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“ The praise takes the same form of language,
• Thou cool, thou cold, thou warmth, thou heat!' with occasional recurring of the same images, and rises in power until it and the whole poem, indeed, ascending to the praise of God himself, swell into highest intensity,
"God of thee speaking, God of thee saying !' The very words seem to shake with servor of emotion, and by repetition of utterance to sob out their inability to utter his supreme love.
“The gradual toning down of the poem from this intensity is sensuously executed with marvellous skill. At first one of the repetitions of the line,
'God of thec speaking, God of the saying,'— is left out in a stanza. In the next one another one is left out, and the first one changed, moreover :
"God of thee speaking, repentance raises ;'the usual feminine rhyme being yet, however, retained. But in the next one the masculine rhyme takes its place again, and in all the following stanzas the rhythm retains its even flow. A few verses lead to the notable close of the poem, which expires in a long-drawn sigh.
“It is, of course, impossible to render in a translation all this sensuous beauty and art of rhythm, rhyme, and word-sound. I can say only that I have done
best.' Not the least interesting feature of the work is the sketch of the life of that most fantastic of all his fantastic guild, the Minnesinger Ulrich von Lichtenstein, which our readers will probably remember as having first appeared in the pages of this magazine. Briefer notices are given of Frauenlob, Walther von der Vogelweide, and others.
The book closes with a critical notice of the metrical romances of the period, which were chiefly founded on the legends of Arthur and his knights, or Charlemagne and his Paladins. These are illustrated by translations from Gottfried of Sırassburg's Tristan and Isolie, which, in its multiplicity of detail, and the way in which every point is dwelt on, as if the narrator could never weary of telling nor his hearers of listening, strongly reminds one of Chaucer.
On the whole, this book is a most interesting account of a very remarkable and singularly luxuriant flowering-time of literature, of which all modern German poetry may be said to be the fruit, while, through the latter, it has in no slight degree influenced our own.
W. H. B.
Thorval.lsen : His Life and Works. By Eugene Plon. (Illustrated.)
Boston: Roberts Brothers. 873. This very elegant volume consists of two parts; the first giving a condensed biography of the great Danish sculptor from his birth in 1810, as the son of a poor carver of figure-heads for ships, to his death in 1844, lamented by a whole nation, and attended to the tomb
with a pomp of mourning such as is usually bestowed on monarchs. And strange enough is that life which links these two widely different extremes strange in its weakness and strange in its strength.
Thorvaldsen seems to have brought to the study of the antique a fresher mind than that of the Southern sculptors of the time. He had not learned to look upon these masterpieces through the eyes of others, but saw them through his own, and thus acquired a simplicity and grandeur of style which has made itself felt in all German and Scandinavian art.
Many curious anecdotes are scattered throughout the narrative. Here is one of Lord Byron, whose bust Thorvaldsen made in Rome. “When this nobleman,” he says, “came to my atelier to sit to me, he took a seat opposite me, and put on directly an expression entirely different from his natural one. My Lord,' I said, 'please keep perfectly still, and I beg of you do not look so disconsolate.' 'It is my natural expression,' replied Byron. "Really!' I said, and without paying attention to this affectation, I began to work in my own way. When the bust was finished, everybody thought it a striking likeness, but my lord was dissatisfied. “That face is not mine,' he said ; 'I look far more unhappy than that'- for he was so obstinately bent on looking miserable !
Odder than this was the performance of the Historical Society of Rhode Island, which when the great sculptor was at the zenith of his fame, elected him an honorary member, on the strength of the discovery by some local antiquary that an ancestor of Thorvaldsen had commanded an expedition to Rhode Island as far back as the year 1007, and had a son born to him there — the first native American of European blood, from whom the genealogy was traced without a flaw down to the artist! • The second part of this volume gives a critical account of his various works, with many interesting particulars relating to his contemporary artists and art.' The work is embellished by thirty-five beautiful impressions on India paper from engravings representing his chief works.
Off the Skelligs. A Novel. By Jean Ingelow. Boston: Roberts
Brothers. Ar all events here is a book that does not belie its name, but is a real novel, that is, something new. A great part of the works we see, professing to be novels, have everything to justify that prosession but the one fact of novelty. They are merely variations on old themes, old characters with new names, old situations re-arranged. But in this book of Miss Ingelow's there is freshness and originality, almost amounting to oddity sometimes, from the first page to the last.
The very structure of the story is odd. The heroine's life lies in three quite distinct and almost unconnected planes of existence, besides a queer parenthetical one. And the oddness of the thing is that no one of these planes or stages is rendered necessary by any of the others, but might have had almost any precedence or any following.
Dorothea Graham is first introduced as a child, living with her brother and mother a curious dreamy life in an old quiet country town. The brother is a precocious genius, with an extraordinary gift of acting and imitation. The mother is immersed in mathematics, and the children are left a great deal to themselves and their fancies. Then the household is broken up, and Dorothea goes to boarding-school, where she remained until she is a young lady, a period of time not occupying more than a half-dozen pages of the book.
From the school she goes to live with her uncle on board his yacht, which becomes so completely her home, and she is so utterly dissevered from the land, that whereas she had before “been accustomed to look upon this world as consisting of certain countries bordered by the sea, now I began to think of it as a globe of water. I no longer thought of the shapes of continents, but of the shapes of the seas in which they lay."
While leading this wandering life, they fall in with a burning ship, and rescue some of the passengers. One of these is a Mr. Brandon, the hero of the story, if we may use that term. At the invitation of his family, Dorothea pays them a visit at their country-seat, and from this moment she is as completely severed from her sea-life as she was before from her home-life. And as she might have gone to live on the yacht from any previous life, so any chance that had made her acquainted with Mr. Brandon's family would have answered the purpose as well. There is no necessary interdependence between the parts.
So with the disconnected and unnecessary episode of her life in London and her work among the poor, which springs from nothing and leads to nothing that might not have happened as well without.
This whole incident of the burning ship is out of proportion to the results that follow. A novelist should economise his forces, and only, use tremendous catastrophes, such as battles, earthquakes, conflagrations, when events of proportionate magnitude require them, which could not be effected with less. It is not allowable to depopulate a city by a pestilence that a hero may muse in solitude, nor to burn a ship at sea with frightful horrors, that a young lady may make the acquaintance of a country family.
Considered by itself, however, this incident of the burning ship, with the rescue of the passengers, is described with great power. We quote a paragraph or two.
As she spoke, two strange objects came into my view. One was a great pale moon, sickly and white, hanging and seeming to brood over the horizon; the other, which looked about the same size, was red and seemed to lie close at her side. It was not round, but looked blotted and blurred in the mist. Could it be a meteor ? a lighthouse? Whatever it was, it was the cause of the commotion which had been so intense, and which now seemed to be already subsiding I had heard the men called up not three minutes before, and now two boats were already lowered, and Tom was in command of the foremost. I heard his voice coming from the water, and no one prevented me now from rushing to the side to look over, turning my back on the moon and her lurid companion. Though the night was not dark I could not discern the boats; and after straining my eyes into the mist, I observed that it was very rapidly melting away, and rolling on as well as rolling together, so that spaces of water here and there were clear, and moonlight glittered on them. The binnacle light glared in my uncle's face as he stooped over it. I heard Brand whisper to his wife that he had taken charge of the yacht, and I did not dare to speak to him, though what it might be that alarmed them I could not tell.
It was as it seemed but a moment that I had stared out into the mist, looking for the boats with still sleepy cyes; then, as the sailors that were left tramped back to the fore part of the yacht, I turned again. The mist had shaken itself and rolled on before a light air that was coming. I saw two great pathways now lying along the waters; one was silver-white, the pathway of the wan moon, the other was blood-red and angry, and a burning vessel lay at her head.
Oh, that sight! can I ever forget it? The fire was spurting from every crevice of the black hull, her great main-mast was gone, the mizzen-mast lay with several great white sails surging about in the water, and she was dragging it along with her. The foremast only stood, and its rigging and sails had not yet caught. A dead silence had succeeded now to the commotion in the vessel; men were standing stock-still, perhaps waiting for their orders, and my uncle's were the only eyes that were not strained to follow the leaping and dazzling spires.
Every moment we approached. Now the first waft of the smoke came in our faces, now we could hear a cracking and rending, the creak and shiver, and the peculiar roaring noise made by a mastering fire.
“A full-rigged ship,” I heard Brand whisper to his wife. “Eleven hundred tons at the least."
“Merciful heaven!” she whispered in reply. “I hope she won't blow up. Anyhow, I thank the Lord we've got Master in command himself.”
Í never saw anything like the horrible beauty of that red light. It added tenfold to the terror of the scene to see her coming on so majestically, dragging with her broken spars and great yards and sprawling sails. She looked like some splendid live creature in distress, and rocked now a good deal in the water, for every moment the wind seemed to rise, bringing up a long swell with it.
The moon went down, and in a few minutes the majestic ship supplied all the light to the dark sky and black water. I saw the two little dark boats nearing her; knew that my brother was in the foremost, and shook with fear, and cried to God to take care of him; but while I and all gazed in awful silence on the sailing ship, the flames, bursting through the deck in a new place, climbed up the fore-rigging, and in one single leap, as if they had been living things, they were licking the sails off the ropes, and, shooting higher than her topsails, they spread themselves out like quivering fans. I saw every sail that was left in an instant bathed in flames; a second burst came raging up from below, blackening and shrivelling everything before it; then I saw the weltering fire run down again, and still the wreck, plunging her bows in the water, came focking on and on.
“ How near does our old man mean to go ?” whispered Mrs. Brand; and almost at that instant I observed that he had given some order to the man at the helm, and I could distinctly hear a murmur of satisfaction; then almost directly a cry of horror rose — we were very near her, and while the water hissed with strange distinctness and steamed in her wake, her blazing foremast fell over the side, plunging with a tremendous crash into the sea, sending up dangerous showers of sparks and burning bits of sail-cloth, and covering our decks with falling tinder.
The black water took in and quenched all that blazing top-hamper, and still the awful hissing was audible, till suddenly, as we seemed to be sheering off from her, there was a thunderous roll that sounded like the breaking of her mighty heart, and still glorious in beauty she plunged head foremost, and went down blazing into the desolate sea.
There is the same uncertainty or want of definiteness of purpose about several of the characters, that induces us to think the author had no distinct plot in mind in the first half of the book, or else changed her intentions more than once. Tom, for instance, is introduced as a precocious genius, a wonderful actor and born artist; but nothing comes of it, and he subsides into a commonplace young fellow, is kept out of view, and lapses discreditably at the close. There are some vague rumors of a father in Australia, whose existence has nothing to do with the story; and the abstracted mathematical mother, after leading us to expect great things from her constant writing, merely goes out to join her husband, and vanishes from sight.
But artistic imperfections though these may be, they scarcely detract from the charm of a book that is full of genius, full of life, vivacity, and life-like character. The conversation is delightful, especially where that absurd boy Valentine, with his whooping cough, his cracked voice, his indescribably droll courtship, his love of fun, his sulks and his good humor, takes a part in it. We get to like the young fellow so much, that his behavior at the close gives us real pain, and we wish the author had not brought him quite so low.
We should like to give extracts illustrating these points, but we really do not know where to begin nor where to stop ; and besides we do not want to spoil the pleasure which our readers will have in reading the book itself, which they had much better do than study our dull comments.
W. H. B.
Doctor Vandyke. A Novel. By John Esten Cooke. New York:
D. Appleton & Company. In every-day life, when a man sees a traveller whose destination he knows, turning off into a wrong road, it is universally held to be his duty to set him right; and this duty is especially imperative if the road he is about to take is pretty sure to plunge the one who follows it over a precipice or engulf him in a quagmire. Nor is such interposition and warning usually taken in dudgeon or resented as an impertinence. Why it is, or should be, otherwise in matters pertaining to literature, we can not pretend to say ; but a long and dolorous experience has taught us that the slightest intimation to a writer that he is mistaking his special powers, following a bad model, or otherwise getting into a wrong track, is usually looked upon rather in the light of a stab or a violent assault than a friendly admonition from a fellow pilgrim.
Be that as it may, our duty remains all the same. The lighthouse keeper must kindle his lamp, whether the mariners thank him or not; and especially in a case like the present when a trim craft seems to be driving on the shoals.
Mr. Cooke, the author of the volume before us, is well known to our readers as the author of several works of fiction in which certain very interesting and picturesque phases of life and states of society as they existed in Virginia two or three generations ago, have been depicted with fidelity and power. It was a worthy theme for the artist - one full of grace and dignity, and full also of humorous features, all which he has well known how to seize and transfer with a dexterous hand to his canvas.
Whether other and greater powers may not be his, we can not say; we can only speak of what he has done and done well.
But here, we are sorry to see, he has gone off altogether on a wrong track, and almost the very worst track he could have taken. We have here a mysterious and deformed personage who experiments on the secrets of life and death, discovers chloroform, and (like the Black Dwarf) hides an old love-sorrow under cynical behavior, and a "sardonic, almost sneering expression.” We have a mysterious