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Whenever Mr. Carne bends his steps towards the cast, he appears infinitely to more advantage than when employed in any other region of the world. His western legends have been all failures, whereas he seldom appeals for inspiration in vain to those sunny climes, which have been seldom better described than in his letters. The chief interest of the Exiles of Palestine,' is intended to turn upon the story of a knight templar, who, contrary to the rule of his order, had taken unto himself a female companion, whom he was unable to dignify with the name of wife, and whom he conducts through the principal parts of the Holy Land, soon after the period when the Christians lost their last hold in that country, by the capture of Ptolemais. With the vicissitudes of the hero, however, we have not been much interested. They are mixed up with a good deal of vague declamation, and with impulses of remorse, which become tiresome from repetition. Mr. Carne is more successful in his sketches of Saracenic manners, and in his descriptions of the country, of which the following is a sample.
The mountain on whose broken ridge was the village of Gadara, stood at the very extremity of the lake of Galilee, being one of the savage chain that confine its waters on the eastern side; at its feet was the bold valley, through which the eternal river rolled. This vale, or rather plain, for it was three leagues wide, was of surpassing richness, but all wild and neglected, as if the hand of man had never been there: the almond, and the palm-tree, with flowers of every hue, were scattered wantonly over its bosom: the course of the blest and beautiful river was marked by the weeping-willow and the acacia trees, and the line of tall shrubs, through which it swept with a fierceness and rapidity that baffled every attempt to pass it. But all was verdure in this fair and silent valley; not a desert or barren spot was there, no region of rocks or sands. At the hour in which Lucius gazed on it, every harsher tint was softened; the swift and silvery rush of the river was very dear to the eye, after the glare of day; the dull white tents of the Bedouins, whose flocks and herds grazed or slept around in the pasture, gave a semblance of habitation to the wild :how faint a semblance to the cities of the plain that had once stood here in their pride! At intervals, the piercing cry, or rather shriek, of a wandering Arab was heard, on the scent for plunder; and then his steed was seen to dart like an arrow through the plain, and disappear as quickly. On each side of this splendid area the mountain barriers were of great height, and of an aspect awfully savage; without verdure, without water, or a shadow from the heat; loose heaps of stones often formed their sides. The village of Gadara must have been placed in such a site, like a watch-tower on a desolate beach, for the purposes of defence and espionage there was need of this, for the territory was liable to the incursions of the people of the desert, and the Saracens had chosen wisely, in sending the fierce soldier to be governor over it. The people of the village, who looked on the plain beneath as the portion of their own flocks, often resented, even to bloodshed, the visits of strangers on its pastures.
'From so savage a residence, it was difficult to conceive the joy of
descending to the banks of the lake, and sitting in the shadow of their trees. Those who have made their home amidst the grey rock, and the burning acclivity, can tell how dear is the murmur of waters, and the ceaseless rolling of the wave to their feet! The luxury of sight was added to that of sound; far as the eye could reach, the lovely lake spread its bosom amidst green hills on the other shore. Far as the eye could follow, on the left, the rapid river gushed away, till lost in the distant horizon and where that horizon shrouds the view, as you go down to the "sea of death," once stood Admah and Zeboim, the guilty cities, in their territory of the "garden of the Lord." So closely is the line drawn, where the curse swept utterly, that the step of the wanderer passes at once from beauty to hideousness, from luxuriance to decay. From the sea of Galilee to that awful boundary, all is one wide and rejoicing empire, where a king might dwell, of trees, and flowers, and waters, and unfading vegetation;-beyond it, is the dwelling of despair. The river, alone, has not changed; onward it rushes through "that salt and sulphureous region" where no man dwells, into the sullen sea, like the gay and laughing course of Time, fleeting to a dark eternity.'-vol. i. pp. 119–123.
There is much, we fear, that is apocryphal in Mr. Carne's account of the wanderings of various Knights-Templars, Hospitallers, and of St. John, in Palestine, after the fall of Ptolemais. Nevertheless, we are easily induced to follow them by his descriptions of localities, which, we have no doubt, are as accurate as they are beautiful. We feel, in his language, occasionally, an approach to tinsel, which to a fastidious taste is disagreeable; but when an author is employed upon the fairest scenery of Asia, he may be excused, if now and then his diction partake of the florid splendor of the country.
ART. IX.-Reflections on the Decline of Science in England, and on some of its Causes. By Charles Babbage, Esq., Lucasian Professor of Mathematics in the University of Cambridge, and Member of several Academies. 8vo. pp. 228. London: B. Fellowes. 1830. We cannot imagine any thing more inexplicable, than that the author of these Reflections should be a party to, or perhaps, a principal in, the recent enterprize for disappointing the Duke of Sussex, and setting up Mr. Herschell as President of the Royal Society. Are not all the vices and infirmities with which the society stands charged by Mr. Babbage, the result of a weak and indolent administration of its affairs? Have not all the errors, the abuses, and malversations of which he complains proceeded from that state of imbecility, in which the executive power of the institution has been allowed so long to slumber? Is not the lamentable state of corruption, which Mr. Babbage imputes to the council, to be ascribed solely to the relaxation of authority? We answer, undoubtedly; and it necessarily follows, that the only cure for the evil is a vigorous management. How could Mr. Herschell answer such claims? A
philosopher, who is habitually merged in abstract pursuits, which must have the monopoly of his devotion, or none at all, is totally unfit for the details of business. Such a man is commonly characterized by retiring manners; he is slow of decision-he is disposed to be too indulgent on occasions of differences. His habits, temperament, and even his very virtues, render him incompetent to the duties which a chairman, to be efficient and worthy of his station, must perform. So that had Mr. Babbage been so lucky as to have placed his friend, Mr. Herschell, in the chair of the society, we might calculate on a long night of abuses, not, indeed, such as Mr. Babbage might complain of, but such as the world and science would have to mourn, with as much justice as at present. We did not expect, from this gentleman, such a sacrifice of public duty to private affection, as this. We were sure that he would have shown, in his selection of a President, the same discernment, the same spirit of impartiality, the same inflexible regard to the general interests, by which the public accuser of the Royal Society is so anxious to be distinguished. Why, then, pass by the Duke of Sussex, whom one moment's consideration must have represented as the only fit and proper person to restore the authority of the chair to its healthy exercise? Let us be understood. We pay no abstract deference to station and honours; and as to any benefit that his Royal Highness's best intentions could confer upon us, we are, alas, at a fathomless distance from the climate of his influence. We do not think so highly of human nature, as to believe that men are always good from uncontroled choice: circumstances marvellously affect conduct and motives-and we own that we are better satisfied to augur concerning a man's future actions from the circumstances in which he is placed, than to indulge in favourable anticipations, founded on any general hopes of human excellence. And this is, perhaps, as safe a standard as we could resort to. We see, then, in the first place, in his Royal Highness, a President without the many incumbrances which must attach to almost any other person in the state, who could have the least chance of filling the office. Ambition of any kind he cannot bring with him into the chair. How can he, indeed? He is at the top of the wheel, as to rank he cannot go a step further,-political aspirations he can' have none, either; the fortune which made him a Prince forbids it. Here, then, are two grand motives of corruption, we may say, or of temptation to abuse his power and authority, at once taken away. What have we in their stead? Motives of another kind-motives which, springing in human nature itself, happen to concur towards a virtuous end. Of political and civil exaltation, his Royal Highness may be said to have had enough: to encourage and sustain science is all that is left to his ambition; will he not be ready to tread the only path to distinction which remains for him? It is impossible to doubt on the subject. On his own personal account, in obedience to his inclinations and his wishes, consistently with
his very weaknesses even, the Duke of Sussex must make a vigorous and efficient minister of the Society. All those possible views and purposes, on account of which power, in such cases, is perverted, and influence abused, are altogether foreign from his thoughts. Intrigue is of no use to such a man-he can reap nothing from the labours of party-his objects are irreconcilable with any other state of things, than the maintenance of the most equal balance between merit and reward. Besides his Royal Highness has exhibited, during his life, an ardent love for scientific pursuits; and the splendid library, and the uses to which he applies it, are proofs that his attachment is genuine and permanent. How it is that the chance of bringing such a power as this to bear upon the vices and infirmities of the Royal Society, should have been rejected by one so deeply sensible of these imperfections as Mr. Babbage, remains yet to be explained. If, however, his book, in tracing the errors and exposing the corruption by which the Society has been degraded from its high character of usefulness, shall in any manner contribute to the redress of such abuses, Mr. Babbage may safely rely upon it, that the remembrance of his inconsistency will not diminish the gratitude due to the candour and the firmness with which he has examined the proceedings of that body.
Mr. Babbage begins his work by remarking on the low condition of England as compared with other nations, in point of science, and particularly as to the more difficult and abstract sciences. This unfavourable state of our country he accounts for by various concurring causes. The system of education acted on amongst us comes in for a portion of the blame. In the next place, science is not and cannot be cultivated as a profession in England-and no encouragement is afforded by the State to those who would be willing and anxious to leave the profitable callings of ordinary life, in order to devote themselves to those researches, which, though attended with no immediate benefit, would yet raise the character of the country, whilst they stood a chance, one day or other, of being turned to important use. Mr. Babbage then notices the very opposite conduct of other governments. He instances the case of France, where scientific men have been raised to rank, and endowed with honours, besides being amply provided for as to the more substantial matters of life. Upon this point we shall let Mr. Babbage be heard for himself.
In France, the situation of its savans is highly respectable, as well as profitable. If we analyse the list of the Institute, we shall find few who do not possess titles or decorations; but as the value of such marks of royal favour must depend, in a great measure, on their frequency, I shall mention several particulars which are probably not familiar to the English reader.*
* This analysis was made by comparing the list of the Institute, printed for that body in 1827, with the Almanach Royale for 1823.
Total Number of each Class of the Legion of Honour.
Amongst the members of the Institute there are,—
Total Number of that
Of these there are Peers of France 5
'We might, on turning over the list of the 685 members of the Royal Society, find a greater number of peers than there are in the Institute of France; but a fairer mode of instituting the comparison, is to inquire how many titled members there are amongst those who have contributed to its Transactions. In 1827, there were one hundred and nine members who had contributed to the Transactions of the Royal Society; amongst these were found::-
It should be observed, that five of these titles were the rewards of members of the medical profession, and one only, that of Sir H. Davy, could be attributed exclusively to science.
'It must not be inferred that the titles of nobility in the French list, were all of them the rewards of scientific eminence; many are known to have been such; but it would be quite sufficient for the argument to mention the names of Lagrange, Laplace, Berthollet, and Chaptal.
'The estimation in which the public hold literary claims in France and England, was curiously illustrated by an incidental expression in the translation of the debates in the House of Lords, on the occasion of His Majesty's speech at the commencement of the session of 1830. The Gazette de France stated, that the address was moved by the Duc de Buccleugh, “chef de la maison de Walter Scott." Had an English editor wished to particularize that nobleman, he would undoubtedly have employed the term wealthy, or some other of the epithets characteristic of that quality most esteemed amongst his countrymen.
'If we turn, on the other hand, to the emoluments of science in France, we shall find them far exceed those in our own country. I regret much