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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 21.djvu/427

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415
LITERARY NOTICES.

will be considerable, furnished by the discoveries in the telephonic transmission of sound.

Myron Holley; and what He did for Liberty and True Religion. Pp. 328. Boston: Printed for the Author, P. O. Box 109.

The name of the author of this work is not given upon the title-page, but by turning over the leaf we get an explanation of the matter as follows:

"Copyright secured by Elizur Wright."

"A copy of this book, which three leading publishers, though guaranteed against loss, have declined to publish, either with the author's name or without it, will be sent, post-paid, on the receipt of $1.50 addressed to Elizur Wright, Box 109, Boston. Or ten copies will be sent, free of freight, on the receipt of $10.

"If any profit should accrue from the sale, it will all be paid to the descendants of Myron Holley till such time as the State of New York shall have paid the just debt it owes them."

We have to thank the writer of this book for one of the most readable and instructive biographies we have ever read, and for doing justice to the character of a very rare and remarkable man. Myron Holley was born in 1779, and died in 1841. His career, which was thus ended more than forty years ago, belongs to the early part of the century, and we had heard much of his noble work and his manly characteristics, though only in a fragmentary and unsatisfying way, and had often expressed regret that there was no accessible sketch of his life. Now that we have it, it is more apparent than ever how great would have been the loss to the world if the task had remained unperformed.

The character of Mr. Holley has been brought out vividly in this volume in several relations. In the first place, he was one of the most efficient, influential, and indefatigable of the pioneers to which we owe the canal system of the State of New York. No matter how this system may be now regarded, the construction of the Erie Canal was a leading step in the progress of our Western civilization, and full of formidable difficulties from the novelty and magnitude of the project, and the state of the public mind upon the subject. One of the most interesting portions of Mr. Wright's racy and graphic book is the account he gives of the origin and growth of the canal policy, which he found it indispensable to delineate in order to bring out the full import of Mr. Holley's relation to it. He was not only a man of great energy and determination, but of admirable tact, clear judgment, and invincible integrity. He entered into the project with his whole soul, subordinated all personal interests to it, neglecting his own private affairs, under the unwise impression that, when the great public work was done, the State would do him justice. We have no room here for explanations upon this point, and must refer the reader to the pages of Mr. Wright, where it is proved that the State of New York cheated Myron Holley out of more than a hundred thousand dollars, when millions would not have repaid the State for the value of his services in carrying out the canal project.

Myron Holley's name will also be historic in connection with the progress of American ideas by his early and controlling alliance with the anti-slavery movement. He was a pioneer reformer in the days when opposition to slavery meant social execration, and when the North in all its great elements—political, ecclesiastical, collegiate, literary, and social—was on its knees to the South for every vile and venal purpose. It i was in the palmy days of Northern poltroonery when the South was told that she could have anything she wanted, and all she 1 wanted; that she had but to name the terms on which this government might continue, and they should be conceded, and when slavery was rampant and regnant as the supreme interest of the American Republic that Myron Holley took the lead in founding the Northern Liberty party.

To this history Mr. Wright also adds an interesting account of Holley's independent and advanced religious views, and also his ideas of domestic culture, family interests, the education of children, and the conduct of social life. In all these relations Mr. Holley was a man of great individuality, and freedom from the tyrannical restraints of mere conventionalism. He was a thoroughgoing reformer when reform was less a vo-