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OUR EPILOGUE

ON

BOOKS.

LITERATURE, PHILOSOPHY, ETC.

The Homes of the New World; Impressions of America, by FREDRIKA BREMER. Translated by Mary Howitt. 3 vols. Fcp. Arthur Hall & Co.

1853.

Here is a publication given to the world in a form not a little provoking. It consists of three volumes of from four to five hundred pages each, without a line in the way of Table of Contents or Index, without a word at the head of the letters of which it is composed, or at the head of the pages even, to give you the slightest hint as to the matters to which any of the parts have reference. You have to make your way on and on through the almost interminable pages of monotonous type, and passing these ever-recurring words at the top of the pages, Homes of the New World,' without a sign of any other description, to indicate to you either where you are, or whither you are going. We know not whether Miss Bremer has given her volumes to her Swedish friends in this negligent fashion or not, but so they come before us from the hand of her translator, and that hand the practical one of Mary Howitt. We often see books published in this slovenly, save-trouble manner, and as often regret that there is not some mode of subjecting the careless doers to a labour many times greater than would have been required to do their work well.

After this scold about the faults in the editing of the work, it may be thought that we are not likely to be in a mood for coming to a very favourable judgment about the work itself. But it is not so. Whether our readers know it or not, we never fail to acquit ourselves with the philosophy and discrimination becoming our vocation in such cases. Miss Bremer is a genial soul, rich in good sense and good nature. Wherever agreeable companionships are to be found, she is sure to find them. She is not blind to the foibles or faults of the human beings who come in her way, but she has the happy secret of guarding against one-sidedness, of placing the good over against the evil, the wise over against the foolish, and thus finds the world to be much more full of people to be interested about and to like, than persons of a less humanized intelligence can give our planet the credit of containing. We often find the letters of travellers preceded by the intimation that they were written without the most distant view to publication. We can accept

such an intimation from Miss Bremer as strictly truthful, and can readily suppose that her thoughts and impressions were first committed to writing with the idea of their being used, if used at all, in some other form than the present. But we are thankful to have them as they are, in their own natural gracefulness. They give us a better idea of the 'Homes of the New World' than could have been conveyed by any novel or treatise wrought up from them. We accompany Miss Bremer through North and South, through free states and slave states; we hear her talk with and about politicians of all grades, and we are with her in her intercourse with the almost endless variety of religionists to be found in those regions, from Mr. Waldo Emerson to the Shakers and the Mormons. In politics, Miss Bremer's sympathies are strongly on the side of freedom and humanity. In religion she is tolerant of wide differences, if only allied with honest conviction and real feeling. We know of no book that does really give you so much of the 'homes'— that is of the home manners, talkings, and feelings of the people in the New World.

The Pantropheon, or History of Food and its Preparations, from the Earliest Ages of the World. By A. SOYER. 8vo. Simpkin, Marshall, & Co. 1853.

It is something for a man to gain the summit of his vocation, whatever that vocation may be. The thing to be done may be to expound law from the woolsack, or to cure smoky chimneys in the kitchens of the West-end, but the man who does his proper thing better than any other man, is, in his way, a great man. The vocation of the man expected to be skilled in the Preparations of Food,' may not be one of much elevation in the judgment of many of our readers, but the man who gets to the top of the tree in this department must be allowed to be a man of some scientific achievement. It is no small amount of the pleasures of our race, especially of the more civilized portions of it, that must be traced to thought and experiment as taking this direction. The pleasures of the table, in domestic life, and in seasons of festival and banquet, how exhilarating, often how brilliant is the chapter in the history of our species which these present? We are ignorant of much that the remote and ancient peoples did, but we know that they ate and drank, and that for the most part they enjoyed it thoroughly.

Here, then, is M. Soyer, a sort of king in his line of things, publishing a book, in which we have an account of the manner in which science adapted food to the palate of those great ancients of whom we hear and read so much in our schoolboy days. The volume is a substantial one, with gay binding, admirable in its paper, its printing, and its illustrations, effervescent in its style as a glass of champagne, and very learned withal. Old Greeks and old Romans, pagan philosophers and Christian fathers, all come up as authorities on this grave subject. The book, in consequence, shows us how agriculture originated and was diffused; how the ancients grew their corn, ground their corn, and manipulated it when it became flour; how they raised vegetables and fruit; what animals they ate, how the wild were caught, and how both wild and tame were cooked; what fish also came to their net; together

MISS BREMER-SOYER'S PANTROPHEON.

571

with the sort of pastries, seasonings, and beverages that pleased them. It is a book, accordingly, containing a good deal for those who read only to be amused, and a good deal for those who read to a purpose beyond that. It is a chapter on an instructive feature in the manners of the ancients, of which historians make no mention except incidentally. These incidental notices are here brought together, and present a mosaic picture of those ancients as they broke their fast, dined, supped, and banqueted some two thousand years ago. We look at them with no great pleasure as we see them eat 'the flesh of apes and dogs,' and as they make a dainty of fat snails. Even as they so do, however, they teach us something-the omnipotence of custom and fashion. M. Soyer, who has a smart humour about him at times, says, "The Greeks and Romans-egotists if there ever was any-supped for themselves, and lived only to sup; our pleasures are ennobled by views more useful and more elevated. We often dine for the poor, and we sometimes dance for the afflicted, the widow, and the orphan.' M. Soyer gives us an account of one of these egotist suppers as they took place among the chief ones of Rome in the time of Nero. We are informed of the manner in which Seba, the freed-man and favourite of Nero, acquitted himself as host on such occasions; of the manner in which invitations were sent by special messengers to the patrician nobles; of the hollow sycophant style in which these invitations were accepted; of the preparations at the baths, the services of the valet, the teeth cleansing, and the assumption of special costume, which belonged to the preparations of the guests before making their appearance at the house of Seba; and of the reception given them by the parasites of the favourite on their arrival.

"They enter an immense hall, decorated with unheard-of luxury, lighted by lustres, and round which are several ranks of seats, not unlike the folding-stools and armed-chairs we meet with in the present day in the most elegant boudoirs. The guests seat themselves, and anon Egyptian slaves approach with perfumed snow water, with flowers from golden vases of the most graceful forms, and cool the hands of senators and knights, whilst other servants disencumber them of their patrician shoes, the end of which represents a crescent. The feet then receive a similar ablution, and fresh slaves, skilful orthopaedists, accomplish in a twinkling the delicate toilet of their extremities, and imprison them again in elegant and commodious sandals, fastened by ribbons which cross on the top. The guests stretch themselves on their couches of gold and purple; slaves burn precious perfumes in golden vases; young children pour odoriferous essences on the hair of each. The hall is full of balmy fragrance. The candelabra diffuse the most brilliant lustre. The golden panelling of the walls return a dazzling brightness; and the full or softened tones of the hydraulic organ announce the commencement of the banquet. And now course follows course, and goblet follows goblet, the viands and wines being the richest that art could furnish from the land or sea. At length, supper being ended, the guests however being still on their couches and at their wine, the amusements begin, which consist in part of feats performed by jugglers, and of a company of public servants, who, from the things they did, seemed to have bodies pliant as leather and light as air.

The only thing wanting to render Seba's supper a worthy specimen of nocturnal Roman feasts, was to produce before the guests one of those spectacles which outrage morals and humanity. Nero's freedman had been too well tutored to refuse them this diversion. Young Syrians, or bewitching Spanish girls, went through lascivious dances, which raised no blush on the brow of rigid magistrates, who forgot, in the house of the vile slave, the respect due to their age and dignity.

'After the voluptuous scenes of the lewd Celtibereans, blood was required: for they seem to have been formed by nature to take a strange delight in sudden contrasts. Ten couples of gladiators, armed with swords and bucklers, occupied a space assigned to them, and ten horrible duels recreated the attentive assembly. For a long time nothing was heard but the clash of arms; but the thirst for conquest animated those ferocious combatants, and they rushed with loud cries on one another. Blood flowed on all sides; the couches were dyed with it, and the white robes of the guests were soon spotted. Some of the combatants fell, and the rattles announced approaching death; others preserved in their last struggles a funereal silence, or endeavoured to fix their teeth in the flesh of their enemies standing erect beside them. The spectators, stupified with wine and good cheer, contemplated this carnage with cold impassibility; they only roused from their torpor when one of those men, happening to trip against a table, struck his head on the ivory, and his antagonist, prompt as lightning, plunged his sword into the throat of his foe, whence torrents of black, reeking blood inundated the polished ivory, and flowed in long streams among the fruits, cups, and flowers.

"The deed was applauded; servants washed the tables and the floor with perfumed water, and these stirring scenes were soon forgotten. A last cup was drunk to the good genius, whose protection they invoked before returning home.'—p. 396. Our readers will see from this extract, and from what we have said, that M. Soyer's book does more than tell us what the ancients ate and drank-it gives pictures of ancient manners, such as historians and philosophers, moralists and statesmen, may glance at with advantage. The Works of John Bunyan. Edited by GEORGE OFFER, Esq. Three volumes. Royal 8vo. Blackie & Son. 1851-1853. Mr. Offer has here performed a labour of love. He has given us the first complete edition of the works of John Bunyan. Each publication is here reprinted from the author's own editions; and to each there is a suitable Introduction, besides historical and explanatory notes. Of course there is a life of the gifted man, and this, so full of interest in itself, is rendered still more so by a series of engravings of places and things connected with Bunyan's history. There are also other engravings, illustrative of his allegorical and symbolic writings, and more than one finely executed portrait. 'An ardent admiration of all Bunyan's works,' says Mr. Offer, 'led me to collect the earliest editions, and I read with the highest gratification his sixty-two treatises. For more than half a century they have beguiled many leisure hours, and, at the request of valued friends, I have agreed to devote a few years of the decline of life to venture upon editing a new and complete collection of these important works. And now that work is done; and we congratulate the editor on the consummation of his labours.

Mr. Offer's fitness for the work he has undertaken consists mainly in his thorough knowledge of his subject, and in his full sympathy with the religious views of his author. He brings to his work strong feeling, and strong natural intelligence, resembling those which characterized Bunyan himself, but his criticisms have not always either the breadth or the discrimination to be expected from a thoroughly educated man on such writings, in the middle of the nineteenth century. The genius of Bunyan needs no commendation from us or from any man, and we should be sorry that any fruit of that genius should be lost, but it is not to be supposed that all these sixty-two

BUNYAN-SCHLEICHER-FULLARTON'S GAZETTEER. 573

treatises are of a sort to commend themselves equally to the judgment or to the taste of modern readers. Those of Bunyan's productions, however, which partake less of the extraordinary power of invention and painting so conspicuous in his allegorical writings, are remarkable, among other things, as showing the rich command of the English language which is possible to a man whose one book is his English Bible. Bunyan read other books, but that book along with all, and more than all, and it sufficed to make him the man we find him. We commend this fact to the attention of the living preacher. Let him not forget the saying of the great Dr. Owen, 'I would willingly part with all my learning, to be able to preach like John Bunyan.'

Both the editor and the publishers of these volumes have a claim on our gratitude, and we commend the fruit of their labour and enterprise very cordially to the attention of our readers.

Zur Vergleichenden Sprachengeschichte. Von Dr. A. SCHLEICHER.

Bonn. 1848.

Die Sprachen Europas in Systematischer Uebersicht. Bonn. 1850. Die Formenlehre der Kirchenslawischen Sprache. Von Dr. A. SCHLEICHER. Bonn. 1852. London: Nutt, 270, Strand. These three thin octavo volumes, which are among the latest productions of German philology, and which we owe to the learned professor of comparative philology in the University of Prague, present in different ways the most recent conclusions and best established views entertained on the Continent, respecting, first, the comparative history of languages; secondly, the relations borne to each other, and to the great stock of languages by the languages now spoken in Europe; and, thirdly, the grammar and historical bearings of that dialect of the Sclavonic which is peculiar to the Church Services. The first volume and the last are works specially suited for the scholar. The second should be studied by all who wish to have a general and correct view of the origin and mutual relations of the languages of Europe. The Sclavonic family of tongues, the younger sister to the Indo-Germanic and the Celtic, has of late attracted attention, and is likely to assume high importance, in consequence of efforts which are now making among the oppressed populations of Russia and Austria to revive the old Sclavonic spirit as a means of restoring Sclavonic nationality; or, at least, of recovering lost civil freedom and national independence. Any study which promotes so desirable a result will be approved by the wise and good, who will not be displeased to see how the dry and abstract pursuits of the solitary grammarian and scholar may prove to have a connexion with questions of immediate and vivid interest.

The Gazetteer of the World. Royal 8vo. Parts 1-20. A. Fullarton & Co.

Parts from one to twenty of this work have now appeared, the last Part ending with the word 'Missouri,' under the letter M. The work is compiled from the most recent authorities, and designed to present a complete body of Modern Geography, Physical, Political, Statistical, Historical, and Ethnographical. The term 'Gazetteer,' accordingly, does

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