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A HINT TO THE EASTERN S.*
[JANUARY 17, 1832.]
In the November number of the “Monthly American Journal of Geology and Natural Science," there occurs, at the conclusion of an elaborate article, the following remarkable passage, —“And whilst geology and other branches of natural history are cherished and taught in every public institution, devoted to education, in Europe; there is not, as far as we are informed-with one exception-an officiating professor of these attractive and useful branches of knowledge, in any of the universities or colleges of this country.”
With about equal propriety might one of our sapient backwoodsmen, who had never learned better, affirm that, as far as he had been informed, there is not, in the whole world, a city equal in size and magnificence to Nashville! What right has any man to assert in print, what is or what is not, in relation to any province or subject, about which he is not well informed ? Because the Journal does not happen to know of more than one college where geology is taught, it proclaims, that this and the kindred sciences are neglected in all the other literary institutions of our republic. Is such logic inculcated in the Novum Organum of Bacon, or in the ponderous folios of the Stagyrite? I acquit the writer of any design to misrepresent facts:-he has doubtless sinned through sheer ignorance. But then it was his duty to have made himself acquainted with the actual condition of the American colleges, before he undertook to enlighten the world on the subject.
* Printed in the Nashville Republican, January 17, 1832.
I beg to apprise the writer and the Eastern skeptics generally, that "geology and other branches of natural history are cherished and taught, by an officiating professor of these attractive and useful branches of knowledge,” in the University of Nashville — situate, lying and being in the State of Tennessee, and not far from the 36th degree of northern latitude. For the precise locality, I refer him to his favourite Tanner. In this institution, the learned and accomplished naturalist, Dr. G. Troost, is, and has been for several years past, the faithful, laborious and devoted professor of geology, mineralogy and natural history. Dr. Troost was a pupil of the celebrated Abbé Haùy of Paris, and his superior cannot be found on this continent. His cabinet of minerals contains at least ten thousand specimensand is not, for any useful purpose, inferior to the Gibbs collection belonging to the college, which we presume to have been excepted in the sweeping flourish already cited.
It is our misfortune to live west of the mountains, where, it is taken for granted, ignorance and barbarism are destined to hold universal and perpetual sway. Pray, Mr. Editor, do tell the Philadelphians and Bostonians and Londoners, that we are not all “ganderpullers,” nor “gougers,” nor“regulators,” nor "half-horse and half-alligator.” —That some of us geologize, and
botanize, and read Greek, and talk French, and write poetry, and spout political economy.—That we receive, by every mail, loads of Scotch, English, French and Eastern periodicals of all sorts and upon all manner of subjects-scientific, literary, political, religious, miscellaneous. — And do tell Mr. Walsh in particular, that I have read the whole twelve volumes of the “Diplomatic Correspondence of the American Revolution," edited by Mr. Sparks; and that I very heartily approve of his late review of the same as also his seasonable article on the manufacture of silk. This Quarterly, by-theway, is worthy of all praise.
I moreover entertain a favourable opinion, on the whole, of the Journal of Geology, and cheerfully recommend it to the patronage of our liberal and enlightened citizens. Though I most religiously believe we could get up a much better one here in Nashville, without the least assistance from abroad.
When I read, some time ago, Mr. Journal's translation of Cicero's recently discovered treatise De Republica, I confess, I formed no very flattering estimate of his talents or of his knowledge either of Latin or English. But then he was out of his element. He looks better among the mastodons and buffaloes and rattlesnakes and quartze and hornblende and anthracite with which he is now principally conversant. May he live a thousand years in peace, health and prosperity-and have a successful voyage to the golden metropolis of Captain Symmes' central geological elysium!
[JANUARY 18, 1832.)
One of the little miseries to which the poor scribblers for public journals are necessarily subjected, is the mortification of seeing their pieces inaccurately printed. This is oftentimes owing, no doubt, to the illegible chirography of the contributors themselves. The compositor is compelled to guess at the writer's meaning; and he is not to be blamed if he should not always be successful in his guesses. When I am made, therefore, to use a word
, which I had not written, I very charitably infer that the fault was in my unlucky manuscript; and lament that I had not been duly drilled in the Carstarian system. But when a sentence or a line is altogether omitted or misplaced, or when the punctuation and orthography are defective or erroneous, I charge the fault to the compositor or proof-reader, or to somebody whose business it was to have prevented it. I do not mean, on the present occasion, to specify all my own particular grievances on this score—though I might exhibit a pretty formidable list. The Nashville editors have been so uniformly courteous and indulgent, and they are so well skilled in all the niceties of authorship
* Printed in the Nashville Herald, January 18, 1832. . VOL. III.45
and typography, that I should be both ungrateful and hypercritical, were I to apply the least censure to them in their official capacity. They cannot look after everything, nor be responsible for the absolute mechanical perfection of every paragraph which appears in their papers,
Orthography, however, is one of the few arts to which my studious and critical attention has been directed for many long years past; and although my proficiency may not have equalled my zeal, I have nevertheless advanced so far into its mazy intricacies as to be extremely sensitive to every known violation of its acknowledged
Where words admit of two modes of spelling, I follow usage in preference to the dictionary. Thus, I write judgment, public, etc. instead of judgement, publick, etc. Birth often occurs in books, and in some dictionaries, for berth, a room or sleeping-place in a ship.
But where only one mode obtains, I hold it to be unpardonable to depart from it. Under this last head, I complain that my orthography has been sadly misrepresented to the public eye on sundry occasions and in divers excellent periodicals.
Thus, in defiance of rule and usage and Johnson and Walker and Webster and my own most trustworthy manuscript, I have been made to say in print, decypher instead of decipher-indivisable instead of indivisibleetherial for ethereal—indispensible for indispensable—outporing for outpouring-incontestible for incontestablemaintainance for maintenance untill for until-bigotted for bigoted—defered for deferred-preventative for preven