7 SEPTEMBER 1850, Page 19

LLF INA.US TRIA AND HUNGARY. * TRESE volumes are translated from

the German of Adalbert Stiffer, and contain six tales. In some of them rural life un- doubtedly predominates ; but an exhibition of German manners, with a metaphysical delineation of peculiar characters, seems more an object of the anther than a mere picture of what is usually un- derstood by life. " Abdias the Jew," indeed, has nothing to do with Germany, except that &Moorish Hebrew, after having been plun- dered by the authorities, and losing his wife through her terror of the Boy's soldiers,, retires from Africa to a solitary valley in that coun- try, witb. his little blind daughter. "The Hochwald " (high-forest) is a tale of the wars of Gustavus : a father sends his two daughters into the further solitudes of the forest, while he remains to defend his castle, and in the upshot kills the lover of his eldest daughter, and is himself killed by the enemy. "Castle Crazy" is.a wild story, half Irish, half German ; the heir to the estate being compelled to swear that he will write his own autobiography, to be deposited in the muniment-chamber, and, harder task perhaps, will read all the autobiographies of his predecessors. This part of the subject is not badly worked, in a brief sketch of the family history ; but the story really turns upon the attachment of a claimant to the property of an inn- keeper's daughter, and his success both in law and love. " Ma- hely " is a strange tale, of the love, marriage, and separation of a Hungarian noble and his wife, and their reunion years after- wards ; the reader, contrary to custom, being kept in a mystery irliich is all the wjiile clear to the two principal actors. "The Village en the Ffeath " is hardly a story at all : a youthful peasant leaves his home to push his fortune, and there is a curt account of his family during his absence, and an allusive reference to the career of Felix on his return. "My Great-grandfather's Note-book " consists properly of three tales. First, there is the discovery of the manuscript; a literary artifice which may have more novelty for the Germans than for us. There is then the story of the great-grandfather's father-in-law ; and finally, that of the great-grandfather himself, giving an account of his practice as a country physician, and of his love and marriage. Subject after all is everything, and art but an appropriately feli- citous development of subjects. Unless the theme be of sufficient largeness and interest to bear expansion, that which is commonly called art—the selection of images, skilful delineation, and diction or style—is really a hinderance ; fatiguing the reader with inap- propriate topics; or attempting to create interest by an appear- mice of simplioity, which is in reality baldness. Such is the failing of the work before us, judged by English ideas of art. The stories are too long for their elements ; they break, as it were, by their own weight. The discovery of the manuscript is a clever bit of writing, and may be a true picture of German life ; but its length bears no proportion to the result attained—it is a waste of the writer's labour and the reader's time. Many of the descriptions in the physician's story are very excellent pictures of German scenery, or German country life ; and if the book were avowedly a series of sketches, they would produce abetter effect than in their present place, where the reader, looking for a narrative, finds a 'balk. The same may be said of large parts of "The Hochwahl " and. other tales. " Abdias" has as much minuteness of de- scription ;. but (though the tale itself is improbable enough) as the descriptions have a reference to the circumstances of the Pictures of Rural Life in Austria and Hungary. From the German, by y Norman. In three volumes. Published by Bentley.

persons or the delineation of their characters, they are not felt de the interposition of foreign bodies ,• they may be tee

dious, but are not interruptive. It may be said that the object of

the author was to consider his stories as mere vehicles for the exhibition of German scenery and German manners. And this is doubtless the ease but a plan to make the secondary promi- nent is still an error, although it may have been the consequence of a design.

Considered as composition, the book is very able. It beam throughout much of German finish and German simplicity' with feeling which if too quiet for pathos is very near it. lake for example this description of the death of his wife by the father-in- law of the physician. " ' Do you know what in mountain districts is called a timber-duct ? You. can scarcely have seen one, since it is not needed here where the forest- slopes are broad and smooth. It is a rude sort of raft, liollowed out into a groove, and used to remove the wood which is cut down in the forest Some- times these rafts are laid upon the ground deem the mountain-sides _ ; some- times they are btretehed like bridges across ravines and clefts ; and they can,

when necessary, be filled with the rippling snow-water, by means of which the blocks of wood are drifted away more quickly. It was one line Septem-

ber morning, that my wife begged nie to make an excursion across the

mountains, and to take her with me,—she had not been out with me for three years, having, within that time, borne me a child, a little daughter. I

joyfully assented to her wish; she prepared for the expedition; and we ram- bled so high that day that she gathered some clusters of edeIweis, which she. twined round my hat. On returning home we mistook our way, deceived by the similarity between the mountain-passes. We descendea the bed of a dried-up torrent, with which I was perfectly unacquainted, not k-nowing, whether it would lead us down into the valley, or suddenly break off over a

perpendicular steep, and thus oblige us to retrace our steps. And this last proved to be the ease; for just as we turned rouud the corner of a rock, we saw the blue void suddenly open before us; the path of the stream had broken off, and opposite us gleamed a perpendicular wall of chalk, tinged

with a pale reddish hue by the rays ot the declining sun. But there was one of these timber-ducts I have described, stretching across the chasm from

the spot whereon we stood to the summit of this chalk-wall. I was a little startled, and looked round at my companion ; but she was delighted at find- ing it possible to proceed ; and we accordingly began to examine the raft, to sea whether it were in good condition, and capable of 'bearing the weight of two per- sons. That it had been used lately was evident, for the hollow of the groove bore traces of having been fresh rubbed, and stakes and blocks, such as are re- quired for pushing the felled trunks along, were still scattered about ; besides,

the foot-prints which had induced us to follow the dried current led close up to the raft. Whilst hesitating, we heard a noise as of footsteps from a trench on

one side, which hitherto we had not noticed ; and in a few seconds a man, whom

I at once recognized as one of the wood-cutters who ply. their laborious trade in this mountain district, emerged from the trench. He carried si

leathern sack, and an iron dish, also his scaling-ladders, and a mountain:- staff, which was, as usually, very long, and armed with an iron point and a. grappling-hook. He started with surprise at seeing human beings on this wild spot. I explained to him that we had lost our way, and that we were'

anxious to ascertain whether the duet were passable, and could safely serve- as a bridge for two persons. 'No doubt of that,' he replied ; five of my

comrades have been across it scarce a minute ago ; I was forced to turn back because I had left this dish behind, at our fire-place. They are waiting for me on yonder rock-wall; you shall hear them directly.' And here he raised that strange shrill shout peculiar to mountaineers; the tones were echoed

back from all the clefts in the neighbourhood, and were answered by another similar shout, reechoing in like manner from the rocks around.' It wao. solemn, it was almost sublime, to hear this wild vocal music amid those rugged scenes, with the twilight drawing round. us ! I now proposed that wc should all three cross the ravine together. To this he agreed ; adding, that we must take the lady between us, and that we should carry his alpine- staff horizontally, I holding one end and he the' other so that she could. cling to it cute a banister, and feel herself secure. The little' deg,- she in- sisted upon carrying herself: and thus, one after another, we stepped upon. this mountain-bridge, which showed like a line drawn across the grey' evening twilight- But as we strode along, I could hear the clatter only of the wood-cutter's heavy shoes, not the lighter tread of hers. We were yet

a little way from the end of the raft, when the wood-cutter said in a low' voice, 'Sit down? I felt the staff grow lighter in my hand—I turned quickly

round—imagine ! I saw only the wood-cutter. A horrible thought came ,• I knew no more; my feet ceased to feel the ground ; the pine-trees flickered to and fro like torches before my eyes. I knew no more.'