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AMERICAN EDITIONS OF FOREIGN WORKS.
Aids to Reflection, in the Formation of a Manly Character, on the several grounds of Prudence, Morality, and Religion. By S. T. Coleridge. First American, from the first London Edition; with an Appendix, Preliminary Essay, and additional Notes, by James Marsh, President of the University of Vermont. Burlington. Chauncey Goodrich.
Lectures on the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews. By Robert Lowth, D. D. A new edition, with Notes, by Calvin E. Stowe, A. M. Boston. Crocker & Brewster. 8vo. pp. 464.
An Introduction to the Practice of Midwifery. By the late Thomas Denman, M. D. From the sixth London edition; with a Biographical Sketch of the Author. Third American edition, with Notes and Emendations. By John W. Francis, M. D. New York. G. & C. & H. Carvill. 8vo. pp. 776.
An Exposition of the Old and New Testaments; with Practical Remarks and Observations. By Mathew Henry. Edited by the Rev. George Burder, and the Rev. Josoph Hughes, A. M.; with the Life of the Author, by the Rev. Samuel Palmer. First American edition; to which is prefixed a Preface, by Archibald Alexander, D. D. In six vols. Philadelphia. Tower & Hogan. 8vo.
A Selection from the Public and Private Correspondence of ViceAdmiral Lord Collingwood; interspersed with Memoirs of his Life. By G. L. N. Collingwood, Esq. F. R. S. New York. G. & C. & H. Carvill.
Peace Campaigns of a Cornet. In two vols. New York. J. & J. Harper. 12mo.
The New Forest. A Novel. By the Author of 'Brambletye House.' New York. J. & J. Harper. 12mo.
Waldegrave. A Novel. In two vols. New York. J. & J. Harper. Some Account of the Life of Reginald Heber, D. D., Bishop of Calcutta. Boston. Crocker & Brewster.
The Adventures of a King's Page. By the Author of Almack's Revisited.' In two vols. New York. J. & J. Harper.
Rybrent de Cruce. A Novel. In two vols. New York. J. & J. Harper.
Prayers and Religious Meditations. By David Hartley, M. D. Second American edition. With several selected Prayers for a Family. Cambridge. Hilliard & Brown. 18mo. pp. 72.
The Veracity of the Gospels and Acts of the Apostles. By the Rev. J. J. Blunt. Boston. Perkins & Marvin. 12mo.
Sketches of Irish Character. A Novel. By Mrs. S. C. Hall. New York. J. & J. Harper. 12mo. pp. 220.
The Book of the Boudoir. By Lady Morgan. In two vols. New York. J. & J. Harper. 12mo.
A Memoir of Barbara Ewing; by her Husband, Greville Ewing. Boston. Lincoln & Edmands. 12mo. pp. 224.
A Course of Lectures for Sunday Evenings; containing Religious Advice to Young Persons. In two vols. New York. O. A. Roorbach. 18mo.
NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW.
NEW SERIES, NO. XLII.
ART. I.-1. Library of Useful Knowledge. Nos. 1—60. 8vo. 2. The Library of Entertaining Knowledge. Vol. I. and Vol. II. Part I. 18mo.
[Published under the Superintendence of the Society for the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge. London. 182829-30.]
SOME One of the British journals, in speaking of the prolific press of the English Society named above, says, rather freely, We wonder where Brougham can find the men to write all these tracts.' Now we must as freely say, though without designing the least disrespect, certainly, to that distinguished individual or his praiseworthy coadjutors, that it seems to us they might find them anywhere. The truth is, and the truth in this case is a matter of so much disappointment and regret to us, that we cannot suppress the expression of it, there is a most lamentable want of tact, not to say talent, in these publications. No doubt the first series is sufficiently learned, that is, the scientific part of it, though we cannot wonder,' certainly, that men should be found to do this work for a fair consideration. But the want of talent appears in this, that there is no adaptation, in these tracts, to the purpose for which they were avowedly written. They are wholly unfit for the diffusion of knowledge among the mass of the people, or among the mass of general readers. And when this deficiency was confessed, though not remedied in the current series, as it ought to have been, the moment it was discovered when a new series is brought forward, as if starting anew would better help the matter; when, we say, a new series VOL. XXX. No. 67.
(the Library of Entertaining Knowledge) is got up, on purpose to correct the preceding error, what have we but a collection of children's stories about Menageries and Forests, descriptions that look like a traveller's memoranda of trees and plants; rambling anecdotes about dogs, cats, and jackalls; and all this, with scarcely any pretension to philosophical classification or instructive inference. We have had, but this moment, as we were writing, an exact illustration of the character of this series. We were expressing our disapprobation about this work in conversation; and the answer was, 'But don't you think it is a very good thing for children?' 'It is indeed a good thing for children,' was our reply, but it was designed for men.' The title Entertaining' we were in truth afraid of, from the first; and it seems to have impressed its character upon the tracts, almost to the exclusion of all other objects. They may do good, no doubt; we are not sorry to have them for our youth to read as entertaining books; but we cannot admit, that these or any publications of the British Society are examples of what can be done to further its great project.
Our brethren across the water must pardon us if we express ourselves somewhat strongly; for we have looked to them for the best thing that could be done; we have rejoiced at their great and noble undertaking; we have actually had visions of the good they were to do, and, confess it we must, we are grievously disappointed. The truth is, the first failure seems to have led to a separation of things which it was their very business and intention to unite. Of scientific books we had enough before; entertaining and intelligible treatises, too, such as Goldsmith's and St Pierre's; but the object of the Society was to give these matters a form sufficiently scientific for the best purposes of instruction, and yet to render them intelligible and interesting. Now its first series of tracts had enough of scientific classification, but was not intelligible to the mass of readers. To remedy this, the Society has issued a second series; but, by this arrangement, being unwilling to trench upon the ground of the first, they have cut themselves off from a large portion of the field of interesting and useful instruction; and that, too, the best portion. For instance, in the first series the subject of Vegetable Physiology was treated of; a subject which yields the most interesting results for mental and moral contemplation. But
in the second, as this ground was preoccupied, we have only an account of the general aspects and qualities of trees and plants; all very proper, and such as might have answered a very good purpose, if it could have been introduced to clothe the dry and barren limbs of the first. So again, we have Animal Mechanics in the first series, and the forms and habitudes of animals in the second. Now it does seem to us, that a work may be produced, with enough of scientific classification and detail on the one hand, and yet, on the other, intelligible, interesting, exciting and satisfying inquiry, gratifying the natural curiosity of the human mind, directing it to the practical applications of science, and exalting it to that devotion which is its great end. It might indeed be a work, and one of the noblest works, of united learning, genius, taste, and piety.
We have lately spoken of the new American Almanac, a work highly valuable in its general objects and character. There is one portion of it, however, against which we must enter, with qualifications, the same complaint, as against the first series of the English publications. The Second Part, on the Calendar, Celestial Changes, and Astronomical Phenomena,' is that to which we refer. There is an interesting series of brief chapters on these subjects; but here and there, when the matter becomes more deep and difficult, the writer certainly forgets that apparently hardest of all things to keep in mind, how many degrees he stands above those whom he undertakes to instruct. We refer, for instances of this observation, to portions of the chapters on the Calendar,' on the 'Year,' on the Solar and Lunar Cycle,' and on the Tides.' We will consent that any intelligent, but general reader, shall be umpire between us and the learned author of the Second Part, on the point which we have respectfully suggested for his attention.
The publications before us, with many others of the same character, invite our attention to a great and interesting project, which is nevertheless so novel and unprecedented, that it is probably regarded by some as extravagant and visionary, and by others, as unimportant and indifferent. A defence of this project, in these points of view, claims attention, for reasons that extend far beyond any limited sphere of our own, and in fact beyond our own country. It is indeed one of the peculiar and great undertakings of the age, to communicate scientific knowledge to the whole intelligent portion of the
mass of society. The energies of the social world, aroused, as they never were before, to the work of general improvement, are now, especially in England and in this country, directed particularly to this object. Three distinct series of publications, having, as one of their leading objects, the advancement of this enterprise, and bearing upon their title-pages some of the greatest names of England, are now issuing from the British press; and the Lyceums, which are rapidly springing up among us, are likely, if the first efforts are successful, to spread over the whole country. The records of Greek and Roman literature give no example or hint of productions or projects such as these. The splendid fables of Arabic learning and genius, though royal halls gave audience to them; the mystic lore and cumbrous philosophy of the East, furnish nothing that can enter into the comparison. The Lyceum, that was first built on the pleasant banks and among the shady groves of the Ilissus, where Aristotle taught philosophy, was designed only for a few studious youths. Those sequestered retreats were never invaded by the footsteps of the Athenian artisan or tradesman, nor by fruiterers or husbandmen from the fields of Attica. The noble project of bringing down high philosophy and holy science to the mass of the people, has been reserved for this age. It is a novel enterprise among mankind. It is an unwritten page in the history of the world. It is a project, we do not think it too much to say, which never before entered into the conceptions of men; for it is an attempt to pluck from the sun, in the highest heaven of philosophy,' the Promethean fire, to burn on the common hearth-stone in the humblest abodes of mortals.
The error of past ages has been, to accumulate power, wealth, learning, and even religious responsibilities and trusts, in a few hands. Monopolies have not been confined to property; they have extended to knowledge too. Science, as well as religion, has said to the mass of mankind, Stand by thyself, for I am holier than thou.' The paths of the scholar have led far away from the beaten track of common life. He has conceived himself to have little to do with the world at large; he has had few sympathies with it; he has felt little interest in it. He has compared science indeed to the light of heaven; he has talked eloquently about its properties; but he has talked in figures; he has not actually felt that it is one of the lights which men may daily walk by. In