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The time chosen by the author, and the Arabian despot whose reign marked that era, have before been employed, and with success, by writers who have nevertheless failed to impart the interest which these volumes are calculated to awaken. The main point upon which 'Giafar Al Barmeki' turns - the destruction of the Barmecides by Haroun Al Raschid as is well known, is a historical fact. Connected with this, however, is an under plot, managed with skill, and rendered highly exciting by an active imagination – which, preserving all the attractions of romance, still keeps within the bounds of nature — and a style remarkably appropriate, when it is considered that the work is from an unpractised hand. We recommend 'Giafar Al Barmeki' to our readers, as a work of decided interest, and as a token, moreover, that the writer has the power, should he choose to exercise it, to throw a shadow over some American novelists whom we wot of, who have more fame but less genius than himself.
EAST AND West. A Novel. By the Author of 'Clinton Bradshaw. In two volumes.
pp. 472. Philadelphia : CAREY, LEA AND BLANCHARD.
'Clinton BRADSHAW should have followed the present work, in the order of improvement, for to our way of thinking, it is in all respects superior to 'East and West,' which, as a novel, lacks many essential attributes. In the first place, it lacks plot. There are incidents enough, and now and then sketches which evince the capabilities of the author, were he adequately to digest in his mind a traceable plan of operations. What, for example, could be more graphic than the description of the contest and encounter of the steam-boats Turtle and Alexander, the bursting of the boiler of the latter, and the scenes which ensued? But this and kindred portions are but separate fragments, and not parts of a well-finished whole. There is another objection to the volumes under notice, and it is one to which · Clinton Brandshaw' was also open, although to a much less degree. There is a want of refinement in the characters — especially in the male portraitures — which will strike the most casual reader. We should be loth to consider a western gentleman to be such as our author describes him. The defects, however, of 'East and West appear to us more attributable to haste, and a want of well-digested method, than to lack of power on the part of the author. He is unquestionably a man of talent, and a close observer; and we look to see him avoid in future those drawbacks to his reputation, which have been pointed out in a spirit of kindness by his critics, and which we are sure his better judgment cannot fail to recognise.
THE RELIGIOUS OPINIONS AND CHARACTER OF WASHINGTON. By E. C. M'Guire. 12mo.
New-York: HARPER AND BROTHERS.
MR. M'GUIRE, the author of this book, is, as we learn, a highly respectable clergyman of Virginia, a man of talents, and by marriage a member of the Washington family; and he has for many years made it an object to collect and arrange the materials of this work. It may reasonably be accepted, therefore, as a conscientious production, which the perusal abundantly proves. Nothing of fidelity in the narration, of pains in research, of care and good judgment in the selection of matter, and of skill in the arrangement of it, seems to have been wanting to render the volume altogether the most pleasant life of Washington we have ever seen comprehended in
the same space, with reference to the same object. Indeed, the task of bringing out the religious character of Washington has never before been fairly and well performed. It is, therefore, in this light, a welcome novelty, and ought to be as dear to every American Christian patriot, as if it were the only record of the life of a man so highly revered by his country, and by the world. Nay, it ought to be the more precious, and justly claims to have a place in every family in the nation, since of all the attempts to give the life of Washington to the world, it is the only one which unlocks and displays that secret of his character which made him what he waswhat he has ever been believed and known to be- an honest patriot; and which proves that he was honest, because he was a Christian. It has ever been the wonder of the world, why the idol of such a nation, in such circumstances, should have declined, perseveringly and to the last, all the advantages of his position, except so far as he could confer benefit on his country and upon mankind. It was because Washington was a Christian- because he had the fear of God before his eyes. Nothing could shake his purpose of living for others and not for himself. Washington is an exception to the history of our race under similar circumstances — and this book shows how and why he was so.
ASTORIA, OR ANECDOTES OF AN ENTERPRISE BEYOND THE Rocky MOUNTAINS. By
WASHINGTON IRVING. In two vols. pp. 564. Philadelphia : CAREY, LEA AND Blan.
The general diffusion which this latest work of Mr. Irving will have attained, long before these pages can reach our readers, must be our apology for not attempting, at so late a period, a detailed review which could possess neither newness nor interest to those by whom the volumes themselves have been devoured up. But we cannot permit the opportunity to pass, without expressing in brief our admiration of the exceedingly graphic and picturesque descriptions of exciting expeditions and adventures by land and sea, and the fine sketches of character, with which the work abounds. Indeed, as a history of the 'American Fur Company,' and of the large and important operations by which an eminent citizen has arisen to opulence and distinction, these volumes were alone well worthy of perusal and preservation. But when to this is superadded the charms of a diction kindred to that which has thrown a literary halo around the history of the' world-seeking Genoese,' the result may readily be anticipated. Without enlarging, therefore, for the reasons stated, upon the merits of the work in detail, we proceed to transfer a separate picture, and the only one for which we can make room, of a striking scene, which we cannot but hope some American artist may think worthy — as it undoubtedly is - of the pencil.
It should be premised, that Mr. M'Kay is the interpreter, and that the Tonquin was a fine vessel, of two hundred and ninety tons burthen, employed in the first expedition planned by Mr. Astor, to carry out the people, stores, ammunition, and merchandise, requisite for establishing a fortified trading-post at the mouth of Columbia river. An Indian chief, receiving an indignity from a bluff trading manager on board the ship, then lying at the mouth of Columbia river, goes on shore, and on the following morning his tribe return in canoes, for the ostensible purpose of trade, and, contrary to the caution enjoined by Mr. Astor, are permitted to clamber into the vessel from ever side:
"The officer of the watch now felt alarmed, and called to Captain Thorn and Mr. M'Kay. By the time they came on deck, it was thronged with Indians. The interpreter noticed to Mr. M'Kay that many of the natives wore short mantles of skins, and
intimated a suspicion that they were secretly armed. Mr. M'Kay urged the captain to clear the ship and get under way. He again made light of the advice; but the augmented swarm of canoes about the ship, and the numbers still putting off from shore, at length awakened his distrust, and he ordered some of the crew lo weigh anchor, while some were sent aloft to make sail.
"The Indians now offered to trade with the captain on his own terms, prompted, apparently, by the approaching departure of the ship. Accordingly, a hurried trade was commenced. The main articles sought by the savages in barter, were knives; as fast as some were supplied they moved off, and others succeeded. By degrees they were thus distributed about the deck, and all with weapons.
"The anchor was now nearly up, the sails were loose, and the captain, in a loud and peremptory tone, ordered the ship to be cleared. In an instant a signal yell was given: it was echoed on every side, knives and war-clubs were brandished in every direction, and the savagcs rushed upon their marked victims.
“ The first that fell was Mr. Lewis, the ship's clerk. He was leaning, with folded arms, over a bale of blankets, engaged in bargaining, when he received a deadly stab in the back, and fell down the companionway. “Mr. M'Kay, who was seated on the iaffrail
, sprang on his feet, but was instantly knocked down with a war-club and flung backwards into the sea, where he was despatched by the women in the canoes.
"In the meantime, Captain Thorn made desperate fight against fearful odds. He was a powerful as well as resolute man, but he had come upon deck without weapons. Shewish, the young chief, singled him out as his peculiar prey, and rushed upon him at the first outbreak. The captain had barely time to draw a claspknife, with one blow of which he laid the young savage dead at his feet. Several of the stoutest followers of Shewish now set upon him. He defended himself vigorously, dealing crippling blows to right and left, and strewing the quarterdeck with the slain and wounded. His object was, to fight his way to the cabin, where there were fire-arms; but he was hemmed in with foes, covered with wounds, and faint with loss of blood. For an instant he leaned upon the tiller wheel, when a blow from behind, with a war club, felled him to the deck, where he was despatched with knives and thrown overboard.
“While this was transacting upon the quarterdeck, a chance medley fight was going on throughout the ship. The crew fought desperately with knives, handspikes, and whatever weapon they could seize upon in the moment of surprise. They were soon, however, overpowered by numbers, and mercilessly butchered.
“As to the seven who had been sent aloft to make sail, they contemplated with horror the carnage that was going on below. Being destitute of weapons, they let themselves down by the running rigging, in hopes of getting between decks. One fell in the attempt, and was instantly despatched; another received a death blow in the back as he was descending; a third, Stephen Weekes, the armorer, was mortally wounded as he was getting down the hatch way.
" The remaining four made good their retreat into the cabin, where they found Mr. Lewis, still alive, though morially wounded. Barricading the cabin door, they broke holes through the companionway, and, with the muskets and ammunition which were at hand, opened a brisk fire which soon cleared the deck.
"Thus far the Indian interpreter, from whom these particulars are derived, had been an eye-witness of the deadly conflict. He had taken no part in it, and had been spared by the natives as being of their race. In the confusion of the moment he took refuge with the rest in the canoes. The survivors of the crew now sallied forth, and discharged some of the deck guns, which did great execution among the canoes, and drove all the savages to shore.
" For the remainder of the day no one ventured to put off to the ship, deterred by the effects of the fire-arms. The night passed away without any further attempt on the part of the natives. When the day dawned, the Tonquin still lay at anchor in the bay, her sails all loose and flapping in the wind, and no one apparently on board of her. After a time, some of the canoes ventured forth to reconnoitre, taking with them the interpreter. They paddled about her, keeping cautiously at a distance, but growing more and more emboldened at seeing her quiet and lifeless. One man at length made his appearance on the deck, and was recognised by the interpreter as Mr. Lewis. He made friendly signs, and invited them on board. It was long before they ventured to comply. Those who mounted the deck met with no opposition ; no one was to be seen on board; for Mr. Lewis, after inviting them, had disappeared. Other canoes now pressed forward to board the prize; the decks were soon crowded, and the sides covered with clambering savages, all intent on plunder. In the midst of their eagerness and exultation, the ship blew up with a tremendous explosion. Arms, legs, and mutilated bodies were blown into the air, and dreadful havoc was made in the surrounding canoes. The interpreter was in the main chains at the time of the explosion, and was thrown unhurt into the water, where he succeeded in getting into one of the canoes. According to his statement, the bay presented an awful spectacle after the catastrophe. The ship had disappeared, but the bay was covered with fragments of the wreck, with shattered canoes, and Indians swimming for their lives, or struggling in the agonies of death; VOL. IX.
while those who had escaped the danger remained aghast and stupified, or made with frantic panic for the shore. Upwards of a hundred savages were destroyed by the explosion, many more were shockingly mutilated, and for days afterwaru the limbs and bodies of the slain were thrown upon the beach.
“ The inhabitants of Neweetee were overwhelmed with consternation at this astounding calamity, which had burst upon them in the very moment of triumph. The warriors sat mule and mournful, while the women filled the air with loud lamentations. Their weeping and wailing, however, was suddenly changed into yelle of fury at the sight of four unfortunate wbite men, brought captive into the village. They had been driven on shore in one of the ship's boats, and taken at some distance along the coast.
“ The interpreter was permitted to converse with them. They proved to be the four brave fellows who had made such desperate defence from the cabin. The interpreter gathered from them some of the particulars already related. They told him further, that, after they had beaten off the enemy, and cleared the ship, Lewis advised them that they should slip the cable and endeavor to get to sea. They declined to take his advice, alleging that the wind set too strongly into the bay, and would drive them on shore. They resolved, as soon as it was dark, to put off quietly in the ship's boat, which they would be able to do unperceived, and to coast along back to Astoria. They put their resolution into effect; bui Lewis refused to accompany them, being disabled by his wound, hopeless of escape, and determined on a terrible revenge.
On the voyage out, he had repeatedly expressed a presentiment that he should die by his own hands; thinking it highly probable that he should be engaged in some contesi with the natives, and being resolved, in case of extreinity, to commit suicide, rather than be made a prisoner. He now declared his intention to remain on board of the ship until daylight, to decoy as many of the savages on board as possible, then to set fire to the powder magazine, and terminate his life hy a signal act of vengeance. How well he succeeded has been shown. His companions bade him a melancholy adieu, and set off
' on their precarious expedition. They strove with might and main to get out of the bay, but found it impossible to weather a point of land, and were at length compelled to take shelter in a small cove, where they lioped to remain concealed until the wind should be more favorable. Exhausted by fatigue and watching, they fell into a sound sleep, and in that state were surprised by the savages. Better had it been for those unfortunate men had they remained with Lewis and shared his heroic death: as it was, they perished in a a more painful and protracted manner, being sacrificed by the natives to the manes of their friends with all the lingering tortures of savage cruelty. Some time after their death, the interpreter, who had remained a kind of prisoner at large, effected his escape, and brought the tragical tidings to Astoria."
" Astoria’ is destined to occupy no middle rank in the productions of its author; a fact of which the publishers seem to have been aware, if we may judge from the creditable pains which they have taken to present it to the public in a handsome and durable dress.
The LADIES' WREATH: A selection from the Poetic Writers of England and America.
With Original Notices and Notes. Prepared especially for Young Ladies. By Mrs. SARAH J. HALE, Author of 'Northwood,' 'Flora's Interpreter,' Traits of American Life,' etc. One vol. pp. 408. Boston: MARSH, CAPEN AND Lyon.
In a former number of this Magazine, we gave notice of the coming appearance of the handsome volume now before us : and we take pleasure in saying, that the favorable predictions which we ventured in relation to its character, have in our judgment been amply fulfilled. Mrs. Hale has given liberal selections from twelve female poets of England, and from an equal number of those of our own country. These selections are made with fine taste, and with that regard for useful, moral, and religious inculcation, which forms so prominent a feature in all the literary labors of the author-compiler. A short sketch of the personal history of the writers, together with terse but judicious criticisms, accompany their productions. The volume is intended for young ladies — as a mirror,' to adopt the language of an excellent preface, ' bright and polished, in which they may see reflected the beauty of virtue, the loveliness of the domestic affections, and the happiness of picty.' To the purehearted, or ihose who would become so, and to all whose bosoms are sometimes alive to the chastened and refining influences of good poetry, we cordially commend the 'Ladies' Wreath.'
Park THEATRE – Miss ELLEN TREE. — The public have at length been gratified, and their high hopes fully realized. Miss Ellen Tree has satisfied the most judicious, that the almost unqualified admiration which the English public have bestowed upon her, has not exceeded her fair deserts. No one will expect to find in Miss Tree those wonderful characteristics which hallow the memory of Mrs. Siddons; none will look at her and expect an embodiment of the genius of tragedy, such as that which placed the great English Melpomené immeasurably beyond rivalry; yet can all say of her, and with equal justice, what was so truly said of Mrs. Siddons: 'The spectator weeps when she weeps, smiles when she smiles, and each emotion of her heart becomes in turn his own.'
Perhaps the great feature in Miss Tree's acting is delicacy. A high degree of refinement is perceptible in all she does. There is nothing to astonish, but every thing to admire, and grow pleased with —every thing to increase our delight, the longer we contemplate, or the closer we scrutinize. Her acting, like Macready's, evinces great study by its absolute perfection - not by its measured mannerisms. Like Macready, again, she is always sure she can be always depended upon - is at all times excellent; and unlike Kean, neither surprisingly great, nor indifferently tame. Another great charm in Miss Tree's impersonations, is their natural truth. They are in fact, for the time being, the very realities which they are intended to represent. No one can look upon Miss Tree's representations, without being struck with admiration at the perfect reliance which she seems to place upon the complete power of the natural expression of the sentiment over her audience, and at the utter contempt for every thing like clap-trap, or any one of the miserable resources of petty minds, to produce an effect upon her hearers. Her acting is in its character like an unrufħed stream, beautiful in its repose; but as surely and as naturally as the same water is disturbed and agitated by the storm, so is the serenity of her feelings acted upon and ruffled by the storm of passion which descends upon it. We have seen those who upon the stage were in a constant state of ferment and agitation. Like a brawling brook, they were always freiting — making more noise than the majestic river, which, in its silent course, moves on in its resistless power. There is no such harshness in Miss Tree - no abruptness - none of that habitual starting and tragedy-trick, which so often mar the beauty of the best-drawn characters. There is more of the woman about Miss Tree -- if we can be understood by this expression — than in any other actress we have ever seen; a particularly feminine grace in her character, which does not leave her, even when she appears in male attire, or in a character which is really meant to be masculine. And who is there that will not admire her the more for possessing at all times the true grace of her sex ? For ourselves, we must say, that we never affected a lady in pantaloons, on or off the stage – literally or morally — until Ellen Tree, in a male character, destroyed our scruples. But with all this delicacy, let it not be understood that our actress is tame. On the contrary, we know of none whose expressions of hate, anguish, fear, despair, anger, or any of the stronger passions, are more natural, or irresistibly powerful. Leaving out altogether Lady Macbeth, and those characters of mighty compass, which none but a Siddons ever did or could represent, and we have in Miss Ellen Tree all that the most scrupu