Графични страници
PDF файл

Mr. Goede (p. 241 of Vol. II.) gives a very interesting ac. count of an institution for 'the Deaf and Dumb,' which we believe is not so generally known to our countrymen as it should be ; though he thinks that it is on the whole superior to that of the celebrated Abbe Sicard at Paris. Again, in enumerating our moat conspicuous works of art, he speaks with merited applause of a noble statue, the neglect of which has always appeared to us disgraceful to the national taste:

• The two works above excepted are a bronze equestrian statue of Charles I. mounted, wrought by the masterly hand.of Hubert de Soeurj at Charing-Cross, and a beautiful statue of James H. by Grinsling Gibbons.

* The latter stands almost unnoticed in the solitary court of the Banqueting.house. - Its original place of destination was in the front of this budding, on the very spot where Charles I. was beheaded. To this circumstance the whole expression «f this excellent performance plainly refers. The figure of the king is represented in a pensive mood, regarding stedfastly that memorable place. His countenance is somewhat inclined towards his light side, and he extends his righc arm, pointing to the fatal spot. The expression is matchless. The whole work has an air of simplicity and grandeur, extending even to tl»e toga in which he is clothed.'

We cannot, however, speak in high terms of Mr. Gcede's general observations on the state of the arts. He talks with much contempt of the bare notion of an English school of painting, and of its founder, Sir Joshua Reynolds.—«Pray, who was this Sir Joshua Reynolds? A most respectable man, whose name was never mentioned by any of his acquaintance, without expressions of the highest regard, and who was undoubtedly one of the first portrait painters of his day. He has also exercised his genius in single historical figurest among which a Venus and a Ugolino in his dungeon are recorded as his most capital performances. But he never ventured to display his talents in any grand historical composition,' &c.—These sentences prove the tasteless negligence of the critic, much more than the painter's want of genius. . In the first place, as he speaks of- the recorded merits of these pictures, it is plain that he never saw them, though Ugolino is almost on his road from Dover to London. Had he condescended to stop at KnowJe Palace, he would have seen that it is not a single figure, but a most powerful and impassioned historical composition : he would also have had an opportunity of inspecting the Gallery of Hans Holbein, which a memorialist of nature and art should have been peculiarly anxious to examine, as one of the most truly interesting English objects that the country cbuld have presented to his observation.—»

The above passage farther proves that he did not distinguish Ihe death of Beaufort, and the Witches'Cave in Macbeth, from the ordinary productions at the Shakspeare Gallery, which he saw. He was also among the visitors to our annual exhibition at Somerset House, which he reviews without mentioning the names of Hoppner and Northcote among our painters* or that of Nollekens among the sculptors.

On the whole, we think that the minute accuracy of most of the details contained in this work may render it a tolerably useful guide to travellers, who wish to become familiar with the obvious points of the English character, and the ordinary matter of fact which appears on the surface of our manners: but these very circumstances make it the less interesting as a translation, for the perusal of British readers.

Akt. V. Prize Essays and Transactions of the Highland Society of


[Art. concluded from p. 364. No. for April.]

A T the commencement of the third volume of these Essay*, ■** Archibald Drummond, Esq. presents us with an ingenious paper on the natural history of the Herring; in which he observes that the name is derived from the German word heert signifying an army; that it is of the genus Clupea; and that the supposition is erroneous which identifies it with the Halec of the Romans, who were probably unacquainted with the Herring. The following specific characters of this fish are given:

'« Upon an average their length is eight, but some scarcely seven, though others are as long as twelve inches; a fine silvery colour shines upon the belly and sides, the back somewhat greenish; the scales are large for the size of the fish, and come easily and regularly off; it has not the spots, nor the serrated ridge in the belly as in the shad; the lines are small and not easily perceived ; the under jaw is a little longer than the upper; the dorsal fin consists of generally seventeen, the ventral fins of nine, the pectoral seventeen, the anal fourteen, and the tail forked with eighteen rays;—he dies instantly when taken out of the water, hence the proverb dead at a herring.'

Mr. D. positively asserts that Herrings deposit their spawn on our own shores in the months of November, December, and January, and that the eggs become animated in April$ and he is of opinion that the spawn is impregnated by the male after it has been emitted by the spawner or female. Xhe number of eggs produced by each female is estimated at 36,960. Respecting the food of this fish, Mr. D. offers nothing satisfactory. The object of their migration from the

D d a deep deep seas is stated to be to cast their spawn in their native waters, and he combats the notion that they retire to the polar region:

• The varieties of our herrings may be reduced to two or three sizes ( in the bays and lochs of our western territories, they are not only larger, but superior in taste and flavour to all others: from 650 to 800 fill a barrel. Those of the Friths of Forth and Tay, from about i,oco to 1,100; high up the Murray Frith, it takes about 1,500 to the barrel. Ijie Manks herring are perhaps not much inferior to those of our western Highlands, and from the spirit and industry with' which this fishery is carried on, it is rapidly increasing in value and in consequence *.'

Well might the herring fishery be termed a mine of wealth to Scotland; and this writer urges his countrymen to work it vigorously, betaking themselves to deep sea fishing, which in a national point of view presents singular advantages.

Essay II. also relates to a subject which had been discussed at some length in the preceding volume, it is intitled: On Peat, its properties and uses, by John Nasmith, Esq. By the close and philosophic attention, which Mr. N. appears to have bestowed on this * unseemly substance,' as he terms it, he is warranted in enunciating his deductions and opinions with some degree of authority, though they do not square with those which have'been offered by preceding essayists. To the ligneous origin of Peat he does not subscribe; and he endeavours to account for the bodies of trees that arc often found in peat-bogs, from which others have inferred that this matter is formed' from forests anciently subverted and decomposed. He is persuaded that these substances are nothing else than an accretion of the vegetabfes designed by nature to thrive in 'the cold and damp, which water stagnating on the surface occasions; and that the accumulation is formed in high latitudes, in a neglected country, by one generation of these vegetables growing over another. The various plants which spring up in boggy soils, and the decay of which is Supposed to generate peat,, are distinctly enumerated, but for this catalogue we

* •* The accounts from the Isle of Man respecting the herringfishery, are of the most favourable nature. It had been successful to a considerable degree for some nights previous to Wednesday last; but the tike of fish on that night was the most abundant ever known in the memory of the oldest man living, there were several boats which caught from 80 to 100 maze each.—The whole number taken is supposed not to be less than five millions and a half, and the weight upwards of 800 tons. The estimate of fish sold at Douglas on Thursday morning, at 3s. 5d. to 3s. 6d. per hundred, is 9080I." Edinburgh Advertiser, 14th Oct. 1803.'

13 must must refer to the paper. The properties of this substance, viz. its inflammability, its power of resisting putrefaction, and its sterility or incapacity of producing vegetables in its natural state, are next considered. It has been found by experiment that ' peat differs widely from the putrescent vegetables usually converted into manure, as it yields scarcely any disengaged alkali, and a very minute proportion of salts that are of a septic quality, the greatest part being either insoluble or antiseptic:'—hence is derived its characteristic peculiarity of resisting corruption.

'One generation of vegetables grows over the top of another, and all remain with little diminution of their bulk, except what the pressure of the superior strata on the inferior occasions. This antiseptic power, not only keeps the ingredients of peat in a state of preservation, but also all animal and vegetable susbtances which are immersed in it. Nor is this incorruptible quality confined to peat in its native bed. A peat cut for fuel, will continue in perfect preservation, so long as it is kept dry, and if buried whole in the ground after being dried, will remain for years very little affected.'

Its inability to nourish or furnish a pabulum for esculent plants, in its natural state, before it is pulverized or mixed with earth, is thus explained:

■ The plants of which peat is formed, are all parasitical, growing on the back of others, and do not thrive in any other situation. Dr. Grew long ago discovered that paiasitical plants differ widely from others, both in the formation of their vessels, and in the juices 'which they contain. Thus nature having; in all these instances, formed the plants in question on different principles, has not subjected them to the same laws of fermentation, by which other vegetables are decomposed.

« The natural incapacity of peat to produce esculent vegetables, results from the peculiarities of which we have been treating. It is destitute of earth, and composed of a congeries of vegetable fibres, which hold water like a sponge, in a sluggish state, fit to suffocate, not to feed land vegetables, boils capable of fertility, are composed of two ot more of the primitive earths, with a mixture of decayed animal or vegetable substances. It is the action and re-action of these ingredients on one another, and on the water that falls on them, which futnish a proper residence for the roots—receive the influences of the atmosphere—and with this aid, prepare the moisture in that state of minute division in which alone it can support the growth of land plants, by conveying to them the dissolved vegetable food. These qualifications are wanting in peat: and as it does not yield to corruption, growing plants can derive no food from its spoils.

'But though peat is very refractory, it is not altogether incapable of solution, so as to furnish food to cultivated plants,, as other

P 3 decayed decayed vegetables do. Whatever separates its parts, atjd destroy* its original conformation, fits it for supporting the growth of csculent plants.'

From a number of experiments, made for the purpose of ascertaining the best methods of cultivating and rendering peat fertile, the following corollaries are deduced:

* ist. That though peat be incorruptible in its native state, when its original texture is deranged by smothered combustion, or by the intervention of foreign substances among its interstices, the carbon it contains becomes soluble in water, and furnishes abundant food to growing plants.

'2d. That the primitive earths, which are ingredients in other soils, are also necessary in peat, not only for the purpose of subduing its resistence to solution, but for affording the solidity requisite to permanent fertility.

'3<). That lime, differing widely in its qualities from the other earths occurring on the surface, is not capable of rendering pure peat soluble in water, unless it be accompanied with these earths; but combined with them increases the fertility of peat, by facilitating its decomposition. It also forms a soil favourable to the grasses.

'4th. That cohesive earth which has suffered tonefaction, such as brick-dust, is a most powerful solvent of peat.'

In conclusion, by a comparative estimate of expence and profit attendant on the conversion of peat-districts into fertile fields, Mr. N. endeavours to encourage attempts for reclaiming them from a state o! nature.

On thi Influence of Frost, and other varieties of bad weather, tn the ripening of Corn ; by the late Benjamin Bell, Esq. In northern latitudes, sun-beams are rarely of sufficient strength tind continuance to bring grain into a 6tate of perfect ripeness \ it is therefore of some importance to inquire what may be accomplished by the aid of frost, and how far cold supplies the place of heat; or, to speak more correctly, how far the process of nature, in bringing seed to perfection, will advance under circumstances which appear unpropitious to it. With this view, Mr. Bell made a course of experiments; and he found tha? 'oats and barley, while still in a green state, bear considerable degrees of frost; that they both continue to acquire additional weight, although they are exposed to frost; and that this exposure does not destroy the principle of vegetation in either of them.' Peas and tares, as well as clover, were observed to suffer more severely by frost than barley or oats. Mr. B. ascertains the fact that corn will bear a considerable degree of frost and yet continue to fill; on which he informs the North British farmer that, in late harvests, Unripe corn should not be too hastily cut. He does not,


« ПредишнаНапред »