صور الصفحة
النشر الإلكتروني

general acceptance. “All being in the universe,” says Dr. Hamilton, " is made up of spirit, life, and force. Human nature has in it all three; brutes have life and force, while inanimate nature has only force.” (p. 323.) This division, to be scientific, requires a definition of its terms, particularly of life, which we do not find that he has any. where given. The whole subject of brute life appears to us to be disposed of somewhat summarily, considering our limited actual knowledge of it. As long as the author confines himself to man ,we can test every step by our own consciousness, but when we advance to the consideration of the lower orders of animals, our knowledge at, best is only inference.

We have space only to indicate a few of the questions treated in this able work. The subjects of time and space are discussed in a manner similar to that of Kant, yet the author regards thein as creations rather than necessary conceptions, and insists strongly upon the distinction between space and nothingness. He says, “Created space and time are simply the containers of created objects and events, and live and die with them.” (p. 391.) Here again he differs from a a large class of philosophers, including Locke and his critic Cousin, in placing this limitation upon the existence of these objects, or, as the Kantian school call them, ideas.

Various other theories of recent as well as ancient interest are freely and fearlessly discussed ; such as “The standard of truth,” "the limits of knowledge,” “miracles," "predestination," "special Providence," and "efficacy of prayer.” Thus he does not hesitate to discuss questions as old as those which Milton informs us were topics of conversation among the fallen spirits in Tartarus, nor those as recent as the visit of Prof. Tyndall. The plan of the work also includes a critical review of all the philosophers from Thales to Herbert Spencer, but it having already expanded beyond the prescribed limits, we are promised this in another volume."

The arrangement and classification of the materials are eminently analytical, perhaps too much so for the use of the student, while the business man, for whom also the work is intended, wiil, we fear, find little leisure for perusal of its 700 pages. But the thinker and all given to research in the vast field of metaphysical speculation, will find in it much to repay their investigation, and lead to deeper and in many instances more accurate comprehension of the great truths which underlie our earthly existence.

The Birds of New England and Adjacent States : with Illustrations of

many Species of the Birds and accurate Figures of their Eggs. By EDWARD A. SAMUELS, Curator of Zoology in the Massachusetts State Cabinet. 8vo, pp. 590. Boston : Noyes, Holmes & Co. 1872.

In the broad field of nature there is no province of investigation of more interest to man than that of zoology, and of this, doubtless the most agreeable department is that of ornithology. Nothing is better calculated to withdraw the mind from the vexations of business, the disappointments of ambition, and the cares of life than intercourse with nature. Not only is the tendency of this converse seen in its refining influence upon the character of those who seek it, raising them out of the grooves of daily occupation into the broad plain of philosophy and charity, but it has been the recreation and delight of great minds in all ages. This is true not only of those distinguished in physical research, but equally of those most eminent in philosophy and litera. ture.

At the present day, even in the engrossing occupations of American life, we know of scarcely a name of one distinguished in literature or art who is not also a lover of natural history. Yet we could wish that the study of ornithology were more general. Especially would we recommend the present volume to the attention of pupils of both sexes, but particularly to ladies. We are convinced that much of the time now frittered away in the unedifying occupations of many of our literary institutions might be more profitably as well as pleasantly employed in this study, and that many ladies in society would find it a very agreeable relief from the pursuit of fashion and the routine of pleasures.

Although the highest amount of pleasure as well as instruction is to be found in the fields and forests in the company of the feathered tribes, yet a work upon the subject, not too extensive for popular use, yet accurate in its classifications and descriptions, is of much assistance. Such we find to be the work of Mr. Matthews on the Birds of New England. While this comprises but a limited portion of the coun: try, numerous species and varieties of birds are found there, including many of rare beauty of plumage and power of song, as the humming. bird and the mocking.bird.

The classification adopted, partly from Keyserling and Blasius, proceeds mainly upon the arrangements of the toes and mandibles as adapted to seizing prey, wading, swimming, etc. Thus one basis of classification is the hind-toe on the same level as the rest, including the birds of prey, such as the eagle, hawk, and owl, which also have the upper mandible compressed, its point curving down over that of the lower, forming a strong, sharp hook. Upon the same basis another class is formed of those which have the hind-toe raised above the level of the rest, including the waders and swimmers.

First, we have a synopsis of the characteristics of the several orders; then, as they occur, a description of the suborders and families, with both the Latin and common names. In more prominent type are given a history of their habits, times of arrival and departure, their distribution, food, song time of breeding, and a careful and accurate description of their nests and eggs. Upon the latter evidently much care has been bestowed both in giving accurate measurements and figures. Of the illustrations in general we can only say that, although sufficiently numerous, they are by no means in the highest style of the art, nor superior in execution, still not such as to be a blemish in the work. They are mainly copies from other works of the kind, but this is entirely consistent with the plan of the author, which is not so much to convey new information as to collect what is known of the feathered visitors of these latitudes, and to present it in a popu. larly attractive and instructive form. On the whole, this is well carried out, so that those even who possess considerable information upon the subject will find much pleasure in the perusal of the work.


1. Annual Statements of numerous Life Insurance Companies, New York,

Boston, Hartford, Philadelphia, etc., 1873. 2. Twenty-ninth Annual Report of the Directors of the New England

Mutual Life Insurance Company to the Members. Boston, Janu

ary, 1873. 3. The Mutual Benefit Life Insurance Company. Twenty-eighth An

nual Report of the President to the Board of Directors, January, 1873.

We have now before us quite an extensive pile of documents. In this are represented all kinds of Insurance from the very best to the the very worst. The bad still largely predominate in point of numbers, although gradually yielding to the law of gravitation. It was a favorite simile with Addison, that all false pretences, like flowers, soon fall to the ground; and never was that simile more forcibly illustrated than it has been within the last two years by insurance companies. This we will show as we proceed. But we may remark in the meantime that no catastrophes have occurred which might not have been expected. Not one company has either given up the ghost altogether, or fallen into hopeless consumption whose prognosis we had not given in these pages during the first stage of its malady—long before its symptoms had become alarming to those who had most to lose by its demise. Far, then, from wondering that so many companies have either passed out of existence altogether, or, on the Hindoo principle of the metempsychosis, passed into other kindred or congenial hodies, we are rather surprised that so many of the same class still linger. This, however, does not, we trust, compromise our skill as a therapeutist, since there are few who are not aware of the astonishing tenacity of life manifested by some consumptives after their case bas again and again been declared hopeless. Nay, is it not true that there are many instances in which, not only have all the alarining symptoms subsided or disappeared altogether, but the patients have increased instead of diminishing in weight, and yet the malady has done its fatal work!

Because much inischief often results from the false hopes thus excited, the honest physician warns the friends of the patient-especially those depending more or less on his efforts--although quite aware that, in general, the task is at best a thankless one. The patient him. self is too apt to regard him as a bird of evil omen, or as an evil genius taking a malignant pleasure in predicting the fatal issue even when it is rapidly approaching. Our readers know whether we have had any prejudice of this kind to contend against. If they do not, we respect. fully refer them to the ghosts of companies like the Great Western Mutual, the Mutual Protection, the Excelsior, the Craftsmen's, tho Reserve Mutual, the National Capital, the Empire Mutual, the Anchor, the Hope, etc., etc.

It is true that even the believers in the transmigration of souls deny that all souls transmigrate. The Brahmins maintain that feeble or half-formed souls do not, or, if they do, that they become extinguished very soon after the transmigration has taken place. "Thus," says one of their learned books, “suppose a half-formed soul gets into the carcass of a donkey having the spavin or the rickets, the quadruped may bray two or three times more lustily than he did before; in a similar contingency a lame goose may cackle more noisily; or a turkey.cock half dead of starvation may strut and exhibit his fine plumage more proudly than ever, but each of thoso animals very soon relapses into its former condition."*

This is somewhat in accordance with the Darwinian theory ; but whether the doctrine be true in general or not, it will be found in due time to be but too true in regard to our transmigrating insurance companies. By this, however, we would not be understood to mean that all companies that have absorbed soulless companies are without souls themselves. To this, as to most other rules, there arı: exceptions. Darwin tells us that a vigorous member of a family occasionally takes a weaker member under his protection, and succeeds in lengthening his existence in the struggle for life, but that he rarely, if ever, succeeds in making him a permanent type.

Without pausing here to decide this point, we will turn to the other side of the picture. And what change do we find ? It is now ten years since we maintained that, of all the companies then in existence, not more than one out of every ten could be regarded as worthy of public confidence; in other words, we maintained that among the whole number not more than a dozen companies could be relied upon for their strength, permanency, and honesty. This dozen we men.

[merged small][ocr errors]
« السابقةمتابعة »