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of them. Now, the truth is, that four readers out of five, who take this volume in hand, will have read no other full history of the war; and for such readers in truth, as for all readers of history in theory, the narrative should be written for the first time. For instance, the following sentence, loosely constructed as some of Mr. Bancroft's sentences are, does not tell the new-born reader, who here first drinks in his American history, any thing that he needs to know:
"The unfitness of the highest officer in the naval service, as displayed in his management of a squadron which had gone to sea in the spring, had just been exposed by an inquiry; and, in spite of the support of the Eastern States, he had been censured by a vote of Congress yet from tenderness to his brother, who was a member of Congress, a motion for his dismissal was obstructed, and a majority ordered the aged and incompetent man to resume the command which he was sure to disgrace."
There is nothing in this sentence to show that the aged and incompetent man was Hopkins; and, on the other hand, all that has been said before leads the reader to suppose that it was Nicholas Biddle. It is only afterwards that an allusion made to Hopkins leads to a guess that it is he.
The boys who write most of the literary criticisms, so called, for the newspapers, are in the habit of complaining that Mr. Bancroft uses archaisms of language. Indeed, we remember one constitutionally ill-tempered person, who said of the eighth volume, that one needed an archæological dictionary to understand it. In regard to this volume, this charge is founded on three expressions:
Dearly did the Cherokees aby their rising."
"The Landgrave of Hesse, though a Roman Convertite.'
All that is to be said of these three words is, that, if people do not know what the words mean, it is time they did. They are words used by the best English writers of the best period of English literature. The fault which we should find with Mr. Bancroft's style is, not that he indulges too much in the
use of words carefully chosen for precision of meaning, but that, in the occasional pursuit of those phantoms which lead men into the bogs and jungles of "fine writing," he sometimes uses words for their sound, without caring much for their meaning. Take the following sentence: "The uneven upland . . . is bounded, for more than two miles, by walls of primitive rock, or declivities steep as an escarpment." Now, in truth, there are no walls there: whether the rock is primitive or fossiliferous is a geological matter of no interest to the reader, and to say "steep as an escarpment is as if one said "steep as a garden bank," or "steep as an inclined plane." The fact to be communicated is, that, on the Haerlem-River side, the shore is bold, so as to be easily held against invading troops. "Walls of primitive rock" and "declivities steep as an escarpment" come into the statement of the fact, not because they illustrate it, but because they sound well. Such details, however, are of little or no importance. We have been betrayed into them because other people have been. What is important is, that the style of the book is attractive and intelligible, and floats the reader easily and quickly on from the beginning to the end.
The largest generalization of all" is that which closes the volume.
"We are arrived at the largest generalization thus far in the history of America.
"The spirit of free inquiry penetrated the Catholic world as it penetrated the Protestant world. Each of their methods of reform recognized that every man shares in the eternal reason, and in each the renovation proceeded from within the soul. Luther opened a new world, in which every man was his own priest, his own intercessor: Descartes opened a new world, in which every man was his own philosopher, his own judge of truth.
"A practical difference marked the kindred systems: the one was the method of continuity and gradual reform; the other, of an instantaneous, complete, and thoroughly radical revolution. The principle of Luther waked up a superstitious world, asleep in lap of legends old,' but did not renounce all external authority. It used drags and anchors to check too rapid a progress, and to secure its
moorings. So it escaped premature conflicts. By the principle of Descartes, the individual man at once and altogether stood aloof from king, church, universities, public opinion, traditional science, all external authority and all other beings, and, turning every intruder out of the inner temple of the mind, kept guard at its portal to bar the entry to every belief that had not first obtained a passport from himself. No one ever applied the theory of Descartes with rigid inflexibility; a man can as little move without the weight of the superincumbent atmosphere, as escape altogether the opinions of the age in which he sees the light: but the theory was there, and it rescued philosophy from bondage to monkish theology, forbade to the Church all inquisition into private opinion, and gave to reason, and not to civil magistrates, the maintenance of truth. The nations that learned their lessons of liberty from Luther and Calvin went forward in their natural development, and suffered their institutions to grow, and to shape themselves according to the increasing public intelligence. The nations that learned their lessons of liberty from Descartes were led to question every thing, and by creative power renew society through the destruction of the past. The spirit of liberty in all Protestant countries was marked by moderation. The German Lessing, the antitype of Luther, said to his countrymen, 'Don't put out the candles till day breaks.' Out of Calvinistic Protestantism rose in that day four teachers of four great nationalities, — America, Great Britain, Germany, and France. Edwards, Reid, Kant, and Rousseau were all imbued with religiosity; and all except the last, who spoiled his doctrine by dreamy indolence, were expositors of the active powers of man. All these in political science, Kant most exactly of all, were the counterpart of America, which was conducting a revolution on the highest principles of freedom with such circumspection that it seemed to be only a war against innovation. On the other hand, free thought in France, as pure in its source as free thought in America, became speculative and sceptical and impassioned. This modern Prometheus, as it broke its chains, started up with a sentiment of revenge against the ecclesiastical terrorism which for centuries had sequestered the rights of mind. Inquiry took up with zeal every question in science, politics, and morals."
ART. VI.. -THE ATLANTIC TELEGRAPH.
Report of the Proceedings at a Banquet given to Mr. Cyrus W. Field by the Chamber of Commerce of New York, Nov. 15, 1866. pp. 94.
THE city of New York has done itself honor, in so conspicuous a reception of one of its greatest benefactors. On both sides of the water, Mr. Field is recognized as the man without whom the Atlantic Cable would not have been laid in our generation. He has, therefore, a rightful claim to the foremost place in the gratitude and honor of the world, specially of his fellow-citizens. No one can read his speech at the Banquet without feeling its truthfulness and magnanimity, nor without plainly recognizing the personal qualities which enabled him to achieve his grand success.
The city of New York has twice emphasized its sense of the world-wide significance of the Atlantic Cable, — once, and most magnificently, when, in 1858,. it welcomed Mr. Field, after the temporary success of that year; and now again, when permanent success may be deemed secure, with two cables in daily improving action between the Continents.
Great cities are the centres and sources of civilization, and their condition affords the best indications of the present state and prospects of humanity.
To return to cities, from the sparse settlements of a new country, is to return to multitudes. Here it is that the masses are seen in their density, and felt in their power for good and for evil. Our great common humanity, in its average quality and condition, in bodies too large to allow individual tastes and opinions much influence, in a current too strong to suffer much restraint from the feeble resistance of any superior class, there passes before us. A great city is a majestic spectacle at any time, for it is the house of an enormous family; but far beyond any vision of vastness or splendor or beauty in the municipal house itself is the sight of those who built, who occupy, who own it. No one can long be content
to look at the marble walls that embank the Broadway of our American metropolis, while the captivating stream of human faces is running through it. The ordinary tide of humanity that ebbs and flows in that channel is, of all the constant curiosities the world affords, the most astonishing, the most untiring. Niagara has no rapids so dazzling, no roar so deafening, no rainbow so gay, no current so solemn, no significance so sublime. But when this daily phenomenon of the densest and busiest multitude in the world is raised to its highest possibility by some extraordinary summons of the people; when the country is poured into the town, the suburbs into the centre; when labor, released from its dispersing duties, is crowded into the public thoroughfares, and the population of States is compressed within the area of a capital, then the constellations of the clearest night are not so beautiful, the waves of the wildest ocean not so sublime, nor all else that heaven and earth can congregate so exciting and tremendous, as the prospect. There is no spectacle equal to that of a countless multitude of human beings. What splendor of military trappings, what marshalling of significant chariots of industry, what gay, curious, meaningful procession, winding its mottled way, like a vast iris-hued serpent, through enamelled streets, — such as we have seen in public processions on days of high festival,-vies in interest for every eye with that motionless mass, the magnificent, the overpowering crowd, that forms the ground of its display and the field of its progress? What can the torch-lights of ten thousand men, blazing with scarlet and with fire, illumine, which is like in beauty and splendor to their own faces, and the eyes of the myriads of lookers-on? We have seen the upturned countenances of a hundred thousand people, crowded on a hill-side, lighted up, and condensed into one awful and glorious picture, by the attractive art of the pyrotechnist; and not all the resources of his magical skill, in its most dazzling crises of splendor, could win our eyes away from the spectators to the spectacle. Man is ever God's greatest work, and the multitude ever the sublimest sight for human eyes.