Atlantic Monthly, Vol. II., November, 1858., No. XIII.
Author: Various
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[Footnote 1: London Cotton-Plant, 21st August, 1858.]

[Footnote 2: Ibid. 18th September. 1858.]

[Footnote 3: It is a coincidence that the recapture of runaways did more than anything else to abolish villanage in England.]

[Footnote 4: See COBB on Slavery, (Philadelphia: T. & J.W. Johnson & Co., 1858,) where these admissions are made. (Introd. pp. 218-220.) This work, written by Mr. Thomas R. R. Cobb, of Georgia, is, considering the natural prepossessions of the author, singularly calm and candid. We commend it to our readers, as bringing together a great deal of information, and still more as showing the remarkable change which has come over the Southern mind, even among moderate men, on the subject of Slavery. We shall take a future occasion to notice it more fully.]


Brief Expositions of Rational Medicine; To which is prefixed The Paradise of Doctors, a Fable. By JACOB BIGELOW, M.D., Late President of the Massachusetts Medical Society, Physician of the Massachusetts General Hospital, etc. Boston: Phillips, Sampson, and Company, 13, Winter Street. 1858.

Two doctrines, each containing a fraction of truth, have lain soaking in the mind of our free-and-easy community so long, that what strength they had is well-nigh got out of them.

Doctrine the first is, that a man who has devoted himself to a particular calling is to be considered necessarily ignorant thereof, —and that certain babes and sucklings in that particular branch of knowledge, and all others, are to be accepted as the true oracles with regard to its mysteries. Doctrine the second is, that every new theory accepted by any number of persons has some important truth at the bottom of it.

The first of these doctrines has its real meaning. It is true that there may be a common feeling of justice in the minds of ignorant people which shall override the decisions of a learned Chief Justice. It is true that a man may brutalize himself by a contemplation of theological cruelties, until decent parents are ashamed to have their children listen to his libels on the Father of All. It is true that a physician may become such a drug-peddling routinist, that sensible mothers see through him, and know enough to throw his trash out of the window as soon as he turns his back.

The second doctrine has its real meaning. Until men turn into beasts, they must have some arguments addressed to their reason before they will believe, and still more before they will act. Spiritualism has its significance, as an appeal from the gross materialism and heathen ideas of another life so commonly entertained. Mormonism has its logic, as an appeal from the enforced celibacy of one sex, and to the Oriental Abrahamic instincts of the other. Homoeopathy has its fraction of sanity, as a protest against that odious tendency of physicians to give nauseous stuff to people because they are ailing, which sickened the pages of old pharmacopoeias with powders of earthworms and album Graecum, and even now makes illness terrible where it reigns unrebuked.

Swallow these two paragraphs of concession as the infusion drawn from those two doctrines laid down at starting, and throw away the effete axioms as fit only for old women to coddle and drench themselves withal. Having done this, the reader is ready for the book the title of which we have prefixed.

DR. BIGELOW'S name is a guaranty that it shall contain many thoughts in not over-many words. It is a pledge that we shall be emancipated from all narrow technicalities and officinal idols, while following his guidance. As a man of rare sagacity and wide range of knowledge, a man of science before he became a leading practitioner in the highest range of his profession, a philosopher whom his fellows have thought worthy to preside over their deliberations, a physician whom his brethren have honored with their highest office, though no man among them ever assailed the pleasing and profitable delusions of his craft so sharply,—he may well be listened to, even though he has given his life to the subject on which he writes.

As this little book is neither (to speak in pharmaceutic phrase) the water, nor the spirit, but the very essential oil, of the author's thoughts on the matters of which he treats, it is only by a destructive analysis we can resolve it into its elements. We shall only touch upon its contents, and recommend the book itself to all who have ever known sickness, or expect ever to know it, or to have a friend liable to it.

"The Paradise of Doctors" is a pleasant bait to those wary readers who will bite at the bare hook of quackery, but must be tempted before they will venture into a book of medicine which has not lying as its staple material.

Then comes a consideration of the five methods of treating disease now most prevalent in civilized countries; namely, 1. The Artificial. 2. The Expectant. 3. The Homoeopathic. 4. The Exclusive. 5. The Rational.

Perfect candor, perfect clearness, the good-nature of a successful man above all petty jealousies, the style of a scholar who has hardly an equal among us in his profession and few equals out of it, the honesty which belongs to science, and the acuteness which is conferred by practice mark this brief essay. It follows in the same course of thought as the admirable "Discourse on Self-limited Diseases," the delivery of which many years ago marked the commencement of a new epoch in the movement of the medical mind among us. An hour's reading given to this new lesson of wisdom will turn many a self-willed, proud-hearted medical skeptic into a humble and consistent patient of the regular profession.

Thoughts on Matter and Force: or Marvels that encompass us: comprising Suggestions illustrative of the Theory of the Universe. By THOMAS EWBANK. New York: D. Appleton & Co. London: Truebner & Co. 1858.

The human longing for the Infinite is as strong now as it was when the first ology, aiming to grasp it, conceived its first myth, and comprehended something so far below what humanity itself now is or knows, that we use it, along with the more recent productions of Mrs. Goose, to amuse children. This persistent trait in human nature is truly noble, however fruitless. But it is not altogether fruitless. Though the intellectual world has really come no nearer the object of its search, it has advanced far beyond its starting-point, and made valuable progress, which a lower motive could never have prompted. The wisest of mean men, as he was the meanest of wise ones, did very well to check the metaphysical modes and tendencies of human study, and advise the previous comprehension of facts within reach. This worldly wisdom has already made us all wonderfully rich in the chariots and horses of thought. The consequence is, we now rush forth into the infinite in various directions, and, from inconceivable distances of time and space, bring home marvels that are truly sublime.

Mr. Ewbank's "Suggestions" are of this sort, though the turn-out with which he has been exploring the boundless is not, perhaps, quite up to the latest improvements in the Baconian carriage-factory, There can be no doubt of the boldness with which his really modest and unpretending little book grapples with the largest of all subjects, whatever we may think of its success. Postulating, for the purpose of his cosmogony, two, and only two, absolute entities, —matter and spirit,—Mr. Ewbank makes force a property or attribute of the former, which the latter can only direct or make use of, not originate. He does not admit that spirit can overcome the inertia of matter. Whatever inertia may be, it is superable or destructible only by the force or motion of matter itself,—matter being incapable of rest. "Instead of matter being innately inert," says Mr. Ewbank, "as many think, motion is its natural condition." How the spiritual direction—or shall we call it bossing?—of motion or force (which only, according to Mr. Ewbank, produces results) applies itself,—what is its point d'appui, its mode of modifying, its why of causing,—he does not attempt to explain to us. He recognizes the universal gravitating or contractile force, from which, as successive sequences, proceed heat and expansion; but he does not suggest that spirit has any more to do with the first than with any succeeding term in the series. It exerts no force, moves nothing; yet spirit produces all the results. "No regular or useful form," says our author, "can be produced by unbridled force. Intelligence must be present." So it is the business of the spirit to bridle force, —or matter's motion,—mount the restless steed, and ride to a purpose! Shall we ever see the bits of that bridle?

On the subject of material form, we find the following passage, which, while, perhaps, the most original in the book, is to us the least instructive:—

"However multiplied interior actions may be, the universe, as a whole, must have a common movement, or none. One division cannot, in relation to the rest, stand still, lag behind, fly off, or diverge from its place, without destroying all unity. The earth is full of motions; but they do not interfere with her general and uniform motion. So it is with the universal orb: its rotation is, we believe, fundamental,—the basis of all other movements, without which there could be none other.

"In everything, there is virtue in FORM; and we surmise that vastly more depends on the configuration and movement of matter as one mass, than has been suspected. As perfect a whole as any of its parts, must not the universe have a definable outline or shape,—one to which nothing amorphous can possibly belong? What is its figure? It can hardly be a cube, cylinder, or prism of any kind; indeed, we might as reasonably suppose it a three-sided figure as one bounded at all by straight lines. No one extending in one direction more than in another could have met the exigencies of creation; and that the universe is a sphere may also be inferred from fluid matter naturally assuming that form,—perhaps because its elements have it. Had atoms been bounded by plane surfaces, so, we may suppose, had worlds, drops of water, and soap-bubbles.

"The universe is spherical, then, because its molecules are: and it moves, because they are incapable of rest."

Does this mean that the totality of matter is finite?—that it can be viewed, spiritually, from the outside,—even from such a distance as to appear infinitely small? If so, can there be infinite power, either material or spiritual? If the universe is spherical because its molecules are, can the molecules compose any other than the spherical form? Do we gain much by reasoning from an assumption below the ken of the microscope to a conclusion above that of the telescope?

Mr. Ewbank, however, does not often indulge in a logical stride so long or on such shaky footing as this. Through more or less cloudiness of expression, he gives us many striking and satisfactory views, looking towards a complete synthesis of the glorious system of things to which we belong, makes out the universe as habitable and cheerful as it is wide, and leaves us admiring its good more than marvelling at its evil. He maintains that all solar and planetary bodies have a central, vital heat, produced and maintained by the same cause,—to wit, the gravitating or condensing force; its intensity being as the mass. In the sun, the mass is so great, that, in spite of its inferior density, more and intenser heat is generated by condensation than in any or all of the planets. If the whole orb is not incandescent, there is such intense heat in its central portion as to generate gases, which, being thrown up through its atmosphere, to a height at least as great as the whole diameter of our globe, condense there again with an ineffably brilliant combustion. The solid crust of the sun, he thinks, may be comparatively cool,—as cool, perhaps, as our tropical climates,—by the favor of cloud-curtains, which operate as screens, and reflect off into space the heat of the combustion overhead. He might have given more reasons than he has for this conclusion. Whether our terrestrial aurora-borealis is caused by the combustion of gases that have been generated by internal heat or not, we know that the combustion of gas in the upper regions of our atmosphere would not warm the surface of the earth much more than it would that of the moon. It is easy enough to make out, from facts which our terrene science has revealed to us, how the sun may be a perpetual fountain of light, heat, and force to its most distant planets, without having itself any superabundance of either of these emanations for its own domestic consumption. The solar population may have no more sunshine than we do, and may have even that mitigated with the luxury of ice-creams, if not with that of arctic explorations and polar bears. Whether they have as good opportunities as we for astronomical observations is a little doubtful; but their thermological studies must flourish abundantly, to say nothing of their advantages in pyrotechnics.

A Text-Book of Vegetable and Animal Physiology, designed for the Use of Schools, Seminaries, and Colleges in the United States. By HENRY GOADBY, M.D., Professor of Vegetable and Animal Physiology and Entomology in the State Agricultural College of Michigan, Fellow of the Linnaean Society of London, etc., etc. Embellished with upwards of four hundred and fifty Illustrations. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 346 and 348, Broadway. 1858.

The name of Mr. Goadby is embalmed in a preservative solution invented by him and known as Goadby's Fluid. Those who have visited the Royal College of Surgeons in London tell us of very exquisite anatomical preparations made by him while employed as Minute Dissector to that institution. We are grateful to Mr. Goadby for consecrating his narrow but sure immortality and his excellent mechanical talent to the service of the New World and especially of the State of Michigan.

It does not follow from this that Mr. Goadby has written a good book on Animal and Vegetable Physiology, nor that he could write such a book. Starting with this proposition, we are candid rather than sanguine as we open the volume. We find that it is not in any true sense a treatise upon Physiology, but chiefly upon the Minute Anatomy of Animals and Vegetables, with some incidental physiological commentaries.

On closer examination, we find it to be the work of a microscopist, and not that of a physiologist or a scholar. Its merits are principally its illustrations, many of which are from original dissections, some of which are very good diagrams, others ordinary, and some—such as the view of the human brain and spinal chord on page 282—wretched. The colored figures are washed with dull tints in a very shabby and negligent way. The text is mainly an account of the objects illustrated in the figures, and will prove interesting to the working microscopist as explaining the observations of a skilful dissector. As a "Text-Book of Physiology for Schools and Colleges," it is of course without value.

English microscopists, if we might judge by this work and that of Mr. Hassall, are not remarkable for scholarship. The showy and in some respects valuable work of the latter gentleman was disgraced by constant repetitions of gross blunders in spelling. Mr. Goadby is not much above his countryman in literary acquirements, if we may judge by his treatment of the names of Schwann and Lieberkuhn, whom he repeatedly calls Schawn and Leiberkuhn, and by the indignity which he offers to the itch-insect by naming it Aearus Scabiaei. It is not necessary to give further examples; but, if the general statement be disputed, we are prepared to speckle the book with corrections until it looks like a sign-board with a charge of small shot in it.

Nothing that we have said must be considered as detracting from Mr. Goadby's proper merits as an industrious and skilful specialist, who is more able with his microscope than with his pen, and more at home with the latter in telling us what he has seen than in writing a general treatise on so vast a subject as Physiology.

Lettres de Silvio Pellico, recueillies et mises en ordre, par M. GUILLAUME STEFANI. Traduites et precedees d'une Introduction, par M. ANTOINE DE LATOUR. Paris: 1857. pp. liii, 493. 8 vo.

Silvio Pellico is one of the most touching ghosts that glide through the chambers of the memory. Even the rod of the pedagogue and the imprisonment of the school-room (for it has been the misfortune of "Le mie Prigioni" to be doomed to serve as a "class-book" to beginners in modern languages) have proved unable to diminish the sympathy felt for the Spielberg prisoner.

This volume will increase his pure fame. It will be read with painful interest. It will do more for Italian independence than all the ravings of revolutionary manifestoes and all the poignard-strokes of political assassins which can be written or given from now till doomsday. No one can read it without a swelling heart and a tear-filled eye, for it discloses involuntarily and indirectly the unspeakable unhappiness of Italy. Here are the sad accounts of some loved friend or admired countryman snatched away to prison, or hurried into exile, for a letter written, or a visit paid, or an intemperate speech uttered; while no preparation is made for the long departure, and papers, even the most familiar and prized, are seized and never restored. Another page presents the exile's struggles for daily bread, his privations, his longings for the Italian sun and sky and soil, for the native land; another, the earnest prayer from jail-walls for the Bible, for books upon our Saviour's sufferings (nothing less than voices from heaven can breathe comfort in Austrian dungeons!) Then the moving letters written from one prisoner's family to another's (yesterday unacquainted, to-day near kinsmen in the bonds of sorrow) to sustain each other in the common afflictions, craving with avidity the least intelligence from the living tombs of tyranny, sharing with generous alacrity all their tidings. How musically endearing Italian diminutives fall upon the ear employed in this office! Here we have Pellico's own letters to his parents to calm their natural grief, filled with pious concealment of his own mental and bodily torment, with encouragements to hope an early pardon, and to turn their eyes to Religion, which never yet refused consolation to the afflicted. We have never read a more distressing letter than he wrote to his family, when, at last pardoned, he was once more free. Seven years had passed away since he heard from them; he knew not if one still lived to welcome him home,—if his kindred had forgotten, or execrated him as one who had dragged their common parents sorrowing and gray-haired down to the grave. Has the world among all its manifold sorrows any sorrow like unto this?

The late M. de Lamennais was wont to speak with contempt of Silvio Pellico, as being a weak, spiritless craven, who accepted with resignation when he should have plotted to end the thraldom of his country. Yet what can a man do, when the classes above him and those below him, when noble and priest and peasant, live contented in the silence of despotism, (calling it peace,) without one thought of other days, without one sentiment of pride in the deeds of their illustrious forefathers? What is a Christian's duty, when his country is bled and plundered and ground down to the dust under the iron heel of military despotism, when the political fabric of his native land is crumbling, and his countrymen are listless, selfish, sensual, unpatriotic, not unhappy so long as their bellies are filled and their backs covered? Shall he lift his streaming eyes to heaven with the resigned ejaculation, "Father, not my will, but thine, be done"? —or shall he, in holy despair, throw his life away on Austrian bayonets? Terrible problem!

The Household Book of Poetry. Collected and edited by CHARLES A. DANA. New York: D. Appleton & Co. 1858. pp. 798.

This book contains extracts from upwards of three hundred authors of all periods and countries. It is made more complete by the addition of some of the most famous Latin hymns and canticles of the Church. The different pieces are classified upon a judicious system. It is handsomely printed, and not cumbrous in form. What can we say more in its praise? Only this,—that, after giving it a pretty thorough examination, we are satisfied that it is the best collection in the language. Individual tastes and idiosyncrasies will, of course, find some wants to lament, and some superfluities to condemn. A book containing so much from living writers will excite jealousies; and the writers themselves will, in some cases, be dissatisfied with the selections made from their works. But what the general reader asks is only, whether the compiler has shown skill in suiting the general taste, as well as judgment in directing it. We think this collection the most catholic and impartial we have ever seen. That is the highest praise we can bestow, and it implies that the editor has attained the success most difficult as well as essential in such an undertaking.

Curiosities of Literature. By ISAAC DISRAELI. 4 vols. Boston: William Veazie. 1858.

Possessing this book, Robinson Crusoe might have enjoyed all the pleasures of what Dr. Johnson called "browsing in a library," and that a large and choice one. It contains in itself all the elements of a liberal education in out-of-the-way-ness.

Everybody knows and likes this Museum Absconditum, as Sir Thomas Browne would have called it,—and we take particular pleasure in being able to recommend to our readers so beautiful an edition of it. It is in all respects equal to the handsomest kind of English printing, and has the added merit of being cheap. It is from the press of Houghton & Company, which has done so much to raise the standard of American printing. If Mr. Houghton go on as he has begun, his name will deserve a place with those of Elzevir, Baskerville, Foulis, and others of his craft, who have done good books the justice of a mechanical that matches their intellectual workmanship.

* * * * *

We have not space in this number to give Mr. White's Shakspeare the welcome it deserves. We have examined it with some care, and can speak with decision of its very great merits. It is characterized by taste, industry, and conscientiousness. We believe it to be, in all essential respects, the best—it is certainly the most beautiful—edition of Shakspeare. This is also from the press of Houghton & Company.

* * * * *

We notice with pleasure among recent literary announcements those of a History of France, by Parke Godwin, Esq., and of New England, by Dr. J.G. Palfrey. Both are desiderata, and the reputation of the authors is such as to warrant the highest anticipations.


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