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Rosseeuw Saint-Hilaire is beginning to publish a history of Spain, from the Gothic invasion to the present century. It will form six or seven vols. 8vo. The first volume will treat of the history of Gothic Spain: the second, that of Castile : the third, that of Arragon, Navarre and Biscay : the fourth, Spain under the Moors, etc. The Introduction will sketch the early state of Spain, the Phænician, Carthaginian and Roman conquests, and the Gothic Institutions and Code. The author is said to bring to his work very important and laborious researches into the little-explored libraries of Spain, as well as those of Germany.

Among the novelties of imagination, we remark 'Occiput and Sinciput' a phrenological romance, by Ernest Dutouquet, 2 vols. 8vo. We fear it will eclipse the scientific fictions of Miss Martineau. There is also a new novel by Paul de Kock, called 'Zizine.'

Bayle Mouillard's Essays on 'Imprisonment for Debt,' a work crowned by the Institute in 1835, is lately published.

Mons. Marcos is giving some curious researches as to ihe barbarian subversions of the Roman Empire, under the title of ' A History of the Vandals; with Researches on the Commerce of the Barbary States, in the Earlier Part of the Christian Era.' 8vo.

Dulaure is about to give, in 8 vols. 8vo., with fifty engravings and numerous additions, the sixth edition of his admirable and curious history of Paris: a work of the highest merit and interest, built up from a very modest beginning, by repeated editions, and renewed researches.

The Monuments of Egypt and Nubia, as collected by Champollion, with bis descriptions, are in progress of publication, under the patronage of the French Government. They are to form four large folio volumes of plates (chiefly colored) 400 in number; and two volumes of text, in 4to : costing, in all, 500 francs.

We see that Miss Sedgwick’s novel of the 'The Linwoods' has been translated into French, under the title of 'La Famille Américaine.'

'La Seur de la Charité' is the title of a new poem, by Lamartine.

The following, by Henry Ternaux, may offer something important to this country: • Voyages, Relations et Mémoires Originaux, pour Servir á l'Histoire de la Découverte de l'Amérique:' 3 vols. 8vo. Also, a ‘Bibliothéque Américaine ;' an account of works relating to America. 8vo.

We are glad to see announced ' A Dictionary of Cookery and of Household Economy,' by Mons. Burnet, ex-officer of the Mouth : 8vo., with plates.

Geoffrey Saint-Hilaire has published two volumes of a sort of general history of Monstrosities, under the title of 'Histoire Général des Anomalies de l'Organization chez l'Homme et chez les Animaux.'

Paul de Julvecourt is giving, under title of 'Balalayra,' a translation of the popular poetry of the Russians. 8vo.

De Martonne has edited, from the Unique mss. in the King's Library, the Romances of Parise la Ducharre. 12mo.

Vidocq, the ex-rogue, has produced a new book, in illustration of his ancient occupations. He calls it ‘Les Voleurs : Physiologie de leurs Mæurs et le leurs Language.' 2 vols. 8vo. If he means to set up for an honest man, he should take to some honester trade than that of book-maker.

The seventh volume of the new octavo edition of St. Chrysostom's whole works (with Latin version) has appeared. Six more are to come. Also, a supplement to those of St. Augustin, containing inedited sermons. Folio.

Studies on the Theatrical Art,' by the widow of Talma, are forthcoming : said to be remarkable. Villeneuve, the editor, gives a life of the authoress, and many curious particulars of the greatest of tragedians. 8vo.

Raynouard has given a second volume of the new series of his Selection of Troubadour Poetry. It is the first part of a Dictionary of the Provençal.

THE KNICKERBOCKER.

Vol. IX.

JUNE, 1837.

No. 6.

ELECTRO-MAGNETISM.

It was the illustrious KEPLER, if we recollect rightly, who, half piqued at finding that one of his attempts to explain the motions of some planet had been labor lost, compared Dame Nature to the coquette Galatea, in one of Virgil's Eclogues. The nearer she is approached, the more wayward, capricious, and provoking, are her escapades :

'Fugit ad salices et se cupit ante videri.' If this be true of astronomical science, it is a truth a thousand times more frequently enforced upon the votary of that class of physical sciences, of which electricity and galvanism form so prominent and interesting a field, both for study and discovery. The very subject-matter of his researches is more like the idea of a.' spiritual essence' than actual bonâ fidê material entity. It is a kind of invisible tertium quid, which baffles all human tests of materiality. Grant, as some philosophers will have it, that it is merely a property of matter,' and that it has none of the ordinary characteristics of material substances yet the difficulty is but increased. If we find it so impossible to believe that matter could travel through matter, with the mysterious velocity with which electricity is impelled ; if we cannot conceive of matter which is so subtile as to elude all our senses to penetrate the most solid substances, and to be known only by its effects when in motion, how can we conceive of a inere 'property of matter' of which matter may be deprived in one part, while it is accumulated in another? Of which, in fact, matter, organic or inorganic, is equally unconscious, until a change in its distribution is effected, that developes its latent energy? To call it a mere property of matter, then, like extension, does not seem either very correct in expression, or philosophical in principle.

And, on the other hand, to consider it as matter, as a distinct material substance, is so violent a blow at our almost innate ideas of all matter, that one is half tempted to reject the arguments of the philosophers, numerous as they are, which appear to establish its substantiality beyond a question, and to resort to the convenient nomenclature of the old school men, who would probably have christened it

the soul of matter' -'anima mundi' - or some such fanciful name. In fact, so much more subtile than light itself is this mysterious ensso much more diffusive than the invisible winds of heaven

so much more obscure in its nature, and wonderful in its effects, than any other known chemical agent

that we are in favor of every gentleman and lady's forming their own hypothesis, with respect to its

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materiality or immateriality. And vile as the pun may seem — and in fact is — it is no matter whatever, in a scientific point of view, whether it be matter or not. Like the two rival theories of the nature of light, either serves to classify the phenomena ; and sometimes they are best explained on one and sometimes the other supposition. Perhaps the idea that is neither the one nor the other, but the grand connecting link between the material and the immaterial world, would be as convenient a hypothesis as either. Indeed, we beg leave to suggest to some ingenious young gentleman,' whether it would not be worth his while to maintain that theory, upon a fitting occasion, before a suitable audience, with a view to impress upon them with due force, that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in the philosophy of undevout astronomers and our other modern Sadducees. Although philosophers of all ages and nations have, for the most part, held that electricity was strictly material, we are at a loss to find any stronger arguments in favor of that doctrine, than are to be found in favor of the materiality of light. And Sir John Herschel and Sir David Brewster, 'who ought to know,' both hold that light has no such distinct material existence, but that it is the result of certain vibrations or undulations of a subtile ethereal medium, universally present in nature, just as pulsations of air produce the sensation of sound upon the acoustic nerve.

But startling as this may appear, we do nevertheless en revanche propound it, to those and all other disciples of the undulatory theory, who maintain the immateriality of light upon this foundation. - How and where has it been proved, that sound itself may not be a material emanation, from the mere impact of particles of matter, as much as galvanism or electricity from their more energetic excitement? One would have thought, that the prismatic decomposition of light alone was sufficient to establish the Newtonian theory of light, as a material emanation from luminous bodies. For how a vibration or undulation of an ethereal medium could be thus decomposed into distinct rays, possessing different and in some respects totally opposite properties, it is not very easy to conceive. Though we admit that it is difficult for us to comprehend how matter can be divided into such inconceivably subtile particles, as the Newtonian theory of light supposes, yet we find it a much harder task to acknowledge that a mere undulation of a homogeneous, ethereal medium can produce such surprising chemical results as solar light is well known to be capable of affording.

Now, the nature of light is still enveloped in such profound obscurity - its subtile particles, if it be really material, do so elude all our feeble efforts to condense them -- that it would be but an idle indulgence of the fancy to predict what the progress of scientific investigation may yet effect in that department of philosophy. Yet we will, for once, venture the prophecy, that if any great advance is made, by inductive research, toward a more perfect knowledge of the nature and material constitution of light, it will be by a diligent and accurate examination of its magnetic properties. The question is not yet solved, whether light really possesses magnetizing powers or not. Morichini, who first asserted it from actual experiment, was more fortunate in his process than subsequent observers, or he was mistaken in his results. If it should be hereafter satisfactorily es

tablished, that solar light possesses this property, it may lead to the most important inductions in electricity, galvanism, and magnetism. The whole science of chemistry may undergo a shock as revolutionary as that which it received when the gases were discovered. It might conduct us to the conclusion, that electricity, galvanism, and magnetism, are not only identical with each other, as is now generally admitted, but also with latent heat; and that, though subject to great and essential modifications, they all have their common origin in that decomposition of light which is effected by absorption. There are so many observed phenomena which point to the diurnal changes in the solar light as the cause of the diurnal variations of the magnetic needle, that we have long since considered that as a solved problem. If, therefore, future experiments should fail in proving the absolute magnetizing power of the solar rays, it would not necessarily follow that the decomposed rays of light — that is, decomposed by absorption, and converted into electrical currents - did not possess that power in a very high degree. For that electrical or magnetic currents are produced by the action of the sun's rays upon the earth, has been so well proved, that it must now be taken as a postulate in the science.

No truth should be more frequently enforced upon the devotee of physical science, than this : that the grand chemistry of nature is performed with a sublime harmony and tranquillity, which scarcely make the results perceptible to our senses, save from the lapse of time. There are no violent agents, and rëagents in her laboratories; no torture of analysis ; no compound blow-pipes, or galvanic batte. ries; no open war of acids and alkalies, to carry on her mysterious and eternal series of production and re-production. All is inspired with the vital principle of vegetable production; and animal life seems to be but a natural consequence. The germs of vegetation must be coeval with the particles of matter : the vivifying rays of light can alone bring them into action, and mature them. What wonder, then, if we shall find hereafter, that the same noiseless but irresistible operation of solar light is the basis of all electrical excitement ? How are we to account for the energetic action of the dry galvanic columns of De Luc and Zamboni, except from the excitement of a latent absorbed fluid, brought into action only by the attraction of opposite absorptions ? The chemical action of the materials of the dry column is quite out of the question, whatever it may be in the galvanic battery of metallic plates and diluted acid. Upon the whole, therefore, it seems reasonable to suspect, that light is alike the source of all vegetable life, and electrical excitement, through the whole solar system.

That the universal presence of this mysterious power was the basis of Newton's almost divine philosophical system — that he considered its existence demonstrated — is apparent, from more than one passage in his ' Principia.' He appears to have entertained the belief, that future observations would make us more fully acquainted with its nature and properties; but for a century after, little or no progress was made in the vigorous investigation of the phenomena which he had suggested, and yet the elements of the science were familiar to thousands of philosophers. The electricity of amber the Greek name of which (ehextpor) still gives the science its appel

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lation was known to the Greeks, and probably, from the earliest times. But it was not until the identity of lightning and electricity was established, that the science began to assume its proper rank and attraction. Incessant experiments have now raised it to such importance, that, considered as embracing galvanism, electro-magnetism, and last, not least, electro-dynamics, it has become the task of the best talent and the longest life to master it, in all its details.

The department of electro-dynamics — which is merely conversant with the force of electricity in motion - is daily and hourly extending its limits, and developing powers which are as astonishing in their mechanical effects, as they are mysterious and wonderful in their origin. The most successful cultivator of this branch of it, and one to whom science in general is deeply indebted, is Ampère, one of that illustrious band of French savants, who deserve to have statues erected to them in the temples of science, throughout the civilized world. Biöt and Arago, names reverenced wherever the light of science has penetrated, also engaged with ardor in the research. In England, Davy and Faraday, soon after, with equal zeal, entered upon the same career. The latter still lives to pursue the enlightened course of investigation by which he has already achieved so many honorable distinctions. Long may he live to reap the same enviable rewards of fame, which have thus far crowned bis labors.

But splendid as have been the contributions of these illustrious individuals, to the mere science of electro-dynamics, in illustrating its principles, we think we may venture to claim for our ingenious countryman, Mr. DAVENPORT, the palm for a successful combination of mechanical ingenuity with the scientific principles of electromagnetic action. It would seem as if he had been guided in his researches by a sort of Yankee intuition, which enables a certain portion of that inventive race to run through a whole science by a series of shrewd 'guesses.' The history of his labors is too characteristic to be omitted. He first saw a galvanic magnet, it appears, about three years ago ! - and from the wonderful effects produced by suspending a weight of one hundred and fifty pounds from a small galvanic magnet, he immediately inferred, without any knowledge of the theory or the experiments of others, that he could propel machinery by galvanic magnetism! He purchased the magnet, and produced his first rotary motion in July, 1834, only six months after. In point of date, this appears to be the first successful application of galvanism to the generation of motion, that promised to be of practícable application, upon a large and perhaps even an indefinite scale of power - limited only by the usual boundaries of size and expense. To attempt a description of it, professing to elucidate its construction, would, we fear, be more apt to mislead than to convey any clear idea of its parts, or its peculiar operation. Suffice it to say, that, by arranging a certain number of fixed electro-magnets in a permanent circle, and an equal number in a revolving wheel, the application of the electric current of a galvanic battery produces by means of a most surprising mechanical contrivance, in instantly reversing the poles, as the moveable magnetic circle revolves — a rotary motion, of the most astonishing velocity and power, considering the feeble agents employed.

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