It is impossible to see insolent and vulgar pretension in noisy triumph, while real and unobtrusive merit is neglected. When we see a creature strutting in laurels that have been won by another, human nature—much as it has been abused—prompts us to grasp them from undeserving brows and place them where they will have a natural grace. For trite examples, who would not rather elect Columbus than Americus to the place of Name-Giver for this continent? How many such wrongs do men daily hope to see righted! The writer of these paragraphs will never willingly violate the just conditions of criticism.
If he offers, as often is necessary, conclusions rather than arguments, he will in no case withhold arguments when conclusions are held to be unjust. The true value of every sort of journalism, and of discussion also, is in its integrity much more than in its ability. Integrity is violated as much by the suppression of truth as by the suggestion of falsehood. In all cases that interest us sufficiently, and which are legitimately before the public, we shall write precisely as we think, without the slightest regard for consequences.
Oersted , the great natural philosopher, has lately published at Leipzic, under the title of Der in Geist in der Natur Spirit in Nature , a collection of remarkable essays which he has written, at various times, during a series of years. The purpose he has followed through his entire scientific career, has, perhaps, its most complete expression in this book. It is the demonstration of the same laws in physical nature as in the higher spheres of the reason and intelligence. On the principle of the essential unity of all things, he seeks not only to lay the foundation of a universal science, but to afford some views of the superstructure.
The work contains eight distinct essays: the first, "The Spiritual in the Corporeal," is in the form of a Dialogue, and aims at a reconciliation of the conflicting modes of thought, by which the universe is assumed to be essentially material, or essentially spiritual; the second, "The Fountain," treats of the impressions of beauty produced by the great, sublime, and powerful; the third considers the relation to the imagination, of the apprehension of nature by the understanding, and shows that it is only imperfect culture and ignorance which can suppose any dissonance between the two.
He shows that the progress of science enriches, aggrandizes, and elevates the imagination. The fourth essay is, perhaps, the most interesting of all. Its theme is, "Superstition and Skepticism in their relation to Natural Science. The true realm of beauty is the realm of reason. It is true that science deprives the poet of the use of sundry unnatural conceptions, but while it more than compensates him by the substitution of nobler ideas, it opens to him a new, affluent, and little explored poetic world. Such losses are of small consequence to the true poet, but may, indeed, be painful to the many dabblers in the poetic art, who think they have rendered the insignificant poetic by tricking it out in gewgaws from the poetic armory of a vanished era.
It asserts that there is, throughout the universe, a radical unity between the laws of beauty, and man's moral nature and intellectual powers, and that there must therefore exist for the mind, a perfect community of nature and analogy between different worlds, and a rational connection between all thinking beings, not only of the earth, but of other planets and systems. The final essay is on "The Culture of Science as the Exercise of Religion," and is mainly an attempt to show that the very nature of science requires its culture to be made a religion, and that the good which we ought to seek must be that which is imperishable in its truth.
This work has been rapidly followed by two other publications of the same author, intended to explain or defend the positions of their predecessor.
The second has for its title, "Natural Science and the Formation of the Intellect. Oersted is now seventy-three years old. It is admirable to see a man of such years and distinction in the world, putting forth the same grand and elevated ideas that marked the generous enthusiasm of his youth. It is only in the genial and unselfish pursuits of science that such freshness of mind can be thus preserved. New Dramas. The persons are too numerous, and the action too complicated, but there is great fire and energy in the general treatment, and the gradual development of the interest of the story is managed with skill.go to link
Herod, the ruler of Judea, is a tyrant by both nature and position. He was appointed to his office by the Roman triumvir Antony, who can turn him out or cut his head off at any moment, and who is strongly inclined to follow the urgent solicitations of Herod's many enemies. In order to secure himself, Herod has married Mariamne, a descendant of the Jewish royal family, and is deeply in love with her. The chief of his foes is Mariamne's mother; the Pharisees also hate him for his notorious disregard of the Jewish religion.
A conspiracy is formed against him, at the head of which is the brother of Mariamne. This brother is killed in consequence, and Herod is summoned before the triumvir. Meanwhile, as soon as the murder was known, Mariamne had refused to see her husband. But the evidences of his attachment are still so convincing, and her admiration for the force of his character so great, that she becomes reconciled to him. He is about to leave her to appear before Antony, and asks if her love is great enough for her to commit suicide, in case he should not return.
Finally he asks her to take an oath to that effect. But she refuses, saying that such an oath would give him no pledge that he might not have already from insight into her heart. He is not content with this, and before he leaves, engages an assassin to kill her in case Antony should put him to death.
After his departure, Mariamne declares to her mother that in case Herod perishes, she has determined to kill herself. The report arrives that he has been executed; and the assassin appears; from his bearing Mariamne guesses the truth, and draws from him a confession. Just as she is in the deepest agitation at this discovery, the king appears, having been acquitted by Antony. She meets him with coldness, and at once lets him know that she has learned all.
He puts to death the man, but at the same time a suspicion arises in his mind that Mariamne has discovered the secret by betraying her honor.
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Against this her pride will not allow her to defend herself. A second trial soon arrives. Herod receives the order—shortly before the battle of Actium—to go on a dangerous military expedition for Antony. He now requires no oath, at which she rejoices; for she still loves him, and forgives him for the past.
But she does not reveal herself to him. He misunderstands the joy which she cannot conceal, as satisfaction at his departure, and charges a faithful servant to put her to death in case he shall fall. The report of his death is renewed, but the appointed assassin, revolted at his office, discloses all to Mariamne. This drives her to despair. She is confident that her husband will soon return, and determines that he shall be led to put her to death unjustly. Accordingly she gives a splendid feast, as she says, to celebrate the death of her husband. He comes and brings her before a court, not for having rejoiced at his death, but for infidelity, supposing that to be the only way in which she could have discovered the secret of the assassin.
She is condemned and executed, but before dying, she reveals the whole mystery to a friend, who afterwards informs Herod. The king devoured by rage and remorse and driven to desperation, becomes merciless as a fury. It is at that moment, that the three wise men from the East arrive, and inform him of the birth of Christ; whereupon he orders the slaughter of the children. One of the peculiarities of this tragedy, is the introduction of a character, who takes no part in the action, but observes and philosophizes upon it, somewhat after the manner of the old Greek chorus.
This innovation cannot be said to be successful; moreover there is generally too much philosophizing and moralizing in the piece. Another new German tragedy is called Francisco da Rimini , by Cornelius Von der Heyse, but we know nothing more respecting it than is communicated by the publisher's advertisement. The title is promising. The French dramatists produce more comedies than tragedies. Indeed, in the weekly notices which for the last few weeks our Parisian papers have given of the new works brought out at the various theatres of Paris, we have not observed one tragedy of importance enough for us to remark upon it.
But in the lighter range of comedy, the French playwrights are unequalled and inexhaustible, as is proved by the constant transfer of their productions into both the English and German languages. They do not think it necessary to have a plot of much intricacy, or even of great interest. The point and brilliancy of the dialogue, and the perfection of the actors, render that a matter of subordinate consequence.
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Hippolyte Vidoux, clerk in a cap store and lieutenant in the National Guards, is a charming fellow, and the idol of the women in the whole quarter. He sings, jokes, and dances the polka in every style. He is introduced into the salons of his superior officer, Count Chamaral, but meets with no sort of success among the marchionesses and duchesses.
On the other hand, these ladies are dying for the young Baron Albert, who dances the contra-dance with a mien of languishing resignation worthy of a funeral. The Baron falls in love with the daughter of a rich baker, but in vain. Here Hippolyte carries off the honors and the heiress according to the French proverb, the eagle of one house is a turkey in another. A proud and obstinate German Baron refuses his daughter's hand to her lover, whose great merit nevertheless causes him to be ennobled. Still the Baron refuses his daughter.
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The Baron receives him, but has nothing to set before him. Hereupon a gardener furnishes a deer, which saves the honor of the house.
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The Emperor is delighted with the venison, and makes the donor sit down at the table. He is the father of the suitor, and as he has thus had the honor to eat with the Emperor, the Baron can say nothing more against the marriage. The good Emperor blesses the happy pair, and sets off again to see if there are no more comic operas in his dominions to which he can contribute a happy denouement. The scene is laid in Holland, in the winter, which affords an excellent opportunity to the scene-painter and property-man. Threa, a poor and silly girl, is so passionately in love with Hans, who has saved her from death, that she climbs a wall to see him as he is going by.
The wall tumbles down with her, and among the fragments she finds the ring of Solomon, and puts it on.