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of a peace or war, etc., as men judge of a picture or a statue, and the words which suce ed are intended to explain hoc men judge of a picture or a statue :--these words should, therefore, run thus :--" by the effect produced on their imaginations." "Produced," moreover, is neither so exact nor so "English" as "wrought." In saying that Southey judges of a political party, etc., as men judge of a picture, etc., Southey is quite excluded from the category of “ men.” “ Other men,” was no doubt originally written, but “other” erased, on account of the "other men” occurring in the sentence below.
Coming to this last, we find that “ a chain of associations" is not properly paralleled by "a chain of reasoning." We must say either a chain of association," to meet the reasoning" or "a chain of reasons,” to meet the "associations." The repetition of “ what" is awkward and unpleasant. The entire paragraph should be thus remodelled :
With Southey, governing is a fine art. Of a theory or a public measure--of a creed, a political party, a peace or a war-he judges by the imaginative effect; as only such things as pictures or statues are judged of by other men. What to them a chain of reasoning is, to him is a chain of association; and, as to his opinions, they are nothing but his tastes.
The blemishes in the paragraph about Byron are more negative than those in the paragraph about Southey. The first sentence needs vivacity. The adjective "opposite " is superfluous : --so is the particle “ there.” The second and third sentences are, properly, one. “Some" would fully supply the place of something of.” The whole phrase " which he possessed over others," is supererogatory. “ Wis sprung,” in place of "sprang,” is altogether unjustifiable. The triple repetition of " and," in the fourth sentence, is awkward. “ Notorious crimes and follies," would express all that is implied in “crimes and follies which had attained a scandalous publicity.” The fifth sentence might be well curtailed; and as it stands, has an unintentional and unpleasant sneer.
Intellect” would do as well as “intellectual powers;" and this (the sixth) sentence might otherwise be shortened advantageously. The whole paragraph, in my opinion, would be better thus expressed :
In Lord Byron's rank, understanding, character-even in his person-we find a strange union of extremes. Whatever men covet and admire, became his by right of birth; yet debasement and misery were mingled with each of his eminent advantages. He sprang from a house, ancient it is true, and noble, but degraded and impoverished by a series of notorious crimes. But for merciful judges, the pauper kinsman whom he succeeded would have been hanged. The young peer had an intellect great, perhaps, yet partially unsound. His heart was generous, but his temper wayward ; and while statuaries copied his head, beggars mimicked the deformity of his foot.
In these remarks, my object is not so much to point out inaccuracies in the most accurate stylist of his age, as to hint that our critics might surpass him on his own ground, and yet leave themselves something to learn in the moralities of manner.
Nothing can be plainer than that our position, as a literary colony of Great Britain, leads us into wronging, indirectly, our own authors by exaggerating the merits of those across the water. Our most reliable critics extol-and extol without discrimination -such English compositions as, if written in America, would be either passed over without notice or unscrupulously condemned. Mr. Whipple, for example, whom I have mentioned in this connexion with Mr. Jones, is decidedly one of our most“ reliable” critics. His honesty I dispute as little as I doubt his courage or his talents, but here is an instance of the want of common discrimination into which he is occasionally hurried, by undue reverence for British intellect and British opinion. In a review of “ The Drama of Exile and other Poems,” by Miss Barrett, (now Mrs. Browning,) he speaks of the following passage as "in every respect faultless-sublime:"'
Hear the steep generations how they fall
Sowing their fiery echoes through the hills! Now here, saying nothing of the affectation in “adown;" not alluding to the insoluble paradox of "far yet near;" not mentioning the inconsistent metaphor involved in the sowing of fiery echoes ; adverting but slightly to the misusage of "like” in place of “as ;" and to the impropriety of making anything fall like thunder, which has never been known to fall at all; merely hinting, too, at the misapplication of "steep” to tbe “generations" instead of to the stairs "—a perversion in no degree justified by the fact that so preposterous a figure as synecdoche exists in the school-books :) - letting these things pass, we shall still find it difficult to understand how Mrs. Browning should have been led to think the principal idea itself--the abstract idea—the idea of tumbling down stairs, in any shape, or under any circumstance-either a poetical or a decorous conception. And yet Mr. Whipple speaks of it as
"sublime.” That the lines narrowly missed sublimity, I grant :-that they came within a step of it, I admit; but, unhappily, the step is that one step which, time out of mind, has intervened between the sublime and the ridiculous. So true is this that any person—that even I—with a very partial modification of the imagery--a modification that shall not interfere with its richly spiritual tone—may elevate the passage into unexceptionability. For example:
Hear the far generations—how they crash
In the visionary hills ! No doubt my version has its faults ; but it has at least the merit of consistency. Not only is a mountain more poetical than a pair of stairs, but echoes are more appropriately typified as wild beasts than as seeds; and echoes and wild beasts agree better with a mountain than does a pair of stairs with the sowing of seeds--even admitting that these seeds be seeds of fire, and be sown broadcast" among the hills" by a steep generation while in in the act of tumbling down the stairs—that is to say, of coming down the stairs in too great a hurry to be capable of sowing the seeds as accurately as all seeds should be sown :—nor is the matter rendered any better for Mrs. Browning, even if the construction of her sentence be understood as implying that the fiery seeds were sown, not immediately by the steep generations that tumbled down the stairs, but mediately, through the intervention of the "supernatural thunders” that were occasioned by the steep generations that were so unlucky as to tumble down the stairs.
J. FENIMORE COOPER.
“WYANDOTTE, or The Hutted Knoll,” is, in its general features, precisely similar to the novels enumerated in the title.* It is a forest subject; and, when we say this, we give assurance that the story is a good one; for Mr. Cooper has never been known to fail, either in the forest or upon the sea. The interest, as usual, has no reference to plot, of which, indeed, our novelist seems altogether regardless, or incapable, but depends, first upon the nature of the theme; secondly, upon a Robinson-Crusoe-like detail in its management; and thirdly, upon the frequently repeated portraiture of the half-civilized Indian. In saying that the interest depends, first, upon the nature of the theme, we mean to suggest that this theme-life in the wilderness—is one of intrinsic and universal interest, appealing to the heart of man in all phases ; a theme, like that of life upon the ocean, so unfailingly omniprevalent in its power of arresting and absorbing attention, that while success or popularity is, with such a subject, expected as a matter of course, a failure might be properly regarded as conclusive evidence of imbecility on the part of the author. The two theses in question have been handled usque ad nauseam—and this through the instinctive perception of the universal interest which appertains to them. A writer, distrustful of his powers, can scarcely do better than discuss either one or the other. А. man of genius will rarely, and should never, undertake either ; first, because both are excessively hackneyed; and, secondly, because the reader never fails, in forming his opinion of a book, to make discount, either wittingly or unwittingly, for that intrir.sic interest which is inseparable from the subject and independent of the manner in which it is treated. Very few and very dull indeed are those who do not instantaneously perceive the distinction; and thus there are two great classes of fictions—a popular
Wyandotté, or the Hutted Knoll. A tale, by the author of “The Pathfinder," “ Deerslayer," " Last of the Mohicans," " Pioneers,” « Prairie,” &c., &c Philadelphia, Lea & Blanchard.
and widely circulated class, read with pleasure, but without admiration in which the author is lost or forgotten; or remembered, if at all, with something very nearly akin to contempt; and then, a class not so popular, nor so widely diffused, in which, at every paragraph, arises a distinctive and highly pleasurable interest, springing from our perception and appreciation of the skill employed, or the genius evinced in the composition. After perusal of the one class, we think solely of the book-after reading the other, chiefly of the author. The former class leads to popularity—the latter to fame. In the former case, the books sometimes live, while the authors usually die; in the latter, even when the works perish, the man survives. Among American writers of the less generally circulated, but more worthy and more artistical fictions, we may mention Mr. Brockden Brown, Mr. John Neal, Mr. Simms, Mr. Hawthorne; at the head of the more popular division we may place Mr. Cooper.
“The Hutted Knoll,” without pretending to detail facts, gives a narrative of fictitious events, similar, in nearly all respects, to occurrences which actually happened during the opening scenes of the Revolution, and at other epochs of our history. It pictures the dangers, difficulties, and distresses of a large family, living, completely insulated, in the forest. The tale commences with a description of the “region which lies in the angle formed by the junction of the Mohawk with the Hudson, extending as far south as the line of Pennsylvania, and west to the verge of that vast rolling plain which composes Western New York” region of which the novelist has already frequently written, and the whole of which, with a trivial exception, was a wilderness before the Revolution. Within this district, and on a creek running into the Unadilla, a certain Captain Willoughby purchases an estate or “ patent," and there retires, with his family and dependents, to pass the close of his life in agricultural pursuits. He has been an officer in the British army, but, after serving many years, has sold his commission, and purchased one for his only son, Robert, who alone does not accompany the party into the forest. This party consists of the captain himself; his wife ; his daughter, Beulah ; an adopted daughter, Maud Meredith ; an invalid sergeant, Joyce, who had served under the captain ; a Presby