« AnteriorContinuar »
or evil, we need the bracing atmosphere, healthful, if austere, of the old moralities. . . . The true life of a nation is in its personal morality, and no excellence of constitution and laws can avail much if the people lack purity and integrity. Culture, art, refinement, care for our own comfort and that of others, are all well, but truth, honor, reverence, and fidelity to duty are indispensable.”
“The Pilgrims were right in affirming the paramount authority of the law of God. If they erred in seeking that authoritative law, and passed over the Sermon on the Mount for the stern Hebraisms of Moses; if they hesitated in view of the largeness of Christian liberty; if they seemed unwilling to accept the sweetness and light of the good tidings, let us not forget that it was the mistakes of men who feared more than they dared to hope, whose estimate of the exceeding awfulness of sin caused them to dwell upon God's vengeance rather than his compassion; and whose dread of evil was so great that, in shutting their hearts against it, they sometimes shut out the good. It is well for us if we have learned to listen to the sweet persuasion of the Beatitudes, but there are crises in all lives which require also the emphatic “Thou shalt not " of the Decalogue which the founders wrote on the gate posts of the commonwealth."
“Let us then be thankful for the assurances which the last few years have afforded us that
* The Pilgrim spirit is not dead,
But walks in noon's broad light.”” Now Whittier has himself certainly shown us how “hatred of wrong-doing” and “righteous abhorrence of sin,” and denunciations of all oppression as stern as any of the “stern Hebraisms of Moses," may consist with the most lovely exhibition of all the sweet humanities in daily life. And if so, we may ask were not these things as compatible with each other in the seventeenth century as in the nineteenth ?
W. L. KINGSLEY.
Van Dyke's “ SERIOUS ART IN AMERICA."*_Those who are interested in the progress which Art is making in the United States will be pleased to know of a paper which Mr. John C. Van Dyke read before the “Rembrandt Club” of Brooklyn, last
* The Increase in the Appreciation of Serious Art in America. A paper read before the Rembrandt Club, Feb. 4th, 1889. By John C. VAN DYKE. 4to, pp. 32.
February. The subject was “the increase in the appreciation of Serious Art in America.” As proof of the marked advance which has been made within a few years, he cites the Report of the commissioners who were sent by the United States in 1867 to the Paris Exposition, in which those gentlemen rhapsodize over the work of Gérôme and Meissonier—“two of the cleverest and yet emptiest artists in all Europe”-speak slightingly of Corot, Troyon, and Fromentin, and pass over Rousseau, Daubigny, and Diaz, in absolute silence. He then quotes, by way of contrast, what the commissioners to the second Paris Exposition reported. The last is the exact opposite of the first. But we have no space for the presentation of any full analysis of this interesting paper. We will simply quote what Mr. Van Dyke says, by way of definition and illustration, about “Serious Art."
“It is the picture which speaks the thought and belief of the artist that we distinguish as serious ; and it is the picture which shows us merely the surface appearance of things that we call clever.”
“The art of Millet, for instance, is serious, because he put his heart in it, with an honesty of belief and steadfastness of purpose that defied poverty, misery, and neglect; because he was possessed of the keen sight of genius and saw beauty in the heavy figure of the peasant, and poetry in his humility of spirit ; because he told what he saw in life with the simplicity of a child, with the tender-heartedness of a woman, with the strength of a self-reliant man. Consider that master-piece, • The Sower.' You may have have been in France and seen the peasantry, but I doubt if you ever saw "The Sower.' That is the man that MILLET saw-a man of heroic mould, strong of arm, sure of foot, humble of spirit, true to God. Consider in that noble striding figure, and under that slouched hat, how much there is of the heart and soul of Millet, peasant, poet, and painter, and how little there is of that empty external appearance which we see in so many of his imitators.
The art of Meissonier, on the contrary, is simply clever, because he never had a heart and never possessed a soul ; or, at least, never showed either the one or the other in his art. His pictures are familiar to us all, and we are attracted to them by their precision of touch, their nicety of finish, their vividness of realization. But what do they realize? A guardsman, a reader, a bravo, a horseman. What do these characters say to us? Do they tell us any deep truth of life, do they suggest an emotion of any kind, do they whisper the faintest zephyr of pictorial poetry? Most assuredly not. One says: 'See now nicely my face is painted ! Another says: ‘Look at the charming texture of my clothes !' Another cries ; 'Glance at the sheen of my spurs, and note the play of light on my horse's coat !' And what does Meissonier say? What does Meissonier feel? Where is Meissonier ? Certainly, not in the picture. We see the tracery of his very clever fingers, but the man
is absent. Cold, calm, glittering, splendid, his work has its admirable parts in line, texture, color, light, but it never made a heart beat quicker; it never caused a tear to flow; it never struck a responsive chord in the hearts of men.”
LANDON'S CONSTITUTIONAL HISTORY AND GOVERNMENT OF THE UNITED STATES. *—Judge Landon, of New York, who recently served for several years as President ad interim of Union College, has published in this volume fourteen lectures, delivered during that time to the Senior classes. They give a clear and plain account of the rise and growth of the United States, as a government, and treat with special fullness the influence of the judiciary in its development. The author is no hero-worshiper. Heroes, he thinks, are out of place in a constitutional republic. “ If we had a Gladstone or a Bismarck at the head of our government, we should be no better off than we are with President Cleveland, or Harrison, or any other fair man of good intelligence.
.. And so, it may well be that it is even better to have as rulers honest men of moderate ability.” What heroes he acknowledges in our history belong to the Federalist school of former generations. “General Jackson,” he says, “ held about the same relative rank among the statesmen of the age, that the dime novel of our time holds in literature-strong enough to capture an active and untutored imagination.” A concluding chapter is given to the discussion of some of the views of Mr. Bryce, in his recent work, especially those in reference to the inferiority of our public men to those occupying similar stations in other countries.
The best part of the book is in its statement and explanation of many of our leading judicial decisions. Among others, he calls attention to that rendered in New York some years ago, as to the title to the bed and waters of the Mohawk river. The legislature authorized the diversion of part of the stream into a canal, and the riparian proprietors demanded compensation. The rule of the Roman law, which gives it in such a case, was followed, and followed largely because New York was first ruled by the Dutch, and Holland based her jurisprudence on the civil law. The decision is aptly quoted to illustrate the dependence of law on history.
SIMEON E. BALDWIN. * The Constitutional History and Government of the United States. A series of Lectures, by JUDSON S. LANDON, LL.D. Boston and New York: Houghton, Mifflin & Co. 1889.
ON THE SENSES, INSTINCTS, AND INTELLIGENCE OF ANIMALS. * -This interesting work is, as its author states in the Preface, a collection of notes made, as it were, by the way, rather than a complete and independent treatise. It is not for that reason, however, devoid of attractiveness or value; though the technical nature of the greater part of it will probably prevent it from becoming as popular as others of Sir John Lubbock's works. The first one hundred and seventy-five pages are somewhat minutely descriptive of the anatomy of the organs of sense. Rather singularly, the author jumps the great gap between man and the lowest of the animals in his comparative presentation of the subject. This gives a fragmentary character to the treatment. But the jump over the great gap in the structure of the physical organisms is scarcely as significant as the jump which has to be made in the psychological inference. Of “senses” (the author even speaks of “perceptions ”) “and intelligence,” as belonging to the insect, as those words describe human psychical activities,--states of consciousness,-we know little or nothing whatever. That the movement and the development of these animals are conditioned upon and directed by the activity of organs of sense more or less analogous to those of man, there can be no doubt; but this does not necessarily (or even probably) imply tasting, seeing, or hearing, much less understanding, and reasoning, in any meaning which our conscious experience can give to these words.
In the later chapters of the book the author recites some of the result of his experiment with insects, especially with ants and bees, and defends his conclusions against certain modifications and strictures brought to bear, by other experts, against them. This is the part which will most interest the average reader.
In general we are again reminded of the extreme difficulty, not to say absolute impossibility, of drawing any safe conclusions in comparative psychology touching animals, both structurally and functionally, so unlike man are the insects. Moreover we note that as to the bare facts of habitual or occasional action, on which all attempts at such a psychology must be based, there is still a very wide divergence of findings among the acknowledged experts.
* On the Senses, Instincts, and Intelligence of Animals, with Special references to Insects. By Sir John LUBBOCK, Bart. New York: D. Appleton & Co. 1888.
A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE.*-In spite of Hume's attempt to withdraw these earlier volumes from the public, and his insisting that his philosophical views should be judged only by such selections from them as he himself chose, with modifications, to preserve, it is probably true that they constitute the best exposition of their author's system of thought. They certainly contain the germs of all that he taught of “ Understanding,” of “the Passions," and of “Morals.” Moreover, they have the freshness, clearness, and decision, which belonged to the young philosopher, _“dreaming the dream of his philosophy," while not yet thirty years of age, in solitude, in La Flèche in France. Hume's thought will never cease to gain and hold consideration, and to evoke warm espousal or rejection.
We are exceedingly glad to welcome this new edition of the “ Treatise of Human Nature. It is attractive in form, moderate in price, admirably edited. Its value is enhanced by an extended analytical index (covering more than fifty pages), which Mr. Selby-Bigge has prepared with great care. Students of Hume who cannot afford the four volumed edition of Green and Grosse should by all means possess themselves of this work.
THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE INTELLECT.f— We have already commended the first part of Professor Preyer's treatise on the Mind of the Child, especially to all teachers and parents. This second part of the same general treatise is more strictly technical and less popular than its predecessor. But it contains an abundance of interesting and instructive material. The first principal thesis which the book maintains is admitted by its author to be of all the facts which he has established touching the early life of the child, “most opposed to the traditional doctrines.” This thesis is that of "the formation of concepts without language." By “language” Preyer here understands all sign-making support of ideation whatever; but by “concepts " he seems to understand only those collective ideas, or “recepts,” as Mr. Romanes would call them, which are to be distinguished from concepts, more strictly so called.
* A Treatise of Human Nature. By David HUME. Reprinted, from the Original edition in three volumes, and edited, with an analytical index, by L. A. SELBYBIGGE, M.A. New York, Macmillan & Co.
+ The Mind of the Child. Part II. The Development of the Intellect. Observations concerning the Mental Development of the Human Being in the First Years of Life. By W. PREYER. Translated from the original German by H. W. BROWN. New York. D. Appleton & Co. 1889.