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with a stubborn resolution. The great poets were those who, with all their sensitiveness, were able to bear the load of regrets with the strength and pride of youth; they did their work and left their tears to the biographers.
The small poets, some of them, favor us with their autobiographies before they have done anything. It is an easily besetting affectation, now when we know so much of literary life in past days,to fancy ourselves poets, and scholars, and thinkers, and then to sit down under that agreeable delusion, and address our countrymen. A great deal of labor is saved by it, and though we must always, one would suppose, have a secret misgiving that we were not Shakspeares and Miltons, yet we can, with very little merit, gather around us circles and cliques of admirers, who will make us extremely comfortable.
We wonder that Mr. Lowell, who is so full of bravery, and has such hatred of "shams," does not consider that it would be far more manly in him to do something before asking so much sympathy of the candid reader. He can write, if he will try, we are willing to believe, much better than he has. He has an ear and an eye, but when it comes to thinking he falls at once into the slough of profundity; and as for imagination, he seems cither so slothful, or Bo cautious, that all he ever shows of himself is a peculiar state of affectedness'which must be altogether foreign to the life of any soul of common perception and experience. Let him be as strong and brave as be can be, and talk about it leas; he will gain far more in the end. Whatever of real strength ho brings to his work will be sure to manifest itself. The "Present" seems to him " poor and bare;" so it does to us; but both we and he, and all of us, must labor and accomplish, whatsoever we do accomplish, for ourselves or our country, in this very I'/esent, in spite of its poverty and bareness.
Coleridge, around whom probably the Present seemed as poor and bare as around any man living, found time to analyze the poetic genius in such a masterly way, that what he has written on the subject is a repository to which we may recur again and again for instruction in the first principles of the poetic art. "Imagery," says he, " (even taken from nature, much more when transplanted from books, as travels, voyage* and works of natural history,) affecting incidents; just thoughts; interesting personal or domestic feelings; and with these the art of their combination, or intertexture in the form of a poem; may all, by incessant effort, be acquired as a trade, by a man of talents and much reading, who has mistaken an intense desire of poetic reputation for a natural poetic genius; the love of the arbitrary end for the possession of the peculiar means. • • • A second promise of genius is the choice of subjects very remote from the private
interests and circumstances of the writer self. At least I have found, that when tbea1 ject is taken immediately from the iski personal sensations and experiences, the efll lence of a particular poem is but an eqsr* mark, and often a fallacious pledge of p. poetic power."
These opinions he then illustrates nrf« forces, but with any to whom they ai» I intuitively apparent it is wasting spssi attempt to make them clearer.
Poetry is a life; but it is, at the same a an art. The naked record of experience?- ■ tions or perceptions dors not alone exK* poetry. The poet must go out of bimsKf l into his art; he must assume a chand which must be the reflection of his oas,i must then work at his subject in the sun that a sculptor, painter, or musician wete his. Some of Bums's most passionate were composed for money, and while hi* i personal thoughts were all of o:her ussa how completely he assumes the artist; iJ-c tion rises to imaginative power; the arf becomes more real than the real, and bear* the poet himself, so that he takes on a hi^ existence. This is pure poetic power, such an ever-cumulative existence is the 0 life of the poetic soul.
A young poet has much study before hia purge his head of shadows, and his heirt vanities, as well as much labor in the s chanical departments of poetry, before h- e deserve half the praise which he will r»ea from his friends, and from those who ire » ing to overlook radical defects, and sec a occasional beauties in his verses.
Chambers's Miscellany of Useful and En^rU ing Knowledge. Boston: Gould, fonc & Lincoln.
This exceedingly interesting republic has reached its thirteenth number, which K ly completes the first half of the entire wi Most of our readers are probably so well quaintcd with its merit that we need <w space here only to mention the gratifying cumstance of its great popularity. Ti whom the chances of life have placed in » sition where it is their duty to act as conw tors of literature, feel a keener joy in * things than other people; it is to thetn » little refreshing, after wandering throa§ cheap bookstore, and reading the titles i& tised in the daily papers, and the regularly e ufactured puffs, to find that so excellent a ■ as Chambers's, for young readers, actually I It shows that there is yet a good supply of fashioned boys and girls in the country, that the French novels, though they bavr d run the land, have not yet gotten the ttM tirely to themselves.
; these tracts are not for boys and girls ■or need any reader pass them by because
Rintended for " the masses." We plead > having wasted the better part of an lg very agreeably with the " Life of Henri «," the " Anecdotes of Serpents," "Anil of Cats," and the "Sister of Rem
., il" the Scotch are capital story-tellers,
'jor metaphysicians. e work has an immense circulation abroad, .■erage weekly impressions being, accordtbe statement of the Messrs. Chambers e cover, 115,000—an almost incredibly number. Some sheets have reached 00; and of oDe, the '• Life of lxiuis Phi• they have printed 280,470 copies, i to be hoped the republication will have success, for so far as we have examined sstms most admirably calculated, both in »and execution, to footer the love of knowlmd encourage a taste for healthy reading, 108 secondarily for sound thinking.
Philosophy of Life, and Philosophy of itguage, in a Course of Lectures. By Edebick Von Schlegel. Translated from
German, by the Rev. A.J. W. Morris M. A. New York: IIar|>ci &. Broth. 1*18.
0 demand for exceedingly fine mire to be in making temporary magnets for tolelic purposes, has in all probability Urn the ing cause of Uie present republication.
1 events, here is a quantity of the article; i"nt. if it could be translated into the maform, to furnish all the batteries now in
it.<m in the country, or that will ever be ad when we have private and public lines era every city and village, and men ride ilroadss through forests of posts and under i of cobweb. The only difficulty would in the material itself is drawn so very fine, a would be, perhaps, impossible to produce thread sufficiently attenuated to wind it, io effect the necessary insulation. re can read the book, it is true; it exhibits si deal of reading and copiousness of ill us»; but the thread is often almost covered n tedious explanations, and when clearly ■d, is nothing worth tracing out We from the perusal of a chapter with the ogr one experiences in escaping from the -winded conversation of a dull, learned Br.
» much for a general criticism. Jf we go h further, it is at the risk of being prosy , for it is not possible to go into this wirerung operation and come out prepared to >nfacture solid cast-iron ideas. After look•leadily for an hour through the wrong end spy-glass, one's eyes become so accustom
ed to seeing everything brought into miniature, that common sights appear too large and rough; besides, in order to skim out the fine particles in such a great dish of German soup, it would be necessary to make a sieve with very minute interstices—a painful operation, and not very profitable, since it would take a very protracted skimming to fish off wholesome particles enough to make a comfortable dinner for stomachs accustomed to the full diet of our English literature and philosophy.
Vet we would not be understood as wishing, from intolerance, or a prejudice against German philosophizing, to depreciate these Lectures. There is a great deal in them that is true and good, and indeed ono might be sure that anything from the pen of so thorough an underslandcr and admirer of Shakspeare as Von Schlegel, would be marked by a substratum of common sense and right feeling, however crude and visionary it might appear on the surface. There is nothing, it may be safely said, without the trouble of reading them, in these Lectures prejudicial to the state or to the Christian faith.
A witty friend of ours has adopted a humorous mode of classifying individuals in society, which may be equally expressive applied to books. He does it partly by signs and gestures. Thus of such a one he says, "He is a pleasant man, but"—here he imitates with hjs thumb and forefinger the action of a very minute gimlet; of another he observes, that " his conversation did not particularly interest him" —at the same time moving his hands as though he were turning a carpenter's bit; and so on, through the several varieties of augers, from those of active motion, with which the workman makes at each turn a complete revolution, to the enormous species which they use for perforating pump logs, and which require several violent efforts to carry round.
Now Von Schlegel is a learned man, and, as we believe, a good one ; he writes with a great show of wisdom; yet for all this, we cannot read his speculations without being reminded of our friend's whimsical comparison. He is " a pleasant man, but"—we seem to see the little industrious gimlet eating in with incessant rapidity. In brief, Von Schlegel, though a man to be respected for his learning ana his character, is slightly a perforator; he drills a small hole through the two parietals and draws his fine wire quite through the brain—in at one side and out at the other.
Observe how coolly the driving screw is attached in his preface:—
*' These fifteen Lectures on the Philosophy of Life are intended to give, as far as possible, a full and clear exposition of the most interesting topics that can engage human attention. In the opening, they treat of the soul, first of all, as forming the centre of consciousness; and secondly, of its co-operation with mind or spirit in science, that is, the acquisition of a right knowledge of man and nature, and of their several relations to the Deity. These matters occupy five Lectures of the whole series. The next three treat of the laws of Divine wisdom and providence, as discernible in outward nature, in the world of thought, and in the history of mankind. The last seven contain an attempt to trace the development of man's mind or spirit, both within himself and in science and public life. Tracing its gradual expansion, as unfolded either by the legitimate pursuit of a restoration to original excellence, or by the struggle with the opposing spirit of the times, they follow the human race through its progressive gradations, up to the closing term of perfection."
Now, were it not necessary that some one should read a little further, and endeavor to offer a word or two of opinions and reasons therefor, we should for our own part cry, "Heigho, here's Philosophy!" and close the work here. The last sentence of the above would be as much as we should care to read, of such, for several days. But let us look into the opening chapter:—
"But when philosophy would pretend to regard this long succession of ages and all its fruits, as suddenly erased from the records of existence, and for the sake of change would start afresh, so perilous an experiment can scarcely lead to any good result, but in all probability, and to judge from past experience, will only give rise to numberless and interminable disputes."
So it might be supposed. '" Such an open space in thought—cleared from all the traces of an earlier existence (a smoothly polished marble tablet, as it were, the tabula rasa of a recent ephemeral philosophy)— would only serve as an arena for the useless though daring ventures of unprofitable speculation, and could never form a safe basis for solid thought, or for any permanent manifestation of intellectual life."
At this rate the reader must see that a cranium of ordinary thinness and density will soon be eaten through and through. It is very fatiguing to sit by the margin of a lazy stream and watch the chips and sticks that float along its surface.
But whoever undertakes the volume will perceive before the end of the chapter, if the preface did not convince him, that he has a task before him. After defining the nature of man to be threefold, consisting of spirit, soul, and body, the author concludes :—" The spirit of man, like the soul, divides and falls asunder; or, rather, is split and divided into two powers, or halves—the mind, namely, into understanding and will, the soul into reason and fancy. These are the four extreme points, or, if the
expression be preferred, the four quarters of it inner world of consciousness."
From this it is pretty apparent to what de?i of tenuity the wire is to be drawn, sod hm minutely the trephining operation is to I applied.
In the next chapter, beginning with the ad he considers " the loving soul as the cenm t moral life, and of marriage;" in this there si many sensible observations, and those who 6* to have the stream run slowly and can asa themselves with the chips, will find in «,( doubtless in the whole book, very agreeat pastime.
German metaphysics are pleasant em»; reading if one will only allow his mio^ I recoil and recover its natural elasticity; iada if one can study hem in this way, sirapiy ml mental exercise, and keep the distinction? H of his head when he wishes to use it for jw or enjoy its power in contemplative revery.ai will be to him refreshingexercise. Bot tM how many lose themselves in those labrriia of distinctions; how many travel in then i they part with the delightful sense of nore^ and came to fancy themselves in the dai highway to great truths, while they are «■ making sucli progress as those who sJm* canter new hobby-horses upon old funis grounds.
Scenes at Washington; a Sttrry rf uV U Generation. By A Citizen Of Balthm Harper and Brothers.
The first and most conspicuous part a title of this volume is common, and A&*. sufficiently indicate its character. Few sons, after looking at the back of the would open it expecting to find a que?pound of Calvinistic faith, Democratic pc and what was intended to be views of fs; able society at Washington, under the Jel nian administration. The story is tofc! clearness, and the author is not affected style, though the characters all are it manners. They are a funny set of p unlike any ever were seen or heard of actual world.
Still, the tale displays much more thai mon ability. It is legitimately written, out exhibiting any great depth or warm! very clear and logical, and is well »u? Its politics are shallow and erroneous: may possibly be the views it enconrs matters which come less directly no notice; it has likewise frequent provitu in style. But, in general, it is a verv i ligious novel—one of the best of its kjn