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mind, however long such a course of solitary confinement shall continue, be it for years, or even for the whole of life. There is also the strongest evidence to prove, that amelioration of character, radical and permanent reformation, is the cheering and encouraging result in very numerous instances.—Under these modifications

and they may now be considered as points the necessity of which is generally conceded—the insulation of prisoners may be pronounced to be the best and most successful system which has yet been devised to punish crime and amend the criminal.

The great additional outlay necessary in the construction of a building where several hundred convicts are to be completely separated from each other, is a weightier objection than it may appear to be at first sight. Every portion of the establishment must be more elaborately fitted up than at present; the exercisegrounds must be multiplied, the passages and corridors must be peculiarly constructed, and the entire structure must be more extensive and more complicated. In some instances, the existing prisons might, by a considerable outlay, be rendered applicable to this new mode of confinement, but in the majority of cases it would be necessary that entirely new buildings should be erected. In many counties in England this demand upon the local revenues would almost amount to a prohibition; in all it would be severely felt: but the object is one of such vital importance, that, when the superior advantages of the separate system shall no longer be a matter of dispute, the legislature will, we have no doubt, lend a willing aid to extend it throughout the kingdom. The first expense is the only real difficulty; for although the charges of superintendence will be increased, this is a trivial consideration, and will be compensated for a hundred-fold by the gradual diminution of crime.

M. Frégier claims for his country the merit of extending a much greater degree of paternal solicitude towards a convict on his dismissal from prison than is usual in England. In France, a liberal portion of the profits of his work is paid to him when he is discharged, and he is thus not compelled by actual want, as is too frequently the case in England, at once to resume his career of crime. This is wise and worthy of imitation; but the system established in France for the surveillance of liberated prisoners, the convict-passports given them, and the societies of patronage,' as they are called, the object of which is to facilitate their re-introduction into society, are considered by our author as failures; and he is of opinion, that, except as relates to the younger classes of criminals, they should be abolished altogether. He is decided in his condemnation of our penal settlements; the formation of agricultural colonies in the mother country for the employment


of liberated prisoners he demonstrates to be attended with insurmountable objections; and the result at which he arrives is, that the best chance to render the liberated criminal an inoffensive and useful member of society is to give him moral instruction, and the knowledge of soine useful trade, during the period of his detention; and that, when he is again thrown upon society, such funds shall be supplied as shall give him the time and means of fixing himself in some honest course of life.

With this subject M. Frégier concludes his treatise. Differing from him on many points, compelled to smile at some passages, and to express our reprobation of others, the final impression which his pages have produced upon us is one of respect and gratitude.


of Arts, Science, and General Literature. Seventu EdiTION, with Preliminary Dissertations, fic. &c. Edited by Macvey Napier, Esq., Ë.R.S. Edinburgh. 1842. 21 Vols.

4to. THE task of analysis and appreciation would have been over

whelming, had this vast work been submitted to our judgment in the fulness of its stature, and in the maturity of its age : but we have had the advantage of being familiar with it from an early period of its existence; and trust, therefore, that our readers will not deem us presumptuous if, in giving them an account of its rise and progress, we at the same time venture to pronounce a judgment upon its general merits, and even upon some of the most remarkable articles which its pages now contain.

Although we might naturally have expected that dictionaries explanatory of words would give rise to dictionaries explanatory of ideas, and descriptive of the things which these words represent, yet such a transition was not the first step which was taken in the composition of encyclopædias. Systematic digests of literature and science appeared under the name of encyclopædias long before the alphabet was employed as the principle of the arrangement. The Arabian Encyclopædia of Alfarabius, of which the MS. exists in the Escurial, and the more modern one of Professor Alstedius of Weissenbourg (2 vols. folio, 1630), are examples of this method of systematising knowledge.

The first Dictionary of the arts and sciences was the ' Lericon Technicum' of Dr. Harris, which was published in two folio volumes, the first in 1706, the second in 1710; but its limitation


almost entirely to mathematics and physics deprived it of the character of an encyclopædic work.

This dictionary was followed, in 1721, by the Cyclopædia' of Mr. Chambers, a work of great merit and utility, which ran through no fewer than five editions in the course of eighteen years. Its reputation extended to the continent, and it was translated into French and Italian. The French translation was completed in 1745, by one Mills, an Englishman, with the assistance of Sellius, a native of Dantzic. About this time the Abbé de Gua projected the celebrated • Encyclopédie, a collection which formed an epoch in the literary, if not in the political, history of Europe. So limited was the early plan of this work, that Mills's translation of the Cyclopædia of Chambers was assumed as the groundwork of the undertaking. In consequence of a dispute between Gua and the booksellers, the editorship of the Encyclopédie was intrusted to D'Alembert and Diderot, who, while they represent Chambers as a servile compiler, principally from French writers, acknowledge at the same time that without the groundwork of the French translation of that book, their own would never have been composed. To enlarge an article already written was a task which the contributors willingly undertook, while they would have shrunk from the labour and responsibility of composing a new one.

A few years after the completion of this work, which has been as much reprobated on account of the irreligious and revolutionary doctrines which it inculcates, as it has been extolled for the originality and depth of many of its articles, the first edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica' was given to the world in three vols. 4to. It was edited, and the plan of it probably devised, by Mr. William Smellie, a printer in Edinburgh, and the author of an interesting book on natural history. The peculiarity of this encyclopædia consisted in its treating each branch of literature and science under its proper name, and in a systematic form, the technical terms and subordinate heads being likewise explained alphabetically—while details slightly connected with the general subject could be thus separately introduced.

We bave now before us two rival methods of constructing an encyclopædia, each of which has been regarded as possessing peculiar advantages. Although from the prevalence of both methods we cannot rightly collect the opinion of the public, yet we have no hesitation in giving a decided preference to that in which the leading branches of knowledge are discussed in separate treatises, as in ilie · Encyclopædia Britannica. The facility of composing, or of obtaining authors to compose, the short articles which correspond to the technical titles or sections of any branch


of science, has no doubt led to the opposite method, which is exemplified in the Cyclopædias of Harris and Chambers. But when these titles or sections are numerous, as they generally are, when they are written by different authors, in different styles of execution, and on different scales, they must compose a disjointed and unsystematical whole, which cannot fail to be unsatisfactory to the general reader, as well as to the ardent student. The only method indeed by which such a plan can be properly executed is to have the general treatises composed by a single individual, and afterwards distributed, in separate parts, into their alphabetical places. The sole advantage, however, which this process of subdivision holds out to us is, that the ignorant and illiterate may readily find out a subject in the alphabetical arrangement, wlien he would fail in his search were he to appeal to the general treatise ; —and the evil in question may be completely remedied either by inserting the name of each subject in its alphabetical place, or, what is still better, by a general index to the whole work, by which the same subject may be traced through different treatises, and even minor articles.

The first edition of the Encyclopedia Britannica, distinguished by these advantages, obtained an extensive circulation, and the proprietors were thus induced, in a less period than twelve years, to publish a second edition, on a larger scale and a more comprehensive plan. Within the wider compass of ten volumes the editor was enabled to include the two new and popular departments of Biography and History, which had not found a place in the French Encyclopédie. This enlargement of the plan made the work acceptable to a vast circle of readers for whom the details of art and of science had but few charms; and the Encyclopædia then came to be regarded as a family library, forming in itself a storehouse of knowledge suited to capacities of every depth, to students of every age, and to readers of every variety of taste.

Hitherto, however, the Encyclopædia Britannica was chiefly distinguished by the comprehensiveness of its plan, and the judi. ciousness of its compilation. No author of high reputation had been invited to its aid—no articles exhibiting either genius or profound learning had adorned its pages. The vast superiority of the philosophical articles in the French collection, and the brilliant names with which they were associated, had no doubt some influence in rousing the enterprise of the proprietors, and in exciting higher expectations on the part of the English public. The third edition of the · Encyclopædia' was accordingly begun in more favourable circumstances, and under the management of Mr. Colin Macfarquhar; but it was not till after his death, in 1793, when the Reverend Dr. Gleig of Stirling (afterwards Bishop of Brechin) took the direction of the work, that its scientific and literary character assumed a decidedly higher tone. This learned divine succeeded in obtaining the assistance of Professor John Robison, a man of kindred opinions, both in religion and politics, and animated with ideas the very reverse of those which characterised the French encyclopædists. The first of Professor Robison's labours was the revision and enlargement of the article Optics. He wrote the article Philosophy jointly with Dr. Gleig, and this was followed by the articles Physics, Pneumatics, Precession, Projectiles, Pumps, Resistance, Rivers, Roof, Ropemaking, Rotation, Seamanship, Signal, Sound, Specific Gravity, Statics, Steam-engine, Steelyard, Strength of Materials, Telescope, Tide, Trumpet, Variation, and Waterworks. When two supplementary volumes were added to complete the work, Professor Robison contributed the articles Arch, Astronomy, Boscovich, Carpentry, Centre, Dynamics, Electricity, Impulsion, Involution, Machinery, Magnetism, Mechanics, Percussion, Piano-forte, Position, Temperament, Thunder, Trumpet, Tschirnhaus, and Watchwork. These articles, in the estimation of the late illustrious Dr. Thomas Young, 'exhibit a more complete view of the modern improvements in physical science than had ever before been in the possession of the British public; and display such a combination of acquired knowledge, with original power of reasoning, as has fallen to the lot of a few only of the most favoured of mankind.' In this estimate we heartily concur. The state of physical science was at a low ebb in England previous to the writings of Robison. The labours of continental philosophers were but little known even to those who occupied the chairs in our universities; and those who had obtained some knowledge of them could impart it to their pupils only. The general student and the ingenious artisan drew their information from its ancient springs, while the finest researches lay concealed in foreign languages, or were confined to a few philosophers more ardent and active than their fellows. The state of Robison's health was such as not to permit him to embark lightly in the arduous labour of ransacking the numerous stores of continental science; and even if he had succeeded in collecting them, there was no proper channel through which they could have been communicated to the public. How fortunate, then, was it that the Encyclopædia Britannica held out an ample remuneration for this laborious enterprise, and induced so accomplished a person as Robison to transfer to its pages the noblest researches of modern science! The fine speculations of the Abbé Boscovich on the atomical constitution of


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