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Conjectures relative to the Petrifactions found in St. Peter's Mountain, near Maestricht. By Petrus Camper, M. D. F. R. S. A great number of petrified bones of various kinds, particularly large jaw-bones with their teeth, were difcovered in this mountain, about the year 1770. They were fuppofed by naturalifts to be bones of the crocodile. Dr. Camper has here refuted that opinion, and fhewn, from the great quantity of undoubted marine productions found along with them, that they belonged rather to marine than river animals, and from a comparison of their ftructure and conformation with the real bones of crocodiles, that they could not have belonged to that animal; but, on the contrary, have the effential characters of the Amphibia Nantes. The defcriptions are illuftrated by two plates. Account of fome minute British Shells, either not duly obferved, or totally
unnoticed by Authors. By the Rev. John Lightfoot, M.A. F.R.S. A nautilus lacuris, a helix fontana, a helix fpinulofa, and turbo helicinus, two land fhells, and a patella oblonga, found on the leaves of the water-fag, are defcribed, and different views of them exhibited in three plates. They were all difcovered, as the Author informs us, by Mr. Agnew, gardener to the late Duchefs dowager of Portland, and by his faithful pencil they were drawn.
After the account of these shells, Mr. Lightfoot takes notice of an error which has been almost universally adopted by the collectors and dealers in fhells, refpecting certain fubjects brought from the West Indies, and commonly known by the name of gold Shells. They are yellow gloffy fubftances, of the fize of tares or vetches, compofed of brittle imbricated fcales, like the foliaceous. buds of a tree, generally with a perforation in fome part. By macerating thefe fuppofed fhells in hot water for a few minutes, and then carefully developing the fcales, he found an infect in the center, of a roundish figure, about the fize of a small bedbug, and in every inftance except one (out of at least fifty that were opened) without wings. The fingle fpecimen that had wings was oblong, and narrower than the reft, as in the other infects that are winged and unwinged in the different fexes. From the whole of this curious examination it appears, that the gold fhells are no other than the cafes or cells of an infect in its pupa ftate, and that the infect is a fpecies of cochineal or coccus, probably not hitherto defcribed. Account of a new electrical Fish. By Lieutenant William Paterfon of the 98th Regiment.
While the regiment was at the Island of Johanna, one of the Comora iflands, in its way to the Eaft Indies, the Lieutenant caught two of thefe fifhes in a linen bag, and fufficiently afcertains their electric faculty. He gives a drawing (acknowledged to be but an imperfect one) and fhort defcription of the fish, fuch as circumftances would admit. It appears to be different
in many refpects from the electric ones hitherto defcribed; about 7 inches long, 2 broad, with a long projecting mouth; the back dark brown, the belly fea-green, the fides yellow, the fins and tail of a fandy green; the body interfperfed with red, green, and white spots. We mention thefe particulars, as our Review may come into the hands of those who may have opportunities of making further enquiries.
Particulars relative to the Nature and Customs of the Indians of
The Indians of America have been faid to differ from other males of the human fpecies, in the want of a beard; and as the Esquimaux are found to be furnished with that ufual characteriftic of the fex, they are fuppofed to have had an origin different from that of the other natives of America. Inferences have hence been drawn, refpecting not only the origin, but the conformation, of Indians; and philofophers are obliged to Mr. M'Caufland for undeceiving them in regard to the matter of fact. He has produced decifive evidence, that the Indians do not differ from the rest of men in this particular more than one European does from another; that they pluck out the hairs on their first appearance, and continue the fame practice when any appear afterwards, having an inftrument on purpofe for that ufe; and that many of them allow tufts of hair to grow on particular parts of the face, refembling thofe we fee in different nations of. the old world. A few particulars are fubjoined refpecting the Six Nations; their divifion into tribes, the fucceffion to the dignity of Sachem, and the inftitution of private friendships: when any one is killed, it is the duty of every furviving friend to replace him to the family, either by a scalp, a prifoner, or a belt of fome thousands of wampum.
New Experiments on the ocular Spectra of Light and Colours. By
When any bright object has been long and attentively looked at, an image, or refemblance of that object, remains fome time vifible after the eyes are turned away or fhut. This appearance. in the eye Dr. Darwin calls the ocular fpectrum of that object. Thefe fpectra the Doctor divides into four diftinct kinds: ft, Such as are owing to a lefs fenfibility of a defined part of the retina, which he terms fpectra from defect of fenfibility. 2dly, Such as are owing to a greater fenfibility of a defined part of the retina, or spectra from excess of fenfibility. 3dly, Such as refemble their object in colour as well as form, or direct Spectra; and 4thly, Such as are of a colour contrary to that of their object, or reverse spectra.
From confidering the first clafs our Author concludes, that the retina is not fo eafily excited into action by lefs irritation after having been lately fubjected to greater.' Every nerve in
the human body obferves the fame law; and we know not any membrane, whofe furface is fenfible, that can be irritated by a Jefs action immediately after having fuffered a greater. The conclufion drawn from the fecond clafs is the reverfe of the foregoing, namely, that the retina is more eafily excited into action by greater irritation after having been lately fubjected to a lefs. The direct spectra prove, in Dr. D.'s opinion, that a • quantity of ftimulus, fomewhat greater than natural, excites the retina into fpafmodic action.' The 4th clafs induces our Author to conclude, that the retina, after having been excited into action by a ftimulus fomewhat greater than the laft, falls into oppofite fpafmodic action.'
Such are the general inferences that the Doctor draws from the experiments here recorded; but the experiments themselves, which are really curious, cannot be abridged without exceeding our bounds. We therefore refer our readers to the Tranfactions at large. The reader will, however, find fome inconvenience from the plates being uncoloured; for which reafon we would advife him to make coloured drawings of each figure on feparate papers, which will enable him to repeat these pleafing experiments with greater accuracy.
We have always fuppofed that, during vifion, the eye, especially the retina, was in a paffive ftate; but from thefe experiments of our ingenious Author, all vifion feems to be owing to the action of this organ: It is even probable that the retina is furnished with mufcular fibres.
An Investigation of the Caufe of that indiftinctness of Vision which has been afcribed to the fmallness of the optic Pencil. By Dr. Herschel.
In this paper the Doctor relates a number of experiments which tend to prove, that the fmallness of the optic pencil has not fo great an effect in rendering vision indiftinct, as has been generally imagined. He concludes with wifhing that, till he has repeated, extended, and varied thefe experimental inveftigations, they may be confidered as mere hints that may afford matter for future difquifitions to the theoretical optician. At prefent the Doctor's engagement in conftructing a forty-feet reflecting telescope (amazing undertaking!) fcarcely permits much leifure for other purfuits.
ART. II. The Bhagvat-Geeta, or Dialogues of Kreefbna and Arjoon. In eighteen Lectures, with Notes. Tranflated from the Original, in the Sanfkreet, or ancient Language of the Brahmans. By Charles Wilkins, Senior Merchant in the Service of the Honourable the East India Company, on their Bengal Establishment. 4to. 7s. 6d. Boards. Nourfe.
N the various and interefting hiftory of the human mind, our curiofity is irrefiftibly attracted by thofe pages, which exhibit manners and opinions far removed from our own. To fuch
defcriptions we liften with peculiar pleasure: yet here, where we moft with for information, we are moft likely to meet with We liften not long before we are difgufted by obfcure and contradictory accounts; and, defpairing to extract truth from fuch a mafs of difcordant fiction, too frequently fhun credulity by a fullen acquiefcence in ignorance. This we readily confefs to have been our own cafe, when we first compared the representations of those who have written on the religion and mythology of the Hindoos. Indeed, a kind of fatality has attended almost every attempt to illuftrate the hiftory, or explain the creed, of this extraordinary people; the accounts which have been given of them by modern travellers being no less inconfiftent with each other than what has been variously related of their ancestors by the Greek and Roman hiftorians. If Diodorus, Strabo, and Arrian,-if Pliny, Clemens Alexandrinus, and Plutarch, speak of the ancient Brahmans in terms of uncertainty and contradiction,-fimilar, if not equal, inconfiftencies obfcure the writings of Roger and of Philips, of Bernier and Baldæus, of Holwell and of Dow. We mean not to accufe these writers of careless or wilful mifreprefentation. The peculiar difficulty of the undertaking is a fufficient apology for their failure. Where fo many varieties of opinion abounded, the task of discrimination would have been difficult, even if each fect had fyftematized its tenets, and fubmitted them in writing to the inspection of the enquirers. Even with this advantage they muft have encountered innumerable obftacles. They must have contended at once with the obfcurity of a foreign language, with the wild exuberance of imagination fo confpicuous in eaftern compofitions, with a profufion of allegories the moft licentious, and metaphors the most daring, which envelope the subtleties of metaphyfics in tenfold darkness.-But ftill more arduous has been the undertaking of thofe travellers, from whom the little that is recorded of the Indian learning and theology has been collected. It is feldom they have been able to procure a fight of the Hindoo books, and ftill lefs frequently have they been able to read them when procured, though, without an actual perufal of them, nothing certain can be learnt of their conThe priests, to whofe care they are entrusted, have hitherto guarded them, with the moft obftinate jealoufy, from the eyes of ftrangers; and the laity, who are ignorant of the language, are confequently unable to explain them. We are happy, however, to find, from the publications of Mr. Halhed and Mr. Wilkins, that thefe prejudices have in fome degree begun to give way, and, for the honour of our country, as well as for the honour of humanity, we heartily with that, by the juftice and liberality of its future conduct, our government in India may lay a foundation for the full and unlimited confidence of this hitherto oppreffed and much injured people.
Indeed, till all the facred books of the Hindoos are translated from authentic copies into the weftern languages, the fubje& muft ftill remain involved in error and contradiction: for till then we can neither diftinguish the ancient Brahmanical doctrines from others which are of a later date, nor judge of the opinions of the different fects by referring them to one common ftandard. Nor are fuch tranflations to be wifhed for only by the inquifitive philofopher. The genius and habits of a people, with whom Europe is fo clofely connected by commercial ties, might be contemplated by the merchant and the politician with equal pleasure and advantage; and in our own country, where these characters are fo clofely connected by the territorial acquifitions of the India Company, an acquaintance with Indian literature in general might have the moft beneficial effects. It might even tend to redeem the national character, by teaching Englishmen to confider the natives of India as Men, as Beings endued by Heaven with the fame faculties, the fame talents, and the fame feelings with themselves, and confequently entitled to the fame juftice and the fame compaffion.
In faying this, we mean not to intrude our fentiments on the fubject of Indian politics. We pretend not to determine on the foundness or the equity of that policy, by which commerce is arrayed in all the horrors of war, by which the trader is fuffered to affume the truncheon of the general, and the disputes of the counting-house are decided in the field of battle. This is a myftery in the art of government, which the experience of no very diftant age may poffibly unravel. It is fufficient for us to bear our teftimony to the beneficial tendency of every attempt, which, by throwing light on the opinions of the Hindoos, may promote the cause of learning and humanity. Such in general is the character of the work before us. It is publifhed under the authority of the Court of Directors of the Eaft India Company, at the particular defire and recommendation of Mr. Haftings, who, in a letter addreffed to the Chairman of the Company, and now prefixed to the work, explains the motives for its publication, and bears moft honourable teftimony to the fidelity, accuracy, and merit of the tranflator. Indeed, Mr. H.'s letter does not confift merely of introductory remarks, but contains a fort of critique on the work itfelf. He muft, however, excufe us if we have the prefumption to differ from him, not only in our eftimate of the merits of the Geeta, confidered as a compofition, but alfo in the principles on which that estimate has been formed. Mr. H. fays, that might he, an unlettered man, venture to prefcribe bounds to the latitude of criticism, he would exclude, in eftimating the merit of fuch a production, all rules drawn from the ancient or modern literature of Europe, all references to fuch fentiments or manners as are become the ftandards of