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we have seen the force of muscular motion determined by numbers; the velocity with which the blood circulates calculated with geometrical precision; the fermentation of liquors has undergone the same scrutiny; and the most inconstant appearances of nature have been determined with inflexible demonstration.
It would be absurd to deny the great use of geometry in natural inquiries; but sure it may be said, without offence, that mathematicians expect more from its assistance, than they have been hitherto able to find. If we expect to make discoveries in nature merely by the helps of geometry, it is probable we shall be disappointed, as this art is rather fitted to give precision to discoveries already made, than to conduct us to new. Though it may serve as a vehicle, through which to deliver our discoveries to others, yet it is seldom by this method that we have happened upon them ourselves.
However this may be, it is rather to accidental experiments, than to painful inductions, that we are indebted for the modern discoveries in this science. Electricity, magnetism, and congelation, have been rather the result of accident than of investigation. Of these we know but some of the properties; nor have we any substantial theory as yet concerning them. In fact, mankind at last begin to perceive, that our knowledge of nature is much more limited than we lately imagined it to be. In the last age it was fashionable to suppose, that we could satisfactorily account for every appearance around us at present, the real philosopher seems to rest satisfied, that there is much in this science yet to be discovered, and that what he already knows bears no proportion to what remains unknown. He no longer, therefore, pretends to assign causes for all things, but waits till time, industry, or accident, shall bring new lights to guide the inquiry.
WE have mentioned in another place, (see vol. i. p. 106,) the slight dispute between Goldsmith and Dr Percy regarding the originality of the beautiful ballad of Edwin and Angelina, the hint of which was supposed to have been taken from the Friar of Orders Grey. A still heavier charge of plagiarism was made a few years afterwards in the Quiz, a collection of essays by a Society of Gentlemen, where the author of the Hermit is broadly accused of taking the whole ballad from a French original. The Monthly Reviewers, in a short notice of this obscure collection of essays, in their number for September, 1797, insert the French poem. It bears the title of Raimond et Angeline, and is a very pretty translation of Goldsmith's ballad, slightly curtailed, and adapted to the French taste. That our readers may have an opportunity of judging of the merit of this little poem, we shall insert it, together with the controversy to which it gave rise.
RAIMOND ET ANGELINE.
"Entens ma voix gémissante,
Qui se perd dans les buissons:
Dans fond de ce reduit,
Perce l'ombre de la nuit?"