Abbildungen der Seite

dwelling, and be gratified to see it in the hands of his wife and children. We commend our humble but very useful contemporary to the liberal patronage of all who desire the improvement of the workingclasses. Let those who complain, with so much reason, of the wide spread and fatal influence of cheap unwholesome literature, prove their sincerity by furthering the success of this publication. If those who leave religious tracts at the houses of the poor, were to accompany the loan by the gift of a Number of the "British Workman," their visits might be looked for with a livelier interest, and thus a way be made for the reception of spiritual truth.

Glaucus: or, The Wonders of the Shore. By Charles Kingsley, Author of "Westward Ho!" "Hypatia," &c. Cambridge: Macmillan and Co. 1855.

EMINENT as are Mr. Kingsley's talents, and full of interest as are all his writings, there are none of his works which we can contemplate with more satisfaction, or recommend with less misgiving, than the little volume before us. It is a graceful and persuasive attempt to recommend the love and study of nature to those whose summer holidays are spent by the sea-shore. He urges such persons to exchange the languid pursuit of pleasure, with its attendant ennui and disappointment, for the calm and ennobling observation of the natural wonders and beauties which abound upon the sea-margins,— the cliffs and sands of our watering-places. He shows that no special preparation is requisite, that no formal assumption of the character of naturalist is necessary, and that such progress as may even enlarge the boundaries of science may be made without any great sacrifice, either of time or trouble. His illustrations are chosen with great taste and judgment; his descriptions are curt, graphic, and welldefined; and, above all, his references to the great First Cause of all these marvels are in the true spirit of a Christian philosophy.

Passing Thoughts. By James Douglass, of Cavers. Part I. Edinburgh Constable and Co. 1855.

MR. DOUGLASS is known to a large circle of serious readers as one of the most able and intelligent of living Christian authors. His works, however, are more weighty than numerous; and any addition to their number is a just subject of congratulation. Towards the close of an honourable and studious life, he appears to have formed the idea of arranging his thoughts upon a variety of literary topics, and of giving them to the world under his own hand. Such a series is commenced in the pamphlet before us; and when we say, that its headings include the names of Goethe, Rousseau, and Humboldt, the reader may partly guess the nature and value of the instruction put within his reach. It is exactly upon the characters of these eminent literary masters, and upon similar and related topics, that the Christian world needs such a guide as Mr. Douglass, whose ability and accomplishments are sufficient guarantees of a liberal and candid judgment, and whose religious principles assure us of the high moral standard that will constantly be kept before him. The section on

Brief Literary Notices.


Rousseau is full of pertinent reflections, and comprises, in the main, a fair and comprehensive estimate of that embodied paradox. The author looks all round his subject calmly and patiently; he betrays none of that disgust which a religious mind of narrower proportions and less liberal education would be apt to show; and though the standard is still present in its inflexible dignity, the deviations are regarded with that true charity which is an element in every just and Christian estimate. We commend these valuable " Thoughts" to every serious reader, and especially to those who love to range through the more eminent and classic paths of European literature. The author does well to gather up the fragments of such a studious and religious life; and the more baskets they fill the better.

Constable's Miscellany of Foreign Literature:-Wanderings in Corsica: its History and its Heroes. Translated from the German of Ferdinand Gregorovius by Alexander Muir. In Two Vols.-Chronicles of Wolfert's Roost, and other Papers. By Washington Irving. Author's Edition.

If the future volumes of Constable's Miscellany prove as interesting and instructive as those already before the public, the undertaking will be entitled to a very large measure of success. The enterprising publishers appear resolved to admit into the series none but works of first-rate character. In giving to each work a special title-page, they have refused to avail themselves of one of the trade artifices usually resorted to in connexion with such publications; in this evidently acting under the conviction that the separate works will be able to win the public favour on their own merits, and quite independently of this or any other series.

"Wanderings in Corsica: its History and its Heroes," is a sterling work on a subject which has the advantage of being not yet worn threadbare. The author evidently commenced his travels with an object, which he never loses sight of in matters of merely minor interest. He says nothing of the bad dinners he was obliged to eat, or of the long bills he paid; so that readers who set a value on these little gossiping details, will do well not to open the book. We believe, however, that most of those who meet with it will not only give it a first perusal, but assign it an honourable place in their library, as a valuable book of reference, a character which it will well sustain. The writer has consulted a large number of learned authorities, and does not disdain to mention his obligations to the "English Boswell," who, we must confess, cuts rather a sorry figure as the sole representative of English literati. On the subject of the Buonaparte family,—one on which people find it difficult just now to avoid extravagance, either on one side or the other, he writes with great calmness and good sense, besides contributing a large mass of new and authentic illustrative matter. In all respects it is a most excellent volume.

The same may be said with equal truth of the second work on the list, although no two books could well be more distinct. But it is absolutely revolting to all our earliest and best associations to find our old favourite, Washington Irving, set down in this

same category of foreigners. Why, he is English to the very core. His tastes and sympathies, his pleasures and aversions, are all English; and his style is studiously modelled on that of our best writers. Here we are reminded of the essayists of the famous Addisonian era, then we have a touch of Sterne, and now Goldsmith reveals himself. Indeed, the volume before us is peculiarly rich in examples of this kind. We can hardly believe that we are not commencing one of the serious papers in the "Spectator," when we fall upon such words as the following: "No man is so methodical as a complete idler; and none so scrupulous in measuring and portioning out his time as he whose time is worth nothing." Geoffrey Crayon's autograph attached to the paper, instead of the well-remembered CLIO, appears altogether an anachronism. The Life and Adventures of the Boblink under many aliases, as detailed in the "Birds of Spring," might be a leaf torn out of White's "Natural History of Selborne." We should like to have reproduced here, had our space permitted, some of the many charming passages in this book, long since associated with some of our most innocent and happy hours,-for only portions of the volume are published for the first time. We have already lived them over again since we cut into the leaves, and can hardly imagine any one with a soul so dead, or a purse so bare, as not to be able to find a spare coin wherewithal to purchase for himself, or his sisters, or his brothers or cousins, this, as we think, the most delightful of Washington Irving's miscellaneous volumes.

Institutes of Metaphysics: the Theory of Knowing and Being. By James F. Ferrier, A.B., Oxon., Professor of Moral Philosophy and Political Economy, St. Andrew's. Edinburgh and London: Blackwoods. 1854.

THE author uses the term Metaphysics, as being synonymous with philosophy, when the latter term is used by itself. And, assuming that philosophy, even though it be true, is of no value unless it be "reasoned," (that is, be "an unbroken chain of clear demonstration from first to last,") he concludes that, "although we have plenty of disputations and dissertations on philosophy, we have no philosophy itself." He says, "People write about it and about it, but no one has grasped with an unflinching hand the very thing itself. The whole philosophical literature of the world is more like an unwieldy commentary on some text which has perished, or rather never has existed, than like what a philosophy itself should be. Our philosophical treatises are no more philosophy than Eustathius is Homer, or than Malone is Shakspeare. Hence the embroilment of speculation; hence the dissatisfaction, even the despair, of every inquiring mind, which turns its attention to Metaphysics. There is not now in existence a tribunal to which any point in litigation can be referred, not a single book which lays down, with impartiality and precision, the institutes of all metaphysical opinion, and shows the seeds of all speculative controversies. Hence, philosophy is not only a war, but it is a war in which none of the combatants understands the grounds, either of his own opinion, or that of his adversary. The springs by which these disputatious puppets are worked, lie deep out of their own sight."

Brief Literary Notices.


The "Institutes," by which the author proposes to remedy these grave defects, are based on "the law of contradiction" (as it is usually called) originally propounded by Aristotle, (Metaphys., iii., 3,) as the fundamental axiom of all philosophy, in the following terms: "It is impossible that the same quality should both belong and not belong to the same thing. This is the most certain of all principles. Wherefore they who demonstrate refer to this as an ultimate opinion. For it is by nature the source of all the other axioms."

From this single axiom the author's whole system of Metaphysics is deduced in a series of demonstrations, each of which professes to be, and in our judgment is, as strict as any demonstration in Euclid. And so, all of them taken together constitute one great demonstration, serving to correct not only the inadvertencies of ordinary thinking, but also the false teaching of Psychology, or 66 the science of the human mind;" it being taken for granted, on the basis above-mentioned, that every metaphysical truth is faced by an opposite error, which has its origin in ordinary thinking, and which it is the business of philosophy to supplant. For the purpose of exhibiting more distinctly these corrective results, each proposition is immediately followed by the "counter-proposition" of ordinary thinking which it is intended to correct, excepting a very few cases, in which no such correction appears to be required. And each pair of propositions is followed by a series of observations and explanations, critical and historical, intended to remove any difficulties which might be felt to attach to the main proposition of the work.

The three divisions of philosophy, as laid down by the author, are, first, the Epistemology, or theory of knowledge; secondly, the Agnoiology, or theory of ignorance; and, thirdly, the Ontology, or theory of being. And "this arrangement," he says, "is not dictated by the choice or preference of any individual thinker, but by the necessity of the case, which will not admit of the problems of philosophy being taken up in any other order."

In the course of the work, he shows reason for allowing more credit to Pythagoras, Plato, and other ancient philosophers, for their approximations to philosophical truth, than has been usually conceded to them. "The early Greeks," he says, "had right tendencies wrongly directed, especially the earliest. Plato was confused in design, yet magnificent in surmises. To this day all philosophic truth is Plato rightly defined, all philosophic error is Plato misunderstood." He is also very gentle towards Hegel and his predecessors up to Kant. "Their faults," he thinks, "lie certainly, not in the matter, but only in the manner, of their compositions. Admirable in the substance and spirit and direction of their speculations, they are painfully deficient in the accomplishment of intelligible speech, and inhumanly negligent of all the arts by which alone the processes and results of philosophical research can be recommended to the attention of mankind." He is proportionably severe upon the Scotch metaphysicians, particularly Reid and Brown. The former of these he compliments as having "very good intentions, and very excellent abilities for every thing except philosophy."

In his judgment, "the philosophers (in general) have misinterpreted the Platonic analysis, and have mistaken for cognitions what Plato laid down as mere elements of cognition. Proceeding from this interpreta

tion, philosophy has travelled almost entirely on a wrong line. And this path has been the highway on which systems have jostled systems, and strewed the road with their ruins, since the days of Plato, down through the Middle Ages, and on to the present time. And now," he adds, "standing at the very source of the mistake which feeds the whole of them, and on which they all join issue, we are in a position to unravel the controversies in which they were engaged, and to understand how none of them should have succeeded in establishing any truth of its own, however successful they may have been in refuting the errors of each other." We have said quite enough, surely, to engage the attention of those who take any interest in the subject; and if any one, between jest and earnest, ask, “Quid dignum tanto feret hic promissor hiatu?" we will only add that, if he will give himself-we will not say the trouble, but-the pleasure, of reading for himself, he will find his attention to it amply rewarded.

History of the Colony of Natal, South Africa. To which is added, A Brief History of the Orange-River Sovereignty. By the Rev. William C. Holden, upwards of Fifteen Years a Resident in the Colony. With Three Maps and Nineteen Illustrations on Wood and Stone. London: Alexander Heylin.

THE statistics of a country are always important and instructive; those of a new country, whose resources are little known, and but partially developed, still more so. To this subject Ministers may, in any Colony, usefully turn their attention in their leisure moments.

The work before us is valuable to all who may think of emigrating to this important and thriving Colony; to all who, from commercial or other considerations, feel a more than ordinary interest in its state and prospects.

The Maps the absence of which in books of this class we pronounce to be a radical defect-are sufficiently numerous and distinct to be very useful to the reader; and the Plates, though unpretending, serve well the purpose of illustration. In this volume we find full information as to the geographical position and natural history of Natal and as to its towns, villages, settlements, and capabilities.

The interesting account of its discovery, and of the first English settlers, is marked by a plenary share of the vicissitudes and privations, of the difficulties and struggles, which are incident to all new Colonies. We cannot read without deep sympathy the chapter which details the immigration of the Dutch Farmers, and the slaughter of a large party of them, with their leader Retief, by the crafty and cruel Chief Dingaan. It is painfully tragic. Retief had just completed an honourable agreement with the Chief for the sale of land, and was invited, in apparently the most friendly spirit, to a farewell visit. Upon entering the vast native kraal, he and his companions left their arms without, according to the custom of the nation. Being drawn within the power of the Chief, and quite defenceless, they fell an easy prey to the thousands who thus treacherously massacred them in cold blood. By the descriptions and Plates we may form an idea of the mode in which Kafir wars were formerly conducted.

« ZurückWeiter »