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We think Brady is inaccurate in saying, "the Romans who settled in Britain, soon spread this custom (of New-Year's gifts) among our forefathers"—It prevailed in Britain, when the Romans conquered it, and long before; and was, more probably, brought there by the first inhabitants, the Gauls. The Druids, both of Gaul and Britain, put an infinite value on the plant, Misseltoe; and connected it with many of their superstitious ceremonies; gathering it at a particular season, (in December) with processions and vast parade, singing hymns and songs in honour of their deities; making sacrifices and putting up prayers to their gods, to make this plant the means of communicating prosperity to those who should partake of it . On the first day of the year, after having blessed and consecrated it, the Druids distributed the misseltoe to the people, promising and wishing them a happy Year. We may infer that the custom of making presents on the New Year had its origin in this practice of the Druids; for in Burgundy, and other provinces in France, the children, when asking their New-Year's gift, use the cry, "the New-Year to Misseltoe"—Whether we should look still farther into past times for this custom, or fix its origin with these mysterious ministers of a barbarous and terrible superstition, we cannot say.
The similarity in so many striking particulars between the custom of the Romans and that of the Druids, is very curious and surprising; and the archaiologist might find an inquiry into it, an interesting employment . We are informed, that it was first known in Rome, in the reign of Tatius; but do not know whether it was invented at that time, or was brought there by the Sabine people. But how does it so accord with the ceremonies of the Druids? We can hardly forbear to refer them to some common origin, although we find no other coincidence in the habits and manners of the Romans and Britons, when Caesar brought them together. With both nations, these presents were offered on the first day of the year; they consisted of plants, of a different kind it is true; they were collected in a sacred grove or wood; they were considered as a promise of prosperity in the ensuing year; and were accompanied by a declaration or wish to that effect . It was a religious ceremony with both; so far as related to the place and manner of collecting the plant, and its supposed influence. Has all this happened by the mere workings of chance? Or is there some common feeling or principle in mankind directing it? That good wishes, and even gifts should be interchanged on the commencement of a year, is not so extraordinary; but the similarity of the gifts, and in the ceremonies on obtaining and offering them, is not so easily accounted for. The history of the inhabitants of this earth, is full of deep mystery and unknown truth. Nations now separated by untrodden distances, and still more by their condition and habits, may once have been one people; and those who now dwell in the same land, may have been brought together by a course of events and changes, of which not a glimpse remains. How, and when, and where, the tide of population and civilization has flowed and ebbed on this " pendent world," philosophy has not "dream'd of;" nor how its people have been cast and scattered over its surface. Men may amuse themselves with theories and speculations on the outside and inside of the earth; but universal ignorance of it remains; and will probably continue to the end.
AMERICAN QUARTERLY REVIEW.
Abt. I.—Lectures on the Elements of Political Economy. By Thomas Cooper, M. D., President of the South Carolina College, and Professor of Chemistry and Political Economy. Columbia, S. C. 1826. pp. 280.
This is the second general treatise which has appeared in the United States, on what may be considered as the favourite science of the day; and we may congratulate the public not only on the growing esteem in which the study of political economy is held among us, but on the doctrinal superiority of the present work over that of Mr. Raymond. It is, however, much inferior in the dress in which it is exhibited to the public, which, it must be confessed, does no credit to the state of the typographical arts in Columbia. The author of the treatise now under consideration, has not thought it necessary for ensuring success to his own work, to deny merit to every other; but has wisely, as well as candidly, admitted that Smith and Say, and Malthus and Ricardo, whom the world had concurred in pronouncing adepts in the science of political economy, were not entirely ignorant of its first principles, and were not always mistaken in their doctrines. On the contrary, while he shows a mind very capable of discriminating between just and false reasoning, and an uncompromising boldness in defending the opinion he has once formed, he seems, in this book, much more desirous of propagating useful truths than of originating them. There is scarcely, indeed, in the whole work, any attempt at discovery, though the simple, clear and forcible manner in which he often states the principles
Vol. I.—so. 2. 41
he has adopted, may claim almost equal merit with originality, as the difference between seeing things clearly, and seeing them dimly or confusedly, is often as great as that between perception and total blindness.
If the present age has at length become sensible that amongst the most useful subjects of speculation, are those which treat of the production and distribution of the materials of human subsistence and comfort—that they are safe guides to legislators and statesmen—that they afford a sure test of their failure or success— and that above all, they teach them the danger of too much regulation; they certainly deserve peculiar encouragement here, where every man, however humble his situation in life, may, by the favour of his countrymen, be selected to manage their public concerns; and where popular opinion, more than in any other country, sooner or later controls the legislature and the government. We are therefore pleased to see this science introduced into our colleges, and pleased to see a work containing so much liberal and sound doctrine as Dr. Cooper's, adapted to the use of schools.
Ever since the science of political economy has been separated from that of government, it has shared the fate of all those subjects of speculation in which our reasoning is founded on observation, by becoming the fruitful parent of controversy. This has been the case in morals, metaphysics, and in almost every branch of physical science. Different minds see the same object with different eyes and in different lights; and even where their views coincide, they not unfrequently dispute, either because they use the same words to express different things, or different words to express the same things. The consequence is, that Truth slowly achieves her conquest over Error, and though she is steadily gaining ground, she has to fight every step of her way.
Let no one then hastily conclude, as some are inclined to do, in consequence of the many disputes which have ever existed among the writers on political economy, that all is doubt and uncertainty in the science. It has, in spite of these disputes, and sometimes, we may say, by reason of them, been steadily progressive. The principles of the French Economistes, in favour of the freedom of trade, though at first opposed to the practice of every statesman in Europe, are now generally received as orthodox. But their doctrine that the only productive labourers are those who cultivate the soil, was successfully refuted by Adam Smith, and it has long ceased to have any advocates. In like manner, it is now considered as settled, that the only effectual way of increasing the population of a country is to increase the means of its subsistence—that a country may be improving in wealth though its imports exceed its exports, and even, because