Obrázky stránek
PDF
ePub

c. Verplanck.

II. SAMARITAN AND HEBREW PENTATEUCH

274

De Pentateuchi Samaritani Origine, Indole, et Auc-

toritate, Commentatio Philologica-critica. Scripsit Gu-

lielmus Gesenius.

III. PERCIVAL's Poem.

317

Poem delivered before the Connecticut Alpha of the

Phi Beta Kappa Society, September 13, 1825. By

James G. Percival.

IV. SANDWICH ISLANDS

334

Journal of a Tour around Hawaii, the largest of the

Sandwich Islands. By a Deputation from the Mission

on those Islands,

V. MILTON ON CARISTIAN DOCTRINE

364

A Treatise on Christian Doctrine, compiled from the

Holy Scriptures alone. By John Milton.

VI. MEMOIR OF RICHARD HENRY LEE .

373

Memoir of the Life of Richard Henry Lee, and his
Correspondence with the most distinguished Men in

America and Europe, illustrative of their Characters,

and of the Events of the American Revolution. By his

Grandson, Richard H. Lee.

NORTH AMERICAN REVIEW.

No. L.

NEW SERIES, NO. XXV.

JANUARY, 1826.

ART. I.-Transactions of the American Philosophical Soci

ety, for promoting useful Knowledge. Vol. II. New Se

ries. A. Small. Philadelphia. 410. pp. 503. The American Philosophical Society was instituted at Philadelphia, about eighty years ago, chiefly through the instrumentality of Dr Franklin. The elevated genius and ardent love of knowledge, which were among the rare traits of this great philosopher and statesman, impelled bim by all practicable means not only to discover, but to communicate truth, not only to develope the principles of vature and the laws of social intercourse, but to make his acquisitions useful to the greatest possible extent. Franklin was truly the friend of his species, and believed no labor without its reward, which taught men the art of understanding and improving their condition, or, in other words, the art of securing their independence, prosperity, and happiness, by their own exertions. All his researches in physical science, politics, morals, and the economy of life, aim at utility; he employed philosophy as an instrument of good to mankind, and converted knowledge to its proper ends. In these intellectual babits of Franklin originated the Philosophical Society at Philadelphia.

For several years the Society was little more, than an association of scientific gentlemen, for the purpose of aiding one another in their pursuits by conversation and concert. The meetings of the Society were also frequently interrupted VOL. XXII.-NO. 50.

1

during the revolutionary war. But the activity of its members did not cease, and their labors have been recorded in successive voluines of Transactions. In the present article our attention is drawn to the volume last published, being the eighth from the beginning, and the second of the new series. The Society ranks among its numbers some of the most distinguished men of letters and science in this country and in Europe, and many of the contributions to its Transactions are from high sources. The meetings are held in a handsome and commodious building in Philadelphia, which belongs to the Society, and which contains a library of about six thousand volumes, and various specimens of natural history. The catalogue of this library, formed under the immediate direction of Mr Duponceau, is one of the best, in the methodical and philosophical principles of its arrangement, that we have ever seen. The original purpose of the Society was the cultivation of the physical and exact sciences, and to this it was long confined. The plan has recently been enlarged, by embracing history, moral science, and general literature. The standing committee, appointed for this department, published six years ago a separate volume, with encouragement that another would in due time appear. We hope the time will soon arrive. This new department reaches to so wide a compass of interesting inquiry, that it cannot fail to enlist more able minds in the cause of the Society, and thereby increase its dignity and extend its usefulness. The presidents have been successively, Benjamin Franklin, David Rittenhouse, Thomas Jefferson, Caspar Wistar, Robert Patterson, and William Tilghman, the present distinguished Chief Justice of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

This Society, not more on account of its antiquity and the high character of its members, than of its objects and its past labors, justly claims the respect of all lovers of science, and friends of improvement in this country. Amidst the numerous societies, which are almost daily shooting up around us, with pompous titles and long lists of officers, with constitutions, and bylaws, and boasts of great projects in hand, but which sink away and go out of sight, after a little vain bustling on the part of a few zealous candidates for the offices at the next election, when their namnes may appear at full length as part of the news of the day, or perhaps at the bottom of a report detailing with great formality, what the society inteods to do; we say, in the midst of all this empty parade and pretence, it is with sincere pleasure that we can look up to the Philosophical Society, and the Academy of Natural Sciences, in Philadelphia, as institutions creditable to themselves and the country, by the dignity of their objects, and by the steady and substantial efforts with which these objects are prosecuted. A very few others may be entitled to a similar preference, but the number is exceedingly small. We could wish, indeed, that our own American Academy, whose doings have been so laudable in years. gone by, would more frequently give other tokens of its existence, than the annual list of new members published in the newspapers. We do not object to literary and scientific associations; on the contrary, we believe they may be made the means of vast improvement to individuals and to the community ; but we confess that we have no patience with the growing fashion of building up these associations, and enlarging them, merely for a noise and puff, as a convenient mode by which a number of persons may keep each other in countenance in making pretensions, which, singly, they would never dare to make, and which, under no circumstances, can they ever realise. The whole business is arrant quackery, and although it breaks no bones, nor administers any poison, yet it deceives the public, and as far as any effect is produced, it is to bring literature and science into disrepute.

The present volume of Transactions contains several important papers, some of which are so purely scientific, that we should fail in any attempt to analyse them, were such an analysis within the scope of our journal. Three or four may be selected, however, on which we trust a few observations will not be unacceptable to our general readers. The paper by Dr Drake, containing a Geological Account of the Valley of the Ohio, is curious not more for its facts, than for the ingenious speculations of the author, in attempting to account for certain geological phenomena in the western country. His paper is accompanied with a profile of the valley of the Ohio, running transversely across the river at Cincinnati, and indicating the alluvial formations on each bank of the river at that place.

« PředchozíPokračovat »