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availability for moral purposes, and render them but inflexible instruments in the hands of God for governing his intelligent and accountable creatures; and this remains unaltered, in whatever manner we conceive the events to be produced. Mr. Bowen, strangely enough, appears to forget that the laws which govern the evolution of the material phenomena are learned from experience, and not deduced from theory - that they are just as invariable, and in all respects precisely the same, whether they rest immediately upon the Divine will, or have their origin in the endowments of the material atoms. That the supposition of inherent powers in matter necessarily leads to materialism, atheism, and Spinozism, as we think all will agree, he entirely fails to show. No such monstrous absurdities are, in fact, involved in the hypothesis.
But while he would push what we believe to be the only just and rational view of the constitution of the universe to consequences so revolting, he is not sufficiently mindful of all the bearings of his own doctrine. In Lecture IX. he presents the usual proofs of an Author of Nature from the manifestations of intelligence and design in the world around us, without apparently being aware that the hypothesis with which he starts, and upon which his whole system is built up, is utterly subversive of the argument. This argument is founded upon the manifold appearances of contrivance and adaptation in the outward universe. But if matter have no efficiency, these are only appearances. If there be no power of causation in the material atoms, they cannot be employed as means for the production of ends. On this supposition, the very idea of both means and ends, is necessarily excluded. Every event, every change in the outward world, is produced by the immediate agency of the Deity. The numerous and beautiful contrivances, as we are accustomed to regard them, embodied in the organic structure of man and of the different orders of the lower animals, have no part in the accomplishment of the purposes for which we suppose them intended. It is all illusion.. These frames of ours, in reality, embody no contrivances accomplish no purposes. Innumerable phenomena are indeed every moment occurring within them; but each one of these phenomena is separately and independently evolved by a special act of the Divine will. The powers revealed in matter are, in our hands, it is true, proper instrumentalities; and we are continually making use of them as such. But they cannot be so employed by God, for they all resolve themselves into his own agency. The doctrines of efficient and of final causes, in the world around us, must therefore stand or fall together- a truth which we deem worthy of the serious consideration of those who suppose they are advancing the interests of piety, and placing upon a surer foundation the moral government of God, by denying the ministry of the different forms of matter in the accomplishment of his purposes, and thus
Monuments of the Mississippi Valley.
obliterating from the face of the universe all marks of an intelligent and designing Author.
Mr. Bowen supposes the mind or soul of every human being to be “an indivisible unit," "a monad in technical phrase," a direct and special creation of the Almighty. This view of its constitution he endeavors to support from the facts of consciousness. Throughout the whole argument, however, he confounds two things not only different but in their nature totally dissimilar — unity of person and indivisibility of substance. It is only with the former of these that consciousness has anything to do. Matter, on the other hand, he supposes to be infinitely divisible, and in proof of it, makes use of the old argument of the mathematicians, which in reality applies only to space.
The more practical portions of these Lectures present fewer points for criticism. Mr. Bowen's ethics are better than his metaphysics, and his religion is better than his philosophy. His errors are errors of the head and not of the heart. The obligations to virtue and piety are placed upon their true foundations. They are made known but not created by God. They rest on the eternal principles of right. These are authoritatively revealed in the conscience. They are still further enforced by that moral government which God visibly exercises over us, and which is so far perfect in this life as "to need no apology," and to afford no just ground for the expectation of another. He does not reject the idea of a future retribution, but makes that like the doctrine of the soul's immortality, rest solely upon the teachings of inspiration. The tone of the volume is throughout elevated, and its spirit loyal to the great interests of virtue, humanity and truth. The just sentiments which everywhere pervade it, will, with most readers, do much towards commending its philosophy. Its literary merit too, as we have already intimated, is of a high order. In this respect, indeed, it is all that we should expect from the pen of the accomplished editor of the first literary periodical in our country.
3. MONUMENTS OF THE MISSISSIPPI VALLEY.!
This volume is the first ripe fruit of that singular but noble tree of knowledge, sent hither by the munificence of a foreigner, to be nurtured in the soil of freedom for the benefit, not simply of the millions that are
Smithsonian Contributions to Knowledge, Vol. I. Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley; comprising the Results of extensive original Surveys and Explorations. By E. G. Squier, A. M., and E. H. Davis, M. D. Published by the Smithsonian Institution, City of Washington, 1848. 4to pp. 306.
Reports, etc., of the Smithsonian Institution, exhibiting its plans, operations. and financial condition up to Jan. 1, 1849; from the third annual report of the Board of Regents. Presented to Congress, Feb. 19, 1849. 8vo. pp. 72.
to crowd our own immense territories, but of the whole world. It is "for the increase and diffusion of knowledge among men." By this comprehensive design, Smithson has evinced a mind as capacious as his bequest was princely.
For so sagacious a philanthropist to commit such a trust to our charge, instead of even leaving it in the hands of his own renowned England, is a compliment to our country, a proof of his confidence in the stability, integrity and enlightened policy of our government, which will be highly appreciated in Europe as well as in this country. Had he left it simply or chiefly for our good, to raise us ere long to a literary equality with European nations, however noble and ennobling the charity, it would yet have borne but little of its present commendatory aspect. While treating us as a munificent patron, and reposing a confidence in our wisdom to manage the legacy for ourselves, he would still have regarded us rather as beneficiaries than as the guardians and dispensers of a boon for all mankind. The moral effect of this preference by so shrewd a judge in such matters, must eventually be felt on the mind of Europe, first on her literati, and then on all the descending grades of her population. Especially must this be the result if our nation shall prove itself worthy of the trust. What (the savans of England and of France and of Germany and of Italy may now be saying), what, the American Congress made, not the ward but the guardian of such a trust? these Americans who write no books? What if they do fight well, and successfully guard their own boasted liberties, and their commerce floats on every sea, and every woman and child among them can read, and every man can write his own vote, yet what has all this to do with the guardianship of a literary bequest for the whole world? It has much to do with it, replies the gifted seer who made the bequest. These are the people I can safely trust for executing my designs. They love learning, however few of them have as yet had the means and leisure for adding to its stores. Prizing it as they do, they will seek for it as for hid treasure. And with their enterprise, their commerce, their missions, they will diffuse it round the world. Theirs, too, is a government as stable as it is free and enlightened and energetic. To what dynasty of kings on earth could I so safely commit my treasure for enlightening the world? Where will be those dynasties some scores of years hence, and where the institutions committed to their care? America, too, will itself be a world in the lapse of a very few centuries.
Such, from the shade of Smithson, will be the reply to every pondering savan who may now be lost in wonder at the fact that so gifted a mind should select our Congress as its trustee.
But, as touching this last topic, a wise assignment of the funds, why
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commit them to the disposal of any national government? and especially of so popular a government, where one party is dominant to-day, and another to-morrow; where the doctrine that "the spoils belong to the victors" is so often the order of the day, and where the leaders of no political party can be presumed fit for the organization and management of anything more literary than a political club? Will not the funds be instantly squandered, or the offices conferred on political favorites, ignorant of their duties, and changed with every change of party, and before they can have time to learn those duties? Or will not the whole be rendered futile in the pursuit of some chimerical project, or wasted on ostentatious buildings? Why not rather commit such a trust to a select body of prudent and literary men, who are the only men capable of managing any literary institution? just as has been judged needful in regard to nearly all our literary institutions.
On this question we must confess we had at first and for a long time the saddest forebodings. And our a-priori scepticism was only increased by a knowledge of the havoc made in some of our institutions of learning by State interference. And even now, we cannot resist the belief that Smithson himself must have had either a much deeper or a much shallower insight than most of us into the true genius of our nation, or else he could not thus have embarked his treasure, and with it his reputation for sound judgment, and what was more, his fond hopes for posthumous usefulness to the whole world by the wealth a kind providence had given him. Easily enough, indeed, might he, like any one of us, anticipate the liability, which so speedily proved a reality, of the total loss of the fund by a bad investment. But could he see that, by the very conferment of so princely a trust on such a people, done too in the eye of all Europe, and for the good of mankind, he touched a cord in our national pride, which would not allow a moment's delay in replacing the entire sum? Perhaps. In either case, whether owing to his knowledge or his ignorance of us, the event has proved the felicity of his selection. But few among the kings of the earth would so cheerfully have assumed an expost facto guarantee of such a deposit. And one of our largest and most enterprising institutions, some thirty years ago, deliberately declined a munificent donation to its funds, designed for gratuitous instruction to those bearing the donor's name, and coupled with the condition of its guaranteeing to this object five per cent. annually on the amount given. And well was it for Yale College that her sage financier dissuaded her from the tempting boon; for in a short time the favorite bank in which she would probably have invested this, as she did a large portion of her other funds, became a total failure. Nor can we believe that even the richest of our States would have been found ready to meet such an exi
gency. A deafening clamor would have silenced the proposal. But our whole nation could meet it without inconvenience. And it did meet it, not only without a murmuring word from any faction, but with the proud approbation of all, both high and low.
And where now would have been the Smithsonian fund, if it had been entrusted to some literary corporation, however wise in the management of literary matters, and if they had invested it in some alluring stocks just as evanescent as the Mississippi bonds or the New Haven Eagle Bank? Would even a bankrupt State, when recovering from her bankruptcy, have thought of replacing the funds?
By this act, so honorable to our nation, she has now virtually become the guarantee of this fund forever. It is safe while she is safe. But of what other literary institution beneath the sun can the like be said?
Another question, however, of scarcely less importance, remains. Will the institution be so conducted as to answer its design? Has it adopted a wise plan? And will the plan be executed? Yes, we think we may now answer to both of these questions. The same magnanimity which so promptly replaced the lost funds, rose also superior to all grovelling and party considerations in the arrangements to be made for executing the designs of the philanthropic founder. In a word, every man, of whatever political or religious creed, seemed inspired with the same spirit. If we are proud to say this, it is a pride which will rouse no envy, because shared alike by all lovers of our race. For full well did those members of Congress know, that to make a party question of such a trust, would be at once not only the ruin of the design, but the foulest disgrace to the party that should do it. And equally well did they know, that the Congress, as a body, were unfit for devising and executing plans for its accomplishment. And yet they well knew there were honorable men among the different parties, fully competent to the task. It only remained to designate those men, and commit the initiatory work to their hands.
Well is it, for such an exigency, that literature- as well as commerce and manufactures and agriculture and legal science has its representatives in our halls of legislation. There was no lack of such talent on this occasion. And if parties must exist in a free government, it is often well that they should be relatively too powerful as well as too jealous of each other, and too conscious of the very nature of party spirit, to allow either of them to arrogate the control of such an interest, and convert it into a party engine. And if great infirmities there must needs be in any free body of legislators, well is it when they are so aware of these infirmities as not to attempt what they do not understand.
The men selected to give shape and activity to the new institution,