Imatges de pÓgina
PDF
EPUB

the scientific part of mankind, as an improvement of high and distinguished importance to the cause of learning.

That one compilation cannot contain all that has been written, nor even all that has been well written on every subject, is sufficiently obvious. It is necessary, that the scientific heads should be treated with peculiar caution and ability. A small mistake in a chain of arguments, in a demonstration, or in an experimental process, may terminate in absurdity. Clearness m every thing, intended for instruction, is an indispensable requisite; and this indeed is an excellence, in which the copier and abridger may be supposed to surpass the author and inventor. The author himself, having a clear conception of his own ideas, naturally imagines that he communicates them clearly to others, which is not always the fact, but the copyist, who in this respect stands in the place of the reader, and perceives his obscurities of style, or ambiguities of expression, may easily correct them.

The articles of biography are of primary importance. This species of writing is the most useful branch of history. The biographer, ought therefore to possess the qualities, which constitute a good historian, but especially a fixed and inflexible regard to truth; and uniformly to reject, every thing, which savours of sectarian bigotry, or the animosity of party.

But above all, the Editors of a Cyclopædia ought to be careful, as friends to their fellow men, and servants of their Maker, to admit nothing, which will natur

ally tend to undermine the great foundations of morality and religion. A sincere Christian, writing on almost any subject, will show to his readers, on which side he ranks himself, in the great contest, which has always existed in the world, between the friends of God and his enemies. Such has been the practice of many of the most resplendent luminaries of English literature; and such will continue to be the practice of those, who feel a solemn responsibility for all their actions, and particularly for those actions, by which the rising generation, may be materially influenced. Let us not be misunderstood to approve of that species of cant, by which religion is irreverently dragged into every paragraph, however incoherently, and unnecessarily, and the same hackneyed observations are repeated on a thousand different occasions, where they neither elucidate, nor enforce; where they give neither strength to argument, nor animation to piety. Let Christians profit by the plans, and the diligence of infidels. It is well known, that the enemies of revelation during the last half century have employed all their ingenuity and strength in every species of publication, to infuse and spread their malignant theories through the world and that in Dictionaries and Encyclopædias, they have found an ample field for their purpose. No walk of literature has been secure from their open assaults, or insidious ambuscades. It is therefore of peculiar importance, that the friends of truth cast not away the weapons, which Providence may put into their hands, and that they be

constantly mindful of the cause, which they are bound to support; and of the means, which may be used with most success.

These are some of the most important characteristics, which we would wish to find in a Universal Dictionary. We shall now briefly mention some of the improvements, which the public has a right to expect in this American edition.

some

The American Editor, in his advertisement states, that he "has engaged, in the various departments of science and literature, the assistance of gentlemen, whose talents and celebrity do honour to their country, and will essentially enrich this great and important work. Several important additions and corrections have been made to the present part; [Part I. Vol. I.] times in the body of an article, without any distinguishing mark, but most generally at the end, and enclosed in crotchets." Anxious for the honour of American literature, we received this information with mingled pleasure and solicitude. On examination of the first half volume, in reference to the additions and omissions made by the American Editor, in conformity to his original plan, we are free to make this general remark, that, with few exceptions, both have been judicious, and real improvements of the work. But loud, and we think unreasonable, complaints were raised against the Editor, on account of his omissions in some particular articles, and against the plan of omitting any part of the English edition. These complaints induced the American Editor to change his

first plan, and to pledge himself in the remainder of the work, to retain the whole of the English copy, and to enclose all additional matter in crotchets. The principles, which are to govern the gentlemen employed by the Editor, to examine and remark on the articles, which relate to morals and theology, are announced in the following words :

"Since, indeed, it has been determined that nothing which appears in "Rees' New Cyclopædia" shall henceforth be omitted in the American edition of the work, we thought it incumbent to avow, and we have accordingly here avowed, the principles which will govern us in examining and remarking on the moral and theological opinions which it exhibits. We are sensible that this is an arduous, an important, and a delicate duty." We have approached it not without undissembled diffidence in our ability to discharge it worthily. In its exe. cution we believe that we can promise diligence and vigilance; and we shall endeavour not to transgress the prescriptions of decorum, the laws of

candour, nor the demands of Christian meekness. With all this, however, we believe it to be perfectly consistent to say, that it will be matter of little concern to us in what class of living literary merit the name may be enrolled, or in what niche of the temple of fame the statue may be found, of him who has touched irreverently the hallowed depository of God's revealed will. In the best manner we can, we will withstand his audacity, expose his impiety, and invest him with his proper character: for we believe with Young, that "with the talents of an angel, a man may be a fool." Those who sympathise with heretics and infidels will in vain endeavour to turn us from our purpose. Our work is sacred and we dare not slight it. Our responsibility is not only to man, but to God."

We are, on the whole, pleased with this change in the plan of the Editor, as it removes all ground of complaint against him

or his assistants, of partiality in deciding on the parts to be omitted; as it also affords opportunity for stating both sides of a question, in "matters of doubtful disputation ;" and especially as we feel a confidence that sufficient antidotes will be provided against all the poisonous sentiments and insinuations, which are scattered through the English edition. Some inconveniences, however, will evidently result from this restriction. It will of necessity considerably increase the size of the work. The article America, for example, has been enlarged to nearly twice its original size; and principally for the purpose of contradicting and disproving false statements, copied from interested, partial, or ignorant, romantic travellers. Had these statements been either wholly omitted, or at once corrected, the article would have been much contracted, and freed from that controversial form in which it now appears.

The

Another inconvenience, attending the execution of this new plan is, that it naturally leads to unnecessary controversy, and will, we apprehend, sometimes lead to bitter controversy. article Abernethy, would probably have led to this, had it not been altered previously to the adoption of the present plan. In that article, as it appears in the English edition, some violent partisan has embraced the opportunity to censure, in the most reproachful language, a whole order of respectable men. The American Editor, by a few omis sions and alterations, has judiciously expunged from the article this extraneous and offen

sive matter.

Some of the sen

tences, left out, however, we think should have been retained, and we unfeignedly regret their omission. Still we think this distinguished character stands uninjured, and sufficiently high, as delineated in the American edition; unless any should think it necessary to the perfection of a biographical sketch to anticipate the judgment of the great day, presumptuously to usurp the prerogative of Heaven, and pronounce the sentence of the final Judge.

In the article of American Biography, the publisher, in his advertisement, announces his determination to make such arrangements as shall lay claim to some degree of originality. This promise, if punctually fulfilled, will doubtless enhance the value of the work, in the opinion of every American, who looks with reverence and affection on the long list of venerable names, which shed a lustre over his country. When we consider our means of information with respect to the characters of our most celebrated men, it is natural to expect that material additions will be made to this most interesting branch of knowledge.

The geographical articles, which relate to this country, it may may also be justly expected, will receive great improvements. Not only our distance from Europe, but the rapidity, with which alterations take place in our population, wealth, and national greatness, renders it highly improbable, that a correct and impartial description of the United States will ever be given by foreigners. To this part of their

duty, therefore, it is hoped, the American Editors will sedulously apply themselves.

no

The two last subjects derive inconsiderable importance from the fact, that a surprising and unaccountable ignorance of this country prevails among the learned, as well as the vulgar, in England. There are individuals, no doubt, who regard us in a point of view more conformable to truth; but the most chimerical tales, and the most preposterous falsehoods, when we are the subjects, are received by many even of the literati, with all the credit and deference, due to grave history. Even the despicable vulgarity of a Parkinson, the unprincipled and empty raillery of a Moore, as well as the more credited misrepresentations and partial statements of a Weld, contribute to give a false and unfavourable view of our national character. It is indeed astonishing, that men of sense could be deceived, as they repeatedly have been with respect to us, by representations supported only by the assertions of the most worthless of men, whenever they undertake to publish what they call Travels. To repel all this calumny, no method so effectual can be adopted, as to publish the facts, which relate to our schools, our religious institutions, our industry, and general improvement, and the various wise measures, adopted by our forefathers, to promote the prosperity of their children. These and many other particulars, at which we have not hinted, will properly find admission in some part of the work before us.

As the principal aim of the Panoplist is to communicate mor

[blocks in formation]

On examining the first part of Vol. I. it is with no common pleasure, that we are enabled to bear direct and honourable testimony to the style of its execution. The paper, the type, the engravings, and the accuracy of the printing, will not, it is believed, suffer by comparison with any similar work, with which we have any acquaintance. In saying this, no more than a just tribute is rendered to the care and industry of the Editor.

Yet there are some articles of small importance, in which improvements might be made. It would be an alteration of some convenience, if the subject or article treated of first, in each column, were noted in the margin at the top of the page. This has been done in other works of this kind, and facilitates the use of such a Dictionary. It is well too for the sake of easy reference, to be able to note the page; and, as the trouble of printing two or three figures is so trifling, we can see no objection to it. Every alteration ought to be made, which will so often save even a few seconds of time in the course of a man's life.

We suggest one thing more, which we have never seen in any similar Dictionary; and that is, when there is reason to fear an inexperienced reader will find difficulty in pronouncing a word, the true pronunciation might be expressed, by spelling it according to the natural powers of the letters in English.

It is well

known how differently foreign names are pronounced from what an Englishman would imagine, were he to regard the or thography alone. Hence arises the striking disagreement in pronouncing them, observable among persons of education. To be continued.

Religious Intelligence,

The friends of missions and the follow ers of Him, who commanded his disciples to "love one another," will be gratified with the following extract of a letter from an American gentleman in London, dated May 20, 1807.

"THE last week would have been a very interesting week to you, had you been in London. It was the grand Jubilee of serious Christians throughout England. Perhaps there is no meeting in the world so interesting, as the meeting of the Missionary Society. To see thousands of private Christians, and hundreds of Christian ministers, uniting on this delightful occasion is a sight peculiarly grateful to every serious mind. On Wednesday morning, May 13, the services commenced at Surry Chapel, a very large, commodious building, where the celebrated Rowland Hill preaches. After the church service was read by Mr. Hill, Mr. Newton of Witham delivered a very judicious discourse from the words, "All nations shall call him blessed." I presume there were about four thousand souls present, and among them between two and three hundred ministers. The collection at the door was 255/. sterling. In the evening the service was at the Tabernacle, a place of worship built by Mr. Whitefield, which is larger than Surry Chapel. Mr. Tack of Manchester preached an excellent sermon from Isaiah xxvii. 6. The collection here was 1421.

Thursday morning a most interest

port of the misssionary society

for the last year was read at Haberdasher's Hall by the secretary, (Rev. Dr. Burder.) It contains an abund ance of important information. This meeting closed with a short address by Mr. Hill of Homerton, considering the missionary society as the cause of humanity, the cause of truth, and the cause of God. In the evening Mr. Griffin of Portsea preached a most valuable sermon, at Tottenham Court Road Chapel upon the signs of the times, as favourable to missions, "The time to favour Zion, the set time is come." The congregation at this place was larger, than at either of the others. The collection was about 1507.

Friday morning at St. Saviour's Church in the Borough, Dr. Draper of the Church of England delivered a truly catholic discourse from Matt. xxviii. 18-20, which I heard with very uncommon pleasure. The collection* was about 150. In the afternoon we went to Sion Chapel to close the solemn services, in which we had been engaged, by commemorating the death of our common Lord, by celebrating together the riches of redeeming love. Can you conceive a more delightful sight, than two thousand five hundred Christians, of different denominations, sitting down at the same time, at the table of their Lord, and thus publicly professing their attachment to Jesus, and their love to one another? The Rev. Dr. Haweis presided on this interesting occasion. Several ministers exhorted, several engaged in prayer, and thirty or forty

« AnteriorContinua »