« PreviousContinue »
vidual piety. He addresses the laity from the altar. Mark and compare his absolute 'Adiotzu with the mock Odi profanum vulgus of the little Roman courtier. Horace has a thousand merits—but he was a French kind of Pindar.
It was Pindar's own subtle remark, that those who love not music are confounded with it, yea, though it be music of the spheres :
Πιερίδων αϊοντα. . It is as true of the poet himself. We never knew any scholar indifferent about Pindar. Either you love and venerate him--you carry him, as the noble Romana did, in your pocket-or you cannot away with him at all. There is no medium.—But we must stop. We tender our thanks to Mr. Cary for the pleasure which the perusal of his translation has given us, and trust he will think it worth his while to go through his author once more with patience, and consider no pains lost by which vagueness may be removed and inaccuracies corrected. He needs not to be told by us, that every image should be distinct in Pindar —that every word should ring-that every thought should be stamped in characters of light. To the sublimity resulting from the obscure and the dimly-seen, Pindar has no claim; his figures are distinguishable in member, joint, and limb; their robes are sunbright, and the banners which they seem majestically to wave are bathed in the glory of high noon. Pindar was no David, no Æschylus, no Milton; and, with Dante's power, he would have abhorred Dante's subject. But such as he was, he stood, and he stands, aloft and aloof-unsurpassable-inimitable--incomparable; not the very greatest or the most affecting of poets, in an universal sense—but the one permitted instance of perfection in his own arduous, although particular, line-the absolute Master of Lyric song.
Can we part with Pindar, and not say one word at parting for his other translator? Poor Moore !-his last days were gloomy indeed. How bright the promise of his youth-how splendid the occasional coruscations of his happier hours in early manhood ! -- stored with all scholarship, ebullient with inexhaustible wit, eloquent where need was, good humoured, and gentle to all. He died a broken-hearted exile ; where his name, his talents, and misfortunes were alike unknown. We have not quoted much of his translation of his beloved Pindar ; let us do him some justice by transcribing a sonnet, which the faithful friend who has superintended the publication of his book has placed at the end of the second part:
On the Memory of a Lady to whom the Translations of Pindar's Odes
were, from time to time, communicated as the work proceeded.
Art. III.-On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences. By
Mrs. Somerville. THERE are two different ways in which Physical Science may be
made popularly intelligible and interesting: by putting forward the things of which it treats, or their relations ;-by dwelling on the substance of discoveries, or on their history and bearing by calling up definite images and trains of reasoning; or by taking these for granted, and telling what can be told in general terms concerning such matters. Popular knowledge of the former kind ought to be conveyed by the public lecturer, when, by means of his models, his machines, his diagrams, he exhibits to the senses complexities of form and position which it would baffle us to conceive without such sensible representations. Popular knowledge of the latter kind may be conveyed by the same lecturer, when, turning from his apparatus, he explains to his audience the progress and prospects of his science, the relation of what is now doing to that which has already been done, the bearing of new facts in one subject upon theory in another. Each of these two methods has its appropriate place and its peculiar advantages. The former excites notions perfectly distinct as far as they go, but is necessarily very limited in extent, because such notions cannot be caught and held without close attention and considerable effort; the latter method presents to us rapid views of connexion, dependence, and promise, which reach far and include much, but which are on that account necessarily incomplete and somewhat vague.
This latter course is, however, by no means without its use and value : for, strange as it may seem, it is undoubtedly true, that such general aspects of the processes with which science is concerned may be apprehended by those who comprehend very dimly and obscurely the nature of the processes themselves. Words can call
up thought as well as things; and, in spite of the philosophers of Laputa, with their real vocabulary, the trains of reflection suggested in the former way are often more to our purpose, because more rapid and comprehensive, than those we arrive at in the latter mode. The office of language is to produce a picture in the mind; and it may easily happen in this instance, as it happens in the pictures of some of our un-Pindaric artists, that we are struck by the profound thought and unity displayed in the colouring, while there is hardly a single object outlined with any tolerable fidelity and distinctness. The long-drawn vista, the level sunbeams, the shining ocean, spreading among ships and palaces, woods and mountains, may make the painting offer to the eye a noble expanse magnificently occupied; while, even in the foreground, we cannot distinguish whether it is a broken column or a sleeping shepherd which lies on the earth, and at a little distance we may mistake the flowing sleeve of a wood-nymph for an arm of the sea. In like manner, language may be so employed that it shall present to us science as an extensive and splendid prospect, in which we see the relative positions and bearings of many parts, though we do not trace any portion into exact detail-though we do not obtain from it precise notions of optical phenomena, or molecular actions.
Mrs, Somerville's work is, and is obviously intended to be, a popular view of the present state of science, of the kind we have thus attempted to describe. In her simple and brief dedication to the Queen, she says,
If I have succeeded in
endeavour to make the laws by which the material world is governed, more familiar to my countrywomen, I shall have the gratification of thinking, that the gracious permission to dedicate my book to your Majesty has not been misplaced.' And if her countrywomen’ have already become tolerably familiar with the technical terms which the history of the progress of human speculations necessarily contains; if they have learned, as we trust a large portion of them have, to look with dry eyes upon oxygen and hydrogen, to hear with tranquil minds of perturbations and excentricities, to think with toleration that the light of their eyes may be sometimes polarized, and the crimson of their cheeks capable of being resolved into complementary colours ;—if they have advanced so far in philosophy, they will certainly receive with gratitude Mrs. Somerville's able and masterly (if she will excuse this word) exposition
of the present state of the leading branches of the physical sciences. For our own parts, however, we beg leave to enter a protest, in the name of that sex to which all critics (so far as we have ever heard) belong, against the appropriation of this volume to the sole use of the author's country women. We believe that there are few individuals of that gender which plumes itself upon the exclusive possession of exact science, who may not learn much that is both novel and curious in the recent progress of physics from this little volume. Even those who have most sedulously followed the track of modern discoveries cannot but be struck with admiration at the way in which the survey is brought up to the present day. The writer has read up to Saturday night, as was said of the late Sir Samuel Romilly; and the latest experiments and speculations in every part of Europe are referred to, rapidly indeed, but appropriately and distinctly.
We will give one or two extracts. We take one concerning Halley's comet; the more especially as this remarkable visiter is expected to reappear next year.
Halley computed the elements of the orbit of a comet that appeared in the year 1652, which agreed so nearly with those of the comets of. 1607 and 1531, that he concluded it to be the same body returning to the sun, at intervals of about seventy-five years. He consequently predicted its reappearance in the year 1758, or in the beginning of 1759. Science was not sufficiently advanced in the time of Halley to enable him to determine the perturbations this comet might experience; but Clairaut computed that it would be retarded in its motion a hundred days by the attraction of Saturn, and 518 by that of Jupiter, and consequently, that it would pass its perihelion about the middle of April, 1759, requiring 618 days more to arrive at that point than in its preceding revolution. This, however, he considered only to be an approximation, and that it might be thirty days inore or less : the return of the comet on the 12th of March, 1759, proved the truth of the prediction. MM. Damoiseau and Pontécoulant have ascertained that this comet will return either on the 4th or the 7th of November, 1835; the difference of three days in their computations arises from their having employed different values for the masses of the planets. This is the first comet whose periodicity has been established; it is also the first whose elements have been determined from observations made in Europe ; for although the comets which appeared in the years 240, 539, 565, and 837, are the most ancient whose orbits have been traced, their elements were computed from Chinese observations.'-pp. 364-5.
We may add to what is here said, that Mr. Lubbock has also investigated the course of this body, and has come to a conclusion somewhat different from both these above-mentioned astronomers. The Nautical Almanac' for 1835, just published, contains a
representation of the path of the comet among the stars, according to each of these three mathematicians, its places being marked from Aug. 7, 1835, to Feb. 7, 1836. The positions, according to the different computations, though not very far asunder, are sufficiently distinct to make the separation, at a certain period, very wide. M. Pontécoulant, M. Damoiseau, and Mr. Lubbock, start their comets close together in August ; but by the 4th of October, Pontécoulant is a whole length behind Damoiseau, (except these · fiery steeds ' have bodies and tails of portentous prolixity,) and Lubbock decidedly shoots a-head of both. It will be extremely interesting, when the period arrives, to observe which of the three lines Comet himself will select. We recommend this subject to those of our friends who have taken an interest in our recent philosophical disquisitions concerning the Turf, and especially if their adverse stars' prohibit a visit to Newmarket : for the stars, in this case, offer them a very sufficient compensation ; and our amateurs, by backing one of the three calculated paths of this courser of celestial race,' as the true one, “to be decided' by the comet himself when he makes his appearance, may have the luxury of higher play than has yet been known.
But we must return to Mrs. Somerville's chapter on Comets, and quote the account of another of these curious bodies. After speaking of Encke's comet, which has a period of 1207 days, she says
· The other comet belonging to our system, which returns to its perihelion after a period of 6 years, has been accelerated in its motion by a whole day during its last revolution, which puts the existence of ether beyond a doubt, and forms a strong presumption in corroboration of the undulating theory of light. The comet in question was discovered by M. Biela at Johannisberg on the 27th of February, 1926, and ten days afterwards it was seen by M. Gambart at Marseilles, who computed its parabolic elements, and found that they agreed with those of the comets which had appeared in the years 1759 and 1795, whence he concluded them to be the same body moving in an ellipse, and accomplishing its revolution in 2460 days.
perturbations of this comet were computed by M. Damoiseau, who predicted that it would cross the plane of the ecliptic on the 29th of October, 1832, a little before midnight, at a point nearly 18494 miles within the earth's orbit ; and as M. Olbers, of Bremen, in 1805, had determined the radius of the comet's head to be about 21136 miles, it was evident that its nebulosity would envelop a portion of the earth's orbit—a circumstance which caused great alarm in France, and not altogether without reason, for if any disturbing cause had delayed the arrival of the comet for one month, the earth must have through passed its head. M. Arago dispelled their fears by the excellent treatise on comets which appeared in the Annuaire of 1832,