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From The Spectator. lie, comes within his province. This may LETTER-WRITERS AND AUTOBIOGRA
be a comfortable theory, and it is certainly PHERS.
prolific. It enables Mr. Knight to insert
letters from great men, to great men, and We cannot see that any distinct principle about great men. He can carry autobioghas guided Mr. Charles Knight in making raphy so far as to quote a description of this selection. His object bas apparently George. III. from one of Galt's novels, been to make a selection. Some of the let- though it is not even suggested that George ters in the volume have been happily cho- III. wrote under the alias of Galt, or that sen, and bear not only on the characters of Galt drew on his own character for Sir Antheir writers, but on the epistolary art. So drew Wylie. But though Mr. Knight may much cannot be said of the autobiographical quote he cannot force the public to read, fragments, unless they are accepted as pri- and he will hardly persuade critics to form vate letters written to a friendly posterity, an estimate of the worth of his collection. We do not mean that they are devoid of We may avail ourselves of it to point out interest. De Quincey's sad memorials of some of the leading characteristics of the himself, Gibbon's stately History of the letters it contains, and we must remark that Rise and Progress of the Gibbonian Em
many of these letters are too good for the pire, Cowper's memoirs, which, as is well company in which they are placed. One pointed out in this book, present a marked of the striking, though purely accidental, contrast to his letters, afford Mr. Knight features of Mr. Knight's work is the publimany valuable extracts. But except as cation of some new letters of Southey and being readable in themselves, and complet- Canning. Another interesting feature is ing our knowledge of their authors, these the reproduction of the private letters of sketches have no peculiar claim on our con- Junius to Woodfall. But it is difficult to sideration. They are not representative, understand why these letters of Southey as they ought to be, and as some of the and Canning should be considered epistoletters are. When once a selection is made lary models simply because they are unpubwithout any thread of unity running through lished, or why short notes which are made its component parts, when anything that memorable by the mystery that surrounds looks attractive is made use of, and much their writer should rank with the delicate that does not even hold out such a hope is art of Cowper, the impulsive friendliness of quoted for the sake of quotation, the effect Burke, and the stiff ease of Gibbon. The produced is that of paste and scissors, what following passage is indeed characteristic of might seem catholicity of taste is regarded Southey: as smattering, and the panegyrics of the compiler on his favourite pieces are taken
“. Among my employments I must not forget for puffery of the wares he has to offer. the most important - Coke. I am obediently Mr. Charles Knight will be hardly exposed but I am not obedient enough to think it a good
diligent in reading this man's commentaries to such suspicions, but he will not have to book for the young student. It is so completely thank his present book for his escape. If unmethodical that I think it should only be read he had not been an old and faithful servant after a man was a tolerable lawyer. For my of literature, we might either have passed own part, I find I know something of everyover this work as a mere compilation, or thing, but have no arranged knowledge. It is · have dealt severely with its shortcomings. like reading Wanley's Wonders or Seward's As it is, we think Mr. Charles Knight has Anecdotes to learn history. I envy you who taken one of those small liberties which old have done with these things, and often wish myservants will take occasionally, has made self again at Burton. Certainly, I deem some too much of a good idea, and smothered regular employment necessary for most men what were promising materials under an in- some professional study to fix them. But for ordinate bulk of needless extract.
myself, I am so thoroughly fond of literary purSuch
a title as Half-Hours with the best suits, that it is not by this principle I can recLetter-Writers and Autobiographers of oncile myself to law. Luckily there is a course prepares us for an introduction to stronger motive, and unluckily that motive apthose who excelled in either department.
plies to me." Mr. Knight bas not even attempted this in It serves, too, for a link of connection the present series. He seems to think that between Southey's letters and those of Canany letter, so long as it contains interesting ning, when we have Southey writing, “The matter, or bears a name known to the pub- Aristocrats have found out that such poems
are very Jacobinical, and Canning and • Half-Hours with the Best Lester Writers and Nares have given me the title of the Jaco Autobiographers. By Charles Knight." Second Series. London: Routledge.
bine Poet, and regularly abused me once a week since the Anti-Jacobine made its ap- freedom and less regularity than to you; pearance. They are the best advertise- for as the thoughts come crowding into my ments in the world, and will soon ridicule head, I cannot forbear putting 'em down, any book into a third edition.” Moreover, be they in what order or disorder they will." any of Canning's early letters, and notably Of course this freedom may be carried to the one in which he speaks of his Eaton life, such an extent as to become carelessness, would be valuable to the son of the pub- but good writers know when to unbend and lisher of the Microcosm. We are willing to when to stop short. That they should be allow for such motives, and it is hard not able to unbend appears not only from Cowto respect them even more than they de- per's example, but from the severe judgserve. Besides, a name is so large an ele- ment he passes on the affected smartness ment in the popularity of a letter that it of Pope. “ This foolish vanity," he says, often seems to supply the want of all that would have spoiled me quite, and would should accompany it. When once we have have made me as disgusting a letter-writer a character before us, everything connected as Pope, who seems to have thought that with it seems characteristic. The distinc- unless a sentence was well turned, and tion between features and peculiarities, be- every period pointed with some conceit, it tween what makes up the character and was not worth the carriage. Accordingly, what happens to be attached to it, between he is to me, except in very few instances, what is public and general and what is local the most disagreeable maker of epistles that and personal, is constantly overlooked. A ever I met with." Even Gibbon relaxes man's features may be marked, and yet may now and then,- neque semper arcum tendit. be wholly exceptional. The private letters The account of the Decline and Fall, given of Junius, for instance, are most significant to his stepmother, may be usefully conso far as the private character of their wri- trasted with the more youthful letter to his ter is concerned. In bis Popular History aunt, which we quote below. “I am just of England, Mr. Knight could comment at present engaged in a great historical appropriately on the audacity which would work :- no less than a History of the Dehave weaker letters disowned, the self-im- cline and Fall of the Roman Empire; with portance which looked forward to attainder, the first volume of which I may very possithe assumption which called Garrick a vaga- bly, oppress the public next winter. It bond and told him to keep to his panto- | would require some pages to give a more mimes. But here such comments are out particular idea of it; but I shall only say in of place. One does not select letters in or- general that the subject is curious, and der to show that their writer was a “worth- never yet treated as it deserves; and that less scoundrel.” Even if the value of these during some years it has been in my thoughts, letters was greater than it is, it would be and even under my pen." The letter to purely individual. And this alone ought his aunt dates from his nineteenth year, and to exclude them from a representative col- is far more of a precursor of the Decline lection,
and Fall than the one which announces its Perhaps we have not made our meaning approaching publication: clear. If so the fault has been rather with Mr. Knight than with us.
“ Dear Madam,— Fear .no reproaches for
So few, comparatively, of the letters in this series come lence, however long. I love you too well to make
your negligence, however great; for your siup to the true standard, that in dwelling on you any. Nothing, in my opinion, is so ridicuthose which have fallen short of it we have lous as some kinds of friends, wives, and lovers, forgotten to define it. The reader has, who look on no crime as so heinous as the lethowever, examples of perfect art in Cow- ting slip a post without writing. The charm of per's letters, from which Mr. Knight has friendship is liberty; and be that would destroy drawn both wisely and liberally. In all the one, destroys, without designing it, the betCowper's letters there is that amount of ter half of the other. I compare friendship to freedom which marks the distinction be- charity, and letters to alms; the last signifies tween familiar correspondence and the set nothing without the first, and very often the tasks of authorsbip. “Now, upon the first is very strong, although it does not show word of a poor creature,” Cowper remarks itself by the other. It is not good-will
which is in one place, “I have said all that I have wanting, it is only opportunities or means. said without the least intention
to say one months — four months : I began not to be an
month - two months — three word of it when I began.”
There is a very similar confession in Madame de Se- had happened to you. I was often on the point
gry, but to be uneasy, for fear some accident vigné, and Burke, as quoted by Mr. Knight, of writing, but was always stopped by the hopes tells one of his correspondents, “I do not of hearing from you the next post. Besides, kuow to whom I could write with greater not to flatter you, your excuse is a very bad one.
You cannot entertain me by your letters. If the affectation of literature. A poor little girl think I ought to know that better than you; and of this stamp was in my room one day when a I assure you that one of your plain sincere gentleman was sitting with me. He asked her letters entertains me more than the most pol- what she was reading at school. “Oh, Sir, the ished one of Pliny or Cicero. 'Tis your heart whole circle of the sciences !” • Indeed !" speaks, and I look on your heart as much bet- said he;" that must be a very large work!"ter in its way than either of their heads." “No, Sir; it is a very little book, it cost half a
crown.” My friend smiled, and lamented that There is something in the suggestion as to what was of such easy attainment had cost oppressing the public which takes even the him so much time and money. I asked a first of these letters out of the category in little girl, a servant's child, the other day, which Cowper's letters would be classed. what she was reading, and if she could say her But what could be more pedantic than the Catechism. * Oh, no, Madam, I am learning assurance that news from an affectionate re- Syntax!” What I am going to add, you will lation is weighed in the balance against think an exaggeration, if not an invention, but the works of Pliny and Cicero? Such an it is a literal fact. A girl in the next parish beallusion shows a mind absorbed in dry stud- ing asked what she learnt, answered, " I learns ies, and even more proud of them than gogarphy, and the harts and senses. pleased with them. It is true that in the schools, I am assured, writing and accounts friendly correspondence of famous people prenticeship to sin. He who is taught arithme
Sundays. This is a regular apwe too often detect those follies of the wise tic when a boy will
, when a man, open his shop which Johnson assigned to the last scene of life. But, then, these follies may have this has a revolutionary as well as irreligions
on a Sunday. Now, in my poor judgment, all their charm for 'us. They may show us tendency; and the misfortune is, that the growthat great men are not more than men. ing ultraism on the side of learning, falsely so
They may make us more contented with called, will irritate and inflame the old bigotry, our own littleness, and more ready to allow which hugged absolute ignorance is hidden the merits of those who are not wholly re- treasure, not to be parted with; while the sober moved from our appreciation. Besides measure of Christian instruction which lies betheir charm, they have often a valuable les- tween the two extremes will be rejected by both son. It must strengthen our hopes for the parties.' progress of the world to find that the arguments employed fifty years ago by per
From The Economist. sons to whose judgments some deference must be paid, have now become the undis- Byevays in Palestine. By JAMES FINN, puted property of men with whom it would
M. Ř. A. S., late Her Majesty's Consul be idle to argue. This, at least, is the mor- for Jerusalem and Palestine. James al we draw from the following letter of Nisbet and Co., 21 Berners street. Hannah More's, written in 1823 to William Wilberforce:
We have no doubt that Mr. Finn en
joyed his travels among the Byeways of the ""Our poor are now to be made scholars and Holy Land as much as he tells us he did, philosophers. I am not the champion of igno- but he has not the faculty of reproducing rance, but I own I am alarmed at the violence his enjoyment for the benefit of his readers. of the contrast.
The poor must not only read English, but ancient history, and even
A more conscientiously dull book has selthe sciences are to be laid open to them. Now, dom fallen to our lot to notice, yet there is not to inquire where would they get the money, a good deal in it that might have been - I ask, where would a labouring man get the made interesting, and that even now is time? Time is the fortune of a poor man; and worth seeking out at the expense of a few as to what they would gain from Grecian his yawns of weariness over the tedium of the tory, why, they would learn that the meanest task. Its object is best shown by some citizen of Athens could determine on the merits words in the preface, which will also serve of a tragedy of Euripides; to do which they as a specimen of the point of view from must always live in a playhouse, as, indeed, which the author looks at his subject and they almost always did; they were such critics of his style of treatment: in language as to detect a foreign accent in a great philosopher, &c.-- and yet history does These notices will show that the land is one of not speak of a more turbulent, unmanageable, remarkable fertility wherever cultivated, even profligate people. ::
If you are not in a slight degree, — witness the vast wheatquite tired of me and my senilities, I will pro plains of the South, - and is one of extreme ceed to a few facts to illustrate my theory. Not beauty, - witness the green hill country of the only in the great national schools, but in the North, - although such qualities are by no little paltry cottage seminaries of three-pence a means confined to those districts. Thus it is week, I hear of the most ridiculous instances of not necessary, it is not just, that beliovers in the Bible, in order to hold fast their confidence road, became perfectly secure.
On one of its predictions for the future, should rush into my visits, a list was presented to me of the extreme of pronouncing the Holy Land to ninety-eight inhabitants where a year-andbe cursed in its present capabilities. It is verily a-half before there was not one. Homeand indeed cursed in its Government and in its steads were rebuilt; the people possessed want of population; but still the soil is that of horned cattle and 'flocks of sheep and “a land which the Lord thy God careth for.” There is a deep meaning
in the words “ The goats, as well as beehives. I saw women Earth is the Lord's,” when applied to that pe grinding at the mill, and at one of the culiar country; for it is a reserved property, an doors a cat and a kitten; all was going on estate in abeyance, and not even in a subor- prosperously. Purer pleasure I never felt dinate sense can it be the fief of the men whom than when in riding occasionally with our it eats up. I have seen enough to convince me children we saw the threshing of wheat and that astonishing will be the amount of its pro- barley in progress, and heard the women duce, and the rapidity also when the obstacles singing, or the little children shouting at now existing are removed.
their games. Sixty cows used to be driven
at noon to drink at the spring. We reIt is to this part of his notes of travel turned to Jerusalem on the 21st of Octothat we shall confine ourselves. The pro- ber, and on the 28th of November that vilductive capabilities of this once fertile, but lage was again a mass of ruins, the now all but desert land; the archæological houses demolished, - the people dispersed, investigations do not strike us as of great | -- their newly sown corn and the vineyards value though in his wanderings Mr. Finn ploughed over, - the fine spring of water came across many curious relics of antiqui- choked up once more, - and my Australian ty, such as that of the "
Syrian Stone- trees planted there torn up by the roots. henge,” near Sarepta (now Sarafend), All this was allowed to be done within nine “ certainly of earlier period than any miles of Jerusalem to gratify persons enGreek or Roman architecture in the coun- gaged in an intrigue which ended in deeds try." His records of his various journeys far worse than this." The author may truare dull in the extreme, the fault of a wantly say this country is cursed in its Governof literary ability, not of any lack of pic- ment. Under a settled and just if stern turesque and varied incidents. There can rule, this experiment proves what the peobe no monotony at least in travelling in a ple and soil are capable of effecting. country where villages spring up and van- We will give a few extracts from differish in a year or two. At one time Fool- ent parts of his book illustrative of the ah" (in the plam of Esdraelon) was a heap writer's theory of the productiveness of the of ruins, while its neighbour Afoolah had soil under even its present mode of cultivaits residents; on my next visit it was Fool- tion: ah rebuilt and the other a heap of overthrown stones; or next time both of them In one place (on the Philistine plain), I re lying in utter silence and desertion.” The marked some hundred yards square of fine author tried bis hand at the construction of oats. This was surprising, as I knew that oats a village near to a summer residence — (if are not cultivated in Palestine. The people as a cottage of rough stones with tents for and as the name " Khafeer” seemed to be well
sured me that they were of excellent quality; slecping in, a kitchen built out of a mud known, it seems difficult to understand that oats wall and branches of trees, and an ancient have not been at some time cultivated in that sepulchre for a summer house, the whole part of the country. With respect to its Arabic perched on a hill-side on the way from name, it is worth notice how near, it is to the
to , for sounding a name). “ A friend, of whom I has since found wild oats growing on the N.E. hope to speak more in another time and of the Haurn. All the plain and the place, superintended for me the rebuilding low hills formed one waving sheet of corn withof an ancient Biblical village that lay a out divisions or trees; and often, as we bad no heap and a desolation, and cleared out its tracks for guidance, we had to take sight of spring of water, which, by being choked up towards it. It was amid such a wonderful
some object on the horizon and work straight with rubbish, made its way unseen underground. It thus became nearly as copious profusion that Bamson let locse the foses or as that alongside of Solomon's Pools. I jackals with firebrands, taking revenge on the
Philistines, and he called it “ doing them a disgathered people into the village, vineyards pleasure !". I have seen from Jerusalem the were planted, crops were sown and reaped smoke of corn burning, which had accidentally there, taxes were paid to the Government, taken fire in this very district. .. Anothand the vicinity, which previously bad been er hour brought us to Asdood (Ashdod) of the notorious for robberies on the Hebron Philistines, with Atpa and Bait Durâs cu our left. I do not know where in all the Holy | its sight of the righteousness as well as of the Land I have seen such excellent agriculture of mercy of God — who has wept as well as regrain, olive trees, and orchards of fruit, as here joiced, is alone furnished with what is needed in Ashdod. The fields would do credit to English to expound the forms of speech, by which, for farming, the tall, healthy, and cleanly popula- ages, the members of the Church of the living tion wore perfectly white though rather coarse God have expressed their fears, reverence, and dresses, and carried no guns, only the short love to the Hearer of praise, and the Answerer sword called the Khanjar. We rested in an of prayer. Such an one is our author. He is a orchard beneath a large mulberry tree, the fruit man who by natural talent, culture, and experiof which was just setting, and the adjacent pome- ence is somewhat well-fitted for the task he has granate trees shone in their glazed foliage and undertaken. For twelve long years he has de bright scarlet blossoms, the hedges of prickly voted himself to this undertaking, and we are pear were barsting into yellow fruit, palm trees mistaken if this his last work will not be reckrising beyond, the sky was of deep sapphire oned among the best, if not the best book which brilliancy, and the sun delightfully hot. has proceeded from his pen.
In a footnote our author tells us that “ since that journey I have been told by
THE Rev. Albert Barnes is the author of a the country people that between Gaza and series of Critical, Explanatory, and Practical Beersheba it is the practice to sow wheat Notes on the Book of Psalms (Harpers), to be very thinly indeed, and to expect every finished in three volumes, the first of which is seed to produce thirty to fifty stalks, and just published. The preparation of the work has every stalk to give forty seeds.”
been carried on at intervals for the last twelve A land which can bear forty, fifty, or an years, and Mr. Barnes now offers it as the com hundredfold after this fashion, is not yet pletion of his Commentaries on the Suriptures. without hopes of future prosperity, when- From any attempt to carry the undertaking furever the incubus of Turkish rule (if ever ther he is debarred by failing eye-sight. The vob that golden time for Palestine is to arrive) ume before us opens with a brief introduction on shall be removed.
the history of this collection of sacred songs.
Not many more than half the number are ascribed From The Glasgow Christian News.
to David, the rest having been composed by var BARNES' NOTES ON THE PSALMS.
rious authors. The period within which the difIt is with feelings tinged with sorrow that we time of Moses to the return of the Jews from the
ferent Psalms were produced extends from the direct attention to this work from the pen of one of the most useful servants of the Lord Jesus captivity of Babylon, or later. The character of Christ. The name of Albert Barnes is a house the book gives evidence that it is composed of hold name on both sides of the Atlantic, and it several separate collections, probably made at is respected and beloved wherever known. He different epochs, and finally combined for use in who bears it has no enemies and a multitude of public worship. The tirst collection is formed friends. His works are numerous, and they entirely of the Psalms of David, while the other have aimed at the highest of all ends, the un- four consist principally of songs by other poets, folding the meaning of the word of God. He many being entirely anonymous. The formation has sent out more than half a million of volumes of the Psalter or assembling of the whole book of Commentary on the Scriptures in his native is ascribed by the Jewish Talmud to King David; land, and as many, if not more, in Great Britain, but the more modern date of many of the Psalms And now we are assured by himself that his contradicts the assertion. The received opinion work is done. He has reached that condition in among modern critics is, that the general colleolife when he must needs lay down his unwearied tion was made by Ezra about 450 years before pen, and wait the call of the Master. . . . There Christ. In Mr. Barnes's work the Psalms are is something appropriate in closing a long life's printed, each verse by itself, on the top of the work such as that of Albert Barnes with Notes page, the remainder being occupied by copious on the Book of Psalms.' It requires many qual notes and comments. Every point in which the ifications to expound the Songs of Zion, and translation differs from the original, or fails amongst some of the most essential are those to convey the full meaning, is minutely exwhich alone can be possessed through experi- plained, and descriptions are given of all local ence. The Psalms are great deeps into which incidents and customs which in any way affect the mature and the mellowed alone cau descend, the sense. Mr. Birnes also takes the opportato bring to the surface the rich truth which they nity to point out the moral and religious lessons contain. No young man, except in a high spir- conveyed in the text, and to exhibit its beauties of itual state, should attempt to expound the feeling and expression. With these volumes, if Psalms as a whole. His wing may be so strong they are indeed to be the last, Mr. Barnes will as to carry him high enough and hold him up bring to a close a long and eminent course of lo long enough at a time to survey a small corner bors in the field of religious literature. For of this marvellous field of inspiration, but a many years his works have been wilely circa comprehensive survey for such an one is not pos- lated, and his unusual ability has been constantly sible. The real Christian soul who has had its and fervently exercised in the support of evan sins and its sorrows, its darkness and its light, Igelical Christianity.
New York Sun.