« PreviousContinue »
13.-History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, the Catholic.
By William H. Prescott. In 3 vols. Boston: American
Stationers' Company, 1838. Mr. Prescott is a lawyer of Boston, a graduate of Harvard, 1814, and a son, we believe, of Judge Prescott of Groton. We have heretofore seen nothing from his pen except a Memoir of Charles Brockden Brown in Mr. Sparks's Biography. The History of Ferdinand and Isabella, by the unanimous suffrage of readers of all classes, is destined to reach a very high rank in English literature. It was commenced and prosecuted under extraordinary circumstances. Soon after the author's arrangements were made, early in 1826, for obtaining the necessary materials from Madrid, he was deprived of the use of his eyes for all purposes of reading and writing, and had no prospect of again recovering it. He then made the ear do the work of the eye. With the assistance of a reader uninitiated in any language but his own, he worked his way through several venerable Castalian quartos. He then procured the services of one more competent to aid him in pursuing his historical inquiries. The process was slow and irksome to both parties, till the ear was accommodated to foreign sounds and an antiquated and barbarous phraseology. After persevering in this course for some years, his eyes, by the blessing of Providence, recovered sufficient strength to allow him to use them with tolerable freedom, in the prosecution of his labors, and in the revision of all previously written. Mr. Prescott's labors to dig up the original sources, and to explore paths where no Spaniard's foot had trod, are worthy of all praise and of all imitation. He had free access to the Ebeling and Warden collections in the Harvard College library, and the very valuable private library of Mr. George Ticknor, collected by the owner during a long residence in Spain and other parts of Europe. Mr. Rich of London, a learned antiquary, rendered Mr. Prescott much assistance. Mr. A. H. Everett, American minister in Spain, and his secretary of legation, interested themselves to procure what might have been difficult of access without such official aids. Mr. P. thus obtained some works not found in the general libraries, and many of which are not cited by any European writer, at least out of Spain. He secured, for instance, a complete collection of all the laws, ordinances, and pragmáticas, published during the reign of Ferdinand. In addition, a number of unpublished MSS. of that age, invaluable for illustration, and probably little known even to Castalian scholars, were procured.
Investigations so patient, industry so iron-like, and, we may add, morality so commendable and so uncommon in going to the fountain-heads, will have their reward. The labor will be appreciated throughout the civilized world. Thanks will flow in to the author from proud and jealous Europe. For us, Americans, the work will have special claims. Isabella has been justly termed the mother of America. Her reign is inseparably connected with the fortunes of this new world. Those interested in the Catholic question, as many are in this country, will find in these volumes much food for contemplation. They contain the best account of the Inquisition which has appeared, derived mainly from the voluminous disclosures of Llorente.
14.- Antiquitates Americanae, sive Scriptores Septentrionales Rerum
Ante-Columbianarum, in America. Samling af de i Nordens Oldskrifter in deholdte efterretninger om de gamle Nordboers opdagelsereiser til America, fra dei 10de til det 14de Aarhundrede. Edidit Societas Regia Antiquariorum Septentriona
lium. Hafniae, 1837. 4to. pp. 479. This great work, a solitary copy only of which we have seen, was edited by Prof. C. C. Rafn of Copenhagen, and is brought out under the patronage of the Royal Society of Danish Antiquaries. It gives extracts from eighteen ancient authors principally Icelandic; several containing detailed accounts of the discovery, and all of them allusions to it. About one half of the volume consists of two narratives. The first may be called the History of Eric, the first settler of Greenland, and the second, which is the longer performance, is the History of Thorfinn the Hopeful, who conducted the most important expedition to Vinland or Wineland, a name given to the country discovered, from the abundance of grapes found by the adventurers. Appended to these extracts and documents, is an account of certain monuments of the ancient occupation of Greenland by the Scandinavians. There seems, on the whole, to be good reason for believ. ing that these reports of the discoveries of the Northmen are founded on fact, and that the American continent was visited by them in the eleventh century. 15.-Specimens of Foreign Standard Literature. Edited by George
Ripley. Vols. I. and II., containing Philosophical Miscellanies, from the French of Cousin, Jouffroy, and Benjamin Con
stant. Boston: Hilliard, Gray & Co. 1838. pp. 383, 376. The publication, of which these two volumes form the commencement, has special reference to the three leading divisions of Philosophy, History and Theology; though its plan includes writings of a popular character, selected from the most finished specimens of elegant literature, and adapted to interest the great mass of intelligent readers. The following works will compose a part of the series : Menzel's History of German Literature ; Goethe's Life, his Correspondence with Schiller, Zelter, etc., and his Conversations with Eckermann; Benjamin Constant on Religion, and on Roman Polytheism ; De Wette's Lectures on the Philosophy of Religion ; Select Minor Poems of Goethe and Schiller ; Guizot's History of Civilization; Herder's Select Religious Writings; Life of Jean Paul Richter; Jouffroy's Moral Philosophy ; Lyric Poems from Körner, Novalis, Uhland, etc.; Schelling on the Philosophy of Art; Selections from Lessing, etc. The series of volumes, if it should be continued, will be composed of the contributions of different translators, entire. ly independent of each other. It will be devoted to the advocacy of no exclusive opinions, and is designed to include works and authors of the most opposite character, without favor or prejudice. We notice among the writers from whom it is proposed to make translations, the names of Neander, Schleiermacher, Olshausen, and Twesten.
The first two volumes of these Miscellanies contain translations from the miscellaneous, philosophical works of Victor Cousin, Theodore Jouffroy and Benjamin Constant. Introductory and explanatory notes are supplied by the translator. The extracts from Cousin are upon the destiny of modern philosophy, eclecticism, the moral law and liberty, the idea of cause and of the infinite, religion, mysticism, stoicism, classification of philosophical questions and schools. M. Cousin was born at Paris, Nov. 28, 1792. In 1810 he entered the Normal school, of which he became the principal after the revolution of 1830. In 1815, he succeeded M. Royer-Collard as professor of philosophy in the faculty of literature in the university of Paris. At the same time, he taught philosophy at the Normal school. In 1817 and 1818 he visited Germany, and, in 1820, the north of Italy. In 1822, the Normal school was suppressed. In 1824, M. Cousin, while travelling in Germany, was seized through_the influence of the Jesuits and imprisoned for several months. The affair, however, terminated to his honor and to the shame of his enemies. In 1827, he was reinstated in his office in the university of Paris. From 1830 to 1835 he published four new volumes of the translation of Plato, a new edition of his own Philosophical Fragments, an edition of the posthumous works of M. Maine de Biran, and a work on the Metaphysics of Aristotle. His Reports on the state of Public Instruction in Prussia are well known in this country. His latest work, 1836, is on Public Instruction in Holland. In 1832, he was made a peer of France.
M. Jouffroy is a pupil and friend of M. Cousin. The extracts from his writings are on common sense, skepticism, history of philosophy, faculties of the human soul, method of philosophical study, eclecticism in morals, good and evil, how dogmas come to an end, the Sorbonne and the philosophers, reflections on the philosophy of history, the influence of Greece in the development of humanity, and the present state of humanity.
The passages from Benjamin Constant's writings are, on the progressive development of religious ideas, the human causes which have contributed to the establishment of Christianity, and the perfectibility of the human race. M. Constant was born of French parents at Lausanne in Switzerland, in 1767. He expired shortly after the revolution of July, 1830. He is not regarded as ranking in philosophy with Cousin and Jouffroy. All three were, however, united in opposition to the old French school of infidel philosophy, and as ardent friends to freedom of thought and of expression.
LITERARY AND MISCELLANEOUS INTELLIGENCE.
Professor Morse's Electro-Magnetic Telegraph. As this invention is attracting some interest in this country, and as other countries are bestowing much attention upon Electric Telegraphs construct. ed on somewhat similar principles, we have thought it proper, in noticing this invention, to give a few facts and dates to determine who, among all the rival claimants, is entitled to the honor of a discovery which, to use the words of a distinguished statesman, “is to make a new era in the progress of human improvements."
The suggestion of the possibility of conveying intelligence by means of electricity must have occurred many years since, to scientific and ingenious men, both in this and in foreign countries, but no practical method has been devised, until very recently, of putting this possibility to the trial of experiment. We might suppose that Franklin himself would naturally have suggested the idea, but it does not appear that he or any of the philosophers of his day thought of it. It is stated on good authority that, as early as the year 1800, the idea was suggested by an individual in this country; and Dr. Cox of Philadelphia, in 1816, in a published document, not only avowed his belief in the possibility of conveying intelligence by electricity, but hinted at some means of doing it, and predicted that new discoveries in science would probably accomplish it; yet no invention was made. In Europe, Prof. Oersted of Copenhagen, only a few years since, (we have not before us the precise date), suggested the possibility of an electric Telegraph. Ampére of Paris, and Prof. Barlow of London, about the year 1830, both proclaimed its possibility, but devised no practicable mode. In 1832, Prof. Morse of the University of the city of New York, while returning from France, unconscious, as we are told, that even the thought of sending intelligence by electricity had ever occurred to another, conceived the idea, and devised a mode of carrying it into effect. He invented a system of
Vol. XI. No. 30 66
signs or characters by which to read, and a mode of permanently recording by electricity. On his arrival he immediately proceeded to have parts of the apparatus made, as it is at present in operation; and but for hindrances, not connected with the invention, would have produced the apparatus complete in 1832. The distinguished Prof. Gauss of Göttingen, about two years since, (1836), invented a mode of communicating intelligence by means of an electric wire, deflecting a magnetic needle, which mode, we learn, he has now in use at Göttingen for about three miles. Prof. Wheatstone of the London University also invented a mode in 1835 or -6, using fire wires or circuits, and has constructed a system of signs by the deflection of magnetic needles.
The general plan of Prof. Morse's Telegraph was first published in April 1837. The first intelligence of Prof. Wheatstone's operations reached this country in May 1837, one month after Prof, Morse's had been before the American public. Prof. Morse's plan embraced, from the beginning in 1832, but one wire or circuit. It is now successfully accomplished by him, and by it he causes a pen permanently to write the characters of his intelligence. He showed the efficiency of his machinery in July and August 1837, and in September following made trial of it for a distance of half a mile. Since that time his new machinery with ten miles of wire has been constructed and is perfectly satisfactory in its operation. Eminent scientific men in New York, Philadelphia, and Washington have witnessed its performance, approve the plan, and perceive no insurmountable obstacles to its universal application. Whatever therefore may have been previously hinted in regard to the practicability of an Electric Telegraph, it appears that Prof. Morse is the first who has devised an original Telegraph accomplishing its object perfectly. His plan was devised prior to his knowledge of the European inventions of the same name, and accomplishes its object in a totally different mode, more simple, less expensive, and more complete and permanent. It has been introduced to the consideration of Congress, and we learn, with satisfaction, that, in all probability, the means for an extensive trial of this Telegraph will be furnished. Should its success equal the expectations of most who have examined it, the results of this discovery upon society will be greater than the imagination of the most sanguine can now distinctly conceive.
Mr. O, A. Taylor's Catalogue of the Library of the Andover Theological Seminary, which we have before alluded.to, Vol. IX. p. 251, is now completed. It makes a very portable and substantial octavo of,531 pages. It was commenced by Mr. Robinson, late librarian. Mr. Taylor has labored upon it for two years. It is in the alphabetical form. The name of the author is first given, and than all his productions are arranged under it, except that whole works are placed first. A short biographical notice of the author is prefixed. A foundation is laid by the use of certain characters for a systematic Index at some future time. Mr. Taylor has given not only all the