« PreviousContinue »
a first and second series, of from ten to twenty volumes each. Since that time they have much enlarged and improved their plan. The Library now embraced under the general title given at the head of this notice consists of a First Series, of fifty volumes, and a Second Series, of forty-five volumes, already bound and printed in a neat and uniform style, and a Third Series, now in the progress of publication.
It appears to have been the aim of these enterprising publishers to adapt their preparation to the recent provision of the state for the improvement of Common Schools. This provision appropriates to each school district a sum sufficient for the purchase of a library, more or less extensive. They have sought also and obtained the counsel of the Superintendent of Common Schools, of the State, (at present the Hon. John C. Spencer,) and his able advisers. The first and second series are accordingly accompanied by the unqualified recommendation of that gentleman, whose character and ample qualifications to judge on such a subject will give to his opinions great influence with the Trustees and Commissioners of Common Schools throughout the State.
Here then is another endeavor to provide for the reading of the mass of the population embraced in the school districts of an immense Commonwealth. This endeavor, however it may have originated, has become, like that of Massachusetts, "the serious enterprise of a State," through its constituted officers for such purposes. We agree with our correspondent in contemplating it as an enterprise of momentous consequences. It proposes to itself a duty of the highest responsibility and the greatest difficulty. It ought therefore to be stimulated by an energy adequate to its full accomplishment, and guarded by all the salutary checks of sound discretion and practical morality.
The object of such an enterprise should be to provide such books as are adapted by the variety and interest of their topics and the style in which they are discussed, to allure the people to the pursuit of knowledge, and which shall, at the same time, inculcate and enforce the principles of the Christian religion. It is not enough that we exclude from the Libraries, procured for our School districts, books which avow and defend infidel and irreligious principles. Nothing should be retained that is, in this respect, even equivocal. It is time that this were understood by politicians, and publishers, as well as by the Christian ministry. It is believed by the most intelligent and sagacious among us, of all professions, that the only security for the permanent continuance of a healthy state
of morals in any community is in the religious principles of the people. Every department of Education, therefore, should be adapted to the inculcation of truth ;--not scientific and intellectual truth only, but religious truth, which is in harmony with all the truths of nature and of science, and without which the best developments of the human mind can never be attained.
We have not ourselves compared the laws of Massachusetts and New-York, in regard to the securities which they afford, for the procuring of School Libraries of the best moral tendency. Of one thing, however, we feel assured. It is that that library will ultimately be preferred and will secure to itself the most lasting success, which conforms with the most firmness and decision to the principles above stated. The books in all these libraries which lay claim to the public patronage must be examined and tried by these principles. It is the duty of the periodical press thus to try them, and for ourselves we hope not to be remiss in this duty. It is a Christian literature for which we propose to labor, in all the departments of education, from the common school to the highest seminary of learning. Not that we desire to see every book written about religion. But as the goodness of God pervades all his works and ways, so would we have piety towards him pervade all our learning. Nor would we plead for a sectarian literature. We will join hands with sober minded Christian men of all classes in the promotion of intelligence and virtue.
We confess that we are not prepared to express an opinion of all the books contained in “Harper's School District Library.” We have been favored with the possession of only a very few of them, as they appear in these series. A catalogue of their subjects and authors only is before us. Most of these are familiar to us, as among the most instructive and useful books in our language for juvenile and even for adult reading. The selection, as a whole, appears to be judiciously chosen and well adapted to the object proposed. We name the following as among the ninety-five volumes which constitute the first and second series ;-Life of Washington, by J. K. Paulding, Esq.;-American History, by the author of American Popular Lessons ;-American Revolution, by B. B. Thatcher, Esq.;— The Principles of Physiology, etc., by Dr. Combe ;Celestial Scenery, etc., by Dr. Dick ;-Palestine, or the Holy Land, by Rev. Dr. Russel ;-Improvement of Society, etc., by Dr. Dick ;—The Philosophy of the Moral Feelings, by Abercrombie -Life and Works of Dr. Franklin ;-The Farmer's Instructor, by the late Judge Buel ;—The Pursuit of Knowledge under Difficulties, etc. ;-Tytler & Nares' Universal History, in six volumes ;-Paley's Natural Theology, with Notes by Brougham and Bell, edited by Rev. Dr. Potter ;Ten volumes of Sparks’ American Biography ;-Goldsmith's History of Greece, prepared by an American Author ;-Familiar Illustrations of Natural Philosophy, by Prof. Renwick ;Elements of Geology, by Dr. C. A. Lee ;-Goldsmith's History of Rome ;-Chaptal's Chemistry ;-Dwight's Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence ;-Plutarch's Lives, in four volumes.
Among the books announced for the third series, are Hale's History of the United States ;-Selections from the Writings of Washington ;-Dick on the Starry Heavens, etc. ;-A Treatise on the Constitution of the United States ;-Biographies of Distinguished Females ;-Prof. Upham on Imperfect and Disordered Mental Action, etc. etc.
These are but a portion of the works of acknowledged excellence, for popular use, embraced in these selections. They are sufficient to indicate the general character and tendency of the whole, and to awaken the most encouraging anticipations of the general usefulness of these successive series of books, on a great variety of topics, selected and prepared with a view to the wants of the community, and adapted to a universal diffusion in our country.
We shall turn our attention to these series of publications hereafter, and shall thankfully receive suggestions from the experience and observation of our enlightened correspondents. It is a matter which deeply concerns us all to see that the books which are to constitute the reading of the nation be such as shall exert a healthful influence upon the minds of the people. And it should be borne in mind that the selections now made and in preparation under the sanction of the organs of the States of New-York and Massachusetts, will not be confined to those states. If wisely made, and discreetly and intelligently adapted to the objects in view, they will be adopted by the guardians of education and the friends of improvement in every state in the Union. 19.—Dictionary of Latin Synonymes, for the use of Schools and
Private Students, with a Complete Index. By Lewis
Charles C. Little and James Brown. 1839. pp. 475. The author of this work, Dr. Ramshorn, is a distinguished philologist and a practical teacher in Germany. It is an
abridgment of a much larger work, in which the author avails himself of the works of Gardin-Dumesnil and Ernesti, and which is entitled “Universal Latin Synonymes.” This abridgment now translated into English and adapted to our Schools and Colleges, will supply a want which has long been felt by those who instruct in Latin. Few works could be offered, either to the Instructer or the Student, more welcome than this. The translator has done his part with accuracy and ability, making such additions as seemed necessary to secure the most exact expression in English of the peculiar shade of the Latin terms ;—and the publishers have executed the work in a neat and economical form, making it available to students of limited means. We value it highly as a help to the accurate perception of the precise meaning of Latin terms and phrases, and shall often refer to it as such. It is a book which every scholar, who possesses it, will find occasion to use. 20.—Letters to the Rev. Professor Stuart, comprising Remarks
on his Essay on Sin, published in the American Biblical Repository for April and July, 1839. By Daniel Dana, D. D. Minister of the Gospel in Newburyport. Boston:
1839. pp. 46. This pamphlet has quite recently fallen into our hands, We have read it with more than ordinary care 'and interest, both from our respect for the author and because it is a reply to an Article, by a writer equally respected in our own publication. We may add also that this reply was prepared for the Repository, and we would gladly have inserted the substance of it, had not the author chosen to give it a form, and to embrace in it some personal considerations addressed to · Prof. Stuart, which were judged to be a departure from the usages of our work. On these accounts the application for its insertion in the Repository was withdrawn, and its separate publication adopted as better suited to meet the convenience, and answer the objects of the respected author.
In regard to the considerations of a merely personal bearing, in these Letters, we intentionally abstain from any remarks. It is to be regretted that the discussion of important principles in the Christian system may not always be conducted apart from all implication of personal dereliction or of official inconsistency. Such considerations tend to no profitable progress in discussions whose object is truth on the grounds of evidence and argument. They are neither evidence nor argument, and rather hinder than advance the establishment of the truth.
SECOND SERIES, VOL. III. NO, II. 22
The style of Dr. Dana is chaste and courteous. The cursory reader of these Letters will be impressed with the kindness and urbanity of the writer. In this respect his example is worthy of imitation.
Of the conclusiveness of our author's arguments we are not ambitious to express an opinion. The Letters are before the public, and the essay which they controvert is accessible in our own publication. He who reads the former should also avail himself of the latter, if he would understand the real strength of the positions of the parties. We make this last remark, because, to us, it is apparent that some of the most important positions of the Essay are misapprehended in the Letters. Much of the strength of Dr. Dana, therefore, is expended in defending doctrines which Prof. Stuart equally defends, and in opposing positions which he does not assume. For example, (p. 4.). "The object of your Essay seems to be, to disprove and explode the doctrine of original sin, or of native depravity,” etc. Again : “Your denial of the doctrine of original sin," etc.
etc. Now, if we rightly understand Prof. S., he does not deny the doctrine of original sin, as it is understood by its intelligent defenders; but maintains that the phraseology in which that doctrine has commonly been expressed is improper. He declares it as his firm conviction, that “The parties agree as to every important fact in the case, and the grand question which he raises and discusses is this: “Do the Scriptures recognise, and ought we to adopt the phraseology of original sin, either imputed or inherent ?" There are other statements in the Letters which we think equally conflict with those which are found in the Essay, and which seem to have led the author of the former away from the true points of the discussion. Though it is not our intention, therefore, at present, to take part in this discussion, we would again recommend that the Letters and the Essay be read in connection.
21.-Fraternal Appeal to the American Churches, with a Plan
for Catholic Union, on Apostolic Principles. By S. S.
Dodd, 1839. pp. 165.