Page images
PDF
EPUB

apt to be greatly diluted, or thick only with mud. He who is ready to go off at any time the moment one touches the trigger, will be generally found to be loaded with blank cartridges, or the discharges will be only the rapid explosion of caps. A diarrhea of words is usually a great affliction, for it wastes all the healthy vigor of thought. A teacher who can talk on the gallop for an hour, on any common topic, usually bewilders his pupil in the forest of verbiage, instead of affording him a clue to the highway. Such a teacher, considered as an artist, is occupying himself much as the painter would be, if he were to catch up the pigments from his palette, -blue, orange, green, purple and vermilion,--and dash them on to his canvas by the handful. The daubs would be abundant, but the pictures wanting.

A recognition of the office of words, as intended to picture accurately the ideas and moods of the mind, and a careful study of their significance and powers,' would make any teacher's knowledge available, and render his daily instruction magnetic. Dull

eyes would brighten, enthusiasm displace languor, perplexed minds find the way of deliverance, and latent forces come forward for definite work. Teaching would be something more than a routine of recitations, and successive classes would be beckoned to other service than to follow an instructor around the tread-mill. The knowledge which cannot be told is of doubtful value. The thoughts which we have no power to reproduce in pictures are like the dreams which cannot be definitely recalled, and which are beyond the reach of actualization.

Accurate and vivid speech may be gained, and that is always impressive. It is of less consequence how much shall be said, than what shall be said. There is as much danger of too many words as of too few. The orator's pauses are as vital as his vehement words. He makes his silence help him as well

his sonorousness. He must know when to stop as well as when. to begin. It is not the amount of paint which the artist puts on which determines the quality of his work. He must use the right colors, and dispose them judiciously. And when he has produced just the right shade for the needed effect,, another stroke of his brush would mar or ruin the whole work. And

as

with such a skill must the teacher-artist paint with words. Can any inherited garrulousness furnish such an ability as this ? Can the persistence of patient study wholly fail of attaining it?

It was no small praise which Theodore Parker awarded to Webster, when he said,—“He could make a statement better than any

other man in America." That was rather a doubtful compliment which a plain Christian paid to a commentator, whose exposition of John's gospel had been recommended to him. Being asked how he liked the volume, he naively replied ;—“I think I understand John very well; and I hope by and by to be able to understand Dr. — 's Notes.” And only when a teacher uses his words as so many elements of the picture by means of which he is to put his thoughts into contact with his pupils, will his instruction elucidate instead of 'mystifying the topics with which he deals.

Let the teacher realize that nothing is really done till he has transferred the distinct conceptions of his own mind to the sphere of the pupil's vision ; let him remember that each statement is an artistic effort which can be successful only when the verbal colors are rightly blended and disposed ; let him learn to estimate his prospective success by the vividness which he imparts to every representation, and his work will rise in dignity and command new devotion. For his pictures are to constitute the furnishings of that spiritual gallery where the bygone experiences are to look down forever from the walls, and where the life is to be spread out in an illuminated panorama for the inspection of immortal eyes.

ART. X.-CONTEMPORARY LITERATURE.

CYCLOPAEDIA OF BIBLICAL, THEOLOGICAL AND ECCLESIASTICAL LITERATURE.

Prepared by the Rev. John M'Clintock, D. D., and James Strong, S. T. D. Vol. II.-C. D. New York: Harper & Brothers. 1868. Royal Octavo. pp. 933.

Such a work as has been undertaken by the learned gentlemen whose names appear above, would only mock ambition and disappoint all high expectation, were it not for the fact that the results of all previous study and research have been freely laid under contribution, and that the cooperation of many eminent living scholars has been secured in the preparation of many important articles. We spoke of the general plan adopted, in a notice of the first volume of the work, in terms of high commendation, and of the successful working out of that plan in the first installment with which we had then been favored. An inspection of the second volume confirms, in the main, the views then expressed. It is a noble undertaking. The labor involved is immense. The judgment and skill and patient industry required are of the highest order. A large and minute learning is indispensable to guard against inaccuracies, omissions, redundancies and repetitions. Only a mind that is at once critical and comprehensive, analytical and synthetical, is competent to plan wisely such a work as this,-much less to direct in the details of its execution. It is peculiar in its scope and aim, having its own sphere and limits, and yet entering, in the exercise of a unique ecclecticism, many departments of study and literature which it can by no means ignore, but which it does not pretend to exhaust. Where the subject treated is such as to require it, the very latest information that is available is wrought into the article at the last moment before going to press, so that, though the material for nearly the entire work is already prepared, there is a large amount of labor to be still expended in the way of revision and emendation before the successive volumes take their final shape.

As an indication of the extent of the plan, and of the effort made to embody it as completely as possible, we find that the present volume contains nearly 2,500 separate articles, and about 300 wood-cuts for the better illustration of the text. Of course most of the articles are comparatively brief; but more or less of them, -as for example, those found under such heads as Calvin, China, Christ, Christology, Church, Chronology, Congregationalists, Daniel, David, Deluge, Divination, etc., are little less than carefully written and exhaustive treatises. References are also made to the sources whence the information here afforded has been derived, and to such works as will enable the reader to find fuller and more detailed information on the various subjects, should he desire it.

It is not at all likely that this Cyclopædia will or ought to satisfy everybody. It is imperfect, like all human productions. It is not difficult to quarrel with it, and to find a justification for adverse criticism both in

view of what it is and what it is not. The ecclesiastical proclivities fo the compilers could be easily guessed by any shrewd Yankee. The prominence given to whatever is specially Methodistic is easily discovered even by those who have no real inclination to look for weakness and faults. The special mental and religious culture which distinguishes the editors, crops out when there is no purpose to betray individuality or make an indirect plea for an accepted system. But this does not prevent the work from being eminently able and valuable, nor rob it of real fairness. There is manifestly a steady aim to do exact justice to every sect and subject that is dealt with, and the just grounds of complaint seem to us very few. They who find fault because the work does not sufficiently emphasize the peculiarities of their own sect, are only showing themselves guilty of the same sort of partisanship which they condemn in the editors.—The work is one of great and rare value, and whoever puts it into his library and makes himself master of its contents will find himself truly enriched, and will thank us for any word of ours that prompted him to make it his own.—The original announcement promised us the work complete in six volumes. Possibly it may be condensed within that number, but the fact that two volumes only take us over four letters of the alphabet, hardly looks like it.—Whether six or ten volumes are filled, we trust that the plan adopted will be fully and fairly worked out.

HISTORY OF THE AMERICAN CIVIL WAR. By John William Draper, M, D.,

LL, D., author of “A History of the Intellectual Development of Europe,” etc. In three volumes. Vol. II, Containing the events from the inauguration of President Lincoln to the Proclamation of Emancipation of the slaves. New York: Harper & Bros. 1868. Octavo. pp. 614.

In the first volume of this work Dr. Draper seems to have completed the task of stating his peculiar theories of national life in general, and of our own national life in particular. These theories are nearly the same as those which have become so closely associated with the name of Mr. Buckle, and aim to expound human life, character and history by reference to climatic conditions and physiological laws. In the present volume he devotes himself to the legitimate work of the chronicler and the historian, and has given us an excellent, straightforward, vigorous, instructive and trustworthy account of the operations in the cabinet and the field during two memorable years in our history. He writes out of the most abundant and detailed information, and in a style the eminent merits of which not even his severest critic will hardly venture to dispute. The publishers have given to the work the very highest and most substantial mechanical excellences.

THE POEMS OF JOHN GODFREY SAXE. Complete in one volume. Boston: Ticknor & Fields. 1868. 16mo. pp. 465.

Mr. Saxe is a pleasant and popular poet even if he be not a great one. His wit is always juicy, his humor is rotund and broad-faced even when it is quiet and subtle, his feeling toward the world is manifestly a kind and charitable one even when he is lashing its vices at the cart-tail and putting its follies into the pillory, and when his song is not winged for a lofty flight, and has less sweetness and majesty than some other strains that keep the air trem ous, one can readily perceive that it was born in the heart, and it is sure to win both a hearing and sympathy. He has written many beautiful and some really meritorious poems, and the publishers have done an admirable service in putting them all together in this volume, which is rich in appearance without being extravagant in cost, and delicate without daintiness. It will pay for every lover of poetry to buy and read it.

THE NEW TESTAMENT HISTORY. With an Introduction, connecting the history

of the Old and New Testaments. Edited by Wm. Smith, D.D. With maps and wood-cuts. New York: Harper & Bros. 1868. 12mo, pp. 780.

The series of volumes issued by these publishers under the general title of The Student's Histories,” is unsurpassed in its way by anything that has appeared elsewhere. They are for the most part admirable epitomes of larger works, and the condensation and arrangement have uniformly exhibited no ordinary evidences of skill and good judgment. Among them all, nothing can be found better adapted to render a high service, both as a text-book and a volume for reading and frequent reference, than this compilation, intended to afford a view of the substance of what research and criticism have accomplished in one of the most interesting and important departments of modern study. Dr. Smith is well known as one of the most learned and critical scholars in every department of sacred literature, and his various contributions have possessed such a high value that his name attached to any publication is accepted as a reliable guarantee of its worth. He is eminent both as an authority and a critic. He is exhaustive when he elaborates and eminently satisfying when he epitomizes.

The chief merit of this volume is not at all in its absolute originality. It is not a fresh treatise but a well prepared compendium. It embodies the best results of much study, and the works of many eminent scholars have been laid under contribution that it might be full enough for ordinary purposes. It is the quintessence of a considerable library, and the plan and arrangement adopted in its preparation, the numerous tables and ample index render its contents readily available. As a text-book in our higher institutions of learning it would have no rival, and as a hand-book for use in the study it must prove really serviceable. The first 175 pages are devoted to the same general object as the great work of Prideaux. It presents the connection of the Old and New Testament histories, and the secular history of the Jews from the time of rebuilding the temple under Nehemiah to the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans under Titus. In an appendix there are essays upon the several branches of the Jewish people, the Jewish Scriptures, the Synagogue,

« PreviousContinue »