Obrázky stránek

which Mr Hamilton has done in forming his tables, we doubt not that a series of facts would be collected, which would greatly facilitate the navigation not only of the Atlantic Ocean, but of other parts of the world.

We have next in order a very long paper on the Survey of the Coast of the United States, by Mr Hassler, making nearly one half of the volume. The singular result of the efforts of the government to survey the coast of the United States, has been a source of serious regret to many, and of wonder to all, who have known anything of the subject. How many thousands have been expended in purchasing instruments, retaining engineers, forming splendid projects, and preparing for great undertakings, we shall forbear to inquire. It is well known, that no visible thing has been done, and that we yet labor under the disgrace of being obliged to resort to the British charts of pur coast, as the best that have been made. Holland's Charts, published in England, at the commencement of the Revolution, or copies from them, are still the guides to our seamen, when they would ensure accuracy and safety. The soundings are corrected in Blunt's charts, but the topographical delineations are nowhere executed with so much fidelity as in the old English surveys; and even in the late war, the inhabitants of the coast were frequently surprised at seeing the British vessels of large size sailing boldly into passages and inlets, where no American had ever ventured with the lightest coasting craft. Nothing would contribute more to the success and security of our commerce,

than a thorough and minute survey of the coast; on nothing could public money be more profitably, or creditably, expended; and at no time can it be done with more ease and convenience, than at the present. To defer it longer is but to perpetuate the reproach, which past neglect has so justly drawn upon the nation. Much might be said on this subject, in relation to what has been attempted heretofore, to the projects that were in contemplation, and to the history and fate of the elegant and costly instruments, which were procured in Europe, but which are now neglected and useless.

There is a memoir in the volume, written in French, by Mr Jules de Wallenstein, containing an account of Meteorological Observations made by him at Washington, during the VOL. XXII.-NO, 50.


space of one year, from April 1823 to April 1824. Tables of results are also added to the memoir. Whether we regard the accuracy of the instruments, or the scientific skill of the author in using them, we presume Mr de Wallenstein's observations may justly be ranked among the best, which have been made in this country. His instruments were selected by himself in Europe, and constructed by the most eminent artists. They form a complete apparatus for observing the temperature, pressure, and moisture and dryness of the atmosphere. He begins his paper by describing these instruments, and his mode of using them. His barometer was constructed by Fortin, on the most approved principles, and was of the same kind as that employed in the Royal Observatory in Paris; his hygrometer was on the plan of Saussure; he had two thermometers by Lerebours and Fortin, and one by Troughton with Farenheit's scale. These are all briefly described.

The author's most curious remarks are those on the horary variations of the barometer. He gives a concise view of this interesting subject, as it has been treated by Humboldt, Godin, La Condamine, and others. It is not of a nature to be discussed in this place, but we agree with Mr de Wallenstein, that it well deserves the attention of philosophers, and of those who travel for improvement in natural science. He thinks these variations of the barometer are in some way linked with other appearances, the causes of which are yet among the secret things of nature, and supposes it probable, that 'good observations on the periodical variations of the magnetic needle, electricity, and the barometer, made by such men as Humboldt, La Condamine, Mutis, and Buch, might lead to the discovery that there is some connexion between these phenomena, or at least that one may be explained by another. Whatever may be thought of this suggestion, it must be confessed, that these topics offer a wide and unexplored field for philosophical research. It will be at once perceived, that the influence of such discoveries must be very great, when it is considered how universal are these phenomena and their causes, and how completely they pervade all parts of physical nature. Nor does the progress of these discoveries seem so difficult, as might at first be imagined, since, as the author remarks, Mutis has already ascertained a connexion between the horary variations of the barometer and the conjunctions and oppositions of the Moon, and La Place has calculated the influence, which the Sun and Moon may exercise on our atmosphere.

Mr de Wallenstein holds a high station in the Russian embassy to this country, and we will not conceal, that it is gratifying to our national feelings, that a gentleman of his character and qualifications, not more distinguished by his great and varied attainments, than by the urbanity of his manners, should take so lively an interest in the advancement of science among us, as well as in the history and progress of our institutions.

The last paper we shall notice is that on the Language of the Berbers, which is curious for the novelty of its facts, and its historical hints. It contains two parts; first, a short dissertation by that profound philologist, Mr Duponceau; and, secondly, letters to this gentleman from Mr Shaler, Consul General of the United States at Algiers. The Berbers,' says Mr Duponceau, are a white race of men, who inhabit the chain of Mount Atlas, and extend to the borders of the desert of Sahara. To the north of them are the Bedouin Arabs, and still farther north are the Moors, whose dominions line the south western coast of the Mediterranean. The country of the Berbers is considered as included within those dominions, but the Moorish governments have not yet succeeded, nor probably ever will succeed, in reducing these tribes to a state of complete subjection.' From recent observations it has been supposed, that these people speak an original language, peculiar to itself in its construction and idiom, and that dialects of the same language prevail quite across the northern regions of Africa, from the Cape de Verd Islands almost to the Red Sea. Mr Marsden, and some other writers, have been of opinion, that the Berber language is a remnant of the old Punic. Vater considers it the Numidian, corrupted by an intermixture of Arabic, and other idioms. Mr Duponceau is decidedly against the Punic origin, and is disposed to wait for further information, before he forms an opinion in regard to the other theory. Mr Shaler's communications throw some light on the subject. This gentleman inclines to the belief, that the language is an original one. We quote below an extract from

one of his letters. The Kabyles, of whom he speaks, are a race of Berbers, residing on the southern borders of Algiers and Tunis.

The Kabyles of north Africa,' says Mr Shaler, ' are a white people; they invariably inhabit the mountains, where they maintain their independence, and probably have never been completely subjected by any of the conquerors, who have at different periods overrun this country. Each mountain usually forms an independent state, and they are often engaged in petty wars with each other, which are fomented by the Turks, who thereby sometimes succeed in extorting from them a precarious tribute; but since the days of Barbarossa, although some may have been exterminated, none have been entirely subjected to Turkish domination. Although the Kabyles are a very ingenious people, with the most tractable and social dispositions, they have not the commercial propensities of the Moors and Arabs. Independence appears to be the greatest object of their existence, as with it they cheerfully endure poverty in the most rigorous climates. Such, at least, is their actual political condition, and with such unequivocal marks of originality of character, I think they may be regarded as a safe depository of a language.

' From various causes, they may have thrown off their surplus population amongst their neighbors, and even sent out colonies in a country, that does not appear to have been ever properly settled, yet under such circumstances, having no distinct religion of their own, they might easily enough accept that of their neighbors, where nothing was hazarded by it. At this day the Kabyles are regarded as very barbarians, both in the theory and practice of Islamism. There is a foundation in Algiers expressly for their instruction, which they receive gratis. From what is related of the Tuarycks by Hornemann and Lyon, they are also a white people, very numerous, brave, warlike, and of an independence of manners and deportment, that displays a remarkable contrast with the servility in practice at the court of Fezzan. They inhabit vast regions intersected by deserts, have little knowledge of Islamism beyond its forms, and in several districts they are pagans.

It is not therefore a great stretch of credulity to believe, that the Tuarycks are also an original unconquered people, and the depositaries of an ancient language, which being identified with that of the Kabyles, leads to the conclusion that it is one of the ancient languages of the world, which has withstood the conquests of the Phenicians, of the Romans, of the Vandals, and of the Arabs. As I have the authority of the learned Shaw for believing, that this language is radically different from the Hebrew and the Arabic, I think the premises justify this conclusion, though it would certainly be more interest

ing to discover the language of Sanchoniathon, than the Numidian. This question, however, must be left to the decision of the learned, when its vocabulary is made more complete, and a greater insight is obtained into its grammatical forms.'

Mr Shaler has obtained partial vocabularies of the language of the Kabyles, taken by a Jewish interpreter, and a Swedish gentleman, which are printed in this paper, and compared with Dr Shaw's vocabulary. The investigation will be pursued, as opportunities occur of becoming better acquainted with the language of these people. Several particulars illustrating this subject, and confirming the suggestions in the above extract, may be expected in Mr Shaler's work on Algiers, which has already been promised to the public.

On the whole we cannot doubt, that the present volume of Transactions will fully sustain the reputation, which the Society has acquired by those it has formerly published. The first paper, containing a Description of Insects inhabiting North America, by Mr Thomas Say, occupies about one fifth of the volume, and the name of the author, in connexion with this department of physical science, speaks sufficiently for the character of his performance. There are other articles on topics of mineralogy, chemistry, botany, the mathematics, and one on the anatomy and physiology of the Alligator of North America. An obituary notice of the late president, Robert Patterson, is prefixed to the volume.

The best historical account of the American Philosophical Society, which we have seen, is contained in the appendix to Mr Walsh's Appeal.

Art. II.-Hadad, a Dramatic Poem. By James A. Hill

HOUSE, Author of 'Percy's Masque,' and “The Judgment.' New York. E. Bliss and E. White. 1825. 8vo.

pp. 208.

The scene, in which this poem is laid, is not such a one as poetry has often inclined to select, though none could be found, as we apprehend, more appropriate to the exercise of its powers. Indeed we are surprised, that the ancient Jewish

« PředchozíPokračovat »