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actual reduction of temperature as would reach this point is im. practicable ; and it must therefore, if the solution of the problem is to be attempted, be determined by calculation.
Dr Irvine was led, by the views his theory suggested, to the invention of a method of ascertaining the natural zero or point of total privation of heat, this method being ' founded on the consideration of the change of the capacity of bodies during their fusion, and of the quantity of caloric necessary to produce fluidity.'. It is fully stated (p. 116.) from a manuscript of Dr Irvine's, which, from its length, we cannot infert. We can only observe, that it refts on the affumption that the quantity of caloric contained in bodies is proportioned to their capacity. If, therefore, the difference in the capacity of a body in its different states, for example, in those of solidity and fluidity, be determined, and if the quantity of caloric which it has absorbed or given out in the change of state be ascertained, we discover, by a simple calculation, the quantity of caloric it contains, and consequently the point in the thermometrical scale at which it would be deprived of caloric,
the quantity being equal to the capacity of the solid multiplied by the latent heat, and divided by the difference of the capacities. It
may likewise be determined by the comparison of the capacities of any two bodies which unite chemically before and after mixture, combined with the observation of the heat given out at the same time.' From experiments in both modes, Dr Irvine fixed the zero at goo below o of Fahrenheit. We cannot enter on the subject more fully, but may merely remark, that although the principle on which the solution of the problem is attempted is probably just, there are so many fources of error in the eitimation of the capacities, and even in determining the quantities of heat evolved or absorbed, that we cannot place much confidence in the results; and accordingly these have differed widely as obtained by different experimenters. This has been ascribed to a radical fault in the method itself, while, on the other hand, it has been contended, that it may arise from the errors to which the methods of fixing the grounds of the calculation are liable ; a position which Dr Irvine junior has, we think, succeeded in establishing.
We have entered so fully into the consideration of the first, and undoubtedly the most interesting part of this volume, that we can scarcely offer any observations on the remaining parts. The second is compofed of essays written by Dr Irvine, and feveral of them read before the Literary Society of Glasgow. As the production of a man of talents and celebrity they muit excite interest; but, independent of this, we have found in them fome original views, and a number of curious and important facts, which we acknowledge, from considering the state of chemisiry at the
time they were written, we did not expect. The first unfolds the principle on which the evolution of heat from chemical combination depends, and which Dr Crawford afterwards so successfully applied to the explanation of the origin of animal temperature, and of the heat produced in combustion. Among the others, we would particularly diftinguish the effays on the seeds and roots of plants and on soils, and those on fermentation. In the former we have views of the circumstances connected with the growth, nutrition, and propagation of vegetables, of the nature of soils, the causes of their fertility, the changes they suffer by cultivation, and their adaptation to particular plants, which, even now, with the aid of modern chemistry, could not perhaps be much improved, and which the naturalist and the scientific agriculturist will peruse with pleasure. In the latter there are some practical details on the process of fermentation, and the substances fusceptible of it, and some facts and principles stated which we have been taught to believe were of more recent discovery. In an 'essay on the quantity of matter in bodies, we have a very good sketch of the chemical views which immediately preceded the theory of Lavoisier, and some striking experiments on the increase of weight in metallic solutions.
The last part of the work consists of two essays by Dr Irvine junior ; one on latent heat, in which are related a series of experiments on the quantities of caloric which become latent in the fufion of fulphur, and of several of the metals, and which have added some facts to those before known; and another on the affecti. ons of sulphur with caloric, directed principally to the investigation of the fingular property which that substance exhibits of thickening after its fusion, by an elevation of temperature within a certain extent.
ART. XI. Nathan the Wife: a Dramatic Poem. Written origi
nally in German. By G. E. Lelling. 8vo. Pp. 293. London. 1805
have been so much edified by its perusal, that we haften to give our readers an account of it.
It is a genuine German drama, written without any imitation of French or English, and admirably calculated to elucidate the native and peculiar taste of that ingenious people. They have borrowed fó much of late from both these quarters, that it may rcasonally be doubted, whether a relish for their own original
and appropriate literature be altogether fo common in this country as is usually imagined. This book, we think, will afford a very
useful test for determining that important problem, and will enable the reader immediately to ascertain whether he has hitherto admired the true German genius itself, or only its imitation of French and English. A traveller may very erroneously suppose that he relishes German cookery, when he gormandizes on fricandeau or plum-pudding at Vienna ; but if he take delight in four krout and wild-boar venison, he may rest assured that he is under no mistake as to the proficiency he has made, and that he has completely reconciled himself to the national taite of his entertainers. The work before us is as genuine four krout as ever perfumed a feast in Westphalia.
The story, in point of absurdity, we think, is fairly entitled to bear away the palm from the celebrated German play in the poetry of the Antijacobin: the moral is no less comfortable; and the diction, though not altogether so lofty, is, upon the whole, entitled to equal admiration.
The scene is laid in Jerusalem in the time of the crusades; and the story turns chiefly upon the adventures of a young 'Templar, who had been made captive by the armies of the celebrated Saladin. This monarch, who is represented as a pattern of mildness and generosity, chuses to amuse himself one morning by feeing the heads of twenty prisoners struck off by his chief executioner, and witneffes the operation upon nineteen of them with singular complacency and satisfaction. Being struck, however, with a sort of resemblance which the twentieth seemed to bear to a favourite brother, who had disappeared many years before, he directs his life to be spared, and allows him to roam at large, in a starving condition, through all the streets of Jerufalem. In one of his evening rambles, this youth perceives the house of Nathan the Jew to be on fire; and gallantly going to the affitance of the city firemen, is the means of delivering the Jew's daughter from the flames. The young Israelite very naturally falls in love with her preserver ; but he, having a bad opinion of the whole nation, keeps out of the way of her gratitude, till Nathan finds him out, and wins the afiection of this Christian champion in a moment, by aisuring him that he is not a Jew, but only a sort of Deilt, who has acquired a habit of going to the synagogue without meaning any thing. The Templar protests that he is himself of the very faine faith ; and, after vowing eternal friendship, he goes home with him and falis furiously in love with the daughter.
In the mean time, Saladin sends for the Jew to lend him money, and to ask him which of the three religions is the beit, K 3
the Christian, Jewith, or Mahomeland The learned Rabbi ánfwers, that they are all very good in their way, but that it is impollible to say, till the day of judgment, which is the betty and then gratifying his royal pupil with heaps of gold, he leaves him enchanted with his wisdom and munificence! The Templary without confidering his vow of celibacy, now becomes very uro gent to marry the daughter of Nathan ; and some accidental obstacles being thrown in the way, it turns out, rite that this fair creature is not the Jew's daughter, but the daughter of a Christian Knight, who had confided her to his charge ; 2d, that the gallant Templar' is the fon of the Saracen prince who had disappeared from Saladin's court, and, wandering into Europe, had been seized with the caprice of becoming a Knight Templar, and fighting again ft his own beloved brother, under which character he liad chofen, however inconsistently, to marry a German lady, and beget this young hero ; 'and, 3d, that the fame illuftrious convert was also the father of the Jew's reputed daughter, and consequently, that these young lovers stand to each other in the relation of brother and Gifter. The most edifying part of the ttory is, that this discovery produces no sort of uneasiness or disturbance to the parties concerned'; on the contrary, the young people feem quite delighted with the occurrence; and the author leaves them embracing their uncle the Sultan, in a paroxyfm of filial and paternal affection.
Such is the fable of Nathan the Wise. Its moral, we are informed, is to inculcate the duty of mutual indulgence in religious opinions: and truly, it must be confeffed that it does this in a very radical and effectual way, by urging, in a very confident manner, the extreme insignificance of all peculiar systems of faith, or rather, the strong presumption against any of them being at all worth attending to, or in any respect better than another. The author's whole secret, for reconciling Jews, Ma. hometans, and Christians to each other, is, to persuade them all to renounce their peculiar tenets, and to rest satisfied with wkind of philosophical deism, in which they may all agree. The play, we are told, had a great effect in Germany, in quelling the disa fensions of contending sectaries; and it is now made public in England with the same benevolent purpose. We would do much to forward the end, but we can by no means reconcile ourselves to the means which are here recommended. We shall quote a line or two, to fhew that we do not at all misrepresent the doctrines of the athor, when we say, that his antidote for religious intolerance is absolute indifference, or infidelity. When the Templar is reproaching the Jew with the prejudices and superftitions of his nation, he answers,
Despise my nation-
That hast thou;
to have mistaken thee a single instant.' p. 104. This pious Knight makes a still clearer profession of his faith in a dialogue with a Christian woman, in which the poor damsel having happened to say,
nor were this time
across the tangled maze of human life.' he answers,
• Temp. So folemn that I and yet if in the stead
p. 170. The creed of the Sultan appears, from a variety of passages, to be equally liberal and accommodating.
The diction and composition of this piece is not, as we have already observed, altogether so magnificent or ambitious as that of the modern German theatre. It aims rather at great simplicity and aptness. The dialogue is the most familiar and natural imaginable, and the metaphors and figures which are introduced the most humble and homely. There is a vein of innocent jocularity which runs through the whole drama ; and the sultan and his ministers gibe and play upon each other, in the very same style of infantine raillery and impatience, which prevails between the young Jewess and her governante. The personages are all very quick and snappish withal, without ever subjecting themselves to the agitation of the greater passions; and the author has contrived most ingeniously to produce a drama, which has all the levity of comedy, without its wit or vivacity, and all the extravagance of tragedy, without its passion or its poetry.
The translator, we think, has done great justice to his original ; except that his partiality for the German idior has induced him to stick to it occasionally, to the manifest prejudice of his English : his notions of metrical harmony are probably borrowed from the same source. But our readers will judge beiter of the work by a specimen. The following is the Templar's first soliloquy, after he has fallen in love with the Jewess.