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recall it from existence. We will venture to say, that Mr. Stewart would not dispute a single clause of this passage. As long as we continue to rely upon the stability of the laws of nature, or in the less definite language of the Quarterly Reviewers, as long as we apprehend no cause of their annihilation,—so long we may conclude that things (which are only the results of these laws) will continue to exist. The proposition thus stated amounts merely to this, that, while the cause exists, we conclude the effect will take place; while the law of gravitation remains, the descent of heavy bodies may be expected. Whether this conclusion be the result of reason, is another question;--a question on which Mr. Stewart has not even suggested a remark. All he wished to enforce was, That, in all reasoning concerning contingent truth, we do actually rely upon the continuance of the laws of nature; and that this reliance is neither the result of reason, nor of experience. The argument of the Quarterly Reviewers does not therefore even bear upon the position which they have attempted to assail.
It may be observed further, that their reasoning on this subject proceeds upon the very unphilosophical plan of assigning a superfluous number of causes to the same effect. It is plainly absurd to represent God as first instituting a particular cause, and then as producing another to counteract its effect; inasmuch as a bare removal of the original cause is a much more simple and natural way of accomplishing the object. It is therefore a very violent application of the proposition de nihilo nihil fit, to assert that, since nothing can be produced without a cause, nothing can be annihilated without one. This annihilation is effectuated as soon as the Almighty pleases to annul the laws of the universe.
After proving (as they supposed) that our reason necessarily infers that what now exists will continue to exist, the Quarterly Reviewers proceed to answer the next question by the following very extraordinary process of reasoning:
But why do we conclude that it will continue to retain the same nature and properties? This question is, in substance, already answered; it may however be farther observed, that the existence of material substances being supposed, the relations in which they stand towards each other, are obviously just as absolute with respect to us, as those which we trace among merely speculative truths; the only difference of the two cases is, that the former depend for their continuance upon conTINGENCY, whereas the latter are, in their very nature, immutable and eternal.' p. 312.
It is surprising how it could have escaped this writer that the difference' alluded to, in the latter part of the passage,
, completely subverts the position laid down in the former. The very circumstance upon which this difference is founded, was all that Mr. Stewart wished to be admitted; namely, that physical relations, being held together by contingency,—that is, being dependent for their continuance upon the permanency of the laws of nature,-are not, and cannot be absolute; but that the relations of speculative truths, being altogether independent of those laws, are in their nature immutable and eternal.—The reasoning of this writer, in short, sets out with declaring that physical truth is absolute, and ends by admitting it to be contingent! If the reader will take the pains to inspect the remainder of the reasoning on this subject, he will find it pregnant with this species of inconsistency; the different paragraphs alternately recognizing and confounding the distinction between physical and hypothetical truth.
We have now touched upon the principal objections which the Quarterly Reviewers have opposed to the philosophy of Mr. Stewart; and our readers will undoubtedly be pleased to hear that this dry analysis is now drawn to a close. The number and the nature of the subjects upon which it was necessary to animadvert, furnish the best excuse for the length to which our remarks have extended.*
We are indebted for this review to a learned gentleman of Newbaven, Connecticut.
Historical Memoir of the War in West Florida and Louisiana
in 1814–15. With an Atlas. By Major A. Lacarriere Latour, principal engineer in the late Seventh Military District United States' army. Written originally in French, and translated for the author, by H. P. Nugent, esq.
Bis Tusci Rutulos egere ad castra reversos,
Our brethren of Louisiana, since their admission into the American family, have displayed a spirit of patriotism which does them the highest honour. The invasion of their territory by a British army, sufficiently tested their attachment to the nation of which they constitute a respectable part. The enemy expected to find them disaffected to our cause; but they vied with our soldiers in the exercise of all the civic and military virtues, and entitled themselves to the thanks of the national legislature “ for the patriotism, fidelity, zeal and courage with which they promptly and unanimously stepped forth in defence of all the individual, social and political rights held dear by man.” Not satisfied with emulating their fellow citizens of the older states in warlike achievements, they also appear determined to pursue a rival course in the flowery fields of literature. Far from viewing this spirit with a jealous eye, we are disposed to give it every possible encouragement, and to bestow, with an impartial hand, our meed of praise, on every valuable literary production of our country, whether generated on the banks of the Mississippi or on those of the Delaware.
Tros Tyriusve mihi nullo discrimine agetur,
Copious extracts from this work have already been presented to the public in The Port Folio for November and in The Analectic Magazine for December last, so that our readers have been in a great degree enabled to form a judgment of its merits, as far at least as respects the style and manner of narration. We will, therefore, content ourselves at present with giving our opinion of the general character of the book, without loading our pages with further specimens, except where we may find it necessary to illustrate some observation that we may be induced to make.
The author of this memoir was employed during the whole of the Louisiana campaign as principal engineer of the late seventh military district, and his duty, as well as his inclination, attached him to the person of the commander-in-chief. He was not only an eye-witness, but a principal actor in the events which he relates, et quorum pars magna fuit. We may, therefore, expect from him a more detailed and correct account than from a mere unconcerned spectator, or one who should relate the facts only from the testimony of public documents, and the hearsay of others. Nor are we deceived in our expectations— Truth is stamped on the face of Major Latour's narrative by its own internal evidence. The writer professes no more than to give us a plain unvarnished tale, a journal, as it were, of events, as they occurred from day to day, and hence he has entitled his work an “Historical Memoir?! and not a “history,” a name which has often been given to productions that deserved it less. Under the favour of this unassuming title, he was at liberty to vary his style as he pleased, and never found himself under the necessity of sacrificing facts to arrangement or diction. Of this liberty he has freely and properly availed himself whenever the subject has required it. Hence, in relating those events and circumstances which involved a great deal of minute detail, he has given us a simple diary of daily occurrences, while, in other places, he has given full scope to the powers of his imagination; and his style, always chaste and pure, occasionally rises even to eloquence. Perspicuity appears throughout to have been his principal object, and throughout he appears to have attained it. With the help of his maps and plans, the reader may obtain as complete and correct an idea of the various events of this memorable campaign as if he had been present at each scene. We have no doubt that military men will be highly satisfied with the performance.
The moral scenes which the country exhibited in those eventful times, major Latour has depicted with the pencil of a master. For this we refer our readers to his descriptions of the state of the city of New Orleans before and after the arrival of general Jackson, which are inserted in The Port Folio for November last, pages 479-480. In pages 481–482 of the same number, will be found his descriptions of the face of the country which was the theatre of war. In both instances the author has exhibited the talent and the skill of a painter.
Among the distinguishing characteristics of genius, there is none more certain than the power of discerning, in the midst of a variety of confused scenes, those delicate traits of national character, which though worthy of remark, seldom fail to escape the eye of a common observer. This major Latour has done in several instances, with peculiar felicity. We will only select two, which, we hope, will not only illustrate, but fully justify our observation.
The first is in the preface, where, after giving due praise to the patience and perseverance of our brave soldiers, in the midst of the most intolerable hardships, he caps the climax of his proofs by the following observation: “Nay more," says he, “ four-fifths of our little army were composed of militia-men or volunteers, who, it might be supposed, would with difficulty have submitted to the severe discipline of a camp, and, of course. would often have incurred punishment; yet, nothing of the kind took place, and I solemnly declare, that not the smallest military punishment was inflicted. This is a fact respecting which I defy contradiction in the most formal manner."