Page images

bricks, if he would be consistent to his own reasoning, were again composed of less bricks, cemented, likewise, by an immaterial mortar, and so on ad infinitum. This putting Mr. Michell upon the confideration of the several appearances of nature, he began to perceive that the bricks were so covered with this immaterial mortar, that, if they had any existence at all, it could not polibly be perceived ; every effect being produced, at least, in nine instances in ten certainly, and probably in the tenth also, by this immaterial, fpiritual, and penetrable mortar. Instead, therefore, of placing the world upon the giant, the giant upon the tortoite, and the tortoise upon he could not tell what, he placed the world at once upon itself; and finding it still necessary, in order to solve the appearances of nature, to admit of extended and penetrable immaterial substance, if he maintained the impenetrability of matter, and observing farther, that all we perceive by contact, &c. is this penetrable. immaterial substance, and not the impenetrable one, he began to think he might as well admit of penetrable material, as of penetrable immaterial substance; especially as we know nothing more of the nature of Subliance, than that it is something which supports properties, which properties may be whatever we please, provided they be not inconsistent with each other, that is, do not imply the absence of each other. This by no means seemed to be the case in supposing two substances to be in the same place at the same time, without excluding each other, the objection to which is only derived from the relistance we meet with to the touch, and is a prejudice that has taken its rise from that circumstance, and is not unlike the prejudice against the Antipodes, derived from the constant experience of bodies falling, as we account it, downwards.'

In our'account of this work, we have not descended to an enumeration of the particular, contents of the various fubdivisions of each period of this philosophical history; concerning which we shall only observe, that the Author has, with the greatest industry, digested into numerous chapters, un, der distinct titles, every essential particular relating to light and vifion, that he could collect from the numerous publications, foreign and domestic, respecting the science : intersperling occasionally some original observations and remarks made by himfelf, or such as have been communicated to him by his many valuable philosophical friends, whose assistance he acknowledges on the present occasion, and relies upon in the prosecution of his undertaking. The historical part of the work is followed by a general summary, deduced from it, of the doctrine concerning light, and hines of some desiderata in the science, which terminate the volume.

From the preceding sketch of this work the Reader will be enabled to form fome kind of estimate of its merit, and of the method and spirit with which it is conducted. - The arrangement of the great variety of matter contained in it appears to us to be judicious; at the same time the Author does not com-, pose with the phlegm of a servile compiler, or mere copyist, but con amore, and with the zeal of a person who warmly interests himself in bis subject, and who omits no opportunity of further.. ing, by new and additional obfervations, the progress of the science, of which he profęfles himself to be only the historian. With respect to the Author's intire plan, the advantages attending the execution of it have been already noticed, and are in deed too obvious to be repeated : as it muft be evident that a hiftory of all the branches of natural philosophy, executed in this manner, must prove a useful remembrancer to the more learned, and be highly instructive to those who stand more in rieed of information, and whose appetite for philosophical knowledge is greater than their powers or opportunities of gratifying it.

Some original and important observations which the Author has lately made, in a course of experiments relating to air, have inclined him to appropriate his next volume to the history of discoveries respecting that element. To this piece of intelligence, however, we must not omit to add that, on account of the very considerable expences attending the execution of his general plan, and for other confiderations, the continuation of this philosophical history will intirely depend on the favourable reception of the present work. On this head we can only express our wishes that the public patronage may animate and enable the Author to prosecute and complete his useful undertaking.


For OCTOBER, 1772.

MATHEMATICS. Art. 9. The Nautical Almanac and Astronomical Ephemeris. For

the Year 1774. Publimed by Order of the Commissioners of Longitude. 8vo. 3 s6 d. Nourse, &c.

1772., O this Ephemeris are annexed i 220 longitudes and latitudes of

the moon, deduced from the late Dr. Bradley's Observations, and compared with tables improved from Profeffor Meyer's first Manuscript Tables. · A series of observations this (says the Editor) for number and exactness, far excelling any thing of the fame kind which the world ever saw before, and which prefent or even future akronomers will not cahly furpass in accuracy, affording a sure touchfone for trying the best modern lunar tubles and theories, and the means of improving them. The corrections derived from these ob-'



[ocr errors]

fervations turn out fo considerable as to give room to hope that, when they are completed, the greatest errors of the tables may be reduced within a much narrower compass than they are at present. The Editor has likewise added the elements of these lunar tables, with which the foregoing observations were compared, together with see veral very necessary and useful remarks on the Hadley's quadrant. To the whole is subjoined, an useful aftronomical problem for finding the error of a tranfit telescope, by Mr. Lyons. Art. 10. A Complete System of Land-Surveying, both in Theory and

Practice, &c. By Thomas Breaks. 8vo. 7 s. 6 d. Newcastle upon Tyne, printed for W. Charnley, and J. Murray in London. 1771.

The many irregularities and obscurities (says the Author in his preface) with which works of this sort abound, have induced me to undertake a performance of this kind, in order to remove difficulties, clear obscurities, and render that which has hitherto been deemed dark and mysterious, plain and intelligent (intelligible) to the meaneft capacity.' We are extremely sorry to find a work undertaken from such laudable motives so badly executed, and while the multiplicity of books' is made the subject of complaint, chat another should be added to the number, and that another still should be no less necessary. Our Author, it must be acknowledged, has taken great pains to collect together a variety of propofitions and problems relating to several subjects, in any respect connected, and indeed uncon. nected with his main design; but he discovers little judgment in the arrangement, illustration, or proof of them. His definitions are loofe and inaccurate; they have nothing of logical propriety or geometrical exactness: there are very few in the 35 which he has given, that may be excepted from this charge. His theorems are itated without any precision; and he can hardly be said to have sufficiently explained, much less demonstrated, several of them. The first proposition in the second fe&tion is a notorious instance of this kind; and, as it is the ground-work of all which follow, is utterly inexcusable. The third proposition is very carelessly expressed : in which it is said, “ If a right line cut two parallel righ: lines, the alternate angles are equal and consequently the lines parallel.' And the Author's method of proof is altogether as unintelligible.

Although we could form no great expectations from such an introdu&tion, yet the Author's compilation rather improved upon us, than otherwise, as we advanced : and we could have wished he had submitted it to the examination of some mathematical friend, who would · have faved his reputation as a writer, and prevented our mortiscation as readers, till, by due chastisement, he had rendered it more worthy the public inspection,

MEDICAL. Á The Danger and Immadefly of the present too general Cuf

tom of unnecessarily employing Men-kidwives, &c. Gr. With an Introduction, a Treatise on the Milk, and an Appendix, with Corretions, b: the Author. Svo.

Authors, before they write, foould read."-Had the present Writer followed the poet's advice, and, before he took up the pen to


I s. 6 d.

Wilkie. 1772.

enlighten and alarm the world on this

subject, had he condescended, for instance, just to cast his eye over Dr. Smellie's treatise and cases, or any other creditable performance on the subject of midwifery, he might at leaft have seen in what manner, and under what circumstances, the male professors exercise this art, and might accordingly have avoided much of the ridicule and absurdity of the present per formance. Either through ignorance, or design, credulity, perver. fity, or whim, or all together, he has adopted and revived many of the vulgar prejudices against the men-midwives, at a time when even the very old women have given them up; particularly those respecting their impatience, precipitancy, unfeelingness, fondness for ufing inftruments, &c. and which naturally enough took their rise from the circumstances of those times when the male operator was never called in but to the poor female in extremis, and of course constantly Sallied forth armed with the bloody crotchet,' while violence and death attended his stops and marked his progress. His posibly well-meant, but wrong-headed, and at the same time very laughable earneftness, in founding the alarm against a very harmless and sensible practice, has frequently exercised our risible' faculties; and could it be done with decency, we should be glad to make our Readers partakers of our mirth. But really his subje&t is, in itself, of so very unseemly a nature, and he has handled it, and the ladies, in so very grofs a manner, that, out of respect to the most amiable part of our Readers, we are prevented, in a great measure, from employing, though in their defence, either argument or pleasantry against this libeller of the sex; who, with a most astonishing reach of thought, has discovered that the profligacy of the present times'-[a complaint how ever of pretty ancient date)-the frequent adulteries which disgrace our country,' and the immense run of business at Doctor's Commons; -nay even the late great revolution in Denmark itself, are all to be attributed to their wanton use of men :' meaning however, by this last phrase, nothing more than their employing men midwives, that is, availing themselves of the fuperior knowledge, and personal aslistance of a surgeon, in a very serious concern, in which a man of plain understanding can perceive nothing capable of furnishing the least provocative to wartonness to either of the parties, though the one were a Satyr, and the other a Messalina; but which is here denounced as the most abandoned of all vicious practices'— the path of vice,' and by other unaccountable appellations.

A nice man, somebody or other has said, is a man of nafty ideas." In like manner we may call this chaste Author a man of lewd ideas. Never, to the best of our recollection, did modesty meet with so obscene an advocate. Indeed a modest woman cannot, without con. tamination, even cast her eye upon his pages, where he exhibits all the proriency of the most wanton imagination, in representing every man-midwife as a Sultan possessed of a seraglio of fine women, and rioting in sensuality in the very exercise of his profession-and even the poor woman, in the intervals of her pangs, as participating with him. In excuse for his licentiousness in general, he may pofli

Struensee, our fagacious Author reminds us, was a man-midi wife.- Verbum far fapienti. 2-3

bly bly plead a good intention, and the example of Swift; who, to recommend the practice of cleanliness and decency, has drawn some pi&tures of filthiness that would turn the ftomach of a Hottentott: but the cases are by no means parallel. By the bye, we recommend to him the perusal of Strephon’s case, from which he may draw 2 full answer to one half of his pamphlet, on making a very obvious application. Pailing over this part of his subject, we shall give a short specimen of this whimsical gentleman's extravagancies on another part of it, and then take our leave of him.

Granting, merely for argument's fake, that a woman actually tranfgreffes the bounds of modelty, in committing to an accoucbear the care of her person, and that of her and her child's life, surely it might be allowed that, in facrificing her modelty to her fears, the consulted her safeiy at least. No such matter. She is in the high road to deftruction. Nay, such is the dangerous and baneful inHuence of these male gentry, that he would not employ even a wa. man who had been bred under a man-midwife.' Ilear with what 'a folemnity, suficient to make the poor deluded culprits hudder at their danger, he enforces his opinion. If my life and fortune here, and salvation hereafter-[Lord have mercy upon us!) depended on the life of any pregnant woman, and that of her infant, I would fake all I beld valuable on her being attended by any old woman-midwife in England, in preference to any man in the world. He has his 'seasons for this tremendous declaration, and they are two; both addressed to the fears of his pupil.

The firit is a downright argumentum ad terrorem. He holds forth the green bag to the view of the pregnant female, and rings the crotchet, the tire-tere, and crooked scisars, in her ears, and a woful clatier does he make with them, reminding her that none of his good women, in the lif of them given at the end of his book, employ such deadly implements. He is in the right; they only pave the way, and furnih necessary and frequent occasions for the using of them. Leait raw head and bloody bones should fail of their effect, he brings his second argument, which is indeed a curiosity. Fleh and blood, it seems, cannot resist the temptations which the male artists are exposed to, and which, except in the case of Dr. Hunter, and perhaps two or three aged and frigid practitioners, muft unavoidably confuse all their discerning reasoning faculties,' and ablolutely disable them from conducting the businels properly and safely, - Lepidum Caput! but out of respect to the personal infirm the tex, we must here draw a veil over this part of the subject. The nature of the present argument indeed reminds us that it is high time to wash our hands and proceed to another subject ; but not till we have said a word or two of the Answer in the next article. Art. 12. Examen Succinel, &c. Answer to a late extraordinary

Publication, intitled, “ The Danger and Immodelly, &c." By Louis La Peyre, Chirurgien Maitre-ez- Arts, and Surgeon to his Excellency the Prince de Mafferano, &c. 8vo. I S. 6 d. Bias don. 1772

M. Louis La Peyre here stands forth the champion in form of the fair sex, and of their male albitants, againt the declamations of the + In his Ştrephon and Chloe, Laçies Drebing-room, &c.


« PreviousContinue »