« PreviousContinue »
has been established among the Protest-| lute wonderment. Were their vulgarity ants at Paris. They exist also in many of and vice redeemed by any talent, any develthe provincial cities.
opment of character, any graces of lanWe have no space to follow our author guage, our surprise would be less : but through his disquisition on the principles of nothing can be conceived more entirely de. taxation, as affecting the lower classes of void of any portion of literary merit than society. The gist of his argument is to the mass of these works. They are writprove that indirect taxation is not only just ten in a clumsy, matter of fact, jog-trot towards them, but that it tends to their style, with about as much life and fire as moral and social amelioration.*
would suit an engineer's report on a railM. Frégier denounces loudly the mis- way; and in their mode of dealing with chievous tendency of the French drama- their staple commodities, they are immeathe malefactor, as well as the romantic divi- surably inferior to the Newgate Calendar sion of it; for our neighbours at the present or the Police Reports; for they have none moment are, like ourselves, great admirers of that truth of detail which gives interest of the Newgate style of literature. As to those more elevated productions. The play-going amounts to a passion with all the writers of this class have one, and oneonly, lower classes of the French, but with device for obtaining popular favour—that children and young apprentices especially, of conglomerating crimes. Every page our author is convinced that, were the the- must have its two or three catastrophes; tre strictly and judiciously controlled, in- and they dibble in their atrocities, one to stead of being, as at present, most injurious every twenty lines, as regularly as if they to society, it might be rendered the means were planting cauliflowers. With them of great moral good. We must decline everything depends on the abundance of going into this question at present; the blood and brains-not their own certainly; abominable immorality of the French dra. and provided the murders, robberies, rapes, mas and novels of the day has been of treasons, trials, and executions are sufficilate sufficiently exposed in our pages--and ently numerous—and they can get some we see M. Frégier quotes parts of our arti- poor artist to prostitute his pencil for their cles on these subjects without being aware illustration—the sale is sure to be extenof their source. Our disgust at the bad sive, and the minor theatres lose no time in taste which can eagerly accept such pro-dramatizing the new masterpiece. ductions as overwhelm ourselves at present, The suggestions of our author for the is, we confess, stronger than our alarm at prevention of crime among the middle their demoralizing effects. Our ephemeral class are limited to the establishment of dramas, which by the bye are vastly infe- boarding houses and circles of reunion for rior to the similar productions of the French the students at the university, and evening stage, are many of them mere remodel- lecture rooms for the young men employed lings of the mass of periodical trash which in commercial pursuits. Great benefit is now poured out upon us in a still increas- would, he conceives, result to the students
a ing flood-each monthly issue more worth- from the establishment of boarding houses less than the last. How such works can be under judicious management ; but the systolerated by the public is matter of abso- tem to be enforced in them must be mode
rate, or it will disgust and drive away the * In June, 1793, a motion was brought forward young men. It should not exceed in strictin the Convention that the poorer classes should be ness that to which they would be subject exonerated from all taxation. Cambon, the great if residing with their own families. He is financial authority of the time, strenuously resisted the proposition. 'Robespierre opposed it also; and not aware that more than two of these esM. Frégier gives, as a legislative curiosity, the fol- tablishments exist at present in Paris. lowing passage from his speech :- J'ai partagé un moment l'erreur qu'on vient d'émettre, je crois même l'avoir écrite quelque part; mais j'en reviens aux
The shopmen and commercial clerks are in principes, et je suis éclairé par le bon sens du peuple, general little educated; the establishment of qui sent que l'espèce de faveur qu'on lui présente est evening lecture rooms for these young men une injure. En effet, si vous décrétez constitution would be attended with important advantages nellement que la misère excepte de l'honorable both to themselves and to their employers: these obligation de contribuer aux besoins de la patrie, latter should defray all the expenses attending vous décrétez l'avilissement de la partie la plus pure them. One lecture room in each of the fortyde la nation; vous décrétez l'aristocratie des eight Arrondissements would be sufficient to ac, richesses; bientôt il s'établirait une classe d'ilotes; complish this object; and they should be placed et l'égalité, la liberté périraient pour jamais. N'êtez under the immediate control of the municipal point aux citoyens ce qui leur est le plus nécessaire, la satisfaction de présenter à la république le denier
authorities.' de la veuve. The motion was thrown out by the Convention.
These suggestions are well meant; but
here, as in all similar cases, the misfortune his conviction that this singular impulse on is, that the persons who would avail them the public mind will be of short duration. selves of these advantages would be the Tolerated gambling-houses no longer exmoral and well-conducted ; the vicious and ist in France; and the plan adopted by the ill-regulated would reject them altogether. government, of first suppressing them in the
From the preventive M. Frégier proceeds provincial towns, and then attacking the to the remedial means—that is, the means grand establishments in Paris, was politic by which existing vice and crime can best and wise. It would appear, however, that be controlled and diminished ; and he the evil, if abated, is very far from being chiefly directs his attention to the three vi- conquered. The vigilance of the police has ces most widely extended and most preg- indeed, successfully put down the houses nant with crime-drunkenness, gambling, established for the specific purpose of clanand prostitution.
destine gambling ; but it has hitherto been
foiled by the augmented numbers and ac"It is,' he says, “an easy task for any political tivity of the maisons à partics. In these, economist to point out a variety of plans which, high and unfair play is carried on, under the if they could be carried into effect, would abate the vice of drunkenness : but, unfortunately, all specious exterior of ordinary visiting, to a these are good only in theory, and are means of far greater extent than formerly; and our prevention rather than cure. That all factory author is of opinion that alteratious in the children, whose parents are notorious drunk. penal code are imperatively called for 10 ards, should be boarded and lodged by the ma- meet these subtle evasions of the law. nufacturer who employs them, and thus screen- Two diametrically opposite systems have ed from the contagion of bad example at home, been proposed for the reformation of the is one of these :-that all the children of moral and well conducted parents should perform their unhappy victims of prostitution. The advowork at home, and by so doing, avoid the de- cates of the one, filled with the benevolent moralising effects of the vice-crowded factory, is desire of reinstating these women in the another :-that societies under royal patronage honest ranks of society, assert that it is the should be established to procure for the entire duty of the civil authorities to facilitate this mass of the working classes amusement, com- object by assiduously labouring to introduce bined with instruction, during the Sundays and among ibem habits of order, forethought, the other periods of idleness, is a third. All and economy. The advocates of the other these plans would be excellent were they not impracticable. To subject every drunkard to system reprobrate, as vitally detrimental to punishment has been tried in Germany without public morals, any measures which would success. To increase the duties on wine and tend to blend these degraded beings with spirits has been recommended; but in a vine- the respectable portion of the community, growing country like France this would be a or to lessen the ignominy which attaches to check ió industry, and it would be unjust to them, and which forms one of the strongest wards the sober portion of the community. safeguards, perhaps the strongest of all, to Another plan is uniformly to publish in the news, female virtue : they fear, also, that any
impapers an account of all the accidents, fatal quarrels, and crimes resulting from drunkenness. provements in the habits of these women As from the extension of education, every one would, in proportion as it lessened prostiwill in a few years be able to read, this public tution, augment illicit connexions more exposure would tend powerfully to check the irreparably detrimental to the happiness of vice.'
families. Far from promoting any objects
of this nature, they are anxious to make the We greatly doubt it; and, indeed, of all line of demarcation more clearly apparent the suggestions brought forward in this sec- than it is at present; and would willingly tion, there appears to us to be only one bring back the ancient laws which restrictfrom which any important practical good ed women of this class to certain parts of might result. It is, that systematically, and each city, and obliged them to wear a peby a mutual compact among all the man- culiar dress
. Our author inclines evidently ufacturers and master artificers, every habit to the milder of these systems, and so did ual drunkard should be expelled from their also his great authority, Parent-Duchâtelet : establishments, however able a workman he in England this controversy is not likely to may be. No doubt, if this system were gen- be agitated. erally and rigidly adopted, there would re- It is quite evident that the science of sult from it, after a time, an important prison discipline is, of all others, the one improvement in the habits of the working nearest our author's heart; and his ardent classes. M. Frégier does not advert to the partisanship in favour of the system of solitemperance movement in Ireland and Eng- tary confinement, leads him, as we have land. As he cannot be ignorant of it, his already stated, to devote a very undue porsilence may, we presume, be attributed to tion of his volumes to this especial subject.
We shall not attempt to follow him through many counties in England this demand
instruction, and the knowledge of some
have complicated. In some instances, the exist- produced upon us is one of respect and ing prisons might, by a considerable out-gratitude. lay, be rendered applicable to this new mode of confinement, but in the majority of cases it would be necessary that entirely new buildings should be erected. In
Art. II.-The Encyclopeellia Britannica ; , dertaking. In consequence of a dispute
or Dictionary of Arts, Science, and Gene- between Gua and the booksellers, the ediral Literature. Seventh Edition, with torship of the Encyclopédie was entrusted Preliminary Dissertations, &c., &c. Ed- to D'Alembert and Diderot, who, while ited by Macvey Napier, Esq., F. R. S. they represent Chambers as a servile comEdinburgh, 1842. 21 vols., 4to. piler, principally from French writers, ac
knowledge at the same time that without The task of analysis and appreciation the groundwork of the French translation would have been overwhelming, had this of that book, their own would never have vast work been submitted to our judgment been composed. To enlarge an article in the fulness of its stature, and in the ma- ! already written was a task which the conturity of its age: but we have had the ad- tributors willingly undertook, while they vantage of being familiar with it from would have shrunk from the labour and an early period of its existence; and trust, responsibility of composing a new one. therefore, that our readers will not deem A few years after the completion of this us presumptuous if, in giving them an ac- work, which has been as much reprobated count of its rise and progress, we at the on account of the irreligious and revolusame time venture to pronounce a judg- tionary doctrines which it inculcates, as it ment upon its general merits, and even has been extolled for the originality and upon some of the most remarkable articles depth of many of its articles, the first ediwhich its pages now contain.
tion of the · Encyclopadia Britannica' was Although we might naturally have ex- given to the world in three vols. 410. It pected that dictionaries explanatory of was edited, and the plan of it probably dewords would give rise to dictionaries ex- vised, by Mr. William Smellie, a printer in planatory of ideas, and descriptive of the Edinburgh, and the author of an interestthings which these words represent, yet ing book on natural history. The pecusuch a transition was not the first step liarity of this encyclopædia consisted in its which was taken in the composition of en- treating each branch of literature and scicyclopædias. Systematic digests of litera-ence under its proper name, and in a systeture and science appeared under the name matic form, the technical terms and subof encyclopædias long before the alphabet ordinate heads being likewise explained was employed as the principle of the ar- alphabetically-while details slightly conrangement. The Arabian Encyclopædia nected with the general subject could be of Alfarabius, of which the MS. exists in thus separately introduced. the Escurial, and the more modern one of We have now before us two rival methProfessor Alstedius of Weissenbourg (2 ods of constructing an encyclopædia, each vols. folio, 1630,) are examples of this me- of which has been regarded as possessing thod of systematizing knowledge.
peculiar advantages. Although from the The first Dictionary of the arts and sci- prevalence of both methods we cannot ences was the • Lexicon Technicum' of Dr. rightly collect the opinion of the public, Harris, which was published in two folio yet we have no hesitation in giving a devolumes, the first in 1706, the second in cided preference to that in which the lead1710; but its limitation almost entirely to ing branches of knowledge are discussed mathematics and physics, deprived it of the in separate treatises, as in the 'Encyclocharacter of an encyclopædia work. pædia Britannica.' The facility of com
This dictionary was followed, in 1721, posing, or of obtaining authors to compose, by the 'Cyclopædia’ of Mr. Chambers, a the short articles which correspond to the work of great merit and utility, which ran technical titles or sections of any branch through no fewer than five editions in the of science, has no doubt led to the opposite course of eighteen years. Its reputation method, which is exemplified in the Cycloextended to the continent, and it was trans- pædias of Harris and Chambers. But when lated into French and Italian. The French these titles or sections are numerous, as translation was completed in 1745, by one they generally are, when they are written Mills, an Englishman, with the assistance by different authors, in different styles of of Sellius, a native of Dantzic. About execution, and on different scales, they this time the Abbé de Gua projected the must compose a disjointed and unsystecelebrated Encyclopédie,'a collection which matical whole, which cannot fail to be unformed an epoch in the literary, if not in satisfactory to the general reader, as well the political, history of Europe. So limited as to the ardent student. The only method was the early plan of this work, that Mills's indeed by which such a plan can be protranslation of the Cyclopædia of Chambers perly executed is to have the general trea. was assumed as the groundwork of the un- tises composed by a single individual, and VOL. LXX.
afterwards distributed, in separate parts, | very reverse of those which characterized into their alphabetical places. The sole the French encyclopædists. The first of advantage, however, which this process of Professor Robison's labours was the resub-division holds out to us is, that the vision and enlargement of the article Optics. ignorant and illiterate may readily find out He wrote the article Philosophy jointly a subject in the alphabetical arrangement, with Dr. Gleig, and this was followed by when he would fail in his scarch were he the articles Physics, Pneumatics, Procesto appeal to the general treatise ;-and the sion, Projectiles, Pumps, Resistance, Rivers, evil in question may be completely remedied Roof, Ropemaking, Rotation, Scamanship, either by inserting the name of each sub- Signal, Sound, Specific Gravity, Statics, ject in its alphabetical place, or, what is Stcam-engine, Steelyard, Strength of Matestill better, by a general index to the whole rials, Telescope, Tide, Trumpet, Variation, work, by which the same subject may be and Waterworks. When two supplementtraced through different treatises, and even ary volumes were added to complete the minor articles.
work, Professor Robison contributed tho The first edition of the Encyclopædia articles Arch, Astronomy, Boscovich, CarBritannica, distinguished by these advan- pentry, Centre, Dynamics, Electricity, Imtages, obtained an extensive circulation, I pulsion, Involution, Machinery, Magnetism, and the proprietors were thus induced, in Mechanics, Percussion, Piano-forte, Posia less period than twelve years, to publish tion, Temperament, Thunder, Trumpet, a second edition, on a larger scale and a Tschirnhaus, and Watchwork. These armore comprehensive plan. Within the wid. ticles, in the estimation of the late illustrious er compass of ten volumes the editor was Dr. Thomas Young, 'exbibit a more comenabled to include the two new and popu- plete view of the modern improvements in lar departments of Biography and History, physical science than had ever before been which had not found a place in the French in the possession of the British public; and Encyclopédic. This enlargement of the display such a combination of acquired plan made the work acceptable to the vast knowledge, with original power of reasoncircle of readers for whom the details of ing, as has fallen to the lot of a few only of art and of science had but few charms; and the most favoured of mankind.' In this the Encyclopædia then came to be regard- estimate we heartily concur. The state of ed as a family library, forming in itself a physical science was at a low ebb in Engstorehouse of knowledge suited to capaci- land previous to the writings of Robison. ties of every depth, to students of every The labours of continental philosophers age, and to readers of every variety of taste. were but little known even to those who
IIitherto, however, the Encyclopædia occupied the chairs in our universities; Britannica was chiefly distinguished by the and ihose who had obtained some knowcomprehensiveness of its plan, and the judi- ledge of them could impart it to their ciousness of its compilation. No author pupils only. The general student and the of high reputation had been invited to its ingenious artisan drew their information aid-no articles exhibiting either genius or from its ancient springs, while the finest profound learning had adorned its pages. researches lay concealed in foreign lan
The vast superiority of the philosophical guages, or were confined to a few philosoarticles in the French collection, and the phers more ardent and active than their brilliant names with which they were asso- fellows. The state of Robison's health ciated, had no doubt some influence in was such as not to permit him to embark rousing the enterprise of the proprietors, lightly in the arduous labour of ransacking and in exciting higher expectations on the the numerous stores of continental science; part of the English public. The third edi- and even if he had succeeded in collecting tion of the 'Encyclopædia’ was accord them, there was no proper channel through ingly begun in more favourable circum- which they could have been communicated stances, and under the management of Mr. to the public. How fortunate, then, was it Colin Macfarquhar; but it was not till after that the Encyclopædia Britannica held out his death, in 1793, when the Reverend Dr. an ample remuneration for this laborious Gleig of Sterling (afterwards Bishop of enterprise, and induced so accomplished a Brechin) took the direction of the work, person as Robison to transfer to its pages that its scientific and literary character as the noblest researches of modern science ! sumed a decidedly higher tone. This The fine speculations of the Abbé Boscolearned divine succeeded in obtaining the vich on the atomical constitution of matassistance of Professor John Robison, a ter—his valuable researches on achromaman of kindred opinions, both in religion tic combinations—the grand discoveries of and politics, and animatod with ideas the Coulomb on electricity and magnetism