene!'
But the majesty of the sight, and the interest of the moment, how depict them ? Tie huge implitude of water, tumbling in foam above, and dashing on, arched and pillared as it glides, until it reaches the precipice of the chute, and then, in one vast column, bounding, with maddening roar and rush, into the depths beneath, presents a spectacle so unutterably appalling, that language falters; words are no longer signs, and I despair giving you any adequate idea of what I saw and felt. Yet this is not all. The eye and the mind necessarily take in other objects, as parts of the grand pano