Atlantic Monthly, Vol. XI., February, 1863, No. LXIV.
Author: Various
Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6
Home - Random Browse

A war on tick's ez dear'z the deuce, But it wun't leave no lastin' traces, Ez't would to make a sneakin' truce Without no moral specie-basis: Ef green-backs ain't nut jest the cheese, I guess ther' 's evils thet's extremer,— Fer instance,—shinplaster idees Like them put out by Gov'nor Seymour.

Last year, the Nation, at a word, When tremblin' Freedom cried to shield her, Flamed weldin' into one keen sword Waitin' an' longin' fer a wielder: A splendid flash!—an' how'd the grasp With sech a chance ez thet wuz tally? Ther' warn't no meanin' in our clasp,— Half this, half thet, all shilly-shally.

More men? More Man! It's there we fail; Weak plans grow weaker yit by lengthenin': Wut use in addin' to the tail, When it's the head's in need o' strengthenin'? We wanted one thet felt all Chief From roots o' hair to sole o' stockin', Square-sot with thousan'-ton belief In him an' us, ef earth went rockin'!

Ole Hick'ry wouldn't ha' stood see-saw 'Bout doin' things till they wuz done with,— He'd smashed the tables o' the Law In time o' need to load his gun with; He couldn't see but jest one side,— Ef his, 'twuz God's, an' thet wuz plenty; An' so his "Forrards!" multiplied An army's fightin' weight by twenty.

But this 'ere histin', creak, creak, creak, Your cappen's heart up with a derrick, This tryin' to coax a lightnin'-streak Out of a half-discouraged hay-rick, This hangin' on mont' arter mont' Fer one sharp purpose 'mongst the twitter,— I tell ye, it doos kind o' stunt The peth an' sperit of a critter.

In six months where'll the People be, Ef leaders look on revolution Ez though it wuz a cup o' tea,— Jest social el'ments in solution? This weighin' things doos wal enough When war cools down, an' comes to writin'; But while it's makin', the true stuff Is pison-mad, pig-headed fightin'.

Democ'acy gives every man A right to be his own oppressor; But a loose Gov'ment ain't the plan, Helpless ez spilled beans on a dresser: I tell ye one thing we might larn From them smart critters, the Seceders,— Ef bein' right's the fust consarn, The 'fore-the-fust 's cast-iron leaders.

But 'pears to me I see some signs Thet we're a-goin' to use our senses: Jeff druv us into these hard lines, An' ough' to bear his half th' expenses; Slavery's Secession's heart an' will, South, North, East, West, where'er you find it, An' ef it drors into War's mill, D' ye say them thunder-stones sha'n't grind it?

D' ye s'pose, ef Jeff giv him a lick, Ole Hick'ry'd tried his head to sof'n So 's 't wouldn't hurt thet ebony stick Thet's made our side see stars so of'n? "No!" he'd ha' thundered, "on your knees, An' own one flag, one road to glory! Soft-heartedness, in times like these, Shows sof'ness in the upper story!"

An' why should we kick up a muss About the Pres'dunt's proclamation? It ain't a-goin' to lib'rate us, Ef we don't like emancipation: The right to be a cussed fool Is safe from all devices human, It's common (ez a gin'l rule) To every critter born o' woman.

So we're all right, an' I, fer one, Don't think our cause'll lose in vally By rammin' Scriptur' in our gun, An' gittin' Natur' fer an ally: Thank God, say I, fer even a plan To lift one human bein's level, Give one more chance to make a man, Or, anyhow, to spile a devil!

Not thet I'm one thet much expec' Millennium by express to-morrer; They will miscarry,—I rec'lec' Tu many on 'em, to my sorrer: Men ain't made angels in a day, No matter how you mould an' labor 'em,— Nor 'riginal ones, I guess, don't stay With Abe so of'n ez with Abraham,

The'ry thinks Fact a pooty thing, An' wants the banns read right ensuin'; But Fact wun't noways wear the ring 'Thout years o' settin' up an' wooin': But, arter all, Time's dial-plate Marks cent'ries with the minute-finger, An' Good can't never come tu late, Though it doos seem to try an' linger.

An' come wut will, I think it's grand Abe's gut his will et last bloom-furnaced In trial-flames till it'11 stand The strain o' bein' in deadly earnest: Thet's wut we want,—we want to know The folks on our side hez the bravery To b'lieve ez hard, come weal, come woe, In Freedom ez Jeff doos in Slavery.

Set the two forces foot to foot, An' every man knows who'll be winner, Whose faith in God hez ary root Thet goes down deeper than his dinner: Then 'twill be felt from pole to pole, Without no need o' proclamation, Earth's Biggest Country's gut her soul An' risen up Earth's Greatest Nation!


Slavery and Secession in America, Historical and Economical; together with a Practical Scheme of Emancipation. By THOMAS ELLISON, F.S.S., etc. Second Edition: Enlarged. With a Reply to the Fundamental Arguments of Mr. James Spence, contained in his Work on the American Union, and Remarks on the Productions of Other Writers. With Map and Appendices. London: Sampson Low, Son, & Co.

We have too long delayed to speak of Mr. Ellison's book. More than a year ago, before Mr. Stuart Mill or Professor Cairnes had written in our behalf, before we had received a word of sympathy from any representative Englishman, save Mr. John Bright, the first edition of this work was placed before the British public. And we could not have asked for a better informed or more judicious defender than Mr. Ellison. "Slavery and Secession in America" is a temperate and concise statement of the essential features of our national struggle. The supposed interest of half a million of slaveholders in the extension of the Southern institution is truly represented as the cause of their guilty insurrection against the liberties of their countrymen. Mr. Ellison does not desire immediate emancipation, and wastes no sentiment upon the sufferings of the negro. But the economical and social position of Slavery is given with the unanswerable emphasis of careful figures. He traces the rise and increase of the institution in the States, until its disgrace culminates in a bloody rebellion. He clearly shows, that, by acknowledging the doctrine involved in Secession, by allowing it to govern the intercourse between nations, the morality of society would be shaken from its base. The anti-slavery character of the strife in which we are involved is made to appear,—slavery-diffusion being the object of the South, slavery-restriction the aim of the North. It is shown that the Secession ordinances utterly failed to point out a single instance in which the rights of the Southern people were infringed upon by the National Executive; also, that the alleged right of Secession is neither Constitutional, nor, when backed by no tangible grievance, can it he called revolutionary. In short, Mr. Ellison takes the only ground which seems possible to loyalists in America: namely, that Secession—in other words, the treason of slaveholders against the Constitution of their country—is of necessity punishable by law; and that good men of all nationalities should unite in the moral support of a benignant government thus wantonly assailed.

The "practical scheme of emancipation" promised us in the title can hardly be said to amount to a scheme at all; but there are suggestions worth attending to, if that delicate matter might be managed as we would, not as we must.

We have marked but two passages for a questioning comment. General Taylor, by an inadvertency strange to pass to a second edition, is represented as putting down the South-Carolina Nullifiers in 1838. Also, Dr. Charles Mackay, the New-York Correspondent of the London "Times," is quoted as having once borne anti-slavery testimony. This is certainly hard. Whatever emoluments slave-masters or their allies may hereafter have it in their power to bestow this gentleman has fairly earned. If he ever did say anything that was disagreeable to them, it should not be remembered against him.

The merit of Mr. Ellison's book is neither in rhetoric, philanthropic sentiment, nor any exalted theory of political philosophy; it is in an unanswerable appeal to statistics, and a condensed statement of facts. The work may be commended to all desirous of arriving at the truth.

But no conventional phrases of a book-notice can express our obligations to Mr. Ellison and those few of his countrymen who have publicly rebuked the noisy bitterness of writers striving, with too much success, to debauch the sentiment of England. Most dear to us is an occasional lull in that storm of insolence and mendacity designed to embarrass the Government of the United States in the august and solemn championship of human liberty committed to its charge. And let it be remarked that our expectations of English approval were never Utopian. The great principle involved in the American contest was so far above the level of the ordinary pursuits of men, that, even among ourselves, few have been able to transfuse it into their daily consciousness. We never looked to England for the encouragement of a popular enthusiasm,—hardly, perhaps, for a cold acquiescence. John Bull, we said, is proverbially a grumbler, proverbially indifferent to all affairs but his own; he will be annoyed by tariffs, and plagued by scarcity of cotton;—what wonder, if we are a little misunderstood? The minor contributors to his daily press will not be able to think long or wisely of what they write; we must be ready to pardon a certain amount of irritation and misstatement. That such was the feeling of intelligent Americans towards England, at the beginning of our troubles, we have no doubt. But for the scurrility heaped upon us by what claims to be the higher British press we were totally unprepared,—and for this good reason, that such malignity of criticism as is possible in America could never have suggested it. Let us not be misunderstood. We acknowledge the "Rowdy Journal" and Mr. Jefferson Brick. Undoubtedly, newspapers exist among us of which the description of Mr. Dickens is no very extravagant caricature. But their editors, if not of notoriously infamous life, are those whose minds are unenlarged by any generous education,—men whose lack of grammar suggests a certain palliation of their want of veracity and good-breeding. Such journals are seldom or never seen by the large class of cultivated American readers, and are in no sense representative of them. The "Saturday Review" and "Blackwood's Magazine" are said to be conducted by men of University training. Their articles are written in clear and precise English, and often contain vigorous thought. They publish few papers which do not give evidence of at least tolerable scholarship in their writers. Of kindred periodicals on this side of the ocean it may be safely said, that the intelligence of the reader forces their criticism up to some decent standard of honest painstaking. We may thus explain the bewilderment which came over us at that burst of vulgar ribaldry from the leading British press, in which the organs above named have achieved a scandalous preeminence. Vibrating from the extreme of shallowness to the extreme of sufficiency, scorning to be limited in abuse by adhering to any single hypothesis, the current literature of England has gloated over the rebellion of Slavery with the cynical chuckles of a sour spinster. Would that language less strong could express our meaning! President Lincoln—whatever may be judged his deficiency in resources of statesmanship—will be embalmed by history as one possessing many qualities peculiarly adapted to our perilous crisis, together with an integrity of life and purpose honorably representing the yeomanry of the Republic. This man, the ruler of a friendly people, British journalists have proclaimed guilty of crimes to which the records of the darkest despotisms can scarcely furnish a parallel. The precious blood of Ellsworth was taken by the "Saturday Review" as the text of such disgraceful banter as we trust few bar-keepers in America would bestow upon a bully killed in a pot-house fray. General Butler, for a verbal infelicity in an order of imperative necessity and wholesome effect, has been befouled by language which no careful historian would apply to Tiberius or Louis XV. But enough of this. We should be glad to believe that these utterers of false witness were boorish men, in dark and desperate ignorance of the true bearing of our current affairs. We are unable so to believe.

It is a relief to turn to that small company of Englishmen who have extended brother-hands to us in the day of our necessity. No world-homage of literary admiration is worth the personal emotion with which they are recognized in America as representatives of that Old England which has place in the affection and gratitude of every cultivated man among us. They have done us justice, when contempt for justice alone was popular, and a cynical skepticism seemed the only retreat from blatant abuse. Cairnes, Mill, Ellison, and others whom we need not name,—for the sake of such men let us still think of England in generous temper. Their sympathies have been with us through this terrible arbitrament of arms; they were with us in that solemn close of the old year, when the destiny of our dumb four millions weighed upon the night. These men have told us that the principle for which we contend is sound and worthy: they may also tell us that we have made occasional mistakes in reducing the principle to practice; and of this we are painfully conscious. It is well for us to forego that reckless bravado of unexampled prosperity once so offensive to foreign ears. Yet the best thing we ever had to boast of has been with us in the storm. According to the admirable observation of Niebuhr,—"Liberty exists where public opinion can constrain Government to fulfil its duties, and where, on the other side, in times of popular infatuation, the Government can maintain a wise course in spite of public opinion." This liberty has been preserved to us through all the turbulence of war. Like some divine element, it has mingled in the convulsion of human passion, and already prophesies the day when the service of man to man, as of man to God, shall be rendered in perfect freedom.

A Treatise on Military Law and the Practice of Courts-Martial. By CAPTAIN S.V. BENET, Ordnance Department, U.S. Army, late Assistant Professor of Ethics, Law, etc., Military Academy, West Point. Mew York: D. Van Nostrand.

In these days of large armies and intense military enthusiasm, the very title of a military book commends it, prima facie, to public interest; and when it promises to elucidate and systematize the intricate subject of military law, it has great specific importance in the eyes of the tens of thousands of officers who are constantly called upon to administer that law, and to whom the duties of courts-martial are new and difficult. But, to understand still more clearly the great value of such a work, supposing it to be well written, we must go back in the history of military courts, and see how little had been done to render them systematic and uniform,—what a comparatively unoccupied field the author had to reap in,—what needs there were to supply; and then we shall be better able to criticize his work, and to judge of its practical value.

For a very long period we followed, in our army, the practice of the English courts-martial, as we adopted the English Common Law in our civic courts.

The military code to be applied and administered by courts-martial is contained in the Act of Congress of the 10th of April, 1806, commonly called "The Rules and Articles of War," and in a few other acts and parts of acts, supplementary to these, which have been enacted from time to time, as circumstances seemed to require.

In the year 1839, Major-General Macomb, commander-in-chief of the army, prepared a little treatise on "The Practice of Courts-Martial," which, in lieu of something better, was generally used; and the modes of proceeding and forms of orders and records there given established uniformity in the actions and duties of such courts throughout the army.

Five or six years later, Captain John P. O'Brien, of the Fourth Artillery, issued "A Treatise on American Military Law and Practice of Courts-Martial." This work evinced a great deal of legal research, and a thorough knowledge of the practical applications of military law; but it is voluminous, wanting in arrangement, and, while valuable as a storehouse from which to draw materials, not suited for ready reference, or for the study of beginners. It is now, we believe, out of print; and, as its accomplished author is not living, it can hardly be adapted to the wants of the army at the present day.

In the year 1846, Captain William C. De Hart, of the Second Artillery, published his excellent work, entitled, "Observations on Military Law, and the Constitution and Practice of Courts-Martial." In his Preface he says,—"Since the legal establishment of the army and navy of the United States, there has been no work produced, written for the express purpose,... and intended as a guide for the administration of military justice." And, in a note, he adds, "The small treatise on courts-martial by the late Major-General Macomb is no exception to the remark." He makes, if we remember rightly, no reference to Captain O'Brien's work, which appeared but a short time before his own.

The work of Captain De Hart, so far in advance of what had yet appeared on this subject, written, too, by an expert, who had been long employed under the orders of the War Department as the acting judge-advocate of the army, (the office of judge-advocate not being created till a later day,) was regarded as the chief authority in the army. But it was never designed, nor can it be easily adapted, for instruction. It is a philosophical discussion of the subject, containing many historical citations and illustrations, which show the reader his authorities without fortifying his positions. For a text-book, therefore, it lacks arrangement, and is too discursive.

Up to this time, the subject of military law was not studied at the Military Academy; but in the year 1856, when the course of studies in that institution was lengthened, so as to consume five years instead of four, this branch was added to the curriculum, and has since been retained,—its importance being made every day more manifest. Then a treatise was wanted, which, while it could be used as authority in our vast army, should be also suited as a text-book for the cadets, from which they could recite in the section-room, and which should be their vade-mecum for future reference,—originally learned, and always consulted.

This was Captain Benet's self-appointed task, and he has performed it admirably. He has examined all the authorities, French and English, and his book bears the evidences of this original investigation. For purposes of study, his system is clear, his arrangement logical, and his divisions numerous and just. All the directions as to trials are very practically set forth, so that any sensible volunteer officer, appointed upon a court unexpectedly, could very soon, by the aid of these pages, make himself "master of the position." And as there is much concurrent, and sometimes apparently conflicting, jurisdiction of military and civic courts, this volume ought to be on every lawyer's table as the special expounder of military law, wherever it may approach the action of the civil code.

Having said thus much of the general plan, scope, and merits of the work, let us cast a brief glance at the nature of its contents. It is called a treatise on Military Law. What is military law? It is that law which governs the army, and all individuals connected with it. In other words, it has respect to military organization and discipline. It must not be confounded with Martial Law, which is the suspension of civic law, and the substitution of military law over citizens, not soldiers, in extraordinary circumstances.

Military law, which cannot wait for the slow processes of civic courts, is immediate and condign in its action, and is administered by courts-martial, to which are confided the powers of judge and jury. These courts examine into the cases, find verdicts, and pronounce sentences,—all, however, subject to the revision and sanction of the supreme authority which convened them.

Courts—martial are divided into two classes: General Courts, for the trial of officers, and of the higher grades of offences; and Regimental or Garrison Courts, for the consideration of less important cases in a regiment or garrison. General courts vary in the number of members: they must be composed of not less than five, and of never more than thirteen. Regimental or garrison courts are never composed of more than three members. For general courts, only, a judge-advocate is appointed to conduct the prosecution for the United States.

The offences against military law are determined by the "Rules and Articles of War," in which the principal offences are distinctly set forth and forbidden; and, that unanticipated misconduct may not be without cognizance and punishment, the ninety-ninth article includes all such cases under the charge of "conduct to the prejudice of good order and military discipline," which is of universal scope.

The punishments are also set forth in the Articles of War. Those prescribed for officers include death,—cashiering,[A]—cashiering, with a clause disabling the officer from ever holding any office under the United States,—dismissal,—suspension from rank and pay,—reprimand. For soldiers the principal punishments are death,—confinement,—confinement on bread-and-water diet,—solitary confinement,—forfeiture of pay and allowances,—discharges.

[Footnote A: Cashiering implies something infamous in the British service; and although it has been attempted to make no distinction between cashiering and dismissing in our service, something of the opprobrium still attaches to the former punishment.]

The conduct of the trial, the duties of all persons concerned, members, judge-advocate, prisoner, witnesses, counsel, etc., are given in detail, and will be very easily learned. Forms of orders for convening courts-martial, modes of recording the proceedings, the form of a general order confirming or disapproving the proceedings, the form of the judge-advocate's certificate, and the forms of charges and specifications under different articles of war, are given in the Appendix, and are used verbatim by all judge-advocates and recorders. There are also explanations of the duties of courts of inquiry, and of boards for retiring disabled officers; and extracts from the Acts of Congress bearing upon military law. The Articles of War are also given for reference. The book is thus rendered complete as a manual for the conduct of courts-martial, from the original order to the execution of the sentence.

From what has been said, it will be gathered that the work was needed, that it admirably supplies the need, and that it may be recommended, without qualification, as providing all the information which it purports to provide, and which could be demanded of it, in a lucid, systematic, and simple manner. It is an octavo volume, containing 377 pages, clearly printed in large type, and on excellent paper; the binding is serviceable, being in strong buff leather, like other law-books.

Lectures on Moral Science. Delivered before the Lowell Institute, Boston. By MARK HOPKINS, D.D., LL.D. Boston: Gould and Lincoln. 12mo.

It is a little curious that there is not a single science in which man is constitutionally, and therefore directly interested, to which Emanuel Kant has not, in one way or another, written a Prolegomena. Professionally he did so in the case of Metaphysic: and out of the great original claim which he here established there emanates a separate claim, in each particular science of the order already indicated, to a sublime dictatorship. And chiefly is this claim valid in Moral Philosophy; for it was his province, the first of all men, clearly to reveal, as a scientific fact certified by demonstration, the divine eminence of the practical above the merely speculative powers of man,—the fulfilment of which mission justly entitled him to all the privileges incident to the vantage-ground thus gained,—privileges widely significant in a survey of that field where chiefly these practical powers hold their Olympian supremacy, the field of Moral Philosophy.

Nothing could have afforded us a better excuse for a resume of Kant, in this connection, than the new work of Dr. Hopkins. Of the many treatises on Moral Science with which the reading world has been flooded and bewildered since the time of Coleridge, there is this one alone found worthy of being ranged along-side of the works of the old Koenigsberg seer,—the one alone which, like his, deals with the grander features of the science. It is the best realization objectively of Kant's subjective principles that has yet been given. But how, the plain English reader will ask, are we to understand from this the place which the new work takes in literature? Not readily, indeed, unless one has already taken the trouble to examine such of Kant's treatises as have found their way out of German into hardly tolerable English, and has, moreover, reflected upon the importance of the principles therein established. But, of those who will read this notice, not one out of fifty has had even the opportunity for examination, not one out of five thousand has really taken the opportunity, and, of those that have, one half, at least, have done so independently of any philosophic aim, and have therefore reflected to very little purpose on the principles involved. Therefore, what the reader could not or has not chosen to do for himself we will do for him, at the same time congratulating him that there is now placed in his hands as complete and perfect a structure outwardly, in the work under notice, as the groundwork furnished by the old master was, in its subjective analysis, simple and profound.

Those who approach human nature, or the nature outside of us, with a reverence for reality, will give precedence, after the manner of Nature, to those powers which are predominant and determinative; and in man these are Reason and Will. These two exist as identical in Personality, which we may denominate as we choose, whether Rational Will, or, as Kant does more frequently, Practical Reason. Here, in the identity of these two powers in Personality, and still more in their relation to each other as they are differentiated in personal existence, does Morality originate and develop according to principles.

Now let it be remembered that Kant's mission was, as above indicated, to exclude the speculative side of our nature from any direct relation to human destiny, inasmuch as it could not answer either of the three great questions which every man everywhere and of necessity puts,—Whence am I? What am I? and Whither do I tend?—and therefore stood confused in the presence of any grand reality, whether human or divine, and to make the Practical Reason the sole and immediate link of connection between ourselves and the realities from the presence of which the Speculative Reason had been driven. Then will it be clearly seen how he would answer the fundamental question of Moral Philosophy,—Wherein does the quality of Goodness originally reside?

The answer, from Kant's own lips, is this: "There is nothing in the world, nor, generally speaking, even out of it, possible to be conceived, which can without limitation be held good, but a Good Will." The good is not in the end attained, not even in the volition, but is a principle resident in the will itself. "The volition is between its principle a priori, which is formal, and its spring a posteriori, which is material; and since it must be determined by something, and being deprived of every material principle, it must be determined by the formal."

Now, although President Hopkins considers Moral Philosophy as a philosophy of ends, he evidently does not mean ends a posteriori and material, but ends a priori, using the term as the best objective translation of principles. Almost as if with the conscious design of making his work harmonize with the groundwork furnished by Kant, he has developed a graduated series of conditions, according to which we ascend "the great world's altar-stairs," from lower and conditioned good up to that good which is the condition of all, itself unlimited, namely, in the will fulfilling its original design. The "law of limitation," according to which not only the subordinate powers of man, but even the forces of Nature, from those concerned in the highest animal organization down to that of gravitation, are made to take their places in the chain of dependence which hangs from the human will, is the most important part, scientifically, of the whole work. It is in accordance with this law that the science of Morals becomes a structure,—universal in its base and regularly ascending after the order of Nature, harmonious in all its parts, and proceeding upward within hearing of universal harmonies. Hitherto there has been no such structure; but only tabernacles have been built, because there was no Solomon to build a temple.

Once having determined the connection which there is between the Will and the principle of Good, there still remains to be determined the place which Reason has in this connection.

Merely to act according to some teleological or determining principle gives man no preeminence above Nature, except in degree. That which is peculiar to man is that he has the faculty of acting according to laws as represented and reflected upon in the light of thought,—to which reason is absolutely indispensable. Reason is therefore necessary to choice,—to freedom. There can, therefore, no more be goodness without reason than there can be without will. Yet there might be, as Kant justly argues, if good were to be in any case identified with mere happiness. "For," says he, "all the actions which man has to perform with a view to happiness, and the whole rule of his conduct, would be much more exactly presented to him by instinct, and that end had been much more certainly attained than it ever can be by reason; and should the latter also be bestowed on the favored creature, it must be of use only in contemplating the happy predisposition lodged in instinct, to admire this, to rejoice in it, and be grateful for it to the beneficent Cause; in short, Nature would have prevented reason from any practical use in subduing appetite, etc., and from excogitating for itself a project of happiness; she would have taken upon herself not only the choice of ends, but the means, and had with wise care intrusted both to instinct merely." The fact, then, that reason has been given, and has been endowed with a practical use, is sufficient to prove that some more worthy end than felicity is designed,—namely, a will good in itself,—rationally good,—that is, from choice.

Out of the rationality of will is developed its morality. Here, only, is found the possibility of failure in respect of the end constitutionally indicated,—here only the avenues of temptation, by which alien elements come in to array the man against himself in a terrible conflict, so sublime that it is a spectacle to heavenly powers. It is only as this rationality is clearly developed, and is allotted its just place in Moral Science, that the universal structure to which we have already alluded, and which, as we saw, culminated in the will, assumes its peculiar sublimity. For the voluntariness which is consciously realized in reason gives man the mastery over constitutional processes, not merely to direct, but even to thwart them; nor this merely for himself, but it is in his power, through the nullification of his own constitution, to nullify also that of the world, to dally with the institutions of Nature, and on the grandest scale to play the meddler.

Merely of itself, apart from reason, the will could only work out its teleological type in darkness and by blind necessity; there could be no goodness, for this involves conscious elements. But through reason, that which of itself the will would yield as unconscious impulse obtains representation, and thus becomes a recognized principle, which in connection with the feelings involves an element of obligation.

Conscience, thus, instead of being a separate and independent faculty, is, as Dr. Hopkins also places it, a function of the moral reason. Into the courts of this reason come not only the higher indications of will, but also the impulses of appetite, instinct, and affection,—not moral in themselves, indeed, but yet assuming the garments of morality as seen in this high presence.

That which was made fundamental by Kant, in all that he has left on the subject of Moral Philosophy, is the position that it is wholly to be developed out of practical reason, or will as represented in reason. The same position is fundamental in President Hopkins's work, and it is here that its philosophic value chiefly rests. This position is developed in plain English, with strict scientific truth, and yet with a warm and sympathetic glow, as regards outward embodiment, that very much heightens the elevating power of the principles and conclusions evolved. Nor is man, because of his independent personality, made to stand alone, but always is he seen in the higher and All-Comprehending Presence. Ideal truth is reached without necessitating Idealism, and harmony is attained without Pantheism.

We have purposely confined ourselves to the most general feature of the work, because it is this which gives it its great and distinctive importance; yet the whole structure is as elaborately and beautifully wrought as it is fitly grounded in the truth of Nature.

The National Almanac and Annual Record for 1863. Philadelphia: George W. Childs. 12mo. pp. 600.

Volumes like this are the very staff of history. What a stride in literature from the "Prognostications" of Nostradamus and Partridge, and the imposture of such prophetic chap-books as the almanacs of Moore and Poor Robin, to the bulky volumes teeming with all manner of information, such as the "Almanach Imperial," the "New Edinburgh," or "Thorn's Irish Almanac"! In the list of superior works ranking with those just named is to be included the new "National Almanac." We have here assuredly a vast improvement over anything in this way which has heretofore been attempted among us. A more comprehensive range of topics is presented, and such standard subjects as we should naturally expect to find introduced are worked up with much more copiousness and accuracy of treatment. It is evident on every page that a thoroughly active and painstaking industry has presided over the preparation of the volume. Statistics have not been taken at second-hand, where the primary sources of knowledge could be rendered available. The details of the great Departments of the Federal Government have been revised by the Departments themselves. In like manner, the particulars concerning the several States have in most cases been corrected by a State officer. Thus, as respects the leading subjects in the book, we have here not only the most accurate information before the public, but we have it in the latest authorized or official form. Facts are as a general rule brought down to date, instead of being six or twelve months behind-hand, as has been the case heretofore in similar publications, the compilers of which were content to await the tardy printing by Congress of documents and reports. Hence the work is pervaded by an air of freshness and vitality. It is not merely a receptacle of outgrown facts and accomplished events, but the companion and interpreter of the scenes and activities of the stirring present. It strives to seize and embody the whole being and doing of the passing time.

It is quite impossible to exhibit in these few lines any adequate conception of the diversity and fulness of the subjects. All the valuable results of the last census are classified and incorporated. Then we have the entire organization of the military, naval, and civil service,—the tariff and tax laws conveniently arranged,—the financial, industrial, commercial, agricultural, literary, educational, and ecclesiastical elements of our condition,—the legislation of the last three sessions of Congress, and full and detailed statistics of the individual States,—to which is added a minute sketch of the foreign Governments. Nor can we overlook the fact, that, in the abundant matter relating to our present war, the narrative of events, obituary notices, etc., reach back to the commencement of the Rebellion, so as to furnish a complete and unbroken record of the contest from its outbreak. So much for the diversified nature of the matter; and an idea may be formed of its aggregate bulk from the fact that it exceeds, by nearly one-third, the size of the "American Almanac."

The publication is, we trust, the dawning of a new era in this department of our literature. We have done well heretofore, but we have been behind many of the leading foreign works. There are in this initial volume indications that the new series which it inaugurates will be conducted with a thoroughness, enterprise, and skill which cannot fail to supply a great want. The politician, statesman, and scholar, the merchant, mechanic, and tradesman, every newspaper-reader, and, in truth, every observant and thoughtful man, of whatsoever profession or business, always wants at hand a minute and trustworthy exhibition of the manifold elements which constitute the changeful present as it ebbs and flows around him. Such hand-books are indispensable for present reference, and they constitute an invaluable storehouse for the future.


Previous Part     1  2  3  4  5  6
Home - Random Browse