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ART. VI.-HISTORICAL STUDIES.

Historical Studies. By GEORGE WASHINGTON GREENE, late

United States Consul at Rome. New-York: George P. Putnam. 1850. Pp. 467.

The papers which are contained in this volume, with a single exception, have appeared at different intervals within the last fifteen years, in successive numbers of the North American Review, and have been received with marked interest by the readers of that journal. They are twelve in number, of which ten relate to the history and literature of Italy. In addition to these, there is among them an instructive and valuable paper on the public libraries of Europe, and an admirably writter and highly elaborate article on Charles Edward, the Young Pretender, and his strange adventures in the romantic attempt which he made in the rebellion of 1745, to recover the throne of his ancestors. These several papers are very appropriately grouped in the volume before us under the common name of Historical Studies, a name which well describes their general aim and character, and indicates the aspirations and pursuits in which they had their origin. The greater part of them, we believe, were written while the author was residing as Consul of the United States in Rome, or in other cities of Italy-near the storied scenes to which they relate, and amid the very tombs of the men whose characters and labors they portray. It was while here that he formed and cherished the design of composing a history of Italy, alike through the ages of her decline and her reviving glory,-a design which, as he intimates in the preface to the present volume, he was prevented from accomplishing by the failure of his sight and his consequent return to the United States. He has for some time past occupied the post of Instructor in Modern Languages in Brown University, the place of his own early studies,

and is also engaged in the preparation of several literary works more or less connected with his chosen pursuits while abroad.

The papers comprised in this volume furnish abundant proof of the literary abilities and accomplishments of their author, and to us they are not the less interesting for having been prepared as contributions to a journal of public critiof any pretensions to seriousness and decency can thus outrage all sanctity and propriety in order to catch the applause of a few vulgar minds, and bring down the house," as it is called, is to us utterly unaccountable, except it be upon the Scripture principle, that those who do not like to retain the knowledge of God are given over to a reprobate mind. That Mr. Emerson has such a mind is certain; but forsooth, he belongs to that class of great men whose“ irregularities are not to be measured by village scales."

But with all his grave defects,—and this only makes the matter worse,-Mr. Emerson is a man of unquestioned power, nay, of genius even. All his thoughts are perversely irregular, and most of them have a vein of mysticism in them, but he has thoughts,-he is by no means å mere word-grinder, though more so than his admirers seem to think. There is not always much coherence between his thoughts, but one who will take the pains to follow him, will generally find some idea, whim or conceit in each sentence. His style, too, with some peculiarities and innovations in language, is uncommonly neat. Every sentence seems to come out with a clearness and precision, as if he had touched his lips with pure water before its utterance. He is rich in happy allusions and quotations, particularly of the mystic kind, and abounds in apt illustrations, drawn mostly from common objects, something after the manner of Socrates. These qualities run through all his writings, his Lectures among the rest, which indeed do not differ from his other writings in any important point, and are scarcely better fitted to be read before a popular audience than his Essays. Indeed, they are essays, to all intents and purposes, and would much more advantageously, both for himself and others, have appeared as such.

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Art. VI.-HISTORICAL STUDIES.

Historical Studies. By GEORGE WASHINGTON GREENE, late United States Consul at Rome. New-York: George P. Putnam. 1850. Pp. 467.

The papers which are contained in this volume, with a single exception, have appeared at different intervals within the last fifteen years, in successive numbers of the North American Review, and have been received with marked interest by the readers of that journal. They are twelve in number, of which ten relate to the history and literature of Italy. In addition to these, there is among them an instructive and valuable paper on the public libraries of Europe, and an admirably writter and highly elaborate article on Charles Edward, the Young Pretender, and his strange adventures in the romantic attempt which he made in the rebellion of 1745, to recover the throne of his ancestors. These several

papers are very appropriately grouped in the volume before us under the common name of Historical Studies, a name which well describes their general aim and character, and indicates

the aspirations and pursuits in which they had their origin. The greater part of them, we believe, were written while the author was residing as Consul of the United States in Rome, or in other cities of Italy-near the storied scenes to which they relate, and amid the very tombs of the men whose characters and labors they portray. It was while here that he formed and cherished the design of composing a history of Italy, alike through the ages of her decline and her reviving glory,-a design which, as he intimates in the preface to the present volume, he was prevented from accomplishing by the failure of his sight and his consequent return to the United States. He has for some time past occupied the post of Instructor in Modern Languages in Brown University, the place of his own early studies, and is also engaged in the preparation of several literary works more or less connected with his chosen pursuits while abroad.

The papers comprised in this volume furnish abundant proof of the literary abilities and accomplishments of their author, and to us they are not the less interesting for having been prepared as contributions to a journal of public criti

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cism. Though originally designed as reviews of the writings of others, they belong to that class of reviews which, to adopt the words of Sydney Smith, “have made reviewing more respectable than authorship," and have thus acquired for themselves a permanent value and an independent position in the literature of the age. Mr. Greene wields an accurate and graceful pen, and though the articles in this volume are of unequal merit, the style of each will be found to commend itself to the reader of cultivated taste by a rare assemblage of pleasing qualities. It is clear, precise, and rhythmical, and in many passages of animated description, it swells into majestic boldness and eloquence. It addresses itself to the imagination of the reader, and weaves the facts and statistics which it employs into scenes of dramatic interest and power. It is thus well suited to historical portraiture and the delineation of character. Indeed it is to this feature of the style that the sketches which are here presented owe their strongest interest. They open before us the scenery of several different periods of Italian or English history, and exhibit in bold relief for our entertainment and instruction the men of genius who represent these periods or the great events which have made them farnous in the annals of the world.

That portion of the series which relates to Italy, presents to us several of the most interesting topics connected with the intellectual and social progress of that country. In the article upon Petrarch which begins the volume we are introduced to the age which witnessed the earliest dawn of modern learning. The manuscripts which had survived the fall of the Western Empire, and in which was preserved all that now remained of the literature of the Latin language, were just be ginning to be separated from the monkish legends and chronicles with which they had been connected, and finding here and there a mind that could appreciate them, were kindling the genius of Italy into something like an emulation of its elder achievements and its long-lost renown. The noisy tumults of a barbarous age were gradually hushed by the voice which proceeded from the tomb of the past, and princes and statesmen, as well as poets and scholars, devoted their time and their energies to the work of seeking for the literary remains of ancient Rome. A knowledge of the Latin language was a rare accomplishment, and the Greek was but just beginning to be taught in Italy by the philosophers who had sought refuge there from the desolations which were sweeping over the countries of the East. Dante, and here and there a genius of humbler powers, had laid the foundations of a native literature, but amid the new influences to which it was now subjected, the Italian mind gave itself up to the enthusiastic admiration and the careful imitation of those ancient models which were gradually emerging from the oblivion in which they had been buried for ages.

Such were the intellectual tendencies of the Italian people in the early part of the fourteenth century, when Petrarch began his career as an author and a restorer of the learning of the past. Into this spirit of his age he entered with the full earnestness of his enthusiastic nature, and soon became the foremost among his countrymen in zeal for the discovery of manuscripts and in taste for the delicate appreciation of the literary beauties which they contained. Mr. Hallam pronounces Petrarch the first real restorer of polite letters, the most earnest and influential promoter of a taste for classical knowledge among the people of Italy. He was charmed with the exquisite rhythm of the language of Cicero and Virgil, and long before he learned to comprehend their meaning, he copied with his own hand several of their writings from the manuscripts which he had been instrumental in rescuing from the dungeons of monasteries where they had long been mouldering. He soon entered upon the study of the Latin tongue with the utmost ardor of youth, and for many years it seems to have been his highest ambition to acquire the ability to write the language which had been used by the great authors of the classic age. He attempted in Latin an epic poem, which he called Africa, and of which he is said to have been more proud than of the sonnets and odes with which his name has since become identified.

In the sketch which Mr. Greene here gives of Petrarch we find a comprehensive view of his entire character both as an author and a man, which we specially commend to the attention of those who have been accustomed to think of him only as the author of the Canzoniere and the subject of the mysterious passion which so deeply tinged his life and became the inspiration of much of his poetry. If not the profoundest he was certainly the most enthusiastic scholar of his age, and his influence both in the restoration of ancient learning and in the creation of a native literature for his country continued to be felt through many subsequent generations. "Resolute and unwearied as were his researches among the scattered remains of Roman genius, his labors and aspirations were by no means confined to these, and while he pointed the writers of his age to the classic models of the past, he also called them by many an earnest exhortation to cultivate their own

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VOL. XV.-NO. LX.

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