« PreviousContinue »
by saying that her cold discourse" developed to him the entire philosophy of the fathers and mothers of Holland."
In the midst of so much that is trifling and trashy, there are observations not devoid of truth. Such are those on the national antipathy existing between the northern and southern provinces, and the jealousies and hatreds which neither Belgian nor Batavian ever takes the slightest trouble to conceal. The two nations are unlike in habits, in religion, and in language:-"Two blocks, whose substances, far from being identical, have only extremely weak affinities. They are only soldered together, and will separate at the first shock" (p. 97.) Every thing we have observed compels us to concur in this opinion. Holland would have been stronger, far stronger, with her compact population united by common interests and common feelings, than she can be, bound up with a country whose prosperity emanates from sources far removed from those which have been the source of the greatness of the northern Netherlands. All hopes of a fusion appear to us vain and baseless. In power, in population, the two parts of the kingdom are so equally poised, that one can hardly assume preponderance over the other. A few flatteries addressed to the Sovereign-the official documents emanating from those who have to plead a particular cause-may seem to betoken unity, but the fact is very obvious to every observer. The Flemings look upon the Hollanders with distrust and dislike, and the Hollanders pay the balance of ill will in the same coin. The disunion has not been healed, it has rather been strengthened by time; and a dissolution will inevitably take place, should Europe be agitated by internal convulsions. We believe that Holland would be stronger if she stood alone, and that no nation was ever made more powerful by the addition of some millions of discontented citizens.
In speaking of the character of the King of the Netherlands, M.de remarks with great justice on the security against oppression which his accessibleness gives to his subjects. Every Wednesday the doors of his palace are open to every applicant, and he listens with unbounded patience and courtesy to all the representations which any visitor may deem it fit to make; but our traveller's account of the levee is, like every thing else, spoiled by his vanity and affectation. M. de, who has nothing to say, obtains an audience five times as long as any body who follows him. For King William, it is but fair to pronounce that he does not fling away these audience days in undiscerning waste of time. They do him honour on all accounts. The meanest subordinate of his people is not more accessible than the monarch on that day. Peer and peasant, old and young, all who have a tale to tell, a grievance to complain of, a favour to ask, all are ad
mitted, and encouraged by a rare urbanity to prefer their requests to the royal ear.
Of the poets of Holland we have endeavoured on a former occasion to communicate some idea to our readers. Our author gives his notions, precipitantly and ignorantly, as usual. On his way to Scheveningen he is shown the house of the poet Cats, (he says Catz,) who is called "the Horace, the La Fontaine, the Ovid, and the Boccaccio of Holland-the best poet of a country, all whose poets are hot-house productions." And then with a few words on Johannes Secundus, whose Kisses" have been translated into French by the elegant Tissot," the catalogue of the favourites of the muses among Hollanders is suddenly closed. He did not even know that the road from the Hague to Scheveningen, whose beauty and whose ornaments he so much admires, was the work of another poet, one of a family of geniuses-of Constantine Huygens. Equally instructed in painting as in poetry, and with less excuse, for he had only to open his eyes, he in the following chapter vituperates the Flemish school, talks slightingly of Paul Potter, and the " peculiarities" of the Dutch artists, and then is in extacy with a collection of graceless and worthless Japanese carvings, which he stumbles on in the lower stories of the Museum.
M. de goes to Haarlem, where he finds a tulip-fancier, who presents him with a tulip root, which he afterwards sells for 40,000 florins, or about 3500l.!-a tolerable experiment this on the credulity of his readers, and an episode of no small interest to himself; but the present is to reward him for having rescued the tulip-fancier's daughter from a watery grave. But with M. de --all is grandiose, all combines to make him out the special favourite of fortune. When he goes to the Haarlem lake, his companions have only to throw a harpoon into the waters, and out comes an ancient, wondrously-wrought cuirass of silver, all of silver, blackened by time and by "muriatic acid!"
M. de's orthography is in the style and spirit of him who insisted on printing our great dramatist Chikspir, and Newton Nouveauton. It is an abomination not to be pardoned by Gods or men, that any place, person, or thing, should be called by a name which will not run smoothly over the velvetty lips of a Parisian petit-maitre. So the Keyser-gragt of Amsterdam must become Keisès-gract; the Stoom-boot, a Stom-bôte; Ryswick is Risveck; the Heerenlogement, Heirlodgmene; De Wit is transformed to M. Vett; the Voorhout of the Hague to the Faurhaute; Walcheren is Valkere; the Zuyder-Zee is so no longer, but the Zeuder-zi; poor simple Jan is made a two-syllabled Y an; and so of every word or phrase upon which our critic stumbles. God save
the mark! if there be sotme men who have an Ithuriel's spear, by which they turn up truths on all occasions, others bear about a broom-stick by which they never fail to produce a blunder.
Something may be said for the ignorance of the inquirer, but the ignorance of the presumptuous is intolerable. These volumes overflow with examples of shallow dogmatism, unrelieved by a spark of knowledge or sagacity; nations, literature, languages, handed over to wholesale condemnation by one who knows nothing of idioms, or books, or people.
He says (p. 861,)" the Dutch are ever jealous of the memory of those exploits which they shared with us. This exceptional people could no more amalgamate with the immensity of Frenchmen than with the Spaniards their ancient masters, with whom nobody will ever be able to amalgamate;" and this nationality, so honourable to the Batavians, is made the ground of unfriendly animadversions.
The author reports at some length the opinion of a compatriot long settled at Amsterdam, respecting the people of the country, of which these are the results: that the trade of Holland is decaying; the land hourly exposed to be overflowed; that the nation is not richer than other nations; that their economy is parsimonious, their religious tolerance a bargain for common convenience; that they would have more vices if they were more enthusiastic, and more crimes had they more subtilty; that all is artificial, and without the virtues of primitive or of civilized existence; that its canals are mere stagnancy and stink; that the population diminishes; that their reputation for industry is a fallacy; that their cleanliness is a physical necessity as far as it goes, but for the most part an imposture; that their national pride is as presumptuous, and their national degeneracy as great, as that of Venice; that they are cold, heartless, and nerveless, taciturn and thoughtless, good skaters but graceless, great smokers but inhospitable, careless about the education of their children, insensible to the claims of love, indifferent to domestic sympa thies, libidinous without sentiment, luxurious without taste. Such, or something like it, is the picture which our observer sends forth to the world of a moral, religious, and highly-civilized nation, after an acquaintance of about eight weeks, for it seems half his four months were passed in Belgium.
We have somewhat doubted the propriety of meddling with this second Pillet, whose business in Holland seems to have been to gather up whatever he could find of prejudice against the Dutch people, and reproduce it, in rather lively style, at Paris. Such mischievous missionaries should be handed over to universal reprobation. There are in the world a number of wretched wit
lings who fling about their petty firebrands in sport, careless how: much of malevolence they create, and how much of mendacity, they diffuse. But the most obscure and the most contemptible: may be an incendiary if he will, and unfortunately the love of evil and the power of evil are nearly allied. In most cases, perhaps, and assuredly in this case, mere frivolity and levity of spirit are the primary cause of the injuries done. Close upon such injuries punishment follows. The man who hates another, gets hatred for his recompense; and the nation whose writers play with contumelious weapons, loses a portion of its own reputation. Such men as M. de are the great fosterers of national animosities, and the scorn he pours out on the heads of Hollanders, will be returned on the heads of some of his unoffending fellowcitizens who may visit the Seven Provinces. There is no end to this moral epidemy, and it should be stopped by a rigid moral quarantine. How can Frenchmen or Englishmen expect a cordial, or even a courteous reception in any country, if it be their practice to vituperate and insult their hosts? You called me Jewish dog, and for this, aye, for this, I must give you most Christian ducats." It is too much for human endurance-it is too much for mortal expectation.
ART. X.-Théorie Analytique du Système du Monde. Par M. G. De Pontécoulant. Tomes I. et II. 8vo. Paris. 1829.
THE slow and gradual manner in which human knowledge in general progresses, is strikingly illustrated in the history of those sciences which are founded on the various applications of mathematics. From the simplest theorem of geometry up to the sublimest result of the doctrine of central forces, there is not, perhaps, a single truth, which, on its first discovery, was exhibited in all the evidence and generality of which it has subsequently been found to be susceptible. The eye of genius first catches a glimpse of some remote or obscure analogy,--some hitherto undiscovered law or mode of operation observed by nature in her productions and transmutations, but it is only after much patient and laborious investigation that its relation to truths already known is ascertained, and its appropriate place in the constantly accumulating mass of knowledge determined.
But although it frequently happens in science that a new discovery derives its principal value from applications never contemplated by its author, there seems to be a disposition on the part of mankind to allow a comparatively small degree of merit to such applications; to estimate at a low rate the labours of
those who, if they cannot properly be said to extend the domain of science, perform a scarcely less important service in improving and rendering more productive the conquests achieved by those master-minds which lead the way, and overcome the only real difficulties. Nor is the tribute thus paid to originality at all unjust or unreasonable. Invention has always been, and must always be, regarded as the highest and rarest faculty of the human intellect; and the glory which attends the discovery of a useful truth, is very partially, if at all obscured, by the circumstance of its having been arrived at by an indirect or circuitous route. "Varignon nous generalisera cela," was the sarcastic but significant remark of the elder Bernoulli; and its application is alike extensive and obvious. Numbers are always at hand capable of extending a principle or simplifying a rule, who, by any efforts of their own ingenuity, could never have discovered either; and in general, when a result has once been obtained, there is comparatively little difficulty in exhibiting it under the most commodious or comprehensive form of which it may be susceptible. Thus there is a broad, palpable, and ineffaceable line distinguishing invention from improvement, the inspirations of genius from the product of labour, however useful and praiseworthy that labour may be. It concerns, however, the interest and happiness of the human race, not only that truth should be discovered, but that it should be made known to the greatest number possible. The knowledge of the physical causes of the various phenomena of nature is not only important on account of its multiplying the comforts and resources of mankind; it effects a great moral good, by making us acquainted with the relation in which we stand to the universe, and thereby tending to eradicate superstition and destroy the fancied connection which the vanity or timidity of man, in all ages of the world, has been eager to establish between the celestial appearances and his own insignificant destiny. Without deducting, therefore, in any degree from the glory of the original discoverer, no small praise is due to those who, by new illustrations, better arrangement, or simpler demonstrations, promote the diffusion of knowledge by rendering it more accessible and easy of acquirement.
Physical astronomy is one of those sciences which date their origin from the seventeenth century, a period distinguished for great and brilliant discoveries above all others in the annals of the human intellect. The application of algebra to geometry,— -the invention of logarithms,-of the fluxionary calculus,-the discovery of the telescope,-of the micrometer,-the application of the pendulum to regulate timekeepers,the science of dynaimics, the theory of central forces, and the discovery of the great