« PreviousContinue »
probable effect far more beneficial, had they been accompanied by more decided indications of evangelical knowledge. We are glad to perceive Mrs. B.'s frequent avowals of regard to the Scriptures of truth. But surely, if she were seriously attentive to their doctrines and their spirit, she would not adopt the fallacious and fatal jargon of complimenting her pupils, in the manner that she adopts, on their inherent excellence;" nor would she have indulged the ebullient self-complacency of her heart, in saying, writing, and publishing these lowly and modest words : “ I never feel my importance in the scale of human beings so much as when engaged in those researches." pp. 159, 161.
This work consists of thirteen Lectures, beside the introductory and coucluding Addresses, and the Appendix. The order of subjects in the Lectures is the following : Advantages of Philosophical Knowledge ;--Properties of Matter ; to Mechanics ;-Pneumatics and Acoustics ;--Hydrostatics and Hydraulics ;-Magnetism ;--Electricity ;-Optics ;- Astronomy. The Appendix comprizes several plain and useful Tables- a list of all the Constellations, with a particular enu. meration of the most conspicuous fixed stars, for the latitude of London, the general principles of the globes, and the Armillary sphere-a large collection of Astronomical and Geographical Questions and Exercises--and a Dictionary of Scientific Terms.
As a specimen of Mrs. B.'s manner, characteristic both of her excellencies and of her defects, we extract the following passage from the Twelfth Lecture.
We are now far advanced in the consideration of light and the science of Optics ; having, by ocular demonstration of certain results, inferred with certainty many important facts : such as, that the particles of light are inconceivably small, and move in a rectilinear direction with astonishing velocity ;-that a ray of light, radiating from a centre, diverges in its progress ;—that the density of light at certain distances depends on its density at the radiating point, and its distance from it, and this difference being also in proportion to the squares of its distance from the luminous point ;-that the angle made by a ray of light in its reflection, is always equal to its angle of incidence; and hence, when the angle of incidence is found, the angle of reflection is likewise ascertained ;-that concave mirrors collect parallel rays, and cause them to meet in a focus by reflecțion ; and that the focus of a concave mirror is at the same distance from its surface as the focus of a convex lens;---that the heat and light of a luminous body reflected from a concave surface, are as much increased at that focal point, as that point exceeds [is exceeded by] the surface of the lens ; the same as happens in regard to the surface and focus of a convex lens by refraction, which causes the rays of light at the focus of very large concave mirrors and convex lenses, by being greatly accumulated at their
foci, to burn almost all bodies subjected to their influence. We have also contemplated the curious organization of the eye, so far as its optical effects are known; and discovered that the construction of optical instruments depends on the known properties and capacities of the coats and humours of this useful and ornamental organ of the animal creation.
. But the sublimest evidences and most beautiful effects of the particles of light yet remain to be considered ; namely, the different sizes of those particles, with their various impressions on the organs of sight, and their individual characteristics of colour.
• For all those effects, under Providence, we are indebted to the bright luminary of day, which thus adorns and paints the face of nature with different
graces, according to the capacity of substances to imbibe or reflect its beautiful emanations. The sublime Newton has furnished us with the clearest evidences of those effects ; having shewn, by unequivocal experi. ments, that the rays of light consist of particles differing in colour, though, by a due mixture and perfect combination, they exhibit å light.
How charming are the evidences of Deity we have just been contemplating! How unequivocal the effective energies of light! The variety, multiplicity, and beauty displayed in this subject, produce such a quick succession of pleasurable sensations, that it is impossible to give either individually the preference. But the great cause of the effects perceived, gising supremely conspicuous above them all, claims and receives our first attention- our most exalted and concentrated admiration, love, and gratitude!'
From this extract, our reader may form a very just conception of Mrs. B.'s general perspicuity, but occasional inaccuracies and inflation of style ; and of her talents for delivering philosophical truths, together with her incongruous admixture of palpable mistake and dubious hypothesis. In accordance with this character, we are seriously informed that it is not known why the zero of Fahrenheit is placed 32 degrees below the freezing point of water ; that, without the aid of the steam-engine, " we could never have enjoyed the advantages of coal for fuel in our time, as our: fore fathers had dug the pits as far as they could go ;” that the magnetic iron ore con tains iron“ in so scanty a proportion as not to pay the expence of fusion;" &c. So a tower is called an obelisk subtle, a quality of mind; iš put for subtile, a property of certain forms of matter;* the vis inertie is turned into vis inertia ; and the term Meteorologists, is substituted for Metalburgists. A deficiency of information is obvious, with respect to many important discoveries and improvements made in the
* Those two adjectives, though distinct from each other in signification, in orthography, and in pronunciation, are frequently confounded by other Writers and speakers.
state of philosophical knowledge, during the last fifteen years: such as the knowledge of elementary bodies, the identity af. firmed by Mrs. B. of light and caloric, the transmission of heat by fluids, the theory of combustion, the doctrine of colours, and the Voltaic pile and trough. As the author has ventured to speculate on the subjects of attraction and repulsion, it would have been of advantage had she studied the important doctrines of Boscovich.
In the well-meant moral reflection of our respectable Instructress, she repeatedly employs the method of allegorizing The followiny curious deduction from the laws of Hydrostatics may serve as an example.
As our spirit, our understanding, rises specifically above the gros materials of our corporeal frame, so let our actions bespeak that specific virtue, and raise, us in the estimation of the world, the affection of our friends, and, above all, by the specific power of a good conscience, elevate us above the fatal effects of human occurrences, and direct our fight to a still more exalted station in the regions of bliss. p. 128.
We have real pleasure, however, in attending to the ethical masims and admonitions with which Mrs. B. judiciously and affectionately closes her course of lectures. A small part of them we shall present to our readers.
As children, be obedient to the dictates of your parents ; grateful for all their exertions for your benefit and happiness, and affectionately attentive to all their wants and desires. As friends, be faithful and reasonable; not selfishly wishing to lessen the extended and general influences of friendship, by depriving others of the attentions of your friend, who arę entitled, either by consanguinity or a correspondent regard, to a share of the affections so necessary perhaps to their happiness, as well as to your own. As sisters, be affectionate ; and endeavour by every good office to exhibit that generous interest, which regards the welfare, respectability, and happiness of those to whom you are so nearly allied. When wives, consider the solemn oath pledged before God, and strictly obey its mandates. Let chearful acquiescence evince your affection towards your husband. Be the softener of his cares, the sympathizer in all his anxieties ; and should unforeseen misfortunes overtake him, then will be the time to shew him the strength of your understanding, the purity of your mind, and the nature of your affection. Excite his fortitude by your example, lessen his anxiety by your vigorous resistance of calamity, and diminish the pressure of misfortune by your active exertions. This will be the season for more particularly displaying the moral graces of justice, prudence, temperance, and fortitude. As mothers, remember you once were young. Let your experience and mature judgment direct and admonish your chil dren"; but let your admonitions, restraints, and directions be softened by maternal affection. If the case require corrosives, though [for] these may be salutary in some cases, use them like a skilful surgeon, firmly, not timidly; and do not fail to prepare the healing balm let the affection which dictates the measure render it supportable : this will soften the necessary infliction of the sharpest reproof, and doubtless effect a cure ; whereas the wounded feeling, when left to the impression of correction only, may become callous and incurable. Let not a mistaken fondness, and desire to make your children happy, induce you to allow them indulgences, which are pernicious, either in their nature or consequences: for remember children are not bestowed for the indulgence of affection only, but demand your most vigilant care of their health, morals, and religious principles.
• In society, be unassuming, obliging; charitable ; let your benevolence be as conspicuous in judging of conduct, as in bestowing the gifts of abundance. Cultivate a cheerful disposition, and impart its emanations ; but let your gaiety be tempered by sedate thought and reflectica. Be not anxious about the domestic affairs of others : curiosity is trifling and impertinent, unless excited by the laudable motive of contributing, by our counsel or assistance, to the comfort and happiness of our fellow creatures. Avoid gossiping, or talking of other people's affairs; for this practice bespeaks a weak and vacant mind, and derogates from the modesty, delicacy, and refinement of the female character.
• Let humility, urbanity, and magnanimity adorn your exterior. Suffer not the little infelicities of domestic arrangement to enfeeble your mind be great in thought, word, and deed. In mixed society, avoid that littleness of mind that attends more to external circumstances than to interior worth. Let your duty to God and man, in every connection of your life, and a due cultivation of your reason, pre-occupy your thoughts; and divert them from the fallacious allurements and inconsistencies of folly, and the irrational preponderance of prejudice and fashion. Avoid the vicious, however exalted by rank, or aggrandized by wealth ; and respect and distinguish virtue wherever it may appear. Always prefer the society of well-informed and religious persons; and, though I disapprove of par, ticular respect being paid to rank or condition, when unaccompanied by virtuous conduct, yet, when those elevated by birth and fortune are also, distinguished by merit and religious graces, the laws of society demand that they should receive respect and deferencè.
I cannot conclude this address better than by adverting to those conRections in life, which, being dependent on yourselves, require much consideration, and which I think it my duty to impress on your minds the indispensable qualifications of both a friend and a husband religious principles and practice : never make your choice of either of these, till
you have discovered that they not only profess to be religious, but are truly 804 in thought, word, and deed.
When the lips that delivered these maxims are mouldering in the dust, may their respective impressions remain on your hearts! And should the tear of regret fow on your cheeks, let this reflection be your consolationthat the spirit that dictated them, disrobed of its mortal habiliments, may, through the merits and intercession of a Saviour and Redeemer, be enjoying that exalted felicity which is perfect in its naturen perpetual in its duration !' pp. 290—293.
With this all-momentous wish, we unfeignedly unite our fervent prayer, that the Authoress, her children, and her charge, may, without an individual exception, be " partakers of that like precious faith” which will conduct them to “ the salvation which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory!" To them, and to all who like them possess polished minds and habits of rational reflection, we warmly recommend the diligent perusal of a recent and most estimable publication, The Temple of Truth*. Mrs. Bryan will there find her plan of dignified knowledge completed, in a correct analysis and an interesting display of “ The best System of Reason, Philosophy, Virtue, and Morals."
We have only to add, that the work which we are closing is very elegantly printed, and illustrated with thirty six plates, many of which are from Mrs. B.'s own drawings, and all of them both designed and engraved with distinguished taste and beauty. In addition to these, is a fine portrait of the Authoress.
Art. VIII. Sermons translated from the original French of the late
Rev. James Saurin, Pastor of the French Church at the Hague, Vol. VII. on Important Subjects. By Joseph Sutcliffe, (Halifax) 8vo. pp. 270.
Price 6s. Lackington, Williams, &c. 1806.
dissimilar tastes and opinions in one common sentiment of admiration. He hurries forward to the noblest object of human endeavour, with such vehemence and dignity of motion, that few readers are able to detect, and fewer willing to censure, his deviations and obliquities. He is protected from reproof, not by his blameless accuracy, but by bis transcendant excellence; and defies ail opposition in his sacred warfare, not by the security of impenetrable armour, but by the energy of irresistible arms. Six volumes of his sermons have been long before the English public, and have gained and supported a reputation, which few can pretend to have exceeded. By the addition of a seventh Mr. s. has conferred a considerable obligation on numerous readers, and we are free to acknowledge that in placing himself by the side of Robinson and Hunter, he has assumed no rank, as a translator, which he cannot honourably maintain. His predecessors had selected what they deemed the most excellent of Saurin's discourses, and it might have been presumed that
* Vide Ecl. Rev. Vol. II. p. 1014.