Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

and good taste are essentials of have a high ideal in his own mind poetry, it must be denied the title of at which to aim. This requisite anything more than rhetorical if Mr. Locker seems to possess, if not nonsensical verse.

we may judge from what he says as to the kind of verse he has attempted in this volume:

[ocr errors]

we

“Light lyrical verse should be short, London Lyrics. By F. Locker.

elegant, refined, and fanciful, not selA new edition, enlarged and finally dom distinguished by chastened sentirevised. H. S. King and Co.-It ment, and often playful, and it should was by his "London Lyrics," if have one uniform and simple design. are not mistaken, that Mr.

The tone should not be pitched high, Buchanan, the plaintiff in the re

and the language should be idiomatic, cent literary libel case, won his

the rhythm crisp and sparkling, the first laurels as an author. Had he

rhyme frequent and never forced,

while the entire poem should be always written with the discretion marked by tasteful moderation, high and moderation, as well as poetic finish, and completeness ; for however insight, he there displayed, society trivial the subject matter may be, indeed might have been spared the sorry

rather in proportion to its triviality, exhibition which reflected so little

subordination to the rules of composihonour on all persons concerned

tion, and perfection of execution, should in it. Mr. Locker's “ London

be strictly enforced. Each piece canLyrics " are of a lighter cast, being

not be expected to exhibit all these

characteristics, but the qualities of for the most part in a jocular vein, brevity and buoyancy are essential. and written in a free and easy It should also have the air of being manner, partaking more of the spontaneous ; indeed, to write it well is character of occasional jeux d'esprit

a difficult accomplishment, and no one than the higher class of lyrics; they

has fully succeeded in it without posare, in fact, rather epigrams than

sessing a certain gift of irony, which is lyrics. Though many of them re

not only a farer quality than humour,

or even wit, but is altogether less comlate to London life, there are quite monly met with than is sometimes as many, if not more, which were

imagined. The poem may be tinctured neither written in London nor have with a well-bred philosophy, it may be any obvious connection with Lon. gay and gallant, it may be playfully don.

Most of them are merely malicious or tenderly ironical, it may playful effusions, with a sparkle of display lively banter, and it may be wit and a pleasant favour of satirically facetious, it may even, conhumour. There is no pretension sidering

it as a mere work of art, be to recondite or original thought;

pagan in its philosophy or trifling in

its tone, but it must never be ponderous but if the sentiment be familiar and

or commonplace. It is needless to say bordering on commonplace, it is at that good sense will be found to underleast always healthy and agreeable. lie all the best poetry of whatever Good sense and good feeling are

kind." everywhere present, while there is not the slightest trace of sickly Of course there is all the differs sentimentalism. The writer takes ence in the world between knowing a cheerful and kindly view of men how a thing should be done, and and things, and is altogether a being able to do it. Probably Mr. merry but no less wise companion. Locker bimself would hardly main

The first requisite of a good tain that he has in every cose come work of art is that the artist should up to his own standard. But it

may safely be said he has never fallen very far below it, and sometimes approached it pretty nearly. Mr. Locker can be pensive and sometimes grave as well as gay. Some readers may prefer his occasional touches of pathos and tender family affection to his brightest flashes of merry wit. The beauty of his sentiment is its truth. On the whole Mr. Locker is to be congratulated on having produced a volume which, though bristling with point, wounds no one, and when once taken up is reluctantly laid aside.

Transcendentalism in New England. A history. By O. B. Frothingham. London: Trübner & Co. 1876. From the above title it may be gathered that the present work is more suited for American than English readers. It is a question whether it will attract or interest even American readers to any great extent. Transcendentalism is a long, high-sounding word, not very easy to bring within the range of popular comprehension. To most minds it is either utterly unintelligible, or suggestive of cloudy mysticism and unpractical dreaming, than which nothing could be more at variance with the sort of character ascribed to the 'cute Yankee. hard to imagine that many of that pre-eminently practical, hard, matter-of-fact people will feel curiosity enough even to look into a book on such a subject, much less spend any length of time over its pages.

It is

There is the less reason for them to do this, that the subject, besides being uninviting in itself, is now obsolete. The transcendentalism here described is a thing of the past, according to the author's own confession. Mr. Frothingham's use of the term is vague and vari

able. Sometimes he employs it to denote a particular school of philosophy, and speaks of Kant as the first transcendentalist. At other times he makes it synonymous with idealism, and ascribes it to Plato.

Then, again, he makes it equivalent to mysticism in religion, as exhibited by Swedenborg, George Fox-the founder of the Society of Friends-and others. But the special signification of the term as the subject of his present work is of a local and personal character. Transcendentalism here denotes rather a mood than a system of thought, an intellectual movement derived from Germany and France some forty years ago, and shared by a small clique of thoughtful persons, mostly Unitarians, at Boston and in the neighbourhood, among whom Emerson, Theodore Parker, and Margaret Fuller occupied prominent positions.

"New England furnished the only plot of ground on the planet, where the transcendental philosophy had a chance to show what it was and what it proposed. The forms of life there were, in a measure, plastic. There were no immovable prejudices, no fixed and unalterable traditions. Laws and usages were fluent, malleable at all events.

The sentiment of individual freedom was active; the truth was practically acknowledged, that it takes all sorts of people to make a world, and the many ninds of the many men were respected. No orders of men, no aristocracies of intellect, no privileged classes of world supplied such literature as there thought were established. The old was in science, law, philosophy, ethics, theology; but an astonishing intellectual activity seized upon it. dealt with it in genuine democratic fashion, classified it, accepted it, dismissed it, paying no undue regard to its foreign reputation. Experiments in thought and life, of even audacious description, were made, not in defiance of precedent-for precedent was hardly respected enough to be defied-but in innocent unconsciousness of precedent.

was

a

[ocr errors]

246
Literary Notices.

August A feeling was abroad that all things The chief of these experiments must be new in the new world. There

communist co-operative was call for immediate application of ideas of life. In the old world, thoughts

scheme at Brook Farm, near Boston, remained cloistered a generation before

which was founded on the principles any questioned their bearing on public

of justice, wisdom, purity, brotherly or private affairs. In the new world,

love, and all the other virtues of huthe thinker was called on to justify manity, with of course a total absence himself on the spot by building an

of selfishness, intemperance, impurengine, and setting something in ity, injustice, or imperfection of any motion. The test of a truth was its

sort, and intended to promote huavailability."

man culture, including "the highest

physical, intellectual, and moral Elsewhere New England trans- education" of both old and young. cendentalism is thus described :

The author favours us with the constitution and bye-laws of the

association, which, after a brief “ Practically it was an assertion of the inalienable worth of man; theoreti

existence of five years with an cally it was an assertion of the imma- average of seventy members, ended nence of divinity in instinct, the trans

in failure and loss. This being the ference of supernatural attributes to

principal practical outcome of New the natural constitution of mankind. England transcendentalism, one Such a faith would necessarily be pro- would be disposed to think the tean in its aspects. Philosopher, critic, movement or school in which it moralist, poet, would give it voice ac

originated might as well have been cording to cast of genius. It would present in turn all the phases of ideal.

allowed to pass into oblivion. Such, ism, and to the outside spectator seem

however, is not Mr. Frothingham's. a mass of wild opinions ; but running opinion, though he is honest enough through all was the belief in the living to confess he did not of his own acGod in the soul, faith in immediate cord undertake the task of chroniclinspiration, in boundless possibility, ing its history. He maintains that and in unimaginable good. The editors transcendentalism in New England, and reviewers of its day could make whether a sound system of thought nothing of it."

and action or not, deserves to have

its history written, because as a It is doubtful whether those of matter of fact it has greatly influthe present day will find it much enced the character and destiny of easier to avoid misunderstanding the American nation. If he could the true nature of this mysterious really prove this satisfactorily, inmovement or school, even with the stead of simply asserting it, one aid of Mr. Frothingham's account might be willing to accept his conof it, which is in fact rather a clusion, though even in that case description of persons than of any the subject would seem to demand system of thought. More than a a higher and more exhaustive style fourth of the volume is taken up of treatment than it has received at with sketchy notices of the chief his hands. “ His purpose," he tells writers in Germany, France, and us, “has been to write a history; England, who are more or less ideal not a critical or philosophical hisin their cast of thought. Then tory, but simply a history; to prefollow chapters on the leading New sent his subject with the smallest England transcendentalists, their possible admixture of discussion, , religious opinions, literary works, either in defence or opposition. practical experiments in political He has therefore avoided the metaand social life, &c.

physics of his theme by presenting

a

Literary Votices.

1876.

seems

6

cardinal ideas in the simplest state- next to Emerson, devoting a special ment he could command, and chapter to him under the designaomitting the details that would tion of “ The Mystic.” He is only cumber a narrative.” Surely described as “a thinker, interior, if the subject was worth handling solitary, deeply conversaut with at all, it should have been discussed the secrets of his own mind, like thoroughly. The idea of writing a thinkers of his order, clear, earnest, history of transcendentalism with. but not otherwise than monotonous out touching upon metaphysics or from the reiteration of his primiphilosophical discussion

tive ideas." A true follower of almost ludicrous to an unsophisti. Pythagoras, he abandoned the use cated mind, not indoctrinated with of animal food, and declining to transcendental mysteries. But if take part in the Brook Farm, or Mr. Frothingham is chary of philo- any other socialistic experiment, sophical discussion, he favours us "he undertook to do his part towards with here and there a specimen the solution of the labour and of transcendental literature, from culture problem' by supporting which we are tempted to present himself by manual labour in Conour readers with a single gem, by cord, working during the summer in " Thomas T. Stone, a modest, re- field and garden, and in winter tiring, deep, and interior man, a chopping wood in the village woodchild of the spiritual philosophy":- lands, all the time keeping his mind

intent on high thoughts. One of

' “Man is man, despite of all the lies these high thoughts was, that all which would convince him he is not, existing forms of society were obdespite of all the thoughts which jectionable, and that it was his would strive to unman him. There is exalted mission to show mankind a a spirit in man, an inspiration from the

better way of life. · Fascinated by Almighty. What is, is. The eternal is eternal; the temporary must pass

his vision of an ideal society, and it by, leaving it to stand evermore.

determined to commence with a There is now, there has been always,

scheme of his own, he resolutely power among men to subdue the ages, began by withdrawing from civil to dethrone them, to make them mere society as constituted, declined to outgoings and servitors of man. It is pay the tax imposed by the authorineeded only that we assert our prero- ties, and was lodged in Concord gative, -that man do with hearty faith jail.” affirm: 'I am ; in me being is. Ages,

Another transcendental curiosity ye come and go; appear and disappear; products, not life; vapours from the

who figures in these pages is Mr. surface of the soul, not living fountain.

Brownson, thus described :
Ye are of me, for me, not I of you or

rational stability of principle he for you. Not with you my affinity, but had nothing, but was completely with the Eternal. I am; I live; spirit at the mercy of every speculation. I have not; spirit am I.'”

That oihers thought as he did, was

enough to make him think otherThere may be more in this than wise; that he thought as he had meets the eye, but to those blest six months before was a signal that with only average perspicacity it it was time for him to strike his looks very much like solemn trilling tent and move on.” or ironical caricature. A still We fear our reaủers will think brighter luminary in the galaxy of we have already transcended the New England transcendentalists bounds of reason in devoting so is Mr. Alcott, whom the author ranks much space to such senseless mon

" Of

me

strosities, and will therefore refrain

degree from ignorance, which is not from further remark.

alone confined to the mass of the population, but is largely shared by those who claim to rank par excellence as

“ the educated classes." Cup and Platter ; or, Notes on There is, however, a growing disFood and its Effects. By G. Over- position in the public mind to reend Drewry, M.D., author of " The gard this subject with the importCommon-sense Management of the ance it merits, and we are inclined Stomach," and H. C. Bartlett, Ph.D., to believe that the time is not far F.C.S. Henry S. King and Co., distant when instruction in the London. 1876. It is only during leading principles that govern the the present century that the sub.

physiology of life and regulate ject of Dietetics has received the health, will be considered an essenattention which its vast importance tial part of national education. in the economy of human life de- The work before us is, in mands. Dietetics, properly under- respects, a valuable contribution to stood, includes the adaptability of the many popular treatises that food to individual constitutions have appeared, of late years, on the with a view to the preservation of subject of Dietetics. What relates health, and also regimen or hygiene. to the “ Platter" is commendable In other words, Dietetics is the for sound physiology, good sense, science of using food so as to

and practical utility. The writers maintain health, and also of em- very clearly point out how essential ploying it as an auxiliary curative

the knowledge is of the chemical agent in the treatment of actual elements of food, and of the laws disease. The valuable researches that regulate the all-important proof physiologists and chemists have

cesses of digestion and assimilation. succeeded in placing dietetics on a Upon this knowledge depends the sound scientific basis, and a com- skilful employment of diet as a petent knowledge of the subject, therapeutic agent, and also its especially in its prophylactic and judicious use as a most potent therapeutic bearings, is now rightly means of counteracting hereditary deemed an essential part of an ac- predisposition to disease :complished medical education.

Mankind, for the most part, live as if the air they breathe, and what “If every one were born healthy, and they eat and drink, had no serious there were no constitutional diseases, and abiding relationship with the the proper system of diet might soon preservation of health. Public

be arrived at; but inasmuch as, from

the earliest times to the present, a health is public wealth; hence the

certain peculiar tendency to some one great importance of educating the

particular form of disease, or a deviapeople in sound sanitive principles, tion from health, has been recognized which are few and easily understood. in each individual, it is of the highest The laws of health are just as importance to ascertain in which direcfixed and undeviating in their opera- tion the tendency lies. By a welltion as those that govern the uni.

regulated system of life, and notably verse, and no natural law can be

by a proper selection of food, we may

counteract that disposition, affording in infringed with impunity. But the laws of health are perpetually vio

plenty those matters which are lacking,

and withholding such as in each indilated, not only from indulgence in vidual case tend to form compounds in vitiated appetites, but also in a large excess of those necessary for health.

« ForrigeFortsæt »