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From late British Publication*.
.Mr West'i Painting.—Mr. West, the venerable president of our royal academy, has nearly completed, in the seventy-fifth year of his age, an epic picture that would have done honour to the first painter of any age or school. The subject is the Ecce Homo. The picture of Christ giving sight to the blind, exhibited two years since, which procured for its illustrious author praises and honour beyond what has ever been experienced in modern times, and which merited all the eclat it produced, was considered a master-piece of Mr. West's pencil: but so transcendency superior is the present work, that we are at a loss to conceive the mighty step that the painter has taken in his approach to the perfection of art, in so short a period, and at so advanced a stage of life.
This stupendous picture is on an immense scale, and describes all the characters rathir larger than life. On the steps before the palace of Pontius Pilate, Christ is shown to the Jews: the Komau is addressing the people in the words of scripture —" Behold the man!" Caiaphas is claiming the Saviour, and is the true personification of the stubborn high priest: bigotry, superstition aml intolerance are depicted in his countenance, whilst that of the Roman judge is replete with nobleness and candour. The countenance of the man of sorrow is filled with benignity, and «xpressive in the happiest degree of that ineffable goodness which painting could never before attain. Immediately upon the foreground, and to the right, are seen the three Marys. In the mother of our Lord, an awfulness of expression is depicted upon the countenance that cannot be described—in that of Mary Magdalen, an agony of grief is visible; indeed her whole fignre is indicative of her emotion, on beholding him thus treated who had pardoned her sins, and given peace to her soul Among tile crowd are conspicuous Joseph of Arimathea, and other followers of Christ, the affecting expression of whose countenance offers a fine contrast to those of the wicked, reviling, unbelieving Jews There are many episodes in this great epio work, as the prison doors where the two thieves are brought out to be crucified with Jesus; in one you behold the hardened ruffian, in the other the penitent culprit, whilst Bat-abbas, whose appearance bespeaks all that is abhorrent to good, is claimed by the multitude. On the foreground is the cross with a group of soldiers and executioners—even these appear to feel an interest on beholding the meek and persecuted Jesus. The figure of the centurion bears the stamp of martial dignity.
The vast crowd of people has no part that is not essential to the story. Every figure has its appropriate place, every head possesses an expression that goes to elucidate the story, and even the action of the hands materially assist the subject, which is inconceivahly grand. VV e feel no hesitation in saying, and with feelings of laudable pride, that this epic picture of our cotemporary, WEST, for composition, expression, and masterly execution, possesses a greater degree of pathos than any painting in the world.
We understand that Mr. West has refused the sum of ten thousand guineas for this sublime effort of his gemus.
British Pulpit Eloquence; a selection of sermons in chronological order, from the works of the most eminent divines of Creat Britain, during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; with biographical and critical notices.—The plan of the editors of this work (beginuing with the "judicious" Hooker,) is to select one sermon from each of the eminent pulpit orators of England, Ireland, and Scotland, of the 17th and 18th centuries; the whole to be arranged in chronological order, and every discourse to be prefaced with a biographical and critical notice of the author. In the selection both of authors and sermons, regard will be had only to the excellence of the one and the reputation of the other. The sole limit in the choice of specimens will be the determination to avoid religious controversy. It is expected that the work will make three volumes 8vo. each volume containing three parts, a part to be published every month till completed.
Mr. John Dunlop has completed the History of Fiction; being a critical account of the most celebrated prose works of fiction, from the earliest Greek romances te the novels of the present a»e. In three volumes, post octavo.
M. Recnpero, having written a History of Mount Etna, the work is now printing in two large volumes, to be embellished with plates.
The bones of an unknown animal were lately found in a peat moss in Russia. This creature must have been about twelve feet long; the horns were two feet and a hali long, and one foot and a half round at the root. From the appearance of this imperfect skeleton, is seems to have belonged to the urus or aurochs, mentioned by Caesar in his account of Germany A nd it is thought that the real urus may still be occasionally seen in the mountains of Siberia.
Variation of the Compatt.—A correspondent remarks, that the needle which, in this latitude, pointed truly to the north in the year 1657, and has been inclining to the WLStward ever since, at the averaged rate of about teu minutes per annum, has reactied the utmost extent of its variation; has been stationary; and is note receding. From this observation, if correct, it seems that about !5 decrees is the extent of its variation westward; that it will, in about 150 years again point truly to the north; and, probably, for the next 150 years, will incline to the east; taking up a period of 500 years in making a revolution.
Origin of the North American Indians.—M. Julius Von Klaproth has made a curious discovery respecting the American Indians, lie has found along chain of nations and idioms extending from the canal of Queen Charlotte along the northwest coast of A meriea, to Southern Canada, the United States of V merica, Louisiana, the Floridas, Great ami Little Antilles, the Caribee islands and Guiana, as far as the river of the Amazons, where the languages and idioms are all obviously derived from an original language, which has a great deal of affinity with that of the Samojedes and Kamntchadales. The people all along this vast track, both in their figure and mode of life, have a striking similarity to the free nations in Northern v sia. Mr. Klaproth. gives a list o> Caribee words which occur in the languages of the Mandshou, the Samojedes, the Korgacks, the Youkaguircs, the Toungouses, the Kamptchadales, the Tchouktchis, etc.
Lord Byron — Mr. Ti. C. Dallas, a gentleman well known in the literary world, has published a contradiction to the allegation that Lord Byron had '« received and pocketed large sums for his works."— " I take upon me," sayshis grateful vindicator against the ehurge of meanness implied in these words, "to affirm that Lord Byron never received a shilling for any of his works. To my certain knowledge, the profits of the Satire were left entirely to the publisher of it. The gift of the copyright of Childe Haro'iTs Pilgrimage 1 have already publicly acknowledged, in the dedication of the new edition of my novels; and I now add my acknowledgment for that of The Corsair, not only for the profitable part of it, but for the delicate and delightful manner of bestowing it, while yet unpublished. With respect to his two other poems, T/ie Giaour and The Bride of Abydas, Mr. Murray, the publisher of them, can truly attest that no part of the sale of those have ever touched Ms lordsship's hands, or been disposed of for his use; and he has constantly, both by word and action, shown his aversion to receiving money for his productions."
Pinelli has undertaken the engraving of all the paintings in fresco extant at Rome, which have not already been given to the public He has commenced with those in the Convent della Crinita del Monte.
The celebrated Canova is engaged upon statues and busts of Murat, his consort and family.
A new Literary and Political Heview has appeared in Edinburgh, under the title •f the North British Heview, or, :'onstitutional Journal, to be published every two months. It professes to be conducted on the broad and liberal principle of bestowing impartial consideration on every production of merit, without being guided in its selection by any party or interested motives, and uniformly to maintain a firm adherence to the constitution of the country in all its parts, and to the administration of the government so long as conducted with the same wisdom and energy which in times of unexampled difficulty have raised higher than ever the dignity and prosperity of Britain, aud prepared the way for the return of liberty aud peace to the world.
Miss Porter, author of the Scottish Chiefs, has in the press, the Pastor's Fire-side, in three volumes.
Jfercnlaneum MS—The literary world are naturally curious to know the progress and fate ol the interference of the Prince of Wales in the affair of the Ue>CU Aneum Ms.j. about which we excited a lively interest above twelve years ago. The mission of Mr. Hayter to Naples, to support which a grant was made by Parliament, terminated in that gentleman Bending to England six of the original charred i apiri. These were received at Carlton house in the j ear 1805, audit was hoped that British genius and art might have led to some improved means of unfolding them. In truth, a room was fitted up for the purpose, and much ingenuity exerted; but, we lament to say, without any success. It was suggested that steam might give consistence to the charred vegetable, and this menstruum was tried on one of the rolls; but it reduced it to an inseparable pulp. Indicate mechanical means were then applied to unravel a second, but he result was equally unsuccessful; and, discouraged by two failures, the other rolls have remained unexamined, and are now in possession of Dr. \oung. Mr. i-ayter's arrival at Naples, backed by British capital, gave new vigour to the business of unfolding; and although but eighteen MSS had been developed in forty years, yet, during six years, he was the cause of nearly SOU of the whole i8'fO, being completely or partially unrolled. Of course Mr. Hayter left Naples with the court, on the French invasion taking place in 1806; but he carried with him to Palermo ninety -four Jac-iimilet ol tlSa. and afterwards brought them to l.ngland, and presented them to his royal master, as the result ol his mission These the prince judged it proper to present, through the medium of Lord Grenvillc, its Chancellor, to the University Of Oxford, in the just expectation that that learned body would gratify the literary world by their speedy publication. Mr Hayter himself afterwards received an appointment from the Prince, and resided some time at Oxford, to aid the labours of .In- professors by his experience; but we are concerned to find that the appointment has lately been superseded, and that there now exists in consequence no immediate prospect of the publication of these treasures.
Swift's Workt.—A complete edition of Swift's works is printing, under the supervision of Waltcr Scott, esq with a Life of the Author, Notes Critical and Illustrative, Sec. Sec. It will extend to nineteen volumes -10 handsomely printed. Upwards of a hundred original Letters, Essays and Poems, by Dean Sw ift, which have not hitherto been printed with his works, will appear in this edition. These have been recovered from Thcophilus Swift, esq Dublin, from a collection of manuscripts of various descriptions, concerning Swift and his affairs, which remained in the hands of Dr. Lyons and Major Tickell, from originals in Swift's hand-writing, in possession of Leonard Mac Nally. esq. from Matthew Weld Hartstonge, esq. who has furnished much curious information, from laborious researches made through various journals and collections of rare pamphlets, in w hich many of Swiff s satires made their first appearance; and from Dr Berwick, who has obliged the editor ■with some curious illustrations of the Dean's last satirical Tracts. In the Biographical Memoir it has been the object to condense the information afforded by Mr. Sheridan, L .rd Orrery, Dr. Dclany, Deane Swift, Dr Johnson, and others, into one distinot ami comprehensive narrative.
Captain Lockett, of the College of Fort William, is preparing for the press, an account of his Researches amongst the Huins of Babylon, w hich he visited in the year 1811, and explored with the most minute attention His work will contain plans and views of the tower of Nimrod or Belus, and the other vestiges of remote antiquity still visible in the neighbourhood of Baghdad and 'illah, where he was fortunate in collecting a number of inscribed bricks, gems, and medals. This work will form four hundred quarto pages, and is to be published in England
It is said that with Mr Onion's steam engine, at Bristol, corn will very soon be ground. The principle is a hollow wheel; whose interior is half filled w ith a fluid metal. The steam is supplied by a common boiler, and makes no noise whatever, saving half the coals, Sec.
A new Hygrometer.—M. Baptist Lendi, of St Gall, gives the following description of his invention :—'n a white flint bottle is suspended a piece of metal, about the size of a hazel nut, which predicts every possible change of weather, twelve or fourteen hours before it occurs. As soon as this metal is suspended in the bottle with water, it begins to increase in bulk, and in ten or twelve days forms an admirable pyramid, which resembles polished brass, and it undergoes several changes, till it has attained its full dimensions. In rainy weather this pyramid is continually covered with pearly drops of water ; in case of thunder or hail, it will change to the finest red. is
and throw out rays; in case of wind or fog, it will appear dull and (potted; and, previously to snow, it will look quite muddy. If placed in a moderate temperature, it will require no other trouble than to pour out a common tumbler of water, and pat in the%aiue quantity of fresh. For the the first few days it must not be (hakes.
Dr. Clarke's third volume of his Travels will appear in a few days It will form the second section of the Travels in Greece, Kgyp* and the Holy Land; completing the seoond part of the whole work according to the pla > originally proposed by the author, and will contain his voyage up the Mile to grand Cairo, his observations upon the Pyramids of IVji'za and and Sacc'ra; a description of the remains of the city of iSais on the Delta; an account "f the Antiquities of Alexandria, particularly of Pompev's Pillar and the Cryptic of Necropolis; with his subsequent Voyage, and Travels io Greece, Macedonia, Thrace, etc. esc.
In one of Mr. BakSwell's Lectures at the Surry institution, delivered during the present month, he adverted to the possibility of applying Gunpowder asa jfrsf mover of machinery. As this subject is highly curious, and well deserving the attention of mechanics, we shall give his words as nearly as we can recollect.-—" Almost all the machines of the ancients," said he, " were set in motion by the muscular action of men or quadrupeds; but the moderns have called the elements to their aid, and made the winds and the waters subservient to their use. Natural philosophy has brought other agents into action; and the application of elastic fluids, particularly of steam, as a mover of machines, has greatly enlarged the empire of man over nature. It is highly probable, that another agent may hereafter be substituted ; an agent which has hitherto been chiefly employed for purposes of destruction, I mean gunpowder. I have little doubt that the expansive force of this substance might be immediately and safely applied to keep in motion large machines with much less expense than by the steam engine. The apparatus would, I conceive, be less cumbersome and expensive. \ single dram of gunpowder, if properly applied, will rend a solid block of metal equal in thickness to a large piece of ordnance The practical mechanic will have no difficulty in conoeiving how an equable motion may be communicated to machines by percussion, with the aid of a balance w heel and crank."
A volume of Sermons is in the press by the Rev. Archibald Allison, LI.. TV Prebendary of Sarura, and author of tssays on the Nature and Principles of Taste.
The PriNcess Elizabeth, whose literary and inventive powers have often been displayed through her pen and pencil, and which have always done so much credit to her genius and exalted rank, has, we are informed, been long engaged in a series of biographical sketches, which to a future age are likely to constitute the secret memoirs of a considerable part of her father's eventful reign.
The Personal Travels of M. De Humboldt to the Equinoctial Regions of the New Continent during the years 1799—1804; with a Picturesque Atlas, Maps, Plans, etc. translated into English by Helen Maria Williams, will appear in a few weeks.
Singular new discovered body—About a fortnight ago Sir Joseph Banks received a letter from Sir Humphrey Davy, who is at present in Paris, mentioning a newly discovered violet coloured gas, which had lately attracted the notice of men of science. but no particulars are given of its nature or production.
In the Journal de Paris, for the 3d of December, it is stated, that a memoir oa this substance, by Clement and Desormes, had been read before the French Institute, and the following circumstances respecting it are stated. It was discovered by M. ('ourtois, and was obtained from kelp. When heated to 158° it is converted into a gaseous substance ot a strong violet colour. It is not acted on by oxygen, charcoal, or a red heat. Willi hydrogen and with phosphorus it produces muriatic acid It combines with the metals without eflervesence. : It combines also withjthe metallic oxides, and forms compounds soluble in water. With ammonia it forms a c compound.
This notice is rather enigmatical; but it would appear from it that the i in question has many properties in common with chlorine. Hence it is probably a compound of chlorine and some other body. What is meant by saying, that with phosphorus it forms muriatic acid, I do not understand. A few weeks will probably put us in possession of the mode of preparing this substance, and of course enable us to examine it.
When ammoniacal gas comes in contact with the oxymuriate of sulphur, it assume! a vioh-t colour of great intensity and beauty. Whether this has any conuex the substance in question time will determine.