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AMERICAN BIOGRAPHICAL WORKS.-We recently noticed a biographical work proposed to be published by Mr. Delaplaine, of Philadelphia. We have since seen a specimen of the manner in which it is to be executed; which, for beauty of presswork and graphical embellishment, certainly surpasses any thing of the kind that has yet been produced in this country. We have likewise received the prospectus of a work of similar nature to be entitled SELECT AMERICAN BIOGRAPHY, by W. Barton, Esq. of Philadelphia. It is to be comprised in three handsome octavo volunes, and to contain accounts of the lives of remarkable persons connected by nativity or otherwise with the history of North America, since its first discovery. We are pleased with the modest, unostentatious tenor and appearance of this prospectus; and augur favourably of the work that it
As these publications will contain a great body of American history, and furnish specimens of American literature, they cannot fail to attract attention, both at home and abroad. We cannot, therefore, but feel a great deal of solicitude that they should be ably and candidly conducted. We have seen works of this kind too often made the vehicles of adulation to the living, and extravagant eulogy of the dead, for the sordid purpose of gaining patronage and swelling subscription lists. It was a wise regulation of the Pantheon at Paris, that no monument should be erected there to the memory of any one that had not been dead at least ten years. We think some provision of the kind would be judicious in these great biographical collections. The authors would then run less chance of being dazzled by the glare of fresh-blown reputations, or of mistaking transient notoriety for that solid fame which is slowly collected from the sober judgment of the nation. Should these works maintain the rigid impartiality, and the disinterested and independent spirit that are indispensable to history, they cannot fail to be valuable repositories of naLional worth and talents. But should they stoop to consult the prejudices of party, to gratify individual. vanity or ambition, to pamper the pride of mumerous and aspiring families, or in any way to coin profit out of the folly and weakness of human nature, their very typographical splendour and voluminous bulk, by giving them celebrity and importance, would render them more obnoxious to the severest castigations of criticism.
Clarke's Naval History of the United States, 2 vols. 12mo, Philadelphia. We are glad to see that this little work has reached a second edition. The author professes nothing more than to give a collection of historical facts relative to our navy. He has accomplished much more. His book contains a most complete and faithful account of every important circumstance in the history and present state of our navy, beginning with the revolutionary war, relating the naval events of that period with more minuteness than we recollect to have ever before seen, and bringing down the narrative chronologically to the present time. The first edition was principally compiled with much care and diligence from gazettes, annual registers, and other authentic documents of the times. The present is enlarged from many communications received from several distinguished naval gentlemen, and a large body of information, communicated by the Hon. John Adams, late President of the United States, one of the earliest and most active friends of our naval establishments.
All this is performed in a modest, simple, and unpretending manner. There is no preliminary pufling, no swaggering and vapouring about the importance and value of his work; in short, none of the tricks of bookmaking. In this the author shows as much good taste as modesty. It is printed in the same unassuming manner, and affords, at a small price, and in a narrow compass, all the information to be desired on this subject, and
which, if it is to be found at all, is dispersed over more than a hundred volumes and files of old newspapers. We recommend this laudable example to the imitation of all compilers and publishers. Mr. Clarke informs us in his preface that he has for some years been engaged in preparing a general history of the United States. We wish bim every success in this undertaking. We do not expect to find in him a Livy or a Tacitus, but the work, iť executed with the same care and accuracy with the present, cannot fail of being in the highest degree useful.
A new treatise on surveying, by John Gummere, of Burlington, New. Jersey, has recently been published by Kimber & Richardson, Philadelphia. It is recommended, by some of our best mathematicians, as the most judicious work on this branch of science which they have seen.
Thomas Dobson, of Philadelphia, proposes to publish the septuagint version of the Old Testament. It is to be printed in 2 volumes 8vo, from the edition of Mill.
French STATISTICs.—Proposals have lately been issued, for publishing by subscription, French Statistics, from the original work, in seven volumes octavo, by
Peuchet, member of the council of commerce to the minister of the interior, and of several learned societies:
Sonnini, of the Society of Agriculture of Paris, and of others; editor and continuator of Buffon's Natural History:
Delalauze, coöperator in agriculture:
Gorsse, of the School of Mines, author of several prize memoirs, and inspector:
Amaury Duval, chief of the Bureau of Arts and Sciences in the ministry of the interior, and of several societies :
Dumuys, a man of letters :
P. E. Herbin, of the ministry of the grand judge, member of the Statistical and other societies:
Digested, abridged, and translated, by James N. Taylor, clerk in the treasury department of the United States. It will contain about four hundred
pages octavo, deliverable to subscribers at two and a half dollars in boards; to non-subscribers at three dollars.
Mr. Mannoury Dectot has invented a new lydraulic machine, a report concera. ing which has been presented to the French Institute. The principle of this ma. chine is to communicate the whole of the momentum of a body of water entering a vessel, after falling from a height, to a solid body within that vessel, except so mucha as may be necessary to carry it off through a hole in the bottom. This object is effected by making the water enter horizontally into a cylindrical trough containing a solid cylinder with a space of 1 -- inches between them, near its top, and in the direction of a tangent to the cavity. The water, in passing through the annular space between the cylinders, and thence through a hole in the bottom, communicates a motion to the machine, which, by experiment, has been found from 7-10ths to 75-100ths of the whole calculated force of the falling water, a greater effect than any other machine has ever produced.
Sir H. C. Englefield, Bart. F. R. S. has invented a new transit instrumentio which the telescope is placed with its axis perpendicular to the plane of the meridian, and the object seen by reflection in a mirror placed at an angle of 45 degrees imme. diately in front of the object glass. When the telescope is properly placed, any part of the whole semicircle of the meridian may be seen by merely turning it on its axis. The same gentleman has also given a new mode of placing the transit instro. ment correctly.
The following results have been given to the world by Joseph Rearl, M. D. of Cork, as deductions from several experiments made by him on the solar ray:
Ist That incident light has never yet been decomposed; and that Sir Isaac Ney. ton, and other philosophers, only decomposed light reflected from opaque substances, or fringes of blue, red, and yellow
2d. I'hat there are only three primary colours, blue, red, and yellow, by the mixture of which, either by the prism or painter, all the others are formed.
ind. That Herschel, Deslie, Davy, Englefield, and other philosophers, drew their conclusions relative to the heating power of the prismatic colours from erroneous data, viz. from experiments on reflected light, whose heat must, in a great measure, depend on the reflecting media, and, also, on the thickness and thinness of those parts of the prism through which the fringes pass.
We give his deductions in his own words, and must confess that his experiments and reasoning furnish an apparently plausible objection to the Newtonian theory of the separation of white light into rays of different colours. His second deduction is by no means new Dr. Woollaston had already proved clearly that there were only three, or, at most, four, colours in the spectrum; and Dr. Read appears to have for gotten, or not to have known, his experiments and those of Herschel, which showed that the solar beam was divided by the prism (according to Newtonian language) into two other substances beside the coloured rays, one of wbich was found between the red ray and the direction of the incident rays, and was the matter of heat or caloric. The other, a hitherto unknown substance, which blackened the salts of silver, and appeared to be that part of the solar ray which causes the colours of vegetables, &c, which we know would, if not exposed to it, become white and colourless These experiments establish the certainty of the Newtonian theory on a ground not to be shaken Besides, had Dr. Read reasoned correctly on his ex. periments, he would have found that the circumstance of the light remaining white in the centre of the spectrum, when admitted in large quantities upon the prism, arose from the same cause that misled Newton, viz. as to the number of the pris matic colours, the aperture being larger than was necessary to obtain the coloured rays entirely separate, and in Dr. Woollaston's experiment the apertore was an obJong of the smallest breadth that could admit the light free from inflection. In Sir Isaac Newton's experiment the aperture, a quarter of an inch, was sufficient 10 blend the colours so as to produce the intermediate shades, and in Dr. Read's the aperture, of four inches, threw the separated rays in confusion on the middle part of the spectruin so as to reproduce white light
This is not the first time that Sir Isaac Newton's doctrines have been attacked in this point. The celebrated Euler, and many others, have opposed the existence of light as a substance altogether, and have supposed its appearance to arise from the vibrations of an elastic medium. Newton's optics, however, stand on a basis of mathenatical demonstration, and their merits will not fall should even his deductions from his prismatic experiments be proved to be founded on false reasoning.
Tableau de la Litterature pendant le dix-huitième Siécle, 1813.
[A late number of the British Review contains a very elaborate review of this inte
resting little work, but, like most of the articles in that journal, it is of such an unconscionable length that though strongly tempted to reprint the whole of it, we feel ourselves compelled to be satisfied with extracting that part of it in which the characters and opinions of Voltaire and of Montesquieu are discussed ]
The new century opens with Voltaire, who was the earliest as well as the most renowned of its literary chiefs. Our author has employed near twenty pages in discussing the character and works of ihis singular person; and we wish it were possible to present his observations unbroken to our readers, as they certainly supply by far the ablest and most candid estimate of that extraordinary wri. ter with which we are acquainted. But we must be satisfied with giving a few extracts.
" To the midst of academical honours, and the early triumphs of 'Vol. IV. New Series.
youth, there was growing up a man destined to reap a large part of the glory of this century, to receive its complete impression, and to be, as it were, its representative; so that, but a little more, and he had given his came to it
. Undoubtedly nature had endowed Voltaire with the most astonishing faculties; undoubtedly such vigour of understanding was not entirely the result of education and circunstances; yet might it not be shown that the direction of these talents was constantly determined by the opinions of the time; and that the object of succeeding and pleasing, the main spring of almost all writers, governed Voltaire in every moment of his life? Never was any person more formed to yield from susceptibility to such impressions.' His genius offers, as it seems to me, the singular phenomenon of a man ordinarily destitute of that faculty of the mind which we call reflection, and, at the same time, endowed in the highest degree with the power of feeling and expressing with the most marvellous vivacity. This was unquestionably the cause both of his successes and of his faults. This manner of seeing every thing in a single point of view, and of yielding himself to the immediate impression which an object produces, without thinking of those which it might produce in different circumstances, has multiplied the contradictions into which Voltaire has fallen; has often hurried him far away from truth and reason; has injured the plan of his works and their perfection as a whole. But this* complete surrender of himself to the impression of the moment, this impetuosity of feeling, this irritability so delicate and so lively, produced that pathos, that irresistible attraction, that vivacity of eloquence and pleasantry, that constant grace which flows with an unbounded facility; and when reason and truth happen to be dressed in these brilliant decorations, they acquire the most seducing charms; they seem to have started into esistence without an effort, all glittering with native light and beauty; and the writer who thus exhibits them leaves far behind him all those who have sought them out by reflection, examination, and experience." P. 37, 38.
Voltaire was disposed, in early life, to be respectful to existing authorities, and was not far removed from the character of a courtier. It was not till the applauses of the theatre had given him confidence, and the paltry persecutions of some dignitaries in church and state had irritated his most irritable nature, that he assumed that tone of entire levity and bitter sarcasm which became afterwards habitual to him. Indeed, it is impossible to be acquainted with his writings without discovering that his taste and dispositions adapted him much better to the sphere of a court, and the polite circles of a luxurious metropolis, than the simple and stern temper of a republic. His genius was monarchical; he was a poet and a wit; he became a philosopher, or tried to become one, only from vanity, and a sort of necessity imposed upon him