Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

possible to deny, as it is impossible to deny that mathematical truths depend upon the signs which express them ; but these signs are not themselves the truths, nor are the organs the mind. The whole history of intellect is a history of change according to a certain law; and we retain the memory only of those changes which may be useful to us;the child forgets what happened to it in the womb; the recollections of the infant likewise before two years are soon lost; yet, many of the habits acquired in that age are retained through life. The sentient principle gains thoughts by material instruments; and, its sensations change as those instruments change; and, in old age, the mind, as it were, falls asleep to awake to a new existence. With its present organization, the intellect of man is naturally limited and imperfect; but this depends upon its material machinery; and in a big her organized form, it may be imagined to possess infinitely higher powers. Were man to be immortal with his present corporeal frame, this immortality would only belong to the machinery; and with respect to acquisitions of mind, he would virtually die every two or three hundred years, that is to say, a certain quantity of ideas only could be remembered, and the supposed immortal being would be, with respect to what had happened a thousand years ago, as the adult now is with respect to what happened in the first year of his life. To attempt to reason upon the manner in which the organs are connected with sensation would be useless; the nerves and brain have some immediate relation to these vital functions, but how they act it is impossible to say. From the rapidity and infinite variety of the phenomena of perception, it seems extremely probable that there must be in the brain and nerves matter of a nature far more subtile and refined than any thing discovered in them by observation and experiment, and that the immediate connexion between the sentient principle and the body may be established by kinds of ethereal matter, which can never be evident to the senses, and which may bear the same relations to heat, light, and electricity that these refined forms or modes of existence of matter bear to the gases. Motion is most easily produced by the lighter species of matter; and yet imponderable agents, such as electricity, possess force sufficient to overturn the weightiest structures. Nothing can be further from my meaning than to attempt any definition on this subject, nor would I ever embrace or give authority to that idea of Newton, who supposes that the immediate cause of sensation may be in undulations of an ethereal medium. It does not, however, appear improbable to me, that some of the more refined machinery of thought may adhere, even in another state, to the sentient principle; for, though the organs of gross sensation, the nerves and brain, are destroyed by death, yet something of the more ethereal nature, which I have supposed, may be less destructible. And, I sometimes imagine, that many of those powers, which have been called instinctive, belong to the more refined clothing of the spirit; conscience, indeed, seems to have some undefined source, and may bear relation to a former state of being.'—pp. 210—215.

In the fifth dialogue, we have a pleasing and very convincing argument in favour of the art of Chemistry, and some highly interesting, and, we trust, they will prove extensively useful, observations on the nature of the character which every person, seeking eminence in that branch of knowledge, ought to endeavour to

attain. As to its practice, we have Sir H. Davy's authority for supposing, that it is not very difficult or very expensive ; and that to be an exceedingly agreeable chemist, a young gentleman is not required to tax his time, his leisure, or his purse, very oppressively :

• The apparatus essential to the modern chemical philosopher is much less bulky and expensive than that used by the ancients. An air-pump, an electrical machine, a voltaic battery (all of which may be upon a small scale), a blow-pipe apparatus, a bellows and forge, a mercurial and water gas apparatus, cups and basins of platinum and glass, and the common re-agents of chemistry, are what are required. All the implements absolutely necessary may be carried in a small trunk; and some of the best and most refined researches of modern chemists have been made by means of an apparatus which might with ease be contained in a small travelling carriage, and the expense of which is only a few pounds. The facility with which chemical inquiries are carried on, and the simplicity of the apparatus, offer additional reasons, to those I have already givev, for the pursuit of this science. It is not injurious to the health; the modern chemist is not like the ancient one, who passed the greater part of his time exposed to the heat and smoke of a furnace, and the unwholesome vapours of acids and alkalies, and other menstrua, of which, for a single experiment, he consumed several pounds. His processes may be carried on in the drawing-room, and some of them are no less beautiful in appearance than satisfactory in their results. It was said, by an author belonging to the last century, of alchemy, “ that its beginning was deceit, its progress labour, and its end beggary.” It may be said of modern chemistry, that its beginning is pleasure, its progress knowledge, and its objects truth and utility.'-pp. 250, 251.

The spirit of curious speculation leads our author into a sixth dialogue (called Pola, because it treats of that interesting place) with which the work closes. Though full of curious information, and abounding in just and philosophic views, it yet offers nothing which would justify us in farther prolonging this article.

It may be superfluous in us to say, that we have been greatly delighted with this work. Not that we do not think its gravity and metaphysics greatly misplaced ; and that the pages of the Philosophical Transactions would be a more becoming receptacle for a good deal of its contents, than a work destined for indiscriminate perusal. But what constitutes, to our senses, the charm of this book, is the stern and unflinching loyalty which it testifies, on the part of Sir H. Davy, to the great Christian Dispensation. His is not the support of a half-bred savant, who takes up religion as a material for calling forth his ingenuity; who regards it as a political expedient, as a mere useful supplement to the law, in controuling mankind; he is a sincere believer in Revelation, and it is a consoling and happy reflection to think that he who has dived so deeply into the mysterious processes of nature, who has been enabled, as it were, to test the truths of Christianity by a reference to natural operations, should have given his undoubted assent to a faith

which, after all, affords in a worldly sense, the only satisfactory clae! to the origin and destiny of the world. We cannot, however, close our observations without noticing the very striking partiality which is shewn through this book for the religion of the Roman Catholic. The ideal Ambrosio, who is professedly a Catholic, is presented to us, clothed in all the attractions of the rarest and most valuable qualities; he is the victor in every intellectual contest; he is per- ! mitted to be the leading advocate whenever the fundamental prin- i ciples of Christianity are assailed; he is pictured as combining the loftiest mental powers with a due submission to the authority of his church; and even of the Scriptures, from which it is the common opinion that Roman Catholics are estranged by their religious authorities, Ambrosio appears as the cordial champion. He is likewise allowed to introduce à defence of his creed, where it is not immediately called for, in reference to one of those particulars, upon which popular opinion, it would appear, is most astray. In a later part of this work, the author in his own character uses these words, my views are not in opposition with the opinions that the cool judgment and sound and humble faith of Ambrosio hare led me since to embrace. However this be, Sir H. Davy has in this little work built up for himself a monument, which indicates not, indeed, the extent and the vast advantages of his scientific research, but which exhibits the far more interesting portrait of a man, who holds in adequate estimation the blessings of religion, and who endeavours to sustain it by the suffrage of science,science, so often a truant to this, the most important interest of mankind.

Art. VIU.—Poetry of the Magyars, preceded by a Sketch of the

Language and Literature of Hungary and Transylvania. By John Bowring, LL.D. F.L.S. M.R.A.S. Honorary Correspondent of the Royal Institute of the Netherlands, and Member of the Literary Societies of Friesland, Groningen, Paris, Leyden, Leeuwarden, Athens, Turin, Sheffield, &c. &c. 8vo. pp. 312. London: printed for the Author.

1830. Of all the quacks who at present infest the literature of this country,—and we need hardly say how numerous and how audacious they are,-he who for some time has gone under the designation of Doctor Bowring, appears to us to be the supreme and worthy chieftain. From what village university he has succeeded in obtaining his diploma; what laws they are of which he is dubbed a teacher, and by what course of previous study he prepared himself for his degree, are all matters with which we profess to have no sort of acquaintance. It is ridiculous to think of it. The very sound of the name,- Doctor Bowring !-curlike a burst of laughter upon our ears; but when, to that title, v. . ore of others, arrayed in his title page, in which Sheffield figures by

[ocr errors]

the side of Turin, and Leeuwarden by that of Athens, the welkin rings above us with the shout of merriment awoke by these ludicrous associations. Oh, Doctor Bowring! Oh, Miss Bailey!

“ John Bowring now a Fellow was,

Of Sheffield and of Turin,
Of Leyden, Paris, Groningen,
Of Athens and Leeuwarden,
A writer to the Netherland,
And also to old Friesland,
A doctor of the civil law,
An F.L.S. and M.R.A.!

Oh John Bowring,
Most fortunate John Bowring,
Had but thy cap with bells been hung
For tassels, oh John Bowring!”

Modern Ballads. Who would have thought that he who went to Spain to teach the Cortes the legislative science, who was expelled" from France for meddling with politics, who did all the business of the farfamed Greek committee in London, who has been in turn a psalmist, a merchant, a poet, an orator, a translator, and a philosopher, would at last have subsided in a Doctor of Civil Law ! The inconvenience of the thing is, that the epithet is apt to lead foreigners into the mistake that it has been conferred at home, and that the individual who bears it is a specimen of our learned men. Even with some of our contemporaries, it has its value, for they can hardly bring themselves to believe, still less to say, that a Doctor writes nonsense. But these objections seem to us of no value when compared with the inexhaustible fund of mirth which the union of such a title with such a name has procured for all those who have an exquisite sense of the ridiculous.

There is nothing that would kill the Doctor sooner than the non-appearance of his name for 'twelve months in the public journals. They are the sun of his existence; their light withdrawn from him, he expires. Hence, we behold the press labour, every year, with a volume of some description of verse from his pen. If he cannot exude original stanzas, he tries his hand at imitations, and these failing, he scampers over all Europe to discover a poor poet whose name nobody here ever heard of before, and straight he converts a parcel of the said poet's unintelligible rhymes, into still more unintelligible English. It is of no consequence to the translator whether the foreign compositions which he imports are deserving of our notice; whether there be amongst them a single novel thought, a gleam of a bright imagination. The consideration of merit or deinerit never enters his head. The original is Torasem,

a translation. .• The dresses of Hungary and Transylvaná vecorate many books, and are the subject of many pictures. Here are some of the adornings of the inward man,

here is something of the costume of the mind.' This is the language which the Doctor uses in his introduction, the sign which swings over his door, in order to indicate the wares which he has to sell. If a country be interesting to the eye, and the inhabitants dress after their own fashion, it follows that they must be poetical, and that their poets have described their 'inward adornings! This is precisely the summary of the learned Doctor's argument, and the foundation of his practice.

In the number of this journal for May, 1827, we gave a concise view of the language and literature of Hungary, together with some specimens of the poetry of Alexander Kisfaludy, the only writer whom that country has yet produced, deserving of the slightest praise from foreigners. What will the reader say, when he learns that Doctor Bowring has ferretted out, at least, fifty other Hungarians who have scaled the mountain of the Muses ? From the compositions of about half that number, he has translated as many verses as suited his purpose, to which he has added a collection of Hungarian Popular Songs;' a collection which, we are told, would have been much larger, if the parcel in which the addenda were sent from Transylvania had not (we are happy to add) been lost on the way.

Now come we to close quarters with the Doctor of Civil and Canon Law. Listen to Demetrius Csati’s anglicized description of the conquest of the Magyar land by the Scythians :

• In their communion all was union,
And valor in the fray;
No thought of fear was ever there,
But safety kept the sway.
• They conquered long-like Samson strong,
All foemen they subdued ;
With lion-hearts o'erwhelming all-

A fearful multitude.
• Of all the band, the Magyars' pride
Was the renown'd Arpad ;
He was the highest, noblest chief,

And greatest riches had.
And soon they found, while wandering round,

The Duna's * waters clear;
In beauteous road those waters flow'd--
No clearer waters were.
• They hurried then a messenger,

The Duna's stream to track;
And, did its name deserve its fame,
The borders to attack.

* The Danube,

« ZurückWeiter »