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at her door. Had a Dutchefs of Modena arrived in London, the would not have been treated with fo much refpect. The concourfe of people was very great at her palace near Buckingham gate.
Fame, in the mean time, was not idle; but entertained the public with the beauty of her fine tail, her long ears and speckled kin; and, as her apartments were not well difpofed for the reception of a numerous company, her portrait was drawn and fold to the public, to fatisfy the curiofity of those who could not approach her person.
Wilkes made ftill more noife than the Afs; it is true that in any kind of rumour in England, the male always has the preference to the female. His confinement in the Tower, gave rife to a multitude of political arguments and profound differtations: and his discharge from that prifon made more noise here than the entry of the Grand Turk at Conftantinople. But, alas! of how short duration are the glories of this fublunary world. The Ghoft was put in the pillory. The talk about the -Afs foon fubfided, and Wilkes made his escape to France, in order to avoid the fate of the Ghoft."
Our Readers may poffibly gather from this fhort fpecimen, fome idea of our Author's manner of writing. Indeed the quaintnefs and affectation in his ftile, are to be matched only by the fuperficiality equally remarkable in his obfervations. And yet this very affuming Writer paffes judgment on every thing he fees and knows; or rather, on every thing he does not fee or know; for it is eafy to discover that his information about facts and characters, is chiefly culled out of romances and News-papers, or picked up from mere coffee-houfe converfation. He writes, it must be confeffed, with vivacity and fpirit; but there is a wide difference between being pert and fhrewd; and gravity is not more often mistaken for wifdom than vivacity for wit. To make a figure at once as a politician, a philofopher, a phyfician, a mathematician, a mufician, a moralift, an hiftorian, a critic, a fatyrift, and indeed almost every thing elfe, requires very different talents to thofe of which the Author of thefe letters feems to be poflefied. It is eafy for a man of letters with a sprightly turn, and a moderate fhare of knowlege and genius, to run galloping, through five or fix volumes; fcattering about indifcriminate remarks on popular topics, and fuch common-place obfervations as are every where to be met with. His manner of adopting them, however, will betray to the difcerning Reader what fhare of them must be imputed to his own fund of experience and reflection. That we may not be thought to caft undeferved cenfure on this work, we shall give a fpecimea or
two more of it, wherein the Writer, or his Mandarin, takes upon him fome of the various characters enumerated above. In letter 55. vol. v. the Mandarin Cham-pi-pi thus figures as a politician:
"The ambition of petty Princes makes its appearance now too late in the world. The greater powers of Europe are eftablished irrevocably. It is impoflible to annihilate them. It is poffible indeed to make head against them for a few years; to gain fome few victories over them; but this is all. They infenfibly recover their lofs, and their natural fuperiority always prevails in the end. France hath received feveral checks during the late war; but it is ftill an immenfe empire. The houfe of Auftria, in like manner, hath met with ill-fuccefs; but this hath not diminished its original power; its refources are ftill fuperiour to thofe of the enemy who had the advantage over it., A few years peace, will reftore to thefe bodies all their former vigour; they may be haraffed but they cannot be fubdued. ·
The trophies of George and Frederic have made a great noife. I am unwilling here to tarnish their glory; but it is certain they owe it all to the unwieldinefs of the Houses of Bourbon and of Auftria, whofe greatnefs would have over-whelmed both the former by its own weight, if their refpective adminiftrations had not prevented the activity of their natural powers.
England and Pruffia reap no more honour by their late fucceffes over them, than a man in health would do in taking advantage of another who might be fick. Although I, a Chinese, tremble for the fate of thefe two little ftates, when I reflect that the leaft variation in the arrangement of fecond caufes might totally reverfe it, and that it is in the power of two little animals, lefs than fix foot high, to overthrow their whole system of grandeur. Let but an able minifter appear at the head of affairs in France; and England would inftantly drop into its former state of mediocrity. Let but a fuperiour genius appear in the council Vienna, and the King of Pruffia is at once annihilated." Well faid!- Monfieur Mandarin: what a pity it is, for the honour of France, that this Writer himself is not placed at the head of the French adminiftration!
In chapters 82, 83, et feq. of the fame volume, this fagacious Mandarin takes upon him the philofopher and mathematician; for doubtlefs fuch we muft fuppofe the cenfor, who charges the philofophers and mathematicians with ignorance and abfurdity, and attempts to ridicule their nobleft investigations. and difcoveries.
"Some philofophers pretend that light is propagated fucceffively; and have calculated the precife time in which a ray of light paffes from the fun to the earth; and this they know more exactly than the time in which a courier would arrive from Paris in London. It is at present a determined point in phyfics, that a ray of light moves an hundred and thirty thousand leagues in a fecond. Sound, does not move fo quick as light, but about fix hundred thousand times flower; making at moft not above three hundred leagues in an hour, and then the way must be very clear and free from all interruption. It is pretended that in the Northern parts it moves flower than in the South; doubtlefs on account of the cold which prevails in the former."
All this may, in our author's opinion, be very witty and farcaftical, yet we cannot conceive what he aims at, by this ludicrous method of treating scientific fubjects; which there is great reason to presume he but fuperficially understands. That there is abfurdity enough in our phyfical systems, and in the European manner of cultivating the fciences, is very true, but our Author does not appear to know where it lies. If ridicule be not, ftrictly speaking, a teft of truth, it is certainly an excellent weapon to be used against falfehood; but its edge is too keen to be brandifhed in fport, by the wanton or unfkilful, without their hurting themselves much more than they can do any object on which they chufe to employ it. At every falfe ftroke it jars the hand of the striker; and, as it is two-edged, long, and perfectly elastic, it frequently rebounds on him with fuch force as to incapacitate him for ufing it again.
We must do this Writer the juftice, nevertheless, to own that, in treating of common and popular topics, the fprightlinefs of his manner is agreeable; and, if he had been careful to have laughed only in the right place, we might fometimes, perhaps, have laughed with him,
Contemplations de la Nature, Par C. Bonnet.
Contemplations on the Works of Nature. 8vo. 2 Volumes. Imported by Becket and de Hondt,
THE character of Mr. Bonnet, both as a Naturalist and
the Organization of Bodies*. It is on thefe works, alfo, we prefume our Author would chufe to reft his reputation; as the prefent confifts chiefly of juvenile reflections and obfervations on fubjects of natural history, and the wonderful oeconomy difcoverable in the various Phenomena of the Universe. It is great pity that Writers are fo apt to be mifled by their friends, against their better judgment, to the publication of performances they would otherwise commit to the flames.
When Mr. Bonnet affured us, with regard to his analysis, that it was published at the preffing folicitations of his acquaintance, hackney'd, as the pretence was by others, we made no objection to the reality of the motive; but, when he makes the like excufe for the prefent publication, we do not think it admiffible. To prevent our doubting the truth of it, indeed, he mentions the name of the very friend ‡, who stopt him when he he was actually going to burn his manufcript. We do not take upon us to fay, the public would have fuffered no lofs if fuch. intervention had not happened; but we are quite of Mr. Bonnet's private opinion, that his reputation may poffibly fuffer fome lofs from fo crude, not to fay puerile, a performance. Not that we would be understood to cenfure the fpecimen, here exhibited of this Writer's talents for physical obfervation; but we can by no means approve of the examples he hath given of his fagacity in reafoning on thofe obfervations. The like objection hath been made to his other works; of which he complains in his preface to that before us; charging the objectors with inattention to what he hath advanced. If, among the criticifms of which he complains, however, he hath a view to the flight animadverfions we have paffed on his writings, he is mistaken, if he thinks we have any objection to fyftematical reafoning, or even to the fubftitution of ingenious hypothefes, if advanced merely as hypothefes. What we object to, is inconclufiue reafoning; and we are forry to find men fo extremely capable of making just observations, fo greatly bewildered, as they frequently are, in drawing conclufions from their obfervations. Nor do we think it any good excufe for the infertion of fuch inconclufive reafonings, to fay, that they are given as mere conjectures. We are not infenfible, that acute obfervers are often bad fpeculatifts, and vice verfa; but we would have philofophers,
See Review Vol. xxvi, page 503. and Vol. xxviii, page 524.
Mr. Bennel, Minister of Geneva; whom our Author files, un ami eclairé et judicieux. The gentleman may merit thefe epithets for ought we know, but we doubt much whether Mr. Bonnet thought him a better judge of this particular fubject than himfelf. And yet he confefles this performance to be much inferior to his other works.
at leaft, poffefs fome small fhare of felf-knowledge, and be content to thine in their proper fphere. That there are Critics, who have too flightly perufed and too readily cenfured Mr. Bonnet, may poffibly be true; but he may impute their want of judgment, in a great degree, probably, to his own. For, to what purpose are mere fpeculations added to exact obfervations, unlefs to amufe and mislead the reader, who cannot diftinguish the point at which experiment ends and conjecture begins. We admire the ingenuity, the fagacity, the indefatigable industry of a Lyonet, who can difcover to us, by anatomy, four thousand mufcles in the body of a caterpillar. We can juftly admire, alfo, with the difcoveries of many other ingenious naturalifts, the judicious remarks and obfervations of our Author, when his fagacity is employed on proper objects: but we cannot admit of his treating the firft caufe, the eternal reafon, the word incarnate, celeftial hierarchies, angels, human fouls, animals, reptiles, zoophytes, polypufes and vegetables, as if they were all fubjects of natural hiftory, and equally objects of phyfical animadverfion.
In chapters first and fecond of the fifth part of this work, treating of the feveral relations between terreftrial objects, we have the following paffages.
CHAP. I. Preliminary Reflection.
"We have feen that a connection and relation prevails throughout all the parts of the univerfe: but we have only taken a view of this pregnant truth at a diftance. Let us at present approach it nearer, and give our attention to the most interesting particulars. We fhall not take notice of that majestic harmony which, in ballancing the planets, animates the heavens. We will lay afide alfo the profound and myfterious influence of univerfal attraction, the laws of motion, and the different mechanic powers diffufed throughout the univerfe. Let us obferve thofe relations, whofe effects are connected with ideas more common or lefs complicated."
CHAP. II. Of the Union of Souls with organized Bodies. "This union is the fource of the moft fertile and the most wonderful harmony in nature. A fubftance without extenfion, without folidity, without figure, is united to a substance, poffeffed of extenfion, folidity, and figure. A fubftance which thinks and has in itfelf a principle of action, is united to a fubftance which is unthinking, and in its own nature indifferent to motion or reft. From this furprising union arifes a reciprocal commerce between the two fubftances, a fort of action and of reaction, which conftitutes the life of organized-animated beings.