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truths. Geneva, in its moral and intellectual character, is so essentially French, that we may take it in here, and inform our readers, that they will find in the Foreign Review a précis of the labours of the late Etienne Dumont in the department of Jurisprudence; and, in the Foreign Quarterly, a sketch of his life, which is from the pen of Sir James Mackintosh. For information respecting the present state of literary and scientific exertion in France, we must at present look to the Foreign Quarterly alone; which contains a history of Pacho, the enterprising traveller in the Cyrenaica, with an abstract of his discoveries, (by Mr Conder, the Editor of the Eclectic Review, and also of Modern Voyages and Travels;) a review of a French Tour through the Netherlands, (by Bowring;) an instructive article on the recent progress of Physical Astronomy, apropos of Pontécoulant's "Théorie Analytique du Système du Monde," (by Mr Galloway, a Scotchman ;) an article on Denon's historical researches in the province of the Fine Arts; and another on a translation of the Greek Erotic writers, now in progress at Paris.
selves into one nation, and every thing is extremely obscure. The remotest portion, indeed, is in utter darkas we approach its termination, light begins to break in, but, like the first dawn of morning, it is feeble and uncertain. The second period extends from the accession of Malcolm to the struggle for national independence against Edward I. During its lapse, the AngloNorman race were spreading their power, language, and customs throughout the country. The government had remoulded itself according to the altered character of the people, and the original inhabitants had sunk into a secondary importance. The new masters, however, had not contracted a local attachment to their new possessions-a circumstance which held out flattering hopes to the ambition of the English kings. The third period may be viewed as commencing with the accession of Robert Bruce. The different classes had been fairly beaten into something like unity of sentiment and attachment to the country. From this time we may date the existence of Scotland as a nation; and from this time our annals become clearer and more copious.
In treating this part of our history-as far as he has yet gone Sir Walter has confined himself to a history of the executive. We have almost no notices of the body of the nation, nor perhaps do many materials exist, out of which these more domestic annals could be constructed. The appreciation of the different kings and statesmen, and of their measures, is made with much discrimination. The comparisons of the respective forces of Scotland and England are strikingly just.
On the whole, we have really read this work with delight. There breathes throughout a spirit of fairness and candour, and a tempered humanity, which are the evidence of rich feeling, ripened by a long experience.
The Foreign Quarterly Review. No. IX. November,
Treuttel and Wurtz.
The Foreign Review and Continental Miscellany. No.
Spain. Nobody expects much from this country just now. The Foreign Quarterly contains some important statistical details of its present condition, by Mr M'Culloch, the political economist; and a critical sketch of the dramatic works of Gorostiza, a Spanish Creole. The Foreign Review has three paragraphs :-One on the Strange Adventures of a Young Biscayan Girl of the 16th Century; another on a Treatise on Political Economy, with a particular application to the present state of Spain; and the third on a Memorial by Sr. Gonsalez Azaola, now travelling, by order of his sovereign, through France, Flanders, and England, "to ascertain the best method for organizing companies, which foreigners are invited to join, under the protection of the Spanish government, and with the most ample guarantees, in order to establish associations for working coal, iron, and other
mines in the Peninsula." We think that the statistical
notices in the Foreign Quarterly, taken in connexion with the other facts just mentioned, are charming indica. tions that, disorganized and degraded though Spain may be, her case is not yet utterly hopeless.
THESE are good and interesting Numbers of their re- Italy. The Foreign Quarterly has a long and intespective works; and such being the case, we are in no resting article on the southern dialects of Italy. It conhurry to ascertain which is the better, being most de-tains, likewise, a notice of the Venetian Pindemonte, the cidedly of the same opinion with that unquestionable friend of Alfieri and Foscolo; and avails itself of the authority, in all matters of taste and literature, Mrs Ma- opportunity afforded by the publication of the latter's laprop, that "comparisons are odoriferous." We prefer Operette, to correct some of his misrepresentations regiving an analysis of their contents, stating, in a few garding his treatment in England. The Foreign Rewords, our opinion of any article that may seem to have view has an article on the works of the Florentine, Nicopeculiar claims to praise or blame, as it passes under re- lini, a personal friend of Foscolo, calculated to throw view. We arrange the articles under the heads of the additional light on modern Italian literature. respective nations of whose literature they profess to
Germany. All the notices in both reviews respecting this country, are strictly literary, except some statistical France. The Foreign Review has this time assumed intelligence regarding Prussia, and a retrospective glance the occupation of its defunct brother, (is it defunct?) the at the state of the administration of justice in Hungary, Retrospective, and treated us to a commentary on the towards the close of the eighteenth century, in the FoEssays of Montaigne. We class, under the same depart-reign Review. In reference to archæological knowledge, ment of literary enquiry, (namely, the retrospective,) a we find, in the Foreign Quarterly, reviews of Heeren's short article, in this Journal, on a French translation of an Treatise on the Politics, Intercourse, and Commerce of old Italian chronicle, entitled "The Convent of Bajano;" the Ancients; and a supplementary article to that, which and an equally short review in its competitor, of a His- had already appeared in the same journal, on Niebuhr's tory of the Inquisition of France. Coming nearer to our Roman History. The Foreign has a review of Pinder's own days, we find the leading article of the Foreign Quar- Antiquarian Researches into the knowledge and estiterly treating, in an amiable and philosophical spirit, of mation of the Diamond, in the different ages which have the additional light thrown upon the personal character preceded ours; and also notices of Matthias's late edition of Napoleon by the Memoirs of Bourrienne; and also re- of Euripides, and the Bonn Philologists' edition of Synbuking the lies of Méry and Barthélémy, in their poem cellus and Nicephorus. To the literature of an age gone entitled Waterloo; whilst the Foreign Review gives us a by, but which still continues to exercise a mighty influence notice of the Memoirs of the Duke of Rovigo; and in an on the intellect of the present, belong the works of Schiller, article on the Memoirs of Vidocq, affords a spirited expo- Richter, and the two Counts Stolberg. The dissertation sure of the character and tendency of the modern Conti- on the "Wallenstein's Camp" of Schiller, together with nental police, with an application to some late innovations the copious poetical translations from that piece, (in the in this department of the executive at home. The paper, Foreign Quarterly,) are by the same masterly hand that likewise, on the new French Ministry, contains some home- some years ago favoured the public with the other two
the female mind, and the embellishment of the female person. Before examining them, we were afraid that the contents might be too light and trivial, and that they might be more calculated to amuse the young lady's fancy or flatter her vanity, than to extend her knowledge or improve her taste. We have been, in this respect, most agreeably disappointed. The Editor of the volume (or, we should rather say, the Editors, for we can scarcely suppose the whole to emanate from one pen,) has had far more important objects in view, and by his mode of treat ing the various subjects he discusses, has proved himself at once a person of extensive reading, of excellent judg ment, of gentlemanly breeding, and of distinct percep tions regarding what constitutes the true value of the female character. We do not know any way in which a young lady could better spend a portion of her time than
parts of this trilogy. One of these extracts appeared some months ago in our own columns. We thought highly of it then; but now, that we see it along with its companions, we do not hesitate to say, that the translator has succeeded in giving to the English public a spirited and faithful version of a poem which we once held to be utterly untranslateable. The Account of the Life and Writings of Jean Paul Richter, which forms the leading article in the Foreign Review, is by a gentleman of whose talents we have often taken occasion to express ourselves with much admiration. We have little doubt that he will receive both our praise and blame with the same profound disregard which he has evinced towards praise and blame from the very highest authorities. Nevertheless, we cannot refrain from intreating Mr Carlisle once more to try to write the language of common men. There has crept into his style of thought, feeling, and language, an affec-in going through this book from beginning to end. We tation of which we find no traces in his earlier writings, venture to say that she would rise from its perusal wiser which adds nothing to the force of his really original and better. Neither would she study it as a task, at views, and which is repulsive and disgusting to the least if she had those dispositions, and that honourable mass of readers. We regret to see a man, who might so ambition, which we hope all young ladies have. Though easily unbosom his rich treasure of hidden thought to his very far from being of a frivolous and ephemeral nature, fellows, persist in conveying it through a medium which still the work is written in that pleasing, flowing, and he knows to be unpalatable. The Counts Stolberg are almost conversational style, which irresistibly wins upon worthy of attention, as the first sheep, who, in a fit of the attention, and communicates instruction in the most sentimental and mystical enthusiasm, leaped back over the agreeable of all ways. wall which marks the precincts of the Romish fold-an The following subjects are treated of, under distinct exploit which, in consonance with the gregarious charac- heads, and all in a liberal and enlightened spirit:-Moral ter of that animal, has since been followed by a numerous Deportment-Botany, or the Florist-Mineralogy-Conbleating and baaing herd. The Exposition of the Tenets chology-Entomology-The Aviary-The Toilet-Emof the Jesuits, by Girardet of Dresden, is meant to sup- broidery-The Escrutoire-Painting-Music-Dancing ply some information of the manner in which these fa--Archery-Riding-and the Ornamental Artist, unthers work upon the weak heads of weak men; but un- der which head are comprised instructions in a great va fortunately, the worthy pastor has borrowed both facts riety of elegant accomplishments, and works of art and and arguments from Pascal's Lettres d'un Provençal, ingenuity. It may be thought that some of the above diand, what is worse, has by no means improved them by visions must necessarily be rather dry reading; but none the process. In intimate connexion with this whimper- of them are so. There is just enough of science introing sect, stands the great humbug, Animal Magnetism, duced to make the information valuable; while the whole of whose mysteries a very instructive revelation is given is put into so popular and attractive a garb, that many of in the present Number of the Foreign Review. The the most important truths of even Botany and Mineralonly remaining article that we have to notice in con- ogy are communicated without the aid of any of those nexion with Germany, is a short review in the last-men- long lists of unpronounceable words, whose very appeartioned work, of a book, entitled "A Monument to the ance is enough to frighten the youthful student. As a Memory of Moses Mendelsohn," the most amiable and specimen of the style prevalent throughout the volume, enlightened Hebrew of the eighteenth century. we extract the following short passage from the chapter entitled "The Florist: "
Greece. The Foreign Quarterly contains an able exposé of the history and prospects of the new Greek state, apparently from official documents.
We thought this exhaustive, and perhaps rather dry analysis, of the contents of these two Reviews, the best mode of proceeding, in order to convey to our readers an idea of the great mass of information they contain respecting Continental matters. We begin to be of opinion, that the task of opening the eyes of the English public to the inconceivable fact, that there is such a thing as science and literature beyond the limits of their own island, will be ultimately effected by the united efforts of these rival works. Like dogs in couples, after all their snarling and tugging, they seek one common resting-place. They are mutual supplements. We heartily wish success to both.
The Young Lady's Book. A Manual of elegant Recreations, Exercises, and Pursuits. London. Vizetelly, Branston, & Co. Pp. 506.
This is one of the most elegant, and, in all respects, one of the most appropriate and valuable publications which the present season has produced. The work is richly bound in crimson silk, and adorned with an almost unaccountable number of woodcuts, executed in a very graceful and superior style. But it is for its intrinsic and solid merits that we chiefly prize it,--for the immense mass of highly useful information which it contains upon all matters connected with the cultivation of
"Should a young lady profess a total disregard of flowers, I should yet be unwilling to admit that she was incapable of feeling their sweet influence, though circumstances might have rendered her insensible to them; and should be inclined to propose to her a few questions, by way of ascertaining the cause of so-as it would seem to me-unfeminine an insensibility. I would ask her, if she had ever, during her infancy or childhood, been permitted to run, sit, walk, or gather wild flowers in the green meadows? If she had ever waded, breast high, in the long grass, to gather butter-cups and sorrel? If she had ever filled her frock with daisies, priding herself in finding the reddest lipped? If she had ever pelted her young companions with balls, made on the with cleavers, and laughed to see their repeatedly vain eninstant with fresh-gathered cowslips; or slily adorned them deavours to escape from their tenacious hold? If she had been permitted all these sports, and yet loved not these pretty toys of her childhood, I should, indeed, fear that her distaste were a deficiency of taste in general. I should conjecture, that she, who loved not the lovely dress and various orna ments in which Nature and the Seasons are attired, would have little relish for the delightful scenery of Spenser; that she who failed to treasure up these early associations of innocent pleasures, would but ill appreciate the human sympathies of Shakspeare. If it should appear that these young pleasures were wholly unknown to her, that she had been accustomed to enjoy the fresh air only in the formal progress of a school procession, or a fashionable promenade,if she from a carriage window, or her walks had been confined to had only contemplated the general beauty of the country her father's grounds,then, indeed, I should be disposed to congratulate her, that she possessed pleasures in store, which had been denied to her earlier youth; and to exhort her to
ON THE OBSERVANCE OF FASHION.
"Fashion demands a discreet, but not a servile obedience; much judgment may be shown in the time, as well as in the mode, chosen for complying with her caprices. It is injudicious to adopt every new style immediately it appears; for many novelties in dress prove unsuccessful, being abandoned even before the first faint impression they produce is worn off; and a lady can scarcely look much more absurd than in a departed fashion, which, even during its brief existence, never attained a moderate share of popularity. The wearer must, therefore, at once relinquish the dress, or submit to the unpleasant result we have mentioned; so that, on the score of economy, as well as good taste, it is advisable not to be too eager in following the modes, which whim or ingenuity create in such constant succession. On the other hand, it is unwise to linger so long as to suffer Fashion's ever-varying flower' to bud, blossom, and nearly waste its sweetness, before we gather and wear it. Many persons are guilty of this error: they cautiously abstain from a too early adoption of novelty, and fall into the opposite fault, of becoming its proselytes at the eleventh hour: they actually disburse as much in dress, as those who keep pace with the march of mode, and are always some months behind those who are about them; affording, in autumn, a post-obit reminiscence to their acquaintance, of the fashions which were popular in the preceding spring. Such persons labour under the further disadvantage of falling into each succeeding mode, when time and circumstances have deformed and degraded it from its high and palmy state: they do not copy it in its original purity, but with all the deteriorating additions which are heaped upon it subsequently to its invention. However beautiful it may be, a fashion rarely exists in its pristine state of excellence long after it has become popular; its aberrations from the perfect are exaggerated at each remove; and if its form be in some measure preserved, it is displayed in unsuitable colours, or translated into inferior materials, until the original design becomes so vulgarized as to disgust.
"There are many persons who, while they affect to despise Fashion, and are ostensibly the most bitter enemies of "the goddess with the rainbow zone,' are always making secret compacts and compositions with her. Their constant aim is to achieve the effect of every new style of dress, without betraying the most distant imitation of it: they pilfer the ideas of the modiste, which they use (to adopt the happy expression of Sir Fretful) as gipsies do stolen children, disfigure them, to make them pass for their own.' This is pitiful hypocrisy."-Pp. 280, 1.
throw off the trammels of mistaken dignity, and no longer to debar herself from those innocent enjoyments which impartial Nature offers alike to all. I would urge her to seek
which we should prefer placing in the hands of our own daughter, or sister, or any young lady, in the improvethe shade of the woods, the freshness of the hills, the placident of whose head and heart we took an especial in
beauty of the valleys, and the flowery banks of the winding river. I would entreat her to enfranchise herself from the thrall of Fashion, and visit the spacious orchestra of Nature, that, day and night, resounds with music ;
'Shrill through the crystal air the music swims,]
Flying, solicitous, from flower to flower,
Within their scented bells.'"-Pp. 35, 6. There is another important matter which has been strictly attended to in preparing the "Young Lady's
The slightest taint of vulgarity would have entirely ruined it; but, as far as we can discover, no such taint exists. There is neither, on the one hand, any thing that betrays inferior caste, on the part of the writer,nor is there, on the other, any disgusting affectation of haut ton, or anxiety to inculcate the arbitrary dogmata of the merely fashionable circles. A higher and better tone is assumed, the tone of one acquainted with the world, and whose opinions concerning it are founded upon the philosophical basis of extensive experience. The following excellent remarks upon Fashion are only a part of a great many more, all equally good:
The chapters on the Toilet, on the Escrutoire, on Painting, Music, and Dancing, are particularly worthy of attention. In short, without any motive or desire to praise this book one iota more than it really deserves, we can only say, that we are acquainted with no work whatever
The Family Library. No. VIII. The Court and Camp of Bonaparte. London. John Murray. 1829.
THE two first volumes of the Family Library were dedicated to a Life of Bonaparte; the present volume, which, however, is from a different pen, is meant as a sort of appendix to that work. It contains short biographical sketches of all the members of Bonaparte's familyhis brothers, sisters, and wives—and also of his nine distinct and compact view is thus afforded of the whole ministers, and twenty-eight Marshals and Generals. Napoleon system, as it were-himself the sun, and all the others the satellites that revolved round him, some of them in sufficiently eccentric orbits. The necessary shortness of all the sketches detracts somewhat from their interest; but the style in which they are written is vigorous and spirited, not untinctured with a certain sarcastic humour, which, while it would be inconsistent with the dignity of regular history, gives additional piquancy to the biography of the heroes of the French Revolution. We had marked several passages for extract, but want of room precludes
Life of Oliver Cromwell. By the Rev. M. Russell, LL.D. Vol. II. Being Vol. XLVIII. of Constable's Miscellany. Edinburgh. 1829.
DR RUSSELL has concluded his Life of Cromwell in the same temperate, judicious, and impartial tone in which he commenced it. The second is, upon the whole, a more interesting volume than the first, and contains a great deal of very excellent writing. We are especially pleased with the chapter "Containing a review of Cromwell's actions and character in the relations of private as well as of public life." We recommend this chapter to the best attention of the violent partisan on either side of the question; it is full of important truths, and of calm and Among the literary public of the present day there is a great craving for strong excitement, and to them, we can easily conceive that Dr Russell's style may appear scarcely impassioned or enthusiastic enough; but this diseased appetite cannot endure long, and he who is capable of patiently and laboriously extracting the pure ore from the dross of history, will find a soft but abiding lustre shed over his work, which will come to be the more estimated the more thoroughly it is examined.
unbiassed deductions from them.
The Olive Branch. Edinburgh. H. S. Baynes. 1830. 18mo. Pp. 305.
THIS is the first volume of a small religious annual, which, if successful, will probably appear in an extended shape next year. It is embellished with a portrait of Dr Gordon, to whom the work is dedicated; and contains contributions from a number of respectable Scottish clergymen. Among these are the Rev. D. Russel, Rev. Edward Craig, Rev. William Laurie, Rev. Adam Clarke, Rev. Gilbert Wardlaw, Rev. James Anderson, Rev.
John Brown, Rev. William Innes, Rev. J. B. PatterThere are also some son, and Rev. David Dickson. poetical contributions, of which the best strikes us to be that entitled, "The Wind, an Emblem of the Holy Spirit," by an anonymous correspondent in Aberdeen. "The Voice of the Seasons," and "The Exiled Clergyman," by Hamilton Buchanan, are also good. We doubt not that the number of copies of "The Olive Branch" which Mr Baynes will sell, will more than remunerate him for his expense and trouble.
The British Naturalist; or, Sketches of the more Interest.. ing Productions of Britain and the surrounding Sea, &c. &c. Small 8vo. Pp. 380. London. Whittaker & Co. 1830.
WORKS on natural history seem to be in high favour at the present time. Within the last six months, we have had nearly a dozen excellent books, embracing all the branches of that interesting subject, two or three of them forming part of periodical publications which enjoy a very extensive circulation. The British Naturalist, the title of which we have quoted above, is the last work which has appeared in this department of literature; and we are inclined to augur favourably of its success. It is well arranged, and written in a pleasant manner; and a simple, but expressive tone of the highest moral feeling runs, like a thread of gold, (as Hervey would express it,) through its pages. "The plan," says the Preface," of which the present volume forms a part, has long been under consideration; and materials are in preparation for extending it not only to a series of volumes of THE BRITISH NATURALIST, but to follow or alternate these with THE FOREIGN NATURALIST, as may be most accordant with the successful preparation of the work, and the wishes of the public." We are glad to learn this, and have little doubt as to its success. That the present work is so exclusively British, is not the least recommendation we can bestow on it. It is also tastefully bound, and the few engravings in it are prettily done. Upon the whole, let the "British Naturalist" only have "a clear stage and no favour," and we have no doubt but that it will be found as useful in its way as any of its predecessors.
LITERARY AND SCIENTIFIC SOCIETIES OF
In November, 1782, the same year that Principal RoOUR readers, we are sure, will be glad to learn, that bertson projected the Royal Society, a number of noblewe have made arrangements for presenting them regularly men and gentlemen interested in antiquarian pursuits with reports of the proceedings of the three principal So- were assembled by the Earl of Buchan, to consider the cieties in Edinburgh-the Royal, the Antiquarian, and utility of an association for the prosecution of their favourthe Wernerian. Such Societies form a prominent and in-ite study. They unanimously resolved to meet on the 18th teresting feature of the intellectual exertions of every of December, and form themselves into a permanent body, country; and it is natural, therefore, that the public in under the designation of "The Society of the Antiquarians general should take an interest in their proceedings. In of Scotland." The encouragement which this body received gratifying this desire to the extent we aim at, we in no from the moment of its institution suggested the idea of way interfere with the rights and interests of the Socie-applying for a royal charter. The request was granted; and the charter, after passing the seals, was read to a gene ral meeting of the Society, on the 6th of May, 1783. This Society, as well as the Royal, published their transac tions; but the publication has now been intermitted for a good many years.
The study of Natural History had been taken up, and prosecuted with considerable activity, in Scotland, towards the close of last century, and in particular by the intelligent and indefatigable Dr Walker. We know that there was a Society for the advancement of Natural History in dis-existence about the commencement of the present century, although we have not been able to obtain any accurate information respecting it. Early, however, in the 19th century, this branch of science received a new inpulse among us, by the return of Mr (now Professor) Jameson from the Continent, where he had studied under the celebrated Werner. It was chiefly by his exertions that a number of Naturalists came to unite themselves, in January 1808, into a Society, which they termed the Wernerian, in honour of the Professor of Freiberg. Among the original members were Drs Wright and Barclay (since dead); Dr Thomson of Glasgow; Professor Jameson, the perpetual President of the Society; and Mr P. Niell, its amiable and intelligent Secretary.
The Royal Society met for the first time this season on Monday last; the Antiquarian Society meets for the first time next Monday, and continues to meet on the alternate Monday with the Royal Society throughout the season; the Wernerian Society commenced its meetings last Saturday, and meets once a-fortnight on that day. The subjoined reports of what took place at the first meetings of the Wernerian and Royal, will be found to afford a fair specimen of the system we intend to pursue. propose giving condensed abstracts of such papers and cussions as are characterised by the importance of their subjects, the novelty of their views, or by the talent displayed in them. Other matters we shall pass over more briefly.
Society for the tuted in the year 1731, and entitled, a Improvement of Medical Knowledge." Its transactions were published, at different periods, in five volumes 8vo. They were at an early date translated into foreign languages, and were highly spoken of by the Continental physicians. In the year 1739, the celebrated Maclauric conceived the idea of extending the Society's attention to subjects of Philosophy and General Literature, and it came therefore to be distinguished by the title of "Society for Improving Arts and Sciences;" or, more generally, “The Philosophical Society of Edinburgh." Its exertions were suspended during the civil commotions of 1745, and paralysed to such a degree by the death of its most active and distinguished member, Maclaurin, that it seems to have remained altogether inactive till the year 1752. About that time, the Society commissioned David Hume, and Dr Alexander Monro, junior, to publish a selection from its papers. This was done, in three volumes 8vo, in the years 1754, 56, and 71. From this last date, the Society experienced an interval of languor, till, in the year 1777, the acute, but withal somewhat extravagant Lord Kames, infused fresh vigour into its proceedings. In the year 1782, the historian Robertson, then Principal of the University, proposed, at a meeting of the Professors, most of whom were members of the Philosophical Society, & scheme for the establishment of a new one, after the model of some of the foreign Academies, for the cultivation of every branch of science, erudition, and taste. A royal charter was obtained in 1783, incorporating the body under the name of the "Royal Society of Edinburgh." The first meeting was held in June of the same year. All the members of the Philosophical Society were as sumed into the new institution. It was divided into two classes-Physical and Literary; and a law of the Society ordained, that every applicant for admission should declare which class he wished to be received into; but should, nevertheless, if elected, be entitled to attend and take part in the proceedings of the other. The progress of the Royal Society, subsequent to this period, will be found in its own Transactions.
As an introduction to these reports, it will not be out of place to give a brief sketch of the history of our three learned Societies, seeing that they hold so conspicuous a rank, and would have an interest for the student, even had their proceedings been less fraught with benefit to letters, as associations including among their members all those names of which we are most justly proud.
In looking for the origin of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, we find that it is to be traced to a Society insti
60 per cent of carbonate of lime.
10 per cent of alumine.
9 per cent of carbonaceous matter.
Saturday, 5th December.
Dr ADAM in the Chair.
A paper was read by Henry Witham, Esq. of Lartington, entitled, "On the Vegetation of the first period of the ancient world; that is, from the first deposits of the Transition series to the top of the Coal-field, the Magnesian Limestone forming its upper limits; with Remarks on the probability of Vegetable Origin." The essayist commenced with some remarks on the important results likely to be obtained, in a geological point of view, by an attentive investigation of the history of the vegetation of the earlier world; in the course of which, be bestowed some high and merited encomiums on the exertions made by Brongniart towards introducing a systematic classification of fossil plants. He next proceeded to lay before the Society the fruits of a series of investigations carried on by himself in different coalfields in the counties of Durham and Northumberland, and in the neighbourhood of Edinburgh. The plants recognised by Mr W. in these different districts belonged chiefly to Brongniart's third class of the first period of vegetable creation, "the vascular cryptogamic." A gigantic plant of the fern species occurred in a vein of the Derwent mines, and again in the great Newcastle coal-field. In both instances the stems were erect, in every respect as if their roots had remained embedded in their earthy envelope, and without any marks of diluvial action. This is the more remarkable in the latter habitat, as most of the fossil plants are there found in a horizontal position, confused, broken, and their parts far separated. These gigantic stems may be traced in a perpendicular direction through the stratum of sandstone on which the coal rests, striking their roots downward into a narrow seam ten inches in thick-house, ness, and terminating above abruptly in the main seam. Again, in the stratum forming the roof of the coal seams, large cylindrical masses of a substance quite foreign to the surrounding stone frequently occur. They are full of vegetable impressions, and encased in a thin coating of bright coal, very slightly attached to the surrounding stone. They are known to the miners by the name of kettle-bottoms, and are extremely dangerous, from their liability to fall when the coal beneath has been removed. Mr Bald has observed an analogous conformation in the Scotch coal fields, known by the name of pot, or cauldron bottoms. The form is pretty well indicated by their name, the mouth of the pot being turned downwards. Its sides are lined with coal from one-eighth of an inch to an inch in thickness, of quite a different texture from the coal in the adjoining seam, and frequently of the nature of glance-coal. The cavity is filled up with a kind of fireclay, having a less admixture of sand than the roof-stone around. The miner knows that he is approaching these bottoms by the coal becoming twisted in its texture, and more difficult to work. They are equally dangerous and liable to fall with the English kettle-bottoms. It generally happens, that a piece of the stone which fills the cavity adheres to the roof, which makes it probable that the trouble may go further up than is generally imagied. It might be worth while to examine whether the pavement under the trouble is anyways altered in its structure, as is the case with the coal. Mr W. noticed the occurrence of the stigmaria of Brongniart, with strong impressions of its leaves, in a limestone near Burntisland, in Fife. This limestone has neither testaceous nor coralline remains. He adverted, lastly, to the fossil plant discovered in 1826, in the sandstone at Craigleith. A specimen had been transmitted for Brongniart's inspection, who had as yet only found time to return a conditional answer. He believed it to be a section of a monocotyledonous plant. According to the analysis of Mr Nicol, this plant contained
Its height was thirty-six feet; its chamber at the base," three feet; no branches were found. The essayist proceeded, in the conclusion, to point out the bearing of these facts, as tending to strengthen the opinion of the vegetable origin of coal. He inclined to the hypothesis, that these combustible beds had originally been deposited as a kind of peat, formed from the remains of vegetables, and in which other vegetables still grew; and felt himself confirmed in this view by the appearance of the Newcastle coal-field, and the localities still affected by the remaining families of the class, which seems to have formed almost exclusively the vegetation of that early period.
A conversational discussion ensued, relative to the paper just read, in which Drs Graham and Greville, and Mr Bald, engineer, took part. Some interesting facts, tending to throw further light on the subject, were elicited, of which the following are the most striking:The huge size which these vascular cryptogamics of the early world seem to have attained, is paralleled by the growth of tropical ferns. The hypothesis of Brongniart, that their tropical developement in more northern regions may have been the result of a greater admixture of carbonic acid in the atmosphere, is inadmissible, inasmuch as a greater proportion of that gas is as incompatible with the functions of the respiratory organs of these
plants, as of animals. As little can it be accounted for by the greater activity of the central heat which seems then to have existed, unless we conceive this internal warmth to have spread to the atmosphere. Sir H. Davy remarked an increased activity of vegetation in the soil above an ignited coal-seam; but branches of plants reared in a hotwhich had been produced to the open air, had been found to keep time in their flowering and fructification, with the plants similarly exposed, and not with their parent stem remaining in the more genial temperature. It was further remarked by Dr Greville, and confirmed by a statement of Mr Bald, (as serving to throw light on the abrupt termination of the trunks piercing the sandstone, as soon as they reached the coal-seam,) that he had frequently seen the traces of the organic structure in coal evolved by the process of calcination, when none had previously been recognisable. Such pieces of coal he had uniformly found slightly waved, and with a fanlike
A communication from Dr Gillies "On the Ancient Peruvian Roads," and a paper by the Rev. Dr Scott of Corstorphine, "On the Hebrew Okrub, and the Scorpion of our Scripture translators," were next read, but gave rise to no remarks. The Secretary then laid before the President the books which had been presented to the Society since its last meeting. There being no more business before it, the Society adjourned.
Monday, 7th December.
Sir WALTER SCOTT in the Chair.
The Secretary read a communication from Mr John Stewart, member of the Royal College of Surgeons, London, entitled, "The formation of Sound explained on a new principle; with some observations respecting the manner in which sounds are impressed on the organ of hearing." The new principle, as developed in the first part of the essay, is, that sound is generated by the crea tion of a vacuum. This principle the author sought to establish by the simple experiment of snapping the fingers beside a lighted taper. The flame is drawn towards the fingers, indicating the formation of a vacuum, and a rush of air to fill it up. He proceeded to corroborate his theory by showing its sufficiency to explain the generation of sound by thunder, by the explosion of inflammable mat.