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NOTICES OF NEW BOOKS.
I. Liberty and Necessity; in which are considered the Laws of Asso
ciation of Ideas, the Meaning of the word Will, and the true Intent of Punishment. By Henry Carleton, late one of the Judges of the Supreme Court of Louisiana. Philadelphia : Parry & McMillan. 1857. pp. 165.
Judge Carleton is a gentleman of leisure, now residing in Philadelphia, who studies and writes upon metaphysical subjects because of a taste for them.
The opinion of Judge Carleton is, that “such an agent as the Will is defined to be, has no place in the human mind." He does not believe in the existence of what philosophers, either of the Edwardean or self-determining school have agreed to call Will. The Will, he says, is “simply another name for the power exerted over the mind by sensations and ideas. As these or their combinations are strong or weak, external action does or does not take place." As soon as he saw this, “the riddle was solved."
If, then, we substitute desire for will, the clouds that overhang the subject of liberty and necessity will instantly vanish, and we shall perceive one all-pervading immutable law, the desire of pleasure, to be the immediate and necessary spring of action in all breathing things that inhabit earth, air or seas, from man down to the poor insect crushed under his feet.
Judge Carleton also holds that God is the author of moral evil, but that it is not sin to Him because He cannot commit sin. pp. 154–7.
Punishment is always a remedy ; " by the fear of pain the temptation to repeat the offence is overpowered.” p. 160.
Judge Carleton of course rejects all idea of punishment which is of the nature of infliction for blameworthiness; guilt is folly in not pursuing true happiness properly ; punishment is remedy only.
In reply to this method of philosophizing we remark: No true philosopher holds that Will is an agent; or something outside of a man ; it is the man himself, determining ; just as reason is the man himself in the attitude of thought, and sensation or emotion, is the man himself, feeling.
Take any of the cases in Judge Carleton's book; the man choosing a ship to cross the Atlantic, for example. He examines three vessels ; on the whole the accommodations of the Arctic are, he thinks, the best. What happens, then, precisely at that point? The impression made by the superior accommodations, or their agreeableness, does not actually put him on board the vessel with his baggage. These are ideas or emotions. The man must put himself in another attitude before he can go–he determines --in doing that he is in what we call the condition of willing; the man will3. and west to 1250. Mr. Swan went to the Territory in the fall of 1852. In regard to the climate, he says: “ Although Washington Territory is in the same latitude as Nova Scotia, yet the climate is as mild in winter as Pennsylvania, nor is the heat of summer so oppressive as in the same parallel east of the Rocky Mountains. The thermometer rarely rises higher than 80°. During the winter the rain falls in the most incredible quantities, but it does not, as has been asserted, rain without intermission. A storm will commence which will last a week, some days raining violently, and accompanied with heavy gales of wind. These blows will last perhaps twenty-four or forty-eight hours, when it will lull, and the rain subside into a gentle shower, or mere mist and fog; then perhaps it will clear off, with eight or ten days of fine and clear weather.” The spring commences, he says, much earlier, and the fall is later.
A man is not guilty of murder who feels within him the risings of envy, hatred, anger or any other of the incitements to murder. Before he is a murderer, he must determine. There is always a moment in every thing wrong, as the wrong doer well knows, when he yields, that is, he determines to commit the crime.
So far as Judge C. maintains that what we call faculty, &c., is merely the man himself in different attitudes, we agree with him, but that man is a machine who must yield to his sensations and ideas, we do not believe. It destroys the fundamental ideas of duty and responsibility. It is a form of Epicureanism and by no means a high one.
This crops out plainly in every thing which is said about the Almighty being the author of moral evil, and concerning the nature of punishment.
We do not believe that happiness is the chief good; we believe that a man is bound to do right, and that besides the punishment that is remedial, there is an awful punishment that is vindicatory, because a man has degraded the high and solemn nature that God gave him, when he made him in His own image. Happiness accompanies holiness or rectitude. It is the enjoyment of a perfect working; the music which the spheres give out in their heavenly movement, but neither the spheres nor their movement are for the sake of the music. Heavenly natures have a glorious complacency in their high and magnificent workings, but the action and the glory do not lie in the complacency, but in the holy obedience to the high law which emanates from the spotless throne. God is infinitely blessed, because he is infinitely holy, but the blessedness is only the radiance of the orb, the fragrance of the flower, the sheen of the ocean, the brilliancy and beauty of the essentially Excellent.
The helpless vice of Epicureanism in every form is, that it fixes the eye upon the wrong object, and hence all such systems bring men down. Epicurus himself was a temperate and honest man, but he fixed men's minds on happiness as the chief good, and thus created a selfish sect which finally became what we all know. The philosophy has never been revived under any form whatever, without gradually bringing its followers to the ground, while even Stoicism which was not the absolute truth, but only the antipodes of Epicureanism, always raised men up. Its stern assertions of right and duty kept men looking at the proper object, and nerved them against weakness and temptation.
The Will is king in man. Judge Carleton dethrones him and leaves humanity
Suffering the nature of an insurrection.
Ilis “man” would be like the Jews at one period of their history. “In those days there was no king in Israel, but every man did that which was right in his own eyes." We might punish for ever on Epicurean principles, but unless the awful idea of duty fill the soul, the man is only an intelligent animal.
II. Married or Single? By the Author of " Hope Leslie,” &c. In
two Volumes. New York: Harpers. Philadelphia, for sale by Lippincott & Co. 1857.
Miss Sedgwick re-appears, after lung silence, in this book. She gays, very gracefully: “It might seem natural and decorous, that one approaching the limit of human life, should—if writing at all-write a book strictly religious, but the novel (and to that guild we belong) does not seem to us the legitimate vehicle of strictly religious teaching. Secular affairs should be permeated by the spirit of the altar and the temple, but not brought within the temple's holy precincts."
The moral of “Married or Single?" is thus stated :
We raise our voice with all our might against the miserable cant that matrimony is essential to the feebler sex—that a woman's single life must be useless or undignified. It is not in the broad and noisy fields sought by the apostles of Woman's Rights,' that sisterly love and maidenly charity best diffuse their native sweetness.
We do not, therefore, counsel our gentle young friends to nourish a spirit of enterprise, nor of necessity, even to enlarge the plain and natural circle of their duties. But in every sphere of woman—wherever her low voice thrills with the characteristic vibrations which are softer and sweeter than all the other sweet notes in nature's infinite chorus, maidens have a mission to fulfil as serious and as honorable as those of a wife's devotion or a mother's care-a mission of wider and more various range.
Our story will not have been in vain if it has done anything towards raising the single women of our country to the comparatively honorable level they occupy in England—anything to drive away the smile already fading from the lips of all but the vulgar, at the name of old maid.'
The warning against ill-assorted marriages in this work, is one that might prevent much misery. Miss Sedgwick shows that it is not only the silly and the thoughtless that fail in wisdom at this great crisis of life, but even the wise and good. There are strange influences connected with marriage that prevent the exercise of cool judgment; and even the sympathies and instincts that guide us under other circumstances with almost unerring certainty, sometimes fail here. The immense importance of marriage is not realized by the young, and with this realization, mercenary feelings often arise.
It is a most difficult subject to deal with. We are glad that so wise a woman as Miss Sedgwick has undertaken it. Perhaps the information needed on such a subject may be best conveyed in this form. A hint-a maxim—a sudden suggestion—will sometimes influence us permanently, and in a story, as in a mirror, we may see our own life.
The book is interesting, and of course well written. It has not the brightness and playful humor of Ilope Leslie, but Miss Sedgwick still retains her graphic powers and keen discernment.
III. Explorations and Adventures in Honduras, comprising Sketches of Travel in the Gold Regions of Olancho, and a Review of the History and general Resources of Central America; with original Maps and numerous Illustrations. By William V. Wells. New York: Harpers. 1857. pp. 588.
Mr. Wells' visit to Honduras was made in 1854. Its principal object was to examine that part of the republic called Olancho, which had been represented by a New York traveller, who visited it in 1850, as “another California."
The work is rather lively, and written with intelligence and feeling. There is considerable descriptive power, and the whole narrative is invested with interest. After the narrative, which occupies the bulk of the book, follow seven chapters of summing up, three of which are historical, and four upon mining, climate, commerce, productions, &c.
The result in regard to the mines seems to be briefly this: Mr. Wells evidently believes that the quantity of silver is immense, and that a proper system of mining it would yield very largely. “Honduras may be truly termed a storehouse of silver. Its hills teem with mines, which require but the hand of industry to develop their hidden riches." In regard to gold, Mr. Wells is more doubtful. There is gold in many places, beyond question, but he says: “Whether the returns would at all equal those realized from the mines of California, the future must decide. From my own observation, and the facts I was able to obtain from others, there appears no reason why a systematic mining should not yield remunerative returns.” Valuable opals are found, and, it is said, amethysts.
In regard to the future of these countries, Mr. Wells remarks: “There is but one remedy-a peaceful immigration of Northern men, who, by intermarriage, would gradually change the character of the Southern race. Nature itself seems to have refused to these populations of mixed Indian blood, the means of mastering, by their own efforts, their innate lethargy."
IV. The Northwest Coast; or, Three Years' Residence in Washing
ton Territory. By James G. Swan. With numerous Illustrations. New York: Harpers. Philadelphia: Lippincott & Co. 1857. pp. 435.
It is remarkable how different is the feeling with which we turn from any of the Spanish American republics to the wildest country belonging to the United States, and settling, however rudely, with the germs of Anglo-Saxon enterprise. The former, all hopeless, except from an impulse from without, the latter, only needing time to develop the energy within. Washington Territory is our farthest adventure. It extends north to 49°,
Mr. Swan says that the flattening of the heads of the Indians has no effect whatever, so far as he could see, upon their intellects; those whose heads are flattened and the reverse being equally smart and intelligent. “This flattening of the head appears to be a sort of mark of royalty, or badge of aristocracy, for their slaves are not permitted to treat their children thus.”
In relation to the origin of the tribes of Oregon and Washington, Mr. Swan says: “There is no disputing the fact that they have occasionally received additions from the Asiatic side, although to what extent is not known. The prevailing northwest trade wind of the summer season renders it very easy for canoes to come over from the northeast Russian coast; and in evidence of the fact, I can state that, during my residence in the Territory, a canoe, with three sailors in her, who ran away from a vessel at Kodiak, arrived safe at Shoal-water Bay, after coming a distance of nearly eight hundred miles.”
There then follow some singularly absurd remarks, in which Mr. Swan gives his opinion! that the whole of the Indians were created in America, which he backs up (?) by some nonsense from the silliest of books—Nott & Gliddon. After this, the reader will be quite prepared for Mr. Swan's opinion that the Indians cannot be Christianized until they are first civilized.
Mr. Swan seems to desire to be a skeptic, but not having information enough, he quotes from Nott & Gliddon such statements as that “the antiquities of America show it to have been peopled fifty thousand years ago !” On his own account, he states it as a good joke that there are some words that sound like Irish, and argues that we might as well call the Indians Irish as Asiatic; being apparently too innocent to know that the Celtic is an Asiatic language. Then the argument is, that if the Indians had come from Asia, they would have something Asiatic in their language or appearance, just as if they had not "something Asiatic” in both!
Mr. Swan's philosophy is terrible, but his detail of facts is interesting and pleasant. Nesutor ultra crepidam.