« ForrigeFortsæt »
operations of the Deity, are notions which might have been conveyed in few words. The whole essay is written in a loose and desultory manner, and will certainly add little either to the instruction of the reader, or to the fame of the Society.
In this class we find a Memoir on Christinn of Brunswick, Administrator of Halberstadt. By M, De MOULINES. This sketch of the marauding life of one of the military adventurers, who infested Germany during the thirty-years war, is not destitute of interest. We own, however, that it presents no very new ideas respecting the character of Christian. It was the fashion of that time to reconcile devotion with arms and gallantry. To such excesses did the prevailing bigotry excite both parties, indeed, that we may apply to them the couple of Young; that
“ When their sins they set sincerely down,
They'd find that their religion had been one.” Continuation of an Essay on the History of the Alps, particularly on the Passage of the Cimbri. By the Abbé DENINA. This is a learned and elaborate paper, which does not admit an abridge ment: but the perusal of the original will be highly satisfactory to the classical antiquary. M. Denina inclines to the supposition, that the Cimbri passed the Alps by the way of St. Gothard; and that they were defeated by Marius and Catulus in a large plain, between Domo D'Ossola and Verceil, not far from Gattinara. We meet with many other curious conjectures, and historical elucidations, on which we could dwell with pleasure: but the class of readers, whom this essay will more particularly interest, would not be contented with any thing short of the whole paper,
The next memoir, written also by the Abbé DENINA, treats of the character of the people who dwell at the foot of the Alps, and in their vallies; and of the progress which arts and letters have made in the north of Italy. A very curious subject of inquiry is here investigated; viz. the influence of soil and situation on the manners of nations. The Abbé observes that we always find on a rough, stony, and barreu soil, men more active and laborious, than on rich and fertile ground: that merchants abound in countries bordering on the sea, and hawkers and pedlars on remote mountains; that, on small hills, and on the gentle slope of mountains, we find artists, and men of learning and wit; on rugged and lofty grounds, artisans and laborious studenis; &c. 5
M, Denina illustrates his general propositions, by a survey of the nations inhabiting the country immediately beneath the Alps; and here he displays, as usual, great historical knowlege, and much ingenious conjecture, As it would lead us too far, if we should follow him through the whole extent of his investigation, we must be contented with noticing some of the most Temarkable passages.
The early disposition of the inhabitants of Marseilles to cultivate the sciences is particularly noticed. There were physicians at Marseilles, both anthors and practitioners, when scarcely any were known in Italy. Crinas, Carmis, and Demosthenes, were nearly contemporaries with Celsus. The Marseillois were by no means inclined, the Abbé observes, to military efforts; and he accounts for the ferocity of those hordes, who have been too well known of late years under that denomina.. tion, from their being composed of foreign labourers, formerly employed in the service of the port, the customs, and the arsenal.
Much curious investigation is employed to shew that the Genoese are the descendants of the antient Ligurians; and the progress of literature from Provence, the cradle of modern wit and poetry, to this.part of Italy, is skilfully traced. We cannot help remarking, however, that very humble claims to literary distinction have been admitted by the author. In his subsequent observations, while he attributes genius and intelligence to the natives of the mountains superior to those of the plains, he allows that Mantua furnishes illustrious exceptions to his theory. Many others might be offered, if it were necessary, to prove that soil and situation are less powerful than the impulse given by manners and civilization, in calling forth the exertions of genius.
Though we have not always been convinced by M. DENINA, we have at least been much gratified by this eşsay: since it contains many curious particulars concerning celebrated personages of antiquity, and elucidates several passages in the classic writers.
The ensuing paper, also by the same writer, treats of the in, fluence which the Academy of Berlin has had or other great establishments of the same kind. It contains a detail of the formation of several Italian academies, subsequently to the formation of that at Berlin :, but the subject will excite little attention, except in Prussia. The productions of learned bodies are of more importance than their pretensions to seniority.
A Níemoir on Herodotus, and the scope of his History. By M. MEIEROTTO; translated from the German. The authority of the poets, especially of Homer, was so generally admitted on historical subjects in antient Greece, that Herodotus, according
to M. MEIEROTTO, was constrained to accommodate his History, both in matter and style, to the prejudices of his countrymen. We perceive, however, no reason for believing that Herodotus departed from his own taste and judgment in his compositions. If he took Homer for his model, it may have been simply the result of his admiration of that poet; it was a sufficient deviation, for a first attempt, that he wrote in prose; for the earliest historians in almost all countries have composed in verse.
M. MEIEROTTO has discovered, however, a much more extraordinary analogy. He informs us, in a note, (p. 588.) that Herodotus has employed as much art in the connection and the transitions of different parts of his history, as Ovid has lavished on the regular and admirable composition of his Metamorphoses ! We could scarcely suppose, at first, that the writer was serious in selecting, as an instance of excellence in Ovid, a circumstance with which the best critics reproach him; the Fambling collection of monstrous absurdities, which he has been too ingenious in exhibiting. The false refinement, and extravagant conceits, of the Latin Poet are widely distant from the beautiful simplicity of the Father of History.
In some additions to this Memoir, the author endeavours to shew that Herodotus liad in view one action, in the course of his History, which was the victory of the Greeks over Xerxes; that his object was to instruct his countryınen; and that he employed his descriptive powers merely for the purpose of attracting their attention, and of stealing on them with more serious information. The remarks of M. MEIEROTTO, on the different phrases by which Herodotus discriminated wellattested facts from vague reports, are just and useful. The whole essay evinces, indeed, an intimate acquaintance with the works of the historian; which would have been shewn to more advantage, if it had been unencumbered with a theory which may be plausible, but for which we can see no necessity.
Fourth Memoir on Literary Mistakes, in which their influence on history is farther considered. By M. ERMAN.-We have formerly noticed the preceding parts of this paper, which does not altogether equal the promise of its title. The subject is, indeed, immense ; and perhaps beyond the powers of any individual : but we should have expected an author who undertook to explore it, to have fixed on more important researches than M. Erman has attempted. The first part of the present essay, for example, is occupied in proving that the Green Lover (l'amant vert) of Margaret of Austria, daughter of Maximilian I. was a parrot. If we were inclined to contest this weighty matter, we might observe that the word vert, in old French, does not only
imply green, but lively, lusty; or, according to our familiar language, jolly. There might still be some equivoque intended, therefore ; even if the princess did keep a parrot.
After some criticisms of a similar nature, on some uninteresting points, the author undertakes to solve the celebrated problem respecting Pope Joan. He supposes that this was a term of reproach applied to John VIII. on account of his weakness in the contest with Photius; as our ancestors used to say King Elizabeth, and Queen James. All that we can say of this conjecture is, that it may be so : but we must add, with our old friend Sir Roger de Coverley, that much may be said on both sides.
M. ERMAN afterward inquires whether Charlemagne was really unable to write, as the well-known passage in Æginhard is commonly supposed to imply. He is inclined to think that ruthe historian meant only to record that the Emperor could not succeed in forming the ornamented initial letters, then commonly inserted in manuscripts. His principal argument is drawn from Eginhard's phrase, that Charlemagne wrote some antient barbarous verses, -M. ERMAN adds, 'de sa propre main,' -which is an interpolation. The whole passage, which we shall quote from Eginhard, will shew that the verses were probably written, like other pieces, by order of the Emperor. " Omnium tamen nationum, quæ sub ejus dominatu erant jurc, que x « scripta non erant, describere ac literis mandari fecit. Item bar“ bara et antiquissima carmina, quibus veterum regum actus et bella “ canebantur, scripsit, memoriæque mandavit.”- M. EKMAN has acknowleged that his conjecture was derived from M. Schmincke's notes on the Utrecht-edition of ginhard.
In some of the succeeding observations, the author shews himself a worthy successor of Palæphatus, of punning memory. The mistakes of mures for muri, and of phaisans for paisans, would make a better figure in a jest-bok than in a philosophical discourse.
It has often been remarked that the German writers are more happy in their title-pages, than in the execution of their works. We have strongly experienced the force of this ob. servation, in perusing the essay before us; a more fortunate subject could scarcely be devised, and it would be difficult to treat it more indifferently.
We shall take an early opportunity of noticing the remaining papers of this volume, under the class of Experimental Philosoa phy; and also another volume, published by the Berlin Academy for 1794 & 1795, which we have received.
Fer...r. [To be continued.]
ART. XIII. Histoire Naturelle des Oiseaux d'Afrique, &c. i.e. The
Natural History of the Birds of Africa, By FRANCIS LE
VAILLANT. 4to. Paris. Imported by De Boffe, London. In a former article (vol. xxvii. p. 532) we made our readers
acquainted with the appearance of this splendid and useful publication, and detailed to them the plan which had been pur. sued by the intelligent author. The first six Livraisons had then reached us, and we now are furnished with three additional numbers. From the last of them, with which the second volume commences, we shall make an extract, as an additional specimen of the work. The plates continue to be eminently beautiful.
The Corbireau * « This African bird is similar to the raven in the shape of his body, his feet, and his claws: his middle claw is united as far as the first articulation, by a membrane, to the inner one; and the feathers on the lower part of his beak are turned upwards, and cover his nostrils : but he is unlike the raven in Iris back, in the length of his wings, and in his graduated + tail.
• This bird appears to occupy in part the space which is discoverable between the genus of the ravens and that of the vultures; though he resembles the former in a greater degree than the latter.--He is similar to the African vultures which I have already described, in the size of his wings; which when spread are three inches longer than his tail ; in his graduated tail; in the form of his beak, which is compressed sideways, convex above, crooked and rounded ; that is to say, raising itself like that of the Caffree and Oricou, its whole length, and then progressively becoming crooked. These particulars distinguish the corbiveau from all the species of ravens hitherto described ; and if traveilers in future should discover birds very similar to this, they may always ascertain the corbiveau, by the white patch on the nape of his neck, which strongly contrasts with the glossy black that constitutes the rest of his plumage ; except a white mark which separates the sides of this white patch on the back of his neck, and encircles the neck. This stripe, (cordon) in itself not very apparent, is formed by a single row of white feathers, or half-white, of which the outer border is alone visible. The throat is of a less decided black than the rest of the body, and the feathers which cover it are forked; the boards extending beyond the stems as if the points had been cut oft; a very remarkable circumstance, and such as I have had an opportunity of observing in very few birds. • The tail of the corbiveaul
, which is less than that of the great raven, and larger than that of the grey raven, is (étagée) graduated, and the feathers on the sides are very short; the feet are black, and so is the beak, which however has a white end to it; the iris is
* From Corbeau, a raven.
+ The French word is étagé, for which we cannot find any English term more analogous than graduated,