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profitable amusement. But of how much greater utility would a valuable library prove, where the highest efforts of the genius, taste, and talent of the present and past ages are collected! Of how much greater value would a good library prove to a person, though surrounded with the rough scenery of Iceland, than if he were surrounded with the richest and most beautiful landscape which a tropical clime can display while destitute of the intellectual benefits and delights which books afford !
The utility of a library, as compared with the various works of art and taste, can never be placed in any second rank. The following anecdote related of Dr. Franklin shows his opinion on this subject, and contains at the same time a characteristic reproof. A subscription being requested of him to purchase a bell for a meeting-house, he refused to contribute for such a purpose ; but presented a donation to the church for the purchase of a library; stating the reason to be, that " he preferred sense to sound.”
Instead of comparing libraries with other methods for improvement, as though they could be separated, it would be more proper to consider them as constituent parts of all sorts of improvement, seeing that they store and gratify the mind; libraries are necessary to promote the great interests of education; they are inseparable from the highest prosperity and benefits of sabbath schools, as well as of colleges and all other literary and scientific institutions. They are eminently serviceable to the ministry, independent of their direct usefulness to the church. They supply preachers with constant nutriment to their minds by new information and by recalling what may be forgotten, and also by preparing congregations to comprehend and relish what is delivered in their hearing. In short, a system of libraries, spread over any land, if chosen, established, and regulated by wise and good men, could not be overrated, even if it were said to be worthy to stand by the side of our greatest institutions,-our Bible, our missionary, and our school societies. And, not to dwell longer on benefits and worthiness, subscriptions for the formation and establishment of libraries in every village, cluster of hamlets, and defined portion of a county or parish, would be for the direct benefit of the subscribers; and more especially for the benefit of their children. Whereas the only recompense to the contributors to some other institutions of great public utility is, the satisfaction of doing good.
We have made use of the Memoir relative to the Itinerating system, which is not a very recent publication ; and also of the plan by the American writer, not with the expectation that either the one or the other will be established and maintained by the authority of Government, not even by any great society of philanthropists, to an extent to embrace the British empire. Our purpose has merely been to indicate and to recommend the adoption of some scheme of
libraries by every parish of the country, especially in landward parts, so as to beget and satisfy a taste for good and useful reading. Such institutions would mightily aid the cause of a grand system of national education, go hand in hand and reciprocate with it, even in its best developed condition. There cannot be a district in Great Britain or Ireland but has wealthy and benevolent persons connected with it, who would feel it a pleasure and a profit to countenance and support a library more or less akin in principle and details to the systems we have been describing; and if but one institution of the kind is suggested and established in consequence of what has appeared in our pages, our labour will be more than rewarded.
Art. II.-- Fragments of Italy and the Rhine-Land. By the Rev. T. H.
White, M. A. London: Pickering. A SCHOLAR, a gentleman, a poet, has written this volume. We say a poet ; for Mr. White is endowed with an imagination that is so rich and fertile that the most common or most frequently described things are rendered fresh and charming by him, —charming, although the object may be otherwise repulsive or disagreeably associated in one's mind, by the beauty and tasteful judgment with which he brings out its character and lineaments; a poet, for while his mind is stored with lovely images, drawn from what he has observed and studied, he has the faculty of seizing upon the main points, and possesses a most happy skill in the art of subordinating, to the production of fine harmonies. His style, too, is so remarkably compact that it does not occupy much more space than had his ideas been thrown into the form of blank verse.
With regard to his opinions and sentiments, this feature cannot fail to recommend the volume; they are his own. And yet there is no obtrusive, affected singularity at least in the manner of them. They are characteristic, but not, to appearance, the result of any anxiety to be original. Again, these Fragments obviously contain the living impressions which the author experienced, we should say at moments when his mind was most susceptible, in finest tone, and when first moved. These impressions may not always be just, but they have an individuality about them that is agreeable; they may be too strong, or such as no other person would experience, but they are informing. On these accounts scenes and routes which multitudes of tourists have described are by Mr. White's pen made the reverse of stale and wearisome; for they become to a considerable degree new.
The matter of the book is weightier and more select than had it been a regular narrative, a continuous description of what was seen,
felt, and gathered. It consists of Fragments, as the title properly announces; and which have the character and the value of the choicer portions of a journal kept by a person fully competent to pronounce an opinion upon natural objects, the arts, and men and manners. It does not appear to us that Mr. White set out with any very dogmatic theories in his head; at least in the department of criticism. Of course we do not mean in the capacity of a divine; nor do we suppose that the “ Chaplain to the Most Honourable the Marquis of Downshire" is without his political biasses. Perhaps, too, he is tainted with the Oxford new theology, he being at the same time M.A. of University College. But what we wish to signify is, that he does not seem to have travelled with stilted notions, nor to have cherished any severe principles to which everything was to be bended. He was too ready to be pleased to be pedantic; too enlightened to be illiberal: and therefore as a volume of light reading the present is not surpassed by any in our literature, in respect of gracefulness, abundance of thought, and novelty of impression.
Mr. White's tour embraced Gibraltar and Malta, as well as Italy and a descent of the Rhine ; and all that we need now to do is to perform the pleasing office of plucking some of the richly coloured pictures which he dexterously frames. Take him and Gibraltar first of all:
“ And now, my dear what shall I say to you of this wonderful rock ? Nothing can exceed the beauty and variety of the vegetation with which its mighty bosom is all over embroidered. What think ye, at this season, of clusters of the white and odoriferous narcissus-polyanthus, and whole beds of lavender-flowers of the deepest purple and most aromatic fragrance ? Every five yards you encounter beautiful shrubs, of which I know not even the names ; and the broad rough stems and fan-like foliage of the palmetto mingle in wild abundance with the gigantic leaves of the aloe, and the uncouth and unwieldy bunches of the prickly pear. Some parts are all blue with periwinkles; and here and there the wild tulip shows half its bulb, about the size of a turnip, among tufts of the most delicious herbs. Lower down are almond and damascene trees in full blossom, and here and there a noble old pine waves in gloomy majesty side by side with the light and feathery cork-tree. The atmosphere-it is indeed Paradise to breathe it! All is fragrance, verdure, and bloom. The indescribably beautiful Almeyda, with its geranium hedges and gorgeous coloured flowers, occupies the broad esplanade at the base ; while the blue surface of the Mediterranean, backed by the solemn outline of the Granada and Barbary hills, finishes the picture.
“ You have no idea what a nice, little, clean, pretty, bustling town Gibraltar is. The fortifications are a source of astonishment and delight
Their extent, size, and beauty, must be seen to be appreciated. And as for the streets-there you behold a daily masquerade of nations ! You are absolutely bewildered with the incessant variety of feature, com
plexion, and costume, which you encounter at every step. The noble countenance of the Spaniard, shadowed by his black steeple-hat; the turbaned Moor, with his clear olive cheek and large eye ; the scarlet scullcap of the handsome Greek; the African Jew, with his hideous cowl of striped cloth; the Turk, the Negro, the Italian, and, though last not least, the well-fed, fair, and comely Englishman, mingle in the variegated gala of this romantic town.”
This was in January, and the contrast with our cold and humid clime, and our numerous chilling winter-features, no doubt operated upon our clerical author's feelings and notions; so as to deck the rock with beauties and interesting objects to his imagination, which might not have been perceived or relished on a second or third and prolonged visit. Even in Malta he found a delightful and refreshing oasis.
“The gardens of San Antonio, the Governor's country palace, form a delightful oasis in this unpleasing shadeless tract. There you enjoy a cool shelter in the airy corridors filled with the geraniums and every rare exotic, and their arcades hung with the most graceful parasitical plants; while in the orange and lemon groves, of a size rivalling our apple and cherryorchards, you are permitted to quench your burning thirst with the most delicious fruit, just as in England you would pull gooseberries. It was in these gardens that, among a thousand rare shrubs, I first saw the caoutchouc, or India-rubber plant: it was of the size of a timber-tree, its leares enormous, forming a perfect parasol; and by piercing its bark, from whence issues a white milky liquor, we soon ascertained its affinity to that substance which, in my childhood, I implicitly believed to be manufactured out of the hide of the rhinoceros. In less than two minutes it became tough and elastic. Some magnificent fountains were also set playing here; and, combined with the luxuriant shadows of the golden fruit-trees, formed a most grateful antidote to the intense heat of these blue and glowing skies. There are several gazelles allowed to rove at liberty in these noble gardens; and I fed one of these beautiful creatures with rose-leaves, which the graceful and gentle animal munched with much avidity out of my hand. It appeared to be passionately fond of them; and as each successive handful was consumed, it turned up to me its large soft eye with such a look of fondling entreaty as I found to be utterly irresistible.”
Take our author on his approach to Rome :-
“ From Terracina you enter the dismal, the interminable Pontine Marshes; a long, straight, dull avenue of poor-looking trees, forming for thirty miles your only screen from the dreary and pestilent Campagna. The inhabitants of this fatal region painfully attest its deadly climate. Squalid, haggard, stunted, and torpid, it makes one's very heart ache to see them. In fact, the entire approach to Rome on this side affects one with profound melancholy. For miles before you enter the gates, you traverse an extent of bleak and barren turf, studded with every variety of ruin : tombs, towers, temples, and aqueducts, expose their forms of swarthy
brick-work, naked and grim as ghosts upon the shores of Styx, without a single tree to wave over their storm-stricken walls, a tuft of shrubs to fill up their rugged chasms, or a mantle of ivy to veil them as they fall.
“If, however, Rome needed a herald to proclaim her majestic wonders, and usher the stranger, with feelings somewhat corresponding with her paramount magnificence into her towery gates, her aqueducts alone would answer that purpose. Extending their endless colonnades of arches, tier upon tier, range after range, until their proud sweep dwindles in the distant horizon-rivalling the ramparts of Aurelian in height, and resembling, in their architecture, the porticos of a palace, (supposing the Titans to have ever built a palace,) the imperial aqueducts of Rome form an admirable epitome of that insatiable luxury which made even convenience a tributary to taste, and compelled even the necessaries of life to participate in the spread of its ostentatious grandeur."
What a picture or rather what pictures in a few lines ! How definite, firm, and fine the strokes ! Now hear how our Anglican churchman deals with the pomps and ceremonies of Holy Week:
“Well, the Holy Week, with all its elaborate pomps and ceremonies, is begun! Yesterday being Palm Sunday, I had my first view of his Holiness in the act of blessing the palm-branches and delivering them to the Cardinals, Archbishops, Bishops, Princes, &c., who were to bear them in procession. He had on his silver mitre; and much resembled a muddled old woman. He is a bloated-looking person, with a very disagreeable physiognomy: and when mounted on his canopied litter, in his white mitre with lappets like those of a nightcap, his eyes shut, and his face drawn into a peculiar grimace, which might be either laughing or crying, the effect was so purely ludicrous that nothing but considerations for the sanctity of the place enabled me to keep my countenance.
“Nevertheless, my passion for magnificent costumes and gorgeous colours was completely satiated. Never did my eye behold, or even my imagination picture, anything approaching the costliness, beauty, and splendour, emblazed upon the ceremonial robes of the higher ecclesiastics. Cloth of gold and cloth of silver, their splendid tissue interwoven with silk of Tyrian purple, scarlet, violet, light blue, crimson, and yellow-satins, damasks, and velvets, embroidered with golden branchwork, brocades so massive that their wearers seem to be sheathed as in a panoply-floated down the nave of St. Peter's in a blaze of pomp to which the rainbow is a faint simile. And where the sun, streaming down upon the gorgeous gloom of the cathedral, kindles this chaos of colours into living light, the dazzling display absolutely bewilders one. But there ends (at least, it did with me) the effect produced by this
Heavy lightness, serious vanity.' Not one thrill of devotional awe, not the least impulse of veneration, not the slightest effect upon the heart, is even for a moment produced by all this glittering ostentation. It is the sense of seeing only that is gratified to satiety; and I for one, who had been led to imagine that my soul was to be stormed through my senses, was surprised to discover myself more than vol. III. (1841.) NO. IV.