« PreviousContinue »
Dr Harris is entitled to the thanks of the public, for having brought within a reasonable compass the most valuable materials on the subjects of which he treats; for having arranged them in a convenient method; and, in general, for having arrived at his own conclusions, on the best evidence which the subjects admit.
In order fully to understand the Sacred Writings, a knowledge of whatever is local and peculiar becomes important. Not the least important, as contributing to the illustration of Scripture, is Natural History. The poetical books of the Hebrews, in particular, abound in lively comparisons, local allusions, and strong metaphors, drawn from material objects, whose most powerful charms arise from their individuality. The real import of the sentiment, expressed by such allusions and metaphors, must be gathered from a knowledge of the objects on which they are founded. Much of the poetry of the Hebrews, like that of every people of a remote age, partakes largely of the pastoral kind, resulting from the personal occupation of the authors, or the common condition of mankind. David was called from feeding his father's flocks to receive the royal unction, and afterwards returned to his accustomed pursuits. To enjoy the beauty of the pastoral scenery, which is so often alluded to in the Hebrew Scriptures, one should have some knowledge of the climate and natural productions of the country which furnishes it; and everything which tends to make the sacred Scriptures more engaging to the mass of readers, by illustrating what is obscure, is a great good. These illustrations,' says Dr Johnson, though they do not immediately rectify the faith, or refine the morals of the reader, yet are by no means to be considered as superfluous niceties or useless speculations; for they often show some propriety of allusion utterly undiscoverable by readers not skilled in the natural history of the East; and are often of more important use, as they remove some difficulty from narratives, or some obscurity from precepts.'
We have no disposition to discover any faults in a work, which is so far generally well performed; but some of our learned readers might think, that we have examined it very carelessly or superficially, should we omit to mention them."
The author gives the Hebrew names in the letters of the Hebrew language, under the English names, which latter are
arranged in alphabetical order. If it be important that the former should be given at all, and it is important to one who has any acquaintance with the language, great care should be taken to secure accuracy. But we regret to find such a want of accuracy in the printing of the Hebrew names, as to lead us to suppose, that the author exercised a too cursory revision of the press in this particular, where he alone must be responsible. There are also some inaccuracies in referring to passages of Scripture; a kind of fault which is well known to be very trying to a scholar's patience.
Another fault, somewhat connected with the one first mentioned, is a want of consistency in the writing of the Hebrew words in English letters. This fault pervades the whole work; and though it does not seem in itself very important, yet as the author is not, and therefore does not wish to be thought, a mere compiler, it belonged to him to preserve uniformity and consistency with himself.
On the whole, however, we cheerfully recommend the work both to the learned and the unlearned reader, as containing about all that can be known on the subjects which successively occur. Many of the articles will be read with great interest; and in those in which curiosity is most concerned, the author, in a form as much abridged as their nature would admit, has exhausted all the learning of naturalists and travellers, and, as we believe, has generally come to the right results.
E. Everett. &. Everett.
ART. VI.-Memorable Days in America, being a Journal of a Tour to the United States, principally undertaken to ascertain by positive Evidence the Condition and probable Prospects of British Emigrants; including Accounts of Mr Birkbeck's Settlement in the Illinois; and intended to show Men and Things as they are in America. By W. Faux, an English Farmer. London.
THIS work reached us shortly after its publication in London, but we turned from it as beneath notice. We treated it, as we have generally done the Fearons, the Jansons, the Hewlets, and the various other paltry adventurers, who come
over to this country to make their fortunes by speculation, and, being disappointed in the attempt to jump into riches without industry, without principle, without delay, return to England and pander to the taste for American calumny, in order to pay the expenses of the expedition, by the sale of their falsehoods. We have supposed, that works of this kind had now nearly lost their access to all that class of the English community, whose opinion of a foreign nation could be worth conciliating; and, at all events, we felt it a degrading occupation to come in any degree in contact with these lows. We should be at a loss to suggest a humiliation to a sorry felperson of common honor and virtue, like that of following one of these creatures, step by step, in a country, where, as a foreigner, he finds access to society, such as he sees only at an awful distance at home, and where he gratifies the basest of all passions, and takes vengeance for his own vulgarity and want of principle, by seasoning the dish of slander of this country, to the strength of the appetite for detraction in England.
The only circumstance, which has ever called us out, in reference to these gentry, is the adoption of their trash by men of respectability, and by literary journals of commanding character. When the Earl of Grey and Baron of Howick calls the journeyman stocking weaver a gentleman, and when the Quarterly Reviewer espouses the slanders of the 'Somersetshire clodhopper,' we then think them both to rise into an importance not their own, and to merit the notice we should otherwise disdain to take of them. The article on Faux's book, in the fifty eighth number of the Quarterly Review, has decided us to ask the attention of the public to the book and its reviewer. The former is too despicable to need an elaborate analysis; the latter appears under a name, which calls for a more careful retort. succeed in showing, that the notice of the work in the QuarIf we mistake not, we shall terly Review, instead of raising Faux to the authority of a respectable writer, sinks his critic to the level of a base slanderer, and leads to some curious inferences as to the state of the English press.
We are aware of the apparent indelicacy of attempting publicly to give the names of the authors of anonymous publications. But as the writer of this Review has taken no small liberties with private names, on no better authority than that
of Faux, and as the whole tenor of the article is such, as to deprive it of all benefit of courtesy, we shall take the liberty, in what we have to say on this occasion, to attribute the article in question to Mr Gifford, who is mentioned to us by very good private authority as its writer, and who, at all events, is responsible for it as the editor of the Journal. In thus openly naming, however, the person accountable for this slanderous publication, we are not preparing to regale him with the thrice told tale of personal abuse, which every number of his Review draws on his Editorial shoulders. We do not intend to leave him that consolation, which the editors of critical journals, perhaps too easily, allow themselves, that it is in vain to please all; and that those who are displeased will rail. But we intend to state to him, as to a gentleman, our opinion of his conduct, in not only lending the authority of the journal under his control to the purposes of detraction, but himself taking the active part in circulating it.
And one word, before we proceed, to a certain class of our own countrymen. When the outrageous abuse of this country, originating in the renegades and speculators, who infest us, has been espoused and reasserted by the first literary journals in England, by leading statesmen, and in the houses of parliament; and when an American author, or an American journalist, with blood somewhat stirred, yields to the impulse, not so much of patriotism as of human nature, and replies to the charge, there are some few persons among us, who cry out, a truce to this literary warfare,'' enough of this angry contention,' and the like. Now we have invariably found that these persons, some of whom speak with very dignified aspect, and carry a world of magnanimity in their tone, are annoyed only by the American rejoinder. Not one of them cries 'a truce,' when the poisoned dart is thrown; but they are all wondrous pacific, when it is to be met and warded off. These people are impatient, not when the American character is attacked, but when it is defended; and when the chafed lion roars and menaces his hunters, they protest it is a testy beast always picking a quarrel. No one will think we make these remarks at random. We know the times, the occasions, and the men; and we practise an undeserved forbearance, in not calling them more distinctly into recollection.
Mr Faux's book, and the Quarterly Review of it, start with a barefaced misstatement of the object, which brought him to America. This, in the worthy traveller himself, is of less consequence, because in the course of his work he betrays his own secret. In the Reviewer, the misrepresentation is highly disingenuous; and being done upon a system on which he has habitually acted, it deserves to be exposed. It is this,to pick up a sorry fellow, call him a gentleman, a man of intelligence, and of observation, or if he be downright doltish and barbarian, pronounce him a straight forward, plain spoken, honest creature; and, thus prepared, proceed to quote his ribaldry; and when you have done, aver, that it is not we who say these hard things, but our honest, intelligent traveller, who went to America full of admiration of the country, and with the express purpose of seeing things as they are." After quoting some of the ridiculous protestations of Faux, as to the objects of his visit, the Reviewer insidiously adds, 'from such a man, and with such an object in view, one practical page is worth all the radical trash of the Halls, the Wrights, and the Tell Harris's, in enabling us to form a just estimate of an emigrant's prospects in "the land of boasted liberty;" for, to use his own words, "I have endeavored to take the reader with me, that he may see, taste, and know things as they are, &c."' It is true, Faux uses these expressions, and, even on his title page, has the folly to set forth that his tour was 'principally undertaken to ascertain the condition and prospects of British emigrants.' Now it so happens, that his tour was undertaken for no such object. He came to America on an agency for a real estate in South Carolina, some of his maternal relations having been of that state, and refugees in the revolutionary war.
This we not only know from private information, but from four express statements to that effect by Faux himself. He even puts the affair in so prominent a light, as to call it the object of his mission, a term which, notwithstanding the uniform barbarity of his style, he can hardly be supposed to have used of anything but the principal object of his journey. 'I find that James Gregory, Esq. a gentleman to whom I brought an introductory letter, stands at present much in the way of my mission.' p. 49. 'Nathaniel Russell, Esq. is near ninety years old, very courteous and friendly, and will