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light on the minds of those good protestants who have been subscribing their money to promote the building of this same chapel at Birr. It is needless, I hope, to prove, that the delicate allusions to the presumptive heiress of this kingdom are made in a spirit truly and essentially popish—the arguments precisely the same as those used by the Romish party in resisting the supremacy of Queen Elizabeth.

But may we not ask, are his protestant friends aware, are such men as the Rev. Mr. Medlicott, rector of Loughrea, (whose guest Mr. O'Keeffe states himself to have been for four days, when on his road to Birr,) aware, that these converted priests are denouncing from their pulpit all clergy, men who dare to use legal modes of recovering their tithes, as the best friends of the priests, men pursuing a system of violence and oppression, the oppressors and persecutors of the Roman catholics ? I do not hesitate to say, that no man can know the falsehood and wickedness of such representations better than Mr. Crotty. No man has better opportu. nities of knowing that the burden of tithes does not fall on the Roman catholics; that the real difficulty which our clergy have to contend against is, the covetousness of protestunt landowners, and that, if parliament would refuse to alter the existing tithe laws, the clergy would in a short time find no more difficulty in collecting tithes than any other rent-charge. But be this as it may, is the performance of mass in English, and the fact of priests defying the authority of their own prelates, sufficient to justify protestants in countenancing and assisting men who preach such sermons as this ? My dear Sir, faithfully yours,

C. June 6, 1837.

DISCLOSURES IN CONFESSION. Sir,—The rubric in the office for the Visitation of the Sick contains (as most churchmen, it is presumed, are aware the following direction :-“Here shall the sick person be moved to make a special confession of his sins, if he feel his conscience troubled with any weighty matter.” Many important reasons at once suggest themselves why the sick person should be thus exhorted; the principal one, however, is, " that by the ministry of God's holy word he may receive the benefit of absolution, together with ghostly counsel and advice, to the quieting of his conscience." But ought not such confession, under all circumstances, to be kept secret ? I presume there cannot be two opinions on the subject. Well, then, I would ask, is not the case of an unhappy criminal, who makes like disclosures for like reasons, parallel ? and ought not his confession, even in respect to the particular crime for which he is about to suffer, to be kept in the breast of his spiritual adviser, unless he have the dying man's express permission and request to make it known?

I am, Sir, your most obedient servant, W. Cumbridge, Feb, 11, 1837.

296

NOTICES AND REVIEWS.

The Ninth Bridgewater Treatise. A Fragment. By Charles Babbage, Esq. 1837.

(From a Correspondent.) The author of this publication is not unknown to fame, and he probably deserves the reputation he has acquired ; but still it is hard to see why he should disdain to acknowledge the place of his education, and prefer the title of an English esquire to that of the Lucasian Professor of Mathematics in the University of Cambridge ? Though he would be thought indifferent to public opinion, yet, like Lord Byron, he betrays a morbid sensibility to any real or fancied neglect; and the present extraordinary work is only one proof of it among many, That “he was not one of those who were selected” by the trustees of the Earl of Bridgewater, seems to rankle in his bosom; "he was not invited to support that great basis on which all revelation rests, nor has any sum of money been assigned to him, that, whatever the mercantile success or failure of the present volume may be, he may reap a large pecuniary reward.” It is impossible to misunderstand this; and yet we should probably never have heard of his disappointment, if an attack on his favourite studies had not roused his indignation. It seems that, in the first of the Bridgewater Treatises, (the first, he reminds us, only in the order of publication,) it is asserted, “ that from the speculations of the mechanical philosophers and mathematicians of recent times we can expect no help, when we ascend to the first cause and supreme Ruler of the universe;" and this remark Mr. Babbage conceives to apply to all who, like himself, “ cultivate deductive processes of reasoning.” He therefore adopts for a motto, the paragraph which contains it, with an intention to refute it; and the following analysis of his book will shew how well he has succeeded. It contains fifteen chapters, and the argument of each is shortly stated in his own order; for in no other way can those who have neither leisure nor inclination to read the work itself form any conception of its strange and desultory contents.

1. In this and the concluding chapter, the author maintains, that truth is to be followed, whatever may be the consequence; which no one denies.

2. This is an argument for design from the changing of laws in natural events ;” and Mr. Babbage can find no better illustration of the proceedings of omnipotence, than his own calculating machine. As the numbers increase by unity till they arrive at 100,000,001, the observer fancies that he has discovered the law of the series by induction; but the next number, instead of being 100,000,002, is 100,010,002; that is, the law changes, and this change was a necessary consequence of the original adjustment."

3. “ This argument does not lead' to fatalism;" which is made quite clear by the invention of printing, and the progressive advanceinent of human knowledge.

4. The “first chapter of Genesis” is considered; and we are told to beware of saying, that it is contradicted by the discoveries of modern science; for that would only invalidate the testimony of Moses.

5. In pursuing “the same subject,” we are told that Dr. Buckland, the Bishop of London, and the Archbishop of Canterbury, who represent the church of England, are convinced that the earth was not created 6000 years ago. On what authority this assertion rests, as to the two last, remains to be seen.

6. An argument in favour of “immortality' is derived from the desire of posthumous reputation; and the chapter consists of five pages, onethird of which is filled with dashes instead of words and sentences; pot, like the blanks of Tristram Shandy, full of ideas, which the author was ashamed to display, but meant to supply the place of certain loci communes, on which Mr. B. thinks it beiteath his dignity to enlarge

7. Of time.” Three pages of letterpress, with one of dashes, contain a comparison of the history of our race with that of our system; and we are informed, that “ the changes of the globe shew few signs of a beginning, with no symptoms of an end."

8. “On miracles,” which, though apparently deviations from a particular law, are only a fulfilment of a more general one. If you observe a series of square numbers on the calculating machine, the inventor, by some secret turn, may produce a cube; he may predict that he will do so; or he may shew that, excepting that one term, the original series shall proceed as before. Another illustration is drawn from the equation to a curve; but without the plate, it can scarcely be made intelligible to the general reader.

9. “ The impression of our words and actions on the globe.” No motion is ever obliterated ; and therefore “the air is a library in which all that man ever said is for ever written;" and “every atom of the murderer's frame retains for ever the impulse which caused his crime.” That a man of Mr. Babbage's talents could have written, one had almost said, the nonsense in this chapter, is quite a marvel. • 10. “Hume's argument against miracles” is refuted by a numerical calculation. It is 200,000,000,000 to 1 that a dead man never rose from the grave; for so many persons have lived and died since the creation. But if six witnesses agree that they saw one do so, each of whom would tell truth ninety-nine times out of one hundred, it is 1,000,000,000,000 to 1 that they have not agreed to tell a lie. So that it is five times more probable that the miracle should be true than that the testimony should be false-q.e. d.

11. An “à priori argument for miracles" on the principles of the eighth chapter.

12. “On the nature of future punishments.” If, by the operation of the cause mentioned in chap. 9, the wicked man can be made to remember and to distinguish, in the general hubbub, all that he has said and done, it will be enough.

13. “On free will." The author does not enter upon the question, filling up the lacunæ with his all-comprehensive dashes ; but he cannot help observing, that his machine, in calculating a table of squares, may change to a table of cubes, when the square number ends in 269,696, which will occur in the 99,736th calculation; and whether that fact is known to the observer or not, is immaterial to the result.

14. “On the origin of evil,” Mr. B. speaks as follows: “I had intended to have put into writing the substance of an interesting discussion I once had with a distinguished philosopher, now no more; but other demands on my time have prevented the completion of this intention.” This is the beginning, the middle, and the end of his dissertation on the origin of evil, which the table of contents leads us to expect.

Such is the substance of 160 pages of an octavo volume, printed on very thick paper, in a very loose manner, with many blanks; and not ,

, one word does it contain to prove the power, the wisdom, and the goodness of God, from the works of nature. It has, therefore, no claim to the title which is affixed to it, and the stigma on the scientific pursuits of the author is not removed. La Place, the great master of the deductive process, is said entirely to reject the doctrine of final causes; and one would be glad to know the reason why a man who understands the phenomena of nature, at least as well as his fellows, fails to be convinced by the argument they afford? Certain it is, that this treatise adds nothing to its force; and the Lucasian professor still seems to labour, to use his own words, under that “imputation of mental incapacity" of which he so loudly complains. He consoles himself, however, with the thought, that posterity will do him justice; and, “encouraged by the approbation of the greatest of other nations, and the more enlightened of his own, he waits for that hoinage, alike independent of space and time, which his memory will receive from the good and the gifted of all ages and of all countries.”

[It may be added, that this book is one of the most remarkable instances to be found of the degree in which the mind is narrowed by close devotion to one subject. From all which one has heard, too much cannot be said of the extraordinary degree of talents, and of deep mathematical knowledge, displayed in Mr. Babbage's machine. But the thing has so absorbed him, that all his thoughts, on all subjects, are cast into the mould of a machine. He cannot conceive of the world except as a great machine, set a-going once, and now not capable of change; nor of its Creator, except as a mighty machine maker, who might indeed, in constructing his machine at first, provide that, after one thousand or four thousand years of regular going, a single irregularity (a miracle) should take place, and another at another interval, settled before the machine is finished, and begins to work. Of God, as a providential governor of the world, as one who disposes and regulates the affairs of the world, he has made, it is quite obvious that one who holds this theory can have no notion or belief. The strong adherence to this machine-view of all subjects appears to amount to monomania as nearly as possible.

On the temper displayed in the preface, on the wretched commonplace declamation about pricstcraft, (unworthy, as far as power goes,

of a schoolboy of twelve years old,) and above all, on Mr. Babbage's holding a professorship at Cambridge, the less that is said the better. Nothing pleasant could be said, and nothing which could be said would be likely to do any good. It certainly would not be safe for any tory holder of a good professorship to follow Mr. Babbage's example as to his; but radical reformers may act, as well as speak, just as they please.]

We are

Historical

Account of the University of Cambridge and its Colleges, in a Letter to the Earl of Radnor. By Benjamin Dann Walsh, M.A., Fellow of Trinity. Dated, Trin. Coll., April 22, 1837.

(From a Correspondent.) The constitution of the University of Cambridge, like the constitution of England, has been the work of time,-in many particulars, of chance, and in some, perhaps, of evil and corrupt design, which has been overruled to the production of a whole that we have now before us. And this we admire and value not the less, for the proof that may be given of the folly or the wrong which produced the blessing. Mr. Walsh has bestowed great labour and research in accomplishing that for us, with respect to Cambridge, which others have so kindly done to lead us to subvert the constitution of our country; and is constantly triumphing, with the usual exultation upon recent acquirements, that for the moment seem to be placed above all the comedies of Aristophanes, whether in Greek or “in corresponding English metres.” afraid that we shall hardly come up to Mr. Walsh's own opinion of the value of the “ Historical Account.” In fact, we do not think that the author or the world at large would have been great sufferers if he had continued in that happy state of ignorance in which he tells us (p. 154) that he had rested content before he commenced his studies under Dr. Lamb, the learned patron of this sort of lore. Notwithstanding all the obsolete statutes for former centuries, and for a totally different system of things, which the pupil has raked out for us, we are perfectly satisfied with the admission, that a tacit reform has been constantly taking place ; by which, as we are fairly told at p. 87, Cambridge, at this instant, has “in constant operation an instrument to excite application and develop genius, unrivaled by any similar institution at present existing in the world.” And still more, as we are warned at p. 81, “It must not be supposed that this high degree of perfection was attained at once." We certainly shall not invoke the plastic hand of the Earl of Radnor, to form a system that shall not inflict the injustice which, according to Mr. Walsh, this does “ upon that most respectable body, the dissenters of the United Kingdom," (p. 25.) '

) “ That most respectable body''! Far be it from us to intimate that any one of the different bodies of men who separate themselves is not most respectable." Far be it from us to find fault with any radical newspaper, or any radical M. P., for calling a conspiracy of such discordant repulsive atoms, “the body of dissenters.” But, if presbyters of the church of England, or fellows of colleges, can laud such a conspiracy as a “most respectable body," we shall never blame

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