Page images
[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]

opinions than ridicule, and it is not only | nature, we shall find this truth confirmed ; the favourite weapon of the wit, but has and though; ridicule must be allowed to even been sometimes employed by the phi- have had its share in the demoralization of losopher, it may be doubted, however, mankind, it will be difficult to find one upon good grounds, whether in the aggre- virtue that has emanated from its influence, gate it produces the desired reformation, or Shame may, indeed, in many instances, whether, on the contrary, it is not rather have stopped the career of open depravity; calculated to increase moral evil.

but it is much to be doubted whether selfThe object of ridicule is to deteriorate the love was not more wounded, than conobnoxious opinions, by placing them in a science savingly awakened, or whether the ludicrous or preposterous point of view; sense of pride was not rather shocked at and thus, by lowering them in the estima- the disreputable character of the action in tion of their supporters, cause their aban. the eye of the world, than the reason was donment, rather from a sense of shame, convinced of its turpitude in the eye of than from any real conviction in the mind, God; and in this case it might be abanthat they are untenable on rational ground. doned from expediency, but would not be Ridicule attacks the pride and self-love of renounced upon principle. On the con. man, by covertly putting his opinions at a trary, I think it will appear, that the ties lower standard than he had himself fixed, of religion, morality, and social duty, in and thus exposing his cupidity to an unex- well-regulated minds, have never been pected assault, which, however fallacious loosened by the power of ridicule, for as and weak in itself, by its subtlety and point they have been riveted by conviction, nodisarms opposition, and for the moment thing but conviction can release them from sets even reason at defiance. Ridicule their hold on the reason. seldom admits of argument, because it has Nothing has been more the object of ridi. the effect of instantly reducing its object cule than religion. It has been assailed by below the level of sober consideration, by the wit of Voltaire, the ribaldry of Paine, and placing it on the ground of assumed ab- the elegant but subtle satire of Gibbon; yet surdity; at this the mind naturally revolts, | the whole force of their combined talents as below the dignity of man. Ridicule has been insufficient to invalidate one fact, to always takes inconsistency and absurdily refute one fundamental truth, or to hold up for granted, and on this foundation builds the sacred form of vital religion to the a sudden and specious conclusion, which scorn and derision of well-directed reason. admits, in most minds, of no serious refu- The pageantry of superstition, and the tation.

dreams of fanaticism, have been demo* There is no principle in the human mind lished and scattered by their attacks; but more powerful than self-love, and this, ridi- the sacred fabric, though thus despoiled of cule wounds, and thus gains a victory, the votive decorations of its human which, however cowardly and transient, is votaries, built on the rock of ages, has nevertheless secure. But, happily for bid a proud defiance to the pointless shafts {truth, reason' is unconvinced, though her of ridicule. powers may be paralyzed. Sentiments Hence ridicule, when applied to eradionce fixed by the calm deductions of re- cate vice and implant virtue, must ever fail flection, can only be changed by argument; | in producing a permanent moral effect, and the same process is required to eradi- since it has no foundation in sound argucate, as to plant them. It is upon this ment and rational conclusion, on which ground that I assert, it may be doubted religious and moral principles are built ; whether, in the aggregate, ridicule pro- neither, on the other hand, will it ever be duces the desired reformation, or wheiher, capable of eradicating them, when once on the contrary, it is not rather calculated fixed on the basis of conviction; and I to increase moral evil.

believe there are few, if any, individuals to Ridicule, considered in itself, is a fragile be found, who, having been brought up in and pointless weapon, since it takes an im- the fear of God, and having been led by petus from the hand that wields it, which ridicule to deviate into the paths of vice, its own gravity would be unable steadily to but may be reclaimed by strong and judisupport, were it not borne to its destina- cious appeals to reason. tion by the strong current of popular pre- In the above remarks, I would not injudice. The satirist always deals in hy. culcate an ascetic gravity, or check the perbole, distorting facts to suit his purpose, exuberance of innocent mirth. There are and assuming false premises from which to numerous follies in dress, manners, habits, draw his conclusions.

and even opinions, which it is the legitive! If we look into the history of human mate province of ridicule to correct; and

[ocr errors]

Divine Agency necessary to the Motion of the Planets.

[ocr errors]

here its effects are always harmless, and centrifugal force, and the sun's attraction, often salutary, as these have little to do cannot exist while the planets move in with reason or moral convictions, and may ellipses. be safely conceded to the received opinions i demonstrated the first proposition by of society. But when religion, moral feel shewing that a tangent being inferior to a ing, and the sacred ties of social duty, are double sine, can never become superior concerned, ridicule is out of place; it may thereto, but by rising to a certain degree, be the pander of vice, but it never can be where they are both perfectly equal.* made the handmaid of virtue.

To this Mr. Birt has replied by way E.G. B. of opposition. Some of his remarks are

as follows, “In illustrating his first pro

position, Mr. Jenkin has given an exDIVINE AGENCY CONSTANTLY NECESSARY

ample, in which a quantity, from being TO THE ELLIPTICAL MOTION OF THE

inferior to another quantity, reaches a

point at which both quantities are equal, PLANETS.

but (unfortunately for the truth of his third MR. EDITOR,

proposition) the inferior, after arriving at SIR-When 'any serious person has long this point, becomes the superior quantity : been engaged in the study of astronomy, arguing, then, from this example, that if it is very natural that he should try to the centrifugal force does not bear a due discover, whether God, having created proportion to the centripetal, in order that the heavenly bodies, and put them into the planet inay revolve in a circular orbit, motion, have left them to continue their but is inferior in this respect, and will movements by virtue of the first impulse reach a point where it will bear this progiven them at the time of their formation, portion, it will not rest here, for it becomes without his further interference; or whe superior in the same manner as the tangent ther the divine agency be constantly and from being inferior to the double sine necessarily exerted in the continuance of becomes its superior.”+ those regular motions of the planets which I would here observe, that Mr. Birt are observed by an attentive beholder. has very unfortunately lost sight of a most

By carefully examining the subject, I important circumstance: namely, That have been led to believe that an intelligent the tangent which was inferior to the being 'is absolutely necessary to continue, double sine having become superior direct, and regulate the motions of the thereto, continues perpetually to increase celestial luminaries : which otherwise would its superiority without ever returning to speedily fall into the greatest disorder and a state of equality. As tangents and confusion. But many contend that the secants are always approaching nearer movements and revolutions of the planets to equality, without a possibility of their round the sun, are caused by their cen. ever becoming equal; so the tangent trifugal and contripetal forces operating is always increasing in length, although entirely upon mechanic principles, without it is impossible to calculate the utany other kind of direction. In a former most reach of its extension. The greatletter, I'assigned some reasons for thinking est length to which the double sine can this system to be erroneous. These were extend is easily determined: but the contained in the four following propo- greatest length to which the tangent can sitions, viz.

reach is altogether incalculable : the one 1. There can be no progression from is finite, being confined within certain inferiority to superiority, without arriving bounds; the other is infinite, and exceeds at a point of equality.

all definite extension; therefore the tan2. The planets' centrifugal force being gent's superiority over the double sine once inferior to the sun's attraction, can will be for ever increasing, without ever never become superior thereto, without stopping at any determinate elongation. the planets' arriving at a point in the orbit Now Mr. Birt argues that the centrifugal where the centrifugal force, and the sun's force will rise superior to the centripetal attraction, are perfectly equal. .. force in the same manner as the tangent

3. The centrifugal force, and the sun's rises superior to the double sine. attraction, can never become perfectly I argue, that the centrifugal force does equal, without causing the planet to move not rise superior to the centripetal force in a perfect circle.

in the same manner as the tangent rises - '4. The planets can never move in ellipses while the centrifugal force, and

• Imperial Magazine, 1828, col. 914. the sun's attraction, do exist. Also, the ! ¢ Imperial Magazine, 1828, col. 1006.

[ocr errors]

Divine Agency necessary to the Motion of the Planets.


superior to the double sine; because, if it endeavours to explain the mode -of the did, it would inevitably cause the planets planets' motions round the sun, by exhito fly off from the sun to the greatest biting some movements on the whirling possible distance, without any possibility table; for which purpose he connects, by of their ever returning towards it. For, a wire, a ball weighing six ounces, with the tangent, once become superior to the another ball weighing one ounce : and double sine, continues for ever to increase having fixed a fork in the centre of the its superiority. If then, the centrifugal table, he places the wire thereon, in such force become superior to the centripetal a manner that the balls may exactly balance force, in the same manner it must con- each other, which will be when the centre tinue for ever increasing its superiority of gravity between them in the wire rests over the centripetal force, as the tangent upon the fork. And this centre of gravity does over the double sine : and the con is as much nearer to the centre of the large stant increase of the centrifugal force ball, than to the centre of the small one, must be attended with the constant in- as the large one is heavier than the small crease of distance. So that Mr. Birt's | one, allowing for the weight of the wire scheme would (if true) speedily put a on each side of the fork. The machine is complete period to the elliptical motion then put in motion by turning the winch; of the planets, and cause them to run law and the balls go round their common less through the sky. But it is certain that centre of gravity, keeping their balance, the planets continue to revolve in elliptical because neither will allow the other to fly orbits : therefore it is certain that they are off with it. After illustrating his opera not directed by any centrifugal and cen tions, by referring to a proper figure, he tripetal forces which are influenced by, or says, “This shews that the sun and plasubject to, the order of the tangent rising nets must all move round the common above the double sine : for, if they were centre of gravity of the whole system, in under any such influence, or subject to any order to preserve that just balance which such order, their elliptical motions could takes place among them. For, the planets not possibly continue. As they are not being as inactive and dead as the above under any influence, nor subject to any balls, they could no more have put themorder of the kind, Mr. Birt's argument, selves into motion than these balls can; that the centrifugal force will rise superior nor have kept in their orbits, without being to the centripetal, because the tangent balanced at first with the greatest degree rises superior to the double sine, is per of exactness upon their common centre of fectly inconclusive, and consequently gravity, by the Almighty hand that made proves nothing.

them, and put them in motion." Respecting my third proposition, which . It may be here remarked, that if there Mr. Birt considers as false, it may be ob- were only one planet revolving round the served, that its truth is owned and attested sun, or if there were many planets thus in by a strenuous advocate of the very system motion without ever changing their posiwhich I oppose. It has already been tions in respect of one another, what is shown that the proposition in question here advanced would seem sufficient to runs thus:

account for circular motion, though not The centrifugal force, and the sun's for elliptical.) But if the positions of the attraction, can never become perfectly planets be once altered, the whole theory equal, without causing the planet to move must be totally deranged. In the above in a perfect circle.

experiments, while the balls continue preNow P. Kelly, LL.D. in speaking of cisely of the same weight, or in the same centrifugal and centripetal forces, says proportion to one another, they will main expressly,- If these forces were equal, the tain a just balance, and continue à regular orbits of the heavenly bodies would be motion as long as the winch is turned : circular.* This is granting the very thing but if the weight of the one be in the least I contend for, and positively affirming all degree diminished, and the weight of the that my third proposition contains; other increased in the smallest measure, namely, that an equality of these forces a new centre of gravity must be found, must necessarily produce a circular motion, which must be proportionably nearer the and not an elliptical one.

ball where the increase has taken place : But to treat more particularly of these this will be effected by moving the wire, forces, James Ferguson, F.R. S. who is and placing the ball with the augmented an advocate for the Newtonian system, weight nearer to the fork than it was be

• Nautical Astronomy, p. 96.

† Select Lectures, p. 38, 39. ,

Abolition of Human Sacrifices in India.

432 Screen ...... ...occorreccione fore. If this be not done, the balance will / round which the whole solar system is soon be lost, and a regular motion will no supposed to revolve, this studious and longer continue; because one ball over- laborious teacher, with all his experiments, balancing the other, must inevitably carry it is compelled to own that the Almighty off from the table.

hand of God must be still 'employed in Suppose, then, that in the beginning, guiding the sun in its course, and causing the Creator of all things, had balanced the it to approach nearer to the centre of heavenly bodies in such a manner as the gravity, or to recede farther from it, as the above balls are balanced ;-suppose that planets change their positions : and that, the sun, and the planets adjacent, were to should the guiding hand of Deity be once the planets opposite as six to one, that withdrawn, the whole system would ineviproportion would not long continue : for, tably be destroyed.. in consequence of the planets' motions, Now I would ask, If it be allowed that those adjacent to the sun would sometimes the sun is constantly and necessarily be diminished and sometimes increased, guided by the immediate hand of Almighty which must be attended with the augmen God; why may we not allow that the tation and diminution, in a reciprocal planets also are subject to the same manner, of those on the opposite side. guidance ? By this change the first balance would What reason can be assigned, for conbe lost, and they must be balanced again fessing the absolute necessity of an immeby placing the sun nearer to the common diate divine agency in the one case, and centre of gravity when the increase was denying it in the other? in the adjacent planets; and placing the To conclude: If the aspects of the sun farther from that centre, when the planets continued always precisely the increase was in the planets opposite same as they were at the creation, and if thereto. This regulation of the sun and they revolved round the sun in circular planets must necessarily require the con- orbits, as the balls go round on the whirlstant interference of some intelligent agent, ing table; the centrifugal and centripetal in possession of power sufficient for the forces might be well admitted as the performance of this important work. principal cause in directing their motion :

All this appeared so evident to Ferguson but, as it is known that their aspects himself, that he was constrained to allow | constantly change, and that they revolve it in the most express terms : for he says, in elliptical orbits, I must ascribe their “ But after all this nice adjustment, it regular movements to the immediate and appears evident that the Deity cannot constant guidance of that Almighty hand withdraw his regulating hand from his which formed them, and put them first into works, and leave them to be solely go-motion. verned by the laws which he has impressed I He that in the beginning created these upon them at first. For if he should once celestial luminaries, still continues to bring leave them so, their order would in time out their host by number : for that he is come to an end; because the planets must strong in power; not one faileth. necessarily disturb one another's motions by their mutual attractions, when several Mylor, near Falmouth. of them are in the same quarter of the

Feb. 25th, 1829. heavens, as is often the case; and then, as they attract the sun more toward that quarter than when they are in a manner

ADDRESS OF THE SOCIETY ESTABLISHED dispersed equally around him, if he was IN COVENTRY, NOV. 25, 1828, FOR THE not at that time made to describe a portion

ABOLITION OF HUMAN SACRIFICES IN of a larger circle round the common centre

INDIA. of gravity, the balance would then be The existence of human sacrifices in the immediately destroyed; and as it could nineteenth century of the Christian era, never restore itself again, the whole system and in a part of the British dominions, is a would begin to fall together, and would fact equally interesting to the politician, the in time unite in a mass at the sun.* philosopher, and the philanthropist. The

Thus, after attempting to explain the nature and extent of these sacrifices in centrifugal and centripetal forces, and to British India, present a tale whose lightest account for the motions of the planets word might harrow up the soul.' upon these principles ;--after having These sacrifices are perpetrated by the treated of the common centre of gravity, Suttee (the burning or burying alive of Hin

doo widows)—Infanticide - Cruelties to the * Select Lectures, p. 40.

Sick on the banks of the river Ganges-and


[ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]









[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[blocks in formation]

Pilgrimages to various holy places. By the the average number of Suttees is about 700 practice of the Suttee, hundreds of discon- | annually, but this does not include those solate widows (some of them mere children) that take place in the tributary, allied, and are hurried to the funeral pile, and burnt independent States, which are not subject with the remains of their husbands, a few to British regulations. When Row Lacka, hours after their decease. Infanticide chiefly grandfather of the present chief of Cutch, prevails in Guzerat, under the Bombay died, fifteen concubines burned on his funePresidency, and dooms numbers of infants ral pile. A recent account from the Hill to death at the very dawn of life. The Country states, that twenty-eight females cruelties to the sick are exercised on the were burnt with the remains of a Rajab. banks of the Ganges, which is considered a Probably half or one-third the number of goddess, and numberless victims of super- Suttees in this estimate may be nearer the stition are annually sacrificed. At the truth, but after the greatest possible reductemple of Juggernaut in Orissa, Gya, and tion, the numerous and various kinds of Allahabad, a tax is levied on the pilgrims, murders in British India, cry, as though and multitudes are allured to these shrines an angel spoke,'-0 Britain, spread thy of idolatry, (made more celebrated by shield over those who “are drawn unto British connexion with them, many of death, and ready to be slain.” Say, “Whoso whom never survive the miseries of pil sheddeth man's blood, by man shall bis grimage. How are “ their sorrows multi- / blood be shed.” plied, that hasten after another god !”

That the British Government in India is The extent of these evils is very appalling able to abolish these murderous practices in The number of Suttees in the Bengal Presi- its own dominions, appears from the tesdency, from 1815 to 1826, was as follows: timony of many of its functionaries, given 1815 . i .. . 378 | 1821 .. ... 655

in the six volumes of parliamentary papers

583 on Hindoo Immolations.-An intelligent 1817 . .. .: 707 | 1823, .. . 575


magistrate in Calcutta observes, respecting 1819...

650 | 1825. . . . . 639 the Suttee :-" They will believe that we 1820 . .. 598 1826. .... 518

| abhor the usage, when we prohibit it in toto Total, in twelve years, 7,156 widows by an absolute and peremptory law. They burned or buried alive! In the Madras have no idea that we might not do so with and' Bombay Presidencies, the official the most perfect safety. They conceive our statements for nearly the same period, 635; power and our will to be commensurate." grand total, 6,632,-(See Suttees' Cry to (Parl. papers as above, vol. ii. p. 67.), Britain, second edition, p. 13.)

Infanticide at Saugur was prohibited by Two Hon. East India Proprietors, urging the Marquis Wellesley, in 1802 ; the the abolition of this murderous custom, Brahmun has been made amenable to the declare—“Probably no day passes, on which inviolable rights of justice; various benesome victims are not sacrificed to this hor- ficial alterations have been made in the rid practice in India, and more especially | judicial proceedings of the Govt, &c.; and in the Bengal Provinces.”—(Parliamentary

why should Britain wait for the slow proPapers on Hindoo Immolations, vol. v. cess of education and civilization to remove

these evils, when one mild effort of her No correct idea can be formed of the

conquering hand might free the earth from number of murders occasioned by Suttees, these detested blots ? Infanticide, Cruelties to the Sick, &c. The The importance of the expression of late Rev. W. Ward, in his valuable work, public opinion to accomplish the abolition “ View of the History, Literature, and of Suttees, (and consequently of other sanMythology of the Hindoos,” conjectures guinary practices in Hindostan,) is thus “ the number of victims annually sacrificed stated by a respectable East India Pros on the altars of the Indian gods” as fol prietor, in a letter to the secretary, dated lows :

Oct, 11, 1828:4“ With regard to the 6 Widows burnt alive in all Hindostan .. 5,000 Suttee question, I believe that I expressed Pilgrims perishing on the roads and at holy plaées . .

. .

to you, some time back, my despair of any Persons drowning themselves in the Ganges, material alteration in that horrid practice

or buried or burnt alive . . . . 500 Children immolated, including those of the

for many years to come, unless the religious to Rajpoots . .

500 part of the public shall come forward in a Sick persons, whose death is hastened on

manner so decided as to induce attention the banks of the Ganges ... 500

from his Majesty's government and from .(Vol. ii. p. 323.)


the house of commons, They seem ignoBy official documents laid before Par- rant, notwithstanding the papers printed by liament from 1821 to 1828, it appears, that parliament, and other publications, that the *125. VOL. XI.

2 F

[merged small][ocr errors][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »