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Only to breathe it, and the busy echo
Time fiew, and I am now
Reports of Cases, argued and determined in the Supreme Judicial Court of the State
of Maine. By Simon Greenleaf, Counsellor at Law. Vol. II. containing the Cases of the Years 1822 and 1823. Hallowell. 1824. 8vo.
It is matter of no small credit at this day, to win the reputation of a good reporter. The books of decisions have increased, and are increasing with such a fearful rapidity, that there is a serious duty upon the good sense and ingenuity of the author to render his work sutficiently compendious for readers who have so much on their hands, as well as a serious affair for gentlemen of the profession to peruse and digest them as they come from our publishers. And yet we know not that this can be helped, and for the good of the cause, perhaps we ought not to mourn about it. Added to all this, the frequency of these volumes is little more than what we have reason to expect. Besides the disposition of the present age to fix and perpetuate legal decisions, under every form of record, there appears to be in our country, a sectional pride and ambition, professed by a majority of the states, to preserve the decisions of their tribunals, in the sbape of a book of authorities. It is not enough in this nation, or in England that the great principles of the law should be well circulated in society, and matter of common learning amongst the people ; but learned and industrious minds have thought it better that their various applications should be seen in extenso in order to be better understood and better appreciated. Hence books of reports, as well as treatises in which leading cases are cited and commented upon, have literally poured from the press in latter times; and compared with the days even of Lord Manstield, our own may be said to be an age of peculiar advantages in the learning of jurisprudence.
In this country, the modern English reports are of doubtful value. Upon the whole we would rather have our own. In some of the states where the technical severities of the English law are but little departed from, there may be some love left for their books of decisions; but we believe they are going out of date.
The peculiar situation of this country, as an Union, consisting of so many independent parts, will readily suggest the necessity of a multitude of reports: and it is surely as much our duty, and should be as much our pleasure, to examine the judicial features of our own country expressed in these books, as to contemplate those of another that possess, each day, less and less interest for us.
We are pleased with Mr Greenleaf's book as well for the lucidus ordo that distinguishes it, as for the brief but comprehensive manner in which he arranges the arguments of counsel. There is nothing laboured in the style of his reporting, and yet there is nothing omitted which is relevant to the case, so far as he is concerned in setting it down. This, certainly, is a great excellence in these book-bearing days—and will operate as an essential aid to those whose ambition or professional practice may lead them to a long, and sometimes, of necessity, a rapid examination of cases through the multitude of authorities. It is, in fact, making a digest of the volume itself, and yet doing perfect justice to the logic and learning of the bar.
The decisions, which, for the most part, are delivered by Chief Justice Mellen, form a valuable addition to the book and the jurisprudence of the state. It is almost needless to say they are lucid, direct, and learned expositions of the law, and will give new weight and respectability to the mass of high legal authorities with which our country abounds.
We think the profession of his state, as well as of others, will have particular reason to thank Mr Greenleaf for the “aid and comfort” of this volume; and though this is not the first time he has come honourably and successfully before the public as a law author, still we will not with hold from himn our testimony to his merit, nor the expression of our belief that a continuation of his labours will be highly acceptable to his brethren.
Fauna Americana. Being a Description of the Mammiferous Animals inhabiting
North America. By Richard Harlan, M. D. &c. &c. Philadelphia. 1825. pp. 318.
Tue great and increasing attention paid to the cultivation of Amer. ican natural history, is highly gratifying, and no where has there been more zeal displayed, and no where has it been more successfully exerted than at Philadelphia. “ The manor of living nature,”-this is the motto to Dr Harlan's book,-is so ample, that all may be allowed to sport on it freely; the most jealous proprietor cannot entertain any apprehension that the game will be exhausted or even perceptibly thinned. This is more especially true of our own country than of any other. There is no department of natural history which does not afford ample scope for the exertion of all the zeal and talebis which may be devoted to its service. The author of this work fills the office of Professor of Comparative Anatomy to the Philadelphia Museum, and both from his sitvation and his pursuits has had many opportunities for acquiring a knowledge of this subject. There is every evidence that he is well grounded in the principles of the science to which he is devoted, and the prescnt publication we believe upon the whole a very useful and important one; but we are constrained to say that there are marks of haste and a wąnt of finish about it which we should bave rejoiced not to see. Tbere is nothing in it, perhaps, to mislead or confound an adept in the science; but it is to be recollected that there are few besides beginners among American students of natural history; and the work should have been more carefully adapted to their wants than it appears to have been.
Dr Harlan describes one hundred and forty-seven species as inhabitants of North America, of which several are new and described for the first time by him, and eleven are fossil and extinct. To the order Primates belong
1 species Carnivora
The Improvisatrice, and other Poems. By L. E. L. Boston. 1825. 18mo.
We cannot find place for a long and complete review of Miss Landon's Improvisatrice, though the reputation of a noble name, and the merit of a young writer might seem to demnand it of us. It may give interest to this work, to know that the writer is of a noble family : but in the literary world there is no aristocracy, nor pride, nor power, but that of genius; and whatever influence the high rank of an author may have with English critics, it can have none with us. The Improvisatrice is a beautiful poem, but it has great defects. It is written in that free and careless way in which we are led to think an improvisatrice would sing.
It is a romance of a maid of Florence, who recites the story of her own life, and a tale of her love, “ fond, faithful, and un. happy.”
The story of the Improvisatrice is as follows. She was singing to her lute in a calm evening by the Arno's side, and among her listeners was one, Lorenzo, who became loved by her and her lover. The tale she sung was “ A Moorish Romance," from which we shall make one extract, as this will serve for a fair specimen of those characteristic features of the style of the poem, which we wish to exhibit to our readers.
Day fades apace : another day,
Half-hidden by the cypress gloom,
Is sung each evening at her tomb.
The bark is waiting in the bay,
Or wait and be--ABDALLA's bride! Lorenzo and the Improvisatrice met afterwards in the Florentine galleries and at a masquerade, but not as lovers meet.
Lorenzo was already betrothed to another, to whom he was soon married. The Improvisatrice was one night passing the cathedral of St Mark. It was lighted up, and she entered the old walls, where preparations had been made for a marriage ceremony. Lamps were burning at the altar, and sweet flowers were strown in the aisles; and when the bridal train came in she recognised, in the face of the bridegroom, the pale
features of Lorenzo. From that time her life became one of desertion and sorrow. Ere long, however, the bride of Lorenzo died, and he returned to his Improvisatrice with all the fervour of a first love. But it was too late ; she was dying and wasted away. The narrative closes with the prophecy of her own death.
The tale exhibits all the enthusiasm and fine feeling which belong to an Improvisatrice; and in reference to this assumed character, the very carelessness of the composition renders it more true to nature, by bringing it nearer to the free style of extemporaneous recitation.
The Miscellaneous Poems occupy the greater part of the volume, and are of very various merit. We consider the following as the most beautiful of those, whose length would permit their being quoted.
THE SOLDIER'S FUNERAL.
That soldier had stood on the battle-plain,
The bugles ceased their wailing sound