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Mr. Mannoury Deetot has invented a new lıydraulic machine, a report concerns ing which has been presented to the French Institute. She principle of this ma. chine is to communicate the whole of the momentum of a body of water entering a vessel, after falling from a height, to a solid body within that vessel, except so much as may be necessary to carry it off through a hole in the bottom This object is effected by making the water enter horizontally into a cylindrical trough containing a solid cylinder with a space of 1.2 inchies between them, near its top, and in the direction of a tangent to the cavity. The water, in passing through the annular space between the cylinders, and thence through a hole in the bottom, communicates a motion to the machine, which, by experiment, has been found from 7-10ths to 75-100ths of the whole calculated force of the falling water, a greater effect than any other machine has ever produced.
Sir H. C. Englefield, Bart. F. R. S. has invented a new transit instrument in which the telescope is placed with its axis perpendicular to the plane of the meridian, and the object seen by reflection in a mirror placed at an angle of 45 degrees imme. diately in front of the object glass. When the telescope is properly placed, any part of the whole semicircle of the meridian may be seen by merely turning it on its axis. The same gentleman has also given a new mode of placing the transit instrument correctly.
The following results have been given to the world by Joseph Real, M. D. of Cork, as deductions from several experiments made by him on the solar ray:
Ist. That incident light bas never yet been decomposed; and that Sir Isaac Newton, and other philosophers, only decomposed light reflected from opaque substances, or fringes of blue, red, and yellow
2d. that there are only three primary colours, blue, red, and yellow, by the mixture of which, either by the prism or painter, all the others are formed.
3d. That Herschel, Deslie, Davy, Englefield, anil other philosophers, drew their conclusions relative to the heating power of the prismatio colours from erroneous data, viz. from experiments on reflected light, whose heat must, in a great measure, depend on the reflecting media, and, also, on the thickness and thinness of those parts of the prism through which the fringes pass.
We give his deductions in his own words, and must confess that his experiments and reasoning furnish an apparently plausible objection to the Newtonian theory of the separation of white light into rays of different colours. His second deduction is by no means new. Dr. Woollaston had already proved clearly that there were only three, or, at most, four, colours in the spectrum; and Dr. Read appears to have forgotten, or not to have known, his experiments and those of Herschel's, which showed that the solar beam was divided by the prism (according to Newtonian language) into two other substances beside the coloured rays, one of which was found between the red ray and the direction of the incident rays, and was the matter of heat or caloric. The other, a hitherto unknown substance, which blackened the salts of silver, and appeared to be that part of the solar ray which causes the colours of vegetables, &c. which we know would, if not exposed to it, become white and colourless These experiments establish the certainty of the Newtonian theory on a ground not to be shaken Besides, had Dr. Read reasoned correctly on his ex. periments, he would have found that the circumstance of the light remaining white in the centre of the spectrum, when admitted in large quantities upon the prism, arose from the same cause that misled Newton, viz. as to the number of the prise matic colours, the aperture being larger than was necessary to obtain the coloured rays entirely separate, and in Dr. Woollaston's experiment the aperture was an oblong of the smallest breadth that could admit the light free from inflection. In Sir Isaac Newton's experiment the aperture, a quarter of an inch, was sufficient to blend the colours so as to produce the intermediate shades, and in Dr. Read's the aperture, of four inches, threw the separated rays in confusion on the middle part of the spectrum so as to reproduce while light.
This is not the first time that Sir Isaac Newton's doctrines have been attacked in this point. The celebrated Euler, and many others, have opposed the existence of light as a substance altogether, and have supposed its appearance to arise from the vibrations of an elastic mediuń. Newton's optics, however, stand on a basis of ma. thematical demonstration, and their merits will not fall should even his deductions from his prismatic experiments be proved to be founded on false reasoning.
Tableau de la Litterature pendant le dix-huitième siécle, 1813.
[A late number of the British Review contains a very elaborate review of this inte
resting little work, but, like most of the articles in that journal, it is of such an unconscionable length that though strongly tempted to reprint the whole of it, we feel ourselves compelled to be satisfied with extracting that part of it in which the characters and opinions of Voltaire and of Montesquieu are discussed.]
The new century opens with Voltaire, who was the earliest as well as the most renowned of its literary chiefs. Our author has employed near twenty pages in discussing the character and works of this singular person; and we wish it were possible to present his observations unbroken to our readers, as they certainly supply by far the ablest and most candid estimate of that extraordinary writer with which we are acquainted. But we must be satisfied with giving a few extracts.
“ In the midst of academical honours, and the early triomphs of Vol. IV. New Series.
youth, there was growiog up, a man destined to reap a large part of the glory of this century, to receive its complete impression, and to be, as it were, its represeutative; so that, but a little niore, and he bad given his bame to it. Undoubtedly nature bad endowed Voltaire with the most astonishing faculties; undoubtedly such vigour of understanding was not entirely the result of education and circumstances; yet might it not be shown that the direction of these talents was constantly determined by the opinious of the time; and that the object of succeeding and pleasing, the main spring of almost all writers, governed Voltaire in every moment of his life? Never was any person more formed to yield from susceptibility to such impressions. His genius offers, as it seenus to me, the singular phenomenon of a man ordinarily destitute of that faculty of the mind which we call reflection, and, at the same time, endowed in the highest degree with the power of feeling and expressing with the most marvellous vivacity. This was unquestionably the cause both of his successes and of his faults. This manner of seeing every thing in a single poiut of view, and of yielding himself to the immediate impression which an object produces, without thinking of those which it might produce in different circumstances, has multiplied the contradictions into which Voltaire has fallen; -has often hurried him far away from truth and reason; has injured the plan of his works and their perfection as a whole. But this* complete surrender of himself to the impression of the moment, this impetuosity of feeling, this irritability so delicate and so lively, produced that pathos, that irresistible attraction, that vivacity of eloquence and pleasantry, that coustant grace which flows with an unbounded facility; and when reason and truth happen to be dressed in these brilliant decorations, they acquire the most seducing charms; they seem to have started into existence without an effort, all glittering with pative light and beauty; and the writer who thus exhibits them leaves far behind him all those who have sought them out by reflection, examination, and experience.” P. 37, 38.
Voltaire was disposed, in early life, to be respectful to existing authorities, and was not far removed from the character of a courtier. It was not till the applauses of the theatre had given him confidence, and the paltry persecutions of some dignitaries in church and state had irritated his most irritable nature, that he assumed that tone of entire levity and bitter sarcasm which became afterwards habitual to him. Indeed, it is impossible to be acquainted with his writings without discovering that his taste and dispositions adapted biin much better to the sphere of a court, and the polite circles of a luxurious metropolis, than the simple and stern temper of a republic. His genius was monarchical; he was a poet and a wit; he became a philosopher, or tried to become one, only from vanity, and a sort of necessity imposed upon him
Orig. Cet abandon entier à son impression.
by the circumstances of his life. After noticing some of the leading features of his history, our author proceeds thus :
“ The more Voltaire advanced in his career, the more he found himself surrouuded with applause and hoinage. Sovereigns became his friends and even his flatterers. Envy and hatred in opposing his triumphs excited his indignation. Their continual resistance gave stil more vivacity to his character, and made him frequently forget moderation, decency, and good taste. Such was his life; such was the course which conducted him to that long old age which he might have rendered so honourable; when encircled with a prodigious glory he reigned despotically in letters, which had themselves assumed the first rank among the objects which attract the curiosity and attention of men. It is melancholy that Voltaire did not perceive how much dignity and lustre he might have acquired by availing himself of the advantages of such a position, and pursuing the conduct which it seemed to prescribe to him. It is afflicting to behold him yielding to the torrent of a degraded age, and plunging in a base cynickism, which, whatever be its apologies in youth, forms a revolting contrast to white hairs, the symbols of wisdom and purity. What spectacle is more sad than that of an old man iusulting the Deity in the moment when he is about to call him hence, and repelling the respect of the young by participating their excesses.” P. 41, 42.
« Often in the midst of the scandalous inebriation in which he seemed to be plunged by vanity and the desire of influencing the age in which he lived, he had returus of reason : he wished to resist in some things the impulse in which he had shared, and to which he had given increased activity. In his latter works, in the midst of that perpetual variation of opinions and systems, of those assertions always positive and incessantly contradicting each other, one finds at times reflections full of profound sense--a just appreciation of the miserable spirit which reigned around him. It is then that one regrets to find in him that perpetual mobility, that absence of reflection, and, above all, that immense passion for success and the mode of his day. He alone, armed with all the powers of his mind, might have retarded a little the course of those menacing opinions which were accumulating on every side, and which, opposed with feebleness or insincerity, acquired fresh strength from that powerless resistance.” P. 42, 43.
It is impossible not to pause for a moment on a character such as that which has been delineated; equally singular and instructive. We all recollect the old and eloquent description of man, “a being of large discourse, looking before and after.” Voltaire answered sufficiently well to the first half of the portrait, but he had no sort of resemblance to the other. He was semivir.
His avidity for enjoyment, and his habitual disregard of the future, made him in truth a child through life. Such he is described by cotemporary writers, and such he proved himself to be in every feature of his character; by his inextinguishable gayety, and his ridiculous irritability ; by the exquisite playfulness which gave life to his productions on the verge of fourscore, and by that last sally of literary vanity which snapped the feeble thread that sustained his earthly existence. Voltaire seems to have been entirely the slave of present feelings; the consequences of his conduct to himself or others never disturbed him: and this is the moral definition of childishness. But, unhappily, that entire thoughtlessness which, allied to the weakness and ignorance of youth, is pardoned and even loved; when combined with mature knowledge, and with faculties and passions fully developed, assumes a very different character. The gambols of the kitten are amusing, but not so the bounds of the tiger. The childish vanity, the childish irritability, the childish love of pleasure, which were characteristic of Voltaire from his earliest years to bis late decline, were all thought to be very entertaining by his friends, who, with less excuse perhaps from natural temper, were for the most part just as careless of consequences as himself. But mark the effects. Vanity tempted him to hazard a few sallies against churchmen, The clergy noticed them, and he was banished. Provoked by the persecution of those whom he despised, what was at first only mirth rankled into hatred. The spirit of his age and country encouraged him. His passion for literary applause allied itself to his resentments. The gratification he felt in indulging his talents for pleasantry was irresistible. He attacked every thing, he ridiculed every thing, he sported with every thing. Nothing so sacred, nothing so venerable, nothing so useful or necessary, as to be secure from his merriment. By degrees he grew almost serious in his folly. He aspired to the glory of crushing that infamous * religion which was proclaimed by angels from heaven, with the song of glory to God and good will towards men: and he enjoys the bad preëminence of having contributed indirectly, more perhaps than any other man, to the revolution in France, and all its wasteful results in Europe. But we turn gladly from the man to his writings.
“ After having examined the conduct and general character of Voltaire, we may proceed to speak more particularly of his works. Their merit has been a hundred times discussed and disputed. Almost always received with enthusiasm by the public, they at the same time met with obstinate opponents and enemies, and the spirit of party has always prevailed in the judgment pronounced upon them. Half a century has elapsed, and the reputation of Voltaire is still like the body of Patroclus, disputed between two parties who are animated against each other. Such a contest would alone suffice to perpetuate the glory of that name. Some men have made themselves famous by defending him; others have gained celebrity solely by having pertinaciously attacked him. In this protracted conflict the glory of Voltaire has undoubtedly not preserved all its original splendour. It is no longer
* Ecrasez l'infame was the common watchword of the philosopher.