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A LETTER from the author of Villette,' which claims at once our respect and sympathy, complains of a passage in our recent review of that work, (April, 1853,) which she says has been interpreted by some persons-not by herself, for this was not her own unbiassed impression-in a sense the remotest possible from our thoughts. We wrote in entire ignorance of the author's private history, and with no wish to pry into it. But her keen and vivid style, and her original and somewhat warped mode of viewing things, must excite speculation in her readers as to the circumstances of education and position which have formed both mind and style. Some grave faults in her earliest work we thought most easily accounted for by the supposition of a mind of remarkable power and great capabilities for happiness exposed to early and long trial of some kind, and in some degree embittered by the want of congenial enjoyment. We refer our readers to the article in question, where not only is there no insinuation of a disadvantageous occult motive for a retired life,' but such a supposition is at variance with the whole line of suggestion, which tends to attribute what we must differ from in her writings, to adverse circumstances, not to conduct. We will, however, distinctly state that we had no idea in our mind, and therefore could not desire to express any suspicion, of an unfavourable cause for a life of seclusion. We now learn with pleasure, but not with surprise, that the main motive for this seclusion is devotion to the purest and most sacred of domestic ties.
'A Manual of Budhism in its Modern Development, translated from Singhalese MSS. by R. Spence Hardy,' (Partridge and Oakey,) contains a larger body of information concerning the wonderful religion dominant among the millions of Eastern Asia than the ordinary English reader will readily find elsewhere. The author's familiar acquaintance, as a missionary, with the present practical working of Buddhism, and his study of it in many of its literary sources also, (though not in their sacred Pali or Pracrit originals, but in translations of them into the language of Ceylon, where he laboured,) well qualify him to write learnedly as well as amusingly and instructively, on this interesting matter; and he has judged wisely, we think, in making the communication of this useful information the object of his work, rather than the more extended design to which, he tells us, (p. 358,) he is tempted by an almost irresistible impulse, '—of entering into a scientific analysis of the religious system established by Gotama Buddha, and comparing the sage of Magadha with the founders of schools, either of doctrine or of ascetic discipline, in other regions. We can, indeed, fully sympathize with the overpowering thoughts he describes ; awakened by considering on the one hand this great moral revolution, with its unbroken reign for more than two thousand years in so large a portion of the globe, and on the other, the insufficient attention bestowed on it in
the western world, where systems far less influential than this have been minutely investigated. We might point to writers, far more qualified for this kind of analysis than Mr. Hardy, who, in essaying to philosophize on Buddhism in comparison with other religions, have missed its fundamental characteristics altogether: and our author is much better employed in supplying materials from which such ignorance may be removed, and a sounder investigation instituted hereafter, than in attempting rival generalizations of his own. Before theorizing on any given subject-matter, we should have it in all its details accurately before us; and to collect facts is, as we all now know, the first necessary step in every philosophical inquiry. Traces of the more ambitious purpose, however, are apparent in several notes of this volume: where the pains bestowed on collecting analogies, often partial or incorrect, with matters suggested by the author's Western reading, would have been much more usefully employed in elucidating Eastern matters in his text which to ordinary readers must be obscure or unintelligible for Mr. Hardy has by no means escaped the grave fault, common among Anglo-Indian writers, and almost peculiar to them, of using native terms, which there is no earthly reason for not translating, as if they had some peculiar expressiveness that made them untranslateable, and were yet so well known as to need no explanation to English readers. Why, for instance, is the word kóti used perpetually, as if every one understood it must mean a hundred thousand, or ten myriads, or what in the Anglo-Indian dialect is termed a crore? And why must a sentence in p. 153 be made unintelligible until the reader learn from a Sanscrit scholar of his acquaintance that silpas mean the manual arts? &c. &c. We are disposed to quarrel occasionally with the author's mode of writing these Eastern words, by which their etymology is sometimes obscured; but most of all with his spelling of Buddha and Buddhism, the subject of his work, with the single d: for this, notwithstanding any authority that may be pleaded for it, is as much an innovation on the received Oriental orthography as on that by which the prince of Magadha and his religion have been ordinarily expressed in European writings; and tends to confound him, who is the ninth incarnation of Vishnu in the system of the Brahmanical adversaries, with a very different mythological personage, who in India and Ceylon is constantly designated as Budha, the regent of the planet Mercury. We might also observe instances, though less frequent in this than in the former work of the same author, on Eastern Monachism,' in which sectarian prejudices have caused him to misstate the points of divergency between true and false religion. But these blemishes are not such as to impair materially the value of the book; which, as a trustworthy collection of materials respecting one of the most remarkable systems that have swayed mankind, we commend to the notice of our readers. All speculations on the natural history of religion' must be imperfect that do not include the strange phenomenon of a severely ascetic religion based on an esoteric atheism: one which, while acknowledging no higher object of veneration in the universe, than the Man who, by self-evoked powers, has perfectly fulfilled its precept, instructs its earnest votaries to seek final refuge from the miseries of existence in annihilation (nirvána). He who is recognised as the last Buddha is the sole historical one; who,
sprung from the bosom of Brahmanism, in the northern region of Behar, in the fifth century before the Christian era, originated this antagonistic system; which was destined after centuries of contest with its powerful adversary to be banished utterly from its original Indian soil, while it is the received religion of the countries south, and north, and east of it. The legendary notices of the great founder occupy a considerable portion of this volume; and from these, though not very critically arranged and digested, much may be learned concerning the genius of his doctrine. In this, as in the subsequent sections concerning the Ontology and Ethics of the system, some of the most curious extracts are from an ancient book called Melindaprasna, containing the inquiries of a prince, apparently of one of the GræcoBactrian dynasties, into the doctrines of the Sramanas, or Buddhists and if any one is curious to see the doctrine of Locke, concerning ideas of sensation and reflection, acutely defended by an Indian gymnosophist of ancient days, he may find it in the replies of the Buddhist speaker Nágaséna to the Hellenic querist, in pp. 420-423.
'Lorenzo Benoni; Passages in the Life of an Italian,' (Constable,) is a remarkable work. Whether it is authentic or fictitious is perhaps immaterial; our own judgment would be, that there is but a thin substratum of facts, the love passages especially indicating a very common-place phase of novel writing. But in minute detail there is much that recalls Defoe : the tact with which the politics and history of the day are depicted in an individual life is quite in Defoe's vein. But in character-drawing, especially in the narrative of school life, the Italian-if the author be indeed an Italian, which is very questionable-far exceeds the English writer, The conspiracy and carbonari portions of the work are much more`commonplace, and scarcely range above the melodrama. These faults, however, are counterbalanced by the easy flow of narration and picturesque accuracy of small touches, in which the artistic merit of the tale, for we cannot call it memoirs, consists.
Mr. D. Hoffmann, an American gentleman of considerable research, has been, we think, more than unfortunate in the vehicle he has chosen for a Universal History. In his Chronicles of Cartaphilus,' (Bosworth,) he has selected the wild but hackneyed legend of the Wandering Jew as the basis of a series of contemporaneous sketches, which, calculating from volume the first, will fill a moderate library. If the history of the world for eighteen hundred years is to be written to this scale, judging from the present instalment, which occupies seven hundred pages, with the scanty annals of the first three centuries of the Christian era, we are appalled at the long array of materials which must await the criticism of our grandchildren. Mr. Hoffmann, like his countryman West, seems to consider the size of his canvass a main element of artistic greatness. A series of tedious letters to and from the Wandering Jew, who has of course the advantages of ubiquity, and a total freedom from the accidents of time and space, is at first grotesque, but soon becomes wearisome. History, we must say, is too serious a matter for this inconvenient masquerade: and the incautious way in which Mr. Hoffmann seems to accredit the legend of Cartaphilus, who writes as a real person from Austin Friars,' deserves a more formal note of repro
bation. The legend is a curious instance of impersonating or materializing a sacred prophecy: the Wandering Jew, the Isaac Lakedion or Ahasuerus of the legend, who was to tarry till the second advent, appearing among all people and mixing with a charmed life in all society, is of course only an individualizing of the mysterious existence of the whole Jewish people in, yet separate from, the world. To Mr. Hoffmann, apart from these grave defects, we may award the credit of large reading and painstaking research. His book is handsome, and exhibits some pretty affectations of typography, and some very doubtful ambitiousness in the way of style and orthography. An appendix on the doctrine of Triads, as far as we could understand it, which we own was not very far, looked more than questionable. In the way of scenic embellishment, the narrative of the Jew acquiring a second instalment of life and renewing his perpetual manhood is at least striking.
To challenge, which the writer does not, the author of the Christian Year' in subject, is an unfortunate test for any poet. Sir Archibald Edmondstone is in this respect to be dealt lightly with, who, in his ' Meditations in Verse,' (Masters,) adapted to the Church's Sundays and Holidays, has produced a modest volume of religious musings of a graceful and level character, which display an amiable temper and great soundness and sobriety of feeling.
Mr. Lathbury's History of Convocation' has long been valued for its materials. It appears seasonably and usefully in a second edition, published by Leslie, considerably enlarged and improved. The author's style is not happy, nor his composition very lucid; but he possesses and gives a vast amount of information. Accuracy and diligence are Mr. Lathbury's strong points; and his volume is indispensable at the present moment.
The famous Letter to a Convocation Man,' so well known to the students of the history of Convocation, has been republished by Mr. Fraser (Masters). The editor gives substantial reasons for attributing its disputed authorship to Sir Bartholomew Shower; and he has enriched the pamphlet with foot notes of considerable practical usefulness. The parallelism between the present state of things and that which provoked or produced the learned war of Wake and Atterbury, has struck Mr. Fraser, and he has been diligent in illustrating the past by the present-or is it vice versá?
Mr. W. B. Flower, long and favourably known for his activity and many services to the literature of the Church, prints a forcible and elegant sermon on the Choral Service,' (Masters,) preached at the consecration of Bovey Tracey Church. We regret the existence of any cause so serious as the preacher's impaired health, which may lessen his useful and constant labours.
In a volume styled 'Appendicia et Pertinentiæ,' (Rivingtons,) Mr. Wood Warter has furnished an ecclesiastical, ecclesiological and parochial monograph of the parish of West Tarring, and certain circumjacent hamlets. Mr. Warter has caught something of the spirit and much of the manner of his father-in-law, Southey. He is desultory, occasionally dull, often in
structive, and always well-meaning. He has read and extracted much, and as colloquies form a convenient mode of writing or chatting in print about everybody and everything, from Thomas-à-Becket to the Ecclesiastical Commissioners, not excluding the wheat-ears of the Downs and the fig-trees of West Tarring, the good vicar is never at a loss for a subject. Etymology, controversy, old poetry, and esoteric quotation, all are poured out in prolific luxury, not always with an appropriate aim, but generally in a genial spirit. Mr. Warter will receive it, as we mean it, as a compliment, when we say that he reminds us of White of Selborne. It is only due to the amiable writer to say that his volume is published in aid of a good parochial work,
Messrs. Longman have published, in a convenient form, under the editorship of Dr. Scoffern, the syllabus of Professor Faraday's important though popular Lectures on the non-Metallic Elements.'
From Mr. Wm. Jackson we have received the third volume of his admirable and popular Stories and Catechisings in illustration of the Collects' (Mozleys). The variety and suitableness of these little lectures, and the skill with which the narrative balances the didactic portion of the work, is quite a model for this class of school-books.
Watchfulness the Duty of the Clergy,' (Simpkin,) is the title of a Visitation Sermon preached by Mr. H. W. Phillott at Hereford: grave and serious in subject, and very practical in treatment.
In his Sermons on the Creed,' (Masters,) Mr. Tupper has condensed with much painstaking and an evident sense of deep responsibility, the dogmatic teaching of the Church. Very properly he has not aimed at that spurious sort of popular treatment which would impair the character of theological statement. Should Mr. Tupper be met with the criticism that the subject was above his evening congregation, we may reply that Pearson delivered the substance of his great work in lectures at one of the City churches.
We cannot say for Mr. Gilson Humphry's Treatise on the Book of Common Prayer' (J. W. Parker) that it adds to our stock of standard theological works. It is, however, a useful manual for students, but somewhat too compressed; and it presents, in the form of transcript, much of the labours of Wheatley and Palmer, upon whom we have not observed that Mr. Humphry has offered to innovate. We are not disposed to blame this caution and remembering the compiler's responsible office in the Diocese of London, we are satisfied that teaching on the whole so level and unexceptionable is prescribed to the candidates for orders.
A little work by Mr. Dampier, of Coggeshall, The Sympathy of Christ,' (Whitaker,) commands our respect by its simple and practical tone.
Mr. Robinson's Maitland Prize Essay, Missions urged on the State,' (Macmillan,) far exceeds the ordinary run of such compositions. Still we cannot but regard these exercises in the light of prolusions. It is hopeless with the present tendency of politics to expect that the State can, or at any rate will, undertake directly religious duties even in our heathen empire.