« PreviousContinue »
of the Saviour in the history of his religion, those doubts were set at rest by the appearance of the recent work of Strauss in Germany. His remarks on the “Life of Jesus," as well as on the nearly contemporary work of Dr. H. Weisse, are placed in several appendices and notes, and contain a valuable, though perhaps not a sufficiently thorough, refutation of the mythical theory of these German writers. In this relation his vindication of the Divinity of the Saviour is by no means an unimportant part of his work. And as a whole we regard this history as justly entitled to the high character of a standard work. It is not in all respects as we could wish. The author in his great liberality to the German writers, to whom he acknowledges his indebtedness, has allowed himself to be influenced in some degree by the skeptical tendency of their philosophy. But as a history, his work is generally impartial and candid, as well as learned and amply supported by the best authorities.
3.-Visit to Northern Europe ; or Sketches, Descriptive, Histor.
ical, Political and Moral, of Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland, and the Free Cities of Hamburg and Lubeck; containing Notices of the Manners and Customs, Commerce, Manufactures, Arts and Sciences, Education, Literature and Religion, of those Countries and Cities. By Robert Baird. With Maps and numerous Engravings. In two Volumes. New-York: John S. Taylor & Co.
1841. pp. 347, 350. A title so long and particular might seem to be a sufficient index to the numerous and miscellaneous subjects of the work to which it is prefixed. But our friend Mr. Baird has chosen to be still more explicit. On opening these volumes, we are greeted with eighteen pages of Contents, presenting a pretty full analysis of the work, and spreading before the reader a bill of fare which is by no means stinted or unattractive. Then follows a well executed map of Denmark, Sweden and Norway, with the Baltic Sea, the Gulf of Bothnia and the outlines of Finland on the East; presenting the whole country occupied by the ancient Scandinavian nations. The principal towns of these countries our author has twice visited, first in 1836, and again in 1840, and passed over considerable portions of their territory and of their waters. His opportunities of personal observation have thus been, we think, quite sufficient to justify his attempt to describe those hyperborean regions, where, --if we may credit the legends of Scandinavia,—the Goths, or Scythians, planted themselves some 2000 years before the Christian era ; whither Odin is said to have arrived.-B. C. 70,—and was followed by a long succession of kings fabled to have been half divine, and whose apotheosis was confirmed by their deaths; and where the Northmen, in succeeding times, emerging from the mist and darkness of their mythological history, have left traces of their bold adventures both by sea and land, and have at length taken their place among the civilized and Christian nations of modern Europe. A sketch of the history of such a people, with an account of their manners, customs, institutions, etc., by one who has enjoyed their hospitality and travelled over a considerable portion of their picturesque and romantic countries, cannot fail to be interesting, and especially to American readers; for some portions of our own country, we are assured, strikingly resembles those lands of the Northmen.
In addition to his personal knowledge of the countries he describes, Mr. Baird has availed himself of the researches of numerous authors, among whom are Mr. Wheaton, Mr. Laing and others, and has thus collected a mass of materials more ample, perhaps, for the construction of a popular history than any of the modern travellers who have preceded him.
Those countries, particularly Sweden, have attracted much attention of late, and numerous works, on portions of Northern Europe, have appeared in England, Germany and France, within a few years, both historical and descriptive. But the volumes before us are more full and satisfactory on topics of interest to American readers, and will doubtless answer a purpose which could not have been attained by the reprint of any of the foreign works in this country.
It would be in vain, in the space allowed to this notice, to attempt a particular analysis of these volumes. The subjects of the author's brief and running descriptions are too numerous for us even to name. He dwells especially upon the history and description of the countries and cities named on the titlepage, beginning with Hamburg and Lubeck, which to us are the least interesting portions of his work, and proceeding to the northern countries. These countries, considered historically, present many curious and interesting lessons of instruction to the scholar, the statesman and the Christian ; and the story of their progress from the lowest degrees of barbarism, or at least from a state of mythical obscurity, to their present enlightened condition, is so interwoven with the history of the whole of Europe, and even with the first discovery of our own country, that a knowledge of it seems essential to a right un. derstanding of the origin, and the historical and political rela
tions of all the other nations of Europe and America. But the present condition of the countries described in this work is a theme of still more interesting contemplation. “We do not believe,” says Mr. Baird, “that any other countries in the world, of a proportionate population, have developed so much talent and so much literary enterprise, as both Denmark and Sweden have done during the last fifty or sixty years ;" and in this remark Norway is associated with the former and Finland with the latter. Within the same period also (provements have been made in the political, civil, physical and moral conditions of these countries. Norway is now a free state, with a constitution modelled in a great degree after that of our own government, and her example is exerting a powerful influence on the Danes and Swedes, who seem prepared for much greater political ameliorations than they have yet experienced. Their religious condition is also such as at once to excite our commiseration and encouragement; and we cannot but hope that, in the progress of political reform, that separation of church and state will be effected, which the experience of our own country has shown to be so essential to the best interests of both,
On the whole, we have found ourselves deeply interested in the perusal of the work before us. To those of our readers who are not already familiar with the history and description of the countries to which it relates, we cheerfully recommend it. The author is well known to the American public as a zealous and efficient laborer in the cause of philanthropy and religion, and it was in the prosecution of several objects of benevolence, especially the cause of Temperance, that he made his journeys to Northern Europe. His statements may doubtless be relied on as correct, so far as he has given himself time for suitable examination of authorities; and we may add that the principal attractiveness of his volumes, as well as their value, consists in the variety of interesting topics to which they relate. He does not excel in description, and the reader will have occasion to regret the hurried manner in which this work has been prepared for the press. The interest attached to the countries described, and the importance and variety of the materials to be served up, would have demanded of the author, under any other circumstances than those of imperious necessity, more time and care to condense and arrange the mass of information he has given us, and thus to render his descriptions less prolix and repetitious. The work, however, is well worthy of perusal and will be found an acceptable gift of the author to his native country. It is handsomely got up by the publisher, and the numerous engravings, while they illustrate the scenes from which they are drawn, add to the attractiveness of the volumes.
4.-The French Revolution : A History in Three Volumes. By
Thomas Carlyle. Three Volumes in Two. Second American from the Second London Edition. New-York: William Kerr & Co. Boston: C. C. Little & J. Brown. Philadelphia : T. Cowperthwaite & Co. 1841. pp.
To one who has never read any of Mr. Carlyle's writings we should despair of success in attempting to convey an adequate idea of his peculiarities. His style of thought and expression are not only his own, but they are so unlike those of any other writer of the English tongue, that they are incapable of being illustrated by example in the whole range of our literature. His productions have exceedingly puzzled the critics both of the old and the new world. That his style is faulty in a high degree,—that it outrages all the laws of rhetoric, as established by the usage of the best writers, and that no man can attempt to imitate it but at the expense of his reputation for good sense and correct taste,—is now universally admitted. Yet Carlyle himself is an original, and as such he commands the toleration of the literary public, and even the admiration of many who would wage relentless war against the eccentricity, the affectation and the mannerism of his style, were they found anywhere but in the writings of this one man, But here they belong to himself. They are perhaps essential to the filling up of his character; and if these exuberances could be destroyed, it would probably be with greater loss thau gain ; and so both readers and critics are beginning to adopt the conclusion that, in case as in many others where remedy is impracticable, it is wise to
" Do as they do in Spain,
Let it rain.”
The reader may of course expect to find, in this history of the French Revolution, a singular, an eccentric production. It is unlike all other histories in prose. It is a prose epic, the plan of which was suggested by the thrilling and fearful events and transactions of that “reign of terror.'
He accordingly groups his materials by a different law from that of their suic. cession in time, and thus, by connecting the more trivial dotails with the prominent events, he clothes the whole story with an interest, which the ordinary style of narrative never produces. And the conception is not only epical, but the plot is developed with wit and irony, which to a reader somewhat familiar with the events referred to will appear to be well sustained. And, withal, Mr. Carlyle is a serious writer. In the language of an English reviewer, “Duty,—the duty of acting,
-in however small a sphere, it is his perpetual task to preach;" and he preaches it too with an earnestness, with which the wildest playfulness in details seldom interferes. On the whole, then, we strongly recommend the reading of this "great work” of Carlyle,--not as a history, but as an epic description of the French Revolution. Itwill wake up the mind to new and more vivid impressions of the scenes of that age of confusion than any history we have read. The edition before us is got up in a very neat and economical style of execution.
5.-Sacred Lyrics, or Psalms and Hymns, adapted to Public Wora
ship. Selected by Nathan S. S. Beman. Troy, N. Y.:
A. Kidder. 1841. pp. 648. So many attempts have been made, and failed, within the last thirty years, to prepare a complete collection of Sacred Songs for public worship, that we have been accustomed, of late, to receive with caution every accession to the number of our books of Psalms and Hymns. Yet we have felt the need of a better book of this sort, than any one of the great variety now in use in our churches. Dr. Beman has turned his attention to this subject, with his usual energy and perseverance, and has prepared a work which it is hoped will supply the deficiency. His plan and the principles upon which he has made his selections, as exhibited in his preface, are certainly good, and indicate a mind thoroughly imbued with the spirit of his design, while his long experience, good sense and taste would lead us to expect no mean result from the labor he has bestowed upon this undertaking. And having examined a large number of his Psalms and Hymns, we are happy to say, our expectations have not been disappointed. The book contains one or more versifications of each of the 150 Psalms of David, and 720 Hymns. “In the arrangement of the Psalms, Dr. Watts is the leading author. Many other versifications of high merit have been selected from Doddridge, Steele, Kenn, Newton, Montgomery, Conder and others, which have been arranged in their proper places with those of Watts, so that, it is believed, this part of the volume presents a greater number and a richer variety of Psalms adapted to singing, than