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We must close our extracts with the following account of an entertainment given to Dr Buchanan by the Biby, or Lady of Cananore, or Canura, a Mussulman princess of Malayala.
The succession goes in the female line, as usual in Malabar ; the children of the son will have no claim to it; and he will be succeeded by the son of his niece, who is the daughter of his sister. This young lady has lately been married : and in the evening I was conducted by Mr Hodgson to a grand dinner which was given, on the occasion, to all the European ladies and gentlemen in the place. We were received by the Biby in her bed-room, and the ladies were admitted into the chamber of her grand-daughter. The diningroom was very large, and well lighted ; and the dinner was entirely after the English fashion. The quantity of meat put on the table, as usual in India, was enormous, and the wines and liquors were very good. The young chief, with the father and husband of the young lady, who have no kind of authority, received the company in the dining-room ; but did not sit at table. When dinner was served, they retired to a couch at one end of the hall, and smoked Hookas, until the company rose to dance. Appropriate toasts were given, and these were honoured by salutes of guns from the Biby's ships. Many fireworks were displayed, and there was music both European and native. The house of the Biby is very large, and, though not so showy as some of the Sultan's palaces, is by far more comfortable, and is in fact by much the best native house that I have seen.' II. 553, 554.
Upon the whole, those who will take the trouble to peruse Dr Buchanan's book, will certainly obtain a far more accurate and correct notion of the actual condition and appearance of India, and of its existing arts, usages, and manners, than could be derived from all the other books relating to it in existence; but they will frequently be misled as to its religion, literature, and antiquities; and must submit to more labour than readers are usually disposed for, in collecting and piecing together the scattered and disjointed fragments of information of which these volumes are composed. If the work come to a second edition, we earnestly entreat Dr Buchanan either to make some arrangement of his materials, or to employ a redacteur for that purpose.
ART. VII. Observations on the HYPOTHESES which have been as
sumed to account for the Cruse * of GRAVITATION from M: hunical Principles. By the Rev. S. Vince, A. M. F. R.S. iumian Professor of Astro:nomy and Experimental Philosophy. Cambridge, 1806.
The importance of the matter treated, and the name of the au
. thor, entitle this little tract to more consideration than a pamphlet of twenty-six octavo pages can usually claim. The ap. pearance also of a scientific memoir, in to detached a form, is a circumstance that excites some curiosity. This circumstance is accounted for in the preface, where we learn, that the memoir was read in the Royal Society of London as the Bakerian Lecture; though, for reasons that are not explained, but in which, as might be expected, the author is not disposed to acquiesce, it was not inserted in the Philosophical Transactions. The present publication is therefore to be considered as an appeal to the public, from a sentence of the Council of the Royal Society. Feeling, as reviewers must naturally do, some jealousy of those tribunals, which, by interposing a veto between literary productions and the public, interfere with them in the lawful exercise of their proferfion, our prejudices, on the present occasion, are unavoidably in . favour of the author. We will endeavour, however, to conduct our investigation with the utmost impartiality ; and shall proceed 10 give our opinion, happy in the reflection, that we have no authority nor jurisdiction that can carry our sentence into execution, whether it be right or wrong; that we must align the reasons of every judgment we pronounce; and are therefore only strong to do justice, but weak, whenever, from prejudice or ignorance, we attempt to do the contrary. The most enviable litu. ation in which a judge can be placed, is, when he has the power of doing good, and wants the power of doing evil. A reviewer has his charge to give to the grand jury of the public before he can pronounce sentence; and has, by that means, a better fecurity for his own impartiality, than any thing but absolute infallibility could give. But, as we neither know the degree of merit that is required, nor of demerit that may be tolerated, is a Bikerian Lecture, our judgment has no direct concern with that of the Royal Society. We have seen several of those lectures that
impartiation, that we into externe
* It may seem a minute criticism, but it is too obvious to escape remark, that there is an inaccuracy in this title; the hypotheses referred to not having been contrived to account for the cause of gravitation, but for gravitation itself, or, to state the thing more correctly still, for the phenomena of gravitation.
contained nothing very new or important; and we have seen others, particularly of late, that conveyed some of the most interesting intelligence to the public, that experiment ever extracted from the recerles of the material world. What is the average degree of excellence that may belong to such publications, and whether the present mémoir falls short of that standard, or exceeds it, are points which we are not competent to decide,
The preface to these observations, besides informing us of the circumstance just mentioned, makes us acquainted with the view which Mr Vince had, in this examination of the systems, contrived for explaining the phenomena of gravitation.
In his Optics, Sir I. NEWTON attempts to account for gravity by means of an elastic fluid. This, however, he proposes by way of a question, not being satisfied about it, as he says, for want of experiments. These, however, he never made; nor has any one since examined his hypothesis, in order to discover whether it will account for the law of gravitation ; for it is not sufficient merely to show that such a medium may exist as will drive a body towards the sun. ?
To this is annexed the following note.
! Mr MACLAURIN observes, that this hypothesis no way derogates from the government and influences of the Deity, whilst it leaves us at liberty to pursue our inquiries concerning the nature and operations of such a medium. And Sir J. PRINGLE, the late worthy and learned President of the Royal Society, who executed the duties of his high office with great impartiality and honour, considering the importance of the subject, recommended it as deserving the attention of philosophers. '
Our author then goes on in the text to remark,
• What Sir I. Newson left for further examination, will be deemed no impertinent nor useless inquiry; more particularly at this time, when many of the most eminent philosophers upon the Continent have been endeavouring to account for all the operations of nature upon merely mechanical principles, with a view to exclude the Deity from any concern in the government of the system, and thereby to lay a foundation for the introduction of Atheism. Upon this account, the author was requested to consider the subject, and give the result of his examination. The inquiry was favourably received; and it was suggested, that it might not be improper to be offered to the Royal Society.?
On comparing the last of these passages with the first, and also with the note subjoined to it, a very obvious inconsistency appears. It is plain, that Newton, whose piety no man ever queftioned, did not think that, to ascribe the phenomena of gravita- . țion to a mechanical cause, had the slightest tendency to support atheistical opinions, or to weaken the arguments for the existence of God and of Providence. Maclaurin and Sir John Pringle,
were also of that opinion ; and, from his manner, of quoting their authority, we should suppose that our author himself was of the same way of thinking. . Yet he immediately gives us to understand, that his inquiry was undertaken for the express purpose of trying, whether religion might not be supported, and the atheistical opinions, which he ascribes to the philosophers of the Continent, opposed, by showing the insufficiency of mechanical principles to explain the law of gravitations. In the same breath, therefore, we are told, that to assign a mechanical cause of gravi. tation, is quite consistent with the truths of natural religion, and also, that to disprove the existence of such causes, is a direct way of supporting those truths. It is equally out of our power to affign any other meaning to the paffages just quoted, and to account for the inconfiftency which they involve.
Again, it must be obvious to every one, that the belief in the mechanical cause of gravitation, which was so confistent with the piety of Newton and his countrymen, is represented as one of the weapons by which the philosophers of the Continent are at this moment attacking the whole system of religious belief. It would seem, then, that an argument which an English philosopher may maintain in perfect consistency with theism, and all the great principles of natural religion, cannot be viewed, in the hands of his brethren on the Continent, but as atheistical and impious sophistry, We must look, it seems, not to the argument, but to the man that uses it; and not to the man only, but to the country in which he lives, because an opinion that is found and orthodox in England, may be iinpious and atheistical in France or Germany. We know not how to ascribe sach illiberal and inconfiftent notions to this learned Profeffor, but cannot interpret his words in any way by which these conclusions can be avoided.
For our part, being convinced that the issue of this argument is quite immaterial to the truths of natural religion, which must reft on the same immopeable foundation, whether the physical cause of gravity is ever discovered or not, we feel no other interest in the result, than that which the extension or limitation of knowledge is calculated to excite. We must also express our hearty disapprobation of every attempt that is likely to confine the range of our inquiries, and to produce an intolerance of philosophical opinion. In all ages, there have been men illiberal and narrow-minded enough, to think that the search after natural causes was irreverent to the Author of Nature, and argued a doubt of his power. Anaxagoras, though the first of the Greek philosophers who entertained rational notions concerning the Supreme Being, yet, because he was a great inquirer after second causes, was accused of irreligion. The same charge, on the same ground, has often been
renewed fincé. It would be right, however, that those who bring this charge would take some trouble to draw the line which separates the legitimate domains of science from the hallowed ground which must not be prophaned by philosophical research. This boundary, we are persuaded, it will be found very difficult to adjust. No one will say, that it is wrong to inquire into the cause of elasticity, hardness, transparency, and such like qualities of body. Why, then, should it be improper to inquire into the cause of gravity ? On what principle is it, that it is lawful to seek for the mechanism by which the former effects are produced, and impious to extend the same inquiry to the latter ? If, indeed, gravitation were not only known to be universal among material substances, but if all the other causes of motion could be reduced to it, and shown to be modifications of one and the 'fame law, there would be little reason to expect, that we could ever carry our inquiries much further; and, though we should not think that there was any impiety in the attempt to do so, we thould certainly defpair of its success. But our knowledge of gravitation has by no means reached this perfection. We are not fure that it is quite universal, that heat and light, for example, are subject to its power,-and, what is of more importance in the present question, we are sure that all the causes of motion have not yet been reduced to one ; so that gravitation is neither shown to depend on impuise, nor impulse on gravitation. Two laws, very different from one another, direct the motions of the material world ; and, till these two can be reduced to one, or shown to depend on the same cause, or till they be demonstrated to arise from different causes, our knowledge of them remains incomplete. Till every possible means of effecting one or other of these purpofes has been tried, -till reason and experiment can fairly be faid to have done their utmost, philosophy has not reached its ultimate objeci. Some important secret may still be within our reach ; some new proof of the simplicity of nature, and of the wisdom of its Author, may yet remain to be discovered. In the preient state of science, we think it cannot be affirmed that the utmoit has been done with respect to the object we are treating of; zor are we entitled to say that the attempts inade have been all completely abortive. This last, however, it is the object of Mr Vince to prove in the paper before us; but his enumeration of thele attempts, as we shall soon see, is much too incomplete to authorise the conclusion which he has drawn.
The systems for explaining the cause of gravity which Mr Vince examines, are thole of Descartes, Bernoulli, and Newton. It is on the last that his attention is principally fixed. The fylem of Le Sage is barely alluded to, (and fo incorrectly as to