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MECHANICS' INSTITUTIONS.

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the most luminous interpreters of our thoughts and passions. What the head thinks, they are generally competent to expound, and what the heart often feels, no language but theirs can tell. To effect the diversity of their important purposes, nature has endowed them with as various powers. They can look angry or pleased, fierce or mild, threatening or alluring, bold or fearful, bright or dull, according to the settled character, or casual whims of their owner. Hence, sir, we have the sleepy eye, and the sparkling eye; the vacant eye, and the staring eye; the heavy eye, and the piercing eye ; the gloomy eye, and the laughing eye; the melting eye, and the fiery eye; the piteous eye, and the disdainful eye; the complaisant eye, and the frenzied eye; the bold eye, and the bashful eye; the timid eye, and the languishing eye; the leering eye, and the sheep's eye. Thus, while they look into every thing, they express every thing; they both examine and decide, consult and advise, solicit and dictate, inquire and reply; and while they depend on the world's sciences for all their knowledge, frequently tell the world more than it knows. They preside not only at all private but all public meetings; the language of the senate, the pulpit, and the stage, would often be inexplicable without their illustrative aid; and deprived of their soul-thrilling intelligence, love scenes would lose their very essence and their name.

You perceive then, sir, how ample a scope is that magic circle in which the power of the eye " lives, moves, and has its being." How, as the poet declares it, "in a fierce phrensy rolling, glances from earth to heav'n, from heav'n to earth," and spurns even the extent of nature's verge: and how immeasurable an advantage a judicious lecturer might derive from so transcendent and potent a subject. I am the more urgent in pressing these remarks upon your and the public attention, on account of thejinterest the Ladies have in its discussion. Theirs, after all, is the principal piovioce of ocular influence. Theirs is the enchanted sphere in which the eye rolls and rules, lightens and inflames, penetrates and electrifies, kindles and dissolves: a power which, as they best know how to employ, they may best be trusted with; and which (a consideration that I am sure will weigh most with you) belongs to them of natural right, and would not willingly be deprived or diminished by any man; and assuredly not by Sir, your humble servant,

I.I.

Bcbtclu and annlnsts.

PRACTICAL OBSERVATIONS UPON THE EDUCATION OF THE PEOPLE, ADDRESSED TO THE WORKING CLASSES AND THEIR EMPLOYERS. BY H. BROUGHAM, ESQ.

M.p. F.r.s. London. Price 6d.

Mr. Brougham has long been distinguished as the able and persevering advocate of Universal Education; and a considerable portion of his public life has been anxiously devoted to whatever tended to the general diffusion of knowledge. It is now some years since the public were awakened by his powerful exposure of the abuses in Charitable Foundations. He showed that upwards of a million of revenue belonged to the poor, a considerable proportion of which was in the hands of persons, and applied to purposes widely remote from the objects for which it had been originally bequeathed. It does not, however, appear that the people have yet derived any benefit from this important discovery. Commissioners, it is true, have been appointed—they have for years been perambulating the country — numerous bulky folios have been published—suits in Chancery have been instituted—but, as to practical benefits, none, we believe, have yet resulted from their labours.

Mr. Brougham's next effort was to introduce a bill into parliament for the general education of the people. This measure was somehow so concocted, that we may truly say it pleased no one, unless it were the honourable member himself. A very small number might oppose it, from entertaining doubts on the utihty of popular instruction; another party, from political feelings, might not relish the proposer; but the most formidable opposition unquestionably came from the great body of Dissenters, who naturally felt averse to a plan which went to vest the education of the people exclusively in the ministers of the church establishment, and the expense of it in the whole community. Whatever might be the cause, Mr. Brougham's project fell to the ground, and from that time, (1819, we think,) we are not aware that he has, in his public capacity, made any effort to advance the cause of popular illumination.

When, however, this great work had been apparently abandoned by Mr.Brougham and the legislature, it is curious to remark how it has sprung up and flourished spontaneously among the people. With the origin of the numerous apprentice tnd mechanic institutions now established, we do not find any higher names or instruments associated, than those of Dr. Birkbeck, and the mechanics themselves. It is true, the soil had in some measure been previously prepared. Whatever may be said against the cheap political tracts, it must be conceded, that some good, along with a large portion of evil, resulted from them. They generated a taste for reading, inculcated a feeling of independence, and gave to the people a glimpse of their importance in the social state. Beyond this they were a pest; vulgar, violent, profane, disloyal, and un-English in the extreme—and as such we rejoice in their extinction; a fate which we are convinced would have been ultimately awarded to them by the good sense of the people themselves, without the interference of the legislature, or the declamatory invectives of Mr. Brougham, which, at the time, were copiously directed against them.

Another circumstance connected with the origin of Mechanics' Institutions ought to be mentioned. All the praise is not due to Dr. Birkbeck; his efforts have been generously and zealously seconded by many other worthy individuals. In the manufacturing towns this is particularly observable ; it might have been supposed some jealous feeling would have interfered between the employers and working people; nothing, however, of the kind has been evinced; both parties have cooperated, with the most kindly feelings, and some of the principal manufacturers have not only come forward with their purses, but have lent their utmost personal aid, to promote and organize these infant establishments.

Having just adverted to the origin of what may be considered a new era in popular education, we will now say a few words on the general plan on which they are conducted. It is a subject to which we have some time been desirous of calling the attention of our readers, and Mr. Brougham's pamphlet enables us to do it in the regular course.

We perfectly agree with this gentleman, that all establishments for the advantage of the Working People, ought to be chiefly supported by them, and to be principally under their control and direction. This is desirable for many reasons: first, it tends to lessen dependence on their employers; secondly, to keep the institutions themselves steadily to the objects for which they were established; and lastly, (and this is a point we have not seen adverted to,) the very exercise of managing them, of sharing in committees, presidentships, secretaryships, &c., affords of itself a sort of intellectual culture and training the most profitable the working people can receive.

We will now come to our main object

namely, the branches of science to the cultivation of which mechanics' institutions are chiefly directed. We have not the slightest objection to offer to their present plan and management; we think both admirable; only, we do think the sphere of their utility would be extended, and the interest felt in them augmented, by embracing a wider field of inquiry and discussion. It is an axiom we are sure none of our readers will contend, when we say, that the value of every pursuit is exactly in the proportion it tends to augment human happiness. Arts, sciences, and literature; economy, prudence, and all the virtues themselves, are only valuable as they tend to advance the great object of human felicity. Now it is a question, whether the knowledge which it is endeavoured to diffuse among the Labouring Classes, is best calculated for this end,—whether it is best adapted to better their condition: if this cannot be answered in the affirmative, there is certainly still room for improvement.

At present, the chief object of the lectures at the different institutions, is to diffuse a taste for, and acquaintance with, Chemistry, Mechanics, and Natural Philosophy. That these are all very interesting studies we admit; they are the pursuits to which our own mind was first directed, and, we believe, they are inquiries of which most people are first enamoured, not only from their practical application, but because they explain many curious phenomena by which vvc are surrounded: allowing, however, all this in their favour, we neither think them the most extensively useful, nor those in which most people feel an interest. There are numerous professions and callings to which neither chemistry nor mechanics have the least application; and as to electricity, and some other branches of natural philosophy.we know no great practical benefit that has resulted from them, further than as they afforded scope for the exhibition of some very pleasing and beautiful experiments. They are also objectionable on another ground. Few branches of natural philosophy can be advantageously cultivated without an expensive apparatus: indeed the difficulty of procuriug suitable instruments has, in many places, been a formidable obstacle to the establishment of lectures and institutions: it follows, then, that the physical sciences are not the best calculated to form the basis of popular education, since they can neither be pursued by individuals singly, nor collectively, without considerable pecuniary resources.

Such being the case, let us inquire if there are not other inquiries, not only 135

MECHANICS' INSTITUTIONS.

more economical, but of more general interest and application. Do not, however, let us be misunderstood; we have no wish to discourage the cultivation of chemistry, pneumatics, acoustics, or any other branch of science: the pursuit of knowledge of all kinds is good, were it only for the intellectual training and exercise it affords: all we wish is to engraft a few additional scions of intellect on the parent stock, so that the tree of knowledge may become, not only of more magnificent growth, but bring forth fruit of more varied flavour, beauty, and utility. We will at once enumerate those branches of knowledge we think of paramount importance, and with which every one ought to be more or less familiar.

The science of Political Economy is entitled to particular consideration, being of universal interest, and requiring no apparatus beyond the organ of speech and a clear head, to render its principles familiar to all classes. Every one, either in the capacity of landlord, merchant, or workman, is interested in rent, profit, or wages, and the connection of these, and their reciprocal influence, it is the business of the economist to explain. It also elucidates the important relation between subsistence and population. Till this great problem is universally understood we cannot look forward to any permanent and general improvement in the condition of the people. Physical science may multiply our productive powers, new machinery may be invented, rail-roads may be constructed, and the application of steam extended, still the lot of the people will not be improved. Wages will be no higher, provisions no cheaper, the hours of labour no shorter: the only result being, that they will be more numerous,— their necessitous and dependent condition continuing the same as before.

Moral and Political Philosophy form inquiries, which, in our opinion, might be made the subject of popular lectures, to which no one could listen without advantage and interest. The foundation of laws and sound morals might be explained, and the connection between virtue and happiness would open a delightful field for eloquence and elucidation. History, especially of our own country, geology, comparative anatomy, and natural history, would all, we think, be popular themes; they would enlarge and expand the mind, abstract it from gross and Vulgar pursuits, and create an appetite for intellectual research and disquisition.

Why, too, not have occasional lectures on the Medical Art 1 It is lamentable to think how much misery results from ig

norance of the human constitution, and the best means of preserving health. The nursing and training of children are sadly misunderstood. Thousands of helpless beings are regularly maimed, disfigured, and debilitated for ever, not from want of care or affection, but want of knowledge. If the great object be to improve and better the condition of the people, let the range of their mental efforts be directed to their condition as a body, as well as in their individual capacity.

We have thus hastily alluded to those topics which we think deserving of attention, and a knowledge of which might be beneficially diffused. We again repeat, we do not wish to introduce any change in the plan of the mechanics' institution, we only wish them to embrace a greater variety of subjects, so as to augment their interest and usefulness.

Gamrling In France.—The system of licensed gambling in France is -very productive to the treasury. One of the disappointed candidates, when the privilege was last farmed, charges the ministry with having, from corrupt motives, accepted the offer of another, although by his owrutender the state would have gained in three years 667,000/. more than by the present contract.

Cheap philosophical apparatus. — By far the grandest discoveries in natural science were made with hardly any apparatus. A pan of water and two thermometers were the tools, that in the hands of Black detected latent heat; a crown's-worth of glass, three-penny-worth of salt, a little chalk, and a pair of scales, enabled the same great philosopher to found the system of modern chemistry, by tracing the existence and the combination of fixed air; with little more machinery, the genius of Scheele created the materials of which the fabric was built, and anticipated some of the discoveries that have illustrated a later age; a prism, a lens, and a sheet of pasteboard, enabled Newton to unfold the composition of light and the origin of colours; Franklin ascertained the nature of lightning with a kite, a wire, a bit of ribbon, and a key :—to say nothing of the great chemist of our own day, of whose useful, perhaps most philosophical, discovery, the principle might have been proved with the help of a common wire fiie-guardV Even the elements of mechanics may be explained with apparatus almost as cheap and simple.—To take one instance; the fundamental property of the lever (and I may say of the whole science) may be demonstrated by a foot rule, a knife, and a few leaden balls of equal size.—Broughams Practical Observations.

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RIVERS AND MOUNTAINS.

. Rivers flow down inclined planes, and their velocity is in proportion to the fall of the plane in a given distance ; in other words, the rapidity of a river will be directly as the elevation of its source above the level of the sea, and inversely as its length. It follows that rivers must always have their origin in mountains, or the elevated parts of countries; and that the number and magnitude of rivers will generally depend on the number and magnitude of mountains. Flat countries spring no rivers; they can only have pools or marshes. This geographical problem will be illustrated by the following comparative table of the height and length of the most remarkable mountains and rivers in the four divisions of the globe:

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aMASONSS

FEBRUARY, Pisces, or the fishes, is the zodiacal sign of this month: perhaps it is but a joke, that a certain dealer in the finny tribe looked eagerly through a telescope, to discover what fish they were. How many exclaim, on looking at Ursa Major, —" Why, it is not like a bear!"—not knowing that the celestial constellations are only hieroglyphic representations of the seasons. February usually commences pleasantly—the days are lengthening-—no one fears the Thames will be frozen over; and, though the air is damp and keen, it can boast of its days of " soft air aml sunshine, and unbroken blue sky." Among the woodland songsters, and in the vegetable world, we observe everywhere signs of reviving nature. "Every tree," as the " Time's Telescope " observes, " and every shrub present something new; and to those who are fond of botany, the present season of the year is peculiarly interesting. What can be more delightful to the intelligent mind than to view the opening bud—the expanded leaf—the first appearance of the flower-bud—its perfection—and, last of all, its wonderful fructification!"

By hedge row sheltered, or o'er the lone heath;
Whether to rushy pool, green-mantled, or
Through the wild forest's thick-entangled maze,
Whether by softly murmuring brook, that

bright
Reflects its gay enamelled bank; or 'long!
The rocky shore, dashed by the foaming waves
Of Ocean wide i or up the steep ascent
Of rugged mountain, rising to the clouds;
Still pleasure, profit, health, thy steps attend.—
Spring; a Poem.

In town,too, no less than in the country, the signs of returning life are animated and cheering. Parliament, the courts of law, Argyle, and the theatres are now open; and where may frequently be seen all the leading and stirring spirits of the age, in church and state, beauty and fashion. This, too, is the month for our gayest and liveliest holidays. It is the Saturnalia of Cupid, when he sports his ten thousand billet-doux, in honour of St. Valentine—add to which, the gambols of Shrovetide—the eating of collops, and the tossing of pancakes, and it may be truly said that February, in a protestant country like England,notwithstanding lean and withered Lent, is as full of lively incident, and pleasant association, as any month in the calendar.

What lore with tranquil pleasure better fills
The mind, fair Botany ! than thine!

Thy'paths
Retired, with thy own flowers are ever strewed,
Thy own fresh garlands ever grace thy brow.
Where'er thy votaries thou leadest, whether,' «
'Mong the rilent vale or verdant lane,

THE DRAMA. During the last week the changes were so wearily rung upon the same notes of the dramatic scale, as to absolutely

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