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the President. He gave all the encouragement he properly could to the wavering troops, until he found that they left no alternative but Aight or captivity. And we have as little doubt that the Secretary of War was at bis proper post too, side by side, as he was, with the President, counselling and directing when counsel and advice were likely to be available.
That the Capitol might haye proved an impregnable citadel against the enemy, exhausted as he was, and with no heavy artillery, and evidently feeling that he had ventured too far into a hostile and populous country, now hardly admits of a doubt. The author of the “ Notices” states distinctly that he was in favor of making it another “Chew's house.” Whether any direct suggestion to that effect was made to the President, has not, we believe, been distinctly understood. It has, however, been generally supposed, that he did not approve the measure, judging, perhaps, from the events of the day, that any such stand would be unavailing, and more probably fearing that it would only authorize the enemy to destroy the building. He was fully authorized to believe that if it were not so occupied, it would be permitted to stand uninjured. The laws and customs of war protected it when thus disconnected from all purposes of hostility, and the President no doubt thought that there was a guaranty in the character of a nation, prosessing to respect those laws and customs, against all Vandalism. But ihe President (if he thus opposed such a suggestion) lost both Capitol and capital, when, perhaps, he might have saved both, bad he relied less on the civilized character of the British nation, which vainly boasts of having occupied, in the same quarter of a century, capital after capital in Europe, without having lest any such infamous menorial behind.
The predatory occupation of Alexandria was in conformity with the burning of ihe Capitol and the President's house. Undefended and defenceless private property was made to ransom itself as if froin piratical rapacity. The rule of war in these cases is as plain and acknowledged as any international obligation whatever. Private property at sea becomes subject to the clutches of war, but private property on land is not so.
And public buildings, used for civil purposes alone, are also respected. The British had a right to raze all forts, arsenals, store-bouses containing munitions of any kind, to the ground; but the Capitol, the President's house, and the flour and tobacco of Alexandria, were as much exempt from destruction or depredation, as would be the Parliament bouse, St. James's palace, or the silver spoons of any family, if, by any freak of fortune, the United States were to occupy London in a hostile way.
Perhaps it may be thought that remarks of this kind, which are likely to revive slumbering passions, or exasperate those still awake, notwithstanding the lapse of more than a quarter of a century, were better omitted than made. But we should contemplate history to little advantage, if we dwelt only on its agreeable aspect. The example of such men as McClure, Ross, and Cockburn, should be held up conspicuously, as a warning both to nations and individuals. General Ross at the battle of Bladensburg, where his gallantry and soldiership honorably won the day, is as much respected by Americans as by Britons ; but the moment he applied the torch to the civil public edifices at Washington, he enrolled himself in that class of bistorical personages, at the bead of which stands the Ephesian incendiary.
The closing scene of the war of 1812, namely, the defence of New Orleans, occupies its proper place in the " Notices.” High credit is given for the boldness, resource, and constancy with which that defence was made, while the military errors committed on both sides are examined with acumen and fairness. These volunes will hereafter be consulted by the soldier, who is gathering up lessons in the art
The critical remarks of the distinguished author will throw much light on this subject. We have no space to follow him through his account of the memorable "gih of January.” It has a celebrity that will always endure, and which will carry down to the latest posterity the great name indissolubly connected with it.
This nation is often in circumstances wbich must lead her to regard war as an event which may visit her again and again ; it is, therefore, useful for her to consider the past with a view to benefit for the future. The war of 1812 should be the subject of reflection in the mind of every statesman, who may have the responsibility of meeting a like emergency. If this war deserve to be a guide in the management it exhibited, its details cannot be too much studied. On the contrary, if that management were faulty, still the instruction is the same. There is now probably little doubt
in the mind of any person who has examined the subject, that the initial operations of the war, so far as they related to the land, were nearly or quite all wrong; and were likely 10 lead, as they mostly did lead, only to disaster and disgrace. We were not prepared for offensive operations on the frontiers, and therefore should not have undertaken them until suitable preparations were made. Nothing would have been lost by the delay. The frontiers could have been protected, and the troops improved by discipline. The conquest of Canada was not a legitimate object of the war, even if it had been attainable. No desire had been evinced by the Provinces to join us, and we, as a nation, had no desire to receive them; 1775 and '76 were not forgotten. Impressions made here and there, according to the plan of the campaigns of 1912, could bave produced no beneficial results, even if they had proved successful. They were like attempts to breach a wall by random shots, no two of which strike in the same place. The defence of the Northwestern frontier against Indian aggressions, much to be apprehended in that quarter, was a paramount obligation. General Hull's movement, therefore, so far as it related to Michigan, was expedient and necessary, and might have completely sulolled its object, had it been preceded by common forecast, and executed with common prudence. Two things, which did not depend on him, were omitted, - omissions that almost necessarily sent misfortune before him, and brought up bis rear with defeat. We have already sufficiently remarked on these omis. sions. Too much heed cannot be given to these instructive warnings.
Whether these volumes, which are full of such warnings, will have the beneficial influence they deserve, is a matier of painful doubt. We have instances every few years of a willingness on the part of those who are in the councils of the nation to rush blindly into war, with scarcely a question as to our preparation for such an event. This want of forecast may be excusable in Congress, a body of inany minds, among which concurrence of opinion, especially in prudential matters, is not to be anticipated. But the Executive has power to act, so far as its province extends, either with caution or with energy, as the emergency may demand. The means placed at its disposal may be limited, but they can be well applied. There is no teaching for Congress.
A change comes over it too often for the influence of experience. But those who administer the government should consult history, and benefit by its admonitions. In these times, when we are daily stariled with apprehensions that hostilities are almost inevitable, they may ponder on these volumes with great advantage.
The appendix to this work has much valuable matter, and much that is a mere incumbrance to the volumes. Facts which are not suited to the text from their diffuseness or technical dryness, very properly fall into an appendix, provided they are essential or desirable illustrations of it. Such, however, as have only a temporary interest, or are ex parte in their character, tending rather to mislead than to rectify the judgment, do not deserve such an honorable place. There are long documents of the latter character introduced into this appendix, which had better have been left to that oblivion from which this republication has probably rescued them. The helter-skelter affair of Queenstown occupies its full quota of pages in the body of the work, and there is no warrant, either in fairness or expediency, in permitting a single witness, – a most worthy officer, it is true, - to occupy the stand such an inordinate length of time in the appendix, excluding many others who might as justly claim the same privilege. Still less can we see any sufficient excuse in a mere willingness to befriend the memory of a deceased officer, for allowing the Beaver dam mishap, - according to its magnitude, by far the most discreditable event of the war, and very properly dismissed with a few paragraphs in the text, to dilate in the Appendix beyond almost any other action in the work.
We cannot part with the “ Notices” without finding some fault with the exterior. No matter what time may elapse between the publication of two volumes of the same work, they should be so germane to each other as at least to be recognised as of the same family. The last volume is undoubtedly an improvement on the first, which is almost shamed out of countenance by the better dress and fairer countenance of its younger sister. We do not find fault with the change that has taken place in the title-page, giving the author, in the last volume, the full benefit of the honorable rank and position which belong to bim, wbile, in the first, his name stood divested of all blazonry of this kind. The VOL. LIII. - No. 112.
work should have the full benefit of all adventilious circumstances of this sort, and it is a pity that it did not begin, in this respect, as it has left off. It was at once obvious, however, to military men, that there was an error in the rank assumed ; and, wbile the list of “Errata” undertakes to correct it, the true grade should have been given, instead of one which has never but once been known in our service. Certainly the fact that the author had been promoted, as it were, from the grade of Brigadier-General to the War Department, was too creditable to be shaded off in the slightest degree.
It is also to be hoped that in any new edition, the distinguished author will expunge all instances of irony, and affectations of contempt, which too often disfigure his highly wrought pages. The terms “Mr. Wilkinson,” and “Mr. Harrison," do not express the meaning to be conveyed, unless more is meant than meets the eye. Since the days of Smollet, who speaks of " Mr. Wolfe" and the like, from 'an English habit which no American author will acknowledge, military men are ever designated by the titles that bespeak their rank. Omitting such, not merely courtesy, but necessary illustration of rank and position, either through an affected lapse of the pen, or from disrespectful or contemptuous feelings, is beneath the dignity of history, and also of the historian.
ART. X. -CRITICAL NOTICES.
1. — GODFREY Weber's General Music Teacher ; adapted to
Self-Instruction, both for Teachers and Learners ; embracing also an Extensive Dictionary of Musical Terms. Translated from the third German Edition, with Notes and Additions. By James F. WARNER. Boston : J. Wilkins & R. B. Čarter. 8vo. pp. 135, lxxxviii.
This is a very excellent, old-fashioned, thorough, exact, dry work, on the elements of music, being the first part of an extended treatise, and containing all that is necessary, and much that is superfluous, for an understanding of the first principles of the art, and a knowledge of the names of its most simple tools and instruments. It is written in such an unattractive, formal, and pedantic style, that we cannot but wonder a little