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Notices of Recent Publications.
guesses, which certainly cannot be due to a “supplement of grace,” since they are not worth having, or at least not essential to be had, by any method, We refer, for instance, to the fan. cies designed to account for the traditions in the first two chapters of Matthew; any other fancies being equally explanatory, provided the traditionary character of those chapters be first assumed. With respect to the bulk of the work, it is a very ably arranged generalization of the theories contained in the works of the modern development-school, - in the “ Vestiges of Creation,” for instance, - the gaps in these theories being adroitly supplied by guesses which harmonize with their texture, and which the theo. ries irresistibly suggest. It also contains a skilful foreshortening of the cosmogony of Swedenborg and Fourier, together with the two pivotal thoughts of the latter, — "attractions are proportional to destinies," and " the series distribute the harmonies.” An attentive reader of that spirited paper, “ The Harbinger," would be competent to construct the industrial and social revelations of Mr. Davis. And we are forced to say that the bulk of his “ Voice to Mankind ” has been preëxisting in our private library for some time. We except the speculations upon language, as philology has never been our study. Our simple conclusion is, that Mr. Davis has been a reader, whether any body ever saw him read or not. What is once lodged in the memory, even during an irregular and unpremeditated course of reading, may be felicitously reproduced in the clairvoyant state, which raises an ordinary capacity to the higher power manifested by more gifted organizations.
In the second place, the speculations advanced in such a book must fulfil the first condition of a revelation, - that it harmonize with, or that it be appreciable by, reason. But as most of these speculations are of a scientific character, science only can pronounce a definite judgment concerning them. Now the revelation is superfluous in either of the following cases,
if it repeat, or if it anticipate science; because in both of these cases science is adequate for the annunciation of her own truths, and in the latter case the revelation is useless, till science, that is, the inductive understanding, has had time and opportunity to indorse it. It will not do to say that we consider some parts of this book as irrational, because the answer is always ready, — so did the Jews consider Jesus the dupe of Beelzebub, and Paul full of new wine. But we are content to leave the book to satisfy the neces. sary conditions we have just announced.
Professor Bush, who is in the dilemma of believing in Swedenborg and in Davis also, is forced to ascribe the anti-Swedenbor. gian passages of the book to the instigation of the devil, who, it seems, alternated with the seraphim in the use of Davis. We
cannot refer to the same source the passages obnoxious to ourselves, because we do not believe in the existence of that personage. At least, we hope he does not exist, as was once wittily remarked, for his own sake. Professor Bush's method is a warning to all lovers of dogmatics; he first assumes what is orthodox, and then eliminates from the book what does not har. monize with that assumption, and traces its paternity to the Enemy of mankind in general, and of Swedenborg in particular. Every body must have his own private test of heresy ; but when heresies are so numerously different, it clothes the devil with too much importance to ascribe them all to him.
We do not like many passages of this book, but we cannot agree with many reviewers, who denounce it as being vindictive, anti.social, and destructive. The occasional sneers are not pleasant; neither do we believe that spirits sneer. Here and there the statement of a fact seems to be erroneous, which also mili. tates against the claim of the book to plenary suggestion. The main question of the theory of development awaits the gradual judgment that science may pronounce upon it. It is sufficient to say that facts do not yet substantiate the conclusions of the
Vestiges of Creation," a book that seems to have hinted the whole cosmogony of the “Revelations.” On the other hand, there is a great deal in the book that we admire, and have long admired in other connections. Neither do we reject the theory of attractive industry ; but we consider it to be the ripened form of guarantyism and of the Benefit Societies. Sometimes the style of the book is quite pleasant and effective, but it is generally too diffuse and tiresome in its repetitions. The main idea is skilfully sustained and developed, and this, together with rapidity of composition, is probably the chief benefit to be derived from the reproduction of thoughts in the clairvoyant state.
If it should turn out that Mr. Davis never read the books sug. gestive of his revelation, and never heard them accidentally or designedly made the subject of conversation, and if he did not
as is, after all, most likely — reproduce, by magnetic sym. pathy, the prevalent mental notions of those in communication with him, which is usually the case with these clairvoyant reve. lations, then we must believe that the brain is a galvanic battery, which, when charged, will organically reproduce precisely those theories of Development and of Association that are now dividing the scientific world. For the objections, made above, to the supplemental influx of these theories are to us insuperable. But we feel ourselves attracted into a domain too wide and fruitful for this brief notice.
Mr. Davis affirms, that in his normal state he is orthodox, and believes many of the things that he, or his demon, wilfully denies
Notices of Recent Publications.
in his abnormal state. All our remarks apply to Mr. Davis in his abnormal state ; therefore he cannot feel aggrieved at any thing we have suggested.
The Journals of Major Samuel Shaw, the First American Con
sul at Canton. With a Life of the Author. By Josiah Quincy. Boston: Crosby & Nichols. 1847. 8vo. pp. 360.
The Memoir included in this volume is composed almost entirely of the letters of Major Shaw to his parents, his brothers, and the Rev. Dr. Eliot of Boston. Mr. Quincy has introduced only such remarks as are necessary to connect the personal history of the author with the circumstances amidst which he lived. Major Shaw was one of the true patriots of our war of Independ. ence. He was a soldier then ; and if we had ever entertained a doubt whether an army could embrace men of the purest moral principle, of the gentlest feelings, and of a fervent Chris. tian piety, the perusal of this volume would have convinced us of the possibility of the fact. He was a native of Boston, born of a respectable family in the middle ranks of society. While looking forward to a peaceful life of industry and enterprise, and even before he had reached the year of his own legal freedom, he made a voluntary offer of his services in behalf of his country, at the very commencement of the war. He continued to serve through the whole protracted conflict, meeting all the harassing uncertainties which it involved, and bearing his full share of its severe experiences of poverty, suffering, and anxiety. He was a man of good intellectual powers, of most delicate purity of character, and of a noble soul. His letters bear testimony to his excellence ; the freshness of incident and the justice of senti. ment which present themselves as we read give them a great charm. His Journals, written while he was engaged in the peaceful enterprise of opening commercial relations between our young republic and the China seas, exhibit the judgment and prudence which we should expect to find united with his other qualities. The reader of this volume will discover in it new cause to admire and venerate the character of Washington. What a man he was! What a testimony does he offer to those who argue for a special Providence !
Mr. Quincy has performed his pleasant task with great delicacy and good judgment. The volume, in its mechanical execution, is one of the best which we have ever seen from the Amer. ican press. The whole expense of the publication is borne by Robert G. Shaw, Esq., nephew of Major Shaw, and the proceeds of its sale are a gift from him to the Boston Marine Society.
The Evangel of Love. Interpreted by Henry Sutton. Lon.
don. 1817. 12mo. Pp. 232.
This is a strange, mystic book. The author is a hater of forms, a despiser of authority; the Bible is to him a bundle of
old pamphlets”; he is a vegetable-eater, a coiner of new and marvellously uncouth words, evidently an ardent admirer of his own notions, a worshipper of his own dreams, yet withal a man of large sympathies, who has an eye for beauty, a lover of na. ture, one in whom there is something to like, whose discourse on high themes at times -- though long and far between charms us, while at others, and more frequently, his vain babble, bis wild and extravagant opinions, and his Babylonish dialect, leave us in doubt whether we ought raiher to censure his perverseness, or " believe him mad." His book is professedly pantheistic, and so, he tells us, “it is wrong to say a stone is inanimate, or a gas unintelligent.” Regarding the Bible as we have said, pronouncing it a “polytheistic book from first to last,” treating it with levity, sarcasm, and ridicule, he yet at times professes great respect for it; he “ loves” it, he says, he rates it “at a royal value," and he proceeds to interpret it in his whimsical way, applying to it a violence of allegory which might satisfy a Clement of Alexandria, an Origen, or a Swedenborg. Thus, in the account of the creation, which prefigures seven ages of the world, the heavens, he assures us with all imaginable seriousness, mean the “spiritual faculties”; the earth, “intellect," and the wa. ters, “peoples,” or “nations”; light is “ truth"; grass, herb, and tree, "philosophy, letters, and the arts,” the third day being the “Day of Beauty "; the greater light is the “Christian Church,” the cross being “the natural emblem of the sun," the lesser light — the “crescent being “ Mahometanism.” So the “meaning of the word, horse, is intellectual doctrine." Every man, we are told, discarding a “paper-and-ink Deity,” that is, the Deity of the Bible, must be “ his own priest, his own church, his own Delphi”; we can all be“ breathing Bibles,” if we will ; or we may go, he says, to “Emerson,” or “Shelley,” or “ James Greaves," all true “prophets,” he assures us, and among the greatest, by whose help we may get over the “Bible Shallows" and penetrate the “ Bible Deeps"; and more than that, — “ the whole universe” being “opened ” and “the past and the future bared” to the “ omniscient gaze" of such men. Among the cabalistic or euphonious words in which he delights are such as these : “ soulic,” “ bodysoulic,” “ psychesomeic," and “ bodilic.” From the better parts of his volume we could quote some pleasing passages, though they might, perhaps, justify the suspicion, that the writer, like some others, would substitute the
Notices of Recent Publications.
worship of beauty for reverence for the sterner principle of duty, and so make puny sentimentalists rather than whole-souled men and Christians. With all the pretension with which they are put forth, and all their boast of light and “inspiration,” we cannot think that this is the sort of books by which the world is to be regenerated. Something may be culled from them, no doubt, by those who have skill to separate the good from the evil, but we fear their poisonous flowers.
A Comprehensive Pronouncing and Explanatory Dictionary of
the English Language ; with Vocabularies of Classical, Scripture, and Modern Geographical Names. By Joseph E. WORCESTER. Revised and Enlarged, and made substantially an Abridgment of the Author's “Universal and Critical Dic. tionary." Boston: Jenks, Palmer, & Co. 1847. 12mo.
This work, as the author informs us in the preface, and as the title-page indicates, is substantially “ an epitome or abridgment” of the larger work, noticed with commendation by us in our number for November, 1846. It is adapted to the use of schools and academies, and also of families and individuals who may need “a small and cheap manual.” We have no hesitation in pronouncing it the best work of the kind now before the public. Attention has been given to the orthography, pronunciation, and meaning of words, and “numerous technical terms in the various arts and sciences are added. “ Some words which are obso. lete or antiquated, but which are found in books that are much read,” and some which are “local or provincial,” as well as “such words and phrases from foreign languages as are often met with in English books,” are given, but are so noted or discrim. inated as not to mislead. About 3000 Greek and Latin names have been added to those found in Walker's “ Key"; the vocabulary of modern geographical names, with their pronunciation, so useful and even necessary at the present day, has been enlarged, and the Scripture proper names, as well as the classical, the compiler tells us, have been " revised with much care.” In all its vocabularies, the volume contains “ upwards of 67,000 words." The type is clear and the notations distinct, and altogether this edition possesses a decided superiority over the for. mer, and should be the edition in future used in schools. Mr. Worcester's labors in the department of English lexicography deserve the thanks of all writers and readers of our language.