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of cheap literature? Could it have been the intention of the testator that the argument for which he so liberally provided, should be thus rendered inaccessible to the less wealthy classes of society, and wearisome to all? Lastly—could he ever have dreamed that, if a massive series of volumes were to be the result of his dying arrangements, these should be offered for sale at exactly the same sort of price which the booksellers might have been justified in affixing to them, had they (the booksellers) been to pay 8000Z. out of their own pockets to the authors employed?
In order to carve out portions of the proposed theme for eight different individuals, a classification has been effected with reference to the departments of the subject, which renders it utterly impossible for one writer to avoid constantly trespassing upon the boundaries prescribed to another. Thus, for example, Dr. Kidd is directed to discuss ' the adaptation of external nature to the physical condition of man,' while Mr. Whewell is instructed to treat of ' astronomy and general physics,' with exactly the same view. We need not say, that ' astronomy and general physics ' comprehend ' external nature ' in the largest sense of that term; hence more than the half of one volume is a repetition of the topics which are found in the other. Again, to Sir Charles Bell, whose name reflects renown upon any labour in which he takes a part, is allotted ' The hand: its mechanism and vital endowments, as evincing design.' But this subject is necessarily included in ' the physical condition of man,' appropriated to Dr. Kidd. It is one upon which, at best, not more than a few pages could be usefully expended in a popular production, not meant to be a treatise on anatomy. Sir Charles Bell has actually exhausted it in less than a fourth of his volume; the remaining three-parts he has lilled up with remarks on the peculiarities of the mole, the bat, the ant-eater, the anatomy of birds, the action of the splintbone of the horse, and the horse's foot, upon which he is enthusiastically diffuse, and the structure of the megalonix, the megalosaurus, the plesiosaurus, the ichthyosaurus, and all the other species of the saura to be found in the pedantic catalogue of the old naturalists. Sir Charles enters into the whole physical system of man, to the exposition of which who can be more competent? He treats most elaborately of the sensibility of the surface of the skin —of the senses generally, including the eye and the ear, and of the sensibility to impressions of infants, insects, and fishes. The mechanical properties of bone, and the geological changes which have taken place in the earth at successive periods, have also received a considerable portion of his attention. But when we find that Dr. Kidd has, as his subject required, taken great pains to illustrate the organization and uses of the hand, and has entered at
B 2 large large into the whole physical character of man—that Dr. Buckland is to give us a volume on geology—and Mr. Kiiby one on the history, habits, and instincts of animals, we need scarcely waste an observation on the confusion and fatigue which so much tautology must impose on any person who attempts to read the whole of these treatises.
Again, a considerable portion of Dr. Kidd's work is devoted to the connexion of vegetables with the physical condition of man. 'Animal and vegetable physiology' forms the subject which has been assigned to Dr. lloget. The former, as well as Mr. W'hewell, is copious on the atmosphere and its adaptation to human wants. Dr. Prout, when he comes to treat of meteorology, must go over the same ground. Dr. Chalmers is in fact the only writer amongst the eight who occupies a territory which he may call his own. But the manner in which he came into the possession of it will not, perhaps, be deemed perfectly legitimate. That able divine was requested to point out the adaptation of external nature to man's intellectual and moral constitution. This certainly must be admitted to be a task of extreme difficulty in the execution. We all perceive the relation of external nature, composed of the fertile earth, its varied produce, the sea, the atmosphere, the sun, and especially our own satellite, to our physical necessities; but their adaptation to the intellect, which seeks higher objects of contemplation, is not so obvious. Dr. Chalmers was, therefore, reduced to the necessity of considering men in general, as ' external nature,' in relation to an individual of the species; by this contrivance he has been enabled to shape his theme to his own studies, and to furnish us with two volumes on metaphysics and ethics! The books will doubtless have their admirers, but we apprehend that they are not of the class of literature which the Earl of Bridgewater had in his view when he made his will.
Who does not admire the prodigious powers which Dr. Chalmers displays, not only in the pulpit, but in the chair of the professor, and in the closet of the political economist? We, at least, have the greatest respect for his learning and genius, but we are bound honestly to confess, that these volumes disappointed us. We have seldom followed a few ordinary ideas through such complicated and endless mazes of language, as those with which his pages bewilder us—language too, we must add, not always drawn from the 'well of English undeliled.' Many of his idioms and expressions are to us quite novel, as for instance—' the primeval mind that emanated all this gracefulness,' (vol. i. p. 190:) the corporeal appetites were furnished in order ' to supplement the defects of human prudence,' (ti. p. 194,) a phrase f requently to be met with in these volumes; the * summation of particular
utilities,' utilities,' (ib. p. 227,) a word not to be found in our dictionary, nor in any dictionary that we know of, and meant, we presume, as a new synonyme for 'aggregate.' We certainly should not say that ' there is an ethics,1 (vol. ii. p. 26G,) nor ' a profound metaphysics,' (t'6. p. 239,) nor should we dare to coin the verb virtuefy—' it is this which virtuefies emotion.' (Ib. p. 244.) Perhaps Dr. Chalmers may be deemed a competent authority to fabricate phrases of his own; but it had been better, we think, jf he had reserved the use of them for some other occasion.
Of the manner in which the other volumes, whose titles we have prefixed to this article, are executed, we may speak in more agreeable terms. With the exception of the fault of repetition, for which the authors are not fairly to be blamed, we are happy to be able to say that these works are creditable to the higher literature of the age. Sir Charles Bell's volume is a delightful one, not only from the illustrations which he adduces in support of the general argument, but for the tact and taste which he generally displays. Dr. Kidd's book will be studied with pleasure by every reader—who has not previously perused the masterly production of Mr. Whewell, which promises, in our opinion, to be the most popular, as it is the most comprehensive, of the whole series. While still under the influence of their statements and reasonings, we shall endeavour to present in a condensed view the prominent topics of the magnificent theme to which these treatises are dedicated—a theme, in comparison with which all others are visionary and insignificant.
Man, indeed, can never attain, in the shape of conviction, a lively idea of his own position on the scale of the universe, unless he look with undisti acted attention above and around him, and put forth all the energies of his intellect, with a view to explore the vast scheme of existence of which he forms a part. As long as he confines his curiosity to the history of his fellow-men, wondering at their progress from the tangled forest to the crowded city; shuddering at the sanguinary wars, foreign or domestic, of which almost every field on the globe has at one time or another been the theatre; poring over obsolete principles of philosophy and legislation, or devising new combinations for the regulation of transitory interests,—so long will he remain unconscious of the much more exalted pursuits for which his faculties are destined. The little routine of each succeeding day leads him into notions altogether false, as to the real purpose for which life was given him. Looking upon the immediate objects of his avarice or ambition as exclusively worthy of his care,—his busy thought by day, his feverish-dream by night,—he feels an exaggerated sense of his own importance, that precludes him from bestowing a single reflection
upon upon the commencement, the termination, and the final issue of the sixty years,—an hour—nay, not a minute—of eternity,—which are allotted to his share. Sometimes he falls into the opposite extreme. Travelling over the Alps or Andes he grows pale at the lightnings which reveal their peaks crowned with the snows of past ages; he trembles at the thunders that shake the stupendous masses to their centre, and if the forked bolt shiver the rock on which he stands, what an insect he becomes in his own esteem! Wrecked on the Scilly isles in the midst of a tempest, he beholds the billows of the Atlantic lifting their heads to the sky, and threatening to break down the bulwarks which nature and art have conspired to raise against their fury:—he shrinks in idea to the rank of the cockle-shell, which the retiring wave leaves behind it on the shore.
The man, however, who permits his conduct to be affected by either of these opposite impressions, must be a stranger to reflection, or destitute of the ordinary rudiments of knowledge. Scarcely an hour passes, it is true, which does not abound with mementos of our mortality. But, on the other hand, we have the proud consciousness within us, that that creature cannot be without value of whom it has been said, in language to the truth of which all things animate and inanimate bear testimony—'How noble in reason! How infinite in faculties! In, form and moving, how express and admirable! In action, how like an angel! In apprehension, how like a god!'—But it is this reason, it is these faculties, which ought to teach him, that, though like to an angel in action, and in apprehension to a god, he is, while he treads the earth, neither the one nor the other, though he may partake of the nature of both. Happy must he be if his intelligence inform him of this great truth, and of the perishable constitution of the entire material system which has been expressly created for his temporary use—partly to prove his virtues— partly to prepare his spirit for those scenes that know no decay, where he is, indeed, to be the angel in action, if not in apprehension almost a god.
Providentially for millions of mankind, the attainment of this knowledge has not been left to the mere exertion of their own intellect. Direct communications of a supernatural order have admonished them of the existence of a Divinity, who had no beginning and can have no end; by whose power the universe was created; by whose wisdom its multitudinous parts were harmoniously adjusted, and by whose beneficent will it has been sustained during centuries of whose number we can form no conception. But although the records of inspiration demand and deserve our implicit belief, our most unreserved confidence, the time appears to have nearly arrived, rived, when science and conviction ought to walk hand in hand with faith. The re-examined and accumulated results of the researches of geologists, and of the combined labours of astronomers and mathematicians, cannot have been intended for the mere entertainment of those who have devoted themselves to such pursuits. They point to a higher destiny. The more successfully the sciences have been cultivated, the brighter and the more numerous have become the signs, and, we may add, the demonstrations of the existence of an Omnipotent Intelligence by whom all things were made.
From the earliest ages shepherds tending their flocks on the plains of Asia have been familiar with the more remarkable of those objects which shine by night in the sky, and to which the Persians gave the general name of stars.* The word imports, in its origin, to rule or direct, those lights being often the guide of the shepherd over the spacious pastures which he had to traverse, and of the husbandman as to the seasons of the year. The stars were long supposed, and still are imagined by a great majority of mankind, to be fixed; but the telescope has enabled us to say with certainty that many, and with a strong degree of probability that the whole, are in a state of motion, although we, borne along in the train of succession ourselves, are not capable of discovering the direction in which they march round the orbit of the universe.
We are as yet, and doubtless ever shall be, without the means of numbering those tenants of the firmament. Every new improvement of the telescope brings within the range of vision countless multitudes which human eve had never seen before.-f- Some stars are double and even triple; that is to say, they appear to us within a barely distinguishable distance of each other. Upwards of three thousand double stars have been already discovered, and it is justly supposed that even this number by no means exhausts the fertility of the heavens in these twin productions, some of which have been actually observed to move round each other in orbits requiring for their entire completion twelve hundred of our years. Such systems as these give the mind a faint glimmer of eternity.
* We leave the planets at present out of our consideration.
t For instance r in Orion, which is marked in South and Herschel's catalogue as containing two distinct sets of stars, each set triple, appears in Mr. Barlow's fiuidrefracting telescope, as composed of two quadruple sets, with two very fine stars between them, which, as well as the fourth star in each set, had previously escaped the powers of the most finished instruments. Mr. Barlow's telescope has also enabled him to exhibit s in Perseus, marked double in the same catalogue, as a collection of no fewer than six stars! See Phil. Trcau. 1831. p.10. We trust that Mr. Barlow's efforts for the improvement of his telescope may meet with the support which the importance of the subject demands. Were its powerB increased only fifty-fold, it is not im. probable that, instead of six, he might discover a hundred stars, where only one now appears to the unassisted eye.