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in his haste to complete his appointed tale of rhymes overlooks many obvious imperfections. His language is frequently crude or cominonplace, as, for instance:
“Then answered they indeed
And somewhat grieved I felt that so it was." (P. 53.)
"My lord, the tale
This is childish, and will not suit the requirements of the present day in what pretends to be poetry, though it would be tolerated in the poets of the era of Chaucer. There are many similar passages which we might quote. Here is one a little more silly:
“ Now Crosus, lying on his bed a-night,
Dreamed that he saw his dear son lying low,
“So now will I let these things be
And tbink of some unknown delight.”
By what psychological power one can think of things unknown we are not informed; the author ought to possess the secret; but if so, we fear he will let it perish with him.
His rhymes are often shockingly imperfect, and not “allowable" by the most lax rules of the compilers of rhyming dictionaries. For specimens of such we have, as above quoted, “knoweth” and “death;" on page 95, there are “lieth” and “death," and "king" and "nothing," and on page 328 we find “ dazed" and "erased."
Many others could be pointed out. Of halting and utterly wretched metre, of which there are too many examples, take this specimen:
“A queen I was, what gods I knew I loved,
And nothing evil was in my thought.” (P. 331.) Mr. Morris's great error is evidently copying too closely the style of Chaucer—its defects as well as its excellences. He forgets that English poetic art, especially as respects versification, has made great advances since that early day. The classical simplicity and directness of Chaucer and other early English writers are very well, but as models of style it would be safer to follow the later poets. At any rate, a mere imitator of early classic models is not up to the requirements of the present age.
On the whole, however, we are disposed to consider this volume a creditable one to its author. We are the more inclined to commend him because he so modestly assures us that he has not attempted what he knew he could not accomplish. He is a versifying romancer. Classed among poets, he does not take a high rank; but he is one of the best of later times in his department. He is not a Shelley, a Tennyson, nor a Mrs. Browning. He has not, and does not claim, a keen perception of the highest spiritual truths; he gives the world no new light on social questions; he has no intimate knowledge of the human heart. He has no prevailing sympathy with general humanity; he is not animated, to any lofty extent, by the spirit of love, which makes the greatest poets and most blesses our race; he is not impelled to give us revelations of his inner life, and we feel that he had none such to give that would greatly benefit us.
His command of idiomatic English is remarkable. His imagination is vivid, but sensuous. He has an eye for the external forms of beauty, but little perception of their animating spirit. He is no metaphysician, and no humanitarian in any lofty sense. But while he does us no great amount of good, he does us no harm. His dreams are innocent and pleasing, and his garrulous romancing may help to pass some hours which we cannot more profitably employ.
American Philological Society. New-York, November, 1868.
In no country does elementary education receive more attention than it does in our own. This is highly commendable; and we hope that the class to whom it is principally due will not relax their efforts in favor of the dissemination of knowledge. This is not sufficient, however, if we wish to rival the great enlightened nations of the Old World in intellectual culture, we must study and investigate as they do. It is idle to deny that we are much behind even the most tardy and backward of them in this respect. The standard of our higher education is far too low; even in our colleges, with few exceptions, no thoroughness is attained. Languages which should be familiar to every college student are read by those of our institutions with as much difficulty as the inscriptions on ancient monuments and coins are read by students of the corresponding grades in the great colleges of Europe. This is no new discovery on our part; we have persistently been urging the fact these nine years past, although quite aware that in doing so we were rendering ourselves quite unpopular with a certain class of professors.
We have always thought that, in order to create a taste for the higher grade of education, we must have learned societies worthy of the name
not mere societies of mutual admiration, of which we have long had an abundance. There are materials enough for the right kind-at least sufficient to begin with. It now affords us pleasure to inform our readers that the good work has been commenced. As might have been expected from the character of that institution, the initiative has been taken by the University of the City of New-York. Early in November last, Prof. George F. Comfort, of the University, addressed notes to such as were supposed to bo in favor of elevating the standard of scholarship in this country, politely inviting them to a meeting to be held in the office of the Chancellor of the New-York University, on November 13th, "to consider the feasibility of organizing and sustaining an American Philological Society.” Among others we were favored with an invitation ourselves, and we would most gladly have availed ourselves of it had we not been absent from the city until it was too late to attend. But a learned friend who was more fortunate than ourselves has kindly given us an account of the proceedings. The meet. ing was quite large and interesting—some forty of the leading linguists of this city and vicinity were present; some twenty that had promised to be present sent their regrets at being detained, and some thirty others who could not come had written that they strongly approve of the object of the meeting. This, it will be admitted even by those who are least sanguine, was a good beginning.
Dr. Ferris, the Chancellor of the University, having taken the chair made an appropriate and forcible speech, approving the design of the society, and welcoming the meeting to the University. Having been called upon for that purpose, Prof. Comfort then proceeded to give his ideas of a philological society—a task for which he had fully qualified himself by attending the sessions of the principal similar societies of Paris and Berlin, dur. ing his recent extended visit to Europe. We may remark, in passing, that all who would succeed in any great enterprise must pursue this course. Enthusiasm is not sufficient even when it is combined with profound theoretical knowledge. Even the great Richelieu did not undertake to lay the foundation of the famous French Academy until he had first travelled and visited every institution from the working of which he might learn any facts thai would aid hiin in forming the outline of his great plan for the encouragement of the higher efforts of the intellect. Nor were the pains thus taken by Prof. Comfort without their effect on the preparatory meeting; after he had presented his views and sustained them by the results of his observation and experience, several short speeches were made approving of the undertaking. Finally, Prof. Comfort was fully authorized to make arrangements for the first meeting, and empowered to call to his aid as large a committee as he might think desirable.
We would earnestly urge our educational friends in all parts of the United States to become members of the American Philological Society. Certainly no professor of languages should fail to do so; indeed we do not believe that any qualified professors will hesitate to enroll their names, aware as they must be of the great results that have been accomplished for science by
means of philology. Even Russia, which is supposed by many to be in a state of semi-barbarism, began long since to appreciate what has been done in this way; in proof of this we need only refer to the Mithridates of Prof. Adelung. As for the German philologists, many of them have rendered themselves illustrious; and they will ever be remembered by all capable of appreciating their labors in the universality of their influence, as benefactors not of any one class, school, or creed, but of the human race. Have we not young men enough in our colleges and universities that have the laudable ambition, spirit, and love of knowledge, to emulate the examples of inen like Klaproth, De Sacy, the two Humboldts, Bopp, Remusat, and Champollion, in elucidating the great problem of human destiny, and showing how nearly related to each other are races hitherto supposed to have nothing in common save the general outline of physical humanity?
The Life of St. Dominic, and a Sketch of the Dominican Order. With an
Introduction. By Most Rev. J. S. ALEMANY, D.D. 16mo, pp. 371.
New-York: P. O'Shea. 1867. We take up this little volume, not for the purpose of either noticing or criticising it as such, but simply because the title-page reminds us of a fraternity to whom Christian civilization owes much more than most Protestants would be likely to suppose. The founder of an order wbich has exercised such an influence upon many generations of men in all parts of the world cannot but present an instructive study. How St. Dominic is regarded by those who fully believe in his divine mission, it is worth while to inquire, if only that we may properly understand the faith of a considerable and intelligent portion of mankind. Moreover, to properly weigh the good which it cannot be denied the subject of this memoir has accomplished, directly and indirectly, will certainly help us to a knowledge of truth.
There are those whose denominational prejudices are so strong that they seem to consider it a sin even to investigate such a topic, and an almost unpardonable crime to admit that any good could proceed from what they are pleased to regard as a hostile religious source. They will not acknowledge the possibility that, in some respects, themselves may be in error and their opponents right. With this class of mankind it is not worth while to argue. And unhappily they are still numerous; yet the true light of charity, and a disposition to investigate all proper subjects and accept all truth, are gaining ground as an evidence and product of enlightenment.
The founder of the Dominican order was a most extraordinary man. That the work he and his followers have done has greatly benefited mankind no one can doubt who considers the subject from an unprejudiced point of view. For the great cause of education the Dominicans bave done and are still doing much. It is no part of our business or object to criticise their religious teachings; all we have to do with is what they have done for the advancement of general learning and science.
The unpretending work before us is an attempt to present the life of St.
Dominic in a shape to be acceptable to English readers. The work of Père Lacordaire, though acknowledged to be superior in many respects, more especially represents French opinions and interests. In addition to the life, we are here furnished with an account of the progress and work of the Dominican order.
Dominic de Guzman was born in 1170, in Old Castile. He belonged to a distinguished family, and received a university education. Entering the priesthood, he became at once distinguished for learning and zeal. He early went on a mission to convert the Albigenses, and seems to have dealt with that unfortunate people in a very Christian spirit. One of the acts for which his memory is especially revered by Catholics was the institution of the Rosary. By anti-Catholics he has been denounced as the founder of the Spanish Inquisition; but there is good reason to belicve that the institution bearing that name with which he was connected was an entirely different thing from what it afterward became under royal auspices. In a report presented to the Cortes, and quoted by Père Lacordaire, we are told that “The early inquisitors encountered heresy with no other arms than those of prayer, penitence, and instruction; and this remark applies more particularly to St. Dominic, as we are assured by the Bollandists, as well as Echard and Touron. Philip II. was the real founder of the Inquisition."***
It was at Toulouse that Dominic laid the foundation of the order which bears his name. There were but six persons engaged in the enterprise. We are told in the volume before us that “he had designed an order for preaching and teaching; which for that purpose should apply itself to the study of sacred letters, with the express object of the salvation of souls." (P. 57.)
St. Dominic visiting Rome, Pope Innocent III. took the order under his patronage, and gave it the name which it accepts as its proper designation, that of the “Brothers Preachers.''+
Under the impetus of the efforts of Dominic and his co-workers the new order soon spread rapidly over France, Spain, and Portugal, and more gradually over other parts of Europe. Everywhere it was instrumental in founding religious houses, colleges, and schools. The character of its illustrious founder is variously regarded even by Catholics. I
The miracles attributed to him are at least remarkable as narratives, whatever credence one chooses to give to them. Very few of his works have come down to us, though he is said to have written much.
The spread of the order after the death of its founder was truly wonderful. It has numbered among its members some of the most illustrious names of modern history. Among the most celebrated of these is St. Tho
* "Ils virent aussi avec peine que les commissaires, et surtout les fougueux légat Pierre de Castlenau, employaient plus souvent les bourreaux et la terreur que la persuasion. Dominique fit à cet sujet quelques observations, qui furent momentanément écoutées."--Nouvells Biog. Gen., t. xiv. p. 496. + 16., t. xiv. p. 497.
Dominique a été juge très-diversement, tous pourtant s'accordent å lui reconnaitre du zèle, du savoir, et un grand esprit de charité."-16., t. xiv. pp. 498, 499.