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MEMOIRS OF THE REV. DAVID SANDEMAN.*-This is a memoirprepared by the Rev. Andrew A. Bonar, the friend and biographer of the lamented McCheyne-of a young Scotch Missionary who died of cholera at Amoy, in China, in 1858. He was then a little more than thirty years of age, and died just before he had completed his second year of labor among the Chinese. His character, as here represented, was one of singular beauty and purity. There is embodied in the memoir rather more of incident than is usual in the case of one whose career terminated so early. An account is given of several of his vacation expeditions to the Highlands, to England, and to Switzerland and Italy, which are full of interest; and everywhere we see the same noble and single-minded devotion to the work of the Lord, in all places and on all occasions. But what has been especially pleasing to us is the evidence which is given in this volume of the influence which the memoirs of many of our American Christians have exerted and are now exerting beyond the limits of their native land. The memoir of Harlan Page exerted no inconsiderable influence over David Sandeman; and we find reference also to Champion and to James Brainerd Taylor. It is not a little gratifying to see, from the biographies of religious men in all quarters of the world, how the names which we delight to honor are becoming everywhere familiar as household words.
ELSIE VENNER.t-Respecting this book, as a work of art, we have no space to speak. In Elsie Venner, the principal character, who is half maniac and half demoniac, and in the love adventures scattered through the work, there is enough of the unnatural and the romantic to satisfy the readers of this class of
*Memoir of the Life and Brief Ministry of Rev. David Sandeman, Missionary to China. By the Rev. ANDREW A. BONAR, New York: Robert Carter & Brothers. 1861. 16mo. pp. 313.
† Elsie Venner. A Romance of Destiny. By Oliver Wendell HOLMES, AUthor of "The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table," etc., etc. Boston: Ticknor & Fields. 1861. Two Volumes. 12mo.
fiction. We will add, that it contains many passages of rare beauty.
The work, however, possesses interest for us, from its theological character. Its author was known, till recently, as a hard worker in the medical profession, a man of respectable literary attainments, jovial and witty, fond of fun and good living. At present he seems, by the common consent of his associates, to be placed at the head of the theological department of the Atlantic Monthly, in which this work originally appeared. It must be admitted that he possesses some peculiar qualifications for the position. He has great self-assurance, an assertion for every difficulty, a sneer for every doubt, and a joke for every case of conscience.
In the book before us, he attempts at the outset to describe a Massachusetts village, of which, in our opinion, he shows himself, notwithstanding all his pretension, to be thoroughly ignorant. The great point in his description is the division of the inhabitants into classes, as in some little German principality. There are, for instance, "the Mansion House people," or the aristocracy; then another class, dwelling in two story houses, and engaged in a perpetual struggle to get up to No. I. He gives the people a pronunciation that is perfectly barbarous. The teacher of the Academy talks about his Institoot, and generally pronounces his words in a way which would shock the ears of a gang of lumbermen on the Aroostook. The people in no village of Massachusetts, with which we are acquainted, live, or act, or talk, in the way that Dr. Holmes describes in this book.
Equally unfortunate is he in giving the characters of the people. When battling with the vinegar faced believers he is very firm in maintaining the inherent goodness of all men; but now the people are all hollow-hearted and selfish. An unworthy motive prompts their every act. They are hypocritical in their tears, even. Thus he amuses his readers with an account
of the young widow, Rowens, "now in the full bloom of ornamental sorrow, everything dark about her but the whites of her eyes, and the enamel of her teeth." He tells us how she invited a few of her neighbors to tea, for the sake of getting some of the Mansion House people to her house, especially a gentleman who was rich, and, like herself, alone; how her guests came, many of them, with purposes of their own to accomplish; how, at their
failure, disappointment and rage flashed from their eyes, to be followed by a malignant joy at the similar failure of others. They seem like a collection of imps in human form, and our author in the midst, a grinning goblin, stripping off their masks, and exhibiting, with fell delight, their hideousness,-a small Nero, fiddling, in a very small way, over the deformity he discloses. Blunt old Calvinism, looking squarely at the facts in man's character and condition, and at the statements of the Scriptures, and attempting to harmonize these two, has formed a system by no means flattering to our self-esteem; but it never makes mouths at the misery it paints, nor withdraws, cigar in mouth, to a dainty distance from debased humanity. If it cries fire, it is ready to man the brakes. If it has a stern voice, there is pity in its heart and mercy in its hands. While it acknowledges that mankind are depraved it never tries to prove them slaves or fools. This, however, is a digression.
Our author has a marked aversion to the country. It abounds in ignorance, bigotry, and-poor living. The pagani of Massachusetts have improved but little upon their namesakes of antiquity. If, during his professional walks along "the swelled fronts and south-exposure houses" of Beacon Hill, his eye chances to rest upon the Norfolk and Middlesex hills, he shudders, we doubt not, at the thought of the barbarism that lies nestled on their farther slopes. With ill-concealed pity and contempt he speaks of fresh water colleges, of the unpaved districts, and of regions removed from salt water and sea air. The world, as known to this modern, seems to be bounded by Back Bay and Charles River. He indignantly scouts the feeble heresy that God made the country and man made the town,-as if the exact facts were just the reverse. Indeed, he almost seems to doubt whether the country was made at all, and, with Topsy, to "s'pect it only growd." This limitation of the author's knowledge and sympathies is, perhaps, unfavorable to his highest success as a novelist; and is much as if the faithful postman in the West-end wards of Boston should propose to publish an edition of Ritter's Erdkunde, enriched with the result of his own personal observations.
But we are detaining our readers too long from the theology of the book. This is found scarcely anywhere in mass, but pervades the work with its aroma as does the perfume of drugs the atmos
phere of the country physician's office. Two clergymen are early introduced, who severally represent the views opposed and approved. Rev. Dr. Honeywood, the pastor of the old puritan church, is kind-hearted and genial, satisfies his own conscience and that of his senior deacon by an occasional sermon on human nature, and then allows his humane instincts to lead him into the performance of sundry kind acts, which awaken the alarm of some of his people, lest he is growing lax. Confidence in his severe creed had been shaken by familiar intercourse with his people, and one day it was entirely destroyed by an exhibition of unselfishness on the part of his grand-daughter and an old colored woman,-the slightest puff, we venture to say, that ever on any other occasion put out a bluelight. Throwing aside the sermon he had begun, he commenced another, on "the obligations of the Infinite Creator to the finite creature," in the course of which he paid a very handsome compliment to Abraham, for standing up for the rights of his neighbors of the plain, and insisting that the fair thing should be done by them. Exulting in his new freedom, he went on "till he put his foot into several heresies, for which, men have been burned." At the risk of shocking the nerves of the more strict of our readers, we will mention some of them. 1. "He did not believe in the responsibility of idiots"! 2. "He did not believe that a new born infant was morally responsible for other people's acts"!! 3. "He thought a man with a crooked spine would never be called to account for not walking erect"!!! It does not surprise us, that, after such utterances, his old people distrusted him, and that his neighbors of the other sort viewed him. with growing regard. The liberal minister was the Rev. Mr. Fairweather, whose ministrations "were attended with decency, but not followed by enthusiasm." "The beauty of virtue" got to be an old story, at last, and he grew tired of preaching against stealing and intemperance, when he knew that the thieves and the drunkards were gratifying their tastes somewhere else. On his way to meeting he was compelled to pass a little Catholic Church, and the spectacle of a company of apparently devout worshipers had, for him, a strange fascination, and awakened a desire to be associated with them-a desire which was gratified, after years of conflict between his old and new opinions. It is very evident that this description of a liberal preacher, coming to so unsatisfactory an end, is intended as a satire on some of the lapses from liberality
which have occurred, in the neighborhood of Boston, with some what alarming frequency, during a few years past; but, really, a picture so over-drawn, has no very great claim to be called wit! It is not alone by the delineation of individual character, how. ever, that our author seeks to fulfill his mission. He improves every opportunity, in season and out of season, of enlarging upon the subject of religion. The most trivial incidents furnish the occasion for the delivery of homilies on this favorite theme. We have noticed, by the way, that in two or three copies of the work which we have seen lying about in different houses, the leaves containing these homilies were uncut,—a proof that a taste for solid, serious reading, is yet wanting among the young.
Our author, we notice, puts great honor everywhere upon the body. The functions usually supposed to belong to the heart, he seems to assign to the stomach. With our great lyrist he would probably sing
"Blest is the man whose bowels move."
His system is largely receptive. Errors in theory or practice are attributed to poor diet, or imperfect assimilation. Thus, the Rev. Mr. Fairweather's desire to join the Catholics was morbid, brought on by an obstinate dyspepsia, and sharp neuralgic pains. The current religion is fostered by poor living and a defective physical organization. Thus "weak and thin children will be apt to sit in the house all day and read about other sharp-faced children who died early." Mr. Silas Peckham, the teacher of the Institoot, is a cold, heartless man. He overworks his poorly paid assistants. He feeds his boarders on second-hand potatoes, and damaged flour, and "thin feminine beef." His dress is outré, his manners those of a boor. He runs all over with bigotry and cant. The thin veil of hypocrisy he wears makes but more apparent the deformities it was intended to hide. By what malign influences was this human monster created? Our readers shall hear. Mr. Silas Peckham "had been raised on east winds, salt fish, and large white-bellied pickled cucumbers." A friend of the author's once attended a Universalist Church, and was astonished at the elephantine size of the people composing the congregation. Every hearer appeared to be full. On the question whether this was owing to the preaching they heard, or whether they were successful feeders, originally, and from this fact felt an affinity for the place in question, our author, with his usual caution,