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Begins to hope for death as for a joy,
The Sixty-third Number of the Quarterly Review., We have taken up this Number of the Quarterly with a peculiar interest, growing out of our desire to learn what character the new editor intends to give to this journal. A very general dissatisfaction was expressed at the temper which appeared to actuate the former editor. His intimate friends said of him, that though mild and gentle in personal intercourse, he was a tiger the moment he took pen in hand. Though we Americans were naturally led to notice this spirit more in the scandalous articles relative to this country, yet liberal readers could not but be disgusted with a vein of fierce bigotry running through the whole work.
It would be quite premature to speak of the spirit, which this widely spread journal is to breathe under its new editor, from the specimens which we have yet seen. The present number contains among its articles some that are plainly—but not very offensively--marked by the religious and political tone that has ever characterized the Quarterly Review;
but the number is principally made up of matter which bears no such stamp,—which is simply learned or miscellaneous in its nature; and if we may pronounce a judgment without intending to bear it out by a minute analysis of the number, it contains nothing of very brilliant character.
The article on “ Church of England Missions,” reads to us like the Laureate's. There is some information in it;-a good deal of narrow jealousy of the fame of Roman Catholic missions ;-and a considerable blindness on the subject of the peculiar excellence of the Church of England. How can a fair man, of large reading in history of all ages and literature of all subjects, say, “ that the plain sincerity of the Protestant accounts (of missions] and the elaborate machinery in those of the Catholics, would go far towards satisfying any sane mind upon the question, which is the true church?” In this article a long and curious extract is made from Mather's Magnalia.
The article on “ Palladian Architecture,” with a great deal of learning on the history of architecture in modern Italy, contains views not less sound than bold, on the merits of particular works. We refer especially to those on St Peter's.
A very long article on the “ Origin of Equitable Jurisdiction” we reverently eschew. We have read to the end of the second sentence, which is to this purport; “ Blackstone has observed, that nothing was extant in his day, which would give a stranger a tolerable idea of our courts of equity; and his own chapter on the subject, elegant and ingenious as it is, cannot be said to supply the deficiency.” If all that the learned Commentator has said on the subject does not afford a “ tolerable idea” of it, we think it not worth while to plunge into an article of about forty pages, written probably by one no more a Solomon than his neighbours.
The article on “ South America” is entertaining, but not otherwise of note. It is a good compilation from the late travellers. Mr “ Dibdin's Literary Companion” is handled with a severity, just indeed, except as not deserved by the importance of the miserable work in question.
“ Past and Present State of the Country,” well drawn up and entertaiping, without pretensions to vigour. It winds up with a cut at the reformers.
“ Irish Fairy Tales " consists of amusing extracts from a book of similar title. “ Sacred Poetry” discusses the susceptibility of sacred subjects of a poetical treatment, in opposition to Dr Johnson's dogma to the contrary; and also sketches the history of English sacred poetry ;a sensible article. “ Ancient and Modern Wines " appears to be a clever abstract of Dr Henderson's work on the subject, with free criticisms upon that work, and some original speculations.
The article on Early Roman History,” which is the third in order, is in some respects particularly worthy of notice. It purports to be a notice of the Roman History of Baron Niebuhr; an essay on the same subject, by Professor Wachsmuth of Halle ; and a sketch of Roman antiquities by Professor Creuzer of Heidelberg. The Roman History of Niebuhr was reviewed in the North American Review above two years ago. The present Quarterly reviewer says of it, “ The history of Niebuhr has thrown new light upon our knowledge of Roman affairs, to a degree of which those who are unacquainted with it can scarcely form an adequate notion. Yet we are not aware, that it has been so much as noticed in this country (England), except by ourselves in a former Number of this journal (Quarterly Review No. XXVII. p. 280), and more recently within the last few months by a writer in another periodical publication.”
Considering the contemptuous opinion, which has bitherto been inculcated in the Quarterly Review of the state of literature in America, it would not have been amiss for the reviewer to hint, that the American public had two years before the English been put in possession of some of the new and important views contained in Niebuhr's work, in a formal review of it.
This present article in the Quarterly is principally compiled from Niebuhr's account of the Roman military system and the great and inconceivably misunderstood subject of the Agrarian laws. Niebuhr's views on this subject were explained in the North American, in the article just alluded to. In the former article in the Quarterly, though its writer professed to have read and admired Niebuhr, he used the old language about "equalization of property,” “ levelling laws," and "destroying the motives to industry,” and plainly showed that he bad not read even the prominent chapters of the work he undertook to commend. The writer of this present article (apparently the same individual) has discovered the nature of the Agrarian laws, and calls them wise : but he does not hiot at the leading views of Niebuhr as to the peculiar origin of the Roman state, and we strongly suspect had only had a chapter or two of Niebubr's translated for him. If he will wait a little longer before he writes on Niebuhr again, he will have the work entiro (as far as it is written) in an English version from a gentleman of South Carolina College; a translation is also announced in England.
In the same article it is said, “In this country [England) even professed scholars know in general very little of the works of the Roman lawyers; in proof of which we may remark, that the recent discovery of the Institutes of Gaius has been scarcely noticed, and not half a dozen
copies sold in England, while an entire edition has been disposed of on the continent, and the work either is or was a very short time since out of print.” Of this recent discovery (made in 1816) a particular account was given to the American public more than four years ago, and might have been given four years earlier by several American scholars.
There is, however, in this article, towards its close, a train of very liberal reflection, particularly toward the Germans; and a moderate estimate of the merit of the English, in certain departments, where they have been wont most undeservedly to claim a superiority ; and which we are disposed to put on record, as a strong testimony against the prejudices of certain of our citizens. “ But our inferiority -it is the Quarterly that speaks" is still more striking and less excusable, in every branch of study connected with the history, antiquities, and literature of Greece and Rome. We believe that there are many writers of those nations, whose works have never been edited in England at all; but it is more to the purpose to inquire, in how many instances the editions of any of them, generally received as the best, have been executed by Englishmen. If we except certaio portions of the Greek dramatists and poets, we really cannot remember a single one, and if this be spoken too universally (as through forgetfulness it may be), we are sure at least that the exceptions will not be more than sufficient to prove the rule. In lexicography our list contains scarcely a name of high reputation; and the many defects and errors of the Greek grammar which is most commonly used in our schools, may well excite a foreigner's astonishment."
In a note to this passage it is observed, “It will be seen at once, that we refer to the Eton Greek Grammar; by whom it was first written, and what character it deserved to bear in relation to the then existing state of knowledge, we know not but it is decidedly behind the present (ge, AND DOES NOT TEND TO GIVE BOYS AN ACCURATE KNOWLEDGE OF THE PARTS OF SPEECH OR THE PRINCIPLES OF SYNTAX."
Walladmor, a Romance, freely translated from the English of Walter Scott, and now freely translated from the German into English. London. 1825. 2 vols. 12mo.
Most of our readers have heard of this production, which was offered to the German trade, at the fair of Leipsic, as a genuine translation. The circumstances of the fraud gave it a temporary interest in England, and we procured a copy with the intention of giving our readers a particular account of it, with large extracts, but on examination it seems to us to be unworthy of it. It has little claim to be considered even as an imitation of the Waverley novels, being altogether German in its character. t is sometimes flippant, but generally heavy and dull.
NORTH AMERICAN TRADITION OF THE FLOOD.
Mr West, in his very interesting journal of his residence at the Red River Colony, lately published, relates the following tradition, current among the North American Indians. It seems, however, to bear marks
of modern interpretation. “They spake of an univeral deluge, which, they said, was commonly believed by all Indians. When the flood came and destroyed the world, they say, that a very great man, called Waesackoochack, made a large raft, and embarked, with otters, beavers, deer, and other kinds of animals. After it had floated upon the waters for some time, he put out an otter with a long piece of shagganappy or leathern cord, tied to his leg; and it dived very deep without finding any bottom, and was drowned. He then put out a beaver, which was equally unsuccessful, and shared the same fate. At length he threw out a muskrat, that dived and brought up a little mud in its inouth, which Waesackoochack took, and, placing it in the palm of his hand, he blew upon it till it greatly enlarged itself, and formed a good piece of earth. He then turned out a deer, that soon returned, which led him to suppose, that the earth was not large enough ; and, blowing upon it again, its size was greatly increased, so that a loon, which he then sent ont, never returned. The new earth being now of a sufficient size, he turned adrift all the animals that he had reserved."
The Journal of Lyons gives an interesting account of the discovery of a Fossil Elephant on the hill which separates the Rhone and Saone, to the east of the city of Lyons. Some workmen, digging a pit on clayey marle, found, at a depth of seven and a half feet, some frag. ments of bones, which were white and rather friable. They were surprised to see these animal remains in what the gardeners call a virgin earth. “ I went to the place,” says the writer of the notice, “and soon recognised soine of the bones of an elephant. Among the persons present, some pretended they were bones of a giant; others, not so ignorant, said they were the skeleton of a mammoth. Those who agreed with me, that these large bones had belonged to an elephant, took it into their heads, they were the remains of one of those belonging to the army of Hannibal.”
The substance, commonly known by the name of rice paper, is brought from China, and although it has a general resemblance to a substance formed by art, yet a slight examination of it with the microscope is sufficient to indicate a vegetable organization. A series of experiments to ascertain its structure have shown, that it consists of long hexagonal cells, whose length is parallel to the surface of the film. These cells are filled with air, when the film is exposed in its usual state, and from this circumstance it derives its peculiar softness. It is a membrane of the bread-fruit tree, the artocarpus incissifolia of naturalists, and when the film is exposed to polarized light, the longitudinal septa of the cells polarize it like other vegetable membranes.
MR POINSETT'S NOTES ON MEXICO. This work, which has been some time before the American public, and has received from all quarters the commendation due to its distinguished merits, has just been re-published in London.