« AnteriorContinuar »
able articles to this more permanent dress. The papers here collected are entitled Tennyson's Poems, Wordsworth's Poems, Poetry and Criticism, The Angel in the House, Carlyle's Sterling, Esmond, My Novel, Bleak House, Westward Ho, Wilson's Noctes Ambrosianæ, and Comte's Positive Philosophy. Any one of these essays is so superior in taste, insight, originality, and artistic finish to those review articles which generally disappoint all one's expectations, as to leave an intense feeling of regret that the genial and gifted writer should have been removed from his valuable labors just as his powers were reaching their maturity. His decease took place in May, 1857.
EMANUEL GEIBEL, if not one of the greatest, is confessedly one of the most popular, of living German poets. His Gedichte have already run through forty-two, and we believe more, editions. In his own land, his name has become as a household word. In this country and in England he is little, if at all generally, known. Yet there is the true poetic fire in him, something to warm and stimulate us,something to make us think better of ourselves, a fervor and a grace to fascinate us, a religious thoughtfulness to deepen us. It is not our purpose now to criticise him, only, in a certain fulness of conviction as to his worth, to say our word about him to those among us who will overstep the boundaries of speech, to welcome through other tongues the new hope and the fresh thought; - yet not for pleasure only, or at all, except as that waits ever upon the higher culture and the clearer vision. Touching his life and work we gather the following facts. He was born at Lübeck, on the 18th of October, 1815; first taught at the gymnasium of his native city, he went in 1835 to Bonn to study philology and theology; but soon confining himself to philological and æsthetical studies, he went to Berlin in 1836, where he found a genial welcome to the cultivated society of Chamisso and Gaudy and Kugler. At the recommendation of Savigny, he obtained in 1838 an appointment as tutor in the family of Prince Katakazi, the Russian Ambassador at Athens. The leisure which this situation afforded he employed in learned investigations and in poetical studies, and also in a tour of the greater part of the Archipelago in company with his celebrated countryman, Ernst Curtius, whose works on Greece have thrown new light on some of the obscurest points of its early history.
Returning to Lübeck, in 1840 he made his first appearance as a writer, in a work, undertaken in conjunction with Curtius, entitled "Classical Studies," containing translations from the Greek poets; and shortly after, in 1840, also appeared his first printed poems, which were so favorably received, that on New Year's day, in 1843, the king of Prussia bestowed upon him a yearly pension of three hundred thalers (about $225). Thus helped out of want, he devotes himself to literature. Turning to the study of that of Italy and Spain, he published in 1843 his "Spanish Popular Songs and Romances,"
* Gedichte von EMANUEL GEIBEL. Zweiundvierzigste Auflage. Berlin: Verlag von Alexander Duncker, Königl. Hof buchhändler. 1857.
1852 by his "Spanish Song-Book." In these years he lived in various places in Germany; -- with Freiligrath at St. Goar on the Rhine, at Stuttgart, Hanover, in Silesia, at Berlin and Lübeck,- till in 1852 he was made a Professor of Esthetics in the University at Munich. In 1846 he published a little epic entitled "King Sigurd's Bridal Journey." In 1848 appeared his "Juniuslieden," which reached its eleventh edition in 1857. In 1844 he attempted a drama, called “King Roderick," and has since busied himself with greater dramatic compositions, an example of which, called "Siegfried's Death," was published in 1851. His masterly "Twelve Sonnets" are among his best achievements. In 1856 appeared his “ "Neue Gedichte." These are the external facts.
The Gedichte, of which alone we speak, are divided into four books; the first, "Lübeck and Bonn, 1834-35"; the second, “Berlin, 1836-37"; the third, "Athens, 1838-40"; the fourth "Escheberg, St. Goar, 1842 - 43," with sundry Intermezzos. The division is of use if one seeks to follow the development of the poet's mind under the influence of the changing years and varying scenery; but we lay no stress upon it. Geibel is not of the highest order of poets. The master mind which shall mould a nation's literature, and give a stimulus to men over all the earth for centuries, appears only now and then. The age wants its poets, as it wants its journalists, to reflect its thought, its hope, its striving, - to utter, as it were, its prayer, to record its Vow. They are born of the age, and die with it. How many of the writers and thinkers, statesmen and orators, men of letters and men of science, are more than that? Out of this ocean of surging humanity there rises now and then the great beacon-light, God-given, to show us where we are; but there rises, too, the humbler brother, to sing away the anxious hours. Geibel is remarkable rather for harmony of words than depth of thought. The flow of his verse is full of melody. The sound alone might content one. Yet there is an earnest feeling in it, and a truth of nature, and a fancy so simple and beautiful always, that one does not wonder it has captivated the heart of the people. There is a repose in him which reminds you of Uhland,—that gracious name, which to pronounce is to recite a poem, - and there is a certain gentleness and liveliness, a sweet earnestness, which has long made him a favorite with women. There is a moral purity, also, which is as a fresh flower in the desert of European materialism. The sorrow and the pain of life are sorrow and pain still with him, he will not disguise them, nor seek to make the explanation of them into an apothegm. He utters for us our grief, and the confession relieves us of a burden;
“Denn nur von innen kommt der Segen."
He speaks our joy, and our hearts are glad in his words. He is rather our confessor than our teacher. Instruction you may find everywhere, but sympathy is a rare wild-flower on the alpine heights of life. It is not an easy thing to determine how much of a poet's wisdom is the result of his own experience, or of that wider vision which takes in all human experience, which is the attribute of genius. The women said
of Dante, when they saw him go by in the streets of Florence: there is Dante, who has been in hell." Like that divinest of poets, Geibel sounds no awful depths of consciousness; rather moving smoothly over the surfaces of life, he breathes into our ear his cheerful, often stirring, lyric words: "The heart has its Easter, too,..... and what thou lovest forever is thine forever."
MR. WHITE has made a very agreeable book, as might have been expected, out of the Report of the Committee appointed last spring to decide on the prize for a "National Hymn." The prize, naturally enough, elicited nothing that is likely to stamp itself on the memory and fancy of the people. Instead of any of these ambitious or crude attempts, a simple Methodist melody, with almost no words at all, and called “John Brown's Body," or, rather profanely, the "Hallelujah Chorus," has grown to be the hymn of this campaign, and stirs the soul of our loyal battalions as "Ça ira" and the "Marseillaise" stirred the blood of Revolutionary France. Many of the specimens which Mr. White drolly gives as bona fide competitors for the prize, are evidently dull attempts to hoax the Committee; and the evident anticipation of the prize by the authors of them was no doubt a well-meant, but excessively stupid joke. Oddly enough, the public seems to have taken them as genuine efforts. One excellent, solid anthem is given, that by Mr. Hopkins; and one noble, patriotic hymn, that by Mr. Willis, only too rich in fancy and delicate in melody for the rough uses of such a composition. These are all the real additions we have found to our stock of national melodies. The dissertation on popular songs, and on the lack of such in the English race, is very interesting and curious. So, too, the history of the two great national hymns par excellence, that of loyalist England and republican France. "God save the King" is pretty clearly shown to have been a Jacobite song, and the authentic sovereign prayed for to have been "James," not "George." The argument from the line, "Send him victorious," and the quaint distich,
"Confound their politics,
Frustrate their knavish tricks,"
is worth reading as an ingenious comment, worthy of the excellent annotator of Shakespeare. The keen but good-humored references to English taste, and temper give a piquancy to parts of this essay, which we should hardly have expected from their subject.
ABOUT a year and a half ago, our attention was attracted to the very remarkable and interesting experiences detailed in the little volume whose title we give below. The "missing link" in the efforts hitherto to Christianize the poor of large cities has been the Christian ministration and sympathies of their own class. We know nothing in
*National Hymns: How they are written and how they are not written. A Lyric and National Study for the Times. By RICHARD GRANT WHITE. New York: Rudd and Carleton. 8vo. pp. 152.
The Missing Link; or, Bible Women in the Homes of the London Poor. By L. N. R. New York: Robert Carter and Brothers. 12mo. pp. 302.
the annals of missionary work, hardly anything in the records of religious experience, more striking and beautiful than the devotion, the skill, the courage, and success of some of these Bible women, chosen from among the poorest of the poor. The descriptions of the worst haunts of London poverty are well drawn, and may stand fairly by the side of Mayhew's. They are introduced, however, merely to show the field of this charity. The argument urged throughout is, that the true way has been found in it, to bring in self-respect, thrift, comfort, independence, among the most haggard and hopeless of these children of God. The Bible opens the way to all the other forms of charity and improvement. It is never given, either gratuitously or on trust, but sold, in its cheapest or fairest form, to persons who are persuaded to save a penny a week - generally from the cost of tobacco and gin till it is paid for. Here is the first lesson of thrift and morals. In the same way, other religious books, and, by degrees, various home comforts as beds and clothing, of which they stand frightfully in need -are purchased out of the savings of the poor, and a new light dawns on their wretched estate. Of examples of humble, sincere, toilsome, self-denying piety, we do not know where we can find more or better than in this modest volume.
THE volume of selections from Dr. Brown's "Horæ Subsecivæ "* forms one of the most delightful collections of miscellaneous essays and sketches which have recently fallen under our notice. It opens with the well-known and much-admired tale entitled "Rab and his Friends," than which there is scarcely a more touching and beautiful narrative in our language; and this is followed by seventeen other papers, all of them of great and various merit, and some of them of unsurpassed pathos and tenderness. Among those which will be read with most interest are the admirable letter to the Rev. Dr. Cairns on his Memoir of Dr. Brown's father, the article on Arthur Hallam, and the sketch of Dr. Chalmers. Beside these, there are notices of Vaughan's Poems, and of Dr. George Wilson, the celebrated chemist, and several little sketches, of which it is not too much to say that they are only inferior to "Rab and his Friends." One article- not by Dr. Brown, but contributed by his kinsman John Taylor Brown - deserves especial notice. It is an exegetical paper on Galatians iv. 15, and is designed to show that Paul's "thorn in the flesh" was some disease of the eyes, the effect of the supernatural blindness that came on him in the way to Damascus. This supposition is not a new one, but we do not remember to have seen it anywhere else so strongly and powerfully urged; and we commend it to our clerical brethren as an ingenious, and we think satisfactory, argument in support of this hypothesis. The whole volume, however, will be read with pleasure and profit, and we doubt not that it will soon take its place among the small number of books which every reader cherishes as special favorites. A writer so genial and healthful in every page is a general benefactor, and will surely win his way to many firesides.
Spare Hours. By JOHN BROWN, M. D. Boston: Ticknor and Fields.
THE new edition of Tennyson's "In Memoriam" is by far the most elegant book which has been published in this country during the past year, and is one of the best specimens of American book-making that we have ever seen. Its exquisite beauty is alike creditable to the taste of the printers and the liberality of the publishers. Its value, moreover, is much enhanced by the insertion of a brief and very graceful memoir of Arthur Hallam, for which we presume that we are indebted to the pen of Mr. Fields.
A WORD of the neat and tasteful issue of Mrs. Browning's Poems (in "blue and gold") by James Miller, of New York, the more timely and acceptable, since the poet has sung her last song, and every note of her lyre is become doubly precious. It corresponds to the London edition of 1856, including also the "Poems before Congress," and the fugitive pieces published in the Cornhill Magazine and the Independent. Among the more attractive of these latter are "Little Mattie," "Mother and Poet," and "Parting Lovers."
JAMES G. GREGORY, of New York, is supplying a want that has long been felt. He is issuing rapidly a library edition of the Works of Charles Dickens, which, as to size, paper, type, binding, and illustrations, leaves nothing to be desired. Thirteen volumes have already been published; among which will be found the last, and in some respects the best, story of the genial and popular author of the "Pickwick Papers," "Great Expectations." The admirers of Dickens will be safe in ordering this edition, which is as cheap as it is hand
THE friends of Theodore Parker, and all who are interested in the characteristic utterances of his mind, will be gratified with the neat little volume of his Prayers, phonographically taken down as he spoke them, kept as cherished memorials of his ministry, and now published, with a portrait, by Messrs. Walker, Wise, and Company.
NEW PUBLICATIONS RECEIVED.
A Translation of the Syriac Peshito Version of the Psalms of David; with Notes, critical and explanatory. By the Rev. Andrew Oliver. Boston: E. P. Dutton & Co. 12mo. pp. 331.
A Text-Book of Church History. By Dr. J. C. L. Gieseler. Translated and Edited by Henry B. Smith. Vol. IV. A. D. 1517164 The Reformation and its Results to the Peace of Westphalia. New York: Harper and Brothers. 8vo. pp. 593.
* In Memoriam. Boston: Ticknor and Fields. 1861. 4to. pp. xxvii. and 343.