« AnteriorContinuar »
History, Theory, and Practice of the Electric We shall not criticize the work in de.
Telegraph. By GEORGE B. Prescott, tail, but shall rest satisfied with saying that Superintendent of Electric Telegraph the author has succeeded in his design of Lines. Boston : Ticknor and Fields. making the whole subject clear to any 1861. 12mo.
reader who will follow his lucid and sys
tematic exposition. The plan of the work It may be safely said that no one of the is simple, and the arrangement orderly and wonder-working agencies of the nineteenth proper. A concise statement is given of century, of an importance in any degree the fundamental principles of electricity, equal to that of the Electric Telegraph, is and of the means of its artificial propagaso little understood in its practical details by tion. This includes, of course, a descripthe world at large. Its results come before tion of the various batteries used in teleus daily, to satisfy our morning and evening graphing. Then follows a chapter upon appetite for news; but how few have a clear electro-magnetism and its application to knowledge of even the simplest rules which the telegraph. This prepares the way for govern its operation, to say nothing of the a statement of the physical conditions unvast and complicated system by which der which the electrical current may be these results are made so universal! The conveyed. The author then describes the general intelligence, at present, doubtless instruments necessary for the transmission outruns the dull apprehension of the typi- and recording of intelligible signs, under cal Hibernian, who, in earlier telegraphic which general head of “ Electric Telegraph times, wasted the better part of a day in Apparatus " the various telegraphic syswatching for the passage of a veritable let- tems are made the subject of carefuldescripter over the wires ; but even now, – after tion. A chapter is given to the history of twenty years of Electric Telegraphy, dur- each system, — the Morse, the Needle, the ing which the progress of the magic wire House, the Bain, the Hughes, the Combinahas been so rapid that it has already reach- tion, and others of less note. These chapters ed an extent of nearly sixty thousand miles are very complete and very interesting, emin the United States alone, - even now the bodying, as they do, the history of each inideas of men in general as to the modus op- strument, the details of its use, and a stateerandi of this great agency are, to say the ment of its capabilities. The system most least, extremely vague. Even the chronic used in America is the Combination system, and pamphlet-producing quarrel between the printing instrument of which is the rethe managers of our telegraphic system sult of an ingenious combination of the most and their Briarean antagonist, the daily desirable qualities of the House and Hughes newspaper-press, fails to convey to our systems. Of this fine instrument a fullgeneral sense anything beyond the impres- page engraving is given, which, with Mr. sion that the most gigantic benefits may Prescott's careful explanation, renders the be so abused as to tempt us into an occa- recording process very clear. sional wish that they had never existed. The next division of the work relates to
One reason of this general ignorance has subterranean and submarine telegraphic been the absence of any text-book or man- lines. Of this the greater portion is deual on the subject, giving a clear and thor- voted to the Atlantic cable, the great sucough exposition of its mysteries. The cess and the great failure of our time. The present is the first American work which chapter devoted to this unfortunate entertakes the subject in hand from the begin. prise gives the completest account of its ning and carries it through the entire pro- rise, progress, and decline that we have cess which leads to the results we have ever seen. It seems to set at rest, so far spoken of. Its author brings to his work as evidence can do it, the mooted question the best possible qualification, - a long fa- whether any message ever did really pass miliarity with the subject in the every-day through the submerged cable,— a point updetails of its development. His Introduc- on which there are many unbelievers, even tion informs the reader that he has been at the present day. We think these unbeengaged for thirteen years in the business lievers would do well to read the account of practical telegraphing. He is thus sure before us. Mr. Prescott informs us, that, of his ground, from the best of sources, from the first laying of the cable to the personal experience.
day when it ceased to work, no less than four hundred messages were actually trans. scription of the Electrical Influence of the mitted : one hundred and twenty-nine from Aurora Borealis upon the Working of the Valentia to Trinity Bay, and two hundred Telegraph. These, with a curiously inand seventy-one from Trinity Bay to Va. teresting chapter upon the Various Applilentia. The curious reader may find cop- cations of the Telegraph, and an amusing ies of all these messages chronologically miscellaneous chapter showing that the set down in this volume. Mr. Prescott ex- Telegraph has a literature of its own, presses entire confidence in the restoration complete the chief popular elements of the of telegraphic communication between the volume. The remainder is devoted maintwo hemispheres. It may be reasonably ly to a technical treatise on the proper doubted, however, if direct submarine com- method of constructing telegraphic lines, munication will ever be resumed. Two perfecting insulation, etc. In an Appendix other routes are suggested as more likely we have a more careful consideration of to become the course of the international Galvanism, and a more detailed examinawires. One is that lately examined by Sir tion of the qualities and capacities of the Leopold M'Clintock and Captain Young, various batteries. under the auspices of the British Govern- As is becoming in any, and especially ment. This route, taking the extreme north- in an American, treatise upon this great ern coast of Scotland as its point of depart subject, Mr. Prescott devotes some space ure, and touching the Faroe Islands, Ice- to a detailed account of the labors of Proland, and Greenland, strikes our continent fessor Morse, which have led to his being upon the coast of Labrador, making the regarded as the father of our American longest submarine section eight hundred system of telegraphing. In a chapter enmiles, about one-third the length of the At- titled “Early Discoveries in Electro-Dy. lantic cable. There is not a little doubt, namics," he publishes for the first time however, as to the practicability of this some interesting facts elicited during the route; and as the British Government has trial, in the Supreme Court of the United already expended several hundred thou- States, of the suit of the Morse patentees sand pounds in experimenting upon sub- against the House Company for alleged marine cables, it is not likely that it will intringement of patent. In this chapter venture much more upon any project not we have a résumé of the evidence before holding out a very absolute promise of suc- the Court, and an abstract of the decision cess. What seems more likely is, that our of Judge Woodbury. This leads clearly telegraphic communication with Europe to the conclusion, that, although Professor will be made eventually through Asia. Morse had no claims to any merit of actual Even now the Russian Government is vig. invention, yet he had the purely mechanical orously pushing its telegraphic lines east- merit of having gone beyond all his comward from Moscow; and its own interest peers in the application of discoveries and affords a strong guaranty that telegraphic inventions already made, and that he was communication will soon be established be- the first to contrive and set in operation a tween its commercial metropolis and its thoroughly effective instrument. military and trading posts on the Pacific Mr. Prescott has produced a very read. border. A project has also recently taken able and useful book. It has been thorform to establish a line between Quebec oughly and appropriately illustrated, and and the Hudson Bay Company's posts north is a very elegant specimen of the typog. of the Columbia River. With the two ex- rapher's art. tremes so near meeting, a submarine wire would soon be laid over Behring's Straits, or crossing at a more southern point and Great Expectations. By CHARLES Dicktouching the Aleutian Islands in its pas. ENS. Philadelphia : T. B. Peterson & sage.
Brothers. 8vo. Two of the chapters of this work will be recognized by readers of the “Atlantic" The very title of this book indicates the as having first appeared in its pages, confidence of conscious genius. In a new chapter upon the Progress and Present aspirant for public favor, such a title might Condition of the Electric Telegraph in the have been a good device to attract attenvarious countries of the world, and a de- tion; but the most famous novelist of the day, watched by jealous rivals and critics, taposition of romantic tenderness, melocould hardly have selected it, had he not dramatic improbabilities, and broad farce. inwardly felt the capacity to meet all the The humorous characterization is joyousexpectations he raised. We have read it, ly exaggerated into caricature, - the serias we have read all Mr. Dickens's pre- ous characterization into romantic unrevious works, as it appeared in instalments, ality. Richard Swiveller and Little Nell and can testify to the felicity with which refuse to combine. There is abundant expectation was excited and prolonged, evidence of genius both in the humorous and to the series of surprises which ac- and the pathetic parts, but the artistic imcompanied the unfolding of the plot of the pression is one of anarchy rather than story. In no other of his romances has unity. the author succeeded so perfectly in at In “Great Expectations," on the cononce stimulating and baffling the curiosity trary, Dickens seems to have attained the of his readers. He stirred the dullest minds mastery of powers which formerly more to guess the secret of his mystery; but, so or less mastered him. He has fairly disfar as we have learned, the guesses of his covered that he cannot, like Thackeray, most intelligent readers have been almost narrate a story as if he were a mere lookas wide of the mark as those of the least er-on, a mere “knowing” observer of apprehensive. It has been all the more what he describes and represents; and he provoking to the former class, that each has therefore taken observation simply as surprise was the result of art, and not of the basis of his plot and his characterizatrick; for a rapid review of previous chap- tion. As we read “ Vanity Fair” and ters has shown that the materials of a “ The Newcomes,” we are impressed with strictly logical development of the story the actuality of the persons and incidents. were freely given. Even after the first, There is an absence both of directing idesecond, third, and even fourth of these sur- as and disturbing idealizations. Everyprises gave their pleasing electric shocks thing drifts to its end, as in real life. In to intelligent curiosity, the dénouement was “ Great Expectations » there is shown a still hidden, though confidentially fore. power of external observation finer and told. The plot of the romance is therefore deeper even than Thackeray's; and yet, universally admitted to be the best that owing to the presence of other qualities, Dickens has ever invented. Its leading the general impression is not one of obevents are, as we read the story consecu- jective reality. The author palpably uses tively, artistically necessary, yet, at the his observations as materials for his creasame time, the processes are artistically tive faculties to work upon; he does not concealed. We follow the movement of record, but invents; and he produces somea logic of passion and character, the real thing which is natural only under condipremises of which we detect only when tions prescribed by his own mind. He we are startled by the conclusions. shapes, disposes, penetrates, colors, and
The plot of “Great Expectations” is contrives everything, and the whole acalso noticeable as indicating, better than tion is a series of events which could any of his previous stories, the individu- have occurred only in his own brain, and ality of Dickens's genius. Everybody which it is difficult to conceive of as acmust have discerned in the action of his tually "happening.” And yet in none of mind two diverging tendencies, which, in his other works does he evince a shrewder this novel, are harmonized. He possesses insight into real life, and a clearer percepa singularly wide, clear, and minute pow- tion and knowledge of what is called “the er of accurate observation, both of things world.” The book is, indeed, an artistic and of persons; but his observation, keen creation, and not a mere succession of and true to actualities as it independently humorous and pathetic scenes, and deis, is not a dominant faculty, and is op- monstrates that Dickens is now in the posed or controlled by the strong tenden- prime, and not in the decline of his great cy of his disposition to pathetic or hu- powers. morous idealization. Perhaps in “ The The characters of the novel also show Old Curiosity Shop” these qualities are how deeply it has been meditated ; for, best seen in their struggle and diver- though none of them may excite the pergence, and the result is a magnificent jux- sonal interest which clings to Sam Weller or little Dombey, they are better fitted to scious of the words, in our clear appreheneach other and to the story in which they sion of the objects and incidents they conappear than is usual with Dickens. They vey. The quotable epithets and phrases all combine to produce that unity of im- are less numerous than in “Dombey & pression which the work leaves on the Son” and “ David Copperfield”; but the mind. Individually they will rank among scenes and events impressed on the imagthe most original of the author's creations. ination are perhaps greater in number and Magwitch and Joe Gargery, Jaggers and more vivid in representation. The poetiWemmick, Pip and Herbert, Wopsle, Pum- cal element of the writer's genius, his modblechook, and "the Aged,” Miss Havi. ification of the forms, hues, and sounds of sham, Estella, and Biddy, are personages Nature by viewing them through the mewhich the most assiduous readers of Dick- dium of an imagined mind, is especially ens must pronounce positive additions to prominent throughout the descriptions with the characters his rich and various genius which the work abounds. Nature is not had already created.
only described, but individualized and huPip, the hero, from whose mind the manized. whole representation takes its form and Altogether we take great joy in recordcolor, is admirably delineated throughout. ing our conviction that “Great ExpectaWeak, dreamy, amiable, apprehensive, as- tions” is a masterpiece. We have never piring, inefficient, the subject and the vic- sympathized in the mean delight which tim of “Great Expectations,” his individ- some critics seem to experience in detectuality is, as it were, diffused through the ing the signs which subtly indicate the whole narrative. Joe is a noble character, decay of power in creative intellects. We with a heart too great for his powers o. sympathize still less in the stupid and unexpression to utter in words, but whose generous judgments of those who find a patience, fortitude, tenderness, and benefi- still meaner delight in wilfully asserting cence shine lucidly through his confused that the last book of a popular writer is and mangled English. Magwitch, the unworthy of the genius which produced “warmint” who “grew up took up,” his first. In our opinion, “Great Expecwhose memory extended only to that tations” is a work which proves that we period of his childhood when he was may expect from Dickens a series of ro“a-thieving turnips for his living” down mances far exceeding in power and artisin Essex, but in whom a life of crime had tic skill the productions which have alonly intensified the feeling of gratitude for ready given him such a preëminence the one kind action of which he was the
among the novelists of the age. object, is hardly equalled in grotesque grandeur by anything which Dickens has previously done. The character is not Tom Brown at Oxford: A Sequel to Schoolonly powerful in itself, but it furnishes Days at Rugby. By the Author of pregnant and original hints to all philo- “ School-Days at Rugby," "Scouring sophical investigators into the phenome- of the White Horse," etc. Boston : na of crime. In this wonderful creation Ticknor & Fields. 2 vols. 16mo. Dickens follows the maxim of the great master of characterization, and seeks “the Thomas Hughes, the author of these soul of goodness in things evil.”
volumes, does not, on a superficial examiThe style of the romance is rigorously nation, seem to deserve the wide reputaclose to things. The author is so engross- tion he has obtained. We hunt his books ed with the objects before his mind, is so in vain for any of those obvious peculiarithoroughly in earnest, that he has fewer ties of style, thought, and character which of those humorous caprices of expression commonly distinguish a man from his felin which formerly he was wont to wanton. lows. He does not possess striking wit, Some of the old hilarity and play of fancy or humor, or imagination, or power of is gone, but we hardly miss it in our ad- expression. In every quality, good or miration of the effects produced by his al- bad, calculated to create “a sensation,” most stern devotion to the main idea of his he is remarkably deficient. work. There are passages of description body reads him with interest, and expeand narrative in which we are hardly con- riences for him a feeling of personal affec
tion and esteem. An unobtrusive, yet evi- nected with an elevated, yet eminently sadont nobility of character, a sound, large, gacious spirit of Christian philanthropy. “round-about” common-sense, a warm Tom Brown at Oxford, as well as Tom sympathy with English and human kind, Brown at Rugby, will, so far as he exerts a practical grasp of human life as it is lived any influence, exert one for good. He has by ordinary people, and an unmistakable a plentiful lack of those impossible virtues sincerity and earnestness of purpose ani- which disgust boys and young men with mate everything he writes. His “School- the models set up as examples for them to Days at Rugby” delighted men as well as emulate in books deliberately moral and boys by the freshness, geniality, and truth- religious ; but he none the less shows how fulness with which it represented boyish a manly and Christian character can be atexperiences; and the Tom Brown who, tained by methods which are all the more in that book, gained so many friends wher- influential by departing from the common ever the English tongue is spoken, parts mechanical contrivances for fashioning with none of his power to interest and lusty youths into consumptive saints, incharm in this record of his collegiate life. competent to do the work of the Lord in Mr. Hughes has the true, wholesome Eng- this world, however they may fare in the lish love of home, the English delight in next. Mr. Hughes can hardly be called a rude physical sports, the English hatred disciple of “Muscular Christianity,” exof hypocrisy and cant, the English fidelity cept so far as muscle is necessary to give to facts, the English disbelief in all piety full efficiency to mind; but he feels all the and morality which are not grounded in contempt possible to such a tolerant namanliness. The present work is full of il- ture for that spurious piety which kills the lustrations of these healthy qualities of his body in order to give a sickly appearance nature, and they are all intimately con- of life to the soul.
RECENT AMERICAN PUBLICATIONS
RECEIVED BY THE EDITORS OF THE ATLANTIC MONTHLY.
History of Civilization in England. By Henry Thomas Buckle. Vol. II. From the Second London Edition, to which is added an Alphabetical Index. New York. D. Appleton & Co. 8vo. pp. 476. $2.50.
Explorations and Adventures in Equatorial Africa; with Accounts of the Manners and Customs of the People, and of the Chase of the Gorilla and other Wild Animals. By Paul B. Du Chaillu. Illustrated. New York. Harper & Brothers. 8vo. pp. 526. $3.00.
The Adventures of Captain Bonneville, U. S. A., in the Rocky Mountains and the Far West. Digested from his Journal, and illustrated from Various other Sources. By Washington Irving. Author's Revised Edition. New York. G. P. Putuam. 12mo. pp. 427. $1.50.
Miles Wallingford. A Sequel to "Afloat and Ashore." By J. Fenimore Cooper. From Drawings by F. 0. C. Darley. New York. W. A. Townsend & Co. 12mo. $1.50.
Ways of the Hour. A Tale. By J. Fenimore Cooper. Illustrated from Drawings by F. 0. C. Darley. New York. W. A. Townsend & Co. 12mo. pp. 512. $1.50.
The Heidenmauer; or, The Benedictines. A Legend of the Rhine. By J. Fenimore Cooper. Illustrated from Drawings by F. 0. C. Darley. New York. W. A. Townsend & Co. 12mo. pp. 464. $1.50.
The Works of Edgar Allan Poe. New Edition, on tinted paper.
New York. W. J. Widdleton. 4 vols. 12mo. Pp. 481. $5.00.
The Fifth Reader of the School and Family Series. By M. Willson. New York. Harper & Brothers. 12mo. pp. 540. $1.00.
Military Dictionary: Comprising Technical Definitions, Information on Raising and keeping Troops, Actual Service, including Makeshift and Improved Material, and Law, Government, Regulation, and Administration relating to Land Forces. By Colonel H. L. Scott, Inspector General U. S. A. New York. D. Van Nostrand. 8vo. pp. 674. $5.00.