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of such true conservatives among the ministers of religion and the lay members of our churches--men sound at heart, with native good sense and unsuspecting spirit. Some such there are in all the religious parties of the day; we know there are not a few in this our own State, even among those who count themselves arrayed against us.
We wish that the number was greater than it is. We would, that there were among them all those older men, who, after doing much for the cause of truth and religion, have almost given it over in hopeless despair, for the degeneracy of the times, and also those younger men, who, instead of solemnly girding themselves to the contest for Christ and his cause, in the old-fashioned way, have at once assumed the “care of all the churches," and are almost infatuated with the splendid idea of their own conservative wisdom.
To these last, let us at parting, suggest the way to become a conservative indeed. Seek out some sphere of activity, where religion is low and infidelity is prevailing, and aim, whether you are a layman or a preacher, with the blessing of God, so to present the gospel, that men by it may be converted to God—and perhaps you will find, that the gospel was never made to be presented to man exactly as you now “divide the truth,” and that its conservative influence cannot be extended, however it may be upheld, except as it commends itself to the conscience and common sense of the men who hear it. Banish, for a time, from yonr library systems of divinity, and take the bible in the original languages, and honestly and faithfully and independently study its import ; cease to busy yourself with the newspapers and pamphlets and reviews of this fermenting age, that you may neither be excited or vexed by the movement party, nor allow your heart to burn with the jealousy and bitterness of the opposite, but let your soul go out in ardent prayer and hearty and earnest efforts for the success of your labors. Lay out your plans for literary acquisition and thorough investigagation in a large and liberal spirit, and with ardent hope and prayer to God, that you may complete them. If you are a minister of Christ, lay upon your table an old conservative book, entitled “the Reformed Pastor,” and while you read, do not forget, that it was written by the ardent, apostolic and ancient Baxter, and not by some recent New School divine. If this discipline be prosecuted steadily for a six months or a year, you may become a TRUE CONSERVATIVE, and what is far better, you will deserve the far higher honor of being among those men, who, having turned many to righteousness, “shall shine as the stars for ever and ever."
ART. IX.-Fisk's TRAVELS IN EUROPE.
Travels on the Continent of Europe, viz: In England, Ire
land, Scotland, France, Italy, Switzerland, Germany, and the Netherlands : by WILBUR FISK, D. D., President of the Wesleyan Institute at Middletown, Conn.: with Engravings. Third edition. New York: Harper & Brothers. 1838.
The formidable size of this volume is certainly the characteristic that first strikes the eye, if not the one that will longest dwell in the mind of the reader. In a book of “ Travels on the Continent of Europe,"* containing nearly seven hundred pages well filled, one might expect to find the results of years of diligent observation, with an infinite variety of novel incidents, a world of speculation, criticism, fancy-work and sage reflection, besides a due share of description and narrative. Yet Dr. Fisk spent only fifteen months from home, and met with less than an ordinary share of novel incidents. He has too much good sense to load a book of travels designed for the use of common readers with much labored speculation, profound philosophical criticism, or to scatter too profusely the products of a luxuriant fancy. His work is almost entirely description and narrative, as it should be; although by no means wanting in the other common ingredients of such a work. Neither is there any apparent effort to make a short story long; or to describe every thing, however minute and trivial, which was actually observed. Where to cut out and curtail, it might be difficult to tell; that the book is susceptible of great compression, however, none can doubt.
The engravings which ornament the work, are not its least recommendation. In this respect, a good example has been set in the getting up of this volume, which it is to be hoped, will be followed by other publishers of travels. Indeed, it is a matter of wonder that travelers have not generally sent to the engravers a selection from their repository of sketches, maps, costumes, &c., of which every one must have laid in a plentiful stock from the numerous and cheap picture-shops in Europe,
* We quote from the title page of the third edition. The ridiculous blunder in the title, “ Travels on the continent of Europe, viz: in England, Ireland, Scotland, &c.” which had escaped the strictness of editorial scrutiny in three successive editions, is, we perceive, corrected in the fourth. Was the title page designed to be a fair index to the contents of the work, the character as well as matter?
and thus, at a very moderate expense, added greatly to the attractiveness of their volumes.
The external character of the work, in other respects, is worthy of the Harpers.
Dr. Fisk commences his tour in the fall of 1835. His route was by way of Liverpool, Dover and Boulogne to Paris; over Mont Cenis to Turin; thence to Rome and Naples by way of Genoa, Florence, Leghorn and Civita Vecchia, and on his return, by Florence, Venice and Milan, into Switzerland ; thence on the German side of the Rhine and down the river into Holland, and thence back to Great Britain. This is a common route with American travelers in Europe ; and as Dr. F. seems not to have made any special effort to discover new objects or scenes, his journal is like most other journals : containing much the same information and description, the narrative differing only in those respects in which the narratives of different persons traveling over the same ground would naturally be expected to differ. Education and Methodism are the topics which most interested his mind; and it is on these subjects that most of what is new and peculiar is found. On other points no important information that is new is furnished in the volume.
The plan of the work is the simple and natural one of recording the incidents and observations in the order of time. It is interspersed, however, with letters addressed to different individuals and written during the tour. These will probably be read with deeper interest than most of the other portions of the work. One letter gives a brief compend of the history of modern Italy, which some readers will be glad to see.
As an observer, Dr. F. is hasty and superficial. He seems to lack very much the most important attribute of a writer of travels, an ardent curiosity. He appears to have been contented with seeing just such things as a common guide-book or a lazy cicerone would point out, and no others. Even those objects which lie under the eye of every passing traveler are only glanced over and left. There is nothing, apparently, of the generous and enlightened enthusiasm of the scholar, the antiquarian, the man of science, or the amateur of the fine arts. Hence his travels are very common place.
His style is popular but careless. The letters and the first portion of the volume are spirited and lively. As to the remaining part, the reader will not hesitate to believe, what is intimated at the close of the volume, that the composition of it was a burden.
Dr. F. seems to imagine, that a sufficient justification for the haste and carelessness apparent in the preparation of the work, may be found in the fact, that such works must of necessity be short lived. Under this impression, he has suffered a book to go forth to the four corners of the earth, marked with faults and blemishes, that must inevitably prove fatal to the reputation of any ordinary writer. Even were this impression just, it might be a question worthy of serious consideration, whether regard to his own reputation as a man of science and of letters would not require more pains and attention than seems to have been bestowed on this work. However, if the injury thus done was confined to the author, the public would not have so much occasion perhaps to complain. But it is not SO.
The effects of such carelessness and haste in getting up works for the press, are felt on the influence of literature generally. President Fisk has given all the countenance of his own example, and the influence of his name and station, in recommendation and support of abortive authorship. He has lent his sanction to the practice, now unhappily so prevalent, of imposing crude and half-digested works on the reading public; and has done so much towards enervating and dissipating the public mind, vitiating taste, and lowering the standard of letters. The reputation of American literature, moreover, is at stake. A book like this will not stay at home. Whatever its merits in a literary point of view, other obvious causes will send it abroad. It will be read or looked at across the Atlantic. The judgment there formed of this book, will extend to the generality of American publications. If such be the character of a work from the hands of a man whose name is adorned with one of the highest honors in the gift of the republic of letters, of one, too, who has been raised to the high station of head of a university, what must be the character of the common ranks of publications from the American press? If such a book can pass through repeated editions in a single year, what must be the standard of taste among the American people ? Such questions, doubtless, will be put; and they will be answered in feelings if not words of contempt or pity for the low standard of literature in America.
That there is reason to apprehend such a result, and that our remarks are not too severe nor unjust, will appear from a glance at some of the many blemishes in the work. We shall here group together some exemplifications of the character of the work not only as it regards style, but also as to its merits generally.
There is certainly a show, not perhaps affected, of learning in the work. One would infer from some things, that the author was thoroughly versed in the Latin language, and in the French and the Italian tongues; as well as in English literature and science generally. Yet he would have doubts on this point raised, when he finds the Doctor speaking of beholding "a phenomenon of sound,” (p. 35,) and a “domestic domicil” (p. 209;) making Latin after the style of “naves natantes rari, (p. 340 ;) in French, using expressions like champs d'Elysées, (p. 21 and al. ;) riding “outside of” his “voiturier" (coachman, p. 135,) or taking a passage in a "voiturier" (p. 394 ;) and in Italian, giving French terminations, as in the almost universal use of « Marie” for Maria.
In classical learning, some things he will notice, will lead him to suspect a like deficiency. For instance, Virgil is spoken of (p. 216) as consulting the elder of the Cumaean Sibyls some four hundred years and more before the building of Rome. Again, while in the temple of Neptune, a magnificent ruin in Paestum, once called Posidonia, the classical imagination of our author is inspired with such extatic force, that he is borne back on her swift wings to the time when, among those identical colunns "hung round with garlands," and in those open courts, Jason and Ulysses and Hercules worshiped the god of the sea! Posidonia, we are taught by our hitherto accredited historians, was built only about seven centuries after the earliest of these heroes, and six after the latest of them died. Our classical dictionaries, it seems, too, are at fault in representing Jupiter as the son of Saturn and Rhea. For Dr. F. speaking of Venice, (p. 360,) says: “Like Jupiter, it sprung up self-creative from the froth of the sea, and like him, it subsequently ruled both the sea (!) and the land.”
The learned antiquarian will no doubt be agreeably surprised to find, that the pile of ruins in Rome which is vulgarly known by the name of the Temple of Peace, but by the better informed as the Basilica of Constantine, is not the remnant of a single structure. For Dr. F. speaks of visiting the ruins of both buildings. He will in his gratification, however, regret, that a more minute description was not given of their localities and appearance, so that they may hereafter be discovered and distinguished. He will, also, be amazed to find, that the three beautiful columns now standing on the Roman Forum, which antiquarian research had settled to be remains of the ancient Graecostasis, are, after all, but some remaining columns of the Temple Vol. X.