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tion in London and in the country. The amount of the gold which these houses refine annually, is estimated at no less than one hundred and forty-six thousand ounces—the amount of one hundred and eight thousand five hundred ounces being refined by eleven of these establishments. The mode in which this quantity of gold is disposed of, Mr. Jacob made it his business to ascertain. Some portion of it is taken by gold-beaters, of whom there are about eighty in London, and from ten to fourteen in the country, chiefly in the following places, Birmingham, Dublin, Glasgow, Edinburgh, and Liverpool. On the average, these ninety, or ninety-four establishments, consume three ounces of refined gold each per week. The leaf gold, when wrought by the gold-beater, is placed, as every body has seen, between paper, in leaves of three and three-eight inches square, and twenty-five form a book. A thousand of these books usually fetch 2l. 15s., which, deducted from the gold-beater's expenses, would leave him but 3s. profit on each thousand. This would be intolerable, if profit did not emanate from another source, and it happens to do so abundantly, from the clippings which fall in reducing the leaves to the regular size. The consumption of all the gold-beaters in the British kingdom, is estimated at about seventeen thousand five hundred ounces of fine gold every year. The other branch of consumers consist of what is called the water gilders, who are employed in gilding metals, and the amount which they have required, has amounted annually, for the last twenty years, to twenty-one thousand eight hundred ounces. The proportion used by manufacturers of gilt toys, the establishments of which are most numerous in Birmingham, and which, indeed, constitute no small item in the list of our exports, is calculated at no less than thirty-one thousand two hundred ounces annually: gilding in the potteries consumes five thousand two hundred ounces a year. We regret that we cannot follow Mr. Jacob into more of his details on this subject: but his conclusion is curious. He says, that the fine gold annually used by gilders, platers, and jewellers, amounts to one hundred and forty-six thousand ounces, valued at 638,750l.
‘Standard gold used by jewellers, two hundred and thirty- l. S. d. two thousand ounces - - - - - . 902,270 0 0 Number of gold watches manufactured annually in London - - - 13,820 in Birmingham, and other places – 900 Total - - - - - 14,720 watches Which, averaging two ounces each, give, at the rate of 3!. 5s. an ounce, a total sum of - - - - 95,680 0 0
The value therefore of the gold converted to other pur. poses than coining, in Great Britain annually, is estimated at - - - - -e - - - 997,950 0 O' The closing chapters of Mr. Jacob's work relate to the prospect of future supplies of the precious metals, and to the subject of paper money. With respect to the former question, it is the opinion of our author that no sanguine hopes can be indulged of a great or material increase in the produce of those mines which have already been worked, at least at present. From what he has stated on the subject of paper money, we gather a few facts which it may be interesting to peruse. Russia is now the only country which ever adopted a paper currency, that has not resumed a metallic one up to this time. Austria, after having witnessed a great depreciation of its paper money, in consequence of the superabundance of it which she was impolitic enough to issue, returned to cash payments about six years ago. There is still paper in circulation, but it is convertible into specie. Prussia has a small circulation in bills, which can hardly be called a paper currency. Holland has, since 1810, a paper currency, but convertible into specie. In all the smaller states of Germany, in Italy, Spain, and Switzerland, the currency has been invariably metallic—that portion of Italy alone excepted which is subject to Austria. Denmark, Norway, Sweden, and Portugal, possess a small paper currency. The notes of the Bank of Paris in circulation in July, 1830, amounted to nine millions The circulation of the Bank of England at the same time was about twenty millions.
The reader will, we are sure, join with us in thinking, that much curious and valuable information has been collected in this work. Though we are not disposed to eulogize the arrangement, into which it is evident that Mr. Jacob, by pressure of other business, was forced, we cannot but admire the uniform veneration for truth, the unaffected resolution to be accurate in every thing, and the very striking perseverance of inquiry which are so conspicuous in these volumes. The philosophy of commerce has been exhibited here in an aspect so attractive, that we have no doubt that even commercial men themselves, so proverbially phlegmatic, will not hesitate to yield to her charms. The style of Mr. Jacob is altogether unambitious: it is plain and strong, just such as becomes such a man and such a theme.
ART. VII.—The Life of Sir Isaac Newton. By Daniel Brewster, LL.D., F.R.S. No. XXIV. Family Library. 18mo. pp. 366. London: Murray, 1831. It has often been made matter of reproach to our Government, that they pay but little, indeed scarcely any, attention, to the promotion of science, or to the encouragement of men who devote their lives to the pursuit of scientific objects. The provisions that have been made in the present or in former reigns for such purposes, have really been so paltry, that they do not deserve to be mentioned. It is not many months since an annual donation of 1,000l., which was
regularly presented by the late king to the Royal Society of Literature, and which formed the principal resource of that institution for the pensions of its associates, has been altogether withdrawn. Whether the same fate is to attend the pittance allowed for the mere purchase of instruments, to Sir James South, we do not know : but we should not be surprized to find even that, sooner or later, numbered among the dead. Upon this subject, however, it must be admitted that a government like that which manages the affairs of this country, is placed in very peculiar circumstances. Without at present entering into the question, how far it may or may not be useful to the community at large, that literature, the sciences and arts, should receive direct and liberal support from the state, we ought not to shut our eyes to the fact, that in free empires it has generally been the usage to leave all such matters to the care of the community itself. With us, government is nothing more than a mere political machine for the attainment of political purposes: in absolute monarchies, or in countries which still retain much of the monarchical principle in their constitution, the usage is for the government to look upon the whole kingdom as the patrimony of the prince, and therefore it takes upon itself the formation and administration of roads, canals, docks, theatres, and other public buildings; it creates galleries for the reception of pictures, buys pictures to put into them, raises up academies and other institutions, for the diffusion of education, and the support of science. Now all these things we have been accustomed to do for ourselves, because we have never allowed ourselves or our possessions to be considered as the patrimonial estate of any royal family. Even in the feudal times our ancestors displayed a spirit of personal independence, which revolted at any practical application of this doctrine, however justifiable it might have been in theory. If a canal be wanted in any part of the country, and if it offer a prospect of reasonable returns for the capital required to construct it, prospectuses are issued, and the necessary sum is soon subscribed by individuals, without the assistance of a shilling from the government. So it is with rail-roads, theatres, and other works subservient to the uses of trade, or to the amusement of the public : the government is never thought of upon such occasions, and if it should ever be applied to, the probability would be, that the application would either remain unanswered, or be met by a polite, but a positive refusal. It is this habit of our people depending in every thing upon their own resources, that has excluded the state from what many suppose to be its natural connexion with the patronage of the arts and sciences, and we apprehend that under the new order of things no reform will take place upon this subject. - If reproaches ought to be cast upon any party in consequence of the actual condition in which the sciences are at present placed in this country, we think that, in justice, they ought to be cast rather upon the nation at large, than upon the state, which is the nation's servant. There is no country in the world that derives so many advantages from the practical application of scientific improvements as England, and yet there is no country in which the authors of the theories from which those improvements have sprung, are treated with so much indifference and inattention. It is a great disgrace to us, that until the appearance of the little work now upon our table, we have had in our language nothing like a full and well digested life of one of the greatest ornaments of our country, and a man of whom any country might well be proud. It is scarcely two years ago, since the duty devolved upon us of vindicating his memory from the misrepresentations of M. Biot, whose account of Newton's life in the Biographie Universelle, was in some respects a tissue of falsehood. We are glad to find that our labours on that occasion attracted the notice of Dr. Brewster, as they may possibly have contributed to stimulate him to the performance of the task of which he has so well acquitted himself in the present publication. To common readers, the assertion must seem almost incredible, that ‘ this is the only Life of Sir Isaac Newton, on any considerable scale, that has yet appeared,’ and yet it is strictly true. Short and imperfect biographical sketches of that immortal philosopher, are to be found in dictionaries and encyclopaedias, and other such works of reference; but hitherto, no regular biographical account of him has been produced, proportioned in its extent to the importance of the subject. For a life of Newton ought not to be a mere diary, containing his birth and education, and the ordinary occurrences of his every-day existence. The pursuits by which he has been distinguished, and which he followed up with a degree of success that has rarely been given to human inquiries, constitute an essential portion of his life, and ought to be interwoven with it as much as possible. Indeed, without frequent reference to his optical and astronomical labours, a memoir of Sir Isaac Newton, although the number of his years much exceeded the ordinary lot of mortality, would be but a dull and common-place affair. Let those labours be but even partially incorporated with the memoir, and it becomes a touching and sublime record of the heights to which the human mind has scaled, in attempting to discover the secret laws of that order and beauty, which prevail throughout the system of the uniVerse. So far as the mere personal history of Sir Isaac was concerned, Dr. Brewster's task was attended with some difficulty, as the materials for it, in themselves scanty enough, in consequence of the uniformity of the philosopher's habits, were rendered still more scarce from the neglect of his contemporaries. The Biographia Britannica has been the author's principal resource: some aid he has received from the letters to Oldenburgh, and other papers in Bishop Horsley's edition of Sir Isaac's works, a little more from Turnor's collections for the history of the town and Soke of Grantham, from Biot's Life, and Lord King's late memoir and correspondence
of Locke. To these, the kindness of Lord Braybrooke has enabled him to add some letters hitherto unpublished, which throw a satisfactory light upon a passage in the philosopher's career, that has given rise to a good deal of conjecture and misrepresentation. But by far the most valuable portion of the present work, in our estimation, is that in which the author has presented us with a succinct and popular analysis of Newton’s optical researches, his mode of constructing reflecting telescopes, his observations on the refrangibility and nature of light, and, above all, of his discoveries in the distant fields of astronomy. Such an analysis no living writer was better calculated to make than Dr. Brewster. His style is always so comprehensive, so appropriate, so free from technicalities, and so transparently clear and intelligible, that we may fairly consider the present number of the Family Library as the best compendium we possess in our language of the Newtonian philosphy. The outlines of Sir Isaac's life are so well known, that they would scarcely bear repetition. A few of the remarkable circumstances connected with it may be briefly mentioned. He was not only a posthumous, but a premature child ; he was so small when he was born, that, as he himself often heard his mother say, he might have been put into a quart mug. The little hamlet of Woolsthorpe, in Lincolnshire, about six miles south of Grantham, had the honour of giving him birth.* At school he was an idle lad, until he was one day treated with marked indignity by the boy immediately above him, and he nobly resolved on revenging himself by getting his enemy's place. He soon passed him, and became the head of his class by a systematic assiduity, the habit of which never afterwards left him. Out of school hours, instead of engaging his leisure in play, he devoted it to mechanical pursuits, at which he readily became an adept. He constructed a windmill, a water-clock, and a carriage, which was put in motion with a handle wrought by the person who sat in it. He had a contrivance by means of which the machinery of his windmill was set a-going without the assistance of the element, when necessary, and this was a wire wheel, like that which is attached to squirrel cages, and in the inside of which he confined a mouse. His kites were always the best in the school, both in form and proportion, and he astonished the natives by sending them up in the night time, with paper lanthorns containing lights, which the rustics doubtless mistook for comets. Of drawing, too, he was extremely fond, and in his youth, it appears, he was a poet, but the imaginative faculties were not those in which he was destined to cut a figure. It was his mother's wish that, upon quitting school, in his fifteenth year, he should attend to the duties of a farm which she held; but nothing could wean his mind from his studies, and his mechanical operations. “The perusal of a book, the execution of a model, or the superintendence of a waterwheel of his own construction, whirling the glittering spray from
* On the 25th December, O.S. 1642, exactly one year after Galileo died.