Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

cretion should have been exhibited by an individual of so much learning. He has certainly misnamed his book. “ Sketches of myself and friends," would have been more descriptive of the contents, than the title it at present bears;- at least, this would have given some shadow of a reason for the appearance of so many passages detailing Mr. Barker's opinions on various topics, and the introduction of so many quotations, which swell the size of the volume, and have no other connection with the general subject, than that they appear to be favourites of the Editor. If the name of any of bis philosophical' or intelligent' or 'amiable and talented' friends is mentioned in the text, the reader is immediately hurried to a note, where he is presented with a list of the individual's works, (if he has written any,) and perhaps with extracts from them; or if an opinion be referred to, we are forthwith furnished with a series of quotations, illustrative and demonstrative. Thus, the mention of bells and of Parr's partiality to a fine chime, produces four letters from Mr. B.'s learned and worthy friend,' H. S. Boyd, Esq. full of dry detail regarding the size, weight, character, and key-note of the principal bells in England; which the writer declares "upon honour,' to be stated without referring to any book or other document;' and the object of all this is, to prove that my (Mr. Boyd's) memory is perhaps equal, perhaps superior to Parr's !' To us it proves something else, --that Mr. Boyd's coxcombry is such as would most certainly have brought Parr's 'whole pickle-salmon tub of invective upon his head, had he ever encountered him.

The general practice of authors, when they have occasion to refer to the writings of another, is to content themselves with a simple reference to the part of the work to which they allude; but this is not Mr. Barker's method. He is too much of a gentleman to give his readers the trouble of a reference. He prefers (for their convenience, no doubt), to transfer the whole article in question to his own pages ! Thus, at page 58, we are presented with the whole of Addison's paper on dreams, from the Spectator; and lest the reader should not be able to make up his mind upon this important subject, a treatise is subjoined by a Mr. Green, of Ipswich, which occupies nearly twelve pages, and to which not even a reference is made in the text. Further on, we are presented with three entire papers from the Adventurer, because Dr. Parr had said that they were the production of Dr. Johnson, not of Dr. Warton, as is commonly supposed. Now it is certainly very polite in Mr. B. to give himself the trouble of transcribing five such long papers for the convenience of his readers; but with all our gratitude for his kindness, we cannot help hinting, that by these and similar achievements, he has encumbered his volume with very unnecessary appendages, and has given it witbal a very dropsical and unhealthy appearance.

We would also whisper in his ear, that less friendly critics might be apt to look upon such doings as mere tricks of one well versed in a certain art, much loved by lazy authors, and much abhorred by judicious purchasers,—the art of book-making!

Mr. Barker, it seems, has no particular zeal for one branch of literature more than another;' and consequently he has al• lowed “ample room and verge enough” for the philosophical discussions of his friend, John Fearn, Esq. This is rather strange, in a work devoted to Dr. Parr; but let us consider the circumstances of the case. Mr. F., it appears, has written a work, in which, amidst much that is whimsical and absurd, he lays down one solid principle, viz. that, but for a variety in

our sensations of colour, we should never, by means of the organ of sight, acquire any knowledge of figures or distances.' This opinion, the late Dugald Stewart notices, in his dissertation on the history of metaphysical science, without telling the world to whom it is indebted for so precious a discovery;--an omission not a little grievous to Mr. Fearn, who thus saw

the labours of a life-time' unacknowledged; and he accordingly wrote to Professor Stewart, 'requesting him to supply the deficiency as quickly as possible. Instead, however, of granting this request, Mr. S. returned for answer, that the opinion in question, though certainly laid down by Mr. F., had always appeared to him a manifest truth, and had been binted at in books at least fifty years older than Mr. Fearn. With this assurance, however, this gentleman was not to be satisfied; and accordingly, he brought himself and Mr. S. before the public, by addressing to that distinguished individual two lengthy letters on the subject, in the “Sunday Times” newspaper. Of these letters, no notice was taken by Mr. S.; and Mr. Fearn and his writings were beginning to be forgotten, if indeed they were ever much noticed, by the public. To prevent, however, so dire a catastrophe as utter oblivion, and to refresh the memory of the world with the recital of his merits and bis wrongs, he no sooner hears of his friend Mr. Barker's intention to publish the work now before us, than, thinking it a channel ‘peculiarly fit and effective' for his purpose, he collects together all his correspondence with Professor Stewart,-a controversy between bimself and Lady Mary Shepherd, on some of his own peculiar doctrines,-a Synoptical Minute of Anti-Tooke, a work he has recently published,--along with all the fine things that have ever been said of him in private letters, reviews, &c., and dismisses the whole budget to Mr. B., who most complacently dedicates to it 107 pages of his “ Parriana!” Now we should have had less objection to this, seeing it is an act of benevolence to his friend, had these papers contained any thing that could in any degree have repaid the perusal; but that he should have given so much space to discussions so palpably empty and useless, is altogether intolerable. We will not go the length of asserting, that we have never met with any thing so absurd and trifling as the contents of these papers of Mr. Fearn, because human folly puts on so many phases, that it is often difficult to tell which is the most ridiculous; but really we cannot at this moment bring to mind any work which sets common sense and sound reason more at defiance,-except, perhaps, some of the mystified reveries of Mr. B.'s philosophical friend,' Thomas Taylor, of Platonic fame,-than do these metaphysical labours of a life-time.'

Bullatis nugis Pagina turgescit, dare pondus idonea fumo ? We have often smiled at the whimsies and conceits of halffledged metaphysicians, but we hardly expected to find one who had devoted his life-time' to the study, seriously telling us, in the nineteenth century, that 'the human mind is a flexible

spherule,' and gravely talking of the edge of a sensation of one colour, met by the edge of a sensation of another colour!' Risum teneatis ? Yet, this is but a specimen of Mr. Fearn's metaphysics. Really, if Mr. B. opens bis pages for such puerile trash, he may open them for any thing; and accordingly, in the next volume, (for he promises more,) we may expect a few lucubrations from some of his mathematical friends, set off with a few elegant sonnets, or a selection of Cambridge puns. It would be better at once to establish a sort of Encyclopediacal Magazine, wherein he might gratify his benevolent heart, by inserting the effusions of his friends. We shall be curious to see of what stuff his second volume will be composed.

Art. VIII. 1. The Literary Souvenir. Edited by Alaric A. Watts. pp. 362. 12 Plates. Price 12s. in Silk. London.

Longman and Co. 1829. 2. The Gem. A Literary Annual. Edited by Thomas Hood, Esq.

pp. 324. 15 Plates. Price 12s. London. Marshall. 1829. 3. The Keepsake for MDCCCXXIX. Edited by Frederick Mansel

Reynolds. 8vo. pp. 360. 19 Plates. Price 21s. in Silk. Lon

don. Hurst and Co. 1829. THESE three crimson-petaled annuals have blown since our

last publication. We have received the specimens too late to enter at much length into a description of their specific characteristics. Like other flowers of cold weather, their • hidden virtues, and even their fragrance, are less thought of * than their gay and glittering appearance. Without a metaVOL. XXX. N.S.

3F

phor, the plates, together with the “silken sheen' of their outward adornment, appear to be what the Editors and Proprietors of these toys of literature seem chiefly to rely upon for a ready sale. The Artists take the lead, in this case, of the poets; and the very soul of these volumes,---which in fact survives ihe body, and is found existing in a separate state after the literary part is dead,-consists of the prints.

To these, therefore, we shall first address our remarks.

Mr. Watts has certainly exerted himself this year with great success. His twelve subjects have the rare merit of being all well chosen, which is more than we can say of the most splendid of the rival publications. We do not mean to compliment him, or rather his artists, so far as to say, that either the designs or the engravings are all of the highest quality. Ehrenbreitstein, by Turner, is a gem. Sir Walter Scott, by Leslie, • cannot fail,' as the Editor says, 'of proving of the highest in• terest to the public; it is, the Editor has reason to know, con• sidered by Sir Walter Scott's family to be by far the best • likeness of him that has yet appeared.' The Proposal, by Leslie, is extremely clever and spirited; it is taken from a larger painting. The Departure of Mary, Queen of Scots, by Leahy, is a beautiful groupe ; and the Sisters, by Stephanoff, forms an attractive print for the shops. There is another by the same artist, which is a failure. Danby has a gorgeous landscape; there is a well engraved plate from a mythological design by Hilton, not much to our taste; and a pretty plate enough by Farrier, Minny O'Donnell's Toilet. The rest are but common-place, and Westall's is very poor.

• The merit due for the selection and character of the em• bellishments' of “ The Gem,” we are told, is attributable to

the taste and judgement of A. Cooper, Esq., the Royal Aca• demician, who has kindly taken that department under his • able and especial care.' Messrs. Hood and Marshall have, we think, in this, exercised a sound discretion. The plates are very spirited and tasteful, and admirably engraved. "The Widow, by Leslie, is a most lovely and touching plate, one of the few that would tempt us to the purchase of the volume that contained them; but the sentiment of the design is profaned by the heartless ribaldry by which it is illustrated.' The Painter's Study, from Chalon, is very elegant and poetical; and Cooper has two companion plates, May Talbot, and the Farewell, which are excellent embellishments, making every one curious to read about them. Hero and Leander, from Howard, is a truly classical subject, admirably engraved; and the Young Helvetian is a very pleasing, and will prove, we have no doubt, an attractive plate. The Embarkation of the Doge of Venice, is very brilliant, clever, and interesting, but the engraving appears to us to want finish. Bone's Fisherman's Daughter too, a very pretty landscape, is marred by some defect in the engraving of the head ; the face looks dirty. Altogether, the volume does great credit to Mr. Cooper and his Artists.

On the various departments of the Keepsake, the enormous sum of eleven thousand guineas has been expended.' Need we say one word of the superlative perfection, both in • literary matter and in pictorial illustration', of this costly work ? There is a landscape from Turner, the Lake of Albano, which cannot, indeed, be easily over-praised; and his Lago Maggiore is almost as good. Stothard has a lovely garden scene from Boccacio; and Stephanoff, who always throws in stage effect, has four plates which will serve ad captandum, and one of them, Clorinda, is interesting, though it looks too much like a scene at Covent Garden. As to the rest, we cannot say that the proportion of the eleven thousand guineas laid out upon them, has been well bestowed. The Laird's Jock, by Corbould, is execrable; Westall's Lucy has been given with variations, a hundred times; and Richter's Ann Page and Slender is a disgusting failure. Ann Page is an awkward, , leering, ill-drawn creature ; Slender, a grinning, slavering, ricketty idiot, without a spark of humour in the conception, or of skill in the execution. Mrs. Peel and the Duchess of Bedford are-fine engravings.

With regard to the literary part, we have already mentioned, that we cannot say much, having received the volumes too late in the month to examine their contents. The transcendent superiority of the Keepsake is, however, by no means very apparent. Sir Walter's contributions will of course ensure the sale of the volume, and atone for much that is mediocre or worse-for Mr. Coleridge's dull and vulgar epigrams, Mr. Reynolds's equally abortive attempts at wit, and the prosing of the sagacious gentleman who has made the discovery, that • Mr. Richter is an artist admirably qualified to illustrate Shakspeare !

The Literary Souvenir, so far as we are able to judge, is ably edited, and fully maintains the character of the former volumes. But we must forbear all other extract, in favour of the following most extraordinary poem by the Editor of the Gem,—which for real genius, deep feeling, and thrilling effect, exceeds any thing that we have for a long time met with. Is it possible, that the Author of this poem could so mistake his gift and calling, as to squander his fine talents, to the sacrifice of his better feelings, upon Whims and Oddities !

• The DREAM or EUGENE ARAM.
''Twas in the prime of summer time,
An evening calm and cool,

[ocr errors]
« AnteriorContinuar »