صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

in which we are informed that the young lady “blushed at his air in all the stammely color of health,” not to mention the hidden beauties of the phrase, “ a giffy of perturbation and turmoil,” &c.! But our author becomes more and more classical and eloquent as he proceeds. A chapter on Woman's Love opens thus :

“ After dinner, during the sweet hour of twilight, the residents of Pompney Place, with a party from Laura's residence, consisting of two or three sweethearts from Saratoga, attended by some rapid young cladders, were loitering upon the shaven grass, amid the peacocks with their Argus-eyed plumage, to inhale the fragrance of the roses, already dew-besprent, to watch the shadows deepening o'er the durden, and to gossip upon the season at the watering places.”—p. 48.

It would not do to say young lovers, or wooers, but young cladders ;" dew-besprinkled would be common-place, it should be " dew-besprent;" and, had valley been put in place of " durden," all the poetry would have been lost. In the same chapter we have a gem of similar water-somewhat muddy, it must be confessed.

“ After a while, the asseinblage having retired to the parlor, they floated, in the light fairy habiliments of summer, to low purling music, in the mazy thread of the dance, and Charles, inspired with the scene, seemed as if he wished to make amends to himself for his opinion of woman's sweet selfishness. With a flush of pleasure on his brow, he devoted himself to the fair girls circling in the graceful rounds of the dance, which so surprisingly develops all that is genial or hopeful in female youth, and became once inore the pleasant fellow he was, before he felt the satieties of idle

But this was no more than a paroxysm.”—p. 50.

[ocr errors]


“The mazy thread of the dance” and “the graceful rounds of the dance” are excellent things for “female youth,” according to our author ; it seems they are good for male youth too, that is, after they have “ felt the satieties of idle

Charles and Dinah are made to meet at the dawn of day, but in such a manner that the heroine's dog becomes an object of greater interest than herself:


“ There was no one stirring in the house, and he emerged therefrom into the avenues of the park. Turning into a secluded walk, however, he discovered young Dinah there, up earlier than he, gathering a flower or two, and with her a little sickly dog. In spite of the calls of his mistress, the infirm animal fled precipitately at the young man's approach, to without stone's throw, and wheeling kept up an incessant series of feeble barks, while regarding the enemy with an idiotic stare from his rheumy eyes. The natural blush of modesty passed over the girl's fresh morning counte

A faint red tinge was in the east.


[ocr errors]

“ 'You are np early,' said Charles; ‘before Aurora.'
"Oh, no! See the dew she has poured upon the flowers !!
“Who taught you the offices of the goddess ?' asked Charles.

Father!' "Do you like to read poetry?” said he, while taking a seat on a bench near by.

"Yes, sir,' said she, and she also sat down at the other end, with a look of confidence.”—p. 117.

[ocr errors]


At the risk of being reproached with giving an over-dose, we transcribe one more extract:

“ Towards twilight, Charles betook himself, with some secresy, to the place of assignation with the young girl, in whom he was taking such a singular intellectual interest. As he rode along, having mounted his horse for an appropriate concealment, le felt that an oppressive gloom had lowered over his feelings, occasioned, perhaps, by the breathless state of the atmosphere. The sun had gone down in cloudless splendor, conflagrating the pure ether of the west, and a late dusk of purple was now darkening in unusual stillness over the scene. Passing along by a farın-yard, in which the milky mothers were awaiting, with distended udders, the coming of the cow-boy, he observed that they now and then gazed in boding silence into the heavens, or, with a deep breath, expelled slowly from their nostrils, stopped the chewing of the cud, in unison, as it were, to observe the scene with rueful gaze.”—p. 184.

In this, as in the interview previously quoted, the presence of the lady is a circumstance of only secondary importance. On the present occasion, it was neither Charles nor Dinah that was out of breath, but the atmosphere! Yet this was scarcely so strange a phenomenon as the “conflagrating of the

pure ether of the west;" not to mention the interesting noise made by the cows (milky mothers) in expelling the deep breath from their nostrils, &c. What can be more poetical than the idea of a herd of " milky mothers”

a preparing, in the manner described by our author, “- to observe the scene with rueful gaze"?

These are no isolated instances of silly jargon, selected for their ludicrousness, from what is intelligible, if not sensible or interesting. On the contrary, they are rather favorable specimens of our author's style. In proof of this, we quote some phrases almost indiscriminately, as we cannot afford space for many whole sentences of such “ matter.” Expressions like the following form the favorite dialect of our author:


“Having asked him one day, in the high jinks of his feelings,&c. (p.

"to abbreviate an elongated narrative," &c. (p. 6); “ their limbs long since palsied by the exquisite idiocy of sleep,&c. (p. 8); “the ethereal


[ocr errors]

depths of sorrowful abstraction," &c. (p. 9); “with that halı about her face which should always encompass a bright womanly creature thus in the aurora of her days," &c. (p. 28); "the judge who presided over the seat of justice, ", &c. (p. 48); "the cook, a sinewy ani malignant female, w118 en

& venomed with a satanic antipathy,&c. (p. 52); “physically remarkable for having a curious weakness in his legs,” &c. (p. 113); "at last he cachinated feebly,” &c. (ib.); "continned she, vivaciously struck with an idea," &c. (p. 118); "the groves were vocal with daylight's songs,” &c. (p. 123); “took a dental vengeance on the shining integument of his satiric neighbor,&c. (p. 124), (which is our a!thor's mode of telling us that one horse bit another); "started beneath the moon towards his home,” &c. (p. 148); “their whiteness contrasting in a dazzling way with its soinbre hue," &c. (p. 213); "a natural occultness and silent reserve in this young girl," &c. (p. 284); "it was in the precedented, though exaggerated form of a note, by the latter, anticipatory of his salary, whose reverend name and honest shifts, with the recklessness of honor, which characterizes the novice in crime, he had thus also impiously counterfeited," &c. (p. 389).

The story, if such it may be called, is just what might be expected from one who cannot tell us that two and two make four, except in hieroglyphical style, which it requires no slight effort to understand. Dinah makes her first appearance as a sewing-girl, in which capacity she is made love to by two young gentlemen, one of whom is the heir to a large estate. Although she was never at school, she speaks like a philosopher to both; and is quite an adept in criticism, especially on poetry, ethics, &c. Having learned at an early age that evil communications corrupt good manners," she confines her society almost exclusively to a highly respectable negro family, of whose hospitable mansion she was long an inmate. Notwithstanding the excellent company she kept in this way, she is accused of attempting to rob the lady who employs her as a sewing-girl ; but let no one think that either " the colored lady” or “the colored gentleman” with whom she lived, was in any manner responsible for this. It was her white father and not her black friends that brought every misfortune upon her. Her being charged with robbery does not, however, prevent her from becoming the school-teacher of the village. But, no sooner does her rich lover and former master avow his love, than she leaves the town abruptly, and proceeds to New York, taking her father and dog with her; resolved to earn bread for all, as best she could, in the great metropolis. Her-only reason for adopting this resolution was, that she might not mar the happiness of her rival, the aristocratic and high-bred Laura. Reaching New York, she engages in sewing for a German tailor ; but, losing her situation after some time, she enters on the new business of peddling

[ocr errors]

pocket-books, and other small, cheap wares. Her chief trouble in her new calling is that too many make love to her. One day, while trying to dispose of her goods as best she can, she happens to see her lover passing in a fine carriage. She calls after him, but is so modest in doing so, that he fails to hear her ; which breaks her heart, though it does not altogether fall asunder yet awhile. She resolves to return to her colored friends. After having experienced hardships in the journey, which none but a heroine could have passed through with her life, she makes her appearance once more, with her aged father and dog, at Templeton; to the unspeakable delight, not only of her wealthy and aristocratic lover, but of the clergyman of the parish, and all capable of appreciating her intellectual and moral worth.

It was too much to survive such horrible sufferings ; accordingly, just as Charles began once more to indulge the hope that she would yet be his own, a languid color reddened her cheek, like a sunset hue in a morning sky," &c. That is, she died, partly from love, partly from fatigue. Her lover, who saw her give up the ghost, was, of course, deeply affected. We are told that he "felt, condensed into the moment, all the future of melancholy and love which her memory could carry with it, but on his noble face there was not a trace of emotion,” &c. (p. 459). The dog, too, would have been sorely grieved, but it seems he did not rightly understand what had happened ; for we are duly informed of “the bark of the faithful friend and humble companion of the girl's wanderings, with the happy unconsciousness of his limited nature, racing over the sward, with another humble member of his species(ib).

Such is modern authorship; ay, and an exemplary specimen of it, if we are to believe the gentlemen who write the “ appreciative” notices for Mr. Scribner. In our humble opinion, it is sad twaddle; and we fancy that not many of our readers will be of a different opinion ; that is, should they attempt the feat of reading it. At the same time, we shall not be surprised if, before many months, we find the author of Dinah occupying a wide niche in one of our New Cyclopædias, or Dictionaries of Authors, as a bright, particular star in the literary firmament of our time.

ART. VII.-1. Amusemens philologiques. Seconde edition. Dijon.

Par M. E. G. PEIGNOT. 2. The New Cratylus. By J. W. DONALDSON, D.D. 3. Varronianus. By J. W. DONALDSON, D.D. 4. Etymologische Forschungen auf dem Gebiete der Indo-German

ischen Sprachen. A. F. Potr. Leipsic. 5. EIIEA ITEPOENTA, or The Diversions of Purley. By

John HORNE TOOKE. London, 1840. 6. On the Study of Words. Lectures by RICHARD CHENEVIX

TRENCH, D.D., Dean of Westminster. London, 1860.

The list of works prefixed to this article is designed rather to attract the reader's attention to a combination of learning and intellectual recreation, not to be found, so far as we know, in any other six books on similar subjects, than to form the basis of a critical analysis of their several contents. By a kind of tacit understanding, the study of philology is handed over to a limited number of learned men, on the supposition, we presume, that great learning and labor are necessary to its successful prosecution, and that any profit or pleasure to be derived from it is, at least, of a very dry and antiquarian kind. That these ideas widely prevail, we know; and that they are erroneous, we believe, and will endeavor to prove. As regards the first, we are quite prepared to be rebuked with the hackneyed proverb, “A little learning is a dangerous thing”—a proverb which has been the cause, or the pretext, for a great deal of ignorance and consequent guilt in this world of ours, used, as it has been, at one time, as an instrument in the iron hand of despotic power, to check the enlightenment and progress of the people, and, at another, welcomed by idle ignorance as a ready reason and excuse for remaining sunk in a sinful inactivity. So much has been accomplished by the great pioneers of philological learning in Germany, Denmark, and England, during the last fifty years, to go no further back, and so “royal ” has

, the road of learning thus become, that we believe any person of moderate abilities can, in a country so blest with educational appliances as ours, attain to a respectable and profitable knowledge of its leading principles and applications, without any extraordinary or excessive expenditure of time. or trouble ; and sure we are, the pleasures to be ultimately

« السابقةمتابعة »