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and the valuable hydraulic researches of, preliminary Dissertations,-to some of its the Chevalier de Buat on rivers and water- principal articles on science and literaworks, were here for the first time laid be- ture,-and, in a more general manner, to fore the British public. But although Pro- the various subordinate departments of the fessor Robison used to speak to his pupils work. of these essays as merely compilations in- In arranging his general plan, the Editor tended to diffuse knowledge, yet they pos- proposed to have but two preliminary Dissess a character of a much higher kind. The sertations,—the first containing the History labours of others rose in value under his of Metaphysical, Ethical, and Political hands; his thorough knowledge of the sub- Philosophy, -and the sccond that of Matheject gave every contribution an air of ori- matical and Physical Science. Professor ginality, and new views and ingenious Stewart engaged to supply the former, and suggestions never failed to enliven his de- Professor Playfair the latter; but though tails. Throughout these multifarious trea- each performed a large portion of his task, tises we feel everywhere the steady serene they were both carried off in the midst of influence of an ardent love of truth, the their labours. Mr. Stewart had completed highest tone of scientific morality, and a the History of Metaphysics, and Mr. Playdeep sense of religion.
fair had brought the History of the MatheIn the year 181ė a fourth edition of the matical and Physical Sciences down to the work was completed under the editorship period of Newton and Leibnitz. Sir James of the late Dr. James Millar, and a fifth and Mackintosh undertook to complete the laa sixth edition, marked by no distinguish bours of his friend by a continuation, including peculiarities, successively appeared. ing the History of Ethical and Political From this state of lethargy, however, the Philosophy,* but he too was summoned • Encyclopædia' was destined to assume from his labours before he had commenced the highest station among the analogous the political portion of his subject. Proworks of the day. The enterprising house fessor Leslie resumed the History of the of Constable and Co. projected a Supple- Physical Sciences at the point where they ment, which extended to six volumes. It had been left by his predecessor, and was placed under the skilful management brought it down to the commencement of of Professor Napier. Many very distin- the present century; but though he was guished authors, among whom are number- spared to finish his task, he did not live to ed the names of Arago and Biot, were en- see the completion of the work to which he gaged as contributors, and all the resources had been so active a contributor. of the proprietors, both pecuniary and It is no wonder that the Dissertations commercial, were devoted to this favourite produced by these four extraordinary men undertaking. The first half volume (De- are regarded with peculiar pride in Scotcember, 1815) was enriched with a Pre- land. Few nations, indeed, can boast of liminary Dissertation on the History of such an intellectual group living at the Ethical Science,' by Mr. Dugald Stewart, same time, and adorning the same society; and the Supplement was completed in and yet, with powers of mind not far from April, 1824.
equality, bow various were their gifts, and A few years afterwards the copyrights how diversified their genius! While Stewwere purchased by the present proprietors, art derived his powers of'mental analysis and who immediately made preparations for combination from the study of his own mind, the seventh edition of the Encyclopædia chastened by the early and severe disciBritannica,' which we have now before us. pline of geometry, and expanded by exterTheir object was to widen it in its com- sive knowledge of preceding researches, pass, to amplify and improve it in its con- Mackintosh approached the same subject untents, and to raise it, in all respects, to a le- der a profound acquaintance with the world vel with the modes of thinking and spirit of - with the penetrating acuteness derived the age;' and we have no hesitation in say- from legal studies, and with all the geneing that they have, to a very large extent, ralisations which an active and political life fulfilled this obligation, both in the number is likely to supply to a naturally very acute and value of the original treatises which it understanding. In the Dissertation of the contains, in the careful revision and exten- one a stately and persuasive eloquencesion of former articles, and in the elaborate influenced, no doubt, but rendered more engravings, maps, and embellishments with commanding, by the habit of extempore which the work is illustrated and adorned.
In order to give our readers some idea of the nature and value of this immense col
* This dissertation has been published separately, lection, we shall call their attention to its' with a very able Pretace by Nr. WEWELL.
lecturing-excites the enthusiasm, without logical accuracy; but we doubt if any surpassed distracting the attention, of the reader ;- him, while he must be allowed to have surpassed while in the other the style is at once ele- most, in that creative faculty-one of the highgant, copious, and felicitous in its illustra- and is necessary for discovery, though not all
est and rarest of Nature's gifts—which leads to tivns-pure
in its metaphors-elevated by sufficient of itself for the formation of safe cona high tone of moral feeling—and exhibit-clusions; or in that subtilty and reach of dising, in singular, yet harmonious combina- cernment, which seizes the finest and least obtion, the chaste and severe language of phi- vious qualities and relations of things, which losophy, and the flexible and powerful pe- elicits the hidden secrets of nature, and ministers riods of forensic eloquence.
to new and unexpected combinations of her But the contrast is much more striking powers. Discoveries in science,” says he, in between the two philosophers who have re- referred to mere fortuitous incidents. But the
one of his works, “are sometimes invidiously corded the achievements of mathematical mixture of chance in this pursuit should not deand physical science. Familiar though tract from the real merit of the invention. Such they both were with the highest acquisitions occurrences would pass unheeded by the bulk of of geometry and analysis, yet how differ- men ; and it is the eye of genius alone that can ently were those instruments of research seize every casual glimpse, and discern the chain directed and applied! In quest only of of consequences.” With genius of this sort he truth, the mind of Playfair never deviated was richly gifted. Results overlooked by others
were by him perceived with a quickness apfrom the accustomed and deep-worn chan- proaching to intuition. To use a poetical exnels by which it had been reached. Eager pression of his own, they seemed "10 blaze on principally for fame, the scientific faculties his fancy.” He possessed the inventive in a far of Leslie were counteracted by antagonist higher degree of perfection than the judging and forces. Under the restraining influence reasoning powers; and it thus sometimes hapof abstract trulli, and the more powerful pened that his views and opinions were not only curb of the dread of error, the one seldom at variance with those of the majority of the
learned, but inconsistent with one another. ventured into the regions of invention and Notwithstanding the contrary testimony, explidiscovery, while the other—with loose reins citly recorded, of the founders of the English and heedless pace—diverged from the beat- Experimental School, he denied all merit and en highway of knowledge, and struck into influence to the labours of the immortal delinethose devious paths where Nature often un- ator of the Inductive Logic. He freely derided veils her mysteries, and yields to the daring the supposed utility of Metaphysical Science, enterprise of Fancy what she refuses to the without perceiving that his own observations on
Causation virtually contained the important admore deliberate approaches of Reason. It
mission, that physical is indebted to mental is in science as it is in war--the forlorn philosophy for the correct indication of its legitihope succeeds when the physical force of mate ends and boundaries. His writings are thousands has been exhausted. In the in- replete with bold and imaginative suppositions; tellectual campaign it is not often that the yei he laments the “ascendency which the pasgallantry of genius can be exercised simul- sion for hypothesis has obtained in the world.” taneously with the sapping and mining of His credulity in matters of ordinary life was, to mental labour, yet the philosophical charac- to scepticism in science. It has been profoundly
say the least of it, as conspicuous as his tendency ter can only attain its full and perfect sta- remarked by Mr. Dugald Stewart that, “ though ture when the powers of reason and the the mathematician may be prevented, in his gifs of fancy are united in definite propor- own pursuits, from going far astray, by the abtions.
surdities to which his errors lead him, he is As separate lives of all these authors, ex- seldom apt to be revolted by absurd conclusions cept Leslie, had been previously published, he adds, mathematicians have been led to ac
in other matters. . . . . Thus, even in physics,” our readers will, we doubt not, be gratified with the following candid and well-written to men of different habits.” Something of this
quiesce in conclusions which appear ludicrous character of this eminent man by Professor sort was observable in the mind of this distinNapier :
guished mathematician. He was apt, too, to • It would be impossible, we think, for any matical reasoning to subjects altogether foreign
indulge in unwarrantable applications of matheintelligent and well-constituied mind, thoroughly to the science:-as when he finds an analogy acquainted with the powers and attainments of between circulating decimals and the lengthened Sir John Leslie, to view them without a strong cycles of the seasons! But when the worst has feeling of admiration for his vigorous and inveni- been said, it must be allowed that genius has ive genius, and of respect for that extensive and struck its captivating impress over all his works. varied knowledge, which his active curiosiiy, Whether his bold speculations lead him to figure his excursive reading, and his happy memory, the earth as enclosing a stupendous concavity had enabled him to amass and digest. Some few filled with light of overpowering splendour; or of his contemporaries in the same walks of sci- to predict the moon's arrival at an age when her ence may have excelled him in profundity of “ silvery beams” will become extinct; or toasunde rstanding, in philosophical caution, and inc ribe the phenomena of radiated heat to aërial pulsations,—we at least perceive the workings, blest company; and we have often known him of a decidedly original mind. This, however, pass an afternoon with mere boys, discoursing is not all. His theoretical notions may be thrown to them pleasantly upon all topics that presented aside or condemned, but his exquisite instru- themselves, just as if they had been his equals ments, and his experimental combinations, will in age and attainments
. He was thus greatly ever attest the utility, no less than the origin- liked by many who knew nothing of his learnality of his labours, and continue to act as helps ing or science, except that he was famous for to farther discovery. We have already alluded both.'* to the extent and excursiveness of his reading. It is rare, indeed, to find a man of so much in- But it is time to leave the Preliminary vention, and who himself valued the inventive Dissertations, and their authors, and come above all the other powers, possessing so vasi a
to the body of the book. store of information. Nor was it in the field of science alone that its amplitude was conspicu: matical and physical articles have occupied
In almost all encyclopædias the matheous. It was so in regard to every subject that books have touched upon. In Scottish history, a prominent place, and have generally been in particular, his knowledge was alike extensive regarded as the most valuable and imporand accurate: and he had, in acquiring it, gone tant. Sir James Mackintosh, indeed, has deep into sources of information-such as parish made a similar remark, and has, at the records, family papers, and criminal trials,
same time, stated that in such works 'those which ordinary scholars never think of exploring: The ingenious mathematician, the original in most danger of being less ably exe
on literary, moral, and political subjects are thinker, the rich depository of every known fact in the progress of science, would have appeared cuted. Although Sir James has not atto any one ignorant of his name and character, tempted to explain the cause of this difand who happened to hear him talk on this sub- ference, it is, we think, not difficult to disject, as a plodding antiquary, or, at best, as a cover it. Owing to the abstract, and therecurious and indefatigable reader of history, whom fore unpopular, nature of mathematical nature had blest with at least one strong faculty, and physical inquiries, philosophers have that of memory. His conversation showed none of that straining after “ thoughts that
no inducement to compose new treatises acbreathe, and words that burn,” so conspic-commodated to the existing state of knowuous in his writings. In point of expression, it ledge, and if they were to compose them was simple, unaffected, and correct. Though no bookseller would risk their publication. he did not shine in mixed society, and was lat. Hence it follows that works of this kind terly unfitted, by a considerable degree of deaf- will continue to be sold as standard producness, for enjoying it, his conversation, when tions long after they have ceased to repre, seated with one or two, was highly entertaining. sent the science of which they treat-when It had no wit, little repartee, and no fine turns their information has become antiquated, of any kind; but it had a strongly original and racy cast, and was replete with striking remarks and their speculations exploded. The Opand curious information.
tics ' of Dr. Smith, for example, and the • Viewing the whole of his character, moral History of Vision' by Dr. Priestley, and intellectual, it must be confessed that it pre- were the prevailing works when Professor sented some blemishes and defects. He had Robison enlarged the treatise on Optics, prejudices of which it would have been better and wrote the article Telescope for the third to be rid; he was not over-charitable in his edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. views of human nature; he was not so ready, on all occasions, to do justice to kindred merit Hence it is rarely elswhere than in the enas was to be expected in so ardent a worshipper cyclopædias of the day that we can expect of genius; and his care of his fortune went new and original treatises containing all much beyond what is seemly in a philosopher. the recent discoveries which have been But his faults were far more than compensated made in the exact sciences. The case is hy his many good qualities; by his constant entirely different with works on popular equanimity, his cheerfulness, his simplicity of character almost infantile, his straightforward subjects, such as chemistry, literature, hisness, his perfect freedom from affectation, and, tory, biography, and political philosophy. above all, his unconquerable good nature. He A wider circle of readers creates an inwas, indeed, one of the most placable of human creased demand for productions of this beings; and notwithstanding his general atten- kind, and hence new and superior editions tion to his own interests
, it is yet undeniable speedily remunerate the labour of the authat he was a warm and good friend, and a re- thor and the enterprise of the bookseller. lation on whose affectionate assistance a firm Writers of acknowledged eminence in these reliance ever could be placed. He was fond of society, and greatly preferred and prized that of departments of knowledge have already an the intelligent and refined; but no man ever interest in their own separate books, and was more easily pleased: no fastidiousness ever consequently persons of inferior distincinterfered with his enjoyment of the passing hour: he could be happy, and never failed to converse in his usual way, though in the hum- * Art. LESLIE, Sir John, vol. xiii., p. 251.
tion must be employed in supplying such written a separate work, and, in those cases articles to our encyclopædias.
in which such works do exist, they have But though the opinion of Sir James seldom been brought down to the present Mackintosh is, generally speaking, well day, or drawn up with that copious detail founded, and is likely to be so as to ency- of recent discoveries which is of so much clopædias of secondary character, yet there importance to the progress of science. · It are cases, such as that of the work before is often in articles contributed by eminent us, in which the literary and political arti- individuals who have made the subjects of cles stand on the same high level as those them their particular study that we have of the mathematical and physical sciences.* our only chance of finding the inestimable When the resources of the proprietors are treasures of contemporary discovery which sufficient to command the services of such fill the Transactions' of domestic and writers as Young, Malthus, Macculloch, foreign societies, and those less elaborate Roget, Wilson, Empson, and Tytler, - notices of experimental researches, circuwhile the editor can count on the aid of lated by numberless periodical journals, friends like Scott, Playfair, Stewart, Les- which are the depositories of American as lie, Lord Jeffrey, Sir William Hamilton, well as European science. and Sir John Barrow,—it is not difficult to But these observations are still more apanticipate the result.
plicable to the scientific arts—the arts In the mathematical and physical de- which have science for their basis and for partment of this work we find a combina- their object-to the manufactures and usetion of theoretical and experimental talentful arts, and to those new and important which has never before been directed in subjects which are included under the genthe same channel. While the treatises of eral head of Civil Engineering. Upon the Robison, Playfair, Mr. Ivory, M. Biot, Dr. greater number of these topics no separate Young, and Mr. Galloway, have recorded works have been written, so that it is only the most recent discoveries in astronomy, in the storehouse of an encyclopædia that those of Robison, Young, M. Arago, Sir the general reader can find the information David Brewster, Dr. Roget and Dr. Trail, on such subjects which is so frequently reexbibit to us a full view of those recent and quired. In this department the Encyclosplendid discoveries by which optics has be-pædia Britannica is particularly rich, and come almost a new science. In the articles especially as to those new arts which are on on Acoustics, Dynamics, Mechanics, Hy- the eve of altering the forms and habits of drodynamics, Pneumatics, Electricity, Mag- social life. The wonders of railway internetism, and Voltaic Electricity (including course, of locomotive engines, tunnels, the interesting new sciences of Electro- steam-printing, steam-boats, and steammagnetism, Magneto-electricity, and Ther- guns; the improvements in gas-lighting, mo-electricity), which complete the circle and lighthouses; the almost magical arts of of Natural Philosophy, we find the fullest the electrotype, voltaic gilding and plating, details respecting the fine discoveries of and the powers of the electro-magnetic Coulomb, Volta, Oersted, Seebeck, Am- telegraph and the electro-magnetic clock, père, and Faraday; while the articles Chem- are all treated in this work by writers comistry and Heat, contributed by Dr. Thom- petent to the task. son and Dr. Trail, exhibit to us the receut It is impossible to refer to these new discoveries of Davy, Berzelius, Faraday, arts, which, along with the Daguerreotype Leslie, Melloni, and Forbes.
of Niepce and Daguerre and the Calotype Were we to claim for several treatises in of Mr. Fox Talbot, constitute the leading this . Encyclopædia'a superiority merely inventions of the day, without giving our over separate works on the same subjects, readers some slight notice of them. There we should not be doing justice to their is perhaps none of the sciences, with the merits. There are many subjects treated exception of chemistry, which has made of in encyclopædias, on which no separate such donations to the fine and useful arts treatise at all has been written ; and the as voltaic electricity. Those which depend student often searches in vain for the know. upon galvanism, or voltaic electricity, ledge which he requires. There are other properly so called, are Sir H. Davy's art subjects upon which no eminent writer has of protecting the copper-sheathing of ships ;
the galvano-plastic art of Spencer and * It is not necessary for us to remind our readers Jacobi for multiplying works of art in of the extraordinary literary talent which pervades metal; electro-metallurgy, or the reduction very many articles of the 'Encyclopædia Metropoli, of metals by electricity; the electrotype, tana, and also of the 'Edinburgh Encyclopædia,' completed some years ago under the editorship of or art of copying and multiplying engrav. Sir David Brewster.
ings; and the arts of voltaic etching, gild- The modern 'arts presented to us by ing, and plating.
electro-magnetism, the new science of The art of multiplying works in metal Oersted and Ampère, are not less wonderwas invented in 1831, nearly about the same ful and valuable.
The electro-magnetic time, by M. Jacobi of St. Petersburg and telegraph of Professor Wheatstone, now Mr. Spencer of Liverpool. It consists of in use upon the Blackwall and the Great depositing copper, gold, silver, and plati- Western railways, was the first of these num, &c., from their solutions, upon me- achievements. The telegraph, with its tallic or conducting surfaces, the metal accompanying alarums, goes into a case being precipitated by galvanism. If the not larger than that of a small table cloth, surface is that of an intaglio, we obtain and so simple are its assertions, that any from it a perfect cameo, and vice versâ. In child can both read and send the messages 1840 Mr. Murray announced the important with scarcely a minute's instruction. fact, that these metals could be all precipi- The electro-magnetic clock of Professor tated upon non-conducting substances, such Wheatstone is another of those singular as plaster of Paris, wax, wood, &c., by inventions, and one which, though it may previously metallising their surface with be less useful, is certainly not less ingenious black lead. In this way, every work formed and surprising than his telegraph. The by art, whether it be the finest carvings, or object of the inventor was to enable a single the finest sculptures, can be multiplied in clock to indicate exactly the same time in copper, or the other metals already men- as many different places, distant from each tioned. The multiplication of engraved other, as may be required. A standard copper-plates is another of the triumphs of clock in an observatory, for example, would this new art; and engravers have found thus keep in order another clock in each that plain copper-plates deposited from a apartment, and that too with such accuracy solution of sulphate of copper upon another that all of them, however numcrous, will beat previously prepared copper surface, are dead seconds audibly, with as great precision far superior to those manufactured in the as the standard astronomical timepiece with
which they are connected. But, beside this, The art of voltaic etching is singularly the subordinate timepieces thus regulated beautiful. A copper-plate prepared for require none of the mechanism for mainordinary etching, and all covered with wax, taining or regulating the power. They is connected with a suitable galvanic bat- consist simply of a face with its second, tery, and placed in a solution of sulphate of minute, and hour hands, and of a train of copper. A piece of copper (negative) of wheels which communicate motion from the same size as the copper-plate is then the action of the second-hand to that of the connected with the zinc. When the bat- hour-hand, in the same manner as an ordi. tery is put in action, copper is reduced nary clock train. Nor is this invention from the solution on the negative piece of confined to observatories and large estabcopper, while copper is removed from the lishments. The great horologe of St. Paul's clear lines of the etching-plate to supply might, by a suitable network of wires, or what is taken away from the solution. In even by the existing metallic pipes of the this process no nitrous fumes annoy the metropolis, be made to command and artist, and no air-bubbles interfere with regulate all the other steeple-clocks in the the precision of his work. The lines may city, and even every clock within the prebe bitten to any depth, and are much cincts of its metallic bounds. When railsharper and clearer than when they are ways and telegraphs extend from London made with an acid. The art of gilding to the remotest cities and villages, the senupon silver and brass, which we owe to M. Delarive of Geneva, is equally beautiful in gold and silver, such as vases, chandelier branches, and important. The gold is deposited in &c. by depositing the metal upon proper models
which may be afterwards removed from the silver coatings of any thickness from a weak and gold articles, by displacement, heat, or solution ; nitro-muriatic solution of it, and the delete and Mr. Edward 'Palmer has secured by patent rious effects of mercury upon the artist are another invention equally important. He obtains thus completely avoided.***
printing surfaces by drawing or painting on silver or copper, or any other conducting surface, and then,
by the electrotype, he produces copper or other me* Great progress is now making in this beautiful tallic plates with sunken surfaces from which prints art. Mr. Spencer, of Liverpool, has, in 1841, taken may be taken, or from engraved copper plates. Mr. a patent for making picture and other frames by the Palmer calls this art Electro-tinting, and he proposes deposition of copper upon suitable moulds, and sub- to employ it for printing china, pottery ware, music, sequently gilding, silvering, or platinising them. maps, and portraits. See, Newton's London Jour: Mr. Parker, of Birmingham, has, likewise, in the nai and Repertory of Arts' for April, 1842, vol. XX., same year, taken a patent for manufacturing articles / pp. 166, 171, 172.