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enquiries, and must content ourselves with that branch of the subject which is connected only with their architecture; we must look into another volume for their transformations, and doubtless into another for their economy and management. These divisions fritter away the interest which belongs to the History of Insects, an interest which is very well preserved in the volume published by Mr. Murray. It cannot fail, however, to be remarked, that “Insect Architecture’ is a work evidently written by a man who has observed nature with his own eyes; whereas, the ‘History' is the production of a mere artist, who has read nature through the spectacles of books.
Art. VII.—Consolations in Travel, or The Last Days of a Philosopher. e By Sir Humphry Davy, Bart. late President of the Royal Society. E 8vo. pp. 281. London: John Murray, 1830.
We feel too melancholy an interest in the posthumous publication
of one of the most eminently useful philosophers of our time, to exa& mine its contents too strictly, according to the laws of ordinary
criticism. The work before us derives, from the circumstance of its being, perhaps, the last contribution from the mind of Sir Humphry Davy to the treasures of scientific literature, a sacred value in our eyes, such as no abstract merits of its own could
almost enhance, and certainly such as no imperfections can dimi3 nish. We estimate the gift, not on account of its intrinsic worth, but I with reference to the benefactor from whom we received it. The e voice of the critic is raised in vain when his remonstrance cannot
be heard, and when the source of correction, for the error which he points out, is extinguished for ever. Had the case been otherwise, we might have sported with Sir Humphry on the fantastic design of which he has made choice. We might have launched a civil rebuke against him for the desultory and disordered manner in which even that design is executed, and we might have uttered our reclamations in opposition to the merciless pertinacity with which he has been resolved to act the metaphysician until our limbs are almost stiffened, and our lungs scarcely capable of action in the cold and rarefied atmosphere of conjectural philosophy into which he has conducted us. Had he been amenable to the justice of our critical code, we should have charged him with an unlawful tendency to very grave technical disquisitions, touching geological formations and chemical changes, when he proposed to be amusing, or, at most, no more than instructive; we should have besought him to forget the laboratory for a season, to cease to be purely scientific, to continue to be, without intermission, the shrewd and enlightened
observer of men and manners, the engaging illustrator possessed of e an inexhaustible store of curious and digested knowledge, deve
loping the impressions of natural scenery on a mind enthusiastically responsive to its charms, and enriching his descriptions with the copious eloquence of a warm fancy, and an elevated and glowing benevolence.
The interest which the public must attach to a literary legacy bestowed by such a man as Sir Humphry Davy, will be considerably quickened, when they learn that the present work was written under the same circumstances of indisposition as those which attended the composition of Salmonia,—now the accredited production of the same pen. It was concluded,,we are informed by Dr. Davy, in the few lines of preface with which he introduces this volume,-at the very moment of the invasion of the author's last illness; and who is there, whatever be his tastes, that can peruse, without emotion, the production of so estimable a writer, which, in its construction, yielded to him, as he himself mournfully says, ' some pleasure and consolation when most other sources of consolation and pleasure were closed to him ?' We are sure, then, that we shall not be found to err, in the motives which prompt us to give to this last emanation of Sir Humphry Davy's vigorous mind, a degree of attention, which its own abstract claims may not be sufficient to justify.
The Consolations of Travel' is arranged into six parts or dialogues, these divisions being, to our apprehension, quite superfluous. As is the case in 'Salmonia,' the narrative and the reasoning are carried on by dramatis personæ, in number amounting to three only, each of whom, in his turn, exhibits a delightful spirit of candid inquiry as well as a most heroic promptitude in surrendering to superior argument. These gentlemen, who were countrymen of his own, our author had the pleasure of associating with at Rome, and, finally, was authorized to regard them as his most intimate friends. One of these, Ambrosio, was of the Roman Catholic persuasion, a man of an enlarged and liberal mind, and who, from his exalted and benevolent views, deserved to have been the secretary of a Ganganelli. The other companion of our author is entitled Onuphrio, who appears to represent, very faithfully, a certain class of well-born and well-bred Englishmen, whose native good sense alone prevents them from openly professing that infidelity, which a spirit of free discussion in this country is but too well calculated to engender on a merely formal and exceedingly imperfect religious education. The first collision between minds so differently constituted as those of Ambrosio and Onuphrio, took place amidst the ruins of the Colisæum, whither the party had proceeded on an excursion of intellectual pleasure. In contemplating the remains of that exquisite structure, Onuphrio indulges in some eulogistic reflections on the energy and perseverance of the old Romans, of whom he says, that they formed their plans and made their combinations, as if their power, beyond the reach of chance, were to endure for eternity.
• Ambrosio took up the discourse of Onuphrio, and said, “ The aspect of this wonderful heap of ruins is so picturesque, that it is impossible to
regret its decay; and at this season of the year the colours of the vegetation are in harmony with those of the falling ruins, and how perfectly the whole landscape is in tone! The remains of the palace of the Cæsars and of the golden halls of Nero appear in the distance, their gray and tottering turrets and their moss-stained arches reposing, as it were, upon the decaying vegetation : and there is nothing that marks the existence of life except the few pious devotees, who wander from station to station in the arena below, kneeling before the cross, and demonstrating the triumph of a religion, which received in this very spot in the early period of its existence one of its most severe persecutions, and which, nevertheless, has preserved wbat remains of that building, where attempts were made to stifle it almost at its birth ; for, without the influence of Christianity, these majestic ruins would have been dispersed or levelled to the dust. Plundered of their lead and iron by the barbarians, Goths, and Vandals, and robbed even of their stones by Roman princes, the Barberini, they owe what remains of their relics to the sanctifying influence of that faith which has preserved for the world all that was worth preserving, not merely arts and literature but likewise that which constitutes the progressive nature of intellect and the institutions which afford to us happiness in this world and hopes of a blessed immortality in the next. And, being of the faith of Rome, I may say, that the preservation of this pile by the sanctifying effect of a few crosses planted round it, is almost a miraculous event. And what a contrast the present application of this building, connected with holy feelings and exalted hopes, is to that of the ancient one, when it was used for exhibiting to the Roman people the destruction of men by wild beasts, or of men, more savage than wild beasts, by each other, to gratify a horrible appetite for cruelty, founded upon a still more detestable lust, that of universal domination ! And who would have supposed, in the time of Titus, that a faith, despised in its insignificant origin, and persecuted from the supposed obscurity of its founder and its principles, should have reared a dome to the memory of one of its humblest teachers, more glorious than was ever framell for Jupiter or Apollo in the ancient world, and have preserved even the ruins of the temples of the pagan deities, and have burst forth in splendour and majesty, consecrating truth amidst the shrines of error, employing the idols of the Roman superstition for the most holy purposes, and rising a bright and constant light amidst the dark and starless night which followed the destruction of the Roman empire !”
'Onuphrio now resumed the discourse : he said, “ I have not the same exalted views on the subject which our friend Ambrosio has so eloquently expressed. Some little of the perfect state in which these ruins exist may have been owing to causes which he has described ; but these causes have only lately begun to operate, and the mischief was done before Christianity was established at Rome. Feeling differently on these subjects, I admire this venerable ruin rather as the record of the destruction of the power of the greatest people that ever existed, than as a proof of the triumph of Christianity; and I am carried forward in melancholy anticipation, to the period when even the magnificent dome of St. Peter's will be in a similar state to that in which the Coliseum now is, and when its ruins may be preserved by the sanctifying influence of some new and unknown faith ; when, perhaps, the statue of Jupiter, which at present receives the kiss of the devotee, as the image of St. Peter, may be employed for another holy
use, as the personification of a future saint or divinity; and when the monuments of the papal magnificence shall be mixed with the same dust as that which now covers the tombs of the Cæsars. Such, I am sorry to say, is the general history of all the works and institutions belonging to humanity. They rise, flourish, and then decay and fall; and the period of their decline is generally proportional to that of their eleration. In ancient Thebes or Memphis the peculiar genius of the people has left as monuments from which we can judge of their arts, though we cannot understand the nature of their superstitions. Of Babylon and of Trov the remains are almost extinct; and what we know of these famous cities is almost entirely derived from literary records. Ancient Greece and Rome we view in the few remains of their monuments ; and the time will arrive when modern Rome shall be what ancient Rome now is; and ancient Rome and Athens will be what Tyre or Carthage now are, (is) known only by coloured dust in the desert, or coloured sand, containing the fragments of bricks or glass, washed up by the wave of a stormy sea. I might pursue these thoughts still further, and show that the wood of the cross, or the bronze of the statue, decay as quickly as if they had not been sanctified; and I think I could shi w that their influence is owing to the imagination, which, when infinile time is considered, or the course of ages even, is null and its effect imperceptible; and similar results occur, whether the faith be that of Osiris, of Jupiter, of Jehovah, or of Jesus."
• To this Ambrosio replied, his countenance and the tones of his voice expressing some emotion : " I do not think, Onuphrio, that you consider this question with your usual sagacity cr acuteness ; indeed, I never hear you on the subject of religion without pain and without a feeling of regret that you have not applied your powerful understanding to a more minute and correct examination of the evidences of revealed religion. You would then, I think, have seen, in the origin, progress, elevation, decline and fall of the empires of antiquity, proofs that they were intended for a definite end in the scheme of human redemption; you would have found prophecies which have been amply verified; and the foundation or the ruin of a kingdom, which appears in civil history so great an event, in the history of man, in his religious institutions, as comparatively of small moment; you would have found the establishment of the worship of one God amongst a despised and contemned people, as the most important circumstance in the history of the early world ; you would have found the Christian dispensation naturally arising out of the Jewish, and the doctrines of the pagan nations all preparatory to the triumph and final esta. blishment of a creed fitted for the most enlightened state of the human mind, and equally adapted to every climate and every people.”—pp. 4—10.
His companions, in the course of the day, retire from the Colisæum, to keep an unavoidable appointment, and leave our author to the solitary enjoyment of the noble ruins. Here, acted upon by the scenery around him, and the train of reflections which they produced in his mind, he falls into a reverie, his senses become powerfully affected, and he feels as if he had entered upon a new state of existence. The sounds of sweet music fall with charming effect upon his ears, and at their discontinuation the voice of a genius is distinctly heard. The first dialogue is from this circumstance distinguished by the title of the Vision.' The Genius,
after an appropriate address, exhibits to the astonished view of the dreamer actual representations of human life through its successive stages, from the rudest infancy of man to the most refined state of civilization, * The eras of these moral changes are marked with a bold and powerful band. The following reflections, imputed to the Genius, are not less true and striking than they are original and novel.
Monarchs change their plans, governments their objects, a fleet or an army effect their purpose and then pass a way; but a piece of steel touched by the magnet, preserves its character for ever, and secures to man the dominion of the trackless ocean. A new period of society may send armies from the shores of the Baltic to those of the Euxine, and the empire of the followers of Mahomet may be broken in pieces by a northern people, and the dominion of the Britons in Asia may share the fate of that of Tamerlane or Zengiskhan; but the steam-boat which ascends the Delaware or the St. Lanrence will be continued to be used, and will carry the civilization of an improved people into the deserts of North America and into the wilds of Canada. In the common history of the world, as compiled by authors in general, almost all the great changes of vations are confounded with changes in their dynasties, and events are usually referred either to sovereigns, chiefs, beroes, or their armies, which do, in fact, originate from entirely different causes, either of an intellectual or moral nature. Governments depend far more than is generally supposed upon the opinion of the people and the spirit of the age and nation. It sometimes happens that a gigantic mind possesses supreme power and rises superior to the age in which he is born, such was Alfred in England and Peter in Russia ; but such instances are very rare ; and, in general, it is neither amongst sovereigns nor the higher classes of society, that the great improvers or benefactors of mankind are to be found. The works of the most illustrious dames were little valued at the times when they were produced, and their authors either despised or neglected; and great, indeed, must have been the pure and abstract pleasure resulting from the exertion of intellectual superiority and the discovery of truth and the bestowing benefits and blessings upon society, which induced men to sacrifice all their common enjoyments and all their privileges as citizens, to these exertions. Anaxagoras, Archimedes, Roger Bacon, Gallileo Gallilei, in their deaths or their imprisonments, offer instances of this kind, and nothing can be more striking than what appears to have been the ingratitude of men towards their greatest benefactors; but hereafter, when you understand more of the scheme of the universe, you will see the cause and the effect of this, and you will find the whole system governed by principles of immutable justice. I have said that in the progress of society, all great and real improvements are perpetuated; the same corn which, four thousand years ago, was raised from an improved grass by an inventor worshipped for two thousand years in the ancient world under the name of Ceres, still forms the principal food of mankind; and the potatoe, perhaps the greatest benefit that the old has derived from the new world, is spreading over
• The idea was no doubt suggested by the pictorial representations in the interior of the house of the Society of Arts--the anibitious but ill requited work of the unfortunate Barry.--E. M. R.