« PreviousContinue »
spirit is a great and a kindling truth, which ere long will be generally, if not universally, admitted. We have also read the article on De Tocqueville's Democracy in America, with much interest. It is deserving attention.
We have spoken of the party character of the United States Magazine. We have not done this because it espouses the interests of the so-called democratic party, but because we believe the men who are to create our literature must be free from party shackles. They must be above party, and instead of being the instruments of party they must be the judges of party. We would have no literary inan avoid party questions, in politics, religion, or philosophy ; but we would have every man who loves Humanity and craves progress, discuss those questions as a judge, not as a pleader. We, for ourselves, belong to no party, but we shall never hesitate to express our views of any or of all parties. Since our article on Democracy was written, the Whigs have gained some triumphs. Had these triumphs been gained before that article was written, we should have omitted the censure we cast by implication on the Democratic party. There is a possibility that the Whigs may come into power for a short time. We fear if they do, it will be the triumph of the moneyed interests of the country, of the mercantile, banking, and manufacturing interests, over the agricultural and mechanical interests. We hope that we shall be deceived, and that the Whigs will turn out to be Reformers; but we assure them, if so, they will look forwards and not backwards.
Histoire des Doctrines Morales et politiques des trois derniers siècles, par M. J. Matter. Paris, 1936 et 1937. 3 Tomes. 8vo. — M. Matter is a voluminous and withal a writer of considerable merit. He has given the world several useful publications, the best of which, in our judgment, is his “ Critical History of Gnosticism.” He strikes us as a man of great industry, extensive and various reading, good sense, good feeling, but as by no means remarkable for depth and originality. We find him frequently common-place, occasionally dull, and usually deficient in true method. He has nothing of the Artiste. He has no creative power, and of course never produces a whole. All his works, which have come under our notice, read like articles designed for the pages of a Review. Nevertheless they contain much useful information, and may be read by most persons with profit.
The work before us, a History of moral and political doctrines during the last three centuries, is on an interesting and a very important subject, and one on which it would be difficult for a man of ordinary talents and information to write a worthless book. M. Matter has not written a worthless, but very valuable book. We know not where else there is a work, in which the reader can find, in the same compass, so full and so just an account of the moral and political doctrines of the last three centuries, as he will find in these volumes. They take the true point of sight, and may be in general safely trusted.
The history contained in these volumes is not a bistory of the moral and political doctrines, put forth by a few speculators or philosophers in the schools, at least only incidentally; but a history of the moral and political doctrines which obtained currency in ihe world, which were advocated by statesmen, embraced by monarchs, and acted upon by governments and people. The progress of these doctrines, their influence, their reactions, victories, and defeats, the good and the evil they did, constitute the subject-matter of these volumes, and are treated, not profoundly, nor in all cases satisfactorily, but, in general, fairly and justly.
The work though professedly historical, is written evidently, if not avowedly, for political effect. Its design is to teach a certain lesson, which is summed up, in what the author is pleased to call the axiom, “ That no political progress is desirable, that none is possible even, which is not brought about naturally and necessarily by a moral progress.” This is a favorite position with the author. It is the burden of his work, De l’Influence des Maurs, sur les Lois et de l'influence des Lois sur les Maurs, a work whose want of character may be inferred from the fact that it received the extraordinary prize of 10,000 francs. But this position is not tenable. If it were, it would be fatal to all progress, and be most heartily pleasing to all tyrants. The plain English of it is, perfect the individual before you undertake to perfect society ; make your men perfect, before you seek to make your institutions perfect. This is plausible, but we dislike it, because it makes the perfection of institutions the end, and that of individuals merely the means.
Perfect all your men, and no doubt, you could then perfect easily and safely your institutions. But when all your men are perfect, what need of perfecting your institutions? And wherein are those institutions, under which all individuals may attain to the full perfection admitted by human nature, imperfect? Institutions are perfect or imperfect only as they do or do not contribute to the perfection of the individual man. The only motive for changing social institutions is, that they do not, or that they may, aid moral or individual progress. M. Matter, however, means to be a real friend to progress. He has learned by experience that institutions to have a good influence must harmonize, to a certain extent, with the genius of the people on whom they are to act, and we are willing that he should insist upon this fact. But let him beware of becoming too exclusive. Moral
progress and social progress should never be separated. The friends of the one should always be the friends of the other. The end is moral progress, and to this all things should contribute. Social progress is to be regarded as a means of moral or individual progress, and therefore never to be attempted only under such circumstances, and to such an extent, as will most likely contribute to this end.
History of the French Revolution. By Thomas CARLYLE. Messrs. Little & Brown of this city have just issued an American edition of the above work, by the author of Sartor Resartus. We have not yet read it ; but from the extracts we have seen in Reviews, and from the character of its author, we venture to recommend it as a work of intense interest, which may be read with equal pleasure and profit. Every body, we presume, for some time to come, will betray symptoms of a Carlylomania. But no matter; it is a kind of mania which after all betokens a good constitution and rich endowments.
The Americans in their Moral, Social, and Political Relations. By FRANCIS J. Grund. Boston. Marsh, Capen & Lyon. 1837. – We have read this work with some interest. It is written with ability ; and, with some errors, contains many correct statements, just views, and valuable observations. We had intended a review of it for this number, but have been obliged to defer it till our next.
New System of Paper Money. By A Citizen of Boston. Boston. I. R. Butts. 1837. 8vo. pp. 20. - We commend this unpretending pamphlet to the attention of all who are interested in saving the country from financial embarrassments, similar to the one we are now passing through. It contains, if we mistake not, a sound principle, which must form the basis of every system of paper money, which can be adopted with anything like safety to the public.
Messrs. HulianD, GRAY & Co., of this city, have in press, and will publish about the first of March, two volumes of “ Philosophical Miscellanies,” translated, with introductions and notes, from the French of Cousin, Jouffroy, and Benjamin Constant, by Rev. George Ripley of this city. These two volumes are intended to constitute the first of a series of translations, which Mr. Ripley, aided by some of the first scholars in the country, proposes to bring out under the title of “Specimens of Foreign Standard Literature.”
We now present our first number to the public. It has been hastily prepared, and with very little assistance from our friends. But such as it is we send it forth to make, or not to make, its fortune. It must speak for itself and rest on its own merits. We apprehend nothing much worse in our future numbers, and can promise nothing much better. If the public like it and want it, they will support it, and if they do not, then of course they will not.
BOSTON QUARTERLY REVIEW.
Art. I. — THE CHARACTER OF JESUS AND THE CHRISTIAN
MOVEMENT ORIGINAL AND PECULIAR.
From the fact, that in a previous Essay* I undertook to set forth that the Christ was in the world before Abraham, and had been the only savior of men from the beginning, I would by no means leave it to be inferred that I see nothing peculiar in the character of Jesus, or original in the movement he commenced, in the moral, religious, and social order to which he has given his name. The character of Jesus was, in truth, strikingly original and peculiar; and the movement he commenced, and to which his death gave such a mighty impulse, — like his character, from which it proceeded, — was alone of its kind, original and peculiar, with no prototype in the previous history of the world.
But in what consisted the originality and peculiarity of his character? And wherein does the Christian movement differ from other important movements of Humanity? These are the questions which I propose to answer.
* See Boston Quarterly Review, No. I., Art. II.
I. In what consisted the originality and peculiarity of the character ascribed by the New Testament writers to Jesus ? I answer,
1. Not in his nature. If we may regard at all the reasoning of my previous Essay, on this subject, or place any reliance on what seem to be the plain declarations of the writers of the New Testament, Jesus was in no respect distinguished, by his nature, from mankind in general. He did not belong to a separate order of being, but to common Humanity. The Christ was not manifested in a superior nature, in a super-angelic, nor in an angelic, nature, but in a human being, in a man, made like unto other men, subject to all the infirmities of other men, sin alone excepted. It behooved him to be made like unto his brethren, otherwise he could not have properly sympathized with them, and been an example unto them of what they might and should be, in order to be followers of God as dear children.
2. The originality and peculiarity of Jesus do not consist in the fact that he taught any new and peculiar truths, that he disclosed to the world any intellectual truth before unknown, nor in the fact that he pointed out any new method, or created any new means, by which men may be justified in the sight of God. This I have proved, by showing, as I think I have done, that the Christ, the only savior of men, the only redeemer of lost sinners, was before Abraham, was, in fact, the lamb slain from the foundation of the world, and that by virtue of which the wise and the good of all ages and nations had been justified. The way of salvation, the means of redemption and sanctification, were, after the coming of Jesus, precisely what they had been before his coming. Men were before Jesus just and holy in the sight of God only on the condition that they possessed the Christ, and they can be just and holy under the Christian dispensation only on the same condition. The conditions of salvation never change. Men must be holy, before they can be accounted holy, by Him