Page images
PDF
EPUB

ted with engravings is that of Utalan, which, according to Spanish historians, was once the most populous city of the kingdom of Guatimala. The monuments here remaining are scarcely less interesting than those of Copan. At other places our travellers describe pyramidal structures of more than a hundred feet at the base, curiously wrought vessels, images and sacrificial altars, which are also accurately engraved. But we hasten to the only remaining ruin which we have space to notice. It is a city, the existence of which was entirely unknown until 1750, when it is said to have been discovered by some wandering Spaniards. It is not known by what name it was called, and the only appellation now given to it is Pelanque. It is in the province of Chiapas, and its ruins are spread over an extent of from eighteen to twenty-four miles. An account of these ruins, taken under a commission from the Spanish government in 1807, was published in Paris, in 1834, in a splendid and costly work illustrated with numerous engra. vings. But our author claims for Mr. Catherwood's drawings a decided preference as to accuracy, over the plates contained in the above work, and adds :—“As to the most of the places visited by us, the reader will find no materials whatever except those furnished in these pages.”

Any attempt here to describe the numerous monuments and immense structures at Pelanque would far exceed our limits. Many of them are very unlike those at Copan, and their design and origin are equally mysterious and wonderful. The hieroglyphics, however, are the same, indicating that this country was once inhabited by a race speaking the same language, or at least having the same written characters. But whence came they ? From what tribe or lineage of the Old world were they broken off? Is not their history written upon these monuments? And will not some Champollion decipher and read it to the nations ?

We are overwhelmed with the wonders disclosed in these volumes; and cannot but indulge the pleasing hope that they will be found to contain sources of veritable history concerning the antiquities of our country. But while we readily award to our author the credit of a discoverer, in some parts of his work, we are persuaded, with him, that there are yet other architectural remains embosomed in the forests of that country, hereafter to be discovered.

A Padre assured him of the existence of a city in the province of Vera Paz, deserted and desolate, and almost as perfect as when evacuated by its original occupants. He was also told of another city now occupied by its aboriginal inhabitants in the midst of a tribe of Indians south of Chiapas, who have never yielded to the Spanish arms, and over which the government of Central America attempts no control. These, if they exist, as Mr. S. believes they do, will be found by some future traveller, who, as our author remarks,“ will experience sensations which seldom fall to the lot of man." In the mean time we commend the present work to our readers, as an admirable introduction to the study of American antiquities. The printing, as well as the engravings, is executed in superior style, and it is in all respects a splendid result of individual enterprise, which will confer honor both upon the author and his coụntry.

9.~Introduction to the Literature of Europe in the Fifteenth,

Sixteenth and Seventeenth centuries : by Henry Hallam, F. R. A. S., Corresponding Member of the Academy of Moral and Political Sciences in the French Institute. In two Vol. umes, large 8vo. New-York: Harper and Brothers. 1841. pp. 416, 462.

Hallam's “View of the state of Europe during the Middle Ages” was published by the Messrs. Harpers, in 1837. About the same time the first volume of the work, whose title is given above, appeared in London, and was noticed by us in connection with Harpers' edition of the “Middle Ages," in the Repository for January, 1838. The remaining three volumes of the London edition were published in 1839, and an able and thorough review of the whole, selected from the British and Foreign Review, will be found in the American Eclectic for the present month,-No.IV,—to be concluded in the No. for September next. The American edition now before us embraces the four volumes in two, which are executed in a manner combining economy with good taste and durability; the size of the type and page, and the style of binding being the same as those of the “ Middle Ages,” by the same publishers.

Those who have read the former work of Mr. Hallam have cherished high expectations in respect to this new and wel. come accession to critical literature. These expectations, we are now confident, will be fully answered and gratified by the appearance of the work which is the subject of our present notice. It embraces a period of rich and varied materials of literary history, and which are of special importance on account of their bearings and traceable influences upon the present state of knowledge and civilization in the nations of Europe, and, of course, among ourselves. It is within the

SECOND SERIES, VOL. VI. NO. I.

21

three centuries here explored that we are to look for the beginnings of many of the steps which have since marked the progress of improvement in some nations, and of occasional or temporary decline in others, and for many of those causes, whose results are still in the process of development. The history of this period is naturally divided from that of the Middle Ages, by the invasion of Naples by Charles VIII, in the fifteenth century. This, says our author, “ was the event that first engaged the principal states of Europe in relations of alliance or hostility, which may be deduced to the present day, and is the point at which every man who traces backward its political history will be obliged to pause." (Pref. Mid. Ages, p. x.) Starting from this point, Mr. Hallam proceeds with his history, taking up in order, and with distinct conceptions of their influences upon each other, the several nations of Europe, and tracing, with the confidence of one deeply learned in his subject, the several departments of their literature.

To the literature of this period, as a whole, nothing like justice had before been attempted to be done in our language. On some sections of it, learned and elaborate works had been written,—the “Bibliotheca Universalis,” by Gesner, the “ Bibliotheca Selecta,” by Possevin, the “Prodromus Historiæ Literariæ,” by Lambecius, Morhof's “Polyhistor,” etc. etc. These were all examined together with many later works, on parts of the numerous topics discussed by our author. On the whole a surprising amount of learning is made tributary to the elucidation of the progress of the human mind during the three centuries to whose literature we are introduced in these centuries; and the spirit of the author,—though sometimes, as we think, in his anxiety to avoid the appearance of a partisan bias, he falls into the opposite extreme, and does great injustice to such men as Luther and others, whose partisanship was bold in defence of the truth,-is nevertheless in general candid, and his judgment, worthy of confidence. An analysis of a work embracing so great a variety of topics would occupy more space than we can allot to this notice, and would be of little use, as we doubt not that all of our readers, who can, will procure and read the work.

10.-An Argument for the Perpetuity of the Sabbath. By Rev.

A. A. Phelps. Boston: D. S. King. 1841. pp. 164..

This Argument in defence of the Christian Sabbath was occasioned be the discussions of the “ Church, Ministry and Sabbath Convention," held in Boston on the 18th of Nov. 1840.

Having participated in those discussions, the author was requested to write out and publish his remarks. This he has done, introducing, however, new trains of thought, and expanding others at which he merely glanced in the hurry of debate. His main purpose has been to establish two propositions: 1, the Sabbath is coeval with our race; 2, the substitution of the first day of the week for the seventh is divinely authorized. The argument is particularly adapted to meet the more recent objections which have been brought against this insti. tution. It is an ingenious and successful vindication of the truth.

11.—Godly Meditations upon the Most Holy Sacrament of the

Lord's Supper. By Christopher Sutton, D. D., late Prebend of Westminster. With a Preface by J. H. Newman, B. D., Fellow of Oriel College, Oxford. New-York: D. Appleton,

& Co. 1841. pp. 335. 12.Disce Mori :-Learn to Die. By Christopher Sutton, D.D.,

late Prebend of Westminster. New-York: D. Appleton & Co. 1841. pp. 310.

Respecting the author of these volumes, very little is known. He is supposed to have been born about 1565. He entered Oxford University in 1582; in 1587, he was ordained and presented to the vicarage of Raneham, in the county of Essex; in 1588, he became rector of Caston, in Hampshire. In 1605, James I. had made him a prebendary of the Abbey Church of St. Peter's, Westminster, in consequence of his eloquence as a preacher. The only works which he published were his Disce Vivere, Disce Mori and Godly Meditations. These were all very popular in the 17th century. In 1677, the last of these had reached its thirteenth edition.

The two works whose titles we have given above are written in the genuine spirit of the epoch in which their author lived. With fewer defects of style than most writers of that period, he has something of their quaintness and much of their shrewdness. With less affluence of illustration and less splendor of imagery than Jeremy Taylor, he exhibits the same delightful spirit. The work on the Sacrament is practical and devotional. Its object is to assist the believer in directing his meditations before, during and after his approaches to this ordinance. Though somewhat diffuse and immethodical at times, it abounds in useful thought, and its serious perusal cannot fail to do good. The Disce Mori, in plan and execution, is similar to the Godly Meditations. Both volumes are

printed in that beautiful style of typography, which we had occasion to commend in our notice of Patrick's Hearts' Ease and Wilson's Sacra Privata.

13.-The Natural History of Society in the Barbarous and Cir

ilized State : An Essay towards discovering the Origin and Course of Human Improvement, by W. Cooke Taylor, Esq. LL. D. M. R. A. S. of Trinity College, Dublin. Vols. Ì, II. New-York: D. Appleton & Co. 1841. pp. 332, 328.

This work, we observe, has been favorably noticed in the English Reviews. We are glad to see it so soon issued by an American publisher. It embraces a pleasing variety of curious and interesting topics; and though it is not remarkable for the originality of its views, it exhibits evidences of a commendable extent of research, and embodies many philosophical considerations and conclusions respecting the numerous and diversified facts which are here brought together both in combination and contrast. The subjects discussed in these volumes are--Characteristics and Tendencies of Barbarism and Civilization,-Social Relations, Property, Personal Security, State of Nature,—War, Indigence,-Superstitious Customs,Varieties of Savage Life, its Arts,-Evidences of Lost Civilization, its Remains in North and South America, Scripture Account of its origin, described in the book of Job,-Egyptian Civilization, also Babylonian and Assyrian, Persian, Phæni. cian and Carthaginian, Grecian and Roman Civilization, Polytheism,-Christianity and its Influence on Civilization, the Overthrow of the Roman Empire, its Effects, Progress of Civilization during the Middle Ages,-Circumstances contri. buting to its advancement, etc. Some of these chapters we have read with interest, particularly those on lost civilization, in which the conclusions of the author, though published before the report of the discoveries of Messrs. Stevens and Catherwood in Central America, will be much strengthened by the remains of ancient art and greatness, which those enterprising travellers have brought to the consideration of the learned world. The chapters on the origin of civilization, as indicated in the Old Testament, and the influence of Christianity upon its increase and extension, are especially good. But we have no space to extend our remarks, and must close by commending the work to our readers, as well worthy of the beautiful style in which Mr. Appleton has brought it before the American public.

« PreviousContinue »