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moment, than those, which are contiguous to the glass: but this firft moment being paft, and the mercury being in a late of perfect reft, ought not the level to refume its place? * how comes it then that the convexity of the upper furface of the mercury ftill remains? how does it come to pass, that, in the capillary tubes where the attraction of the glafs ought to be the most fenfible, in proportion to the extent of the fides of the glafs, this convexity equally takes place? muft we look for the reafon of this phenomenon in the spherical form, that is ufually attributed to the parts of which mercury is compofed?
No, in our opinion; becaufe the preflion of the air which acts upon the column of mercury, acts always with more force upon the internal layers of the column, than on the external ones, where its force is more or less counteracted by the attraction of the fides of the tube.
Differtation fur la Nature du Froid, &c. A Differtation on the Nature of Cold, with Proofs founded on new Chemical Experiments. By Mr. Herckenroth, Affiftant Apothecary to the King's Armies. Paris.
THE elements will foon appear to be no elements, if philofophical chemifts go on at the rate of this laborious and acute Author. The confideration of the elements as compound fubftances is not, indeed, a new doctrine: it was propofed formerly by a learned chemift of Germany, Dr. Hunckel; and was treated both by his countrymen and by ftrangers, as the noftrum of a dreamer or the prefcription of an High German doctor. Our Author is certainly no enemy to the Theory of Hunckel; at leaft it is one of the principal defigns of this differtation to fhew that water is not an element, but a fubflance composed of the principles of heat and cold. However that may be, his work is divided into two parts: the first treats of Decrepitation, Fulguration, and Ice, and contains a comparison of volatile alkali with the principle of cold in ice. In the fecond part our Author treats of melted ice or water, of the mean or middle ftate of water, and of its artificial congelation by fea-falt. We refer the curious to the work at large, for a further account of the experiments of our Author, and the conclufions he deduces from them.
†That is, the flate between Vapour and Congelation.
Hiftoire de Loango, Kakonego, et d'autres Royaumes d'Afrique, &c. The Hiftory of Loango, Cacongo, and other Kingdoms of Africa, drawn up from the Memoirs of the Apoftolical Superintendents of the French Miffion, and accompanied with a Map, of great Ufe to Navigators. By the Abbé Poyart, Vol. I. 12mo. 1776. Paris. THE part of Africa, which is the fubject of this Hiftory, is The defcriptions hitherto given of by travellers, are erroneous or imperfect, and therefore the labours of the Abbé Poyart will certainly be well received by the curious. He divides his work into two parts. The first contains the natural and civil hiftory of the kingdoms of Laongo, Cacongo, and other adjacent ftates, and the fecond exhibits an accurate, at least a circumftantial, account of the French miffion in thefe countries.
In the first part we find a defcription of the geographical fituation of these countries, of the temperature of their climate, of the nature of the foil, of their principal productions both in the animal and vegetable kingdoms, and of the character, manners and cuftoms of the inhabitants, together with their occupations, government, laws, commerce, wars, language and religion. We fhall draw fome particularities from this part of the work, which may enable the reader to form an idea of its merit; and we fhall begin with the natural productions of the country.
The bananas-tree, fays our Author, is rather a plant than a tree, notwithstanding its fize, which is very confiderable, as it rifes to the height of between twelve and fifteen feet, on a stalk or trunk of eight or ten inches diameter, The fruit shoots forth from the middle of this trunk in a bunch or cluster, compofed of, from one to two hundred, bananas, each an inch thick and eight or nine inches in length; fo that a fingle cluster is often as much as a man can carry. The plant never produces more than one cluster and it dies as foon as it is deprived of its fruit. It is, accordingly, customary to cut it down, in order to gather the fruit; and feveral plants fpring up in the place of the One that is thus cut down. The trunk of this tree or plant is furrounded with feveral sprigs, which have a fort of rind, of which the negroes make cords. Its leaves are feven or eight feet long and about twenty inches broad: they are almost as ftrong as our parchment, and may be folded every way without breaking. They are sometimes used for parafols or umbrellas, but most frequently as a covering to earthen pots, vases, &c.
The fig-bananas or fig-tree of Adam, differs from the plant, now mentioned, only by the nature and qualities of its fruit; this fruit, indeed, grows in a clufter like that of the other; but the clufter is not fo long and the fruit has neither the fame tafte nor
the fame qualities. The produce of the bananas- plant is a kind of bread; but that of the fig-bananas is a delicious fruit: the fubftance of the former is dry and mealy; while that of the latter is foft and humid.
Our Author enters into a very inftructive and curious detail of the vegetable and animal productions of this country. His account of the Manoc or Magnoc, which is the bread of the people, and which is in fuch abundance as removes every form of beggary, is accurate and interesting; but it is to be found in other writers; as this vegetable is an American production which we have had occafion to mention in former articles.
The trees in this part of Africa are covered with leaves in all seasons; none of them resemble the trees known in our European climates. Some of them are of fuch a prodigious fize, that, at a certain diftance, they look like towers rather than trees. Several of them are tender and spongy, and refift the hatchet, like cork, but may be eafily cut with a sharp inftrument. Others are of a hard substance, and, among these, there is one, which, after having been cut down fome months, grows fo hard, that anvils are made of it for working red hot iron: it is impoffible to drive a nail into it with a hammer.
The country and the woods abound with animals of all kinds, quadrupedes, wild-fowl, and infects; and the Africans, inftead of feeding poultry, which the king's officers would feize upon with avidity for their own ufe, as well as that of their mafter, fupply their kitchen with game, as want impels.-Of all the animals of this country the tyger is the moft formidable. The ftrongeft quadrupedes, fuch as the ftags and buffaloes, fall victims to his fanguine fury and appetite. He watches them as they pafs, feizes them by the hinder parts, and never lofes his hold till they expire. The buffaloe is not ranked among the domeftic animals: he is fierce and favage: he wanders in the woods and forefts, and his hideous bellowings are heard at a confiderable distance. When he cannot wreak his vengeance upon the hunter, who has wounded him, he runs to and fro feeking fome other victim to his fury; and thus many an unhappy paffenger has met his fate.
The capital city of the kingdom of Loango, which is the most confiderable territory mentioned in this History, is fituated about four degrees and 45 min. of fouth latitude. The heat of the climate is not fo intolerable as might be expected from this fituation. During fix months of the year there is no rain; but the quantity of dew, that falls every night, is fufficient to nourish the produce of the earth, and vegetation appears every where lively and vigorous. The heat of the fun is alfo mitigated by an abundance of exhalations that rife conftantly to intercept his rays. The fummer feafon begins with October and ends in Mm 3
April; and then the atmosphere is refreshed with fhowers which fall in great quantities and almoft without interruption. It is remarkable, that the great rivers, and even the smallest rivulets, flow with a current as full and rapid, after the fix months dry weather as at the conclufion of the rainy feafon. Our Author conjectures that the heavy rains, with which the earth is impregnated during fix months of the year, are difcharged with 2 gradual and regular motion into the rivers and the refervoirs that fupply their fources. Thick forefts, ever green, cover a vaft extent of the country: and every negroe has the privilege of hunting, and cutting wood, in fuch quantities as he thinks proper.
Tho' the Africans of Lango are, in general, indolent, yet this defect is neither vifible in the commerical part of the nation, nor in those who are entrusted with the adminiftration of public affairs: even the weaker fex apply themfeives, with indefatigable ardor, to the most laborious occupations of agriculture. This people, according to our Author, are not inferior, either in memory or judgment, to the peasants and inhabitants of the country, in Europe. They difcourfe about trifles with great folemnity, and meet for converfation generally in the afternoon, when they fit, in a circle, under the fhade of a tree, with their legs acrofs, their pipes in their mouths, and a Calebah or Gourd of palm wine to animate the difcourfe. They are mild and humane; and, our Author refutes, as entirely falfe, and groundlefs, what fome modern Hiftorians have faid of their facrificing flaves to the manes of their departed Kings; a kind of oblation (fays he) of which they have not even the idea. When they have been fortunate in the chace and have brought home any game that is rare or much efteemed, they divide it among their friends and neighbours, and enjoy a fingular pleafure in giving them this teftimony of their friendship. They call the Europeans fhut-hands, because they give nothing but by barter or without fome return. There are among them no inns or public houses: a traveller, who paffes thro' a village during their repaft, enters the firft cottage he meets, without ceremony, and is hofpitably received. The mafter of the houfe regales him with his best provifions, and then fhews him his way, and conveys him a part of it.
The Abbe Poyart acknowledges that the Negroes, who live near the fea-coaft, are almost as irregular and corrupt in their morals, as the Europeans, who frequent them for the purpofes of commerce: but he confiders, as a calumny, the reproach of licentioufnefs and debauchery that is too liberally caft, by hiftorians, on all the Africans. By the accounts of certain travellers one would think, that adultery and every kind of prostitution,
nay, that the moft monftrous exceffes of impurity were customary among that people, that even the hufbands contributed to, and encouraged the debauchery of their wives, and that the funeral rites of departed friends were celebrated by the moft infamous and abominable practices. All this, however, our Author difavows as false: he attributes fuch narrations to the difingenuous spirit of mercenary writers, who difguife the truth, in order to pleafe that numerous clafs of frivolous or libertine readers, who like to have their corrupt imaginations ftruck with descriptions of this nature, and who think perhaps, that their licentious purfuits are ennobled or justified by a comparison with the groffer impurities that extend their influence over whole nations. Our author might have added, that it is too often the custom of fuperficial travellers to draw the general character of a nation from the conduct and 'actions of a few individuals.
However that may be, the Abbe Poyart affirms, that it is a thing unknown in the country he defcribes, that a man and a woman live together publicly without being united by lawful wedlock; and that there is nothing that refembles thole focieties fet apart for proftitution and debauchery, that difhonour fo many of the great cities in Europe. The Negroe women go with their arms and breafts naked, as the men do; but the cuftom is univerfal, offends no body, and therefore hiftorians unjustly conclude from hence, that these women affront all the laws of modefty. A young man is not allowed to speak to a girl, unless it be in the prefence of her mother; nor to make her a prefent unless he asks her in marriage. "A Negroe girl (fays our Author) coming from the fields with her mother, faid with a certain tone of levity, in the language of the country, to a miffionary who met them, Good day, man of God! upon which the mother reprimanded her for fpeaking to a man with fo much freedom." The aufterity of the mother in this refpect might depend fomewhat upon the character and morals of the man of God; for all is not gold that glitters.
It would fwell this extract to too great a length, did we mention all the interefting accounts, which the Abbé Poyart gives of the alliances, arts, trades, laws, government and customs, that take place in this part of Africa. The King alone confers all employments, and this he does fitting in council. There is no enquiry made into the merit of the candidates; the vacant place, whatever it be, is given to the highest bidder the day that the King confers, or rather fells the employment, is cele brated as a feftival throughout the capital, and the poor people, who always hope for fome redrefs of grievances under a new comer, accompany with every demonftration of joy the proM m 4