« PreviousContinue »
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 and 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," etc. 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 out
line 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 : Stan
wood & 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
of Chemistry and Natural History in Amherst College ;
J. S. & C. Adams. 1841. pp. 346. 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 exciting 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, Esg. In two volumes. New-York:
Harper & Brothers. 1841. pp. 514, 516. The above is the imprint on the titlepages 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 describes.
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.
a very splendid entertainment, called a Temperance Festival,” was
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., 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 with which he can associate his own name, and the long indulgence of a habit of speaking and writing without reflection.
But our readers will require of us some further evidence that our censure is well deserved. Take, then, the author's account of “the scale of remuneration to all classes of the legal profession” in New-York, which he says “is liberal without being absurdly extravagant or profuse. The younger members who have any practice at all as attorneys, readily make an income of 3,000 dollars, or from £600 to £700 a year, rising from this minimum to as much as 10,000 dollars, or about £2,000 sterling, a year. The smallest fee of a barrister of any standing, and in almost any cause, is 100 dollars, or about £20. The greatest fee to the most distinguished bar. rister in any regular cause tried in the city courts is 5,000 dollars, or about £1,000. But when a special cause of impo tance arises, requiring great skill and considerable application, especially if such cause has to be tried at a distance from the residence of the barrister, and he be a person of the first eminence, it is said, (and one of the profession was my informant,) that as large a sum as 25,000 dollars, or £5,000 have been paid'; but this was admitted to be a very rare and unusual occurrence. The judges have fixed salaries, varying from 1,600 dollars for the youngest to 3,000 dollars to the oldest, including the Chancellor and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court respectively." Who, before this, ever heard that the salaries of our judges were fixed on a scale varying with their respective ages? And who, that knows any thing of the pleasure with which our lawyers receive half the amounts above stated for their services, does not perceive that our author has given them at least two for one? And yet his statement is made in figures, with all the parade of accuracy, reducing dollars to pounds, as if it were a veritable account of the matter.
Again (Vol. I. page 139), in his accountof the great effort lately made to increase and improve the Common Schools of New York, he names Mr. John Orville Taylor as having “taken the most active and practical part in this valuable labor," and, as an evidence of his qualifications for the task, he states that Mr. Taylor fills " a Professorship of the Science of Education in the New York University.” But the name of that gentleman has never appeared on the catalogues of the University, and the public possess none of the ordinary evidences of his connection with it. Our author also tells us of “a monthly periodical” commenced by Mr. Taylor in 1836, “admirably conducted," etc., of which, he says "the circulation is immense, approaching to 50,000 monthly;" and adds (p. SECOND SERIES, VOL. VI. NO. II.