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Answer to a Query on Departed Spirits.
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the son can give, to illuminate a single town. Who it is, that has adjusted the velocity of light to its density, or its density to its velocity, and the visual tablet in the eye to both,—our reason and our heart will not hesitate to say. The fool, indeed, "hath said in his heart, that there is no God." Why hath he said so? Because he is a fool!
It was reserved for the immortal Newton to discover, that light is not simple, but compounded. A stream of light, flowing from a luminous, or reflected from an opake substance, is called a ray of light: this ray appears to the eye to be white, and a collection of such rays to any extent, appears the same. But by innumerable experiments, it has been demonstrated, that this ray of light, which to the eye appears white, is actually a compound of seven other rays, none of which are white. A ray of light when divided by the prism, gives the seven primitive colours; red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet; none of which, by any power of refraction yet discovered, can be further divided. These seven rays, mixed and compounded, form the absence of all colour, or white. This may be illustrated by a very easy experiment: if a circular piece of board, with the seven primitive colours painted upon it, be turned round its centre with great velocity, it will appear perfectly white.
The discovery of the composition, or what in optics is termed the different refrangihi lity of light, has produced a total revolution in the philosophy of colour. It is only in accommodation to ordinary conception, and the established modes of speech, that a philosopher says of one thing that it is red, and of another that it is blue; the fact is, that neither blue, nor red, nor yellow, nor any other colour, is in the objects we view, but in the light;— that the exclusion of all light is the exclusion of all colour;—that the rose is red, because it absorbs the rays which are orange, yellow, green, and blue, and reflects the red ray;—that the primrose is yellow, because it absorbs the red, orange, blue, and other rays, and reflects the yellow;—and the violet is violet, because it absorbs all but the ray to which it has given name, and which it reflects. It is not meant to be said, that substances which appear of different colours are
not in reality different; but the difference lies, not in colours inhering in those substances, but in the various arrangement of the particles of matter composing their surface, reflecting the various rays of light. There have been instances of blind persons, who have served ribbons in a mercer's shop, and distinguished their colours, to a surprising accuracy, with their fingers. But what did those persons feel? the colour of the ribbons? Assuredly not!—they felt the different surfaces of them, and determined by the roughness or smoothness, hardness or softness, of those surfaces. Colour does not come in at the finger-ends, but at the eye.
The reflection of light is a subject which has much exercised the reasonings of optical philosophers; principally to account for it. At first it was supposed that the particles actuall) fall upon and touch the reflecting body, and so rebound from it. Bath is now believed, that reflected light does, by no means, come in actual contact with the object which reflects it; but at a given distance, a distance indeed imperceptible to our senses, meets with a power of repulsion, bj which it is driven back, altered in its course, but not, I believe, diminished in its velocity. Allowing that a repulsive power is the cause of the reflection of light; why is it that a polished surface reflects so much more powerful!) than a rough one? why is it, that while some rays are reflected, others are transmitted or absorbed? and why is it that light is reflected atall!these are questions which have much perplexed philosophers; and into which I cannot presume to enter.
( To be concluded in our next.)
Answer to a Query on Departed Spirits.
Sir,—In answer to the Query, (col. 863) Have the spirits of the dead made perfect any knowledge of what passes on in this world? I submit the following remarks.
I consider the affirmative idea to be neither scriptural nor philosophical; though there are many, who, having lost their godly friends, have rather
On Soundness of Mind.
been disposed to wish, that their friends might know what is taking place among their connections on earth, that they might carry on a kind of mental converse with them. But we little think how new, how strange, how absorbing, must the things of the eternal state be, to those entering upon them. Is it possible that the heaven-bound pilgrim, who has been conducted by the Shepherd of the flock through the valley that lies between, who approaches the gate of heaven, and realizes the end of his faith, could be attracted by the trifling scenes on earth? Can the soul present with the Lord, ever look off from him, to converse with those below? No: it is best to suppose, that spirits departed have no concern about the trifles passing here.
The soul reaping the sad reward of its unrighteousness, may desire to look out of its burning lake towards the earth again, but its intense pain will not grant permission; whereas, those who die in the Lord rest from their labours; while of all it may be said, as to this world,
"Their memory and their sense is gone,
REQUEST FOR BOTANICAL INFORMATION.
Mr. Editor. Sir,—The monthly " Catalogue of all really British plants, as they come into flower," with which you have favoured us in the present volume of the Imperial Magazine, is highly pleasing to myself, and, I make no doubt, is likewise so to many others. As the year is drawing towards a close, when this article must terminate, I should be greatly obliged if any of your Botanical correspondents would favour us, during the ensuing year, with the Elements or Principles of Botany, through the medium of your Magazine, to which publication I have been a subscriber from its commencement. This pleasing science, which now begins to be cultivated by the youth of both sexes, is well calculated to furnish us with instruction; for how can
we behold the fields and meadows, covered with a profusion of flowers, and perceive the surface of the earth teeming with vegetation, and, in those beauties of nature, not behold our Great Creator who formed them; for
"In fruitful fields his bounty grows,
And runs in every rill;
Displays his matchless skill."
Sir, I remain your constant reader, and admirer,
J H B
Southaell, Aug. 10, 1821.
ON SOUNDNESS OF MIND.
Mr. Editor. Sir,—The simple act of memory and perception,docs not appear materially to differ in man and animals. There are many interesting facts, which would induce us to suppose, that, if these faculties are identical in their nature, the endowments of the latter are more excellent than the former. This supposition is founded on the observation, that many of the organs of sense in some animals, are more susceptible of impression than they are in man; and every one must have noticed their wonderful recollection of tracks which they have traversed. A horse, for instance, having travelled 40 miles on a road, where he had never been before, would, on his second journey, after the lapse of several years, demonstrate by his actions, that he perfectly recollected the former route.
In exploring the various phenomena of memory, we meet with two occurrences that have hitherto proved inexplicable: 1st, Many of the transactions of our early years, appear to be wholly obliterated from the recollection; they have never been presented to the mind, as the subject of our thoughts, but after the lapse of several years, they have been accidently revived by our being placed in the situation which originally gave them birth, 'idly, A person in a state of comparative childhood, has been known to learn a language, which, through disuse in mature years, has been forgotten, so that when it has been spoken by others, it has not been understood;
yet, during the delirium of fever, &c. the former and forgotten language has been revived, and spoken with fluency :—but after a restoration to health, no traces of its recollection remained.
That man is pre-eminent, in the range of creation, is very evident, and, on a deliberate survey, it will be found, that this pre-eminence arises, in a great measure, from his exclusive possession of the powers of speech, and the use of the hand.
Man is capable of transmitting his acquirements to posterity, and of communicating his ideas, for the instruction of his fellow-creatures: but, the acquirements of the brute creation perish with them: they do not enjoy the appropriate organs for communicating instruction.
Speech is generally acquired by the ear, and the sound communicated through that again, is imitated by the voice, which is the proper modification of sound in the cavity of the mouth and nostrils. But had man been furnished merely with the powers of speech, without the means of recording either his actions or his reflections, although he might have retained the names of Homer, Virgil, Milton, Newton, &c. &c. he must have remained nearly ignorant of their genius, and lie would not have been much the wiser for the improvements which they made. This contrivance, above all other blessings, has transmitted, in the sacred volume, the commandments of the living God.
The anatomy of the hand, has not been so minutely investigated, as to demonstrate the origin of its innumerable actions. The organ of touch resides at the end of the fingers; but no perception, from whatever organ of .sense it may be derived, can be communicated to another except through the medium of language. Though the hand is, strictly speaking, the servant of the mind, yet we must admit, that without it we should have been strangers to " the cloud-cap'd towers," &c. &c. and to very many of the conveniences which we enjoy.
It is probable, that we shall never fully know the nature and operations of our intellectual faculties; or, at least, that we shall not be able to comprehend the manner in which we perceive the objects that surround us; neither shall we be able to explain how we recollect them when they are
absent; yet, under this acknowledged inability, mankind have framed a language, expressive of these powers, and of their operations. The different terms employed, have originated in the numberless hypotheses which have prevailed on this subject. Language isfigurati ve, etymology and authority are the only two modes to which we can resort for the definite meaning of words. Language is the circulating medium of our thoughts, furnishing the terms which designate the objects of perception.
There is no faculty of the human mind of more importance than will ot volition. There are voluntary and involuntary actions, both of the body and the mind: in the infant we discern a necessity for mental advancement, before it can direct any of the motions of its body ; in this state,volition would be superfluous; voluntary exertions are the result of experience. The will, when not perverted, is generally, if not always, guided by reason.
The direction of the several organs of sense, to the examination of an object, is an act of the mind which is called attention. The soundest mind may be attributed to him who possesses the most enduring control over the organs of sense, in order to examine objects accurately, and thereby to acquire a full and complete perception of them. That memory is the best, which can voluntarily, and immediately, produce that which has been committed to its custody; and that reflection is the most perfect, which is exclusively occupied with the subject of consideration. Theirifl to act, is governed and directed by reason, the highest of our attainments. The will of man is as free as his experience dictates; and his reason urges to action.
Wolverhampton, Septr. 12, 1821.
TO REMOVE WARTS.
Take the nitrate of silver, (lunar caustic) and dipping the end of the caustic in a little water, rub it over these troublesome excrescences, and after a few times using they will disappear. This process is quite simple and harmless. The muriate of amnio
nia (sal ammoniac) is likewise a very useful remedy. These applications have been tried with constant success, during a practice of twenty years.
Mr. Editor. Sir,-—In the Imperial Magazine for July, 1821, (col. 588) there is an Essay on the Genius and Writings of Wordsworth; in the course of which, a Sonnet on the Battle of Waterloo is introduced as an admired specimen of his Poetry; the five concluding lines are the following •
"He only, if such breathe, in strains devout
This impious passage I should brand with little less than blasphemy; if such be the pleasures of Wordsworth's supposed heaven, no real Christian would wish to join him there.
"Source of all g*uilt, and all distress.
Did the angcla of heaven raise a loud choral
shout. When they saw that the Frenchmen were all
put to rout \ Ami could they rejoice in the midst of such woe? Ah no—saith my soul—it could never be so. Far, far other subjects of mercy and Joy, For ever have been, and will be, their employ: Such songs as were heard at a Saviour's birth, Of good will to men, and of peace upon earth. When the demons of war spread their wings
on the blast, And wither the harvest, or .shatter the mast, Anil scatter the dead o'er the desolate plain, Or tinge with their blood the green waves of
the main; When widows must suffer with many a tear, A sad separation from all they hold dear; When orphans behold their support and their
stay, By wars cruel arm snatch'd for ever away; •l'lie fiends may rejoice in their horrible lake, And shouts of infernal applauses may make. But the angels of heaven, if permitted to see Such scenes, which 1 hope that they never will
be, Instead of applause or delight, they will find A sad source of sorrow and grief for mankind. >Ve hope in that place, where the blessed
remain. No sorrow can enter, no grief, and no pain: But that songs of thanksgiving, of peace, love,
and joy. Shall be through all ages their happy employ. CllRlSTlANUS.
OBSERVATIONS ON THE AUTHOR OF WAVERLEY.
In the annals of literature of the lighter order, I mean novels, perhaps there
never has occurred a circumstance so extraordinary as that the author of Waverley should have still remained undiscovered; or that, after such unbounded applause as his works have met with in all quarters, the writer should continue to publish anonymously, instead of avowing his name, and enjoying the fame which his works have acquired him. Many have been the conjectures respecting his individuality, but the most general, perhaps too, the best founded opinion, is, that Walter Scott is the author.
Mr Constable, the publisher, has stated in company, the sum of money he has paid Mr. Scott, which, from the amount, it can only be inferred as including the price of these popular works. Still, however, a part of that money might have been paid on account of the anonymous writer, and Mr. S. might have been the receiver general.
Mr. Scott, too, when Waverley first acquired fame, was passenger in one of the Leith smacks, and expressed his opinion of these works to a person unknown to him, in such terms of approbation, as were somewhat inconsistent with the idea of his being the author of them himself. Besides which, it is very likely, from his wellknown liberality of sentiment, that he may, from some motive or other, have, in the first instance, become the vehicle of their publication.
A Mr. Mc. F. an episcopal bishop, in Scotland, has also been pointed at as their author with much appearance of probahility, partly from the conspicuous talents he is allowed to possess, but more particularly by having been heard to relate the leading stories, long before they were given to the public.
Whoever the eminent man may prove to be, the works are of that character, as to form a prominent feature in the literature of the present age, and the author must be acknowledged a person of most extraordinary talents, with an equal proportion both of modesty and self-denial. It is certainly of rare occurrence, that the same writer should excel, both in prose and poetical composition: many of our best poets have acquired but little fame out of the sphere of poetry; perhaps Goldsmith is the one that succeeded most, in both kinds of composition. gr"'
Dr. Johnson has written more in the spirit of poetry, in the Rambler and Rasselas, than will be found in the fettered verse of Irene; in proof of which, I will only instance the opening address in his beautiful work of Rasselas, though many other passages might be quoted more apt and striking to justify the preceding observation.
*' Ye who listen with credulity to the whispers ot fancy, and pursue with eagerness the phantoms of hope, who expect that age will perform the promises of youth, and that the deficiencies of the present day will be supplied by the morrow, attend to the history of Rasselas, Prince of Abissinia'."
Here you have a harmony in the words, and an expression so purely poetical, that verse might perhaps shackle, but could scarcely improve the sentence. But if Walter Scott be the real author of the works in question, how much then has he excelled every predecessor who has written in both kinds of composition; it may then, indeed, be said of him, as the great colossus of literature wrote in the epitaph of his friend Goldsmith, "that he has left no species of writing untouched, or unadorned, by his pen," for these works embrace almost every subject and mode of writing.
The author of these histories, more properly than novels, is evidently one that is eminently versed in the living and dead languages; Greek and Latin seem as familiar to him as his own tongue, French, Spanish, Italian, German, Gaelic, indeed all the languages of Europe, are not only known to him, but his quotations indicate a perfect acquisition of them; whilst history and science display the lights of a mind beyond measure comprehensive, and refined from the dross, both of pedantry and prejudice.
These works will certainly be read and admired, when the poetry of Walter Scott will have become obsolete, and his materials forgotten : they possess the advantage over these poems, of describing events of more recent date, of manners more genuine and authentic, and they abound with many minute circumstances of character,(national, religious, and political,) which, by reflecting the image of the times they describe, render them more amusing in some respects, and more instructive in this particular, than the works of the general histo
rian. The author, too, possesses such dramatic power in the creation, sapport, and contrast of his characters, that had he chosen the real drama foi his work, instead of the imitative form of the novel, there seems every reason to suppose he would only have classed in the rear of Shakspeare.
In reading these fine works, one circumstance bears strongly against the common opinion of their being Walter Scott's; namely, that all the poetry interspersed in the text, is any thing but resembling that great poet's works, being entirely of the plaintive pathetic kind, whereas Mr. Scott's principal feature and excellence is on the descriptive lyrical style.
In making this observation, I do not allude to the introductory quotations at the commencement of each chapter, which are as various as the author's own genius; but to the poetry of the work itself. In fine, whoever the writer may be, no author in that species has excelled him, in exciting interest, in producing effect, or in practising that maxim, of mixing the "utile dulci."
Rev. James Hervey.
Mr. Editor. Sir,—I have taken the liberty of sending you the annexed extract, from a small book of a local nature; but asit relates to that eminent servant of God, the Rev. James Hervey, I doubt not that it will meet with your approbation. An early insertion will much oblige
Northampton, Nov. 2, 1820.
About two miles from Northampton, is the pleasant little village of Weston Favel, which once boasted of three mansion houses, belonging to the families of Ekins, Holman, and Hervey. all of which are gone to decay. In this village lived and died the pious and learned James Hervey, author of the Meditations,and otherworks.—Hewas instructed in the free grammar sefwo at Northampton, where he madegreat progress in his studies: and, in tee year 1731, he became a student oi Lincoln College, Oxford, where it took only the degree of Bachelor oi Arts, and entered into holy orders.