« PreviousContinue »
world, as well as a blessing to the new, we hold such result to be in no small degree due to the conservative spirit infused into it at its formation and in its early progress by the governing mind of Hamilton. In the expression of this sentiment, we are fully cleared from any charge of prejudice by the impartial yet equally favorable judgment of a highly philosophic foreigner and historian-one who, beyond, perhaps, all other European writers, has most deeply studied our history, our government, and the lives of its great founders. 'Hamilton,' says Guizot, in his late work on the character of Washington, must be classed among the men who have best known the vital principles and the fundamental conditions of a government-not of a government such as this, (France,) but of a government worthy of its mission and of its fame. There is not in the constitution of the United States an element of order, of force, or of duration, which he has not powerfully contributed to introduce into it and caused to predominate.'
"Of such a man, an adequate biography is obviously a task of no slight labor, of no private bearing, and of no temporary influence. It is, on the contrary, a work of national interest and national magnitude, and rightly executed, a national blessing; for it forms, we may say and will continue in all coming time to form, part of the natural heritage and birthright of all who live under the shadow of the American constitution that constitution which Hamilton labored to found and lived but to interpret. It is their birthright, we say, and it will be their duty to become duly instructed in the lifelabors and living principles of him whom we may not fear to name if to any, such name may be appropriated as its earliest and most zealous advocate, its most eminent framer, most eloquent defender, soundest expositor, and ablest practical statesman. It is in this light that we look at the life of Hamilton - as a national work and a people's study; and shall do our endeavor so to impress it on the minds of our readers."
This article is followed by a review of RANKE's 'Ecclesiastical and Political History of the Popes of Rome, during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries,' which, with the succeeding paper, we regret we have not found leisure to peruse. We would commend to our readers the full and conclusive exposition of the Northeastern Boundary Question, contained in the review of Mr. GALLATIN's pamphlet. The article is illustrated by a good map of the entire region, and will attract much attention at this moment, owing to the renewed agitation of the subject. 'Critical Notices' form the closing article; and among them, we are glad to see a cordial welcome given, by a scholar and a tasteful critic, to the excellent 'Greek Reader' of Professor FELTON. No small sectional jealousies, it will be observed, are permitted to interfere with the verdicts of the NewYork Review' upon works which reflect honor on the scholarship of our common country. The noble 'School District Library' of the Brothers HARPER is warmly and justly commended. We should not omit to add, that the Review makes its appearance in a new dress, which does credit to the care of the publisher, Mr. A. V. BLAKE, Gold
HARPERS' SCHOOL DISTRICT LIBRARY. - We are glad to perceive that this invaluable series, which has been so warmly commended in the KNICKERBOCKER, has attracted the attention of our state government. Governor SEWARD, in a paragraph of his late excellent message, observes:
"There are about eleven thousand school districts in the state. Of these school districts, there are very few which have not complied with the act providing for the establishment of school district libraries, and there are, at this time, in these various district libraries about one million of volumes. Within the five years limited by the law, there will have been expended in the purchase of books more than half a million of dollars. These libraries include general history and biography, voyages and travels, works on natural history and the physical sciences, treatises upon agriculture, commerce, manufactures and the arts, and judicious selections from modern literature. Henceforth no citizen who shall have improved the advantages offered by our common schools, and the district libraries, will be without some scientific knowledge of the earth, its physical condition and phenomena, the animals that inhabit it, the vegetables that clothe it with verdure, and the minerals under its surface; the physiology and the intellectual powers of man, the laws of mechanics, and their practical uses, those of chemistry, and their application to the arts, the principles of moral and political economy, the history of nations, and especially that of our own country, the progress and triumph of the democratic principle in the governments on this continent, and the prospects of its ascendancy throughout the world, the trials and faith, valor and constancy of our ancestors, with all the inspiring examples of benevolence, virtue and patriotism exhibited in the lives of the benefactors of mankind. The fruits of this enlightened and beneficent enterprise are chiefly to be gathered by our successors. But the present generation will not be altogether unrewarded. Although many of our citizens may pass the district library, heedless of the treasures it contains, the unpretending volumes will find their way to the fireside, diffusing knowledge, increasing domestic happiness, and promoting public virtue.'
A GOSSIP WITH READERS AND CORRESPONDENTS. The reader will find in the present number a foretaste of much that we believe will afford him high gratification in subsequent issues. The 'Notes of a Non-Combatant, on Service in the Mediterranean,' are but the opening passages of a series, upon which the writer-a distinguished author and divine will now enter; and we may safely predict that they will be deemed to possess decided and various interest. 'The Country Doctor,' by the author of 'Peter Cram at Tinnecum,' 'The Kushow Property,' etc., will attract immediate attention; and if we do not greatly mistake its promise, it will prove one of the most popular series we have recently given to the public. The writer will pardon us, but we cannot forbear to say, that in our judgment he paints as it were from a daguerreotype view, imprinted on his mind; sketching by a species of mental camera-lucida. Apropos : Doctor ASPEN's episode of tooth-drawing, reminds us of a country patient somewhat akin to his, who called one morning upon one of our most eminent dentists, being 'troubled with a raging tooth,' which he wished extracted. Seating himself, the polished instrument was displayed before his eyes, and the next instant the tormentor was placed in his hand. 'Well, doctor,' said he, 'how much d' you tax for that job? Guy! but you did it quick, though!' 'My terms,' replied the dentist, 'are one dollar.' 'A dollar!—for half a minute's work! O-n-e Do-l-l-ar!!?? THUNDER!! Why, a doctor down t' our place drawed a tooth for me two years ago, and it took him two hours. He dragged me all round the room, and lost his grip half a dozen times. I never see such hard work; and he only charged me twenty-five cents. A dollar for a minute's work! O git aëout!- you must be jokin'! This economical victim was but following out the popular utilitarian doctrine, that the labor necessary to produce a result, should form its standard of value. . . Said we not well, that Mr. STREET'S lines on 'The Gray Forest Eagle' was a noble poem?' ... We welcome our three new contributors, the authors of 'Tutorism,' the exciting story of Caleffi, the Carbonaro,' and the desultory essay on 'Physiognomy.' How striking is the picture drawn in the first, of the inexpressible cheerlessness of a private tutor's lot! The digression upon noses, the last-named article, should have included the apostrophe of
the facetious author of 'Absurdities:'
'Knows he, that never took a pinch,
Which my nose knows?
Oh, Nose! I am as proud of thee
In the lines' To New-York,' a popular contributor has gone far to show that the name is not so ill fitted for poetry as GEOFFREY CRAYON contended; at least he has proved that there is poetry in the subject. With the spirit to enjoy the prosperity that follows a course of honorable success, and with that success, one may write as does our correspondent, of the city. But yet might he not, of his own observation, say in the language of another, that there is nothing the imagination can picture more forlorn, than the poor stranger who for the first time threads the streets of a crowded city? Hope whispers to him that what has once been accomplished may again be renewed in his person, and already he rides in his coach with gilded trappings, and has servants to attend upon his person. But how many have entered that great city, full of high hopes for the future, and sanguine in their dreams of glory! How few of these were heard of more, or escaped being swallowed up in the thousands whose portion is misery! Every where they moved, they found a barrier to oppose them. Here, Pride poured down disdain upon them, and spurned their modest talents; there, Pleasure wooed them with her thousand lures, and left them at last victims to despair. Deceit, fraud, cunning, drew their coils around them; till, stunned and perplexed, they sunk unresistingly into the snare, and vanished from the crowd of strugglers. Now and then,
it may be, one emerges from the mass, pale, care-worn, and unquiet. He has attained his object; he has wealth, and he may sit down to taste of those luxuries which haunted his young day-dreams. Alas! he has no longer the taste for enjoyment! He has grown cold and selfish; his old friendships have long ceased to exist; he could not keep them in 'the world;' and, though there are many round him, he knows they envy his wealth, and care little for its owner. Riches have brought their penalty: he is suspicious, and his nights are spent in watching. He has no joys, no pleasures; but he has a splendid funeral when he dies, and a tomb-stone, which records that Peter Jones raised himself by his own industry to affluence, and died at the age of seventytwo, full of infirmities, and (so says the stone) charity of the world. Something is added by way of example to others, but not a syllable of the soul-stricken sinner who, before he died, reluctantly confessed that his toil had been all labor ill spent, and that he would willingly have given up all his wealth, to be the poor, happy, honest lad who entered town with but three cents in his pocket, but a store of content at his heart worth all the honors that ever devolved on care-bent shoulders.' . . . For the first time in two years, the monthly leaves from the 'CRAYON PAPERS' have failed to arrive. They were placed by the author himself in one of the post-offices near his residence in the country, more than ten days since; but from some unaccountable cause, have never reached the NewYork Post-office. Should the Ms. not arrive, it will be re-written in season for our next number. . . . We can promise our readers a series of letters, of rare interest, from a distinguished naturalist, who has started upon a tour to the coast of California, by the way of the West India Islands and Isthmus of Darien. The writer, in company with an eminent fellow savan, will explore California, particularly the coast, after which he will visit the Columbia River, and return across the mountains, advising us continually, of all that he may encounter, of a remarkable or interesting character. . . . Among the other papers for the forthcoming numbers, are, 'The Country Doctor,' continued; Sketches of Life in the West, by Mrs. MARY CLAVERS; Retrospections of a BrokenHearted Belle, by the author of 'Love's Labor Lost:' 'St. John,' and 'The Funeral Tree of the Sokokis,' by J. G. WHITTIER; and 'The Sons of France.' . . . It has not been our wont to allude to the opinions which are expressed by the public journals of our successive issues, nor to the comments that contributors, strangers and widely separated, occasionally make upon each other's performances, in their private letters to the editor; but we might be deemed lacking in gratitude, not to say courtesy, did we forbear cordially to thank our contemporaries of the press throughout the country, for the gratifying tribute they have paid to the first number of our Seventeenth Volume; and we must be pardoned for once so far departing from our hitherto invariable custom, as to quote a few passages from our recent letters; premising, that the commentators and querists are gentlemen whose praise is praise, and that of the highest order. One who has himself been in great request by his fellow contributors, writes as follows: The January KNICKERBOCKER is the best number I have ever seen of the work. Who is JOHN WATERS? He is a most charming writer! CHARLES LAMB does not excel him in original felicity of thought and expression. IRVING's 'Dutch Paradise' is in his best vein. The poetical contributions of the KNICKERBOCKER are excellent; but I cannot tell you how much I admire Professor LONGFELLOW's poem. There is something strangely grand and solemn about it. It rings in my ears all the time. Every verse of it is the chapter of a romance. How admirable is that chapter which represents the maiden and her warrior-father, and the minstrels mute at the Pirate's audacity, and old Hildebrand's laugh of scorn blowing the foam from the tankard.' Another correspondent, who graces the same number, writes: 'I will pit the January 'OLD KNICK' for 1841 against that of any monthly, indigenous or exotic, betwixt this and Terra Incog. CASS writes like the sound, hearty American that he is. As for the author of 'Peter Cram,' 'whoever he be or not,' I extend him my hand. He is a benefactor; for he made me forget a protested draft. I think I see Peter at the sheet-iron black-board: What's them things?' 'Them, my friends, is minims.' 'We don't want no minims!
We want Old Hundred! What could be richer than that whole scene, unless it were the interview with the pliable editor of the Tinnecum Gazette?'... 'Who,' writes another, 'is GEORGE HILL? Is his a nom de plume, or a veritable cognomen? His old Oak, standing up 'every inch a king,' in the solemn forest, with his courtiers, 'nature's nobility,' around him, clad in their gorgeous autumnal robes, is the conception of a true poet.' Our correspondent is behind his contemporaries. Mr. HILL is not unknown to fame. He is the author of 'The Ruins of Athens,' and 'Titania's Banquet,' a little volume of poetry which we commend to the immediate perusal of our friend. Moreover, he finds leisure from honorable responsibilities in the State Department at Washington, occasionally to send forth a poetical 'fugitive,' which the world will not willingly let die. Witness the following quaint effusion, which we select from several poems of Mr. HILL, in BRYANT'S 'American Poets :'
Ir will be observed, that a copy-right is secured for each number of the KNICKERBOCKER. The object of this measure is, not to deny to our contemporaries in the country the privilege of selecting such portions of its contents as may suit their taste, but to prevent the 'mammoth journals' of the Atlantic cities from taking from this Magazine, as soon as published, those papers and series of papers which cost us an annual outlay of thousands, and parading them, with puffs preliminary and reverberatory, as the chief attractions of their sheets. This cannot now be done, without a violation of our copy-right, which the proprietor has taken every requisite precaution instantly to protect. The protection which we thus secure, we observe the London and Edinburgh magazine publishers are likewise obtaining, by sending their publications here in sufficient quantities to supply American readers with the original editions, at greatly reduced prices, and fifteen days in advance.'
OUR ARTISTS. We have looked in recently upon three or four of our artists, to refresh recollections, in this deep winter-time, of the country in summer, as depicted in landscape-scenes, or to enjoy the loveliness of the human face divine, as embodied in the beautiful conceptions of the artist, or imaged forth from the cunningst patterns of excelling nature.' We can glance at but a few examples. INMAN, who plays with colors as Light does in the summer evening west, has completed a picture for a gentleman of liberality and great good taste, in a sister city, which will make lovers of all young male beholders. It is extremely simple, being nothing more than a young damsel, who has just removed her mask, and 'stands confessed,' one of the loveliest of her sweet sex. We have somewhere read (it was not in BYRON, we think,) a description of just such a face and such an eye; such a mouth, and such a bust; and such an arm, with its dimpling flesh, as INMAN has depicted from his own beau ideal; but we miss the passage. We found the same artist putting the last touches to a landscape, a Fishing Scene in one of our mountainous midland counties, which would create a soul under the ribs of IZAAK WALTON. A broad, clear stream, rippling or undulating over a low ledge, is in the foreground, with anglers 'drawing in,' or fixing the lure; on the right rise abrupt two verdant mountains, that bathe their rocky feet in the pellucid current; while in the distance opens a sunny upland vista, one of the most charming bits of accessory landscape we have seen for many a day. In short, this little picture is a leaf from the book of nature, torn out at a very interesting passage. . . . HUNTINGTON, with his gifted fellow-artist, GRAY, has returned from Rome, and is with us again. He has greatly improved, well as he painted before his departure. Beside an occasional portrait, he is engaged upon an original picture, which, judging from its under-colors only, will prove his chef d'œuvre. The hint is taken from the 'Pilgrim's Progress,' and is an embodiment of Mercy's dream in the House Beautiful. The design and execution of this picture, we may safely predict, will win for Mr. HUNTINGTON new laurels. But we shall see. C. G. THOMPSON, into whose studio we popped in his absence, 'keeps due on,' we perceive. We remarked, among other productions, a fine portrait of Rev. ORVILLE DEwey, in which, while the poetry or sentiment of the art is preserved, we yet recognized a capital likeness. But the most prominent effort of our friend is a scene from Ossian, which has tasked the artist's powers successfully, and to which, when finished, we shall more particularly advert. . . . In sculpture we hear little that is new. KNEELAND has just completed a bust of a distinguished legal gentleman in Wall-street, which is undoubtedly the best work of art that has ever proceeded from his hand. BRACKETT, beside producing two or three busts which evince his continued progress, has entered upon a complicated group of statuary, which will exhibit his genius, should he prove successful, in a more enlarged point of view. We shall keep him in our eye.'
'HENRY VENOLA, THE DUELIST.'- The modest preface to this little poem, with a note which accompanied the work to the editor, should disarm criticism. Aside from these, however, we may say, that 'Henry Venola' contains many passages which convince us that the writer is capable of a performance of more sustained excellence, and which show, by their marked contrast with tame, irregular, and prosaic lines, that the author has not written with sufficient deliberation, nor revised his production with adequate care. He gives evident token, however, of better efforts hereafter. Philadelphia: HERMAN HOOKER.
'CONFESSIONS OF A QUACK.' — A gentleman of Louisville, Kentucky, as we gather from a correspondent, has ready for the press a volume thus entitled, the design of which is, to convey in a style of simple narrative, a severe satire upon the various quackeries of the day; interspersed with a few humorous and moral tales, to relieve the monotony of a continuous narrative. In capable hands, the subject and plan proposed can scarcely fail to prove attractive.