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our sportsmen and epicures, these are by lar the most inter-
esting of our birds. An attempt at a classification of the
birds is made in this work. The sections are denoted by
German text in the English edition, but in the American by
Roman letters, which, being of the same size as those of the
names of the birds, do not so distinctly point out the divisions.

To the reptiles and fishes but very few additions are made ;
among these are to be included brief and unessential descrip-
tions of three or four snakes and about as many fishes by
Mr. Goodrich, and a collection of statements respecting the
sea-serpent, " gathered partly from newspapers, and partly
from an unpublished pamphlet on the subject.^' This forms
an Appendix which terminates the fourth volume. The
fifth and last volume, devoted to the insects or zoophytes of
Bufifon, and to the physiology and terminology of plants, is
a reprint of the English, and (one short paragraph only ex-
cepted) without addition, comment, or correction.

It is a matter of no small surprise to us, when abundant
materials for a more complete history of our reptiles, fishes,
testaceous and crustaceous shell-fish (or moUusca and Crus-
tacea), insects, and zoophytes, existed in this country, that
Mr. Goodrich should have left these departments in so megre
a state. Having mentioned the existence of such mate-
rials, we may be permitted to enumerate some of them.
Those desirous of information upon these branches of Ameri-
can zoology are referred to the '^ Journal of the Academy of
Natural Sciences of Philadelphia," the " Philosophical Trans-
actions" of Philadelphia and of New York, the '^ Annals of the
Lyceum of Natural History of New York," and the " Con-
. tributions of the Maclurean Lyceum of Philadelphia," be-

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188S.1 Wr^hft Natural History of the Globe. 319

sides numerous papers published by Mr. Say in various
works,* and by others in the scientific journals of our coun*
try. The reptiles are elucidated by rrofessor Green and
Dr. Harlan, the latter of whom has enumerated and describ-
ed a hundred and twenty-three native species. Mr. Le
Sueur and Dr. Mitchell have paid particular attention to
oar fishes ; for the descriptions of a hundred and forty-
seven and figures of sixty species, which frequent the waters'
of New York, we are indebted to the industry of Dr. Mitch-,
ell. Mr. Le Sueur has also brought some of our mollusca and
zoophytes into notice ; but much of our knowledge of these
animals, and nearly all that we know of the North-American
insects, is derived fit>m the labors of Mr. Say.

After a careful examination of this augmented edition of
^'Bufibn's Natural History," we must acknowledge that it
falls far short of its pretensions. There is certainly much
entertaining matter in it, and of the first two classes, mam-
malia and birds, a very considerable amount of information
may be gleaned from it. As a book of mere amusement it
cannot safely be entrusted to youth, in consequence of the
indelicacy of some of its details, and it has no claims to rank
aM a scientific natural history.

We would not dismiss the work without a passing remark
upon the botanical portion of it This is evidently the'
production of a scientific and practical botanist. The first
part gives a clear, condensed, and instructive account of the
analogy of the science and of the anatomy and physiology
of plants ; the latter contains an explanation of the scientific
terms and classification employed bv the most distinguished
botanists of the present day. The rormer may be read with
pleasure and profit by any one, while the latter will be found
a valuable summary for the botanical student.

* " Appendix to Keating's Narrative of Long's Expedition," " West-
em Qtaarterl:^ Reporter,'*^ «* Nicholson's Encyclopedia," «* New Har-
mony Disseminator," ^ American Entomology," " Ameriean Gonclibi - -

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asm NuitalPs Omithologif. [April,

AnT. IX. — A Manual of the Ornithology of iM United
States and of Canada. By Thomas Nuttall, A. M.,
F. L. S. The Land Birds. Cambridge. Hilliard &
Brown. 1832. 12mo. pp. 683.

Of the different branches of Natural History, all of whi^b
are delightful and instructive, Ornithology is the most fasci-
nating. The beauty of the form, colors, and structure of
birds, their curious nesis, often constructed with the greatest
art and neatness, their eggs which they so patiently cher-
ish, their affection for their young and mates, and above
all, the music of their notes, have rendered them general
fcvorites in every age.

Unlike some favorites, they are also friends ; very few
are injurious to man, and a great part of them are con-
stantly employed in the destruction of insects, — the most
formidable of all his animal enemies. It is, indeed, a matter
of almost absolute certainty, that if the whole multitude of
birds in any country were destroyed-, in a few years not a
stosle crop of any kind would be produced. Even the owls
and the hawks, which the farmer is so apt to consider a&
good for nothing but to devour his poultry, perform the indis-

Eensable service of keeping in check the prolific tribes of
eld-mice and moles, which would otherwise destroy his or-
chards, his grass, and bis grain.

Omitholo^ has been sinsularly fortunate in the illustra-
tions which It has received from its many devoted admirers.
In England, the choicest specimens of the truly descriptive
engravmgs of Bewick are contained in his '' History of Brit-
ish Birds." In our own country, while the plates of Wilson's
"American Ornithology" are surpassed by those of few.
works of the kind in Europe, his admirable descriptions are
still unequalled, and are likely to remain so.

Another American citizen, Mr. Audubon, in his work en-
titled " The Birds of America," bc.,^ has presented to the

* <* The Birds of America, engraved from Drawings made in the
United States and their Territories. By John James Audubon, F. R.
SS. L. Sl E., &c." The plan of the work is given in the Prospectus
as follows: ",L The size of the work is double Elephant Polio, the
paper beinff of the finest quality. II. The Engravings are, in every
instance, of the exact dimensions of the drawings, which, without any

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188a.] NutialVs Ornithology. 321

\^r1d a long and splendid series of engravings, far the most
perfect and magnificent which have ever been produced in
any department of Natural History.

But while the study of Ornithology has become popular in
the United States, the bulk and expense, as well as the want
of arrangement, of all the works hitherto published on Amer-
ican birds form an almost insuperable obstacle in the way of
many of our students. And although the invaluable Synopsis
of Prince Charles Lucian Bonaparte, published in the " An-
nals of the New York Lyceum of Natural History," has in
some measure removed this obstacle, still from its conciseness
it is insufficient for those who cannot have recourse to the larger
works of Wilson and Audubon. A book was wanted, which,
containing a sufficiently extensive description of all our birds,
arranged in systematic order, should yet be of such a size
and price as to be generally accessible and convenient. It
has been the purpose of Mr. Nuttall to prepare such a book,
and we think tliat the work he has produced will prove ac-
ceptable both to the general reader and to the student. It is
very neatly printed m a large and thick duodecimo, and is
illustrated by many wood engravincs, which with few excep-
tions are very good, while many of them are excellent. Be-
sides an Introduction upon Birds in general, and a description

exception, repreeeDt the birds and other objects of their nataral size.
III. The plates are colored in the most careful manner from the origi-
nal drawings."

Of these Plates, so far as they are published, the only copy in this
vicinity, we believe, is that recently exhibited in the Boston Athenfeum;
which, according to the list of subscribers, was engaged by the Hon.
T. H. Perkins for that Institution.

"The superiority of the original drawings, consists in the accuracy
as to proportion and outline, and the variety and truth of the attitudes
and positions of the figures, resulting from peculiar means discovered
and employed by the author, and from his attentive examination of the
objects portrayed during a lon^ series of years. He has not contented
himself wiih single profile views, but m very many instances has
grouped his figures so as to represent the originals at their natural
avocations, and has placed them on branches of trees decorated with
foliage, blossoms, and fruits, or amidst plants of numerous species.
Some are seen pursuing their prey through the air, searching for food
among the leaves and herbage, sitting on their nests, or feeding their
young, while others, of a different nature, swim, wade, or glide in or
over their allotted element^' Prosptetus apptndtd to A%tdub<yrCa Omir
thflogieal Bio^^phy.

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33S Encyclopadia Ameticma. [April,

of each species in the manner of Wilson and Audubon, but
commonly more concise, it contains at the head of the de»
scription of each species, the essential specific phrase, and
at the end a more extended technical character. It contains
all the land species of Wilson, Bonaparte, and Audubon now

i)ublished, with the addition of a few Canadian birds not
bund m the United States, and of several new species dis*
covered by the author.

Art. X. — Encyclop<edia AmericancL A Popular Dictum^
en'if of Arts, Sciences^ Literature, History, Politics, and
Biography ; brought dovm to the Present Time ; include
ing a dopiofts Collection of Original Articles in Amer^
ican Biography, On the Basis of the Seventh Edition
of the German Conversations Lexicon. Edited by Fran-
cis LiEBER, assisted by E. Wiggles worth, and T. 6.
Brabtord. Philadelphia. Carey &; Lea. 8vo.

In estimating a work like this, regard should be had to the
wants of the times. The question is not so much, whether
die thing be excellent in itself, as whether it was needed.
In an original work of instruction or of taste we look for in-
trinsic merit, and judge by -the eternal laws of truth and
}>eauty ; but in a compilation the essential requisite is imme-
diate utility, adaptation to present wants. Here then, of
course, the standard of excellence will be more contingent
and fluctuating, depending upon the changes of the times ;
here, the value must always depend on the demand.

Proceedinc upon this ground we ask. Was a new Encyclo-
pedia needed at the present time ? And if so, for whom was
It needed ? It certainly was not needed for the learned, the
student by profession, the man whose whole life is devoted to
literary and scientific pursuits ; the wants of this class were
already abundantly supplied by such works as the " Encyclo-
pedia Britannica," Rees's, Brewster's, and others of hi^h
authority. But there is another class of readers, — and it is m
every community the largest class, — consisting of those
whose ordinary pursuits are not of a literary character, the
path of whose destiny lies not among the cultivated fields of
science, and who, if they taste of knowledge at all, as they
have no time to till for themselves, must have their food pre-

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1889.] Eneydopadia Americana. 888

pared to their hands. . Among readers of this description a
want did exist, which bad never before been satisfactorilir
provided for ; these have long stood in need of some reposi-^
tory of general information more accessible and practical
than the folios and quartos, more copious and mteresting
than the octavos, of former encyclopiedists. This want, ac-
cording to the principle above stated, is the test we should
apply to any new work in this department of literary labor.
We should expect such a work to be popular in its design
and in its form, discursive rather than profound, correct Imt
not minute, a dictionary of things rather than of opinions, -> -
presenting in each department of science the outlines merely,
and the most prominent facts without the details, — - the re^
suits without the processes by which they were obtained, —
having a large proportion of articles devoted to conunoD
things, and conveying information on all topics in the plainest
and most concise manner. 3uch would be our demand.
Now the work whose title stands at the head of this article,
and of which eight volumes, comprising about two thirds of
the whole, are already before the public, satisfies this de-
mand, we think, in every particular ; and we are glad to find
that Dr. Lieber and his assfstants have thus far succeeded so»
well in making their book what the title promised it should
be, a " popular dictionary." This constitutes in out opinion
its highest merit. It is a popular work ; it merits that title
as well by the free space which it allows to popular suIk
jects, as by the popular manner in which it handles those
that are more abstruse. It is a popular work, and it is the
only one of the kind that' we have. Of Encyclopedias we
had enough before ; but this is a new thing ; it interferes with
none of its predecessors, and it fills a gap which it was im*
portant to have filled, and to fill which but one attempt wor*
thy of notice had been made before. We allude to the
Libraries of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge ; but the
American Encyclopaedia excels these, we think, in very
many particulars ; it is more extensive in its design and more

Eractical in its execution, to say nothing of the advantages of
ixicographical arrangement.

Nor is its popular cast the only merit which distinguishes
the American Encyclopaedia ; it is remarkable also for the
variety of its articles, for the brevity and conciseness of its
manner, and for the attention it gives to subjects which, not

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SSiA Encjfclapadia Am$rtcan(L [April,

belonging to any particular diFision^^have hitherto found no
place in works of this description. On scientific subjects it
is inferior to many others ; but in the fine arts it justly claims
a superiority over all our English Encyclopsedias, and in
history and biography it excels every other work not exclu-
sively devoted to these subjects. We like, too, its cheerful
and animated tone, so different from the dull prosing style
.usual in such compilations ; this gives it a new claim, and
makes it, like the celebrated work of Bayle, not merely a
useful dictionary, but an entertaining book. As the Ameri-
can Encyclopedia professes to be founded on the German
^^Conversations Lexicon," it becomes a question of some
interest how far it agrees with its original ; but in comparing
the two, we must 'bear in mind the object which our compi-
lers had in view. We must not expect to find all that is
excellent in the German retained in the English ; much that
is interesting and appropriate there, would not be so here.
Thus transcendental views and principles unintelligible to
American readers have been judiciously avoided. In respect
4;o such subjects Dr. Lieber might say with the Roman poet,

" NuUus in hac terr&, recitem si carmina, cujus
Intellecturis auribus utar, adest"

We ^e aware that scientific men in Germany have found
fault with some portions of the ^^ Conversations Lexicon,"
on the score of inaccuracy. We recollect once hearing Pro-
fessor Bhimenbach say, that he lost all patience whenever
he attempted to consult it on subjects connected with his own
department. It was in a former edition of this work too, if
we remember right, that a very ludicrous mistake was made
by a certain manufacturer of articles, who, strangely enough,
confounding the Greek word rovg with the French nous, de-
scribed the subject of his article as addicted to a very selfish
philosophy. These errors, however, are confined we believe
to the earlier editions, and the charge of inaccuracy has never,
to our knowledge, been preferred against the seventh, on
which the American work is based. Nevertheless this work
has its faults ; and there is one, as we think, a trifiing one to
besure, in the very title-page. We know of no reason why
Latin should have been introduced here, why it was not as
well (as certainly it was more natural) to say American En-
cyclopsedia, as to^ay ^^ Encyclopaedia Americana." In some

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1832.] Encyehpadia Americana. 3S6

of the critiques on German authors there seems to be a little
unfairness, not intentional, but arising from certain national
prejudices, of which the Editor himself was unconscious.
Perhaps we mistake the cause, but we are convinced of the
fact. Thus the article on Kotzebue * appears to be written
with a good moral aim, ne doubt, but with an exclusive spirit
that is very far from doing justice to that distinguished au-
thor, who, with all his faults, and his offences against moral
rectitude, stands unrivalled, perhaps, in the comic drama of

On some topics we wish that an earlier edition of the
" Conversations Lexicon " had been followed, rather than
the seventh, whose tone on these topics is too dogmatical
and contemptuous for. a philosophic work. Occasionally
the American Editor appears undecided whether to fall in
with this tone, or to take an independent stand. In the arti-
cle on Animal Magnetism, e. g. (a very satisfactory one in
the earlier German) we observe, that after translating the rid-
icule which he found on this subject in the seventh edition of
the original, he has added, of Ris own accord, a somewhat pro-
lix statement of the phenomena of animal magnetism. Here
is an inconsistency. First he tells us that there is nothing in
the matter, and then describes phenomena, which, if true,
prove incontestably that there is. This reminds us of a cer-
tain learned Doctor who wrote a learned book on some spe-
cimens of petrifaction, which h/e thought he had found in his
garden, but which, he afterward discovered, Were artificial,
and had been deposited t^ere by some wag who. was ac-
quainted with his pursuits. As the discovery was not made
till the book was finished, the Doctor was unwilling to lose the
credit and the profit of his labors ; he therefore published the
work, as if nothing had happened, and added a note at the
end, in which the patient reader, after toiling through several
hundred pages, was informed that the whole afiair was a de-
lusion. The author of the article in the American Encyclo-
pedia, to which we allude, has acted less wisely ; he has
made his confession in the outset, and then told his story^
which story, after such a confession, few will take the trouble

* On comparing this article with the correBpondingf one in the orig-
inal we find no essential difference bet\^een them. We do not know
wbat are the political sentiaaenta of the German editor.

VOL. I. NO. IV. 42

Digitized by


326 lAfe of Eli Whitney. [April,

to read. It should have been omitted altogether, or given
without the confessioa. We do not mention these things as
detracting essentially from the value of the work, but with
the hope that in the volumes yet to come, even such trifling
inconsistencies will be avoided.

On the whole, placing it on the ground which we have
assumed, that of general utility, we do not hesitate to give
the American Encyclopaedia our most hearty commendation
as a repository of useful knowledge. It deserves a place in
every village library and in every family. We have heard of
a lady, "not very particular about her reading," who bor-
rowed a copy of Johnson's Dictionary, and after reading
it tbrouzh, returned it, saying she had found it a very enter*
taining book. This is rather a singular commendation to
bestow upon a dictionary ; but it may be applied with per-
fect justice to the work before us ; for though a dictionary,
it is an entertaining book, and deserves not only to be fre*
quently consulted, but attentively perused.

Art. XI. — Memoir ofiht Life of Eli Whitney, Esq. [In
the American Journal of Science.] New Haven. Janu-
ary, 1832. pp. 54.

Professor Sillim ait, the Editor of this " Journal," in-
forms us, that '* he is indebted exclusively to Professor Olm-
sted for this article." It has been proposed, we understand,
to publish it by itself; an inteuiion which we hope to see
executed, as there are many in the northern part of the
Union at least, who know little of Eli Whitwey, and who
feel the good effects of the invention of the Cotton Gin,
without beine aware that they owe them to the ingenuity of
a native of Massachusetts. The names of Watt, Arkwright,
and Fulton are familiar; that of Whitney should in like
manner be suggested by the same association with the great
sources of national wealth and happiness.

For several years after the close of the revolutionary war,
as is well known, it was a problem of difficult solution with
the statesmen of the day, to discover among the productions
of an extensive but exhausted country, some article of ex-
port, which might do something towards the payment of the
debts to foreign powers, incurred in the prosecution of the

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1889.] Lift of Eli Whitney. , 827

contest. The invention of Whitney solved the problem,
and opened to the country in general, and to the southern
planters in particular, sources of wealth, surpassing the imag-
ination of the most enthusiastic. In 1785, the export of
cotton to Liverpool (and this was probably a great part of
the whole export) consisted of five bags; in 1831, the whole
product of the Southern Slates was, we beUeve, upwards of
one million bales.

A stranger might be curious to inquire, what rewards were
lavished by a grateful country on the ingenious or fortunate
discoverer of an instrument of such extraordinary efficiency ;
what honors were rendered to him by his contemporaries, and
in what regard and estimation his name has been held by
their posterity. But he would feel a sensation of shame for
bis species, when he learned that the best part of the life of
this eminent benefactor was wasted and his health impaired
in attempts to secure from his invention the means of a live"
lihood ; that he was obliged at last to look to other effi3rts of
invention and industry for subsistence ; that his claims were
resisted and bis character vilified during his life, by those
who were deriving the most direct and extensive benefits
from his invention ; and that as yet his name has bean
rarely mentioned, and bis history is unknown to thousands
of his countrymen.

But there are other rewards of merit beside the accumula-
tion of wealth, or the enjoyment of contemporary fame. The
well founded consciousness of deserving both, and the cer-
tainty of receiving in full measure the arrears of gratitude
and honor from future generations, are worth something to
all, and much to the truly great and noble-minded.

The subject of this '^Memoir" was a native of the county
of Worcester, in Massachusetts, and a graduate of Yale Col-
lege. In 1793, soon after his first degree was conferred, he
went to the South as a teacher in- the family of a gentleman
in Georgia. While there his attention was drawn to a sub-
ject then of great interest, — a method of separating the fibre
of the green seed-cotton firom its seed, — which had hitherto
been accomplished only by the slow and unprofitable method
of hand-picking. For this purpose Whitney devised a ma-
ciliine, which proved perfectly effectual, and which is now
known by the name of the Cotton Gin, in which the fibre is
separated by means, of cylinders with wire teeth.

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328 Uft of mi Whiinetf. [April,

His difficulties commenced, however, almost at the mo-
ment of his invention. Before he could secure his patent,
his building was broken open, the machine carried off, and a
number of similar ones in successful operation. Thirteen
years, during which the right was secured to him by the pa-
tent, were spent in endeavouring to establish his claim to it,
and defending himself against aggressions in the state of
Georgia. The difficulties that attended this legal warfare
may be illustrated by a single remark from one of his letters.
"In one instance," says he, "I had great difficulty in prov-
ing that the machine had been used in Georgia, although at
the same moment, there were three separate sets of this ma-
chinery in motion, within fifty yards of the building in which
the Court sat, and all so near, that the rattling of the wheels

Online LibraryJoseph Lyon MillerAmerican monthly review → online text (page 34 of 54)