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certainly was our primeval period. The world now acknowleilges the profound world-wide interest of its history. Dr. Wise has given sketches of Wesley, Fletcher, Lady Huntingdon, Adam Clarke, down to Jackson and Dawson. We adopt Dr. Wise's motto: “Let the deeds of our Methodist fathers and mother's be never forgotten-let your children remember them forever.”
Building the Nation. Events in the History of the United States: from the Rev.
olution to the Beginning of the War between the States. By CHARLES CARLETON COFFix, Author of The Boys of '76," " The Story of Liberty," " Old Times in the Colonies," etc.
8vo, pp. 485. New York: Harper & Brothers. 1883.
In this volume, one of the Harpers' illustrated, Mr. Coffin has given us a portion of our American history in a style and method of eminent fascination. His diction is popular and colloquial; he selects in historical order the most striking scenes and characters, and shows great skill in reproducing the popular feeling of that day. The cuts are plentiful and often piquant, so that every boy, young and old, may be easily seduced into a knowledge of the history of his country. He ends at the beginning of our late civil war, and all will be ready for his next volume next year.
Report of the President of Liberia College to the Board of Trustees. December, 1881.
8vo. pp. 26. Cambridge, U. S. A., John Wilson Jon. 1882. The Aims and Methods of a Liberal Enlucation for Africans. Inaugural Address
delivered by EDWARD WIDOT BLYDEN, LL.D.. President of Liberia College. January 5, 1881. 8vo, pp. 30. Cambridge, U. S. A., John Wilson & Son.
1882. Dr. Blyden's two pamphlets are written in the graceful English of which he is so fine a master. They show an earnest interest in behalf of his people. We take occasion to express our hearty sympathy for his self-consecration to his work and the general wisdom of his counsels.
As an exposition of his views of the methods of constructing an African civilization these publications remove some misunderstandings. We find a report, even in the periodicals of his race in America, that he had prohibited the use of the English language in Liberia College. The truth secms to be that he reprobates a great share of English literature because it is so deprecia
tory toward the colored race as to depress the feelings and degrade the character of its present Negro readers. In the literary course of the college he will so plan the studies as to fling in the background this period of modern literature.
Dr. Blyden takes a very strong view of the debasing effect of slavery on the immigrants from America. It unfits the American Negro missionary for the work in Africa. He has gone so far as to say that Mohammedism produces a nobler manhood in its converts than the Christianity of our missionaries. He would cherish a high respect for the Moslemism of Africa, and has a theory of making it "a stepping-stone to Christianity.” Ile would have the Negro Christian missionary educated in Africa, in schools under Negro faculties. In short, though founded in Caucasian Christian philanthropy, there must be as complete a withdrawal from Caucasian Christian civilization as may be. The liberalities of the founders of the schools, and of the Republic itself, cannot obliterate the bitter memories of African wrongs, nor the traces of slavery. In both the Report and the Address there are severe replies to Caucasian attacks; and criticisms are passed upon even the defenses and culogies of the friends of the Negro. On the whole, while recognizing the wisdom of much he says, we cannot help fearing that many of his words are tending to cultivate an oversensitiveness among his countrymen which may react unfavorably upon the American public mind. It is hard for people who would work and sacrifice for Africa to find themselves subjected to a severe criticism for not doing it better. Perhaps it might be well, also, to suggest whether the Negro himself is all right. Unless the Negro character and conduct can respond in a due degree to the efforts made for his advantage, discouragement must ensue. Wiser, apparently, it would be, for Dr. Blyden to impress upon his audiences the immense importance for the Negro to show himself susceptible of civilization, and alert and enterprising to its calls. It is he, and not the Caucasian, who is on trial. With Dr. Blyden the Negro seems all right, and the Caucasian the sole object of criticism.
That Dr. Blyden well understands the character of the needed missionary is well indicated in the following ideal picture :
For the great work to be done in this rast country we must have men trained amid the scenes of their future labors---men who can enter at once upon their work knowing what is to be done; who need neither mental nor physical acelimation; who know the specific methods in this country for performing industrial, commercial, educational, and religious work; who will know how to live in the country and in tho towns; who, if necessary, like the intrepid Anderson--educuted in Liberia-can walk two hundred miles on their bare feet, doing exploring
and scientific work; who can take the surveyor's chain and compass through swamps and over mountains, without the accessories of hammocks and beasts of burden, umbrellas and waterproofs; who as missionaries cau walk from village to village, proclaiming the Gospel of Christ to the natives in a language they can understand, and can sit down on mats and skins in native huts, reading their Greek Testament and Hebrew Bible, or discussing the Arabic Koran with Molammedans--and then at meal time can enjoy with their hosts palm oil and rice, palaver sauce and dumboy ; who will not long and pine for bacon and greens, peacles and pears, broadcloth coats and beaver hats.- Page 19.
That such missionaries, plentiful, it would seem, among the Mohammedans of Africa, should not yet appear among the Christians, is the real complaint uttered in America. How can this coming band of new-life Christian missionaries be made to come immediately? The Mohammedan school of Cairo is, we understand, sending out its flaming missionaries by hundreds through the continent. But there appears in Liberia neither flame nor fire. All seems cold, dark, charcoal. Conspicuously is this evident in the fact that after more than half a century of work our Methodist conference counts but fourteen members, with a goodly proportion of places “to be supplied.” The difficulty seems to lie in the lifelessness of the material there. And yet Dr. Blyden does make it tolerably clear that the true method with Africa is to train the missionary in a school under Negro teachers, and fire them, if possible, with an apostolic zeal.
Literature and Fiction.
Development of English Literature and Language. By ALFRED H. WELSH, A.M.
2 vols. Chicago: S. C. Griggs & Co. London: Trübner & Co. The
purpose of these two handsome volumes is to give a broad account of the causes that have produced our literature, and a critical estimate of its character. To do this well would be to accomplish a most important and difficult task, in which no one has yet succeeded. We have as yet no satisfactory history of English literature. Taine's work, brilliant as it is, is inaccurate in details and written entirely in the service of a pet theory. Henry Morley's “English Writers” was suspended fifteen years ago when it had been carried only as far as the fifteenth century, and has never since been resumed. Professor Ten Brink, of Strasburg, is now engaged on what promises to be by far the best history of our literature; but only the first volume has yet been published, and of this there is no English translation. There is,
therefore, abundant room and need for such a book as Mr. Welsh has attempted.
To write such a work calls not only for wide and accurate knowledge, but also for rare philosophical and critical ability. It must be said for the author of the volumes before us that he has an intelligent conception of the breadth and difficulties of his theme, and a carefully-considered method of treatment. his introduction he lays down the general proposition that the character of a national literature is decided by the hereditary or race disposition of the writers; by their surroundings, physical, social, political; and by their individuality or personal character. To these three causes he, indeed, adds a fourth, the “ Epoch, or Spirit of the Age;" but it seems plain enough that this is resolvable into the other three, being only that condition of the general environment which obtains at any given time. A literature, then, being the product of these three factors—the Race, the Environment, the Person—it becomes necessary to show their com. bined action in literary growth, and, at the same time, to estimate their relative importance. In pursuance of such a plan, Mr. Welsh, after devoting two opening chapters to the formation of the English character in iis earliest history, begins every subsequent chapter with a somewhat detailed account of the religion, polities, morals, and manners of the period covered by the chapter, with such reference to the writings of the period as may serve to show how the social peculiarities described found expression in literature. He then selects a few of the more important and typical writers of the time and gives to their life and work a fuller discussion, under the several healings, Biography, Writings, Style, Rank, Character, and Influence.
The opening sections of each chapter, which describe the state of society at various epochs, are the most interesting and important parts of the book. They evince wide reading and often contain much curious and valuable information. But they do not always show a firm grasp of general causes.
The author often fails to make clear the laws of which the social facts lie has collected are the expression, or to show the bearing of those facts upon literature. Sometimes, too, his collection of facts, though interesting as a picture of society, omits just those details most pertinent to his subject. In the discussion of the first half of the eighteenth century, for instance, we find nothing said of the decay of the sentiment of authority in politics which followed the revolution of '88; nothing of the rise of that shrewd middle class
to whom political power was surely passing ; nothing of the portentons growth of the city of London and the forms of social life that accompanied that growth; nothing of the secrecy of Parliamentary debates which made necessary some other means of reaching the public ear; and nothing of the specific influence of French literary models. Yet these are just the causes which had most to do in determining the form and spirit of our literature under Anne and the first Georges. But after all deductions have been made, these sections form a useful contribution to the history of English society.
The remaining or critical sections seem to us not so valuable. The relation which the authors selected for detailed discussion bore to their age is often very imperfectly shown, even when, as in the case of Edmund Spenser, that relation is all-important. Nor does Mr. Welsh always succeed in giving a clear conception of the personality of his author. The copious citations from other critics are usually well chosen and valuable ; but his own criticism is vague, diffuse, and declamatory. It is never terse and incisive. It lacks originality and insight. The purely rhetorical criticism, in particular, is weak, the epithets grouped under the heading “Style” rarely having much descriptive value. It is, indeed, impossible to consider with any profit the “style” of a writer apart from those mental peculiarities of which it is the expression. That Longfellow's style is "simple, chcice, musical, sincere, vitalized by sympathy,” is true enough; but, then, so is that of Whittier, Goldsmith, Burns, and half a hundred other English poets. In fact, these remarks upon style seem sometimes to have been written pretty nearly at random ; when the style of Cowper is characterized as "animated, vigorous, pointed,” it would seem impossible that the epithets could have been deliberately chosen; the style of Sidney is characterized as “always flexible,” but “sometimes cramped.”
Mr. Welsh seems sometimes to fall into mistakes from unacquaintance with the latest authorities upon his subject. In the biographical sketch of Chaucer, for instance, there are in the first twenty-five lines seven different statements given as unquestioned matters of fact, every one of which has been shown, by recent study of Chaucer, to be either positively erroneous or at best merely conjectural. Mr. Welsh seems to have read nothing on Chaucer later than the book of Harris Nicolas. Indeed, his reading in general, though wide, would seem to have been very indiscriminate. The rather pretentious list of nearly