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respectively or generally similar. According to our author's
arrangement, corn may be of a kindred character with the nerves,
rival even to Newton himself. It would appear indeed, that
the work has long laboured under the grossest ignorance with respect to the Theory of Colours. It was for the genius of M. De St. Pierre to penetrate the mists of error. We ought, in his opinion, to take advantage of the female propensity of gathering flowers in the fields and afterwards of assorting them so as to suit their complexions, to impress upon their minds the 'right ideas of colours.
“This affords a very good opportunity of giving then an idea of our Theory of Colours, and particularly of what are called the five primitive colours; viz. white, yellow, red, blue, and black.”
We must wish that our worthy author had bequeathed his prism to the Royal Society, to set the minds of that learned body right upon this important point in natural philosophy.
Thus much for the scientific researches of M. De St. Pierre. We have now an exquisite morsel for the dainty reader, being a meditation—not upon the groves or the tombs—but upon a SUGAR-PLUM.
“This sugar, of which you are so fond, is made of the juice of a cane in the West India Islands, at the distance of nearly four thousand miles from France, and is cultivated by African negroes, in the degraded situation of slaves. Honey is almost equally agreeable, and is, without doubt, more salubrious. It does not expose mankind to a thousand dangers in efforts to fetch it from beyond seas; and it has never cost tears to those industrious insects which gather it, humming in the bosom of flowers. Mankind, on the other hand, extract sugar from the ground by the compulsory labour of their fellow-creatures; and they convert into a source of affliction that which Providence intended for a blessing. - : * “It is thus practicable to give to children, by means of a mere sugar-plum, both ideas of geography, and sentiments of justice, piety, and gratitude.” Vol. I. P. 328.
We almost wonder that he did not invoke the goddess whe
presides over confectionary to aid him in this sublime medita
tion, which is equalled only by that of Swift “ upon a broom
stick.” How happily might this idea be extended to the whole
. . shop,
shop, till every one of its contents became a sugar-plum to the mind. The cordial of carraway-comfits, the pathos of Bar. bary drops, the pungency of peppermint lozenges might fill a volume, which might equal the Meditations of Hervey among the Tombs, or those of his more picquante namesake and rival
among the maintenon cutlets. Let us new follow our author. from his sentimental sugar-plums to the shade of more sylvan
“How often have I at a distance from towns, in the bottom of a solitary valley surrounded by a forest, seated on the border of a meadow, taken delight in observing the gilded melilot, the purple trefoil, and the verdant grass, forming undulations similar to the
surface of the water, and presenting to the eyes a waving sea of
flowers and verdure! While thus immersed in contemplation, the winds waved over my head the tops of majestic trees, and the altering position of their foliage gave a variety to the aspect of the verdure which they displayed. Each tree has its peculiar motion. The sturdy oak bends only in its branches; the elastic fir shakes its lofty top, the stout poplar moves its light foliage, while the birch lets its leaves shake in the air like locks of hair. The spectator is inclined to imagine that the motion of the trees bespeaks the influence of sensation; one bending to its neighbour as to a
superior; another extending a friendly embrace; while a third is
convulsed as if in the presence of an enemy. We sometimes see a venerable oak rise, in the midst of other trees, its long branches immoveable and stripped of leaves; we are led to contemplate it as a sage, the son of an age that is past, and a stranger to the feelings which agitate the existing generation. Now and then a grave and melancholy sound is heard to proceed from those venerable bodies, like the confused murmur of a people assembled at a distance, At other times, the murmurs of the forest are accompanied by the accents of the nightingale, who from his nest puts up prayers of gratitude to the goddess of love. The rustling of the trees serves
to display the shrill sounds of other birds, as a gentle verdure sets.
off to advantage its brilliant covering of fruits and flowers.”Vol. I. p. 391. "
Weimagine that we see the scrubby Scotch or Weymouth pine
bowing uncovered before the oak “ the monarch of the wood;" the beech and birch arm in arm in a friendly tete-a-tete; and the aspen taking to its heels before the charge of the warlike elm. M. De St. Pierre is peculiarly happy in these “vegetable harmonies,” as he calls them. In another part he informs us,
“A vegetable has been called an animal turned upside down; and, in fact, if we observe minutely a tree with its branches, its flowers, and its fruits pointed towards heaven, it is by no means ridiculous to say that it has its legs aloß and its head below. It has, - moreover,
thoreover, on the outside, several parts which in the case of the animal are carried in the inside. ... Its roots may be termed its entrails, its leaves its tongue; while its flowers and fruits, are its offspring.” Vol. II. p. 81.
Thus then it appears that a tree has its entrails in its head, and its tongue in its legs. So much for the harmonies of the vegetable world. Let us now accompany our author upon a little voyage round the world.
“Had fortune permitted, I should have undertaken a voyage round Europe, and perhaps around the world, that would have been less fatiguing, more agreeable, and more useful, than that which is so frequently performed in the mountains of Switzerland. I should have preferred coasting along in a swift-sailing boat, with lateen sail and a few mattresses. After taking care to provide a bark of sufficient accommodation for my family, I should have embarked them along with two seamen and their wives. In such a progress every object would prove a fund of instruction or of pleasure. The cliffs open their sides to the mineralogical investigator, and display at their bases an endless variety of pebbles rolled thither by rivers and currents. Were plants a favourite object, I could gather on the strand specimens of the most distant countries brought hither by the waves. Even the seeds of Jamaica are said to be brought in winter to the shores of the Orkneys, and why should not those of the Orkneys be conveyed in summer to the coast of France? Every step in our progress would have opened to me a new leaf in the book of nature, and have discovered a new landscape. On one
part I should have seen on a shoal covered with sea-calves, fire
coloured flamingoes, aigrettes, pelicans, and other birds, the travellers of the torrid zone; in another part, in the midst of downs, I might perceive the ruins of a monument, on the top of which the stork builds its nest. Farther off I should perceive the mouth of a river bordered with willows; I would ascend its stream in the midst bf meadows and cultivated land, and contemplate at the end of the horizon the turrets of a city.” Did a forest rise in the middle of an island, I would go and rest under its majestic shade. When the halcyon skimming the waves, and the sea-lark by its cries, announced the approach of a tempest or of nightfall, we should have obeyed the signal, and run our bark on the strand, choosing for our place of stoppage the trunk of an old tree, or the back of a rock at the influx of a stream. An interval might be passed by the male part of our little company in fishing or hunting, while the females lighted the fire and cooked the victaals; all would meet again on board the bark, sheltered by its sail from rain, cold, and wind.
... “ Next morning we resume our course, if the dawn promises a fine day. We start without paying either post-horses, innkeepers, tolls, or turnpikes; we have no occasion to produce either passport er certificate; we avoid civil dissensions, the wars which shed :
- - - - "bl
blood of nations, and the still more cruel calamities which disturbo mankind in the bosom of peace.” Vol. II. p. 157.
We heartily wish that our Admiralty would condescend to borrow from M. De St. Pierre the idea of a philosophical cockboat, as it appears to be mo small discovery in the art of navigation, particularly as it promises to be so cheap a mode of conveyance. The reader will observe that the notion of payment is below the dignity of such philosophers as De St. Pierre or Rousseau; travelling scot free is a very grand and doubtless a mighty convenient idea; we only fear that the prejudices of mankind will with difficulty admit so simple an improvement. It is also curious to remark with how much dignity the philosopher rejects the sordid distinctions of meum and tuum, and with how much philanthropy, like his great prototype and master Jonathan Wild, he would convert them both into suum.
After a dissertation, vastly grand but perfectly unintelligible upon the solilunar and the lunisolar harmonies, our author proceeds to consider those which he terms “ conjugal.” After an immense expenditure of learning in his citations from the Eclogues of Virgil, which he considers as applicable to this part of the subject, he turns his thoughts, much more naturally as we conceive, to the month of May.
“Let us cast a glance on the harmonies of the powers of Nature in the month of May, and we shall see them combined like those of the two orbs. The sun, who is the first mover of all harmony, is partly absent, and partly present, hence the distinctions of light and shade, heat and cold, dawn and even, day and night, summer and winter.” Vol. III. p. 153.
And all this in the merry month of May. Butlet us quit the subject of natural philosophy, and follow the steps of our modern Plato in the regions of moral and metaphysical speculation. Now for our author's definition of truth.
“How shall we then define that truth which we are so desirous to know, and which so frequently escapes from us? It is a harmony of our understanding with the Divinity; a due impression of the correspondence established between all his works; it is the life of our soul. Nature urges us to its search in the same way as to the acquisition of food, on pain of disquietude, languor, lethargy, and death. Truth is a ray of the Divinity; it is to our soul what solar rays are to our bodies; it enlightens, rejoices, and animates. If, as Plato has sublimely defined it, the light of the sun is but. the shadow of God, truth may be called his substance; it presents itself to our understanding as the light of the sun to our §: by decomposing itself into a thousand colours and reflections,
*ich delight us when contemplated in the works of Nuo;
De St. Pierre's Harmonies of Nature. 193
which dazzle us if we aim at seizing them in their essence. It is to be traced in the writings of the sage, and in the actions of the virtuous; but, like the fire of the sun amid the products of the earth, it shines only with borrowed light. It is there little more than a feeble lamp shining in the absence of the sun, and liable to be put out by the blast of the tempest.” Vol. III. p. 100.
We give this as a happy specimen of the reasoning powers of M. De St. Pierre; from which if the reader can extract one clear and satisfactory idea, we envy him not a little the almost alchemical powers of his discernment.
Before, however, we conclude our account of the work, the reader may be desirous to see some satisfactory account of these aforesaid “harmonies,” upon which three octavo volumes are so lavishly expended. We cannot indulge him more, than by giving him the information which he desires, in the very
words of the author. *
“Be you my guides, daughters of heaven and earth, Divine
Harmonies! It is you who collect and divide the elements, and who give an organized form to all beings that vegetate and breathe. Nature has put into your hands the double torch of existence; one extremity displaying the fires of love, the other those of discord. With the former you touch unformed matter, and make it arise. into a rock with its fountains, into a tree with its fruits, or into a bird with its young; three different combinations united by the most pleasing bonds of connexion. With the fires of discord you inflame another portion of unformed matter, and there come forth the hawk, the tempest, and the volcano, which reduce the bird, the tree, and the rock, to their original elements. It is thus that, by turns, you stretch out and draw in the threads of life, not from a pleasure in overturning what you have set up, but in order to preserve the equilibrium of Nature agreeably to a plan beyond the knowledge of feeble mortals. Were you not to cause death, the sphere of life would be contracted; were you not to destroy, the season of growth would draw to an end. Without you, all would be inert and inanimate; and you link these worlds to each other by the wonderful harmony of a life which produces death, and of a death which produces life. ! “Wherever you carry your double torch, you give birth to a
pleasant contrast of day and night; of heat and cold; of colour,
shape, and movement:—the Cupids go before you, and generations follow in your train. Your vigilance is unremitted; you do not wait to rise with the orb of day, nor do you suspend your labours on the appearance of the orb of night. You are perpetually in motion, whether on the bosom of the earth, in the bottom, of the sea, or in the region of air. . Immortal sisters, look down from your glorious mansion on a son of earth, and grant me,’ when drawing towards the close of life, the-power of delineating-, - - - - O - its BRIT. CRIT, vol. IV. AUG. 1815.