« VorigeDoorgaan »
only the chairman of the committee of foreign affairs, but soli tary and alone the incorporation of American wit, this brilliant rejoinder assumes at once a national importance. It may be, after all, that the Senate rejected him as minister to France because they thought the country could not spare the only wit it had.
We tear ourselves reluctantly away from the fascinating repartees of Mr. Charles Jared Ingersoll. We must even pass over Major-General Gaines, and skip to Mr. Calhoun, reversing the old saw, and reading it, Inter leges silent arma. Great as have been all who have gone before him in these pages, stupendous as have been the geniuses hitherto commemorated, we have come now to the greatest man but one in the whole illustrious catalogue. "Calhoun is my statesman," quoth the Spectator's im petticoated Politics. "Through good report and through evil report, in all his doctrines, whether upon slavery, free trade, nullification, treasury and currency systems, active annexation, or masterly inactivity, I hold myself his avowed and admiring disciple." It must be an inexpressible relief to Mr. Calhoun to have found at last a congenial spirit to sympathize in all his views, and understand them. His principles are THE DECA. LOGUE OF REPUBLICS";-the capitals are Mrs. Maury's. "If you should ask me," said the Carolina statesman to his enthusiastic admirer, "the word that I would wish engraven on my tomb. stone, it is NULLIFICATION." We confess, it seems to us such an epitaph would sound rather ambiguous. Nullification is the last word that we should like on a tombstone; it sounds too much like annihilation, for us; but that may be a Northern prejudice.
Mrs. Maury is a thorough defender of slavery, though an excellent democrat and firm supporter of liberty and equality. She points out in a luminous manner the advantages which the slaveholders enjoy for training themselves in the arts of government, and she denounces those who "preach emancipation" as fanatics. "An hereditary slave-owner, he [Mr. Calhoun] was born and educated a ruler. His gracious, princely nature, accustomed to give command without appeal, is equally accustomed to receive submission without reserve." -"And to this education in the art of government as slaveholders at home, and from their birth, it is mainly owing that the statesmen of the Southern sections display such rare, such excelling wisdom in the discharge of the offices of the Republic." Born rulers are a great and brilliant discovery for a republic. The art of governing is a crucial experiment, which must be tried upon the African race, experimentum crucis in corpore vili, before it can be applied to our Anglo-Saxon democracy. A great statesman must keep a little model administration at home, which he can mould
at will, a machine constructed of black men, women, and children, over whom he exercises command without appeal,- in order to qualify himself to administer the government of a free people. The magnetic telegraph, gun-cotton, and Le Verrier's new planet are nothing to this magnificent result of political invention. Mr. Calhoun's eyes, says Mrs. Maury, give out light in the dark. These speculations prove the feline attribute; there is a place, however (but that is not in our model republic), where "Darkness visible serves only to discover sights of woe."
We must cite one affecting passage more.
"From a singular coincidence of circumstances, I had the happy fortune to convey to Mr. Calhoun the testimonies offered to his worth by many leading men.
"The President declares that you possess his perfect confidence and his highest personal esteem. Buchanan pronounces you preeminent in talent and virtue. Mr. Crittenden, Mr. Winthrop, Mr. Hannegan, have all expressed, for themselves and their respective parties, the highest encomiums that men can utter of each other."
To this singularly delicate communication, " Calhoun spoke not; but his eye glistened, and in silence he took my hand and pressed it. How few have been indulged with such a privilege!"
We have been obliged to omit many of the plums in the pudding, to pass without notice many of the stars in Mrs. Maury's milky way of American greatness. An uncommon operation she performed upon the chairman of one of the committees, that of making him look nine ways at once,- -a compound strabismus of singular pathological interest we can barely allude to. We take leave of the book by congratulating the country and ourselves, the present generation and the future, that such a chronicler of our illustrious names has arisen; and most especially do we congratulate the illustrious names themselves, that their fame is placed beyond the reach of the accidents of mortality. That old poet was a fool who said,
Πιθανὸς ἄγαν ὁ θῆλυς ὅρος ἐπινέμεται
"The female mind too quickly moves,
Which female heraldries proclaim."
3.- Christian Consolations: Sermons designed to furnish Comfort and Strength to the Afflicted. By A. P. PEABODY, Pastor of the South Church in Portsmouth, N. H. Boston: Crosby & Nichols. 1847. 16mo. pp. 312.
It is seldom that a volume of sermons comes within our critical province. Those which are published in this country are, for the most part, of an occasional or controversial character, and are forgotten with the occurrences that produced them. The standard of pulpit eloquence is very low, and there is little chance of improvement in this respect, while the clergy are so much overworked as they are in America. In addition to their parochial duties, which in large parishes consume much time, they are required to produce a greater amount of written matter in the course of a week than most editors of a daily newspaper; and we ought not to complain, therefore, if their sermons are as feeble as the political discussions and "Washington correspondence" of a penny press. They belong to the department of cheap literature," the quantity given being out of all proportion to the insignificant price that is paid for it. So far as remuneration is concerned, most country clergymen have reason to envy the lot of the" penny-a-liners."
We welcome, therefore, with almost as much surprise as satisfaction, the appearance of a volume of discourses so excellent as these of Mr. Peabody. Though selected from "the author's common parish sermons, written with no view to future publica. tion, at wide intervals of time," they have not a trace of the languid diffuseness, and meaningless repetition of stereotyped phrases, which usually characterize such productions. They are rich in thought, and of a high order of literary merit. Yet the writer nowhere appears over-careful in point of expression, or studious of finish and ornament of style; the rhetorician never assumes the place of the Christian divine. His discourses are sermons, in the strictest sense of that word; they are not mere moral essays, philosophical disquisitions, or imaginative reveries. They do not inculcate stoicism or insensibility, nor do they harshly chide the mourner for the indulgence of grief, which too often exceeds the limits of reason, and violates the teachings of religious faith. With a kind heart and quick sympathies, the preacher touches the broken and crushed affections, and labors to restore the mind to its wonted firmness of tone by the seasonable and impressive suggestion of those great Christian doctrines which deprive the grave of its victory. The sermons bear the marks of deep feeling quite as plainly as they do the impress of
an acute and highly cultivated intellect. We have found nothing in them which indicates the peculiar tenets of the writer; they may be read without protest by the members of any Christian denomination. It is consoling, indeed, amid the turmoil and excitement of sectarian controversies, to remember that the great practical doctrines of our religion, the precepts addressed to the heart and the life, constitute the neutral ground upon which all polemics may meet in the brotherhood of faith. What is to be believed admits of a multitude of interpretations; what is to be done is uttered with one voice by all who admit Jesus of Nazareth as their teacher, and as the Saviour of men.
4.1. The Agamemnon of Eschylus, with Notes. By C. C. FELTON, A. M., Eliot Professor of Greek Literature in the University at Cambridge. Boston: James Munroe & Co. 1847. 12mo. pp. 199.
2. The Iliad of Homer, from the Text of Wolf, with English Notes. By C. C. FELTON. New and Revised Edition. Boston: James Munroe & Co. 1847. 12mo. pp. 581.
A MERE announcement of the publication of these Greek classics, edited by Professor Felton, is enough to acquit the critic of his duty. The editor's reputation for various and accurate scholarship, refined taste, and thorough acquaintance with the wants of teachers and pupils, has been so firmly established by his previous labors in the same department, that the public are willing to accept upon trust the fruits of his future industry. The great improvement which has taken place within the last fifteen years, in the school and college editions of the classics that are in use in this country, may be ascribed in a considerable degree to his example and exertions. He was one of the earlier laborers in this field, and what he has accomplished under his own name, besides the aid that he has afforded to others by his criticisms and counsels, and no one has been more bountiful in this respect, or less avaricious of fame, has given a new and brighter aspect to the course of classical studies in America. The old pedantic fashion of editing the Greek and Latin authors, which was prevalent in England and Germany, and which amounted to little more than a useless display of various readings, and an announcement of the editor's immense erudition, has given way to considerations of practical utility; and those editions are now alone in use in the lecture and recitation room, which have been
skilfully contrived to facilitate the progress and guide the taste of the learner. Some of the old brown-paper copies of the Delphin Classics, which were exclusively studied twenty years ago, ought to be preserved as curiosities, and to show the present generation how ample are their means and appliances for study when compared with the meagre apparatus on which their fathers were obliged to rely.
The Agamemnon of Eschylus, "the great masterpiece of the Grecian Shakspeare," is here presented in a portable and very neat edition, with copious notes, in which the numberless difficulties of the text are fully considered and resolved, so that a mere tyro in Greek, by the aid of them, can understand and appreciate the genius of the old dramatist. The commentary is enriched with numerous citations of parallel passages from the works of the English poets, which not only throw light on the crabbed expressions in the text, but pleasantly diversify the learner's path, and keep alive in his mind a sense of the poetic beauty of the original. All that it is important to know of the life of Æschylus is agreeably and succinctly told in the Preface.
The Homer is a reprint of the edition which Professor Felton first published about fifteen years ago, and which is here given with a carefully revised text, and more than double the former amount of annotations. Under the modest title of "Preliminary Remarks," the editor has added an interesting and beautifully written essay on the origin of Greek poetry and the characteristics of Homer, with a discussion of the much-vexed" Homeric question." This essay shows learning without pedantry, and a cultivated taste without unmeaning refinement; and it may be recommended as pleasant and instructive reading even to those who are not able to taste in the original the beauties which it is intended to illustrate.