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"Poma alba ferebat
Quæ post nigra tulit Morus." And again, “Morus, es? an Momus, an uterque idem est ?" If these are instances of puerility, they are at least equal to the collection of facetiæ which Cicero has recorded
When we come to examine the letters themselves, we find ourselves in the situation of one who is for the first time admitted to the ordinary conversation of a great man; we wonder that there is so little manifestation of genius and power, and we look around for some apology for the defect. There is reason to believe that the author made this selection from his correspondence, with the view of leaving a few elegant specimens of his Latinity, and presenting to the public some testimonials of the consideration in which he was held by the eminent scholars of the age. In every part, we detect the devotee of ancient letters. Milton had walked among the groves of the philosophers and poets, until he had become almost a stranger to the trivial occurrences of life. His illustrations are drawn from Greece and Rome, and expressed in the peculiar idioms of those countries. The allusions are often difficult to be traced, and have their source in incidents and usages familiar only to the accomplished classic. In rounding his periods and adjusting most sedulously the niceties of phrase, he has suffered the genial flow of friendship to be checked, and the ease of colloquial freedom to be precluded; and we look in vain for the entertaining incident, and varied pleasantry, which are scattered throughout the epistles of Cicero.
Although the republican poet has been represented as churlish and misanthropic, and although we are constrained to admit that he has left us few indications of the gush of unconstrained feeling, yet these letters represent him as recognising and cherishing the sacred obligations of sincere friendship. We must say, however, that in these very instances, the principle, rather than the cordial and spontaneous action of benevolence is evinced. We are not however to imagine, that he who could in so graphic a manner depict the peace of innocent love, was the unyielding, morose and inexorable man that his enemies have painted. The great English moralist, whom we never mention without reverence, was little qualified to judge impartially concerning the standard-bearer of republicanism ; and it has been fully established, that his account of the disgrace of Milton at Cambridge, has no foundation except in rumour. The fragments of his correspondence now laid before the public, are not without some intimations of deeply sentimental attachments. A reverent affection pervades all the epistles to his preceptor. With Diodati he was united by a bond of fraternal regard.
“Diodati,” says the translator, “died in 1638, whilst Milton was on the continent, an event which really afflicted him. On his return, he wrote a pastoral
elegy to his memory, under the title of “Epitaphium Damonis,'in which Milton, personified by Thyrsis, bewails the loss of his companion. Almost all his Latin poems are excellent: Cowper thought this epitaph equal to any of the Bucolics ; Dr. Johnson affirms, on the other hand, that it is written with the common, but childish imitation of pastoral life."" In a letter to Dati, he thus expresses himself :
“I am flattered by your anxiety for my safety after I left Florence, and your continued remembrance of me; by which I perceive that the feelings, which I thought were exclusively my own, are mutual. I can not conceal from you, that my departure was very afflicting to me, and fixed a sting in my heart, which still rankles, when I think from how many excellent and kind companions and friends, in that distant but beloved city, I have been torn away. I declare that the grave of Damon will be always sacredly regarded by me. In commemorating his death, under the oppression of grief, nothing was more consolatory than to remember you all, and to recall you individually to mind. You would have received those verses long since, if they had not miscarried, of which you gave me the first intelligence, for I took care to send them to you immediately, that however little genius they may evince, even these few lines, composed as a memento, would be no obscure evidence of my regard.”
The writer has in this correspondence avoided with care any reference to the violent political controversies of the day. We might indeed except the fourteenth letter, in which he speaks of: the share which he had taken in these party broils; p. 63. The topics, however, are chiefly literary, and the opinions such as men of all parties must acknowledge. The philologist will appreciate the weighty truth conveyed in the eighth letter.
“In my opinion, the first and most distinguishing honours are due to him, who has sagaciously moulded the manners of society, and can legislate with the best policy in peace and war. Next in rank to such a man, I consider him, who exerts himself to establish, by maxims and rules, and, as it were, to fortify by their means, the proper method of speaking and writing, as practised in the purest age : providing for their infraction with the rigour of a Romulus. If you would compare the usefulness of these two characters : the first effects the just and in. violable civil intercourse of the citizens ; the other imparts to it gentility, polish and elegance, which are the next desirable qualities: the one provides fearless courage, and intrepid counsels to oppose an invading enemy, the other endea. vours to check the incursions of intellectual barbarism that foul domestic foe to genius-by teaching accuracy in speaking, and a ready use of good authors. For it cannot be deemed of little importance, whether a language be pure or corrupt, or the common mode of speaking be correct or otherwise ; this was never considered a safe state of things at Athens; and if Plato thought, that an innovation in dress and fashion portended commotions and changes in the republic, much more readily would I believe, that in the event of the language becoming vitiated and erroneous, a state would decline, and degraded and obscure condition suc. ceed. The general faults of language are inelegance, harshness, incorrectness and wrong pronunciation: what do these indicate, and that by no slight evidence, hut that the minds of the people are indolent, listless and prepared for any ser. vility? On the other hand, I have never heard of an empire or state, that did not flourish, at least in some degree, so long as it maintained the care and culture of its own language."
The translator and editor of the work before us, has accomplished a difficult task, with diligence and success. Whatever stiffness is visible in the work, may be fairly traced to the impossibility of giving a faithful version of Milton's peculiar style,
into any thing like flowing English. The notes with which the work is furnished, evince an extensive acquaintance with the history of the poet and the times, and an assiduity of research which those only understand, who have spent weary hours in hunting an obscure name through the ponderous annals of a
ART. III.-Traité de Mecanique Celeste, par M. LE MARQUIS
DE LAPLACE, Pair de France; 8c. &c. Tome Cinquieme. Paris, Bachelier: 1825. 4to. pp. 420.
The Mecanique Celeste, the coneluding volume of which we have undertaken to review, is one of the proudest monuments of human genius. If there be any thing calculated to excite our pride of species in a high degree, it is, that although inhabitants of an obscure and insignificant part of creation, limited in our existence to a few short years, we are yet able to extend our views to the remotest parts of the universe, and to detect the laws that govern the motions of the vast bodies which are scattered through the regions of illimitable space. Not only can we detect these laws, but, by the application of mathematical reasoning, we are enabled to predict the consequences of their action, to separate the minutest perturbations and disturbances from the greater motions in which they at first appear inextricably involved, and to investigate cycles and periods, to which the longest duration of human life bears no sensible proportion.
Newton laid the foundation of Celestial Mechanics, at the close of the seventeenth century, by the discovery of the principle of universal gravitation. Even in his own hands, this discovery led to important consequences, but it has required a century and a half, and a regular succession of intellects the most powerful, to fill up the outline sketched by him. Of these, Laplace himself was the last, and, perhaps, after Newton, the greatest; and the task commenced in the Principia of the former, is completed in the Mecanique Celeste of the latter. In this last named work, the illustrious author has proposed to himself as his object, to unite all the theories scattered throughout the various channels of publication, employed by his predecessors, to reduce them to one common method, and present them all in the same point of view. The publication of it has occupied more than a quarter of a century; the first volume bears the date of the year VII. of the French Republic, and the modest epigraph of
"P. S. Laplace, Member of the Institute, and of the Board of Longitude," while the last has its titlepage loaded with revived honours of feudal origin, mixed with the rewards conferred by scientific associations.
The whole work of Laplace is comprised in five volumes, and is divided into sixteen books. Ten of these books occupy the four first volumes, while the one whose title we have placed at the head of our article, contains the XIth, XIIth, XIIIth, XIV th, XVth, and XVIth.
The first book is a concise and beautiful theory of abstract mechanics, investigated entirely by the method of mathematical analysis. It is a remarkable illustration of the versatility of that instrument of discovery, which is thus shown to be capable alike of reaching, by its profound methods, the most abstruse and difficult laws, and of demonstrating, in the most simple manner, the elementary principles we usually obtain by the geometric method. In this, as well as in the succeeding books, no figures are used, it being within the scope of the calculus to express all those relations of form and direction, for which figures are usually employed. Nor do we conceive that it is rendered in any degree less intelligible by the omission. To a learner, the general coneiseness, and the vast comprehensiveness of some of the formulæ, offer a far more serious obstacle. The most valuable present that could be made to the cultivators of mechanical science, even in its application to practical purposes, would be a commentary upon the first book of the Mecanique Celeste, wherein, without changing the spirit of the methods, they should, by the aid of figures, the explanation of the principles of the calculus employed, and the expansion of the formulæ, be rendered more easily intelligible. The works of Poisson, and Franceur, supply this desideratum among the French. Dr. Young has published in England “Elementary Illustrations” of the first book of the Mecanique Celeste, but he evidently quits with reluctance the beaten path of the English fluxions, and hence falls behind the spirit of the age. A distinguished countryman of our own, had long since translated, and made a commentary upon, the four first volumes; he has recently performed the same task with the fifth. The scientific world has been for several years anxious that it should see the light, both with a view to their own gratification, and from the conviction that it will be a source of the highest honour to our country. The learned translator, Dr. Bowditch of Boston, has at length given notice of his intention to publish; we hail this with the highest gratification, satisfied that it will be the most valuable present at has ever been made to those mathematicians who use the English tongue in their studies and investigations.
We had proposed to ourselves in the present article, to exhi
bit, in the most succinct and concise form, the pure mechanical principles on which the theory of the universe is founded, following for this purpose the course of investigation pursued by our author in his first book. This we consider to be an appropriate and necessary introduction to the historical narrative to which much of the fifth volume is devoted, and this we have endeavoured to accomplish; in so doing, however, we have occupied so much more space than we at first anticipated, that we have not left ourselves room, without exceeding the bounds to which we should wish to confine a scientific article, for an analysis of more than the XIth and XIIth books of the fifth volume. We shall, therefore, at some future period, return to the subject, and complete the examination of this most important and interesting volume. We have, in our review of Delambre's History of the Astronomy of the Eighteenth Century, * marked the period at which the astronomy of observation and calculation was separated from that founded upon pure mechanical prineiples. Each has subsequently grown into a science of such magnitude, as to require for its separate pursuit, the undivided powers of the greatest mind. Furnished with the instruments and improved methods of modern date, the practical astronomer may measure the distance, determine the magnitudes, discover the great laws of movement, and even ascertain some of the inequalities of the motion of the heavenly bodies. Knowing these general facts, and aware that all bodies in nature mutually act upon each other according to simple and unalterable mechanic laws, the physical astronomer may proceed to weigh the masses of the sun and planets, define the devious path of comets, and investigate the innumerable small irregularities, so perplexing at the first view, and so disorderly in their aspect, but which are nevertheless simple consequences of the most simple of laws.
Newton, in establishing the universality of the attraction of gravitation, laid, as we have seen, the foundation of celestial mechanics; Laplace, in the volume before us, has finished so much of it as relates to our own system. The former showed that the celestial phenomena presented a great problem of mechanical philosophy, the latter has completed the solution of this problem, in all the cases that we know from observation to exist in the bodies which circulate around our sun.
This problem is susceptible of investigation, because the great distances that separate the heavenly bodies, by lessening the influence of secondary circumstances, give to them a precision strictly accordant with mathematical calculation.
In order to comprehend, in one view, the connexion of such apparently distinct effects, it is first necessary to determine the
See American Quarterly Review, No. VI.