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must rest satisfied with a mere superficial acquaintance with several — in which case he can only aspire to the office of a chronicler of science, while in the other he is a conqueror under her banners. Hence results the great difficulty of compressing knowledge into the smallest compass. Those who are devoted to a single department of science, whereof they are consequently the best judges, know but little of such branches as have not a close affinity with their own. Thus even the most universal natural philosopher finds little time to bestow upon the lucubrations of the metaphysician, whilst the latter, from the nature of his education, is in most cases unable to comprehend the pursuits of the former, and the results to which they have conducted. They who lay claim to both of these titles are seldom, if ever, sufficiently initiated into either of these two great divisions of human knowledge, to be capable of classifying their numerous branches.
What should we say to a classification of plants and animals made by a man who is but superficially acquainted with them? The result would be like the systems which prevailed before Linnæus, wherein plants were classified with regard to resemblances of no importance--into trees, shrubs, biennials, and annuals; and animals into terrestrial, amphibious and aquatic, which made relatives of the whale and shark, of the crocodile and beaver. It was only by as perfect a knowledge as possible of the whole organization of living beings, of the laws of their development, and the circumstances which influence them, that Jussieu was able to trace bis first sketch of a natural classification, and that it was in Cuvier's power to give, in five volumes octavo, a more complete idea of the whole animal world than could be derived from all the works of his predecessors. What is requisite in a branch of science with regard to the objects of its inquiries cannot be less so in a matter so much inore scientific as the classification of human knowledge ; no one, unless he is well acquainted with all its branches, can classify them methodically. It is with classifications as with museums; these may be arranged either to suit the curious traveller who seeks to while away an idle hour in a strange city where he is a brief sojourner, or the student who is anxious to acquire the most and the most profound knowledge in a given time. In most of our cities there is a museum of the former class,
Subjects of Human Knowledge.
whilst of the latter there are very few, even in Europe, which do not require great improvements.
These difficulties connected with the undertaking of our author must not be lost sight of in a criticism of the mode in which he has executed it. A work intended to convey an idea of all the things which have ever attracted the attention of man, of all the sciences which have resulted from his meditations, of all the arts that have exercised his ingenuity, and of all the branches of industry by which his comforts have been multiplied, can meet with few readers who will prove able to judge it with impartiality. What in the author's mind constitutes a whole, whose parts should be treated with equal care, and at the same time with so much of development only as the prescribed limits allow, is liable to be taken up in parts and these to be examined without reference to the entire work. And how can it be otherwise? Who will venture to declare himself equally competent in all the departments of human knowledge ? Sensible of the arrogance of such a claim, and of the difficulty of presenting a perfect critique of the whole of this comprehensive volume in a single article, we shall limit our observations to the introduction, an examination of which does not presuppose a necessary acquaintance with the shape, color, and texture of every leaf of the tree of human knowledge.
This introduction is divided into three parts. In the first, which is entitled subjects of human knowledge, the author declares his intention to reconnoitre the field of knowledge that he may afterwards survey it more methodically.”
Like the traveller who arrives in a new country, of which the extent and the physical qualities of its surface, its geological stratification and mineral veins, its plants and its animals, are entirely unknown to him, the author stands on the borders of the vast " field of human knowledge." the former gazes around him to see what the land before him contains, previously to inquiring into the properties of the objects exposed to his view, so the latter traverses the field of knowledge in all directions before penetrating more deeply into any of its divisions. The impressions he receives from the physical world give him the idea of matter, of animate and inanimate beings, and among the former he finds man standing alone in creation, and connecting the material with the spiritual world, and finally, mankind forming a whole and separate world. Such is, as briefly as possible, the
result of a first glance at the objects of human knowledge. They immediately indicate so many departments into which the wide expanse is naturally divided. The properties of matter are of a more or less general nature. The most universal is that of extent. This leads to the idea of proportion, and hence of numbers, which become the foundation of the mathematical sciences, arithmetic, algebra, geometry, and what the author calls “the last highest step in mathematics."
In this manner the author continues, with regard to all other departments of science, pointing out in a few words how they proceeded from each other. Some passages may seem more novel than philosophical : as for instance, the following, which is found on the sixteenth page of the Introduction:—“The fact that many of these organic forms (animals and vegetables) are found buried in the depths of the earth, here arrests our attention, and leads us to investigate the struccture of our globe; first, in its homogeneous elements, and afterwards, in their massive aggregations. Hence arose the sciences of mineralogy and geology, which, in connection with those relating to organic life, complete the range of Natural History.” Here, for the first time, we learn that the study of mineralogy is a consequence of the study of zoology or of botany. It is true, geology became a systematic science from the time that Cuvier, by his most successful comparative studies of different animal structures, was able to complete the skeletons of unknown animals, which had never been seen, and whose remains were only to be found in the bowels of the earth. But before Cuvier, geology was not far behind zoology; he did not create the former of these departments of natural history, but applied to it the great and important discoveries which he had made in the latter. If we examine the history of science, we find that all its branches constantly bear the same proportions to each other; like a tree, whose branches extend and put forth new shoots, while the whole constantly preserves the same shape -- the same causes, through the action of which man becomes acquainted with one order of natural phenomena, impel him also to inquire into all others. This we shall find among civilized nations, as well as among those which are least advanced in civilization. The greatest difference exists less in the quality of knowledge than in the quantity. Amongst our Indian tribes we find traces of whatever, amongst the more polished nations, has 1842.]
Ampère, the French Philosopher.
risen into trades, arts, sciences; and the relation between wants and knowledge is the same with them as with ourselves.
We pass over the second chapter, entitled “ Sources of human knowledge,” with very few remarks. Under this head we find short accounts of the several ancient schools of philosophy; of modern learned societies; of libraries and Encyclopædias. From this may be seen what the word, “knowledge,” means in the mind of our author. We should be better satisfied if he had given us his own definition of it. For if the schools of ancient philosophy, and the numberless books which constitute libraries, are to be considered as sources of knowledge, then it would seem that this name is given to all errors as well as truths, which were ever uttered by man. Libraries are quite as much sources of error as of valuable knowledge, as long as the student has not reached that degree of instruction which enables him to distinguish between the two. There is but a very limited part of every library which may be really considered as a source of knowledge, namely, that part which represents the actual state of science : whatever is of an older date, however valuable it may be for other considerations, cannot be recommended as a source of knowledge. If we open the “magna compositio” of Ptolemy, it is not certainly with a view to study astronomy, but to learn how far astronomy had advanced among the widely celebrated philosophers of the school of Alexandria, and judge from this fact what may have been their state of intellectual advancement in general.
Of the errors of the ancient schools of philosophy it is unnecessary to speak; it is too well known how much they arrested for centuries the progress of civilization. Yet it is as true that libraries are repositories of knowledge, as that the solid part of our earth is a gold or silver mine, or the ocean the source of all fresh water. The author of the Pantology, in the catalogue of books which he gives at the end of his volume, intends to include the best of the more recent works in all departments, and with this limitation, a library may properly be considered a source of knowledge.
The most important chapter of the introduction is the third one, as it contains the plan which the author follows through the work. This chapter contains the names of several authors who have attempted to classify human knowledge, with the chief features of their respective works. The last mentioned in this historical aperçu is Ampère, the great French natural philosopher, so well known by his “ Theory on Magnetism.” This was a man of eminent learning, whose classical attainments, or, to be more explicit, whose acquaintance with ancient literature and philosophy, was superior to that of most of his countrymen of this century, who have been celebrated as natural philosophers. At one period of his life, he had been professor of mental philosophy, in the
Faculty of Letters." Subsequently to this he devoted his attention almost exclusively to the investigation of the phenomena of the material world ; and at the time of his death he was a professor in the Collège de France, which may be esteemed the highest school of learning of our dayits object being less to teach the various branches of science than to exhibit their daily progress, and the method by which they may be increased. We are therefore less surprised that he should have undertaken an “ Essai sur la philosophie des sciences,” than we should be had the attempt been made by any one of his colleagues of the “ Institute.” One portion of his life had been devoted to the study of the mental, and the other to that of the physical sciences. He was thus a totally different philosopher in the inception and at the close of his scientific life, though perhaps the young metaphysician might still have been recognised in the old natural philosopher. He had assiduously meditated upon mind and matter during the whole of his long career, which led him to the two chief sciences, noology and cosmology, of which all the others are mere branches. The first of these he divided into noological sciences proper, and social sciences; the second into cosmological proper, and physiological. And thus continues his bifurcation, dividing each branch into two others, and each one of these again into two new ones, until he reaches the small ramifications which correspond to the minute divisions in sciences, arts and trades.
This classification, which bears a great resemblance to our author's, without, however, having been its model, has not met with any great success until now, nor is it likely ever to gain a high popularity hereafter, though its author, in order to aid the memory in retaining it, put it entirely into Latin hexameters. We give the following six lines as a specimen of this physico-poetical production, which reminds us of the scholastic age: