« PreviousContinue »
mean, primarily, the ridges of mountains, next the rivers with their courses, and the slope of the land, and then the seas, gulfs, and oceans. We believe it would be productive of great advantage, if maps or a globe were exhibited to the pupil, without a name of a country or a town, but showing the earth, as it exists, independent of social divisions. This branch of geography, which appears to us as a necessary preliminary to the easy and successful study of the political divisions, is capable of being much more simplified, than it has yet been done in our elementary works. To those, who are desirous of seeing the subject treated in a philosophical manner, by a scholar of eminent learning and unwearied industry, may be recommended the Physical Geography of Professor Charles Ritter of the royal military school at Berlin, as a work full of original and trustworthy researches and views, calculated to excite and to gratify curiosity, and as the most elaborate and careful production on the department of knowledge to which it belongs.
Mr Worcester's geography appears to us a most excellent manual. It is concise, well arranged, free from redundancies and repetitions, and contains exactly what it should, a brief outline of the natural and political characteristics of each country. We could have wished to see a general sketch of the natural features and divisions of the earth included in the introductory matter, but are not disposed to question the propriety of the author's judgment in omitting it. The tabular views are of great value, for they assist in forming the habit of comparison, and are also of advantage to the memory, by associating many similar facts in classes. A very concise abridgment of ancient geography is annexed, and this is peculiarly serviceable to those, who are afterwards to be introduced to history, while it can be omitted by such as have no interest in antiquity.
We might be charged, perhaps, with want of discrimination, were we to speak so decidedly in favor of the 'Sketches.' A work like this, embracing so many topics, must in the nature of things possess different degrees of merit in its different parts. It may be good as a whole, and imperfect in some of its particulars, and in this light we regard the present work. All that relates to natural curiosities, the descriptions of remarkable monuments and works of art, rivers, mountains, lakes, and the striking geographical features of the earth, is highly important and valuable, and well adapted to the instruction of the class of pupils for whom the work is designed. But we have less confidence in those parts, which speak of the manners, customs, and habits of civilised and uncivilised nations. Where manners and general character are in their great outlines so similar, as they are in all nations, which possess European culture, it is but promoting a superficial acquaintance with them to bestow general censure and praise, to give pictures of
Italians, and Frenchmen, and Englishmen, and Germans, as if they did not all dress very much in the same way, and look very much alike. Little information is communicated about the English, when they are spoken of as reserved, or of the Italian, when he is called licentious and perfidious.
We object, therefore, to some of the chapters, which are entitled 'Inhabitants, Manners, and Customs.' We see no reason for putting in school books, that the Canadians sometimes boil water in a frying pan, [vol. I. p. 41.] or that the sovereign people of these New England States do, in the large towns, breakfast on bread and butter, [p. 67,] and that the ladies are characterised by sweetness and gentleness, blended with sprightly energy.' This is no doubt very true, but hardly suited for the edification of boys at school. When it is said, moreover, that among the Germans, the lover scarcely ever approaches the object of his affection but with a pipe in his mouth,' the ludicrous is carried too far. The account of the French would seem to have been copied from some prejudiced writer. They are characterised as 6 a gay, lively, volatile people; more influenced by sentiment and passion than by sedate judgment; impelled by the ideas of the moment, without regard to the probable conse quences; generally destitute of fixed principles of morality and virtue; floating between superstition and infidelity; and exhibiting amidst the most temperate habits in ordinary life, a warmth and vehemence, at which cool observers are surprised and disgusted.' [vol. II. pp. 11, 12.] This mode of describing the character of a whole nation at a dash is very objectionable, for although it may communicate some accurate impressions, it scatters censure and reproach with a less discriminative hand than strict justice would seem to require.
But notwithstanding these defects, many of which, perhaps, it would not be easy to avoid in a work necessarily founded on the authority of others, we consider the 'Sketches' well suited to give a large fund of entertainment and information to the youthful mind.
4.-Prose by a Poet. 2 vols. 12mo. Philadelphia. Abraham Small. 1824.
THESE little volumes are understood to have been written by Montgomery, and they partake strongly of the spirit and manner, which characterise the poetical compositions of their amiable author. They display the same depth of feeling and delicacy of sentiment, the same sprightliness of fancy and felicity of thought, and the same mellowed tone of quiet sadness, which communicate
a charm to his other writings. The author's mind is of a peculiar cast, but it is the mind of a poet, and of one who has learned
'To look on nature-hearing oftentimes
The still, sad music of humanity,
Nor harsh nor grating, though of ample power
To chasten and subdue;'
a mind, which has known the 'joy of elevated thoughts,' and felt
'A sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
And the blue sky, and the mind of man,
A motion and a spirit that impels
All thinking things, all objects of all thought,
The style, manner, and subjects of the volumes before us fully illustrate the title. Several of the pieces are wrought up with happy flights of poetical conception, sometimes perhaps a little too fantastical, yet always sprightly and well sustained. We would name the Life of a Flower,' and the Moon and the Stars,' as among what we deem the author's most successful efforts, and as being marked with the traits here mentioned. On some occasions he is playful and witty, as in his Journal at Scarborough;' and we suppose he meant to be so in Pen, Ink, and Paper,' which is among the best of the pieces. He has two or three specimens of poetry in rhyme and measure, but these will have few admirers compared with some of the others, which are clothed in the dress of a graceful, easy, simple, and perspicuous prose.
5.-A New General Atlas, comprising a complete Set of Maps representing the general Divisions of the Globe; together with the several Empires, Kingdoms, and States of the World; compiled from the latest Authorities, and corrected by the most recent Discoveries. Philadelphia. Anthony Finley. 1824.
THE number of elegant maps and atlases, which have come from the press within a short time in the United States, is a most flattering proof of the increased attention of the community to the important study of geography, and of the liberal enterprise and zeal of our publishers and artists. The present work is very much on the plan of Mr Lucas's splendid Cabinet Atlas, which we noticed in our last number. It contains sixty maps, about half of which are devoted to the American continent, and the remainder to other
parts of the world, chiefly to Europe. Considerable care seems to have been taken to delineate with accuracy the features of the United States, and to supply the deficiencies of previous works as far as the means of knowledge would allow. There is a table of the comparative heights of mountains, and another of the lengths of rivers; and the collection as a whole is sufficiently extensive and minute to serve the purposes of general reference. The engraving is done almost uniformly with remarkable distinctness, and the face of the maps is frequently beautiful, not overloaded with a confusion of useless names, nor disfigured with imaginary mountains and crooked streams. The marks of taste and careful execution, which are seen in a large proportion of the maps recently published, are worthy of the highest commendation.
6-Hobomok, a Tale of Early Times. By an American. pp. 128. 12mo. Cummings, Hilliard & Co. Boston. 1824.
This tale displays considerable talent, which we hope will be again called into exercise. It embraces a period soon after the settlement of New England, and the events of the story take place chiefly in Salem and Plymouth. The principal characters, some of which are historical, as Governor Endicott, Lady Arabella Johnson and her husband, are generally very well conceived and supported; the sketches of society and manners are drawn with a faithful hand; the incidents are detailed with a truth and spirit, which give animation and interest to the story. The author has an eye for the beautiful and sublime of external nature, and a heart for the tender and generous traits of the human character.
In many respects this little work is calculated deeply to engage the feelings, and in some parts it possesses considerable pathos. We regard it, however, rather as an earnest of what the author can do, than as a performance from which he can promise himself much reputation. With all its merits it has defects, which prevent it from leaving, upon the whole, a favorable or a pleasing impression. We think it a fault in the plan of so short a work, that it introduces so many characters and incidents not immediately connected with the main object; they do not sufficiently bear upon that which is the principal business of the piece; they do not contribute to advance the action, but rather divert the mind, and weaken the interest by multiplying the objects of the attention. It spreads over too wide a field; it consumes, if we may use such an expression, too much historical material for a tale of this kind. We are persuaded the author of Hobomok would have succeeded better had he made it entirely a work of fancy, so far as characters and inci
dents are concerned, and merely attempted to illustrate the circumstances, situation, and manners of our forefathers and the aborigines, and the scenery of our country. As it is, there is a want of unity, which prevents a sustained and continued interest. There is a great number of particular passages, which by themselves have every requisite of a fine novel, but they fail as parts of a whole. In general, we believe, it will be found that the most interesting narrations are those, which are minute in the detail of events and conversation, and which embrace but a small portion of time; those in which all the circumstances cluster around a few characters, producing a single and concentrated interest.
To our minds there is a very considerable objection to the catastrophe of this story. A high born and delicate female, on the supposed death of her lover, has, in a fit of insane despondency, offered herself as the wife of an Indian chief, and has become such, according to the customs of his nation. She lives with him three years, and an infant semisavage is the offspring of the union. At the end of that time, her white lover returns; her copper one with great magnanimity relinquishes her and departs, and she is married to the former. Now this is a train of events not only unnatural, but revolting, we conceive, to every feeling of delicacy in man or
We may appear perhaps to have found more to blame than praise in this tale; we do not wish to leave this impression. Its excellencies outweigh its faults. We have been more particular in speaking of the latter, because we hope to hear again from the author, and feel assured that they are only the results of inexperience in this kind of writing; that the author may amend them and at the same time retain all the other qualifications for a good writer, which are here exhibited.
We regret that the article, which we have before promised, on Mr Phillips' work on the Law of Insurance, was not received in time for the present number.