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ART. I. Modern Geography. A Description of the Empires, Kingdoms, States, and Colonies; with the Oceans, Seas, and Isles; in all Parts of the World: including the most recent Discoveries, and Political Alterations. Digested on a new Plan, By John Pinkerton. The Astronomical Introduction by the Rev. S. Vince, A. M. &c. With numerous Maps, drawn under the Direction, and with the latest Improvements, of Arrowsmith, and engraved by Lowry. To the Whole are added, a Catalogue of the best Maps, and Books of Travels and Voyages, in all Languages: and an ample Index. 2 Vols. 4to. 41. 4s. Boards. Cadell and Davies. 1802..
RICH as is the present era in scientific discoveries, and amply as the bounds of knowledge are enlarged, no science individually has experienced such advancement as that of geography, in the last twenty years. Not only have new countries been zealously explored, but former informations concentrated; while the results obtained from both have supplied our wants and gra tified our wishes. The enterprises of navigators have been united to the precision of philosophy, and instruments improved in every department have added to theory the exemplifications of practice. To trace but the outline of these attainments. would be too wide a digression; for it cannot escape the superficial inquirer, that new regions have been discovered, the errors of former geographers rectified, that our charts have attained an accuracy formerly unknown, and that, on the east, the north, and the south, we have not only acquired superficial accounts of the different countries, but have ascertained their form and situation with a precision that we can scarcely boast of in our knowledge of many of the kingdoms of Europe. This then was the æra for the publication of a new system of geography. The numerous errors of Busching, and the compilers of his age, were rectified by Guthrie; and still
The very able and learned geographical disquisition of this kind, prefixed to La Pérouse's Voyages, is said to have been the work of the late unfortunate Louis, CRIT. REV. Vol. 36. September, 1802. B
nearer approaches were made fo perfection in the successive editions of that author's system; we mean chiefly in the octavo form. A republication of the quarto is, we perceive, advertised; which, with the present work, will put into our possession two systems, each of which will possess its peculiar merits; and, together, will afford a more complete view of the habitable globe than any other nation possesses.
Geography, as the term itself implies, is a description of the earth. This necessarily includes the form, the relative situation, and the nature of each country; but, strictly speaking, it has no other objects. Yet, as subservient to history, the views of the geographer are more extensive and varied. In our account of the present state and appellation of different countries, we must refer to their ancient names, their former circumstances and connexions; for the science would be imperfect and uninteresting if only the modern distinctions were retained. This leads to a very ample field; for, in what our present author styles the progressive geography, not only the ancient appellations and their successive changes, but the history of the inhabitants, will be included. In former systems this has been extended too far; and, instead of Geography being the handmaid of History, she is herself in the back ground, and forms the least prominent figure in her own department. In the present volumes, history takes a more subordinate station, but yet appears to encroach too far. The historical parts should never have a distinct place. Mixed with the progress of geography in different æras, they should form only the connecting links, without appearing to be a part of the subject; and all the requisite information may in this way be obtained, without, seeming fo involve any portion of what is properly styled history:
In our description of the objects of geography, we have said that it involves an account of the nature of each country. Among the miscellaneous heads into which the subject is generally broken, some account of the soil, the rivers, &c. occurs, but so greatly disjointed as to convey very imperfect ideas; and we gain little more than by honest Fluellin's comparison-'there is a river, look you, in Macedon, and there is a river in Monmouth.' What we would convey by the nature of a country, is a general description of its appearance and its soil, connecting these, particularly the situation and direction of its mountains, with the course of its rivers, and pointing out the diversity of soils through which they run, and those which are interposed. This leads to an account of the natural productions, and connects the various details into one whole, which forms a distinct image on the mind. Nor is it the object of the geographer to engage minutely in an enumeration of the natural productions and curiosities. This part of his subject is subservient only to the nature of the country and its soil, and should form a subor
dinate portion of the description. The full account belongs to the natural historian, or to that branch of the subject which Zimmermann has so ably treated of in his Specimen Zoologiæ Geographicæ.
In this stricter view, every statistical investigation appears to be no part of the subject; and the enumeration of churches,' religions, universities, &c. to be misplaced. Yet, perhaps, so much rigour cannot at once be exercised. These have made a part of every geographical work, and must continue to do so, though we think they should be confined to a separate chapter, and form a subordinate part only.
If this idea could be realised, the description of each country would be one whole unbroken account; and the connexion of each part would distinctly impress on the mind the nature, the situation, and the relative bearings, of each kingdom to every other. In this way, also, geography would admit of the ornaments of language, and be rendered pleasing, as a series of descriptions, free without weakness, and precise without pedantry. In many of these particulars, Mr. Pinkerton's success is considerable. His language has every requisite precision, with a sufficiently harmonious flow. We think, however, that his subjects are still sometimes too much broken; and he has occasionally admitted descriptions somewhat too copious and extensive, not perhaps with sufficient strictness related to geography. Mr. Pinkerton must, however, speak for himself.
With such examples' (Strabo, Arrian, Pliny, &c. among the ancients; Gosselin, Rennel, D'Anville, and Vincent, among the moderns) the author confesses his ambitious desire that the present work may, at least, be regarded as more free from defects than any preceding system of modern geography. By the liberality of the publishers no expence has been spared in collecting materials from all quarters; and the assemblage of books and maps would amount to an expence hardly credible. If there be any failure, the blame must solely rest with the author; who being however conversant with the subject, from his early youth, when he was accustomed to draw maps, while engaged in the study of history, and never having neg lected his devotion to this important science, he hopes that the ample materials will be found not to have been entrusted to inadequate hands. He may affirm that the most sedulous attention has been exerted, in the selection and arrangement of the most interesting topics; and he hopes that the novelty of the plan will not only be recommended by greater ease and expedition, in using this work as a book of reference; but by a more strict and classical connexion, so as to afford more clear and satisfactory information on a general perusal. The nature and causes of the plan shall be explained in the preliminary observations, as being intimately connected with other topics there investigated. It may here suffice to observe, that the objects most essentially allied with each other, instead of being dispersed as fragments, are here gathered into distinct heads or chapters,
arranged in uniform progress, except where particular circumstances commanded a deviation: and instead of pretended histories, and prolix commercial documents, the chief attention is devoted to subjects strictly geographical, but which in preceding systems have often appeared in the form of a mere list of names, the evanescent shades of knowledge. Meagre details of history can be of no service even to youth, and are foreign to the name and nature of geography, which, like chronology, only aspires to illustrate history; and, without encroaching upon other provinces, has more than sufficient difficulties to encounter. The states are arranged according to their comparative importance, as it is proper that the objects which deserve most attention should be treated at the greatest length, and claim the earliest observation of the student.' Vol. i. p. ix.
Our readers will perceive in this extract the approaches to the more strict geographical system which we have proposed;though Mr. Pinkerton could not have borrowed from us, nor have we taken from him, as our plan has been for many years digested, without, however, any very sanguine expectations of executing it. The following remarks merit particular attention; and we can add, that the author has performed his promise.
•Amidst other advantages already indicated, the regular refe rences to the authorities, here observed for the first time in any geographical system, will be admitted to be a considerable improvement, not only as imparting authenticity to the text, but as enabling the reader to recur to the best original works, when he is desirous of more minute information. Yet this improvement is so simple, that the omission might seem matter of surprise, were it not that former works of this nature will generally be found to be blindly copied from preceding systems, with the sole claim of superiority in error, as must happen in such cases, where mistakes multiply, and an old hallucination becomes the father of a numerous progeny. The strict quotation of authorities might also be rather dangerous in erroneous details; and the omission is as convenient, as it is to pass in silence geographical doubts of great importance, which might prove perilous ordeals of science. Accustomed to the labours and pleasures of learning merely for his own mental improvement, as the delight of his case, the relief of care, the solace of misfortune, the author never hesitates to avow his doubts, or his ignorance; nor scruples to sacrifice the little vanity of the individual to his grand object, the advancement of science. An emphatic Arabian proverb declares that the errors of the learned are learned; and even the mistakes of a patient and unbiassed inquirer may often excite discussion, and a consequent elucidation of the truth.' Vol. i. p. xii.
Such has been the state of geography in this kingdom, or so little attention has it received, that we have, in almost every instance, found reason to complain of the little assistance which the reader of the travels has derived from the accompanying maps. Latitudes and longitudes have been considered as useless appendages; and we have seen a map, illustrating travels