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ART. VI. - LITERARY NOTICES AND MISCELLANIES.
1.- The Library of American Biography. Conducted by JARED
SPARKS. Second Series, Vol. II. Boston: Little & Brown. 1844. 16mo. pp. 405.
This volume contains the Life of James Otis, by Francis Bowen, and the Life of James Oglethorpe, the founder of Georgia, by William B. O. Peabody. Neither can pretend to the rank of biography. Mr. Peabody has, however, given us a very interesting and chastely written essay on the life of General Ogleihorpe, the Wesleys, and the first settlement of Georgia, which contains a good deal of valuable information, though we can hardly say much that sheds any new light either on American history, or American biography. Still, it is a pleasant book, and not without utility.
Mr. Bowen's Life of James Otis is precisely what we should expect from the author, a writer who makes unbounded pretensions, assumes a lofty air of wisdom, and speaks in a dogmatic, even oracular, tone; but whose utterances usually, when not perversions of the truth, or stolen from others, turn out to be pompous nothings. Of all our writers whom one feels obliged to notice, he is to us the most disagreeable. He is insufferable. We have a volume of his Philosophical Essays now lying before us, which professes to discuss some of the most important questions in philosophy, but which, while it condemns all writers but Francis Bowen, does not contain any positive principle or doctrine to which its author can be fairly said to commit himself. This Life of James Otis, save so far as taken from the larger Life by Mr. Tudor, is full of inaccuracies. He overrates the influence of Mr. Otis, and underrates that of Samuel Adams. Mr. Otis was, no doubt, a zealous patriot; but the great man of the American Revolution, in Massachusetts, was Samuel Adams. Mr. Bowen is wrong, also, in pretending that the right of the parliament of Great Britain to legislate for the colonies was generally admitted. The colonists acknowledged themselves subject to the crown of Great Britain, but not to the parliament; and it was the attempt of the parliament to exercise jurisdiction over them, that led to the controversy which resulted in the independence of the colonies. Hence, when parliament, on repealing the offensive acts, asserted its right “ to bind the colonies in all cases whatsoever," the colonists felt that the cause of their complaint was not removed. They contended, that, though they owed allegiance to the crown, they were subject to no legislative authority but that of their own provincial assemblies. Mr. Bowen has blundered on this subject in his usual confident and dogmatic manner. Still, he possesses considerable ability, and, so far as the choice of words and the mechanism of sentences are concerned, is, no doubt, worthy of the reputation he has acquired with the small coterie to which he belongs, to which he will remain faithful in life and in death, and beyond the bosom of wbich bis celebrity is not likely to extend.
2. — Summer on the Lakes, in 1843. By S. M. FULLER. Boston :
Little & Brown. 1844. 12mo. pp. 256.
The publishers tell us that this book has bad a very respectable sale, which we are glad to learn, for the writer's sake. Miss Fuller is a woman of more than ordinary abilities, and, we are told, of rare attainments. She is said to possess remarkable conversational powers, and her conversations, which she has been in the habit of holding, we believe, as a nieans of meeting her expenses, are represented by her friends to be in the highest degree brilliant, instructive, and inspiring. This we can partly believe, thongh we have never had the honor of listening to her in her happiest moments. Her writings we do not like. We dislike them exceedingly. They are sent out in a slipshod style, and have a certain toss of the head about them which offends us. Miss Fuller seerns to us to be wholly deficient in a pure, correct taste, and especially in that tidiness we always look for in woman. Then, we detest her doctrines. We know nothing more abominable. She is a heathen priestess, though of what god or goddess we will not pretend to say. She is German, heart and soul, save so far as Germany may retain traditionally somewhat of Christianity. We believe no person has appeared among us whose conversation and writings have done more to corrupt the minds and hearts of our Boston community. For religion she substitutes Art; for the Divinity who has made us, and whom we should worship, she would give us merely the Beautiful; and for the stern morality of the Gospel, such principles as we may collect from the Wahlverwandtschaften, and Goethe's Correspondence with a Child. She is, in fact, the high-priestess of American Transcendentalisın, and, happily, ministers bow at an almost deserted fane.
We admit that she has read much and variously; but her notions are crude, and the materials she has collected lie fermenting in her intellectual stomach, and generate all manner of strange and diseased fancies. She is ill at ease. She has no quiet, no repose. She has no faith, no hope. She now reminds us of the old heathen Euripides, now of the modern skeptic, Byron, and finally, of the cold indifferentism of Goethe dashed on the warm woman's heart of Bettina Brentano. We see in her a melancholy instance of the fate which awaits a gifted woman in an age of infidelity. All she needs, to be the ornament of her sex, and a crown of blessing to her country, to be at peace with herself and the world, is the firm, oldfashioned Catholic faith in the Gospel. Her soul would then burst its fetters, all her powers would find free scope, and her heart the rest after which it yearns.
The book before us is characteristic. It is marked by flashes of a rare genius, by uncommon and versatile powers, by sentiments at times almost devout; but after all it is a sad book, and one which we dare not commend. Alas! it is melancholy to contemplate the noble victims sacrificed to the Moloch, Doubt; still more sad, when the sacrifice is made by priests aping the forms of Faith, and the vestments of Piety! God grant the ages of Faith may return, that our sons and daughters may return and come to Zion, obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing flee away!
3. – Remarks on the Seventh Annual Report of the Hon. Horace
Mann, Secretary of the Board of Education. Boston: Little & Brown. 1844. 8vo.
144. We have no room, at present, to remark on the subject introduced by this pamphlet; but we hope to be able to discuss it at length in our number for January next. Whether we shall agree or not with the Boston Teachers, we are free to say that we have no sympathy with the views of Mr. Secretary Mann. We regard his whole theory of education as founded in error, and we cannot but believe that all attempts to reduce it to practice are opposed to the cause of genuine education. Mr. Mann knows nothing of the pbilosophy of education, for he knows nothing of the philosophy of human nature, and nothing of Christian morals and theology. His theory is derived from German quacks, and can only rear up a generation of infidels. Our common-school system needs an entire reform, and to be organized on other principles, and after another model. It does little or no good as it now is; or, at least, the evil which it occasions goes far to overbalance the good it effects. The growing immorality of the times, and particularly of New England, and of Boston even, in which filthy and corrupting publications find a readier sale and more greedy readers than in any other part of the Union, should admonish us that something is wrong in our system of education.
4. — Irish Girl: and other Poems. By Sarah Ellis. Author of
“Women of England,” « Poetry of Life," &c. New-York: James Langley. 1844. 16mo. pp. 263.
5. -- The Brother and Sister, and other Tales. By Sarah Ellis.
Author of " Women of England,” “ Poetry of Life,” &c. NewYork : James Langley. 1844. 18mo. pp. 216.
6. — The Poetical Works of Winthrop Mackworth Praed. Now
first collected, by Rufus W. GRISWOLD. New-York : Henry G. Langley. 1844. 16mo. pp. 287.
CLOSE OF THE VOLUME.
In bringing the first volume of our Review to a close, we have but little to say, except to express our gratitude to the public for the generous encouragement they have extended to our humble but well meant labors. Our expectations have been more than realized, and the edition we printed has been pretty much all taken up. Our thanks are due to the newspaper press, which has spoken of us generally in terms of kindness and respect. To the personal friends who have interested themselves in our work, and labored for our success, we owe more than we can express. May they never have cause to regret the friendly offices in which they have abounded.
We have nothing in particular to promise for the future. We are encouraged to go on with our publication, and its general character hereafter may be inferred from what it has thus far been. Doubtless, as we pursue our own investigations, we may see cause to modify our views on various subordinate matters; but our general theological, moral, and political theories must be looked upon as fixed. When we see cause, if we ever shall see cause, to change them, we shall throw up our Review, or suffer it to pass into other hands. We trust, however, that that time will not come. After years of wandering, doubt, and perplexity, we have found a restingplace, and the heart the repose it has sought. What we embrace as truth we shall continue to proclaim with our old freedom, and without conferring “with flesh and blood,” — without stopping to ask whether it will be acceptable to the great majority of our country, men or not. The position we occupy cannot now be mistaken, and we need say nothing in regard to it. Our philosophical articles in this volume define our philosophical position ; our theological essays, especially our more recent ones, tell also where we stand, and hope always to stand, in the religious world. The political articles we have published speak for themselves, and are a pledge of our future course. We shall continue to discourse on all topics of general interest, according to our ability, inclination, and opportunity; holding ourselves free, saving our obligation to maintain the orthodox faith, to follow the bent or the humor of our own mind in the selection of topics and the manner of treating them. We hope we have done nothing this year to forfeit the good-will the public had for us last January. We hope we have faithfully redeemed the obligations we then entered into with the public, and that we are free to count on a continuance of its favor. We shall study to deserve popular favor, by doing nothing to court it; to deserve well of our country, by laboring, so far as a man may venture to say so, with an eye single to the glory of God, and the good of man individually and socially. With these remarks, we close this volume, hoping, through God's merciful providence, to be able to greet all our old readers, on the first of next January, with “ a happy new year.”