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It would not be easy to find a "strain in a higher mood" than this; it is equally admirable for its simplicity, manly fervor, dignity, and truth. The young man can ask no nobler hymn of battle, with which to march, like the soldier of antiquity, into the momentous conflict which awaits him, when the calm enjoyments of early life are over, and his years of labor, anxiety, suffering, perhaps of victory, begin.
The same spirit reigns throughout the work; not only is there nothing in it at variance with true sentiments, but, in the later pieces particularly, those sentiments are expressed with a force and beauty, which go directly to the heart. Even the negative praise of being harmless is not in our day so common, as to make it wholly without value; but the author evidently feels, and without this feeling there is no real inspiration, that the son of the morning, fallen from heaven, is no unmeet emblem of poetry, when she condescends to mingle with what is low and sensual; to "set her odorous chaplet of sweet summer buds on the icy crown of winter; to sing the songs of the Temple in a strange land. He feels, moreover, that even the neutral ground is no soil for her; that her trumpet is to send forth no uncertain sound; and that, the instant she sepa
rates herself from an alliance with virtue, she becomes unfaithful to the most momentous trust, which has been confided by Providence to the sons of men.
The remarks we have already made are certainly not designed to indicate surprise, that a writer of taste and feeling should be free from faults like these; but when it is remembered to what extent they have been sanctioned of late by the public approbation, or at least, by the absence of public censure, we may be pardoned if we dwell with gratification on such works, as present an example of very opposite qualities.
The larger portion of this volume is occupied by the author's earlier writings, now for the first time collected, and by translations, principally from the Spanish. His version of the "Coplas di Manrique" has been often noticed with high and merited praise; but there are others, which we regard as equally happy, and which remind us strongly of Bryant's "Blessed, yet sinful one, and broken-hearted"; one of the most beautiful it has been our fortune to meet. This power of transfusing the spirit of another language into ours, though, even when most successfully displayed, inferior to that of original creation, requires some higher qualities than the mere art of reproducing the same thoughts in graceful rhyme; yet the highest glory of the translator falls very far short of that which is due to him, in whom the fire of inspiration is not borrowed from another's altar. We have already observed of the other earlier poems, that they were full of promise; but the opening of the spring gave no assurance of so fortunate a summer. The later pieces, entitled "Voices of the Night," of which the lines already quoted are one, abound in elevated thoughts, and true poetical feeling; the expression is in general glowing and felicitous, though occasionally liable to the charge of quaintness; nor are we quite certain, that the allusions to the death-scene of Lear, in the "Midnight Mass for the Dying Year," however striking and ingenious, are consistent with perfect taste. It is, nevertheless, a proud testimony of Shakspeare's genius, that the comparison of one of the mighty changes in the aspect of nature, with that of the infirm, wronged old king, when his accumulated sorrows are closing in the welcome relief of death, betrays no want of nature or of dignity.
We are reluctant to take leave of this work, without offering our readers another example, to confirm the opinion we have undertaken to express.
"FOOTSTEPS OF ANGELS.
"When the hours of Day are numbered,
Wake the better soul that slumbered,
"Ere the evening lamps are lighted,
And, like shadows grim and tall, Shadows from the fitful fire-light
Dance upon the parlour wall; "Then the forms of the departed Enter at the open door;
The beloved ones, the true-hearted,
"He, the young and strong, who cherished
“O, though oft depressed and lonely,
If I but remember only
Such as these have lived and died!"
ART. X. Crania Americana; or, a Comparative View of the Skulls of Various Aboriginal Nations of North and South America. To which is prefixed an Essay on the Varieties of the Human Species. Illustrated by seventyeight Plates and a colored Map. By SAMUEL GEORGE MORTON, M. D., Professor of Anatomy in the Medical Department of Pennsylvania College, at Philadelphia; Member of the Academy of Natural Sciences at Philadelphia; of the American Philosophical Society; of the Historical Society of Pennsylvania; of the Boston Society of Natural History, &c. &c. Philadelphia: J. Dobson, Chesnut-Street. London: Simpkin, Marshall & Co. 1839.
THE title of this book is rather too long for our taste; but we have thought it should be all copied out. It is, perhaps, sufficiently explanatory of the object of the author. This, according to his own exposition, has been to give accurate delineations of the crania of more than forty Indian nations. Peruvian, Brazilian, and Mexican, particularly, an extended series of North American, from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic, and from Florida to the region of the Polar tribes. Especial attention has also been given to the singular distortions of the skull, caused by mechanical contrivances in use among various nations, Peruvians, Charibs, Natchez, and the tribes inhabiting the Oregon territory. The author states that his materials in this department are ample, and have enabled him to give a full exposition of a subject which was long involved in doubt and controversy. Particular attention has been bestowed on the crania from the mounds of this country, which have been compared with similar relics derived both from ancient and modern tribes, in order to examine, by the evidence of osteological facts, whether the American aborigines of all epochs have belonged to one race, or to a plurality of races. We cannot enter
into Mr. Morton's details. We can do no more than to state summarily the leading propositions which it is thought the facts contained in the volume tend to sustain. The author maintains, then, 1st. That the American race differs essentially from all others, not excepting the Mongolian; nor, he says, do the feeble analogies of language, and the more obvious ones in civil and religious institutions and the arts, denote anything beyond casual or colonial communication with the Asiatic nations; and even these analogies may, perhaps, be accounted for, as Humboldt has suggested, in, the mere coincidence arising from similar wants and impulses in nations inhabiting similar latitudes; 2d. That the American nations, excepting the Polar tribes, are of one race and one species, but of two great families, which resemble each other in physical, but differ in intellectual character; 3d. That the cranial remains discovered in the mounds, from Peru to Wisconsin, belong to the same race, and probably to the Toltecan family. Thus much for a brief outline of the work, which, it will be seen, is eminently spirited and liberal. In the filling up, too, we find rich masses of scholar-like, philosophical, and scientific matter, as well as of what belongs rather to the curious. This last word lacks authentication; we must borrow from Mr. Morton enough at least to show what we mean by it. And here is his account, for example, of the internal capacity and measurement of the skulls in his own collection, and of the results of that investigation. The skulls of idiots and of persons under age were of course rejected.
Of these anatomical measurements, we are told that, 1st. The Caucasians were, with a single exception, derived from the lowest and least educated class of society. As to the Hindoos, only three of them are admitted in the whole number, because, it is said, the skulls of these people are probably
VOL. XXVIII. 3D s. VOL. X. NO. II.