Pagina-afbeeldingen
PDF
ePub

of the Ferris Female Institute, which we regard as one of the best on this continent, than that its last commencement exhibited many new evidences and illustrations of the superior efficiency and excellency of its system.

We have devoted much time, labor, and space to this article; but we have done so deliberately and willingly, because we believe that nothing is of greater inportance than the education of those who are to succeed the present generation as the men and women of the republic; because we hold that the education of a nation is the real source of its wealth, and the only true criterion of its civilization. “L'enseignement,” says M. Bastide, “ est une riche mine qui donne pour produit de l'argent, de l'influence et du pouvoir.” Another French writer, who has devoted his life to the cause, observes, with equal truth : “L'histoire des écoles serait l'histoire de la culture intellectuelle des nations. L'état plus ou moins florissant des écoles, leur developpement plus ou moins prospere, plus ou moins étendu, peut donner la mesure de la civilization à chaque 'epoque, non seulement dans le domaine de la science, mais aussi au point de vue des meurs, des lois et des institutions."

ART. IX.--NOTICES AND CRITICISMS.

HISTORY AND TRAVELS.

La Plata, étude historique. Par Santiago Aroos. Paris : Levy Frères,

1865.

It is a singular fact, that much more attention is paid to the republics of South America, on the continent of Europe, than in this country, There are several good histories of each in French and German, but we have scarcely one that can be regarded as an authority, with the exception of Prescott's histories of the Conquests of Mexico and Peru, which only relate to the colonial times, and which are consequently entirely different from the French and German works to which we allude. That now before us contains a large amount of interesting and valuable information; for, although it is principally devoted to La Plata, it gives no slight insight into the affairs of Paraguay and the Argentine Republic, and we are thus aided by it, to a considerable extent, in forming an opinion of the complications now existing between one of those republics and Brazil.

After giving a graphic sketch of the Spanish conquest and its immediate results, as well as a brief, but comprehensive and truthful description of the aboriginal races, their manners, customs, and religion, M. Arcos proceeds to show that, instead of profiting by the establishment of their independence, the people suffered the worst consequences of disorder and anarchy for a period of forty years. Nor can this statement be attributed to any prejudice against republicanism on the part of the author, since no writer is more willing to give it all the credit that is legitimately due to it. Thus, for example, he informs his readers that whatever had been the sufferings and trials of those forty years of disorder, the Argentine Republic at least is entitled to the honor of having finally succeeded in establishing a gorernment which compares favorably with the most enlightened and liberal in the world. He shows that the people are by no means the ignorant and degraded hordes which they were formerly represented, and which they are still represented by their enemies, and by those who, while ambitious to write their history, do not take the pains to make themselves acquainted with the facts. He tells us that, on the contrary, they pay more attention to education than the people of most European states.

In addition to the large amount of information which he gives us on the political, social, and religious condition of La Plata, he presents as lively and graphic sketches of the chiefs who took part in the various struggles which, however unproinising they seemed in their progress, have finally resulted in producing a decided reform. Among the leaders who are thus prominently brought to our notice are Rosas, Quiroga, Lopez, Saromiento and Moreno. In short, we have seldom read a book that has interested us more. Except on one point, M. Arcos is eminently fair, and free from prejudice. He is willing to do justice to all, but to the Jesuits. A member of the fraternity gave him some real or imaginary offence; he complained of this, but got no satisfaction ; from this he concluded, rather illogically, that all are arrogant and despotic; and hence the gloomy picture which he draws of the career of Francia in Paraguay. A History of the Commonwealth of Florence, from the earliest Independ

ence of the Commune to the Fall of the Republic in 1531, By T. ADOLPHUS TROLLOPE, author of the “Girlhood of Catherine de Medici.” In four volumes. Vols. I and II. London: Chapman & Hall, 1865.

No friend of civilization, no student of history, or of the science of government, can fail to take an interest in the subject of these volumes, for Florence has been the real modern Athens. She maintained that character by the common consent of all Europe for nearly three centuries. Even in her present degenerate state, after having borne the yoke of so many conquerors, and been more or less despoiled by each, she possesses interesting and valuable evidences of her former greatness. But if she could point to nothing more than to the statues and portraits of her three illustrious sons-Dante, Angelo, and Machiavelli--which adorn her unrivalled art-galleries, ought they not to be sufficient to attract attention to her history.

Mr. Trollope sheds much light on many events in Florentine history which have never been satisfactorily explained. No other writer with whom we are acquainted gives so complete an exposition of the famous feud between the Guelphs and Ghibellines; and he is equally careful and lucid in dealing with the Bianchi and Neri factions. The biographical sketches with which the narrative is interspersed greatly enhance the attractiveness of the work. Thus, for example, his remarks on the exile of Dante, and its probable cause, show that he has fully investigated the subject; but the conclusion he arrives at is not that the author of the Inferno was a true patriot, but, on the contrary, that the bitter ingratitude he had experienced from the Republic, inspired him with an implacable hatred even of his native city.

Of the author's style we should speak in different terms, did we attempt to criticise the work; but that task we postpone until the whole is before us.

We can only say now, in general terms, that while Mr. Trollope succeeds in compressing a large amount of inforination into his pages, and seldom fails to inspire confidence in his views, on disputed points, liis language is too often far beneath the dignity of history. A history of Florence and her illustrious thinkers ought at least to be free from slang, but such we regret to find is not the case in the present instance, although we must now confine ourselves to one specimen, taken from that passage in which the influence of Italy in the race of civilization is described before her fall, the catastrophe being recorded thus: “She knocked up, and was nowhere.” This is in execrable taste; but let us admit that anything so like what in America we call the Bowery style, does not occur often. Upon the whole, then, we accept the work thus far as a valuable contribution to historical literature.

Voyage de Jaques Cartier au Canada en 1534. Nouvelle édition, publiée to them; although we are not aware that a copy of it is to be found in New York, except our own.

d'après l'édition de 1598. Par M. H. MICHELANT, avec deux cartes, documents inédits sur Jacques Cartier, et le Canada, communiqués par M. Alfred Ramé. 16ıno. Paris : Libraire Tross, 1865.

The contents of this quaint and curious work should be much more interesting to Americans than to Frenchmen, since it is we whom they concern most. Cartier's plain and unvarnished account of his discoveries is given in the same orthography and the same words in which it was originally penned by the old captain, more than three centuries ago. His address to the reader, and a poem with some pretensions to merit, “Sur le voyage de Canadas," as well as the charters allowed by the king, are equally unchanged. Yet, perhaps, the most interesting part of the whole book is the author's account of the language of the aborigines. First he shows how they count, as follows: Segada, 1 ; Tigneny, 2 ; Asche, 3 ; Honnacon, 4, &c. Then he gives the names they apply to the different parts of the body, thus: La teste (the head), aggourzy, le front (the face), hetguenyascon, les jambes, agongrienehonde, &c. We are sure that our archæological and historical societies will be glad to have their attention called to the work; and accordingly we do not hesitate to recommend it

The Charter of Smith's Home for Aged Indigenl Mothers, granted by the

Legislature of Maine, March 3, 1862; organized October 23, 1363 ; together with the Deed of a Real Estate Endowment of the Institution. By Francis (). J. Smith; also his Letter, erplanatory of the designs of the Corporation ; also, the By-Laws of the Corporation, and rames of its officers, and Board of Managers, 1865. Portland : 1865.

We take up this pamphlet in order to present an example of the noblest generosity and benevolence to those who have the means of imitating it. Although the title indicates'the nature of the good done, we will give an extract or two from the explanatory letter of the donor, premising that they deserve to be printed in gold, as doing honor to human nature. We know nothing of the circumstances of the gentleman who makes this magnificent grant; we do not know whether he has a family of his own, or whether he is a married man or a batchelor. All we know about him is, what is evident from his thoughts and his acts, namely, that he is a true philanthropist, and a man of high culture. In his Explanatory Letter to the corporators, dated Forrest Home, Westbrook (Maine), November 5, 1863. Mr. Smith says :

“ GENTLEMEN-With this I deliver to you a conditional conveyance in fee simple, with warranty against incumbrance, of the real estate I have designed as the foundation of what I trust will prove an enduring and prosperous beneficent institution for a goodly number of aged indigent mothers, conjoined with the opportunity, in the conditions of my grant, for other humanely disposed donors to provide a home for many aged, indigent females, not of the preferred class of mothers.

“The building upon the premises is now in progress of rapid completion, and will be ready for occupation in the early part of next summer. The massiveness of the stone and brick walls, and fire-proof brick ceilings. rendered a second season necessary to their thorough drying, before plastering; but this has been had, and the plaster work is nearly completed, as is also much of the carpenter work. It contains twelve comfortable bed rooms in the two stories above the basement, besides a room of double the size of the others, on the first floor for a sitting room, and one of the same size in the second story for the use of the sick. In the attic are ample rooms for the servants, and in the basement is a spacious dining rooni, a conyeniently large kitchen, wash room, bath room, store closet-and in the rear a large 'brick cistern, a vegetable room and apartments for fuel. Still other apartments are provided and will be alluded to below. The main building is fifty-two feet six inches by thirty-three feet, with an L, thirty-one by twen ty-six feet, and iron girders throughout, with slate and tin roof, having two dormer windows on the rear side and three on the front.

“The area of ground embraced in my conveyance, conjunctively with a perpetual right to the use of adjoining streets in common with adjacent owners, will be sufficient to secure to the inmates of the institution, at all times, a pure atmosphere, and the quietude of retirement; and yet a proximity to neighbors, that will exclude all sense of loneliness.”

From some observations which follow this passage we learn that the “Aged Indigent Mothers' Home" is in view of the sea, and in every other respect beautifully situated. The donor does not content himself with merely giving aged and indigent mothers & support; he also provides for every rational enjoyment, mental and physical, of which women of their age can be supposed to be capable. He has transferred to the trustees his own library, consisting of some two or three thousand volumes, the accamulation of a man of taste and means for nearly half a century. In addition to this he allows thein ample grounds for exercise and recreation in the open air, as may be seen from the following extract:

“The area of ground reserved in front of the Home, directed in my grant to be forever maintained and cultivated exclusively as pleasure and ornamental ground, while it will contribute to the pleasurable results of health and seclusion already named, will always furnish, besides, to such of them as may still cherish a fondness of early years for watching and nursing the growth of plants, flowers, and shrubbery-some of which may be associated in their minds with the most cherished memories of life—the opportunity of indulging their favorite pastime, and will contribute potently therein to the enlargement of happiness to their declining years.'

There is not much likelihood that any of those New York millionaires who pretend to make such large contributions towards the payment of the national debt will endow an institution of this kind. It is not probable, for example, that “Commodore” Vanderbilt will; he who monopolizes so many of our railroads and steamships, although we can assure him that it would redound vastly more to his honor than certain other performances of his, including that of driving so many fast horses to death because they are far more spirited and generous than himself. True, the commodore, with the pious white cravat, is but one millionaire, but ex uno disce omnes.

EDUCATION AND SCIENCE.

Address and Poem, delivered before the Philodemic Society of Georgetown

College, D. C., at the grand Annual Celebration, January 19, 1865.
The Address by JAMES A. WISE; the Poem by R. Ross PERRY.

Washington, 1865.

The faults to which young orators and writers are chiefly prone are exaggeration and an ambitious style. They are too apt to think that, however striking an idea may be in itself, it becomes mean and commonplace if clothed in plain, simple language. It is in vain that they read the contrary in their test books a hundred times, and have it lucidly explained to them as often by their professors or teachers; it is only by a careful and patient course of training-by pointing out those defects to them again and again, as they occur in their own essays that they can be taught to appreciate the difference between an inflated style and a chaste style, or between language that is vigorous and energetic an. that which is flabby and weak,

When, therefore, the language of the student is found terse and pointed, it may be taken for granted, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, that he has undergone the severe discipline which we have alluded, VOL. XI.-NO. XXII.

13

« VorigeDoorgaan »