Page images
PDF
EPUB

turn out, that this protecting humanity of the Gothic code is a Creature of Dr Ranken's brain, begotten between ignorance and inattention? Si quis furem captum aut reum alicui excufferit, fi majoris loci persona est, extensus coram judice pro fola præsumptione centum flagella fufcipiat, et quem excufit repræsentare cogatur.' Cod. Vif. lib. 7. tit. 2. 1. 20. The law goes on to enumerate other cases of the fame offence, and inflict other penalties. Now, the meaning of this is clearly-If any one pall rescue from another, a thief token in the net, or one accused of a crime, he shall receive a hundred lathes before the judge, and be compelled to bring back the man whom he rescued. But Dr Ranken has construed furem alicui excufserit, ' fball beat any thief; whereas no blows have been sustained but by Priscian.

• If a husband dismissed his wife (we are now in the Burgundian code, tit. 34.) without any cause, then his fortane went to her and her children.

The lady was not even to be dismissed; Si de bis tribus facinoribus (adultery, witchcraft, and violation of sepulchres ; that is, we suppose, supping with goules) nihil admiserit, nulli virorum liceat de altero crimine uxorem suam dimittere ; fed fi maluerit, exeat de domo rebus omnibus dimilis, et illa cum filiis fuis his, que maritus habuit, potiatur.

The fourth chapter contains the history of learning, upon which we have no particular observation to make. The fifth that of the arts. of this a great part is occupied by accounts of agriculture, architecture, and the like, all extracted from Roman writers, and relating to Italy alone, but little more applicable to France than to Kamtschatka. They are moreover as erroneous as they are impertinent. To say nothing of a transfation from the elder Pliny in p. 416, and from the younger in p. 444, which would reap stripes in a schoolboy, what could induce Dr Ranken to enter into a description of the five orders of architecture? What demon could put into his head, that the Corinthian order is little more than an additional ornament to the chapiter of the Ionian column?' or that, in the Ionic, « volutes were made to depend from the architrave ?' If this be so, there has been a marvellous confpiracy in all architects, ancient and modern, to delude the world, since it is certain, that in every building and in every book, the volutes are found to be appendages to the capital, and not the architrave, of the Ionic order. Gothic architecture comes next under review, though, at the death of Charlemagne, when this volume ends, there certainly was not a Gothic edifice throughout all Europe. We shall not be severe upon Dr Ranken's notions about this art, as it seems the privilege of all the world at present to talk about gal beirs,'

Gothic architecture, without understanding what it means. The fixth and seventh chapters, the history of commerce, and of language and manners, are very jejune, --probably, in some degree, through the deficiency of materials.

We have been so long detained upon the first volume of Dr Ranken's work, that we can pay scarce any attention to the two laft. We shall only make a few strictures on the extracts which he gives from the Capitularies.

One of these enacts, Ne decem anni, neque viceni, vel triginta annorum præfcriptio, religiofis domibus opponatur, fed fola quadraginta annorum cunicula. This law is founded on the same principles as the English maxim, nullum tempus occurrit Ecclesiæ ; that is, the probability that men, who have only a life-interest, will rather lofe or compromise their rights, than embark in litigation. But Dr Ranken, overlooking the words religiosos domibus, has rendered it, as a general rule of prescription for all persons. Again,

« A man's widow was entitled to a third share of the fortune which he had himself acquired ; but all that be held by inheritance, or other mode of accession, from bis friends, descended to bis children and other lea

The Capitulary says, De iis rebus, quas is, qui illud beneficium habuit, aliunde adduxit vel comparavit, vel ei ab amicis fuis collatum eft, has volumus tam ad orphanos defun&torum, quam ad uxores corum pervenire.

· Culpable homicide was punithed with banishment, besides the war. gild, or fine, paid to the nearest heirs of the deceased. Murder was punished with death.'

The capitulaties referred to are lib. 4: 20. and lib. 6. 39. The first runs in these words : Quicunque hominem aut de levi caufa, AUT SINE CAUSA INTERFECERIT, Wirgildus ejus his, ad quos ille pertinet, componatur. Ipfe verò propter talem præfumptionem in exilium mittatur, ad quantum tempus nobis placuerit, res tamen fuas non amittat. The second enacts: Si quis ferro percusserit koininenig et mortuus fuerit, qui percusit, reus erit homicidii, et ipse morietur. We were struck by the difficulty of reconciling these two laws, and once supposed the second to have been an alteration of the first; but on looking more narrowly into the fixth book of the Capitularies, we found it to be merely an extract from the Levitical law, from the beginning down to the 54th title. Thus, the law, Si quis ferro, &c. above cited, is a translation of Numbers, ch. 35. v. 16. We do not apprehend that the Mofaic code was ever of binding force in the dominions of Charlemagne, and consider the first law respecting homicide as the true one.

Dr Ranken is both amused and scandalized at the following law, Capit. lib. 7. 321. • Let no man take more than two wives, for a third is superfluous.' We are inclined to believe, that even a second would have been thought a needless luxury, during the lifetime of the first, and that the law relates to a fucceffion of helpmates, which, as is well known, the Church at that time dif. couraged.

The third volume brings the history down to the death of Louis VIII. in 1226. We do not pretend to have looked much at it: the labour of a reviewer must end somewhere; and our readers will probably difpense with any farther account of this performance. If we seem to have been too harsh and rigorous in our fcrutiny, it fhould be remembered, that no duty of an historian is so effential as fidelity, nor any fo incumbent upon a critic as to investigate narrowly those positions, which, as they are founded upon very remote and obfcure authorities, few readers have the leisure or inclination to examine. Dr Ranken seems to have had fome encouragement, as the volumes have hitherto appeared with tolerable regularity. We do not wish to diffuade him from proceeding. That he is, like too many persons in this country, but moderately versed in the Latin tongue, we have had several proofsg but in the succeeding periods, that language will cease to be lo effential, and almost every document upon French history will be found in the vernacular idiom. Accuracy is surely in his power, and surely worth the preserving. We shall track him in his path, if he goes on; and while we shall think it our duty to point out any deviation from the true courfe, we shall always be happy to discover, that he is difposed to redeem his credit, and earn that ftation in the literary world, to which his extenfiveness of reading, when accompanied by adequate attention, will certainly entitle him.

ART. XVIII. A Mineralogical Description of the County of Dume fries. By Robert Jamieson, Regius Profeffor of Natural History, and Keeper of the Museum in the University of Edinburgh ; Fellow of the Royal and Antiquarian Societies of E. dinburgh, of the Linnæan Society of London ; Honorary Member of the Royal Irish Academy, of the Mineralogical and Physical Societies of Jena, &c. 8vo. Pp. 185. Edinburgh,

1805. When we took up this volume, we expected to find a mine

ralogical description of Dumfries-fhire constructed on a plan fimilar to 'The Mineralogy of the Scotish Illes," and executed with the same accuracy which had procured for that work a certain fhare of reputation. Our surprise, however, and dif

appointment,

appointment were both confiderable, when, instead of the facts andpractical observations which the title taught us to expect, we found ourselves plunged all at once into the profundities of a new theory, the grounds of which are not explained ; and overwhelmed with a tedious detail of hypothetical reasonings and conjectures. We have no doubt, indeed, that the good people of the county, who expected information of a much humbler defcription, will find themselves very much edified with oryctognolie and geognofie ; with tranhtion rocks and flsetz-trap, and with the German and French quotations by which the book is adorned. It must also be a great source of confolation for them to learn, that their rivers bear a striking resemblance to the Rhone, the Rhine, the Elbe, and the wide-rolling Danube ; and that the configuration of their vallies has a wonderful affinity to that of the vallies of Germany, to the valley of Cachmere, the paradise of the Hindus, and even, according to all probability, to the vallies of the moon.

For our own part, we have already entered our protest against the introduction of these barbarous and diffonant appellations; and can conceive no other motive for the display of so much irrelative erudition, but Mr Jamieson's unbounded admiration for the tenets and speculations of the Wernerian school. In the Mineralogy of the Scotish Isles, he supports the probability of forming a fyftematic arrangement of minerals by classes, orders, genera, and species ; and points out several geological facts that cannot be reconciled to the floetz-trap system of Freyberg. But in his System of Mic neralogy, this classical, Linnæan mode of arrangement, is totally abandoned ; and in the Mineralogy of Dumfries, not a fact is al lowed to appear in a form which might disturb the infallible geognostic and oryctognostic opinion of Werner.

In the introduction, the author tells us, that it is an opinion too generally credited, that the art of mining is easy and fimple, and that little education, and no very great share of practical knowledge is necessary for its successful prosecution,' 'This opinion, we confess, is new to us, and we suppose it meant as a prelude to Mr Jamieson's list of the qualifications ne. cessary for a 'mine engineer.' These are so rare, and so many, as to remind us of the reply of Raffelas to Imlac: • Enough! thou hast convinced me that no human being can ever be a poet!'

But after a man has acquired this long detail of preliminary knowledge, we very much doubt of his being qualified conscientiously to take charge of a great mine.' All the abstract mineralogy in the world, could not qualify him to judge whether the miners would receive an adequate reward for their labour, in linking a lhaft, or driving a level, at the rate of five pounds, or P3

twenty

twenty pounds, per fathom; yet, an accurate knowledge of this, is the most essential part of a mine-agent's duty. Such knowledge can only be acquired by a person who has himself worked as a miner; and, accordingly, mine-proprietors generally select for their agents, the moft intelligent and acute among their workmen. In place of every department of the work depende ing on the life of one man, to whom a succefTor, qualified as Mr Jamieson thinks neceffary, might be fought in vain, there are separate agents for the subterraneous works, for walhing and smelting the ores, engineers for the water and steam engines, and woodmen for the carpentry necessary to support the mines. The introdu&tion concludes with rather an oftentatious display of the great benefits likely to result from the survey, and an enumeration of five important discoveries that have been made.

The first discovery is of an extensive tract of transition rocks, a class of rocks hitherto unnoticed in Great Britain.' Does the author mean that the rocks in question were not noticed until he pointed them out? This is very far from being the case, for, though they may not have been arranged under the Wergerian system, they had certainly been noticed and described by many. His second, third and fourth discoveries, are leadglance, pitchstone, and coal formations; which, however they may differ from those described by Werner, were certainly known before. With respect to glance-coal, his fifth discovery, it is surely far from being new under its vulgar name of blind-coal.

In the first chapter, we are presented with a delineation of the mountains, vallies, and medicinal springs in the county, which we doubt not may be sufficiently accurate as far as it goes.

Mr Jamieson's very tedious excursion to the Continent, in order to explain the formation of the rivers and vallies of Dumfries, appears to us to be completely unnecessary, as illustrations infinitely more striking, might easily have been found at home. If he had made use of his eyes while exploring the Highlands and Illes, he might have seen many streams which, partly by washing down earth and mud, so as to raise the bottom, partly by wearing down their outlets, have converted very deep lakes into extensive vallies. We shall only mention a few where the process is not yet fully accomplished. These are, the Teath, the Allan, the Earn, the Spey, the Findhorn, the Nairne, the Gairy, which flows into Loch Oich, and the Beaulieu, which flows into the head of the Moray Frith. Many smaller streams might be mentioned, both on the Mainland and in the lfies. The Spev, in particular, is first met by a barrier of red sandstone, whicre the bridge is pow building at Fochabers, which must have 'cas.

« PreviousContinue »