Sidor som bilder
PDF
ePub

itself a library of reference in all matters of modern statistics, using the word in its widest sense. The volume for 1841 is fully equal to any of the preceding; but no better, and better it need not be. As there may be some of our readers who have not had an opportunity of looking into it, we will specify a few of its leading subjects; and they may infer from the contents of a single number what a vast amount of information the whole set must furnish. In the first part, we have an almanac, properly so called; and here, in addition to the requisite and usual tables, there are various others of great value to all who take note of the changes in the heavens. The second part begins with the miscellaneous department, filled with accurate accounts and tables of the opium and the slave trade, the mortality of amputation, emigration, statistics of navigation and travelling, rates of wages in different countries, etc. Next follows a number of important meteorological tables, and then a very full statistical view of the United States, of the individual states, of the other governments in North and South America ; and in the rest of the work exhibiting their condition in all the great political and social relations. The volume closes with a foreign and an American obituary, and a chronicle of events.

But it is not alone for the variety and extent of its information that we would recommend it : the general accuracy of its statements and tables establishes its authority as a book of reference; and on this character, above all, it may rely for its claim to public favor. As far as our testimony to its merits can be of any advantage to it, we give it most unqualifiedly.

6. Elements of Geology, for the use of Schools and Academies. By

Professor William W. Mather, Geologist. Second edition. New York: 1838. Published by the American Common School Union.

Tuis is a work on geology, published by the American Common School Union, and must therefore have been designed for popular instruction. It is in this, its especial character, that we make it a subject of comment. As a book for beginners in the study, it is liable, we think, to several objections.

First, there is much that is abstruse and unintelligible in the introduction. Some disputed points are assumed as settled : for instance, that the interior of the earth is in a liquid or molten state. Principles are laid down unsupported by the facts on which they rest, which is especially to be observed on pages eighteenth and nineteenth. In general, the subjects treated of in this division of the book are far more suited to the comprehension of proficients in the science than of young pupils, and could not be made clear to the latter except by heing postponed to a more advanced stage of their

progress than is admissible by the author's present arrangement of them.

Secondly, it is injudicious in such a treatise to attempt to reconcile geological theories with the Mosaic account of the creation. The discoveries in geology are not yet sufficient to authorize any certain conclusions either for or against the narrative of the sacred historian. Certainly no inconsistency has been proved to exist between this science and revelation; and hence there is no necessity for attempting to refute the objections which cavilling unbelievers have started.

A third error into which the author has fallen is the appropriation of so large a part of his second chapter to chemistry, for which he has afterwards little or no use. If a knowledge of this science is essential to the study of geology, it ought to be acquired as the other aiding sciences of natural philosophy, conchology and botany are, from a distinct treatise. The elements of either of them might as fairly claim a place as chemistry in a work of this character on geology.

There are minor imperfections in Mr. Mather's book, which it is unnecessary to specify. We may comprehend them under the general charge of false arrangements and obscurity of language. He should have begun the work with the subject of his third chapter, as it now stands, and he should have avoided using words unexplained, which none but adepts can understand. Inattention to these points has rendered this book far less valuable as an elementary treatise than its learned author might easily have made it. We have confined our remarks to its defects, without speaking of its merits, which in many respects are great, because we undertook to examine its adaptation to its peculiar purpose, and in that view it seemed to us most important to make known wherein it has failed to effect it.

7. Constance, or the Merchant's Daughter. A Tale of our Times.

New York : 1841. Gould, Newman and Saxton. 18mo.

There is nothing particularly striking or original in this little story; but it is written in so good a style, and breathes such pure sentiments, that it may be read by any one with much pleasure and profit. Its special purport is to exhibit the strength of the religious principle in the female heart, and the powerful influence that may be exercised by a superior woman of religious character over an irreligious lover. We doubt if the zeal of the author has not carried him a little beyond nature in illustrating his principle. A woman who truly loves does not renounce a lover even for religion's sake, and we should not have much confidence in the sincerity of the faith which had its foundation only in love : the devotion which such a faith inspires would be very likely to have more of earth in it than heaven.

NO. XV.VOL. VIII.

35

RIDGE.

8. Confessions of an Enquiring Spirit. By SAMUEL TAYLOR COLE

Edited from the Author's MS. By Henry NELSON COLERIDGE, M. A. (Reprint.) Boston : 1841. Monroe and Co. 12mo. pp. 129.

To the readers and admirers of Coleridge this little volume comes as a great treat; and in their name we would acknowledge thankfulness to its Boston publishers for the style as well as the speed with which they have put into our hands this latest and most deeply interesting (thus far) of Coleridge's posthumous works.

Its contents were indeed worthy of all care. As the latest digested thoughts of that deeply thinking mind — still more, as "the confessions of an enquiring spirit ” — whose speculations have long filled so large a space in the religious and philosophical world, they are full of deep interest to all; but beyond all, to the real student of Coleridge, unto whom, as the well-defined confession of his religious faith, they afford a key and touchstone with which to open and to try harder or more doubtful judgments. To such readers of Coleridge, it is indeed invaluable. What lay scattered through his works of religious belief, they here find arranged into a living body of Christian faith.

In our necessarily brief notice, we will turn the reader's attention to but one point, as being one in which the credit of our Review has stood implicated, and now stands more than justified. By the readers of the article on Coleridge in our last number, it will be remembered that we therein ventured to predict that, in the proportion as Coleridge's views were more fully known and his philosophy more faithfully studied, the recognition of the church as the essential exponent of Christianity, the necessary teacher of the gospel, and the conservator of Christian doctrine, would be found to lie at the very foundation of his spiritual philosophy; and this we maintained less from what Coleridge had actually said than by necessary inference from his acknowledged principles. When, lo! at the very moment of our thus writing, there was passing through the London press this as yet unpublished manuscript of his last thoughts, containing, far beyond all his former works, the fullest acknowledgment and recognition of the very sentiments we were there attributing to him.

As to the leading point of Coleridge in these confessions, namely, the doubt or denial of the plenary inspiration of Scripture, we have no room here to enter upon it, and shall not therefore forestall the satisfactory solution of a deeply interesting question by unargued propositions. We would only add, that our single quarrel with Coleridge would not be in substance, but words, and in his apparent admission that he is contending against catholic doctrine on that point.

uncommon

9. Life of John Jay. By Henry B. RENWICK. Edited by JAMES

Renwick, LL.D., and Life of Alexander Hamilton. By James Renwick, LL. D. New York: 1840. Harper & Brothers. 18mo. Life of De Witt Clinton. By James RenwiCK, LL.D. New York: 1840. Harper and Brothers. 18mo.

These two little volumes are likely to obtain an share of public notice, not only from the ability with which they are written and the universal interest in the subjects of them, but even still more from the fact of their being the proscribed patriots, the Hancock and Adams as it were of the School District Library, having been denounced by its censorship for political heresies, and placed upon the index librorum prohibitorum. We had before supposed that if any men had lived among us who had done the state some service, Hamilton and Jay and Clinton must be of that number; and consequently that it might be permitted to our youth to learn something of what they had done for their country in establishing the national credit, conducting important negotiations with foreign powers, projecting and executing the grandest plan of inland water communication ever devised here or elsewhere, to say nothing of all their other claims to be held in perpetual remembrance. But it seems that we were wrong, and that it is not safe for the rising generation to study the achievements of our great men of past days, lest it may give rise in their minds to comparisons unfavorable to living heroes. We fully assent to the propriety of banishing from the School Library all books which have a bearing upon contemporary matters of local and party politics; but if the interdict is to be extended to the past, the volume of our political history must be closed to our youth, for upon every page of it they will find the record of conflicting opinions among our statesmen and legislators in relation to the constitution, its construction, and its practical administration. It is from this history that they are to learn the true character of our government, and their own civil and political duties; and if this knowledge is not acquired, the most important part of their education, as citizens of a free state, is unattained. At any rate, it is difficult to understand the principle by which the censorship is governed in granting and refusing its imprimatur, Lieutenant Mackenzie's admirable, although decidedly political, Life of Commodore Perry is allowed to pass, while the equally valuable and far less political lives we have been speaking of are rejected. Perhaps it is thought that the especial danger lies in treating questions connected with the political history of our own

We are unwilling to go counter to such high authority ; but in this case, we must assure our readers, as well young as old, that there is nothing against the peace, dignity or safety of the commonwealth in either of these volumes, and nothing which indicates an intention of undermining the pure republican principles of our youth. It was not our intention to comment upon these biographical sketches in other respects; and therefore we only say, in general terms, they are well written, and that they will be found to give as good a summary of the interesting events in the lives of these distinguished men as could be done in so condensed a form, and for the most part with scrupulous accuracy. The fourth chapter of the Life of Jay may be mentioned as a slight exception to the last characteristic: in giving an account of the “ negotiations at Paris for a general peace," imputations are cast upon Dr. Franklin for his conduct in relation to them, which we consider unjust upon the high authority of Mr. Sparks, who has made this a special matter of investigation in his biography of the doctor.

state.

10. Notices of the War of 1812. By John ARMSTRONG, late a Major

General in the Army of the United States and Secretary of War. New York : 1840. Wiley and Putnam. 2 vols. 12mo.

We do not take up these volumes at this time with a view of entering upon a criticism of them as to their subject matter; that is too important and too professional for a short and hasty comment, which is all that this part of our journal admits. It is solely with reference to their literary execution that we now notice them. Their author has been long known as one of our most vigorous writers. In very early life, the power of his masterly pen was strongly manifested in the “ Newburg Letters,” which has not faltered in any of his later productions, and least of all in this last, the second vol. ume of which comes forth to the world very nearly sixty years after the letters just alluded io. Precision, directness and force are the characteristics of General Armstrong's style, and he has furnished a remarkable instance of the retention of the distinguishing properties of mind to a period of life far too advanced for the physical powers to hold out in their vigor. To us, it is a matter of astonishment that, at such an age, he should have had the courage to comment so fearlessly upon the military conduct and skill of the principal officers of the war, while most of them are still living. But he must have done it in full view of its consequences ; for no one who so treats such subjects can expect to escape being assailed himself. He who ventures to publish such an account as is here given of the battle of New Orleans, the boast and pride of our warlike achievements, must care as little for the shots of criticism as the chieftain who commanded there did for the balls of the enemy. We can give no opinion here upon the correctness of the views entertained by General Armstrong in his “ Notices of the War of 1812.” We can only say that they would naturally have had more weight were it not evident that justification of himself, in his official capacity as secretary of war, is one of the great objects of his book; and ihis must be a difficult task, as he had the misfortune to be responsible for the imbecility of the head of the government, manifested in the whole prosecution of the war, which is now universally acknowledged 10 be one of the most wretchedly conducted affairs ever recorded in history.

« FöregåendeFortsätt »