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The Atlantic Monthly, Volume 2, Number 9, July, 1858 by Various

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Each answers, "Here am I!"

For those the sculptor's laurelled bust,
The builder's marble piles,
The anthems pealing o'er their dust
Through long cathedral aisles.

For these the blossom-sprinkled turf
That floods the lonely graves,
When Spring rolls in her sea-green surf
In flowery-foaming waves.

Two paths lead upward from below,
And angels wait above,
Who count each burning life-drop's flow,
Each falling tear of Love.

Though from the Hero's bleeding breast
Her pulses Freedom drew,
Though the white lilies in her crest
Sprang from that scarlet dew,--

While Valor's haughty champions wait
Till all their scars are shown,
Love walks unchallenged through the gate
To sit beside the Throne!


There was no apologue more popular in the Middle Ages than that of the
hermit, who, musing on the wickedness and tyranny of those whom the
inscrutable wisdom of Providence had intrusted with the government of the
world, fell asleep and awoke to find himself the very monarch whose abject
life and capricious violence had furnished the subject of his moralizing.
Endowed with irresponsible power, tempted by passions whose existence in
himself he had never suspected, and betrayed by the political necessities
of his position, he became gradually guilty of all the crimes and the
luxury which had seemed so hideous to him in his hermitage over a dish of

The American Tract Society from small beginnings has risen to be the
dispenser of a yearly revenue of nearly half a million. It has become a
great establishment, with a traditional policy, with the distrust of
change and the dislike of disturbing questions (especially of such
as would lessen its revenues) natural to great establishments. It had been
poor and weak; it has become rich and powerful. The hermit has become

If the pious men who founded the American Tract Society had been told that
within forty years they would be watchful of their publications, lest, by
inadvertence, anything disrespectful might be spoken of the African Slave-
trade,--that they would consider it an ample equivalent for compulsory
dumbness on the vices of Slavery, that their colporteurs could awaken the
minds of Southern brethren to the horrors of St. Bartholomew,--that they
would hold their peace about the body of Cuffee dancing to the music of
the cart-whip, provided only they could save the soul of Sambo alive by
presenting him a pamphlet, which he could not read, on the depravity of
the double-shuffle,--that they would consent to be fellow-members in the
Tract Society with him who sold their fellow-members in Christ on the
auction-block, if he agreed with them in condemning Transubstantiation,
(and it would not be difficult for a gentleman who ignored the real
presence of God in his brother man to deny it in the sacramental wafer,)--
if those excellent men had been told this, they would have shrunk in
horror, and exclaimed, "Are thy servants dogs, that they should do these

Yet this is precisely the present position of the Society.

There are two ways of evading the responsibility of such inconsistency.
The first is by an appeal to the Society's Constitution, and by claiming
to interpret it strictly in accordance with the rules of law as applied to
contracts, whether between individuals or States. The second is by denying
that Slavery is opposed to the genius of Christianity, and that any moral
wrongs are the necessary results of it. We will not be so unjust to the
Society as to suppose that any of its members would rely on this latter
plea, and shall therefore confine ourselves to a brief consideration of
the other.

In order that the same rules of interpretation should be considered
applicable to the Constitution of the Society and to that of the United
States, we must attribute to the former a solemnity and importance which
involve a palpable absurdity. To claim for it the verbal accuracy and the
legal wariness of a mere contract is equally at war with common sense and
the facts of the case; and even were it not so, the party to a bond who
should attempt to escape its ethical obligation by a legal quibble of
construction would be put in Coventry by all honest men. In point of fact,
the Constitution was simply the minutes of an agreement among certain
gentlemen, to define the limits within which they would accept trust-
funds, and the objects for which they should expend them.

But if we accept the alternative offered by the advocates of strict
construction, we shall not find that their case is strengthened. Claiming
that where the meaning of an instrument is doubtful, it should be
interpreted according to the contemporary understanding of its framers,
they argue that it would be absurd to suppose that gentlemen from the
Southern States would have united to form a society that included in its
objects any discussion of the moral duties arising from the institution of
Slavery. Admitting the first part of their proposition, we deny the
conclusion they seek to draw from it. They are guilty of a glaring
anachronism in assuming the same opinions and prejudices to have existed
in 1825 which are undoubtedly influential in 1858. The Antislavery
agitation did not begin until 1831, and the debates in the Virginia
Convention prove conclusively that six years after the foundation of the
Tract Society, the leading men in that State, men whose minds had been
trained and whose characters had been tempered in that school of action
and experience which was open to all during the heroic period of our
history, had not yet suffered such distortion of the intellect through
passion, and such deadening of the conscience through interest, as would
have prevented their discussing either the moral or the political aspects
of Slavery, and precluded them from uniting in any effort to make the
relation between master and slave less demoralizing to the one and less
imbruting to the other.

Again, it is claimed that the words of the Constitution are conclusive,
and that the declaration that the publications of the Society shall be
such as are "satisfactory to all Evangelical Christians" forbids by
implication the issuing of any tract which could possibly offend the
brethren in Slave States. The Society, it is argued, can publish only on
topics about which all Evangelical Christians are agreed, and must,
therefore, avoid everything in which the question of politics is involved.
But what are the facts about matters other than Slavery? Tracts have been
issued and circulated in which Dancing is condemned as sinful; are all
Evangelical Christians agreed about this? On the Temperance question;
against Catholicism;--have these topics never entered into our politics?
The simple truth is, that Slavery is the only subject about which the
Publishing Committee have felt Constitutional scruples. Till this question
arose, they were like me in perfect health, never suspecting that they had
any constitution at all; but now, like hypochondriacs, they feel it in
every pore, at the least breath from the eastward.

If a strict construction of the words "all Evangelical Christians" be
insisted on, we are at a loss to see where the Committee could draw the
dividing line between what might be offensive and what allowable. The
Society publish tracts in which the study of the Scriptures is enforced
and their denial to the laity by Romanists assailed. But throughout the
South it is criminal to teach a slave to read; throughout the South, no
book could be distributed among the servile population more incendiary
than the Bible, if they could only read it. Will not our Southern brethren
take alarm? The Society is reduced to the dilemma of either denying that
the African has a soul to be saved, or of consenting to the terrible
mockery of assuring him that the way of life is to be found only by
searching a book which he is forbidden to open.

If we carry out this doctrine of strict construction to its legitimate
results, we shall find that it involves a logical absurdity. What is the
number of men whose outraged sensibilities may claim the suppression of a
tract? Is the _taboo_ of a thousand valid? Of a hundred? Of ten? Or are
tracts to be distributed only to those who will find their doctrine
agreeable, and are the Society's colporteurs to be instructed that a
Temperance essay is the proper thing for a total-abstinent infidel, and a
sermon on the Atonement for a distilling deacon? If the aim of the Society
be only to convert men from sins they have no mind to, and to convince
them of errors to which they have no temptation, they might as well be
spending their money to persuade schoolmasters that two and two make four,
or mathematicians that there cannot be two obtuse angles in a triangle. If
this be their notion of the way in which the gospel is to be preached, we
do not wonder that they have found it necessary to print a tract upon the
impropriety of sleeping in church.

But the Society are concluded by their own action; for in 1857 they
unanimously adopted the following resolution: "That those moral duties
which grow out of the existence of Slavery, as well as those moral evils
and vices which it is known to promote, and which are condemned in
Scripture, and so much deplored by Evangelical Christians, undoubtedly do
fall within the province of this Society, and can and ought to be
discussed in a fraternal and Christian spirit." The Society saw clearly
that it was impossible to draw a Mason and Dixon's line in the world of
ethics, to divide Duty by a parallel of latitude. The only line which
Christ drew is that which parts the sheep from the goats, that great
horizon-line of the moral nature of man which is the boundary between
light and darkness. The Society, by yielding (as they have done in 1858)
to what are pleasantly called the "objections" of the South, (objections
of so forcible a nature that we are told the colporteurs were "forced to
flee,") virtually exclude the black man, if born to the southward of a
certain arbitrary line, from the operation of God's providence, and
thereby do as great a wrong to the Creator as the Episcopal Church did to
the artist when they published Ary Scheffer's _Christus Consolator_ with
the figure of the slave left out.

The Society is not asked to disseminate antislavery doctrines, but simply
to be even-handed between master and slave, and, since they have
recommended Sambo and Toney to be obedient to Mr. Legree, to remind him in
turn that he also has duties toward the bodies and souls of his bondmen.
But we are told that the time has not yet arrived, that at present the
ears of our Southern brethren are closed against all appeals, that God in
his good time will turn their hearts, and that then, and not till then,
will be the fitting occasion to do something in the premises. But if the
Society is to await this golden opportunity with such exemplary patience
in one case, why not in all? If it is to decline any attempt at converting
the sinner till after God has converted him, will there be any special
necessity for a tract society at all? Will it not be a little
presumptuous, as well as superfluous, to undertake the doing over again of
what He has already done? We fear that the studies of Blackstone, upon
which the gentlemen who argue thus have entered in order to fit themselves
for the legal and constitutional argument of the question, have confused
their minds, and that they are misled by some fancied analogy between a
tract and an action of trover, and conceive that the one, like the other,
cannot be employed till after an actual conversion has taken place.

The resolutions reported by the Special Committee at the annual meeting of
1857, drawn up with great caution and with a sincere desire to make whole
the breach in the Society, have had the usual fate of all attempts to
reconcile incompatibilities by compromise. They express confidence in the
Publishing Committee, and at the same time impliedly condemn them by
recommending them to do precisely what they had all along scrupulously
avoided doing. The result was just what might have been expected. Both
parties among the Northern members of the Society, those who approved the
former action of the Publishing Committee, and those who approved the new
policy recommended in the resolutions, those who favored silence and those
who favored speech on the subject of Slavery, claimed the victory, while
the Southern brethren, as usual, refused to be satisfied with anything
short of unconditional submission. The word Compromise, as far as Slavery
is concerned, has always been of fatal augury. The concessions of the
South have been like the "With all my worldly goods I thee endow" of a
bankrupt bridegroom, who thereby generously bestows all his debts upon his
wife, and as a small return for his magnanimity consents to accept all her
personal and a life estate in all her real property. The South is willing
that the Tract Society should expend its money to convince the slave that
he has a soul to be saved so far as he is obedient to his master, but not
to persuade the master that he has a soul to undergo a very different
process so far as he is unmerciful to his slave.

We Americans are very fond of this glue of compromise. Like so many quack
cements, it is advertised to make the mended parts of the vessel stronger
than those which have never been broken, but, like them, it will not stand
hot water,--and as the question of Slavery is sure to plunge all who
approach it, even with the best intentions, into that fatal element, the
patched-up brotherhood, which but yesterday was warranted to be better
than new, falls once more into a heap of incoherent fragments. The last
trial of the virtues of the Patent Redintegrator by the Special Committee
of the Tract Society has ended like all the rest, and as all attempts to
buy peace at too dear a rate must end. Peace is an excellent thing, but
principle and pluck are better; and the man who sacrifices them to gain it
finds at last that he has crouched under the Caudine yoke to purchase only
a contemptuous toleration that leaves him at war with his own self-respect
and the invincible forces of his higher nature.

But the peace which Christ promised to his followers was not of this
world; the good gift he brought them was not peace, but a sword. It was no
sword of territorial conquest, but that flaming blade of conscience and
self-conviction which lightened between our first parents and their lost
Eden,--that sword of the Spirit that searcheth all things,--which severs
one by one the ties of passion, of interest, of self-pride, that bind the
soul to earth,--whose implacable edge may divide a man from family, from
friends, from whatever is nearest and dearest,--and which hovers before
him like the air-drawn dagger of Macbeth, beckoning him, not to crime, but
to the legitimate royalties of self-denial and self-sacrifice, to the
freedom which is won only by surrender of the will. Christianity has never
been concession, never peace; it is continual aggression; one province of
wrong conquered, its pioneers are already in the heart of another. The
mile-stones of its onward march down the ages have not been monuments of
material power, but the blackened stakes of martyrs, trophies of
individual fidelity to conviction. For it is the only religion which is
superior to all endowment, to all authority,--which has a bishopric and a
cathedral wherever a single human soul has surrendered itself to God. That
very spirit of doubt, inquiry, and fanaticism for private judgment, with
which Romanists reproach Protestantism, is its stamp and token of
authenticity,--the seal of Christ, and not of the Fisherman.

We do not wonder at the division which has taken place in the Tract
Society, nor do we regret it. The ideal life of a Christian is possible to
very few, but we naturally look for a nearer approach to it in those who
associate together to disseminate the doctrines which they believe to be
its formative essentials, and there is nothing which the enemies of
religion seize on so gladly as any inconsistency between the conduct and
the professions of such persons. Though utterly indifferent to the wrongs
of the slave, the scoffer would not fail to remark upon the hollowness of
a Christianity which was horror-stricken at a dance or a Sunday-drive,
while it was blandly silent about the separation of families, the putting
asunder whom God had joined, the selling Christian girls for Christian
harems, and the thousand horrors of a system which can lessen the agonies
it inflicts only by debasing the minds and souls of the race on whom it
inflicts them. Is your Christianity, then, he would say, a respecter of
persons, and does it condone the sin because the sinner can contribute to
your coffers? Was there ever a Simony like this,--that does not sell, but
withholds, the gift of God for a price?

The world naturally holds the Society to a stricter accountability than it
would insist upon in ordinary cases. Were they only a club of gentlemen
associated for their own amusement, it would be very natural and proper
that they should exclude all questions which would introduce controversy,
and that, however individually interested in certain reforms, they should
not force them upon others who would consider them a bore. But a society
of professing Christians, united for the express purpose of carrying both
the theory and the practice of the New Testament into every household in
the land, has voluntarily subjected itself to a graver responsibility, and
renounced all title to fall back upon any reserved right of personal
comfort or convenience.

We say, then, that we are glad to see this division in the Tract Society,
--not glad because of the division, but because it has sprung from an
earnest effort to relieve the Society of a reproach which was not only
impairing its usefulness, but doing an injury to the cause of truth and
sincerity everywhere. We have no desire to impugn the motives of those who
consider themselves conservative members of the Society; we believe them
to be honest in their convictions, or their want of them; but we think
they have mistaken notions as to what conservatism is, and that they are
wrong in supposing it to consist in refusing to wipe away the film on
their spectacle-glasses which prevents their seeing the handwriting on the
wall, or in conserving reverently the barnacles on their ship's bottom and
the dry-rot in its knees. We yield to none of them in reverence for the
Past; it is there only that the imagination can find repose and seclusion;
there dwells that silent majority whose experience guides our action and
whose wisdom shapes our thought in spite of ourselves;--but it is not
length of days that can make evil reverend, nor persistence in
inconsistency that can give it the power or the claim of orderly
precedent. Wrong, though its title-deeds go back to the days of Sodom, is
by nature a thing of yesterday,--while the right, of which we became
conscious but an hour ago, is more ancient than the stars, and of the
essence of Heaven. If it were proposed to establish Slavery to-morrow,
should we have more patience with its patriarchal argument than with the
parallel claim of Mormonism? That Slavery is old is but its greater
condemnation; that we have tolerated it so long, the strongest plea for
our doing so no longer. There is one institution to which we owe our first
allegiance, one that is more sacred and venerable than any other,--the
soul and conscience of Man.

What claim has Slavery to immunity from discussion? We are told that
discussion is dangerous. Dangerous to what? Truth invites it, courts the
point of the Ithuriel-spear, whose touch can but reveal more clearly the
grace and grandeur of her angelic proportions. The advocates of Slavery
have taken refuge in the last covert of desperate sophism, and affirm that
their institution is of Divine ordination, that its bases are laid in the
nature of man. Is anything, then, of God's contriving endangered by
inquiry? Was it the system of the universe, or the monks, that trembled at
the telescope of Galileo? Did the circulation of the firmament stop in
terror because Newton laid his daring finger on its pulse? But it is idle
to discuss a proposition so monstrous. There is no right of sanctuary for
a crime against humanity, and they who drag an unclean thing to the horns
of the altar bring it to vengeance and not to safety.

Even granting that Slavery were all that its apologists assume it to be,
and that the relation of master and slave were of God's appointing, would
not its abuses be just the thing which it was the duty of Christian men to
protest against, and, as far as might be, to root out? Would our courts
feel themselves debarred from interfering to rescue a daughter from a
parent who wished to make merchandise of her purity, or a wife from a
husband who was brutal to her, by the plea that parental authority and
marriage were of Divine ordinance? Would a police-justice discharge a
drunkard who pleaded the patriarchal precedent of Noah? or would he not
rather give him another month in the House of Correction for his

The Antislavery question is not one which the Tract Society can exclude by
triumphant majorities, nor put to shame by a comparison of
respectabilities. Mixed though it has been with politics, it is in no
sense political, and springing naturally from the principles of that
religion which traces its human pedigree to a manger, and whose first
apostles were twelve poor men against the whole world, it can dispense
with numbers and earthly respect. The clergyman may ignore it in the
pulpit, but it confronts him in his study; the church-member, who has
suppressed it in parish-meeting, opens it with the pages of his Testament;
the merchant, who has shut it out of his house and his heart, finds it
lying in wait for him, a gaunt fugitive, in the hold of his ship; the
lawyer, who has declared that it is no concern of his, finds it thrust
upon him in the brief of the slave-hunter; the historian, who had
cautiously evaded it, stumbles over it at Bunker Hill. And why? Because it
is not political, but moral,--because it is not local, but national,
--because it is not a test of party, but of individual honesty and honor.
The wrong which we allow our nation to perpetrate we cannot localize,
if we would; we cannot hem it within the limits of Washington or Kansas;
sooner or later, it will force itself into the conscience and sit by the
hearthstone of every citizen.

It is not partisanship, it is not fanaticism, that has forced this matter
of Anti-slavery upon the American people; it is the spirit of
Christianity, which appeals from prejudices and predilections to the moral
consciousness of the individual man; that spirit elastic as air,
penetrative as heat, invulnerable as sunshine, against which creed after
creed and institution after institution have measured their strength and
been confounded; that restless spirit which refuses to crystallize in any
sect or form, but persists, a Divinely-commissioned radical and
reconstructor, in trying every generation with a new dilemma between case
and interest on the one hand, and duty on the other. Shall it be said that
its kingdom is not of this world? In one sense, and that the highest, it
certainly is not; but just as certainly Christ never intended those words
to be used as a subterfuge by which to escape our responsibilities in the
life of business and politics. Let the cross, the sword, and the arena
answer, whether the world, that then was, so understood its first
preachers and apostles. Caesar and Flamen both instinctively dreaded it,
not because it aimed at riches or power, but because it strove to conquer
that other world in the moral nature of mankind, where it could establish
a throne against which wealth and force would be weak and contemptible. No
human device has ever prevailed against it, no array of majorities or
respectabilities; but neither Caesar nor Flamen ever conceived a scheme so
cunningly adapted to neutralize its power as that graceful compromise
which accepts it with the lip and denies it in the life, which marries it
at the altar and divorces it at the church-door.


In our first article on the Roman Catacombs we expressed the belief that
"a year was now hardly likely to pass without the discovery" of new
burial-places of the early Christians,--the fresh interest in Christian
archaeology leading to fresh explorations in the hollow soil of the
Campagna. A letter to us from Rome, of the 2lst of April, confirms the
justness of this expectation. We quote from it the following interesting

"The excavations on the Via Appia Nuova, which I mentioned in a former
letter, prove very interesting, and have already resulted in most
important discoveries. The spot is at the second milestone outside of the
gate of St. John Lateran. The field is on the left of the road going
towards Albano, and in it are several brick tombs of beautiful fine work,
now or formerly used as dwellings or barns. You and I crossed the very
field on a certain New Year's Day, and lingered to admire the almost
unrivalled view of the Campagna, the mountains, and Rome, which it

"The first discovery was an ancient basilica, satisfactorily ascertained
to be the one dedicated to St. Stephen, built by Santa Demetria,--the
first nun,--at the instigation of the pope, St. Leo the Great. [A.D. 440-
461.] Sig. Fortunati, who made the discovery and directs the excavations,
told me at great length how he was led to the investigation; but as he has
published this and much more in a pamphlet, which I shall send to you, I
will not repeat it here.

"Twenty-two columns have been found, many of rare and beautiful marble,
one of _verde antico_, most superb, others of _breccia_ and of _cipollino
marino_, said to be rare, and certainly very beautiful. Forty bases and
over thirty capitals of various styles have also been found, as well as
architectural ornaments without number, many of them carved with Greek or
Roman crosses. The rare and superb fragments of marble show that there
must have been costly and beautiful linings and finish. There are also
numerous inscriptions of great interest, which connect this church with
illustrious families and famous martyrs.

"Subsequently, portions of villas were found, with ruined baths, and
mosaics and frescoes, with various pieces of sculpture, some perfect and
of most excellent style. There is also a sarcophagus with bas-relief of a
Bacchic procession, remarkably fine. The government has bought all for the
Museum, and intends spending a large sum in building a basilica over the
remains of the old one, in honor of St. Stephen.

"But the most remarkable discovery is an old Roman tomb, by far the finest
I have seen in its preservation and perfection. It is about eighteen feet
square, has been lined and paved with white marble, some of which still
remains. The lofty ceiling is covered with bas-reliefs in stucco, of
charming grace and spirit, representing various mythological subjects, in
square compartments united by light and elegant arabesques. They are
really of wonderful merit, and so perfectly preserved, so fresh, that they
seem as if done last year. A massive marble doorway, beautifully corniced,
gives entrance to this superb chamber, in which were found three huge
sarcophagi, containing the bones of nine bodies;--which bones are left to
lie exposed, because the bones of pagans! These sarcophagi are of splendid
workmanship, but, unhappily, broken by former barbarians. Present
barbarians (said to be Inglesi and Americani) have stolen two skulls, and
pick up everything not closely watched. Opposite to this chamber is
another, smaller and more modest in adornment, and by the side of this
descend two flights of steps in perfect repair. Many vases of colored
glass and two very handsome rings were found at the foot of these steps.
This tomb is supposed to be of about 160 of our era.

"These stairways descend from the ancient Via Latina, which has been
excavated for some distance, and is found with wide sidewalks of stone
(lava) similar to the sidewalks in Pompeii. The narrow carriage-way is
deeply rutted, which makes one think that the old Romans had hard bumps to
contend with.

"Another tomb with perfect stairway has been discovered, but it is much
more plain. Foundations of villas, and baths with leaden pipes in great
quantity, have been exposed. I hear to-day that the government has ordered
the excavation of a mile and a half of the old Via Latina in this
neighborhood, and much interesting discovery is anticipated."

We will only add to our correspondent's account the fact that the Basilica
of St. Stephen had been sought for in vain previously to this discovery by
Signor Fortunati. The great explorer, Bosio, failed to find it, and
Aringhi, writing just two hundred years ago, says, "Formerly upon the Via
Latina stood the church erected with great pains in honor of the most
blessed Stephen, the first martyr, by Demetria, a woman of pristine piety;
of which the Bibliothecarius, in his account of Pope Leo the First, thus
makes mention: 'In these days, Demetria, the handmaid of God, made the
Basilica of St. Stephen on the Latin Way, at the third mile-stone, on her
estate:... which afterward, being decayed and near to ruin through the
long course of years, was restored by Pope Leo the Third.' Of this most
noble church, which was one of the chief monuments of the Christian
religion, as well as an ornament of the city of Rome, no vestige at this
day remains."

It is remarkable that a church restored so late as the time of Leo III.
[A.D. 795-816] should have been so lost without being utterly destroyed,
and so buried under the slowly-accumulating soil of the Campagna, that the
very tradition of the existence of its remains should have disappeared,
and its discovery have been the result of scientific archaeeological

The disappearance and the forgetting of the Church of St. Alexander were
less remarkable, because of its far greater distance from the city, and
its comparative inconspicuousness and poverty. Scarcely a more striking
proof exists of the misery and lowness of Rome during many generations in
the Dark Ages than that she should thus have forgotten the very sites of
the churches which had stood around her walls, the outpost citadels of her


_The Aquarium: An Unveiling of the Wonders of the Deep Sea_. By P.H.
GOSSE. Second Edition, revised and enlarged. With Illustrations. London:

_The Common Objects of the Seashore; including Hints for an Aquarium_. By
the REV. J.G. WOOD. With Illustrations. London: Routledge & Co. 1857.

We trust that many of our readers, stimulated by the account of an
Aquarium which was given in our number for February, are proposing to set
one up for themselves.

Let no one who has been to Barnum's Museum, to look at what the naming
advertisement elegantly and grammatically terms "an aquaria," fancy that
he has seen the beauty of the real aquarium. The sea will not show its
treasures in a quarter of an hour, or be made a sight of for a quarter of
a dollar. An aquarium is not to be exhausted in a day, but, if favorably
placed where it may have sufficient direct sunshine, and well stocked with
various creatures, day after day developes within it new beauties and
unexpected sights. It becomes like a secret cave in the ocean, where the
processes of Nature go on in wonderful and silent progression, and the coy
sea displays its rarer beauties of life, of color, and of form before the
watching eyes. Look at it on some clear day, when the sun is bright, and
see the broad leaves of ulva, their vivid green sparkling with the
brilliant bubbles of oxygen which float up to the surface like the bubbles
of Champagne; see the glades of the pink coralline, or the purple Iceland-
moss covered with its plum-like down, in the midst of which the
transparent bodies of the shrimps or the yellow or banded shells of the
sea-snails are lying half hid. See on the brown rock, whose surface is
covered with the softest growth, the white anemone stretching its crown of
delicate tentacles to the light; or the long winding case of the serpula,
from the end of which appear the purple, brown, or yellow feathers that
decorate the head of its timid occupant. Or watch the scallop with his
turquoise eyes; or the comic crabs, or the minnows playing through the
water, in and out of the recesses of the rocks or the thickets of the
seaweed. There is no end of the pleasant sights. And day after day the
creatures will grow more tame, the serpula will not dart back into his
case when you approach, nor the pecten close his beautiful shell as your
shadow passes over it. Moreover, the habits of the creatures grow more
entertaining as you become familiar with them, and even the dull oyster
begins at last to show some signs of individual character.

And it is easy to have all this away from the seashore. The best tanks, so
far as we know, that are made in this country, are those of Mr. C.E.
Hammett, of Newport, Rhode Island. But the tank is of little importance,
if one cannot get the water, the seaweed, and the stock; and therefore Mr.
Hammett undertakes to supply these also. He will send, not the water
itself, but the salts obtained by evaporation from the quantity of water
necessary for each aquarium. These are to be dissolved in clear spring-
water, (previously boiled, to insure its containing no injurious living
matter,) and then the aquarium, having first had a bed of cleanly-washed
sand put upon its bottom for about an inch or an inch and a half in depth,
and this in turn covered with a thin layer of small pebbles,--though these
last are not essential,--is to be filled with it. Then the seaweed, which
is sent so packed as to preserve its freshness, is to be put in. It will
be attached to small bits of rock, and these should be supported by or
laid upon other pieces of stone, so raised as to secure a free passage for
the water about them, and so afford places of retreat for the animals. The
stock will be sent, if it is to go to any distance, in jars, and anemones,
crabs, shell-fish of various kinds, and many other creatures, will be
found among it. The seaweed should be a day or two in the tank before the
creatures are put into it.

And now, having got the aquarium in order, comes the point how to keep it
in order,--how to keep the creatures alive, and how to prevent the water
from growing cloudy and thick. The main rule is to secure sunlight,--hot
enough to raise the water to a temperature above that of the outer air,--
to remove all dirt and floating scum, and to furnish the tank on every
cloudy day with a supply of air and with motion by means of a syringe. The
creatures should never be fed in warm weather with any animal substance,
its decay being certain to corrupt the water. A little meal or a few
crumbs of bread may now and then be given; but even this is not necessary;
for Nature furnishes all the food that is needed, in the spores thrown off
by the seaweed, in the seaweed itself, whose growth is generally
sufficiently rapid to make up for the ravages committed upon it, and in
the host of infusoria constantly produced in the water. If any of the
creatures die, their bodies should be immediately removed,--though
sometimes the omnivorous crabs will do this work rapidly enough. As the
water evaporates, it should be filled up to its original level with fresh
spring-water,--the salts in it undergoing no diminution by evaporation.
If, suddenly, the water should grow thick, it should be taken from the
tank, a portion at a time, and filtered back into it slowly through
pounded charcoal, the process being repeated till the purity seems to be
returning, and at the same time the rocks and seaweed should be removed
and carefully washed in fresh water. If, however, the water should by any
ill chance grow tainted and emit a bad odor, nothing can be done to
restore it, and, unless it is at once changed, the creatures will die. To
meet such an emergency, which is of rare occurrence, it is well to have a
double quantity of the salts sent with the tank to secure a new supply of
water. But we have known aquariums that have kept in order for more than
a year with no change of the water, a supply of spring-water being put in
from time to time as we have directed; and at this moment, as we write,
there is an aquarium at our side which has been in active operation for
six months, and the water is as clear as it was the day it was put in. If,
spite of everything, the seawater fail, then try a fresh-water aquarium.
Use your tank for the pond instead of the ocean; and in the spotted newt,
the tortoise, the tadpole, the caddis-worm, and the thousand other
inhabitants of our inland ponds and brooks, with the weeds among which
they live, you will find as much entertainment as in watching the wonders
of the great sea.

A camel's-hair brush, a bent spoon on a long handle, a sponge tied to a
stick, and one or two other instruments which use will suggest, are all
that are needed for keeping the sides of the tank free from growth or
removing obnoxious substances from its bottom.

If, on receiving the animals, any of them should appear exhausted by the
journey, they may sometimes be revived by aerating the water in which they
are by means of a syringe. It should always be remembered, that, though
living in the water, they need a constant supply of air. And it would be
well, in getting an aquarium, to have the tank and the seaweeds sent a few
days in advance of the stock, so that on the arrival of the creatures they
may be at once transferred to their new abode.

There are no American books upon the subject, and, in the present want of
them, the two whose names are given above arc the best that can be
obtained. Mr. Gosse's is expensive, costing between four and five dollars.
"The Common Objects of the Seashore," to be got for a quarter of a dollar,
contains much accurate, unpretending, and pleasant information.

_The American Drawing-Book: a Manual for the Amateur, and a Basis of Study
for the Professional Artist_. Especially adapted to the Use of Public and
Private Schools, as well as Home Instruction. By J.G. CHAPMAN, N.A. New
York: J.S. Kedfield. 4to. pp. 304.

Drawing-books, in general, deserve to be put into the same category with
the numerous languages "without a master" which have deluded so many
impatient aspirants to knowledge by royal (and cheap) roads. A drawing-
book, at its very best, is only a partial and lame substitute for a
teacher, giving instruction empirically; so that, be it ever so correct in
principle, it must lack adaptation to the momentary and most pressing
wants of the pupil and to his particular frame of mind; it is too
Procrustean to be of any ultimate use to anybody, except in comparatively
unimportant matters. It is well enough for those who need only amusement
in their drawing, and whose highest idea of Art is copying prints and
pictures; but for those who want assistance from Art in order to the
better understanding of Nature, no man, be he ever so wise, can, by the
drawing-book plan, do much to smooth the way of study.

All that another mind could do for us by way of teaching Art would be to
save us time,--first, by its experience, in anticipating our failures;
second, by its trained accuracy, to correct our errors of expression more
promptly than our afterthought would do it,--and to systematize our
perceptions for us by showing us the relative and comparative importance
of truths in Nature. In the first two respects, which are merely
practical, the drawing-book, if judiciously prepared, might do somewhat to
assist us; but in the last and most important, only the experienced and
thoughtful artist, standing with us before Nature, can give us further
insight into her system of expression. A good picture may do a little, but
it is Nature's own face we need to study, and that neither book nor
picture can very deeply interpret for our proper and peculiar perception.

In the practical part, again, the drawing-book can give us no real
assistance in regard to color. And thus the efficacy of it is reduced to
the communication of methods of drawing in white and black. This Chapman's
book does to the best purpose possible under the circumstances, in what is
technically termed the right-line system of drawing,--that is, the
reduction of all forms to their approximate geometrical figures in order
to facilitate the measurements of the eye. Thus, it is easier by far to
determine the proportion which exists between the sides of a triangle
formed by the lines connecting the three principal points in any figure
than any curvilinear connections whatever. The application of the
rectilinear system consists in the use, as a basis of the drawing, of such
a series of triangles as shall at once show the exact relation of the
points of definition or expression to each other; but the successful
application of this depends much on the assistance of the trained eye and
hand of a master watching every step we make.

When we leave this section of the "American Drawing-Book," we leave all
that is of practical value to the young artist. The prescription of any
particular mode of execution is always injurious, (if in any degree
effective,) for the reason that the student must not think of execution at
all, but simply what the form is which he wants to draw, and how he can
draw it most plainly and promptly. Decision of execution should always he
the result of complete knowledge of the thing to be drawn; if from any
other source, it will assuredly be only heedless scrawling, bad in
proportion as it is energetic and decided.

The chapter on Perspective is full and well illustrated, and useful to
architectural or mechanical draughtsmen, may-be, but little so to artists.
There are, indeed, no laws of perspective which the careful draughtsman
from Nature need ever apply, for his eye will show him the tendency of
lines and the relative magnitude of bodies quicker than he can find them
by the application of the rules of perspective,--and with much better
result, since all application of science _directly_ to artistic work
endangers its poetic character, and almost invariably gives rise to a
hardness and formalism the reverse of artistic, leading the artist to
depend on what he knows ought to be rather than on what he really sees, a
tendency more to be deprecated than any want of correctness in drawing.

The book contains chapters on artistic processes and technical matters
generally, making it a useful hand-book to amateurs; but all that is
really valuable to a young student of Art might be compressed into a very
few pages of this ponderous book. To follow its prescriptions _seriatim_
would be to him a serious loss of time and heart.

_The New American Cyclopaedia_. A Popular Dictionary of General Knowledge,
Edited by GEORGE RIPLEY and CHAS. A. DANA. Vol. II. New York: D. Appleton
& Co. 8vo.

We have spoken so fully of the purpose and general character of this work,
in noticing the first volume, that it is hardly necessary for us to speak
at length of the second. In a rapid glance at its contents, it appears
fully to bear out the promise of the first. We have noticed a few
omissions, and some mistakes of judgment. It is, perhaps, impossible to
preserve the gradation of reputations in such a work; but a zoologist must
be puzzled when he sees Von Baer, the great embryologist, who made a
classification of animals, founded on their development, which
substantially agrees with that of Cuvier, founded on their structure,
occupy about one tenth of the space devoted to Peter T. Barnum; however,
we suppose, that, as Barnum created new animals, he is a more wonderful
personage than Von Baer, who simply classified old ones. These occasional
omissions and disturbances of the scale of reputations are, however, more
than offset by the new information the editors have been able to
incorporate into most of their biographies of the living, and not a few of
those of the dead. Many persons who were mere names to the majority of the
public are here, for the first time, recognized as men engaged in living
lives as well as in writing books. Some of these biographies must have
been obtained at the expense of much time and correspondence. Samuel
Bayley, the author of "Essays on the Formation of Opinions," is one of
these well-known names but unknown men; but in the present volume he has
been compelled to come out of his mysterious seclusion, and present to the
public those credentials of dates and incidents which prove him to be a
positive existence on the planet.

The papers on Arboriculture, Architecture, Arctic Discovery, Armor, Army,
Asia, Atlantic Ocean, Australia, Balance of Power, Bank, and Barometer,
are excellent examples of compact and connected statement of facts and
principles. The biographies of Aristotle, Aristophanes, Augustine,
Ariosto, and Arnold, and the long article on Athens, are among the most
striking and admirable papers in the volume. As the purpose of the work is
to supply a Cyclopaedia for popular use, it is inevitable that students of
special sciences or subjects should be occasionally disappointed at the
comparatively meagre treatment of their respective departments of
knowledge. In regard to the articles in the present volume, it may be said
that such subjects as Astronomy and the Association of Ideas should have
occupied more space, even if the wants of the ordinary reader were alone
consulted. But still, when we consider the vast range and variety of
topics included in this volume, and the fact that it comprehends a dozen
subjects which a dozen octavos devoted to each would not exhaust, we are
compelled to award praise to the editors for contriving to compress into
so small a space an amount of information so great.

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