« PreviousContinue »
Plutarch on the Delay of the Deity in the Punishment of
THE able and learned Professors in the Theological Institution at Newton are contributing much to the promotion of letters, and are rapidly making their school one of the centres of light and knowledge in the land. The little book, the title of which is copied above, is the result of careful critical study, and is a valuable addition to the literature of the times. Plutarch, though wanting in the graces which mark the best productions of Grecian genius, yet holds an eminent rank as a biographer and moralist. In the latter character, his writings are even more important than in the former; and the explanation and illustration of them formed the almost life-long labor of love for one of the most illustrious modern scholars. The little treatise on the delay of the Deity in punishing the wicked is one of the most interesting and remarkable of all the works of Plutarch. The subject, not without its difficulties, even in a Christian age, is handled by the philosopher of Charonea with a profound and awful sense of the majesty of the Deity, and a humble and almost Christian submission to the dispensations of his Providence. The objections of the Epicureans to the existence of a moral government of the universe, drawn from the fact, that crime apparently goes unpunished in the course of human affairs, sometimes for many years, and sometimes for ever, are entertained with candor, but answered with a force of argument, and a splendor of illustration, against which the cavilling and the sophistry of skepticism cannot a moment stand. The examples which Plutarch cites to show the agonies of conscience, commencing with the moment of successfully accomplished crime, the penalty being, therefore, coeval with the guilt, are most striking and impressive; and the views which he suggests as to the purposes intended by the Deity to be brought about, by postponing the formal, and, as it were, judicial punishment of crime, can scarcely be surpassed, even at the present day, in clearness and cogency.
Such being the character of the treatise, the selection of it as a work to be edited anew was peculiarly becoming a theological scholar; and in performing his duty, the editor has constantly borne in mind the special relation of the work to moral and religious inquiries. He has, therefore, made copious references to corresponding topics in the Scriptures, thereby suggesting
curious parallelisms, and singularly interesting trains of thought. But, apart from this special purpose, the labors of Mr. Hackett are valuable in a simply literary point of view. The text is carefully prepared; the notes are sufficiently critical to enable a reader moderately versed in the principles of Greek construction, to understand the forms of Plutarch's somewhat difficult style; and the illustrations of the historical allusions are copious and precise. Mr. Hackett has availed himself of the aid of the best recent German writers on Greek grammar, as, indeed, every one who would edit a classic satisfactorily or usefully must do, in the critical portion of his notes. The notes are preceded by a brief, but very excellent summary of the argument, in which all the leading points, and the important illustrations are combined and arranged with such distinctness, force, and effect, that, from reading this alone, a clear conception of the discussion may be formed.
The character of the original work, the neatness, convenience, and accuracy which mark the volume, and the elegant, scholarlike simplicity which graces Mr. Hackett's preface, analysis, and notes, render it worthy of a larger audience than that for which it seems to have been directly intended.
- Letter to a Lady in France on the supposed Failure of a
WE regard the publication of this letter as a service to the whole country. It is written in an excellent style, with no flourish or pretension, and with the most precise information on the various topics which it handles. The tone of the letter cannot be too much commended for its gentlemanlike calmness and moderation. Mr. Cary has belonged many years to one of the most distinguished mercantile houses in the United States; and the personal part he has taken in financial affairs, and the practical knowledge which his position in commerce has given him, enable him to speak on these subjects with an authority much superior to that of speculating politicians or rancorous partisans, in whose hands matters of this nature, to the great misfortune of the country, have been quite exclusively placed. This pamphlet
has probably instructed many Americans, who, before reading it, imagined that they were already at home in the subjects of which it treats; and it is to be hoped, that its circulation abroad, while it will not abate one jot from the deep damnation to which the dishonesty of the repudiating demagogues has doomed them, will yet put a check upon the tongues of the ignorant and supercilious scoffers, who join in the hue and cry of wholesale national calumny, and live by running down the reputations of those who are better than themselves.
The topics of this letter cannot here be discussed; but its uncommon merits, both of matter and manner, demanded this notice, if nothing more. It has been so generally read, commented on, and admired, that there is the less occasion to indicate its claims upon the favorable attention of the public, otherwise than in this general way.
6.-1. A Grammar of the Greek Language. Part First. Syntax. By ALPHEUS CROSBY, Professor of the Greek Language and Literature in Dartmouth College. Boston: James Munroe & Co. 1844. 12mo. pp. 487.
2. A Narrative of the Expedition of Cyrus the Younger,
THE first portion of this Grammar has been published some time. The present contains the syntax of the Attic, and Common Dialects of the Greek Language. Some objection may, perhaps, be made to the separation of the Attic, to such an extent, from the older forms of the language; but putting this aside, no scholar can read the present work without feeling that the subject is treated with masterly clearness, and a most philophical arrangement. The principles are stated with elegance and precision, and the examples used to illustrate them are admirably selected and applied. The strictest scientific method is carried through the work; and we cannot but regard the labors of Professor Crosby, whose scholarship is marked by an accuracy of judgment no less conspicuous than the delicacy of his taste, as honorable to his own attainments and to the literary character of our country. What a contrast is presented between the grammars of Sophocles and Crosby, and the meagre and mechanical compends, by the aid of which the unfortunate youth of a past generation were reluctantly compelled to drudge at their repul sive task.
One peculiar feature in Mr. Crosby's plan is the selection of a particular work- the Anabasis of Xenophon as a model to illustrate the principles of construction laid down in the grammar. He has published a very neat and correct edition of the text of this favorite work, as a companion to the grammar. There is much to commend in a scheme so well compacted and so complete in all its parts as this. Mr. Crosby promises a grammar of the dialects and an edition of the Odyssey to follow; it is to be hoped he will be encouraged to go on with his work; for few men are so well qualified, by nature and education, for these critical pursuits.
7.- A New and Complete French and English, and English and French Dictionary, on the Basis of the Royal Dictionary; compiled by Professors FLEMING and TIBBINS. Prepared, with Additions, by J. DOBSON. Philadelphia :
Carey and Hart. 1844. 8vo. pp. 1376.
We have copied but a small part of the title of this bulky volume, as the whole of it would fill a page. It is a work of so much merit, that we are sorry the editor has fallen into the practice, too common now-a-days, of turning the whole table of contents into the title-page of a book, and stuffing it with all the trite epithets of a puffing vocabulary. A complete and accurate dictionary of the French language, in addition to the mere compendious manuals used in schools, was much needed among us, and this volume appears to supply the deficiency in a very satisfactory manner. It is compiled with care from standard works of the highest authority. The list of words is very full, embracing the technical terms of most frequent use in the various sciences, and the definitions and illustrations seem to be accurate and well chosen. The use of a dictionary is at all times a most trying occupation for weak eyes, and its mechanical execution, therefore, is a point of great importance. We are happy to find, that the print and paper of this volume are unexceptionable, the type being of good size and quite well defined, and the impression bold and distinct. We hope the publishers may be rewarded by the general adoption of the work as a standard of reference for students of the French language.
Seventh Annual Report of the Board of Educaion, together with the Seventh Annual Report of the Secretary of the Board. Boston 1844. 8vo. pp. 199.
THE present report, embracing an account of Mr. Mann's observations on the state of schools in the principal nations of Europe, is both highly interesting and instructive. One thing in the history of it we regret; and that is, that the indefatigable Secretary was allowed to make this tour on the public service at his own expense; his leave of absence, for which he seems to us to be superfluously grateful, being in spirit exactly like the resolution of the Pickwick Club, when its immortal founder prepared to extend his researches into parts unknown; "that this association cordially recognizes the principle of every member of the Corresponding Society defraying his own travelling expenses; and that it sees no objection whatever to the members of the said society pursuing their inquiries for any length of time. they please, upon the same terms."
Mr. Mann visited the principal cities in Great Britain, Germany, Holland, Belgium, returning by way of Paris. He examined with surprising industry the schools in these several countries, and has embodied in this report the result of his observations with sagacious remarks, and important applications to the condition of schools among ourselves. Nor has he neglected humane and charitable institutions, in his broad and philanthropic survey.
The general character of this report, which is all that can be given at the close of our present number, is excellent in manner and matter. It has some defects of arrangement, and some faults of style; and the shortness of the time during which Mr. Mann was abroad has occasioned some mistakes. Several assertions are too unqualified. Speaking of the "Royal Orphan House at Pottsdam," containing a thousand inmates, children of soldiers, he says, they seem collected there as a monument of the havoc which war makes of men;" which can hardly be the case, since Prussia has had no war for more than a quarter of a century. Mr. Mann might have spared, also, some unnecessary girdings at German home-made Latin and Greek, and his ten times repeated assaults upon that famous Teutonic institution, the upper feather-bed; which must be a very pleasant covering to sleep under in winter, the only well founded complaint against it being, according to the best authority, its want of length and breadth.
To the eloquent and noble conclusion of this Report, we say a heartfelt amen; and we take leave of the subject, hoping to return to it again, with a feeling of gratitude and admiration for the writings and actions of this distinguished public benefactor.