NOTES OF A JOURNEY FROM CORNHILL TO CAIRO.
THIODOLF, AND ASLAUGA’S KNIGHT: By LA MOTTIE FOURQUE.
Of late we have vainly tried to avail ourselves of the entertainments afforded by this series. Book after book flies off into the country before we have time to take note of them. Our judgment is forestalled before it can be offered.
Yet the volumes above named deserve that a mark should be made upon our annals to signify their value.
The journey of Mr. “Titmarsh,” though amusing enough, is too flippant in its fun—too much in the Theodore Hook style, to suit our fancy. Always to show the vulgar side of things, and point out grease-spots on the robe of beauty, is a way of moving us to laughter, which, even when successful, half disgusts us with the cause of mirth, and more than half with ourselves. Few objects are so serenely pure, so solidly majestic, that they may not be made to look coarse, tawdry, and plebian, if placed in a certain light and sickened by a certain atmosphere. We do not thank the imagination that cast this light on Constantinople, or invented the voyage of the Jewish Rabbis, with all the accompanying fever-dream of uncleanness.
“Typee” would seem, also, to be the record of imaginary adventures by some one who had visited those regions. But it is a very entertaining and pleasing narrative, and the Happy Valley of the gentle cannibals compares very well with the best contrivances of the learned Dr. Johnson to produce similar impressions. Of the power of this writer to make pretty and spirited pictures as well of his quick and arch manner generally, a happy specimen may be seen in the account of the savage climbing the cocoa-tree, p. 273, vol. 2d. Many of the observations and narratives we suppose to be strictly correct. Is the account given of the result of the missionary enterprises in the Sandwich Islands of this number? We suppose so from what we have heard in other ways. With a view to ascertaining the truth, it would be well if the sewing societies, now engaged in providing funds for such enterprises would read the particulars, they will find in this book beginning p. 249, vol. 2d, and make inquiries in consequence, before going on with their efforts. Generally, the sewing societies of the country villages will find this very book they wish to have read while assembled at their work. Othello’s hair-breadth ‘scapes were nothing to those by this hero in the descent of the cataracts, and many a Desdemona might seriously incline her ear to the descriptions of the lovely Fay a way.
“Thiodolf” has the usual charms of La Motte Fouque’s books. Who likes one in this noble, romantic style, likes all. The contrast between the Northern and Southern spirit is finely kept up.—“Aslauga’s Knight” we have heretofore mentioned as a truly beautiful poem on ideal love, and next to “Undine,” the finest of his fictions.*
“Wiley & Putnam’s Library,” New-York Daily Tribune, 4 April 1846, p. 1.