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ART. XIV. Sapra il Carbone che si rinchuide nei Pianti. Memoria

di Giambattista da S. Martino. (from Meinorie di Matemati

ça è Fifica della Societa Italiana. Tom. VIII. Part II. TT is sufficiently fingular that the sciences should suffer more than any other human concern, by the interruptions which

arise

,{t *Afctwift tocA^°utv^-a.-ries. We have seen, on many occasions, .,- i'AeA\«K\i\^wrt'J "^^icH works the most highly esteemed in one „rf country become *TM>>*rr», evcn to thc most iearned men of states .,, situated m its ^mediate vicinity. Every one knows how long . tfie immom\ wotte* of Bacon took to make their way across the . .Channel. The commentator on Kant's Philosophy, has informed us of the slowness with which a system that occupied every head on the right ■bank of the Rhine, crossed over to the left; Ma all Germany had been for twenty years busily occupied with •omances and free-masonry, before it was suspected in Engand that such -was the passion of the Germans. When we cornare with this tardy and difficult communication of tastes and nentisic lights, the rapid and hourly intercourse of ordinary jmmerce which unites the mdst remote quarters of the globe, e shall at least find reason to conclude that the interest excited 'speculative pursuits, is of a kind very different in vivacity 3m the common desire of gain, and the gratification of our jre sensual appetites. The bill of exchange which Mr Bruce ■w m ,r»e depths of Abyssinia, where no European had ever ore penetrated, was duly presented for payment in Lombard:et. Th.e small gold coins of ancient Greece and Rome, have nved the lapse of ages, when objects of infinitely greater real te, and of far more easy preservation, have only left the re'ii of their names to the present generation; and we are now ut to shew that the trifling boundary of the Alps, has locked rom the rest of Europe, the knowledge of many scientific ks, which, on the northern side of those mountains, would spread themselves with rapidity over all the studies of Engand France. It is, however, worthy of notice, that the *rse of the position does not hold. The Italian philosophers r to be in full possession of all the improvements, even the recent, which their brethren the 'Filosofi Oltramontani* >een adding to the stock of literature and science, •re are in the different States of Italy, a greater number of fie institutions of importance for the ardour of their re. :s and the regularity and value of their publications, than equal portion of territory in the rest of Europe. Neither the ied divisions of political society which have place in Germany, more compact monarchies of England, France and Spain, crowded and busy population of Holland and the Netherurnish any thing like the same number of distinguished acaLeaving out of view a multitude of minor institutions, of ^■£.* devoted to the cultivation of the fine arts, and several phy*. ^ l&fc|J^ iemies, which have not as yet published memoir: (for ex

•^h*^fc2jk°k °^ ^a ,lnc* Pav'a^j we have, in the north of Italy ^ alone, alone, (a very narrow district, placed in circumst»nces not the most favourable to the calm, pursuits of science), no fewer than five learned bodies, only one- of which is ever mentioned in the north of Europe, and even that one very seldom referred to. The memoirs of the academies of Mantua, of Milan, of Padua, and cf Turin, are all works of great merit. Of the latter, the only oae ever quoted in England and France, probably because it alone publishes its transactions in the French language, we have begun to give our readers some specimens in the present Number. But more important than all these is the fund of original science contained in "the transactions of the Italian Society of Verona. They are published in large volumes with great regularity, and contain a succession of the most interesting memoirs upon all the subjects of physical and mathematical science. We need only refer to the geometrical papers contained in the fourth volume of these transactions. We regret that this publication is of a date rather too far back to justify us in analysing those tracts. They contain solutions of some problems, particularly of the famous problem, the simplest cafe of which is mentioned by Pappus Alexandrius, and of which the general cafe has been found to be of extreme dish-' culty by the methods of modern analysis-, according to the first mathematicians. {Berlin Memoirs for 1798, p. 95.) Nothing can he conceived more perfectly rigorous, and at the fame time more limple and elegant, than those geometrical investigations of the Italian mathematicians. Pappus mentions the problem in its ealiest c;;se, as having been solved by Apollonius, viz. to inscribe in a circle a triangle, whose sides pass through three given points in a given strait line. Crame generalized this, so as to solve it ■wherever the points were placed. [Berlin Aletneirs, 1776.) In the fame volume is a solution by La Grange, also by the modern analysis. Euler, and his pupils Fuss and Lexel, solved this cafe geometrically in the Petersburg Memoirs for 1780. Caltiglione gave another solution in the Berlin Memoirs for 1777. L'Huilier, in the fame Memoirs for 1798, solves the general problem, ' to inscribe a polygon in a circle, so that all the sides may pass through given points.' This he does by the algebraical calculus suggested by La Grange. But the Italian mathematician does it by the purest rules of ancient geometry. He was a young man of 15 when lie discovered and made it known. His name is Annibalc Giordano of Naples. Several most able tracts of his are contained in the Neapolitan Memoirs. The other mathematician who solved it at the fame time, is Professor Malfatti of Ferrari.

The Societies of Bologna and Florence are famous, especially she latter, for their scientific researches; and, not to extend the

catalogue

catalogue of this bright constellation of genius, the transactions of the Neapolitan Royal Academy (Atti delta Reale Accadsmia delle Scienze et Brlle Littere di Napolt), contain some of the finest researches, particularly upon mathematical subjects, of which any modern inllitution can boast. We need only refer to Signor Fergolana's two papers on local problems and porifms, (in which, bv the way, he mistakes the nature of a porism most egregioufly), and still more to the additional tracts of Signor Annibalc Giordano on the fame subjects, and to the paper of S'aladino on Caustics.

The insulated labours of individuals have kept pace with the progress of public institutions. Of these, except a few anatomical tracts, arid the late astronomical discoveries, none have as yet been made known in the northern parts of Europe. That they deserve very great attention, the specimens which we have given jn the present Number will, we trust, sufficiently evince.

In all the scientific researches of the Italians, we discover proofs of the most happy capacities for the pursuits of true philosophy. There is a distinctive character in their speculative inquiries, as well as in their schools of the fine arts. We meet with the seme chastenefs of style jn the rigour of their induction, utterly void of that love of dazzling novelty, and that pronentss to flimsy hypothesis, which distinguithes many masters of the French school; and equally remote from that dull and unprofitable fondness for mere facts, which characterizes the German daubers. We arc not, it is true, so often astonished by grand discovery. We do not meet with the hand of a Black or a Lavoisier, any more than in their galleries we can expect to be arrested at every step by the vigour, the mighty force of a Reubens. But we find nothing to disgust by its tasteless flatness or its unchaste ornaments. We arc constantly delighted with elegance, subtelty, ingenuity—with that which best deserves the name of fine genius: a proneness to reason and combine, but to reason by combining facts: a love of speculation, but joined to a nice capacity for observation: a decided partiality for the exercise of the rarer and more beautiful powers of the mind, without any unfitness for the patient work of persevering and long sustained attention to details: a preference equally strong for efforts of original talent, and of that kind of talent which partakes of the fancy, and bears a relation to refined taste: a considerable degree of contempt for the mere exertion of memory and labour—the business of the linguist and the verbal critic—the work, the bodily toil performed hourly in all the book-maker shops of the three hundred states of Germany. In short, if nothing very sublime in the walks of scientific discovery has appeared among this fine and ill-appreciated people, they have given birth to numerous aud varied works, of

great

great beauty and exquisite ingenuity. They can Thew, even among the masters of their present school of philosophy, many

Titians; and, as they once produced a Raphael to guide the pencil, we may expect to see them worship their own Newton, perhaps before either France or England shall have given birth to a great master in the fine arts, and long before any one has arisen in Germany, capable of cutting the canvass, or mixing the colours.

We purpose, at present, to make our readers acquainted with some of the papers contained in the last publications of the Societa Italiana, premising that they will find others of much more signal merit in the volumes themselves. Some of these we cannot attempt to analyse, without the assistance of figures ; and others are of a nature too purely algebraical, to admit of any intela ligible abstract. We especially allude to the two papers in vol. 18., upon the question; Whether the circle can be rectified and quared ?' and several other analytical differtations, as the papers on equations, and on the law of continuity. All there we earneftly recommend to our scientific readers, as singularly beauti. ful and satisfactory pieces of mathematical research ; and we willingly indulge a hope that this reference may have the effect of making those excellent productions known in this country, At present, we shall confine ourselves to less extensive objects, and thall begin with the chemical and physiological paper of Siga nor S. Martino now before us, as a tract of some intereft, from the great importance of the subject, and of considerable merit, from the general accuracy of the methods pursued in the experimental investigation of it, though we shall have occalion to thew that it is remarkably deficient in the extent of its plan of inquiry.

After remarking, that the discoveries of modern chemistry have reduced the limple elements of all vegetable substances to three bodies, carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen; that the origin of the earths, iron, and salts which enter into their compolition, is easily traced when the origin of the other component parts has been ascertained; and that the source of oxygen and hydroa gen is evidently the water in which all plants grow; our author proposes, as the only remaining problem, to ascertain the origin of the carbonaceous matter. He sets out with a remark of old date, that the health and strength of plants seems to be inti, mately connected with the fat or oleaginous, that is, the carbon paceous qualities of their food. As this position has never been directly proved, he begins by offering an experimental demon ftration of it.

He first prepared a perfectly well mixed and homogenous foil, formed of earih and manure, and having sown in equal portions

of

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