Imatges de pàgina
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fine'writing, which was excited by a reflexion on the eloquence of Mr. Pitt.

Great as the influence of the crown may be supposed in the house of commons, it is impossible to attribute the vast majorities of the present minister, particularly since the commencement of the war with France, to the operation of that influence merely. Eloquence, that fatal talent when misapplied, will of itself produce mighty effects : and it must be remarked, that the eloquence of Mr. Pitt has ever been exerted in unison with the rooted prejudices of the house and of the nation, and in no one instance has it ever been employed to counteract a popular error. Hatred to France is a political chord, which vibrates to every touch ; and when that master-passion is, by the force of imagination, connected with a reverence to religion, respect to morals, to social order, to regular government, and, in a word, to all the ties which unite the different classes of men in the bonds of civilization and humanity, it must require comparatively small skill to guide and direct the effects of it. The generous soli. citude which transiently showed itself for the success of the French nation, in their efforts to establish a free constitution, was suddenly and 'totally absorbed in the horror excited by their subsequent enormities, without sufficiently considering the provocations which gave rise to them, or, what was of still greater moment, that a whole nation ought not to be execrated for the offences of comparatively a few individuals. What are usually styled the crimes of France are, in deed and in truth, for the most part, only her misfortunes and calamities; and they are no doubt as much the subject of abhorrence and detestation with the great mass of the people in that country as in this. Is it possible to prefer anarchy to tranquillity, oppression to protection, or malevolence to benignity? So long as the passions of that high-spirited nation are inflamed and exasperated by opposition, so long will they be more or less chargeable with excesses moral and political--so long will they remain strangers to the countless and invaluable blessings of liberty : for genuine liberty can in no clime, age, or country, ever be separated from the control of law,- liberty itself being the law of reason, of justice, and of humanity. And, “Oh Law!” understood in this its best and highest sense, to use the sublime language of a justly-admired writer, “no less can be said than that her seat is the bosom of God, her voice the harmony of the world ; all things in heaven and earth do her homage, the very least as feeling her care, the greatest as not cxempted from her power. Both angels and men, and creatures of what condition soever, though each in different sort and manner, yet all, with uniform consent, admiring her as the mother of their peace and joy.” P. 155.

The apostrophe to Law is a sublime but very trite quotation. and uncle Toby affords, in another place, a concluding sentiment to a paragraph. On the prayer, at the end of the viceroy's speech to the first and last parliament in Corsica, it is observed that the petition was lost in empty air long before it reached the pen of the recording angel.' We have less reason to regret the event, as the crown of Corsica is afterwards styled that most egregious and ridiculous bauble.'

If, however, the writer sometimes suffer himself to be carried away by a little conceit, he rises occasionally with great dignity. The dissolution of the national convention of France gave him an opportunity of showing considerable powers, though the judgement passed upon its actions cannot be expected, in the present state of public opinion, to meet with general approbation.

• This assembly terminated its sittings very nobly; for the last decrees which it passed were for the abolition of the punishment of death at the return of peace, and for granting a general amnesty, though limited perhaps by too many exceptions : and on the 27th of October (1795), the day appointed by law, the president declared that “the national convention was dissolved.” Such was the extraordinary merits of an assembly, whose merits and demerits, whose glorious acts, and whose criminal excesses, will long be the theme of history. With a daring hand she signed the death-warrant of the successor of a hundred kings, and broke the sceptre which the superstition of fourteen centuries had consecrated. Standing greatly alone against a confederacy of crowned despots, she brought her armed myriads into the field, and compelled her enemies to flee with shame and confusion from the land which they had in their vain and foolish imaginations already conquered, and of which they were eager to divide the spoils. But the magnanimity of this assembly was sullied by licentiousness and contaminated by cruelty: their actions will excite the admiration of every age; and a distant posterity will perhaps pardon, while it deplores, their frailties and their faults.' P. 215.

We were pleased to see that a singular occurrence was not omitted in this history, which relieves the mind overwhelmed with descriptions of battles, treasons, carnage, and desolation. A government that would not, when it had opportunity, extend its territory, is a rare phænomenon; and the little republic of San Marino delivered an answer worthy of a Fabricius. .

• In the progress of his march, general Buonaparte, finding himself near the celebrated mountain which comprises the whole territory of the ancient republic of St. Marino, was seised with the noble enthusiasm of displaying in the most flattering and conspicuous manner the respect which was due to this genuine remnant of the sons of freedom. The ambassador Monge, deputed by the French general, told the chiefs of this obscure but happy community, that he came in the name of the French people to assure the ancient republic of St. Marino of their inviolable friendship. He entered into a concise history of the principal events of the revolution, and signified the glorious success with which their efforts had been crowned. After complimenting them for the asylum afforded to liberty wiihin their walls, during the centuries when it seemed banished from the rest of Europe, the ambassador intimated, that if it was the wish of the government of St. Marino to enlarge the limits of their territory, the French republic would gladly embrace the occasion to give them the most solid proofs of their good will. The reply of this small but vita tuous and unambitious state was such as to afford a lesson both of political and moral wisdom to all the nations of Christendom.--"We place, (said they) citizen ambassador, in the number of the most glorious epochas that have distinguished the annals of our freedom, the day of your mission to our republic. Your republic not only conquers its enemies by the force of its arms, but fills its friends with amazement at the generosity of its proceedings. The love of our liberty makes us feel the worth of the magnanimous exertions of a great people aspiring to recover their own. Those exertions have surpassed all expectation. Your nation, single against the rest of Europe, has afforded the world an astonishing example of what that energy can achieve which is produced by the sentiment of liberty.

Your army, marching in the steps of Hannibal, and surpassing by its deeds whatever is most wonderful in antiquity, led on by a hero who unites to every virtue the powers of the most distinguished genius, has cast a glance on a corner of the globe where a remnant of the sons of liberty fled for refuge, and where is found rather the plainness of Spartan manners than the elegance of Athens. You know, citizen ambassador, that the simplicity of our customs, the deep sentiment we cherish of liberty, are the only inheritance which has been transmitted to us by our fathers : this we have been able to preserve untouched amidst the political convulsions which have taken place in the succession of many revolving ages, and which neither ambition nor hatred has been able to destroy. Return then to the hero who has sent you: Carry back to him the free homage not only of that admiration which we share with the whole world, but also of our gratitude: Tell him that the republic of St. Marino, satisfied with its mediocrity, fears to accept of his generous offer of enlarging its territory, which might in the end prove injurious to its liberty.”

• Here then is a striking and instructive instance of a community enjoying in grateful contentment their beloved and enviable freedom while a thousand years have rolled away, and who, satisfied with the peaceful possession of their native mountain, refuse to hearken to the most tempting offers of an enlargement of their dominion. What a contrast to the wicked and absurd policy of those Christian countries which, great in riches, in extent of territory and population, place their clief glory in subjecting to their tyrannical yoke the farthest * regions of the globe, whose weak and unoffending inhabitants could never have afforded the slightest pretext for iniiicting upon them these atrocious injuries, and who have no knowledge of their con querors, but in the character and capacity of oppressors, plunderers, and assassins !' P. 360.

From these extracts our readers will forin their opinion of a work which is evidently written on the spur of the occasion : and we may rather applaud the author for his dispatch in a concern of such magnitude, than blame him for not obtaining ends which require much time, long meditation, accua rate investigation, and nervous and animated diction. The work is written with an easy flow: it brings together events nearly as they occurred in the order of time, and may be perused with

pleasure by those who are hostile to the late minister. If some of the political reflexions, which might serve as food for essays, were expunged, the work would receive no injury : low expressions should be obliterated, and the correcting hand of the writer may be often advantageously employed.—The reflexion, with which the history concludes, shall terminate our remarks; and it is no bad specimen of the author's style, and his mode of winding up a period.

. Thus, by the profligate ambition and presumption of the French directory on the one part, and the pride, folly, and mischievous activity of the British administration on the other, was a war, which appeared well nigh terminated, re-commenced with additional fury; seeming but too likely to extend to a long succession of calamitous and mournful years, destined to be recorded in letters of blood. But the terrified imagination sees pourtrayed, on the veil which conceals futurity from mortal view, frightful forms and ominous characters, bearing little resemblance to the events actually pre-ordained, in the course of human affairs, to take place.' P.533.

Art. IV.-Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London.

For the Year 1801. Part I. 175. sewed. 4to. Elmsly.

THE first article in this interesting volume is - The Croonian Lecture, on the Irritability of Nerves, by Everard Home, Esq. F. R.S. The case that suggested the author's inquiries and experiments was by no means a singular one. A person thirty-six years of age, of an irritable habit, was thrown from a horse with his whole weight on his thumb. The part swelled and became subject to spasms and paralytic affections, which in time extended to the head, and terminated in death. The injury, as is evident from concomitant circumstances, existed in the median nerve, which was divided as it passes from under the annular ligament, but without success. This injury miglit have been varied; the divided extremity might have adhered to the external wound, and been affected by its inflammation: it is at least certain that wounded and divided nerves do not heal easily, and it is equally certain that injuries at the divided extremities of nerves are referred to those extremities which existed previous to the division. The circumstances however show that irritation did continue at the extremity next the arm, and it is singular that no attention was paid to the irritated part. Mr. Home's views in the present article are directed to a very different quarter, viz. the contraction of the nerves themselves, independently of the muscular fibres. He divided, therefore, different nerves of animals, alive, and immediately after being killed. He found the contraction considerable, and, cateris pa

CRIT. Rev. Vol. 34. Jan. 1802.

ribus, uniform. We cannot enter into any controversy on the subject, because it would lead us too far; and shall only remark, that the language of experimental physiologists has been, unequivocally, that the nerves do not contract when divided; that our author's experiments are peculiarly doubtful, because he raised the nerve on a bistory, or divided it with a pair of scissors. Various physiologists would have told him that compressing the severed end of a nerve which leads to a muscle would have made it contract, and its elevation on a bistory, or its compression by the closing blades of a pair of scissors, must certainly produce the same effect. The contraction of the muscle, as it shortens that organ, must of course excite a retraction of the separated nerve. In his experiments also he ought not to have included the coats of the nerve, which are certainly elastic, and not without suspicion of being muscular. He cannot hence, therefore, predicate irritability of nerves, which, if it were observable in his experiments, might be derivable from their tunics. On the whole, we think the present article, either in point of reasoning or observation, wholly inconclusive, and perhaps unworthy of a place in the present very respectable collection.

II. The Bakerian Lecture. On the Mechanism of the Eye. By Thomas Young, M.D. F.R.S.

This paper, in many views excellent, is designed chiefly to support our author's opinion, that the eye is adapted to vision, at different distances, chiefly, if not entirely, by the muscular fibres of the crystalline lens or its coat. We cannot give an adequate view of the whole, but shall follow Dr. Young so far as our circumstances will permit.

He begins with considering the refractive power of a vari. able medium, applying his observations to the structure of the crystalline lens. This part, from its mathematical form, is incapable of abridgement; but we must particularly mention with approbation his very simple and accurate instrument, the optometer, founded on the same principle, and for the same purposes, with that described by Dr. Porterfield in the fourth volume of the Medical Essays of Edinburgh. We ought perhaps to select our author's determination of the refractive power of the crystalline lens, and his remarks on the causes of ihe different conclusions on this point.

- For determining the refractive power of the crystalline lens by a direct experiment, I made use of a method suggested to me by Dr. Wollaston. I found the refractive power of the centre of the recent human crystalline to that of water, as 21 to 20. The difference of this ratio from the ratio of 14 to 13, ascertained from calculation, is probably owing to two circumstances. The first is, that the substance of the lens being in some degree soluble in water, a portion of the aqueous fluid within its capsule penetrates after death, so as some

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