Page images

From London we have Mr. Wordsworth's new volume of poems, which is not a bookseller's book, but a poet's book. We have read them all with great content, and very willingly forgave the poet for writing against the abolition of capital punishment, for the sake of the self-respect and truth to his own character, which the topic and the treatment evinced. We should say the same thing of his sonnet levelled at Mr. Thomas Carlyle. But the name of Wordsworth reminds us of another matter far less pleasant than poetry, namely, the profligate course recently adopted by some of the States of the Union in relation to their public debt. The following is an extract from a letter of Mr. Wordsworth to Bishop Doane of New Jersey. "The proceedings of some of the States in your country, in money concerns, and the shock which is given to the credit of the State of Pennsylvania, have caused much trouble under our roof, by the injury done to some of my most valuable connexions and friends. I am not personally and directly a sufferer; but my brother, if the State of Pennsylvania should fail to fulfil its engagements, would lose almost all the little savings of his long and generous life. My daughter, through the perfidy of the State of Mississippi, has forfeited a sum, though but small in itself, large for her means; a great portion of my most valued friends have to lament their misplaced confidence. Topics of this kind are not pleasant to dwell upon, but the more extensively the injury is made known, the more likely is it, that where any remains of integrity, honor, or even common humanity exist, efforts will be made to set and keep things right." We have learned also with mortification that John Sterling, whose poems have been lately reprinted in this country, had invested £2000 in the worthless stock of the Morris Canal Company, and later, that Mr. Carlyle had invested $1000 in stock of the State of Illinois, which presently proved worthless. In this way the heavens have taken care that the character of our rotten public stocks and the doctrine of 'Repudiation' shall be damned to fame.

Alfred Tennyson, moved by being informed of his American popularity, has given himself to the labor of revising and reprinting a selection of his old poems, and adding as many new ones, which he has sent to Mr. Wheeler of Harvard University, who is republishing them here.

Henry Taylor, too, the author of Van Artevelde, announces a new dramatic poem in press in London. John Sterling is still engaged on a tragedy, "Strafford," which should have been finished before this time, but for the ill health of the poet, which has driven him to the south of Italy. Thomas Carlyle is understood to be engaged on the Life of Oliver Cromwell.

Berlin. From Berlin, "The City of Criticism," we learned, in the past months, that the king of Prussia was gathering around him a constellation of men of science. The city was already the residence of Humboldt, of Bettine von Arnim, of Raumer, of Ranke, of Ritter, and of Ehrenberg. G. F. Waagen is director of the Royal Gallery; and now Cornelius, the great fresco painter; Ruckert, the poet; Tholuck, the theologian; and, greatest of all, Schelling, from Munich, are there. The king is discontented with the Hegel influence, which has predominated at Berlin, and, we regret to say, set himself to suppress the "Hallische Jahrbucher"; which, though published at Halle, depended for its support mainly on Berlin. With this view, also, he summons the great Schelling, now nearly seventy years old, to lecture on the Philosophy of Revelation. We have private accounts of these lectures, which began in the last November. The lecture room was crowded to suffocation; the pale professor, whose face resembles that of Socrates, was greeted with thunders of acclamation, but he remained pale and unmoved as if in his own study, and apparently quite unconscious that he was making a new epoch in German history. His first lecture has been published at Berlin. Such are the social and æsthetic attractions of this city, that it is said to acquire a new population of six thousand souls every year, by the residence of travellers, who are arrested by its music, its theatre, and the arts.

New Jerusalem Church. We learn from a communication from Dr. Tafel of Tubingen, in Germany, published in the Philadelphia New Churchman, that a dissenting party has arisen among the disciples of Swedenborg in that country, and that a periodical has appeared, called the "Christenbote," (Christian Messenger,) claiming to issue from the New Church, but deviating from the faith of the majority, among other things in the following points. 1. It recommends new revelations, such as those of Tennhardt, which not only contradict those given by Swedenborg, but even dare to put themselves on par with those of the prophets and apostles. 2. It establishes the idea, that the New Church has only two fundamental principles; whereas, says Dr. Tafel, the New Church has acknowledged the writings of Swedenborg as her symbolical books. "True it is, if we had only two fundamentals, namely, the acknowledgment of the Lord, and the life of his Commandments, such contradictory revelations might be received alongside of each other, though merely externally; for internally we cannot hold fast anything contradictory. 3. It inculcates the belief in a general conversion of the Jews, relying, in this case likewise, upon Tennhardt, and 'peculiar revelations." "



OCTOBER, 1842.

No. II.


"I never could trust that man nor woman either, nor ever will, that can be insensible to the simple ballads and songs of rude times; there is always something wrong in them at the core."

[ocr errors]

SINCE Such is the opinion of a contemporary, we hope that his friends, at least, will rejoice in having their attention directed to collections as fine, in different ways, as those of the old English or Border ballads, which have fallen into our hands just when they were most needed, refreshing episodes in such a life as is led here.

First in order, though not first in favor, comes Rheinsagen aus dem Munde des volks und Deutscher Dichter, Traditions of the Rhine from the mouths of the people and German poets. By Karl Simrock.

A happy man is this Simrock, a "Dr." too, Doctor of Romance, for at the end of this volume are printed advertisements of the Nibelungen lied, translated by K. S. -, twenty lays of the Nibelungen restored according to the intimations of Lachmann, by K. S., Wieland, the Smith, German heroic Saga, together with ballads and romances by K. S.

A happy man, a pleasant life! to dwell in this fair country, to bathe and grow from childish years in the atmosphere of its traditions, its architecture, and the aspect of nature by which these were fostered; then, as a grown man, to love, to understand them, and find himself in them, so that he became their fit interpreter. Such are the only




interpreters, children of the era of which they speak, yet far enough remote to see it in memory. This tender fidelity, this veneration for the ancient institutions of the fatherland is not only remote from, but inconsistent with anything tame, servile, or bigotted in character; for to fulfil the offices of this natural priesthood supposes great life in the priest, intellectual life to comprehend the past, life of the affections to reanimate it, life of faith to feel that this beauty is not dead but sleepeth, while its spirit is reborn into new and dissimilar forms. This gentleness, this clearness of perception, combined with ardent sympathy, this wide view are shown in the manner of preparing this garland with which

"the Rhine

May crown his rocky cup of wine."

It is good for us in this bustling, ambitious, superficial country, where every body is trying to do something new, where all the thought is for the future, and it is supposed the divine spirit has but just waked up, and that the blunders, committed on the earth during this long slumber, are now at once to be corrected by the combined efforts of men still crude and shallow-hearted, or the scheme of some puny intellect; it is good for us to look abroad and learn to know the weakness which waits upon our strength by seeing the benefits of that state, where men believe that God rules the past as well as the future, that love and loyalty have bloomed and will bloom like the rose, the common ornament of each of his years, and that hate and falsehood have been, as they will be, permitted conditions of man's willing choice of virtue. It is good to hear, sometimes the silver trumpet, sometimes the rude fish-horn blown by breath that stifles in the utterance, calling to Repent, for the acceptable year of the Lord is come; but it is also pleasant to see men watering flowers upon a grave, gazing up with reverence to the ivied ruin and placing their gifts on the ancient shrine, pleasant to see them singing the songs and copying the pictures of genius now past from us, and translated elsewhere; for He the Lord hath spoken, then as now, hath spoken the word that cannot grow old, and whose life to-day alike interprets and recreates its life of that other day.

Every genius is a reformer, but if he is a radical reformer, it may be to loosen the earth and let in sun and rain to the root, rather than to pull it up. This piety of the Germans has its two excesses, making them sometimes Phantasts, sometimes Pedants, but the soaring temper is always subject to the one danger, the severe and devout to the other. They are good people, and like the knights, and priests, and cathedral-loving monarchs of whom these Sagas sing, except in a less martial glance or grasp of the hand, for now the vocation is changed, and their eyes are bleared over the chronicles of men who lived in warmer blood a hastier life, and the hand has lost all cunning save that of the pen, but could the old time come again, it would find the same stuff of which to make the same men. It would find its religion in the form of skepticism, and its love hid under a stranger mask, but still doing as of old the appointed work, and with that vigilance and loyalty which mark the clime.

Rivers, like men, have their destiny, and that of the Rhine, one would think, must have been worked out. Not a step does the stream advance, unmarked by some event of obvious beauty and meaning. The castle and cathedral, with their stories and their vows, have grown along its banks as freely as the vine, and borne as rich a harvest. All things have conspired to make the course of the river a continuous poem, and it flows through this book almost as sweet and grand, as beneath its proper sky.

The book commences with the ballad called Staveren. It is written in the old woman's negligent, chronicle measure, and forms an admirable prologue to the book. It is the famous story of a city swollen by prosperity to that pitch of pride and wickedness that make its destruction inevitable. The devotees to money need not go to the desolate plains of Syria for their admonition, they may find it in a common voyage, if they will pause upon the waters of the Zuyder Sea.

It is a fine thing for a ballad to suggest so naturally and completely its pictures, as this does. Its burden is, "look down into the waters, and see the towers and spires of Staveren," and then look landward and you have before you the sudden rush of the sea which, in a manner so simple, wrought this doom.

« PreviousContinue »