Oldalképek
PDF
ePub

give the translation of a short passage, as faithful as we can make it, from the introduction to an inquiry into the nature of history :

• Whatever really exists, exists absolutely and necessarily; and it exists necessarily such as it is; it could neither not exist, nor exist otherwise. In whatever truly exists, therefore, no beginning or changeableness, no voluntary cause, is possible. The One, truly existing, and existing absolutely through itself, is what all languages call God.

The existence of God is not the cause or reasoa of knowlege, so that they might be separated from each other, but it is absolutely knowlege itself: his existence, or the knowlege, is entirely one and the same thing ; in knowlege he exists absolutely as he is in himself, as a power absolutely resting on itself; and to say that he exists absolutely, or that knowlege exists absolutely, is saying one and the same thing -- A world only exists in koox. lege; and knowlege itself is the world: the world is therefore mediately, and through knowlege, the divine Being itself. If, then, any one should say that the world might also not exist, that it once did not exist, and had been made by a voluntary act of the Deity, it is the same as if he said: God might not exist, and had once not existed : but by a voluntary act, which he might also have omitted, be resolved to exist. This existence, of which we have just been speak. ang, is the absolute existence without time ; and whatever is placed in that existence can be known à priori only in the world of pure thought; it is unchangeable at all times.'

We imagine that our readers will not desire farther specimens of this production, nor a more copious view of its contents. Indeed, we are disposed to regret the time which we have devoted to the perusal of it, and even after having taken this trouble, we should almost have been inclined to colceal the scanty fruits of our toil, but that we consider the pres sent communication of them as useful in warning others against similar disappointment.

Arr. XIII. Geist der Zeit, &c. i e. The Spirit of the Times,

by ERNEST Moritz ARNDT. 12mo. 1806. TH

He method which M. Arnnr pursues, in the delineation

of his age and cotemporaries, is almost diametrically opposite to that of M. Fichte, in the work which we have anTrounced in the preceding article. While the latter pretends to divest himself of all personal impressions that the world might have made on him, and to pronounce truths as undeviable as the dictates of reason, the former professes not 10 ofer any thing more than the views and opinions of an indi. vidual: his intention in writing is to give vent to hiş feelings, to convey to others the impressions which times and men

have left on his mind, and to lay before the public the fears and hopes of a heart warmly interested in the state of his own species, desirous of leading them to a consciousness of their real situation, and longing to kindle in others the flame which warms his own bosom. He speaks and reasons on actual facts alone, on himself and on mankind around him, and looks back into past times merely for the sake of a comparison with the present. Equally avoiding flattery and invectives, he says only what he feels, but, on important subjects, says all that he feels; not desiring to render any truth palatable to the world by an artificial garb. Inspired by the example of the worthies of former ages, whom their cotemporaries hated and persecuted, but whom posterity reveres for their undaunted love of truth, he throws down the gauntlet to all those who endeavour to suppress light, and to deceive mankind.

Such are the tone and tenor of this writer's professions, the sincerity of which we see no reason to doubt. He has, ar least, faithfully adhered to his promise of a frank confession of his sentiments ; he by no means avoids those subjects on which it is now scarcely safe in Germany to speak or write the truth; and he betrays no symptom of interested partyspirit.

We do not, however, find M. ARNDT's sentiments, and his manner of stating them, so praise worthy as we believe his intentions to be. He is, as we know from several other publications which have proceeded from his pen, possessed of a very lively imagination, and ardent feelings; and he betrays a considerable degree of affectation of strength and originality in his way of expressing himself. By the former, he has been led in the work before us to many exaggerations and gloomy views of things, and sometimes to great aberrations from his main subject; while the latter seduces him into much less plain and dignified language, than be who assumes. the office of the monitor of his age, and addresses in particubar the enlightened part of the community, ought to adope. Thus, by blaming every thing, he renders his correction unimpressive; and by laying the dark colours too strongly on his picture, he makes the features indistinct. His complaints are . directed against his age in a variety of views; and he objects to the literary, political, and moral qualities of his cotemporaries. The justice of many of his observations is undeniable, particularly with regard to his native country. Thus he censures with very great propriety the rage for proposing new systems, the separation of literary men from active life, and their desire of seeming to know every thing; and he points out the superficiality, the loss of respect for the learned, and

the

[merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

the extinction of scientific ardour, which are the necessary consequences of tho:e faults : but he shuts his eyes to the wide diffusion of knowlege, and to the intimate connection which has been established between the most distant branches of science, the utility of which undoubtedly deserves ato tention.

The second part of this production is the least objectionable, and the most interesting. Here the writer takes a view of the principal nations of the present age, and proves him. self to be a man of extensive knowlege of the world, and of acute observation. The Germans he pities; the Italians he considers as deserving of their fate, and incapable of being free; of the Spaniards he entertains great hopes, and he anticipates, from the nature of their country and the charac. ter of the inhabitants, the approach of better times.

• A nation of 11 millions of men (says he) is now tributary to the French, and wages wars in which it has no interest. Yet nature has placed eternal mountains between the two people. Had the courage of the antient Cantabrians and Celtiberians now existed, a French army might indeed have crossed the Pyrenées, but none would bave returned. Yet the time of deliverance approaches. All America will be free, and Spain will be obliged to live within her. self, and will be bappy : Portugal will be subservient, because she ought, and is an excrescence on a healthy body if she be not united to Spain ; priests will lose the lustre of holiness, and kings will lose their thrones, unless the former mean to work and the latter to govern. Then the Spaniards will be again what once they were, one of the most flourishing and powerful nations of Europe.'

Of the Russians, the author has, from observation, no great ex. pectations, but the Swedes, hetbinks, are destined to be the rulers of the North. To Prussia, if she aims at aggrandisement and to join greater nations in partaking of their plunder, he foretells the fate of the ass which made a common cause with the lion. The power of England he wishes to be preserved, but he fears her ruin, not from external but internal causes. The wish which has long prevailed on the continent to see England humili. ated, on account of her commercial despotism, draws from him these observations:

• Many think that nothing would be more fortunate than for the French to force the bank of London, destroy the British fleet, and then return home. Fools! shall one nation bury Europe under her ruins ? do you hope for justice after her destruction ? have the French taught us to love their moderation and justice so as to make us wishi for them? I know no greater misfortune than that they should conquer England. They would give us no free trade ; and the naval dominion in the hands of these dreadful tyrants of the continent would be an iron weight from which no power could relieve us.'

[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

he V

He then turns to England and thus apostrophizes her:

• Britains ; you were once a noble people, Your constitution gave spirit and power; you had poets and orators, astronomers and discoverers ; you were free, high minded, and just. On the banks of the Ganges and the Senegal, and in Jamaica, the morals, the virtues, and the admirable constitution of Englishmen were lost! Oppressors became oppressed, and despots became slaves ! It is evident that, during the last 30 years, you have been, and that you still are, on the decline. Victories by land and sea militate nothing against this assertion ; such proofs of glory and virtue many nations can produce, when every thing else is lose that rendered them worthy of being a people. Should you be overwhelmed, and France become the desa pot of the seas, the last spark of European liberty is extinguished. You will perish by no power but your own. You are yet more a nation than most of us : but how long will you remain so : You have been so great that your fall would shake the world.'

A distinct section is devoted to Bonaparte ; of whose cha. racter and actions M. ARNDT expresses his sentiments with a freedom that must now be rare on the continent, yet in tanguage which is free from invective. We have often been told that opinions abroad respecting the ruler of France differed widely from those which are prevalent among us : but we may conclude, from the pages of this writer, that many think though few dare to speak or write as we do. M. ARNDT wrote, it seems, before the last war with Austria was entirely finished; and it appears that, even at that time, many persons expected from Bonaparte the deliverance of Europe ; for he warns against this delusion, and refers to former proofs of faithlessness and deception. These effusions of a patriotic mind may excite our respect for the source from which they flow; and if they have af. forded the writer the satisfaction of having fulfilled his duty, he has not written in vain : but we fear that the voice of truth is now drowned in the din of arms, and that any effect from a patriot's advice must be expected only in better times.

Art. XIV. Mémoires de l'Institut, &c. i.e. Memoirs of the Na.

tional Institute, Vol. VI. 4tu. Paris. 1806. Imported by De

Boffe. CONTRARY to the usual practice observed in the publication

of these Memoirs, which (as our readers know) has been to issue at the same time three parts of the same volume, cach devoted to a different branch of literature or philosophy, we have on the present occasion received .only that part of Vol. VI. which relates to the Physical and Mathematical Sciences; and we understand that it is the intention of the Institute thus

TO

to give them separately in future, as opportunity enables each to be completed.

In the History of this volume, we are furnished with notices of two eminent departed members of this learned body, M. Méchain, the French astronomer, and Dr. Priestley, the Eng. lish metaphysician, chemist, and theologian.

Historical Notice respecting M. Méchain : by M. DELAMERE; perpetual Secretary. -The eulogist informs us that Pierre. François-André Méchain, a member of the National Institute and of the Board of longitude, F.R.S. London, &c. was born at Laon, in the department of Aisne, April 16, 1744, and died in the province of Valencia in Spain, of an epidemic disorder, as he was prosecuting an undertaking for measuring an arc of the meridian, Sept. 20, 1999. It will be unnecessary for us to recount to the scientific reader, all the ser vices which this zealous and indefatigable mathematician rendered to astronomy: but M. DELA MBRE displays with becoming assiduity the merits of the deceased member of the Institute, and the benefits conferred by him on the philosophical world. Having discovered at an early age a singular taste for mathematics, Michain was taken by his relations to Paris, where he was patronized by M. de Lalande, was entered in the depôt of the marine, and afterward made two voyages with M. de la Bretonniere, to survey the coasts of France from Newport to St. Maloes. The first memoirs, which made him known as an astronomer, were on the occultation of Aldebaran which had been observed in 1744, on the great eclipse of the sun in 1778, and on the opposition of Jupiter in 1779. After this period, he rapidly advanced to celebrity, became in 1782 a member of the French Academy, and in 1785 was intrusted with the direction of the Connoissance des Temps. He was also united with M. M. Cassini and Legendre in measuring a series of triangles, to correspond with those of the English mathematicians, for the purpose of rectifying the relative positions of the observatories of Greenwich and Paris ; of which Méchain gave de tails in the Memoirs of the Academy. When the Academy also was consulted by the Constituent Assembly, on the choice of a new system of measures, and proposed for the base of this measure a quarter of the earth's meridian, the length of which arc was to be ascertained with the greatest possible exactress, M. Méchain was one of those who were appointed to this important undertaking. The arc proposed to be measured extended from Dunkirk to Barcelona. In the preparation of astronomical instruments and other necessary apparatus, so much time was consumed, that it was not till the year 1792 that .. chain could proceed to the object of his destination ; and he

had

« ElőzőTovább »