Part 5 out of 5
pronounced unfit for freedom, were in this respect models for those who
make high boasts of civility of manners and Christian culture. Out of
the sixty-four who worked for us, all but half a dozen were members of
the Church, generally the Baptist. Although without a pastor, they held
religious meetings on the Sundays which we passed in Hampton, which were
attended by about sixty colored persons and three hundred soldiers. The
devotions were decorously conducted, bating some loud shouting by one
or two excitable brethren, which the better sense of the rest could not
suppress. Their prayers and exhortations were fervent, and marked by a
simplicity which is not infrequently the richest eloquence. The soldiers
behaved with entire propriety, and two exhorted them with pious unction,
as children of one Father, ransomed by the same Redeemer.
To this general propriety of conduct among the contrabands intrusted to
me there was only one exception, and that was in the case of Joe ----;
his surname I have forgotten. He was of a vagrant disposition, and an
inveterate shirk. He had a plausible speech and a distorted imagination,
and might be called a demagogue among darkies. He bore an ill
physiognomy,--that of one "fit for treasons, stratagems, and spoils." He
was disliked by the other contrabands, and had been refused admission to
their Church, which he wished to join in order to get up a character.
Last, but not least, among his sins, he was accustomed to boat his wife,
of which she accused him in my presence; whereupon he justified himself
on the brazen assumption that all husbands did the same. There was no
good reason to believe that he had already been tampered with by Rebels;
but his price could not be more than five dollars. He would be a
disturbing element among the laborers on the breastworks, and he was a
dangerous person to be so near the lines; we therefore sent him to the
fort. The last I heard of him, he was at the Rip Raps, bemoaning his
isolation, and the butt of our soldiers there, who charged him with
being a "Secesh," and confounded him by gravely asserting that they were
such themselves and had seen him with the "Secesh" at Yorktown. This was
the single goat among the sheep.
On Monday evening, July 15th, when the contrabands deposited their tools
in the court-house, I requested them to stop a moment in the yard. I
made each a present of some tobacco, which all the men and most of the
women use. As they gathered in a circle around me, head peering over
head, I spoke to them briefly, thanking them for their cordial work and
complimenting their behavior, remarking that I had heard no profane or
vulgar word from them, in which they were an example to us,--adding that
it was the last time I should meet them, as we were to march homeward in
the morning, and that I should bear to my people a good report of their
industry and morals. There was another word that I could not leave
without speaking. Never before in our history had a Northern man,
believing in the divine right of all men to their liberty, had an
opportunity to address an audience of sixty-four slaves and say what the
Spirit moved him to utter,--and I should have been false to all that is
true and sacred, if I had let it pass. I said to them that there was one
more word for me to add, and that was, that every one of them was as
much entitled to his freedom as I was to mine, and I hoped they would
all now secure it. "Believe you, boss," was the general response, and
each one with his rough gravelly hand grasped mine, and with tearful
eyes and broken utterances said, "God bless you!" "May we meet in
Heaven!" "My name is Jack Allen, don't forget me!" "Remember me, Kent
Anderson!" and so on. No,--I may forget the playfellows of my childhood,
my college classmates, my professional associates, my comrades in arms,
but I will remember you and your benedictions until I cease to breathe!
Farewell, honest hearts, longing to be free! and may the kind Providence
which for-gets not the sparrow shelter and protect you!
During our encampment at Hampton, I occupied much of my leisure time
in conversations with the contrabands, both at their work and in their
shanties, endeavoring to collect their currents of thought and feeling.
It remains for me to give the results, so far as any could be arrived
There were more negroes of unmixed African blood than we expected
to find. But many were entirely bleached. One man, working on the
breastworks, owned by his cousin, whose name he bore, was no darker than
white laborers exposed by their occupation to the sun, and could not be
distinguished as of negro descent. Opposite our quarters was a young
slave woman who had been three times a mother without ever having been
a wife. You could not discern in her three daughters, either in color,
feature, or texture of hair, the slightest trace of African lineage.
They were as light-faced and fair-haired as the Saxon slaves whom the
Roman Pontiff, Gregory the Great, met in the markets of Rome. If they
were to be brought here and their pedigree concealed, they could readily
mingle with our population and marry white men, who would never suspect
that they were not pure Caucasians.
From the best knowledge I could obtain, the negroes in Hampton had
rarely been severely whipped. A locust-tree in front of the jail had
been used for a whipping-post, and they were very desirous that it
should be cut down. It was used, however, only for what are known
there as flagrant offences, like running away. Their masters, when in
ill-temper, had used rough language and inflicted chance blows, but no
one ever told me that he had suffered from systematic cruelty or been
severely whipped, except Joe, whose character I have given. Many of them
bore testimony to the great kindness of their masters and mistresses.
Separations of families had been frequent. Of this I obtained definite
knowledge. When I was registering the number of dependants, preparatory
to the requisition for rations, the answer occasionally was, "Yes, I
have a wife, but she is not here." "Where is she?" "She was sold off two
years ago, and I have not heard of her since." The husband of the woman
who took care of the quarters of General Pierce had been sold away from
her some years before. Such separations are regarded as death, and the
slaves re-marry. In some cases the bereft one--so an intelligent negro
assured me--pines under his bereavement and loses his value; but so
elastic is human nature that this did not appear to be generally the
case. The same answer was given about children,--that they had been sold
away. This, in a slave-breeding country, is done when they are about
eight years old. Can that be a mild system of servitude which permits
such enforced separations? Providence may, indeed, sunder forever those
dearest to each other, and the stricken soul accepts the blow as the
righteous discipline of a Higher Power; but when the bereavement is
the arbitrary dictate of human will, there are no such consolations to
sanctify grief and assuage agony.
There is a universal desire among the slaves to be free. Upon this point
my inquiries were particular, and always with the same result. When
we said to them, "You don't want to be free,--your masters say you
don't,"--they manifested much indignation, answering, "We do want to be
free,--we want to be for ourselves." We inquired further, "Do the house
slaves who wear their master's clothes want to be free?" "We never heard
of one who did not," was the instant reply. There might be, they said,
some half-crazy one who did not care to be free, but they had never seen
one. Even old men and women, with crooked backs, who could hardly walk
or see, shared the same feeling. An intelligent Secessionist, Lowry by
name, who was examined at head-quarters, admitted that a majority of the
slaves wanted to be free. The more intelligent the slave and the better
he had been used, the stronger this desire seemed to be. I remember one
such particularly, the most intelligent one in Hampton, known as "an,
influential darky" ("darky" being the familiar term applied by the
contrabands to themselves). He could read, was an exhorter in the
Church, and officiated in the absence of the minister. He would have
made a competent juryman. His mistress, he said, had been kind to him,
and had never spoken so harshly to him as a captain's orderly in the
Naval Brigade had done, who assumed one day to give him orders. She had
let him work where he pleased, and he was to bring her a fixed sum, and
appropriate the surplus to his own use. She pleaded with him to go away
with her from Hampton at the time of the exodus, but she would not force
him to leave his family. Still he hated to be a slave, and he talked
like a philosopher about his rights. No captive in the galleys of
Algiers, not Lafayette in an Austrian dungeon, ever pined more for free
air. He had saved eighteen hundred dollars of his surplus earnings in
attending on visitors at Old Point, and had spent it all in litigation
to secure the freedom of his wife and children, belonging to another
master, whose will had emancipated them, but was contested on the ground
of the insanity of the testator. He had won a verdict, but his lawyers
told him they could not obtain a judgment upon it, as the judge was
unfavorable to freedom.
The most frequent question asked of one who has had any means of
communication with the contrabands during the war is in relation to
their knowledge of its cause and purposes, and their interest in it. One
thing was evident,--indeed, you could not talk with a slave who did not
without prompting give the same testimony,--that their masters had been
most industrious in their attempts to persuade them that the Yankees
were coming down there only to get the land,--that they would kill the
negroes and manure the ground with them, or carry them off to Cuba or
Hayti and sell them. An intelligent man who had belonged to Colonel
Joseph Segar--almost the only Union man at heart in that region, and who
for that reason, being in Washington at the time the war began, had not
dared to return to Hampton--served the staff of General Pierce. He bore
the highest testimony to the kindness of his master, who, he said, told
him to remain,--that the Yankees were the friends of his people, and
would use them well. "But," said David,--for that was his name,--"I
never heard of any other master who talked that way, but they all told
the worst stories about the Yankees, and the mistresses were more
furious even than the masters." David, I may add, spite of his good
master, longed to be free.
The masters, in their desperation, had within a few months resorted
to another device to secure the loyalty of their slaves. The colored
Baptist minister had been something of a pet among the whites, and had
obtained subscriptions from some benevolent citizens to secure the
freedom of a handsome daughter of his who was exposed to sale on an
auction block, where her beauty inspired competition. Some leading
Secessionists, Lawyer Hope for one, working somewhat upon his gratitude
and somewhat upon his vanity, persuaded him to offer the services of
himself and his sons, in a published communication, to the cause of
Virginia and the Confederate States. The artifice did not succeed. He
lost his hold on his congregation, and could not have safely remained
after the whites left. He felt uneasy about his betrayal, and tried to
restore himself to favor by saying that he meant no harm to his people;
but his protestations were in vain. His was the deserved fate of those
in all ages who, victims of folly or bribes, turn their backs on their
Notwithstanding all these attempts, the negroes, with rare exceptions,
still believed that the Yankees were their friends. They had learned
something in Presidential elections, and they thought their masters
could not hate us as they did, unless we were their friends. They
believed that the troubles would somehow or other help them, although
they did not understand all that was going on. They may be pardoned
for their want of apprehension, when some of our public men, almost
venerable, and reputed to be very wise and philosophical, are bewildered
and grope blindly. They were somewhat perplexed by the contradictory
statements of our soldiers, some of whom, according to their wishes,
said the contest was for them, and others that it did not concern them
at all and they would remain as before. If it was explained to them,
that Lincoln was chosen by a party who were opposed to extending
slavery, but who were also opposed to interfering with it in
Virginia,--that Virginia and the South had rebelled, and we had come to
suppress the rebellion,--and although the object of the war was not to
emancipate them, yet that might be its result,--they answered, that they
understood the statement perfectly. They did not seem inclined to fight,
although willing to work. More could not be expected of them while
nothing is promised to them. What latent inspirations they may have
remains to be seen. They had at first a mysterious dread of fire-arms,
but familiarity is rapidly removing that.
The religious element of their life has been noticed. They said they
had prayed for this day, and God had sent Lincoln in answer to their
prayers. We used to overhear their family devotions, somewhat loud
according to their manner, in which they prayed earnestly for our
troops. They built their hopes of freedom on Scriptural examples,
regarding the deliverance of Daniel from the lions' den, and of the
Three Children from the furnace, as symbolic of their coming freedom.
One said to me, that masters, before they died, by their wills sometimes
freed their slaves, and he thought that a _type_ that they should become
One Saturday evening one of them asked me to call and see him at his
home the next morning. I did so, and he handed me a Bible belonging
to his mistress, who had died a few days before, and whose bier I had
helped to carry to the family vault. He wanted me to read to him the
eleventh chapter of Daniel. It seemed, that, as one of the means of
keeping them quiet, the white clergymen during the winter and spring
had read them some verses from it to show that the South would prevail,
enforcing passages which ascribed great dominion to "the king of the
South," and suppressing those which subsequently give the supremacy to
"the king of the North." A colored man who could read had found the
latter passages and made them known. The chapter is dark with mystery,
and my auditor, quite perplexed as I read on, remarked, "The Bible is a
very mysterious book." I read to him also the thirty-fourth chapter of
Jeremiah, wherein the sad prophet of Israel records the denunciations
by Jehovah of sword, pestilence, and famine against the Jews for not
proclaiming liberty to their servants and handmaids. He had not known
before that there were such passages in the Bible.
The conversations of the contrabands on their title to be regarded as
freemen showed reflection. When asked if they thought themselves fit for
freedom, and if the darkies were not lazy, their answer was, "Who
but the darkies cleared all the land round here? Yes, there are lazy
darkies, but there are more lazy whites." When told that the free blacks
had not succeeded, they answered that the free blacks have not had a
fair chance under the laws,--that they don't dare to enforce their
claims against white men,--that a free colored blacksmith had a thousand
dollars due to him from white men, but he was afraid to sue for any
portion of it. One man, when asked why he ought to be free, replied,--"I
feed and clothe myself and pay my master one hundred and twenty dollars
a year; and the one hundred and twenty dollars is just so much taken
from me, which ought to be used to make me and my children comfortable."
Indeed, broken as was their speech and limited as was their knowledge,
they reasoned abstractly on their rights as well as white men. Locke or
Channing might have fortified the argument for universal liberty from
their simple talk. So true is it that the best thoughts which the human
intellect has produced have come, not from affluent learning or ornate
speech, but from the original elements of our nature, common to all
races of men and all conditions in life; and genius the highest and most
cultured may bend with profit to catch the lowliest of human utterances.
There was a very general desire among the contrabands to know how to
read. A few had learned; and these, in every instance where we inquired
as to their teacher, had been taught on the sly in their childhood by
their white playmates. Others knew their letters, but could not "put
them together," as they said. I remember of a summer's afternoon seeing
a young married woman, perhaps twenty-five years old, seated on a
door-step with her primer before her, trying to make progress.
In natural tact and the faculty of getting a livelihood the contrabands
are inferior to the Yankees, but quite equal to the mass of the Southern
population. It is not easy to see why they would be less industrious, if
free, than the whites, particularly as they would have the encouragement
of wages. There would be transient difficulties at the outset, but no
more than a bad system lasting for ages might be expected to leave
behind. The first generation might be unfitted for the active duties and
responsibilities of citizenship; but this difficulty, under generous
provisions for education, would not pass to the next. Even now they are
not so much behind the masses of the whites. Of the Virginians who took
the oath of allegiance at Hampton, not more than one in fifteen could
write his name, and the rolls captured at Hatteras disclose an equally
deplorable ignorance. The contrabands might be less addicted than the
now dominant race to bowie-knives and duels, think less of the value
of bludgeons as forensic arguments, be less inhospitable to innocent
sojourners from Free States, and have far inferior skill in robbing
forts and arsenals, plundering the Treasury, and betraying the country
at whose crib they had fattened; but mankind would forgive them for not
acquiring these accomplishments of modern treason. As a race, they may
be less vigorous and thrifty than the Saxon, but they are more social,
docile, and affectionate, fulfilling the theory which Channing held in
relation to them, if advanced to freedom and civilization.
If in the progress of the war they should be called to bear arms, there
need be no reasonable apprehension that they would exhibit the ferocity
of savage races. Unlike such, they have been subordinated to civilized
life. They are by nature a religious people. They have received an
education in the Christian faith from devout teachers of their own and
of the dominant race. Some have been taught (let us believe it) by
the precepts of Christian masters, and some by the children of those
masters, repeating the lessons of the Sabbath-school. The slaveholders
assure us that they have all been well treated. If that be so, they have
no wrongs to avenge. Associated with our army, they would conform to
the stronger and more disciplined race. Nor is this view disproved by
servile insurrections. In those cases, the insurgents, without arms,
without allies, without discipline, but throwing themselves against
society, against government, against everything, saw no other escape
than to devastate and destroy without mercy in order to get a foothold.
If they exterminated, it was because extermination was threatened
against them. In the Revolution, in the army at Cambridge, from the
beginning to the close of the war, against the protests of South
Carolina by the voice of Edward Rutledge, but with the express sanction
of Washington,--ever just, ever grateful for patriotism, whencesoever
it came,--the negroes fought in the ranks with the white men, and they
never dishonored the patriot cause. So also at the defence of New
Orleans they received from General Jackson a noble tribute to their
fidelity and soldier-like bearing. Weighing the question historically
and reflectively, and anticipating the capture of Richmond and New
Orleans, there need be more serious apprehension of the conduct of
some of our own troops recruited in large cities than of a regiment of
contrabands officered and disciplined by white men.
But as events travel faster than laws or proclamations, already in
this war with Rebellion the two races have served together. The same
breastworks have been built by their common toil. True and valiant, they
stood side by side in the din of cannonade, and they shared as comrades
in the victory of Hatteras. History will not fail to record that on the
28th day of August, 1861, when the Rebel forts were bombarded by the
Federal army and navy, under the command of Major-General Butler and
Commodore Stringham, fourteen negroes, lately Virginia slaves, now
contraband of war, faithfully and without panic worked the after-gun of
the upper deck of the Minnesota, and hailed with a victor's pride the
Stars and Stripes as they again waved on the soil of the Carolinas.
THE WASHERS OF THE SHROUD.
Along a river-side, I know not where,
I walked last night in mystery of dream;
A chill creeps curdling yet beneath my hair,
To think what chanced me by the pallid gleam
Of a moon-wraith that waned through haunted air.
Pale fire-flies pulsed within the meadow mist
Their halos, wavering thistle-downs of light;
The loon, that seemed to mock some goblin tryst,
Laughed; and the echoes, huddling in affright,
Like Odin's hounds, fled baying down the night.
Then all was silent, till there smote my ear
A movement in the stream that checked my breath:
Was it the slow plash of a wading deer?
But something said, "This water is of Death!
The Sisters wash a Shroud,--ill thing to hear!"
I, looking then, beheld the ancient Three,
Known to the Greek's and to the Norseman's creed,
That sit in shadow of the mystic Tree,
Still crooning, as they weave their endless brede,
One song: "Time was, Time is, and Time shall be."
No wrinkled crones were they, as I had deemed,
But fair as yesterday, to-day, to-morrow,
To mourner, lover, poet, ever seemed;
Something too deep for joy, too high for sorrow,
Thrilled in their tones and from their faces gleamed.
"Still men and nations reap as they have strawn,"--
So sang they, working at their task the while,--
"The fatal raiment must be cleansed ere dawn:
For Austria? Italy? the Sea-Queen's Isle?
O'er what quenched grandeur must our shroud be drawn?
"Or is it for a younger, fairer corse,
That gathered States for children round his knees,
That tamed the wave to be his posting-horse,
The forest-feller, linker of the seas,
Bridge-builder, hammerer, youngest son of Thor's?
"What make we, murmur'st thou, and what are we?
When empires must be wound, we bring the shroud,
The time-old web of the implacable Three:
Is it too coarse for him, the young and proud?
Earth's mightiest deigned to wear it; why not he?"
"Is there no hope?" I moaned. "So strong, so fair!
Our Fowler, whose proud bird would brook erewhile
No rival's swoop in all our western air!
Gather the ravens, then, in funeral file,
For him, life's morn-gold bright yet in his hair?
"Leave me not hopeless, ye unpitying dames!
I see, half-seeing. Tell me, ye who scanned
The stars, Earth's elders, still must noblest aims
Be traced upon oblivious ocean-sands?
Must Hesper join the wailing ghosts of names?"
"When grass-blades stiffen with red battle-dew,
Ye deem we choose the victors and the slain:
Say, choose we them that shall be leal and true
To the heart's longing, the high faith of brain?
Yet here the victory is, if ye but knew.
"Three roots bear up Dominion: Knowledge, Will,--
These two are strong, but stronger yet the third,--
Obedience, the great tap-root, that still,
Knit round the rock of Duty, is not stirred,
Though the storm's ploughshare spend its utmost skill.
"Is the doom sealed for Hesper? 'T is not we
Denounce it, but the Law before all time:
The brave makes danger opportunity;
The waverer, paltering with the chance sublime,
Dwarfs it to peril: which shall Hesper be?
"Hath he let vultures climb his eagle's seat
To make Jove's bolts purveyors of their maw?
Hath he the Many's plaudits found more sweet
Than wisdom? held Opinion's wind for law?
Then let him hearken for the headsman's feet!
"Rough are the steps, slow-hewn in flintiest rock,
States climb to power by; slippery those with gold
Down which they stumble to eternal mock:
No chafferer's hand shall long the sceptre hold,
Who, given a Fate to shape, would sell the block.
"We sing old sagas, songs of weal and woe,
Mystic because too cheaply understood;
Dark sayings are not ours; men hear and know,
See Evil weak, see only strong the Good,
Yet hope to balk Doom's fire with walls of tow.
"Time Was unlocks the riddle of Time Is,
That offers choice of glory and of gloom;
The solver makes Time Shall Be surely his.--
But hasten, Sisters! for even now the tomb
Grates its slow hinge and calls from the abyss."
"But not for him," I cried, "not yet for him,
Whose large horizon, westering, star by star
Wins from the void to where on ocean's rim
The sunset shuts the world with golden bar,--
Not yet his thews shall fail, his eye grow dim!
"His shall be larger manhood, saved for those
That walk unblenching through the trial-fires;
Not suffering, but faint heart is worst of woes,
And he no base-born son of craven sires,
Whose eye need droop, confronted with his foes.
"Tears may be ours, but proud, for those who win
Death's royal purple in the enemy's lines:
Peace, too, brings tears; and 'mid the battle-din,
The wiser ear some text of God divines;
For the sheathed blade may rust with darker sin.
"God, give us peace!--not such as lulls to sleep,
But sword on thigh, and brow with purpose knit!
And let our Ship of State to harbor sweep,
Her ports all up, her battle-lanterns lit,
And her leashed thunders gathering for their leap!"
So said I, with clenched hands and passionate pain,
Thinking of dear ones by Potomac's side:
Again the loon laughed, mocking; and again
The echoes bayed far down the night, and died,
While waking I recalled my wandering brain.
* * * * *
REVIEWS AND LITERARY NOTICES.
_Sermons preached in the Chapel of Harvard College._ By JAMES WALKER,
D.D. Boston: Ticknor & Fields. 12mo.
The great reputation which Dr. Walker has long enjoyed, as one of the
most impressive pulpit orators of the country, will suffer little
diminution by the publication of these specimens of his rare powers of
statement, argument, and illustration. To the general reader, they are,
to be sure, deprived of the fascination of his voice and manner; but
as the peculiarities of his elocution have their source in the
peculiarities of his mental and moral organization, it will be found
that the style and structure of these printed sermons suggest the mule
of their delivery, which is simply the emphatic utterance of emphatic
thought. The Italicized words, with which the volume abounds, palpably
mark the results of thinking, and arrest attention because they are not
less emphasized by the intellect than by the type. In reflecting Dr.
Walker's mind, the work at the same time reflects his manner.
Every reader of these sermons will be struck by their thorough
reasonableness,--a reasonableness which does not exclude, but includes,
the deepest and warmest religious sensibility. Moral and religious
feeling pervades every statement; but the feeling is still confined
within a flexible framework of argument, which, while it enlarges with
every access of emotion, is always an outlying boundary of thought,
beyond which passion does not pass. Light continually asserts itself as
more comprehensive in its reach than heat; and the noblest spiritual
instincts and impulses are never allowed unchecked expression as
sentiments, but have to submit to the restraints imposed by principles.
Even in the remarkable sermon entitled, "The Heart more than the Head,"
it will be found that it is the head which legitimates the action of
the heart. The sentiments are exalted above the intellect by a process
purely intellectual, and the inferiority of the reason is shown to be
a principle essentially reasonable. Thus, throughout the volume, the
author's mental insight into the complex phenomena of our spiritual
nature is always accompanied by a mental oversight of its actual and
possible aberrations. A sound, large, "round-about" common sense, keen,
eager, vigilant, sagacious, encompasses all the emotional elements of
his thought. He has a subtile sense of mystery, but he is not a mystic.
The most marvellous workings of the Divine Spirit he apprehends under
the conditions of Law, and even in the raptures of devotion he never
forgets the relation of cause and effect.
The style of these sermons is what might be expected from the character
of the mind it expresses. If Dr. Walker were not a thinker, it is plain
that he could never have been a rhetorician. He has no power at all as
a writer, if writing be considered an accomplishment which can be
separated from earnest thinking. Words are, with him, the mere
instruments for the expression of things; and he hits on felicitous
words only under that impatient stress of thought which demands exact
expression for definite ideas. All his words, simple as they are, are
therefore fairly earned, and he gives to them a force and significance
which they do not bear in the dictionary. The mind of the writer is felt
beating and burning beneath his phraseology, stamping every word with
the image of a thought. Largeness of intellect, acute discrimination,
clear and explicit statement, masterly arrangement of matter, an
unmistakable performance of the real business of expression,--these
qualities make every reader of the sermons conscious that a mind of
great vigor, breadth, and pungency is brought into direct contact
with his own. The almost ostentatious absence of "fine writing" only
increases the effect of the plain and sinewy words.
If we pass from the form to the substance of Dr. Walker's teachings, we
shall find that his sermons are especially characterized by practical
wisdom. A scholar, a moralist, a metaphysician, a theologian, learned
in all the lore and trained in the best methods of the schools, he is
distinguished from most scholars by his broad grasp of every-day life.
It is this quality which has given him his wide influence as a preacher,
and this is a prominent charm of his printed sermons. He brings
principles to the test of facts, and connects thoughts with things. The
conscience which can easily elude the threats, the monitions, and the
appeals of ordinary sermonizers, finds itself mastered by his mingled
fervor, logic, and practical knowledge. Every sermon in the present
volume is good for use, and furnishes both inducements and aids to the
formation of manly Christian character. There is much, of course, to
lift the depressed and inspire the weak; but the great peculiarity of
the discourses is the resolute energy with which they grapple with the
worldliness and sin of the proud and the strong.
_The Monks of the West, from St. Benedict to St. Bernard_. By the COUNT
DE MONTALEMBERT, Member of the French Academy. Authorized Translation.
Volumes I. and II. Edinburgh and London: W. Blackwood & Sons. 1861. 8vo.
pp. xii. and 515, 549.
These volumes form the first instalment of a work in which one of the
great lights of the Romish Church in our day proposes to recount the
glories of Western Monasticism, and to narrate the lives of some of the
remarkable men who successively passed from the cloister to the Papal
throne, or in positions scarcely less conspicuous permanently affected
the history of the Church. His original design, however, does not appear
to have extended beyond writing the life of St. Bernard of Clairvaux,
which he intended to make in some measure a complement to his life of
St. Elizabeth of Hungary. But he judged rightly, that, in order to
exhibit the character and influence of that remarkable man under all
their various aspects, it was needful at the outset to retrace the early
history of monastic institutions in the West, and to show how far
they tended to prepare the way for such a man. Only a part of this
preliminary task has been accomplished as yet; but enough has been done
to show in what spirit the historian has approached his subject, how
thoroughly he has explored the original sources of information, and
what will probably be the real worth of his labors. For such a
work Montalembert possesses adequate and in some respects peculiar
qualifications. His learning, eloquence, and candor will be conceded by
every one who is familiar with his previous writings or with his public
life; and at the same time he unites a passionate love of liberty,
everywhere apparent in his book, with a zeal for the Church, worthy of
any of the monks whom he commemorates. While his narrative is always
animated and picturesque, and often rises into passages of fervid
eloquence, he has conducted his researches with the unwearied
perseverance of a mere antiquary, and has exhausted every source of
information. "Every word which I have written," he says, "has been drawn
from original and contemporary sources; and if I have quoted facts
or expressions from second-hand authors, it has never been without
attentively verifying the original or completing the text. A single
date, quotation, or note, apparently insignificant, has often cost me
hours and sometimes days of labor. I have never contented myself with
being approximately right, nor resigned myself to doubt until every
chance of arriving at certainty was exhausted." To the spirit and temper
in which the book is written no well-founded exception can be taken; but
considerable abatement must be made from the author's estimate of
the services rendered by the monks to Christian civilization, and no
Protestant will accept his views as to the permanent worth of monastic
institutions. With this qualification, and with some allowance for
needless repetitions, we cannot but regard his work as a most attractive
and eloquent contribution to ecclesiastical history.
About half of the first volume is devoted to a General Introduction,
explanatory of the origin and design of the work, but mainly intended to
paint the character of monastic institutions, to describe the happiness
of a religious life, and to examine the charges brought against the
monks. These topics are considered in ten chapters, filled with curious
details, and written with an eloquence and an earnestness which it is
difficult for the reader to resist. Following this we have a short and
brilliant sketch of the social and political condition of the Roman
Empire after the conversion of Constantine, exhibiting by a few masterly
touches its wide-spread corruption, the feebleness of its rulers, and
the utter degradation of the people. The next two books treat of the
Monastic Precursors in the East as well as in the West, and present a
series of brief biographical sketches of the most famous monks, from
St. Anthony, the father of Eastern monasticism, to St. Benedict,
the earliest legislator for the monasteries of the West. Among the
illustrious men who pass before us in this review, and all of whom are
skilfully delineated, are Basil of Caesarea and his friend Gregory
Nazianzen, Chrysostom, Jerome, Augustine, Athanasius, Martin of Tours,
and the numerous company of saints and doctors nurtured in the great
monastery of Lerins. And though an account of the saintly women who have
led lives of seclusion would scarcely seem to be included under the
title of Montalembert's work, he does not neglect to add sketches of the
most conspicuous of them,--Euphrosyne, Pelagia, Marcella, Furia, and
others. These preliminary sketches fill the last half of the first
The Fourth Book comprises an account of the Life and Rule of St.
Benedict, and properly opens the history which Montalembert proposes
to narrate. It presents a sufficiently minute sketch of the personal
history of Benedict and his immediate followers; but its chief merit is
in its very ample and satisfactory exposition of the Benedictine Rule.
The next book traces the history of monastic institutions in Italy and
Spain during the sixth and seventh centuries, and includes biographical
notices of Cassiodorus, the founder of the once famous monastery of
Viviers in Calabria, of St. Gregory the Great, of Leander, Bishop of
Seville, and his brother Isidore, of Ildefonso of Toledo, and of many
others of scarcely less renown in the early monastic records. The Sixth
Book is devoted to the monks under the first Merovingians, and is
divided into five sections, treating respectively of the conquest
of Gaul by the Franks, of the arrival of St. Maur in Anjou and the
propagation of the Benedictine rule there, of the relations previously
existing between the monks and the Merovingians, of St. Radegund and her
followers, and of the services of the monks in clearing the forests
and opening the way for the advance of civilization. The Seventh Book
records the life of St. Columbanus, and describes at much length his
labors in Gaul, as well as those of his disciples, both in the great
monastery of Luxeuil and in the numerous colonies which issued from it
and spread over the whole neighborhood, bringing the narrative down
to the close of the seventh century. At this point the portion of
Montalembert's work now published terminates, leaving, we presume,
several additional volumes to follow. For their appearance we shall look
with much interest. If the remainder is executed in the same spirit as
the portion now before us, and is marked by the same diligent study of
the original authorities and the same persuasive eloquence, it will form
one of the most valuable of the many attractive monographs which we
owe to the French historians of our time, and will be read with equal
interest by Catholics and Protestants.
_Eighty Years' Progress of the United States, showing the Various
Channels of Industry and Education through which the People of the
United States have arisen from a British Colony to their Present
National Importance_. Illustrated with over Two Hundred Engravings. New
York: 51 John Street. Worcester: L. Stebbins. Two Volumes. 8vo.
A vast amount of useful information is treasured up in these two
national volumes. Agriculture, commerce and trade, the cultivation of
cotton, education, the arts of design, banking, mining, steam, the
fur-trade, etc., are subjects of interest everywhere, and the present
writers seem to be specially competent for the task they have assumed.
If the household library should possess such books more frequently, less
ignorance would prevail on topics concerning which every American ought
to be well-informed. Woful silence usually prevails when a foreigner
asks for statistics on any point connected with our industrial progress,
and very few take the trouble to get at facts which are easy enough
to be had with a little painstaking. We are glad to see so much good
material brought together as we find in these two well-filled volumes.
_Electro-Physiology and Electro-Therapeutics: Showing the Rules and
Methods for the Employment of Galvanism in Nervous Diseases_, etc.
Second Edition, with Additions. Boston: Ticknor & Fields. 1861.
At a time when the partition-wall between Jew and Gentile of the medical
world is pretty thoroughly breached, if not thrown down, and quackery
and imposture are tolerated as necessary evils, it is agreeable to meet
with a real work of science, emanating from the labors of a regular
physician, concerning the influences exerted by electricity on the human
body, both in health and disease.
Electricity is one of the great powers of Nature, pervading all matter,
existing in all mineral, vegetable, and animal bodies, not only acting
in the combinations of the elements and molecules, but also serving as a
means for their separation from each other. This imponderable fluid or
power, whatever it may be, whether one or two, or a polarization of one
force into the states + and -, is one of the most active agencies known
to man, and although not capable of being weighed in the balance, is not
found wanting anywhere in Nature. It courses in great currents beneath
our feet, in the solid rocks of the earth, penetrating to the very
interior of the globe, while it also rushes through our atmosphere in
lurid flashes, and startles us with the crash and roar of heaven's
artillery. It gives magnetic polarity to the earth, and directs the
needle by its influence; for magnetic attraction is only an effect of
the earth's thermo-electricity, excited by the sun's rays acting in
a continuous course. Both animal and vegetable life are dependent on
electric forces for their development; and many of their functions,
directly or indirectly, result from their agency.
If this force controls to a great degree the living functions of our
organs in their healthy action, it must be that it is concerned in those
derangements and lesions which constitute disease and abnormal actions
or disorders. It must have a remedial and the opposite effect, according
as it is applied.
Is such a gigantic power to be left in the hands of charlatans, or shall
it be reserved for application by scientific physicians? This is a
question we must meet and answer practically.
It may be asked why a force of this nature has been so long neglected by
practising physicians. The answer is very simple, and will be recognized
as true by all middle-aged physicians in this country.
For the past fifty years it has been customary to state in lectures in
our medical colleges, that "chemistry has nothing to do with medicine";
and since our teachers knew nothing of the subject themselves, they
denounced such knowledge as unnecessary to the physician. Electricity,
the great moving power in all chemical actions, shared the fate of
chemistry in general, and met with condemnation without trial. A young
physician did not dare to meddle with chemicals or with any branch of
natural or experimental science for fear of losing his chance of medical
employment by sinking the doctor among his gallipots.
Electricity, thus neglected, fell into the hands of irregular
practitioners, and was as often used injuriously as beneficially, and
more frequently without any effect. The absurd pretensions of galvanic
baths for the extraction of mercury from the system will be remembered
by most of our citizens, and the shocking practice of others is not
It was therefore earnestly desired by medical practitioners who
themselves were not by education competent to manage electric and
galvanic machinery, that some medical man of good standing, who had
made a special study of this subject, should undertake the treatment of
diseases requiring the use of electricity. Dr. Garratt was induced
to undertake this important duty, and he has prepared a work on this
practice which embraces all that has appeared in the writings of others,
both in this country and Europe, while he has, from his own researches
and rich experience, added much new matter of great practical value.
Among his original contributions we note,--
1st. A definite, systematic method for the application of Galvanic and
Faradaic currents of electricity to the human organism, for curing or
aiding in the cure of given classes of diseases. (See pages 475, 479,
and 669 to 706; also Chap. 5, p. 280.)
2d. Improvements in the methods of applying electricity, as stated on
pages 293 to 296, and 300, 329, and 332, which we have not room to copy.
3d. He has introduced the term Faradaic current to represent the induced
current, first discovered by Professor Henry, and so much extended in
application by Faraday.
4th. The determination of several definite points in sentient and
mixed nerves, often the seats of neuralgic pain,--thus correcting Dr.
Valleix's painful points.
5th. The treatment of uterine, and some other female disorders, by means
of the induced galvanic current (pages 612 to 621).
A careful examination of this book shows it to contain a very full
_resume_ of the best which have been written on the subjects embraced
under the medical applications of electricity in its various modes of
development, and a careful analysis of the doctrines of others; while
the author has given frankly an account of cases in which he has failed,
as of those in which he has been successful. He does not offer electric
treatment as a panacea for "all the ills which flesh is heir to," but
shows how far and in what cases it proves beneficial. He has shown that
there is a right and a wrong way of operating, and that mischief may be
done by an unskilful hand, while one who is well qualified by scientific
knowledge and practical experience may do much good, and in many
diseases,--more especially in those of the nerves, such as neuralgia
and partial paralysis, in which remarkable cures have been effected. We
commend this work to the attention of medical gentlemen, and especially
to students of medicine who wish to be posted up in the novel methods
of treating diseases. It is also a book which all scientific men may
consult with advantage, and which will gratify the curiosity of the
_Memoir of Edward Forbes, F.R.S., Late Regius Professor of Natural
History in the University of Edinburgh_. By GEORGE WILSON, M.D.,
F.R.S.E., and ARCHIBALD GEIKIE, F.R.S.E., etc. Cambridge and London:
MacMillan & Co.
Dr. Wilson did not live to finish the memoir which he so ably began.
The great naturalist, Edward Forbes, deserved the best from his
contemporaries, and we are glad to have the combined labors of such
distinguished men as Wilson and Geikie put forth in commemoration of
him. The chair of Natural History at Edinburgh was honored by him
whose biography is now before us. His advent to that eminent post was
everywhere hailed with a unanimity that augured well for his career, and
no one could have been chosen to succeed the illustrious Jameson for
whom there could have been more enthusiasm. His admitted genius and the
range of his acquirements fully entitled him to the office, and all who
know him looked forward to brilliant accomplishments in his varied paths
of science. Death closed the brief years of this earnest student at the
early age of thirty-nine. Cut off in the prime of his days, with his
powers and purposes but partially unfolded, he yet shows grandly among
the best men of his time.
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