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POPULAR RETROSPECT OF THE PROGRESS OF PHILOSOPHY AND
unphilosophical, and the very summit brief, and popular form, whatever shall ap. of ill breeding in scholarship, to vulgarise pear to us useful or worthy to be known, and science by rendering it intelligible or useful. to expose whatever may wear the aspect of Pythagoras, Socrates, and Aristotle, kept unfounded pretension, or mystical nonsense, their grandest speculations masked in sym- will be the aim of the sketches which we bols of mystery, for the sole use of favourite now offer, and shall occasionally continue. disciples; and in modern times, natural Our wish is to exhibit a comprehensive, philosophers, chemists, and physicians, have, bird's-eye view of all that is now doing by in this, often followed in the steps of their philosophers and men of science ; to give an ancient masters. In the earlier ages, indeed, idea of the most recent improvements, as by many so ignorantly praised, - philoso- well as changes of retrogression, to our phy was a most useless and idle study ; in- mere literary readers, and those who have applicable to any earthly purpose, except, not leisure to peruse the voluminous scierperhaps, to exercise the heads of a few de- tific Journals and Transactions daily pubvoted visionaries, who were looked upon by fishing. We shall thas also give philosothe rest of the world either as tinged with phers
themselves an opportunity of seeing lunacy, or as having unhallowed intercourse their labours fairly estimated by the high with evil spirits. Nor was this wonderful, standard of utility, by keeping which con. while philosophy was confined to the clois- stantly before us, we hope we shall be able ter and the study, and walked not abroad to steer clear of all party-spirit and partialamong the men of the world, except when ity. veiled in darkness and mysteries.
GEOLOGY. Among other mighty achievements, the We shall begin with the almost new and PRESS has dispelled much of this artificial romantic science of Geology, the object of darkness,-broken down the impertinent it is to investigate the structure of the globe, barriers of the schools, and torn the veil of and the rocks, &c, which compose its extemystery from the face of learned ignorance, rior; for of the interior little can be known, and solemn stupidity. Science and philoso: except that the nearer the centre the more phy, the pursuit of which was formerly little dense and weighty are the materials combetter than an apology for ignorance and posing it, which cannot, therefore, as has idleness, have now become useful and pop- been supposed, be either air or water. Geular, and begin to be domesticated in every ology is, at present, perhaps the most fashfamily circle, from the peasant's cottage to ionable of the sciences; and the number of the palace of the prince. Within a few years, able men now devoted to the study must a complete revolution has thus been effected soon bring it to great advancement. The in almost every branch of human inquiry and most usefui departments of this science are contrivance. The principles of husbandry, those which relate to mining for metals, gardening, and mining, are hence becoming coal, rock salt, and alum; to the comparative every day better known, and the practical ability to withstand the weather; and, anaresults are quite wonderful. Besides, our logous to this, the crumbling of rocks, and halls, our theatres, and our streets, are most the nature of the soil which they produce. splendidly illuminated with gas ;* our edi. On these subjects we have discoveries and fices are protected from the stroke of the facts published almost daily, but cannot here thunderbolt; our weightiest machinery, and find room for an intelligible abstract. The even our ships are put in motion by the more general principles of the science are steam of water: our miners are shielded employed in investigating the age of rocks, from the formerly destructive explosions of sand, gravel, and peat; and in determining subterranean vapours ;t in short, we cannot whether these were formed by fire, by the name a department of human convenience sea, by lakes, by rivers, or by the changes which has not lately received the most es- of the weather. It has been an inquiry of sential improvement from philosophy. And some interest in the science, to find a test all-we boldly say, all this has been done by by which to distinguish sea shells from fresh making UTILITY the main object of scientific water shells; as in rocks where shells are pursuit, and by rejecting and scorning away found, such a test would at once determine all learned jargon, and the theories of their derivation. Mr. Sowerby has lately dreaming speculation,
attempted something of this kind; but he
• Cocoanut oil, for producing gas for family use, proposed by Messrs. Taylor and Martineau. It is without smell, yields a very bright flame, and is economical.
† A Mr. Lester says, the safety lamp is a dragon that lures the miner to destruction, by giving him confidencu to work in the midst of fire damp; but affording so scanty a light, that he is often tempted to open the skreen, and the surrounding gas explodes, and kills him. There is, we doubt not, some truth in this. Mc. Lester has discovered a mode of drawing off the fire damp.
confesses himself that he has not arrived at known by the common name of crow silk, much certainty. The bones of an animal so frequently seen on moist walls, decayed found imbedded in rocks, near Maestricht trees, bare patches of ground, and stag. and Vicenza, which had hitherto puzzled nant water, are not, as supposed by Lin. Cuvier and other eminent naturalists, have næus, Hedwig, and others, a particular been determined by Sömmering to belong to sort of moss, called by them confervæ, but a species of lizard, which, from its great are inerely the young plants of the pine size, he calls the giant lizard. It is now moss, and others of a similar kind. This is unknown, but he conjectures that it is the intelligible enough, and is amply proved by Dragon of antiquity, so universally, though his ingenious experiments; but what are we (if he is right) falsely reputed fabulous. now to make of the numerous species of This enormous lizard is twenty-three feet in conferræ minutely described and figured in length. A plate of the bones may be seen, our books ? Anp. Phil. ji. 183, N. S. We need not, after this, despair of finding in some rock or gra We have to record, under this departe vel-pit, the skeletons of centaurs, griffins, ment, the same decline of the system of harpies, or even that of the renowned Pe- Linnæus as we have just mentioned respectgasus.
ing botany. Lamarc, a French naturalist,
discovered that insects, and several others The circumstance most worthy of notice of the less perfect animals, differ from quadin this science, at present, is the ambitious rupeds, birds, and fishes in being destitute attempt of M. Mohs, of Freyberg, the suc of a spine or back bone; and Cuvier, anothcessor of the celebrated Werner, to estab er French sarant, of great industry and tallish a jargon of new pames, extremely un- ent, took up the hint, and made it the basis couth and lengthy ; a combivation of Greek, of a new arrangement, we think, to superLatin, and Teutonic. We are sorry to see sede the precise and uninteresting system of Professor Jameson and Mr. Brande lending Linnæus. And, if we must have a learned their aid to the propagation of these barba array of barbarously compounded names risms.
for animals, that of Cuvier is rather more Almost every scientific journal announces natural than the "tooth and nail” work of the discovery of new minerals ; but we are the Swede, which makes the whale a quadusually very sceptical as to the genuineness ruped, and ranks the bat next to man in the of these novelties so frequently thrust on our order of things, because of the way in which notice; for we cannot often perceive a it suckles the young bats. greater anxiety to make out a discovery to Under the head of Geology we have seen be new, than to identify the examined mine Sommering's wonderful discovery of the aneral with species already known.
cient dragon. The discovery of the unicorn of our royal arms, which is said to have
been recently made in Thibet, by Major The study of Botany, lately so fashiona Latter, and in Southern Africa by Mr. ble, is rather on the decline, owing, we have Campbell, will tend much to weaken our po doubt, to the great ininuteness, and the faith in tbe dogmatism of naturalists, and to absolute barrenness of the Linnæan system. put more credit in history, though it should This system, which was for many years be contemptuously called fabulous. The quite unrivalled, seems to be rapidly falling dewly discovered animal is described by Mainto the back ground, and the more abstruse jor Latter, exactly as we have so often seen and equally useless system of Jussieu is it figured, with the body of a fine formed comiog into favour, and has already attain- horse, and a single horn in his forehead. ed a prominent place in the elementary We shall examine the evidence of this disworks. Mr. Brown and Dr. Hooker, are covery more scrupulously, as soon as it our most eminent botanists, and non passa comes before us more in detail. M. Labus æquis, Sir J. E. Smith ; but utility is the trielle, a French naturalist of some emivery last object which these gentlemen seem nence, has, in imitation, as we suppose, of inclined to pursue. The forming of divis. Humboldt's geography of plants, given a ions and sub-divisions, and the idle practice very brief sketch of the geographical distriof making names, and drawing up useless bution of insects. This is a subject of great and minute descriptions of flowers, leaves, curiosity, but there are few facts yet ascer&c. form the sole pursuit of all eminent bo- tained respecting it, from the want of genetanists. Sometimes, indeed, they find a ral observations by collectors, those perspare corner in a page, for a note on the sonages being usually much more apsicus utility of a plant, or on the peculiarities of to add a specimen to their box, than to reits growth and physiology, but this is very cord any thing concerning its habits or its
history. M. Latrielle, however, thinks he Physiological, or rather useful botany, is can prove that warm and cold countries have rapidly advancing under the care of the scarcely any insects in common, and also Horticultural Society, and by the talents of that under same parallels in countries which Mr. Knight, who deserves the richest credit are distant, the species are entirely differ. for his experiments on the food of plants, ent. This conclusion does not at all corand on the ripening and propagation of respond with what Humboldt found to hold fruits. Mr. Drummond also has made the in the vegetable kingdom, namely, that nearinteresting discovery that the green mosses, ly the same species Acurish in the most disa
tant countries, when the climate and tem
OPTICS. perature are the same.
The polarization of light, as it is called,
has for several years engaged almost the METEOROLOGY.
undivided attention of opticians; and Dr. If we were to estimate the advancement Brewster has been so industrious in experiof a science by the number of its observers, menting and collecting facts, that he has we should say that meteorology is making formed an entire system of mineralogy os progress towards perfection. Except, how the basis of polarization alone. We wait ever, the nomenclature of the clouds by Mr. with some anxiety for its publication. Mr. Howard, and the experiments of Dr. Wells J. W. Herschel has distinguished himself in on dew, we recollect nothing which merits a similar line of inquiry. The doctrine of the name of a great or important discovery Sir I. Newton, respecting the production of in the science. Mr. Farey has lately pro- colours by the thickness or thinness of laposed a method of studying the nature of minæ or plates, has been frequently imthe phenomena of falling stars, which, we pugned, and, we think, with success. If the doubt not, might help to fill up a column of experiments, however, of Mr. Charlton a meteorological table, could he persuade (Ann. Phil. ii. 182, N. S.) be correct, colours any body to pursue it; for we do doubt may, in some cases, such as enamelling, be whether Dr. Foster himself—Mr. Farey is produced by mechanical division and comout of the question-or any other meteor- munication. ologist, would sit for two hours every night,
ASTRONOMY. with his eye fixed on a central star, ready We may consider this as one of the more the instant he should see a falling star to perfect sciences, in which we can scarcely call out" mark” to his assistant. It would, hope for much that is new. Not that there we conceive, be more productive in the way is nothing remaining to be discovered, but of discovery, to sweep the sky for comets.
because it has been so long systematically ELECTRICITY AND MAGNETISM.
cultivated and taught, that the mind of the We class these together, because the only strings fronı his deference to great names,
astronomer is kept very much in leading thing new of any importance respecting and his implicit confidence in mathematical either, is the very interesting discovery of results. A little scepticism respecting retheir connexion, by M. Oersted, of Copenha ceived opinions in science, is often, howergen, whose experiments have been repeated er, of much utility in leading to discoveries, by Sir H. Davy, and several other British
or in confirming by new and collateral proof philosophers of distinction. The subject what is already known; and though it is may be considered as still in its infancy, but rather a dangerous instrument in unskilful we sanguinely anticipate that it will termi- hands, it is peculiarly adapted to men of nate in some great practical result. We are very much in the dark respecting the agents been wielding this weapon against the New
talent. Sir R. Phillips, we perceive has by which electric, galvanic, and magnetic tonian system, and has brought some plaueffects are produced. Of one thing we are very certain that these agents are not fluids against the supposed infallible doctrine of
sible, though not very novel objections as they are often foolishly denominated; gravitation, attraction, centrifugal and cenor if, forsooth, they must be called so, we üripetal force, inertia, and the celestial vamust call upon those who thus use the term euum on which Newton founded his sublime for a new definition. At the hazard of be- edifice. Sir Richard, however, like many ing thought credulous, we would infer from other objectors can pull down more dexter
M. Oersted's discovery, that there may be ously than he can re-build; his proposed sys**something real in animal magnetism, for believing in which we have not spared to rid- extravagant.—Col. Beaufoy, we perceive,
tem of motion being in many parts very icule the credulity of the Germans. The has inferred from some observations on the efficacy of electricity itself, in curing dis- immersion of the satellites of Jupiter that case, has lately fallen into disrepute, though the moon has no atmosphere, or, at least, it the facts of its power are strongly establishe is not like that of the earth.' This is not a ed on the evidence of some of the most dis
new conjecture. tinguished names in the profession. Two very singular cases occurred recently. One
MECHANICS. is given on the authority of Professor Olm A Mr. Herapath has come ambitiously sted, of a man who had a paralytic affection forward with some baseless mathematical of the face and eye, and being slightly dreams, by which he pretends to give a more struck during a thunder storm, was, in con- satisfactory, that is, a more mechanical acsequence, completely cured. A similar cure count of attraction, gravitation, heat, &c. was effected at Perth, on a man who had than has been hitberto published. His probeen troubled for many years with a tremu- blems, we doubt not, are executed with aclous affection of his whole body, which was curacy, and the results, being mathematical, completely removed by a shock he received may bring irresistible conviction to his during a thunder storm. These facts are mind; but we are accustomed, in all cases worthy of record, and should induce the. of pretended proof, to begin with an examprofession to give electricity, and even mag- ination of the premises; and the premises netism, a more accurate and fair trial than of Mr. Herapath we find to be wild, visionaperhaps has yet been done.
ry, and, withal, very clumsy. His leading
METAPHYSICS AND ETHICS.
principle is " Let it be granted, that matter names. A metaphysical system-a little is composed of inert, massy, perfectly hard, more intelligible than Mr. Herapath's, but indestructible atoms, incapable of receiving obscured by symbols, has long been formany change," and admitting“ of no break- ing by Dalton, Berzelius, Thomson, and ing, splitting, shattering, or any impression others; but though it is supported by the whatever." This extraordinary demand on greatest names, we think its utility very our credulity is followed by numerous others questionable, even if it were demonstrated of the same stamp, which he says he has to be accurately true. The new discovery put in the form of postulates, “ to avoid be- of the connection between electricity and ing being obliged to establish them by direct magnetism has induced some chemists to demonstration.” In the world-making days apply the magnet to analysis ; and we anxof Thales and Anaximander, all this might, iously wait the result. Will it have any efperhaps, have sounded very grand and im fect in altering the present view of the deposing, but Mr. Herapath must be very san- composition of water, which was the origiguine, if he hopes to make such antique nal basis of our established system? dreams as these be now listened to with any patience. We know nothing, so far as our own experience goes, of gas in general, nor These studies are now become exceedingaloms of matter in general, which are not ly unfashionable, and it would consequently oxygen, iron, flint, lime, soda, or something be contrary to all we know of human nature similar ; and we have been too often bewil- to expect much progress to be made in them. dered by metaphysicians to trust to their The publication, however, of the lectures of nonsensical definitions of matter in general, the late Dr. Brown, has surprised us most which is not, as they suggest, to be found in unexpectedly with not only great originality, any particular body, but in all the substan- but, what is of much greater moment, with ces around us. Mr. Herapath is for making more clearness of thinking, and more utility us retrograde with himself to the times of of application, than we had ever contemold, when “ the sublime speculations” of plated. Dr. Brown has fearlessly pulled Epicurus, &c. who derived all things from down former systems, but he has no less one kind of matter, were the only science dexterously rebuilt a simple and (wonderful recognised. We think the Royal Society to say) an intelligible and practical system shewed their good sense in rejecting these of metaphysics. He has shown most clearbaseless problems, and we would advise ly, that the dreams of Dr. Reid, though adMr. Herapath, if he should again feel inclin- vocated by the superficial eloquence of Dr. ed to exercise himself in system-building, to Stewart, are baseless and vain; and, of lay first a sure foundation, without which course, that Mr. Stewart's elements, howeveven mathematics are false and vain. er extravagantly praised by the friendly crit
It is refreshing to the mind to turn from ics of the north, contain nothing which was Herapath's useless reveries to the practical not borrowed from Dr. Reid, though Dr. inventions which are now
Reid had absolutely nothing worth borrowAmong these, we may mention the great im- ing; his chief work being full of gross misprovements making in the construction of takes and misconceptions. Yet what is more chain bridges, in which Captain Brown, the common than to hear Mr. Stewart called the inventor of the chain cable, has been so greatest metaphysician and moralist of the successful. One great advantage of such age? The theory of Mr. Alison, concernbridges is their cheapness; and another, ing beauty and sublimity, has also fallen that they can be constructed over a width of before the sweeping pen of Dr. Brown, water where bridges of masonry could not be though he has not deigned to hint.even at attempted.
the existence of this profound and original CHEMISTRY.
thinker," as he has been most ludicrously Since the discovery of iodine, there has called by his friend Mr. Jeffrey. Our readbeen nothing deserving of much notice in ers may recollect, that Dr. Brown first obthis science. Our experimenters are, indeed, tained distinction, by his masterly remarks sufficiently numerous, and many of them on the Zoonomia of Darwin, and in this mahave formerly obtained high distinctions for turer work we can still easily trace bis oblidiscovery; but their labours seem to be gations to that original but fanciful theory. much more trifling than they were a few We have before us the second part of the years ago. The rage for minute and unim Dissertation on the History of Metaphysics, portant distinctions, and for new terms to by Mr. Stewart, published in the Suppledesignate these, has widely infected those ment to the Encyclopædia Britannica. It is, who are desirous of fame; the contagion like the other part, rather tedious and prohaving most probably passed to them from sing, and loaded with notes, the sweepings our natural historians. We have, in this of his common-place book, which he found spirit, analyses of the excrement of a ser- it was beyond his ingenuity to interweave pent, by Mr. Edmund Davy, and of the with his text. He has cautiously abstained urine of a Ceylon frog, by Dr. J. Davy; and from giving any sketch of the improvements we have the French chemists analysing introduced by Dr. Reid,—for these, as well opium, and henbane, and belladonna, and as his own labours, would have dwindled inbemlock, and discovering new substances, to insignificance, after the complete expowhich were, for the most part, formerly sure of his pretensions by Dr. Brown. He known under different aspects, and differevt has reluctantly admitted, however, that Dr.
Reid was very imperfectly acquainted with of system. In Ayr, Aberdeen, and Leith, the metaphysics of his own age. We may there are three still languidly kept up; but appear to some to have done injustice to those in Edinburgh,* Paisley, &c. both Mr. Stewart. We retort the accusation on public and private, have been, if we mishis friends, who have lauded him as a pro- take not, wholly abandoned. What has found philosopher, to which character he been the cause of this ? Simply, it aphas evidently no claim. We cheerfully ac pears to us, that the original Scots system, cord to him, however, the merit of being a followed in the parochial schools, is more pleasing writer.
efficient, because it requires more time from
the pupil. We may lay it down, indeed, as EDUCATION.
incontrovertible, that what is soon learned, The new system of education introduced is generally as soon forgotten ; and sysby Bell and Lancaster, is said to be rapidly tems of education which pretend to accom. extending in almost every part of the civi- plish pupils in half the usual time, are, and lized world. We have to record one most must be gross impositions, and contrary to marked exception to this,-iis complete the known principles of human nature. failure in Scotland. This very striking The system of Bell
, or of Lancaster, howerfact has, we have reason to believe, been er, is admirable for teaching the alphabet, industriously concealed from the English the accidence, and the first four rules of public by the friends of the system ; but arithmetic; but there we conceive its utility we pledge ourselves for its truth. The stops, and must be supplied by one less meopulent and public spirited merchants of chanical. We would, therefore, advocate Glasgow erected four very large schools in most strenuously the support of these schools; those parts of the city and suburbs where and it indicates a growing spirit of civilizathey seemed most to be wanted ; and at tion that they are so rapidly increasing first they were crowded ; but so little satis. where schools were formerly unknown; but faction did they give, though conducted by we anxiously look forward to the period most able teachers from parent schools in when the population of Europe will be suffiLondon, that in one or two years they ciently advanced in information and im. were totally deserted, and have now been provement to see-as the populace in Scotconverted to other purposes. One is let land have seen that this applauded system for a Methodist chapel, and one, we be can carry pupils but a little way beyond mere lieve, still lingers on, but under a change elementary knowledge.
¥ntelligence. It is with unmixed pleasure that we once Improrement of Glass Manufactures ; in. more behold Miss EDGEWORTII before the cluding an Account of the Parent Crystallo public in the shape in which she is so pre- Ceramie, or Glass Incrustations. This diseminently excellent. Perhaps there is not covery is not only useful in producing very a single writer of the present day who has beautiful ornamental works, but miniatures been the means of bestowing at once so may likewise be enamelled on it, and the much instruction and delight, as this lady. colours will thus be retained by being emTo our juvenile friends her early lessons bodied in the crystal, so as, in fact, to be. are well koown, and many older eyes have come imperishable as the crystal itself.perused them with almost equal pleasure. The Memoir contains a curious historical To those excellent little volumes Miss Edge. account of the process of glass-making, worth has lately added a continuation, call- both among the ancients and in modern ed Rosamond, a sequel to Early Lessons, times. Some coloured plates are given, which exhibits our old friend more advan- which, however, scarcely convey an idea of ced towards womanhood, but possessing the the beauty of the ornaments themselves. same engaging frankness of disposition and Died.-- At Broxbourn, the Rev. W. Jones, purity of heart. It is superfluous to say that curate and vicar for the last forty years. these volumes inculcate the best morality ; About twelve years ago, being very ill, be it is sufficient perhaps to add that they fully had his coffin made, but not dying so SOOD equal any of the writer's former productions. as he expected, he had shelves fixed in it,
Some of our readers may probably have and converting it into a book-case, placed seen the newly-invented ornamental in- it in his study. Two days before he died, crustations in glass, called Crystallo Ce. he desired a young man to take out the ramie. By this process, ornaments of any books and shelves and get the coffin ready, description, arms, cyphers, portraits, and as he should soon want it, which was aclandscapes of any variety of colour may cordingly done; he further desired that be introduced into thé glass, so as to be. the church bell might not toll, and that he come perfectly imperishable. An account might be buried as soon as possible after be of this curious invention may be found in a was dead. This singular man was buried small quarto volume, lately published, call. in the plain boards, without plate, name, ed A Memoir on the Origin, Progress, and date, or nails.
In the High-street of Edinburgh the system of tuition by monitors is partially adopted; but this has always been more or less practised in Scotland, as well as the system of emulation by taking places,