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We have then in this volume the Reminiscences of one who lived before the great American Revolution, who mingled in the scenes which accompanied the achievement of our liberties, was personally acquainted with Washington and his co-patriots, and the signers of the Declaration of Independence, in our own country, and with Burke and Fox and their cotemporaries, in England, who was also familiar with the horrors of the French Revolution, and who is, perhaps, the only educated man of that age who survives to recount to us, of his own knowledge, the thrilling incidents and the great events of those times. The work is well written, is embellished with numerous sketches from the author's pencil, and is an interesting and instructive accession to our country's history.
5.-Plain Sermons. By Contributors to the "Tracts for the Times." In two volumes. New-York: J. & H. G. Langley. 1841. pp. 346, 350.
These volumes are a reprint of a London work, whose prefatory "Advertisement" is dated, "OXFORD, The Feast of the Circumcision, 1839." They are accompanied with a Note by Bishop Onderdonk of New-York, recommending them as "admirably adapted to the conveying of religious instruction on the sound principles of the gospel," and authorizing "the puplic reading of them" by lay-readers within his diocese. The writer of the Oxford "Advertisement" remarks that "the kind of characters which the writers of the Tracts for the Times' have wished to form" is best exemplified by such persons, as, "by habitual purity of heart and serenity of temper, give proof of their deep veneration for sacraments and sacramental ordinances ;" and adds: "To carry out this design more fully, it has been thought well to publish, from time to time, in connection with the Tracts,' a few' Plain Sermons,' in order to show that the subjects treated of in the 'Tracts' were not set forth as mere parts of ideal systems, or as themes for disputation," etc., "but are rather urged as truths of immediate and essential importance, bearing more or less directly on our every day behavior."
With this design we have in these volumes seventy-two short sermons. We have read a number of them, and have much less objection to the sermons themselves than to the design which is thus formally announced. Our readers are aware that we deprecate the peculiar though sometimes half concealed doctrines of the "Tracts for the Times," and their
tendency to substitute a veneration of external forms and observances for internal spiritual graces. It is, however, interesting to observe that their zeal in support of their peculiar views has not entirely choked the word, and rendered it wholly unfruitful even in the writers of the "Tracts." When they turn to the discussion of the ordinary topics of Christian duty and experience, they show that personal piety and serious religion may exist irrespective of the characteristic doctrines of the "Tracts;" and we cannot but suspect a concealed insincerity in the writers, when they profess to regard these independent discussions as belonging to the same system with the peculiarities referred to. To us most of these sermons appear to stand aloof from all connection with the Tracts, excepting that they are the productions of some of the same writers. They are mostly on the elementary topics of personal piety and individual Christian duties and privileges, such as self-examination, religious peace, value of time, private prayer, God an impartial judge, etc etc. Their personal appeals are urged in the language of faithfulness, and they are more direct and pungent, in this respect, than most modern English preaching which has fallen under our notice. They are written with great good taste and purity of style, and their principal deficiency, in comparison with the best sermons of our own preachers, is a lack of cogent argument, and of bold and discriminating views of the fundamental doctrines of the gospel. Some of the sermons, however, assert the apostolical succession of the English bishops, and say: "If this be denied us, we are nothing better than usurpers, self-appointed ministers," From claims of this sort, other denominations are of course dissenters; and while we would cheerfully recommend most of these sermons as unexceptionable and in some respects excellent, the considerations above named stand in the way of our unqualified approbation.
6.—An Introduction to the Greek Language; containing an outline of the Grammar, with appropriate Exercises for the use of Schools and private Learners. By Asahel C. Kendrick, Prof. of the Greek Language and Literature in the Hamilton Literary and Theological Institution. Utica: Bennett, Backus and Hawley. New-York: Dayton & Saxton. Boston: Gould, Kendall & Lincoln. Philadelphia: A. S. Barnes & Co. Rochester: Stanwood & Co. 1841. pp. 192.
Prof. Kendrick has been for some time a successful teacher of Greek in the Hamilton Literary and Theological Institution of
this state. His experience in this employment has led him to feel the need of a book, which shall gradually unfold to his pupils and to others the peculiarities of this language, more especially as they have been developed by Thiersch, Buttmann, Kühner and others. The plan of the work is to exhibit, clearly and succinctly, the principles of the grammar, in connection with numerous examples for the practice of the learner. These are to be successively mastered before the subsequent parts of the book are taken up. "If the author may be permitted to advert to his own experience as a teacher in Greek, he would express the conviction that the secret of success is to go slowly over the elements, and attend to only one thing at a time. To dwell on each topic until the pupil has perfectly mastered it, is the way to make his acquisitions profitable, and his subsequent progress easy, rapid and delightful." With an occasional exception, the plan of Prof. Kendrick has been judiciously executed; in some parts of his work he has been particularly happy. His aim is to make thorough scholars; and this Introduction, we doubt not, will contribute essentially to the fulfilment of this praiseworthy intention.
7.-Elementary Geology. By Edward Hitchcock, LL. D., Prof.
of Chemistry and Natural History in Amherst College;
In our No. for Oct. 1840, we recommended this work as admirably adapted to the use of classes in colleges, and other seminaries of learning; and also as well suited to the general reader, who is destitute of the requisite facilities for studying the numerous and extended treatises on geology. We did not anticipate, however, that a second edition would be called for and issued within a single year. But such is the fact; and this of itself is gratifying evidence of its merit. It has secured the approbation, moreover, of those who are best qualified to judge of its worth,-among them Profs. Silliman of Yale College, Webster of Harvard University, Rogers of the University of Pennsylvania, Bailey of the Military Academy at West Point, Adams of Middlebury College. The Introductory Notice of Dr. J. Pye Smith is highly commendatory.
The author has endeavored to adapt this edition to the advancing state of geology. The most important addition relates to the subject of Glaciers and Glacial Action, which is now excit
ing so much interest in Europe. Prof. Hitchcock has availed himself of the recent discoveries of Agassiz, Buckland and Lyell, particularly of the Etudes sur Glaciers by Agassiz. About seventeen pages have been added to the present volume.
8.-America, Historical, Statistic and Descriptive. By J. S. Buckingham, Esq. In two volumes. New-York:
Harper & Brothers. 1841. pp. 514, 516.
The above is the imprint on the title pages of the two volumes before us. The lettering of the cover is Buckingham's Travels in America. Having read the work with some care, we rather prefer the latter as the more appropriate title. It contains, it is true, a great variety of "historical, statistic and descriptive" matter, and something, almost, de omnibus rebus. But the author has made himself and his performances the subject of quite too much of his narration; while his travels, the heralding of his name from place to place, and the popular plaudits which attended his lectures and public addresses form the only connecting links between his successive accounts of the cities, towns and states through which he passed, and of the scenes, manners, usages and institutions which he des cribes.
In reading a book of travels we are always pleased to find the narrative so conducted as to make us, as far as may be, the travelling companions of the author, seeing things in the order in which he saw them, and sympathizing with him in his vicissitudes. But when he becomes himself the hero of his own story, and magnifies every incident, and honors every person and institution just in proportion as they serve to give prominence to his own exploits, we are disgusted. Such we confess has been the effect, on our own mind, of this marked characteristic of the work before us. The author devotes a disproportionate space to these self-applauding descriptions, and is so much absorbed in them that he seems almost to have forgotten that there was any thing else great and good in the country, excepting those institutions and efforts, (and these were often the less prominent and influential,) in whose public proceedings he was himself invited to take part. The examples of this egotistic propensity are numerous and constantly recurring throughout the work. We give the following as specimens, Vol. I. pp. 187, etc. He says, a very
splendid entertainment, called a Temperance Festival," was 66 got up in honor of my arrival in Philadelphia," etc.—was "avowedly held to do honor to myself," etc.; and then quotes
from the newspaper accounts of it: "Mr. Buckingham addressed the audience in a strain of surpassing eloquence," etc.; "Mr. Buckingham, the celebrated lecturer, addressed the company," etc. "As a speaker, he possesses remarkable ease, fluency and readiness, combined with a graceful, unaffected manner," etc.; "Mr. Buckingham concluded his most eloquent, diversified, powerful and convincing address," etc., Now however quotations like these, made by a writer in his own praise, may accord with the taste of British readers, to us they are intolerable. The wisdom of Solomon has enjoined it as a duty, and all the principles of correct taste, as well as of Christian humility, confirm the requisition: "Let another man praise thee, and not thine own mouth; a stranger, and not thine own lips."
There is another prominent characteristic of this work, which we feel constrained to name in terms of decided disapprobation and reproof. It is the inaccuracy of many of its statements, amounting in some instances, apparently, to an entire recklessness of the precise truth. And this is the more censurable, because the author claims to have enjoyed "special privileges" and advantages for acquiring "extensive and accurate information on all the subjects of his work. He also boldly admits, that by thus commending his work to the confidence of his readers, in respect to the accuracy of its information, he has "increased the weight of" his "responsibility to public opinion for its execution." And yet in the face of these claims which are urged upon our attention, the work contains so many statements, which are palpably wrong or incomplete, that they destroy our confidence in the veracity of the whole, and we cannot appeal to it as an undoubted authority on any of the numerous subjects of which it treats. We regret the necessity of making these remarks, and we assure our readers they are the result of no unkind feelings towards Mr. Buckingham. He has ever appeared to us to be an amiable man, and our impressions are confirmed by the perusal of the present work. He is on the right side in respect to most of the great questions of morals, and of religious and political liberty. He is the friend of temperance, of missions, and of the universal diffusion of knowledge and religion. He is also a friend and an admirer of our free institutions. He writes concerning America without the appearance of any unfriendly feelings. He is as ready to praise as to censure; and we can attribute the inaccuracy of his accounts of men and things in this country to nothing worse than, perhaps, an excess of vanity, which leads him unduly to magnify every thing