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12.-Grant and Sherman ; Their Campaigns and Generals. By
Ilon. 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 ouly 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 whatso
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'auvre of the aforesaid “painter of Ubeda.”
This tlamboyant 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 autho sho 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 cases out of ten they are a cheat as to the amount of work and material given for the prices demanded. Thick, cheap paper, coarse type, immense spacing, and broad fragments of blank pages, are made to swell the bulk of what could easily be put into half the size. For this the purchaser pays so as to yield enormous profits to somebody. If the substance of what is thus paid for were of a high literary order, it would be better. But the actual fact is much like sticking a lighted candle into a hot candlestick-a ruinous consumption at both ends.
13.—Companion Poets for the People: Robert BROWNING, O. W.
HOLMES, W. C. BRYANT. Vols. IV., V., VI. Boston: Ticknor & Fields. 1865.
The publishers have found enough that is intelligible and, in a sense, popular in Browning's works, to make up this addition to their nice little series of poets, for universal circulation. This son of the Muses is eccentric, brilliant, orphic, metaphysical, rich in a weird sort of cutting, Mephistophelian irony. He carries it to the very verge of the impious sometimes, in expression, as in the
“There's a great text in Galatians.” Yet he does not seem to mean to be wicked in this daring; rather you detect some sharp hit which he would give to something which to him, at least, appears worthy of death—whether it is, however, may admit of a doubt. Then there is another side to himan almost womanly tenderness which gushes up, here and there, with indescribable beauty. This little volume will endear Mr. Browning to many who have not ventured before to form the acquaintance of so wizard-like a genius.
Dr. Holmes laughs and jests and fidgets through these "Humorous Poems” of his contribution. He is funny, yet if he should venture to be even as funny as he could, we don't think the stars would be shaken down by the laughter. He has at least the trick of the poetical game, and at long intervals shows symptoms of a true poet's heart. But he is not much to our taste in prose or poetry.
Smartness commands a quick market, but there is not much immortality in it.
The clear, breezy, stalwart spirit of Bryant is in striking contrast with each of the former poets. He breathes the bracing air, and sings his song with a ringing note, as free from morbid humors as the lark which carols at heaven's gate. He is so true to nature and the human heart in its healthy moods, that his most familiar poems never can tire. Here are the best of his shorter pieces. We look into their faces as of old friends, and welcome them in this neat at
tire. Bryant's reputation is a growing one. He has struck the chords which, once vibrating, will vibrate forever.
The illustrations in this series are not of a very satisfying order. In these volumes, thesc given to Bryant's verses are the best. The pictorial inspirations of Dr. Holmes' muse are mostly such extravaganzas as make hideous the pages of our comic newspapers. There is a prodigious wood-cut revival just now going on in Boston. We hope some genuine artistic improvement will come out of it. But honestly, we think this series of poets would be worth more without than with the whole of the pictures. Some of them are pleasing ; but less considerably than one half. We think it was the "Autocrat” who once, in a prospectus for some magazine or serial tale, protested loudly against being “illustrated.” Pity that he, at least, had not renewed his protest and held to it, in this instance. 14.- Personal Reminiscences of the Life and Times of Gardiner
Spring. 2 vols. New York: Charles Scribner & Co. 1866. [Boston: Lee & Shepard.]
Few authors succeed in biography : fewer still in autobiographyso the critics have adjudged. It does not help the latter kind of authorship that it is ordinarily deferred to old age. Fourscore years do not leave the retentiveness of memory, or the mental vivacity needed to give such memoirs the requisite degree of variety, versatility, delicacy of drawing and toning. They are apt to be meagre, dry, stiff. As a specimen of writing one's owo life, we think this attempt no exception to the general rule of failures. But these volumes are to only a small extent autobiographical. They are mostly occupied with discussions of ecclesiastical and social questions to which the last half century has given rise, and with which Dr. Spring has been more or less connected. This gives much historical interest and value to the work. The writer thus passes under review the theological controversy between the Taste and Exercise men; the revival era in the American churches; Missions domestic and foreign ; the Andover Seminary, in which episode the original compromise of its founders undergoes an elucidation that clearly shows where and for what ends this institution was started, and by obvious inference, throws light on the present relation of its influence to those primeval objects of its creation, in which Dr. Spring's father was active and prominent. Other topics are, the Hopkinsian and New Haven theologies; the rupture in the Presbyterian church; the Southern Rebellion, in the Geueral Assembly, and out of it; and a variety of other topics of a general nature. Dr. Spring handles all these matters in the direct and positive style of one who las been accustomed to be deferred to as a VOL. VI.---X0. XXXI.
“Master in Israel.” He tells us early in the narrative that the eldest son of such a woman as his mother ought not to lack for cour. age, and his long and able career as a public man is certainly free from all deficiency on that score. He obviously considers himself to have come off “first best” in all his passages at armis ; and we are not sure but he did.
The work, being taken up so largely with subjects which, at one time or another, have been battle grounds of sharp conflicts, has much more of a polemical than an experimentally devout air ; yet there are parts of it which breathe a very tender spirit of Christian sympathy and devotion. In one respect, Dr. Spring has had a truly remarkable life. It is, that being settled in early years over his first parish in New York city, he should have retained it, with growing power, for more than half a century, amid that restless population. Judging from the many volumes which his pulpit has given to the press, we think that he offers an unusual example of what, with the Divine blessing, can be done, by diligence and good abilities, in holding an intelligent people under one's influence, through the inedium of a strong, clear, bold manner of preaching, without any help from a high literary culture, or those more striking and winning qualities of mind which go toward making up what is called a genius. 15.-Winifred Bertram and the World She lives in. By the Author
of “ The SCHONBERG COTTA FAMILY,” etc. New York: M. W. Dodd. 1866. [Boston : A. Williams & Co.]
This popular and successful authoress shows herself in a totally new field.
The parties and scenes are of our own times, and among the poor of London. The writer seems quite as much at home here as with the Great Reforiner and his friends and times. The style is delightful, and the story, as it unfolds, engrossing; while lessons of practical piety are taught in a most earnest and impressive way. The doctrinal part of the Christianity of the volume is set forth by an intelligent Scotch woman, and of course it is of the most substantial kind. For the readers of romance we regard the work as an eminently useful one.
16.— The Song Without Words. Leaves from a very Old Book.
Dedicated to Children. By the Author of " Tue SCHONBERG COTTA FAMILY," etc. New York: M. W. Dodd. 1866. [Boston: A. Williams & Co.]
This is one of those dreamy, mystical, allegorical stories, that children so love to read, and, strange enough, catch the meaning of sooner than older readers. Where pebbles and shells, mosses,
grasses, flowers and sea-foam talk, in their watery nooks and caves,
LL. D. Revised and Improved Edition. 12mo. Boston: Gould
DR. WAYland has a well earned reputation as a successful educa-
Camp, Tenth Conn. Vols. By Chaplain H. CLAY TRUMBULL.
This is one of those graphic, simple and tender memorials of the
is found; how it is obtained ; and at what cost. With hints for whom it may concern. By William WRIGHT, 12mo. New York: Harper & Brothers. 1865. [Boston : A. Williams & Co.]
The new editions of the history of human gullibility will have some rich chapters to add to the South Sea and Morus Multicaulis sells, ont of these oil-wells which have proved so slippery a speculation to not a few recent unfortunates. Ao honest man seems here to have