« AnteriorContinuar »
beings perished miserably, either on the scaffold, at the lowing calculation respecting the Times newspaper of the stake, or by the effects of torture,—this desire induced the 28th of January, is copied from the Newcastle Journal of author to try the experiment of bringing, if possible, a the following week :- The number of copies of the Times highly sensitive patient, by night, to a churchyard. It published on Wednesday last, containing Sir Robert appeared possible that such a person might see, over graves, Peel's new tariff, was 54,000 copies, and all parts of the in which mouldering bodies lie, something similar to that kingdom was supplied with them in nearly as short a which Billing had seen. Mademoiselle Reichel had the time as, forty years ago, it would have taken to have courage, rare in her sex, to gratify this wish of the author. supplied London alone. The Times contains 48 columns On two very dark nights she allowed herself to be taken of printed matter, each being nearly 22 inches in length, from the castle of Reisenberg, where she was living, with which gives 1,056 inches of printed columnar matter, the author's family, to the neighbouring churchyard of 2 inches and five-eighths wide, in each paper, or 5,702,400 Grünzing. The result justified his anticipation in the inches of columnar matter in the entire impression of most beautiful manner. She very soon saw a light, and 84,000 copies, being 158,400 yards, or above 80 miles, observed on one of the graves, along its length, a delicate There are, on the average, say 250 lines in each column, breathing flame: she also saw the same thing, only weaker, taking small and large type together, which gives 12,000 on & second grave. But she saw neither witches nor lines in each paper, or 64,800,000 lines in the entire imghosts: she described the fiery appearance as a shining pression; and as each line is two inches and five-eighths vapour, one to two pans high, extending as far as the in length, the entire length of the printed matter would grave, and floating near its surface. Some time after- be 170,100,000 inches, or 4,444.444 yards, or 2,525 miles. wards she was taken to two large cemeteries near Vienna, Each line contains, on an average, 50 letters, each of where several burials occur daily, and graves lie about by which is lifted by the hand of the compositor singly from thousands. Here she saw numerous graves provided a small receptacle in a case before which he stands while with similar lights. Wherever she looked she saw lumin- "setting,” and placed in its proper position in a small frame ous masses scattered about. But this appearance was called a “stick," which he holds in his hand, and when most vivid over the newest graves, while in the oldest it full transfers its contents to a “ galley,” from which it is could not be perceived. She described the appearance transferred, after correction, to the newspaper form, to be less as a clear flame than as a dense vaporous mass of " locked up," and printed. Each paper, on the estimate fire, intermediate between fog and fame. On many of 50 letters to a line, contains 324,000,000 letters, each graves the flame was four feet high, so that when she to be taken singly, and arranged in the manner just stood on them, it surrounded her up to the neck. If she described. The pile of stamps would be about as high thrust her hand into it, it was like putting it into a dense as the Grey monument, and the weight may be fairly fiery cloud. She betrayed no uneasiness, because she had estimated at from four to five tons. Each paper contains all her life been accustomed to such emanations, and had above 2,860 square inches of printed surface, so that the seen the same, in the author's experiments, often produced entire impression would contain 15,444,000 square inches, by natural causes. Many ghost stories will now find their or 107,250 square yards of printed surface. The mind is natural explanation. We can also see, that it was not bewildered by the contemplation of such a labour, and altogether erroneous when old women declared that all yet it was all begun and ended in a few hours. had not the gift to see the departed wandering about their Dying WORDS OF DISTINGUISHED MEN.—The Pitsgeves; for it must have always been the sensitive alone burgh Commercial gives the following account of the dying who were able to perceive the light given out by the che- words of some of the most distinguished men that ever mical action going on in the corpse. The author has lived—“ Head of the army”-Napoleon. " I must sleep thus, he hopes, succeeded in tearing down one of the most now”—Byron. “ It matters little how the head lyeth”impenetrable barriers erected by dark ignorance and su- Sir Walter Raleigh. “ Kiss me, Hardy" — Nelson. perstitious folly against the progress of natural truth. “Don't give up the ship”-Tawrence. Don't let that
*[The reader will at once apply the above most re- awkward squad fire over my grave"-Burns. markable experiments to the explanation of corpse-lights
Physical Facts.-As an instance of the adaptation in church yards, which were often visible to the gifted between the force of gravity and forces which exist in the alone, to those who had the second sight, for example. vegetable world, we may take the positions of flowers. Many nervous or hysterical females must often have been Some flowers grow with the hollow of their cups upwards ; alarmed by white, faintly luminous objects in dark church- others “hang the pensive head," and turn the opening yards, to which objects fear has given a defined form. In downwards. The positions in these cases depend upon this
, as well as in numerous other points, which will force the length and flexibility of the stalk which supports the themselves on the attention of the careful reader of both flower, or, in case of the euphorbia, the germen. It is works, Baron Reichenbach's experiments illustrate the clear that a very slight alteration in the forces of gravity, experiences of the Seeress of Prevorst.-W. G.]” or in the stiffness of the stalk, would entirely alter the
position of the flower cups, and thus make the continuaMiscellaneous.
tion of the species impossible. We have, therefore, here
a little mechanical contrivance, which would have been CULTIVATE CONTENTMENT AND CHEERFULNESS.-It is frustrated, if the proper intensity of gravity had not been important that home should be cheerful. * Cheer- assumed in the reckoning. An earth greater or smaller, fulness is a positive virtue. Who does not feel every denser or rarer, than the one on which we live, would drop of blood thrill in his veins, when he sees Paul writ- require a change in the structure and strength of the ing, even in a dungeon, “ I have learned, in whatsoever footstalks of all the little flowers that hang their heads State I am, therewith to be content?” Truly was Paul under our hedges. There is something curious in thus chief of Apostles. He had, indeed, learned that “god- considering the whole mass of the earth, from pole to liness, with contentment, is great gain." Yet are there pole, and from circumference to centre, as employed in not many who seem wilfully to look on the dark side, to keeping a snowdrop in the position most suited to the search peevishly for flaws, and when they have no real promotion of its vegetable health. - Whewell. troubles, torment themselves with those which are ima- CONSCIENCE.—A good conscience is better than two witginary. Such“ dig out their own wretchedness as if nesses-it will consume your grief as the sun dissolves ice. they were digging
for diamonds :” they would do well to It is a spring when you are thirsty, a staff when you are remember, that the chief secret of comfort lies in not weary-a screen when the sun burns you—a pillow in death. suffering trifles to vex one, and in prudently cultivating GRADATIONS OF DRUNKENNESS.-A Rabbinical tradian undergrowth of small pleasures, since very few great tion is related by Fabricius, that when Noah planted the ones are let on long leases.” That was a good remark vine, Satan attended, and sacrificed a sheep, a lion, an ape, of Seneca's, when he said, “ Great is he who enjoys his and a sow. These animals were to symbolize the gradaearthenware as if it were plate ; and
not less great is the tions of inebriety. When a man begins to drink, he is man to whom all his plate is no more than earthenware.” | meek and ignorant as the lamb; then becomes bold as the -R. C. Waterston.
lion ; his courage is soon transformed into the foolishness SINGULAR TYPOGRAPHICAL CALCULATIONS.—The fol- of the ape; and at last he wallows in the mire like a sow.
ORIGINAL CLERICAL ANECDOTES.
BY AN OLD CLERGYMAN.
The late Dr- of - went on one occasion to off-
ciate in a country church ; and as he entered the churchOn! I wish we were hame to our ain folk,
yard, he heard a country clown whisper to his neighbour,
" Eh! there's a strange minister, we'll get oot sune the Our kind and our true-hearted ain folk,
day.” As a punishment, the Doctor, when giving out Where the gentle are leal, and the semple are weal, And the hames are the hames o' our ain folk.
his text, which happened to be the first verse of the 119th We've met with the gay and the gude where we've come, Psalm, stated, that, for the
sake of connexion, he would
read the whole psalmn." We're courtly wi’ mony and couthy wi' some ;
got a town presentation by a majority of one, But something's still wanting we never can find
the discussion in the council being somewhat stormy. Since the day that we left our auld neebors behind.
On the day that the news was announced, he met MrOh! I wish we were hame to our ain folk,
who, some years previous, had, in similar circumstances, Our kind and our true-hearted ain folk,
got in by the same majority; he complained to him how Where daffin and glee wi' the friendly and free
disagreeable such elections were. “True,” rejoined Mr Made our hearts aye sae fond o' our ain folk.
“but it is a great consolation that we got in by unity." Some tauld us in goupins we'd gather the geer,
Mr had a parishioner who unfortunately laboured Sae soon as we came to the rich mailins here;
under mental alienation-one of his crotchets being the But what is in mailins, and what is in mirth,
purchasing and reading of commentaries, in the vain idea Gif they're no enjoyed in the glen o' our birth?
of finding out what had been said of every text of Scrip
ture. MrOh! I wish we were hame to our ain folk,
called upon him at his place of confine.
ment, and found him surrounded by the commentators. Our kind and our true-hearted ain folk,
His remarks were so judicious that good Mr-knowing Where maidens and men, in the strath and the glen,
little about the pathology of the disease, and judging of Still welcomed us aye as their ain folk.
only by what the poor man knew of texts, began to Though spring had its trials, and simmer its toils,
doubt as to the reality of his insanity. Incautiously And autumn craved pith ere we gathered its spoils,
communicating this, the patient's eye at once brightened, Yet winter repaid a' the toil that we took,
and he commenced the usual plausible story about being When ilk ane craw'd crouse at his ain ingle-neuk.
there without cause, and implored Mr
- to aid his Then I wish we were hame to our ain folk,
escape. Mr— consented; but the moment his friend Our kind and our true-hearted ain folk;
got outside and mounted Mr-t's horse, he commenced But deep are the howes, and as heigh are the knowes, such furious gambols as soon revealed his real state. The That keep us awa' frae our ain folk.
establishment came forth to seize him, but he urged the The seat at the door, where our auld fathers sat
horse to such speed that all pursuit was vain. Mr To tell owre their news and their views and a' that, got within earshot, and tried coaxing, threatening, and While down by the kail-yard the burnie rowed clear, every kind of entreaty, but the words fell bootless to the Is mair to my liking than aught that is here.
ground. At last he bethought himself. “Mr B-! Then I wish we were hame to our ain folk,
there's a text in Jeremiah that I can make nothing of." Our kind and our true-hearted ain folk,
B— reined up immediately. “Is there though?--what Where the wild thistles wave owre the beds o' the brave, is it?". A chapter and verse were glibly given. “ I can
explain it in three minutes. Come away up to my room." And the graves are the graves o' our ain folk.
It is needless to add what was afterwards done with the But 'happy gae lucky we'll trudge on our way,
lock of the room. Till the arm waxes weak, and the haffet grows grey;
The late Dr - had a set of false teeth, which unAnd though in this warl' our ain still we miss, We'll meet them again in a warl' o' bliss.
fortunately fell out one day when near the end of his
sermon. “And how did you get on ?" said the friend to And then we'll be hame to our ain folk,
whom he related the catastrophe. “Oh! I just whistled Our kind and our true-hearted ain folk,
o'er the lave o't!" Where, far 'yond the moon, in the heaven aboon,
Another late rev. doctor was an inordinate snuffer ; The hames are the hames o' our ain folk.
but having qualms of conscience as to the rectitude of
the habit, he one day ascended the rostrum sans his THE LAST DAHLIA.
box. He got on most lamely without it; indeed, he
thought he would have stopped in the very introduction BY JESSIE HAMMOND. O, LADY'fair, with the golden hair,
of his discourse ; but, at the juncture, a deaf old man This floral tribute take;
who took his station on the pulpit stairs, came close to
him and inhaled a tremendous thumbful. This was too "Tis a gorgeous gem, on a fragile stem, And 'twas reared for the loved one's sake.
much. The doctor convulsively clutched the mull, and "Tis the last blown flower from a fancy bower,
passed the Rubicon by throwing up a cloud of the sable In Nature's livery drest;
dust, and forthwith became luminous as he had never beAnd, ere winter's storm shall deface its form,
fore been, even in the memory of the oldest sitter. Ho Let it shine upon beauty's breast.
kept possession of the box the whole time; and, at the end,
asked the old man if he had not preached grand with the Beneath thy smile it may bloom awhile
snuff? “I dinna ken, for I didna hear a word without it." In all its native grace; There's a drop of dew on its rich bright hue,
TERMS FOR " THE TORCH."
lid. Like a tear on a blooming face.
Or free by post,
21. Then the farewell gleam of the sun's last beam
Per quarter of 13 Nos., delivered to subscribers, Is. 750. To late-blown flowers seems given ;
Per quarter, free by post,
28, 6d. A parting ray as they pass away,
Al Subscriptions payable in advance.
Printed by THOMAS MURRAY, of No. 2 Arniston Place, and WILLIAM
GIBB, of No. 26 Royal Crescent, at the Printing Office of MURRAY There is no perfume on its purple bloom;
and Give, North-East Thistle Street Lane; and Published at No. 58
Princes Street, by William AITCHISON SCTHERLAND, of No. 1 And, though Flora's cultured child,
Windsor Street, and JAMES Knox, of No. 7 Henderson Row; all There are fairer flowers for summer hours,
in the City and County of Edinburgh. And sweet as they are wild.
Edinburgh : SUTHERLAND & KNOX, 58 Princes Street; and But the dahlia's made for autumn's shade,
sold by Houlston & STONEMAN, Paternoster Row, London; W. To shine 'neath dreary skies ;
BLACKWOOD, Glasgow; L. SMITH, Aberdeen; and may be had by To the robin's lay on the leafless spray,
order of every Bookseller in the United Kingdom. It listens and it dies.
Edinburgh, Saturday, March 21, 1846.
SATURDAY, MARCH 28, 1846.
Price 1 d.
- Page 255 Franklin on Self-Education,
244 MISCELLANEOUS. -The Stage and the PeerageCharles Lamb,
Miseries of a Public Dinner-Matrimonial Laconics,
Sulks-Cure for Lameness—Origin of the THE STORY TELLER.- What a Mother can Endure, 248 word “Boz” — Coleridge and the AtmoDaniel Boone and the Pioneers of Kentucky, 250
spheric Railway -- Economical Preacher An Unfortunate Author,
257, 258 The Horses and Buffaloes of Oregon, 254 POETRY.–Farewell,
RISING IN THE WORLD.
pensable, and the world will just as soon think of HAPPENING one day to ask a clergyman if he had got dispensing with either of these requisites as it will certain officers appointed for his church, he replied, think of doing honour to talent apart from be" I am in no hurry. I could get plenty of wordý haviour. men if I liked, but it is worthy men that I want, and We hear a great deal about the hard fate of poets I am quite sure that if I wait patiently I will get and others of erratic genius, but if narrowly looked them in due time. The persons suitable for my pur- into, it will be found that their follies have kept pose may not offer themselves, nay, they may try to them back. It will not do to plead the eccentricities conceal themselves, but they will be found out at of genius, for many of them are assumed ; and suplast.”
posing they were not, like every other hindrance to There is much practical wisdom in this, and we progress, they should unmercifully be lopped off. are not sure if the principle here laid down be not When a ship is in full sail, and with a light wind, at the bottom of many a rising and many a falling water is sometimes squirted on the sails in order to in the world. Young men of precocious talent force fill up the interstices and catch more wind, and not themselves forward by virtue of some property only that, but the smallest rope is not allowed to which gives promise of future eminence; they obtain hang over the sides, lest, perchance, it should in any the envied position, but instead of being able to get way impede velocity. If genius means anything, it farther forward, they are found incapable of keeping should mean knowledge of man--that is, knowledge the vantage ground already gained, and in due time of self and knowledge of others and if the man of sink and disappear from the surface of society. Like genius finds that he is not meeting with the success blossoms in early spring, they have been developed which he thinks he merits, he will be perfectly able too soon, and the first blast of biting frost withers to find out the cause if he resolutely inquires into it. them into decay. It were a wholesome truth for all Is he quite free from dissipation or other vices ? is aspirants to know, that as surely as bodies will float he proud, conceited, and impatient of counsel, on the water, provided they are specifically lighter whether friendly or otherwise ? is he frugal ? is hé than the water itself, with equal certainty will industrious ? does his genius lead to some practical men rise in the world, if they have the necessary useful purpose ? If all these queries can be satisability and worth. In nature, one quality only is factorily answered, let him just have patience, and requisite in order to ascend to the surface, namely, infallibiy his reward will come in due time; but if buoyancy as compared with the surrounding me- any one of them cannot be satisfactorily disposed of, dium ; but in the world there are two,-one referring then we dare not promise him the recompense. to the intellect, the other to the conduct. No excess Vice, pride, extravagance, idleness, or crotchets are of the one will compound for the absence of the sufficient, singly or in slight combination to retard other. A man may be ever so profound in a parti- any man. We say, retard, for mind will always cular department of knowledge, but unless his ability make some progress ; but with such drawbacks it is accompanied with good moral aim and practice, he will be the progress of a man walking up a hill, never will command the respect and esteem of his whose sides are covered with snow, he will lose an fellow-men. Every, step by, which his intellect inch at every step, and stopping to take breath at should advance him is retarded by the evil influence each other minute, he will get discouraged, stand of improprieties in conduct, and, like a bird whose still, or retrace his steps altogether. The tendency wings have been clipped, he will continue flapping of mind is to rise, and it is the same with a stick and beating the air without being able to rise. And underneath the water ; but if it gets entangled with it is reasonable that it should be so, for in all other sea-weed it may struggle until bleached into nothing, things in life a similar duality of object is required. but most certainly it will not rise. The tendency The two great natural wants of man are food and of many substances is to cure stomach complaints ; clothing ; but what should we think of a philan- but if dyspeptics will eat and drink those things thropist who would give the poor bread, but no that disorder their stomachs, they have themselves clothing; or clothes, but no bread. Both are indis- I to blame if they never are cured. The tendency of gold is to circulate and pass amongst all classes ; but THE AUTHORS OF THE NINETEENTH if you mix your gold with dross, if you adulterate
CENTURY. your coinage, as the Turks do, with brass and copper,
No. I.-LORD JEFFREY. no nation will take it off your hands, and that for the simple reason, that they desiderate gold at all [In commencing a series of extracts under the above times, but cannot be troubled with alloy.
title, as announced last week, we think it necessary to And this leads us to remark, that no man can be mention that we make our selections not entirely with more willing to render good service to his fellows the view of quoting what might be regarded as the most than his fellows are to receive it. The world is ever striking passages in the writings of the parties quoted, on the outlook for able and effective men, and those but, along with that, we wish to select what may be who really belong to this class need not be afraid useful and improving to our readers. We have only that their claims will be overlooked. No phrase has further to say that, in giving the extracts, no studied been more abused than the one so often quoted, that order as to merit or otherwise will be observed.] the “world was not worthy” of certain persons. That some have been greatly in advance of their BENJAMIN FRANKLIN AND SELF-EDUCATION. times, and that to an extent that excluded general sympathy, we freely admit; but such are the few, haps, of all philosophers. He never loses sight of common
“ This self-taught American is the most rational, pernot the many; and to the latter alone do we address sense in any of his speculations; and when his philosophy ourselves. The many may rely upon it, that the does not consist entirely in its fair and vigorous applicasomething which keeps them down, is within them- tion, it is always regulated and controlled by it in its selves, and instead of wasting time in abusing their application and result. No individual, perhaps, ever contemporaries as a blinded generation, they would possessed a juster understanding, or was so seldom be far better employed in examining into their own obstructed in the use of it by indolence, enthusiasm, or character, in order that they may discover the authority. gangrene spot which blights all their prospects of
“Dr Franklin received no regular education, and he advancement.
spent the greater part of his life in a society where there A very common form of ambition is anxiety to was no relish and no encouragement for literature. On an
ordinary mind, these circumstances would have produced get into town councils, public boards, committeeships their usual effects, of repressing all sorts of intellectual of insurance offices, railways, and other situations of ambition or activity, and perpetuating a generation of public trust. Mr Alfred Dapper may have often incurious mechanics ; but to an understanding like tried to get into such positions, and may as often Franklin's
, we cannot help considering them as peculiarly have failed. He has seen others, whose talents, propitious, and imagine that we can trace back to them wealth, and influence are not greater, perhaps less distinctly almost all the peculiarities of his intellectual than his own, obtain such appointments, and he character, cannot for the life of him understand how this
“Regular education, we think, is unfavourable to vigour should be. He ascribes it to enemies, back-door or originality of understanding. Like civilisation, it influence, deterioration of public taste, and to all makes society more intelligent and agreeable ; but it
levels the distinctions of nature. It strengthens and causes but the true one. It never enters into his assists the feeble, but it deprives the strong of his triumph, mind that the community is anxious for good go- and casts down the hopes of the aspiring. It accomplishes vernment; that there never was a bank, insurance, this, not only by training up the mind in an habitual gas, railway, or cemetery company under the sun veneration for authorities, but, by leading us to bestow which was not desirous of having good directors ; a disproportionate degree of attention upon studies that and although they occasionally may make mistakes are only valuable as keys or instruments for the underin their selections, yet are they most willing to re- standing, they come at last to be regarded as ultimate trieve their error at the earliest possible opportunity, objects of pursuit, and the means of education are absurdly and therefore their overlooking of him cannot arise mistaken for its end. How many powerful understandfrom any wilful desire to exclude ability. Again, ings have been lost in the dialectics of Aristotle! And therefore, we say, he should look to himself. It of how much good philosophy are we daily
defrauded by may be that there already is a sufficient supply, of for useful learning! The mind of a man who has escaped
the preposterous error of taking a knowledge of prosody talent in the given department of labour ; and when this training will at least have fair play. Whatever other supply exceeds demand, he must content himself to errors he may fall into, he will be safe at least from these stand on the footing of commercial commodities in infatuations, and if he thinks proper, after he grows up the same position, and " bide his time.” Perhaps he to study Greek, it will probably be for some better is too young, and, if so, he ought to know that clever purpose than to become critically acquainted with its men rise in spite of, and not because of, youth. But dialects. His prejudices will be those of a man and not most likely of all, he has some drawback of a more of a schoolboy, and his speculations and conclusions will serious kind, and, till he discovers it, the whole matter be independent of the maxims of tutors and the oracles
of literary patrons. will to him, although to nobody else, remain an impenetrable mystery. If people would spend one community are nearly of the same kind with those of a
• The consequences of living in a refined and literary half of the time in analysing themselves that they regular education. There are so many critics to be do in anatomising others, they would make rapid satisfied, --so many qualifications to be established, -50 strides in self-improvement. No poet ever breathed many rivals to encounter, and so much derision to be a more important prayer than Burns, when he said hazarded, that a young man is apt to be deterred from
so perilous an enterprise, and led to seek for distinction “Would that some power the gift wadi gie us, in some safer line of exertion. He is discouraged by the To see oursels as others see us."
fame and the perfection of certain models and favourites, Our remarks have chiefly been directed to those who are always in the mouths of his judges, and “under who, having abilities, lack conduct for public no
them his genius is rebuked,” and his originality repressed,
till he sinks into a paltry copyist, or aims at distinction toriety—the same principles, however, are equally by extravagance and affectation. In such a state of applicable to those who have conduct but want society he feels that mediocrity has no chance of distincability. Both are indispensably necessary, and if tion; and what beginner can expect to rise at once into both are conjoined, no fear need be entertained as to excellence ? He imagines that mere good sense will the result.
attract no attention, and that the manner is of much more importance than the matter in a candidate for leisure, and perhaps inclination also, to spread out before public admiration. In his attention to the manner the him the whole vast premises of those extensive sciences, matter is apt to be neglected ; and, in his solicitude to and scarcely to have had patience to hunt for his concluplease those who require elegance of diction, brilliancy sions through so wide and intricate a region as that upon of wit, or harmony of periods, he is in some danger of which they invited him to enter. He has been satisfied, forgetting that strength of reasoning and accuracy of therefore, on many occasions with reasoning from a very observation by which he first proposed to recommend limited view of the facts, and often from a particular himself. His attention, when extended to so many instance, and he has done all that sagacity and sound collateral objects, is no longer vigorous or collected; the sense could do with such materials ; but it cannot excite stream, divided into so many channels, ceases to flow wonder if he has sometimes overlooked an essential part either deep or strong; he becomes an unsuccessful pre- of the argument, and often advanced a particular truth tender to fine writing, or is satisfied with the frivolous into the place of a general principle. He seldom reasoned praise of elegance or vivacity.
upon those subjects at all, we believe, without having * We are disposed to ascribe so much power to these some practical application of them immediately in view; obstructions to intellectual originality, that we cannot help and as he began the investigation rather to determine a fancying, that if Franklin had been bred in a college, he particular case than to establish a general maxim, so he would have contented himself with expounding the metres probably desisted as soon as he had relieved himself of of Pindar, and mixing argument with his port in the the present difficulty. common room; and that if Boston had abounded with “ There are not many among the thoroughbred scholars men of letters, he would never have ventured to come and philosophers of Europe who can lay claim to distincforth from his printing-house, or been driven back to it tion in more than one or two departments of science at any rate by the sneers of the critics, after the first or literature. The uneducated tradesman of America publication of his Essays in the Busy Body.
has left writings that call for our respectful attention in “This will probably be thought exaggerated; but it natural philosophy, in politics, in political economy, and cannot be denied, we think, that the contrary circumstances in general literature and morality. in his history had a powerful effect in determining the “Of his labours in the department of Physics, we do not character of his understanding, and in producing those propose to say much. They were almost all suggested peculiar habits of reasoning and investigation by which by views of utility in the beginning, and were, without his writings are distinguished. He was encouraged to exception, applied, we believe, to promote such views in publish, because there was scarcely any one around him the end. His letters upon Electricity have been more whom he could not easily excel." He wrote with great extensively circulated than any of his other writings of brevity, because he had not leisure for more voluminous this kind, and are entitled to more praise and popularity compositions, and because he knew that the readers to than they seem ever to have met with in this country. whom he addressed himself were, for the most part, as Nothing can be more admirable than the luminous and busy as himself. For the same reason, he studied great graphical precision with which the experiments are perspicuity and simplicity of statement. His countrymen narrated, the ingenuity with which they are projected, had then no relish for fine writing, and could not easily and the sagacity with which the conclusion is inferred, be made, to understand a deduction depending on long limited, and confirmed. or elaborate process of reasoning. He was forced, there- “The most remarkable thing, however, in these, and fore, to concentrate what he had to say; and since he indeed in the whole of his physical speculations, is the had no chance of being admired for the beauty of his unparalleled simplicity and facility with which the reader composition, it was natural for him to aim at making an is conducted from one stage of the inquiry to another. impression by the force and the clearness of his state- The author never appears for a moment to labour or to
be at a loss. The most ingenious and profound explana“His conclusions were often rash and inaccurate from tions are suggested, as if they were the most natural and the same circumstances which rendered his productions obvious way of accounting for the phenomena; and the concise. Philosophy and speculation did not form the author seems to value himself so little on his most imbusiness of his life, nor did he dedicate himself to any portant discoveries that it is necessary to compare him particular study, with a view to exhaust and complete with others before we can form a just notion of his merits. the investigation of it in all its parts, and under all its As he seems to be conscious of no exertion, he feels no relations. He engaged in every interesting inquiry that partiality for any part of his speculations, and never seeks suggested itself to him, rather as the necessary exercise to raise the reader's idea of their importance by any arts of a powerful and active mind, than as a task which he of declamation or eloquence. Indeed, the habitual prehad bound himself to perform. He cast a quick and cision of his conceptions, and his invariable practice of penetrating glance over the facts and the data that were referring to specific facts and observations, secured him, presented to him, and drew his conclusions with a rapi- in a great measure, both from those extravagant conjecdity and precision that have not often been equalled. tures in which so many naturalists have indulged, and But he did not generally stop to examine the completeness from the zeal and enthusiasın, which seems. so naturally of the data upon which he proceeded, nor to consider the to be engendered in their defence. He was by no means ultimate effect or application of the principles to which he averse to give scope to his imagination in suggesting a had been conducted. In all questions, therefore, where variety of explanations of obscure and unmanageable the facts upon which he was to determine, and the mate- phenomena; but he never allowed himself to confound rials from which his judgment was to be formed were these vague and conjectural theories with the solid results either few in number, or of such a nature as not to be of experience and observation. In his Meteorological overlooked, his reasonings are, for the most part, perfectly papers, and in his Observations, upon Heat and Light, just and conclusive, and his decisions unexceptionably there is a great deal of such bold and original suggestions ; sound; but where the elements of the calculation were but he evidently sets but little value upon them, and has more numerous and widely scattered, it appears to us no sooner disburdened his mind of the impressions from that he has often been precipitate, and that he has either which they proceeded than he seems to dismiss them been misled by a partial apprehension of the conditions entirely from his consideration, and turns to the legitimate of the problem, or has discovered only a portion of the philosophy of experiment with, unabated diligence and trath which lay before him. In all physical inquiries, humility. As an instance of this disposition, we may -in almost all questions of particular and immediate quote part of a letter to the Abbé Soulaive, upon a new policy,—and in much of what relates to the practical Theory of the Earth, which he proposes and dismisses, wisdom and happiness of private life, his views will be without concern or anxiety, in the course of a few senfound to be admirable, and the reasoning by which they tences; though, if the idea had fallen upon the brain of are supported most masterly and convincing. But upon a European philosopher, it might have germinated into subjects of general politics, of abstract morality, and a volume of eloquence, like Buffon's, or an infinite array political economy, his notions appear to be more unsatis- of paragraphs and observations, like those of Parkinson factory and incomplete. He seems to have wanted and Dr Hutton.”