« ForrigeFortsett »
to be between 1000 and 1500 times the pressure of the atmofa phere, on an equal surface, according to circumstances.
The volume concludes with an account of some experi. ments, made by the author, on the relistance of the air to bodies in motion, of various thapes and sizes, manifesting many curious properties and conclusions.
The foregoing analysis may enable the reader to form fome idea of the general merits of this performance. The principal object of the author seems to have been that of practical utility. The plan and execution of the work evince both judgement and experience. To young mathematicians, and, indeed, to schools in general, it will be found a valuable acquisition, being equally well calculated to mitigate the labour of the master, and to promote the improvement of the scholar.
Art. XII. Illustrations of Sterne, with other Essays and
Verses. By John Ferriar, M. D. 1 2mo. Pp. 314 Price 5ś. Cadell and Davies, London. 1798.
"HIS small volume consists of a variety of miscellaneous
matter, the principal part of which is, what the titlepage announces, " Illustrations of Sterne." We much doubt whether the admirers of that celebrated writer will thank Dr. Ferriar for thus abridging his claim to originality. The authors from whom Sterne, probably, “took general ideas, or particular passages, are Rabelais, Beroalde, D'Aubigné, Burton, Bouchet, Bruscambille, Scarron,” &c. and the extracts given to prove this opinion are such as cannot be controverted. We must confefs ourselves not sufficiently interested in the honour of Sterne's literary character to feel any regret at this exposure of his plagiarisin ; neither, we think, will the rational part of his readers be much offended, when they reflect, that his claim to the most beautiful of his compositions remains unimpeached. On the imınorality and inutility of Sterne's writings, in general, the world seems now to have made up its mind; it is not, therefore, necessary, that we Thould add any thing farther on this subject.
The next is an essay “ on certain Varieties of Man," but principally on the subject of the “Homines Caudati," and inuch curious quotation is brought forward to prove it a general idea. But our readers will, perhaps, be somewhat lurprized to find, from undoubted authority, that men of this defcription have existed in Ireland, and even in Kent.
“ Bulwer was informed that there was a family in Kent, whose defcendants were tailed, infomuch, says he, that you may know any one to be rightly descended of that family, by having a tail ;” and “ that the inhabitants of Stroud, near Rochester, incurred the qurse of tails, by cutting off the tail of Archbishop Becket's horse.”
Perhaps the second childhood of Lord Monboddo might have been amused by these numerous confirmations of his favourite system.
The remainder of this volume consists of a “Menippean Essay on English Historians"--" The Puppet Shew, a Didactic Poem"_"An Essay on Genius" _“A Dialogue in the Shades," on the subject of the Godwinian Philosophy-which we give to our readers, to enable them to form their own opinion. To which is added, an irregular poem, entitled, “ The Northern Prospect.”
In the whole of this publication are found traits of an elegant, claffic, and accomplished mind; and it would afford us infinite pleasure to find it employed on subjects of higher importance. The following specimen will clearly evince its powers, when engaged in the cause of truth, and in counteracting the poisonous efforts of a blasphemous and unprincipled atheist :-
“ DIALOGUE IN THE SHADES.
LUCIAN.-NEUDIDACTUS. Lucian. You appear very melancholy, for a philosopher of the new ftoical sect. Do you regret the glory, which you doubtless enjoyed in the other world? Or do you dislike the grim equality of the stalking skeletons which surround you? We cannot boast, indeed, of our gaiety, but we have tranquillity, which, to a philosopher, is much better. We enjoy our exemption from the perturbations of life, as the wearied mariner reports in the still gloom, fucceeding a mighty tempeft.
Neodidactus. Enjoy yourselves as you will; I am tormented by anxiety and doubt. By professing the doctrines of the new and pure philosophy upon earth, my character was ruined, and I was abandoned by society. Here, I find no one disposed to investigate my princi.. ples, excepting yourself, who, I suppose, intend to laugh at me, according to your custom. I had learned, indeed, from our master, that the wise man is satisfied with nothing ;' that he is not satisfied with his own attainments, or even with his principles and opini. ons ;'* but I feel that mine have produced the extremity of wreich. edness.
* "Godwin's Enquiry concerning Political Justice, VOL. I. P. 268. ad edition."
Lucian. You must, then, be extremely wise, on your own princi. ples. But be not dejected. The world, I perceive, preserves its old character ; mankind have seldom troubled their benefactors with ex. pressions of gratitude.
Neodidattus. I beg that you may never again mention so dir. agreeable a word to me. Gratitude, according to the new philosophy,
is no part either of justice or virtue ;'* nay, we hold it to be actually a vice, t when it results merely from our sense of benefits conferred
Lucian. By the Graces! this is very strange philosophy. In teaching men to be ungrateful, do you not render them wicked ?
Neodidactus. We do not embarrass ourselves much with the distinc. tions of virtue and vice ; the motives and the tendencies of human actions are so complex, and their results so uncertain, that we find it difficult to assign them places under those designations. We even doubt whether there be any such thing as vice.
Lucian. You puzzle me ; let me beg that you would explain your. self a little more clearly ; unless your philosophy enjoins you to be obscure.
Neodidadus. I will explain myself most gladly. Know then, that vice, as it is commonly understood, is, fo far as regards the motive, purely negative,'I and that actions, in the highest degree injurious to the public, have often proceeded from motives uncom. monly conscientious. The moft determined political affaffins, Clement, Ravaillac, Damiens, and Gerard, seem to have been deeply penetrated with anxiety for the eternal welfare of mankind.'s Our sublime contemplations lead us also to believe, that benevolence pro. bably had its part in lighting the fires of Smithfield, and pointing the daggers of St. Bartholomew.'||
Lucian. If I rightly understand you, murder and persecution are justifiable on the principles of the new philosophy.
Neodidattus. Our only rule is the promotion of general good, by strict, impartial justice ; whatever inconveniencies may arise to indi. viduals from this system, we disregard them, and as we allow no merit to actions which respect the good of individuals only, so we perceive no demerit in those which benefit the public, though they may confiderably injure individuals. Justice, eternal juftice, must prevail.
Lucian. But how shall this over-ruling justice be ascertained or limited ? If every man is to decide for himself and the world, con. fusion and universal ruin must enfue.
Neodidactus. You speak, 'O Lucian, of man in his present state ; but we regard him in the state of perfection, to which he may attain by instruction and experience. We hope the time will arrive, when neither government nor laws will be necessary to the existence of
* “ Enquiry concerning Political Justice, vol. I. P. 130. + Ibid. p. 266. Ibid. P. 153, 154.
fociety; for morality is nothing but the calculation of the probable advantages, or rather disadvantages, of our actions.
Lucian. By what means, then, shall those be corrected, who may err in their calculations respecting the public good, and eternal justice? For, I suppose, you can hardly expect that all men will reason with equal acuteness, in the most enlightened periods.
Neodidact us. By persuasion; the only allowable method of suppressing human errors. The establishment of positive laws is an in. fult to the dignity of man ;t so greatly do'we detest their influence, that we consider an honest lawyer as'a worse member of society than a diíhonest one, because the inan of integrity palliates, and in some degree masks, the ill effects of law.
Lucian. This part of your philosophy is not so new as you ima'a gine. All punishments, then, would be banished from your republic, excepting the long discourses, to which you would oblige criminals to liften.
Neodidactus. Punishment is nothing elfe than force, and he who suffers it must be debased, and insensible of the 'difference between right and wrong, if he does not consider it as unjuft. || 'I have deeply reflected, suppose, upon the nature of virtue, and am convinced that a certain proceeding is incumbent on me. But the hangman, supported by an Act of Parliament, assures me that I am mistaken. I Can any thing be more atrocious ? more injurious to our sublime speculations ?
Lucian. Doubtless, philosophers of your fect must sometimes be disagreeably interrupted, in their progress to perfection. But in a society without laws, without the fear of punishment for offences, without the distinctions of virtue and vice, and destitute of the ties of gratitude and friendship, I feel it difficult to conceive, how the transactions neceffary to existence can be carried on. "You must de. pend much on family attachments, and on the inviolable regard which individuals should pay to their promises.
Neodidactus. Family attachments we regard as filly, and even criminal, when they tend to bias our opinions; and as to promises, our master has written a long chapter, to prove that they are great evils, and are only to be observed, when we find it convenient.
Lucian. Did it never occur to you, that this system might produce more evil than good in the world and that you have been recommending a plan, which, instead of perfecting man, and improving society, must be destructive of every estimable quality in his breast, and must drive him again into savage folitude?
Neodida&tus. We cannot always answer for events. Every thing is connected in the universe. If any man asserted that, if
* “ Enquiry, vol. I. P. 180.
Vol. 11, P. 399, 400. I VOL. 11. P. 399.
VoL, I, P. 181. 1 Ibid. P. 178, 179.". M 4
Alexander had not bathed himself in the river Cydnus, Shakspeare would never have written, it would be impoflible to affirm that his affertion was untrue,'* Șuch is our doctrine,
Lucian. Your logic is equally admirable with your morality; this species of sophism has been exploded with contempt by good authors; you now rev it as one of your discoveries, and you may, perhaps, raise it to the rank of those which merit indignation.
Neodidactus. Be not too hafty; facetious Greek; you miscalcu. late, like all those who err, the quantities of energy necessary for this occasion. Our master has taken many of the things which you dis. approve, from the writings of your friend Swift,
Lucian. Yes, I am aware that a great part of your new philosophy is stolen from Gulliver's Travels, and that the republic of horses was the archetype of your perfect men.+ But come, that we may part in good humour, I will treat you with a sentiment, which I derive from a dear friend of Swift. We are for a just partition of the world, for every man hath a right to enjoy life. We retrench the super. fluities of mankind. The world is avaricivus, and we hate avarice, A covetous fellow, like a jackdaw, fteals what he was never made to enjoy, for the fake of hiding it. These are the robbers of man, kind, for money was made for the free-hearted and generous ; and where is the injury of taking from another, what he has not the heast to make use of ?' What is your opinion of this ?
Neodidaetus. It is admirably expressed, in the true spirit of our philosophy, and of impartial justice. Indeed our master has said something very like it. I Pray, in what divine work is this great truth to be found?
Lucian. In the Beggar's Opera ; it expresses the sentiments of a gang of highwaymen, an institution which approaches nearer to your idea of perfect society, than any gther with which I am acquainted.”
ART. XIII. A Proposal for restoring the ancient Conftitution
of the Mint, so far as relates to the Expence of Coinage. Together with the Outline of a Plan for the Improverrent of the Money, and for increafing the Difficulty of Counterfeiting. By the Rev. Rogers Ruding, B. D. Vicar of Maldon, in Surrey. 8vo. Pp. 49. Price is. 6d. Sewell. Hatchard,
London. 1722.214.171.124 WE
E cannot better inform our readers of the plan and
purpose of this useful work, than by transcribing the author's own words, in a short introduction prefixed to it :
« Enquiry, vol. I. P. 161. + See the Voyage to the Houynhms. | Enquiry, vol. I, p. 208. and yoL. 11. 8. 4445 445."