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[A Book Which Is Entitled "The War in America"]

The Illustrated London News, vol. 40, no. 1138, p. 348.

April 5, 1862

A book which is entitled "The War in America" of course carries with it a facile introduction to the reading public at this moment; and we have to present to general notice a work so designated, which has been published by Hamilton, Adams, and Co. for the author, Colonel Tal. P. Shaffner, LL.D., of Kentucky, member of the Bar of the Supreme Court of the United States, F.R.G.S., F.R.A.S., &c. It consists of an historical and political account of the Southern and Northern States, showing the origin and cause of the present Secession War. Colonel Shaffner is a native of Virginia, and he avows himself an advocate of the cause of the South. He does not claim for himself any special Impartiality of opinion, although he pledges himself to his facts, in the preparation of which he had in view those which bore, mediately or immediately, on the civil war, and we think that it will be found that he has brought together many singular and certainly some most interesting details. As the author states himself that he has not been very moderate in exposing what he terms the evil theories of American political abolitionism, and has not failed to denounce the political integrity of those whom he asserts to have produced secession, he must expect his work to be examined with caution, and his opinions to be weighed before they are accepted. It may be, as he states, that the irrepressible conflict between free and slave labour has been waged, not for the good of the slave, but for political power, and to effect a protective tariff; that the white labour of the North has required a tariff, the slave labour of the South free trade; but his readers, who will no doubt be many, must be excused if they do not take this on his ipse dixit. They will turn to his historical narrative, which, for the sake of the author's own argument, may be assumed to be accurate, and they will draw their own conclusions. One thing they all will be probably ready to admit, and that is, that the author has taken a very comprehensive view of his subject, and has shown no little labour and pains in tracing the history of the United States back to their origin. The sketch of the new States and territories of the Union, and the chapter on the climate of the United States, may be pointed to as amongst the earliest indications of the capabilities of the writer; and amidst a mass of matter, admirably condensed into a moderate space, relating to the political history of the country, we may point to the chapter which treats of political parties in the States from 1789 to 1860. It is probable that we in England profess to understand the case of the Northern States better than we do that of the South, and any information which tends to a large and impartial consideration of the question at issue is to be welcomed; and from this point of view, even if there were not others, we should be inclined to accept Colonel Shaffner's work.

By an obvious sequence we come to the notice of a work just published by Chapman and Hall, called "Cotton: the Chemical, Geological, and Meteorological Conditions Involved in its Successful Cultivation; with an Account of the Actual Condition and Practice of Culture in the Southern or Cotton States of North America," by Dr. John William Mallet; who, in addition to several honorary titles to distinction, is Professor of Chemistry in the University of Alabama, Analytic Chemist of the Geological Survey of that State, and Chemical Professor to the State School of Medicine, Mobile. For the publication of the work in its present form, however, Mr. Robert Mallet is responsible. When Dr. John Mallet settled a few years since in Alabama as a chemical professor, having every facility for observation and experiment, he submitted to a thorough investigation the chemistry of cotton and all those conditions upon which its successful growth and culture depend. When in England, about four years ago, he formally stated his views to the East India Company, and was provided with specimens of the cotton-plant, root, fibre, seed, &c., and of the various soils and subjacent rocks from the cotton-growing districts of India. At the same time he procured from the Government of France a similar though more limited collection from Algeria and other French possessions, and, through the Cotton Supply Association of Manchester, others from Central and Southern Africa, as well as from Egypt. With such materials for comparison he carried on his investigations in the cotton-growing States of America, and the volume before us is the first fruit of his labours. The substance of the book was communicated to the
Royal Society, and has been printed in its "Proceedings." As it seemed probable that the work in its entirety would not be published in the Philosophical Transactions, the present editor, without consulting the wishes of the author, his son, communication with whom has been cut off by the war, took on himself to publish it in its present form. It must be understood that this is only a portion of the information which Dr. Mallet proposes to give to the world on this important subject, and that in a future volume the results of the researches which he is still pursuing will be continued or completed, and any such volume will contain his experience with regard to the requirements and effects of various manures, or dressings of the soil, indicated by the chemistry of the plant, upon the production and quality of the fibre. The contents of the present volume will go far to point out how numerous and complex are the natural conditions which must combine to admit of the cultivation of cotton of good quality with advantage. The facts here stated must tend to correct a very prevalent mistake that cotton can be grown anywhere if there be but a tropical or a semitropical climate, the truth being that it is a plant as limited and circumscribed by conditions of growth and seeding as the vine. Indeed, there is much here set down which goes to show conclusively that the surface of India that is well adapted, by soil, climate, &c., to the successful culture of thoroughly good cotton is extremely limited. Much, however, has been done in these pages to indicate what are the requirements by which such areas in India must be characterised and chosen, and so failure of attempts at cotton cultivation in unsuitable regions be avoided, and that which is by nature limited best economised. When it is considered how strong the current of opinion has been towards efforts for creating such a growth of cotton in India as will render this country practically independent of America, it is most desirable that a work like this should be circulated largely amongst those whose interests are concerned or whose adventurous spirit has been aroused by the critical condition of our cotton supply.

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