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had been twice insane, and was hopelessly an invalid. He could easily have chosen a wife from the cultivated circles, with which he was continually conversant; but he reasoned with himself that such a wife must make a large sacrifice of personal comfort, taste, and happiness in ministering to his infirmities, and might after all fail in the capacity to meet the inevitable necessities of his condition. On the other hand, to one drawn from an entirely different sphere the most arduous personal services might seem light and easy, while she might be compensated for her devotion to him by the comparative independence and affluence in which he should be able to place her. We will give the story in the words of Gilfillan, who could not let such a precious morceau of gossip escape him. "Who has forgot the history of his courtship (not recorded in his biography); his going down to the kitchen of a brother minister, where his inamorata lived in the shape of a most respectable and pious domestic; his lighting the inseparable pipe; his question, Betty, do you love the Lord Jesus Christ?' her answer, I hope, sir, I do'; and his succeeding and conclusive query, Betty, do you love me?'" This narrative we have derived in substance from more authentic sources, and have no doubt of its accuracy. The result was a happy union with one, who passed without discredit from an humbler to a higher station, ruled his house with dignity, trained his children with discretion, watched over him in health and sickness with the most tender assiduity, was the means under Providence of warding off the recurrence of his mental malady, and no doubt of adding some years to his life and usefulness, smoothed his death-pillow, and cherished the most affectionate memory of his domestic virtues.
We fear that we have given but an imperfect sketch of Hall's genius and character. We have found great difficulty in satisfying ourselves, from the absence of salient points in his mental and moral outline. Had he had great follies or weaknesses, they would have given us shadows for our picture ; but the chiaro-scuro is as essential an element in the ungentle craft of the critic, as it is with the painter, and we ask praise for our humanity in not dropping a subject so unsuited for a fair exhibition of our artistical skill. As we have let the darker colors dry on our palette, we have felt only growing reverence and love for the man, admiration for the untiring
activity of his genius and for the vast amount of intellectual labor, of which we have ample testimony, though not the written record, and gratitude for the legacy of his eloquent example and for the few brilliant memorials of himself, which posterity cannot willingly let perish.
ART. VI. 1. Poems. By R. W. EMERSON. Boston: James Munroe & Co. 1847. 16mo. pp. 251. 2. Poems. By WILLIAM ELLERY CHANNING.
Second Series. Boston: James Munroe & Co. 1847. 16mo. pp. 160.
3. Schiller's Homage of the Arts, with Miscellaneous Pieces from Rückert, Freiligrath, and other German Poets. By CHARLES T. BROOKS. Boston: James Munroe & Co. 1847. 16mo. pp. 151.
4. Poems. By WILLIAM W. STORY. Boston: Little & Brown. 1847. 16mo. pp. 249.
5. Poems. By. THOMAS BUCHANAN READ. Boston: W. D. Ticknor & Co. 1847. 16mo.
6. The Island Bride, and other Poems. By JAMES F. COLMAN. Boston: W. D. Ticknor & Co. 1846. 16mo. pp. 164.
7. Poems. By FRANCES ELIZABETH BROWNE. bridge: Metcalf & Co. 1846. 16mo. pp. 155. 8. Songs of the Sea, with other Poems. By EPES SARGENT. Boston: James Munroe & Co.
9. Shells from the Strand of the Sea of Genius. By HARRIET FARLEY. First Series. Boston: James
Munroe & Co. 1847. 12mo. pp. 300.
ONE of our critical brethren across the ocean, some years ago, observing the almost countless multitude of books already in being, and the constantly increasing productiveness of the press, remarked in rather a plaintive way, that unless some short-hand process was speedily invented, the art of reading must be given up in despair. The apprehension was not wholly groundless, though it seems exaggerated, for it pro
ceeds on the supposition that books are printed only in order that they may be read; while it is evident, that many books are printed now-a-days without the slightest expectation that they will be read by anybody. As faithful reviewers, bound to watch the proceedings of authors, pretty much as Mr. Flamstead was appointed to look after the stars, we are supposed to know more than most people about "new publications," and to be able to give seasonable notice when any thing remarkable appears above the literary horizon. We are proxies for the public, who now do much of their reading at second hand, and trust to newspapers, magazines, and reviews, for an estimate of books which they are too poor to purchase, or too indolent to peruse.
The office is at all times a sufficiently onerous one; but at certain periods of the year, it becomes quite intolerable. At the beginning of winter, for instance, there is some demand for pretty gift-books, as acceptable presents for Christmas and the New Year. Dainty little volumes, with hotpressed leaves and vellum-colored or arabesque covers, slip in among new work-boxes, droll bronze figures, and articles of papeterie and bijouterie (we must have French names for our bawbles), as appropriate ornaments for the centretable. No one thinks of reading the books, any more than of using the work-boxes. Only the patient and conscientious reviewer is expected to tell the public if there is any thing entertaining in them. As so little inquiry is made respecting the contents of the volumes, amateur authors gladly avail themselves of the opportunity to inflict their wares upon the public. Essays, tales, sketches, travels, treatises upon moral law, and elements" of every science make their appearance almost by hundreds, to deck the bookseller's counters for a week, and his shelves for a century. Great as the demand may be, the supply is still greater.
We are at first disposed to pity the publishers who have hazarded their capital in an enterprise so unpromising. But the worthy bibliopolists need no commiseration; they are far too shrewd to encounter any such peril. Formerly, it was the fashion for the publishers to pay the authors; now, the rule is inverted, and the authors alone pay, and very round sums, too, for the use of a publisher's name, and for the privilege of appearing before the public. Most writers now-adays belong to the dilettanti society, and the frequency of
their appearance is measured not so much by the extent of their reputations, as by the length of their purses. This change of practice was very necessary; otherwise, the glut in the book-market would have bankrupted "the trade" long ago. Authors have fairly turned the tables on their old tyrants; Grub Street now rules Paternoster Row, instead of being its ill-paid menial and slave.
In this crowd of seekers after literary immortality, the poets, of course, are not found wanting. They make their appearance in flocks at this propitious season, just as the wild geese, with dissonant clang, wing their way southward at the beginning of winter. Here are nine young disciples of Apollo, just the number of the Muses, whom we have the pleasure of introducing to the public, with their maiden publications in their hands, and glowing with the blush of ingenuous shame and ambition. One or two of them, perhaps, are old sinners; but the greater number are evidently just caught. They are in the agonies of a first appearance, and undergoing as much perturbation as a young legislator when he makes his maiden speech. Our good city of Boston may well be called "the literary metropolis" of America; we doubt whether any other city in the world ever turned so large a brood of poets out of the nest in one season. Some crusty old fellows may perhaps exclaim with Pope,
"All Bedlam or Parnassus is let out!"
But they will do wrong to be surly about the matter. are not obliged to read all these volumes, which contain, according to a rough computation, about eighteen hundred pages of rhyme and blank verse; that task falls only on the hapless reviewer, and he will doubtless be alone in the performance of it. He has enjoyed some reputation for the power of rapid perusal and omnivorous digestion, and this is certainly an occasion to put his abilities to the test.
With a view not more to our own ease and comfort, than to the welfare and future renown of these callow poets, we would earnestly entreat them to pay a little more heed to the difference between quality and quantity. One cannot make himself more sure to sink in the sea of oblivion than by tying a heavy load of his own works about his neck; all the corks and bladders he can muster, newspaper puffs, the flattery of admiring relatives and friends, and the applause of a little
coterie, will never save him. His epitaph in our literary annals will be, that he put to sea with a weighty cargo of poetry, and was never heard of more. All the poems of Collins, Gray, and Goldsmith united would hardly fill a volume as large as the least of those now before us; but each of these great names has already survived one century, and not a leaf of their laurels has faded. If either of them had begun his career with the publication of a book like one of these, containing an indefinite number of songs, miscellanies, lyrics, and sonnets, his fame would not have survived his funeral. The satirist laughs at the poet
"Who strains from hard-bound brains six lines a year";
but his own glory would now shine all the brighter, if he had not heaped so many verses upon it. We maintain, that the class of poets whom he sneers at ought to receive all encouragement. There are not many such in our day; the disorder under which our contemporaries suffer is of a different character.
A knack at versification, a tolerable command of poetical diction, and a store of well-used images are now very common endowments; hardly any one can pride himself over his neighbours in the possession of them. Rhyming is as easy as punning, to one who will allow his thoughts to run more by the associations of sound than of sense. The universality of these gifts, if all persons were equally ambitious, might produce very serious consequences; our literature would be drowned by an inundation of poetry. We should all be so busy in writing verses, that nobody would have leisure to read them; or if they did, they would be very caustic critics, for it was long ago remarked, that " poetry is like brown bread, since those who make it at home never like what they meet with elsewhere." Sometime in the course of his life, under the influence of love, madness, or some other calamity, almost every one is silly enough to sin in rhyme.
"Scribimus indocti, doctique, poemata passim."
But not every one is so foolish as to publish his sins to the world. With more prudence than ambition, he first consigns them to the depths of his writing-desk, and afterwards to the flames. The world would not have suffered an irreparable - No. 135.
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