NURSERY ANTHOLOGY FOR 1830. JUVENILE ANNUALS.
CHILDREN are unerring critics, as far, as their knowledge extends, and it reaches over the whole realm of the imagination. MOLIERE'S old woman knew what was ridiculous, in right of her simplicity ; but no criticism is so unadulterated, so pure, so true, as the instinct of children in such matters as concern them. That which pleases a child, the man will like : he will remember it, for childhood is as strong in memory as true in the critical scent, and in after years the first decision will be confirmed. We wish, gray as we are, that our critical " I like that," " I don't like this," were as sure as they were from five to ten years of age. Juvenile Annuals are of course, or at least ought to be, within the sphere of a child's comprehension, and therefore of its criticism : the truest test would therefore be to try them on a cri- tical jury of all ages within the Arabic numerals : we are very certain, that were the verdict rightly collected, it would be infallibly just. "The child is father of the man," according to WoanSWORTH : our father is still within us, for we have been greatly delighted with these children's books. We are delighted with our wealth in children's au- thors; we are proud of having so many persons of genius in the country,—for truly it is here, and not in the larger Annuals, where they try to be grand, that our authors of light productionsshine. Names which we could only mention with faint praise before, must be spoken of here with affectionate admiration ; for they are sprightly, wise, unaffected, and fanciful—they, absolutely they, who were merely cold and formal in the more expensive and luxurious gifts intended for the elder brethren.
JOHN CL ARE. How pleasant is his fiction of the putting off of the Birds' Wedding-day, because of the sudden return of Winter, who had promised to depart altogether on St. Valentine's day! The ladies of the feather, ever more wise than their heedless lovers, foreseeing that no comforts in such a season could attend the conjugal state, universally postpone the happy day. " While allothe young gentlemen birds that were near Fell to trimming theirjackets anew for the year : One and all they determined to seek for a mate, And thought it a folly for seasons to wait, So even agreed, before Valentine's day,
To join hearts in love ; but the ladies said, Nay 1 Yet each one consented at once to resign
Her heart unto Hymen on St. Valentine; While Winter, who only pretended to go, Lapt himself out of sight in some hillocks of snow, That behind all the rest 'neath the wood hedges lay So close that the sun could not drive them away : Yet the gentlemen birds on their love errands dew, Thinking all Flora told them was nothing but true, Till out Winter came, and his frowns in a trice Turned the lady-birds' hearts all as hardened as ice. • Among those who had to lament the refusal of an intended mate, was the Wagtail; who is thus amusingly described.
"The Wagtail, too, mourned in his doublet of grey, As if powdered with rime on a dull winter's day : He twittered of love—how he courted a fair, Who altered her mind, and so made him despair ;) In a stone-pit he chose her a place for a nest, But she, like a wanton, but made it a jest ; Though he dabbled in brooks, to convince her how kind He would feed her with worms which he laboured to find, Till he e'en got the ague,—still naught could prevail : So ever since then he's been wagging his tail.'
Miss JEWSHURY, as we have before remarked, is very happy in her inventions, and very agreeable in her style. There are several very in- genious apologues by her ; among: which is the " Two . Pigeons," a pleasant illustration of the mischief of delay in conferring an in- tended favour. How natural is the opening !— " "fo-day is come, brother,' said little Julia; now lend me what you promised.'
" Dear child,' replied her brother, don't tease so ; you see how busy I am.'
" But you said, Charles—' " Yes, I know what I said : I said, that some day or other I would lend you my large cup and ball.' " Some day will never come Y said Julia, disconsolately. " My dear,' replied her brother Charles, with a very important air, 'you should choose good times for reminding people of their promises. You always come when I am busy, or when I am going out, or when, in fact, it is not convenient to attend to you.'
" You were doing nothing when I asked, yesterday, brother.'
" No ; but I was just going to do something very particular.' "And to-day—oh, you are not busy now ! do, dear Charles, lend me the pretty cup and ball ; I will take such great care of it.'"
The "Two Soliloquies" by her, in the same little book, is also curiously accurate : children will exclaim, "0, that is so like !"
" 0, dear me I what a terrible trouble it is to learn lessons and go to school ! Here I have one, two—no, not two, but a whole column and a half of words with meanings, to get by heart : I wish words had no meanings. Well, I suppose I must begin to learn them :—p-r-i-s pris, o-n on, prison, 'a place where people are confined.' Why couldn't they say school at once ?— that's a prison, I am sure. Well, what comes next? P-u-n pun, i.s-h ish, punish ; I know the meaning of that word without the book, every body in our house is so fond of using it. 'Master Charles,' says old cross nurse, if you will rampage out your clothes in this manner, I shall ask your papa to punish you.' 'Master Charles,' cries Betty housemaid, 'you deserve pun- ishing, that you do, scrasing my chairs, and writing on my tables so.'—Now they are not your chairs and tables, Mrs. Betty, they are papa's. 0, this nasty ugly lesson, I never shall get it ! P-1-e-a-s pleas, u-r-e ure, pleasure, ' gra- tification of mind.' Nay, but I am sure pleasure means eating penny tarts, and playing at watchmen and thieves with all our scholars. I dare say, if Fred Jones had heard me, he'd say pleasure meant having a new book. Read, • read, read,—I hate reading : when I am a man, I'll never open a book, and 1'11 never send my children to school, and I'll have a black horse—no it shall be a grey one with a long tail, and I'll ride up and down street all day long. 0, how I wish I were a man now !"
The Juvenile Keepsake is rich in its poetry. A little story in verse will be found amusing : "it is so funny, read me that again.' We will at least quote a few verses at the beginning.
"There was an honest woman once,— Mind, only once I say,— Who dealt in butter, pork, and eggs, All on a market day.
"In Norwich many a week had she Of wares a goodly show; And if high prices were but scarce Why she'd put up with low.
"Full twelve long miles had she to ride Before she did alight ; And often did she wish it less, As well indeed she might.
" Well did she know the proper hour To take the good cits in ; And could she do it but in time, She counted it no sin.
" Wares of all kinds she had to sell Just as the prices were ;— If pigs was scarce,' twas nought but pork ; Or eggs, if eggs was dear.'
" One day as pondering she sat On what would fetch the most ; I think,' said she, the cits to.day Would like some pork to roast.
And if a guse or two should go, I kinder think they'd sell ; They're not by no manes fat, I know, But lawk they'll du as well !
'And there's the nuts too, if they're kept
They'll every one be siry'd ; Folks like a nut or two to crack With ale at Christmas tide.' 11, tg
"And crack indeed they may, old girl. But well I know for one, They'll crack away for many a-day- And kernels find they none.
"But on this subtle point, the dame This reasoning bestowed, 'How can I arnser for the nuts ? They have 'em as they grow'Ll! "
Miss LANDON has redeemed herself in our eyes for a vast deal of tilted stuff, by some sweet and simple verses, entitled "The Mariner's Child to his Mother."
"Oh, weep no more, sweet mother, Oh weep no more to-niglit ;— And only watch the sea, mother, Beneath the morning light.
"Then the bright blue sky is joyful, i And the bright blue sky s clear, And I can see, sweet mother, To kiss away your tear.
"But now the wind goes wailing O'er the dark and trackless deep, And I know your grief, sweet mother Tho' I only hear you weep.
" My father's ship will come, mother, In safety o'er the main ; When the grapes are dyed with purple, • He will be back again. "The vines were hut in blossom • When he bade me watch them grow, And now the large leaves, mother, Conceal their crimson glow.
" He'll bring us shells and sea-weed, And birds of shininrr° wing ;
But what are these, dear mother I • It is himself he'll bring."
These would be grateful to us, even if they did not remind us of the beautiful verses which Lord SURREY puts into the mouth of a lady who spent the livelong night in watching the stars, at her window :— " Lo ! what a mariner
• Love bath made of me!"
Miss MITFORD is far cleverer in fables than in tragedies : to read one of her little pieces, is like walking down the green lanes and breath- ing the pure air of a Berkshire village. How admirable is this descrip- tion of the contest of a couple of Mies, the one tame and the other wild !—how humorous, and how correcfr "As they advanced, they heard a prodigious chattering and jabbering, and soon got near enough to ascertain that the sound proceeded mainly from one of the parties they were come to visit—Nurse Simmons's magpie. He was perched in the middle of the road, defending a long dirty bare bone of mutton, doubtless his property, on one end of which he stood, whilst the other ex- tremity was occupied by a wild bird of the same species, who, between peck- ing at the bone and fighting and scolding, found full employment. The wild magpie was a beautiful creature, as wild magpies are, of a snowy white and a fine blue black, perfect in shape and plumage, and so superior in appearance to the tame bird, ragged, draggled, and dirty, that they hardly seemed of the same kind. Both were chattering away most furiously ; the one in his natu- ral and unintelligible gibberish, the other partly in his native tongue, and partly in that for his skill in which he was so eminent,—thus turning his ac- complishments to an unexpected account, and lardinp, his own lean speech with divers foreign garnishes, such as What's o'clock ? ' and How d'ye do ? ' and 'Very well I thank you,' and • Poor pretty Mag ! ' and Mag's a good bird,' all delivered in the most vehement accent, and all doubtless under- stood by the unlearned adversary as terms of reproach."
Mrs. OPIE has a story called "Restless Bay," which, if not pathetic, like many of her former productions, is still superior to her later works : it is moral, instructive, and will interest children. It is in the New Year's Gift.
Mrs. HOFLAND'S•" Passionate Little Girl" is entitled to similar praise. Mr. MONTGOMERY has condescended to write a pleasant piece for Mrs. C. HALL'S Juvenile Forget Me Not : it is called the "Birds," and, turning upon their respective characteristics, runs through the British ornithology.
"THE WATER WAGTAIL.
"What art thou made of—air, light, or dew ? —I have not time to tell you if I knew. My tail—ask that—perhaps may solve the matter I've missed three flies already by this chatter.
"Wren, canst thou squeeze into a hole so small ? —Aye, with nine young ones too, and room for all : Go compass sea and land, in search of bliss— Find, if you can, a happier home than this."
The How-iris, too, are great for the small: they do not condescend to the young, for they seem to have retained the simplicity of child- hood, its buoyancy, and its playfulness. Experience has given them only the wisdom of the serpent. If we had room, we should be very glad to quote the "Triangle," by Mary HOWITT, in the Juvenile For- get Me Not of Mrs. HALL. It ,is a school history of three lads who were inseparable,—Salmon, Lion, and Sparrow, alias Fish, Flesh, and Fowl, alias King, Lords, and Commons, alias Thread-paper, Apple-dumpling, and Lean-Kine, who collectively are always called Triangle. This is a chef d' reuvre. We shall remember it until we have forgotten all Mrs. 1341REAULD—that will be when memory is pushed from her stool. We have already inserted in a former notice the " Children at Play," by WILLIAM HOWITT.
DELTA—he who looks behind the triangular mask—has a little poem ; which is true, as the old women say of a vessel, when the clear ringing sound denotes the integrity of the vase. It is the " Snow Drift."
"On raves the hurricane, down floods the snow, Hills whiten, the forests are groaning below ; The river choked up, rushes dark o'er its bed, And the wild common: crisps at the traveller's tread.
"Day dies, night approaches—the common is wide; The traveller toils on with no pathway to guide ; His rough russet doubletwith snow-flakes is white, And the shower in its drifting deprives him of sight."
It is a peasant, whose family by their fireside are expecting and anxious : at length the doe- becomes uneasy, and smells at the door the children run to open it'.
" Lo 1 enters a tall shape, o'er-mantled with snow, And the dame rushes forward, impatient to know :— Ah ! the look that he casts, and the word that he speaks, Bring relief to her heart and the blood to her cheeks. " Haste spread the board—soon the supper is set, Round a hearthstone of rapture the family are met: The winds they may rave, and the snows they may beat, But they smile at them both from their cozy retreat."
We cannot quote a morsel from each of the little pieces that have pleased us : it is not therefore to be supposed that the writers who have not been mentioned have not been liked. There are of course great differences, and we only wish we had the power of making one juvenile out of the four—it would be a book of books for generations to come.