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will place this melancholy truth in a stronger light, than any observations of ours can possibly do. Botta's History of the American Revolution is well known in this country; and the translation of it has passed through two editions under the sanction of American copy-right. The French translator, also, was liberally rewarded for his labors by the publishers of Paris. In Italy, the editions of the original text have been multiplied in every part of the country; and have proved in every form, a fruitful source of gain to the editors. What in the mean while was the reward of the author ? He had drawn upon his scanty patrimony in order to defray the expenses of the original publication ; for no bookseller could be found in Paris willing to undertake it at his own risk. While the Italian reprints and the French translation were obtaining an unexampled circulation, the copies of the first edition were lying a dead weight upon the hands of the author; and he was at last constrained to sell six hundred of them, at the price of waste paper, for a few sous a pound, in order to purchase for his wise the privilege of dying in her native land.
What then can induce the Italian to renounce the ease of a life of indolence, or the advantages of commerce, for the cares and anxieties, and in speaking of Italy we must add, the dangers, of literature ? We know of but two causes at all adequate to such a result. The love of literature for itself ; and the thirst for a durable reputation. To these should be added, but as acting with them, rather than as a separate cause, the hope of doing something towards the regeneration of his fellow citizens.
That the love of letters does exist in Italy, if not in perfect purity, at least free from the corruptions by which it is tarnished in other countries, would seem to be sufficiently evident from what has already been stated with regard to the situation of its votaries. And in fact, when, on the one hand, we consider the obstacles which obstruct the path of the man of letters, in this unhappy land ; bis sacrifice of peace and of domestic quiet; the alternative to which so many are reduced of choosing between a prison and an exile, and the meagre and uncertain rewards which attend the most successful exertions ; and, upon the other, contemplate the ardor with which the best talent of the land consecrates itself to literature, and the unwavering devotion, with which it meets every sacrifice and hardship that its choice imposes ; we are struck with an admi
ration which we had never felt before, and are compelled to acknowledge that beautiful arrangement of Providence, which, when every ordinary motive would turn us back from the paths of intellectual culture, decks them withi a winning, an irresistible loveliness, stronger than the suggestions of indolence, or the attractions of interest. Neither is the prospect of an ephemeral reputation, overshadowed as it is by cares and vexations, and deprived of all the advantages, which in other countries make it attractive, sufficient to account for the literary devotion of a modern Italian. He undoubtedly labors for applause; but the fame after which he endeavors is that tardy fame, which is sculptured upon the tomb, and which, by an unaccountable, though undeniable illusion, reconciles man to the trials which he actually endures, by the hope of those tributes of love and veneration which he can neither hear nor enjoy.
If the view which we have taken of the personal inducements to literary exertion in Italy be correct, it will necessarily follow that men of genius will choose that course, which promises to lead more directly and surely to the reward after which they aspire; or, in other words, they will naturally adopt that branch of literature, which gives the greatest security of durable fame. We can hardly be accused of rashness or of prejudice, when we assert, that of all the various forms of composition, although none may lead more promptly than romance to immediate applause, yet none is so insecure a guide to permanent reputation. It was one of the first inventions of modern literature. It was one of the earliest and most curious pictures of the Middle Ages. It has followed every turn of society, and everywhere adapted itself to the feelings and character of the age. But, as these give place to new feelings and to new character, the fictions which formed the delight of one century have been almost instantly forgotten, if not caricatured and despised, in the next. Nor has this proceeded more from those changes in our pursuits and in our mode of life, which call for a concurrent change in works of this kind, than from the nature of the writing itself, which, holding a middle station between poetry and history, and neither shackled by the difficulties of the one, nor requiring the laborious research of the other, presents temptations to the formation of habits of carelessness and haste, which few have the strength or the courage to resist. Our own age In the volumes before us, the Prophets are arranged in chronological order.
The distinction between poetry and prose is preserved throughout, the poetical portions being broken into verses corresponding to those in the original. Each book is divided into sections and paragraphs according to the sense, our arbitrary division of chapters and verses being denoted in the margin. Each section is headed by a brief and comprehensive program or argument. A few pages of notes are also appended to every volume. In these we have a short account of the author, date, design, and scope of each book, and an elucidation of the more doubtful and difficult passages. The style of the translation is throughout pure, chaste, majestic, and rhythmical. We detect no words or phrases of new or doubtful origin, none of those cockneyisms or of that affected quaintness, by which some, on this same career, have sought to supplant the “ English undefiled” of King James's version. The dignity of prophecy and the harmony of poetry are everywhere sustained, while the distinctive peculiarities of the several writers are faithfully exhibited
Mr. Noyes has omitted all commentary of a doctrinal character. He labors to uphold no favorite theory of inspiration or of prophecy. He has dealt with the prophets, as he would have done with any other ancient authors. His only aim has been to introduce the prophets to his readers, and to leave them to speak for themselves on all points of controversy.
We know of no reason, why his labors may not be equally welcome to the inquiring and truth-loving of all denominations. Indeed, he imparts to the sacred text a coherency and continuity of sense, the lack of which, in our common version, has stood sadly in the way of every class of religious theorists, while it las afforded ample ground for the gainsaying and cavilling of the skeptical. Whoever reveres the record of God's earlier revelations, whoever would see its pages no longer an open field for the blunders of ignorance, the baseless inferences of theological quackery, and the ridicule of the profane, must feel deeply indebted to him, who has so successfully disinterred the elements of a dead language, interpreted the monuments of long-past tribes and times, and made these writers hardly less intelligible than they were to their contemporaries.
The amount of critical labor bestowed on these very unostentatious volumes, those, to whom they will be of the most comfort and use, can hardly appreciate. The display of learning is carefully shunned; its front, bristling with unknown and tortuous characters, is sedulously concealed. The most ephemeral pamphlet could not have made its appearance in more modest
work out her freedom, are those wild and fanciful hopes, which, if left to their free play, would poison all its sources. It is only by chastening these in the school of real life, that so fatal a catastrophe can be prevented. Excitement and passion have done their part. If reason, speaking with the voice of experience, be listened to, they will not have done it in vain. Whatever has a tendency to work upon the imagination, and carry excitement beyond the point which it has already reached, although it may hasten the moment of action, and produce by a convulsive effort that which the natural course of events is inevitably bringing about, will retard, for at least another century, the true progress of Italy and of Europe.
Thus the only causes, which seem to us capable of moving the minds of Italians of the highest order, tend to confirm that neglect of historical romance, which has prevailed at every period of their literary history. As long as these remain in force, so long will the success of this school be doubtsul. Literature has always been the child of circumstances; and they alone of her followers have been successful, who have known when to yield to their impulse, and when to temper it. For the last twelve years, there has been a struggle in Italy, between the state of things which we have hastily sketched in the present paper, and the enthusiasm kindled by the romances of Scott. Had the writer, who is acknowledged to be at the head of this party, been endowed with a fertility of invention proportioned to his accuracy of observation, and a force corresponding to the delicacy of his genius, it would be difficult to conjecture how far he might have succeeded in triumpbing over the obstacles, which have proved fatal to the cause when intrusted to the hands of his partisans. As it is, his beautiful production stands almost alone. We may endeavour, in another paper, by a full examination of the work of Manzoni, and a sketch of the works of his disciples, to enable our readers to decide for themselves, how far we are right in the opinions which we have ventured to express in this.
Erlean ... Four Volumes. 8vo. London.
Of late years, we have seen much attention directed towards the obscurer portions of English literature, for the purpose of bringing whatever was valuable into notice again ; and in addition to this, the lives of many celebrated writers have been diligently investigated to recover the smallest relic, or to find grounds for some new argument or construction, that might render our idea of the men more precise and just. This zeal is for the most part to be taken as a sign of literary activity and love of truth; though at times it may betray an unreasonable distrust of old reports and opinions, and an officious readiness to disturb long-received impressions. The effect has certainly been, that writers, whose fixture in the world's memory seemed immovable, have been brought before us for judgment as if they were but of yesterday, and have occupied a place in journals and in conversation, which seems most proper for those of our own time, and whose pretensions are not yet determined. And if we look to the result of these and similar inquiries into the characters of distinguished men, we shall probably find that the unfavorable judgments of them, which we had inherited from their contemporaries, have gradually been mitigated; while those who have been remembered chiefly for their good or great qualities stand just where they did in common opinion, notwithstanding the discovery of serious flaws in their characters, and the novel and powerful arguments that have been employed to give fresh pungency to their known faults, and thus unsettle their dominion.
The moral aspects of this result are important; but we must pass them by. One effect of such investigations, though it be not always contemplated, may be noticed as somewhat to our purpose. It is, that our interest is increased in many an established writer, whose claims, as we have never dreamed of disputing or defending them, may have less place in our thoughts than they should. This interest is likely to be effective and practical, by drawing general attention to the past and present condition of literature and authors, and the influences that operate upon them. So that, to instance but in one particular, if in the lapse of years false habits of thought or composition bave crept in, and productions marked most of all by - NO. 9.