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ART. XII. A Letter to the Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of Durham, containing fome Obfervations on the Climate of Ruffia and the Northern Countries, &c. From John Glen King, D.D. F. R. S. and A. S. 410. 2 s. DodЛley. 1778.
THOUGH this publication contains very few obfervations that will be new to the philofophical reader; yet it may not be improper to extract from it the fubftance of fome of the Author's remarks relating to the cold in Ruffia; the effects of which he muft have had frequent opportunities of obferving, during a refidence of eleven years in that country.
We learn from it that, at Petersbourg, during the winter months, Fahrenheit's thermometer ufually finks from 8 to 15 or 20 degrees below 0; that when it has ftood at 25° below o, boiling water thrown up into the air by an engine, fo as to fpread, falls down perfectly dry, formed into ice; that a pint of water in a bottle was frozen into a folid piece of ice in an hour and a quarter; and fome ftrong ale, in an hour and a half, except about a tea-cup full of the fpirituous and concentrated part of the liquor, which continues fluid in the middle of it; that by means of their ftoves, or ovens, the Ruffians fuffer no hardfhips from the cold within doors; nay that, in the feverest weather, a Ruffian would think it strange to fit in a room where the cold condenfed his breath fufficiently to render it vifible, as it commonly does in England in frofty weather;'and that notwithstanding the coldness of their apartments, and the confined air which is breathed in them, Petersbourg is reckoned as wholesome a place as any city in Europe.'
Among the many advantages derived from the cold, are the great cafe and expedition with which travelling is performed, in fledges fhod with iron, like skates; one, in particular, made for the late Empress Elizabeth, contained two complete little rooms, in one of which was a bed. The prefervation of provifions is another advantage derived from the extreme cold. In the Capital, the markets contain vaft ftacks, or piles, confifting of whole hogs, fheep, fifh, and other animals, frozen. Good housewives, at the beginning of winter, kill their poultry, and keep them in tubs packed up, with a layer of fnow between them, as one would put falt to pickle pork or beef, and then take them out for ufe, as occafion requires: by this means they fave the nourishment of the animal feveral months.'
The principal novelty contained in this letter, is the Author's defcription of a fingular winter-amufement of the Ruffians, and of which they are exceedingly fond. It confifts in fliding, and defcending, with aftonishing velocity, down a steep hill, the little inequalities of which are filled up and fmoothed, by means of fresh inow of ice. — The fenfation,' fays the Author,
' is indeed very odd; but to myself, for I have often had the curiofity to try it, I cannot fay it was agreeable; the motion is fo rapid it takes away one's breath: nor can I give an idea of it, except defiring you to fancy you were to fall from the top of a house without hurting yourself, in which you would probably have fame mixture of fear and furprize.
We cannot poffibly overlook this fingular illustration, which feems to us to have a near affinity to the lucus a non lucendo, as likewife to the ignotum per ignotius. We apprehend it to be highly probable that, among the Author's readers, the number of those who have actually partaken of the diverfion here described, is at least as great, diftant as is the scene of this amusement, as of those who have experienced the mixture of fear and Surprize' fuppofed to attend the falling from the top of a house. Among all our living acquaintance, at leaft, we do not recollect one that ever had a fall of this kind, or who confequently could defcribe the compound fenfation here fuppofed to attend it.
The late emprefs Elizabeth was fo fond of this diverfion, that at one of her palaces fhe had five artificial mounts conftructed, the higheft of which is full thirty feet perpendicular altitude. The carriage, containing two or four perfons, and running on caftors and in grooves, defcends from the top of this first mount; at the bottom of which it has acquired fuch rapidity or momen➡ tum, as is fufficient to enable it to afcend, and go over the top of, the fecond mount, which is about five or fix feet lower than the firft. Thus it proceeds, with an alternately accelerated and retarded motion, to the top of the fifth and last mount, from which it defcends in a gentle flope, with nearly an uniform. velocity, over a piece of water, into a little ifland. A drawing of thefe flying mountains, as they have been called, is prefixed to this letter.
ART. XIII. Digefts of the general Highway and Turnpike Laws, with the Schedule of Forms, as directed by Act of Parliament, and Remarks. Alfo an Appendix on the Construction and Prefervation of Roads. By John Scott, Efq. 8vo. 5 s. fewed. Dilly. 1778. HE perplexed and complicated state of parliamentary law gives the highest fanction of utility to all publications of this nature, provided they are, like this, properly executed. Dr. Burn's Digeft of the Poor Laws was received with the refpect very justly due to it, and Mr. Scott has followed the fame laudable plan, with regard to his Digeft of the Road Acts; at the fame time he has given additional merit to his book by his very valuable obfervations, fetting forth, in a variety of lights, the poffible improvements which the legislature might make, in this capacity of its power.
This ingenious Gentleman, well known to the world by his poetical reputation, and not lefs known in his amiable and benevolent character, feems to be a powerful rival (in point of fame) to THE MAN OF Ross;-a rival, who, notwithstanding, like the hero of Virgil, will open his arms for his friends, and shoot his arrow into the air.
In fuch an age as this, too much cannot be faid in favour of a worthy and public-fpirited man; for the poet's obfervation is certainly applicable to the times
When diffipation reigns, and prudence fleeps.'
Dr. Burn has obferved, and he has well and wifely obferved, that it would be a proper object of parliamentary attention, to appoint fome perfon, with the mere ability of a clear head, to bring the perplexity of the ftatutes into a regular and lucid form. -So many have been fuperfeded, fo many altered, fo many halfaltered, fo many new ones have taken place, while the old ones have been fuffered to remain unrepealed, that the magiftrate, who is to put them in execution, muft, frequently, difquiet himself in vain' to come at the proper line of his duty. In the matter of woodftealing, for inftance, a juftice of the peace may convict on the feveral acts of Charles the Second, George the Second, and George the Third, &c. This certainly throws too much power into his hands, and the legislature ought to have confolidated the feveral acts, or at once to have fuperfeded all before the laft, by a claufe of repeal.-But these matters we fubmit to the fuperior wisdom of parliament.
The Appendix contains very fenfible obfervations on the conftruction and preservation of roads; but nothing more diftinguishes this work than the humane and benevolent spirit that breathes through all the worthy Author's obfervations.
For the first edition of this Digeft, fee Review, vol. xlix.
XIV. FOREIGN LITERATURE.
et Morales, les
et l'Hiftoire de la Terre, et de l'Homme, &c. i. c. Letters, Philofophical and Moral, concerning Mountains, the Hiftory of the Earth, and (its inhabitant) Man. Addreffed to the Queen of Great Britain by J. A DE Luc, a Citizen of Geneva, Reader to her Majefty, F. R. S. and Correfpondent of the Royal Academies of Paris and Montpellier. 8vo. Hague. 1778. Readers of different taftes will find entertainment and inftruc
tion in these interesting Letters; the Author of which has already acquired a well established reputation in the learned world. We fee here an ingenious philofopher, whofe profound refearches have not diminished his lively impreffions of the happiness that is enjoyed in the humble cottage of the untutored peafant, prefenting to MAJESTY the rural scenes of primitive equality, domeftic love, and ferene obfcurity, as the true refidence of felicity and contentment.-An aukward compliment this-will perhaps fome courtly critic fay !-No, Sir, no fuch thing-the good man well knew to whom he was writing, and he has fallen upon an effectual method of making his court, without either departing from the fimplicity of his character, or fuppreffing, even for a moment, the genuine feelings of the heart.
We have never met with fuch a paffionate lover of mountains as Mr. DE LUC, and certainly he had grand and tremendous objects for the indulgence of this paffion in the icy fummits of Lutterbrun and Grindelwald: accordingly he seems to have enjoyed them with transport during his travels through a part of Switzerland, which gave occafion to the present performance.
The work contains feveral fragments of a treatife of cofmology, (confined to the description of our terrestrial globe) which Mr. DE LUC intended to publifh, but which he defpairs of being able to complete, on account of the difficulty of collecting the materials that he judged necessary to the execution of his plan. What therefore he had propofed to digeft into a regular fyftem, he has here (and in one or two more volumes yet unpublished) inferted occafionally in a series of letters, without obferving that strict order and method that would be improper in an epiftolary correspondence, in which entertainment and inftruction must be mingled, incidents and digreffions admitted, and the traveller muft defcribe the afpects of nature, as they are exhibited to his view, and catch the manners living as they rife.
The hiftory of the earth is the fubject of thefe Letters, and alfo the history of man, which is infeparably connected with it. They contain the fundamental principles on which a folid fyftem of cofmology can only be built, both those that are well known, as appertaining to natural philofophy in general, and those which result from particular phenomena. The main defign of our ingenious Author in thefe Letters is, to communicate to the Public the observations he has made; to point out the paths and methods of inquiry which he has followed, and the lights they have afforded in explaining the actual ftate of our globe; and alfo to examine, by the cofmological principles here laid down, the respective merit of the fyftems which have been formed for that purpose. The execution of this design is
more especially referved for the fucceeding volumes; and we propofe to give a fuller account of this publication in a future Review.
II. Entretiens fur l'Etat de la Mufique Grecque, vers le milieu du IV. Siecle avant l'Ere Vulgaire: i. e. Concerning the State of Grecian Mufic about the Middle of the Fourth Century before the Chriflian Era. Paris. 8vo. 1778. In this ingenious and elegant work, which though fmall in volume, contains, nevertheless, a great deal of erudition, the Author introduces a ftranger, who had been at Athens in the 105th olympiad, giving an account of two converfations concerning mufic, which he had held with Philotimus, the difciple of Plato. The first of thefe converfations turns upon the theory of mufic and the technical part of that art, relative to founds, intervals, concords, genufes, modes, and rythmus:the fecond relates to the moral tendency of mufic, its influence upon the manners, paffions, and character of a people, and more especially its marvellous effects on the fenfibility of the Greeks.
III. Nouveaux Voyages dans l'Amerique Septentrionale, &c. i. e. New Travels into North America, containing a Collection of Letters, written on the Spot, to the Chevalier Douin, the Author's Friend, by M. Bossu, Knight of the Order of St. Lewis. 8vo. Paris. 1777. If there were as little confidence to be placed in the veracity of this French Author as in that of certain French minifters, the Travels now before us would naturally be confidered as a collection of ftories. There are, indeed, here fome narrations, which require, in order to be believed, a degree of evidence fuperior to the authority of M. Bossu; that of a Princess of Wolffembuttle, who was married to the unworthy fon of the Czar Peter the Great, is fingular and interesting in the highest degree, and deferves to be authenticated. That worthy Princefs (according to our Author's recital) had endeavoured in vain, by her mild and graceful manners, and her amiable virtues, to foften the favage ferocity of her brutal hufband; at three different times he attempted to poifon her, but fhe efcaped by the ufe of proper remedies. At length, one day the conjugal monfter meeting her in one of his inhuman fits, when fhe was in the eighth month of her pregnancy, gave her repeated kicks in the belly, left her for dead, and having feafted his eyes with the horrid fpectacle, retired fatisfied to one of his country-feats. Some of the friends of the unhappy Princess, and particularly the Countess of Konigfmarck, formed a plan for her deliverance. With this view they reported her death, received orders from her husband to bury her without ceremony or noife, and putting in a coffin a log of wood, for which all Europe went into mourning, they conveyed fecretly the unfor