Atlantic Monthly, Vol. 8, No. 50, December, 1861

Part 5 out of 5

for a nobler service than ours. Not only is it national life and a
foremost place among nations that is at stake, but the vital principle
of Law itself, the august foundation on which the very possibility of
government, above all of self-government, rests as in the hollow of
God's own hand. If democracy shall prove itself capable of having
raised twenty millions of people to a level of thought where they can
appreciate this cardinal truth, and can believe no sacrifice too great
for its defence and establishment, then democracy will have vindicated
itself beyond all chance of future cavil. Here, we think, is a Cause the
experience of whose vicissitudes and the grandeur of whose triumph
will be able to give us heroes and statesmen. The Slave-Power must be
humbled, must be punished,--so humbled and so punished as to be a
warning forever; but Slavery is an evil transient in its cause and its
consequences, compared with those which would result from unsettling the
faith of a nation in its own manhood, and setting a whole generation of
men hopelessly adrift in the formless void of anarchy.


_The Armies of Europe: Comprising Descriptions in Detail of the Military
Systems of England, France, Russia, Prussia, Austria, and Sardinia,
adapting their Advantages to all Arms of the United States Service; and
embodying the Report of Observations in Europe during the Crimean War,
as Military Commissioner from the United Stales Government in 1855-56_.
By GEORGE B. McCLELLAN, Major-General U.S. Army. Originally published
under the Direction of the War Department, by Order of Congress.
Illustrated with a Fine Steel Portrait and Several Hundred Engravings.
Philadelphia: J.B. Lippincott & Co. 8vo.

It is an interesting study to examine into the causes or motives which
have produced military books of the higher order; for we are thus
vouchsafed an insight into the writer's genius, and an intelligence of
the circumstances amidst which he wrote, and of which he was often an
important controller. The Archduke Charles wrote his "Grundsaetze der
Strategie," etc., as a vindication of his splendid movements in 1796,
against the French armies of the Rhine and the Sambre-et-Meuse; and
it has remained at once a monument to his achievements and a standard
text-book in military science. Marmont, the Marshal Duke of Ragusa,
collecting the principles of the art of war from "long and frequent
conversations with Napoleon, twenty campaigns, and more than half a
century of experience," has given us, in his "Esprit des Institutions
Militaires," a condensed view of his own military life, as complete, if
not as pleasantly diffuse, as his large volumes of "Memoires." Jomini,
from an extended experience, and a study of the genius of Napoleon,
which his Russian position could never induce him to undervalue,
has produced those standard works which must always remain the
treasure-houses of military knowledge. We admire veracity, but let no
soldier confess that he has not read the "Vie Politique et Militaire,"
and the "Precis de l'Art de la Guerre." But, in all these cases, the
_litera scripta_ has been but the closing act,--the signing of the name
to History's bead-roll of passing greatness,--the _testamentum_ of the
old soldier whose _personalty_ is worth bequeathing to the world.

The work before us, although of great value and present importance, is
of a very different character; as a glance at the circumstances
which produced it will show. It has, however, we would fondly hope,
anticipated for its youthful author a greater success.

In 1855, Mr. Jefferson Davis, then Secretary of War, sent a military
commission to Europe, composed of Major Delafield of the Engineers,
Major Mordecai of the Ordnance, and Captain McClellan, just promoted
from a Lieutenancy of Engineers to a Captaincy in the Cavalry. Major
Delafield was charged with the special subject of Engineering; Major
Mordecai with Ordnance and Gunnery; and to Captain McClellan was
assigned the duty of a general report upon the Organization of Armies,
with a special hearing upon the formation of Infantry and Cavalry. Each
of these gentlemen has written a book, and that of McClellan, originally
published as a Report to the Secretary of War,--in unmanageable quarto,
and at a more unmanageable price,--is now issued, in the volume before
us, with the very appropriate title, "The Armies of Europe," and in a
convenient form for the eye and the purse.

Whatever of technical value the other reports may have,--and they
are, we doubt not, excellent,--McClellan's is the only one of popular
interest, the only one of rounded proportions and general importance;
and if it also contain much addressed to the professional soldier, it
must be remembered that the country is now being educated up to the
intelligent perusal of such books.

Travelling in all the principal countries of Europe,--Montesquieu's
assertion is now verified, that "only great nations can have large
armies,"--the commission met everywhere proper facilities for
observation. McClellan made full notes upon the spot, procured all the
books of Tactics, Regulations, Military Laws, etc., and provided himself
with such models of arms, equipments, saddles, bridles, tents, etc.,
as were easily transported. Operations of a difficult and laborious
character, such as carrying horses on shipboard, are fully demonstrated
with diagrams. Marches, manoeuvres, detachments, battles, are fully
disclosed. Such investigations, when the French, Italian, or German
language was the medium, were comparatively easy; but in order to give a
proper comparative view, he was obliged also to study Russian, which he
did successfully; by this means he has given us a masterly summary
of the Russian system, with its immense battalions, its thousands of
military schools, and its Cossack skirmishers, of wonderful endurance
and formidable fierceness.

The volume is a complete description in detail of the principal armies,
and of wider scope than would be expected; for, while the author has
been very full upon the special topics assigned him, which did not
include the duties of Engineers and Engineer Troops, it is easy to see
everywhere that these latter would intrude themselves with the siren
charms of a first love, and nothing but the record could dissolve the
spell. Indeed, he urgently recommends to the Government the organization
of Engineer troops, specifying their equipments, points of instruction,
and duties. In this department, his description of Military Bridges is
of great value. Incident to the faithful descriptions contained in the
Report, and by far the most valuable feature of the work, we would
specify his comments upon all that he saw. They are manly and bold, but
_raisonnes_ and just. They give token of that originality of thought
which we call genius. The opening chapter on the Crimean War is the only
fair critique of that gallant, but mismanaged campaign we remember to
have seen. The author's object is to exhibit the movements of both
Allies and Russians

"As truth will paint them, and as bards will

When MeClellan's work first appeared, the "Athenaeum" took up spear
and shield; but, _selon conseil_, McClellan declined to reply, and the
champion fought the air, without injuring the record.

A prime interest attaches to this work, because, unconsciously, the
author has given us, in advance, his repertory of instruments and
principles. From the written word we may anticipate the brilliant
achievement, while in every case the action may be tested by a reference
to the recorded principle.

The retirement of Scott places McClellan in a position where he will
have neither partner nor censor in his plans and movements. The graceful
and appropriate manner in which the old veteran leaves the field, which
age and infirmity will no longer allow him to command, is but a fitting
prelude to the military rule of one upon whose brow the dew of youth
still rests, and who brings to his responsible task the highest
qualities, combined with a veneration for the noble virtues and an
emulation of the magnanimous career of his predecessor, at once
honorable and inspiring.

_Spare Hours_. By JOHN BROWN, M.D., Author of "Rab and his Friends."
Boston: Ticknor & Fields. 16mo.

It has not yet been satisfactorily explained why doctors are such shrewd
and genial men, and, when they appear in the literary field, such
charming writers. This is one of the curious problems of the day, and
undoubtedly holds its own answer in solution, but has not yet seen fit
to make an observable precipitate. Perhaps this is because the times are
stirring, and the facts cannot settle. A delightful exhibition is made
of something extremely good to take, which we swallow unscrupulously:
in other words, we can only guess how many scruples, and of what, this
blessed medicine for the mind contains. As it is eminently fit for every
American to have an hypothesis upon every subject, we might now, with
proper recklessness, rush into print with a few unhesitating suggestions
upon this singular phenomenon of doctors gifted and graceful with the

We observe, at any rate, that it is something independent of climate and
locality, and not at all endemic. Otherwise it might be true that the
restless and inquisitive climate of the Atlantic coast, which wears the
ordinary Yankee to leanness, and "establishes a raw" upon the nervous
system, does soften to acuteness, mobility, and racy corrugation in the
breast of its natural ally, the Doctor. For autocratic tempers are bland
towards each other, and murderous characteristics can mutually impart
something homologous to the refining interchange of beautiful souls.
Therefore we do not yet know how much our climate is indebted to our
doctors. It may be suspected that they understand each other, as the
quack and the fool do, whose interests are identical.

But this will not account for the literary talent of the doctors. For
they write books in England and Scotland, in France and temperate
Germany, in every latitude and _with_ a good deal; they are, however,
defective in longitude, which is remarkable, when we consider how they
will protract their cases. With their pens they are prompt, clean,
humane in the matter of ink, their first intention almost always
successful, their thought expelled by natural cerebral contraction
without stimulus, (we speak of ergot, but of "old rye" we know nothing,)
their passion running to its crisis in the minimum of time, and their
affections altogether pleasanter than anything of the kind they accuse
us of having, as well as less lingering. But with their pills--well, we
all know how our ills are nursed by medicine. Is it a relief that their
precept is less tedious than their practice? It is good policy for us,
perhaps, if our minds are to be under treatment from their books,--and
it grows plainer every day that no person of mind can well escape from
them,--that our bodies should continue subject to their boluses. Thus
we may die daily, but our incorporeal part is better acclimated in the
invisible world of truths and realities.

No,--the doctors owe nothing to climate or race. The intelligent ones
are everywhere broad, acute, tender, and religious. They uniformly see
what is natural and what is morbid, what is fact and what is fancy, what
is cutaneous and what is vital, in men and women. They stand on unreal,
conventional terms with nothing. They know healthy from inflamed
tissues, and run down, grab, and give one dexterous fatal shake to a
tissue of lies. One of Dr. Brown's terriers is not more swift, exact,
and uncompromising after vermin. This excellent sense for unvarnished
realities has been attributed by some to their habit of visiting so many
interiors--of men and of their houses--whose swell-fronts are pervious
to the sincerity of pain. We never see a doctor's chaise anchored at a
door but we imagine the doctor taking in freight up-stairs. In these
days he is beginning to receive more than he gives. Let no sarcastic
person allude to doctors' fees. We mean that the physician, whose
humanity and intelligence are broad diplomas, on presenting which the
doors of hearts and houses open with a welcome, enters into the choicest
field of his education and research, where his tender observation walks
the wards of thought, feeling, and motive, to amass the facts of health
and suffering, to be refined at the true drama of pathos, to be ennobled
by the spectacle of fair and lofty spiritual traits, to be advised of
the weaknesses which he learns to touch lightly with his caustic, while
his knowing and friendly look deprecates all excess of pain. It is a
school of shrewdness, gentleness, and faith.

But a rich subject is here, altogether too wide for a book-notice, and
worthy of deliberate, but enthusiastic treatment. Dr. John Brown of
Edinburgh has consulted his own interior, and frequented those of
his diocese, to some purpose. The pieces in this volume, which the
publishers have selected from the two volumes of "Horae Subsecivae,"
omitting the more professional papers, are full of humor, tenderness,
and common sense. They betray only occasionally, in a technical way,
that the author is a disciple, as well as admirer, of Sydenham, and his
own countryman, Cullen. But they overflow with the best specifics of the
healing art, shrewdness, independence, nice observation; they have a
woman's kindness and a man's sturdiness. They honor human nature not the
less because the writer knows how to manage it, to raise a smile at its
absurdities, to rally, pique, and guide it into health and good-humor.
He is very clever with the edge-tools in his surgeon's-case; he whips
you out an excrescence before you are quite aware that he meditated
an operation, and you find that he had chloroformed you with a shrewd
writer's best anaesthetic, a humorous and genial temper.

There is a great deal of nice writing here. Happy words come at a call
and occupy their inevitable places. Now and then a Scotch word, with a
real terrier phiz and the best qualities of "black and tan," gives the
page a local flavor which we should not like to miss. But the writing
is not provincial. There is Scotch character everywhere: the keenness,
intensity, reverence, shaggy humor, sly fun, and just a touch of the
intolerance. The somewhat literal regard for Scripture, the awe, and the
unquestioning, childlike way of being religious, with the independence
of Kirk and Sessions and National Establishments, all belong to the best
intelligence of Edinburgh. But the literary felicity, the scholarship,
the various reading, the cultivated appreciation of books, men, and
systems, while they make us admire--as a good many bright volumes
printed in Edinburgh have done before--the mental power and refinement
which that most picturesque of Northern cities nourishes, do still
belong to the great commonwealth of letters, remind us not of wynds and
closes, and run away from the littleness of time and place.

If the reader would understand the difference between the sentimental
and the pathetic treatment of a subject, let him see in "Rab and his
Friends" how the pen of Dr. Brown follows the essential lines of that
most pure and tender of all stories. In doing so he has given us a new
creation in Ailie Noble. Not a line can be effectively added to that
ideal narrative of a true history, not a word can be pushed from its
place. The whole treatment is at once delicate, incisive, tender,
reserved, and dramatic. And after reading it,--with or without tears,
according to your capacity for dogged resistance to a distended
lachrymal duct,--you will be conscious of bearing away a sweet and
subduing impression, like that which a rare friend can sometimes give,
which lingers many days.

Let nobody omit to read the "Letter to John Cairns, D.D.," because he
does not care for J.C. or know who he is. It contains some reminiscences
by Dr. Brown of his father, a noted clergyman, of whose life and
character Dr. Cairns had prepared a memoir. In this, and in the Essay
upon Dr. Chalmers, Dr. Brown shows his capacity to observe and
portray human moods and characteristics. There are his usual literary
excellences, brought to the service of a keen and faithfully reporting
eye, and his fine humane qualities, his tenderness, reverence, and

This volume is one of the best ventures of the literary year.

_Cecil Dreeme_. By THEODORE WINTHROP. Boston: Ticknor & Fields. 16mo.

In the death of Major Winthrop, at the promising commencement of his
military career, the nation lost one of its purest, noblest, and most
capable spirits. His industry, sagacity, and intrepidity all rested on a
firm basis of fixed principle and deep enthusiasm; and had he lived, we
have little doubt that both his moral and practical power would have
been felt among the palpable forces of the country. In the articles he
contributed to this magazine, describing his brief military experience,
every reader must have recognized the singular brightness of his mind
and the singular joyousness of his courage. Powers which, in meditation,
worked at the bidding of pensive or melancholy sentiments, seemed to
be braced by action into unwonted healthiness and hilarity; and had he
survived the experience of the present war, there can be little doubt
that his intellect and imagination would, by contact with events, have
been developed to their full capacity, and found expression in literary
works of remarkable power.

"Cecil Dreeme" is one of several novels he wrote before the war broke
out, and it conveys a striking impression of his genius and disposition.
The utmost sensitiveness and delicacy of moral sense were combined in
him with a rough delight in all the manifestations of manly strength;
and these two tendencies of his nature are fitly embodied and
exquisitely harmonized in the characters of Cecil Dreeme and Robert
Byng. They are opposites which by their very nature are necessarily
attracted to each other. The obstacle to their mental and moral union
is found in a third person, Densdeth, in whom manly strength and genius
have been corrupted by selfishness and sensuality into the worst form
of spiritual evil. This person is simply abhorred by Cecil, while Byng
finds in him something which tempts appetite, piques curiosity, develops
sensuous feeling, and provokes pride, as well as something which excites
moral disgust and loathing. Byng's distrustful love for Emma Denman
admirably represents this stage of his moral experience.

Densdeth is undoubtedly the central character of the book. It proves
its creator to be a true spiritual as well as physical descendant of
President Edwards; and not even his ancestor has shown more vividly the
"exceeding sinfulness of sin." Densdeth is one of those evil natures
in whom delight in evil pleasures has subsided into a delight in evil
itself, and a desire to communicate it to others. He has the diabolical
power of calling out the latent evil in all natures with whom his own
comes in contact, and he corrupts, not so much by example, as by a
direct communication of the corrupt spiritual life of his individual
being. He is an accomplished devil, wearing the guise of a New-York man
of fashion and fortune,--a devil such as tempts every person thrown into
the vortex of our daily commonplace life. Every pure sentiment, noble
aspiration, and manly instinct, every natural affection, gentle feeling,
and religious principle, is tainted by his contaminating companionship.
He infuses a subtle skepticism of the reality of goodness by the mere
magnetism of his evil presence. Persons who have been guarded against
the usual contrivances by which the conventional Devil works his wonders
find themselves impotent before the fascinations of Densdeth. They
follow while they detest him, and are at once his victims and his
accomplices. In those whose goodness, like that of Cecil Dreeme, is
founded on purity of sentiment and strength of principle, he excites
unmitigated abhorrence and strenuous opposition; but on all those whose
excellence is "respectable" rather than vital, who are good by the
felicity of their circumstances rather than the force of their
conscience, he exercises a fascination almost irresistible. To
everybody, indeed, who has in him any latent evil not overbalanced by
the habitual performance of positive duties, Densdeth's companionship
is morally blighting. The character, fearful in its way as the
Mephistopheles of Goethe, is represented with considerable artistic

Though the most really prominent person in the drama, he is, in the
representation, kept in the background,--a cynical, sneering, brilliant
demi-devil, who appears only when some plot against innocence is
beginning its wiles or approaching its consummation.

The incidents of the novel occur in some of the best-known localities
of New York. Nobody can mistake Chuzzlewit Hotel and Chrysalis College.
Every traveller has put up at the first and visited some literary
or artistic friend at the second. Indeed, Winthrop seems to have
deliberately chosen the localities of his story with the special
purpose of showing that passions almost as terrible as those which are
celebrated in the tragedies of Aeschylus and Sophocles may rage in the
ordinary lodging-houses of New York. He has succeeded in throwing an
atmosphere of mystery over places which are essentially commonplace;
and he has done it by the intensity with which he has conceived and
represented the internal thoughts, struggles, and emotions of the men
and women by whom these edifices of brick and stone are inhabited.

Though a clear narrator, when the story required clear narration,
Winthrop perfectly understood the art of narrating by implication and
allusion. He paints distinctly and minutely, not omitting a single
detail, when the occasion demands such faithful representation of real
facts and localities; but he has also the power of flashing his meaning
by suggestive hints which the most labored description and explication
could not make more effective. He makes the mind of the reader work
sympathetically with his own in building up the idea he seeks to convey.
Crimes which are nameless are mutually understood by this refined
communion between author and reader. The mystery of the plot is not
directly explained, but each party seems to bring, as in private
conversation, his individual sagacity to bear upon the right

The style of the book is admirable. It is brief almost to abruptness.
The words are few, and are crammed with all the meaning they can hold.
There is not a page which does not show that the writer is an economist
of expression, and desirous of conveying his matter with the slightest
possible expenditure of ink. Charles Reade himself does not condense
with a more fretful impatience of all circumlocution and a profounder
reliance on the absolute import of single words.

We might easily refer to particular scenes from this book, illustrative
of the author's descriptive and representative powers. Among many which
might be noticed, we will allude to only two,--that in which Cecil is
revived from his "sleep of death," and that in the opera-house, where
Byng is apprised of the guilt of Emma Denman. Nobody can read either
without feeling that in the disastrous fight of Great Bethel we lost a
great novelist as well as a chivalrous soldier and a noble man.

* * * * *



The Gypsy's Prophecy. A Tale of Real Life. By Mrs. Emma D.E.N.
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The Works of Charles Dickens. Household Edition. Illustrated from
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The Silver Cord. A Novel. By Shirley Brooks. With Illustrations by John
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Revised Regulations for the Army of the United States, 1861. With a Full
Index. By Authority of the War Department. Philadelphia. J.B. Lippincott
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Manual of Internal Rules and Regulations for Men-of-War. By Captain U.P.
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the Mediterranean; Originator of the Abolition of Corporal Punishment in
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The Rejected Stone: or, Insurrection _vs._ Resurrection in America. By a
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Sermons preached in the Chapel of Harvard College. By James Walker, D.D.
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Lady Maud, the Wonder of Kingswood Chase; or, Earl Gower; or, The
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The Works of Francis Bacon, Baron of Verulam, Viscount St. Albans, and
Lord High Chancellor of England. Collected and edited by James Spedding,
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late Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge; and Douglas Denon Heath,
Barrister-at-Law, late Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. Vol. II.
Boston. Brown & Taggard. 12mo. pp. 503. $1.50.

Cecil Dreeme. By Theodore Winthrop. With a Biographical Introduction by
George William Curtis. Boston. Ticknor & Fields. 16mo. pp. 360. $1.00.

Chronicle of the Conquest of Granada. From the Manuscripts of Fray
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Woman's Rights under the Law. In Three Lectures, delivered in Boston,
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Eugenie Grandet; or, The Miser's Daughter. From the French of Honore de
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Record of an Obscure Man. Boston. Ticknor & Fields. 16mo. pp. 216. 75

Essays. By the late George Brimley, M.A., Librarian of Trinity College,
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The Cloister and the Hearth; or, Maid, Wife, and Widow. A Matter-of-Fact
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The Last Travels of Ida Pfeiffer: Inclusive of a Visit to Madagascar.
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Patriotic and Heroic Eloquence: A Book for the Patriot, Statesman, and
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Great Expectations. By Charles Dickens. Philadelphia. T.B. Peterson &
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The Armies of Europe: Comprising Descriptions in Detail of the Military
Systems of England, France, Russia, Prussia, Austria, and Sardinia,
adapting their Advantages to all Arms of the United States Service; and
embodying the Report of Observations in Europe during the Crimean War,
as Military Commissioner from the United States Government in 1835-56.
By George B. McClellan, Major-General United States Army. Originally
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Congress. Illustrated with Several Hundred Engravings. Philadelphia,
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