Obrazy na stronie

his toil - ploughs, sows, and reaps, as surely as a of servitude to the tardy enjoyment of political Herschel or an Airy sweeps the face of the independence. Every remarkable advance of heavens that he may satisfy himself whether or human intelligence may be traced to the history not some world has begun to be. And herein of former ages. Providence has not allowed the lies the difference, which the sciolist cannot be reason of mankind to suffer a total eclipse, even made to comprehend, between real knowledge in the darkest and most disastrous periods. Amid and mere empiricism. Sédillot, for example, the gloom of the feudal age, a series of eminent found in the third book of the Almagest of Abul men transmitted from generation to generation Wassa a discovery which, under the name of the light which burst forth in the age of Colum"Variations of the Moon,' has long been attribu- bus, with a splendor that kings and priests were ted to Tycho Brahè. The observations of Ebn not able to obscure. In the thirteenth century Junis at Cairo have been of great importance as we find the names of Roger Bacon, Albertus to the disturbances and secular deviations of Magnus, Vincent of Beauvais. When, 1415– Jupiter and Saturn. The astronomical meeting 1525, Diego Ribero returned from the congress at Toledo, under Alphonso the Wise, in which at the Puente de Caya, near Yelves, in which the Rabbi Isaac Ebn Sid Hagan played so great the disputes concerning the limit of the Portua part, was the result of their studies. To these guese and Spanish monarchies had been determerits of the Arabians must be added the results mined, the coast of the New Continent, from of their exertions in the field of pure mathemat- Labrador to the Terra del Fuego, had already ies. Deriving their first knowledge of algebra been explored. So assiduous and successful were from two sources, they compiled out of the rival the joint efforts of the English, Spaniards, and systems of India and of Greece a method of Portuguese, that in less than half a century the their own, which, however defective it might be configuration of that vast mass of earth was asin many of its symbols, proved of incalculable certained. use to the Italian mathematicians of the middle We must, however, be careful to distinguish ages. To them, therefore, be the praise of hav- these voyages from those of the Normans, who ing, by their writings and their extensive com were, unquestionably, the first discoverers of merce, spread that method of notation from America. While the Abbassides ruled at BagBagdad to Cordova without which the range of dad, and the Samanides in Persia, in the year physical science would have been to us narrow, 1000, America was discovered by Lief, the son indeed; and the doctrines of heat, of magnetism, of Eric the Red, from the extreme north, to the and the polarization of light, in an especial man forty-first degree of northern latitude. Iceland ner, sealed books.

had been taken possession of by the Normans in The fifteenth century is one of those remark- the year 875. Greenland was colonized from able eras in which all the efforts of the human Iceland 100 years later; so that 125 years must intellect are pointed in one direction, and indi- have elapsed after the first occupation of Iceland cate a common character. To this must be as- by the Normans, before they discovered Amercribed the splendor which belongs to the age of ica. The coast they explored was called WineSebastian Cabot, Gama, and Columbus. In the land, from some wild grapes which were found history of mankind, the thirteenth century is a upon it (Vinland it Goda). It included the transition period, belonging in part to the middle track between Boston and New York; thus ages, and in part to the commencement of an- comprising part of the present States of Massaother epoch. It is the age of great discoveries chusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut. This in space, embracing all degrees of latitude and was the chief settlement of the Normans. We all varieties of elevation. As it doubled the may form some idea of the daring spirit of that works of creation for the inhabitants of Europe, gallant people from the fact, that these discovso it gave at the same time a new and powerful eries extended from 41 1-2° to 72° 55' north latiincitement to the perfection of physical and tude. The Runic stone found in the autumn of mathematical science. In no other period was the year 1824 under that parallel, bears the date so great an accumulation of facts, or materials 1136. Their north-western station was called so numerous, for obtaining a complete knowledge the Kroksjardar Heide; and accounts are pubof the terrestrial globe presented to mankind. lished of the quantity of drift-wood (iberian), At no time did discoveries in space, and in the the whales (phocæ), sea-horses, and sea-bears, material world, by enlarging the range of ideas, for which it was at that time celebrated. Auby multiplying the means of communication, by thentic accounts of the intercourse of the North the establishment of colonies on a scale more of Europe, and of Greenland and Iceland, with magnificent than had yet been known, produce the American continent, reach no later than the more astonishing and beneficial changes in the middle of the fourteenth century. In the year manners of mankind, raising them from a state | 1347, a ship sailed from Greenland to New Scot

land for timber. On its return it was driven out | bus, when he sailed from the Azores, through of its course by storms, and was forced to make an unexplored ocean, seeking, as he expressed land on the west of Iceland. This is the last it, “the East by the West," followed a settled account of North America preserved to us in and predetermined plan. He had on board the the old Scandinavian histories. The traces of chart given to him by the Florentine physician an Irish discovery of America, before the elev- and astronomer, Paolo Toscanelli, 1477, and enth century, are not so numerous. An account which, fifty-three years after his death, was in was given to the Normans of men clothed in the possession of Las Casas. This was the Carta white garments, bearing poles with linen fastened de Marea which Columbus showed to Alonzo de to them, and singing with a loud voice. This, Pingon, 25th September, 1492. If he had folthe Normans applied to a Catholic procession. | lowed the advice of Toscanelli, Columbus would In the oldest Sagas the coasts between Virginia have taken a more northern course, and have and Florida are distinctly called Old Ireland. kept in the parallel of Lisbon ; but in the hope

In the year 982, Ari Marson, in an expedition of reaching Japan he kept in the latitude of from Iceland, was driven by storms to this coun-Gomera, one of the Canary Islands, till alarmed try, and baptized; and as he was not allowed to at not reaching the land, which according to his leave it, was recognized by men from the Ork- calculations he ought to have met with 216 sea neys and from Iceland. It is certainly a remark- miles nearer to the east, he gave way to the able event in the literary history of nations, that importunities of Alonzo de Pingon, and shaped the oldest traditions of the European North his course to the south-west. And here occurs should, when menaced with destruction on the one of the most remarkable instances of the very continent of Europe, have been deposited in trifling incidents which sometimes, under the Iceland, and there preserved for the instruction control of Providence, change the face of nations of succeeding ages. It is now ascertained that and the universe. If Columbus bad followed Iceland was the country visited by Columbus, his own judgment, and continued his course toand described by him in his rare work on the wards the west, he would have fallen into the Five Habitable Zones of the Earth, 1477. But great Gulf Stream, and being carried to Florida, that he heard there no tradition of the same na or perhaps Virginia, would have given to the ture with those which we have enumerated, may country of the United States a Spanish and be inferred from the fact, that he sailed in his Catholic, instead of a Saxon and Protestant expedition to America from the Canary Islands, population. “I feel within me," said Pingon to in a south-west direction. The consequences the admiral (el corazon me da) " something that which followed this enterprise of a civilized tells me we ought to sail in another course.” people, were widely different from those of the This inspiration, however, was owing to a first discovery of America by the Norman ad flight of parrots which he had seen bearing toventurers. Though Columbus never contem- wards the S.W. It may fairly be said, thereplated the discovery of a new continent, though fore, that these birds gave a different direction he and Amerigo Vespucci died in the firm per- to the destinies of mankind. But Columbus is suasion that they had only visited Eastern Asia; also entitled to the praise of having first discovnay, though Columbus believed that the sea ered a place where the magnetic line is without gradually approached nearer and nearer to the deviation. After remarking, that as soon as he sky until they touched each other; the praise is one hundred miles west of the Azores he finds bestowed upon him by the unanimous voice of a sudden change in the motions of the heavenly ages is not excessive. He pursued a certain ob- bodies, in the temperature of the air, and the ject, and passing through the gates opened by appearance of the sea; he says, – the Tyrians and Colæus of Samos, by perseverance and resolution inflexible, by surmounting

I have observed these changes with excessive dangers from which the most intrepid shrank, care, and remarked that the compass (aguja de

mureaz), the declination of which was to the and obstacles which the most adventurous bad N.E., moves itself to the N.W.; and when I failed to overcome, he finally achieved his pur- have passed this region, as one who surmounts a pose. The glorious lines of Tasso, c. 15, stanza hill (como quien transpone una cuesta), I find a 25, are due to such a man; and the passage cited sea covered with such masses of weed, &c., that by Humboldt from the Portuguese historian

we expect the ships to run aground for want of

water. (which, though expressed in happier language, calm and tranquil, and hardly ruffled by a

* Again, at this limit the sea is reminds us of the prejudice of those writers who

breeze. think they show their patriotism by denying the genius of Napoleon), is a melancholy proof of The glimpses, so to speak, of truth, and the the effect of national antipathy in blinding the beginnings of discoveries, indicated in this senreason and infatuating the judgment. Colum- tence, are very striking. The effects of latitude,

the deviation of the magnet, the inflection of the Cortes corresponded with the kings of Zebu and isothermal line between the west coast of the Tidore in the Asiatic archipelago. It is but a new and the east coast of the old continent, with superficial and erroneous view of human motives, visions of physical geography, as vivid as they which regards as the sole principle that animated are correct, are all shadowed forth in it. But these conquerors and discoverers the love of the career of Columbus, and of the enterprising gold, or even religious fanaticism. There is a men who followed in his steps, is too well known poetry in danger and enterprise which, for a to demand that we should dwell upon it. Against time at least, prevails over the monotony and many and terrible difficulties they were forced routine of vulgar life; and the freedom and magto contend, superstition holding the mind of the nanimity of the age in which these events took world in bondage, while a newly-awakened spirit place — the only age which can be set in comof enterprise operated as a constant spur to fresh parison with the periods of classical antiquity bodily exertion. But truth prevailed in the end, lent an unspeakable charm to perilous and reas it ever will, and its course was mainly made mote voyages. The imagination, even of the clear by three men, - Albertus Magnus, born at vulgar, was touched and captivated, the realities Cologne, the master of Thomas Aquinas, and, of life glowed with all the splendid coloring of therefore, mentioned in the Paradiso, canto xx. romance; the meanest Spanish peasant, who verse 93; Friar Bacon, of Ilchester, the most knew that he was the subject of an empire within remarkable person of his age; and Vincent of the limits of which the sun never set, that he Beauvais, — who, by their writings and example, was the countryman of Cortes and the contemmore than any other of the lights of that age of porary of Columbus, must have felt his heart dawn, contributed to promote a sounder and dilate with pride; and a sense of dignity was healthier system of physical investigation. communicated to the national character which

After the discovery of the continent of Amer generations of oppression and misgovernment, ica, and its extension from Hudson's Bay to Cape of Bourbon kings and of Jesuit confessors, have Horn, the opening of the South Sea ranks as the not been able to destroy. most important addition of the age to the geo We cannot agree with our illustrious author, graphical knowledge of mankind. This event, that the petty detail of the present age is a suffiwhich Columbus bad foretold ten years pre

cient compensation for the loss of such thrilling viously to its occurrence, led to the knowledge and splendid objects. He who looks at the giant of the west coast of the new and the eastern efforts of mankind in those days, at the sudden coast of the old continent, and put an end to the and magnificent increase of all the elements of erroneous opinions which had hitherto prevailed civilization and knowledge, might well have touching the relative proportions of land and anticipated for Europe a destiny far more gloriwater on the globe. Heretofore the most liberal ous than she has since achieved; and, after the calculator allowed only two fourths of fluid to lapse of three centuries, a condition far more one of solid land. Columbus regarded this as ennobling than that to which she can now lay extravagant; and Toscanelli, in his correspond claim. It seemed in that favored age, as if all ence with the Admiral, renders it narrower still. things were combining to illustrate and to hasten Like Esdras, he supposed six sevenths of our the progress of mankind. In the same month planet to be dry land; and, in the Imago Mundi when, after the battle of Otumba, Cortes led bis of Cardinal Petrus de Aliaco, a book which troops against Mexico, Martin Luther, — with accompanied Columbus in his voyages, and from all his faults the great champion of intellectual which, in his letters to Queen Isabella, he made freedom, – burnt the papal bulls at Wittenberg, large translations, the same notion was insisted and severed the first links of the chain which upon. Six years after Balboa, wading up to his had so long bound his species to the earth. Then knets in the Pacific, had taken possession of it Leonardo da Vinci fathomed the depths of every in the name of Castile, Magellan was navigating science; and, by his exquisite art and inits waters. He traversed the mighty ocean from spiring eloquence, hastened the regeneration of S.E. to N.W. for 1500 geographical miles; and, the species. Then side by side with the return by an extraordinary fortune, saw no land but to light of the poets, orators, and historians of two small uninhabited islands, till he reached antiquity, came forth the most glorious monuthe Isles de los Ladrones and the Philippines. ments of Grecian art; the Laocoon, the Torso,

After the murder of Magellan in the island the Apollo Belvedere, and the Medicean Venus ; Zebu, Sebastian de Elcani completed, in bis while Germany had her Holbein; Italy, her ship, the circumnavigation of the globe. He Michel Angelo, Titian, Raphael, Tasso, Ariosto, entered the harbour of San Lucar, 1522. In and Macchiavelli. The system of the universe 1527, an expedition under Alonzo da Saavedra was discovered by Copernicus, though not pubhad sailed from Mexico to the Moluccas, and lished, in the very year when Columbus died.

The discovery of the real size and distribution “ If,” says he, "any foolish sciolists should of the earth was followed by discoveries in the draw from some perverted passages in Scripture heavens. That man should acquire a correct weapons for an attack upon his doctrine, he will idea of the planet which he inhabits is by no treat them with contempt and disregard. Mathemeans wonderful, but that he should carry his

maticians only are authorities on mathematical

topics. The wretched nonsense which Lactaninvestigations into regions separated from him tius has written upon this subject is well known. by intervals so vast as to set imagination at de- To show how little he had to fear, he dedicates fiance, may well justify the expressions of aston- his work to the Father of the Church, for the ishment which pour from the lips and pens of

Church itself may derive benefit from his calcuthose who have studied his nature most atten- lations for its calendar.” tively, and portrayed his infirmities with greatest Thus it was, that as chemistry and botany were success.

endured for the sake of medical knowledge, What is an astronomical fact? That a star astronomy owed its toleration by the secular and has been seen in the heavens at a particular spiritural authorities to its supposed connexion moment, and at a particular angle. What fact, with astrology, and the aid it furnished for makseparately considered, can be less important ? ing tables for movable feasts. The war of reaIt was not the Chaldean shepherd or the Egyp- son against prejudice ought to be open and untian priest, but the Greek philosopher, who laid sparing, as it must be in the nature of things the foundation of astronomical science, by refer-eternal and implacable. It is mere childishness ring to certain general laws, the phenomena of - if we may imitate a splendid passage in Dediurnal movement. Astronomy began to exist mosthenes — to suppose that darkness will ever when man was first able, from observations meth- be the friend of light; or that they who are supodized by reason, to predict the time when the ported by superstition and ignorance will cease sun would rise, or any star would appear at a to wage war against those who desire the welfare particular time and place in the horizon. It is and improvement of mankind. There is a strikthis foresight, embodying the results of general ing passage in Copernicus, which seems to shew ization, which, in the world of mind as well as of that the theory of gravitation floated before his matter, in the speculations of the geometer as well mind. But it is still more remarkable that Anas in the government of nations, distinguishes axagoras should have said that the moon, if the philosophy from erudition, and reason from rou impulse which urged it forward was to cease, tine, - the Montesquieus from the Eldons, and would fall to the earth like a stone from a sling. the Cromwells from the rulers of the day. Copernicus and his followers, not aware of the

Humboldt, before he enters upon the age of strength of their own cause, admitted some of Kepler, Galileo, Bacon, Tycho Brahé, Descartes, the principles of their antagonists. “A ball," Huyghens, Fermâh, Newton, and Leibnitz, gives said the latter, “ dropped from the mast, does not an account of a man who has identified his name fall at the foot of the mast, but behind it." The with the system of the universe. When Colum answer to this is, that the ball does fall at the bus discovered America, Copernicus was study- foot of the mast. But, strange to say, so simple ing astronomy at Cracow. After six years' resi an appeal to experiment was not made; and a dence in Italy, he returned again to that city, solution was sought in the doctrine, that the mowholly engrossed with astronomical speculations. tion was not natural. Having, by the influence of his uncle, Bishop of Tycho Brahé was the most illustrious antag. Ermland, been appointed Dean of Frauenburg, onist of the Copernican doctrine; and it is sin he continued for thirty-three years to labor at gular enough, though Humboldt does not menhis work, De Revolutionibus Orbium Cælestium. tion the fact, that, by having first brought forThe first printed copy of it was brought to him ward the true theory of comets, he should have on his death-bed; he saw and touched it, but his furnished an unanswerable argument in its favor. thoughts were turned to other subjects, and he For if the Ptolemaic system were true, Tycho beheld it with indifference. It has been erro- Brahé's theory of comets, in Fontenelle's phrase, neously supposed that Copernicus, through fear esposoit l'univers á être cassé. However, in of provoking ecclesiastical indignation, merely Tycho Brahe's defence it should be said, that put forward his discoveries as an hypothesis. the arguments of the advocates of the CoperniThis is a complete mistake, and is, indeed, can theory were equally vicious and metaphysidirectly contradicted by the dedication of his cal with those of their adversaries. Thus, with work to Pope Paul III. He stigmatizes the pre- regard to the ball, they admitted the reality of vailing notion with regard to the immovability the fact, and endeavoured, by a scholastic subtleof the earth, as an absurd error, and censures ty, to escape from the logical inference furnished the stupidity of those who entertained so ridicu by it against the motion of the earth. Even lous an opinion.

after the demonstrations of Galileo, Gassendi

was obliged to perform a particular experiment be numbered Cassini, Huyghens, Childrey, Horin the port of Marseilles to convince these obsti- rox (whose early death was probably as great a nate Peripatetics.

loss as science has ever been called on to deThe experiment of Richer at Cayenne in plore), Hevelius, and Descartes. There was 1672, when he found that the pendulum which yet wanting one man to crown its glory, one swung seconds at Paris did not swing them at discovery to complete the lucid and harmonious the equator, furnished - as the mere protuber-whole. That man was Isaac Newton, and that ance of the earth would not account entirely for discovery was the Law of Gravitation. the phenomenon, and the residue of it must,

- Fraser's Magazine. therefore, be explained by a centrifugal force a conclusive proof in favor of Copernicus, even if the astronomical arguments had been set aside. CONVERSATION OF AN EASTERN TRAVELThe three most direct arguments for the Coper- LER. “ You look like a perfect Peri to-night. nican theory, drawn from the celestial phenome- | You remind me of a girl I once knew in Cirna, are the precession of the equinoxes, the sta- cassia - Ameena, the sister of Schamyle Bey. tionary and retrograde appearances exhibited by Do you know, Miss Pim, that you would fetch the planetary motions, and the aberration of light twenty thousand piastres in the market at Conas discovered by Bradley, which last phenome- stantinople ?” “Law, Mr. Bulbul !" is all Miss non is the most unanswerable and mathematically Pim can ejaculate ; and having talked over Miss decisive of the whole. Kepler followed Tycho, Pim, Clarence goes off to another houri, whom and rivalled Copernicus. His wonderful genius he fascinates in a similar manner. He charmed was equalled by his patience. On the 8th of Mrs. Waddy by telling her that she was the ex. May, 1618, he discovered that the squares of the act figure of the Pacha of Egypt's second wife. periodic times are to each other as the cubes of He gave Miss Tokely a piece of the sack in their mean distances from the sun. His discov- which Zuleikah was drowned ; and he actually ery that the planets move round the sun in ellip- persuaded that poor little silly Miss Vain to turn ses, of which the sun is the focus, cleared the Mahometan, and sent her up to the Turkish amCopernican system from the eccentric cycles and bassador's to look out for a Mufti. -Our Street. epicycles with which it was still encumbered. But an accidental discovery of the telescope in Holland, 1608, led to results beyond any which UNCHANGEABLENESS IN THE ETERNAL human genius had before been able to anticipate. City.- As an instance of how much the god Galileo, who heard of this at Venice, 1609, ap- Terminus rules in Rome, and how little liable plied himself to various combinations of lenses, an established thing is to alteration, I can menand succeeded at last in finding one which mag-tion that not only the house and the baker's shop, nified thirty-two times. He discovered four of but even the identical marble counter and the the satellites of Jupiter; he directed his tele- scales, are to be seen in full operation this week, scope to the moon, and made those discoveries to just in the same state as they were when, over which Milton has so beautifully alluded; he three hundred years ago, Raphael's Fornarina found the spots in the sun; and by observing sold penny rolls across that counter, and a sucthe horned figure of Venus and the gibbosity of cession of bakers and baker maidens bas never Mars, he added to the evidence of the Coperni- ceased to officiate therein. The almost invisible can system, and verified the prediction of its inscription over the plinth of the door was carved author, who had said, with unequalled sagacity,' by Raphael's own hand, “TRAHIT SVA " that if the sense of sight were sufficiently strong, QUEMOVE VOLVPTAS.” The family of we should see Venus and Mercury exhibiting Prince Massimo (our famous postmaster) have phases like those of the moon.” No triumph | lived on the same spot where the Palazzo Mascould be more complete ; it roused the jealousy simo stands, in the Via dei Massimi, for the last of the ecclesiastical authorities. In 1633 Galileo nine hundred years! When I was a student at was obliged to disavow his belief in the motion the university here, a quarter of a century ago of the earth. “Eighty years,” said the indignant (I am ashamed to own as much), I used to freKepler,“ have passed away, during which the quent, with the other collegians, a large establishdoctrine of Copernicus has been taught without ment for dining in Via Condotti. There were interruption; and now that new proofs of it are ten waiters attending the various rooms twentydiscovered, and new arguments obtrude them- five years ago, and on looking into the concern selves in its favor, arguments and proofs utterly the other day, I recognized eight of the ten still unknown to the ecclesiastical judges, the teach- extant! The two others waited there no longer, ing of the system is prohibited.”

they were dead,

Roman CorreAmong the great names of this century must I spondent of the Daily News.

« PoprzedniaDalej »