The Atlantic Monthly/Volume 17/Number 100/Reviews and Literary Notices
REVIEWS AND LITERARY NOTICES.
We are entirely uncertain whether this work will be recognized for what it is by our young country-folk; but we are very certain, if it is not, it will be our young country-folk's loss. It is, we suppose, a novel. Its author admits that it is a story; but it is not at all the kind of banquet to which novel-readers are usually invited. We can fancy the consternation which awaits the devourers of story-books,—those persons, we mean, whose reading is confined to novels, who lie in wait for Mrs. Wood and Miss Braddon, and stretch their sales into the double-figured thousands, through whose passive brains plot after plot travels in quick succession and leaves no sign, and whose name, we fear, is Legion. They will eagerly seize this new story with the romantic title, be launched auspiciously into gay ball-rooms, glide graciously among the familiar flounces, dances, and small talk, only to find themselves suddenly and without warning in some gulf of grave discussion opening out deceptively from the sparkling stream of the story, or stranded on some lofty sentiment never dreamt of in their philosophy. For the author's mind is, in the best sense of the word, a discursive one. It is full of positive thought, and strikes out right and left like a school-boy who must needs relieve his superabundant spirits by pinching his sister's ear, thrusting his fists in his brother's face, kicking aside the foot-cushion, and making a plunge at the cat, while he is performing the simple operation of walking across the room. This book is written out of a mind so full of wit and wisdom that it overflows at the gentlest touch. It has more sense and learning and power than go to the making up of a dozen ordinary novels. The very prodigality of its resources is a stumbling-block. Its great fault is its muchness, if we may borrow a term from Hawthorne's mint. It is like a young minister's first sermon, into which he frantically attempts to cram the whole body of divinity. Especially in the early part of the book, we are constantly drawn away front the story by delightful little essays, sometimes read to us by the author himself,—sometimes wrought into the conversations by playful anecdotes, by effective character-sketches, and vivid scene and scenery-paintings. They do not always materially help forward the story, nor do they always hinder it. They often give it an air of reality, and they always help to utilize the author's idea. If they do not avail his art, they avail his didactics. Where they are not good for the story, they are good for something. By many thoughtless, and by all mere novel-readers, they will probably be skipped; but for ourselves, we confess, that, though high art may regard them as blemishes, we should not know how to give the order for their removal. Considered in themselves, in their style and sentiment, the little digressions, the long conversations, the carefully wrought side-scenes are so rich in a certain tender religious wisdom, yet crisp and piquant withal, and so full of living thought on the great questions of the day, that we dwell in them with enjoyment, though with a compunctious half-consciousness that they ought not to be there.
But though we are tolerant of discursiveness where it affects only the flow of the story, we like it less where it disturbs the flow of the style. A paragraph ought never, by the mere form into which it is cast, to require to be read over and over in order to get at the meaning. Yet we are confident that nine readers out of ten would need to read the following sentence more than once in order to get at its true construction:—
"Oh, that I were able to conform myself to that further fictitious, not to say factitious, standard of taste, according to which, just as,—though a hemorrhage from the nose, howsoever ill-timed, distressing, or even dangerous to the patient, is comic,—one from the lungs is poetical and tragic; and an extravasation of blood about the heart is not inappropriate to the demise of the most romantic civil hero, (who would seem, indeed, capable of escaping an earthly immortality only by means of pulmonary disease or some accident, unless pounced upon by some convenient and imposing epidemic,) while a similar affection of the brain of an imaginary personage can be rendered affecting or excusable only by a weight of years and virtues in the patient; so certain moral diseases, alias sins, in actual life making the sinner by no means peculiarly engaging, have in fiction acquired a prescriptive right to our regard!"
But the true power and pathos of the book rise ever high and higher, and all minor defects are flooded out of sight. It is no small happiness that we have to do from the beginning with a family hitherto wellnigh unknown in American noveldom,—a family rich and not vulgar, beautiful and not frivolous, highly educated and fastidious, yet neither bitter nor disdainful,—refined, honorable, serene, affectionate. We are not merely told that they are so. We mingle with them, we see it for ourselves, and are refreshed and revived thereby. It is pleasant to miss for once the worldly mother, the empty daughter, the glare and glitter of shoddy, the low rivalry, the degrading strife, which can hardly be held up even to our reprobation without debasing us. Whether or not the best mode of inculcating virtue is that which gives us an example to imitate rather than a vice to shun, we are sure it is the most agreeable. It is infinitely sweeter to be attracted by the fragrance of Paradise than to be repelled by the sulphurous fumes of Pandemonium. The contemplation of such a home as this book opens to us is pleasant to the eyes and good for the heart's food, and to be desired to make one wise. A pure domestic love shines through it, tender, tranquil, and intense. Its inmates are daintily, delicately, yet distinctly drawn. They are courteous without being cold, playful without rudeness, serious, yet sensible, reticent or demonstrative as the case may be, yet in all things natural. It is not book, it is life. Each is a type of character matchless in its way, but each is also a living soul, whose outward elegance and grace are but the fit adjuncts of its inward purity and peace. Even if such a home never existed, we should still defend its portrayal, as the Vicar of Wakefield wrote his wife's epitaph during her life that she might have a chance to become worthy of its praise.
It is a happiness also to make the acquaintance of women who are brilliant and not bad, whose innocence does not run into insipidity, who are no less queens than vassals, worthily the one, royally the other. We meet in books many single-women, but they are usually embittered by disappointment or by hope deferred,—angular, envious, busybodies in other women's matters; or they are comically odd, self-ridiculing, and unrestful; or, worst of all, they have become morally attenuated by a thwarted love or a long course of dismal and absurd self-sacrifice and are so resigned, colorless, and impassive, that, like Naaman, we are tempted to go away in a rage. But where shall we find another Clara,—beautiful, attractive, radiant, serenely living her happy life, "aimless," but not "anxious," doing every day the duty that lies next her hand, scarcely knowing that it is duty, never fancying that she is out of her sphere or thinking whether she is in it, tranced in tranquil reveries that spiritualize instead of spoiling her, and, shining ever along her untroubled way,
"With the moon's beauty and the moon's soft pace"?
All the chief actors in the book are clever, rising often into the high latitudes of genius, yet without that perverse kink which is wont to mar all satisfaction. There is no taint of poison in the air they breathe. There is no passion hovering on the border-land of crime, or defiling its garments with the dust of earthliness. Love is what it ever should be, all noble and elevating,—worship as well as devotion,—annihilating only selfishness, sanctifying, not sacrificing, duty. There is no yielding to a depraved popular taste, no abdication of an inherited throne to stand on a level with the unthinking crowd and receive its worthless applauses. Rather the crowd is bidden higher, to enter upon its own rightful, royal possessions. This is the true missionary work. Manhood and womanhood in their best development are the theme of the book; and they are touched with so fine a grace, outlined with so true a pencil, tinted with so imperial a splendor, that the most discontented may be satisfied. Does this seem slight praise? In truth it can most rarely be bestowed. Why, it is matter for thanksgiving when we are not outraged!
On this Field of the Cloth of Gold rises a knight without fear and without reproach. Purely human and most heroic, as unpretending as spotless, womanly, gentle, yet of positive and aggressive strength, strength to do silently, to endure steadfastly, to die conquered, yet victorious, to live in the front, yet alone,—is it an ideal character? So much the more let it be studied, that our souls may absorb it and produce the reality: for it is ideal after no impossible sort. In his simple purity, in his fidelity to right, in his chivalry and his religion, he is only what all can be. It is an American boy, called to no loftier living, to no more "extraordinary seeking," than his country has a right to claim from all her sons,—called to no sterner sacrifice, to no severer suffering, than many a brave lad has faced and may yet face again. If we could read the silent history of these last years, should we not find in thousands of young hearts the story of a resolve no less firm, of a pain scarcely less deadly? The pent-up agony in the prison-house of Slavery before Northern cannon thundered at its doors is a tale that will never be told. God grant its horrors may never be surpassed,—never renewed! But we cannot say that Herman's woe is too highly wrought. We cannot console ourselves with thinking, that, however vividly delineated, it is mere fictitious suffering. We know that such things have happened,—yes, and things immeasurably worse. We know that Herman did only what any high and clear-souled man ten years ago might have owed to do, and that he suffered only the natural consequences of such doing. Ten years ago this country of ours was so that a man might legally and without redress be tortured to death for doing that which was not merely a plain obedience to the plainest precepts of the Bible, but what in any other Christian country than our own would have been instantly recognized as a deed of the highest heroism. And if we are not careful to do justly, all the new ropes wherewith we have bound this accursed Samson of Slavery will be broken like a thread, and our last state be worse than our first.
We know no work of fiction so full as this of beauty and wisdom, so free from folly, so resplendent with intellectual life, with moral purity, and Christian holiness, so apt to teach, so graceful in the teaching. We follow it with admiration and sympathy, from its gay beginning, through all the pain, the passion, and the peace, to the heartache of its closing pages,—that close, supremely sad, yet strangely beautiful. "She sang to him, and he slept; she spoke, and he did not awaken." It is the record of heavy struggle, of defeat that was triumph, and triumph that was Heaven.
We offer no congratulations to the new author; nor do we deprecate for him any harsh censure;—not only because praise and censure seem alike rugged and halting by the sweet strains we seek to celebrate, but because he who in his "saintly solitude" can create a world so fair is independent of these light afflictions. For him there is always sympathy, great companionship, and godlike work. From this Earth can nothing take away; than this she has nothing more to give.
Mr. Lecky has given us a book replete with interesting matter; and yet, owing to some lack of intellectual mastery in him over his materials, it leaves a singularly vague and dispiriting impression on the mind in reading it. The author has a plethora of knowledge in regard to the surface changes in history, but no insight whatever apparently into the meaning of history itself, into the philosophic causes which these changes attest and obey. He is a man of uncommon bulk, but deficient muscle. His mental furniture enfeebles his intellectual faculty. His body obstructs his soul. Sumptus fructum superat. His book costs the author more than it comes to. He is so absorbed in the contemplation of the accidents of history as to forget that history itself is but a narrow river, conducting to the broad, illimitable ocean of human brotherhood or equality,—and that to stand upon the bank, therefore, and watch its successive waves, instead of manfully leaping in and committing one's life and fortunes to it, is scarcely the part of a wise man. Mr. Lecky's essay would seem to have originated more in a desire to try his hand at theorizing than in any necessity to ventilate some previous drifts from the beginning to the end of his book. You never feel yourself in a compact, water-tight boat, obedient to rudder and sail, but at most on a raft, drifting at the absolute gré of the tides, in a certain general direction, no doubt, but with no foresight of the specific intellectual port at which you are to bring up. Occasionally the mist condenses, the rain patters down, you catch a glimpse of far-off mountaintops, and suppose the entire landscape will soon be bathed in sunshine. But no, a new inrush of illustrative facts takes place, and all is fog again. There is a great deal of good writing in the book, and it leaves nothing to be desired in the way of advanced sentiment. But we fail to perceive its bearing upon the progress of ideas. It may flatter a superficial scientific optimism, but it will obstruct rather than promote the interests of philosophic thought, for this reason, that it inclines the reader to suspend his convictions upon some fated progress of events which will of itself do the world's thinking for it, and turn both heart and mind at last into cheerful, complacent pensioners of science.
The object of Mr. Lecky is to trace the history of the spirit of Rationalism,—the spirit which disposes men to reject all belief founded upon authority, and to make the causes of phenomena intrinsic and not extrinsic to the phenomena themselves. Rationalism, if we rightly apprehend Mr. Lecky, is not any precise doctrine or system of doctrine, but only a diffused bias or tendency of the mind to regard the power which is operative in Nature and history as a rigidly creative or constitutive power, rather than a redemptive or formative one. Doubtless Mr. Lecky, if he should ever consider the subject, would be free to admit that the creative action implies a necessary reaction on the part of the creature. But he has manifestly no sympathy with the early or imaginative faiths of the world, which represent creation as a physical rather than a rational exhibition of the Divine power. His entire book is written in the service of the opposite conception. To be sure, he does not discuss the new faith as a theologian, but only as an historian. It is not an affair of the heart with him, but only of the head. He takes no pains to commend it as an advance in point of truth upon the old faith, and does not once even avow his own intellectual identification with it. In short, he is not the retained attorney of the new faith, but its disinterested annalist, treating it simply as an historic change wrought in the texture of men's thought, promoted by such and such causes, attested by such and such effects, but independent of all partisan judgment and clamor either favorable or adverse. Still there is no doubt of the historian's own private bias. He applauds ex animo the change he records; and his book would have gained greatly in interest, if he could only have written it a little more from the heart and a little less from the head. For then, apart from the incidental advantage which would accrue to it, to the reader's imagination, as being a revelation of the author's living personality, we think the author himself could hardly fail to have seen, before he had finished his task, that there is no essential contradiction between the world's earlier and later faiths; that these faiths differ not as good and evil or true and false differ, but only and at most as root and stem and flower differ in the plant, or birth, growth, and maturity in the animal.
The lesson which Mr. Lecky inculcates upon his reader is this: that civilization and miracle are fatally opposed; that the former waxes or wanes precisely as the latter is discredited or accredited. History shows civilization to have thriven precisely as men have outgrown their belief in miracle, or the possibility of any outward Divine intervention in Nature, and have learned to insist upon strictly natural causes for all natural effects. The fruits of Mr. Lecky's research on this subject are varied and interesting, and we cordially commend his volumes to the reader as an inviting storehouse of materials for reflection; but we very much doubt whether the school of thought he represents has, on the whole, mastered the problem of civilization any more thoroughly than its rival. The difference between the two schools is, indeed, one of principle more than of words; but we cannot help thinking, nevertheless, that the controversy is needlessly protracted on both sides, for want of a sufficiently definite and comprehensive statement of the point in dispute. Let us see whether we cannot make at least an approximation to such a statement.
What is agitated, then, between the two rival schools of thought is the Divine power: not the existence of such power, for there is no noticeable difference on that point, but only its quality or mode of operation. The Orthodox attribute to God a strictly moral, which is a specific method of action, addressed to purely personal or subjective issues; their opponents, a strictly physical, which is a universal method, addressed to purely impersonal and objective issues. The one party assigns to God a finite personality, or one limited by Nature; the other, an indefinite personality, as identified with natural law. The Orthodox, of course, maintain that God's creative action was universal, inasmuch as it contemplated only cosmical issues; but as that mode of action was exhausted by its own universality, His subsequent relation to His creatures must be purely administrative, as expressing His personal pleasure or displeasure in their various functioning. The other side do not dogmatize about the Divine power, or its method of action, in the abstract. They only insist, as against their antagonists, that the Divine administration of Nature is not, within the limits of our science, personal; that it is not a power exerted upon Nature, or from without, and in contravention of her ordinary processes; that, so far as our knowledge goes, on the contrary, whatever may be our faith, it is a power invariably exerted through Nature, or from within, and therefore in habitual consistency with her ordinary effects. In other words, they insist, that, so far as the Divine power is cognizable to us, it falls exclusively within and never without the routine of Nature; and as universality is the characteristic of that routine, they do not hesitate, on behalf of science, to affirm that the Divine action is never addressed to specific or differential results, but always to universal or identical ones. In short, they logically refuse to the Divine power as exhibited in Nature all personal or moral quality, as inferring on the part of Deity any possible unequal or inequitable relations to the creatures He has made; and assign to all such reputed partial exhibitions of it a purely educative, and therefore universal, bearing upon the mind of the race.
Such, in brief, is the question agitated between the old and new faiths; whether God acts outwardly upon Nature, or inwardly through Nature,—that is to say, whether His action is specific as addressed to private ends, or strictly universal as addressed only to public ends. If the former hypothesis be true, then sense rightfully controls reason, and everything is exactly what it appears. If the latter hypothesis be true, then sense rightfully serves reason, and nothing is as it appears to be, namely, absolute and independent of everything else, but simply phenomenal and relative to everything else. It is evident to a glance that a controversy so eminently scientific could never have gone to the unwholesome lengths which it has reached in our day, unless there were something in it more than meets the eye: unless, for example, the interests of morality, which is the only recognized bond of our existing societies, were at stake. For if one and the same law binds all Nature, then plant and animal and man have one and the same destiny, so far as their nature goes. If, for example, the plant as one form of natural existence, and the animal as another form, are what they severally are, by no means absolutely, or in themselves, but only by relation to all other plants and animals, then man, who is only a higher, that is, a moral, or evil absolutely or in himself, but only relatively to all other men. And if we allow morality only this relative force,—if the good man is not good absolutely or in himself, nor the evil man evil absolutely or in himself,—why, then our existing civilization, which is built upon such absoluteness, has a fictitious basis, and must fall to the ground.
Hinc ilia lachrymæ. This is why a question apparently of pure science turns out practically so full of inward heartburning and mutual reviling. Neither theology nor science is competent to the philosophic recognition of man's associated destiny, and hence have neither of them the secret of those perturbations which ever and anon gloom our political atmosphere and shut out to the eye of sensuous thought the entire future of the race. Philosophy alone possesses this secret, because it alone perceives that all our political, civil, and even domestic broils grow out of this identical warfare between men's religions and scientific convictions,—have no other source than that persistent insubmission which the interests of force, as represented by priesthoods and governments, are under to the interests of freedom, represented by society. Philosophy mediates between the religious and secular thought of mankind, by making the sphere of God's universal action identical with that of man's organic necessities, and the sphere of His specific action identical with that of man's moral freedom: so harmonizing the two in one subject. Philosophy alone, in short, is competent to the future of human destiny, because it alone adjusts the relation of morals to physics, alone adjusts the specific interests avouched by religion with the universal interests avouched by science. And its competence is owing to this fact exclusively, that it alone apprehends or appreciates the distinctively social destiny of man, a destiny in which the interests of the most intense and exquisite freedom or individuality are bound up with the interests of the most imperious necessity or community,—or, what is the same thing, which presents every man no longer in subjective or moral, but only in objective or æsthetic, contrast with his kind, that so the general harmony may be inflamed by the widest partial diversity. Thus philosophy bids society recognise itself at once as God's perfect work on earth,—bids it rise to instant self-consciousness as the real Divine substance which Church and State have only feebly typified, and put on all Divine strength and peace as its rightful breastplate and ornament. For if all these fleeting phenomenal discords among men, upon which our existing civilization proceeds, claim no longer an absolute, but only a relative Divine sanction, a sanction in relation to the interests of human society exclusively, what remains for society to do but to organize itself afresh upon an eternal basis, that is, upon the acknowledgment of a force in man infinitely transcending his moral force, because it forever unites instead of disjoining him with God, being the force of spontaneous or productive action?
Dr. Bigelow has had the honor of naturalizing, if not of inventing, the name of the Institute before which he delivered this address. His work on the Elements of Technology was the first in which this name appeared, at least in recent times. It designates that class of sciences which bear on art,—sciences of practical application. Dr. Bigelow, in this address, places himself emphatically with those who believe that mental discipline can be obtained as well by useful as by useless studies, and who think it a waste of time "to spend five years of the most susceptible part of life in acquiring a minute familiarity with tongues which are daily becoming more obsolete." We welcome this address as an important ally for those who desire that our schools and colleges shall not insist that every young man wishing for their advantages shall devote one half of his time to the details of Greek and Latin Grammar and Prosody. Dr. Bigelow is no rash reformer, no youthful enthusiast, no reckless radical. He has the confidence of the whole community for his science, scholarship, and ripe judgment. When, therefore, a man of his character and position, without passion or prejudice, publishes the conclusions which this address contains, we may hope that a change is at hand in the course of study now pursued in our colleges and universities, and in the schools which prepare for them. Dr. Bigelow does not desire Latin or Greek to be excluded from the college course; but he thinks that "under the name of classical literature they premise and afterward carry on a cumbrous burden of dead languages, kept alive through the dark ages, and now stereotyped in England, by the persistent conservatism of a privileged order." He thinks that the mind might be disciplined and trained quite as well and more cheaply by other studies than that of the Greek language. He is of opinion, that, if Greek should once cease to be made a requisite in our universities, though it would be studied still by a certain class, it would never be adopted again as an indispensable academic study.
In all this we quite agree with him. Thus far, almost everything else has been subordinated in our college course to the study of Greek and Latin. At least one half of the time of a young man desiring a liberal education, from twelve to twenty years of age, is given up to Greek and Latin. The other half is left for Mathematics, Geography, History, Geology, Chemistry, Natural History, Metaphysics, Ethics, Astronomy, and General Reading. Before entering college, his time must be almost wholly occupied with the study of Latin, Greek, and Mathematics. For he is required, in order to enter our principal university, to know Virgil, Cæsar, Cicero, Xenophon, three books of the Iliad, Arithmetic, Algebra, and Geometry, and to have the whole Latin and Greek Grammar at his tongue's end. He must also be able to write Latin, and to write Greek with the accents. But he need not know a word of American or Modern History (he must know the History of Greece and Rome),—not a word of any modern language or modern science,—nothing of Chemistry, Astronomy, Geology,—nothing of modern literature. Though he must be able to write Greek, he need not be able to write English. And so, after being obliged to spend the largest part of his time before entering college in learning Greek and Latin philology, is he then allowed to drop these studies and begin others? Not so. He is not even permitted to leave off Greek and Latin philology, in order to become acquainted with Greek and Latin literature, much less to become acquainted with any other. Nearly all the way through college he keeps on writing Greek and Latin exercises; and the result of it all is, that he not unfrequently becomes so disgusted with these languages that he forgets them as soon as he can, and on leaving college can hardly read with ease the simplest Greek or Latin book.
Such being, as is well known to all graduates of college, the present state of affairs, we welcome with profound gratitude the present address of Dr. Bigelow. Coming from such a source, containing such unanswerable arguments, expressed in so lucid and striking a form, the effect must be excellent. We have dwelt upon a single point of the address, because it seemed to us the most important and valuable part of it. But there is in it much besides, that is both instructive and interesting; and we recommend the pamphlet as one to be carefully read, and by no means to be confounded with the commoner style of public addresses.
This life of our lamented President, by the distinguished Argentine, now Minister to Washington, is a very interesting circumstance, aside from the merit of the work, which is very great. It is an amazing fact that so few Eastern Americans read and speak Spanish, when one portion of our country borders upon a Republic that speaks that language only, and when we are so nearly allied in feeling and free principles of government to South America, twenty-three of whose Republics are now represented in the diplomatic body at Washington. The most remarkable of these gentlemen is Colonel D. F. Sarmiento, who has done more to elevate the Republic he represents than any other individual; for he has devoted many years of his active and patriotic life to introducing North American, and indeed we may say Massachusetts, systems of education into South America,—first into Chili, where he was an exile for twenty years, during the reign of the tyrants who brought such suffering upon the Argentine Republic, and since that time into the Argentine Republic itself, where he was at one time Governor of the province of San Juan, at another, Minister of Instruction in the province and city of Buenos Ayres, also Senator in their Congress. He took up the cause of his country when quite a boy, and has devoted himself to it, either in the field or as an educator, ever since. His eye has always been open to behold the workings of the free institutions that he desired to see established in it, and he has been probably the most powerful instrument in inducing his government to adopt the Constitution and laws of the United States, so that it is truly a sister Republic, and as such appeals irresistibly to our sympathy.
The Life of Mr. Lincoln, which he has now written for his own countrymen, has of course been gathered chiefly from biographies already written; but the interest of the work consists in the adaptation of it to the South American needs. To set forth the dignity of labor, the supremacy of the moral sentiments, the duty of education for the whole people, has been his aim; and he has enjoyed, and made others enjoy, the fact that two men of the people, par excellence, who had no adventitious aids of wealthy friends, or even of educated friends, did, by force of character and native powers of mind, come to be the free choice of this great people for President and Vice-President at a time when a new epoch opened in its history: for even before the war broke out, the "irrepressible conflict" was felt to be upon us, and we needed the best of helmsmen, and the wisest,—in that sense of the word wisdom which includes goodness as well as intelligence. We hope to see the Introduction to this work translated in full. The book closes with a translation of Mr. Lincoln's favorite poem, "Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud?" by young Bartholomew Mitre, one of Señor Sarmiento's legation, a son of the President of the Argentine Republic.
A few months since, Señor Sarmiento issued a pamphlet, giving an account of the splendid resources of the Republic, in answer to inquiries made by those who wished to emigrate thither. He also wrote, many years ago, a very interesting work, called "Civilization and Barbarism," giving an account of the reigns of some of those tyrants who so long arrested the great career of the Republic. That work is to be translated and published, and will give a new feeling of interest in the history of South America's struggles for freedom. If it had been one united country, like the United States, instead of being cut up into so many governments, it would have been easier for foreigners (if, indeed, North Americans should be called foreigners in South America) to follow it in its various changes; but, except where some great man, like Bolivar, made himself conspicuous, it was difficult, without much investigation of details, to keep the track of their proceedings, or to tell which side was specifically right,—for a revolution, to be very interesting, must have its foundation in great principles. The answer to this may be, that to throw off the yoke of foreign dominion implies a great principle, and this is true; yet, until it is done intelligently rather than instinctively, it does not challenge the attention of the world.
Señor Sarmiento understands our institutions theoretically, as only those foreigners can who have suffered the ills of tyranny and oppression. Such men look at us from their various stand-points, and reason ethically upon the effect which freedom from all undue authority should have upon the human mind, and they judge of us by our theory rather than by our practice; and when they come amongst us, they are often disappointed and disheartened to find that we, too, are selfish and hesitate to stretch the helping hand to our fellow-sufferers. When they have patience to look deeper than the surface, however, they see that there is a hidden might in the possibilities created by political freedom; and since the outbreak of the war which has cost the nation such blood and treasure, they have seen that they were not mistaken,—that prosperity had not wholly spoiled us,—that the latent force only needed a stimulus to resolve itself into noble action; and such lives as Lincoln's and Johnson's are to them the most glorious expositions of the principles for which they have borne everything, suffered everything, and hoped everything. Our suffering neighbors, the Mexicans, may be helped in their struggles by the diffusion of this Spanish Life of Mr. Lincoln; for Sarmiento has dwelt with great minuteness upon all those features of our institutions which younger republics need to know in detail. It is, indeed, a manual of instruction for any young republic. He describes minutely the proceedings of the trial of Mr. Lincoln's assassins, evidently with the intention of showing to his countrymen the mode of conducting such proceedings to secure the ends of justice; and he often dwells upon the habitual regard of the majesty of Law evinced by our people in great emergencies, such as at the first election and at the re-election of Mr. Lincoln, when the whole nation stood breathless, as it were, and reverentially waited for that vox populi, which is theoretically vox Dei in a republic, but which, alas! does not always prove so. If all parts of the Republic were intelligently educated, it would doubtless be so without fail; but demagogues will always flourish and rule where there is ignorance and superstition, and the schoolmaster has not been abroad yet in the whole length and breadth of our land. Sarmiento never loses an opportunity of dwelling with power and eloquence, when addressing his countrymen, as he has often done upon this subject, on the advantages of a diffused knowledge among the people. Indeed, if all that he has written and said—even that portion of it which is recorded in the Buenos Ayres Common School Annals—could be collected, it would make a noble volume for all Spanish lands,—except, indeed, Old Spain, where there is not light enough to read it by.
This unassuming volume, of small size and plain covers, is strictly what it pretends to be, a simple biography, and therefore, apart from its subject, it is a book to be commended. We do not see the author on every page, we are not forced to stop and listen to his reflections, nor to long digressions into history, too commonly the fault in contemporaneous biography of political men. The writer kindly remembers that the reader's ignorance or knowledge does not rest upon his conscience. Therefore we find in the little book what we wish, the story of Richard Cobden, "the international man"; and it is a noble life-history, of which no American should be ignorant.
His success in business, remarkable as it was, is a greater source of wonder and admiration in England than in America, where the rapid accumulation of a fortune and the creation of a large mercantile house have hitherto been matters of less rare occurrence than in older countries; but the result and use of Richard Cobden's financial success are as unprecedented and surprising at one end of the money-making and money-spending world as the other.
Soon after the establishment of his business house in Manchester, Mr. Cobden interested himself in the public welfare of that city. His labors in behalf of the people attracted John Bright to his side, and at the early age of thirty years he had made a "decided local mark."
The saying, true and old as the fact men call character, that it is what an individual is, and not what he does, which marks him good or ill among his kind, holds eminently true with regard to Richard Cobden. Not only was the range of his sympathies wide, the aim was sure; "he never lost sight," said Mr. Disraeli, "of the sympathies of those whom he addressed; and so, generally avoiding to drive his arguments to an extremity, he became, as a speaker, both practical and persuasive"; and the same power, brought to bear upon the actions and communications of every day, made him a puissant servant of the Right.
There are three or four benefactions, however, which he was instrumental in conferring upon his own country, and indirectly upon all countries, for which he has become justly celebrated. These are tangible and enduring proofs of character for those who knew him not, and show his sympathy to have transcended the bounds of mere sentiment, and passed into the region of energetic self-sacrifice.
His efforts for the Anti-Corn-Law and Free Trade in England cannot be over-estimated. His life and strength and fortune were as nothing in comparison with his desire to benefit the people. When he first comprehended the necessity of labor in the Anti-Corn-Law struggle, he determined to press Mr. Bright, whose abilities had already produced a deep impression upon Mr. Cobden, into the service; but Mr. Bright had lately lost his wife and had retired to Leamington, where Mr. Cobden found him bowed down by grief. "'Come with me,' said Cobden, 'and we will never rest until we abolish the Corn-Laws.' Bright arose and went with him; and thus was his great sorrow turned to the nation's and the world's advantage."
Years afterward, a short time before their final triumph in behalf of Free Trade, Mr. Cobden saw his fortune becoming materially injured, besides his actual losses, estimated at twenty thousand pounds. His courage failed at length, and he went so far as to write to Mr. Bright that it was his intention to withdraw from the agitation and endeavor to retrieve his business. Then in turn Mr. Bright went to his friend, in Manchester, and was successful in urging him to reconsider his determination. It was agreed among the Free-Traders to bestow eighty thousand pounds upon Mr. Cobden when the struggle was ended, and he soon after received this manifest mark of their esteem and gratitude.
His labors to preserve peace, to strengthen the bonds of amity and weaken the causes for distrust between England and France, were earnest, unwearying, and fruitful in their results. His endeavors also to stem the dreadful tide drifting into the Crimean War, and his appeal in the House of Commons, when war became imminent with China, "that a select committee be appointed to examine into the state of our commercial relations with that country," prove his unswerving principles, and his energetic desire to preserve peace, until war should be declared a national necessity.
A man of the iron integrity of Cobden found himself necessarily in opposition to a man of popularity and self-aggrandizement, like Palmerston. Therefore, when the prime-minister announced his determination to reserve certain seats in his cabinet and ministry "for the leaders of advanced Liberalism," Richard Cobden declined the position appointed to himself, saying to Lord Palmerston, "that he had always regarded him as a most dangerous minister for England, and his views still remained the same."
One of Mr. Cobden's last efforts in the House of Commons was for the repeal of the Paper Duty. He said,—"If I were a young man just fresh from college, with nothing in the world but a good education, there is nothing I should work for with so much interest as making perfectly free the press of this country, by removing all the taxes which tend to render scarce and dear literary productions." The last time Mr. Cobden addressed a public audience, he said,—"If I were a rich man, I would endow a professor's chair at Oxford and Cambridge to instruct the undergraduates of those universities in American history. I would undertake to say, and I speak advisedly, that I will take any undergraduate now at Oxford or Cambridge and ask him to put his finger on Chicago, and I will undertake to say that he does not go within a thousand miles of it. . . . To bring up young men from college with no knowledge of the country in which the great drama of modern politics and national life is now being worked out,—who are ignorant of a country like America, but who, whether it be for good or for evil, must exercise more influence in this country than any other class,—to bring up the young destitute of such knowledge, and to place them in responsible positions in the government is, I say, imperilling its best interests; and earnest remonstrances ought to be made against such a state of education by every public man who values in the slightest degree the future welfare of his country." He concluded his speech by saying,—"Do you suppose it possible, when the knowledge of the principles of political economy has elevated the working classes, and when that elevation is continually progressing, that you can permanently exclude the whole mass of them from the franchise? It is their interest to set about solving the problem, and, to prevent any danger, they ought to do so without further delay."
The speech of Lord Palmerston in the House of Commons, after the death of Mr. Cobden, must be familiar to all readers. It came to round the measure of his eulogy, which had been sung in the East and in the West, in the North and in the South, and at length was heard even from the heart of Nazareth. We will not quote here the words of England's late minister; we would only urge those who love the study of nobility to read the Life of Richard Cobden, remembering such men "are set here for examples."
The Human Hair, and the Cutaneous Diseases which affect it: together with Essays on Acne, Sycosis, and Cloasma. By B. C. Perry, Dermatologist. New York: James Miller.
This is the first book of its kind which has been published, and it is well calculated to do good service in many ways. The author proposed to himself in its preparation so to present all topics which relate to the hair and scalp in health and disease, that his treatise should not only possess value as being founded upon a just discrimination of physiological principles, and interest for the general reader by reason of its familiarity of manner and the ana by which the subject should be illustrated, but also be of service to all who care to understand the nature of an important part of the physical system.
Upon the whole, this purpose has been well carried into effect; and every chapter of the comely volume bears witness to the research and reflection of the author. With no similar work for a guide or model, it was necessary to derive from the volumes of general and comparative physiology such facts and deductions as related to the theme; and that such have been drawn from recognized authorities, the frequent references to the writings of Carpenter, Wilson, Plumbe, Neligan, Rayer, and others of like eminence, will show.
Taking these collations of scientific statement as a basis, Dr. Perry proceeds—after giving some space to anecdotes and historical notes concerning the chevelure of former times—to speak at length of the formation and composition of the hair, of the unreasonable and injudicious treatment to which it is commonly subjected, and of its proper management. He then passes on to discuss the cutaneous diseases to which the scalp is liable, and by which of course the hair is affected to its detriment, devotes some chapters to the discussion of some diseases peculiar to the face, and concludes his volume with an Appendix containing an exposition of the constituents of many favorite and famous cosmetics, pointing out at the same time their true character, the danger and unpleasantness of which, he says, are disguised with much empirical skill.
The fundamental principle of Dr. Perry's treatise is, that the hair is ever in danger of being killed by much cherishing. He regards it as a delicate vegetable, growing in a tender soil, and amply supplied by Nature with the elements needed for its support and development. The skin of the head should not, he tells us, be subjected to any rough treatment, neither should it be exposed to sudden alternations of temperature. Cleanliness, gentle usage, and mild, innocuous specifics—vegetable, whenever possible—are his reliance to keep the hair in good order, and restore the proper tone when lost by negligence or disease. The harsh friction of the stiff, "penetrating hair-brush," the scraping of the fine comb, "the 'shampooing' operation of the hairdresser, with his exacerbating compound, a hundred degrees too violent, and his cataract of cold water at the end," are all condemned as injurious, together with the myriad nostrums in the form of oils, pomades, and the like. In dealing with these last, the author is indeed severe, remarking that "generally they are most mischievous, as well as common and filthy, mixtures, with nothing refined or elegant about them but their titles." For greasy compounds he has no tolerance, charging upon them, that, although they may for the moment lubricate and soften the hair, they burden the scalp, clog its pores, deaden the roots of the hair, and cause or increase many abnormal conditions of the cuticle. And certainly the formulæ; which are quoted in the Appendix go far to arouse in the reader the disgust for the popular preparations of the day which the writer does not attempt to conceal.
In those chapters which discuss the scalp and hair in disease, Dr. Perry takes the ground, that the trouble is primarily in the skin, and that remedial treatment should therefore be directed to it. He mentions the different eruptive and other affections in turn, and quotes the method of procedure advised by medical men, in connection with a statement of the manner of practice which he has successfully adopted, illustrating his views with very good wood-cuts derived from the atlases of Wilson, Neligan, and Dendy. In many cases he believes constitutional debility to be the primary difficulty, and recommends a tonic regimen as the best preliminary to a course of local treatment.
Without, of course, attempting to give minute directions for the management of all diseased conditions of the head and hair,—which would be alike impracticable in a volume of this popular character and unprofitable to himself as a practitioner in such cases,—Dr. Perry gives a large number of recipes which his own experience or that of his favorite authors has proved to be trustworthy and serviceable, the ingredients of which are cleanly, simple, and agreeable, adding plain rules for the rational culture and preservation of the hair.
The book has its faults of style, to be sure,—principal among which is a tendency to make too much of the scientific investigation and the acquirement of the writer, extending sometimes almost to pedantry in the use of long words and large phrases; but it contains much information that is important and can be found nowhere else except by troublesome comparison of extended treatises, and a deal of plain common-sense that should commend it to attention and respect.