Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

mencement of a public gallery in New York"; and he left, proceeds the lecturer, “an establishment in business, conducted on principles so secure, that it has been a school of industrious success to younger men, who owe their prosperity mainly to him.”

The remainder of the lecture abounds in wise practical suggestions to business men, which contain the results of long and careful observation and much experience in the management of extensive commercial affairs. The excellence of the matter and the transparent beauty of the style harmonize well together.

The letter on the Lowell manufactures is a plain and perspicuous statement of facts which all may understand. It removes the clouds of darkness which in the public mind have long over. hung the subject, and proves, beyond the possibility of contradiction, the absurdity of the declamations indulged in by Southern politicians and Northern demagogues, upon the extravagant gains made by the manufacturers. We commend the pamphlet to the . attention of all who wish to understand a subject so intimately connected with the prosperity of the country, and about which many of our popular leaders are so ignorant and wrong-headed. We regret that we have no space left for copying some of its luminous statements, which are in themselves most convincing arguments.

5.-— Rules of Proceeding and Debate in Deliberative Assemblies.

By LUTHER S. CUSHING. Boston: William J. Reynolds. 1845.

The oft-quoted maxim, that knowledge is power, is nowhere more strikingly exemplified than in the conduct and proceedings of deliberative assemblies. No man can ever feel his feet firm beneath him, until he has mastered the rules and orders of the body to which he belongs. Without this knowledge, the boldest spirit is checked, and the brightest faculties suffer a partial eclipse. By the help of this knowledge, men of moderate faculties are often able to turn the flank of the most brilliant de. bater, and to wrest from him the trophies of his eloquence. Dumont, in his agreeable “Recollections of Mirabeau,” gives some curious instances of the confusion and loss of time produced in the popular elections in France, just before the convocation of the States General, by the entire ignorance, on the part of the people, of the common forms of organization and procedure. At Montreuil, in particular, where he was breakfasting by chance with Mirabeau and another friend, he was informed by

the host, that two or three days had already been lost in the pri. mary assembly in tumult and disorder, no one knowing what to do or what to propose ; and that there was no prospect of their ever coming to shape and order. In a mirthful moment, the thought seized them of making themselves legislators of Mon. treuil. Pen and paper were called for, and amid peals of laugh. ter a code of procedure was drawn up for the good people of that place, in town-meeting assembled, as we should say. What was done by them in a frolic was taken by their host in sober earnest. Armed with the instructions which his guests had drawn up, he proceeded to the place of meeting, and soon ar. ranged its chaotic elements into an orderly system. To com. plete the joke, the travellers had the satisfaction of reading in ihe public prints of Paris, on their return, that the assembly of Montreuil had been the very first in the kingdom to complete their elections, and had earned great commendation on account of the order which had marked their proceedings.

The rules and orders of the English parliament form the basis of those by which all deliberative assemblies in the United States are governed. These are characterized by that wisdom and sagacity which form such prominent traits in the character of the Anglo-Saxon mind, and are so strongly reflected in the history and politics of Great Britain. They are admirably cal. culated to insure the despatch of business ; and though some of them may seem arbitrary and unreasonable, yet, on experience, all will be found to rest upon sound reason. No man can study the history of the English House of Commons, without a deep sense of the wisdom which at all times has marked its proceed. ings, and which shines no less conspicuously in its rules and or. ders, than in its debates and enactments.

Mr. Jefferson's “ Manual ” has long been the standard authority on this subject in the United States, and deservedly so. It is a work of great merit. It is full, clear, and exact. Every thing necessary or desirable may be found somewhere in its pages. As a manual of reference, to lie on the table of a presiding officer, its merits can hardly be surpassed. For this purpose, indeed, to serve as a guide to the author in his duties as presiding officer of the Senate, - the work was originally compiled. Consequently, the practical element was kept paramount, and no particular care was taken to insure a natural and methodical ar. rangement. Distinct reference was had in every case to the exigencies and necessities of Congress, and no other assembly was present in the compiler's mind.

The object of Judge Cushing has been to consider the rules for the governing of deliberative assemblies in their most comprehensive aspect, and to throw them, as far as possible, into a general formula. In his preface, he states that his treatise " is in. tended as a manual for deliberative assemblies of every description, but more especially for those which are not legislative in their character; though, with the exception of the principal points in which legislative bodies differ from others, namely, the several different stages or readings of a bill, and conferences and amendments between the two branches, this work will be found equally useful in legislative assemblies as in others.”

Judge Cushing has uncommon qualifications for such a work. For many years he discharged the duties of clerk of the House of Representatives of Massachusetts with great fidelity and skill, and became practically familiar, in that capacity, with parliamentary law and practice. The clerk of the House is called upon to preside in the brief interval which elapses between his own election and that of a speaker. This is usually but a few moments; but in the stormy session of 1843, owing to peculiar circumstances, this short space was expanded into several days, during which Judge Cushing won golden opinions from men of all parties by the firmness, dignity, impartiality, and knowledge with which he presided over the angry_debates of the House. He sat, day after day, like another Æolus, calm amidst the warring winds of party strife, always vigilant in observation, courteous in manner, and prompt in decision. He guided the House in safety through the mazes of a most intricate and impassioned discussion, which no one could have done who had not at his fingers' ends the details of parliamentary proceeding.

As might have been expected from the character of Judge Cushing's mind, and from the extent of his experience, the treatise which he has compiled is one of peculiar value. It is at once philosophical and practical. The regular distribution of its materials, its luminous method, and the natural order in which the topics are treated, will commend it to those who look upon a book as a work of art, and are not satisfied with the best of mat. ter, unless it be arranged with a master's hand. Minds of this class will also be attracted by the admirable precision and accu. racy of the style. It has been the writer's aim, also, wherever practicable, to give the reason of established usages, to trace them back to their origin, and to show the ground on which they were originally made to rest.

The practical value of the treatise also is not less conspicuous The plan of the work, of course, excludes the consideration of those special rules which each deliberative assembly adopts for its own guidance and government. Its subject is what may be called the common law of deliberative assemblies; those ele. mentary and essential principles, which regulate the organization and procedure of the town-meeting as well as of the legislature. It gives to the presiding officer an outline of his rights and duties, sufficient in ordinary cases to enable him fully to maintain the former and discharge the latter, and in every case requiring no other filling up than that furnished by the body itself over which he presides.

6. Letters from a Landscape Painter. By the Author of

Essays for Summer Hours.” Boston: James Munroe

& Co. 1845. 12mo. pp. 265. These Letters have many graphic touches, which show the artist eye of their ingenious author. They contain lively sketches of natural scenery, and amusing narratives of travelling incidents. At times, a striking poetical expression Aashes upon us, illumi. nating the page like a gleam of light, as when the clouds that en. compass the rising sun, as seen from a mountain-top, are said to be “like a band of cavaliers, preparing to accompany their leader on a journey. Out of the Atlantic have they just risen; at noon, they will have pitched their tents in the cerulean plains of heaven; and when the hours of the day are numbered, the far-off waters of the Pacific will again receive them in its cool embrace.” And again, the magnificent view from the summit of Mount Washington is most happily hit off by the bold expression, "an epic landscape.” We might make out a long list of similar poetic felicities of phrase.

On the other hand, the style of this writer is often incorrect; his pleasantry and smartness are too studied, and often do not “ voluntary move." The interjections and exclamations, with which the Letters are studded over, run quite too often into a flat key ; for instance, it makes one shiver to read, at the close of a description of some fine scenery in Vermont, such a lackadaisical platitude as this: “O, the dear, dear women, I verily believe they will be the ruin of me!” The letter-writer should also have been cautious of slandering the memory of a departed poet, by imagining — and imagining such a murder of the king's Eng. lish is as bad as imagining the king's own death, for which terrible penalties are enacted in the law of treason — by imagining, we repeat, the possibility of Coleridge's perpetrating such a shocking vulgarity as to say, we laid down in our loneliness.”

The volume, however, is very readable and pleasant; but the writer can do much better, if he will think a little more of style, and be a little more select in the thoughts which he presents to the public. VOL. LX. - No. 127.

43

[ocr errors]

7. Life of Godfrey William von Leibnitz, on the Basis of the

German Work of Dr. G. E. Guhrauer. By John M.
MACKIE. Boston: Gould, Kendall, and Lincoln.
12mo.

pp. 288.

The remark may be applied in its full force 10 Leibnitz, which was first uttered, we believe, in regard to a distinguished person of very versatile talents in our own day, that “ science was bis forte, and omniscience his foible.” Most readers have some idea of the extent of his researches in mathematics and physics, of the vast stores of his erudition, both classical and scholastic, of his manifold contributions to the sciences of German antiquities and Roman jurisprudence, and of his profound and original, but vague and speculative, system of general philosophy. He attempted every thing, accomplished much, but perfected nothing. The universality of his aims constantly interfered with the thoroughness of his work in any one department of discovery or invention ; and he may be said to have sacrificed the stable reputation of the founder or improver of a particular science, in his pursuit of the glittering, but evanescent, fame of a universal genius. He was often on the verge of making important discoveries, but was stopped on the threshold by his multifarious occupations ; and he consequently had frequent occasion to quarrel with the more patient laborers, who obtained all the glory of success by taking up his vague hints and imperfect sketches, and carrying the investigation resolutely to the end.

Mr. Mackie has rendered good service by giving the English reader a succinct and perspicuous account of the life and writings of Leibnitz. The basis of the book is the biography of him recently published in Germany by Dr. Gubrauer. This work is abridged, divested of its German peculiarities and of much irrelevant matter, and adapted with tact and skill to the wants of students in this country and in England. The translation of the selected parts is remarkably well done; the language being clear, Rowing, and correct, and the version sufficiently faithful. To modify the work of a learned German, and thus to adapt it to English use, is a far more valuable service to our countrymen than to give an exact and entire transcript of the original. Few of the ponderous exhibitions of Teutonic industry and learning will bear a faithful version into English with any advantage. Cumbrous alike in form and matter, laden with pedantry, obscure and far-fetched in allusions and illustrations, when imported whole, they are as unpalatable as sour-krout to an Anglo-Saxon taste. The example which Mr. Mackie has set we commend to

« AnteriorContinuar »