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Brief Literary Notices.
of careful study, and so charmingly written, that he who is least disposed to metaphysics may read it without remembering his dislike. We may add that the editorial care is unrelaxed, and very efficient.
Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases, classified and arranged so as to Facilitate the Expression of Ideas, and Assist in Literary Composition. By Peter Mark Roget, M.D., F.R.S. Third Edition, enlarged and improved. London: Long
A BOOK which shall realize to the student and literary man the purposes expressed in the above title, is of value beyond price; and from a careful examination of this volume we think it will answer to its title-page. It is altogether a new book; no other has adopted the philosophical principle of associating words and phrases under their generic idea, so that, at a glance, one can find true synonyms and words of all diversities and shades of meaning, retaining the original idea. In order to facilitate the finding a word and its correlatives, an ingenious and comprehensive "synopsis of categories" is prefixed, upon a plan of classification which must commend itself alike by its simplicity, beauty, and practical value:
"1. The First of these Classes comprehends ideas derived from the more general and ABSTRACT RELATIONS among things, such as Existence, Resemblance, Quantity, Order, Number, Time, Power.
"2. The Second Class refers to SPACE and its various relations, including Motion, or change of place.
"3. The Third Class includes all ideas that relate to the MATERIAL WORLD; namely, the Properties of Matter, such as Solidity, Fluidity, Heat, Light, Sound, and the Phenomena they present, as well as the simple perceptions to which they give rise.
4. The Fourth Class embraces all ideas of phenomena relating to the INTELLECT and its operations, comprising the Acquisition, the Retention, and the Communication of Ideas.
"5. The Fifth Class includes the ideas derived from the exercise of VOLITION; embracing the phenomena and results of our voluntary and active powers, such as Choice, Intention, Utility, Action, Antagonism, Authority, Compact, Property, &c.
"6. The Sixth and last Class comprehends all ideas derived from the operation of our SENTIENT AND MORAL POWERS; including our Feelings, Emotions, Passions, and Moral and Religious Sentiments."
Thus are comprised all the varieties of words, in order, genus, species, and individuals; and this arrangement brings out a result of nearly one thousand groups of words. And then we have a very copious index to show, by numerals, in what group we may find particular words. There is a peculiarity in this work, lost sight of by too many writers, in the insertion of phrases and idioms, generally purely English, which often greatly illustrate the force of our language; and they may be said to form a constituent part of it.
It will, however, require a little time and use to enable any one fully to understand the plan, and to know the value of Dr. Roget's book. Who has not felt himself at a loss for a word? either from the excessive fastidiousness that Cobbett so justly condemns, which
will not allow him to use the same word again; or from a nice perception of euphony and rhythm, which will not allow of more than so many syllables, or admit a particular accent; and another from the conviction that such a word does not nicely and accurately express that shade of meaning which is in the author's mind. Every word has a fixed meaning, a sense so definite that there are few absolute synonyms in any language; and the only fear we have, regarding the use of this and similar works, is, that writers may content themselves with diversity of terms at the cost of accuracy. On the same table, Crabb's or Archbishop Whately's Synonyms ought certainly to be found. There is no test of composition more severe, so far as style is concerned, than the use of supposed synonymous words; and no painstaking is more profitable, to young authors especially, than assiduous labour in this department. We are much pleased with one feature among others in Dr. Roget's book,-that he is not a word-coiner. The rage for making new words is most offensive, and has a most injurious effect upon the writer and his readers, and upon the language. "This vicious practice, the offspring of indolence or conceit, implies an ignorance or neglect of the riches in which the English language already abounds, and which would have supplied them with words of recognised legitimacy, conveying precisely the same meaning as those they so recklessly coin in the mint of their own fancy."
To say that the volume has our strong recommendation, is only doing justice to the labours of an author eminent in several departments of literature, who first attempted something on the plan of the present work fifty years ago, merely for his own use; and who has employed a period of comparative leisure, arising from his resignation of the duties of Secretary to the Royal Society, in perfecting the scheme, and publishing it for the use of all literary artificers. They, like all other workmen, find their work greatly eased and forwarded by having a diversity of the best tools always at hand; and to them whatever facilitates the acquisition of a copia verborum is of vast advantage. To assure them that they may find great help in the use of this Thesaurus, is but just praise of the book itself.
The Christian Life, Social and Individual. By Peter Bayne, M.A. London: Groombridge and Sons.
THE maiden performance of a young author who seems to have a special vocation for biography, and who has set himself, in the present volume, to show in a series of sketches the adaptation of Christianity to the wants of the age, both in its social action and in its individual development. It is a work full of promise, though exhibiting very palpably the verdancy and leafiness of youth, faults to which we object as little as to the verdancy and leafiness of the pleasant spring-time. In this illustration we mean especially to indicate, that the volume abounds rather in valuable suggestions than in matured results. Full of life and thought, and universal in his sympathies, Mr. Bayne discusses almost every conceivable problem that is at present either stirring the nation or perplexing the individual; and if he does not always solve the difficulty, he at least always does the next best thing, he states it clearly, and shows its
Brief Literary Notices.
relation to Christianity. This, indeed, is the peculiar excellence of his performance, that he has come boldly forward and handled the leading questions of the day, political and personal, from the Christian point of view. He has studied the writings of Carlyle with enthusiastic admiration and profound thought, with such profound thought, however, that he is quite unsatisfied with the conclusions of his master, and regards them as pernicious, unless rectified by Christianity, even as the waters of Marah were most bitter, until the tree was cast into them. To cast a branch, therefore, from the Christian vine into the fountains of the Carlylean philosophy, and so to purify it, has been the ambition of Mr. Bayne; and his work has, accordingly, assumed, in many parts, the form of a polemic against the philosopher of Chelsea. Especially does he defend against Carlyle that Christian philanthropy which, in common with Isaac Taylor, he regards as the latest impersonation of the spirit of Christianity. The chapter in which he thus treats of philanthropy, and of the function which compassion has to fulfil in relation to law, we most strongly recommend to our readers, as, in many respects, the most able in the volume, and full of material for thought. While, however, the work thus abounds in the elucidation of principles, and from these derives its chief value, its great interest depends upon the biographical sketches with which Mr. Bayne has relieved his discussions. The discussions resemble a tempestuous sea, and it is a pleasure to land on one of these sunny isles of biography, and feel that, let the billows beat as they may, here is the firmness of a soul based on eternal laws, and living in the eye of God. The biographies chosen are those of Howard, Wilberforce, and Samuel Budgett, to illustrate the Christian life in its social action; and those of Foster, Arnold, and Chalmers, to illustrate the Christian life in the development of the individual. The sketches of Wilberforce, Foster, and Chalmers are the best. They are all, however, written with fine feeling and appreciation, and we have little doubt that, if Mr. Bayne will follow in the same path, he will achieve signal success. He writes with a noble elevation of purpose, with manly sympathy in every phase of human feeling, with the cultivation of a student, and with the instinct of a true artist. The result is a volume which is as full of matter for the thinker as it is full of interest for the reader.
The Errors of Infidelity: or, An Abridgment of various Facts and Arguments urged against Infidelity. By David M'Burnie, Author of "Mental Exercises of a Working Man," &c. London: Arthur Hall, Virtue, and Co.
THIS is a very seasonable publication, written by a layman, to which was awarded a prize offered by George Baillie, Esq., Glasgow. The writer of this valuable little work has succeeded in collecting and condensing the scattered rays of evidences to the truth of revelation from every practicable source, and has thus presented a summary of the arguments against Infidelity, which be found extremely useful to those who are debarred, by want of leisure and opportunity, from the perusal of more extensive or more profound treatises.
A Reply to the Rev. Dr. Cumming's Lectures on "The End of the World." By H. Bland, Comedian. Sixth Thousand. London: Ward and Co.
THE chief interest of this work is derived from the profession of its author. As Mr. Sheridan Knowles has left the stage to battle with Popery, Mr. Bland, still adhering to his profession, has been led to the study of prophecy, and, in this pamphlet, examines the grounds upon which Dr. Cumming has ventured to assert that the end of the world will take place in the year 1865. The author approaches the subject in no spirit of levity. He is afraid that, "at a time when Christianity is so vigorously assailed by an infidel press and by infidel lectures, when the inspiration of the sacred volume is grossly impugned by false friends as well as by open enemies,.....the rash assertions and hasty calculations of one of the most pious, eminent, and efficient Ministers of the Gospel in Great Britain" should have the effect of giving occasion to the Holyoakes, Southwells, and Barkers to sneer, however illogically, against the prophecies, and against the sacred volume of which they form a part. He therefore shows, by ruthless analysis, the self-contradictions of Dr. Cumming's interpretation; and, by arguments which it is impossible to resist, and with a temper which it is impossible to resent, how unwarranted are the expectations of that divine. Having thus achieved the comparatively easy work of criticism, he announces that he is shortly to lay before the public a Commentary on the Apocalypse in which his own. opinions will be freely given, and exposed to scrutiny not less severe. "All I shall ask of the public is a candid spirit and an unbiassed mind; for I shall profess to solve prophecy upon responsible principles." Such a reception we are sure that Mr. Bland may count
The Physical Geography of the Sea. By M. F. Maury, LL.D., Lieutenant U.S. Navy. With Illustrative Charts and Diagrams. London: Sampson Low and Co. 1855.
WHAT Admiral Smyth has so fully and so satisfactorily accomplished for his favourite Mediterranean, Lieutenant Maury has attempted, and not unsuccessfully, for the ocean at large. The two works present points of resemblance, and points of dissimilarity. They agree in the fervour of spirit, the fulness of knowledge, and the patient labour, which in each case distinguishes the writer. We can imagine that to each would apply the poet's words :
"And I have loved thee, Ocean! and my joy
We feel assured that the professional duties to which the writers' lives have been devoted were thoroughly congenial; and something of their enthusiasm is communicated to the minds of their readers. The difference between the two works is such as might be expected from their very different scope and objects. Lieutenant Maury has embraced the wider field, and the result is necessarily less perfect.
Brief Literary Notices.
Whatever results may follow from that new department of science, "the physical geography of the sea,"-the greatest credit is due to the enlightened and spirited conduct of the Government of the United States, who have succeeded in framing a friendly association of the principal maritime powers, for the purpose of combined and systematic observation.
It may be urged that some of the questions laboriously investigated by Lieutenant Maury and others, have no present practical application. It may be asked, "Of what importance is it to know the depth of the Atlantic? What good result will come of your deep-sea soundings?" Irrespective of the fact that science ever finds a mode of utilizing the facts with which observation supplies it, and that we may safely assume that some practical good will issue from such researches; already we are obtaining an answer to these inquiries. The future progress of the submarine telegraph will depend upon such knowledge. At the bottom of the ocean, between Cape Race, in Newfoundland, and Cape Clear, in Ireland, a remarkable steppe has been discovered, which is already known as the "telegraphic plateau." Along this it is proposed to carry the wires, from the eastern shores of Newfoundland, to the western shores of Ireland. From the character of the minute shells which cover this plateau, it is inferred that the waters over it are there, if any where, at rest. The plateau is not too deep for the wire to sink down and rest upon, yet it is not so shallow that currents, or icebergs, or any abrading force, can derange the wire after it is once lodged.
The following will serve as a specimen of the reflections which abound throughout the volume:-"As Professor Bailey remarks, the animalcule, whose remains Brooks's lead has brought up from the bottom of the deep sea, probably did not live or die there. They would have had no light there; and, had they lived there, their frail little textures would have been subjected in their growth to a pressure upon them of a column of water twelve thousand feet high, equal to the weight of four hundred atmospheres. They probably lived and died near the surface, where they could feel the genial influences of both light and heat, and were buried in the lichen caves below after death...... Brooks's lead and the microscope, therefore, it would seem, are about to teach us to regard the ocean in a new light. Its bosom, which so teems with animal life; its face, upon which time writes no wrinkles, makes no impression,-are, it would now seem, as obedient to the great law of change as is any department whatever either of the animal or vegetable kingdom. It is now suggested that, henceforward, we should view the surface of the sea as a nursery teeming with nascent organisms; its depths as the cemetery for families of living creatures that outnumber the sands on the sea-shore for multitude. Where there is a nursery, hard by there will be found also a grave-yard; such is the condition of the animal world. But it never occurred to us before, to consider the surface of the sea as one wide nursery, its every ripple a cradle, and its bottom one vast burial place."
The bearing of Lieutenant Maury's investigations upon the future progress of navigation has been publicly recognised; and an organization for systematic observation has been formed, under his auspices,