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The Keepsake, for 1830. Edited by Frederick Mansel Reynolds. London. Hurst, Chance, & Co., and R. Jennings. 8vo, pp. 352.
THIS is the most costly of all the Annuals. It sells for a guinea, and the others for twelve shillings. It ought, therefore, to be superior to any of them, and this year we think it is. The embellishments, of which there are eighteen, including the presentation plate, are truly beautiful; and the literary contents, especially in so far as regards the prose, are highly interesting, and of much intrinsic merit. The illustrations we shall not at present stop to describe, being well aware that any description could but feebly convey to the reader the pleasure to be derived from the actual contemplation of works of art so splendid and select. Wilkie's picture, however, of the "Princess Doria washing the feet of the Pilgrims," we must barely mention; as also "The Bride," by Leslie, the" Widow of Ems," by Deveria, and the "Prophet of St Paul's," by Chalon, chefs-d'œuvre which would reflect credit on any age or country. With the last, in particular, we are charmed to an extraordinary degree. Much as we have admired some of Chalon's works, we did not think he was able to produce any thing so fine as this. The female figure is almost perfect in its loveliness, and contrasts with the Black Page and the old Astrologer, both exquisitely conceived, in a manner too delightful ever to be forgotten after being once seen. Charles Heath has bestowed all his labour upon the engraving, and every one knows, that when Charles Heath labours, it is with almost unequalled delicacy of touch, and invariably with an effect and a success correspondent.
The first article in the volume is a Tragedy in prose, by Sir Walter Scott, which is of itself enough to secure the success of the work. In a short prefatory notice, Sir Walter informs us, that this tragedy was written nearly thirty years ago, and was modelled upon the German school of dramatic writing, which at that time had become fashionable, in consequence of the impression which the productions of Goethe and Schiller had made upon the British public. The story was partly taken from a German romance, but the scenes and incidents were much altered. It was at oue time on the point of being produced at Drury Lane, when John Kemble and his sister, Mrs Siddons, would have supported the principal parts; but some doubts whether the plot was such as to secure its success with an English audience ultimately prevented its representation, and it has lain in neglect and obscurity ever since. "Very lately," says Sir Walter, "the writer chanced to look over the scenes of this work, with feelings very different from those of the adventurous period of his literary life during which they had been written, and yet with such as perhaps a reformed libertine might regard the illegitimate production of an early amour. There is something to be ashamed of certainly; but, after ali, paternal vanity whispers that the child has a resemblance to the father." "Being of too small a size or consequence," he modestly adds, "for a separate publication,
the piece is sent as a contribution to the Keepsake, where its demerits may be hidden amid the beauties of more valuable articles."
The plot of this tragedy, which is entitled "The House of Aspen," may be stated in a few words. Rudiger, Baron of Aspen, an old German warrior, is married to Isabella, and by her has two sons, George and Henry. Isabella, when very young, had been married against her will to Arnolf of Ebersdorf, and it was not till his death that she was able to espouse her first love, Rudiger. At the commencement of the drama, we find the old Baron · confined, by a recent accident, to his castle, while his sons, George and Henry, are in the field against their neighbour, Roderic, Count of Maltingen, the hereditary enemy of the House of Aspen. They give him battle, and return victorious, to the great joy of their father, and the no less joy of his niece, Gertrude, who is betrothed to Henry, the younger of the brothers. George, however, notwithstanding his success, brings back with him a heavy heart, for his attendant, Martin, having been severely wounded in the fight, and imagining himself at the point of death, had informed him that Arnolf, his mother's first husband, had not died in the common course of na- ¿ ture, but had been carried off by poison administered to him by Isabella herself through the agency of Martin. Laden with this terrible secret, and scarcely knowing whether to believe it or not, especially when he considered the character for sanctity and good deeds which his mother had acquired, George seeks an interview with her, and, after an interesting and well-wrought scene, becomes convinced of his mother's guilt. Meantime, Martin had been taken prisoner by Roderic, the hostile chief, who also, through this means, becomes acquainted with Isabella's crime. The knowledge at once points out to him a method by which he might be effectually revenged upon the House of Aspen for its late successes. Roderic is an influential member of the Invisible Tribunal-a secret association of a very dangerous kind, which then existed in Germany, and of which George of Aspen was likewise a member. One of the rules of this association was, that its members bound themselves by most solemn oaths to conceal from ' the Tribunal no crime whatever which might come to their knowledge, though perpetrated by those who were nearest and dearest to them. The penalty of concealment was death; and where there was no concealment, the person accused was dragged before those secret avengers, tried, and, if found guilty, executed on the spot. Roderic, therefore, loses no time in summoning a meeting of the Tribunal, imagining that he would thus have both George in his power, who could scarcely be expected to denounce his mother, and Isabella also, who, through the evidence of Martin, could easily be convicted. As soon as George received the summons to attend the meeting, he perceived its object, and that his only chance of saving his mother depended on his being previously able to get the witness' Martin out of the hands of Roderic. With this view he dispatches a minstrel, who had lately come to the castle, of Aspen, and who, by changing his dress with Martin, and remaining himself in his stead, succeeds in enabling the former to effect his escape. Roderic is, of cour
much exasperated when he discovers the stratagem, and, in his rage, he explains to the minstrel the reason why Martin's rescue was so much wished for by the house of Aspen, The minstrel is thunderstruck, and declares himself to be Bertram of Ebersdorf, brother to Isabella's first husband, and that he had assumed the disguise of a minstrel, in consequence of his having incurred the displeasure of the Government. He now announces his intention to Roderic to attend the approaching meeting of the Invisible Tribunal, and do all in his power to aid in re
venging the murder of his brother. It is here that the fourth act closes, and the catastrophe is wound up in the fifth, at the meeting of the Tribunal. We shall extract a part of this ably-executed scene:
ACT V.-SCENE I.
The subterranean chapel of the Castle of Griefenhaus. It seems deserted, and in decay. There are four entrances, each defended by an iron portal. At each door stands a warder, clothed in black, and masked, armed with a naked sword. During the whole scene they remain motionless on their posts. In the centre of the chapel is the ruinous altar, half sunk in the ground, on which lie a large book, a dagger, and a coil of ropes, beside two lighted tapers. Antique stone benches of different heights around the chapel. In the back scene is seen a dilapidated entrance into the Sacristy, which is quite dark.
Various members of the Invisible Tribunal enter by the four different doors of the chapel. Each whispers something as he passes the Warder, which is answered by an inclination of the head. The costume of the members is a long black robe capable of muffling the face: some wear it in this manner; others have their faces uncovered, unless on the entrance of a stranger: they place themselves in profound silence upon the stone benches.
Enter COUNT RODERIC dressed in a scarlet cloak of the same form with those of the other members. He takes his place on the most elevated bench.
Rod. Warders, secure the doors! (The doors are barred with great care.)
Rod. Herald, do thy duty! (Members all rise-Herald stands by the altar.)
Herald. Members of the Invisible Tribunal, who judge in secret and avenge in secret, like the Deity, are your hearts free from malice, and your hands from blood-guiltiness? (All the Members incline their heads.)
Rod. God pardon our sins of ignorance, and preserve us from those of presumption! (Again the Members solemnly incline their heads.)
Her. To the east, and to the west, and to the north, and to the south, I raise my voice; wherever there is treason, wherever there is blood-guiltiness, wherever there is sacrilege, sorcery, robbery, or perjury, there let this curse alight, and pierce the marrow and the bone. Raise, then, your voices, and say with me, Woe! woe! unto offenders!
Alt. Woe! woe! (Members sit down.)
Her. He who knoweth of an unpunished crime, let him stand forth, as bound by his oath when his hand was laid upon the dagger and upon the cord, and call to the assembly for vengeance.
Member. (Rises, his face covered.) Vengeance! Vengeance! Vengeance!
Rod. Upon whom dost thou invoke vengeance? Accuser. Upon a brother of this order, who is forsworn and perjured to its laws.
Rod. Relate his crime.
Accuser. This perjured brother was sworn, upon the steel and upon the cord, to denounce malefactors to the judgment-seat from the four quarters of heaven, though it were the spouse of his heart, or the son whom he loved as the apple of his eye; yet did he conceal the guilt of one who was dear unto him; he folded up the crime from the knowledge of the Tribunal; he removed the evidence of guilt, and withdrew the criminal from justice. What does his perjury deserve?
Rod. Accuser, come before the altar; lay thy hand upon the dagger and the cord, and swear to the truth of thy accusation.
Accuser. (His hand on the altar.) I swear!
should it be found false?
Accuser. I will
Rod. Brethren, what is your sentence? (The Members confer a moment in whispers-a silence.)
Eldest Mem. Our voice is, that the perjured brother merits death.
Rod. Accuser, thou hast heard the voice of the assembly; name the criminal,
Accuser. George, Baron of Aspen. (A murmur in the assembly.)
A Member (suddenly rising.) I am ready, according to our holy laws, to swear, by the steel and the cord, that George of Aspen merits not this accusation, and that it is a foul calumny.
Accuser. Rash man! gagest thou an oath so lightly? of innocence and virtue. Member. I gage it not lightly. I proffer it in the cause
Accuser. What if George of Aspen should not himself deny the charge?
Member. Then would I never trust man again. Accuser. Hear him, then, bear witness against himself. (Throws back his mantle.)
Rod. Baron George of Aspen!
Geo. The same-prepared to do penance for the crime of which he stands self-accused.
Rod. Still, canst thou disclose the name of the criminal whom thou hast rescued from justice: on that condition alone, thy brethren may save thy life.
Geo. Thinkest thou I would betray, for the safety of my life, a secret I have preserved at the breach of my word?No! I have weighed the value of my obligation-I will not discharge it but most willingly will I pay the penalty! Rod. Retire, George of Aspen, till the assembly pronounce judgment.
Geo. Welcome be your sentence-I am weary of your yoke of iron. A light beams on my soul. Woe to those who seek Justice in the dark haunts of mystery and cruelty! She dwells in the broad blaze of the sun, and Mercy is ever by her side. Woe to those who would advance the general weal by trampling upon the social affections! they aspire to be more than men they shall become worse than tigers. I go: better for me your altars should be stained with my blood, than my soul blackened with your crimes. (Exit George by the ruinous door in the back scene, into the Sacristy.)
Rod. Brethren, sworn upon the steel, and upon the cord, to judge and to avenge in secret, without favour and without pity, what is your judgment upon George of Aspen, self-accused of perjury, and resistance to the laws of our fra ternity? (Long and earnest murmurs in the assembly.) Rod. Speak your doom.
Eldest Mem. George of Aspen has declared himself perjured-the penalty of perjury is death!
Rod. Father of the Secret Judges eldest among those who avenge in secret-take to thee the steel and the cord; let the guilty no longer cumber the land.
Eldest Mem. I am fourscore and eight years old. My eyes are dim, and my hand is feeble; soon shall I be called to the throne of my Creator. How shall I stand there, stained with the blood of such a man?
Rod. How wilt thou stand before that throne, loaded with the guilt of a broken oath? The blood of the criminal be upon us and ours!
Eldest Mem. So be it, in the name of God!
(He takes the dagger from the altar, goes slowly towards the back scene, and reluctantly enters the Sacristy.) Eldest Judge. (From behind the scene)-Dost thou for give me? Geo. (Behind)—I do! (He is heard to fall heavily.) (Re-enter the old Judge from the Sacristy. He lays on the altar the bloody dagger.) Rod. Hast thou done thy duty? Eldest Mem. I have. (He faints.) Rod. He swoons-remove him.
(He is assisted off the stage. During this, four members enter the Sacristy, and bring out a bier covered with a pall, which they place on the steps of the altar. A deep silence.).
secret, like the Deity, God keep your thoughts from evil, Rod. Judges of evil, dooming in secret, and avenging in and your hands from guilt!”
Isabella is afterwards brought in and accused by Bertram. Finding that there is no hope of escape, she stabs herself and dies. Further cruelties, about to be perpetra
ted by the Tribunal on the old Baron Rudiger, are interrupted by the arrival of the Duke of Bavaria, who ba nishes Roderic and Bertram from the empire; and the reader being allowed to suppose that Henry will ulti
nately be married to Gertrude, both of whom are subordinate characters, the play concludes.
Athenian world. The circulars are arrived, and circulating like the vortices (or vortex's) of Descartes. Still I have As to the merits of this composition, it will be evident, a due care of the needful, and keep a look-out a-head. As my notions upon the score of moneys coincide with yours, and even from the brief sketch we have now given, that it is with all men's who have lived to see that every guinea is a entirely German, both in its conception and execution. philosopher's stone, or at least his touchstone, you will By this we mean that the truth and simplicity of nature doubt me the less when I pronounce my firm belief that are rendered subordinate to strong effect and strange situ- cash is virtue. I cannot reproach myself with much expendation, and that, for the sake of presenting a sort of meta-iture, my only extra expense (and it is more than I have physical puzzle in the character of Isabella, whom we spent upon myself) being a loan of two hundred and fifty pounds to, and fifty pounds' worth of furniture which cannot help liking, though she is a murderess, all probabi- I have bought him, and a boat which I am building for lity is disregarded. There is a morbid gloom cast over the whole production, which is disagreeable, because it is myself at Genoa, which will cost about a hundred pounds But to return. I am determined to have all the monot like human life. At the same time, we readily grant that this is the fault of the school from which Sir Walter neys I can, whether by my own funds, or succession, or Scott borrowed, and it was a fault which, under the cir- lawsuit, or MSS., or any lawful means whatever. I will In other respects, the pay (though with the sincerest reluctance) my remaining cumstances, he could not avoid. play is well conceived, and the individual scenes are spi- creditors, and every man of law, by instalments, from the awards of my arbitrators. I recommend to you the notice ritedly filled up. It would act well, and we are quite in Mr Hanson's letter, on the demand of moneys for the sure that, considering the present reputation of its author, Rochdale tolls. Above all, I recommend my interests to any manager who brings it upon the stage, will find the your honourable worship. Recollect, too, that I expect We believe it was some moneys for the various MSS., (no matter what ;) and, speculation a highly profitable one. stated, in the case of Lord Byron's tragedies, that no in- in short, Rem, quocunque modo, Rem!' The noble feeljanction could be granted against the performance of any ing of cupidity grows upon us with our years. "Yours ever and truly, published play; and why, therefore, might not the manager of the Theatre Royal here commence his winter campaign in November with this tragedy? He may depend There is abundance of upon it, it would have a run. melo-dramatic interest, and the fact of its being by Sir Walter Scott would fill the house for many nights. The parts, too, could be exceedingly well cast with his present company. Murray himself should play the old Baron, Rudiger; Miss Jarman or Mrs H. Siddons, Isabella; Vandenhoff or Barton, George of Aspen; Denham, Roderic; Montague Stanley, Henry, and the other inferior parts could be well filled up. This is worth thinking of either here or in London; but to get the start is the great thing. The article next in interest in the Keepsake, consists of nine unpublished Letters of Lord Byron, the three last of which are from Greece. We shall select the two we like most, which were written from Italy, and are principally upon literary topics:
TWO LETTERS BY LORD BYRON.
"Pisa, Feb. 6, 1822. "My Dear - Try back the deep lane,' till we find a publisher for the Vision; and if none such is to be found, print fifty copies at my expense, distribute them amongst my acquaintance, and you will soon see that the booksellers will publish them even if we opposed them. That they are now afraid is natural; but I do not see that I ought to give way on that account. I know nothing of Rivington's "Remonstrance,' by the Eminent Churchman;' but I suppose he wants a living. I once heard of a preacher at Kentish Town against Cain.' The same outcry was raised against Priestley, Hume, Gibbon, Voltaire, and all the men who dared to put tithes to the question.
"I have got's pretended reply, to which I am surprised that you do not allude. What remains to be done, is to call him out. The question is, would he come? For, if he would not, the whole thing would appear ridiculous, if I were to take a long and expensive journey to no purpose. You must be my second, and, as such, I wish to consult you. I apply to you as one well versed in the duello or Mo nomachie. Of course, I shall come to England as privately as possible, and leave it (supposing that I was the survivor) in the same manner, having no other object which could bring me to that country except to settle quarrels accumu lated during my absence.
"By the last post I transmitted to you a letter upon some Rochdale toll business, from which there are moneys in prospect. My agent says two thousand pounds, but supposing it to be only one, or even one hundred, still they be moneys, and I have lived long enough to have an exceeding respect for the smallest current coin of any realm, or the least sum, which, although I may not want it myself, may do something for others who may need it more than I. They say that knowledge is power,'-I used to think so; but I now know that they meant money:' and when Socrates declared, that all he knew was, that he knew nothing,' he merely intended to declare, that he had not a drachm in the
"NOEL BYRON." "Genoa, November, 1822. "My Dear-I have finished the twelfth canto of Don Juan, which I will forward when copied. With the sixth, seventh, and eighth in one volume, and the ninth, tenth, eleventh, and twelfth in another, the whole may form two volumes, of about the same size as the two former. There are some good things in them, as perhaps may be al lowed. Perhaps one volume had better be published with one publisher, and the other with another; it would be a new experiment: or one in one month, and another in the What thinkest thou? Murray, next, or both at once. long after the 'piracies,' offered me a thousand pounds (guineas) a-canto for as many as I might choose to write. He has since departed from this proposal, for it was too You must, much, and I would not take advantage of it. however, use your own judgment with regard to the MSS., and let me know what you propose; presuming always what may at least be but a presumption-that the seven new cantos are, on the whole, equal to the five former. Suppose Hunt, or somebody else, were to publish one canto‘aweek, upon the same size and paper, to correspond with the various former editions? but this is merely as a vision, and may be very foolish, for aught I know. I have read the defence of Cain, which is very good; who can be the author? As to myself, I shall not be deterred by any outcry; your present public hate me, but they shall not interrupt the march of my mind, nor prevent me from telling those who are attempting to trample on all thought, that their thrones shall yet be rocked to their foundations. It is Madame de Stael who says, 'that all talent has a propensity to attack the strong.' I have never flattered-whether it be or be not a proof of talent.
"I have just seen the illustrious, who came to visitate me here. I had not seen him these ten years. He had a black wig, and has been made a knight for writing against the Queen. He wants a diplomatic situation, and seems likely to want it. He found me thinner even than in 1813; for since my late illness at Lerici, in my way here, I have subsided into my more meagre outline, and am obliged to be very abstinent, by medical advice, on account of liver and what not. But to the point, or, at least, my point, în Ten years ago I lent him mentioning this new chevalier. a thousand pounds, on condition that he would not go to the Jews. Now, as Mr is a purchaser of bonds, will he purchase this of me? or will any body else, at a discount?
"I have been invited by the Americans on board of their squadron here, and received with the greatest kindness, and rather too much ceremony. They have asked me to sit for my picture to an American artist now in Florence. As I was preparing to depart, an American lady took a rose which I wore from me, and said th t she wished to send something which I had about me to America. They showed me two American editions of my poems, and all kinds of attention and good-will. I also hear that, as an author, I am in high request in Germany. All this is some compe sation for the desertion of the English. Would you a German line to Goethe for me, explaining the
Of the prose tales in this volume, the three by Mrs Shelley, the authoress of Frankenstein, appear to us the
best. Theodore Hooke has contributed rather a dull and commonplace story, called "The Bride;" the author of “Granby" an amusing "Dialogue for the year 2130;" whilst Lord Normanby, the authors of the "O'Hara Tales," "Anastasius," the "Hungarian Tales," and “Hajji Baba,” have all supplied respectable stories. We prefer selecting, as a specimen, one of Mrs Shelley's, which has the advantage of being at once short and prettily told:
"On a fine July day, the fair Margaret, Queen of Navarre, then on a visit to her royal brother, had arranged a rural feast for the morning following, which Francis declined attending. He was melancholy; and the cause was said to be some lover's-quarrel with a favourite dame. The morrow came, and dark rain and murky clouds destroyed at once the schemes of the courtly throng. Margaret was angry, and she grew weary: her only hope for amusement was in Francis, and he had shut himself up-an excellent reason why she should the more desire to see him. She entered his apartment: he was standing at the casement, against which the noisy shower beat, writing with a diamond on the glass. Two beautiful dogs were his sole companions. As Queen Margaret entered, he hastily let down the silken curtain before the window, and looked a little confused.
"What treason is this, my liege,' said the Queen,' which crimsons your cheek? I must see the same.'
"It is treason,' replied the King; and, therefore, sweet sister, thou mayest not see it.'
This the more excited Margaret's curiosity, and a playful contest ensued: Francis at last yielded: he threw himself on a huge high-backed settee; and as the lady drew back the curtain with an arch smile, he grew grave and sentimental, as he reflected on the cause which had inspired his libel against all womankind.
"What have we here?' cried Margaret: nay, this is lêse-majesté
'Souvent femme varie, Bien fou qui s'y fie!'
fact, that she had escaped from France, bearing her jewels with her, and accompanied by her page Robinet Leroux. It was whispered, that during their journey the lady and the stripling often occupied one chamber; and Margaret, enraged at these discoveries, commanded that no further quest should be made for her lost favourite.
"Taunted now by her brother, she defended Emilie, declaring that she believed her to be guiltless; even going so far as to boast, that within a month she would bring proof of her innocence.
"Robinet was a pretty boy,' said Francis, laughing. "Let us make a bet,' cried Margaret: If I lose, I will bear this vile rhyme of thine as a motto, to my shame, to my grave; if I win
"I will break my window, and grant thee whatever boon thou askest.'
"The result of this bet was long sung by troubadour and minstrel. The Queen employed a hundred emissaries— vain. The month was expiring, and Margaret would have published rewards for any intelligence of Emilie-all in given many bright jewels to redeem her word. On the eve of the fatal day, the jailor of the prison in which the Sire de Lagny was confined, sought an audience of the Queen; he brought her a message from the knight to say, that if the Lady Margaret would ask his pardon as her boon, and ob tain from her royal brother that he might be brought be fore him, her bet was won. Fair Margaret was very joyful, and readily made the desired promise. Francis was unwilling to see his false servant, but he was in high goodhumour, for a cavalier had that morning brought intelligence of a victory over the Imperialists. The messenger himself was lauded in the dispatches, as the most fearless and bravest knight in France. The King loaded him with presents, only regretting that a vow prevented the soldier from raising his visor, or declaring his name.
"That same evening, as the setting sun shone on the lattice on which the ungallant rhyme was traced, Francis reposed on the same settee; and the beautiful Queen of Navarre, with triumph in her bright eyes, sat beside him. Attended by guards, the prisoner was brought in; his frame was attenuated by privation, and he walked with tottering steps. He knelt at the feet of Francis, and uncovered his head; a quantity of rich golden hair, then escaping, fell over the sunken cheeks and pallid brow of the suppliant. We have treason here,' cried the King: Sir Jailor, where is your prisoner?'
Sire, blame him not,' said the soft, faltering voice of Emilie, wiser men than he have been deceived by woman. My dear lord was guiltless of the crime for which he suf fered. There was but one mode to save him. I assumed his chains-he escaped with poor Robinet Leroux in my attire he joined your army: the young and gallant cavalier who delivered the dispatches to your grace, whom you overwhelmed with honours and reward, is my own Enguerrard de Lagny. I waited but for his arrival with testimo nials of his innocence, to declare myself to my lady, the queen. Has she not won her bet? And the boon she asks "Is De Lagny's pardon,' said Margaret, as she also knelt to the king: Spare your faithful vassal, sire, and reward this lady's truth.'
Very little change would greatly amend your couplet:- raised the ladies from their supplicatory posture.
"Francis first broke the false-speaking window, then he
'Souvent homme varie, Bien folle qui s'y fie!'
I could tell you twenty stories of man's inconstancy.' "I will be content with one true tale of woman's fidelity,' said Francis dryly; but do not provoke me. I would fain be at peace with the soft Mutabilities, for thy dear sake.' "I defy your grace,' replied Margaret rashly, to instance the falsehood of one noble and well-reputed dame.' "Not even Emilie de Lagny?' asked the King. "This was a sore subject for the Queen. Emilie had been brought up in her own household, the most beautiful and the most virtuous of her maids of honour. She had long loved the Sire de Lagny, and their nuptials were cele brated with rejoicings but little ominous of the result. De Lagny was accused but a year after of traitorously yielding to the Emperor a fortress under his command, and he was condemned to perpetual imprisonment. For some time Emilie seemed inconsolable, often visiting the miserable dungeon of her husband, and suffering, on her return from witnessing his wretchedness, such paroxysms of grief as threatened her life. Suddenly, in the midst of her sorrow, she disappeared; and enquiry only divulged the disgraceful
"In the tournament given to celebrate this Triumph of Ladies,' the Sire de Lagny bore off every prize; and surely there was more loveliness in Emilie's faded cheekmore grace in her emaciated form, type as they were of truest affection, than in the prouder bearing and fresher complexion of the most brilliant beauty in attendance on the courtly festival!"
In the poetical department, the Keepsake for 1830 is not so good as that for 1829, and is decidedly inferior to the Souvenir. The editor, Mr Mansel Reynolds, has wisely excluded any of his own verses; but he seems moreover to be an indifferent judge of poetry, and he has, besides, been evidently anxious to have as many titled names as possible in his list of contributors, which was, of itself, enough to knock the poetry of his book on the head. Lords Porchester, Holland, Morpeth, and Nugent, and Messieurs the Honourable George Agar Ellis, Charles Phipps, and Henry Liddell, may keep, for aught we know to the contrary, excellent French cooks, and be the most desirable acquaintances in the world, but Mr Mansel Reynolds has committed a grievous fault in al
lowing either himself or them to be seduced into the belief that they can write poetry. In the Keepsake for 1929, Coleridge has a splendid poem; in the Keepsake for 1830, he has a silly extempore song of six lines. It was scarcely, however, to be expected that the poetry would be equal to the prose, which, as we have already said, is of a very superior order, and will, along with the embellishments, carry the Keepsake over all Great Britain, Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, and America.
Antiquities of the Jews, carefully compiled from Authentic Sources, and their Customs illustrated from Modern Travels. By William Brown, D. D. Eskdalemuir. 2d Edition. Waugh and Innes. Edinburgh. 1829. 2 vols. 8vo. Pp. 622 and 686.
of the people at present, the connexion which their history and literature have with our hopes and fears, our comfort here and our happiness hereafter, together with the more ordinary considerations of an interesting developement of human character all these considerations bear directly and immediately upon the general reader and the devoted Christian; but when professional considerations are taken into account, and an order of men is referred to, whose duty it is to make their fellow-men acquainted with the full import and force of the ancient
Jewish writings, it is then that a consideration of high import becomes one of cogency and downright necessity. Were, then, the study of Jewish antiquities really a task
rather than a delight, a toil rather than a pleasure, yet still
it is a study incumbent upon Christians in general, and doubly so upon ministers in particular; but when the "omne tulit punctum qui miscuit utile dulci," above referred to, is taken into account and we are assured that a more fascinating, as well as improving study, cannot be pointed out—it is then that the inducement is fully vindicated, and we are called upon to recognise, with gratitude and affection, every pen whose aim is to facilitate our acquaintance with so sacred and so elevating a subject.
A KNOWLEDGE of antiquities is essential to an understanding of national literature. The latter, without the former, is an enigma without the key-a series of references, without the objects and circumstances referred to. Who can read Burns with understanding, without being acquainted with the habits and manners, with the "antiquities," of the people whose sentiments he expresses? But if this hold true in a living, it is doubly certain in a Under these impressions we approach these two bulky dead language, or in one, at least, which is dead to the volumes, containing a mass of information and illustrareader. The literature of Greece and Rome can only be tion never before brought together, and couched in lanmade intelligible by a careful and a constant reference to guage the most simple and unassuming possible. It is their antiquities. In other words, ere one can under- indeed refreshing and worthy of remark, to observe a stand and feel the import of Livy or Horace, he must country clergyman, in the retirements of a remote and have been dipped in the Tiber-he must have been con- pastoral district, and amidst the useful and successful disveyed to Rome, and having unwoven the web of time charge of every-day duties, still finding leisure and books several centuries back, he must see as the Romans then for the conducting, to a most creditable termination, a saw, know what the Romans then knew, and, what is work of many years of labour. We are not unacquainted the most difficult, but most important point of all, he with the features and character of Eskdalemuir, or of that must feel as the Romans then felt. "Omne tulit puncmaster spirit" by which its peculiar features are so cortum," says Horace." He every point hath made to meet," rectly perceived and felt; nor can we deny ourselves the says his translator, without touching at all upon the idea gratification of thinking that we do, in some degree, apsuggested. Before this little sentence can be apprehend-preciate the delight which must have accompanied the ed, the reader must take a walk into the " Campus Martius," be present at a meeting of the people by centuries, and observe the scribe or clerk as he dots every vote of every century in his book of reference. "I to the hills will lift mine eyes," says or sings the Presbyterian worshipper; and he adds to his strain,
"The moon by night thee shall not smite,
Nor yet the sun by day;"
but before he can fully and feelingly apprehend the meaning of these lines, he must be removed, in imagination, at least, to Judea, and under her day and her night, her mountain-land, apprehend the expressions made use of. "The voice of one crying in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain." So says the prophet Isaiah; and ere his language can be felt in all its force and beauty, the reader must be transported from the west to the east-from the nineteenth century after, to the nineteenth century before, the Christian era; and must perceive, that to make way for the march of an earthly potentatea Semiramis or Xerxes precipices are dug down and hollows filled up, mountains are levelled, and forests and brushwood cleared away. The study, then, of antiquities is, in fact, the study of the people, in all their bearings upon our common nature, in all their modifications under climate, territory, civil institutions, and domestic interests. This knowledge being once acquired, history flows on in an uninterrupted stream, with its motives and events, and poetry possesses the power of deriving interest from a thousand fountains which would otherwise be sealed.
The antiquities of the Jews possess a claim upon our attention of a decidedly superior cast. The authenticity of the more ancient records, the character and bearing
study of such a subject in such a spot. Judea, with its
From a work of upwards of twelve hundred large and closely-printed octavo pages, it would be inexpedient, in a Journal of this character, to attempt extracts. Even an enumeration of the various and well-arranged contents is beyond our limits; but we must say, that the latter portion, containing "the Customs of the Jews," is peculiarly deserving of attention. In this part, the author has been at great pains, and is exceedingly successful, to illustrate and corroborate the notices of antiquity by those of modern travellers. Hesiod, Homer, Thucydides, and Herodotus, amongst the ancients, flanked by an innumerable list of modern names, come beautifully in corroboration of Isaiah, David, and Solomon. Were we disposed to cavil, we might perhaps find materials in vol. ii. p. 31, where the influence of Astarte, the Queen of Heaven, on the weather and the Tides, is said to have induced the Canaanites to pay her homage; as well as in the fanciful lucubrations from page 412; and in the author's making the upper side of the lower millstone concave, whilst the lower side of the upper was convex-p. 641. But we have no taste for picking chaff from well-cleaned grain—“ Ubi plurima nitent, haud ego," &c. We can most conscientiously recommend Dr Brown's work, as containing what it