Page images

electro-viotion, or by the theory of the dependence of Galvanic electricity on chemical changes. . M. Aldini, however, is so perfectly satisfied as to the existence of the ethereal animal fluid, that he employs several propofitions in attempting to demonstrate its relations to common electricity, and the electricity produced by metals. His reasonings on this subject appear to us to be very inconclusive indeed ; and we are afraid that he has been mistaken in the results of fome of his experiments : As, for instance, when he says, page 21, that an electrified Leyden phial, introduced under a jar filled with common air in a pneumatic apparatus, occasions a diminution of the elastic buid ;' and when he aflerts, page 41, ' that opium, cinchona, and other stimulants of a Gmilar kind, which exercise a powerful action on the animal machine, contribute also to ex. cite the action of the pile."

M. Aldini begins the second part of his work in the following manner:

• To conduct an energetic fluid to the general seat of all impressions ; to diftribute its influence to the different parts of the nervous and mufcular systems; to continue, revive, and, if I may be allowed the expression, to command the vital powers ; fuch are the objects of my researches, and such the advantages which I purpose to derive from the action of Galvanism.

The discovery of the Galvanic pile by the celebrated Volta, has served as a guide to enable me to obtain the most interelting results ; and to these I have been conducted by numerous researches and a long feries of experiments. I have examined the whole range of nature ; and the grand family of animals has afforded me the means of making observations, highly interesting to physiology, on the whole æconomy of vital powers. My experiments on this subject I shall divide into two sections.' p. 53.

We have looked in vain through the two fections for the important discoveries which the author promises. The experiments detailed in them relate wholly to the contractions produced in the muscles of dead warm-blooded animals, by the application of the electricity of the pile ; and the method of operating is the common one, i.e. by making the communication between the nervous and muscular systems. M. Aldini has often performed his processes on the dead human subject ; but the accounts that he gives of his results, are rather disgusting than instructive. He entertains great hopes that Galvanism may be usefully applied in cases of apparent death from suffocation. This part of the subject is really worthy of the attention of enlightened physiologists; and, as yet, no well-conducted trials have been made in relation

In considering the general medical applications of accumulated Galvanic electricity, M. Aldini displays much more modesty and judgement than in the other parts of his work. He observes—

· I am fully convinced that much still remains to be done, in order to discover the best methods of employing this new agent; and that the facts respecting it, though numerous, have not been reduced to principles sufficiently certain and satisfactory. There are, nevertheless, fome results and observations exceedingly curious, which, if confirmed by new experiments and researches, may enable us to obtain convincing proofs of its utility. New facts, however surprising, are not to be despised merely on account of their being different from any before observed.' p. 97. 98.

The author remarks, that the pile of Volta has great advantages over the common electrical machine, as to the permanency and uniformity of its action; and he acquaints us, that a very ingenious apparatus, for the application of Galvanism, has been invented by Mr Cuthbertson.

M. Aldini has made fome experiments on the administration of Galvanism to the eyes of persons affected with blindness, but without much fuccess. He afferts, that he has employed it with advantage in some cases of melancholy madness; and he quotes the experiments of the Gerinan professors, which are faid to have produced extraordinary effects in restoring the sense of hearing.

We are afraid that many of the statements of cures are premature, and that the results require confirmation. It has been proved, we think, by various experiments, and particularly those of Dr Woolafton and Van Marum, that'rhe electricity of the pile differs from the electricity of the electrical machine, chiety in being of a lower degree of intensity; hence it pafies with leis faci. lity through imperfect conductors, such as the animal organs; and, confequently, it is difficult to imagine that it can be poflelled of greater powers in modifying the vital functions. We refrain, however, from deciding on this point; and we will that new trials may be made. For the establishment of the efficacy of a view medical agent, an immense accumulation of evidence is required ; and accounts of experiments made by enlightened practitioners, woull, in fome measure, tend to prevent inexperienced perfons from employing it as an instrument of quackery.

The anonymous editor of M. Aldini's work has added to it a transition of two Latin differtations on G: Ivanisin, published by the author at Bologna, one in 1793 and the other in 1794, and ani appendix, containing an account of some experiments inade by M. Aldini on a malefactor executed at Newgate; a detail of experiments of a similar kind made at Bologna ; and some obfervations, which show that Galvanic electricity is capable of pas.



fing, with the utmost rapidity, through an extensive chain of con. ducting boilies.

We shall not offer any remarks upon these additional papers. We have perused them without much interest. They add confiderably to the size of the volume, without furnishing any new information. M. Aldini's earlier memoirs contain very little which applies to the present state of the science; and his experiments upon the human body are of the same kind as those detailed in the second part of his work.

Art. XVI. Chronicle of Scotish Poetry, from the 13th Century to the

Union of the Crowns, with a Glojury. By J. Sibbald. 4 vol. 8vo. Edinburgh and London, 1802,

The Chronicle of Scotish Poetry does not contain much which

will be new to those who are pofíefsed of the publications made from the Bannatyne MS. by Ramsay and Lord Hailes, together with the ancient Scotish poetry of Pinkerton. A full copy of the works of Sir David Lindsay (excepting only the Four Monarchies), is given from the editions of Charteris and Dr Machabeus. Considering the high reputation which the worthy knight long maintained among the Scotith peasantry, fo high as to be chofen in preference to the Bible, as the proverbial standard of truth, and even as the foother of their last moments, * we cannot help thinking an accurate edition of his poems an acceptable present to the public. Froin his play, the most curious of all his works, Mr Sibbald has only given the scenes contained in the edition 1602, omitting the introduction, interludes, and concluding scenes, which occur in the Bannatyne MS. This omiilion we greatly disapprove of, as the icenes omitted contain many cue rious hittorical documents, as well as a llrange picture of manners. It is true, they are interlarded with groís indelicacies, yet not with worfe than are to be found in the writings of Dunbar, and many other poeins in the Chronicle, may even in the body of the play itfclf. Without adopting the syítematic defence of indecency fet up by one learned editor, we declare ourselves under 110 apprehension of the public morals suffering from the naked coarieness of an author, who can only be underttood by antiquaries. Their ears are, we have been told, like those of confeflürs;


* « There's not such a word in Davie Lindlay,' is still a proverbial expresion of difcelief. Hiont awa' wi' your daft nonsense,' said an expiring man to his pious neighbour, who was reading for his editicatie a chapter of the Bible; " bring me Davie Lindsay.'

theBefides the pof the Day Eftir of the Spanisl D

and if we could banish from the fashionable world the amatory effusions of Mr Thomas Little, we should be little aoxious about the · lickerous lays' of father Chaucer, Dunbar, or Lindsay.

Besides the poems of Lindsay, we recognize those of Alexander Hume, author of the Day Estival, which have considerable merit, particularly that on the defeat of the Spanish Arma la, although in many places bordering on burlesque. All Dunbar's poetry is printed from the Bannatyne MS. with great apparent 'accuracy. Two or three pieces, hitherto unpublithed, have been extracted from the same invaluable collection, which, notwithstanding, does, in our opinion, still contain much yet unprinted matter, which Mr Sibbald might have advantageously included in his collection, though at the expence of leaving out or shortening his quotations from Barbour, Blind Harry, and Gawain Douglas, whose works are in every one's hands. Even such extravagant pieces as ' Lichtoun's Dreme,' Rowll's Curling,' and · Cowkelbie's Sow,' are worthy of being preserved, for the language and manners, though, Heaven knows, the matter is sufficiently contemptible. While we notice these omissions, we may also Temark, that the tale, “ How a Merchant did his Wyfe betray,' which, upon Mr Ritson's authority, Mr Sibbald has inserted in his Chronicle, seems to have no pretensions to be called a Scotish composition. Neither, in Mr Ritson's copy published from a MS. in the public library at Cambridge, nor from one preserved in the Auchinleck MS. at Edinburgh, can we perceive grounds for this supposition ; and, for the northern tone which it has acquired in the Chronicle, it is indebted to the avowed alterations of spelling adopted by Mr Sibbald.

In the third volume of the Chronicle, we find a collection of Gude and Godly Ballates,' intended by the composers to supersede bawdrie and unclean songs.' This device for edifying the young and gay, by applying sacred words to popular airs, was a favourite experiment of the Reformers. The pfalms of Clement Marot were sung by the Huguenots to the air of " Reveillez vous belle endormie ; ' and Sternhold undertook his version, that the maids of honour and courtiers might fing them instead of sonnets.

But they did not;' adds Anthony Wood, with great naïveté, ' save but a few.' Wedderburn, the religious poet of Scotland, carried his inroads into this province of the realm of darkness ftill farther. He not only adopted the tunes, but, as if the unbecoming association was not sufficiently burlesque, he even parodied the words of the favourite profane airs of their time. Mr Sibbald has published several hymns founded on the popular songs of " Down, belly, downe,'. The hunt's up,'' I'll never leave thee,'' Wha's that at my chamber door,'' John come



kiss me now,' &c. We differ from the learned editor when he says that the hymn beginning, 'The wind blaws cald,' vol. 'III. p. 447. is 'doubtless to the tune of “Up in the morning early." On the contrary, we think the measure and inflexion goes much more readily to the tune of Drive the cold winter away,' which is much more ancient than is generally believed.

The works of Dunbar, Sir David Lindsay, and other authors, appear to us to have suffered in consequence of the rigid chrono. logical arrangement adopted by Mr Sibbald, in consequence of which they are intermingled with other poems according to their fupposed dates; and the reader is consequently deprived of the fatisfaclion arising from observing the gradual progress of each author in composition.

The notes by which these poems are accompanied are not numerous, nor do they display extensive reading beyond the line of national antiquities; but they are plain, senlible, and generally very accurate. Where elegance has not been attempted, no censure is due, because it has not been attained. The notes of Lord Hailes have been, with a studious veneration, retained by Mr Sibbald, even where he states a contrary opinion. Both commentators appear to us to have fallen into a gross error in attempting to identify John the Reif (or robber) with the famous Johnie Armstrong. John the Reif is mentioned as a hero of popular romance by Gawain Douglas in the Palice of Honour, written in 1501, and Armstrong was not executed till 1529. Although Mr Sibbald remarks the former circumstance, he does not contrast it with the latter.

Mr Sibbald differs from Lord Hailes respecting the date of a poem called a General Satire, in this piece, vol, iii. p. 221. The King and Queen are both mentioned; whence Lord Hailes has fixed its date as subsequent to 1538, when James V. was married. Mr Sibbald supposes the reference to be to James IV. and his Queen, and the ballad, of course, to be prior in date to 1513 ; because he conceives Ingles, to whom the poem is attributed in the Maitland MS., to have been Sir James Inglis, Abbot of Culross, celebrated by Sir David Lindsay, and murdered by the Baron of Tullieallan in 1531, seven years before the date asfixed by Lord Hailes. But the miserable state of the country which the satire describes, the allusion to the College of Justice instituted in 1532, and other circumstances of internal evidence, incline us to Lord Hailes's opinion; in which case, the author may have been John Inglis, called by Pitscottie, Marthal. He was an aclor by profession, and performed in the plays at the marriage of James IV. (Leland's Collection, vol. iv. 258.) When a young man, he witnefled the famous apparition of St Andrew at Linlithgow. Şee more particulars of his in mo? Imers' Apology, p. 617.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »