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We must close our extracts with the following account of an entertainment given to Dr Buchanan by the Biby, or Lady of Cananore, or Canura, a Mussulman princess of Malayala.
The succession goes in the female line, as usual in Malabar; the children of the son will have no claim to it; and he will be succeeded by the son of his niece, who is the daughter of his sister. This young lady has lately been married: and in the evening I was conducted by Mr Hodgson to a grand dinner which was given, on the occasion, to all the European ladies and gentlemen in the place. We were received by the Biby in her bed-room, and the ladies were admitted into the chamber of her grand-daughter. The diningroom was very large, and well lighted; and the dinner was entirely after the English fashion. The quantity of meat put on the table, as usual in India, was enormous, and the wines and liquors were very good. The young chief, with the father and husband of the young lady, who have no kind of authority, received the company in the dining-room; but did not sit at table. When dinner was served, they retired to a couch at one end of the hall, and smoked Hookas, until the company rose to dance. Appropriate toasts were given, and these were honoured by salutes of guns from the Biby's ships. Many fireworks were displayed, and there was music both European and native. The house of the Biby is very large, and, though not so showy as some of the Sultan's palaces, is by far more comfortable, and is in fact by much the best native house that I have seen. II. 553, 554.
Upon the whole, those who will take the trouble to peruse Dr Buchanan's book, will certainly obtain a far more accurate and correct notion of the actual condition and appearance of India, and of its existing arts, usages, and manners, than could be derived from all the other books relating to it in existence; but they will frequently be misled as to its religion, literature, and antiquities; and must submit to more labour than readers are usually disposed for, in collecting and piecing together the scattered and disjointed fragments of information of which these volumes are composed. If the work come to a second edition, we earnestly entreat Dr Buchanan either to make some arrangement of his materials, or to employ a redacteur for that purpose.
Observations or the HYPOTHESES which have been assumed to account for the Cause of GRAVITATION from Me hanical Principles. By the Rev. S. Vince, A. M. F. R. S. mian Profeffor of Aftronomy and Experimental Philofophy. Cambridge, 1806.
HE importance of the matter treated, and the name of the author, entitle this little tract to more confideration than a pamphlet of twenty-fix octavo pages can ufually claim. The appearance alfo of a fcientific memoir, in fo detached a form, is a circumftance that excites fome curiofity. This circumftance is accounted for in the preface, where we learn, that the memoir was read in the Royal Society of London as the Bakerian Lecture; though, for reasons that are not explained, but in which, as might be expected, the author is not difpofed to acquiefce, it was not inferted in the Philofophical Tranfactions. The prefent publication is therefore to be confidered as an appeal to the public, from a fentence of the Council of the Royal Society. Feeling, as reviewers must naturally do, fome jealousy of thofe tribunals, which, by interpofing a veto between literary productions and the public, interfere with them in the lawful exercife of their profeffion, our prejudices, on the prefent occafion, are unavoidably in . favour of the author. We will endeavour, however, to conduct our investigation with the utmost impartiality; and shall proceed to give our opinion, happy in the reflection, that we have no authority nor jurifdiction that can carry our fentence into execution, whether it be right or wrong; that we muft align the reafons of every judgment we pronounce; and are therefore only ftrong to do juftice, but weak, whenever, from prejudice or ignorance, we attempt to do the contrary. The most enviable fituation in which a judge can be placed, is, when he has the power of doing good, and wants the power of doing evil. A reviewer has his charge to give to the grand jury of the public before he can pronounce sentence; and has, by that means, a better fecurity for his own impartiality, than any thing but abfolute infallibility could give. But, as we neither know the degree of merit that is required, nor of demerit that may be tolerated, in a Bakerian Lecture, our judgment has no direct concern with that of the Royal Society. We have feen feveral of thofe lectures that G 3 contained
* It may seem a minute criticism, but it is too obvious to escape remark, that there is an inaccuracy in this title; the hypotheses referred to not having been contrived to account for the cause of gravitation, but for gravitation itself, or, to state the thing more correctly still, for the phenomena of gravitation.
contained nothing very new or important; and we have seen others, particularly of late, that conveyed fome of the most interesting intelligence to the public, that experiment ever extracted from the receffes of the material world. What is the average degree of excellence that may belong to such publications, and whether the present memoir falls fhort of that standard, or exceeds it, are points which we are not competent to decide.
The preface to thefe obfervations, befides informing us of the circumftance juft mentioned, makes us acquainted with the view which Mr Vince had, in this examination of the fyftems, contrived for explaining the phenomena of gravitation.
In his Optics, Sir I. NEWTON attempts to account for gravity by means of an elastic fluid. This, however, he proposes by way of a question, not being satisfied about it, as he says, for want of experiments. These, however, he never made; nor has any one since examined his hypothesis, in order to discover whether it will account for the law of gravitation; for it is not sufficient merely to show that such a medium may exist as will drive a body towards the
To this is annexed the following note.
• Mr MACLAURIN observes, that this hypothesis no way derogates from the government and influences of the Deity, whilst it leaves us at liberty to pursue our inquiries concerning the nature and operations of such a medium. And Sir J. PRINGLE, the late worthy and learned President of the Royal Society, who executed the duties of his high. office with great impartiality and honour, considering the importance of the subject, recommended it as deserving the attention of philosophers.
Our author then goes on in the text to remark,
• What Sir I. NEWTON left for further examination, will be deemed no impertinent nor useless inquiry; more particularly at this time, when many of the most eminent philosophers upon the Continent have been endeavouring to account for all the operations of nature upon merely mechanical principles, with a view to exclude the Deity from any concern in the government of the system, and thereby to lay a foundation for the introduction of Atheism. Upon this account, the author was requested to consider the subject, and give the result of his examination. The inquiry was favourably received; and it was suggested, that it might not be improper to be offered to the Royal Society.'
On comparing the laft of these paffages with the firft, and also with the note fubjoined to it, a very obvious inconfiftency appears. It is plain, that Newton, whofe piety no man ever queftioned, did not think that, to afcribe the phenomena of gravitation to a mechanical caufe, had the flighteft tendency to fupport atheistical opinions, or to weaken the arguments for the existence of God and of Providence. Maclaurin and Sir John Pringle,
were alfo of that opinion; and, from his manner of quoting their authority, we should suppose that our author himself was of the fame way of thinking. Yet he immediately gives us to underftand, that his inquiry was undertaken for the exprefs purpose of trying, whether religion might not be fupported, and the atheiftical opinions, which he afcribes to the philofophers of the Continent, opposed, by fhowing the infufficiency of mechanical principles to explain the law of gravitation. In the fame breath, therefore, we are told, that to affign a mechanical caufe of gravitation, is quite confiftent with the truths of natural religion; and alfo, that to difprove the existence of fuch causes, is a direct way of fupporting thofe truths. It is equally out of our power to alfign any other meaning to the paffages juft quoted, and to account for the inconfiftency which they involve.
Again, it must be obvious to every one, that the belief in the mechanical cause of gravitation, which was fo confiftent with the piety of Newton and his countrymen, is reprefented as one of the weapons by which the philofophers of the Continent are at this moment attacking the whole fyftem of religious belief. It would feem, then, that an argument which an English philofopher may maintain in perfect confiftency with theifm, and all the great principles of natural religion, cannot be viewed, in the hands of his brethren on the Continent, but as atheistical and impious fophiftry. We must look, it feems, not to the argument, but to the man that ufes it; and not to the man only, but to the country in which he lives, because an opinion that is found and orthodox in England, may be impious and atheistical in France or Germany. We know not how to afcribe fuch illiberal and inconfiftent notions to this learned Profeffor, but cannot interpret his words in any way by which thefe conclufions can be avoided.
For our part, being convinced that the iffue of this argument is quite immaterial to the truths of natural religion, which muft reft on the fame immoveable foundation, whether the phyfical caufe of gravity is ever difcovered or not, we feel no other interest in the refult, than that which the extenfion or limitation of knowledge is calculated to excite. We must also exprefs our hearty difapprobation of every attempt that is likely to confine the range of our inquiries, and to produce an intolerance of philofophical opinion. In all ages, there have been men illiberal and narrow-minded enough, to think that the fearch after natural caufes was irreverent to the Author of Nature, and argued a doubt of his power. Anaxagoras, though the first of the Greek philofophers who entertained rational notions concerning the Supreme Being, yet, because he was a great inquirer after fecond caufes, was accufed of irreligion. The fame charge, on the fame ground, has often been G4
renewed fince. It would be right, however, that thofe who bring this charge would take fome trouble to draw the line which feparates the legitimate domains of fcience from the hallowed ground which must not be prophaned by philofophical refearch. This boundary, we are perfuaded, it will be found very difficult to adjust. No one will fay, that it is wrong to inquire into the cause of elafticity, hardnefs, tranfparency, and fuch like qualities of body. Why, then, fhould it be improper to inquire into the caufe of gravity? On what principle is it, that it is lawful to feek for the mechanism by which the former effects are produced, and impious to extend the fame inquiry to the latter? If, indeed, gravitation were not only known to be univerfal among material fubftances, but if all the other caufes of motion could be reduced to it, and fhown to be modifications of one and the fame law, there would be little reafon to expect, that we could ever carry our inquiries much further; and, though we should not think that there was any impiety in the attempt to do so, we fhould certainly defpair of its fuccefs. But our knowledge of gravitation has by no means reached this perfection. We are not fure that it is quite univerfal,—that heat and light, for example, are fubject to its power,-and, what is of more importance in the prefent queftion, we are fure that all the caufes of motion have not yet been reduced to one; so that gravitation is neither shown to depend on impulfe, nor impulfe on gravitation. Two laws, very different from one another, direct the motions of the material world; and, till these two can be reduced to one, or shown to depend on the fame caufe, or till they be demonftrated to arise from different caufes, our knowledge of them remains incomplete. Till every poflible means of effecting one or other of thefe purpofes has been tried,-till reafon and experiment can fairly be faid to have done their utmost, philofophy has not reached its ultimate object. Some important fecret may ftill be within our reach; fome new proof of the fimplicity of nature, and of the wifdom of its Author, may yet remain to be discovered. In the fent ftate of fcience, we think it cannot be affirmed that the utmoft has been done with refpect to the object we are treating of; nor are we entitled to fay that the attempts made have been all completely abortive. This laft, however, it is the object of Mr Vince to prove in the paper before us; but his enumeration of thefe attempts, as we fhall foon fee, is much too incomplete to authorise the conclufion which he has drawn.
The fyftems for explaining the cause of gravity which Mr Vince examines, are thofe of Defcartes, Bernoulli, and Newton. It is on the laft that his attention is principally fixed. The fyftem of Le Sage is barely alluded to, (and fo incorrectly as to