網頁圖片
PDF
ePub 版

While the career of Alexander the Great is disposed of in four pages, the history of the states which arose out of the dismemberment of his empire occupies thirty-seven, though these states owe nearly all their significance to their collision at a subsequent period with the colossal power of Rome, and are best treated of as episodes to the great movement of Roman conquest. We have here and there chapters containing only dull skeletons of dull histories of kings whose names suggest nothing, and whose deeds are hardly worthy of the scanty notice they receive.

The accuracy of a class-book should be complete. The learner should have, at least, the satisfaction of having learned a fact, though it be a very arid one. The work under review is in this respect by no means out of the reach of criticism. Though in such a treatise we deem no blunder a light one, we can pass over such slips as western frontier for eastern, southeast for northwest, Mount Opus for the city Opus, and the like. We may wonder what "ancient writer" informed Mr. Taylor that Marathon was forty miles distant from Athens, or that Saguntum was on the Iberus, or that Agrigentum was eighteen hundred furlongs from the sea, or that the younger Scipio was the adopted son of the elder. We need some new theory of ubiquity to account for the same battle taking place at two dates, nine years apart, or for the possibility that Cæsar should have been in Spain at the moment of his assassination in the Senate-house at Rome. We have been used to hear of the Olympic games as occurring every four years. Mr. Taylor substitutes five. We wish his new Olympiads might explain some anomalies in his chronology. Hieroglyphics, it appears, are of too little prominence in the history of Egyptian civilization to be even alluded to; and Babylon, having been only the intended seat of Alexander's empire and the place of his death, is not named in the account of his life. Mr. Taylor will permit us to inquire, who were the "twelve sons of Jacob" that sold " their brother Joseph" into Egypt.

One word as to the American edition," revised by C. S. Henry, D. D., Professor of Philosophy and History in the University of the City of New York." Dr. Henry informs us, that, in revising this Manual, he "has made a few slight curtailments, principally in the first part of the volume." Perhaps the absence of any notice of Egyptian hieroglyphics is owing to one of these " slight" curtailments. Be that as it may, we must protest against the practice of indorsing, with names of some notoriety, books in the execution of which the pretended revisers have so small a share. The reviser of a book has no right to give currency to outrageous typographical blunders, which the most cursory examination of the proof-sheets would have detect

ed. The reading of the sheets of this book seems to have been intrusted to some ignoramus, who had never read a line of Greek or Latin; so that, in respect to the orthography and accentuation of proper names, the present edition is wholly untrustworthy. We have Virentes for Veientes, Conrum for Comum, Careto for Caieta, Ancius for Anicius, Ancus for Aruns, Africa for Attica, Erus for Ems, Aquæ Lutiæ for Aquæ Sextiæ, &c. To show the degree of care with which the accents have been affixed, out of a forest of errors we select the following; Méssene, Megáris, Ozólæ, Ephýre, Taygétum, Phálereus, Mycále, Thrasýbulus, Evergétes, Creméra, Archimedes, and Cicéro, - the last, as if needing confirmation, appearing thrice on one page. We ought in justice, however, to acknowledge the scrupulous accuracy with which such words as Núma, Tárquín, Álba, Cróton, Gáza, and others, are accentuated; though we know not why Dendera and Naucratis have not at least an equal right. We cannot complain of a man merely for holding his literary reputation so cheap as to consent to be responsible for a roll of blunders, which would disgrace a school-boy. That is his own affair. But we do complain of publishers who borrow, and editors who lend, the authority of respectable names to editions equally discreditable to both.

2.- Rural Economy, in its Relations with Chemistry, Phys. ics, and Meteorology; or Chemistry applied to Agricul ture. By J. B. BOUSSINGAULT, Member of the Institute of France, etc. Translated, with an Introduction and Notes, by GEORGE LAW, Agriculturist. New York: Appleton & Co. 1844. 12mo. pp. 507.

THIS is a handsome American reprint of a faulty English translation of an excellent work. M. Boussingault, whose name is by no means new to our readers, possesses rare qualifications as a writer on chemical and physical science applied to agriculture and rural affairs generally. He is a learned and experienced chemist, and has largely contributed to the recent advancement of the organic department of this science; he has been an extensive traveller, and has resided for several years in tropical America; he is also a practical farmer. The fruits of his foreign travel, and of his observations and experiments at home as the fellow-laborer of Arago and Dumas, tested by his experience at Bechelbronn, as a farmer perfectly familiar not only with the principles upon which agriculture depends, but also with their results under a great variety of circumstances,

must therefore possess the highest value. We should add, that Boussingault's farm in Alsace, the extreme east of France, is situated in a climate not essentially different from that of our own Northern and Middle States.

The work embodies the results of the inquiries upon various points of rural economy with which the author has long been sedulously engaged, presented in the most practical and generally intelligible form which the nature of the topics admits. French savans are, we think, peculiarly successful in their attempts to convey scientific truths in a popular style; and our author is so clear and simple in his statements, and has so completely excluded all superfluous technical details, that his book will prove, we imagine, more interesting to the general reader than any of its class. It is more sound, discriminating, and practical than the works of Liebig, more readable and much more comprehensive than those of Johnston. Want of room alone prevents us from giving an analysis of the contents of the volume, and a series of extracts on a variety of important subjects, such, for instance, as the causes of decay in timber, and the modes lately adopted in France of impregnating the trunks of trees, when felled, with cheap but efficient antiseptic materials, so as to protect the timber against dry-rot and other causes of decay, to increase its hardness and strength, preserve its elasticity, diminish its inflammability, counteract the alternate expansion and contraction from the varying moisture of the atmosphere, and even to impart to common kinds of wood a variety of permanent tints, which will render them adapted to the construction of costly furniture. The account of the sugar manufacture and the cultivation of the sugar-cane is also very interesting, and abounds with hints that may be turned to profitable account by our neighbours, about to become our brethren, in Texas. The chapters on the feeding of animals and management of stock have anticipated Liebig's promised work upon that subject; and the meteorological chapter, filled with matters that will be new and striking to general readers, closes with a discussion of the influence of agricultural labors and the clearing of woods upon the climate of a country, and the quantity of running water. The question is interesting to us, since our own country is about to furnish the most satisfactory elements for its solution. Boussingault, who has studied the subject chiefly in the tropics, gives it as his opinion, that the felling of forests over a large extent of country always lessens the mean annual quantity of rain, and tends to disturb its equable distribution; thus agreeing with Humboldt, who remarks, that men in all climates, by destroying the trees which cover the summits and slopes of mountains, seem to be

bringing upon future generations two calamities at once, - a want of fuel and a scarcity of water.

The most unsatisfactory chapter of the book is the first, which is devoted to a brief summary of vegetable physiology, though here the numerous faults chiefly relate to matters of detail. They are, besides, greatly exaggerated by the incompetency of the translator, who in numerous passages has attained only a dim perception of his author's meaning. Mr. George Law may have done his best; but he appears to lack two rather important qualifications of a translator; namely, an adequate acquaintance with the subject of his author's book, and with the language in which it is written.* The editor's notes, even upon practical subjects, and his introductory comments, are of a similar character; as, for instance, where he controverts his author's views upon the philosophy of the dunghill; — but here, as Mrs. Malaprop would say, "comparisons are odorous," and we cannot engage in the discussion. We may, however, venture to advise the enterprising New York publishers to procure a new translation by some competent hand, when a second edition of this very valuable work is needed.

[ocr errors]

M. Boussingault, confining himself to his legitimate province, scarcely touches upon questions of pure physiology. But we are glad to notice, that he does not seem to countenance doctrines just now rife and popular, which would resolve all the phenomena of life into ordinary, or extraordinary, chemical or molecular action, doctrines extremely seducing to young and unwary chemists, which the specious writings of Liebig have done much to bring into vogue, and of which Mulder now appears to be the foremost expounder. We shall probably have occasion to examine them in extenso at no distant day, in their connection with the recent progress and tendencies of chemicophysiological science.

3. Registration of Births, Marriages, and Deaths in Massachusetts in 1844. Third Annual Report. By JOHN G. PALFREY, Secretary of the Commonwealth. Boston. 1845. 8vo. pp. xxix, 110.

An act was passed in Massachusetts, in 1842, providing for an annual return of births, marriages, and deaths in the State. This

* The readers of the English version may be somewhat surprised to find mahogany mentioned as a dye-wood. But the translator has merely taken a fancy to apply this name, instead of logwood, to bois de Campèche, or Hæmatoxylon Campechianum.

is the first attempt that has come to our knowledge for obtaining a series of exact annual reports of this description in any State in the United States. Some defects being developed by experience in the provisions and actual working of that law, a new one was passed in 1844. This report is made under the former law, the latter having gone into effect only a few weeks previous to the 1st of May, 1844, when the registration year covered by the report terminated. The present law provides for the return of the date of the birth, the place, name of the child (if named), sex, names of the parents, their residence, and the occupation of the father; of marriages, the date, place, by what clergyman or magistrate, names of the parties married, residence of each, whether both were single, or both or either had been before married, the occupation of each, names of their respective parents; and of the deaths, the date, name, sex, whether single or married, age, occupation, place of birth, names of parents, and the disease or cause of death. A record of all these facts is to be made by the town-clerk in each town, who is entitled to receive eight cents from the town or city treasury for the record of each birth and each death; a clergyman or magistrate officiating at the celebration of any marriage is required to make a return of the same to the town-clerk within the first ten days of the next month, under a penalty of twenty to a hundred dollars; every sexton, or other person having charge of a burial-ground, is also required, within the first ten days of each month, to make a return to the town-clerk of the facts relative to any person whose burial he may have superintended during the preceding month, and is entitled to receive from the town treasury five cents for the return of each death; the school-committee of each town is required to ascertain, on or before the last of May annually, the births and facts relative thereto in their town during the year preceding the first of that month, and the committee, or the person authorized by them, is entitled to receive from the town treasury five cents for the return of the facts relative to each birth.

Such is the machinery for collecting these very important statistics. The first returns made under the first law were, as was to be expected, very imperfect. The second report was better, but still quite imperfect. The third, which is the subject of this notice, is a great improvement upon the two preceding, as the officers had the advantage of former experience in making their returns, and the indefatigable activity and industry of Mr. Secreary Palfrey, in supplying blank forms to the town-clerks, and corresponding with them, and giving them instructions relative to the records, have contributed essentially to the improvement of this report. Still it presents many chasms; and one most re

« 上一頁繼續 »