« PreviousContinue »
'meters-for, from the general hazy state of the atmosphere, and particularly about the horizon, and the sameness in the altitude of the sun at every hour in the four-and-twenty, he must not expect to obtain an approximation even of the apparent time, by observation, and he will have no stars to assist him. All his ideas, respecting the heavens and the reckoning of his time, will be reversed, and the change not gradual, as in proceeding from the east to the west, or the contrary, but instantaneous. The magnetic needle will point to its unknown magnetic pole, or fly round from the point of the bowl in which it is suspended, and that which indicated north will now be south; the east will become the west, and the hour of noon will be that of midnight.
These curious circumstances will probably be considered to mark the passage by the pole as the most interesting of the two, while it will perhaps be found equally easy. We have indeed very little doubt, that if the polar başin should prove to be free from land about the pole, it will also be free of ice. A sea of more than two thousand miles in diameter, of unfathomable depth (which is the case between Greenland and Spitzbergen) and in constant motion, is not likely to be frozen over at any time. But if all endeavours to discover a passage to the Pacific by either route should prove unavailing, it will still be satisfactory to have removed every doubt on this subject by ascertaining the fact. In making the attempt, many objects, interesting and important to science, will present themselves to the observation of those who are engaged in the two expeditions. That which proceeds up Davis's Strait will have an opportunity of adjusting the geography of the north-east coast of America and the west coast of Greenland ; and of ascertaining whether the latter be not an island or an archipelago of islands; and much curious information may be expected from both. They will ascertain—what is as yet but very imperfectly known—the depth, the temperature, the saltness, and the specific gravity of the seawater in those high latitudes—the velocity of the currents, the state of atmospherical electricity in the arctic regions, and its connexion, at which we have glanced, with the inclination, declination, and intensity of force of the magnetic needle, on which subject alone a collection of facts towards the upper part of Davis's Strait would be worth a voyage of discovery. It has indeed long been suspected, that one of the magnetic poles will be found in this neighbourhood, as in no part of the world have such extraordinary phenomena been observed, or such irregularities in the vibration and the variation of the needle. Captain Muirhead, before quoted, states that, by several good observations, he found the variation in latitude 750 30' no less than eight points; that is to say, when the sun was on the meridian at midnight the needle pointed to the east, A com
parison of the magnetic influence near the pole with what it has been observed to be on the equator, might lead to important results; and the swinging of a pendulum as near to the pole as can be approached, to compare with the oscillations observed in the Shetland islands and in the southern hemisphere, would be a great point gained for science.
In conclusion, we cannot help thinking, that the problem of a Dorth-west passage and the approach to the pole would have been solved long ago if the Act of the 16th Geo. III. which holds forth such liberal encouragement for the discovery of either had been differently framed, or so far amended as, by a graduated scale, to proportion the reward to the distance discovered; as many whaling vessels, when unsuccessful in the fishery, would then be induced to make the attempt, for the chance of earning a small reward, which they are now deterred from doing, as, in case of failure, after whatever risk, they would be entitled to nothing. It might be well also to new model the custom-house oath, which requires the master and owner of every Greenland ship to swear, that the master and ship's company shall proceed and use their utmost endeavours to take whales, or other large creatures, living in the seas, and on no other design or view of profit. Under this oath, the encouragement meant to be given by the legislature is a complete nullity; and the attempt of the master of a whaler to avail himself of it must be made at the hazard of his ears.
Art. XII. Panorama d'Angleterre, ou Ephémérides Anglaises
politiques et littéraires. PUBLIÉes par M. Charles Malo, de l'Athénée des Arts, des Académies de Lyon, de Douai,&c. Tom. I
Paris. 1817. pp. 332. IT has been our fortune to introduce to the notice of our readers
two couple of travellers, namely, Sir John Carr and Miss Plum tre, and General Pillet and Lady Morgan; to which we believe we may say that the annals of literature cannot add a third. M. Charles Malo, however, pleads strongly to be admitted into this delectable society.–To say nothing of our inability to provide a suitable partner for him, we must hesitate to grant him this distinction on his own account—he is, to be sure, as credulous, as silly, and almost as ignorant as the objects of his emulation; but he has neither the impiety, indecency, nor jacobinism of the latter, nor the absurd and self-complacent vanity of the former pair; and, moreover, though he affects to describe England, it is not very clear that he ever visited it, and it is certain that the work published by him is almost wholly written by others. These circumstances are more than sufficient for our justification, and M. Charles Malo must therefore be con
tent, at present, to stand aside.But though we cannot admit him into such high company, he really has some little merits of his own which will divert our readers, and make them perhaps lament that, instead of borrowing from bad English publications, he had not trusted to his own original and highly amusing talents for absurdity and misrepresentation
We would first call the reader's attention to the inimitable naïveté with which he selects, as the motto to his description of England, the two words • Nihil Anglicum. As M. Charles Malo appears to be a member of the institution called the Athénée, we must presume that he knows the meaning of these words, and we can therefore only attribute to the amiable candour of an ingenuous mind this early confession, that in his description of England there is
Nothing English!--and this is no accidental admission; for the first lines of his text are equally modest: • For ages past,' says he,
the English have been writing about France, and the French about England; and the only care of each party seems to be the rivalling the other in dreams, inventions and romances.'--p. 1.- and while he admits that his book is a compilation from these visions, he candidly owns that his endeavours have been to compose a work on England eminently French'-p.3.
The eminently-French manner of describing foreign countries is so well known, that it seems somewhat tautological to promise us that style of writing, after having just before prepared us for
reveries and romances. M. Charles Malo, however, thinks be never can say enough in proof of his candour, for he adds, that he looks upon this volume as the first stone of a monument which he wishes to erect to the national character of his country. This noble sentiment may show his impartiality and fitness for the task he undertakes; but-as he very earnestly solicits criticism-we would venture to submit to him whether the spot on which he has thought proper to found this national monument is well chosen? and whether it would be perfect good taste to erect a monument to Buonaparte at Waterloo, or a statue of Marshal Davoust in the Exchange of Hamburgh?
We will be however as candid as M. Charles Malo, and frankly admit that this blunder is merely verbal, and that if he had called the great work which he is building, a monument of the inferiority of England to France, it would not have been so liable to criticism: that this is his real intention appears from a circumstance to which we solicit the attention of our readers, namely, that the quarries from which he draws the chief materials for this anti-anglican monument are the opposition newspapers of England. -He, however, does not entirely confine himself to them.--He begins by translating Bishop Burnet's tract addressed to the Elec
tress Sophia upwards of a century ago, and he adds what he calls copies textuelles of Magna Charta, the Bill of Rights, the Habeas Corpus Act, and the acts of Navigation and Settlement. These copies textuelles are not copies but translations, and such translations as might be espected from M. Charles Malo, who has the misfortune of being wholly unacquainted with the English language. It is this little defect which inakes him mistake the petition of right in the reign of Charles I. for the Bill of Rights in 1689; and it is pleasant enough to see all the praises which different authors have bestowed on the latter lavished on a paraphrase of the former.
But M. Charles Malo soon attempts a more intelligible topic -the characters of our eminent public men.' He finds them ready made to his band in a publication which he does not name, but which we believe to be the Independent Whig.' We are sorry that we have not at hand the means of verifying this fact; but whencesoever they niay be borrowed, they are the joint result of the lowest party malignity, and the most entire ignorance of the personages described; indeed M. Charles Malo himself suspects as much, for he introduces them with this note :
· These portraits at first sight will appear to be dictated by an independent spirit; but the angry and decided tone, jokes alike gross and ill-founded, and, above all, an ill-disguised partiality, should put us on our guard against believing in the likeness which the author pretends to have caught.'— p. 87. And yet M. Charles Malo thinks it consistent with the 'neutralité de son róle' to present to his countrymen these gross, illfounded, angry, and partial daubings as the genuine portraits of the public men of England! We venture to believe, however, that M. Charles Malo has, here and there, added some touches of his own; at least we cannot conceive how any Englishman could say—that Mr. Wellesley Pole and Mr. Croker play the most prominent parts in the House of Commons ;' (p. 94.) and yet, that the former gentleman owes his chief consequence to his brothers, one of whom (can this be Lord Wellesley?) is 'Un MAGISTRAT d'un très grand mérite;' and the other (meaning, we apprehend, the Duke of Wellington)' un militaire fort RespectABLE,' (p. 95.)—that Mr. Cavning's oratory is particularly deficient in flow and in brilliancy, (p. 119.)—and that 'il se retranche prudemment derrière une gravité lourde,' (p. 119.)—that Mr. Tierney once enjoyed such a popularity, that'de nobles députés MM. Alcock et Favall dansèrent presque de joie en entendant les oracles qui sortaient de są bouche; quand un seul de ses regards suffisait pour métamorphoser le plus sale district de Southwark en un lieu de fête, un théâtre de la joie;' but that-so fleeting is popularity—these very
people, people,' to 'show their contempt, soon after called their dogs Tierneys.—p. 11S.
He next undertakes to give his countrymen a view of the police and manners of London, and for this purpose he extracts from Mr. Colquhoun's work, and the Parliamentary Reports on the Police and Mendicity of the metropolis, all the extraordinary and often exaggerated anecdotes which they contain-God knows there is but too much vice and misery in all great towns ! and, as London is by much the greatest in Europe, it may naturally happen that there is a proportionale quantity of wretchedness to be found in its streets; but we firmly believe that there is no more than its proportion. If we were to take the pains of collecting all the instances of atrocity and misery which are related of Paris in various works, and in the daily journals, we are afraid M. Charles Malo's monument would not have much superiority to boast: and what would the result be, if a free and fearless cominittee of the Chamber of Deputies could carry the light of public inquiry into the Circean styes of the Palais Royal, and ihe gloomy recesses of the Cité and of the fauxbourgs ?
M. Charles Malo's next chapter is on reform in parliament.This precious essay, and a plan for a constitutional reform, though always proceeding iu the first person, as •I think,''I propose,' are copied, without any avowal on the part of M. Charles Malo, who seems to have expended all his candour in his preface, from an English pamphlet; and to this luminous piece M. Charles Malo adds, on the same authority, as a 'pièce justificative et irrécusable, a most curious document, quite unknown in France,' namely, a list of the members of the House of Commons, the places for which ibey sit, and the patrons who return them.
Our readers may perhaps like to see a specimen of this authentic and irrécusable document, which, after having been largely distributed for the information of the populace of England, is now translated for the improvement of the statesmen and the literati of France. It states, for example, that the representation of the county of Bedford is sold (vendu) to the Duke of Bedford and Lord St. John ;—that of Berkshire, and its two representatives Mr. Neville and Mr. Dundas, to Lord Craven ;—that the city of Carlisle, with Sir James Graham and Mr. Curwen, is sold to the Duke of Norfolk ;—that Derby town and county, and the four members, are sold to the Duke of Devonshire ;-that Dorsetshire is sold to Lord Rivers ;-Herefordshire and. Radnorshire to Lord Oxford ;-Worcestershire, with Lord Elmsley and the Honourable Mr. Lyttelton, to Lord Foley :—these,' amongst an hundred instances equally convincing, cannot but prove to England and