« PreviousContinue »
Treatise, “The Brain, the common organ, losopher borrowed from his predecessor. The of all the senses.” Truly, the new thoughts sum of the doctrine is contained in the tenth come out of the old books, or as Dan Chau- and last paragraph: “And from hence, also, cer has declared :
it followeth, that whatsoever accidents or
qualities our senses make us think there be "Out of the olde fieldes, as men saithe,
in the world, they be not there, but are seemCometh all this newe corne,
yere; And out of the olde bookes, in good faithe,
ing apparitions only; the things that are Cometh all this newe science that men lere.” really in the world without us, are those
motives by which these seemings are caused. Rochefoucault's definition of Pity is almost And this is the great deception of sense, identical with that given by Hobbes, who which also is to be by sense corrected: for, styles it, “Imagination, or fiction of future as sense telleth me when I see directly, that calamity to ourselves, proceeding from the the color seemeth to be in the object; so, also, sense of another man's calamity." sense telleth me when I see by reflection,
After making, as we thought, quite a dis- that color is not in the object." covery, we found Hazlitt had, long before, We will conclude this discursive paper by pointed out the whole thing. So most of quoting a common saying, that has passed the new revelations of modern criticism are into a proverb: “The worth of a thing is merely“ new-found old inventions,” accord- what it 'll bring,” neatly framed into one of ing to Butler. Chap. II. is an Essay on the most telling couplets of Hudibras. In Idealism, a Berkleian speculation. Now, Hobbes, we find it thus expressed: “So Hobbes died in 1679, Berkeley was born much worth is every thing, as a man will in 1684, and it is fair to infer the later phi- I give for all it can do."
NILE NOTES OF A HOWADJI.*
From the days of Herodotus to those of glish language. We are of honest Dogthe Howadji, every thing that related to the berry's opinion, that “comparisons are East, the country that the latter terms pecu- odorous,” but must say, that of the books we liarly the property of the imagination, has have referred to, we think Eöthen stands at been seized upon and read with eagerness the head. Those happy combinations of a and avidity. Such an interest has always fascinating subject and a fascinating style, attached to the subject itself, that we have have rendered us more fastidious than forfelt disposed to be more lenient with books merly with all Eastern travellers who turn that purported to be a record of Oriental authors; and we are now as much disposed to travel
, than with the continental tours with apply a severe test of criticism to descripwhich we have been inundated for many tions of Thebes and Cairo, and sentimental years. But several works upon the East lucubrations beside the pyramids or under have been published of late, by writers who, the palms, as to any scenes in Italy, or adhering to the good old catholic doctrine of ramblings on the Continent. The charm of Dr. Blair, “ that all that can be required of the East, since we have seen the subject so language is to convey our ideas clearly to skilfully and admirably treated, is no longer the minds of others, and at the same time sufficient to compensate for blemishes of in such a dress, as by pleasing and interest- taste or diction, in the notes of the traveller. ing them, shall most effectually strengthen We ventured upon the perusal of the book, the impressions we endeavor to make,” whose title stands at the head of this article, wrote with gracefulness and ease, with man- with expectations founded upon the excesliness and vigor, disdained all affectations, sive laudations of it that we saw in many and were above playing tricks with the En-1 of the daily journals, and regret to state
* Nile Notes of a Howadji. New-York: Harper & Brothers.
that we have seldom closed a book, written similar specimens, but deem the foregoing by a person of so much genius, against sufficient. We must, however, give the which we had charges to make of a more opening of the 21st chapter: “ We deserious nature. We have marked for parted at dawn. Before a gentle gale the reprehension in our copy of “Nile Notes " Ibis fleetly flew in the star-light, serenaded many inelegancies of expression, passages by the Sallias ;" and with this exquisite of false and twaddling sentiment, and viola-" morseau ” we close our alliterated extracts. tions of the rules of syntax and of good All affectations in literature are offensive, taste; all faults of great magnitude, and and it is extremely painful to see an attempt which we shall notice more particularly made to revive practices in writing, that the hereafter. But to our mind, the cardinal fault purer taste of modern times has decided to of the book, and the one that disfigures it be unsuitable to a chaste and natural style ; more than any, perhaps than all, of the and although the figure of words that conothers, and upon which we shall bestow the sists in the repetition of the same letter or most extended notice, is the affectation of letters at certain intervals, and is termed in alliterated sentences, with which almost rhetoric alliteration, was indulged in occaevery page is crowded; and after giving our sionally by some of the oldest and best readers a few specimens with which our au- writers—chiefly in poetry however—it is rethor has favored us, we propose to make a garded at the present day as a trivial and few observations on what we have always affected decoration of words, and an instance considered to be one of the most ridiculous of false refinement, and cannot be tolerated and puerile of literary follies that have been except in a work of a humorous or burlesque recorded, and which we think no power, cer- nature. When any folly is indulged in to tainly not that of the genius of the Howadji
, a great extent, the very extravagances into can render again popular. But although which it runs is the cause of its total abanthe success of such an aitempt would be as donment. Such was the fate of allitehopeless as deplorable, we do not, on that ration, which was carried to such lengths account, think the person making it less that its absurdity became apparent to deserving of censure. On one page alone all, and it went out of favor with the our author treats us with “two towels," public. Disraeli tells us of the “ Ecloga “ lickerous larder," "sharp stimulants," de Calois," by Hugbold the Monk, all the “ most melancholy," " remote regions," " i11- words of which silly work began with a ness and inability,”. “ landing at lonely," C; and also of a translation of the moral
provisions previously sent on shore for the proverbs of Christiana of Pisa, made by purpose at an admirable advance," " grown the Earl of Rivers, in the time of Edgrisly,” “spectrally sliding," "story with ward IV., the greater part of which he sardonic smiles,” “demoniac dragomen," contrived to conclude with the letter E; an sang the slowest of slow songs." instance, he observes, of his lordship's hard
We cull a few more of these flowers of application, and the bad taste of an age literature from some other
“ Shines which Lord Oxford said had witticisms and not the Syrian sun suddenly," " dirt and whims to struggle with, as well as ignorance. direful deformity,” “ dumb secrets are but Now every such instance is the “ reductio soft shadows and shining lights," " sitting ad absurdum" of such a practice. It is solemn saddening but successful," "trebly from the purpose" of writing, and though flies the Ibis while the sun sets," “ dashed it make the unskilful laugh, yet it cannot with dying light,". "cultivate chimney but make the judicious grieve." It is a corners and chuckle," " solid sin sticks method of courting notoriety that seems steadfastly," “ sharp surges of sound swept," more ridiculous to us than that of the incen" music still swelled savagely in maddened diary of Ephesus, and we shall always exmonotony of measure," "make or maintain press our dislike at such attempts. Every an otherwise monotonous mass of misery,” thing that attracts attention from the mat
sedately sail for stranger scenery," seems ter to the style should be discountenanced. it too seriously symbolical,” “swallow-like We should not think of tolerating a writer of follow the summer, and shuffle off the coil modern times, who indulged in that figure of care at Cairo,” &c. &c. We might fill of words termed Antanaclasis, which conour pages, as the Howadji has done, with sists in the repetition of words the same in
sound, but not in sense. Instances of this, I and was shoved back beyond glass.” The as well as of alliteration, occur in the writ- incorrectness of the first part of this senings of Cicero, who stands pre-eminent tence is overshadowed by the inelegance of among elegant writers; but at the present the last part, that we have italicized. Sacday it is reckoned a defect
, and not a beauty rifices of elegance are allowable, if thereby a in style. Yet in the time of Henry II., this greater force of expression is obtained; but childish and unmeaning folly prevailed to in this case the Howadji has gained nothing such an extent, that no poem or prose-writ- in vigor, and is singularly inelegant.' He ing could be popular if it did not abound has attempted to be quaint, and is only in instances of it.
clumsy. Were it possible for such follies to be re- On page 58 we have the following: “We vived, we might expect to see verses again were in the dream of the death of the deadest assume the grotesque shapes of pillars, bot- land.” tles, lozenges, rhomboids, Cupids, hearts and On page 253: “Yet he will have a sealtars, as in a former age. But we will not creter sympathy with those forms than with insult the public taste, by presuming for a any temple, how grand or graceful soever.' moment such a thing possible.
Whose grammar does the Howadji use? Alliteration was conisdered to bave a On page 66: “Over my head was the kind of natural connection with imitative dreamy murmurousness of summer inharmony, and occurred most frequently sects swarming in the warm air." where the sound was an echo to the sense; On page 134; "The sharp surges of sound but our author, instead of attempting to revive swept around the room, dashing in regular it in its least objectionable shape, although measure against her movelessness.” in that sufficiently absurd, has plunged at On page 173: “It lingers on the verge once into extravagance, and forcibly brings of the vortex, then unpausing plunges in." in words without regard to their fitness, On page 202: “Should we not have solely because the first letter or syllable is black balled the begirted Aristides ?” similar to that of the word that preceded And whose dictionary? or follows it. A puerile or senseless affecta- Such sentences as the following would be tion, that cannot be animadverted upon unpardonable in a school-boy's composition, with too much severity. We confess that and the youth who should be guilty of them we should have read his book with more pleas- would richly deserve to have the rules of ure, had he, after having selected a word that syntax flogged into him :was appropriate, repeated it several times, or Page 120:“And so frailtywas all boated referred us in a note or otherwise to the letters up the Nile to Esne. Not quite, and even in the Dictionary that the word commenced if it had been, Abbas Pacha, grandson of with for other words commencing with the Mahommed Alee, and at the request of the same. Either of these two methods, we think, old Pacha's daugher, has boated it all back would have been superior to the one he has again." adopted, and with the latter we could have Page 156: “Nation of beggars effortless, alliterated his sentences at our leisure, if we effete, bucksheesh is its prominent point of had any inclination to do so at all, without contact with the Howadji
, who revisiting having it interfere with the perusal of his the Nile in dreams hears far sounding and narrative.
for ever, 'Alms, O shopkeeper !'” We proceed now to notice some of the Page 173: “Confusion confounded, desoother faults that we alluded to in a former lated desolation, never sublime yet always page, and to give a few of the most glaring solemn, with a sense of fate in the swift instances. On the route to Boubek, see page rushing waters, that creates a somber inter17, our author meets men with hog-skinsslung i est not all inhuman, but akin to dramatic over their backs full of water. This sight re- intensity.” minds him of the remark in Scripture, "Nei- Page 179: "Followed much monosyllather do ye put new wine into old bottles,” bic discourse, also grave grunting and a little and carries him back to the time when glass more salaaming among the belated sinners." bottles were an unknown luxury. To ex- We confess to a prejudice in favor of the press this he says, “I remembered the land subjects and attributes of sentences being and the time of putting wine into old bottles, I placed in the natural order of syntax.
The following is perhaps as flagrant an marked by us to be noticed, but we will not instance of a want of purity of style as any trespass upon the good nature of our readers. in the book :
The chapters entitled Fair Frailty and Page 135: “Form so perfect was never Terpsichore are not deficient in warmth of yet carved in marble—not the Venus is so coloring certainly, but we must speak of mellowly moulded. Her outline has not the them in terms of condemnation. We are voluptuousness which is not too much- not over-fastidious in such matters, but we which is not perceptible to mere criticism, consider the glowing descriptions of voluptuand is more a flushing along the form than ous dances, and observations upon many and a greater fulness of the form itself. The allusions to other Oriental manners and cusGreek Venus was sea-born, but our Egyptian toms that occur in these chapters, to be deis sun-born. The brown blood of the sun cidedly objectionable in a book that is inburned along her veins—the soul of the sun tended (to use a favorite advertising phrase) streamed shaded from her eyes. She was still
, to occupy a place upon the drawing-room almost statuesquely still
. When she danced, table. There are some “ melancholy mysit was only stillness intensely stirred." teries” (to adopt an expression of our au
We should like to know how stillness thor) into which we have not the slightest looks when it is intensely stirred, and how disposition to pry, and concerning which we much it can be stirred without ceasing to be should prefer that the fairer and purer porstillness, or if the more it is stirred the stiller tion of our race should remain profoundly it becomes ?
ignorant. The Howadji gets sentimental under the We have made the foregoing remarks in palms, and discourses as follows, page 148: no spirit of cavilling or unkindness. Did
the book before us not display unmistakable “I knew a palm-tree upon Capri; it stood in select evidences of talent, we should not have nosociety of shining fig leaves and lustrous oleanders; ticed it to such an extent. But it contains it overhung the balcony, and so looked far overleaning down upon the blue Mediterranean. Through many passages of remarkable power and the dream mists of Southern Italian noons, it looked great beauty, that prove to us conclusively up the broad bay of Naples and saw vague
Vesu. that the author possesses the ability to vius melting away, or at sunset the isles of the Sy- achieve a work that shall be an addition to rens, whereon they singing sat and wooed Ulysses the literature of his country. Let him but as he went; or in the full May moonlight the oranges disabuse his mind of the idea that alliteraof Sorrento shone across it, great and golden permanent plants of that delicious dark. And from tion is an embellishment; let him cease to the Sorrento where Tasso was born it looked construct sentences on principles of his own, across to pleasant Posylippo, where Virgil is and bestow more attention to purity, proburied, and to stately Ischia. The Palm of Capri saw all that was fairest and most famous in the priety, and precision, (the alliteration is ac. Bay of Naples.
cidental ;) let him be content to take the A wandering poet whom I knew sang a sweet English language as he finds it, and be caresong to the Palm, as he dreamed in the moonlightful in his more sentimental moods lest he upon that balcony. But it was only the free, make that fatal step from the sublime, and masonry of sympathy. It was only syllabled moonshine. For the Palm was a Poet, and all he will write books that we shall have bound Palms are Poets."
in crimson and gold, and give more than
one attentive perusal. His nature is often “Palmam qui meruit ferat,” say we, ven- finely touched, and to fine issues. He has turing, at the expense of good taste, on a keen sense of the noble, the beautiful, and the confines of a joke; but this seems to us the ludicrous ; the eye of an artist and the to be the most maudlin sentiment and un- soul of a true poet; great power of descripmeaning twaddle that could well be ima- tion, a good command of language, and at gined. "It is fustian raised to its highest times an intensity of thought and expression power. The “words are a very fantastical that astonishes and delights us. And it is banquet
, just so many strange dishes.” Syl- on this account that we have expressed ourlabled moonshine alone would not be offen- self so emphatically in our previous pages. sive; but this being not only syllabled, but we regretted that any one who could do so printed, proof-corrected, and published moon- well should be guilty of the gross mistakes, shine, it is an insult to the public taste.
the affectations, and the fustian, of all of There are many other similar passages which we have given instances. That our readers may judge for themselves and be (adji what Egypt said to the Egyptian; and from convinced that we do not rank our author's the fascination of her face streams all the yearning, ability to write well higher than it deserves, profound and pathetic power that is the soul of the
Egyptian day we will give them a few specimens. The
" Šo also from the moment the Arabian highfollowing is an extract from his views of the lands appeared, we had in their lines and in the present position and future prospects of the ever graceful and suggestive palms, the grand eleEast :
ments of Egyptian architecture. Often in a lu
minously blue day, as the Howadji sits reading or “That the East will never regenerate itself, con- musing before the cabin, the stratified sand mountemporary history shows; nor has any nation of tain side, with a stately arcade of palms on the history culminated twice. The spent summer re- smooth green below, floats upon his eye through blooms no more-the Indian summer is but a the serene sky as the ideal of that mighty Temple memory and a delusion. The sole hope of the which Egyptian architecture struggles to realize; East is Western inoculation. The child must and he feels that he beholds the sced that flowered suckle the age of the parent, and even "Medea's at last in the Parthenon and all Greek architecwondrous alchemy' will not restore its peculiar ture. prime. If the East awakens, it will be no longer " The beginnings seem to have been, the sculpin the turban and red slippers, but in hat and boots. ture of the hills into their own forms,-vast regular The West is the sea that advances for
chambers cut in the rock or earth, vaulted like the the shore; the shore cannot stay it, but becomes sky that hung over the hills, and like that, starred the bottom of the ocean. The Westeru, who lives with gold in a blue space. in the Orient, does not assume the kaftan and the " From these came the erection of separate buildbaggy breeches, and those of his Muslim neighbors ings—but always of the same grand and solemn shrink and disappear before his coat and panta- character. In them the majesty of the mountain loons. The Turkish army is clothed like the armies is repeated. Man cons the lesson which Nature of Europe. The grand Turk himself, Mohammad's has taught him. vicar, the Commander of the Faithful, has laid Exquisite details follow. The fine flower-like away the magnificence of Haroun Alrashid, and forms and foliage that have arrested the quick senwears the simple red Tarboosh, and a stiff suit of sitive eye of artistic genius, appear presently as military blue. Cairo is an English station to India, ornaments of his work. Man as the master, and and the Howadjį does not drink sherbet upon the the symbol of power, stands calm with folded pyramids, but champagne. The choice Cairo of hands in the Osiride columns. Twisted water our Eastern imagination is contaminated with car- reeds and palms, whose flowing crests are natural riages. They are showing the secrets of the streets capitals, are added. Then the lotus and acanthus to the sun." (P. 50.)
are wreathed around the column, and so the most
delicate detail of the Egyptian landscape re-apNow this has the ring of the true metal. peared in its art. The Howadji speaks here “plain and to the
“But Egyptian art never loses this character of purpose, like an honest man and a soldier;" solemn sublimity. It is not simply infancy, it was
the law of its life. The art of Egypt never offered to and the following description of the land- emancipate itself from this character,—it changed scape of the Nile is an example of truly fine only when strangers came. writing. The sentences are well constructed "Greece fulfilled Egypt. To the austere gran, and harmonious, and possess clearness, uni
deur of simple natural forms, Greek art succeeded
as the flower to foliage. The essential strength is ty, and strength :
retained, but an aerial grace and elegance, an exqui.
site elaboration followed; as Eve followed Adam. “ Nature is only epical here. She has no little For Grecian temples have a fine feminineness of lyrics of green groves, and blooming woods, and character when measured with the Egyptian. sequestered lanes-no lonely pastoral landscapes. That hushed harmony of grace-even the snow But from every point the Egyptian could behold sparkling marble and the general impression have the desert heights, and the river, and the sky. this difference. This grand and solemn Nature has imposed upon
"Such hints are simple and obvious—and there the art of the land the law of its own being and is no fairer or more frequent flower upon these beauty. Out of the landscape, too, springs the charmed shores than the revelations they make of mystery of Egyptian character, and the character the simple naturalness of primitive art.” (Pp. 62, of its art. For silence is the spirit of these sand
63, 64.) mountains, and of this sublime sweep of luminous sky-and silence is the mother of mystery. Prim- To prove
how well he can write in a itive man, so surrounded, can then do nothing but lighter vein, we give the following clever what is simple and grand. The pyramids repro- and amusing description of a Johnny Green duce the impression and the form of the landscape in which they stand. The pyramids say, in the (with whom the Howadji met and to whom Nature around them, “Man, his mark.'
he applies the sobriquet of Verde Giovane) “ Later, he will be changed by a thousand influ- and his friend, a young London barrister :ences, but can never escape the mystery that haunts his home, and will carve the Sphinx and the strange “Verde was joyous and gay. He had already mystical Memnon. The Sphinx says to the How. 'been to the pyramids, and had slept in a tomb,