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from what it is here. To make an estimate what might be the degree of the diminution, he considered with himself that if the moon be retained in her orbit by the force of gravity, no doubt the primary planets are carried round the sun by the like power; and by comparing the periods of the several planets with their distances from the sun, he found that if any power like gravity held them in their courses, its strength must decrease in the duplicate proportion of the increase of distance. Supposing, therefore, the power of gravity, when extended to the moon, to decrease in the same proportion, he computed whether that force would be sufficient to keep the moon in her orbit, and he found it would be sufficient. Newton had now the satisfaction to perceive that this inquiry, which an accidental thought had given rise to, led to the discovery of an universal law of nature, which solved the most striking of her phenomena. It is thus that genius proceeds, step by step, from the simplest principles to the most sublime conclusions.

Newton, amidst many other discoveries, is immortalised by his theory of Light and Colours.' He analysed the composition of light by means of the prism, and found that the smallest ray into which it can be separated is a compound substance, or fasciculus, consisting of several elementary rays distinct from each other, each tinged with a particular colour, and incapable of being further altered after this separation. He perceived that these coloured rays could not possibly be separated from each other-if their nature were not such, that in passing through the

same medium they were refracted under different angles. This, together with the principle of the different reflexibility of different rays, is the fundamental discovery of Sir Isaac Newton in optics, from whence he has deduced the most important conclusions.

While natural philosophy was thus advancing by the efforts of the genius of Newton, his contemporary, Locke, exalted metaphysics into a rational science. The method which Bacon has proposed for the study of nature, Mr. Locke hast ingeniously applied to the study of the mind. It was not Locke's view or intention to form a plausible theory of the human understanding, as many metaphysicians had done before him. He wished to examine the mind as an anatomist does the body, and faithfully to record his observations. For this purpose he observes the visible signs of the first operations of the mind in an infant; he follows its progress up to maturity of reason; he compares these signs and this progress with the manifestations of the reasoning faculty in animals; and finding that from practice or experience, according as man or the animal advances in life, there is a gradual increase in the number of ideas, as well as an improvement in combining and modifying them, he very naturally draws this inference, that there are no innate ideas in the mind, but that they are all communicated to it gradually, either from the impressions of external objects, or by reflecting on these impressions; a conclusion which has very unjustly drawn upon Mr. Locke the imputation of scepticism in religion, as if it took away any argument from the

existence of a God to maintain, that the mind did not intuitively perceive that truth, or to maintain that no such idea existed in the mind of an infant of a year old, but was the result of an improvement of reason. The truth is, the piety of Locke was one of the most remarkable features of his character.

LITERATURE.

The beginning of the sixteenth century, the pontificate of Julius II. and Leo. X. was an era no less remarkable for the cultivation of the fine arts of painting, sculpture, and architecture, than for the higher species of poetical composition. Trissino, an Italian, was the first of the moderns who composed an epic poem in the language of his country. Trissino chose for his subject the delivery of Italy from the Goths by Belisarius under the emperor Justinian. The subject was well chosen; and the poem, though very moderate in point of execution, had great success from the uovelty of the attempt. The greatest fault of Trissino is that he copies Homer too closely in his descriptions, imitating even that which is generally esteemed a defect in the great father of epic poetry, his extreme minuteness in describing trivial particulars.

The Portuguese Camoens followed next; a poet possessed of much greater powers than Trissino. He had attended Vasco de Gama in the first voyage of the Portuguese to India by the Cape of Good Hope; and this great enterprise he celebrated in his poem called the 'Lusiad,' a great part of which he composed while upon the voy

age, a work, though irregular, abounding in poetical fire, and displaying the finest imagination. It has undergone many translations into the other languages of Europe, and is known in England by the able one of Mr. Mickle.

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Towards the end of the sixteenth century, Spain likewise produced an epic poem of no inconsiderable merit, the Araucana' of Don Alonzo Ercilla. What is remarkable in this poem is, that the author himself is the hero of it. Ercilla, who was a young man of talents and of an enterprising spirit, embarked for the province of Chili in South America. Upon the intelligence of a revolt of some of the natives against his sovereign, Philip II. of Spain, he raised a few troops, and carried on a long war with the inhabitants of Araucana, whom at length he reduced to submission, and this war is the subject of his poem. It is a very irregular composition, but displays many strokes of true genius.

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A work had some time before this (about the middle of the sixteenth century) appeared in Italy, which engrossed the attention of all the literary world. This was the Orlando Furioso' of Ariosto, an epic poem, which, with a total disregard of all the rules of this species of composition, without plan, without probability, without morality or decency, has the most captivating charms to all who are possessed of the smallest degree of genuine taste. Orlando is the hero of the piece, and he is mad. Eight books are consumed before the hero is introduced, and his first appearance is in bed desiring to sleep. His great purpose is to find his mistress Angelica; but his

VOL. VI.

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search of her is interrupted by so many adventures of other knights and damsels, each of them pursuing some separate object, few of which have any necessary relation to the great action of the piece, that it becomes almost impossible to peruse this poem with any degree of connection between the parts. We are amused with a number of delightful stories, told with wonderful power of fancy and poetical genius; but in order to pursue any tale to an end, the reader must hunt for it through a dozen of books; for it is often cut short in the most interesting part, and resumed at the distance of five or six cantos, as abruptly as it had been broken off. There is no good moral in the adventures of the mad Orlando, and the scenes which the poet describes are often most grossly indecent; yet, with all its faults, the work of Ariosto will maintain its ground for ever, as furnishing a strange, irregular, but very high degree of pleasure*.

Tasso is much more of a regular genius than Ariosto; and in his poem of the Gierusalemme

* Ariosto was a man of learning, and wrote admirably in the Latin tongue. Cardinal Bembo wished to persuade him to compose in that language, as being more universally intelligible than the Italian. "I would rather," said Ariosto, "be the first of the Italian writers than the second of the Latin." delicate compliment to the person to whom he spoke; but, at the same time, a strong evidence of the high estimation in which he rated his own abilities.

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He had an elegant villa at Ferrara, but of small extent; and on the front of his house was this apposite inscription :

Parva, sed apta mihi, sed nulli obnoxia, sed non
Sordida, parta meo sed tamen ære, domus.

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