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other hands. We have also to say, that we cannot conceive in what manner duties that require nightly attention can be intermitted, and time allowed for geodetic and hydrographic duties, unless, perhaps, our ingenious friend Mr. Maelzel should supply the government with an automaton astronomer, to be wound up, and serve as a deputy in the interim.
A fault not less grave in Mr. De Wallenstein's communication, is where he proposes to warm the building by stoves. No fire of any kind ought to be admitted where the principal instruments are placed, and least of all stoves. No person of ordinary powers of observation can have failed to remark the tremulous appearance of objects seen · through a stratum of air, where that contained in a close room, heated by a stove, came in contact with the free atmosphere. This simple fact will show at once the impropriety of such heat. The room in which the observer may wait the time of observation, and repose himself in the intervals, must be warmed in very cold weather, but it should be by an open fire, which will produce the least possible change in the temperature of the principal apartment.
We are indebted to M. De Wallenstein, for pointing out to the committee Mr. Hassler's paper, and naming him as a competent observer. It is a much better test of his knowledge, that he should have been able to notice the merits of this gentleman, than any thing contained in the other parts of his letter. But the fact that this commendation should have come from a stranger, from the perusal of a document that is manifestly imperfect, in consequence of alterations and omissions, made without authority, by the Committee of Publication of the American Philo. sophical Society, only shows in a stronger light, the jealousy and unfairness of the Engineer department; who have, in giving a list of instruments in their custody, carefully avoided naming the person, to whose superintendence it is due that they are the best of their sort, and who in their 'use has improved in a very high degree the methods of former observers.
The fourth document appended to Gen. Macomb's communication, is a letter from Major Kearney, of the topographical corps. We for a long time were much puzzled to guess
at the object of this paper; but we at last discovered it. The major, who is a good mathematician, has, we presume, lately applied himself to the study of Laplace's “ Theorie des probabilites," and made use of it in these investigations. He has collected the lengths and breadths of the several observatories in Europe, the size of their transit instruments, &c. and has by the method of least squares found the mean dimensions, which he has applied to a plan of an observatory that he presents with his letter If this be not the object of the communication, we con
fess that we do not understand it. But we would observe, that the present is not a legitimate occasion for the use of the calculus of probabilities. The doctrine of chances will not determine the form of an observatory, nor the nature of the instruments to be employed; some little regard must be had to the state of knowledge, and the improvements in construction and division.
Were we to presume to point out the course that ought to be pursued by the national legislature, we would recommend that as the location proposed by Mr. Hassler, north of the Capitol, is now occupied, another should be sought in the hills that skirt the northern liinit of the city of Washington; the distance of a few miles, if within the district, can niake no great difference in the value of the observatory; that a building be erected on Mr. Hassler's plan, or one analogous, under the direction of the astronomer himself ; that it be immediately furnished with one of the transits, one of the clocks by Hardy, the repeating circle of Troughton, and two of the telescopes : the remaining instruments might be there deposited, until needed elsewhere, in the custody of the astronomer. We would also recommend that immediate steps be taken to procure from Reichenbach, a transit circle, on the principle of the Rota Meridiana of Roemer, such as that artist has made for the observatory at Konigsberg, and for Schumacher at Altona, but not with a fixed level like that at Paris. This will, of itself, serve as a transit and mural circle; and when it is obtained, the transit may be removed, and this placed in its room. The transit, with one of the repeating theodolites, may then be transferred to West Point; and should a naval academy be formed, the remaining transit and theodolite will furnish it with the means of teaching the practice of astronomy, if confided to a competent person. The repeating circle must be retained at the national establishment, for observations out of the meridian, as well as two or three of the telescopes; and if any other telescope be added, it must be one of the greatest powers, say one of Frauenhoffer's, which are said to exceed, in dimensions and perfection, any that have heretofore been constructed. We might thus see within the space of a few months three observatories, two engaged in the forination of observers, and one in adding to the mass of astronomic knowledge.
We say nothing of an Ephemeris; if one is to be published in our country, it must go into other hands than those of the astronomer, whose usefulness will be impaired by being charged with a duty so distinct from that of observation. Neither can we flatter the committee with the hopes of making money by the publication of such a work. In England, the Nautical Almanac
involves an expense far beyond what is defrayed by its sale, but this is cheerfully borne, in consequence of its importance to the commercial interest; while in France, the Connaissance de Tems is maintained at no little cost, from a feeling of national pride.
In relation to the choice of an observer, we would remark, that we know of no other person than Mr. Hassler, who possesses the requisites for that purpose; and years of active astronomical research, with the best opportunities, must elapse, before it can reasonably be expected that another competent person shall form himself for the purpose.
It is not from the raw graduates of the military academy, that even assistants can be obtained. The qualifications of an observer are, in the first place, a natural gift; but they require much study of theory, and great opportunity for practice, before they can be developed, even in the individual most favoured by nature.
We have but one more remark to offer, and that is in relation to the reported law. It directs the buildings to be erected, and instruments purchased, before the astronomer is appointed. This is not a proper course; it will be at once evident, from the errors we bave pointed out, that no person but one fully competent to direct the observatory, can be trusted either with the choice of a position, with the selection of instruments, or the superintendence of the erection of the building itself.
Art. XXX. -A new and improved Spanish Grammar, designed
for every class of learners, but especially for such as are their own instructors. In two parts. Part 1. An Easy Introduction to the Elements of the Spanish Language. Part 2. The Rules of Etymology and Syntax fully exemplified; with occasional Notes and Observations. With an Appendix, containing a useful Vocabulary; Dialogues with numerical references to the rules in the Grammar; a few specimens of Commercial Documents; an explanation of the rules and principles of Spanish Poetry; and some rules for Derivation. By L. I. A. M'HenRy, a native of Spain. Fourth Edition, corrected and improved. London, 1823. pp. 323, 12mo.
NOTWITHSTANDING the voluminous system of Monsieur Dufief, facetiously entitled "Nature's mode of teaching language to man," with all its accompanying affidavits and certificates from Calcutta, “ Bengal, and the East Indies abroad," no rational person ever dreamed that a language could be learned by grown people, or thoroughly understood by any body, unless acquired Von, JI.
grammatically. Every sailor picks up a few phrases in each port to which he makes a voyage ; but the aggregate sum of his accomplishments is of little value, except for the most ordinary and familiar purposes of colloquial intercourse. All these forms may be acquired, and the pupil may be instructed to communicate and understand common-place ideas in a foreign tongue, without being able to comprehend a sentence of its classics. On the other hand, it is no less true, that we may study a living language as if it were dead, and read all the productions of all its best writers, without becoming able to express in it the simplest sentence. The proper business of instruction is to lay the ground work, by a judicious mixture of exercise and of reading, for the acquisition of the spoken and the written language. The former can only be gained by help of the memory and much practice: the latter may be obtained from books, by solitary study. An accurate knowledge of grammar must, however, be the foundation of this course of study, intended to lead to proficiency in any tongue. By grammar, we do not intend a bundle of arbitrary rules and fantastic speculations as to the merits of definitions, but a close analysis of the laws of the language, formed from a rigid induction, with the variations and exceptions thereto.
Our existing commercial and political relations with the vast and populous states of Southern America, render a knowledge of their language a matter of peculiar interest and importance to our well educated citizens. "The want of good grammars and dictionaries has always been an obstacle to English students of the Spanish tongue, and is still a subject of complaint with us. There has been no reprint in this country, to our knowledge, of the grammar, the title of which stands at the head of this article; which is decidedly the best extant of those written in English, and from which other writers on the subject have borrowed liberally. We intend to devote a few pages to the consideration of its merits ; but it may not be amiss previously to notice such other treatises on Spanish grammar, as have recently had any currency in England and this country.
O'Conway, Čubi Y. Soler, and Sales, have severally edited a grammar of the Spanish language in America. The first is, we believe, in most general use in this city; and though it abounds in minute typographical errors, and the orthography is not according to the latest standard of the Academy, which renders the constant corrections of the teacher necessary, the work is, perhaps, better adapted than either of the others, for a school class-book.
Of Cubi's Grammar,* so much spoken of, and so highly commended, we must, in justice, say that it contains abundance of valuable matter, which has been transferred, with the most laudable omission of any acknowledgment, from the pages of MÜHenry. Those portions which appear to be Cubi's own, are sadly defective; as it would be easy to demonstrate, were we inclined to waste time in finding fault with so sturdy a plagiarist.
The Grammar of Sales has been approved by high literary authority in this country, in opposition to which we shall not venture to set up our own opinion. It may be of use, with the assistance of a good instructor; but we are not prepared to assent to any extraordinary commendation of its absolute merits.
Josse's Grammar* has been popular in England, and though inferior in information and arrangement to that of M`Henry, will be found extremely useful to the student, who will acquire much valuable instruction from the synonymes of the Spanish language, by Don Josef de la Huerta, appended to the volume.
A - Practical Grammar," I just published by Mr. Whitehead, is, in our humble opinion, quite a catchpenny affair, and a barefaced attempt at imposition, while the able manuals of M'Henry and Josse are in circulation. To use his own prefatory language, we may say of him, that, “ destitute of originality and clearness of conception, he has either abbreviated, and in so doing, distorted the meaning of what has been written on the subject by the Spanish academicians; or servilely copied from others, and multiplied imperfections. He has proceeded as if his only object were to compile a given number of pages within a given time, no matter how ill digested his performance might be."
We cannot forbear expressing again our surprise, that none of our enterprising booksellers have been induced to republish M•Henry's work, which comprehends all that is useful in those we have enumerated, with additional matters of the greatest as. sistance in facilitating a thorough acquisition of the language. The first edition was published, we believe, in 1812, and met with general approbation ; the fourth, and most persect, ap
* A New Spanish Grammar, adapted to every class of learners. By Mariana Cubi Y. Soler. Second Edition : Baltimore.
* Grammaire Espagnole raissonnée. Par A. L. Josse, Maitre de Langues dans cette capital. A Londres.
+ A Practical Grammar of the Spanish Language, with copious Exercises, the whole rendered so easy, ns to be intelligible even without the aid of an Instructor. By S. Whitehead. London, 1826.