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DOMESTIC LITERARY INTELLIGENCE.
In the month of September was published the ninth and last volume of the American Ornithology, compiled by Mr. George Ord, from the drawings and manuscript notes of the late Alexander Wilson. Wilson was an enthusiast in his favourite pursuit, and an enthusiast of no common order. Never was there a more accurate observer of nature, never one who painted her charms more vividly, or with greater fascination of man
Instead of taking his reader, like other naturalists, into a museum of stuffed and varnished birds, and coldly lecturing on the characteristic marks of their genera and species, he hurries you along with him into the woods and the fields, leads you with stealthy pace to watch the little wood-pecker, hammering away on the decaying apple tree.; or conducts you to the bold shore of the majestic Hudson, and points out to you the eagle sailing aloft with steady wing, and mounting, without effort, in airy circles, higher and higher, till the straining eye can follow him no longer.
He has, beyond all the writers of our country, contributed most largely towards enlarging and multiplying the sources of pure and benevolent pleasures in every cultivated mind. He has taught us to recognise every bird of our forests as an intimate acquaintance, with whose disposition and familiar habits of life we are perfectly acquainted, and has connected every wood-note and simple chirp with a hundred agreeable associations.
His drawings are like his descriptions; they bear the same character of truth and nature ; there is in them nothing tame, nothing exaggerated, We do not know of any European publications of this nature which surpasses the Ornithology in the beauty and excellence of its plates. The coloured engravings in Edwards' birds are very mean in comparison; those of Catesby are showy, but stiff, and without much character. The magnificent work of a French naturalist, on the parrot, may, indeed, vie with it, but even there the effect is produced as much by the gorgeous colours of those gay-coated birds as by the merit of the artist.
In this additional volume, the plates, which are from Wilson's own drawings, are in no respect inferior to those of the preceding volumes. The descriptions accompanying them are judicious and satisfactory, though we miss the minute observation and animated manner of Wilson. A biographical memoir, from the pen of Mr. Ord, is prefixed to the volume, in which the life of his deceased friend is related in an interesting manner, and with a very cordial admiration of his genius and virtues. We are sorry to be obliged to alloy this praise, by observing, that the writer has suffered many inelegancies and inaccuracies of style and language to escape him, which would have been hardly pardonable in the hasty compositions of such a monthly publication as our own. It is mortifying to observe these blemishes in a splendid work like the Ornithology, upon which the literary reputation of the nation may in some degree rest, in other countries. We could have wished, too, that Mr. Ord had omitted those angry complaints in which Wilson poured forth his indignation against certain gentlemen, for their cold reception of the subscription papers of his work. That Wilson himself, full of the conscious pride of genius, should have been indignant at this chilling indifference to his
labours, is natural enough. But his editor has no right to participate in these feelings, and he should have considered that the salaries of our presidents of colleges, governors, and city magistrates, are not sufficient to enable them to set up for Mæcenases, and that men in public stations who are, day after day, assailed by some voluble, brazen-fronted fellow, perking. into their faces, papers of proposals for magazines, prints, maps, travels, encyclopædias, or family bibles, soon become steeled alike against merit and" impudence, and resolutely shut their hearts and their purses against every thing which comes in this suspicious form.
Mr. Ord is a fortunate man; he has connected his name, and embodied his writings, with a work which has in it the seeds of long life; and when the reputation of Alexander Wilson goes down to posterity “ gathering all its fame," still
Shall his little bark attendant sail,
Lately published at Baltimore, “The Select Works of Robert Goodloe Harper," consisting of speeches on political and forensic subjects, and sundry political tracts.
Shelden & Co. of Hartford, propose to publish by subscription, a duodecimo volume of “ Original Pieces in prose and verse," by a young lady of Connecticut. We have seen two or three very short extracts from the proposed volume, which we thought possessed more than ordinary merit; and some friends, for whose taste and judgment we entertain great respect, speak highly both of the authoress and her works..
The New-York booksellers have just published an edition of Dr. Clarke's Homer, accurante Geo. IRONSIDE, A. M. which is worthy of notice, as being the first edition of Homer, in the original, ever printed on this side the Atlantic.
William Dunlap, Esq. is preparing for the press a life of the late Charles Brockden Brown, of Philadelphia. Mr. Dunlap's last literary performance was the life of Cooke. A more striking contrast cannot well be conceived than that afforded by the whimsical medley of genius and folly exhibited in the character of Cooke to the mild and quiet virtues, the retiring modesty, the domestic habits, the unwearied industry, and the acute, inquisitive mind of Charles Brown.
Brown has left behind him no one work which can fairly be considered as a just standard of his talents. But in every one of those works, which flowed with unceasing rapidity from his prolific pen, may be traced some marks of his singularly ingenious and original mind. The wild and sombre imagination of his Wieland and Ormond, and the yellow fever scenes of Arthur Mervyn, the many passages of the historical part of his Annual Register, as well as the inexhaustible fertility of argument and objection which he displayed in his political and moral essays, are sufficient proofs of the variety and excellence of his talents. We doubt whether public opinion has yet done justice to his memory. To assert the posthumous claims of a man of genius to the respect and applause of his countrymen, is a task equally honourable and pleasing, and it is one which, we doubt not, Mr. Dunlap will perform with zeal and ability.
There will shortly be published a life of Gen. Francis Marion, of South Carolina ; it will be printed in one vol. 12mo. of about 300 pages. The southern campaigns of our revolutionary war were distinguished by numerous splendid examples of daring valour and partisan achievement. Throughout all this active scene, Gen. Marion was conspicuous as the bravest among the brave. A well-written narrative of his exploits cannot fail of being highly interesting, as well as honourable to the character. and literature of our country. But we are sorry to observe, that in the proposals announcing this work, there is a certain swell and forced elevation of language which, if admitted into the book itself, will disfigure what it was meant to adorn. There is a sober dignity about the characters of the companions of Washington and Greene, as they are exhibited in the simple truth of history, which can gain nothing by inflated eulogy. We should be very sorry to see any attempt to metamorphose these heroes of history into heroes of romance, and would much rather keep our Morgans and Marions as they are in their own revolutionary true-blue, than to see any one of them tricked off with tinfoil and copper lace, as Don Bellianis or Tirante the White.
The Society, held at Albany,“ for the Promotion of the Useful Arts” have recently published a third vol. 8vo. of their transactions. Like most of the volumes of transactions published in this country, and, indeed, in all countries, this volume contains several good papers, but is not particularly valuable as a whole. The first, and best article, is an annual address delivered before the society, by Dr. T. Romeyn Beck. Its design is to exhibit, in one view, the mineral riches of the United States, with their various applications to the arts, as now practised in this country, and to show the practicability of the increase of different manufactures, the raw materials of which are obtained from the mineral kingdom. This is executed, we think, with very great ability. A great mass of information on this subject is collected toge from various sources ; much of it of a kind not to be found in books; and the whole is communicated with great perspicuity and precision of language, and in a most simple and unostentatious manner. This address has impressed us with a high respect for the talents of its author, who, we understand, is a very young man. It is followed by a eulogium of the late Chancellor Livingston, by the Rev. Mr. Clowes. Mr. Clowes tells us but little more of the chancellor than was already known by every body, and he does not tell that little remarkably well. The statesman and philosopher who was the prime agent in three of the most important events of our national history, the purchase of Louisiana, the introduction of merino sheep, and the invention of the steam-boat, surely deserves an abler biographer. The next paper is on the botany of the United States, with a catalogue of plants indigenous to the state of NewYork, by. Mr. I. Green ; the paper is creditable to the writer, as a man of science, and the catalogue is, we believe, the fullest which has yet been compiled.
We have next several miscellaneous papers by Mr. Genet, which are remarkable for that mixture of badinage and rhetorical flourish with scientific information, which characterizes many of the French men of sci
The volume is closed by a number of short original and translated papers on different subjects; the most valuable is Dr. Dewitt's, on chimney fire-places. Dr. Dewitt's invention consists in combining Dr. Franklin's original plan for his stove (as connected with an air-box) with Rumford's fire-place.
VOL. IV. Nem Series. 66
FOREIGN LITERARY INTELLIGENCE.
A long but interesting paper, by Dr. Herschell, has been read before the Royal Society,detailing the result of many years' observations on the sidereal and nebulous appearance of the heavens. The doctor began by relating his observations on the relative magnitudes of the stars, considering those of the first magnitude to be equal to our sun; determined the magnitudes and changes in the appearance of a great number of fixed stars ; gave a history of the alterations which he has noticed in the aspect of the sidereal heavens during the last thirty years; and described those stars which have increased in magnitude or brilliancy, have lost or acquired surrounding nebulæ, or have had wings, tails, or other peculiarities. He seems inclined to believe, from his observations, that new sidereal bodies are in a constant and progressive state of formation; that nebulous appearances gradually assume å globular character; that the heavens are not infinite, and that stars have a “ compressing power.” He considers the origin and progress of sidereal bodies to be nearly in the following order: first, vague and indistinct nebulæ, like the milky way; secondly, detached or clustered nebulæ, which consolidate into clusters of stars ; thirdly, these stars, becoming more definite, appear with nebulous appendages in the different forms of wings, tails, &c.; and lastly, that all are finally concentrated into one clear, bright, and large star. Dr. H. concudes, that the progressive discovery of nebulæ will be equal to the improvement of our telescopes, and that in proportion as we are possessed of more powerful space-penetrating instruments, will our knowledge of the sidereal heavens be extended. Many of his latter observations, directed to ascertain the absorption or condensation of nebulæ, were made on stars which he had before described in his numerous papers in the Phil. Transact.; others were made on those whose places have been determined by foreign astronomers.
A paper on vision, read before the Royal Society by Mr. Ware, contains a great many cases of near-sighted persons, with remarkable changes produced in the sight by different causes. These cases authorise the following conclusions :
1. Near-sightedness is rarely observed in infants, or even in children under ten years of age. It affects the higher classes of society more than the lower: and the instances are few, if any, in which, if the use of concave glasses has been adopted, increasing years have either removed or lessened this imperfection.
2. Though the usual effect of time on perfect eyes be that of inducing a necessity to make use of convex glasses, in order to see near objects distinctly, yet sometimes, even after the age of fifty, and after convex glasses have been used many years for this purpose, the eyes have not only ceased to derive benefit from them, when looking at near objects, but they have required concave glasses to enable them to distinguish with precision objects at a distance.
3. Though the cause of this change be not always known, yet sometimes it has been induced by the use of evacuating remedies, particularly of leeches applied to the temples; and sometimes by looking through a microscope, for a continued length of time, for several successive days.
4. Instances are not uncommon in which persons far advanced in life, (viz, between eighty and ninety,) whose eyes have been accustomed for a long time to the use of deeply-convex glasses, when they have read or written, have ceased to derive benefit from these glasses, and they have become able, without any assistance, to see both near and distant objects almost as well as when they were young. Although it be not easy to ascertain the cause of this amended vision, it seems not improbable that it is occasioned by an absorption of part of the vitreous humour; in consequence of which the sides of the eye collapse, and its axis from the cornea to the retina is lengthened; by which alteration the length of this axis is brought into the same proportion to the flattened state of the cornea, or crystalline, or both, which it bad to these parts before the alteration took place.
Sir Charles Blagden states his concurrence in opinion with Mr. Ware, that near-sightedness comes on at an early age, and that it is almost confined to the higher ranks. He conceives it to be owing to the habit acquired by such young people of confining their attention to near objects.
An illustrated edition of Strut's Dictionary of Engravings, which has been offered for sale by Longman & Co. consists of 37 vols. in imp. folio, Russia gilt leaves and joints; and contains 8,000 prints, produced by the artists mentioned in the work, in all the various branches of engraving, from the first inveption of the art to the
present time, many of them unique, and all of them scarce or valuable. To assemble specimens of every known print of the most eminent engravers, employed an industrious collector nearly 30 years, and the cost of a work containing 8,000 prints, independent of the labour, must have been enormous. Mess. L. & Co. offer it at the price of 2,0001. which although a large sum for a single work, yet, as it must ever remain without a rival, it is a prize worthy of being possessed by those who can indulge in luxuries of this kind.
Mr. Wordsworth has completed a new Poem, which is now in the press.
Miss A. M. Porter is engaged in printing a new novel, under the title of “ The Maid of Norway.”
The portraits of many distinguished characters of the reign of George III. from the pictures of Sir Joshua Reynolds, are engraving, and are to be published under the title of Iconographia Reynoldsiana.
Died, at Boston, May 12, 1814, the Hon. Robert Treat Paine, LL. D. He was born in Boston, March 11, 1731, the son of a respectable clergy
His preparatory classical education was under the justly famous Mr. Lovell. He entered Harvard University in 1745, and received the customary academical honours in regular course. In 1806 the well-merited honorary degree of Doctor of Laws was conferred.
For several years his attentions appear to have been miscellaneous. A part of the time was given to the study of theology, a part was occupied in business which led him to visit Europe. He afterwards concluded to devote himself to that profession in which he gained such respectability and distinction. He became a student in the office of the very eminent Mr. Benjamin Pratt, afterwards chief justice of New-York; and, about