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It is different, however, with an author of the name of Botta, who, we are informed, "is among the first historians of the present age.” (p. 245).
Who the fair author or compiler of all this nonsense is, we really do not know; but we can assure her that if she write a good book, and not a catch-penny, in the style of “ Latin Without a Master, in Six Easy Lessons,” which is as much
“ Handbook of Universal Literature” as the last patent medicine is an infallible cure for all diseases that flesh is heir to, we shall be happy to speak of it as its merits deserve.
The King of the Mountains, from the French of Edmond About, author of
“ The Roman Question,” “ Germaine," &c. By Mary L. Booth. With an Introduction by Epes Sargent. Boston: J. E. Tilton & Co. 1861.
M. About has made more rapid strides towards fame, within the last two years, than any other living writer of his class. Nor had any one better prepared himself for the task of at once entertaining and instructing the reading public at home and abroad. Before attempting any elaborate work, he travelled through most of Europe ; and not as the majority of tourists do at the present day. In going from one city to another, whether in Greece, Italy, England, or Germany, he had a more earnest and laudable motive than merely to have it to say that he had seen this or that famous place, admired this or that chef d'oeuvre of art. He took time, not only to obtain a correct impression of the external appearance of every city of any note he passed through, but also waited to observe what are the peculiarities of the inhabitants, if any such they have. Nor did he stop at this. He also took care to note the proportion of taxes they have to pay as compared to their neighbors of other cities of equal extent or importance. In short, he made use of figures as well as facts. By this means he became possessed of a large amount of that kind of knowledge which is really power, and which, when embodied in an agreeable book, is sure to attract attention and secure respect from one end of Europe to the other; and need we add America ?
Hence it is that his Questione Romaine and Gréce Contemporaine, especially the latter, have created a veritable sensation among, high and low-in the cabinets of the principal Powers of the world, as well as among the humblest of the people-even those who can afford no more elaborate or valuable literary works than the daily or weekly newspapers. Without having ever seen one of his productions, the fact that he had the faculty of agitating Europe, from the Tagus to the White Sea, and from the Orkney Islands to Sicily, as he has done in a small pamphlet, one might well take it for granted that what he writes is worth reading. Yet his political writings, full of thought and energy as they are, are dry and formal, compared to his novels, especially to his Roi des Montaignes, which, while we pen these remarks, is being read, simultaneously and with almost equal avidity in France, Germany, Italy, England and America. Considered as a work of art, the story, if such so strange a romance may be called, lacks unity. The parts do not rightly adhere to each other. Sometimes one limb, as it were, is twice, nay three times, as large as its fellow, and its periods of time are equally disproportioned to each other. Occasionally we meet with anacronisms, so glaring, that we are
led to suspect that they form a portion of the machinery designed much more to amuse than instruct.
But it is the scenes and incidents, and the ease and truthfulness with which the characters are placed in relief before us, by the aid, here and there, of a brilliant episode, and not the narrative, which arrest and secure attention. Few, if any novelists, of any country, capable of placing on their canvass, side by side, portraits so essentially different as those of the Englishman, Mr. Baily, his sister, Mrs. Simons; Herman Schultz, the German student; and John Harris, the American, and “maternal uncle of William Lobster," not to mention the hero, his gracious Majesty Hadgi Stavros, King of the Mountains. As we have no copy of the original before us, we can only judge of the translation from internal evidence; and this seems to us hardly to do justice to the author if, indeed, “ The King of the Mountains” be not very different in style and esprit from his other writings. This remark applies more particularly to those idioms in which the French and English languages are so totally unlike each other. M. About’s interrogatories are much more polite and delicate in any work of his that we have seen, than they are in the translation before us, in which they are more direct than is consistent with French courtesy. Nor are the ladies 80 gracefully dealt with as we should expect from a man of the author's wellknown gallantry, and to whose female portraitures in La Gréce Contemporaine an eminent critic applies the lines :
“ Vous-êtes belle, et votre soeur est belle :
L'amour est blond comme vous,
We do not mean, however, that Miss Booth’s translation is otherwise than sprightly and attractive, and imbued with a good deal of the characteristic vivacity of the French. Let the original be what it may, the English dress of “The King of the Mountains” is infinitely decenter and more creditable than that, for example, of most of the series issued in this city, some time since, under the high-sounding title of “ The French Classics,” in which, in many cases, a few mutilated extracts, execrably translated into bombastic English, are represented as The Works” of this or that eminent author. This, indeed, is not high praise of the volume before us; but we can conscientiously add that it will amply repay perusal. The Introduction, by Epes Sargent, is well written ; and will induce many to read the story who, without it, might feel discouraged before entering into the spirit of the plot.
Legends of the Madonna, as represented in the Fine Arts. By Mrs. JAMESON.
Corrected and enlarged edition. Boston: Ticknor & Fields. 1860
THERE are but few, if any, of our readers who need any description of the characteristics of Mrs. Jameson's works; since they are known and appreciated not only wherever the English language is spoken, but wherever there exists a taste for the beautiful and refining in art and literature combined ; for most of them have been translated into all the principal languages of Europe. It is sufficient to say, therefore, that this truly beautiful “ blue and gold " Amorican edition is an exact reprint of the last complete English edition.
1. The Progressive Practical Arithmetic, for Common Schools and Academies.
By HORATIO N. ROBINSON, LL.D. 16mo., pp. 336. 2. The Progressive Higher Arithmetic, for Schools, Academies, and Mercantile
Colleges, combining the Analytic and Synthetic Methods. By HORATIO
N. ROBINSON, LL.D. 12mo., pp. 432. 3. New Elementary Algebra, containing the Rudiments of the Science, for
Schools and Academies. By HORATIO N. ROBINSON, LL.D. 12mo., pp. 312. 4. A Theoretical and Practical Treatise on Algebra. Designed for Schools, Col
leges, and Private Students. By HORATIO N. ROBINSON, LL.D. Twenty
eighth Edition. 12mo., pp. 360. 5. An Elementary Class Bookc on Astronomy, in which Mathematical Demon
strations are omitted. By H. N. ROBINSON, LL.D. 16mo., pp. 206. 6. A Treatise on Astronomy, Descriptive, Theoretical, and Physical. Designed
for Schools, Academies, and Private Students. By H. N. ROBINSON, LL.D,
8vo., pp. 357. 7. Elements of Geometry and Plane and Spherical Trigonometry, with numerous
Practical Problems. By H. N. ROBINSON, LL.D. 8vo., pp. 383. 8. A Treatise on Surveying and Navigation, uniting the Theoretical, Practical.
and Educational of these subjects. By H. N. ROBINSON, LL.D. Fourth Edition. New York: Ivison, Phinney & Co. 1860.
PROFESSOR ROBINSON deserves well of his countrymen, for having produced a mathematical series, combining so many advantages, both for pupil and teacher, as this. Text-books, in general, of the present day, cost but little trouble. The majority of those who undertake to prepare them, seem to think that it is sufficient merely to transpose what they find in other similar works, often without adding as much as a definition of their own. In this latter omission, indeed, they do well in most cases; for, judging from the manner in which they acquit themselves in other respects, if they did give definitions, they would be somewhat like the owl's description of its young to the eaglethat is, they would do more harm than good-mislead rather than guide.
It is remarkable, that while no people more highly appreciate the value of scientific discoveries and inventions than ourselves, there are none, at the same time, among the enlightened, who devote less attention to the study of mathe matics. That there are exceptions to this, as a rule, far be it from us to deny America can boast of as good living mathematicians as almost any other country. But the number is exceedingly few-fewer than almost any of the petty states of Germany-fewer than our little sister republic of Switzerland. This is for no lack of genius or intellectual activity on the part of our countrymen, but a certain aversion to close and continued study—a disposition to do everything in a hurry-which pervades all classes. Whether this is caused by the superficial character of our text-books, or whether compilers think it best to eschew what is difficult or profound, from a consciousness that it would be thrown aside for what is "easy," it is not now our purpose to inquire ; though we may remark, in passing, that the truth lies between the two extremes ; but probably nearest to that which throws the chief blame on the authors.
Be this as it may, Prof. Robinson has fully vindicated himself; for in the series before us he has made provision for every variety of student, from the smatterer who thinks he ought to learn anything—at least as much as he wants of it—in three months, to him who is willing to devote nights and days for years, to the mastering of one science. It is not, however, our purpose to examine all on the present occasion ; such, indeed, would be impossible, since the whole series extends to no fewer than seventeen volumes, including "Keys" to the higher and more elaborate treatises, for the use of teachers. Nor would it be necessary for us to do so, had we even time and space to spare, partly because the books are well known already, being extensively used in all parts of the country, and partly because those who do not know them, but are capable of forming an opinion of their merits when they see tham, do not need minute descriptions. All they require is the general plan and some notion of the manner in which it is carried out, in order to be able to form a pretty correct idea of the value of the tout ensemble.
It seems to us that in no part of his task has the author succeeded better than in that which is most generally neglected, namely, in rendering his system as much an instrument of mental discipline as possible. The great mistake is, with compilers of the present day, that if the student is capable of performing certain operations in arithmetic, algebra, geometry, trigonometry, or mensuration, the object required is attained, the same as if he were serving his time to the least intellectual and most vulgar of the mechanic arts; whereas, in point of fact this, as a general thing, is but a matter of secondary consideration. Nine out of every ten who, study mathematics derive most profit from doing so by its effect in invigorating the faculties of the mind, just as those who practice gymnastics do so, not that they may be able to fight, leap, or jump, but in order that their whole muscular system may be made to attain as much elasticity as possible.
Robinson's " Progressive Intellectual Arithmetic” exhibits the most successful illustratio we have seen of the inductive system ; and what is rarely the case in other similar works, most of its forms of analysis are original, the result of practical experience in teaching. Indeed, there is more that is useful in the Appendix alone, both for the ordinary purposes of life and for disposing the mind to analytical habits, than is to be found in many a whole work compiled in the usual crude, unmethodical way, apparently without any higher or more worthy object than the pecuniary profit it may bring. · The Progressive Higher Arithmetic” combines the analytic and synthetic methods—that is, it not only shows how certain operations are performed, but also the why and the wherefore—in other words, it contemplates causes as well as results, and presents an easy and philosophical gradation from beginning to end. New Elementary Algebra,” is a carefully revised edition ; and is well calculated, from the clearness and simplicity of its definitions, and the variety of its illustrative examples, to render the science attractive to many who are too apt to be repelled by ordinary treatises. In turning to the “University Algebra” we find the problems more difficult, a greater variety of equations—more profound and elaborate processes ; but the gradation we have spoken of as per
vading the whole series, is never lost sight of. The recurring and binomial equations, and the differential method of series, are more fully and satisfactorily illustrated in the volume before us, than in any other text book of equal size which has fallen into our hands since our schoolboy days.
Of the treatises on geometry, trigonometry, astronomy, surveying and navigation, we have not room to speak at any length on the present occasion. They are embraced in four volumes, each of which is complete in itself. All are illustrated with plates and diagrams, combine the theoretical with practical, and contain copious tables at the end. In the treatise on geometry, there is less of Euclid's system of demonstration than we could wish, because there is no better system of logic. It strikes us also that there is not sufficient variety of theorems and propositions, though more than in any other American work we have seen. These, however, are but slight faults—in the opinion of many no faults at all. They are not such, at all events, as to modify the opinion we have already expressed as to the intrinsic merits of the whole series, as a means of superinducing the more extensive cultivation of sciences, which can boast such students as Pythagoras, Plato, Aristotle, Ptolemy, Appolonius of Perga, Archimedes, Theon and his daughter Hypatia ; and to which we owe such discoveries as those of Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Laplace and Copernicus.
1. The First Reader of the School and Family Series. By Marcius Wilson,
Author of “History of the United States," “ Outlines of General History,'
&c., &c. 16mo. pp. 82. 2. The Second Reader of the Family and School Series. By MARCIUS WILSON.
16mo. pp. 156. 3. The Third Reader of the School and Family Series. By MARCIUS Wilson.
264. 4. The Fourth Reader of the School and Family Series. By Marcius Wilson. 12mo. pp. 360. New York: Harper & Broti
rs, 1860. With the wonderful spread of education through all civilized lands, and the planting of innumerable schools and institutions of learning, the quality of the mental pabulum in the shape of class books, placed before the “rising generation," is now one of the paramount questions of our enlightened times; and its incalculable importance cannot for a moment be gainsaid. To write or compile a good text-book for the young, seems, on first consideration, no very difficult matter. But looking to the swarms of Spellers, Readers, Reciters, and Repertories, which have for many years been issuing from the press, and which, aided by the powers of steam and all mechanical facilities, are still pouring in undiminished numbers to food the world,-we see that the tov nalov has not yet been attained. The general dissatisfaction and ceaseless strugglings after a more perfect system than any yet existing, sufficiently evince the feeling and prove the conviction that we are still groping in the science of education.
But in truth, there is nothing more difficult than the successful construction of these same text-books. It requires, for its perfect accomplishment, qualifications of the rarest order. Wit, humor, learning, genius, high purpose, VOL. II.NO. III.