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of judgment, purity of style, and a gentlemanly tone of feeling. We do not, therefore, hesitate to recommend his work to our readers, or to predict that it will (when completed) become a standard authority, on all subjects of national statistics. We should suppose that it will extend to three or four more volumes : one only has yet appeared.
Art. 1.-1. The Book of Beauty. Edited by the Countess of
Blessington. 8vo. London. 1836. 2. The Keepsake. Edited by the Lady Emmeline Stuart Wortley.
8vo. London. 1836. 3. The Confessions of an Elderly Gentleman.. By the Countess of
Blessington. 8vo. London. 1836. . 4. Adventures of Bilberry Thurland. 3 vols. 8vo. London.
1836. 5. The Life and Works of Couper. By Robert Southey, Esq. LL.D. Poet Laureat. Vols. 1-8. 8vo. London. 1836. HE extension of the field of literature, and the new channels which
in sent age, will form a very interesting subject of observation to those who come after us. It cannot be denied, that the various departments of art, science, and general literature, have been prosecuted with great avidity, and by a much larger number of persons, than at any former period. There never was a time, in which so large a proportion of THE PEOPLE entered into such enquiries. The vast intercourse of the great commercial nations of Europe, especially of England, with all parts of the globe, has greatly extended our geographical and statistical knowledge. Abundance of travellers, naval, military, scientific, and literary, have run to and fro upon the earth, and knowledge of the different nations, of their morals, manners, and modes of belief, no less than of their various natural and artificial productions, has been wonderfully encreased. From the same causes, natural history has received a new impulse, and an immense accession of facts. Some branches of it may almost date their origin from the present day; such as ichthyology, conchology, and entomology. Natural philosophy, too, has made a rapid progress; and chemistry, through the wonderful agency of electricity, under its different forms, has opened an unexpected acquaintance with the laws of matter, and thus at once improved the arts of social life, and given us new views of the power and wisdom of the Creator.
The first effect of this sudden and surprising growth of knowledge was the formation of literary and scientific associations; the second, was the equally sudden, and not less surprising extension of the periodical press. What a host of journals, reviews and magazines, has sprung up! We are no longer doomed, like our fathers, to behold Sylvanus Urban, and the Monthly Review, sailing in solitary glory, along the wide ocean of literature, the old gentleman bowing most politely to his throng of contributors,-lovers, poets, antiquaries, country clergymen, and retired officers; and the Monthly Review telling Samuel Rogers, in the commencement of his career, that he wrote very pretty prose, but that he must be advised, and attempt no more poetry! That day is gone by, and, if a wiser age has not arisen, a more knowing one has. We have journals without end. Every class of people has its periodical organ of enquiry aud intelligence. The great political parties have, besides the daily and weekly newspaperpress, their Quarterly Reviews, and their Monthly Magazines, their Blackwoods, their Frazers, and their Taits, from which they batter the outworks of their opponents, and proclaim the views and prospects of their leaders. Just so the religious world is provided with its journals of advocacy and defence. We have Catholic Magazines, Church Magazines, and Dissenting Magazines. Every sect has its organ, through which it conveys, at once, to its adherents, intelligence of the movements of the body, and a certain portion of general literary news. The Army, the Navy, the Law, and Medicine, every class of philosophic and scientific men, have their magazines too. We have Colonial Magazines, Magazines of Agriculture, Horticulture, Botany, Entomology, Chemical Philosophy, Mechanics, Music-every man, be he who or what he may, has his journal, wherein he finds every new fact and improvement, connected with his peculiar pursuit, carefully recorded. This must necessarily produce an amazing effect on the propulsion of enlightened enquiry, and the diffusion of knowledge, and is, at once, the work of the present age, and the indication of its altered character, and onward course. There may, indeed, be some departments of science or learning, which are not so exclusively pursued as heretofore; it may be true that classical and mathematical studies have lost much of their ancient attraction, and that neither are cultivated with the ardour or the seriousness which once distinguished the addresses of their votaries:-but, without pausing to debate this point, it may be safely asserted, that if, in any department, the present age is not so profound as former ones, on a thousand subjects of important knowledge its spirit of enquiry is more active; that its range is infinitely more extended; and that the consequences are already beginning to manifest themselves in the general advancement of social comfort, and the moral elevation of the race.
But, besides the journals to which we have here alluded, those of General Literature have multiplied in the same, if not in greater, proportion. They appear on all hands, and, encreasing with every successive month, testify to the extraordinary growth of reading, and of literary habits among the people. These publications—and some, already mentioned, belong to the same class, combine story and song with subjects of general criticism; and thus form a sort of common ground, where the lover of philosophy or science may find a refreshing relaxation, and the enquirer after general knowledge may continue to encrease his stores. It is to this class that the Annuals, the Penny Sheets, and the reprints of standard works, in monthly volumes, may be properly said to belong.
The Annuals, much as they have been ridiculed, have produced various and decided effects on the public taste. To say nothing of the splendid style of external embellishment, which they have introduced, they have widely diffused the love of the fine arts; they have circulated highly finished engravings of beautiful and interesting subjects; and they have thus taught the people to admire what, otherwise, they would never have beheld. It is true, indeed, that, as regards the literary department, there was something in the original plan of these periodicals too monotonous to maintain its hold on the public fancy. A regular alternation of a short prose story, and a shorter poem-prose and verse-prose and verse-and this throughout a dozen volumes, issuing from the press at the same moment,-it required more than mortal ingenuity to give force and variety to such matter. Many of them, moreover, were loaded with the contributions of friends and amateur authors, which, however their cheapness might recommend them to the editors, had nothing to recommend them to the public. Yet in these very volumes lies a mass, and that no trivial one, of some of the most ingenious and exquisite prose stories, no less than of some of the most original among the smaller poems, of which the modern language of England can boast.
But the original race of Annuals is nearly extinct; another has risen in its place, which, with fresh objects, and under new forms, has answered to the cry for novelty that is abroad. We have now a variety of these publications, adapted to the wants and wishes of each variety of readers. One is the Annual of the Religious World, filled with missionary narratives, religious biographies, and grave papers on subjects of piety and philanthropy. Another, that of Mr. Watts, is the Cabinet of Modern Art, devoting its pages to the interest and the love of the fine arts, and abounding with notices of the most distinguished professors; and is, as it always has been, the first of the whole class for felicitous selec
VOL. II.--NO. III.
tion, and the high finish of its engravings. A third is of a different order: it is devoted to the tastes of the aristocracy, and is placed under the editorship, the guidance, and the patronage of titled ladies ! To this belongs “ The Book of Beauty,” edited by the Countess of Blessington, and “ The Keepsake," edited by the Lady Emmeline Stuart Wortley. They may be classed with another demi-variety of large dimensions, and most gaudy attire, -Drawing-Room Scrap-Books--Flowers of Loveliness-Gems of Flowers, &c. &c. books of ample drawings, and ampler margins, on which every possible device of external embellishment, and internal nothingness, has been lavished.
But to these latter flaunting productions we have given merely a glance; into the purely aristocratic publications we have looked with a good deal of curiosity, because they indicate another of the remarkable fashions in modern literature- that descent of the angelic hosts into the plains of the poor shepherds of the pen; or in plainer language, of the legion of the titled into the vocation of those who have no titles, except such as rest upon their books, and such as their industry and intellect can acquire.
We do not deny that, in these publications, there is much educated and polished cleverness; much good-sense, tarnished, it is true, with no little coxcombry; and much travelled knowledge, for which we are thankful enough: but there is far more of weary common-place, and hacknied love-story, of fashionable and unnatural sentiment. There is a total want of the newness and freshness of feeling, the bold design, and daring departure from the beaten track, which mark the original and independent mind. In “The Keepsake,” there are some good things, by persons already well known to the public. Lady Dacre has a very cleverand spirited dramatic sketch, called “ The Old Bachelor's House," and Lord Nugent is the author of a tale, with the fantastic title, “ The Sea! The Sea !” in which there is some very vigorous writing, and some very beautiful and healthy sentiment, not unworthy of his established reputation and liberal spirit. But, after all, the pre. serving salt, both of this volume and of “ The Book of Beauty," will be found under such names as Barry Cornwall, Mrs. Shelley, Mrs. S. C. Hall, Alfred Tennyson, Mr. H. F. Chorley, Walter Savage Landor, Sir William Gell, &c. &c. Take, for example, the following grandiloquent lines, from a poem written by the Lady Emmeline Stuart Wortley, on visiting the mother of Napoleon Buonaparte :
“ My thought was of all mysteries of our fate,
Al miseries man doth for himself create;
Of desperate feuds, and blood-stained anarchies,
Beyond imagination's wildest range!" KEEPSAKE, p. 82-3. And all this, and a great deal more, (for there are nine pages of it) while mounting a pair of stairs ! Now, contrast with this the following piece of deep and simple feeling, from Barry Cornwall.
THE LADY TO HER LOVER'S PICTURE.
Once more I seek your meaning, as the skies