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The notes and appendix contain much curious antiquarianism. We honor the author's diligence and loving spirit in fulfilling this task. It reminds us of Old Mortality chiselling out the epitaphs of the Scottish Martyrs on their moss-grown headstones. 7.- An Explanatory and Pronouncing Dictionary of the Noted
Names of Fiction; Including also Familiar Pseudonyms, Surnames bestowed on Eminent Men, etc., often referred to in Literature and Conversation. By William A. WHEELER. 12mo. Boston : Ticknor & Fields. 1865.
Our literature has become so laden, rather than always embellished, with allusions to famous personages and events, real and fictitious, and it is so easy to describe a thing by this sort of personation, that a work explaining such references, under an alphabetical arrangement, is as necessary as an ordinary vocabulary of the language itself. How.vast an amount of this material lies along the track of English authorship alone, for a century or two gone by, is shown by the size of this volume which has been limited to but a part of this general field. The labor of selecting the topics for this book, must have been about equal to that of preparing these explanations. The author announces, in his well written Preface, the principles which have guided him in this extension of the Appendix which he furnished for Webster's last edition. The favor with which that experiment was received, has amply justitied him in thus continuing his labors, and we doubt not the present volume will find a ready sale. To the younger class of readers, it must be invaluable.
With the difficulties so obvious in the path of such a compilation, we are not disposed to criticize the volume for omissions which every one will be easily discovering, since there is no end to the subjects which might seem as much entitled to a place here, on the plan explained by the author, as others which are admitted. Thus, it is not apparent why “ Tam O’Shanter” shonld not be noticed as much as“ Ichabod Crane”; why the “Doctor Dubitantium” should not be found along side the “Dulcifluous Doctor.” We think the Scripture allusions might very well have been omitted, as they are found explained in so many common books. Almost every one knows what “Azazel,” “Gabriel,” “Baal,” “Moloch,” signify ; while one might not readily find a key to the “Diamond Necklace,” or the “Ring of Amasis,” or Carlyle's "Ship of Fools,” or the “Blarney Stone" legend, nnless he happened to have an Appleton's Cylopædia : perhaps not even then. But the author proposes to give us another volume, for which he can not lack abundant subjects.
The Pronouncing apparatus is a useful feature of the work, and its
whole style is neat and convenient. We have not looked to find errors in the explanations given, and have not found any, though the author presumes there may be some, which will doubtless in due time be discovered. We shall put this book within easy reach beside Mr. Wheeler's Manual of English Pronunciation, which for years we have found a really valuable work. Such labor-saving digests are indispensable in these days of much to do in a short time.
8.-Elements of Political Economy. By ARTHUR LATHAM PERRY,
Professor of History and Political Economy in Williams College. 8vo. New York: Charles Scribner & Co. 1866. [Boston: Lee & Shepard.]
PROFESSOR PERRY here gives us a plain, practical, substantial treatise with no ambitious style, but trusting to the ideas to retain and interest the reader, he unfolds his subject symmetrically, and if not exhaustively yet fully. The questions of value, production, labor, capital, money, credit, etc., are so discussed as to give new light and a deeper interest in their study. It would do some of our uneasy working men great good to examine here the relations between capital and labor. The Professor shows, in most unexpected ways, how mutually dependent the various interests in political economy are. If one suffer, all must suffer with it. So the men of each interest have an independence and kind of sovereignty of their own. This is a book that a free, voting, legislating people, like ours, should study earnestly. 9. – Plain Talls on Familiar Subjects. A Series of Popular Lec
tures. By J. G. HOLLAND. New York: Charles Scribner & Co. [Boston: Lee & Shepard.]
MR. ALEXANDER Smith somewhere puts the rather utilitarian query : 6 But does the production of a questionable book really surpass in merit the production of a field of unquestionable turnips?" If so sensible a suggestion had taken root and borne fruit, these many years gone by, it would certainly have made a great change in the vegetable market, however it might have affected the book trade. Some may think that even Mr. Smith himself might have made a better investment, at times, in turnip-seed than in types. We incline to much the same opinion in the present case. Dr. Holland had better have left his well worn manuscript lectures on the shelf, satisfied with having been “royally paid for” them both in dollars and popularity. They answered well enough for ears predisposed to like them : they do not read so well as they doubtless sounded. It is a literary vice of the day, that authors, who have made a hit, must put all their old manuscript to press, thinking possibly that their stronger intellectual offspring will help to bear the infirmities of the weaker. It is a blunder which has marred not a few literary reputations. The lecturer has mistaken the courteous wish of some interested auditor, that he would print what had just pleased a charitable assembly of not over critical people, for a verdict of permanent value upon his discourse-a very great non sequitur, not unfrequently. He has a lecture here on the art of lecturing, and a vindication of this as an emphatically important adjunct of modern, Christian civilization, We do not sec, however, such an illustration of this position in his pages, as to feel very powerfully convinced of the point which he argues. Not that we particularly take exception to the general run of his opinions : but they have neither a freshness or a weight which greatly commends them to regard.
10.–Life and Times of Joseph Warren. By RiCHARD FROTHING
8vo. Boston: Little, Brown & Co. 1865. This portly octavo is occupied mostly with the local history, in and around Boston, of about ten years immediately preceding the outbreak of our Revolutionary war.
Dr. Warren's life is the centre around which this large amount of material is grouped. It travels over a much frequented road, in its more popular details ; consequently, it it difficult to gather up any considerable amount of fresh interest. But those were stirring times, when Faneuil Hall and the Old South Church rang with the harangues of the Sons of Liberty : -the pulpit of the latter got so used to this sort of eloquence in those days, from civilians as well as the clergy, that it has not lost the habit yet. It is curious to read the accounts of the popular enthusiasm of that date, in this old city: “Garrets were crowded with patriots; mechanics and lawyers, porters and clergymen, huddled promiscuously into them; their decisions were oracular; and from thence they poured out their midnight reveries. They soon determined to form an independent empire.” So writes a contemporary Tory.
This memoir is too much loaded with documents to be sought after by the patrons of our circulating libraries. It is better adapted to the shelves of our Historical and University Societies, and to the private collections of gentlemen of wealth and literary tastes. The distinguished subject of it is well portrayed in the impulsive yet deep-seated patriotism which has marked him out so prominently among the leaders of that revolution. His worth to the cause of freedom lay not so much in what he did, as in the personal enthusiasm which he threw into the work. He set others a high example which they followed ; especially, he fired the young men of this region with an ardor in the resistance of foreign tyranny, which bore rich fruit in the war which came after. Warren was the Theodore Winthrop of that struggle for nationality-perhaps we had better said, its Colonel Ellsworth. The fame of these men does not spring from such elaborate books as this, nor is it increased by them. Fortunately, the expense of book-making is too great to give much encouragement to this voluminous style of life-writing, except of the few master spirits of their age.
11.-The Life of Abraham Lincoln. By J. G. HOLLAND, Member
of the Massachusetts Historical Society. 8vo. Springfield : Gurdon Bill. 1866.
THE purpose of this memoir is to delineate the personal character rather than the official life of Mr. Lincoln. Leaving to others the more elaborate historical view of the stirring times thus recounted, the present biographer keeps his eye on the individual development of his illustrious subject, turning the material in his hand, from whatever quarter gathered, to this main design. In this he has achieved a good success. Writing in full sympathy with his theme, he throws a warm coloring over his work, which, however, does not go beyond the measure of truthful eulogy. The book is full of fascination. Its earlier chapters read like a romance. The picture of Western life and adventure is perfect, as we know by long and intimate experience. The later narrative of Mr. Lincoln's successful career is careful and graphic. The author's subject controls him, and bears him along on its deep current, not as on a holiday voyage, but one of most serious import. Yet his pages are everywhere sprinkled with the irrepressible facetiousness of the inexhaustible story-teller. If this was a weakness in Mr. Lincoln's character, it gave him a magnetic popularity in his younger days, helped him largely to the power which he afterwards used so benevolently, and certainly made his perplexed and burdened presidency much less chafing than otherwise it must have been. This biography comes nearer to meeting the popular want on this subject, than any other life of Mr. Lincoln yet issued. The worst part of the volume is its paper, which is of the dingy, muddy tinge usually put into books that are sold about the country by agents, at enormous prices. We heartily join in the wish expressed by several of our contemporaries, of late, that the bookpeddling business, which is a great nuisance, might be stopped ; but our hope is not equal to our wish.
12.—Grant and Sherman ; Their Campaigns and Generals. By
Hon. J. T. HEADLEY, Author of, etc., etc., etc. Comprising an Authentic Account of Battles and Sieges, Adventures and Incidents, including Biographies of the Prominent Generals who brought to a triumphant close the Great Rebellion of 1861–1865. Sold only by subscription. 8vo. New York: E. B. Treat & Co. 1865.
“THERE are men that will make you books and turn them loose into the world with as much despatch as they would do a dish of fritters.” But what would the Knight of La Mancha have said, had he lived amid the deluge of our war literature? What with biographies of every brass buttoned official who had a private secretary, or hopes to be governor, and special narratives of almost every affair which smelt of powder, the griddle shows no signs of speedily cooling off. We would like to remind these prolific writers of the wise remark of the same military critic: “ I have also reason to believe, Mr. Bachelor, that to compile a history, or write any book whatsoever, is a more difficult task than men imagine. There is need of a vast judgment and a ripe understanding": very different work this, from that of Don Quixote's painter, " who, being asked what he painted, answered, “as it may suit’; and when he had scrawled out a misshapen cock, was forced to write underneath, in Gothic letters, This is a cock.” We must be allowed to say, that the title page, which we here give in part, without, however, all its emphatic typography, ridiculously reminds us of the chef-d'oeuvre of the aforesaid “ painter of Ubeda.”
This flamboyant beginning may not be the author's fault: from the half dozen pages of most fulsome publishers' puffs by which it is flanked, we presume it also may have been gotten up by them with an eye to business. An author who falls into such hands is to be pitied, if he cares for anything but his percentage. The book itself is only of ephemeral value. Mr. Headley has a turn for battle scenes. His style dashes along like a cavalry rider, or oftener, perhaps, makes one think of those impossible equestrian statues poised on the terminus of a stiff tail as if just ready to vault over the Alps. It was unfortunate probably that we looked through his pages soon after reading General Grant’s Report to Congress, the other day. Writing like that ought to stop this inundation of half-baked “fritters.” There is a profuse sprinkling of tolerable pictures and portraits in this thick, large type volume, which will make it look worth its three or four dollars to its rural subscribers.
We will add a word or two more to what was said in the last notice, about the books published for canvassing agents. In nine