mention other advantages which they derived from them, they evį., denuly rendered them arbirers of many great and important caufes.

The cross, the holy water, and even the Eucharift became trials,.. Priests, and Monks, nay fome of the Laity too, occasionally, when accused of crimes, cleared themselves by taking the communion, and councils authorized the abuse.

Christianity would, undoubtedly, have changed the Barbarians into other men, if it had not been loon infe.sed with fuperftitious practiceso equally absurd and pernicious. Its divine and benevolent morals were covered over, as it were, with a Savage kind of ruft, that concealed its genuine purity; and this too was an unavoidable effect of circumiances. The Druids had formerly an a

absolute power over the Gauls, and the German Priests had no less authority. The northern nations, when they changed their religion, were ftill equally subject to the Priesthood. Unfortunately, the Clergy at that time had geither knowledge erough to enable them to act a proper part, nor virtue enough to make a proper use of their power. How indeed, without a miracle, could they pofobly have relifted the corrent of public manners ? Especially when Barbarians were made Bishops, and brought their vices and their ignorance along with them. In such a situation, cvery thing mott necessarily have degenerared.

The Christian Emperors had enriched the Church, and, with: great profusion, bestowed privileges and immunities upon her ; and fuch tempsing advantages contributed not a litele to the relaxation of discipline, and to the production of a variety of abuses and diforders, which altered the genius and Spirit of the sacred minifry. Under the domination of Barbarians, the evil spread with prodi, gious rapidity. Being persuaded that all crimes were redeemed with inoney, and that, by giving to the church, they gained the kingdom of heaven, the more they indulged their brutal passions, the more they abounded in this kind of good works. One would have ima. gined, says Abbè Mably, that avarice was the first attribute of the Daily, and that the Sainis-wade a trafic of tbeir credit and proiettion. O&serv, on the Hiffery of France, C. 4.

• The Bishops, having purchased large eftates, and adding the influence of fortune to that credit and confideration which they den rived from religion, were frequently the Arbiters of States and Kingdoms. They extended their privileges, disposed of thronese and were Legislators in Spain, in France, and in other countries ; and this, indeed, could not polbly have happened otherwise. There was a necestity of consulting, the Clergy on many occasions, as they were the only persons who knew any thing; they generally spoke in the name of God, and they were bur men.

• As the interest of the Lairy was contrary to theirs, this oppolition gave rise to new disorders. The Clergy employed ariful mea. sures against powerful adversaries; invented fables to frighten and subje& chem ; confecrated Ipiritual arms for the defence of temporal goods; converted the gentle language of charity into horrid anathen mas, and made religion breathe nothing but cerror. Even general, councils were frequently less attentive to matters of discipline, ghan. to the etablishment or preservation of lucrative rights and privis, leges. Not was this all, the Bilops bad frequently recourse to the


sword to support their meafures: Being warriors both by inclination and habit, they fought in defence of their domains, took up arms to usurp the poffeflions of others, and sometimes to tefint their Sovereign. Hiftory presents us with a thousand intances of suck conduét. The violent and outrageous behaviour of the Lairy was, no doubt, the original cause of all this; but the comicy of the two orders alone is fufficient to thew that there were frange abuses, and that these abuses were deeply rooted.

When a numerous class of Citizens is exémpted from common burdens and taxes, when i: commands opinion, looks upon its privileges as of divine right, and when igaorance and fuperftition favour its views, it may undertake any thing, when it is once governed by incetest and ambition. The authority of the Prelatës, 'tis true, ' was, upon fome occasions," a refraint against crimes, and then it was of real utility ; but as, 'according to the usual course of human affairs, intérêt necessarily corrupted the exercise of this authority, it frequently became extremely dangerous.

The great number of monaftic inftitutions had likewise prodigi. ons influence upon the lot and condition of the people. From time immemorial, the Eat had feen a great number of men devoie themselves to a solitary and contemplative life, to which they were easily excited by a warm climate, and a lively imagination. The Ellenians among the Jews had set the example to the Christians, who followed it with so much the greater ardor, as their religion fet them more above earthly things. Egypt especially was peopled with Monks. In the fourth century, there were ten thousand of them, and twenty thousand Nutrs, in the town of Oxyrynchus alone, where there were more monasteries than private houses. And yet very few perfons are called by Providence to a state so repugnant to the natural order of fociety, and which requires 'virtue lo fuperior to human trength. A retaxation of discipline, ard debauchery, therefore, could not tail of being introduced among the Monks. A valt multitude of them, vagabonds, fanatical and feditious, overwhelmed the liaft, diflurbed the peace of the Church, and shook the Throne. The Emperor Valens, in the year 376, made a law that they should serve in the armies, thinking it impossible, by any other means, to reduce them to obedience. But such laws are seldom put in execution, and the remedy increases the disease.

• The christianity of the Barbarians produced scarcely any other effects than founding monafteries at a great expence; and enriching them by donations. The Monks had a considerable portion of the lands, some of which they cultivated, and this was at lealt an advantage to the countries which they inhabited. But as they became rich and numerous, they gradually loft fight of the fanctity of their inftitution ; 'they were coverous, vain, ambitious, Warriors, Lords, &c."like the secular Clergy; they contracted the vices of the age ; debauchery and the most icańcalous practices were found in the very fan&tuary of religious aufterity.--The State, accordingly, loft a great many subjects, and gained few good examples." People were dazzled at first, with fair and promising beginnings, and never looked foro ward to consequences, though the experience of the pait might have

NnX9N i Sidi to w taught

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

taught them very useful lessons in regard to the future. But nations are governed by habit and prejudice?'

We must now, for the present, take our leave of this judici. oưs and instructive Writer, tho' we do it with regret. The specimen we have given is sufficient, we doubt not, to tempt our Readers to have recourse to the work itself, which will abundantly repay, the pains of an attentive and repeated perusal. They will find Abbè Millot not only an elegant and wellinformed, but, with few, very few exceptions, indeed, a candid and impartial Historian.

His history is brought down to the treaty at Aix-la-Chapelle in 1748, and concludes with a short view of the principal revolutions which, in modern times, have happened in Asia.

Histoire de l'Academie Royale des Sciences, &c. - The History of the
Royal Academy of Sciences at Paris ; together with the Mathema-
tical and Physical Memoirs for the Year 1770. 4to. Paris, , 1773

MEMOIRS I. and II. On the Nature of Water, and on the

Experiments that have been produced to prove the possibility of its
Transmutation into Earth. By M. Lavoisier.

HESE Memoirs contain a very singular solution of a

problem that has long engaged the attention of Chemists and Philosophers; some of whom have maintained the transmutability of water into earth, in consequence of certain Chemical and Botanical experiments, that seemed strongly

to favour that assertion. We have lately pretty largely discussed this matter, in reviewing M. Le Roi's dissertation on the subject, in the Memoirs of this Academy for the year 1767 ; to our account of which we refer fuch of our Readers as are unacquainted with the state of the question, and the circumstances and reasonings relating to it * We shall here only observe that M. Le Roi maintained the immutability of water, and that we endeavoured to strengthen his opinion by such observations as occurred to us on the subject.

If the present Author's experiments, which indeed appear 10 have been made with sufficient accuracy, are cp be depended upon, they thew that the principal part of the earth, which has been collected from water after repeated diftillations in glass or other vessels, did not previously cxist in that fluid , but that it proceeded from the retort itself, or the vessel in which the dif tillation was performed. This manner of accounting for the phenomenon is so fingular and new, that we doubt not but that our philosophical Readers will be gratified by our giving them the following abstract of the Author's experiments • See Appendix to our xlv. volume, 1777, page 5!5.



[ocr errors]

To abridge the operation, and to avoid the inconveniences attending repeated distillations, M. Lavoisier used the simple expedient of cobobating the water, by means of a pelican ; that is, a glass alembic conhiting of one piece, or sometimes of a body, with a bead closely luted to it, in which there is a small aperture, which after the introdu&tion of the liquor is accurately closed with a glass stopple. From this head proceed two curve . spouts, that enter into the belly of the alembic, and reconvey into it the vapours which successively arise, and are condensed during the distillation; so as to produce a continued circulation of the diftilling liquor, without interruption, or the neceffity of luting and unlucing the vessels.

Into an instrument of this kind perfectly clean and dry, which accurately weighed i pound, 10 ounces, 7 drachms, and 21 graios , he introduced some pure rain water, which had previously undergone eight successive distillations. The pelican with its contents was found, by an accurate pair of scales that would turn with less than a grain, to weigh slb. 902.. 4 dr. 411 gr; so that the quantity of water contained in it was equal to 3 lb. 14. 02. 5dr. 20gr. We omit the relation of some preparatory steps taken by the Author, to prevent accidents that might arise from the dilatation of the air, on the first heating of the vessel. The two last mentioned weights were taken after the pelican and the water had been heated sufficiently to enable. him fafely to close up the aperture in the head with a glass stopple, which was immediately and accurately luted, so as to prevent any poffible evaporation of the water.

A conftant and pretty equable heat, varying only between 60 or 70 degrees of a Reaumur's thermometer (in which the point of boiling water was marked at 85) was regularly kept up, by means of a fand bath heated by lix lamps, during the space of 101 days. The process was begun on the 24th of October

Near a month passed before the Author perceived any remarks able appearance; so that he began to despair of the succes of his experiment. On the 20th of December however, he perceived some minute particles moving through the water in various directions, which, on examining them with a magnifier, he found to be chin lamina or plates of a greyifh coloured earth, of an irregular figure. On the following days, though they did not apparently

, increase in number, they grew evidently larger ; so that some of them were by estimation near two lines square, though they ftill continued prodigiously thin. During the whole courfe of the month of January, the number of these laming floating in the water fentibly diminished, Having acquired a greater specific gravity they fucceffively funk to the bottom of the cucurbit; while the remainder intirely lined the 5


fides of the vessel, fo as to give the water, which was feen through this thin earuhy coating, a curbid appearance, though it was in reality transparent.s. 4.3!!: :... ! 7:17

At lengih, on the iit of February, the Author perceiving that there was a considerable quantity of earth collected, and fear: ing least some unlucky accident should deprive him of the fruits of bis labour, thought properto put an end to the process. He therefore extinguished his lamps, and as soon as his pelican was, she carefully removed the Juting that's closed the aperture, andi with ono tmall degree of impatience brought the pelican and its contents to the teft of the balance. .15

On uial he found the whole to weigh sib. Yoz. 4 dr. 47 gr. 75 or }, that is, of a grain more than at the commencement 1 of the process. This night difference is of -no consequence, and ought to be atıributed to a slight inaccuracy in the balance, or other circumftances; and it may fafely be concluded, in the** first place, that water neither acquires or lose weight by a con tinued cohobation during the space of 10'y days." It follows? likewise, as chere was no fenfible inciease of weight, that the earth perceived in the pelican did not owe its exiftence to the matter of fire, or to any other extraneous fubftance, whieh mighes be suppoled to have penetrated the glass. --This earth therefore 1 muft either have been previously contained in, and now Tepa-19 rated from, the water ; or a part of the water must have been actually tranfmuted into tarih; or the earth muft have been fors nished by the glass in which the operation was performed? In any of these cases, either the pelican, or the water, muft have lost as much of its weight, as was equal to that of the earth produced in the operation.

For obvious sealons the Author did not endeavour to deter. mine this question by weigbing the water. It was fufficient to examine accurately the weight of the pelican. Having thered fore poitred out into another glass all the water and earth contained in it, and made it perfectly dry, he found that it had loft no less than: 27 grains and oths of its weight. Ffoni henee he naturally concluded thar the earth obtained in this process had actually been a part of the fubftance of the glass vefsel employed in it, abraded from its surface, or dissolved, by the water: He next examined the weight of the earth which had fublided to the bottom of the water : but this, when per fectly dried, weighed only 4 grains and this. Sufpecting however that the remainder of the substance which the pelican had evidently loft, was fil contained in the water, in a face of solution; he first inquired into the justice of this fufpicion, by means of a very exact hydrometer, and found a weight of T5 grains necessary to be added to that instrument, to make it fink as low in this cohobated. water, as it did in some water of the 6


« ForrigeFortsett »