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what we regard as very incomplete, and what they perhaps may consider very unsatisfactory, we are obliged to desist. We were quite desirous of showing what manner of stones and buildings were here in this living temple of Christian thought and doctrine.
We must, however, rest satisfied, with a simple expression of our conviction that these sermons rank with the
best that have ever been written. For power and freedom of conception, for boldness and truth of description, and for the energy and earnestness and mingled pathos of the spirit by which they are characterized, as a whole, they are not surpassed in the range of pulpit eloquence.
We must say, again, that we feel that we have done but imperfect justice to the book, and to the man whose noble and sanctified genius is here but partially revealed. Of the latter, we may not now speak as we would, or declare our whole faith in the preëminent value of his writings, and the place he and they are destined to hold in the future estimation of mankind.
ARTICLE V.-JAMES G. PERCIVAL.
Poems. By JAMES G. PERCIVAL. Boston: Ticknor & Fields.
A new edition of the poems of James Gates Percival, announced as soon to appear from the press of those Boston booksellers and poet-publishers, Messrs. Ticknor & Fields,* suggests to us the putting in execution of a purpose which we have for some time entertained, of presenting our readers with a brief account of his life, in connection with some criticisms upon his poetry.
A former number of the New Englander † contains an elaborate review of Percival's poetry, prepared by one who was eminently fitted for the task—the late Erasmus North, M. D., his personal friend. In that review, reference is made particularly to his more recent productions. It seems fitting that we should now take a broader view of all that he has written, and that the Article on Hillhouse, which appeared in the November Number for 1858, should be followed by another upon Percival, who was his contemporary, who was for many years a resident with him of New Haven, and who displayed throughont his life, under very different circumstances, no less genius and passion for song. We are aware of the delicacy of the task we take upon ourselves, and of the difficulty of doing full justice to the theme; yet desiring to contribute our offering at the shrine of an acknowledged great, though at times misrepresented genius, we seek to set the poet in a somewhat different light before the world from that in which he has been too often viewed, and thus to render a service to the cause of literature and humanity.
The volume of Percival's poems, here referred to, not having as yet been published, our references in this Article must be to such pieces as have already been given to the public in the older editions.
+ New Englander, Jan. 1844.
Apart from the interest which the public always feel in those who have made themselves distinguished by their literary pursuits, this interest in the present instance is increased by the extraordinary character of the individual who is the subject of these remarks. That countenance, cadaverous, sallow, intellectual, unearthly in its expression, with an aspect of late years greatly dejected, the frontispiece to a head Shakespearean in its conformation, with its strongly marked physiognomy, and eyes blue, "all pupil,” lustrous, prominent, “wild with the fires of genius,” whose lineaments once seen could never be forgotten—that form, tall, bending, enveloped in a thread-bare cloak fluttering in the breeze, haunting bookstores or wandering by woods and streams or traversing mountains and prairies, engrossed in scientific labors, painfully seeking to elude observation, has at length disappeared from view. By these outward tokens was revealed to the world the spirit of one of the most pure intellects that has ever worn the garb of humanity--whose departure is a loss alike to science and to poetry—who combined in himself almost contradictory attributes—the physician, poet, geographer, geologist, botanist, naturalist, philosopher, philologist, linguist—the truly universal genius! Such was James G. Percival.
Though only a comparatively short time has elapsed since the poet's decease, the notice taken of that event in the public journals; the multitude of statements and anecdotes published in relation to the incidents of his literary career; and the inquiries respecting the history of his life, and his intellectual and social habits, made from time to time, within our knowledge, of one* who has deferred to us a task which more properly belongs to himself,-evince the desire of the public to know more about a man, who was regarded by some as a sort of visionary or misanthrope, whose verses, so much admired by the generation that is passing away, yet retain their hold upon the popular mind, and are still ranked with the productions of the best of our American poets.
* Rev. Royal Robbins, long a resident in the native parish of the poet, and contemporary with him.
proper that this desire, so natural on the part of the public, should be gratified.
The late Dr. North, of whom we have already made mention, formerly instructor in elocution in Yale College, had in preparation a history of the poet's early life; but its publication has been prevented by the untimely death of the biographer. The reading public have, we doubt not, lost an interesting volume, and the true history of Percival's life is yet to be written. We regret to say, that a good deal which has been published respecting Percival is the result of prejudice or misconception. We have derived our knowledge in regard to him from authentic sources; a portion of it is indeed matter of personal recollection and of information gathered in the early home of the poet.
We must allude, in this connection, to the typographical appearance of this edition of Percival's poems, which Messrs. Ticknor & Fields propose to give us.
We understand that for the first time the poetry of Percival is to be enshrined in a casket worthy of it. A late writer has said: “Of his poetical reputation, Dr. Percival took no care. If he had managed his productions with a tithe of the art possessed by some of his Parnassian brethren, he might have acquired money, as well as fame, by his writings. Had he studied the secrets of hot-press and embellishment, of cream-colored paper laid between drab covers, or been familiar with the effects of "blue and gold” in giving popularity to inspiration, Percival would have become a favorite, and the favor of the people would have reacted on his selection of topics, and familiarized his style. Those few poems of his in which he treated of common and domestic subjects find a universal acceptance with the lovers of poetry, and all of them deserve a far larger popularity than they enjoy." Had Dr. Percival himself foreseen the fame which awaited his productions in this age of the world—that they would attain to the honor of an edition in blue and gold, which custom just now has made a sort of test of popularity for works of this kind—it might have gone as far as any external circumstance could go, to remove the cloud of despondency which overhung his mind for the greater
part of his life; and have reconciled him to the misfortune of temporary oblivion and neglect.
The homes and haunts of genius have always an interest to the reflecting and philosophic mind. In the case of individuals thus gifted, a sort of sacredness attaches to their names and memories, and to their earthly habitations. We are subdued by the influence of the genius loci, and bow with involuntary homage to the home where genius first saw the light, the scenes associated with its choicest productions, or familiar with its daily presence, or the tonıb where its ashes are deposited. We linger with awe and reverence, for instance, by Shakespeare's home at Stratford-upon-Avon; the several dwellings inhabited by Milton, the house where he was born in Bread street, London, the mansion where he wrote Paradise Lost, at Chalfont; Wordsworth's poetresidence at Rydal Mount; Burns's cottage in Ayrshire; Petrarch's villa at Vaucluse; Dante's home at Florence, and his tomb at Ravenna ; and Cowper's retreat at Olney. It is the prerogative of genius, itself immortal, to give immortality to the scenes by which it is surrounded, infusing its own nature into the objects which meet its daily vision, and becoming a part and parcel of them.
An English writer, William Howitt, has published a work in which the “Homes and Haunts” of the British poets have been described with a fidelity and accuracy which, as gratifying the natural curiosity of the public mind to know more about the life of individuals eminent for their talents or genius, with whose writings they have become familiar, has been well received on both sides of the Atlantic. The same plan has been adopted in regard to some of our American authors, and the embellishments of art have been added to the charms of literature. The result has been a production which has not lacked for abundance of readers. The American mind has in this and other ways become familiarized with the habitations of Irving, Hawthorne, Bryant, Longfellow, Dana, Willis, and many others, which with their surroundings have been pictured to the eye and to the mind with rare fidelity and beauty. The early home of Percival, for the same reasons, has to us something of this