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Art. I.— I. Astronomy and General Physics considered with reference to Natural Theology. By the Rev. William Whewell, M.A., Fellow and Tutor of Trinity College, Cambridge. 8vo. pp. 381. London. 1833.
2. On the Adaptation of External Nature to the Physical Condition of Man, principally with reference to the Supply of his Wants, and the Exercise of his Intellectual Faculties. By John Kidd, M.D., E.R.S., Regius Professor of Medicine in the University of Oxford. 8vo. pp. 375. London. 1833.
3. The Hand, its Mechanism and Endowments, as evincing Design. By Sir Charles Bell, K.G.H., F.R.S. L. and E. 8vo. pp. 288. London. 1833.
4. Of the Power, Wvsdom, and Goodness of God, as manifested in the adaptation of External Nature to the Moral and Intellectual Constitution of Man. By the Rev. Thomas Chalmers, D.D., Professor of Divinity in the University of Edinburgh. In two volumes, 8vo. London. 1833.
TT is impossible to peruse the titles of these books, without -*- feeling an emotion of gratitude towards the memory of the noble and reverend person to whose munificence we are indebted for their publication. The charitable institutions, which abound in this country, afford ample proof of the benevolent spirit that pervades the opulent orders of our community. But it has happened to few of its members to aim at so noble a design, as was provided for by the will of the late Earl of Bridgewater, (the last of his distinguished race,) when he dedicated a liberal portion of his wealth to the discussion of some of the most important questions, upon which the human faculties can be employed. If ever the possession of the gifts of fortune be enviable, it is when we see them administered for such a purpose as this. Enviable too must have been the reflections of him who thus secured, as far as he could do, the erection of one altar more to the attributes of the Omnipotent, hoping, perhaps, though we fear in vain, that it might endure to remote ages, bearing round its basement an humble but emphatic testimony to the ardour of his faith as a Christian, and to the truth of his perceptions as a philosopher.
VOL. L. No. xcix. B But
But it is unfortunately to be regretted—deeply to be regretted by all persons friendly to the diffusion of really useful knowledge —that the testamentary dispositions of that amiable nobleman have been strangely misinterpreted, by the parties to whom the execution of them was entrusted. We desire it to be understood, that to the gentlemen in question we impute none but the most pure and the most honourable intentions; but we certainly have no hesitation in saying, that they have essentially mistaken the purpose which Lord Bridgewater had in view, and that, if they have not wholly defeated his intentions, they have accomplished them in a manner, to say the least of it, imperfect and inconsequential.
The sum set apart for the attainment of the objects which the deceased Earl had in contemplation was eight thousand pounds sterling, which, together with the dividends accruing thereon, he desired to be paid to the person or persons whom the President of the Royal Society should appoint to write, print, and publish a work ' On the Power, Wisdom, and Goodness of God, as manifested in the Creation; illustrating 3uch work by all reasonable arguments; as for instance, the variety and formation of God's creatures in the animal, vegetable, and minejal kingdoms; the effect of digestion, and thereby of conversion; the construction of the hand of man, and an infinite variety of other arguments; as also, by discoveries, ancient and modern, in arts, sciences, and the whole extent of literature.1 Who can doubt, from these terms, that the meaning of the testator was, not that a number of works should be written on this mighty theme, by different individuals, each conducting the argument to the same conclusion, by his own mode of treating the question; but that if no one person could be found competent to the task, two or more learned individuals should be induced to contribute their labours to one volume, which, by combining the excellence of each, might be calculated to make a powerful and permanent impression on mankind?
This plain and most advantageous course has not been taken. Eight thousand pounds were to be disposed of, and, therefore, eight gentlemen, all unquestionably distinguished for great ability and knowledge, were selected, to whom was contided the duty, not of contributing to one compendious publication, but of writing each a work of his own upon one of eight branches, into which, by the exertion of an unhappy ingenuity, the general subject has been subdivided. The inevitable consequence of this proceeding will be, that we shall have at least nine volumes, instead of one. Is it likely that a series of treatises, so numerous and expensive, will attain any wide circulation in these days