Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 10, No. 62, December, 1862
Part 5 out of 5
effect transcribed three times. By such labors was the immense mass
of contemporary evidence brought into order, clearly narrated, and
submitted to exact scientific criticism. For it is the distinguishing
characteristic of the book, that it is a critical history, constantly
illuminating facts by principles and deducing the most important maxims
of political and military science from the abundant material lavishly
contributed by the virtues, follies, and superabundant exertions of
three great nations in the heart of Europe, in the midst of the complex
civilization of the nineteenth century. The ever earnest, animated style
in which all this is written grows out of the subject and is supported
by it, always rising naturally with the requirements of the occasion. If
our officers in the field would learn how despatches should be written
and a record of their exploits be prepared to catch the ear of
posterity, let them give their leisure hours of the camp to the study
of Napier. The public also may learn many lessons of patience and
philosophy from these pages, when they turn from the book to the actual
warfare writing its ineffaceable characters on so many fair fields of
our own land.
_The Patience of Hope_. By the Author of "A Present Heaven." With an
Introduction by JOHN G. WHITTIER. Boston: Ticknor & Fields.
As the method by which an individual soul reaches conclusions with
regard to the Saviour and the conditions of salvation, "The Patience of
Hope" is worthy of particular attention. It does not, however, stand
alone, but belongs to a class. Its peculiarity is that it proceeds
by apposite text and inference, more than by the illumination of
feeling,--aiming to convince rather than to reveal, as is the manner of
those whose convictions have not quite become as a star in a firmament
where neither eclipse nor cloud ever comes. Evidently there was a most
searching examination of the Scriptures preparatory to the work; and yet
the ample quotation, often fresh and felicitous, appears to be made to
sustain a preconceived opinion, or, more strictly, an emotion. This
emotion is so single and absorbing that there is some gleam of it in
each varying view, and every sentiment is warm with it, however the
flame may lurk as beneath a crust of lava. Only from a richly gifted
mind, and a heart whose longings no fullness of mortal affection has
power to permanently appease, could these aspirations issue. It is the
tender complaint and patient hope of one whom the earth, and all that
is therein, cannot satisfy. Moreover, so pure and irrepressible is the
natural desire of the heart, so does it color and constitute all
the dream of Paradise, that the divinest Hope not only thrills and
palpitates with Love's ripest imaginings, but puts on nuptial robes.
Touchingly she pictures herself as "The Mystic Spouse,--her that cometh
up from the wilderness, leaning upon the arm of her Beloved,--and we
shall see that she, like her Lord, is wounded in her heart, her hands,
and her feet." Though sowing in such still remembered pain, she yet
reaps with unspeakable joy. She has now the full assurance that the
mystic and immortal embrace is for her, and in the fulness of her heart
cries, "When were Love's arms stretched so wide as upon the Cross?"
It is in keeping with such an aspiration that this and kindred natures
should perceive in Christianity the sacred mystery from which is to be
drawn, in the world to come, the full fruition of the tenderest and
most vital impulse of the human heart, and therefore to be most fitly
meditated and vividly anticipated in cloistered seclusion. Throughout
their revelations there is a yearning for Infinite Love; and ardent
receptivity is regarded as the true condition for the conception and
enjoyment of religion. It is clear that they have a passion, sublimated
and glorified indeed, but still a passion, for Christ. This is the
mightiest impulse to that exaltation of His person against which the
calm and consummate reasoner contends in vain. Truly we are fearfully
and wonderfully made! The soul is touched with the strong necessity of
loving; and its power becomes intense and inappeasable in proportion to
the capacity of the heart; and yet some of the greatest of those have
reposed so supremely in the innate and ineffable Ideal that to the
uninitiated they have seemed in their serenity as pulseless as pearls.
Through this sublime influence lovely women have become nuns, and
have lived and died saints, that they might continually indulge and
constantly cherish the blissful hope of being, in some spiritual form,
the brides of Jesus. A long line of these, coeval with the Crucifixion,
have passed on in maiden meditation, and so were fancy-free from all of
mortal mould. This ecstatic dreaming is so charming, and so insatiable
withal, that it seems to those who entertain it a divine vision. It is
an enchantment so complete that Reason cannot penetrate its circle, and
Logic has never approached it. Doubtless this fond aspiration finds
freest and fairest expression in the Roman Church,--a communion that not
only encourages, but enjoins, the adoration of the Virgin, in order that
certain enthusiasts among men may also aspire to the skies on the wings
of pure, yet passionate love.
The ready objection to this course of life is that it leads to solitude.
It wins the devotee apart, and away from the influences to that
universal brotherhood whereto Philanthropy fondly turns as the finest
manifestation of the spirit of the Redeemer. And yet they are equally
the fruits of His coming. Without the perfect Man the sublimest
endurance and most marvellous aspiration of Hope would never have found
development below. Now it has become a power that so pervades the bosoms
of sects that they accept its soaring wing as one to which the heaven
of heavens is open. This, certainly, is the greatest triumph that human
nature has achieved over those who have systematically depreciated it;
inasmuch as it is a heightening, not a change of heart. Verily, Love is
stronger than Death; and in its complete presence or utter absence,
here or hereafter, there is and will be the extreme of bliss or bale.
Therefore it is in the affections to lead those sweetly and swiftly
heavenward who singly seek the immortal way. So guided and inspired, it
cannot but be a charming path; for those who perpetually walk therein
come to look as though they were entranced with the perfume that
floats from fields of asphodel. Characters so developed are beautiful
exceedingly, and seem of a far higher strain than those who most
generously and effectively labor for the amelioration and moral
advancement of the race. They, more than any others who have riches
there, illumine the grand, yet gloomy arches of the Christian Church
with their ineffable whiteness. No preacher therein is so eloquent as
their marble silence; for they reveal in their countenances the mystery
of Redemption. Even while among the living, men looked upon them with
awe,--feeling, that, though coeval in time, infinite space rolled
between. They teach as no other order of teachers can, that the days and
duties of life may be so cast under foot as to exalt one to be only a
little lower than the angels. In fine, through them is made visible the
value of the individual soul; and thus we see, as in the central idea of
our author, that "that which moulds itself from within is free."
_Jenkins's Vest-Pocket Lexicon_. Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co.
Compared with "Webster's Unabridged" or "Worcester's Quarto," this
little pinch of words would make "small show." It is, however, a very
valuable pocket-companion; for, to use the author's own phrase, it
"omits what everybody knows, contains what everybody wants to know and
cannot readily find." It is really a _vade-mecum_, small, cheap, and
useful to a degree no one can fully appreciate until it has been
thoroughly tried. Mr. Jabex Jenkins may claim younger-brotherhood with
the men who have done service in the important department of education
he has chosen to enter.
_A Practical Guide to the Study of the Diseases of the Eye; their
Medical and Surgical Treatment_. By HENRY W. WILLIAMS, M.D. Boston:
Ticknor & Fields. 12mo. pp. 317.
If we readily accord our gratitude to those whose skilful hands and
well-instructed judgment render us physical service in our frequent
need, ought we not to offer additional thanks to such as by the
high tribute of their mental efforts confirm and elucidate the more
mechanical processes required in doing their beneficent work?
Do those who enjoy unimpaired vision, and who have not yet experienced
the sufferings arising from any of the varied forms of ocular disease,
appreciate the magnitude of the blessing vouchsafed to them? We venture
to answer in the negative.
Occasionally, the traveller by railway has a more or less severe hint
as to what an inflamed and painful eye may bring him to endure: those
countless flying cinders which blacken his garments and draw unsightly
lines upon his face with their slender charcoal-pencils do not always
leave him thus comparatively unharmed. Suppose one unluckily reaches the
eyeball just as the redness has faded from its sharp angles,--do we not
all know how the rest of that journey is one intolerable agony, unless
some fellow-traveller knows how to remove the offending substance? And
even then how the blistered, delicate surface yearns for a soothing
_douche_ of warm water,--perhaps not to be enjoyed for hours!
From slighter troubles, through all the more serious and dangerous
states arising from injury or produced by spontaneous or specifically
aroused inflammation, to the wonderful operations devised to give sight,
when the clear and beautiful lens has become clouded, or the delicate
muscular meshes of the iris are bound down or drawn together so as to
close the pupil and shut out the visible world, the learned and skilful
operator comes to our aid, a veritable messenger of mercy. To be
deprived of sight,--who can fully appreciate this melancholy condition,
save those who have been in danger of such a fate, or have had actual
experience of it, though only temporarily? Such a misfortune is
universally allowed to be worse, by far, than congenital blindness. And
this is not difficult to understand. The eyes that have been permitted
to drink in the varied hues of the landscape, and to gaze with such
delight upon the celestial revelations spread out nightly above and
around them, are indeed in double darkness when all this power and
privilege are swept away, it may be forever. The astronomer can truly
estimate the value of healthy eyes.
In looking over again, after a thorough perusal some time since, the
admirable work which forms the theme of this notice, we could not
resist the impulse to call attention to the infinite uses, unbounded
importance, and inestimable value of the organs of vision; and we have
no fear but our postulate in regard to the manner in which we should all
prize their conservators will be heartily acceded to.
This is hardly the place in which to enter into a minute professional
examination of this new volume. If we advert generally to its purpose,
and point out the undoubted benefits its recommendations and teaching
are destined to confer, both upon those who are sufferers,--or who will
be, unless they heed its warnings,--and upon the practitioners who
devote either an exclusive or a general attention to the diseases of the
eye, the end we have in view will be partially attained,--and fully so,
if the author's convincing instructions are brought into that universal
adoption which they not only eminently deserve, but must command. Let us
hope that the clear style, sensible advice, and valuable information,
derived from so varied an experience as that which has been enjoyed by
our author, will have a wide and growing influence in the extensive
field of professional ministrations demanded by this class of
cases,--for, let it be remembered, and reverently be it written, "THE
LIGHT OF THE BODY IS THE EYE."
The distinctive aim of the author--and which is kept constantly in
view--is the simplifying both of the classification and the treatment
of the diseases of the eye. We know of no volume which could more
appropriately and beneficially be put into the hands of the medical
student, nor any which could meet a more appreciative welcome from
the busy practitioner. The former cannot, at the tender age of his
professional life, digest the ponderous masses of ocular lore which
adorn the shelves of the maturer student's library; and the latter,
while he is glad to have these elaborate works at his command for
reference, is refreshed by a perusal of a few pages of the more
unpretending, but not less valuable _vade-mecum_.
While the professional reader will peruse this book with pleasure as
well as profit, there are many points and paragraphs of great value to
everybody. We advise every one to look over these pages, and we promise
that many valuable hints will be gained in reference to the various
ailments and casualties which are constantly befalling the eye. It is
well in this world to become members of a Mutual-Assistance Society, and
help one another out of trouble as often as we can. In order to do this,
we must know how; and, in many cases, a little aid in mishaps such as
are likely to occur to the eye may prevent a vast deal of subsequent
injury and pain.
We cannot but refer to the singular good sense of the author in
pressing upon his reader's attention the mischief so often wrought,
hitherto,--and we fear still frequently brought about,--by
_over-activity_ of treatment. Especially does this find its
exemplification in the care of traumatic injuries of the eye. Rashness
and heroic measures in these cases are as unfortunate for the patient as
are the well-meant efforts of friends, when a foreign substance has been
inserted into the ear or nose, or a needle broken off in the flesh: what
was at first an easily remedied matter becomes exceedingly difficult,
tedious, and painful, after various pokings, pushings, and squeezings.
The author's experience in cases of cataract makes his observations upon
that affection as valuable as they are clear and to the purpose. The
same is true with regard to the use and abuse of spectacles.
A short account of that interesting and most important instrument, the
Opthalmoscope, will command the attention of the general reader.
Finally, we notice with peculiar satisfaction the elegant dress in which
the volume appears. A very marked feature of this is the agreeable tint
given to the paper, so much to be preferred to the glaring snowy white
which has been so long the rule with publishers everywhere. This is
especially befitting a volume whose object is the alleviation of ocular
distress, and we venture to say will meet with the commendation of every
reader. A similar shade was adopted, some time since, by the publishers
of "The Ophthalmic Hospital Reports," London, at the suggestion, we
think, of its accomplished editor, Mr. Streatfeild.
_Country Living and Country Thinking_. By GAIL HAMILTON. Boston: Ticknor
& Fields. 12mo.
Our impression of this volume is that it contains some of the most
charming essays in American literature. The authoress, who chooses to
conceal her real name under the _alias_ of "Gail Hamilton," is not
only womanly, but a palpable individual among women. Both sex and
individuality are impressed on every page.
That the hook is written by a woman is apparent by a thousand signs.
That it proceeds from a distinct and peculiar personality, as well as
from a fertile and vigorous intellect, is no less apparent. The writer
has evidently looked at life through her own eyes, and interpreted it
through her own experience. Her independence becomes at times a kind of
humorous tartness, and she finds fault most delightfully. So cant
and pretence, however cunningly disguised by accredited maxims and
accredited sentimentality, can for a moment deceive her sharp insight
or her fresh sensibility. This primitive power and originality are not
purchased by any sacrifice of the knowledge derived at second-hand
through books, for she is evidently a thoughtful and appreciative
student of the best literature; but they proceed from a nature so strong
that it cannot be overcome and submerged by the mental forces and food
Individuality implies will, and will always tends to wilfulness. The two
are harmonized in humor. Gail Hamilton is a humorist in her wilfulness,
and flashes suggestive thought and wisdom even in her most daring
caprices and eccentricities of individual whim. She is wild in
sentences, heretical in paragraphs, thoroughly orthodox in essays.
Her mind is really inclosed by the most rigid maxims of Calvinistic
theology, while, within that circle, it frisks and plays in the oddest
and wittiest freaks. A grave and religious earnestness is at the
foundation of her individuality, and she is so assured of this fact that
she can safely indulge in wilful gibes at pretension in all its most
conventionally sacred forms. This bright audacity is the perfection of
moral and intellectual health. No morbid nature, however elevated in
its sentiments, would dare to hazard such keen and free remarks as Gail
Hamilton scatters in careless profusion.
When this intellectual caprice approaches certain definite limits, it is
edifying to witness the forty-person power of ethics and eloquence she
brings readily up to the rescue of the sentiments she at first seemed
bent on destroying. As her style throughout is that of brilliant,
animated, and cordial conversation, flexible to all the moods of the
quick mind it so easily and aptly expresses, the reader is somewhat
puzzled at times to detect the natural logic which regulates her
transitions from gay to grave, from individual perceptions to general
laws; but the geniality and heartiness which flood the whole book with
life and meaning soon reconcile him to the peculiar processes of the
intellect whose startling originality and freshness give him so much
It would be unjust not to say that beneath all the fantastic play of her
wit and humor there is constantly discernible an earnest purpose. Sense
and sagacity are everywhere visible. The shrewdest judgments on ordinary
life and character are as abundant as the quaint fancies with which they
are often connected. But in addition to all that charms and informs, the
thoughtful reader will find much that elevates and invigorates. A noble
soul, contemptuous of everything mean and base, loving everything grand
and magnanimous, is the real life and inspiration of the book.
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