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No. 6.

Translations of Dante Gravitation



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TRANSLATIONS OF DANTE. The Inferno of Dante, translated by Ichabod Charles Wright, M.A. London, Longman and Co.; Nottingham, W. Dearden. 1 vol. ⚫ post 8vo.

The Vision; or Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise, of Dante Alighieri. Translated by the Rev. Henry Francis Cary, A.M. Third Edit. 3 vols. small 8vo. London: John Taylor. For those who are unacquainted with Dante and the nature of his great work, which has been very ably translated into our language, we may introduce a slight sketch, merely to give a notion of the poem, the man, and his lofty and patriotic aspirations.

This great poet, whose original name was Durante, was born at Florence, in 1265. His family was rich and noble. His education was carefully attended to: Brunetto Latini, a man of great celebrity, taught him grammar, polite literature, philosophy, and, it is said, how to write a beautiful, clear hand. He cultivated the art of drawing, and this was a bond of sympathy between him and his cotemporary Giotto, who was the restorer of painting in Italy. He also studied music, and Casella, the great master and singer of his day, was his friend, and probably his instructor. Of these three friends of his early lifeas of many other cotemporaries, and persons of note who had immediately preceded him-Dante gives real and striking portraits in the course of the Divina Commedia.'*

According to all his old Italian biographers, the fair girl who first inspired him and made him a poet, was no metaphysical abstraction or political personification, or (as other commentators have attempted to shew), a mere type of wisdom and theology. These biographers describe her with sufficient circumstantiality. Her name was Bice (the familiar Tuscan diminutive of Beatrice ;) she was the daughter of Folco Portinari, and she died in the twentysixth year of her age, on the 9th of June, 1290. Boccaccio, who was born in 1313, who was eight years old when the poet died, who passed a good part of his life in Tuscany, and who was elected by the Florentines to explain in public the 'Divina Commedia,' not only repeated the particulars above-mentioned, but described both the person and the accomplishments of Bice, and that, too, when many children of individuals who must have been well acquainted with the poet and his mistress, were still living at Florence.

Dante lived in turbulent times: his elegant pursuits in literature and art did not prevent him from taking a part in the active business of life. On the contrary, his ardent temperament, his talents, and restless activity were, for a long while, exclusively displayed on the arena of politics, where he shone as an able, unflinching statesman, an adroit

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ambassador, as the Priore or President of the Republic. and a thorough man of business. The poet was also a brave warrior, having fought more than once in the foremost rank of the Florentine cavalry, during the wars between that republic and her neighbours. By a succession of internal discords and sanguinary struggles, Florence was rendered like one of the circles of that hell which he afterwards described in such terrific colours. It was split into the Neri and the Bianchi (the Blacks and the Whites), and other factions, which were ultimately more or less identified with one or other of the two great political parties of Italy, with the Guelphs, or adherents of the Pope, or with the Ghibellines, the partisans of the Emperor. It would require more space than we can spare at present to shew how it was brought about; but Dante, who had formerly fought on the Guelph or Church side, became inVolved in the Ghibelline, or opposite party, and when Charles of Valois, at the invitation of the reigning Pope, entered Florence with a French army, and established the ascendancy of the Neri and the Guelphs, Dante became the principal object of the rage of that faction. Unmindful of his many valuable, patriotic services, in January, 1302, the existing Florentine government condemned him to a heavy fine and a short banishment; but not satisfied with this sentence, in March, in the following year, they enacted, that Dante, and many of his political friends, should be burnt alive if they were ever caught. His mansions, his estates, and all his property, were confiscated, and from this moment the poet was a poor houseless wanderer through Italy, or a refugee now at this Ghibelline court, and now at that. The most friendly of these courts, which became the centre of his wanderings and political exertions, and to which he always returned, was, for a long time, that of Verona, where he probably composed the greater part of his immortal poem. Verona then belonged and Can Grande, two princes of that family, treated the to the powerful dynasty of the Scaligeri, and both Alboino poet with kindness and distinction; but Dante, proud, high-minded, and with a love of independence that no reverse or poverty could quench, soon complained of the humiliation of going up and down other people's stairs, and of the bitterness of eating bread not his own, or the produce of his labours, but the gift of charity. The Veronese princes, moreover, though kind and liberal, and themselves fond of letters and the conversation of the learned, kept a court where they had far different tastes to consult, and where Dante was necessarily brought in contact with a crowd of courtiers, mimics, buffoons, and other hired purveyors of amusement for the idle rich. The poet's contempt for such characters knew no bounds, and he took no pains to conceal it. Can Grande, one day, after praising his learning, genius, and virtues, asked him how it happened, that, spite of these high advantages, he was a much less general favourite with the inmates and frequenters of the palace than the Court fool?

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Your wonder would cease," replied Dante, "if you would but remember that the fool is more like your courtiers than I am like them." Petrarca, who flourished shortly after Dante, told this characteristic anecdote.

It will surprise no one, that after such treatment as he had received, and with such a disposition as he possesse d

* Tu proverai sì come sa di sale,
Il pane altrui, e come è duro calle
Lo scendere e salir per l'altrui scale.

[WILLIAM CLOWES, Printer, Duke Street, Lambeth.]

In a prose Latin treatise, De Monarchia,' which Dante wrote to establish the necessity of a monarchical form of government, for he saw with a prophetic eye in what the small, turbulent republics of his native land would end, he clearly showed that the principles of the Ghibellines were not servile or disposed to tolerate the doctrines of absolutism and divine right. This great man, even at the beginning of the fourteenth century, maintained that "the people are not made for kings, but kings for the people.'

In his Divina Commedia,' where he poured forth all his wrongs and sorrows, and torrents of feeling and passion, he never for any length of time lost sight of his political object.

our poet should have become a most energetic Ghibelline. | earth, to go to his “fair daughter," and tell her all the The spirit of political party was probably never more truth. The passage is exquisitely tender and beautiful. deeply rooted in a human breast than in the case of Dante. Though Dante was the friend of monarchy, he was the With the wrongs of the exile and fugitive, with the piques declared enemy of tyranny. In politics, as well as in other and jealousies of the unsuccessful partisan, he however, branches of science, in learning, and in poetry, he was always combined an enlargement of view, a consistent immeasurably in advance of his age. theory of politics, and a fervid love for what he considered the real cause of his country and of Italy generally. In his eyes, the opposite faction, or the Guelphs, and the temporal power of the Pope, were the sources of infinite misgovernment and misery; the causes not only of Italy's being split up into a multitude of petty states, but of constant internal dissension and civil war. The Ghibellines, on the other hand, he considered as Italian patriots in the enlarged sense of the term,-as men who sought not merely the advantages and aggrandisement of their own particular district, as Florence or Pisa, Bologna or Rome, Genoa or Venice, but the well-being and consolidation of all the beautiful Peninsula, from the Alps to the sea of Reggio, which should form one great state, tranquil within itself, and imposing to the powers who contemplated it from without. It was to promote this end, that the enlightened Ghibellines advocated and fought for the cause of the German emperors, who again claimed the rights of sovereignty, (which their predecessors had enjoyed) over the whole of Italy. It was better for the Italian people to have peace under one great sovereign, though a foreigner, than to have perpetual civil conflicts and barbarous wars with one another, under a hundred petty republics and paltry native tyrants. With such a unity of government, a unity of character and purpose, interest and affection, might have been established; the Florentines might have ceased to hate their neighbours of Arezzo, the Pisans the people of Lucca, the Genoese the Venetians, the Neapolitans the Romans; and all this being gradually accomplished, the shreds and patches being woven into one regal mantle, Italy would have been quite enough for any one monarch, and in due time quite able to dispose of a foreign dynasty if unpopular or antinational. But in this sense the descendants of the German emperors would have been Italians as much as the descendants of the Elector of Hanover are Englishmen; and the same sovereign could not have reigned long on both sides of the Alps, or in Germany and in Italy.

In the first canto of that great work he describes himself as having lost his way in a dark wood. Three wild beasts cross his path, but presently the poet_Virgil-his master and his guide-appears to him, and offers to conduct him through the infernal regions. Dante goes on with Virgil, and soon comes to the gate over which are inscribed the awful words :

Per me si va nella città dolente;
Per me si va nell' eterno dolore;

Per me si va tra la perduta gente.-Canto III.
Through me ye enter the abode of woe;
Through me to endless sorrow are convey'd;
Through me amidst the souls accurst ye go.
WRIGHT'S Version.

They continue their journey, and pass successively through all the circles of hell, where men are stationed according to the extent of their crimes. Dante interrogates many of these "lost people," who stop and tell him their sad histories. The air of absolute reality infused into the descriptions of these regions of eternal woe, is most wonderful. The little tyrants, the betrayers of their country, the mad leaders of the factions that had filled Shortly before the time of Dante, the German Suabian Italy with rapine, violence, and blood, are described by dynasty, that occupied all the south of the peninsula and Dante as being confined in the worst of the infernal the island of Sicily, very nearly succeeded in establishing regions. And here we cannot but allude to the observaa uniformity of government, and making Italy one great tion made by Count Perticari and other commentators, kingdom. The princes of this most unfortunate family, that Dante, in distributing his judgments, acts with surthough of foreign origin, had become most essentially prising impartiality, confining the Ghibellines, who had Italians, and were themselves among the very first who been immoral in their lives, false friends to their country, or cultivated the Italian language and poetry. The elegant- cruel and treacherous to their enemies, in circles of hell minded Frederick and the accomplished Manfred had wooed equally horrible as those in which he places his political foes the muses with considerable success; fragments of their the Guelphs. From hell the two poets proceed to purgatory, compositions still survive. They attracted most of the where they find those men who had not benefited their learned and accomplished men, and the best musicians of country by strength of soul and bold enterprise, sighing their time, to their court at Naples. Their grand scheme, for the distant time when their sins shall be expiated, and which would have made modern Italy (what, alas! it has they may fly to the abodes of the blessed. Virgil has not never been) a nation, was frustrated by the Popes, who in- the faculty of conducting Dante through Paradise. That vited the French across the Alps to expel the House of task, with beautiful feeling, is given to the divine Beatrice Suabia, to take possession of Naples and Sicily, and to the object of the poet's early affections. In these hold them as fiefs and dependencies of the Romish court. regions of eternal bliss, Dante assigns the most conspicuIn the very year in which Dante was born (1265) papalous places to those who by their deeds or their writings intrigues and excommunications and French arms pre-have benefited mankind to the true patriots, the vailed. Manfred was defeated and slain in the battle of enlightened legislators, the virtuous sovereigns of all ages Benevento by Charles of Anjou. Three years after Con--and, as the most solemn completion he could give to his radin, Manfred's nephew, a brave and beautiful youth, who attempted to recover his inheritance, was also defeated by the French, and being infamously betrayed to Charles of Anjou, was publicly executed in the same market-place of Naples which some centuries after became famous as the scene of Masaniello's exploits.

The melancholy romantic incidents of the history of these Suabian princes, and the destruction of their scheme, which was akin to the monarchical system of Dante, were all deeply impressed in the memory and in the heart of the poet, who makes frequent allusions to them in the course of his Divina Commedia. One of the first persons he meets in purgatory, purifying himself from the sins of his life, which were foully exaggerated by the Guelphs his enemies, was Manfred, who relates the circumstances of his death, and the exhumation of his body by order of the Pope's legate, and entreats the poet, on his return to

Ghibelline scheme, he places in the midst of Paradise a throne and a crown for Henry the Emperor, who, as the poet hoped at the time when he completed his work, was destined to restore Italy to its ancient splendour!

This emperor, who was Henry of Luxembourg, actually made an expedition into Italy, but he was not the great man, nor had he the power the poet fancied. Moreover, he died prematurely at Buonconvento, near Sienna in Tuscany, in 1313. After this event, which clouded all his hopes, Dante continued his wandering mode of life, in despair of ever being able to return to Florence. His last place of refuge was Ravenna, and there he died in September, 1321, shortly after his return from an embassy to Venice, on which he had been employed by the Polenta, the lords of Ravenna.

Most of our readers will recollect Lord Byron's exclamation, when speaking of the great Florentines that

lie entombed in the church of Santa Croce-the West-possession of. It is close, faithful, and spirited, and the minster Abbey of Tuscany

Ungrateful Florence! Dante sleeps afar!*

The Florentines, however, too late sensible of the inestimable value of the poet and true patriot, made strenuous and repeated endeavours to obtain the ashes of him whose body their forefathers would have burned. About a century after his death, they earnestly entreated the Ravennese to disinter and restore to them the mortal remains of Dante; but the people of Ravenna were justly proud of this "sad and honourable memorial of their own hospitality," and refused the gift. Subsequent negociations on the part of the Florentines, for the same purpose, though renewed under the auspices of the great [Pope Leo X., and conducted through the energetic, powerful medium of Michael Angelo, who was himself both a Florentine and a poet, as well as a sculptor, painter, architect, and musician, were attended with no better success. In the eyes of the people of Ravenna, the dust and the crumbling bones of the author of the 'Divina Commedia,' were more precious than estates, or gold, or anything the Florentines offered as an equivalent. This is one proof among many, of the reverence paid by the Italians to genius; and in the better days of that interesting country, this feeling, or rather passion (for the vehemence of passion was in it), was common to all classes, and was felt as deeply by the humble mechanic or the poor citizen, as by the great and titled of the land.

Twenty-nine years after the mortal sufferings of Dante had ceased, Giovanni Visconti, archbishop of Milan, selected six of the most learned men of Italy, to produce, by joint labour, an ample comment on the poet's works. It is very reasonably conjectured that Petrarca was one of these commentators, of whose labours a copy is still preserved in the Laurentian Library at Florence.

In 1373, or fifty-two years after his death, the city of Florence fonnded a public lecture to explain to the people a poem which, as Mr. Cary well observes, was at the same time the boast and the disgrace of that city. The first professor nominated was Boccaccio, the very first of their writers in prose. They gave him an annual salary of 100 florins, and allotted him one of the churches as the proper scene for discharging the sacred office with which he was honoured. After Boccaccio's death, his chair was occupied by Antonio Piovano, Filippo Villani, and other eminent Tuscans.

The great cities of Bologna, Pisa, Piacenza, and Venice, followed the example set them by Florence, and instituted professorships for the sole purpose of reading and expounding Dante.

Before the introduction of printing, innumerable copies of his great poem-some of which were splendidly illuminated, and got up with the care and expense bestowed on no other books except the sacred volumes-were made at various times, and in every city and almost every town of Italy.

And when the press came, like a second sun, to dissipate the intellectual darkness of the world, it multiplied the copies and renewed the editions of the 'Divina Commedia,' more than those of any other production.

We trust that, though cursory and brief, we have said enough to interest our readers in the character and writings of the immortal Dante Alighieri. After Homer, and our Shakespeare and Milton (if we may place Dante after even these), we know no poet better calculated to create and cherish great and manly aspirations, or to make us feel what Mr. Coleridge has so eloquently expressed, in saying "My individual recollections have been suspended and lulled to sleep amid the music of nobler thoughts."

We are particularly fortunate in possessing the two admirable English versions from Dante placed at the head of this article. One is in blank verse of all the Divina Commedia,' by the Rev. H. Cary, and the other of the 'Inferno' alone, which is acknowledged by all critics to be the best part of the poem, by the Rev. I. C. Wright. Mr. Wright has followed the terza rima, or three-line rhyme of the original. His translation is one of the best specimens of that branch of literary labour we are in

* Childe Harold, canto iv.

Cary's Life of Dante, which is very ably written, and prefixed to his translation.

rather difficult versification never seems to act as a trammel on the sense. We warmly recommend these truly excellent works to all those who cannot read the great Tuscan in the original. We subjoin some extracts which will give a notion of the style and spirit of both the translations; and that the reader may compare Mr. Cary and Mr. Wright, we select the same passages as rendered by each of them. They occur at an early stage of the poet's journey in the infernal regions, when he reaches the river Acheron and finds Charon ferrying over the wicked and lost. There sighs, and sorrows, and heart-rending cries Resounded through the starless atmosphere, Whence tears began to gather in mine eyesHarsh tongues discordant-horrible discourseWords of despair-fierce accents of despiteStriking of hands-with curses deep and hoarse, Raised a loud tumult, that unceasing whirl'd Throughout that gloom of everlasting night, Like to the sand by circling eddies hurl'd.

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Lo! in a vessel o'er the gloomy tide

An old man comes-his locks all white with age ;"Woe, woe to you, ye guilty souls !" he cried, "Hope not that Heaven shall ever bless your sight: 'Tis mine to bear you to the other shore,To ice and fire, in realms of endless night. And thou-who breathest still the vital air Begone, nor stay with these who live no more:" But when he saw that yet I linger'd there"By other ways, by other boats," said he, "And not by this, a passage must thou find; A lighter bark than this must carry thee." "Charon," my guide return'd, "thy wrath restrain Thus it is will'd where will and power are join'd ;Therefore submit, nor question us again."

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The dark lake's pilot heard ;-and at the sound
Fell instant his rough cheeks, while flashing ranged
His angry eyes in flaming circles round.

But they-soon as these threatenings met their ear-
Poor, naked, weary, souls-their colour changed,
And chatter'd e'en their teeth through very fear.
God they blasphemed-their parents-and of earth
The wretched habitants-their natal hour-
Their country-and the seed that gave them birth.
Then breaking forth in lamentations loud,

They gather'd close to that accursed shore
Assign'd to every one that fears not God.
Beckoning the shades with eyes of living coal,
Charon collects them all; and with his oar
Uplifted, striketh each rebellious soul.
As leaves in autumn, borne before the wind,
Fall one by one, until the naked branch
Sees all its honours to the earth consigned;
So from that coast, at his dread signal, all
The guilty race of Adam downward launch,
Each as a bird attracted by the call.
Thus pass they o'er the gloomy waters brown,
And ere they reach the bank to which they hie,
Fresh numbers to this shore come crowding down.
"All those, my son," exclaim'd the courteous guide,
"Who in the wrath of the Almighty die,
Are gather'd here from every region wide:
Goaded by heavenly justice in its ire,

To pass the stream they rush thus hastily,
So that their fear is turn'd into desire.
By virtuous soul this wave is never cross'd;
Wherefore if Charon warn thee to depart,
The meaning of his words will not be lost."
This converse closed-the dusky region dread
Trembled so awfully, that o'er my heart
Doth terror still a chilly moisture shed;
Then shooting forth a bright vermillion flame,
Sped from that land of tears a fearful blast,
Which all my senses instantly o'ercame :-
Prostrate I fell, like one by sleep opprest.

Inferno, canto iii.-WRIGHT.

Here sighs with lamentations and loud moans,
Resounded through the air pierc'd by no star,
That e'en I wept at entering. Various tongues,
Horrible languages, outcries of woe,
Accents of anger, voices deep and hoarse,
With hands together smote that swell'd the sounds,
Made up a tumult, that for ever whirls
Round through that air with solid darkness stained,
Like to the sand that in the whirlwind flies.

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Comes on an old man, hoary-white with eld,
Crying, "Woe to you wicked spirits! hope not
Ever to see the sky again. I come
To take you to the other shore across
Into eternal darkness, there to dwell

In fierce heat and in ice. And thou, who there
Standest, live spirit! get thee hence, and leave
These who are dead." But soon as he beheld
I left them not," By other way," said he,
"By other haven shalt thou come to shore,
Not by this passage; thee a nimbler boat
Must carry."
Then to him thus spake my guide:
"Charon thyself torment not: so 'tis will'd,
Where will and power are one: ask thou no more."
Straightway in silence fell the shaggy cheeks
Of him, the boatman o'er the livid lake,
Around whose eyes glar'd wheeling flames. Meanwhile
Those spirits, faint and naked, colour chang'd,
And gnash'd their teeth, soon as the cruel words
They heard. God and their parents they blasphem'd,
The human kind, the place, the time, and seed,
That did engender them and give them birth.
Then altogether sorely wailing drew

To the curs'd strand, that every man must pass
Who fears not God. Charon, demoniac form,
With eyes of burning coal, collects them all,
Beck'ning, and each, that lingers, with his oar
Strikes. As fall off the light autumnal leaves,
One, still another following, till the bough
Strews all its honours on the earth beneath;
E'en in like manner Adam's evil brood

Cast themselves, one by one, down from the shore
Each at a beck, as falcon at his call.

Thus go they over through the umber'd wave;

And ever they on the opposing bank

Be landed, on this side another throng

Still gathers. "Son," thus spake the courteous guide,— "Those who die subject to the wrath of God,

All here together come from every clime

And to o'erpass the river are not loth:

For so Heaven's justice goads them on, that fear
Is turn'd into desire. Hence ne'er hath past
Good spirit. If of thee Charon complain,-
Now may'st thou know the import of his words."
This said, the gloomy region trembling, shook
So terribly, that yet with clammy dews
Fear chills my brow. The sad earth gave a blast
That lightening shot forth a vermilion flame
Which all my senses conquer'd quite, and I
Down dropp'd, as one with sudden slumber seiz'd.-CARY.


An Elementary Explanation of the Principal Perturbations in the
Solar System. Written for the Penny Cyclopædia,' and now
previously published for the use of Students in the University
of Cambridge. By G. B. AIRY, A.M. late Fellow of Trinity
College, Cambridge; and Plumian Professor of Astronomy in
the University of Cambridge. London, Charles Knight, 1834.
[As the Companion to the Library' has no avowed editor,
whose responsibility might be recognized as distinct from that of
the publisher, no opimon will be given on this work; but this ar-
ticle will consist only of description, and not of criticism.]
BEFORE we describe the contents of this work, we must
make a few remarks upon the actual state of public
ledge as to the topics which it treats. We remind the
reader of the following chain of circumstances :-

are such as would follow if every particle of matter gravitated to every other, according to his well-known law of the inverse square of the distances. The means of observation improved.

A. D. 1745. Many phenomena of the solar system still unexplained. Clairaut doubts of the correctness of the law of gravitation, from its giving the motion of the moon's apsides too slow by one half; discovers that to proceed from circumstances which had not been taken into account.

1748-1810. A great number of the remaining inequalities (which were known before to exist) proved to be consequences of the law of gravitation; several not known before discovered to exist by calculation, and detected when carefully looked for; means of prediction made very nearly equal, in some cases superior, to those of observation.

From this succession of events the reader will not be surprised when he is told that this growth of a century and a half-namely the theory of gravitation,-is almost the study of a life, and requires mathematical attainments of the highest character. Hence it happens that so very few can form an independent opinion, or read the great work of Laplace on the subject. But there is yet one circumstance which distinguishes this study from all others:-In mechanics and optics there are, if not many who are profound, at least a great many who are half informed,—that is, who have enough of general principles to say at once whether a newly asserted proposition is, or is not, likely to overthrow others or to harmonize with them; but in the theory of gravitation it is totally otherwise. Taking the progress of the analyst as the subject of a simile, we should say he does not climb a hill with the view opening upon him as he ascends, but toils up the depth of a mine with little or nothing but a mere gleam, until in a few moments he sees at once all that is to be seen.

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Hence the secondary works on astronomy hardly touch upon the subject, being for the most part written by persons who have not made the effort just described. The difficulty of verbal explanation, without mathematical symbols, is sufficiently proved by the disinclination to attempt it which has usually prevailed among mathematicians. And this we believe we may say, that since the time when the power of modern analysis, in the hands of the French school, removed the difficulties which Newton had left, no attempt has been made, we will not say to popularize the results, but to organize that body of half-informed inquirers to whom we have alluded; that is, to put into the hands of persons with a knowledge of the mere rudiments of geometry and mechanics something like a deduction of the following truth;-that the phenomena which do take place in the solar system are just those which one skilled in mechanics may be made to see would take place, if the law of universal attraction prevailed.

Much misconception has arisen about the nature of the proposition on which the scientific world is so well agreed; and such works as the present may, through the medium it. It is imagined that by the theory of universal gravitaof those who can read them, be instrumental in removing tion is meant that matter does actually exercise the power which is implied in the most common meaning of the word attraction. But our answer is, that this may or may not be, and is in no way the necessary accompaniment of any know-question treated either by Newton or Laplace. This phenomenon may arise from some cause not visible to our senses, or which may hereafter be made visible. Nay, if the reader pleases, he is at liberty to suppose every atom of matter an intelligent being, with free will; and that all those atoms have maliciously conspired so to move, as they would have been obliged to do under Newton's law, for the express purpose of making men believe in attraction. The reader may take this hypothesis, if he pleases; it will be perfectly possible, consistently with it, to read and consent to both Newton and Laplace: all that it is necessary to contend for is that of which any one might in time be assured, by applying mathematical reasoning to astronomical and mechanical experiments,-namely, that the solar system does move just as it would move if there were attraction.

B. C. 500. The motion of the earth round the sun asserted by Pythagoras; means of observation very rude, and those of prediction still more so.

A. D. 150. Ptolemaic system in vogue; earth stationary, &c.; means of observation much improved, those of prediction not very much; mechanical arguments against the motion of the earth, showing total want of observation of the most ordinary terrestrial phenomena.

A. D. 1543. Copernicus revives the Pythagorean system, under almost universal opposition. Seventy years afterwards, Galileo forced to recant this opinion by the Inquisition. In the meanwhile, the theory of mechanics, the construction of instruments, and observations generally, make great advances. The means of prediction also improve considerably, nearly in proportion to the improvement of the means of observation.

A. D. 1674. Hook revives the idea of attraction.

A. D. 1687. Newton publishes the Principia, demonstrating that many of the leading features of the solar system

At the same time it is a curious and wonderful idea, and one which cannot but cause speculation. The calculator of 'The Nautical Almanac succeeds, four years before the fact, in predicting the arrival of the planets upon the meridian within less than a second of time. But in the case of the moon, for example, he has fifty or sixty different opera

tions to perform, in which he is guided by the supposition | the existence of the same, and a still larger with still other above mentioned. These are constantly varying their mag-properties, and so on ad infinitum? Because, until they nitude, each at one time to be added, at another time to be are prepared to deny that it is possible matter should have subtracted. Supposing there were only ten large enough any qualities they were not made to recognise by instanindividually to cause serious error (and there is one which taneous perception, it is absurd to say that attraction, or alone might cause five minutes of time), and supposing a any thing else, is impossible. mistake of adding instead of subtracting, or vice versa, to be possible, there are more than a thousand ways of producing a result most perceptibly wrong, and only one of being right. But still the incipient philosopher might wish to leave the mathematical question and take up the metaphysical one,—and might ask, Does matter really attract matter, or must we look to some other second cause for an arrangement producing precisely the same effects? To this question we apprehend a great majority of those who have considered the subject would reply, that no answer can be given-that the subject is above our reach-and that if the curious inquirer will meddle with it, he would do well to avoid contracting a habit of affirming or denying where he has no direct evidence. He must be of a rash temperament who would positively maintain either, though probably every mind must have a leaning one way or the other. To those who absolutely deny, we put the following case :

Suppose that men had been blind, and that the lower animals had had the gift of sight. No doubt, we should soon have discovered that the latter heard and felt, but it would also be apparent that they perceived each other's approach in some other way. This inconceivable phenomenon would get a name; and we will suppose some bold speculator advanced an opinion that particles of matter were thrown off from every animal, of different kinds from different sorts, which, striking against others, made the latter sensible of the approach of the first. We can well conceive how such a notion would be laughed at. All men would ask, Can the lower animals feel such slight blows, when we cannot do the same? Suppose the philosopher were then to discover that this singular faculty of perception had something to do with the head of the animal, and were to maintain that there was a part of the head keenly alive to the slight impressions above mentioned, while the rest of the body was not so. This would be called a mere invention for the sake of getting out of a difficulty. But it would soon be clear that glass and similar substances did not intercept this faculty of communication, and the theorist would maintain that these little particles would pass through some substances, and not through others. This would lay him still more open to the same imputation. Now, our philosopher, if he positively maintained the existence of his little particles, would certainly not be worthy of the name: for all he could know would be, that the mysterious faculty was a phenomenon just such as would follow if his hypothesis were true. But on the other hand, those who positively denied it would be still more in the wrong; for in addition to the charge of asserting more than they knew, which they would share with their opponents, it is they who would happen to be mistaken as to fact. The rays of light are material; one part of the body only is sensible of collision with them; and they do pass through some substances, and not through others. At least, such is the opinion of the very same men, who, were it not for their own eyes, would deny the possibility of preceding assertions. There is much difference between positively asserting a fact, and daring others to give a positive denial. The latter we will do; and let it be remembered, that we are not arguing with those who think the probabilities are against attraction, but only against those who deny its possibility because they cannot see the agent. They perceive what we all call matter; and they say, We can find out what space a ball of lead occupies, because, when we approach our hands to it, we are warned by the sense of touch of the moment in which we attempt to invade the space which the lead occupies. They perceive, therefore, all which their senses enable them to perceive: but are they so sure the Creator thought it necessary to submit every quality of matter to their immediate inspection and approbation, that they may deny the possibility of any others? Are they positive that the only effect of what we call a ball of lead of one inch in diameter is to keep their fingers and thumbs out of its boundary? Will they make oath, there are not other senses, with which if they were gifted, they would see that though the presence of the ball endues only a spherical space of one inch in diameter with impenetrability, yet that there is a larger sphere invested with other properties by

Having separated the metaphysical question of attraction from the perfectly distinct inquiry, whether the motions of the solar system are such as proceed either from attraction, or from some other cause which produces precisely the same effects, we proceed to describe the work before us. The author sufficiently indicates that it is not his intention to discuss modes of action in his first words. "The principle upon which the motions of the earth, moon, and planets are calculated, is this: every particle of matter attracts every other particle." That is, he proceeds to show, that the phenomena which actually appear are such as may be calculated from the preceding hypothesis. To understand this work, no more is necessary than the roughest notions of geometry, and the most elementary principles of mechanics. The subject is one of very great difficulty, and it is impossible to conceive any notion of it, however imperfect, given to a reader who cannot collect his ideas and follow a train of thought. If, therefore, we were to say we thought any one could understand the book before us entirely, we should, we conceive, much overrate the thinking power of the mass of learners; but at the same time it must be recollected, that since there is no unusual degree of mathematical attainments which is absolutely sine qua non, different readers will find their highest points in different parts of the work. And as there are many things which every one can understand, there is nothing to deter any one from seeing how far his power of comprehension would extend.

In the first section is laid down the law of attraction and the method of measuring it. In the second, it is shown that a curvilinear area must be described under the joint effects of a "projectile" and "attractive" force; and a very common misconception, by which the nature of these two is confounded, is explained. The results of mathematical inquiry, which had been observed to exist by Kepler, before the application of geometry to this subject, are then laid down. It is also shown how it happens that a planet can revolve round the sun, under the attracting power of the latter, without falling into it.

In the third section, the general effect of a disturbing force is explained, in the two cases of a new force either directed to the centre, or perpendicular to that direction. The species of change which takes place in the excentricity and position of the apsides of the disturbed body is deduced; and in the fourth section, the forces which a third planet exerts upon two others are divided into those parts which do not alter the relative motions of the two, and those which produce disturbance. In the fifth section, the two preceding sections are applied to the case of the moon, moving round the earth and disturbed by the sun. The annual equation, the variation, the parallactic inequality, and the evection are explained; that is, phenomena known by these names, and actually observed to exist, are deduced as necessary consequences of the law of gravitation. Of course, numerical results are not obtained, but only stated, but the species of each inequality is shown to be a necessary consequence of attraction. In the sixth section, the theory of Jupiter's satellites is treated, and those remarkable relations which exist between the motion of the three interior satellites are shown to be consistent with the general law, as also the effect of the excentricity of the fourth satellite's orbit upon that of the third. In the seventh section is contained the theory of the planets. The long inequality of Jupiter and Saturn, the permanence of the mean distances, and the necessary progression of the apsidal lines, are deduced. Hitherto only such inequalities have been considered as would exist if the orbit of the disturbed and disturbing body were in the same plane. But in the eighth section, the effect of the inclination of the orbits is considered, the notion of the fundamental plane is introduced, and the permanent regression of the line of nodes is established. In the ninth and concluding section, the effect of the oblateness of a primary body upon the motions of its secondary is treated, and that of Saturn's ring upon the motions of its satellites.

The work differs from the popular treatises on physics in being a train of reasoning from beginning to end, and it is

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