Page images

ing. It is like travelling over an old road, where the few faces you meet are at once sour and gloomy, caused by the sharp points, obscure windings, and uneasy roughness of the way, and not a little increased by observing the numbers, who travelling the new and smooth turnpike, escape much of the labour and difficulty of the journey.


The sixth book is called Thaumaturgus vel, (certain Hebrew words which we waive copying) Liber memorabilium. This is extremely miscellaneous, containing accounts of escapes from shipwreck, Indian captivity, thunder and lightning; relating remarkable conversions, judgments of God, executions, and dying speeches of criminals, preternatural occurrences, witchcraft, conversion of Indians, and one or two sermons improving' these subjects. The chapter, relating remarkables done by thunder,' is called Ceraunia, and a sermon on the same topick, Brontologia sacra. He thinks, Tis very likely, that the evil angels may have a particular energy and employment, often times in the mischiefs done by thunder;' and that, 'tis no heresie or blasphemy to think that the prince of the power of the air, hath as good skill in chymistry as goes to the making of Aurum Fulminans."

The seventh book is entitled Ecclesiarum Prælia, or a book of the wars of the Lord. The first chapter of this, which is headed, Mille nocendi artes; or some general heads of temptation with which the churches of New England have been exercised,' has this well chosen motto from Tertullian; Habet et Ecclesia dies caniculares. The only church, which was exactly right, was the true congregational, which was 'pestered on one side by the rigid, high flown Presbyterians, on the other by the separating, Morellian, and Brownistical Independents. What a world of difficulty would have been saved, if they had adopted the principle, which the author says, in his mention of Rhode Island, is the only one he could find, upon which the founders of that colony were agreed; that they were to give one another no disturbance in the exercise of religion.' As this was the only spot where toleration then had a resting place, it naturally became the resort of every sect, which was not strong enough to secure a fortress to itself, from which the standard of persecution might be displayed. He says, ‹ that it was a perfect Colluvies of Antinomians, Familists, Anabaptists, Anti-Sabbatarians, Arminians, Socinians, Quakers, Ranters, every thing in the world but Roman Catholicks, and real Christians, though of the latter, I hope there have been

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

more than of the former among them; so that if a man had lost his religion, he might find it at this general muster of opinionists!'


The fourth chapter is headed Ignes Fatui, or the molestations given to the churches of New England, by that odd sect of people called Quakers; and some uncomfortable occurrents relating to a sect of other and better people.' He cautions the world against believing the stories of the Quakers about New England persecutions, because the Quakers have in print complained of a New England persecution upon two women of their sect, who came stark naked as ever they were born, into our publick assemblies, and they were (Baggages that they were !) adjudged unto the whipping post for that piece of devilism.' An almanack was published at Philadelphia for the year 1694, with this article of chronology,'• Since the English in New England hanged their countrymen for religion,'

To which he adds,

• Since at Philadelphia some did little less, by taking away goods and imprisoning some, and concerning others without trial for religious dissent,'

years 36

years 3 The real excuse for our ancestors, (for their conduct needs one,) is, that among the Quakers of that day were many bewildered, furious fanaticks, who were a greater annoyance by the extravagance of their actions, than by the strangeness of their doctrines. They were, while renouncing war, making a wild use of spiritual weapons. The fermentation has long since worked off and left them, a quiet, respectable, useful sect. It is a little singular, that although many of them are scattered over Massachusetts, they have no church in Boston. This is to be regretted, for though it may be doubted, perhaps, whether the world would be essentially improved, if it were wholly composed of Quakers, yet a sprinkling of them has a good tendency. As they renounce learning, refinement and military employment, they cannot necessarily hold the highest rank in society under its present organization; but their gentleness, neatness, sobriety, industry and integrity, make them valuable members, and contribute much to its harmony and happiness.

A considerable part of this book is occupied with an account of Indian wars, which he calls, a decennium luctuosum. The atrocious and shocking barbarities of savage warfare,

sicken the heart, almost too much to admire the romantick bravery, and wonderful fortitude, which some of the events discover among the early settlers, who were exposed to their frightful ravages. These accounts relate principally to the wars in the eastern settlements, in which the savages were instigated and aided by the French. Their captives were generally carried to Canada, and several of them were ransomed from captivity by the charity of the inhabitants.

A brief, though the reader may think it a long sketch of Mather's Magnalia, has here been given. To those who are interested in the early history of our country, it may be well to remark, that for accuracy in historical occurrences, they will do well to rely upon other authorities; but if they wish to obtain a general view of the state of society and manners, they will probably no where find so many materials for this purpose, as in the work of this credulous pedantick, and garrulous writer.


Dr. Holmes' Annals; from the German.—In a number of Eichhorn's Journal, printed at Göttingen in April 1817, we find the following notice of Dr. Holmes' Annals, by which it appears, that this excellent work is very generally known abroad, and no less highly esteemed, than in the country whose history it details with so much perspicuity and accuracy. The notice, which we translate, is a review of the second English edition, printed in London in the year 1813, with additions and corrections by the author.'

THIS is the first attempt at an entire history of America. It begins, as is seen by the title, with the discovery of Columbus in the year 1492, and comes down to the year 1806. The author has applied himself with great industry to all the common sources of information; and, as far as was practicable, has consulted his authorities in the original. In the history of the earlier times we find all the best Spanish, French, Latin, and English historians used as authorities, and such parts extracted, as were suited to his purpose. Much additional information might undoubtedly be obtained by a more free access to the Spanish Colonial Archives, than the jealousy of the Spaniards has as yet allowed.

The author rightly passes over the pretended discovery of America by the Welch Prince, Madoc, son of Gwyneth, king of Wales.

This event has been supposed to have taken place in the year 1170; but the story is now generally given up to the province of poetry, and has already been made the subject of an early epick poem by the present poet laureate, Southey. The author has said as little respecting the discovery before Columbus, by the aborigines, on which there is a treatise by Belknap. It might perhaps have answered some good purpose, however, to hint at the accounts of the early voyages of the Normans to America.

The author has confined himself to a simple narrative of the most important and interesting events in chronological order from the time of Columbus. It would have been gratifying, perhaps, to have a short account of events previous to this period, particularly such as relate to Peru and Mexico, the ancient history of which has received so many beautiful illustrations from Baron Humboldt. But the most valuable part of the work before us is that, which embraces the early history of New England. Here the author seems to have had access, not only to a very complete collection of printed books, but also to a large number of manuscripts, as well in the possession of private individuals, as publick libraries. In addition to these, he derived no inconsiderable advantage from such oral accounts as he was enabled to obtain from various sources. From these manuscripts has been published by the government of Massachusetts, and under the care of the historical society of Boston, the history of Hubbard, whose Indian Wars are already known. In the steeple of one of the churches in Boston has lately been found the continuation of Governour Winthrop's Journal, a very important early document.

After the history of the first settlement of New England, the compact but comprehensive account of the American Revolution is worthy of particular notice. The advantages, which the author derived from his nearness to the first theatre of the revolution, and his personal acquaintance with many of the actors in the drama, who were still living at the time he wrote, appear sufficiently obvious; and together with the impartiality, the love of truth and honesty, which are predominant traits throughout the whole, they give a high value to this part of the work. The best evidence of the author's merits in this respect, is the high approbation his work has received in England.

The English edition before us is published from a copy amended by the additions and corrections of the author. With singular modesty, it is true, he brings forward his book as intended only for a collection of hints and references to those, who are desirous of pursuing the study of American history; but we are persuaded no one will read it, however great an adept he may be in this department of knowledge, who will not allow a very high degree of merit to the learned author.

Vol. VII. No. 2.


The history, after the revolutionary war, is comprised within a narrow compass. The work is closed with a collection of tables, a copious index, and a catalogue of the books and manuscripts, which had been consulted. The manuscripts consisted of twenty five folio and quarto volumes, fifteen of which composed the diary of the celebrated President Stiles.

We learn from private accounts, that Dr. Holmes is at present engaged in an ecclesiastical history of New England. This is an undertaking in which his historical impartiality and love of truth will appear to great advantage. A complete history of the whole continent of America is not at present to be expected; but histories of certain portions may be looked for with more certainty. Joel Barlow, formerly American ambassador to France, who died in Poland, on a journey to Wilna, in the year 1812, is said to have been engaged in a history of the United States. We are at present looking forward with high expectation to a similar work by Mr. Walsh, who is universally known in England and America by his letter on the Spirit of the French Government. The history of the United States by Ramsay, continued by President Smith, if it is not distinguished for its philosophical worth, is nevertheless very valuable for the mass of readers. It is said, that Professor Brown of Edinburgh has long been engaged in collecting materials for an universal history of the aboriginal tribes in America.

[ocr errors]

University of Göttingen.-At this university there are at present more than forty professors, one thousand students, from all parts of the world, and a library of two hundred thousand volumes. The mode of instruction is entirely by lectures from the professors. The system of instruction is divided into four departments, Divinity, Jurisprudence, Medicine, and Philosophy. A professor is chosen into one of these departments, and not to any particular branch of either; and he is allowed to lecture on any subject, that comes within the department into which he is chosen. There are no recitations or examinations, and the students are allowed to attend such lectures as they please, and at such times as they please. Each professor has a small salary, but he receives, besides this, a louis d'or a course from every student who attends his lectures. When a professor becomes distinguished in any university, he is chosen into another, with the offer of a higher salary. If he accepts the new appointment, it often happens, that his own university raises his salary in order to retain him; so that every professor in Germany has the double motive of interest and ambition to prompt him to exertion. The consequence is, that the universities in Germany can boast a more

« PreviousContinue »