Recent Literature

IN the new edition of Webster’s Unabridged 1 we read the possibility of a periodical dictionary recording the verbal changes and additions which the growth of a spoken and written language compels. It is sixteen years since the last great revision of the dictionary ; at the close of this period the editors, who from time to time have silently corrected or improved the body of the work, present a supplement of nearly five thousand words. How many years will pass before a new set of plates is made, absorbing this supplement and later accretions, it is impossible to say ; but there are manifest practical difficulties in the way of an indefinite series of supplements. The natural order would seem to be one supplement and then a new complete edition, followed again by a supplement to that edition ; and in this way the student of our language would be furnished with a guide to the changes which take place and are recorded, say, twice in a generation. With a row of successive editions and supplements on his shelf, the future student will enter upon his scientific study of the evolution of language with great boldness and hope. To our minds, this dictionary has ceased to be encumbered with the personality of Webster. The name of its founder still rightly clings to it, and the very height of the growing shadow lends something to the stature of the original personality which gave birth to this mighty thing; but the impetus which this concretion of scholarship has now obtained, together with all the material interests involved in its fortunes, gives us a right to regard the dictionary as an organic institution. with an interest for all Americans, quite freed from any petty considerations of partisanship.

An American Dictionary of the English Language, as Webster fondly called it, with more prophetic truthfulness than the skeptics of that day would allow, is at length justifying its title, and for better or worse is establishing itself as the representative repository of our speech.

It is of course to be understood that the supplement contains not only words which have gained admission into the language since the publication of the last edition of the dictionary, but many which were previously overlooked. The principle continues to govern that the dictionary records words and meanings, and exercises the judicial faculty sparingly. The great bulk of additions is derived from the manufacture of terms which our scientists indulge in, and no single work can indicate so strongly as this the immense industry in science which has characterized the last half generation. We fancy that the editors have been embarrassed here by the claims which have come before them for adjudication, and we suspect that the array of terms with their definitions is anticipatory, in some cases, of general usage. A scientific writer invents a term to express a new classification which he has made, and accounts for it at the outset. He may be the only writer who will ever use it, and in that case the word need not find admission into the dictionary. Its general adoption by other writers must determine whether or not it is coin of the realm. Perhaps some such reason as this has determined, for instance, the omission of the useful word antigeny, lately thrust forward, and of Algic, which Schoolcraft in vain urged as the adjective of Algonquin. We miss goloid also, and trust the absurd composition will disappear from our public discussions before the editors find it necessary to put the word itself into their cabinet. Antimacassar appears, but the reader of Happy Thoughts looks in vain for the mysterious antigropelos. Send as a noun, used by Longfellow in the line,

“ Borne on the send of the sea, anti the swelling hearts of the Pilgrims,”

does not appear ; nor does remede, which Emerson uses in Monadnoc : —

“ Thou dost succor and remede.”

In Browning’s recent poem, Ned Bratts, occurs the word outstreat, and in a foot-note he points to Donne as authority : —

“ They did not eat
His flesh, nor suck those oils which thence outstreat.”

Dagos, as people of Spanish parentage born in Louisiana were once called, does not appear, and the use of death in the phrase to be death on might as properly be noted as in the phrase to be the death of; the disagreeable commercial phrase to value for to accept a draft is fortunately not given, but it would have been interesting to find the artistic term values of a picture noted. Several of Ben Jonson’s classic importations fail of a place, among them tribade in his line —

“ Or with thy tribade trine invent new sports.”

Chalk, in the phrase by a long chalk, might properly have been admitted under Add., since the phrase “ to know chalk from cheese" is recorded s. v. chalk in the body of the work. Lowell says, in his Biglow Papers, —

“ ’T will take more emptins, by a long chalk, than this new party ’sgot.”

It is indeed very easy to convict a dictionary of inconsistency. Why is cent shop here, and not dollar store ? One might preach a sermon upon these two phrases, and trace the decadence of thrift in them. Figuline is given, but not its friend, if not substitute, figurine. To go back on occurs undergo, but not the phrase to go for, with its curious double use in exactly antagonistic meaning. Shebeen is given, but not the more idiomatic shebang. Launder as v. t. is set down as obsolete, and reference made to Shakespeare ; but the editor could have seen the word on street signs as he look his daily walk after working on the dictionary. Millerite in the supplement should have appeared as an additional term to the same word in the body of the book. Infair, a characteristic Southern and Western word for the reception of a wedding party at the bridegroom’s house, is not here ; nor is sen, a Japanese coin. Rosecold and hay fever are pronounced one and the same thing; but is not this unmedical ? The definition of kindergarten, etymologically, strikes us as defective. “Was it the mere accessory of a garden, or was it not the treating of children as plants and flowers, which supplied Fröbel with the word? — a word which is protected only by its German form from being disagreeable to our antisentimental ears. Derringer is given with a correct definition, but the reader is not told that it owes its name to a Philadelphia inventor and manufacturer in the first instance. We miss fly in its technical sense as employed by the vast army of base-ball players; and considering the fact that the game of base-ball generally occupies more space in the daily paper than the game of European politics and war, we think all its terms might find explanation. The modest and convenient word comradery, as good as its French brother, is omitted, and so, we are happy to say, is the foolish walkist. Croquet is given with the accent on the second syllable, as becomes an American dictionary ; in England it is accented on the first.

So we have noted at random words and phrases which came to mind in running over these pages, and we offer thus our contribution toward that complete dictionary in which all members of the republic of letters have an interest. A new edition is not yet under discussion, we presume ; when it is made, we hope space will be saved and order introduced by marshaling under a root word all the derivatives and compounds which now hold independent places. The growth of the dictionary in bulk is something to alarm a thoughtful man when he thinks of his great-grandchildren. The appendix in this edition is enriched by a new and useful brief biographical dictionary, which has the virtue of giving the names of living men and women ; and by means of this and other convenient compilations;, one’s library of reference is brought within the covers of a Single book. We are glad that the editors have not yet thought it necessary to add a concordance to the Bible and Shakespeare. We dare not say boldly that they never thought, of such a thing.

— The reissue, with nearly threescore portraits, of J. C. Hamilton’s Life of Alexander Hamilton.,2 containing the great body of his writings, will bring freshly before the minds of students the importance of the study of Hamilton’s works and career. We might have preferred to have Mr. Hamilton print his father’s papers distinct from his own comment, following Sparks’s plan in his Life and Writings of Washington, but the main advantage rests with us in having so full a magazine, not only of Hamilton’s writings, but of facts and rumors concerning him. It cannot he said that the fathers of the republic have been neglected. Washington, Franklin, Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Munroe, Hamilton, Sam Adams, Gallatin, John Quincy Adams, have all been preserved in stately octavos; Pickering, indeed, still lacks fit presentment, and so does Rufus King and possibly Otis, good as Tudor’s Life is ; but the first duty of collecting and arranging the materials illustrating the birth of the republic has largely been fulfilled. Undoubtedly, the same work in some instances must be done again, since fresh material has come to light. Washington’s writings, for example, ought to be re-collected and reëdited with scrupulous regard to the original MSS., and with reference to the many scattered letters which have come to light since the publication of Sparks’s edition. An admirable opportunity awaits some critical scholar, with a wide historical sympathy, for the publication of Washington’s complete writings upon the plan followed by Mr. Spedding in his splendid edition of Bacon’s works, the biography accompanying, commenting on, and established by the writings, which by a simple typographical arrangement are made distinct from the editor’s work.

We look confidently for a class of critical scholars who shall expend unreserved labor upon authoritative editions of the writings of the men who translated the logic of events into the logic of words; but we apprehend that at the present time another Class of writers is forming of which there is more urgent need. Mere antiquarianism, or even scientific scholarship, applied to the constitutional history of the country, can wait a little; but the historical writing to-day which interprets Hamilton or Jefferson as organically connected with present phases of national life appeals to us with great force. As was remarked in this journal when the first volume of Dr. von Holst’s work was under consideration :3 “ The make-shift habit . . . has so impressed itself on the minds of our people that we have only too few students who want to learn from the past how to avoid the follies and dangers of the future. No question was ever better argued than the tariff question was, in the years between 1820 and 1833. But the reader of our newspapers to-day would hardly know that the question of protection had then been carefully argued on its principles,” But we think there are faint signs of a better condition of things. Historical and political students are beginning to read current affairs in the light of our own historical precedents, and a literature is slowly forming which is concerned with the broad relations of the republic to its own genesis and to the history of freedom. Indications of this spirit of inquiry were given by Dr. Lodge’s Life of Cabot, Mr. Morse’s Life of Hamilton, and now again by Judge Shea’s Life and Epoch of Hamilton.4

The volume before us finds a chronological close at the adoption of Hamilton into Washington’s military family; at that point Hamilton’s youth ended, if indeed it ever began ; but Judge Shea’s work being a historical rather than a biographical study, he has found abundant material for his handsome and substantial volume. Hamilton as a personal actor figures slightly in its pages, but the preliminary discussions have so far cleared the way that the subsequent volumes, which the author hopes, but does not promise, to give, will probably be more closely connected with Hamilton’s career. Meanwhile, the present volume may yet be taken, independently, as an examination into the political principles involved in the erection of the United States, or, to use Judge Shea’s favorite term, the States in Empire. The author’s method has been to sketch, as a proem, the relation which Hamilton bore to the new nation ; and having thus justified himself in giving Hamilton’s name to the epoch, to proceed with a detailed analysis of Hamilton’s career. A third of the volume is thus taken up with an introductory canvass of the whole subject; and of the remaining two thirds much the greater part consists of a historical survey of the time before 1776, with which date the volume closes. Hamilton’s significant action was confined to the remarkable incidents of his speech in the fields, his controversy with Seabury, and his clever handling of his artillery company in the early engagements at White Plains and the crossing of the Raritan. The book cannot therefore be regarded as a portrayal of Hamilton in any such sense as Morse’s excellent Life; it must be taken as a historical and political study, especially of the times preceding the war, and as such it is worth and will receive careful attention. Judge Shea frankly confesses his immense admiration for Hamilton ; but then he gives a reason for his admiration, and his reason leads him into wide discussion of political generation. His delineation of Hamilton’s individual characteristics requires him to make two comparisons, one with Talleyrand, the other with Burr. He does not distinctly declare Talleyrand’s obligation to Hamilton, but he draws the comparison with such shrewdness that the render will form the conclusion which the author holds in his own mind; in the comparison with Burr, which turns mainly on the elementary characteristics of the two men, excellent use is made of Hamilton’s own frank confessions. From intimations here and there, it is plain that Judge Shea has used opportunities for what is next to personal acquaintance,— the acquaintance with those who knew Hamilton intimately. It is to be hoped that he will also make use of material illustrative of Hamilton’s career as an advocate, not preserved in J. C. Hamilton’s edition.

The value of the work follows, we apprehend, from the clearness with which the author has seized upon certain leading political principles of which Hamilton was the great exponent, and has illustrated them by his reading of history. Judge Shea thinks continentally, as Hamilton did, and he has the advantage of Hamilton’s thought and of historical evolution. In a single sentence he has stated the gist of his political philosophy, and many of his most pregnant passages are in expansion of this idea: “A war is near at hand. Not one, as [Hamilton] so early wished, which might maintain and extend the dominion of England ; but one that will end by dividing its empire, yet vindicating its ancient principles of constitutional liberty.” Thus he sees clearly and expounds forcibly the great fact that the war for independence was a constitutional war, fought by men who were unwittingly saving England as well as establishing the United States. Thus all the measures looking toward conciliation with England, the aspect of the several parties in America, the attitude of Burke and Shelburne, are related with a definite understanding of the underlying sentiment which accounted for many otherwise perplexing facts. One of the most admirable passages in the volume is that which closes the detailed and vivid account of Bishop Seabury, and in the analysis of this man’s action and motives Judge Shea justifies his claim to write history.

His interest in his special subject has misled him, we think, into paying too much attention to Hamilton’s juvenile letters and occupations. The scrutiny, for instance, which he gives to the letter to Edward Stevens brings up results out of all proportion to the importance of the letter. Perhaps he has deferred his illustrations of the political temper of the times ; at any rate, his slight allusion to Hamilton’s tone toward his opponents is not enough to account for the personal antagonism which grew out of his cabinet relations. In a literary point of view, it is to be regretted that a style not too attractive at its best should have been marred by forms and phrases which a more rigid criticism could have obviated. Such are the Scottishly obtuse use of will twice in the introduction, and elsewhere in the body of the book; the defective punctuation or careless formation, which erects conditional sentences into complete ones ; the use of such confusing or awkward phrases as these: “ France and Scotland have not been unkindred alliances” (page 148); “Each was distinctly a gem — yet alike” (page 30); “ Hamilton, and the nationalists of that period who followed his lead, knew that a commonwealth or a Cromwellian era was alike not to the purpose of settling for their country a beneficial, competent, and permanent government ” (page 11); “ When England acquired Canada by the peace of 1763 from France, that, bringing Canada under the English dominion, relieved the New England colonies from the active hostilities of a people with whom those colonies were ever at enmity — aliens, as the New England colonists would have said, in blood and religion ” (page 322), — where the important word that is tucked away almost out of sight. We do not like such words as viability, out of a law book, nor essentiality, nor exceptless; nor do we feel comfortable at reading, " Concerning this we shall hereafter have proper occasions to sufficiently elaborate” (page 58). We want Judge Shea to speak his mind freely for three volumes more if possible, but to take the pebbles out of his month when he speaks it. These blemishes may cost him some readers, and for the readers’ sake we hope they will disappear in future volumes and in a revision of this. Meanwhile, a journey over a corduroy road, even, may be taken when it is laid through an interesting country.

— There are books which, however gracefully written, appeal less to our literary taste than to our domestic, and the memoirs of the Baroness Bunsen5 is one of them. Her husband was a prominent figure in the group of intellectual men who were so intimately concerned in the religious life of England and Germany which accompanied the historical Renaissance of Niebuhr and Arnold ; his labors and his books have long been the possession of the world, and his life has more recently been published. Who Bunsen was and what he had done could have been answered by many persons in America very clearly before his life appeared, but no one can well read the memoirs of Bunsen’s wife without being reminded how large and important a part of a public man’s life may be wholly screened from the world. If the Baroness Bunsen’s memoirs had not been published, we should have had glimpses only of an inner world in which Bunsen lived, — we should have heard by reports of visitors to it of its charm and sacred seclusion ; by this disclosure we have enriched our personal acquaintance, not only by getting new knowledge of Bunsen, but by forming a personal and friendly attachment to his wife.

The character of the baroness, as amply illustrated in her letters and in the details of her family life, was one of rare fullness and strength, of integrity and delicacy, which blossomed and flowered within the natural domestic and social boundaries of her existence. We have rarely had presented in literature so fine an example of womanly repose. The circumstances of her childhood and youth, so quaint in their oldfashioned loveliness, were like a hedge of roses to hem in her undeviating way toward an honest yet broad womanhood. Bunsen plainly influenced her mind in a theological direction ; but the somewhat vague and ethnical views which caused him often to be misunderstood, perhaps by himself also, served chiefly to expand her charity and to extend the reach of her fine susceptibilities. There was a rock of solid, unquestioning devotion iu her nature, which never for an instant was shaken. The course of her life was constantly interrupted by adverse circumstance, growing out of her husband’s public career, and by death after death in her family circle ; but the agitations and regrets which spring up naturally are overcome by a triumphant, unconscious devotion, which makes the reader half forget the funeral procession which winds through the pages of the book, especially in the second volume, when Madam Bunsen’s growing age is told off by the passing bell for almost all her friends.

There is nothing very complex in such a character to the ordinary eye, and the illustration of it is not marked by a great variety of incident. We can easily believe that the book would be pronounced dull by many, and that some disappointment would arise upon seeing so many names of eminent contemporaries and so little in the way of gossip about them. The book certainly is a leisurely one. Mr. Hare might have omitted many letters, and the continuity of the narrative would not have been broken; he might doubtless have added many more without materially increasing the range of our impression ; we simply take it as it i>. It will not afford vast entertainment, nor tickle one’s jaded nerves with smart epigrams ; but there yet remain people who, loving orderly and high-minded life, are glad to refresh themselves with a slow and quiet book which takes them from the agitations and noise of the world about them, into the cool retreat of a family circle where the highest aims are pursued and the best things give the greatest pleasure. Madam Bunsen’s life, though led often in court surroundings, and drawing vitality from intellectual sources, was after all a singularly domestic one. She lived most intensely in that growing circle of children and grandchildren of which she was the charming centre ; and it reinforces one’s confidence in the world of to-day to be permitted to have so intimate an association with that fons et origo of Christian civilization,the family. Such a life as Baroness Bunsen lived is possible, apart from its circumstances, to many an American matron, and no one can carefully scrutinize it without borrowing something of its charm and learning to feel a finer scorn for meanness of living.

— It appears to us that Mr. Didier1 has managed discreetly a nice and difficult affair. He had to let appear the character of a famous woman in whom no one of all those who pity her misfortunes can fail to see the hardness and untempered ambition, and he has left the work mainly to Madame Bonaparte herself, who is fully equal to it, in the many extremely clear and strenuous revelations of her own letters. The world has long known the story of how this beautiful American girl of eighteen married the brother of the First Consul, and was divorced from him by the order of the Emperor, and thereafter wasted her life in the vain endeavor to get recognition and money out of her husband’s family. They were thoroughly vulgar people, all those Bouapartes, except Joseph and Lucian, and they were not so much shocked as other people would have been by the persistence of the wife of Jerome, who would have been ready at any time to take anything from them. Site had been atrociously wronged by the unscrupulous adventurer on the imperial throne, but be remained her ideal of greatness, and She longed for nothing so much as admission to his presence. There is little reason to doubt that, as Mr. Didier suggests, she would have been a true mate to Napoleon: she was equally aspiring, she was even harder, and she had a courage and will that none Could surpass. She made little pretense of romantic affection for Jerome, who indeed deserved no affection; she scoffed at the imbecility of love ; she sought herself in her marriage with him; and it is doubtful if she suffered by her separation except through a cruelly foiled ambition. She was long willing to receive the help he always meanly withheld; and she seems scarcely to have felt any resentment towards him, or enmity towards his second wife. After the failure of her hopes, she remained in Europe for the education of her son and his settlement in life. When he married outside of the Bonaparte family, the last blow was dealt to her hopes, and she returned to the country upon whose petty provincial dullness and commercial vulgarity she could not heap loathing enough in her letters. They form a unique study of an entirely worldly soul, without one gleam of desire or purpose beyond “the pride of life.” She was a woman of very strong mind, and a shrewd and unerring thinker upon the level she chose; but that level was the lowest that any mind, untainted by vice, as hers certainly was, could choose. She placed all her hopes upon this world, One after another they failed her utterly, and left her life a monumental ruin, hardly less imposing to the student of character than that of the great Napoleon himself. It is pathetic, but it is even more terrible, — the life-long defeat of that able intellect, that indomitable will, that heroic courage ; and it remains a warning, not an appeal, because it does not seem to hare involved the anguish of a heart.

— Whatever a journalist of Mr. Reid’s experience might have to say of his profession would be worth the attention of the public. What he does say in his recent address before the New York and Ohio editorial associations 6 is curiously full of instrnction and interest. He has known practically almost every department of journalism, beginning with the editorship of a country newspaper in his own State, and arriving at the management of one of the first journals in the commercial metropolis; he has been a reporter and a war correspondent; he has been news-editor and writer of leaders ; he speaks with authority. The general reader ought not to care less for his ideas than the class to whom they were especially addressed, for hardly any one is more concerned in newspapers than the general reader of them ; but we doubt if the clear formulation of opinions and reasons will be more surprising to him than to many, perhaps most, of Mr. Reid’s fellow journalists, It has, for instance, long been the prevalent impression that the prosperity of a newspaper is to be measured by the extent of its advertising; but Mr. Reid shows that after the advertising passes a certain amount it is received at a loss to the publisher, w ho must print supplements to contain it, and who cannot make any extra charge for these supplements. Mr. Reid’s belief is that the great journals must reduce the bulk of their advertising by increasing their rates, and that the cheap advertising must seek cheap mediums. His ideal newspaper, the journal of the future, somewhat vaguely shadowed forth, is one in which there will perhaps be no advertising at all. This not impossible sheet will be of such limitations as to size that the reader need not leave anything in it unread ; and contemporary history will be presented with as much clearness, succinctness, and literary art as the old news which the historians rehearse for us. Mr. Reid says with perfect justice that there is no reason why Motleys and Macaulays should not be employed in writing contemporary history; and we trust in the day when the publishers of newspapers will find their account in paying what it will cost to employ historians to write their news. Till that day comes, we need not quite content ourselves with history as it is written by the slightly paid, but apparently not underpaid, beginners in journalism, who are not only not able to philosophize their material, but cannot begin to give it form. Money can tell here, at once, — a very little more money than is spent now ; but the publishers may be sure that a man of talent will not work for just as little as a man of no talent. Money, however, will not suffice alone. The historian, or the journalist, must be allowed to select and reject. You cannot expect him to record day after day that Daniel O'Brien dealt a severe scalp-wound to Mrs. O’Brien with a flat-iron, both parties being drunk, and keep his literary selfrespect. The day will soon come when he will not say that O’Brien was drunk, but beastly intoxicated, and the rest will follow, and you will have local-reporting in all its native magnificence again. Mr. Reid, in deprecating the publication of criminal news, — we wish he could have spoken more decidedly, — has suggested one difficulty in the way. But it is not in the narration of the great criminal events, which really concern civilization, that a man must lose heart and pride ; it is in dealing with the bloody and filthy trivialities of the day. Perhaps the news-gatherer should not be allowed to write at all, and certainly the writer should be left undisputed master of his material. You cannot get Macaulays and Motleys on any other terms.

We think that Mr, Reid is perfectly right in saying that the press has never been so decent, so able, and so powerful as at present ; and that its advance has been as constant as it has been immense. He derides the hope that newspapers will ever again be as cheap as they were before the war, for the simple reason that their making is now twice as costly, and they are so infinitely better that their readers would not tolerate a journal of the earlier date. He gives some very interesting and valuable details from the books of The Tribune relative to the expense of making a paper in those simple times when an editor’s salary was less than a book-keeper’s, and not comparable to the wages of a journeyman plumber; and he measures the growth of journalism by the fact that whenever a great editor of former days returns to newspaper life, he sadly and amusingly fails, to the surprise of all his reverent juniors.

Mr. Reid believes in the autocracy of the managing editor. He should be absolutely independent of the counting-room, and should be master of the paper down to the last particular of its advertising. That it should be necessary to say this is rather melancholy ; but it is very well to have it said squarely, and we hope his hearers took it to heart. He has not, he owns, realized his ideals in all points, but he is a man of a conspicuous genius for journalism; and there are no observers of our civilization who will not forgive his short-comings for the sake of his achievements. Not the least of these is the extinction of personalities in all the decenter New York papers, — a good which we believe we may attribute chiefly to his theories and example.

— That very large and respectable class of readers who suppose themselves familiar with the history of England could hardly amuse themselves more profitably than by making a comparative study of it in the widely differing works of Mr. Green7 and David Hume, Esq.8 It is not that these authors differ so much in their facts, though their different use of the same facts hardly leaves them the same. Their instructive and entertaining disparity is in their respective moods, attitudes, and theories. David Hume, Esq., wrote at the period of the self-satisfied eighteenth century when it was perhaps most self-satisfied ; when its accurate little sciences had got its whole little universe well in hand; when politics, learning, and all the polite interests were definitely ascertained to be the affair of well-born people, who, if not always cultivated themselves, had their culture done for them, as the Turks have their dancing, by respectful dependents ; when government was the business of princes and their ministers, and religion the concern of the clergy, and philosophy of the philosophers. Hume belonged to the philosophers, and he had his eighteenth-century doubts of religion,— doubts that compared with the regretfuller skepticism of our day seem a part of the smug and cheerful complacency of that time. He united to his Voltairean way of thinking about religion the highest high Tory opinions in politics, and his history is a curious blending of reverence for the crown and irreverence for the church : a saint meets small honor at his hands, but a prince, if he be tolerably wrong-headed and tricky (not too far gone that way, like John), receives full homage. Saint Dunstan and Charles I. are hardly to be known for the same people in the respective pages of Mr. Hume and Mr. Green. But Hume had the true eighteenthcentury slight for early English history, and dismissed with contemptuous brevity the annals of Saxon kingdoms in which Green searches painfully for the origins of English character and civilization. “ The sudden, violent, and unprepared revolutions incident to barbarians . . . disgust us by the uniformity of their appearance,” he says; and “the dark industry of antiquaries . . . would in vain attempt to pierce into that deep obscurity which covers the remote history of those nations.” He had himself so little of this “dark industry” that his enemies accused him of annotating his page with the names of authorities which he knew only at second hand ; but he wrote a style which was the despair of the great Mr. Gibbon, and which is still charming, and all the more charming because some of its turns are grown quaint and a little archaic. It is not, of course, the style that a clever man would write nowadays,; it is too formal, too poised, too academic, trimming its movement, as the taste Was in those days, with a spread of antithesis, like the waver of Wings with which the ostrich helps itself forward; but it is strong enough, and neat and clear, and it is characteristic, which so much of our contemporary style is not. It is the full-dress style of that period, but it is not too pompous to unbend to details concerning the life of the people at different periods, and by no means concerns itself merely with affairs of state, for the dignity of history was not one of Hume’s superstitions. Though prejudiced, and sometimes not quite honest, he was not always unjust. He hated the Puritans, but he could not help recognizing greatness like Cromwell’s, and his study of the character of that greatest of English rulers is not at all such as one might expect of “a man who had presumed to shed a generous tear for the fate of Charles I. and the Earl of Strafford,” as he swellingly says of himself in his autobiography. Nor is his portrait of James II. drawn with a flattering hand ; and though we should hardly think the private life of Charles II. “ in the main laudable,” because he was “ an easy, generous lover, a civil, obliging husband, a friendly brother, an indulgent father, and a good-natured master,” yet we cannot accuse a historian of gross adulation who stops short with this praise. In fine, Hume was too shrewd a thinker, too wise a man, to let the Toryism of his nerves blind him to the truth. The limitations of his history are characteristic of a period before histories were exhaustively written, and before history in its universal significance was dreamed of. But it is graceful, easy, and lucid narrative, and it has survived to our time through its literary virtues. If the reader cares to know what contemporary and succeeding critics thought of it, he will find much to his purpose collated by the “dark industry” of Mr. Allibone, in his laborious Dictionary. Mr. Huxley’s essay,9 also, has been opportunely published for those who would have a completer view of the man and his whole work, offered by a kindred spirit. But those who have time will not misspend it in making Hume’s acquaintance through his history, which the publishers have newly presented with all those advantages of paper, print, and binding so admirable in the companion editions of Macaulay and Motley.

Mr. Green’s work is the result of the great acceptance of his Short History of the English People, and we do not know how it could well be more satisfactory than it is. Its mood and temper and thought are those of enlightened and modern-minded men. The spirit in which it examines the remoter past is careful and sympathetic, and is always rather reverent than patronizing. It is at all times interesting, and in its treatment of the great epochs — those of Alfred, William, the Reformation, Elizabeth, the Commonwealth, the Revolution— it is soberly just and humanely liberal. It is always the people, their origin, their growth, their destiny, that the author keeps in mind; but it is their history in the larger sense that he writes, and he does not bind himself to be perpetually giving details of what they ate and what they drank and wherewithal they were clothed. There is more of this in Macaulay, and perhaps even in Hume. He is not a brilliant writer, nor a very original thinker ; his plainness sometimes verges upon bareness, but his good sense and his right-mindedness are unfailing, and if one can have but one history of England these virtues make his the one to have.

— Mr. Ingersoll’s book consists of a historical sketch of the War Department;10 some notices of the duties and methods of the various offices which compose it; bits of history relating to our regular service, our militia, and our volunteers; and brief biographies of the successive secretaries. It reminds us anew of certain facts well worthy of incessant consideration : such as that our regular array has always been admirable in quality, but far too small for any great emergency; that our volunteer system furnishes capital troops, providing we can have time to embody, drill, and discipline them ; and that our state militia is utterly worthless in war except to supply drill instructors for the volunteers. The war of 1812 found us with an army of 6744 men and officers; the governors of Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Rhode Island refused to order out militia except for the defense of their respective States; such militia as did take the field sometimes refused to cross the frontier, and usually ran away in field engagements. The army which ignominiously recoiled at Bladensburg, leaving our capital to a trivial force of invaders, consisted chiefly of militia.

The Mexican war saw something better arise. Militiamen could not, fortunately, be sent abroad, and the government hit upon the happy expedient of “ United States volunteers.”During our civil war the militia was tried once more, and showed once more its military insufficiency. The giant struggle was fought out by a volunteer army, zealously but feebly assisted by the slender array of regulars (sixty thousand men from first to last), and guided by our scientifically educated regular officers, without whom even the intelligent and willing volunteers would have been little better than a military mob. Such are the most important facts which are impressed upon us by Mr. Ingersoll’s far from impressive narrative. They stimulate one to believe that the general government ought to assume the duty of selecting the regimental officers of its own volunteers, and that the regular service should be liberally used as a source of supply for these very important positions. Colonels and lieutenant-colonels, detailed from among the company officers of the permanent army, would soon drill and discipline regiments of intelligent citizens, and fit them for early victory. Personal experience justifies the assertion that volunteers prefer such commanders, and fight with increased confidence under their guidance. The troops once organized and in the field, promotion might be made in the usual manner, so that volunteer officers should be stimulated to good conduct. Of course, such a system implies that the battalions of the regular army should be somewhat numerous, and that they should be abundantly supplied — in peace, oversupplied —with officers. The plan would cost money, but a policy of niggardliness will in the end cost much more ; besides which, it is pretty sure to open every war with a year or so of disaster and disgrace.

Of Mr. Ingersoll’s treatment of his topic one wants to say little, because it is impossible to say anything flattering. His book is scrappy in statement; confused in its collocation of facts; inelegant and ungrammatical and rustic in style; full of emphase as to events and people, no matter how commonplace; redolent of puffery for influential politicians; and, in short, a poor production every way. The trumpcting of panegyric is general and laughable ; everybody seems to be great and good, — even Simon Cameron. The sketch of this noble secretary closes with the statement that he was lately “ the object in a court of justice of a most disgraceful blackmailing assault, which was promptly repelled, to the great gratification of every pure and well-regulated mind.” Probably our “ pure and wellregulated minds” will be surprised to learn that they took any interest in the vulgar Squabble. The sentence is characteristic of the book in judgment and taste and style. On the whole, here is a subject of national importance very poorly treated, and we are once more reminded that it is but a step from the sublime to the ridiculous.

  1. An American Dictionary of the English Language. By NOAH WEBSTER, LL. D. Thoroughly revised, and greatly enlarged and improved, by CHAUNCEY A. GOODRICH, D, D., late Professor in Yale College, and NOAH PORTER, D. D., LL. D., President of Yale College With an appendix of useful tables. To which is added a Supplement of nearly five thousand new words, with their definitions, etc.; also a new Pronouncing Biographical Dictionary, containing nearly ten thousand names of noted persons in ancient and modern times, giving their nationality, their occupation, anil the dates of their birth and death. Springfield, Mass. : G. & C. Merriam. 1880.
  2. Life of Alexander Hamilton. A History of the Republic of the United States of America, as traced in his Writings and in those of his Contemporaries. By JOHN C. HAMILTON. Illustrated with numerous Portraits. In seven Volumes. Boston : Houghton, Osgood & Co. 1879.
  3. Atlantic Monthly, xxxix. 631.
  4. The Life and Epoch of Alexander Hamilton. A Historical Study. By the Hon. GEORGE SHEA, Chief Justice of the Marine Court. Boston : Houghton, Osgood & Co. 1879.
  5. The Life and Letters of Frances, Baroness Bunsen. By AUGUSTUS J. C. HARE, author of Memorials of a Quiet Life, etc. In two volumes. New York [and London]: George Routledge and Sons. 1879.
  6. The Life and Letters of Madame Bonaparte. By EUGENE L. DIDIER. New York : Charles Scribner’s Sons. 1879.
  7. Some Newspaper Tendencies. An Address delivered before the Editorial Associations of New York and Ohio. By WHITELAW REID. New York. Henry Holt & Co. 1879.
  8. History of the English People. By JOHN RICHARD GREEN, M. A. In three Volumes. New York : Harper and Brothers. 1879.
  9. The History of England, from the Invasion of Julius Cæsar to the Revolution in 1688. By DAVID HUME, ESQR. A new Edition, with the Author’s last Corrections and Improvements, to which is prefixed a short Account of his Life, written by himself. In six Volumes. New York: Harper and Brothers. 1879.
  10. English Men of Letters. Hume. By PROFESSOR HUXLEY. New York : Harper and Brothers. 1879.
  11. A History of the War Department of the United States, with Biographical Sketches of the Secretaries. By L. D. INGERSOLL, author of The Life and Times of Horace Greeley, Iowa and the Rebellion, etc. Washington, D. C. : Francis B. Mohun. 1879.