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the number of her coadjutors, in the other departments of science, is rapidly increasing.
We dislike the plan and object of the little work now before us, though the intrinsic merits of its execution place it very high in the class of works to which it belongs. The writer is evidently a man of talent, well acquainted with the subject which he treats, and, we seriously believe, more capable of discussing it to the profit of men and women of full age and mature capacities, than of initiating school-boys into its mysteries. He has even some acquaintance with the infant mind, though, we maintain, it is an imperfect and unphilosophical one, or he would never have written his “ Moral Teacher.” As the title purports, it is an introduction to the science of ethics, with some words upon political philosophy, taste, literary criticism, and religious belief, — all designed for the use of very youthful pupils in common schools. In the table of contents, we find such titles to the various chapters and sections as the following ; “What Morality is ; " “ What tells us we should do right? Something within and born with us”; “Origin of Civil Society”; “ Objects of Civil Society”; “ Beauties of Art and Literature”; " Revelation, - presupposes our Moral Capacities." And all these high and mighty themes are illustrated by stories about marbles and pencils lent in schools, and sometimes returned, sometimes not ; about Washington, who was naturally passionate, and yet governed his temper remarkably well ; about little Sarah, who was once sent to carry a basket of apples, and refused to give one of them to her companion, lest she should become a thief. Now it does not require a Solomon to foresee, that the writer of such a book, however praiseworthy may be his intentions, and ingenious the execution of his task, must fail of attaining the end proposed.
Should he be disposed to revise his present work, or to prepare another, with a similar object in view, we would earnestly call his attention to the following advice. Teach practical morality to children, as much as you please ; illustrate the precepts, if you will, by little apologues, the fables of Esop and Pilpay, or even historical anecdotes, and have no fear, if the narrative be a pertinent one, that it will go beyond the child's understanding. But pray leave the deep and dark problems of theoretical ethics to the consideration of full-grown minds. The child suffers, not merely perplexity, but positive moral harm, when he is officiously informed of difficulties, that never would have occurred to his unprompted intellect. Tell him, that the Spartans encouraged their boys to steal, and that “there is a tribe of Indians in Missouri, who regard the aged as a useless burden to the community," and there is danger, that he will recollect the facts after he has entirely forgotten your abstruse explanation of them. Should his honesty or filial duties be subsequently exposed to some sore temptation, this recollection may supply an argument on the wrong side, and fairly turn the scale. We do not attribute too much ingenuity to him by this supposition. A smart, but roguish child, in making excuses for some fault, will show ten times as much cunning as is here supposed. If those, who write books for children, would only give their pupils credit, on all subjects, for possessing one half the acuteness and reflective power, which they frequently display in mischief, we would venture to predict an entire reform in the contents of our juvenile libraries.
5. — A Critical Exposition of Mental Philosophy, or the First
Principles of Metaphysics; embracing a Critical Analysis of Ideas, the Elements of Reasoning, and the Philosophy of the Feelings and the Will. Adapted to Academic and Popular Use. By LEICESTER A. Sawyer, A. M. New Haven : Published by Durrie & Peck. 1839. 12mo. pp. 316.
A volume of original speculations, on mental philosophy, by an American writer, is a curiosity ; and we feel disposed to welcome its appearance, without instituting any very strict inquiry into its merits. It is true, that a portion of our countrymen have evinced, of late, considerable interest in abstract investigations, and metaphysics have been brought within the reach and comprehension of a greater number of persons, than were ever before engaged in such sort of reading. But the appetite, as yet, has been gratified only by foreign nutriment. Numerous translations have appeared, of the most recent French and German treatises on philosophy; and, while the rapidity of their sale shows how much curiosity is excited on the subject, the rather unsatisfactory result of a perusal of them has probably stimulated the desire for fresh inquiries. Whether speculation has not lost as much in depth, as it has thus gained in popularity, -whether a taste has not been created for showy and superficial disquisition, and for forming hasty and sweeping theories on all subjects,- is a question that may admit of doubt, and which VOL. XLIX. - No. 104.
cannot be safely answered, till we have had further experience. But we shall not complain of this state of things, if it leads other persons, of as much talent and modesty as Mr. Sawyer, to follow his example, by presenting the public with the results of their private studies.
His work contains the fruits of much reflection, rather than of extensive reading, and is more successful in pointing out new subjects for attention and research, than in shedding light upon the much vexed questions, which have perplexed the wits of ancient and modern philosophers. The author has borrowed little, but thought a great deal ; and has here given us the fruits of his labors, in a neat, plain, and generally lucid style, without any attempt at fine writing, hairspun reasoning, or paradoxical statements. Good taste and correct judgment are apparent throughout the book. Free from affectation and rhetorical artifice, and occupied entirely with abstract subjects, it will be relished by a small class of students, but will probably find few purchasers, and still fewer readers, among the multitude. The writer is unaffectedly modest, though his manner of frequently stating conclusions, without giving the arguments on which they rest, often appears like dogmatism. We know nothing of the circumstances under which the book is written ; but there is good internal evidence, that the writer has had too much respect for the public, to hurry before them with undigested opinions and a slip-shod style, and has carefully reviewed and elaborated his matter, until it displays regularity of feature and general comeliness.
Perhaps if Mr. Sawyer had confined his attention, for the present, to one branch of a most comprehensive subject, his speculations would have gained in point of unity and compactness, and the reader would be less confused by frequent and sudden transitions. As it is, he has gained a sort of completeness, by touching lightly on all the ramifications of metaphysical inquiry, and admitting no doctrines from other writers, which had not been carefully weighed and remodelled in his own mind. But we frequently feel, that the discussion of a single topic is incomplete, and that the remarks are loose and disjointed. Even a hypothetical system, though dangerous in many respects, may be of use to a writer in this department of knowledge, by enabling him to fuse scattered hints and unconnected opinions into one methodical whole. The phraseology is generally accurate and clear, the innovations, in the use of words, which philosophical writers are so strongly tempted to make, being, in this case, carefully studied and conformed to the genius of the language. Sometimes, however, where technical terms are introduced, which have but lately taken root in English soil, they are applied somewhat variously, in different parts of the work, as if only a wavering and confused idea was attached to them in the mind of the author. We notice this fact, particularly, in the case of the two very convenient correlative terms, subjective and objective, which are used sometimes in the common and sometimes in the technical sense, so that the reader is often bewildered between them.
But these are small blemishes, and detract but little from the praise due to the writer, for the preparation of a thoughtful and ingenious treatise on an abstruse and difficult subject. If opportunity served, we might break a lance with him in argument on one or two of his favorite opinions. But as this pleasure is denied, it only remains to offer him our thanks for the mingled instruction and entertainment which we have drawn from the perusal of his lucubrations.
6.- A Practical Treatise on Arithmetic ; to which is added a
Description of Book-keeping, with Examples for Practice. By GEORGE LEONARD, Jr. Boston : George W. Light. 16mo. pp. 347.
The circulation of school-books of the right kind in this country is a matter of great moment, and we hail the appearance of such an one, as we esteemn this volume of Mr. Leonard to be, with peculiar satisfaction. It is the greater, when we consider the currency frequently obtained by such things, and the corresponding good or evil they must be continually effecting. Few persons are probably aware, for example, of the extent to which Pike's Arithmetic has been used, and even still is ; or some half a dozen others which might be named, including Adams's, one of the most modern, of which, according to a statement in the author's Preface, soine forty thousands had been printed, as long ago as 1831. It is a fact well authenticated, we suppose, that some of our school-books have been sold in numbers ranging from one hundred thousand to three hundred thousand, within the first ten years of their existence! The appearance of a new candidate for currency like this, with any thing like specious pretensions, may be deemed, we repeat it, a matter of national interest.
It is very evident to us, that Mr. Leonard has not lost sight
of these considerations ; nor yet of another circumstance, equally interesting to the cause of education,- that, in the crowd of these candidates for the lucrative public favor of which we have spoken, there must be something rather remarkable in the character of a new one, to give it much prospect of a profitable rivalry with its fellows. A fresh Arithmetic is not the imposing phenomenon it once was. It must not only advance claims to improvements of some sort over its predecessors, but it must sustain them too, sooner or later. It must endure examination. Slovenly or spiritless compilations and abridgments will never do.
Such a book is not Mr. Leonard's. It is evident on every page, that great labor has been spent upon it, and that of no blind or dull description, but by a mind impressed with clear views of the subject, and accustomed to make its industry tell to some good account. Not that this Arithmetic contains a large proportion of new matter, or proposes many original ideas. We should at once have doubts of its value suggested to us, if it affected any such thing. The improvements it seems to us to present, are those of greater convenience than show. Mostly, they must needs be matters of arrangement, rather than of substantive innovation. McAdam was not the first man who used broken stones in road-making. He used them in a slightly different manner from others; but he altered the whole face of countries by the change. Mr. Leonard has done something, we think, to Macadamize arithmetic.
The chief merits of his book may be soon stated. Many of them are comprised in the one important word, simplification ; by which we mean to express its character in respect not merely to details, but also to system and order, prevailing coherently throughout the work. Intended, we presume, for the use of common schools, it assumes that the learner is able to read ; and beginning at this point, it goes on from one subject to another in a manner which appears to us eminently rational and natural. Every principle is explained, either by simple questions preceding the statement of it, so that the pupil reasons it out for himself, or by the discussion of an operation performed at length in figures. To do this, or attempt it, more or less, is a common practice ; but the extent to which these explanations and illustrations accomplish their object, must of course depend upon each author's skill. In this work we consider them to be unusually practical, simple, and clear. These, as all teachers well know, are important points. Brevity is another, and this too has been studied. Most of the school-books multiply useless words, to the great embarrassment of youthful minds. Others have attained the merit of