The first of these volumes comprises a selection from Mrs. Jameson’s miscellaneous writings, and includes several of the best known and most pleasing of her minor productions. Among them are the three essays on The House of Titian, Washington Allston, and Adelaide Kemble, which were first published twelve or fifteen years ago, and were re printed, with other papers, in one of the volumes of Wiley and Putnam’s Library of Choice Reading. There are also in the volume now on our table several short and characteristic tales, showing the versatility of Mrs. Jameson’s powers, and a series of brief and suggestive Studies, chiefly on topics connected with German literature, taken from the Journal of her residence in Canada, published in 1838. Though the volume has little unity of design, it everywhere bears the marks of Mrs. Jameson’s ripe culture and refined taste, and is an acceptable addition to the series of her collected writings.
The other volume is more homogeneous in its character, and com prises a series of biographical sketches of the Early Italian Painters, from Cimabue to Jacopo Bassano. In this list are embraced between twenty and thirty titles, including the great names of Leonardo da Vinci, Michel Angelo, Raphael, and Titian. Several of the sketches are of considerable length, and all are gracefully written, and are marked by an intimate acquaintance with the works of the artists whose lives are narrated. Few persons have written more justly of the great Italian masters, or with keener perception of their various merits.
Dean Trench has rendered a useful service by his pleasant and instructive contributions to philology, and we cordially recognize the new obligation which he has imposed on his readers. Few men have been able to import more of wit and wisdom into a study which, to the uninitiated, seems dry and barren ; and, like his previous treatises on kindred topics, his last volume bears all the marks of having been pre pared con amore. It has all the freshness, vivacity, and amplitude of illustration noticeable in his previous works ; and though it is cast in the form of a glossary, it contains much that is entertaining reading, and some curious extracts from our older writers.
We have not counted the articles in the volume ; but the author must have enumerated not less than four hundred words, ” which, as current with us as they were with our forefathers, yet mean something different on our lips from what they meant upon theirs.” These are illustrated by about a thousand different citations, nearly all of which are claimed as the fruits of the Dean’s own researches, and many of which would be valuable merely as extracts. Obviously, in such a glossary, accuracy of definition and precision in marking the variations in the meaning of words are the most important requisites. But next in importance to these we must place the appropriateness and intrinsic merit of the illustrative citations. In each of these respects, Dean Trench has been eminently successful.