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Books of Messrs. MUNROE AND COMPANY. - The reading public are not a little indebted to this old and established Boston house, for a variety of excellent and cheap books, whose tendency is of the best description. 'The Last Days of the Saviour, or History of the Lord's Passion,' from the German of OLSHAUSEN, may be commended to every reader, as a clear and thoughtful treatise upon the character of One, in whom • all the rays of shining virtues, which have appeared in all the earthly champions and sufferers for truth and right, are united as the sun, and melted into an unutterable unity.' The little illustrated volume of fairy tales and popular stories, also from the German, entitled 'GAMMER GRETHEL,' and edited by Mrs. FOLLEN, is an amusing and instructive work, and has won not only a high encomium from Sir Walter Scott, but the unbought verdict of a little prattler at our knee, whose 'expressive silence,' while listening to a portion of its contents, and examining its pictures, certainly ‘mused its praise,’ in a more striking sense than can be conveyed to the reader. Long may 'GAMMER GRETHEL' live to tell stories! She deserves the hand of the venerable PETER PARLEY in wedlock, for there is all the requisite similarity of intellectual tastes and habitudes, which go to make up domestic happiness. The Sketches of a New-England Village, in the last century,' are capital. We have read them all, and advise the reader to follow our example. They are in the shape of letters to a friend, which were really written, and narrate events that are actually true. The purpose for which they have been drawn from the writer's port-folio, will be answered; for young readers will 'learn from them, in these days of extravagant ostentation, that refinement may be cherished without luxury, and intellectual cultivation exist in the midst of frugality and simplicity of living.'
BUCKMINSTER'S WORKS. — The two yery handsome volumes, from the press of Messrs. JAMES MUNROE AND COMPANY, Boston, containing the Works of Joseph STEVENS BUCKMINSTER, with Memoirs of his Life,' require little praise at our hands, since they are every where well known to the Christian public. A volume of this divine's sermons, published in 1814, having passed through three editions, has been long out of print. It makes the first volume of the present work, with the addition of the notices of Mr. BUCKMINSTER's character, which appeared in the 'General Repository,' and a few illustrative notes at the end. The second volume comprises the sermons printed in 1929, the occasional discourses published during the life of their author, and the passages selected from his manuscripts for publication in the 'Christian Disciple.' The admirable discourses upon the character of the Apostles Peter and Paul, are alone worth the price of the entire volumes. The former, especially, is one of the most felicitous and graphic limnings we have ever met in any pulpit effort.
MICHAEL ARMSTRONG.' --- That industrious pen-woman, old Mrs. TROLLOPE, lately published in England a novel in two volumes, which she christened “The Life and Adventures of Michael Armstrong, the Factory Boy.' It was issued, we believe, in numbers, but excited little attention in England, being considered as a highly overwrought picture of the English factory system, involving a feeble imitation of 'Oliver Twisi,' in the main staple of the book, and evidently written for bread-and-butter. The Brothers HARPER have published the volumes; and on glancing through them, we are inclined to confirm the verdict of the London critics. There are passages, it is true, of very good description, but the old lady has 'piled up the agony' a little too high. The truth is, novel-writing is not your forte, O shallow and not-with-sufficient-distinctnessdiscerning-the-nature-of-things TROLLOPE! Come back to the States,' sweet saint! and brush up our domestic manners yet again, and open once more a shop of nice gimcrackeries!
*The FALL OF AZTALAN AND OTHER Poems.' By A. ALEXANDER, Esq., D. C. – This poem, illustrative of events and a state of society supposed to have existed upon the American continent, long anterior to its discovery by the Europeans, evinces con siderable vigor of thought, liveliness of fancy, and power of versification. The subject is one purely of the imagination, not only in its story, but in its associations; in its place of action, and the manners, customs, and characters of the actors; in short, in all that gives 'the age and body of the time its form and pressure. Hence its appeals to our sympathies and feelings are necessarily faint and ineffectual; but though the author thus foregoes in a measure the great field of poetry, the human heart, he nevertheless addresses the imagination with considerable effect, and creates a pleasant fiction, which, clothed in harmonious language, and lively imagery, cannot fail to repay a perusal.
Miriam.' – A second and very handsome revised edition of 'Miriam' has recently been issued from the press of Messrs. JAMES MUNROE AND COMPANY, Boston. Upon a first and thorough perusal of this beautiful dramatic poem, some months since, we marked several extracts, and pencilled a few marginal notes, designing afterward to review the book at length, in another department of this periodical; but an elaborate critique upon the same production, in the pages of a monthly contemporary, induced us to forego the pleasure. Happily, (perhaps for the reader,) the demand for a second edition is a sufficient proof that the public are now so well acquainted with the merits of the volume, as to render a farther notice than the mere announcement of its publication, altogether unnecessary.
COMPOSITION IN Painting. --- Messrs. LINEN AND FENNELL, Broadway, have issued, in the imperial quarto form, 'Practical Hints on Composition in Painting, illustrated by Examples from the Great Masters of the Italian, Flemish, and Dutch Schools. By John BUBNET.' The work enjoys the highest reputation in Europe, but owing to its high price, has heretofore had but a limited circulation in this country. Mr. Lewis P. Clover, Jr. has furnished an exact transcript of the engravings of the original work, and the whole comes before the American student-artist, with the cordial recommendation of HENRY Inman, Esq., and other of our most eminent artists.
Civil OFFICE AND POLITICAL ETHICS: By E. P. Hurlbut. Esq. -- We consider this a very valuable compound of what may perhaps be called domestic law, or that which affects man in his social relations. How common is it, to find intelligent persons utterly ignorant of the simplest rules in reference to their social position; and when, by some sudden emergency, they are called upon to act on the subject, they are totally at a loss what to do. The work in question is well calculated to remedy this evil, and will be found useful in our schools as well as families. New-York: TAYLOR AND CLEMENT.
* REJECTED ADDRESSES.' - Mr. Wm. D. Ticknor, Boston, has issued the first good American, from the nineteenth London, edition of the 'Rejected Addresses,' carefully revised, with an original preface and notes by the authors, Horace and James SMITH. Our readers will require no prompting, to possess themselves of this volume; since the extracts presented in a recent elaborate review of the book, which extended to two numbers of the KNICKERBOCKER, must needs form an irresistible bait.
THE DAGUERREOTYPE. — We are glad to learn, that the true Daguerreotype views, exhibiting at the corner of Chambers-street and Broadway, by Mr. GOURAUD, the only accredited agent of Mr. DAGUERRE, in America, have attracted crowds of enthusiastic admirers. The lectures upon the art, promised by Mr. GOURAUD, have been commenced; and we cannot doubt, will be numerously attended; the poor attempts of a pseudo Daguerreotypist to prevent such a result, to the contrary notwithstanding.
The 'progress of society' is an expression on the lips, and traced by the pen,
scribbler who can construct a paragraph for a newspaper. Without venturing upon the decision of the philosophical question, whether intellectual power is now more vigorous ihan it has been at any previous stage of the mysterious and sublime drama that has been acting, and constantly unfolding the most startling scenes, for six thousand years on this globe; whether mental cultivation has now reached an expansive liberality, and a brilliancy of polish, to which it had never before attained; it may be affirmed, that the course of society has been fearfully alternating, and that all its fluctuations have followed the direction of some ‘leading princiciple,' an indestructible, impassable agent, instinct with life, infused through the body and limbs of society :
"Totamque infusa per artus,
Mens agitat molem ;' giving it, for the period, its distinctive features and complexion. Thus in ancient Greece, inspired by enthusiastic patriotism, society marched with triumphant step amidst its classic vales, and on the banks of its pure streams, adorned with the glory of letters, and the splendor of the arts. Again, after having been fettered through the long and dreary night that succeeded the fall of the Roman empire, she burst her bands, and emerged into the breaking light, breathing the ardor, and resplendent in the arms, of chivalry. And again, near the close of the last century, in France, throwing the reins upon the neck of licentious Skepticism, she plunged into the depths of destructive anarchy; exhibiting a gloomy spectacle outstretched beneath the eye of indignant heaven:
'Like the old ruins of a broken tower.' For the last half century, this · leading principle' has assumed so VOL. xv.
many aspects, that it becomes difficult to sketch its portrait. It has seized, with convulsive energy, the spirit of controversy. It boldly discusses all questions of moral science, and political policy, frequently supplying its deficiency of arguments, by arrogant assumption and declamation. It has done, and does still, its utmost to blunt our perceptions of prescriptive right, and stifle all reverence for antiquity. It strips off the venerable encrustations of age from institutions which have commanded the sacred respect of mankind for centuries, and claims to reform them by breaking them into fragments, and attempting to reconstruct the edifice out of its defaced materials ; not remembering, that the violence of its touch rends asunder the golden chain of past and present associations, that strongest bond by which legislators can secure the consistency of their fabrics.
They who devote their energies to the pursuits of literature, whose mental
eye is directed long avd keenly into books, where they can survey the race-ground on which departed genius has run the course of immortality, and watch its eagle flights, and who thus acquire a sort of veneration for whatever is allied to the departed beings with whom they hold communion, naturally feel an inward grief, when compelled to mark the destruction of ties they have long cherished. And perhaps they have too often, for this reason, withdrawn their mild but powerful influence from the turmoil of political struggles, retired into secluded retreats, and poured out their feelings in strains of pure and thrilling pathos. But when we reflect that the direction of this principle is but rarely yielded to the impulses of vice, and that it often lends virtue overmastering energies, the friend of humanity has but little to fear, and much to hope, from its influence.
It has no where left deeper impressions than upon political subjects; and although here, as elsewhere, it has clothed sophistry with a glare which is often mistaken for the sweet light of heaven, it has given Trutu a keener edge, and made her panoply gleam with a purer and more attractive splendor. Under its influence, the field of political disquisition grows broader with the diffusion of intelligence, and its limits vanish as we attempt to approach them, as the apparently descending canopy of the skies lifts away before the march of the traveller. Politics is a science founded on clear and easily-defined general principles ; the indestructible relations of moral right; but the edifice that has been reared upon this basis, is composed of a variety of costly materials, and embellished with sumptuous ornaments. Constitutional law is the strength of its wall. The flashing rays of genius, elicited in the halls of legislation, gild its columns, and beam from its towers. Even literature hath wreathed beautiful chaplets around the capitals and architraves of its pillars. In fact it often does more; not merely irnparting to political institutions the beauty of intellectual elegance, but rendering services which are justly deenied indispensable. There are illustrious instances in which it has formed bond of union of sufficient strength to resist the discordant jars and strifes of local interests, throughout a great nation. Among these, there is one so striking and noble in its character, that it supersedes the necessity of introducing others which might be cited. I refer to the influence of the lliad of Homer, a work of pure literature, on the States of ancient Greece.
The Iliad of Homer is one of the most remarkable productions of the human mind. Although conceived in the youth of the Grecian nation, when history was so young as to be almost entirely embraced in oral traditions, before manners had become softened by the refinements of civilization; and while the armor of savage warfare was yet glitteriug in the limbs of ueroes; it displays an insight into the recesses of the human heart, so deep and clear; so intimate a knowledge of the vibrations of all the cords of sympathy; an acquaintance with the secret springs of action so profound and accurate; that succeeding writers, for nearly three thousand years, have done little else than new-name his characters, transpose his incidents, and manufacture new draperies for his sentiments.
In its style, it combines all the graces that adorn the works of the age of Pericles, with the guileless simplicity that belongs to the first essays in composition. It flows from the lips of the poet like a river; in one part of its course sweeping majestically through rich vales, and in others plunging with awful sublimity over rugged precipices, always grand and impressive as the courses of nature.
This production, which for at least two centuries was not collected into a volume, but sung in detached portions by wandering minstrels, deeply engaged the attention of the Peisistratidæ, the immediate successors of Solon in the administration of the government of Athens; who, with rare genius and keen foresight, attempted to fortify the wise legislation of their great predecessor, by endeavoring to make the Greeks breathe the inspiration of this noble poem. With immense labor, they collected and collated its scattered fragments, and restored the unity breathed into it by the genius who gave it birth. Legal enactments required it to be read and studied by every citizen of the republic, and recitation of its sublime passages formed an important part of their entertainments, at all public games and festivals. Embodying the principles that directed the chisel of the sculptor, and the painter's pencil
, as well as of the eloquence that uttered its thunders in the forum, and above all, furnishing the universal minstrelsy of the people, it inspired their genius, refined their taste, and gave them a keen relish for beauty and elegance, without impairing their manly vigor. It was a mirror that reflected the traits of heroes, from whom in direct line they traced their descent, and through them by only a few anterior steps to the fabled deities of heaven. Under its influence, Greece became the birthplace of the arts, the paradise of the sciences, the nurse of heroic and manly sentiment, which is that cheap defence of nations, that unbought grace of life,' which, in its healthy state, “feels a stain like a wound; which ennobles whatever it touches ; and under which vice itself loses half its evil, by losing all its
grossness.' So invincible was the shield in which the heart of the Grecian pation was encased by the spirit of this poein, that the portentous clouds of Persian weapons which were said to have shrouded the sun in gloom, vanished before the Persians' victorious swords, like the exhalations of the morning before the rising sun. They drove back the invaders, routed, soiled, and humiliated, and the fire of liberty burned with purer flame in their hearts and on their altars, than before this attempt to extinguish it. The plains of Marathon and the