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8. — Elementary Geology. By EDWARD HITCHCOCK, LL.D.,
Professor of Chemistry and Natural History in Amherst College, Geologist to the State of Massachusetts, Member of the American Philosophical Society, of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, of the Academy of Natural Sciences, &c. Second Edi
With an Introductory Notice, by John Pye Smith, D. D., F. R. S., and F. G. S., Divinity Tutor in the College at Homerton, near London. Amherst, Massachusetts : J. S. & C. Adams. 12mo. pp. 346.
We have expressed, in a former number of this Journal, the high opinion we entertain of this work'; * and we are glad to perceive, from its very rapid sale, and its introduction, as a text-book, into many of our colleges, that the public are not insensible to its merits. The second edition contains some valuable additions ; the most important of which relate to the recent investigations respecting Glaciers and Glacial Action, derived from the splendid work of Agassiz on these subjects, and from several papers lately read before the London Geological Society. These results are of great value, from the light they shed upon some of the most difficult questions in Geology ; particularly on the phenomena of erratic bowlders, drift, moraines, and the marks of violent mechanical action often found on the surface of large masses of solid rock.
We are unwilling to forego a fair opportunity to express the satisfaction which in common with all who have enjoyed the same privilege, have derived from the very able and interesting course of lectures on Geology, recently delivered in Boston, by Mr. Lyell, the distinguished English Geologist, before the Lowell Institute. He came to this country under some peculiar disadvantages as a scientific lecturer. His fame had preceded him, and naturally raised expectations which could scarcely fail to be embarrassing, and certainly were difficult to fulfil. We can hardly speak of him, therefore, with higher commendation than in saying, that these expectations have not been disappointed. The profound stillness and attention of his crowded audiences, attested the deep interest he inspired in his sublime subject ; and we regard it as honorable to them, on the other hand, that composed, as they were, of individuals of very various conditions and degrees of intelligence, they evinced so just an appreciation of his instructions.
* North American Review, Vol. LII. pp. 103 et seq.
gratified to learn that the benefit is to be extended to the city of Philadelphia, so distinguished for its scientific taste and attainments ; and we venture to express the hope, that this may not be our last opportunity of listening to the eminent men of science, whose labors confer glory on our mother country.
9. — Introduction to the Study of the Greek Classic Poets.
Designed principally for the Use of Young Persons at
Boston : James Munroe & Co. 1842.
This book has been several years before the public, and its popularity has been commensurate with its distinguished merit. We notice it now, principally, to call attention to a new American edition, which appears in a form worthy of the contents of the work, a commendation which could hardly be bestowed upon the Philadelphia edition, which, too, was defaced by many errors, especially in the Greek quotations. The work is principally devoted to the poetry of Homer, the first thirty-six pages, however, being devoted to a general Introduction on the spirit of Greek literature, written with great beauty, eloquence, and discrimination. The remarks on the distinction between Fancy and Imagination, and on the passion of love, are marked by equal precision of thought and richness of style. The subject of the Homeric poetry, to which the greater part of the volume is devoted, is admirably discussed. There is ample learning, without pedantry or ostentation, and good sense, good taste, and scholar-like elegance of style. The various theories on the origin of the Homeric poems are stated with clearness and distinctness. The manifold beauties of the Iliad and Odyssey are developed with critical sagacity, and with a warmth of sensibility, which never becomes overstrained or extravagant. We meet on every page with evidence, that the author has not confined his reading to the classics, but that the beautiful creations of modern genius are not less familiar to him than those of antiquity. As he has treated the Homeric poetry so well, we regret that he has not fulfilled the promise which he partly makes in his Advertisement, to continue these Introductions through the whole body of Greek classical poetry. A tre
Greek amatic poetry, written in the same spirit, we should value highly and greet with much pleasure.
10. — An Elementary Treatise on Algebra, for the Use of Stu
dents in High Schools and Colleges. By Thomas SherWIN, A. M., Principal of the English High School in Boston Boston : Benjamin B. Mussey. 1842. 12mo.
If the demand for elementary mathematical books is always to be inferred from the supply, the inhabitants of the Northern States may well be deemed a calculating people, in a better sense than that in which the epithet is sometimes applied to them. Numerous text-books on Algebra alone have issued from the press since President Webber's “ Course of Mathematics,” for a considerable period almost exclusively used in the colleges of New England, gave place to translations from French works. Since that time there has been a gradual advance in this department of education. Better text-books have been introduced, the course of study has become more extensive, and the methods of instruction more thorough and accurate.
Professor Farrar of Cambridge, and the late lamented Warren Colburn of Lowell, deserve to be gratefully remembered as the pioneers of this important reform. Nor does it detract from their claims to gratitude, that, through the aid furnished by them, and in the natural progress of improvement, works better suited than theirs to the purposes of instruction, have been since prepared. Experience has shown, that the Algebra of Euler and that of Lacroix, superior as they are to those which they supplanted, are, notwithstanding, in many parts, ill adapted to the capacities of the young; and that the inductive method, adopted by Colburn, cannot, in an exact science like Algebra, be advantageously used to so great an extent as it was by him. Most of the more recent treatises on Algebra, designed for the higher order of our literary institutions, seem to us to be too difficult for a large proportion of learners. Nothing tends so much to discourage and prevent mental effort on the part of the pupil, as the constant occurrence of obstacles which he cannot surmount. Every difficulty extrinsic to the science itself, whether arising from faulty arrangement, obscure and imperfect explanations, wide chasms in processes of reasoning, or any other cause, should be carefully guarded against. General principles should be set in as clear a light as possible, and the pupil be made perfectly familiar with one before advancing to another. It is the neglect to do this, which, more than any other cause, renders mathematical studies distasteful and almost useless to no inconsiderable pro
portion of students in our colleges. The clear perception of truth is always grateful to the mind, and this source of interest alone can safely be relied on to attract and secure the attention of the young, and inspire them with a love of science for its own sake, the only adequate incentive to laborious and profound study. No fears need exist lest their minds should not be sufficiently tasked. Ample scope for their powers will be found in the application of general principles to particular cases, and in mastering the long and abstract demonstrations of the more difficult parts of the science.
Applying the principles just laid down to Mr. Sherwin's treatise, we do not hesitate to say, that it possesses, in an uncommon degree, all the requisites of a good text-book. He is evidently a close observer of the mental operations of the young, and intimately acquainted with the difficulties which they meet with in the study of Algebra. With an intimate knowledge of their wants, which is hardly less important as a qualification for the task he has undertaken, than an accurate acquaintance with the science itself, he unites uncommon skill in communicating the exact information needed, in the precise form in which it is most readily apprehended by them. The difficulties which will be met with in Mr. Sherwin's book, in understanding the principles of Algebra, are inherent in the subject itself, not dependent on his mode of treating it ; and these, together with the numerous examples for practice which the work contains, will abundantly task the learner's powers. The author manifests a familiar knowledge of his subject, and his treatise is characterized throughout by sound judgment in the selection and arrangement of its materials, by neatness and precision of expression, and, above all, by a skilful adaptation to the capacities and wants of the class of learners for whom it is designed.
Youth ; or, Scenes from the Past, and other Poems.
in this volume are chiefly sonnets. A few short pieces in other forms are intermingled. They are a sort of poetical history of the author's life, delineating successively the
scenes of the past,” through the various stages of childhood, schoolboy days, entering college, college life and its transitions, graduation, and so on. We opened the volume with some misgivings. Sonnets are not generally the most attrac- No. 114.
tive reading ; even the best of those of Petrarch himself. We have generally been obliged to take them in homeopathic doses. The form of the sonnet is too artificial for our free and bold language easily to yield to; the necessity of confining the thought within a certain specified number of lines, and, — when the strict rules of the sonnet are adhered to, -of arranging the rhymes in a particular order, is too much like a strait jacket for the "undoubted liberties” of the English Muse. But Mr. Plumer's book is exceedingly pleasing. His language is easy, flowing, and pure. He never transcends the boundaries of good taste. The poetry is not of a high or brilliant order ; but it breathes a pure and gentle spirit, and shows a refined sensibility to the beauties of nature, the charms of literature, and the best feelings of the heart. Its metrical structure is correct and barmonious. The descriptions that here and there occur are delicately and elegantly drawn; the reflections are well expressed; and the imagery is all of a poetical character. As a fair specimen of our poet's skill, we may take two sonnets on Shakspeare.
Ay, every inch a king."
Thy praise, O Shakspeare! so thine ear might lend
No unpleased audience, while my numbers blend
From feebler harps. Thou, e'en in wildest mood,
Art still to pature true, thy mind imbued
That glanced o’er earth, and all its movements viewed.
Each subtile turn, and all its paths pursued ;
" When he speaks,
To steal his sweet and honeyed sentences."
His Bible, and thy page, to him sufficed,
Shakspeare! for knowledge; other books he prized,
For truths, divine and human ; well advised