« PreviousContinue »
ed to us fasting any orgadminif men who cide forem quarter, but position to hon blindly to foage, in which
On the other side it was alleged, that the Assembly impliedly repealed the Abrogating Act, by their Resolutions in 1838. The point was also made, whether it does not require two parties to abrogate, as well as to create a compact.
A question is raised also (see a recent article in the New York Evangelist, with which, however, the editors of that paper do not agree), whether it is possible by a declarative Resolution of one party, to restore the Plan of Union once abrogated. The argument is, that either party could abrogate the plan, when willing that it should cease. This our Assembly, still undivided, did in 1837. But one party cannot restore it. The act of 1837 is final therefore, and any implied action in 1838, or direct action in 1852, is null. The Assembly, however, as we have seen, are of a different opinion, and declare the plan in force.
We here conclude our review of the truly remarkable General Assembly of 1852. In giving our opinion of its tone, our remarks, as will be observed, relate to it as a whole. . 1. It was a very independent body of men. We do not remember ever to have sat in any organized assemblage, in which there appeared to us less disposition blindly to follow leaders. There was a strong disposition to hear counsel, to gather light from every quarter, but the Commissioners had come up to decide for themselves. We were never more struck with the beauty and glory of a great representative system. The delegates of the people spoke out the sentiments of the people, and the Assembly patiently and with deep interest strove to ascertain from their Commissioners, what the Church-the whole Church-thought and wished. If there had been any disposition to dictate in any quarter, it was plainly seen that it was useless to attempt it.
2. The members were very courteous. Conscious power is very apt to be so. There was less struggling to “obtain the floor,” or protrude opinion, than we have ever seen where such interests were at stake. As we have said, quite a body of able, intelligent and influential men scarcely spoke at all, but while entirely capable of commanding attention, preferred quietly to listen to their brethren, while every one who wished to speak was able to obtain the opportunity. In the body at large there was a strong feeling in favor of the rights of every individual Commissioner.
3. The Assembly was decidedly Constitutional Presbyterian.
feeling in Pportunity.ryone who ferred quiet ruhi
This is our summary of its ecclesiastical spirit. It had calmly, but quite finally, laid aside any idea of seeking re-union with our brethren who separated themselves in 1837 and 1838. Its members were self-poised, satisfied with their position and prospects, and were addressing themselves seriously and with deep responsibility to the question, as to what devolved upon them as the successors to the great life of American Presbyterianism. So, on the other hand, while there was much kind feeling towards all other denominations, and especially towards our Congregational brethren, the tone was quite decided, that in giving our strength to the promotion of the general interests of the Redeemer's kingdom, we had neglected too much the strengthening of those denominational interests which are essential to the existence and the enlargement of a church of Christ; that thus we were in danger of losing the power to do good to ourselves or to any one else; and hence, that no one had any reason to complain, if in this broad view of the matter, a Presbyterian General Assembly felt, that using whatever it should deem the most appropriate means to accomplish it, its first business was to take care of the Presbyterian Church.
4. But lastly, the Assembly was not of an exclusive, or sectarian, or ultra-Presbyterian spirit. It was American Presbyterian, what our Church, as a body, has been since 1705, and what we trust, by the blessing of God, it will ever continue to be. Never since the division, have we felt cheered by such happy auspices, We have no fears for our future, if we only keep humble and trust in God. Glorious old Presbyterianism lives, but it lives in us not as exclusive or rigid, not as Scottish, or Irish, or Huguenot, or Dutch, or German, but American. We are free to adopt any plans, ecclesiastical or voluntary, that will do our work. Opposed to every thing narrow, regarding precedents not as chains, but as exponents of the wisdom that dwelt in our fathers, we will try to make every one of our American Presbyterians continental, his heart wide enough to reach from sea to sea, and from Superior to the sunny waves of Mexico.
NOTICES OF NEW BOOKS.* I. Rural Hours. By a Lady (understood to be Miss Cooper,
daughter of Mr. J. Fennimore Cooper). pp. 521. We notice this book, particularly, because we wish the "maidens" of our Church to be interested in our Review, and because we should like to see more of this kind of writing. The fault of American writers is imitation of foreign authors. But these authors never became great by imitation. This book is original. Residing in one of the New York villages “ near to nature," as Mr. Bancroft would say, the author. ess went out in Spring, Summer, Autumn and Winter, and describes what she saw, with her own reflections, just as a cultivated person would talk. If the scenery reminded her of a book, she speaks of that. If she thinks of other parts of this country, or of Europe, she mentions that. It reminds us of two delightful English works, “ Journal of a Naturalist,” and “ White's Natural History of Selborne," only that it is less technical in its sketches. Some of the subjects touched on will show the scope of the book : “The Dipper and the Blue Jay,” “ The Instinct of Birds,” “ The Trailing Arbutus,” “ Purple Finches,” “The Wheat Field,” “ Ruth,” " Ferns," "Locust-Pods,” “ The Church Yard,” “ Names.”
It is a more serious matter than many people think, that our American ladies do not take enough exercise in the country. And one reason is the want of an object. They are not trained to observation of nature, and it is not the fashion to examine carefully and with delight God's fresh works. Health and temper, taste and even piety, would all be the better for a love of the open air, and an intimate acquaintance with the woods and fields. English ladies take tenfold more exercise than American, and the result may be seen in their health and bloom. · We quote a passage, which shows keen observation and fine descriptive power. After an allusion to Keats' beautiful picture of Autumn
" - Sitting careless on a granary floor,
Spares the next swathe, and all its twined flowers,” we have a painting of the American Autumn Woods :
“The oak loves a deep rich red, or a warm scarlet, though some of his family are partial to yellow. The chestnuts are all of one shadeless mass of gold color,
• As we mentioned in our first number, we do not use the word “ New” in the strictest sense. Nor do we feel bound to commend, or even notice, every new book. Our idoal is to bring every really valuable new book within the field of our vision, and give our readers a graphic view of it. The notices, therefore, are sometimes concise, and sometimes quite full, their main purpose having no special reference to the amount of space occupied.
from the highest to the lowest branch. The bass-wood or linden is orange. The aspen, with its silvery stem and branches, glitters in a lighter shade, like the wrought gold of the jeweller. The sumach, with its long pinnated leaf, is of a brilliant scarlet. The pepperidge is almost purple, and some of the ashes approach the same shade during some seasons. Other ashes with the birches and beech, hickory and elms have their own tints of yellow. That beautiful and common vine, the Vir. ginia creeper, is a vivid, cherry color. The sweet-gum is vermilion. The vibur. num tribe and dogwood are dyed in lake. As for the maples they always rank first among the show; there is no other tree which contributes singly so much to the beauty of the season, for it unites more of brilliancy with more of variety, than any of its companions. Here you have a soft maple, vivid scarlet from the highest to the lowest leaf; there is another, a sugar maple, a pure sheet of gold; this is dark crimson like the oak, that is, vermilion ; another is parti-colored, pink and yellow, green and red; yonder is one of a deep purplish hue, this is still green, that is mottled in patches, another is shaded; still another blends all these colors on its own branches, in capricious confusion, the different limbs, the separate twigs, the single leaves, varying from each other in distinct colors and shaded tints. And in every direction a repetition of this magnificent picture meets the eye: in the woods that skirt the dimpled meadows, in the thickets and copses of the fields, in the bushes which fringe the brook, in the trees which line the streets and road-sides, in those of the lawns and gardens-brilliant and vivid in the nearest groves, gradually lessening in tone upon the farther woods and successive knolls, until, in the distant back ground, the hills are colored by a mingled confusion of tints, which defy the eye to seize them.” pp. 339, 40.
And this shows a fine taste:
“ It is to be regretted that we have not more superior pictures of autumnal scenes, for the subjects are so fine that they are worthy of the greatest pencils. It is true Mr. Cole, and some others of our distinguished artists, have given us a few pictures of this kind; but in no, instance, I believe, has a work of this nature been yet con.. sidered as a chef-d'æuvre of the painter. No doubt there must be great difficulties, as well as great beauties, connected with the subject. There is no precedent for such coloring as 'nature 'requires here, among the works of old masters, and the American artist must necessarily become an innovator; nay more, we are all of us so much accustomed to think of a landscape only in its spring or summer .aspects, that when we see a painting where the trees are yellow and scarlet and purple, in, stead of being green, we have an unpleasant suspicion that the artist may be impose ing on us in some of his details. This is one of those instances in which it requires no little drawing simply to copy nature. Some landscape Rubens or Titian may yet, perhaps, arise among us, whose pencil shall do full justice to this beautiful and peculiar subject.
"One would gladly see the beauty of our autumnal foliage turned to account in many other ways; as yet, it has scarcely made an impression upon the ornamental and useful arts, for which it is admirably adapted. What beautiful arabesques might be taken from our forests, when in brilliant color: what designs for the rich: est kind of manufactures.' Before long, these beautiful models which fill the land every autumn, must assuredly attract the attention they deserve ; that they have not already done so, is a striking proof of our imitative habits in every thing of this kind. Had the woods about Lyons been filled with American maples and creepers, may we not assume that our houses would long since have been filled with patterns copied from them." pp. 345, 6.
There is a great deal of heart in the descriptions. The interest is genuine. The authoress loved what she describes. Thus: nuo
“ The lower branches of a group of young locusts before the door, are now sweeping the grass very beautifully. These trees have never been trimmed. Few of our trees throw out their branches so near the ground as to sweep the turf in this way, and wberever the habit is natural, the effect is very pleasing. With the locusts, it is their large pinnated leaves which cause the branches to droop in this way, or perhaps the ripening pods add their weight also, for it is only about midsummer, or just at this season, that they bend so low as to touch the grass ; the same branches which are now hanging over the turf, in winter rise two or three feet above it.
“The three-thorned acacia, or honey-locust, as it is sometimes called, if left to its natural growth, will also follow the same fashion, its lower branches drooping, gracefully, until their long leaves sweep the grass. There is a young untrimmed tree of this kind in the village, a perfect picture in its way, so prettily branched, with its foliage sweeping the ground. As a general thing,'are not all our trees too much trimmed in this country ?" pp. 166, 7.
We hope this graceful writer will persevere in giving us books of this kind. It is strange, but what we most need in American literature is nature. Since Washington Irving, scarce any one seems able to write simply, without becoming undige nified. If the authoress of “Rural Hours," will avoid the Scylla and Charybdis of lady writers, the degenerating into novels on the one hand, or becoming too prononcée in her opinions on the other, we will venture to predict for her a kindly home in many hearts.
II. A Visit to Monasteries in the Levant, by the Hon. Robert
Curzon. pp. 390.
If there is one of our readers who never heard of this book, he will not excuse us, if we do not inform him of the existence of what Mr. Ruskin. calls “ the best book of travels ever written.” It is not necessary to agree implicitly in this opinion, even if our readers confide in it sufficiently to order a copy immediately from their bookseller.
Having given Mr. Ruskin's opinion, we will give Mr. Curzon's own:
«The origin of these pages is as follows: I was staying by myself in an old country house belonging to my family, but not often inhabited by them, and having nothing to do in the evening, I looked about for some occupation to amuse the passing hours. In the room where I was sitting, there was a large book-case full of ancient manuscripts, many of which had been collected by myself in various out of the way places, in different parts of the world. Taking some of these ponderous volumes from their shelves, I turned over their wide vellum leaves, and admired the antiquity of one, and the gold and azure which gleamed upon the pages of another. The sight of these books brought before my mind many scenes and recollections of the countries from which they came, and I said to myself, I know what I will do; I will write down some account of the most curious of these manuscripts, and the places in which they were found, as well as some of the adventures which I encountered in the pursuit of my venerable game."
Our readers may not happen to know that these MSS. are extremely valuable, as they will the more readily believe when they ascertain the places from which they were obtained. The Monasteries visited were, the Coptic, near the Natron Lakes in the Abyssinian Desert ; the Convent of the Pulley, on the celebrated