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REVIEWS OF BOOKS.
“ Nothing extenuate, nor aught set down iu malice."
M. Abitbol, on the Bank of England Monetary System. January, 1837.
This is a very ably-written pamphlet, in the form of a letter, addressed to the Governor of the Bank of England, “ On the Circulating Medium and Operative System of the Bank, and its influence and effect upon Bullion, English and Foreign Securities and Exchanges," and is worthy the perusal of all persons either immediately or remotely interested in so important a subject. The author, Mr. Abitbol, appears to be a gentleman of great practical knowledge, and has treated the subject in a manner that proves his intimate acquaintance with the sound principles of political economy. His object has been to shew the extensive evil that must arise, not only from the absolute adoption by the bank of any restrictive measures in regard to the present amount of circulating medium, but also the serious consequences resulting even from the contemplation of such a measure; he has briefly, but comprehensively, gives the cause and effect, and with prophetic spirit warned the bank of the fatal consequences which a contraction in its issue must beget, on any the slightest emergency or alarm. By such forcible reasoning, deduced from authentic fact and official data, Mr. Abitbol demonstrates that any measure, calculated directly or indirectly, to depreciate the national wealth, (and such he maintains would be the effect of any contraction of the circulating medium, already inadequate in its amount to the increased population, averaging only about 158. per head, while that of France gives an accommodation of from 100 to 120 francs per head), will cause a general mistrust and panic, and a depreciation of every kind of property, similar in effect to, but much more fearful in its consequences than, that produced in 1825 and 1826. This opinion the author bases upon the consideration of the known limited means of the bank (as shewn by annual returns of bullion in its coffers), to answer the overwhelming power of joint stock companies and country banks, who, it is asserted, may draw the Bank of England of its gold in half-an-hour, independently of mischief from foreign calls.” In illustration and support of his argument, Mr. Abitbol acquaints us with the curious, but important, and no less alarming statement, that the quantity of gold drawn from the Bank by one individual alone, (the late Mr. Rothschild) in the month of July, 1824, exceeded the whole amount taken by the public by £175,000.; the issue to the former being £850,000.—that to the latter only £675,000!! a fact that proves beyond a doubt how fatally past remedy such a power might be employed, regard being had to the fact, that there exists no controlling law to check or restrain its voluntary exercise. source of evil, its dreaded consequences, and sole preventives are thus condensed : “ The draining pump of gold is erected in the Act of Sir Robert Peel; the first gun fired in Europe, or even a war of protocols, or an alarm at home, would put it in rapid action-commerce and confidence alone can stop it. The national salvation rests upon the maintenance and support of them.”
Mr. Abitbol calls on the legislature, the government and the bank, to unite in adopting a system of wise and imperative policy, to guard against any commercial distress or depreciation of property or securities materially and immediately governed by the quantity of bank issue.
We have exceeded the usual limits of our department in the space given to this review, but it is a subject of importance to the monied and commercial world, and equally to the labouring classes, and as such it has more than ordinary claim to attention.
Pharmacopoeia Collegii Regalis Medicorum Londinensis-Pharmacopæia
of the Royal College of Physcians of London. Woodfall, Skinner
Street. For many months past the members of the medical profession have been looking forward with anxiety to the production of the Pharmacopæia; they were led to believe that it would, indeed, be a superior compilation, far different to any of those which have hitherto appeared : but we regret to say that all their hopes have been lamentably disappointed. In our opinion, the present Pharmacopæia is a most complete failure. We cannot, it is true, deny but that it does possess some good points. Thus, for instance, it is considerably better than its predecessor; but this does not say much for it. It contains also one or two good recipes; as, for example, the mixture to which the highsounding title of “Mistura spiritus Vini Gallici” has been given, is an excellent recipe for “egg-flip;” and we should advise all our readers .who delight in this salubrious compound, to fashion it after the recipe here given. After thus enumerating its good qualities, we must reverse the picture, and proceed to consider its faults, and we regret to be compelled to say, that these are neither few nor trivial. In the first place, there is a great want of natural arrangement. It is a mere list of drugs, instead of which, it would certainly have been far better to have given their natural history—the use, doses, &c. There are also many remedies which are in daily use amongst practitioners, more particularly those which have been derived from the experience of our continental brethren, which are not even named. Again : there will, most assuredly, be no end to the confusion which the alteration in the nomenclature will produce. We have heard many of the most eminent physicians chajacterise it as most absurd and uncalled for. On the whole, we consider the New Pharmacopæia a most defective production.
“ There is beauty in the sunbeam.” Words by J. E. CARPENTER.
Music by G. F. TAYLOR. Mason, Great Russell Street. The words of this ballad are taken from the “Lays of Light Hearts,” by J. E. Carpenter, which have already received the meed of public approbation. The music is pretty, and reflects great credit on its young composer.
Quadrilles from “ Beatrice di Tenda.” By J. P. BARRATT. Although the opera of Beatrice di Tenda has been, comparatively speaking, unsuccessful in this country, still we think that our readers will not fail to admire these quadrilles. Mr. Barratt's selection is highly judicious, and to the “trippers' on the light fantastic toe” they will prove a valuable acquisition.
MEETING OF SOCIETIES DURING THE MONTH.
LITERARY AND SCIENTIFIC.
ROYAL INSTITUTION.-On February 10th. the members assembled as usual in the Library, The tables were covered with various articles in nature and art; and among the latter we particularly noticed an ingenious method adopted by Mr. Shillibeer, for instantaneously changing the poles of an electro-magnet. This little instrument excited much attention. in the Theatre Dr. Ritchie delivered a lecture on the velocity of sound. He observed that from the time of Newton to that of La Place all information on this subject was extremely imperfect. The former philosopher had found great dissonance between the actual and the thoretical velocity of sound, and La Place endeavoured to prove that air became heated from condensation, during the passage of sound, and that this difference of temperature caused the discrepancy between theory and practice ; but Dr. Ritchie remarked, that as sound is a series of palpitations through the air, a dilatation as well as a condensation takes place. Thus, if a vertical piece of whalebone be bent to the left, the air will be compressed on that side, but as the bone will spring back nearly as far on the right side, a re-action and an expansion ensues. From many experiments which the lecturer had made, on the rate at which sound travels through water, steam, and the different gases, he found that the velocity through the various gases is always in a certain ratio to the density of the liquid which each gas may be made to assume. A certain period of time must elapse before the motion of one particle of the atmosphere could be imparted to another, and Dr. Ritchie illustrated this by an elegant arrangement of small magnets, each of which having to describe a small arc, 'ere the primary impulse of a larger magnet could be conveyed throughout the series, rendered the time occupied in the passage very perceptible. He then proceeded to comment on the premises on which La Place, &c. had founded their calculations, and pointed out with great ability and clearness the obstacles which prevented them from obtaining accurate results. It was absurd, he said, to suppose the atmosphere to be composed of particles each of which was a mere mathematical point, for if this were the case it might be compressed absolutely to nothing.
Medico-BOTANICAL SOCIETY.-February 8. Earl Stanhope in the Chair.The minutes of the last meeting having been read, and a new member elected, a paper was read by Dr. Ryan on the defective state of the New Pharmacopeia, but as that gentleman's remarks are in unison with many of those which we have presumed to make in another article, (see page 116), we do not think it necessary to detail them here.* When the Doctor's coinmunication had been read, Drs. Sigmond and Macreight took part in a conversatiou on the subject, and the chairman observed that a learned and celebrated German doctor, with whose friendship he had been honoured, had commenced an Universal Pharmacopeia, but had been prevented by death from completing it. He (Lord Stanhope) had since received a letter from his widow, begging him to recommend some one capable of finishing the work. After some further discussion of no particular interest the meeting adjourned.
• In justice to Dr. Ryan, we should state, that our notice of the Pharmacopæia was written before the above meeting of the Medico-Botanical Society took place, and, that it is not intended as a copy of his paper, or as an exposition of his opinions. Our only reason for omitting the learned doctor's remarks in the above report, is the limited space to which we are obliged to confine ourselves.-Ed. N. L. M.
MARYLEBONE INSTITUTION,- January 30. Mr. Wylie commenced this even. ing a lecture on the Arabian Empire, which he continued on the following Monday. The Arabs, at first merely a tribe of predatory barbarians, were descendants of Ishmael. They had scarcely any religion, and were embroiled in perpetual quarrels amongst themselves, until Mahomet, having founded a new eligio gave them laws, united them, led them victoriously against their oppressors, gained for them city after city and territory after territory, and in a short time raised them to be inasters of a high and mighty empire." Having thus proved themselves courageous in war, they sought to become emineut in the arts of peace; and having procured a cessation of hostilities, turned their attention to learning and the arts and sciences, and encouraged commerce and manufactures. It is to them we owe the invention of the Arabic numerals, the inanufactures of cotton, paper, and perhaps of gunpowder-mechanics and medicine were also much cultivated by the Arabians ;-but they ever felt the spirit of the prophecy~" their hand shall be against every man's hand, and every mau's hand against them." Annoyed by foreign interference, and shaken by internal commotions, the empire gradually sunk into decay, and at the present day presents a sorrowful instance of the mutability of human greatness. There was a numerous audience to each of these lectures, but Mr. Wylie made them vehicles more for the display of language, (of which he has great command), than for the communication of information.
February. 13th. This evening Dr. Grant delivered a lecture on the species of marine animals, called, Acalepha, which have a gelatinous appearance, with scarcely any solid parts ; which, when viewed attentively, they may he perceived to be encircled by voluminous bauds or silia, which have a quick vibratory motion, occasioned' by the action of minute fins (to be discerned only with a microscope) by means of which they move in the water. Dr. Grant remarked, that the lungs of man, thirty hours after death, have a quick vibratory motion precisely similar to that of these silia. The lecturer then called attention to the “Portuguese Man-of-War,” an animal, which rises to the surface of the sea, by means of a gaseous secretion, which, by dis. tending a sack, or bag, renders it specifically lighter than the surrounding water; it allows the gas to escape when it wishes to descend. The physograde” animals, are found principally in the tropical seas. The “ silio. grade,” as the first mentioned animals are called, are met with in great numbers near the Isle of Sheppey. The lecture was illustrated by numerous drawings and specimens.
WESTERN LITERARY INSTITUTION.-Mr. Sheridan Knowles has been occupied during the last month in delivering a series of lectures on the Drama, which have drawn crowded and delighted audiences. The first of this course was devoted to the consideration of the construction of the drama, and its moral influence on society ; which we need scarcely say was by so great an ornament to dramatic literature placed in its most favourable light. l'he lecturer then proceeded to deprecate the trivial objections made to many exquisite productions of the dramatist by critics who only judge of the merit of a piece by certain dogmas which they consider should always be observed. One of these “standing orders" is that monosyllabic words should be employed as sparingly as possible—and, said the lecturer, many fine works have been condemned merely for this pretended fault, which is indeed a mark of excellence, for the genius of the English language lies in words of one syllable. It is derived from the Saxon, a language more than any other monosyllabic; and there are many passages in the works of Shakspeare, Milton, and others of our best poets, universally admired for their beauty, in which scarcely any polysyllables are found. Mr. Knowles concluded the first part of his disconrse by reciting many such passages from British poets to illustrate his remarks,
He resumed the subject on the succeeding week, and maintained, in opposition to many dogmatical critics, that nature should be followed as closely as possible in all compositions, except those purely imaginary. Shakspeare, Ben Johnson, Massinger, and all our ancient dramatists had pursued this plan with the best results; and he defended many passages, which even in these poets had been censured on this plea. Amongst those which he in
stauced, as beautiful specimens of natural eloquence, was Marc Antony's speech over the dead body of Cæsar, which he delivered with great effect.
The third lecture was devoted to a consideration of the first act of Macbeth. Mr. Knowles dwelt on the excellent manner in which Shakspeare has con. trived in this play to maintain an unvaried consecutiveness in the plot, from the first scene to the last. He has availed himself of every little incident, in an apparently unimportant dialogue, to work out the grand climax which is at last attained, as may be observed in almost every word spoken on the first interview with the witches on the heath. In commenting upon the reception of Macbeth and Bauquo by the king, in the fourth scene, he called the atten. tion of the audience to the closeness with which nature had here been copied. It was a peculiar feature in the art with which Shakspeare drew his characters, that he appeared to embody himself for the time being in his ideal personages, and to seize and pourtray every minute shade of character which they would probably exhibit in nature;-this is instanced particularly in this scene. The effect of the prediction of the witches is already perceived in the studied answer of Macbeth to the compliments of the king. It is a mere effusion of the brain
Safe toward your love and honour; whilst the warm reply of his friend to the king's salutation is spontaneous, and comes from an affectionate and grateful heart :
There, if I grow,
The harvest is your own. Mr. Sheridan Knowles then proceeded to the fifth scene, in which Lady Macbeth first appears, reading the letter from her husband; and he availed himself of the opportunity to bestow an eulogium, characterised by the most impassioned eloquence, and delivered with such fervency as to draw tears from many of his fair auditors, on Mrs. Siddons' impersonation of the character. Passing on to the seventh scene, and slightly remarking on the intermediate passages, he adverted to the different readings of the dialogue
We fail ! Some read this reply to the exclamation of Macbeth as though a failure were impossible. Others, consider that the masculine mind of Lady Macbeth, perceives equally with her husband the dire consequences which await them if they do not succeed, but they remark that she has bent her soul to the prosecution of the scene, and is willing to hazard every thing to obtain its fulfilment; and accordingly, when Macbeth hints the possibility of failure, she replies composedly, we fail ! This latter position the lecturer urged with great ingenuity; and he observed, that if the ensuing speech of Lady Macbeth, conjuring her husband to act with spirit, be read with emphasis on the negation, instead of on the pronoun and verb, the view of the case will be strengthened :
We fail !