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well acquainted with that language, and who says in the strongest terms-" I have never known the verb to be to exist either in the Delaware or Chippeway language, and I can find nothing in those idioms that expresses it literally."*
And, finally, in respect to the Delaware, or Lenapé itself, if that is to be considered the head of the family of languages, we have the authority of Mr. Heckewelder and Mr. Zeisberger, both of whom were missionaries during their whole lives, and who "sought many years in vain for this substantive verb.” During these inquiries, says Mr. Heckewelder,“ we had the best chapel interpreters, I may say orators, some of whom were not at a loss to interpret critically almost all scripture passages and expressions ; yet with regard to the one in question, they never came up to the meaning, but made use of the best substitute they could. I cannot find a single instance in the language, in which the verb I am is used by itself, that is to say, uncombined with the idea of the act about to be done."
Notwithstanding the self-complacency, therefore, with which this reviewer corrects” the philologists on this point, there can no longer remain a doubt, that they are in the right, and he himself is in the wrong.
(To be concluded in the next number.)
ART. XXIX.--Report of the Committee, to whom was referred so
much of the President's Message, at the opening of the present Congress, as relates to the erection of an Observatory.
The want of a National Observatory has long been felt by all persons capable of understanding the subject, as a reproach upon our country in the eyes of foreign nations, and of our age in the estimation of posterity. It was, therefore, with the highest feelings of gratification that we hailed that part of the President's message which pointed the attention of Congress to this important subject. We have also waited with the utmost impatience for the receipt of the report of the committee to whom the matter was referred, in the hopes that we might have grounded upon it a popular illustration of the principles on which such an establishment should be founded, drawing, in the wonted manner of reviewers, our arguments and illustrations from the report itself. In the whole course of our critical
* See Mr. Du Ponceau's Notes on Eliot's Ind. Gram. p. xxviii. | Ibid. p. xxvii.
career, we do not recollect having met with so severe a disappointment as has attended the perusal of the report; for there is no passage in the several papers that accompany it that we could venture to adopt, without running the risk of being considered as ignorant of the present state of science; and the report itself is but seven lines in length. We found ourselves, therefore, compelled to trust to our own resources ; a situation of extreme embarrassment to a critic.
Our first care in perusing the report was to look for the distinguished names affixed to the several communications that are comprised in it. Not only we, but the whole scientific world, are aware that this country contains one man, who in the theory of astronomy, and the branches of mathematics that are collateral to it, need not fear a comparison with even the first names that adorn, at the present time, the annals of European science. We had also seen a paper in the recent volume of the Transactions of the American Philosophical Society, which showed us that we possessed an observer, who had been long in the employ of the government, and who had in it exhibited talents and experience, which had placed his work, (the partial survey of the coast,) on a higher level, than any previous operation of the kind; and this, although those previous operations had been illustrated by the names of Maupertuis, La Condamine, Mechain, Delambre, Roy, Lambert, and Kater. We, therefore, searched with anxiety for papers bearing the signatures of Bowditch, and Hassler. Our disappointment at not finding them was extreme. We shall not, however, dwell upon it, but shall proceed to examine the matter which the committee has given the public, as a substitute for the just and important views that must have flowed from such enlightened sources.
The committee appear to have been extremely saving of that valuable time which the members of the present congress have devoted so faithfully to such important national purposes, and have therefore at once thrown off all responsibility, by calling upon the secretary at war for information ; they have not, as it would appear, taken any other step, or given themselves any further pains. The precise propriety of this reference did not at once appear to us; we had no suspicion that the “light houses of the sky" could be applied to any polemic purpose, and had heard of no hostilities meditated against the Man in the Moon, or any other celestial potentate. Our doubts were soon dissipated, by finding that the war department had some years since become the depository of the instruments imported for the survey of the coast; which, as they have remained ever
since without any application, showed the propriety of referring to this military source of astronomic information.
The course pursued by the secretary is at once wise and decorous; well aware that he might be exposed by making a communication upon a subject that had not the slightest relation to his official duties, but too polite to refuse, he calls upon the engineer department for the required information. We could only have wished that he had at once stated that the subject was not within the limit of his duties.
General Macomb does not imitate the caution of the secretary; he, without hesitation, replies to all the queries'; have to lament that he has in this way placed himself in a position, which, if it cannot tarnish his well-earned laurels, at least subjects him to the charge of imprudence. It was well remarked in relation to the vile Latin in which the motto of the Cincinnati Society is couched, that it was no disgrace to that body of brave and patriotic men, tha they did not understand the learned languages, but that they rendered themselves ridiculous by an affectation of knowledge they did not possess; and so of General Macomb; the victor of Plattsburgh has no need of a knowledge of astronomy, but he ought not to have pretended to information that is evidently not one of his many merits.
The General first proceeds to recommend a position. We know it well, and have no hesitation in saying, that a worse one could not well have been selected. It is close to the banks of the Potomac, which lies in the direction of its southern meridian; it is therefore frequently enveloped in fog, and at all times liable to a local refraction in this most important bearing, that would for ever prevent any confidence being placed in observations made at an observatory so located.
The only other point in the General's communication which requires notice, is that in which he proposes to make the astronomer a Lieut. Colonel of Engineers, to place him under the military command of the chief of that corps, and to make his assistants also military. We honour the esprit de corps that has dictated this proposal, but we must confess that our imagination has ever since been haunted with the image of an observer, sashed and booted, his head covered with a cocked-hat, surmounted by the nodding black plumes of the engineers, and his heels decorated with the spurs of a field officer. Such a supervision, and such a system of reports as are recommended in this communication, could produce no good result. An observer might go through all the routine prescribed in a general order, but if he have not a reputation to sustain, or what is perhaps better, a character to make ; if he have not a zeal and in
terest in his subject, that military accountability would destroy; if he be not animated by an emulation of the vast progress now making in Europe, he will not add one fact of value to the mass of astronomical knowledge.
We would willingly pass unnoticed the next communication, which is from Mr. De Wallenstein, attached to the Russian embassy. This gentleman is a most interesting and intelligent young man, who has rendered some important benefits to science; and the readiness and frankness with which he has poured out all his little store, to aid in this cause, entitles him to our gratitude. But in a subject of such importance to our national character, we cannot omit to notice the errors and inaccuracies into which he has fallen.
We do not see in what manner a detail of the errors committed in old times in the construction of buildings for observations, can aid in pointing out a plan for a new one, unless he had descibed them as evils to be avoided. And although we may agree with him in his praise of the establishment at Seeberg, as perhaps the very best of the old observatories in Europe, yet we would intimate that it has cost a sum, that in the present day, would be considered as infinitely beyond any appropriation that can be expected for such an object. Such is the improvement in instruments and modes of observation, that the space and magnificence formerly considered necessary, would be now looked upon as ridiculous. In truth, most of the ancient buildings are entirely abandoned, the instruments being placed in new and contiguous apartments, while the old edifices, too magnificent to be destroyed, only serve to obstruct the view, and lessen the facilities of observation. In the work of Mr. Hassler, to wbich we have alluded, a plan is given for an observatory intended for the city of Washington, and for the instruments that are more than once mentioned in this report as in the possession of the government. It is a plain and simple building of 40 feet by 30;- but one story in height, with a basement; and although it could be erected at a moderate expense, (say 3 to 4,000 dollars,) would contain every necessary instrument, and afford facilities for all possible astronomical observations. The place selected by him was on the ruins of the house once occupied by General Washington, in the meridian of the capitol; it is free from all obstructions in the view, and so placed as to be independent of any local refraction. In examining this plan, we find pillars to support the instruments solidly built into the ground, and passing through the floor, which they do not touch. The floor is proposed to be of wood, supported also on pillars from beneath, and so con
structed as to have no point of contact, not only with the pillars of the instruments, but with the walls themselves. By this arrangement, the stability of the instruments is independent of the motions of the observer ; but establish, as proposed by Mr. De Wallenstein, a floor of some other material, it must necessarily rest upon the walls, and support the instruments; every motion within the building would agitate the levels, and disturb the observations, thus doing away all their value.
In relation to the instruments proposed by M. De Wallenstien to be added to those already in possession of the government, we would state, that no dependence is any longer placed on mural quadrants ; that they have no means of testing their own truth, no multiplication of readings, no compensation for errors of division, and although still permitted to hang upon walls in rooms, that have become deposits of lumber; no observation has been made with one, in any observatory of reputation, for more than ten years back. The best of them is much inferior to the 18 inch circle of Troughton already provided. Equatorialinstruments have also gone out of use, and are even less worthy of being named than quadrants. Reichenbach's circle with fixed levels, is so faulty that he no longer makes them; and that in the observatory of Paris, of this construction, is useless in consequence, and is about to be altered.
What is meant by recommending such a number of clocks, we cannot conceive: every practical observer knows, that but one can be permitted to go in an observatory ; in the silence of the night the beats of several would cause such a confusion, as to prevent any accuracyin the determination of time, unless the observer, like Mr. De Wallenstein's instructor, were deaf. Neither do we perceive the necessity of two more refracting telescopes of five feet; the list of instruments comprises a sufficient number of such telescopes for two observatories; and we know that they are better than any that could well be procured at the present time.
Mr. De Wallenstein's observations on the qualifications of an observer, and on his situation, are sensible, particularly when he states that he ought not to belong to either the military or naval service, and should be exempted from the cares of providing for his family. On both of these heads he differs from Gen. Macomb, who would make him a military officer, and give him the insufficient pay of a Lieut. Colonel. But we must enter our protest against its being expected, that the observer shall either teach, or calculate almanacs. If he do his duty, he will have no time for either, except perhaps to train his assistants. The usefulness of Dr. Maskelyne was impaired by his attention to the Nautical Almanac; and Pond has wisely transferred it to