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trivance.-With proper precautions, and by substituting numbers corresponding with a vocabulary instead of an alphabet, this invention may be perfected. I cannot help remarking, that by the expe. riment of Sir T. Browne with two distinct dials, &c. a hint might have been obtained of a practicable contrivance; but by Doctor Johnson's cork, with two needles thrust through it, nothing could Þe obtained but disappointment. Vulgar tradition and poetic allegory are neither to be implicitly trusted nor hastily despised. The meredulity of mankind in some instances appears as surprising as their credulity in others. The disposition to ridicule every scientific project as absurd until it has been absolutely brought to perfection has been the common topic of complaint among men of inventive genius ; and it is curious to observe that poets, who suffer so much themselves by the taunts of men of the world, and by the apathy of the vulgar, should in their turn revenge themselves upon men of science, and treat their speculations with disdain. Ben Jonson has attempted this in one of his masques with a degree of humour which is not always the portion of those who throw ridicule on science. Merefool, the clown of the piece, consults an adept, who promises to instruct bim in all occult secrets, and to shew him apparitions of all the learned men of the ancients; but every man who is called for happens to be busy, from Pythagoras " who has rashly run himself upon an employment of keeping asses from a field of beans," to Archimedes, who is meditating the invention of
“ A rare mouse trap with owls wings,
And a cat's foot to catch the mice alone." • Not only the same taste for ridicule, but the same ideas we find repeated, with a slight alteration, at different æras; Aristophanes and Lucian among the ancients, and Butler, Swift, and Voltaire, the three great modern masters of ridicule, have in various shapes the same ideas, and are alike disposed to confound the ingenious and the extravagant. The best way of parrying the stroke of ridicule is to receive it with good humour; laugh with those who laugh, and persevere with those who labour, should be the motto of men who possess the powers of invention.
• The late Doctor Johnson, who in his Rasselas ridiculed the idea of the art of flying, lived long enough to sec the ascent of the first air balloon.'
Mr. E. accounts telegraphically for the answer given by the Delphic Oracle to Creesus. The story is as follows:
Cræsus, after having been duped by various oracles, began to suspect their infallibility, and to obeerve that they made bad verses : he resolved to try their powers of divination before he put himself to any farther expence in costly offerings. At a certain hour, on a particular day and at an appointed moment, the messengers whom he. had dispatched to the different oracles demanded from them “ What was at ihat instant the employment of Cræsus ?”
• All the oracles were mute, except the Delphic, which inmedi. ately answered the messengers of Crasus in these inspired lines.
" I know
* I know the space -the number of the sand,
I hear the silent-mute I understand.
From brazen pot closed with brazen cover." . This was precisely the strange employment which the king had privately devised for himself. The answer of the oracle astounded and convinced Cræsus, and seems to have had as powerful an effect upon Sir Thomas Browne, who, in his “ Enquiry concerning Vulgar Errors,” calls this the plainest of all oracles, and decms it the clear. est proof of their supernatural agency. Weither probability nor coincidence could have produced this marvellous reply; it has therefore excited alike the astonishment of the learned and of the ignorant. But the wonder ceases, and an easy solution of the difficulty presents itself, if we suppose that the priests of the oracle were Telegraphers.'
The contrivance of Mr. Edgeworth appears to us both simple and ingenious. Drawings enable us to judge so much better of the form, construction, &c. of a machine, than all descriptions merely verbal, that we shall not attempt any which would probably be unsatisfactory. The part most difficult of comprehension in the memoir is that concerning the Vocabulary: but we feel little inclined to make small objections against an essay, in the perusal of which we have had frequent opportu. nities of admiring the author's ingenuity and learning.
On the Method of determining the Longitude by Observations of the Meridian Passages of the Moon and a Star, made at two Places. By the Rev. Dr. James Archibald Hamilton, Professor of Astronomy at Armagh.
This method of determining the longitude is well known to astronomers. The several corrections, which are required to give sufficient accuracy to it, are here explained fully, and with a considerable degree of perspicuity.
On the Method of taking Radicals out of Equations, Mooney, A.B. Trin. Coll. Dublin.
The object of this memoir is to shew that the rule concerning the method of taking radicals out of an equation, by multiplication, obtains generally; and that, by simple involution, quadratic surds may be taken out of an equation, let the number of terms be what they may.
The author takes an example, vă + vī= vit vd + VF and shews that, by involution, the equation may be rendered rational.
The method employed in the former example likewise renders rational x + vătv-vi-va avf=o: carc being taken to place it in such a form that, after multiplication, there results the least number of surd rectangles; thus * + Vă+ vb = Vīt vd + vf, when multiplied into itself, gives a less number of surd rectangles than when in this form x+(a = 4 + 4 + / - /.
Supplement to Mr. Edgewortl's Essay on the Telegraph.
A Description of an Air-Pump of a new Construction, &c. &c.' By the Rev. James Little, of Lacken, in the County of Mayo.
In this paper is contained a long description of an air.pump, constructed on principles similar to those of Mr. Smeaton and Mr. Cuthbertson. It would require plates, and a much larger portion of our work than we can possibly allot, to give a satisfactory abstract of the contents of this memoir.
On the Application of a converging Series to the Construction of Logarithms. By William Allman, A.B. Trin. Coll. Dublin. The logarithm of the ratio of one number to another is ex
2pd: pressed by the series 2pd
2pds + +
5.55 expresses the difference and s the sum of the numbers, and p the modulus of the system. Now, in the practical application of series, it is desirable, for the sake of conveniency and dispatch, that the series should converge as quickly as possible ; the object, therefore, of the operations in this memoir, is to make the series above mentioned converge quickly. The author thus explains his method of producing a quickness of convergency:
• It is evident, that the less d is in respect of s, the faster the series will converge ; so that the construction of the logarithms of prime numbers, will be rendered more easy and expeditious, by finding two great products, which shall have a small difference; one of which products shall be composed entirely of factors whose logarithms are already known, and the other shall have in its composition, the number whose logarithm is sought, or some power of that number; and, if it have any other factors, the logarithms of these factors must be previously known.
• Ilaving found such products, we may, by the application of the above-mentioned series, tind the logarithm of their ratio to each other; which is the same with the logarithm of the ratio of the first product (or that which is composed entirely of factors whose loga. rithms are known) divided by the factor or compound of factors whose logarithms are known (if there be any such) in the latter pro, duct, to the prime number whose logarithm is sought, or some power of that number. Then, from the logarithm of the antecedent,
and the logarithm of the ratio, we have, by addition or subtraction, the logarithm of the consequent.'
POLITE LITERATURE. Sorne Hints concerning the State of Science at the Revival of Letters, grounded on a Passage of Dante in his Inferno, Canto iv. v. 130. By the Right Hon. the Earl of Charlemont, President of the Royal Irish Academy, and F.R.S.
In the poem of Dante, written about the year 1300, the poet describes the Elysium prepared for Pagan worthies, and gives to Aristotle the first place among the antient philosophers, in the following passage:
• Poiche'nnalsai un poco piu la ciglia,
Vidi 'l Maestro di color che sanno
Seder tra Filosofica Famiglia.
Quivi vid' io e Socrate, e Platone,
Che ’nnansi agli altri pui presso gli stanno.
The sov’reign master of all those who know,
Sitting among the philosophic race,
There I beheld both Socrates and Plato,
Who prior to the rest stand close beside him. This passage being a testimony of the reverence in which Aristotle was lield in the darker ages, at the first revival of letters, the noble Earl proceeds to assign the causes of this reverence; and to point out the circumstances which gave mankind a disposition and an ardour for the subtle, refined, and disputatious philosophy of the Stagyrite.
The ingenious remarks and displayed learning of the noble author claim attention and praise ; yet we must observe that the parts of the present memoir are not sufficiently connected, and that its object is not sufficiently determinate. The title of the paper, however, may be said to have prepared an ex. cuse against any objection of this nature.
Reflections on the Choice of Subjects for Tragedy arrong the Greek Writers. By William Preston, Esq. M. R. I. A.
The subjects of the Grecian tragedies are tales of horror ; Orestes, pursued by the Furies; the horrid Feast of Atreus; Oedipus, incestuous, blind, and mangled; Hercules tortured by his envenomed robe ; Medea, the murderers of her own children, &c. Such were the favourite themes of the Grecian Muse. The inquiry in the present essay is concerning the causes which led the Greek tragic writers to seek so sedulously, in history, for subjects of such aggravated horror; and accord
, A. Fransactions of the Royal Irish Academy, Vol. VI. ing to Mr. P. the causes are to be found in the cruelty and ferocity which disgraced the Grecian character. Most abune dant proof (if any indeed were wanted) is adduced of this cruelty of disposition, from their mythology, from the writings of Homer, and from the faithful pages of Thucydides.
Towards the end of his essay, which is replete with just remarks, Mr. P. considers the question why, in the present times of refinement, representations of terrific subjects continue to excite such predilection. Though this idea has been frequently discussed, we had marked some passages for insertion : but, on a second inspection, they seem too long for our limits.
An Essay on the Variations of English Prose, from the Revoluition to the present Time. By Thomas Wallace, B. and M.R.I.A. To which was adjudged the Gold Prize Medal.
In the beginning of this essay, it is observed that the state of the language of a people corresponds with the state of their polity and manners; and, as an example of this observation, the author points out the correspondence which has existed between the improvement in our language and our political and moral amelioration. When England was agitated by civil wars, and depressed by a feudal policy, its language was rude, anomaJous, and without either precision.or grace. From this degraded state, it was raised by the Reformation; then, questions of high concernment were agitated, and men began to think with greater precision, and to reason more methodically ; in consequence of which, the language rose from its low state to a considerable degree of excellence. It was, however, abundant in faults, until the time of Addison.
• With Addison and his contemporaries,' says Mr. Wallace, originated the first variation that occurred, subsequent to the Revolution, in the composition of English prose. Though the diffuse style still continued to prevail, it was no longer the loose, inaccurate and clumsy style by which the compositions of his predecessors were disgraced. So great, indeed, was the improvement, and so striking the variation introduced by Addison, that he who compares the productions of this elegant writer with those of the best writers of 1688, will find it difficult to avoid surprise, how, with such precedents before him, he could have risen at once to a degree of excellence in style which constitutes him a model for imitation. The forced metaphor, the dragging clause, the harsh cadence, and the abrupt close, are all of them strangers to the works of Addison. In the structure of his sentences, though we may sometimes meet marks of negligence, yet we can seldom find the unity of a sentence violated by ideas crowded together, or the sense obscured by an improper connection of clauses, Though, like his predecessors, he frequently uses two words to ex. press one idea, yet, in this instance, he is less faulty than they; and, among the variations introduced by him, we nilist reckon a more