Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

- he had prepared Darrell's mind to of the Poet? If the Poet be born, weigh the contents of a letter, which, not made, is it not because he is given in the first instance, would per- born to sympathise with what he haps have rendered Darrell's resolu- has never experienced ?". tion not less stubborn, by increasing “I see! There are born Preachers !" the pain to himself which the resolu- Darrell reseated himself, and betion already inflicted.

gan Alban's letter. He was evidently Darrell turned, and looked towards moved by the Colonel's account of George, as if in surprise to see him Lionel's grief-muttering to bimself, still lingering there.

“Poor boy !-but he is brave-he is “I have now but to place before young.” When he came to Alban’s you this letter from my uncle to forebodings, on the effects of dejecmyself; it enters into those details tion upon the stamina of life, he which it would have misbecome me pressed his hand quickly against his specially to discuss. Remember, I breast as if he had received a shock! entreat you, in reading it, that it is He mused awhile before he resumed written by your oldest friend-by a his task ; then he read rapidly and man who has no dull discrimination silently till his face flushed, and he in the perplexities of life, or the repeated in a hollow tone, inexpressniceties of honour."

ibly mournful,

“Let the young man Darrell bowed his head in assent, live, and the old name die with Guy and took the letter. George was Darrell.' Ay, ay ! see how the world about to leave the room.

sides with Youth! What matters “Stay,” said Darrell, “ 'tis best to all else so that Youth have its toy !" have but one interview-one conver- Again his eye hurried on impatiently sation on the subject which has been till he came to the passage devoted just enforced on me; and the letter to Lady Montfort ; then George saw may need a comment, or a message that the paper trembled violently in to your uncle.” He stood hesitating, his hand, and that his very lips grew with the letter open in his hand; white. ***Serious apprehensions' and, fixing his keen eye on George's he muttered. “I owe consideration pale and powerful countenance, said, to such a friend.' This man is with

How is it that, with an experience out a heart !”. of mankind, which you will pardon He clenched the paper in his hand me for assuming to be limited, you without reading farther. “Leave yet read so wondrously the compli- me this letter, George; I will give cated human heart?"

an answer

to that and to you before “If I really have that gift,” said night." He caught up his hat as he George, “I will answer your question spoke, passed into the lifeless pictureby another : Is it through experience gallery, and so out into the open air, that we learn to read the human George, dubious and anxious, gained heart-or is it through sympathy? the solitude of his own room, and If it be experience, what becomes locked the door.

CHAPTER III.

At last, the great Question by Torture is fairly applied to Guy Darrell.

WHAT WILL HE DO WITH IT? lured his step as a beckoning ghost ? What will Guy Darrell do with the What will he do with the PRIDE thought that weighs on his brain, from which the mask has been so rankles in his heart, perplexes his rudely torn? What will he do with dubious conscience? What will he idols so long revered ? Are they do with the Law which has governed idols, or are they but symbols and his past life? What will he do with images of holy truths ? What will that shadow of A NAME, which, alike he do with the torturing problem, on in swarming crowds or in lonely the solution of which depend the burial-places, has spelled his eye and honour due to consecrated ashes, and

the rights due to beating hearts ? the tomb in that still churchyardThere, restless he goes, the arrow now emerging slow, with melancholy of that question in his side-now eyes fixed on the old roof-tree! What through the broad waste lands-now will he do with it? The Question through the dim woods, pausing oft of Questions in which all Futurity is with short quick sigh, with hand opened, bas him on its rack. WHAT swept across his brow as if to clear WILL HE DO WITH IT? Let away a cloud ;-now snatched from our sight by the evergreens round

us see,

A PLEASANT FRENCH BOOK,

SCIENCE is deeply indebted to make the German mind so unlike the France and Germany. In laborious French, is perhaps mainly to be integrity and patient persistence the sought in the fact that Frenchmen, German is pre-eminent, but there is for more than a century, have been one quality in which the French in the habit of appealing to women savant is remarkably distinguished and the general public-writing for from his rival, and that is the valu- the salon in some measure—knowable quality of excellent literature. ing that, even at the sittings of the He knows how to compose a book, Academy, men and women from the and how to write it. The German outer world will be present. One of who can write with clearness and the most serious men, and one of the elegance is a rare phenomenon. In most eminent thinkers, of modern general he seems to make it a matter France, assured us once, with some of conscience to punish his reader. triumph, that plusieurs beaux mouHe is as terrified at clearness as at a choirs brodés waved applause at his ghost, dreading lest clearness should lecture. A German would probably be mistaken for shallowness—which have felt the presence of those emin England and in Germany is gene- broidered handkerchiefs a slight on rally the case. We dread the impu- his gravity. He certainly would tation of shallowness; but the idea have thrown no graces into his disof not being gründlich would whiten course to set that embroidery in a the German's hair with instantaneous flutter. He speaks to students; he horror ; and thus, as Tieck wittily writes for professors ; he despises the complains, “he never rises to the laity. Elegance! What has he to surface for very, profundity – aus do with such foppery? Style! he is lauter Gründlichkeit."

not an artist. If his periods are a The Frenchman is, in merit and page long, at least they contain every demerit, the very reverse of this. He qualification and restriction which always seems to be addressing an his propositions demand : audience of savants, brilliant women, kann man nicht verlangen. and witty men of letters. He too M. Biot is every inch a Frenchdesires to be profound, exact; but man. Among the most eminent of he almost equally aims at elegance European physicists, a brilliant culand finesse. He knows that if his tivator of exact science, he exstyle be not clear, his impatient presses himself with the clearness, countrymen will pass on, for tout ce finesse, and epigrammatic felicity of qui n'est pas clair n'est pas Français. an admirable writer. To profound Unless his syntax be correct, he research he adds a charming talent. will be unmercifully quizzed ; unless His touch is as light as if it were not his style be agreeable, he will be also firm. The movement of his voted a pedant.

mind is aided, not impeded, by knowThe reason of this contrast, apart ledge. And in these three volumes from the organic differences which of republished essays, reviews, and

[graphic]

biographies, our readers will find read! How many of us would find philosophy without headache, solid ourselves totally unable to explain instruction in the lightest, pleasant- the grounds upon which propositions est manner. They are the gatherings rest. But readers who think out of half a century, 1807-1858. He what they read are rare, and thus we was a young man when some of them escape detection. were written, and the readers to On another occasion, M. Biot harwhom they were addressed, are ing made an important discovery in readers no more; another and a dif- one of the abstrusest branches of ferent generation now listens to the mathematics, which had baffled every “old man eloquent;” but no one one, mentioned it to Laplace, who will detect the least want of fresh- listened with great attention, quesness in these pages.

tioned him respecting his method, The first of these various Mélanges and the details of his solutions, and is an interesting reminiscence of finally desired him to bring his meLaplace. M. Biot, when a young moir on the following day. Joyfully, and totally unknown professor of yet tremulously, the young mathemathematics, ventured to write to matician presented his memoir to the Laplace, who was then printing the illustrious master. Having carefully immortal Mécanique Céleste (made read it, Laplace said, “This is an accessible to English readers by Mrs excellent bit of work; you have taken Somerville in her Mechanism of the the right path. But the notions you Heavens); the object of his letter present at the close are somewhat was to gain sight of the proof-sheets too remote. Don't go beyond the as soon as they were printed, in order actual results you have reached. The that he might go over the calcula- present state of analysis does not tions for his own benefit, and rectify permit of your going further.” After any errors of the press that might a struggle, which every author will easily pass unnoticed by the author. understand, Biot yielded, and struck Laplace consented with great kind- out the conclusion. Now," said Laness; and from time to time young place, “all is very good. Present your Biot brought his corrections, and memoir to-morrow to the Academy, with them a list of doubts and diffi- and dine with me afterwards.” Toculties, which in general were ex- morrow came, and at the Academy plained by the great astronomer, but the young man found the great sometimes not a little perplexed Monge, who had been informed by him. The piquant part of the anec- Laplace of the discovery, and spoke dote is, that these obscure passages about it ; Lagrange and Lacroix were were generally those in which La- also there ; and no less a person than place passed over the details with the General Buonaparte, recently arrived convenient formula, “ It is easy to from Syria ; but the General was a

But so far from being less terrible personage to the young easy to see, it often required consider- mathematician than was Lagrange ; able research to see it

. At the time and when Buonaparte, glancing at he wrote the formula, the idea was the diagram, exclaimed, “I know that doubtless clear enough to his mind; by the figures,” Biot silently thought but now, when called upon to explain to himself, “ you must be very clever —when placed in the position of the to recognise those figures, inasmuch reader who did not see- -Laplace was as nobody except Laplace has ever himself at fault. “Then he patiently seen them before ;” and his respect sought to recover it by various ways, for the General's opinion on such quesboth for my benefit and his own; tions must have oscillated about zero. and this was the most instructive of And now comes the beauty of the commentaries. Once I saw him pass anecdote. The memoir was read, an nearly an hour in the endeavour to immense success obtained,-Biot was recall the chain of reasoning which a “made man. He accompanied he had concealed under the mysteri- Laplace home, receiving his conous phrase, il est aisé de voir." "What gratulations on the way. Arrived a benefit 'to authors if they could there, Laplace said, “Come into my always have their proof-sheets thus study for a minute, I have something

[ocr errors]

to show you." Biot followed, sat down, pertinently asks, “is the opinion of and prepared to listen. Laplace un- those who have none of the means locked a little drawer, took out a of rightly forming an opinion ? bundle of papers, yellow with age, In doubtful questions the ignorant and “there he showed me all my believe, the half-learned decide, the problems solved by that very method man of science examines." And he which I had discovered. He had rightly says that the impatient desire made the discovery years before, but to explain everything caused the had been arrested by the very diffi- truth of meteoric phenomena to be culty which he pointed out to me; so long rejected; because men could and had paused, where he had ad- not explain the phenomenon, they vised me to pause—hoping at some refused to believe it. He first disfuture time to surmount the obstacle. cusses the nature of the testimony He had never mentioned this to any respecting meteoric stones, and in the one—not even to me when I brought very uniformity of this testimony he my memoir to him.” A more noble sees an evidence of truth. The anecdote is not to be found in the ignorance of the witnesses gives annals of science. Instead of the greater force to their unanimity, for irritable jealousy so usual among if the fact stated were false, the testimen, instead of the clamorous asser- mony would indicate various subtion of priority, and the ignoble in- stances, and various circumstances ; sinuations of plagiarism, we here see and in such a question, where pera man not only capable of abnegation sonal interest is in no degree involved, in favour of a younger rival, but the chance of concurrence in testicapable of a delicacy as rare as the mony is excessively slight, whereas abnegation, never alluding to his own that of divergence in testimony is discovery until his rival had obtained almost infinitely multiplied. M. Biot's complete success, and obtained it recital of his course of investigation is partly by the judicious advice to re- very interesting. He first ascertains move what was hazardous in the the mineralogical structure of the spot memoir. “Had he shown me his where the stones have been found, paper before the meeting, I could not and finds that in no respect is there have presented mine, knowing his any faint approach to substances priority; and even had be required such as physical and chemical invesme to keep it secret, with what tigation proves these stones to be. embarrassment should' I have been He then examines the testimony of seized, knowing myself to be an echo those who saw the meteor, and those only.” Laplace carried his delicacy who heard its explosion. Instead of to the point of insisting on the secret going at once to the spot where the being kept, even after this success; meteor is said to have fallen, he and he forbade Biot from even mak- begins by drawing a circle of some ing an allusion to it. Not until 1850 miles round it, and compares the was the secret revealed, and then, testimony of those living at a dissaid his grateful friend and pupil, tance with those living on the spot ; "en rendant cet hommage à sa mé- by this means he finds a remarkable moire, je lui désobéis."

uniformity as to time and circumOf a very different character is the stance-points on which the testisecond paper in these volumes. It is mony of men who were inventing, the report of M. Biot to the Academy, or were deluded, would necessarily of an inquiry he was commissioned differ. But, inasmuch as peasants, to make into the truth of a fall of women, children, priests, and soldiers, meteoric stones in the Department in a circle of ten miles, all concur as de l'Orme. The scientific world to the main facts of time and circumnowadays is perfectly convinced of stance,—and as this testimony is the fact that meteoric stones do fall; supported by the presence of the scepticism is no longer permissible; stones said to have fallen, and by the but even if it were, M. Biot's re- nature of these stones, which are port would carry conviction, and may totally unlike anything to be found now be read as a model of scientific in the district, and are like other investigation. “Of what value," he meteoric stones said to have fallen

[ocr errors]

elsewhere,—the conclusion is inevi- for twenty years assured him that it table.

can be perfectly demonstrated." The peculiar interest of this paper But their differences on other points can, of course, only be appreciated such, for instance, as the quarrel with after a careful examination of all the Leibnitz, or Newton's temporary indetails, and this would occupy too sanity-admit of settlement. At any much space for us to attempt the rate, the studious reader will find reproduction here. We must, there- ample material in these pages on fore, refer the curious reader to the which to form a judgment for himoriginal, as also for the astronomical self. We cannot touch upon them papers which succeed. Newton occu- here, but will rather select a more pies the rest of the volume, from page insignificant point, which is not with123 to page 459, and all Englishmen out its interest. and men of science will read these The story of the fall of an apple studies of the great philosopher with having suggested the theory of deep, interest, except, perhaps, Sir gravitation, is one of those popular David Brewster, whose two biogra- stories which modern criticism phical attempts on the Life of New- ruthlessly avers to be mythical. In ton are criticised with searching his first “Life of Newton,” Sir David sagacity, abundant knowledge, and Brewster rejected it as a myth, percaustic wit. It is in these pages, and haps because M. Biot had repeated not in those of Sir David Brewster, it. Except as a biographical anecthat we must look for a faithful por- dote, it is utterly indifferent whether trait of the man, and a philosophical the story be true or mythical ; for estimate of his works. The memoir it is quite clear that the fall of ten M. Biot originally contributed to the thousand apples could have led to Biographie Universelle (here reprint- no discovery of gravitation, unless ed) remains by far the best memoir observed by a mind already so preof Newton; and completed, as it is pared to make the discovery, that in this volume, by the materials since any falling body would have served disclosed in Flamsteed's “Life,” the as a starting-point. But is it true? correspondence with Cotes, and Sir Dr Brewster declared that the cirDavid Brewster's second “Life,” little cumstance was not mentioned by Dr is left for the student to desire. Stukeley nor by Conduit, and that“no

M. Biot thus sums up his review authority could be found for it." In of Sir David's recent biography: his review of this work, M. Biot re“I must confess with regret that it plied that Pemberton positively said seems to me at once superficial and it was in this very garden, where the diffuse. The materials are distributed apple - tree stood, that the idea ocwithout order; so that we are often curred to Newton, and that Conduit obliged to seek far and wide for those expressly says the idea of gravitation details which belong to the same was hit upon by observing an apple class, to form a whole. The inflated falling from a tree.” One would imatone (le ton d'emphase) which reigns gine this was authenticity enough, from beginning to end, becomes at especially as Dr Brewster claimed last fatiguing : from all which it Conduit's silence among his chief might unhappily be found a weari- reasons for denying the story ; yet, some work. I hope, rather than be- after Conduit had been cited by M. lieve, that Dr Brewster will not tax Biot expressly in favour of this story, me with infidelity for this opinion." Sir David, in his recent biography,

The theological differences between sticks to his incredulity, and furSir David and his rival cannot, of nishes this very equivocal evidence : course, be reconciled. The French- “ Neither Pemberton nor Whiston, man, as a Catholic, must necessarily who received from Newton himself be indisposed to accept Newton's in the history of his first ideas of gra terpretation of the “eleventh horn vity, records the story of the falling in Daniel indicating the Church of apple."* Perhaps not; he might Rome, even although Sir David has have thought it beneath' his gravity

Life of Newton, 1855, vol. i. p. 27.

[ocr errors]
[graphic]
« ForrigeFortsæt »