« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
appeared in modern times. His intimate friends shrink from the task of delineating what mocks the powers of the most delicate and discriminating pencil. Beneath all his gaiety, notwithstanding all his lightness of heart, and his inveterate punning propensities, there was a tender melancholy, a longing for something higher and better, a dread of futurity, an instinctive grasp on present and surrounding objects, which invests his course with the deepest interest. After our best endeavors, we feel that we do not understand him fully; and where we do, we find it very difficult to embody our conceptions in words. Lamb was not a great poet. But as an essayist, terse, pungent, witty, ironical, full-souled, playful, and old English, we hardly know his equal. His language is after the ancient, glorious models of Thomas Browne, and Fuller and Burton.
Sorrowful is it, that such a gentle spirit should have been given to his cups, should have so degraded himself beneath the beasts which perish. The apology which Mr. Talfourd tries to set up for this habit in his friend is lame and awkward enough. We must also protest with equal decision against some of the language employed by Lamb, his correspondents, and his biographer. Profane epithets ought to be excluded from all decent books. Trifling words on the most awful subjects, no man has a right to employ. Witticisms in respect to the existence and agency of the great enemy of God and man are equally abhorrent to taste and religious feeling. What if it would spoil a good joke or a taking story, if Lamb's writings were divested of these obnoxious epithets? We are not to tamper with morality and religion for the sake of a pun. With all that is contained in these volumes relative to the theatre we have, of course, no sympathy. A selection of Lamb's Letters and Essays might be made to which no friend of good order would object, and which would display noble powers of thought and of description. As it is, the work is attractive, and we are not surprised at its popularity.
9.- The Limitation of Human Responsibility. By Francis Way- .
land, President of Brown University. Boston: Gould, Ken
dall & Lincoln, 1838. pp. 188. The subjects discussed in this volume are the nature of human responsibility, individual responsibility, persecution on account of religious opinions, propagation of truth, voluntary associations, ecclesiastical associations, and the slavery question. Human responsibility is not concerned, according to Dr. Wayland, beyond the limit of our ability, nor does it require a kind of ability which has not been committed to us. Our responsibility is limited by the respect which we owe to the rights of our fellow men, and frequently by the innocent obligations which we have previously contracted. We are not Vol. XI. No. 30.
responsible for the performance of an action, when it cannot be performed without using our power for other purposes than those for which it was committed to us. Our responsibility ceases, when a particular good cannot be accomplished without the presentation of wrong motives to another; and when the performance of one duty, may be limited by the more urgent claims of another duty of the same character. The author then applies these principles to persecution on account of opinions, to the propagation of truth, to voluntary and ecclesiastical associations and to slavery. In respect to vol. untary associations, he thinks that the following limitations should be observed. The object for which men should associate should be capable of so exact and palpable definition, that it may be always clearly distinguished from every other that might from time to time be amalgamated with it. The mode of operation should be accurately set forth. The object itself and the mode of promoting it should he entirely innocent. In the section on ecclesiastical associations, Dr. Wayland explains the principles on which christian churches are formed, particularly those of the Independents, asserts that these lat. ter are incapable of representation, and points out some dangers into which they are liable to fall. The author remarks upon some of the aspects of slavery in the slave States, in the District of Columbia, and in Texas, and upon the duties and rights of the North and South. We have not room in this place to examine any of the opinions advanced by Dr. Wayland.
10.-The Works of William Cowper. By Robert Southey. 15 vols.
Foolscap, 8vo. London: 1835—7.
shawe. 12 vols. Foolscap, 8vo. London: 1835—7. Shortly after the death of Cowper, his Life and Correspondence by Hayley appeared. Though extremely interesting as the work unquestionably was, yet Hayley saw fit to suppress and mutilate much of his materials. The poet's Memoir of Himself was brought to light in 1816. The Private Correspondence of Cowper, with Mr. Newton and others, was published by Cowper's relative, Dr. John Johnson, in 1824. In 1825, a small volume,with the title of “ Poems, the early Productions of W. Cowper, with Anecdotes of the Poet, collected from Letters of Lady Hesketh," appeared. It contained the relics which had been for many years in the possession of his cousin Theodora Cowper. Subsequently was issued Mr. Thomas Taylor's Life of Cowper. This, however, did not add much to the original biography.
Instead of a complete edition of the works of Cowper, which has been for a long time a desideratum, we have now two rival incomplete editions. Mr. Grimshawe, the biographer of Legh Richmond,
is a connection of Dr. John Johnson, and had the exclusive privilege of publishing unmutilated the Private Correspondence edited by that gentleman. On the other hand, Dr. Southey has collected from many sources a variety of new documents and traditionary information. Dr. Southey's Life of Cowper, which occupies the first two volumes and nearly the whole of the third, we have just read. With many excellencies it has one striking defect. The biographer indulges in long digressions on the characters of Lloyd, Thornton, Colman, Churchill, and others, with whom Cowper had but an extremely slight connection. There are, also, other wearisome and altogether unnecessary interruptions. Such men as Colman had no communion of soul with Cowper. Then why burden his narrative with their story? The engravings, pictures of scenery, etc. which are numerous, are generally done with that skill and taste for which the London artists are so renowned. Mr. Grimshawe's edition is also enriched with superb engravings. The picture of Cowper's mother, in this edition, is almost worth the entire cost of the set. The great controversy respecting the causes of Cowper's derangement seems as far from being settled as ever.
One class of biographers and critics throw their arrows at old Mr. Newton and through him at the “ evangelical school;" while their opponents seek to vindicate Newton and his religion from having any thing to do with the madness in question. In our opinion religion is wholly guiltless, and Mr. Newton nearly so. Taking the evidence of some of the letters which passed between Newton and Cowper, we cannot but feel that the venerable pastor was not always judicious. His influence on the delicate sensibilities of the poet was generally soothing and salutary ; but sometimes he required too much of the shrinking feelings of his companion.
In his preface to the fifteenth volume, Dr. Southey informs us that he is preparing to bring out three supplementary volumes, (which will be sold separately), to contain the memoirs and correspondence of Cowper's principal friends and relations, such as Lady Hesketh, Lady Austin, the Unwins, etc.
11.- Academical Lectures on the Jewish Scriptures and Antiquities.
By John Gorham Palfrey. D. D. Professor of Biblical Literature in the University of Cambridge. Vol. 1. The four last Books of the Pentateuch. Boston: James Munroe & Co.
1838. 8vo. pp. 511. We have read but a small part of these Lectures. Our principal object in this notice is to mention some of the subjects discussed. The first lecture considers the antiquity and history of the Hebrew language. Some remarks are also made on grammars and lexicons and on the cognate dialects. In the second lecture the author comes to the conclusion that the several books of the Old Testament, like
those of the New, are to be judged on their several and independent grounds of evidence; and that the mere circumstance of being excluded from the canon, and stigmatized by the title of Apocryphal, should not prevent other books from having their claims considered. The third lecture is employed on the history of the text of the 0. T., the Samaritan Pentateuch, the Alexandrine version, etc. The authenticity of the books of Moses is discussed in the fourth. It is remarked, that the external evidence, though not to be so confidently urged as it has sometimes been, is in favor of the commonly received opinion, while the internal favorable evidence is of a very weighty kind and of a large amount. The purpose of the Mosaic revelation is considered in the following lecture ; various arguments, objections, and difficulties are discussed. The subject of the sixth lecture is the miracles of Moses performed in Egypt, and the exodus of the people from that country. In the seventh lecture various topics come under review. The manna and the quails are both alike considered as natural productions. The miracle consisted in the seasonable provision of such quantities of them on this occasion. The constitution of the Hebrew State, the Jewish magistracy in Egypt and in the wilderness, and the giving of the law at Sinai, are next remarked upon. In the ninth lecture we have a discussion on the Sabbath. Dr. Palfrey remarks, that the manner of its celebration was simply cessation from labor. He supposes that the Sabbath was a Jewish institution merely. In relation to the text which occurs at the beginning of Genesis, he remarks: “When we have advanced to the reading of that book, I shall be better understood when I say, that, supposing the latter half of the second verse, and the third verse, to be genuine, it is by no means clear that any institution whatever was here intended to be spoken of by the writer.” The passage in Exod. 20:11, “ For in six days the Lord made” etc. and the parallel passage in Deuteronomy, are not thought by Dr. Palfrey to be genuine. “ His chief reason for this persuasion is that, supposing the genuineness of either, it presents a fragment, differing in its tone and structure from all the rest of the Decalogue, since the Decalogue, in every other case, studying the utmost brevity, * deals only in laws and their sanctions, without exhibiting the reasons on which they were founded; a topic which seems foreign to its purpose." The tenth lecture is on the priesthood, tabernacle, and some events which occurred at Mount Sinai, subsequently to the giving of the law. The three following lectures are on Leviticusthe laws, customs, usages, and events recorded in that book. In the remaining seven lectures, the Mosaic history is pursued, through the books of Numbers and Deuteronomy. “One who has seen reason,"
* This does not appear to be correct in regard to the second and the fifth commandments. In the latter we have the reason of the command given in the forın of a promise : “ That thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee."
remarks the author, " to conclude that the preceding books were the work of Moses, will scarcely hesitate to refer this, (Deuteronomy] with an equal degree of confidence, to the same origin.” former books are characterized by the comparatively dry manner of an annalist, Deuteronomy by the more full and earnest style of oral discourse." Our limits compel us to stop with this hasty glance at some of the topics handled in these Lectures. In respect to a part of the discussions, it would not be altogether fair to pronounce an opinion till the remaining volumes have appeared.
12.- Report of Elementary Public Instruction in Europe, made to
the thirty-sixth General Assembly of the State of Ohio, Dec.
19, 1837. By C. E. Stowe. Columbus : 1837. pp. 57. This Report was made in compliance with a resolve of the legislature of Ohio, requesting professor Stowe to collect, during the progress of his contemplated tour in Europe, such facts and information as he might deem useful to the State, in relation to the various systems of public instruction and education which have been adopted in the several countries through which he might pass. We are glad to see the spirit which is manifested by the legislature of Ohio in relation to this excellent Report. A large number of copies were published and distributed, and five hundred dollars given to the author for his pains. We learn that the Report has been, or is about to be, published by the legislature of Pennsylvania. As large extracts, or the entire document, have been published in many of our newspapers, it is not necessary for us, if it were practicable, to copy from it in this place. After some animated introductory observations, Prof. Stowe gives an account of elementary education in Russia. He then proceeds to full details of the Prussian system, under the heads of internal arrangements, institutions for reformation, course of instruction in the common schools, religious instruction and character of the system. Under the last head, he shows that it has great completeness, developes every faculty of the mind, is of an entirely practical character, and has a striking moral and religious bearing. In order to introduce this system into our country, as it may be done, and ought to be done substantially, teachers must be skilful and must be trained to their business ; there must be institutions in which teaching is made a systematic object of attention; teachers must be competently supported and devoted to their business ; the children must be made comfortable in their school; they must be punctual, and attend the whole course ; they must be given up implicitly to the discipline of the school; and a beginning must be made at certain points, and the advance towards completeness must be gradual.