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reliable map concerns the interest of crery landholder in the Statesaying nothing of the advantages to roads, mill-sites, and all public improvements, or the minute topographical knowledge which might be gathered during the prosecution of such a survey. The Society before us will well justify its formation, if it can help to stir up the legislature to make provision for the commencement of this survey. New-York owes it to her position and her resources, and the intelligence and enterprise of her people, to take measures for a survey and map which shall surpass in accuracy and completeness those of any other state or country.
Of how few countries do the materials exist for a full description or an accurate delineation! The list of places is by no means large, of which the latitude and longitude has been ascertained with sufficient precision for the higher purposes of astronomy. Only a very small part of the earth's surface has been subjected to the primary trigonometrical survey. To explore the still unknown, and to complete our knowledge of the partially known, presents a great work to be done before the world can even be mapped with reasonable accuracy.
But it is a most inadequate conception of the science of geography, to limit it to a knowledge of the surface of the earth, as it may be explored by a surveyor and delineated on a map. Geography, in its higher sense, takes the most perfect map as but the groundplan, on which it constructs a delineation of all the physical qualities that affect the condition of mankind, the vegetable and animal growth, the races and characteristics of the people, and the political institutions and social arrangements of nations. Its high aim is the improvement of man's moral nature, by enlarging his knowledge of the homes and lives of his fellow-men. The new Society has a right to expect the countenance and favour of every friend of humanity and every friend of science, and to receive the coöperation of all those classes who enjoy special opportunities of observation, or possess special qualifications for generalization or description.
The science of statistics is almost unbroken ground among the great body of our intelligent citizens. Look among the legislators of the nation, and those of the several States, and see how few there are of them who are able to arrange into a statistical table any considerable number of the facts which they are called to act upon iu regard to a given subject, or to judge of the value of an argument based on statistical tables, so as to detect the latent fallacy, or to feel a mathematical certainty in the conclusion. Experienced statists compare all quantities and numbers by centesimals; that is, the increase or decrease is so much per cent., or one number is so much per cent. of another. And this centesimal proportion comes by use to convey as definite ideas as are derived by a statement and comparison in the ordinary weights or measures, by pounds, yards, or gallons. Instead of saying that 48 is four-fifths of 60, the statist says it is 80 per cent. If you add 9 to 45, making 54, it is an increase of 20 per cent. ; but if you take 9 from 54, leaving 45, it is a decrease of 16.6 per cent. That is, you divide the difference, decimal-wise, by the number which you reckon from. An increase of 100 per cent. makes the number double ; while a decrease of 100 per cent. takes away the whole. Yet we have seen well-educated men puzzled inextricably in making the simplest calculations, and never knowing certainly whether their results are reliable or not. Again, we see numbers or quantities compared in this way—the two are in the proportion of 217 to 448, which leaves a very indistinct idea, when you get a much clearer impression by saying that one is 44 per cent. of the other.
The crudities and inaccuracies of the United States census of 1840 have long been a source of mortification to scholars, and of mistakes to politicians and legislators. For instance, the footings of the census presented a monstrous disproportion of idiots and insane persons among the free coloured population of the northern States; and some pathetic conclusions were drawn therefrom in regard to the deplorable condition of those people, with profound disquisitions concerning the causes of so sad calamities. The importance of the results led some gentlemen to reëxamine the data; and, on tracing the population tables back to their elements, it was found that the whole apparent excess was caused by the blunders of clerks in transferring figures to the wrong columns, by which it was made to appear that in some instances there were more blacks insane and idiotic than the whole number in the section. we have seen, within a year or two, respectable journals and periodicals reproducing the same awful statistics and reaffirming the same sad conclusions, just as if the blunders had never been exposed.
Although it must be admitted that considerable advancement has been made, during the intervening ten years, in the cultivation of statistical knowledge, it is plain that the present condition of the census of 1850 affords us nothing to boast of. It is not our province to decide where the blame or discredit ought to rest; but the fact that, after the lapse of two years and a half, and the expenditure of vast sums of money, the public can only obtain a few of the alleged general results, without any knowledge of the data
on which they are based, proves that there must be either great neglect or gross incompetency somewhere. One thing is very plain to our judgment, to wit, that the general government, in undertaking to procure complete statistical returns, has attempted more than its machinery is fitted to accomplish. Hereafter we hope that Congress will confine its inquiries to the census of population, leaving the statistics of industry and property to the care of the State legislatures, whose functions better admit of these minute inquisitions. If the labours of the new Society shall be successful in extending a love for statistical inquiries, by setting examples of their usefulness, and furnishing materials for the prosecution of such studies, it will render a good service in promoting the diffusion of useful knowledge.
Too long have we been contented with general impressions, that this or that thing is a great deal bigger than another, and that events of one class are more frequent than others. Let us learn to know what we know; so that we can answer the questions, how many? how much? how long? how far? how often? and make an exact comparison of causes and results, in regard to all the modes and means of human life and action.
A scholar of the last age called "geography and chronology the two eyes of history;" but we submit that, for the philosophical study of history, for the comparison of events, their causes and consequences, the help of chronology is far inferior in value to that of statistics. The mere time when an event took place is of much less moment than the number and resources of the people among whom it occurred, and the position and extent of the theatre on which they acted. Take, for instance, the history of the middle ages; and how much light is thrown upon it by a clear idea of political geography and its changes in those times. And what a vast interest is added to the study of physical geography by the lectures of Professor Guyot, in comparing and classifying the physical structure of countries, and thus accounting for the characters and destinies of the people who inhabit them.
In a word, we fully endorse the seasonableness of this new movement, at least so far as to say that it is high time it was made, and it is a wonder it had not been made before. Looking at the list of managers, with our national historian, George Bancroft, at their head, we are sure they do not lack either competency or fidelity for the discharge of their duties. We hope they will succeed, through the resident foreign consuls among us, in securing for their library the most important geographical and statistical documents of other governments; and, through the proper officers at home, all the important publications of our own National and State governments. We hope they will receive the ready coöperation of our literary men, travellers, and foreign missionaries, in making the Society the medium of publication of their new discoveries, their important information, their expanded commercial, philanthropic, or scientific views, on subjects german to the objects of the Society. We hope they will receive, when they need it, a liberal patronage from the merchant-princes of the land, in the means of procuring all such maps, globes, books of reference, and other apparatus of investigation and illustration, as may be needful to secure the highest efficiency of their labours.
The first number of the Society's Bulletin, now before us, is well arranged and handsomely printed, well filled, and affords a fair pledge of future success. We are struck with the evidence it affords of the prospective value of the Society's labours in promoting both the commercial interests of the country and the general advancement of humanity and religion. The article of Mr. Hopkins on Paraguay, delivered in this city last January, before the fall of the tyrant Rosas was known in this country, was largely prophetic of results and developments in regard to the opening of that river to foreign commerce, which are now history. The second Bulletin is to be made up of the elaborate and truly valuable Memoir on the Geography and Statistics of the Republic of New-Granada, presented to the Society by General Mosquera, the distinguished ex-president of that country. In listening, for three successive meetings, to that important paper, we could hardly tell which impressed us most : the ability and value of the production itself, as a contribution to the objects of the Society; or the extraordinary fact that a man of arms, whose best years had been spent in the military service of his country, should have found time to collect such a store of knowledge, so scientifically digested, in regard to every branch of his subject; or the spectacle of the ex-president of a neighbouring Spanish republic labouring with so pure and wise a patriotism to advance the best interests of his own country, by drawing to it new and multiplied sympathies from ours.
We earnestly bid the Society Godspeed on its course. Science is of no nation, of no sect, of no party. The welfare of all peoples is advanced by their knowing each other more perfectly. Let our friends be encouraged to lay their plans on a large scale, as building for mankind and for future ages.
Art. V.-M’CULLOH ON THE SCRIPTURES.
Analytical Investigations concerning the Credibility of the Scriptures, and of the
Religious System inculcated in them; together with a Historical Exhibition of Human Conduct during the several dispensations under which mankind hare been placed by their Creator. By J. H. M'CULLOH, M. D. 2 vols., 8vo. Baltimore, 1852.
SINCE the days of our Lord's personal ministry, his disciples have altered the shibboleth of Christianity. The test question is not now, “Simon Peter, lovest thou me?" but, “ Simon Peter, thinkest thou as I do?" Unless the answer be clearly and decidedly affirmative, there is but cold welcome to the Master's vineyard—no excellence of piety is a sufficient offset to variant opinions, even about things the most abstruse and difficult of determination. No superiority of understanding compensates, in its admirable conclusions, for unlawful speculations upon subjects concerning which men have done little else than speculate from the beginnings of thought. “Venerable Bede,” says John Newton, “after giving a high character of some contemporary, adds, 'But, unhappy man, he did not keep Easter our way.
Dr. M'Culloh must expect similar treatment to that which has ever been meted out to men of his kind. None who read his book can doubt his piety, or his honest, earnest purpose to accomplish what he conscientiously believes to be the work which is given him to do. The book displays upon every page the single-mindedness of a Christian man, devoting uncommon intellectual powers to the attainment and dissemination of the truth. Yet the results of his investigations, as he has determined them, as a whole, are not in full accordance with the entire views of any one of the many Christian denominations, and consequently, whatever these may think of one another, they all will agree that our author is a heretic; for to be a heretic, is but to differ from themselves. It may be expected that clergymen, regularly trained in schools of divinity, will superciliously glance over the index, and pronounce the presumptuous layman a dangerous intermeddler with theological science; and that many good people, responding to the pastoral warning, will cry out Simon Magus” as lustily as though they could comprehend the matter, or could of their own knowledge give a consistent statement of the plan of salvation, or any valid reason for their faith in the Scriptures.
To say the truth, the author of this work has given mortal offence