« AnteriorContinuar »
will be communicated by a most ingenious and inquisitive obser, ver, who has spent a great number of years in investigations of this kind, and is ftill upon the spot.
In our Author's account of the manners and characters of the inhabitants of the Cape, we find the relation of a bold and magnanimous act of humanity, which we were acquainted with before, but which deserves to be mentioned here, were there but one of our Readers to whom it is yet unknown. The hero that performed it was a native of Holland, who had lived, from his early youth, a rural life in the Colony. He happened to be 'on horseback on the coast, at the very point of time that a vessel was fhipwrecked by a dreadful tempeft : the greatest part of the crew perished in the waves: the remainder were struggling with death on the Chattered planks, that ftill floated on the surface of the water : no boat could be sent out in such a dreadful ftorm, for the deliverance of these poor people : the humane and intrepid Hollander undertakes to save them ; he blows brandy into the nostrils of his horse, and fixing himself firmly in his stirrups, he plunges into the sea, and gaining the wreck, brings back to the Chore two men of the crew, each of whom held by one of his boots. In this manner he went and returned seven times, and thus saved fourteen of the passengers. But the eighth time (and here the generous heart will almoit fail) on his return, a rapid and immense surge over set his horse, the heroic rider lof his seat, and was swallowed up with the two unfortunare victims he was endeavouring to snasch from death. What exit could be more glorious than that of this generous man! We celebrate the chiefs who expire in the field of battle, among the victims they had been facrificing; and if their motives were juf and publ c Spirited, let them have their glory! but we cannot help contemplating with a more pleasing kind of admiration thiş intrepid man, dying in an attempt to save his fel.' low-creatures from destruction. The story is true : the man's name, which our Author does not mention, was Altemade; and, if we are not mistaken, the Dutch East-India Company paid a just tribute of veneration to his memory.
We pass over in silence our Author's account of the Hortentots, with respect to whom he pbtained much information, though he had not the pleasure of contrading with them that in timate and personal acquaintance he so ardently desired, nor of adopting their manners and way of life. During his ftay at the Cape he made several observations on birds, filhes, and of her objects of Natural History, which the Reader will with pleasure find in his work. He proceeded from the Cape to the Ides of France and Bourbon : the latter of these settlements is in a much more flourishing state than the former, and the reasons be alligns for it may thus be shortly expressed, that the inhabitants
of the one ifland are intriguing cpxcombs, while those of the other (the Bourbons) are industrious husbandmen.
And now he sets out for the grand object, the discovery of unknown lands in the southern regions : but to very little, indeed, do these discoveries amount. He saw at a certain distance some ifles in the 49th and goth degree of south latitude, to which he gave names ; he landed on a coaft, which he called Cape-François, where he saw some Penguins and sea-lions, but neither trees, nor any thing that announced inhabitants; he dif. covered a point of land that separated iwo bays; he made experiments on the sea-water, its weight, and the quantity of salt which it contains in different latitudes, and then he returned to Madagascar.
This great island, though often mentioned by travellers, is yet but imperfectly known, and every new comer may find something to relate that has not fallen under the observation of his predeceffors. Our Traveller represents the inhabitants as goodnatured and sprightly, but deftitute of genius, vain, selfish, fantastical, and inconfiftent in their actions. They have no seligious worship, but believe, nevertheless, the existence of a a supreme Being, who is just and good, and who will judge, after death, all men. It is odd enough that this belief Thould not have produced some external act of religion. But things Bill more odd are recorded of these Ifanders by our Traveller ; for they circumcise their male children in their seventh or eighth year, nay sometimes wait longer, that they may have a greater number for the operation, and thus render the festival more brilliant Nor is this all : for they charge their guns with the Aelhy superfluities that have been lopped off in this ceremony, and fire ihem with the greatest demonftrations of joy. We wish our Author had enquired into the meaning and origin of this festivity : we can well conceive that circumcision may be practised for phyfical reasons, but it is probable that these excessive demonftrations of joy, with which it is attended, originate from some superstitious principles
M. Pages thinks that very useful rectlements might be formed at Madagascar; and he points out the me: hods of forming them with fuccess. These are tollowed by judicious observations on the regimen that is neceflary to preserve the health of feamen in unhealthy climates, and many other interesting remarks and relations, which give this work a very distinguilhed rank among modern voyages.
From Madagascar our Traveller returned to the Cape, where he continued his observations on that colony and the adjacent countries. From thence he set fail for Europe the 26th of June 177+, and arrived at Brest on the 8th of September following.
In 1776 he undertook his Third voyage, his icy voyage to the North-Pole: No preceding Navigator, if we are not miftaken, got so near it as he, for he pushed forward to the 820 degree of latitude. He had here three leading objects in view. The fift was to compare the northern and southern climatrs, and to ar. çertain exactly the difference between them and the climates of the torrid zone; the second, to observe with careful attention the obstacles which the Navigators have met with from the ice), to the discoveries they have hitherto attempted to make in the polar regions; and the third was to determine the queftion, whether there are lands north of Greenland or not? and also to satisfy his curiosity with respeat to the natural productions shat are to be found. there, particularly the marine animals and monsters that frequent those feas. His description of the dangers and difficulties they met with in palling through the ice is adapted to inspire terror; but it is imposible to read, without admiration, the bold and ingenious mapouyres, that were employed io lurmount both. His account of the tremendous racks, icy mountains, rapid summer, and long winter of the islands of Spitsbergen, is most curious and interefting, as is also his defcription of the whale-filhery, and his natural history of that animal. The Ruflians of Archangel having formed, within these thirty years past, rectlements for hunting in several places of the islands of Spuisbergen, they pass the wipter on these icy coasts, and take a great number of sea-, lions, which serve them for food. The Aurora Borealis, and the northern lights, reflected from the snow, enable them to pursue the chace during the long winter's night that reigns in these gloomy regions. The farther our Navigator advanced towards the Pole in his icy course, the winds left theis severity, and the vault of heaven appeared more serene and beautiful; fo that they enjoyed a clear day, while they faw behind them at the horizon, the place they had left, dark and gloomy. The thermometer arose to 23 degrees, after having been before at two degrets below the freezing point. This is surely lurprising. The obsero, vations our Author made, during this expedition on the constant elevation of the mercury in the barometer, on the variation of the magnetic needle, on the diminution of the saline quality of the sea-water through intense cold, and on the different weight of that water from the 50th degree of southern, to the 82d of northern latitude, announce an uncommon spirit of investigation, Navigators, more especially, will find benefit from the pains he has taken to ascertain the true position of some flands, the knowledge of which is neceflary to redress and rectify their course when they get rid of the shoals of ice which impede it. There are also here curious details, relative to the motion, defection and formation of these thoals, and physical observations on the winds of the frigid or glacial, compared with those of the torrid zone. The work is enriched with sine plates, 3
which contain charts and views; among others is a chart of Spitf-, bergen, from which it appears that the north of Greenland is not fituated in the place that has been assigned to it by Geogra-, phers.
, All this is but an imperfea indication of the valuable materials contained in chele volumes. It is certain that M. PAGES is not one of chose travellers, who go found the world without going into it, and he need not fear, that any will apply to him those lines of Pope, which might pofsing properly be prefixed as a motto to many voyages :
Never, by tumbler through he hoops, was.down, to is
Such skill in passing all, yet touching ngne, He is on the contrary, a Traveller of the right kind, ingenious, patient, attentive, industrious, lively and sentipental, and we are miltaken if the candid Reader will not find auch instruc-? tion and entertainment in his worken.
Ą RT. - XII. Physique Generale & Particuliere, i, e... A General and Particular Sylten of Natural Philosophy, By Count LACEPEDE, Colonel in
the Circle of Westphalia, and Member of the Royal Academies and Societies of Dijon, Toulouse, Siockholm, &c. Vol. I. Paris.'
1782. A NOTHER fyftem of Physics ! .aye, why not? the subject
is inexhaustible, and while attempis, more or less füccessful, are made to discover and noi merely to repeat, they have always a claim to the attention of the curious. It seems to be with great parts as well as with high' fpirits, that the noble Author, now under confiderations, has undertaken to throw some new par:icles of light up in Natural Paiofophy': but we think his manner of writing richer too poetical, fighty and fiery for philosophical discullion. Truth must be pursuid with a cool head and a temperate fancy. We cannot Tay that thele are the predominant characters of Coint Lacepede': 'bớt we can say, with confidence, that his genius is elevated, his knowledge extensive, and the plan of his work valt and interelting. It is to bé comprized in 12 vols. duodecino, of which we have yet feen only the first, and is to comprehend all the truths, laws, and phænomena of physical science.'
In á moj? eloquent, we had nearly said, a 'too eloquent Preliminary Discourse, the Author gives an interesting view of the different parts of his work, and the connexion in which they stand to each other. He points out the objects which are to occupy the philosopher, the points of view under which he ought to consider them, the initruments that he is to employ in his refearches, and the qualities that his profetlion eilentially requires. If he possesses these qualities halt as pertectly as he
describes them, we do not doubt that his work will be carried OR with success, and received with applause,
We said that his plan is vast, for he comprehends in it a variety of objects; that have hitherto been confidered as belonging to the sphere of Metaphysics. Space and time enter into this plan, the former; as conftituting the residence of matter, and the latter, as determining its fucceflive duration, Space, therefore, and time; and thë properties of matter are first confidered. Then follow the phenomena of attraction; cohesion, adhefion, which will naturally be succeeded by every thing that relates to the diffolutions, combinations and cryftalizations of bodies, to motion and its laws, to the action, resistance, and elasticity of Auids, subjects of which our Author speaks with rapturé, as worthy of the higheft efforts of human genius. The four substances generally known undet thé denomination of Elements, their properties, modificationis, affinities and mixtures in the composition of bodies, come next into confideration, as Auid and substances, all subject to the action of fire; though forming folid bodies by temporary exertions of their essential properties. From hence the Author proceeds to consider the air, sound with its divisions and harmony, light, electricity and magnetism, the various kinds of vapours, known under the denomination of gas, the different kinds of air, fixed, nitrous and inflammable. Next in order come Mechanics, with all their objects, in. struments, machines and departments, and all the principles and powers by which they operate.
Hitherto however we have only the different parts that form, what our Author calls, the Skeleton of Nature. He therefore proceeds to clothe the skeleton, and exhibit the magnificent body of nature in all its beauty and grandeur. This he does by unfolding the phænomena of aftronomy, the laws which the ceJeftial bodies follow in their courses, the powers with which they act on each other, nay, he even proposes to point out their origin ; and we shall be glad to see, in the progress of his work, what he means by this expreffion. From the starry regions be intends to descend gradually until he comes to the surface of our globe, taking cognizance in his way, of the zodiacal light, the Aurora Borealis. When he has alighted like Mercury on our planet, and shaken his wings, he proposes to visit the surface and interior of the earth, and to describe its position, the inclination of its axis, the shocks it receives from the a&tion of the fire that burns in its entrails, and also to treat of tides, exha. lations, meteors, vapours, clouds, and the origin of springs and rivers. From hence he proceeds to Mlan, considered in the ma•
We gave a short account of this ingenious Nobleman's Ejay is Natural and Artificial Elo&ricity in the Review for October 1782.