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poet returns, that both flew away, pleased, together, we are somewhat surprised at finding ourselves with the soul again in the next verse. In short, the whole comparison is made too prominent and too independent. Every reader must feel that it is.
But there is more than excellence enough in the poem to redeem greater defects than those we have noticed. And it is not merely poetical excellence; not merely harmony of numbers, just selection of words, and vividness of imagination; it is something better and brighter superadded to these; it is the excellence of truth, of purity, of moral elevation and moral purpose. The poet's thoughts on the soul are evidently the breathings of his own soul; and his words flow out warmly from his own heart. There is a serious and earnest individuality about Mr Dana's muse, which forbids the suspicion, that she can be playing a part, or that she is in any degree otherwise than what she seems. The love which she demands is respectful love, the homage which is rendered to the beauty of holiness.
We should be unjust to this poem, should we select no other portions from it than those which have already been given. There is a simple majesty, a gentle, persuasive authority in the following sentences, the effect of which is delightful, and so permanent, that it cannot be diminished by repetition.
'Come, listen to His voice who died to save
'Blest are the pure in heart.
Would'st thou be blest?
Around thy toils and cares he'll breathe a calm,
And to thy wounded spirit lay a balm,
From fear draw love; and teach thee where to seek
'Come lowly; He will help thee. Lay aside
That subtile, first of evils-human pride.
'Linked with th' Immortal, immortality
Begins e'en here. For what is time to thee,
To whose cleared sight the night is turned to day,
And that but changing life, miscalled decay?' pp. 9, 10. The next and the last passage that we shall quote, is truly eloquent. In it the writer puts forth his best power, and in it the moral application of the whole subject is finely announced. Nor can we refrain from expressing the opinion, that if the poem had ended with it, the effect would have been much better than with the present conclusion.
'Our sins our nobler faculties debase,
Unto the Soul's dimmed eye;-'tis man, not earth—
Touched it with life; and all its forms expand
With principles of being made to suit
Man's varied powers, and raise him from the brute.
And shall the earth of higher ends be full ?—
Earth which thou tread'st!—and thy poor mind be dull?
Thou "living dead man," let thy spirits leap
Through thy soul's shut up mansion. Would'st thou know
With which all nature's quick! and learn to be
And be, like man at first, "A LIVING SOUL!"' pp. 12, 13. And now, to leave the discussion of excellences and defects, let us advert for a moment to the fact, that this poem and that of Mr Sprague are the two longest of any considerable merit, which have, for we know not how many years, been given to the American public. Mr Dana's consists of fifteen pages, and Mr Sprague's of thirty. It is true that the occasions on which they were pronounced, forbade their being much longer; but how is it, that limited as they are, of necessity,
they yet exceed in dimensions any others with which we have been treated for an age? For lengthy poems, that is, poems which are long and dull too, we disclaim any particular affection. If they must be dull, let them be as short as the authors can possibly afford to make them. Neither are we so extravagant as to call for anything, for some time to come, quite so long and so good as Paradise Lost. But why can we not have a poetical essay, tale, romance, tragedy, or comedy, to which we can sit down, of a winter's afternoon, before a comfortable fire, with the feeling that we hold something in our hands which is to interest and occupy us till bed-time, perchance enchain us beyond our sober bed-time, and find us burning the actual midnight oil? Are we, as Americans, to own no poem, Barlow's Columbiad excepted, which, being bound, can stand alone? Alas! that venerable production has stood alone too along. In solitude it waits for a companion. But we have nothing which can be married to that immortal verse. Oh, for a poem in ten books or cantos, or even in six ! Seriously and truly, we are longing for poetry which we can sit down to, and be said to read. We want some of our poets to show us, that their pinions are vigorous and broad enough for a sustained flight. Have we none such; or is it that earthly necessities, and the present constitution of society with us, hold our strong ones down? We are disposed to think, that, unpropitious as these influences are, they might be in some measure overcome by a tithe of the patience and perseverance which English bards have erst exhibited in their upward toilings after immortality; and that even an American public would reward both with money and fame the devotion of a few years to the muse, and the temporary self-denial and privation which that devotion would cause. Look at the seven or eight editions which we have had of Pollok's Course of Time,' which surely is not a book of such excellence as to induce despair. The strain of its theology may indeed have been one principal source of its popularity, but its rapid sale is proof that we are not absolutely indisposed to buy long poems. We are very sure that an American poem, even if it were not of first-rate material, would be bought and read for its rarity's sake. We have had sonnets, madrigals, lines, stanzas, and all that sort of magazine and souvenir poetry in abundance. Much of it is very sweet, we confess, but we are beginning to be cloyed with it, and want something more substantial.
ART. XI.—The American Almanac and Repository of Useful Knowledge for the Year 1830. Boston. Gray & Bowen. 12mo. pp. 320.
THE Almanac is perhaps the most popular kind of periodical work, which is published; one which is most widely circulated, and most carefully studied. It is regarded in most families as an indispensable manual of certain kinds of information, and it is often the familiar companion of persons, who read few other books. The first book printed in America, next to the Freeman's Oath, was an Almanac ; and from that date to the present time, probably more copies of the Almanac have been annually sold, than of any other publication. Notwithstanding the general interest felt in this description of work, it is one in which the great body of readers content themselves with a very moderate degree of merit, and a very small amount of real information. A record of the movements of the sun, moon, and tides, is almost the only information that is thought indispensable. It is obvious, that the same manual, which makes known to us the hour of the rising and setting of the heavenly luminaries, might at the same time afford a large amount of other information of daily utility.
In other countries the supply of this information has been successfully attempted, and in many parts of this, Almanacs have been for several years annually published, containing, in addition to the usual astronomical tables, an ample and very convenient collection of facts, relating chiefly to the state in which they are put forth. The information contained in these publications is too limited in its scope, and too local in its character, to answer the most important of the purposes to which this species of periodical work seems adapted. It admits of being made a record, not merely of atmospherical phenomena, of state and county officers, and municipal regulations, but of the statistics of every part of the world, of useful discoveries of every sort, and of important historical facts of every description. To be satisfied how extensive may be the scope of such a work, it is only necessary to cast an eye over the table of contents of the little volume now before us. We cannot better exhibit the objects of this work than by copying the Preface.
'The main object of this work is utility. It has been the
aim of its conductors to collect within the smallest compass the greatest amount of useful and practical information on those topics, in which the community is generally interested. The work is divided into Five Parts, and its plan and purposes will best be seen by a brief analysis of each of these.
"The FIRST PART is devoted to the Calendar, embracing, in addition to the particulars usually inserted in Almanacs, a large mass of important facts in relation to the celestial movements, and tables for nautical and astronomical purposes. The Eclipses and Occultations have been calculated with extraordinary care, and much valuable information will be found connected with the subject of Tides. The Tide Table is followed by a table of the Latitude and Longitude of the principal places in the United States. To suit the calendar pages to every part of the Union, the rising and setting of the Sun and Moon have been calculated for some of the chief cities in different parts. A column in each month is also devoted to useful remarks, and another to remarkable events. Further explanations of this part of the work will be found prefixed to the Calendar.
The SECOND PART contains information, communicated in a simple and intelligible form, respecting the celestial changes and most common astronomical appearances. An account of Almanacs is followed by an explanation of the division of time into Days, Weeks, Months, and Years; the Holydays of the Church; the variety of the Seasons; the Signs of the Zodiac; Astrology; the Moon's Phases, and Eclipses; Tides; Spots on the Sun; the Rotation of the Planets; the Orbits of the Planets; Comets; and much information on other kindred topics, designed to elucidate and adapt them to the understanding of persons of all degrees of knowledge.
IN PART THIRD are contained miscellaneous articles and directions of general usefulness; a selection from Washington's Agricultural Notes and Journal; Franklin's Poor Richard Revived; advice on the Use of Fruit; an Essay on the advantages of Fresh Air in promoting health and comfort; another on Clothing; and Facts concerning Intemperance.
The FOURTH PART embraces a selection of statistical matters relating to foreign countries, and particularly a curious and full table of the Statistics of the World. In compiling this part, as well as the others, regard has been had not only to the temporary but permanent value of the facts selected. There will be found tables of the Population, Families, Houses, Land, Canals, and Roads of Great Britain; an essay on the Increase of the Inhabitants of Europe; on the comparative force of France and England; the number of books printed in France; the value of VOL. XXX.-No. 66.