21 AUGUST 1858, Page 19



Lives of the Queens of Scotland and English Princesses connected with the Regal Succession of Great Britain. By Agnes Strickland, Author of "Lives of the Queens of England." Volume NIL Ethel Beringer: a Novel. By Caroline Gifford Phillipson, Authoress of

" Lonely Hours," .• Eva," &c. In two volumes. Volumes I. and II.

The Works of Virgil, with a Commentary. By John Conington, Professor of Latin, and Fellow of Corpus Christi College. Vol. I. containing the Eclogues and Georgics.—This addition to Mr. Long.'s series of Classical Authors, under the title of " Bibliotheca Classics," may be considered under two points of view ; for the general criticism of Virgil as a pastoral and didactic poet (for the .ZEneid will be dealt with hereafter), and for the illustrative commentary on the text of the Eclogues and Georgics. We prefer the work in its former aspect. Whether Professor Conington quite does justice to Virgirs exquisite perception of the beauties of Nature, may be a question—though there is no question about the critic's appreciation of the poet's exquisite diction. But his estimate of the subjects and subject-matter of Virgil, in reference to the Greek poets and Lucretius, is not only fertile in learning and searching in thought, but animated by that free and sensible modern spirit of which Mr. Long, we think, is the great exemplar. The /arger criticisms too often emerge into the broad field of general principles, though starting from a Virgilian point of view ; as in these refined re- marks on poetical language. "We are apt, perhaps, not sufficiently to consider what is involved in the style or diction of poetry. i1re distinguish sharply between the general eon- ception and the language, as if the power, which strikes out the one were something quite different from the skill which elaborates the other. No doubt there is a difference between the two operations, and one which must place a poet like Virgil ata disadvantage as compared with the writers whom he followed ; but it would be a mistake to suppose that imagination may not be shown in the words which embody a thought as well as in the thought which they embody. -To-express a thought in language is in truth to ex- press a larger conception by the help of a number of smaller ones ; and the same poetical faculty which originates the one, may well be employed in producing the other. It is not merely that the adaptation of the words to the thought itself requires a poet's sense, though tlus is much ; but that the words themselves are images, each possessing, or capable of possessing, a beauty of its own, which need not be impaired, but may be illustrated and set off, by its relative position, as contributing to the development of another and more complex beauty. It is not necessary that these words, in order to be poetical, should be picturesque in the strict sense of the term ;. on the contrary, it may suit the poet's object to make a physical image retire into the shade, not advance into prominent light ; but the imagination will still be appealed to whatever may be the avenue of approach—by the effect of per- spective, by artful juxtaposition, by musical sound, or perhaps, as we have already seen, by remote intellectual association. The central thought may be borrowed or unreal, yet the subordinate conceptions may be true and beautiful, whether the subordination be that of a paragraph to an entire poem, a sentence to a paragraph, or a phrase or word to a sentence. It is, I conceive, to a perception of this fact, and not to a deference to any popu- lar or mechanical notion of composition, that the praise of style and execu- tion in poetry is to be referred."

The annotations so far as we have examined them do not impress us so favourably as the general matter; but this opinion mainly rests upon the grounds formerly hinted at in a long notice of several of the series.* The precise aim or position of the work has not been strictly defined or not rigidly adhered to. When we look at the size and style of getting up, consider the largeness and depth of the criticism, and even seem to master the expressed intention of the undertakers, the series appears to be de-

triee! for students who have made some advances in scholarship. the notes themselves are examined they often appear addressed to mere tyroes who want aid in very small difficulties. The closing lines of the first Eclogue will possess a charm for all who can understand them as long as the thin smoke rises in the clear air of evening from the peasants frugal fire.

"Et jam summa procul villarum culmina fumant, Majoresque cadunt altis de montibus urnbrie." Surely if it were necessary to twice translate the lines, something nearer to the sense and spirit of Virgil might be found than the paraphrase "The smoke announces supper and the evening is setting in," or the nearer approach to metaphrase "The smoking roofs of the farm-houses announce supper time." It is proper for an explanatory commentary to err on the side of fulness : still it is possible to go too far m this direction.

Early Ancient History ; or the Ante-Greek Period, as it appears to us since the most recent discoveries in Egypt and Assyria. By Henry Menzies.—There are, says Mr. Menzies, but two classes of historical English books, one too elaborate for common readers, as Grote's Greece; others are mere compendiums. This judgment is stated too broadly. Merivale for part of Roman History, and Schmitz for Ancient History in general, have passed far beyond mere school compendiums in treat- ment as well as in length ; not to mention other authors. Particular histories have been treated broadly in books, and historical periods in popular lectures, not very much unlike the manner in which Mr. Menzies handles the history of Egypt, Palestine, Nineveh, and Babylon, as well as that of the Medea and Persians. The leading information re- specting the manners, customs, arts, and so forth, of these peoples, as drawn from monuments and their so-called history, as recorded by ancient writers, are doubled up in this volume in a popular and indeed rather telling manner. The book is "intended for popular use," for which it is well designed ; but the flourishes that herald it in the preface could have been spared.

Two Millions. By William Allen Butler, Author of "Nothing to Wear."—Animated by the success of his satirical jeu d'esprit against crinoline, and the general extravagance in dress of the New York ladies, Mr. Butler has attacked the love of money as the masculine vice, and aimed at pointing a deeper moral than shorter milliners' bills. Two Millions is the story of a New York millionaire, who discards his adopted daughter for her independent spirit and her marriage ; persecutes her- self; her husband, and her child; invites sundry poor relations to fill the post Rachel had previously occupied, and in the fulness of his riches is struck by apoplexy, just after an exciting interview with the discarded and her child, dead through privations. Spiritually speaking, this catas- trophe is the making of Firkin. Rachel, by her attentions and exhorta- tions, brings him to a right faith, and the decrepid invalid is unwilling to allow her to dispense money he can neither use nor enjoy.

The moral of the book seems to fail in this ; that a disease which incapacitates for active or even enjoyable life rather works the reforma- tion than any real mental perception either of the vice of avarice or the uselessness of great riches. This error would have been of small mo- ment, had the strength and finish of the verses been equal to the theme ; but the power requisite to handle the vice of hard, if not of fraudful ava- rice, with its accompaniments of ostentatious display and relentless self- will, indulging its caprices regardless of consequences, is quite another matter to the merry ridicule of ladies' fashions.

Poems. By William Tidd Matson.—Just a year ago t Mr. Matson published a volume of poems, which possessed poetical imagery and poetical spirit, though with a young writer's crudeness and want of con- densed finish. Stimulated by the praise he received, and what was sub- stantially more to the purpose, the sale of his volume, he has reprinted the-former pieces with a consierable addition to the number. It strikes us, however, without much addition to the former character of his verse. He is now' however, to bid farewell to the muses for the responsible duties of a Christian minister.

Leeteur Francais. Par Dr. William Lundy, M.A., &c.—A small selection of short pieces in prose and verse from the principal French Writers.

Messrs. Longman have sent forth a fifth edition of Sir John Herschel's celebrated "Outlines of Astronomy," in a very handsome forma embra- tin/ the latest discoveries.

inc fifth volume of Mr. Bohn's translated edition of the " Cosmos " is not, properly speaking, a reprint, this translation appearing for the 'first time. The same portion of the Work, referring to magnetic and volcanic subjects, or we are much mistaken, has already come before the English reader in Sabine's edition.

"Leaves from Lakeland," is a reprint of papers from Household Words, the Dublin University Magazine, &e. Mrs. Marcet's thirteenth edition explains itaelf.

• Spectator for 1857 page 1045. + Spectator for 1857, page 888. Outlines of Astronomy. By Sir John F. W. Menthe], Bart.,

D.C.L. F.R.S.L. and E., Hon. M.R.I.A., F.R.A.S., F.G.S., 51.C.E.E Member of the Institute of France, Sze. Filth edition.

Cosmos: a Sketch of a Physical Description of the Universe. By Alexander von Humboldt. Translated from the German, by E. C. out and W. 8. Dal- las, F.L.S. Volume V.

Conversations on Natural Philosophy, In which the Elements of that Science are familiarly exphined and adapted to the comprehension of Young Persons. By Mrs. Marcet, Author of "Conversations on Political Economy." Illus. tinted with Plates. Thirteenth edition.

Leaves from Lakeland. By James Payu.