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characterised the commencement of the present century, have, from avarice, vanity, or similar motives, thrown a most undue weight was laid upon the importance of such a stumbling-block in the way of the timorous bethe services rendered by some weak, ignorant, and enthu- liever ? siastic men and women. We have seen, with a feeling It is, however, but an act of justice to the memory of closely bordering upon contempt, the sycophantish bearing Dr Kennedy to say, that we believe him to have been aniof soine of our worthiest clergymen towards these people. mated in his attempt to convert Byron by honest zeal ; That day has gone by; the absurdities of the adherents and that highly though we must disapprove of dragging of Campbell and Erskine have broken the spell—the de- these matters before the public, he has, unlike the most of positaries and guardians of our faith have been awakened the feeders upon the dead man's sayings and doings, done to resist their false and insidious allies, and honest men ample justice to the fair side of his character. One thing may again speak their mind freely.
is of importance. We have it here from a person who was Dr Kennedy belongs most decidedly to the objection- no dependent, and scarcely a friend, of Byron—from a man able class. He had received a good education, at first of puritanical principles, that he was to the last anxious with a view to the bar, and afterwards with a view to tbe for a reconciliation with his wife, and convinced of its medical profession, which he finally embraced. There possibility. How much did he miscalculate that cold and áre, however, some natures so obtuse that no education shallow heart, which can insult his memory by the same can free them from the original taint of narrow-minded malignant innuendoes which tarnished his living fame! and childish opinions, and want of taste. What are we to which knows so well how to strengthen an accusation, by think of the intellect of a man who deliberately asserts hinting at what it dare not speak out, for fear of dissithat the period passed by Lord Byron at Argastoli was pating the illusion, but, like the cunning artist, contrives " the happiest and brightest of his life,” because—“ du- to heighten the effect of the picture by a judicious admixring the whole of that time he was not engaged in wri- ture of the chiaro 'scuro ! ting any poem, nor was he in the practice of any open We have spoken our mind freely of no less than two larice!" Yet this is the tone of moral reflection which is dies in this article, and we are prepared for the exclamaaffected through the whole book. Dr Kennedy's prin- tion—“ It is so unmanly !" But artists, authors, and eiples of action were such as might be expected from the actors, have no sex. calibre of his intellect. He prefers Scott, Erskine, Gregory, and Bogue, to those theologians whose eloquence and argumentative power command the reverence of the loft- The History of England. By the Right Honourable Sir jest, as they are intelligible to the lowest, grades of mind.
James Mackintosh, LL.D. M. P. Vol. I. Being the He is offended at the levity of three or four young men, 8th Volume of Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopædia. London. and offers to demonstrate the truth of the Scriptures to Longman, Rees, Orme, & Co. 1830. them logically in the course of a few sittings. We approve of that warm conviction which seeks to propagate itself; If we are not much mistaken, this History of Engbut we have no sympathy for the pedant who under- land, when completed, will be the most valuable work takes to overwhelm giddy boys by his logic, (at once mis- which has yet appeared in any of those cheap monthly calculating his own power and their vulnerable side,) publications now so much in vogue. It was originally and dares to put Christianity to the hazard. Kennedy to have been limited to two volumes of the Cabinet Cybargains for twelve hours' hearing, and loses patience when clopædia, but Sir James informs us in bis preface that he is asked to explain the meaning of an expression he he finds it will extend to at least three or four. The has used. He answers their doubts by telling them that first volume carries us down from the Roman invasion they are not yet advanced enough to understand his po- to the termination of the Plantagenet wars in France in sitions. They read their Bibles as he desires, and when the year 1435, in the reign of Henry VI. It is written they inform him that they cannot find his peculiar doc- with great precision and elegance, and is evidently the trines there, be tells them to pray that they may be ena- production of one who has devoted much time and attenbled to see them. The natural consequence is, that he dis- tion to his subject. Though some of the historical degusts all of them but one ; and he follows up this defeat-tails bave been necessarily abridged, nothing of imported attempt to act the part of a home missionary—com ance has been omitted ; and the clear and comprehensive menced in an overweening conceit of his own unaided views which are ever and anon presented to the reader powers carried on with petulan ce, dogmatism, and tes of the state of parties in church and state, and on the tibess—and ending very naturally with making some of continent of Europe, as well as in our own country, mark, his auditors worse than before-by railing at their per- a writer who is not content with merely finding out and verseness in good set terms.
stating facts, but who thinks hiinself, and makes others Lord Byron's part in the book is very short. Indeed a think, concerning them. It is here that the great differmuch more appropriate title would have been—" Serence between this history and that of Sir Walter Scott, mons delivered on four different occasions to the Right which has already appeared in the same Cyclopædia, will Honourable George Lord Byron, by James Kennedy, be found to consist. Scott's narrative is more picturesque, Esq. M.D.” His Lordship takes by far the smallest but it is also more superficial. Mackintosh is not so anshare of the conversation, but what he does say is stamp- xious to pick up minute anecdotes as to offer his refieced with the impress of that clear and manly sense wbich tions and commentaries on events of magnitude. Incharacterises all his authentic writings and conversation. deed, the chief fault we have to find with him as an hisThe anecdotes concerning him have also marks of authen- torian is, that he is perhaps rather too fond of philosoticity, though none of them are strictly new. On his re- phical discussion, not untinctured, as it occasionally is, ligious opinions the book throws no additional light. It though sparingly, with the Whig principles in which he merely tells us, what we knew before, that he had not any has been educated. Yet we confess we would far rather fixed opinions on the subject. The volume, though edited see a writer stating his opinions freely and temperately professedly for a pious end, exhibits to us the picture of a upon all occasions than, like Sir Walter Scott, making it most zealous Christian failing to convert one who met his perpetual study to conceal from the reader whetber him half-way. Those who can look deep enough into he has any opinions at all. men's characters will easily see that the cause of this lay It is of course impossible for us, within our present entirely in the structure of the two characters opposed to limits, to enter into any full examination of Sir James's each other and that the dignity and power of religion book.' Inaccuracies it does contain, and here and there is nowise compromised by the result. But how many sentiments and assertions with which we cannot agree; are able to see so far? And what must they be who, lay- but we have no hesitation in distinctly stating, that it ing claim to the character of peculiar and exclusive piety, has raised our estimation of the author as an elegant
THE CHARACTER OF ALFRED,
writer, a laborious investigator, an impartial chronicler, consequences which might be derived from it, their feelings and an enlightened thinker. This work, we doubt not, were, however unconsciously, exalted by its generality and is destined to become one of the standard classics of our
grandeur. Janguage. As a specimen of his flowing and vigorous its principles were, if we may so speak, only discovered
“ It was a peculiar advantage that the consequences of diction, we have much pleasure in presenting our readers gradually and slowly. It gave out on each occasion only with his account of
as much of the spirit of liberty and reformation as the cir. cumstances of succeeding generations required, and as their
character would safely bear. For almost five centuries it "In any age or country such a prince would be a prodigy. was appealed to as the decisive authority on bebalf of the Perhaps there is no example of any man who so happily people, though commonly so far only as the necessities of combined the magnanimous with the mild virtues, who each case demanded. Its effect in these contests was not joined so much energy in war with so remarkable a culti- altogether unlike the grand process by which nature emnvation of the useful and beautiful arts of peace, and whose ploys shows and frosts to cover her delicate germs, and to versatile faculties were so happily inserted in their due place hinder them from rising above the earth till the atmosphere and measure as to support and secure each other, and give bias acquired the mild and equal temperature which ensures solidity and strength to the whole character. That such a them against blights. On the English nation, undoubtedly, miracle should occur in a barbarous age and nation ; that the Charter bas contributed to bestow the union of establishstudy should be thus pursued in the midst of civil and fo- ment with improvement. To all mankind it set the first reign wars, by a monarch who suffered almost incessantly example of the progress of a great people for centuries, in from paintul maladies; and that it so little encroached on the blending their tumultuary democracy and haughty nobility duties of government as to leave him for ages the popular with a fluctuating and vaguely limited monarchy, so as at model for exact and watchful justice, are facts of so extra- length to form from these discordant materials the only form ordinary a nature, that they may well excuse those who have of free government which experience had shown to be resuspected that there are some exaggeration and suppression concilable with widely extended dominions. Whoever in in the narrative of his reign.. But Asser writes with the any future age, or unborn nation, may admire the felicity simplicity of an honest eye-witness. The Saxon Chronicle of the expedient which converted the power of taxation into is a dry and undesigning compend. The Norman histori- the shield of liberty, by which discretionary and secret imans, who seem to have had his diaries and note-books in prisonment was rendered impracticable, and portions of the their hands, choose him as the glory of the land which was people were trained to exercise a larger share of judicial become their own. There is no subject on which unani- posver than was ever allotted to them in any other civilized mous tradition is so nearly sufficient evidence, as on the state, in such a manner as to secure, instead of endangering, eminence of one man over others of the same condition. public tranquillity ;-whoever exults at the spectacle of enThe bright image may long be held up before the national lightened and independent assemblies, who, under the eye mind. This tradition, however paradoxical the assertion of a well-informed nation, discuss and determine the laws may appear, is, in the case of Alfred, rather supported than and policy likely to make communities great and happy ;weakened by the fictions which have sprung from it. Al whoever is capable of comprehending all the effects of such though it be an infirmity of every nation to ascribe their institutions, with all their possible improvements, upon the institutions to the contrivance of a man, rather than to the mind and genius of a people, is sacredly bound to speak with slow action of time and circumstances, yet the selection of reverential gratitude of the authors of the Great Cbarter, Alfred by the English people as the founder of all that was To have produced it, to have preserved it, to have matured dear to them, is surely the strongest proof of the deep im- it, constitute the immortal claim of England on the esteem pression left on the minds of all of his transcendent wisdom of mankind. Her Bacons and Shakspeares, her Miltons and virtue,-juries, the division of the island into counties and Newtons, with all the truth which they have revealed, and hundreds, the device of frankpledge, the formation of and all the generous virtue which they have inspired, are of the common or customary law itselt, could have been mis. inferior value when compared with the subjection of men takenly attributed to him by nothing less than general re- and their rulers to the principles of justice; if, indeed, it verence. How singular must have been the administration be not more true that these mighty spirits could not have of which the remembrance so long procured for him the been formed except under equal laws, nor roused to full accharacter of a lawgiver, to which his few and general enact- tivity without the influence of that spirit which the Great ments so little entitled him!
Charter breathed over their forefathers.” :“ Had a stronger light been shed on his time, we should have undoubtedly discovered in him some of those charac
We can find space for just one other. passage, which teristic peculiarities which, though always defects, and ge- possesses, however, a peculiar interest for northern readers: perally faults when they are not vices, yet belong to every human being, and distinguish him froin his fellow-men. SIR JAMES MACKINTOSH'S OPINION OF OSSIAN AND The disadvantage of being known to posterity by general commendation, instead of discriminating description, is
“ Some fragments of the songs of the Scottish Highlandcommon to Alfred with Marcus Aurelius. The character of both these ornaments of their stations and their species, the bands of Macpherson, a young man of no mean genius,
ers, of very uncertain antiquity, appear to have fallen into seems about to melt into abstraction, and to be not so much unacquainted with the higher criticism applied to the geportraits of man as models of ideal perfection. Both fur- nuiveness of ancient writings, and who was too much a nish an useful example that study does not disqualify for stranger to the studious world to have learnt those refineadministration in peace, or for vigour in war, and that scrupulous virtue may be combined with vigorous policy: perty. Elated by the praise not unjustly bestowed on some
ments which extend probity to literature as well as to pro. The lot of Alfred forbade him to rival the accomplishments of these fragments, instead of ensuring a general assent to of the imperial sage. But he was pious without supersti- them by a publication in their natural state, be unbappily tion; his humbler knowledge was imparted with more siinplicity, bis virtue was inore natural ; he had the glory
to applied his talents
for skiltul imitation to complete poetical be the deliverer as well as the father of his country; and he works in a style similar to the fragments, and to work them
into the unsuitable shape of epic and dramatic poems, escaped the unbappiness of suffering his authority to be em
• He was not aware of the impossibility of poems, preployed in religious persecution.”
served only by tradition, being intelligible after thirteen cenTo this extract we shall add another, not more distin- turies, to readers who knew only the language of their own guished for its admirable composition than for its sound times; and he did not perceive the extravagance of peopling
the Caledonian mountains in the fourth century with a race of men so generous and merciful, so gallant, so mild, and so magnanimous, that the most ingenious romances of the age
of chivalry could not have ventured to represent a single “ It is observable that the language of the Great Charter hero as on a level with their common virtues. He did not is simple, brief, general without being abstract, and express-consider the prodigious absurdity of inserting, as it were, a ed in terms of authority, not of argument, yet commonly people thus advanced in moral civilisation, between the Briso reasonable as to carry with it the intrinsic evidence of its tons, ignorant and savage as they are painted by Cæsar, and own fitness. It was understood by the simplest of the un- the Higblanders, fierce and rude as they are presented by lettered age for whom it was intended. It was remembered the first accounts of the chroniclers of the twelith and fourby them; and though they did not perceive the extensive teenth centuries. Even the better part of the Scots were,
MAGNA CHANTA AND ITS EFFECTS.
LINES IN MY OWN ALBUM.
in the latter period, thus spoken of :- In Scotland, ye -ladies' albums—we do not know; but certainly the sball find no man lightly of honour or gentleness : they be greater proportion of his verses do not belie the title he like wylde and savage people.' The great historian who has given them. We shall quote only one specimen of made the annals of Scotland a part of European literature, his album verses, but it is undoubtedly the best in the had sufficiently warned his countrymen against such faults, by the decisive observation that their forefathers were un
book : acquainted with the art of writing, which alone preserves language from total change, and great events from oblivion. “ Fresh clad from heaven, in robes of white, Macpherson was encouraged to overleap these and many
A young probationer of light, other improbabilities by youth, talent, and applause. Per
Thou wert, my soul, an Album bright, haps he did not at first distinctly present to his mind the permanence of the deception. It is more probable-and it
" A spotless leaf; but thought and care, is a supposition countenanced by many circumstances that
And friend and foe, in foul or fair, after enjoying the pleasure of duping so many critics, he in Have “ written strange defeatures" there ; tended one day to claim the poems as his own; but if he had such a design, considerable obstacles to its execution
* And Time, with heaviest hand of all, arose around him. He was loaded with so much praise, Like that fierce writing on the wall, that he seemed bound in honour to his admirers not to de
Hath stamp'd sad dates—he can't recall ; sert them. The support of his own country appeared to render adherence to those poems, which Scotland inconsi
“ And error gilding worst designs, derately sanctioned, a sort of national obligation. Exas.
Like speckled snake, that strays and shines perated, on the other hand, by the, perhaps, unduly vehe Betrays his path by crooked lines; ment, and sometimes very coarse, attacks made on him, he was unwilling to surrender to such opponents. He involved “ And vice hath left his ugly blot; bimself at last so deeply as to leave him no decent retreat.
And good resolves, a moment hot, Since the keen and searching publication of Mr Laing, these
Fairly begun—but finish'd not ;
of genuineness. They had been admired by all the nations, “ And fruitless, late remorse doth trace,
Her irrecoverable race.
6 Disjointed numbers, sense unknit; whole poetical library of Napoleon ;-a man who, whatever
Huge reams of folly, shreds of wit, may be finally thought of him in other respects, must be owned to be, by the transcendent vigour of his powers, en
Compose the mingled mass of it. titled to a place in the first class of human minds. No other
“ My scalded eyes no longer brook imposture in literary history approaches them in the splendour of their course.
Upon this ink-blurr'd thing to look
Go shut the leaves, and clasp the book.” If Dr Lardner could always secure for his Cyclopæ
Besides the “ Album Verses," the volume contains dia works of so much value as the present, he need have
poems arranged under the head of,.“ Miscellaneous," no fears of the triumphant success of his undertaking.
Sonnets," Commendatory Verses," " Acrostics," " Translations from the Latin of Vincent Bourne," a
Pindaric Ode to the Tread-Mill," an “ Epicedium," Abum Verses; with a few Others. By Charles Lamb, and a dramatic sketch, called, " The Wife's Trial; or the London. Edward Moxon. 8vo. Pp. 150.
Intruding Widow.” The last of these is by far the longCHARLES LAMB has been overrated in many ways. He est, and though not very brilliant as a whole, it contains is a clever, but not a distinguished writer. He is far too several passages of considerable power. It is republished full of conceits, and affectations, and quaint childishness- from Blackwood's Magazine, where it appeared some es. The papers which he wrote under the signature of months ago. As we wish to part on good terms with * Elia,” and which have been puffed by some of his lite- Charles Lamb, and really like him for many things, we rary friends much beyond their real merit, are continu- subjoin two of his best sonnets : ally disfigured with these faults. The style was somewhat new, and took at first; but, like other novelties which are not based upon good sense and sound canons of criticism, its popularity soon passed away; and Lamb's
“ Who first invented work, and bound the free prose works are already nearly forgotten. As a poet, he
And holiday-rejoicing spirit down was never greatly celebrated; and here, too, the sort of To the ever-haunting importunity antique Cockneyism of his diction militates much against Of business in the green fields, and the town the natural warmth of his feelings and liveliness of his To plough, loom, anvil, spade-and, oh ! most sad, imagination. We have no doubt that Charles Lamb is To that dry drudgery at the desk's dead wood ? an amiable man, and he is also something of a humourist,
Who, but the Being unblest, alien from good,
Sabbathless Satan ! he who his unglad and he is, moreover, on many occasions, a shrewd inge
Task ever plies 'mid rotatory burnings, nious thinker; but he ought to know that quaintness and
That round and round incalculably reel simplicity, bordering on puerility, do not constitute either
For wrath divine hath made him like a wheel
In that red realm from which are no returning®; The present little volume consists mostly of “sundry Where toiling, and turmoiling, ever and aye, copies of verses written for albums, or otherwise float He and his thoughts, keep pensive working day?" Ing about in periodicals;" and have been printed in this shape, as appears by the epistle dedicatory, more as affording a young publisher an opportunity of showing his
II. LEISURE, taste in the getting up of a book, than with a view towards They talk of time, and of time's galling yoke,
reputation, or reward of any kind. The motive is very That, like a mill-stone, on man's mind doth press, > laudable, the more especially as we believe Mr Edward Which only work and business can redress : Moxon (the publisher in question) to be a young man
Of divine Leisure such foul lies are spoke, whose character and habits entitle him to every encou
Wounding her fair gifts with calumnious stroke.
But might I, fed with silent meditation, Fagernent in the profession he has chosen ; and we can Assoiled live from that fiend Occupationanswer for the exceedingly handsome manner in which Improbus 1.abor, which my spirits hath brokehe has put forth Mr Lamb's volume. Why our author I'd drink of time's rich cup, and never surfeit:
should have written so much for those silliest of all books Fling in more days than went to make the gem, 1
wit or poetry.
That crown'd the white top of Methusalem ;
onward path ; we must rely solely on our intellectual and Yea, on my weak neck take, and never forfeit,
physical resources, and when arrived at that boundary, Like Atalas bearing up the dainty sky,
beyond which the finite reason of man cannot travel, we The heaven-sweet burden of eternity."
must retire with sober diffidence, believing that the mysWe are pleased also to meet in this volume with a tri. tery we cannot penetrate, is the gulf which separates the hute like the following to a man of gerius, our mutual Creator from the created. friend :
In Mr Macvicar's “ Elements of the Economy of NaTO J. S. KNOWLES, ESQ.*
ture,” he presents us with his remarks and speculations
on a vast number of important scientific subjects; and On his Tragedy of Virginius.
more especially, attempts to explain the nature of those “ Twelve years ago I knew thee, Knowles, and then
ultimate atoms which are supposed to constitute the parEsteemed you a perfect specimen
ticles of the universe. We shall give our readers a brief Of those tine spirits warın-sould Ireland sends To teach us colder English how a friend's
analysis of the opinions entertained by the author, and Quick pulse should beat. I knew you, brave and plain, shall, at the same time, consider the merit of some of the Strong-sensed, rough-witted, above fear or gain;
most important positions he has assumed. An atom, he But nothing farther had the gift to espy;
informs us, is an exceedingly small body, consisting of Sudden you re-appear. With wonder 'I
two substances, viz. a hard nucleus, surrounded by a Hear my old friend (turn'd Shakspeare) read a scene,
sphere of a very mobile, elastic, rare nature, as the earth Only to his inferior, in the clean Passes of pathos, with such fence-like art
is by its atmosphere, or the sun and stars by their photoEre we can see the steel 'tis in our heart.
spheres.” This atom is asserted to possess two forms Almost without the aid language affords,
the one internal, and the other external. The internal Your piece seems wrought. That buffing medium, words, is the tetrahdral, or most acutely angular form possible; (Which, in the modern Tamburlaines, quite sway the external is the spherical, or the least acutely angular Our shamed souls from their bias, ) in your play
form that can be conceived. “ Hence" he informs us, We scarce attend to. Hastier passion draws
that “ according to the nature of matter, the structure of Our tears on credit ; and we find the cause, Some two hours after, spelling o'er again
the atom is exquisitely adapted to dispose it for the evoluThose strange few words at ease that wrought the pain.
tion of a variety of spontaneous phenomena, or movements Proceed, old friend'; and, as the year returns,
greater than we can conceive by any other mechanism, as Still snatch some new old story from the urns
often as a number of atoms are placed in contact with Of long-dead virtue. We that knew before
each other; for it bas been shown to be a law in the naYour worth, may admire, but cannot love you more." ture of matter, that the spherical is that form to which
We close this book with a feeling of respect both for alone rest is proper." But the internal part of the atom, the author's head and heart, but with a belief that he is " being composed of four plane faces, joined at four acute not destined to descend to immortality as a poet.
trihedral angles, possesses a tendency, in virtue of this part of its structure, to move." The imponderable or sub
tile matter surrounding, in the form of a sphere, every Elements of the Economy of Nature ; or the Principles of and the phenomena it produces are modified according to
atom or group of atoms, is represented as possessing unity, Physics, Chemistry, and Physiology, founded on the re- the region of the nucleus which it invests. Thus, when cently discovered Phenomena of Light, Electro-Magnetism, and Atomic Chemistry. By J. G. Macvicar, A.M., attached to the angles of atomic matter, it is said to give Edinburgh. Adam Black. 1830. 8vo.
rise to attraction and permanent adhesion, and is polar
ized to a certain distance round the atomic body; but MONTESQUIEU devoted many years of indefatigable in- when attached to the surfaces of the atoms, or the areas dustry to the composition of his great work; but an in-between their angles and edges, it produces the phenogenious and influential critic of the day, on the score of mena of repulsion and rarefaction. Having discussed the some imaginary blemishes, picked out in the space of a nature and intluence of this motorial or subtile matter, the very few hours, did not hesitate to pronounce a sweeping author proceeds to consider bis “ radiant medium,” which condemnation on the illustrious author. This is only has by some been termed “lumeniferous æther,” and is one of many instances which might be quoted, to show matter in a state of radiation. He states, that its parthat the disciples of Aristarchus, judging too prematurely, ticles are symmetrically related and fixed in their positions have frequently undervalued the achievements of profound by their mutual attractions. It is condensed around stars scholars and accomplished men of science. For ourselves, and planets ; is of different densities in different gases; we should wish to guard against this error; and are able, and is capable of three motions—polarized excitement, at all events, to assure the author of the work before us, producing light and colours; atomic tremor, producing that we have devoted some attention to the subjects he radiant heat and mechanical compression—and dilatation, has so diligently investigated, and that, not beingrenslaved occasioning sounds, if productive of any sensible effect at to the opinions of any of the “ great in science and phi- all. Heat is occasioned, it is alleged, by a tremulous losophy,” we are prepared to receive with attention any movement in the atoms of bodies, and it is at their angles additional facts he may have observed; to follow with in- that the vibration principally takes place. Light, it is terest his reasonings, so far as they may be intelligible ; said, is produced by an excitement along the radiant meand to hear impartially any hypothesis he may think dium; which, when in a state of repose, occasions darkproper to hazard in explanation of phenomena, that have ness to the eye, but when in polarized activity, causes light. perplexed the wisdom, and baflled the scrutiny, of pre Having thus given our readers a coup d'æil of the opi. vious enquirers.
nions entertained by the author, we pause to observe, that The Baconian principles of philosophy have entirely if he has viewed the phenomena of nature with the eye exploded that hypothetical mode of reasoning which pre- of a philosopher, he has, in the present work, manifested tended, on the arbitrary authority of its own assumptions, only his ingenuity as a theorist. He has described the to reveal the nature of occult causes; and we now recog. shapes and relative positions of these ultimate atoms with nise as legitimate, those investigations only which pro- as much exactness as if they were as palpable to his sight ceed on a plain and distinct induction of facts. It is not in as the loftiest mountains in Europe ; and he has prethe philosophical as in the poetical world. Imagination tended to lay down the laws by which they are governed must not there extend her heavenward wings to carry us with as much confidence as if he were legislating for some over those difficulties which would otherwise obstruct our country burgh. What evidence have we that the in
ternal form of the ultimate atom possesses the tetrahe* Blunderingly printed R. S. Knowles, Esq..
dronal figure ? or that the subtile atmosphere by which
it is surrounded gives it the form of a sphere? None which have been committed by the author; but we are, whatever ; and the account of the atom given by the au at the same time, quite satisfied that he is a man of much thor is as imaginative as any description that ever fell ingenuity and learning ; and if, in the prosecution of his from the pen of Swift or Fenelon. Why is it assumed investigations, he will lay aside his inclination to specuthat the tetrahedronal figure is most favourable and prone late on mere hypothesis,-if he will confine himself more to motion, and that, in moving, it tends to produce the strictly to what are really the Baconian principles of inglobular figure? Why is the globular figure said to be ductive philosophy,—he may yet accomplish much in that wbich is necessary to a state of rest? Natural phi-throwing light on those subjects to which he has already losophers usually reason that the particles of fluids are devoted so large a portion of his attention. We may also movable in all directions, merely because they are sphe add, that as his present volume contains some curious conrical, and therefore have little friction, being in contact jectures and investigations, it is far from being unworthy only at the infinitely small points of tangents a theory the attention of men of science. which is directly opposed to Mr Macvicar's hypothesis. Again : why is the atom under the necessity of moving on account of its angularity, or its pyramidal contour ? The centre of gravity of a pyramid is placed at the dis
The Westminster Review. No. XXV. July, 1830.
London. tance of one-third of its axis from the base ; and motion
Robert Heward. Edinburgh. William
Tait. 'from external force will be as effectually resisted by the force concentrated in this point, as it would be in a sphe
We seldom notice the Monthly periodicals, because we rical figure. Nay, Maclaurin and others have shown, regard them as too nearly resembling ourselves to seek for that of all figures, the pyramid is that which most power reviews at our hands. Our readers know as well as we fully resists displacement. Why is it affirmed that the do that a certain number of Magazines come out regularphenomenon of attraction is occasioned by the subtile mat- ly, and that these all contain a proper miscellaneous colter investing the angles of the atoms? or that adhesion is lection of articles, some good and some bad, some indicaoccasioned by its being attached to the surfaces of these ting decided dulness, and others giving assurance of much atoms, or their areas between their angles and edges? We genius. The Quarterlies being of rarer occurrence, and have here hypothesis crowded on hypothesis; and assump- of more solid materials, are not exactly in the same preditions so dexterously interwoven with each other, that it cament, and we accordingly watch their motions with is impossible to unravel them, or find the thread which greater interest, and not unfrequently take it upon us to is to lead us through the mazes of this intricate labyrinth. animadvert thereon.
Why is nature said to be ever tending to expand to The present Number of the Westminster Review is not the utmost, and that the vibrations in the angles of the remarkably brilliant, nor is it remarkably stupid. It
atoms occasion heat ? Why suppose that nature is ma- contains eighteen articles, a much greater number than is | king any attempts at all? We know but of one conatus, usually found in any of its brethren ; and, on the whole,
that of attraction. Why then suppose that fire is the the subjects which they discuss are judiciously selected. result of the attempts of the pyramidal atom to rub off But in his anxiety to give plenty of variety, the editor has its angles ? . The smallest atom is retained at rest by a fallen into another error against which he ought to guard. force equal to its weight and acting on its centre of gra- Several of the reviews are by far too short and superficial vity. The great pyramid of Egypt is retained by no to justify their insertion in a quarterly publication. In more; and the author may as well ascribe the heat of the a Weekly Journal, such as ours, heaven knows we are desert to the effects of this stupendous mass to regain the sometimes under the necessity of being superficial enough, globular figure, as the generation of caloric to similar not because we could not be profound if we chose, but movements of pyramids which are much smaller and con- because we have not time to be so, seeing that numerous fned by the contiguity of other pyramids. But we do competitors are running the same race with us, and that not wish to throw the author on the wheel of Ixion, and an early account of new books is considered by many of torture him with a continued series of interrogatories. almost as much importance as a good account. If we can He informs us he writes in the “synthetic manner,” and, combine the two, then we are the beau ideal of a literary for the sake of brevity, has omitted favouring us with any journal. But a quarterly review has not the excuse of detail of the elements of his induction ; but surely Mr haste to plead, and if a book is worthy of being noticed by Macvicar does not suppose that men of science will re- it at all, it ought to be noticed completely. Now, the regard his annunciations, as the credulous ancients did those views in this 25th Number of the Westminster, of “ Carof the Pythian Oracle; he surely cannot fatter himself well,” of the “ Game of Life," of " The Dominie's Lethat he is at liberty to draw bold and sweeping conclu- gacy,” and of “ Three Courses and a Dessert,” contain sions from his own hypothetical notions, and then an- little that is worth reading, and would have done but small nounce these as established propositions to the scientific credit to any respectable weekly gazette. A quarterly world. Yet this is exactly what he has done; and, in- work should not be heavy if possible, but the editor is stead of giving his work to the public as one containing mistaken in supposing that a pound of feathers is one whit merely speculations on these subjects-instead of suggest- lighter than a pound of gold. ing his as a theory to explain certain phenomena in na The first article, which we are informed is by Mill, and ture, and submitting his suggestions in that form to the which extends to forty pages, is an ingenious piece of speconsideration of scientific men--he has ventured to pub- cial pleading in support of the ballot or secret mode of volish them under a designation to which they are not entitled. ting for a member of parliament. It is written in rather We are also somewhat displeased with the author for not too intolerant and confident a tone, and we have great acknowledging the authorities of Descartes and Euler, to doubts after all whether the author has the right side of both of whom he is for the greater portion of his theory the question. But this is the besetting sin of the Westevidently mach indebted. Lastly, we cannot help con- minster Reviewers,—they are bigoted in their liberality; demning the style in which the whole work is written; they scoff at the most distant supposition that either they for, in adopting what he himself designates the “hard” or their principles can be wrong, and with the most tystyle of writing, Mr Marvicar has wandered into a style rannical self-sufficiency they insist upon the adoption of of obscurity that completely divests his most important all their theories of liberty and equality. The article on arguments of the interest they would otherwise possess, the politics of Lower Canada is sensible, and has been and renders it painful for the reader to grope his way composed with care, though tinctured, of course, with the through the mazes in which he involves the “ Economy peculiar doctrines of the reviewer. The article on Wilof Nature."
son's “ Life and Times of Daniel De Foe," contains little We have thus spoken without reserve of the errors but a tolerably good abstract of the work. Nearly the