Imágenes de páginas

and rational liberty, they are not withont a knowledge of the laws and institutions of their country: and, as that king sits most securely on his throne who reigns rightfully and in the hearts of his people, so that constitution is safest which is at once the best, and the best understood.

The reflections we meet with here on the “ legitimate mode of punishing libel,” and on the nature and result of the labours of the selfstyled “ Constitutional Association,” are sensible and sound. That the very term libel is not clearly understood, even by those who set up the charge, and that the Bridge-street Association was a kind of Imperium in Imperio, and acted by anti-constitutional motives, will now scarcely be denied. In the hey-day of its power, it might boast of putting the attorney-general to the blush, for requiring to be reminded of his duty, and of placing the rights of Englishmen in jeopardy; but we know not of a single purpose it effected, that ought to persuade its hasty subscribers, that they had wisely bestowed their subscriptions; or that it would not have been infinitely more meritorious to have devoted their money to the support of some Christian charity, than to encourage uncharitable, and, therefore, unchristianly, prosecutions.

With the author's remarks on the ponderous tax imposed upon advertisements, we entirely agree. They are much too heavy, in his opinion; so they are in ours. Not only are they severely felt by all whose callings and situations necessitate an appeal to the public; but they often intervene between distress and relief, and between merit and reward. We think with this writer, that the observation which has so frequently been made, That, were the duty on advertisements reduced, advertisements would often become libels; and degenerate into low pasquinades, vulgar puffs, and disgusting attempts at wit, similar to what the American newspapers display, is untenable and ridiculous. Why should a comparatively easy tax on advertisements induce the insertion of libellous matter? If the advertiser be known, is he not exposed to legal resentment? And if he be non-inventus, are not the proprietor, editor, printer, and publisher, liable to prosecution? And would either they or the advertiser be induced to subject themselves to an expense of scores of pounds, because they could do so at less cost, by eighteen-pence or two shillings? The fact is, as this sensible writer states, that, were the duty laid upon newspapers reduced to one penny per sheet, and one shilling on each advertisement, such reduction would both ease the public and improve the revenue; because the increased sale of the papers, and the augmented number of the advertisements, would more than repay the drawback.

Commenting on the political principles and conduet of the various daily and weekly journals of the metropolis, the author, in our opinion, speaks with just discrimination. The Times, the Chronicle, the Herald, and the Post, the Observer, the News, the Examiner, and the Sunday Times, are faithfully characterized ; nothing is extenuated, nor aught set down in malice. The press of Scotland, and of Ireland, is treated with the same even-handed justice. The Edinburgh Review, Constable's Magazine, and other Scotch periodicals, such as the Edinburgh

Journal and Glasgow Courier, are truly and ably described ; while those of Dublin are pronounced upon with equal impartiality; and the reader is rather left to decide for himself on their respective merits, than expected to depend on the judgment of the commentator.

The last chapter of the work is chiefly on what the author calls The Difficulties of the Press ;" and is so well written, that we should think it right to present our readers with a quotation from it, did not the topic so positively carry the writer back to some of his former ground that, by transcribing what he here says, we should give a monotonous tone to this article, and clothe it with consequent dulla ness. Better to content ourselves with saying, that, on the whole, the volume we have now been scrutinizing, has, for its prevailing features, à general correctness of thought, a neat and clear, if not a forcible style of expression, and the stamp of free, liberal, and independent principles.

Memo, on British Seamen and Impressment.-8vo. We find in this pamphlet on the boast and tyrannical practice of impressing British seamen, a number of acute, judicious, and humane remarks. The cruelty and injustice of arbitrarily tearing men from their wives, families, and friends, without previous notice, any authority but that of brute force, or any remuneration adequate to the danger and privations to which they are doomed, by the hardships of a service into which they are most oppressively dragged, has always been a subject of complaint with that part of the community capable of feeling for the undue sufferings of their fellow-countrymen: and the severity exercised by naval commanders, – the chainings, the floggings, the hangings, inflicted on the common men, for comparatively trivial offences, have excited equal disapprobation and horror, as often as the accounts of such proceedings have met the public eye. Why habits, so hostile to British principle and British feeling, have been so long persevered in, we are at a loss to conceive. that their full and proper exposure, as here made, will not fail to lose its due effect. Besides that Nemo's essay is well written, it has afforded us much satisfaction, by its cool and determined manner of explaining the abuses it reprobates, and by the bold and manly decisions with which it points out the means of rectification.

We trust,


An Essay on the Laws of Gravity, and the Distances of the Planets,

with Observations on the Tides, the Figure of the Earth, and the Precession of the Equinoxes. By Captain Forman, Royal Navy.8vo. pp. 100. Cruttwell, and Longman.

“ Who see where other folks are blind,
As pigs are said to see the wind.”.

Pope. To escape from the merciless censure which Captain Forman has bestowed upon every philosopher and critic of the present day, we feel much pleasure in laying before the pubļic the important dis

coveries which have placed their author upon a level with “ Kepler,” “Galileo, and Copernicus;" and, in justice, we feel ourselves bound to record the singular illiberality of Sir Humphry Davy, in refusing to present to the Royal Society“ a paper in which so simple a question, as that on the length of the degree at the poles, is misunderstood ;” “the centrifugal force is produced by the moon's attraction;" “a pendulum ought to vibrate quicker in a dense than in a rare atmosphere;" “ water, like the air, is compressible;" “the zenith of a place must be either in an opposite direction to a line drawn through the centre (of the earth), or very near it;" “the persons who were sent out to measure the length of the two degrees, reported that a degree of latitude near the pole was longer than a degree of latitude at the equator. From these data, our philosophers have deduced their opinions, that the earth is an oblate spheroid depressed at the poles ; while I contend, on the contrary, that, if the data were correct, the earth's diameter would have been lengthened at the poles; or, in other words, the earth would have been an oblong, and not an oblate spheroid ;" « the power of the earth's attraction resides solely in some substance that is fixed in its centre;" “it is doubted if Pythagoras had other than an imaginary existence;" “ the precession of the equinoxes is produced by some power acting, not in the direction of the sun's centre; and the moon's attraction is the cause of this phenomenon;" “the power of gravity increases in arithmetical proportion with the decrease of distance ;”. “ either the Newtonian law, that the power of gravity decreases as the square of the distance increases, or the Keplerian law, that the planets describe equal areas in equal times, must be given up; for, as one of these laws is a direct contradiction of the other, it is absolutely impossible that both can exist together;" “I do not believe that the power of attraction in any planet extends to the orbit of another;" "the quantity of attraction in the different planets ought to be very nearly proportioned to the length of their semidiameters.”

To prevent any misconception, we have uniformly employed the language of Captain Forman himself; and we doubt not, that the public will appreciate the value of discoveries so replete with internal evidence of their truth!


The Economy of the Eyes; Precepts for the Improvement and Preser

vation of the Sight. By William Kitchiner, M.D.-1 vol. small

8vo. pp. 246. Hurst, Robinson, and Co. No undertaking can be more laudable than Dr. Kitchiner's, in preparing this little work. Its object is one of the most useful that can engage scientific enquiry; and the extensive way in which it canvasses its subject, is best calculated to answer the various modifications of the purpose for which it was produced. In the course of the several structures, rules are laid down for enabling persons to determine when and what spectacles are best calculated for their particular use; observations are made on opera glasses, visual qualities necessary to a clear view, at the various distances from which a spectator may have to look, at different theatres, and in different situations at the same theatre; and an account is given of the pancratic magnifier for double stars, and of day telescopes.

Examining this single portion of Dr. K.'s several literary labours, with an interest inseparable from a topic which, in different degrees, concerns every one, we have derived no small satisfaction from finding it so likely to prove universally serviceable. Every one of the points to which the numerous chapters are directed, is of sufficient importance to induce the wish, that our space would allow us to touch upon each, and explain the manner in which it has been treated. The highest compliment.we can pay the Doctor is, to assure our readers, that the more fully we could go into the consideration of the little volume now under our eye, the more meritorious it would appear.

Master as Dr. Kitchiner evidently is of the subject on which he writes, his modesty resorts, for the support of his opinions, to all the received authorities; and so far does he carry this principle, that he would not content himself without adding to his own remarks an appendix of quotations from the best authors on Optics :

“ To give my readers,” says he, "all the satisfaction in my power, I have added an Appendix, which contains sufficient corroboration of what I have asserted on certain points; because, by the time persons want spectacles, they have generally become wise in their own conceit! and have picked up a parcel of silly prejudices concerning them, which, unless completely counteracted, and rectified by the invariable standard of irresistible truth, will prevent their deriving that benefit from this publication, which the author heartily wishes that they should receive to the utmost extent.”

The names Dr. K. has selected for the fortification of his doctrines, are those of Smith, Jurin, and Porterfield; Blagden, Wells, and Herschell; Adams, Ware, and Stevenson; and, more judicious foundation stones for his little superstructure, he could not have chosen.

After stating, that the principles adopted by Dr. Kitchiner, are those of the above distinguished masters, both in science and practice, it would be superfluous to enter upon any argumentative proof of the rectitude of his positions, even had we room for the task ; but on the utility of some of his reflections and remarks we must insist, as well as bestow on them the expression of our unreserved approval. The supposition, that “the eyes of no two artists feel exactly the same impression of colours," is undoubtedly correct. The proof of its truth exists in the different tints preferred by each, in colouring the same description of objects. This observation on colours naturally leads to what the Doctor says of forms and visual glasses, and the additional and laudable benevolence that would be exercised by the “ District Societies for bettering the condition of the Poor, and the patrons of the Eye Infirmaries, would they make the distribution of spectacles a part of their bounty.”

After a variety of hints and recommendations to those whose sight requires the aid of reading-glasses, hand-spectacles, and preservers, Dr. K. thus commences his ninth chapter :

How often a story like the following (My Grandmother's Spectacles) is told to opticians, by persons coming to change what they call their first spectacles! when their optical friend expresses his surprise to find them choose very old glasses of twelve or ten inches' focus, instead of the second sight of thirty inches' focus, they say to him, “Why, when I thought that I began to want glasses, I recollected, that there was a pair of nice new spectacles in my grandmother's old bureau, and I had often heard the old gentlewoman say, when she was past her youthful years, that she could still see to read charmingly with her new spectacles !- and so I thought that I could not do better than


use those glasses, whose sight-restoring power I had been eye-witness of. I naturally thought, that they must surely be capital spectacles, which enabled so old a person to see so well : and when I put them on, I was not disappointed, for they made every thing appear very big indeed, and I could read the smallest print very nicely indeed, better than I have been able to do with my naked eye, for a long time past.""

If this is a homely tale, our readers will recollect, that it is on homely subject, and find an excuse for its style in the utility of its matter.

The “ Hints to Persons beginning to wear Spectacles;" the obserservations on the “ Cumumbra and the Semiumbra Lamps ;" the “ Precepts for improving and preserving the Sight;" the whole of the chapter On the various degrees of the Perfection of the Eye and Ear;" are acute, judicious, and demonstrative of a very close attention to the character and powers of those external organs. The description of the “ Pancratic Eye Tubeis as clear and satisfactory as the invention is ingenious, and honourable to Dr. Kitchiner's talents and sciènce; but we do not entirely agree with his remarks on the different effects of variously-sized theatres, in respect to the audibility of the performers' voices; nor at all with his notion, that Garrick owed much of his histrionic superiority to the comparative smallness of the area he had to fill. What advantage had the British Roscius in that respect, that was not equally enjoyed by those he so eminently transcended ?

Dr. K, purposes to give a “ Second Part of this Work," to treat on the powers of Cassegranian, Gregorian, Newtonian, and Achromatic telescopes; and, should he acquit himself as ably in that portion of his optical labours as he has in the present, he will give himself a fresh title to the thanks of the public.

An Essay on the Relations of Cause and Effect, controverting the

Doctrine of Mr. Hume.- 1 vol. 8vo. Hookham. The work before us is a bold, and by some, perhaps, will be thought a rebellious attempt, to question the authority of the monarch of scepticism, and unpedestal the great idol of Scotch metaphysical canonization, from one of his most conspicuous niches in Fame's temple.

David Hume is at once the prince of sceptics and the prince of historians. Never did a writer exist better fitted for representing the shrewd metaphysical turn of Scottish intellect, and for exercising an unlimited empire over Scottish opinion. Among those who agree with Hume in philosophy, it is customary to speak of his toryism, as of a little blot in the splendid escutcheon of his free-thinking reputation, which ought not to be harshly and unkindly noticed. For our parts, we think his philosophical influence might be as satisfactorily diminished, as his ultra tory influence.

Our author in hunting down the sophistry of his royal prey, time to diverge in search of other game in the person of Mr. Lawrence, who took up Hume's opinion :

“ But this is not the most important error in Mr. Lawrence's system, arising from false notions, concerning the relation of cause and effect; for, by a strange sort of contradiction in philosophy, although he denies that any cause can be found, among

« AnteriorContinuar »