Books for the Holidays.

Books for the Holidays.

THE COMPLETE WORKS OF N.P. WILLIS. New-York: J.S. Redfield, Clinton Hall, corner of Nassau and Beckman sts. 1846.

  When we first looked upon this large, handsome book, fruit of twenty sunny years of Mr. Willis’s life, we thought—Surely no one will buy it. We have read these things in their first form, and this year past every body has been buying them in numbers to read as they traveled about in the cars or steamboats, and surely they will not want them again directly, and above all in this thick, heavy book. They are light wares and ought to have been divided into portable volumes.

  Looking over the book, however, we change our opinion. These Ephemera still amuse, read for the third time. Mr. Willis is a vivacious, a various, in one word, a readable writer, and this readableness of his seems, like the memory of college frolics to those engaged in them, an all but inexhaustible charm. The thick book will, no doubt, become the “entertaining library” of the country farm-house and village inn, and take the place of the Spectator and Rambler in book closets otherwise unfurnished. So shall the next generation read the early phases of American City life, described with infinite liveliness and sufficient fidelity.

  The large book, then, is probably destined to give a second popularity to Willis’s writings, and many to whom they are already familiar will like to have them all together in this handsome livery.

  In looking over the Ephemera, (Shadows from the Mirror,) we are struck by the spirit with which the character of “the Brigadier” is kept up. The touches are so very light, and yet the result is a distinct and full image of the man. The sketches of editorial in-door life, too, are better than Blackwood.

  A very amusing comment on the European part of this book is copied from the Edinburgh Review into the last number of Ladle’s Living Age. Its feathery scratches will not injure the complexion Mr. Willis delights to wear. Rather will his celebrity be promoted thereby. Some of the city lyrics in this collection are good. We know not why Mr. Willis has resigned to oblivion a series in the same style published by him long ago in Boston, under the name of Caesius. Some of them were very witty.


THE VIGIL OF FAITH AND OTHER POEMS. By C. F. HOFFMAN. Fourth Edition. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1845.

  The talismanic words “Fourth Edition,” upon the title-page, render praise from us unnecessary, nor are we disposed to dispute the favorable verdict of the public in the case of Mr. Hoffman. He is a very careless writer, and we find on his page strange sins against rhyme and rhythm, but then he is graceful, sparkling and fluent. He tells us that he sings (in the true way) to sing! His song is its own reward.

“Not in approval, but in utterance dwelleth
The Poet’s craving and the Poet’s power.”

  And we really find in his Poems a transcript of his experience; and experience though it be, there are on it fresh and glittering dew-drops. We hardly know whether Mr. Hoffman would gain by a deeper plowing and a fiercer sun; it is not the nature of some minds so to do, and his are wild-flowers like the “Cupid’s Dart” or “Shooting Star” of the western prairie that wither and recede before the advancing stream of Life.

  After looking over all the poems, we still give the preference to this which has been so general a favorite.*

NOT in the shadowy wood,
Not in the crag-hung glen,
Not where the echoes brood
In caves untrod by men;
Not by the bleak seashore,
Where barren surges break,
Not on the mountain hoar.
Not by the breezeless lake;
Not on the desert plain
Where man hath never stood,
Whether on isle or main—
Not there is Solitude!

Birds are in woodland bowers;
Voices in lonely dells;
Streams to the listening hours
Talk in earth’s secret cells;
Over the gray-ribb’d sand
Breathe Ocean’s frothy lips;
Over the still lake’s strand
The wild flower toward it dips,
Pluming the mountain’s crest
Life tosses in its pines,
Coursing the desert’s breast
Life in the steed’s mane shines.

Leave—if thou wouldst be lonely—
Leave Nature for the crowd;
Seek there for one—one only
With kindred mind endow’d!
There—as with Nature erst
Closely thou wouldst commune—
The deep soul-music nursed
In either heart, attune!
Heart-wearied thou wilt own,
Vainly that phantom wooed,
That thou at last hast known
What is true Solitude!

“Books for the Holidays.” New-York Daily Tribune, 22 December 1845, p. 1.