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to Minerva. We need cite no other instances than the cultus of the professor, whose discoveries we have sometimes alluded to, in the course of this article.
All Paris had patiently expected, for years, the course of lectures in which M. Savart proposed unfolding the acoustical phenomena and principles hall his life had been consumed in investigating. The philosopher was not ready—some dissonances of sound or of experiment awaited a resolution, time and patience alone could develop. The public was patient. Its curiosity was finally gratified. The course announced for December, 1837, was opened in March, 1838. A numerous auditory greeted the experimenter. Many classes of society sat upon the same benches; M. Becquerel, the president of the academy of sciences, himself long an anchorite of science, beside the neophyte escaped from school to the Sorbonne — the journalist beside the blue stocking. The spacious amphitheatre was propitious for the illustration of the new revelations, and the area reserved for the lecturer, ample enough for the enactment of a modern drama. A variety of novel apparatus lay within bis reach, and above the chimney-piece of the furnace, the following names of eminent natural philosophers, inscribed in golden characters upon marble tablets, were, surely, the happiest auspices under which a new series of physical inquiries could be instituted :
S' Gravesande, Fresnel,
Ampère. Besides its novelty and intrinsic interest, one chief merit of M. Savart's course, was the frank and lucid mode of explanation he adopted. Responding gladly to all interrogatories; free to acknowledge the difficulties which had baffled him, and narrating familiarly the history of each discovery, he seemed more like a brother worshipper from the crowd, than an interpreter of one of nature's thousand oracles. His lectures had but one defect; they were too few — and the audience regretted the vaca
tion that brought them to a close. These few traits we have gathered from the lips of one on whom the perfect ease, and nature, and perseverance, and ingenuity of the intelligent professor made a lasting impression. M. Savart is the type of an experimentalist in the nineteenth century. What M. Becquerel has achieved for electricity, he has accomplished for acoustics. We could hardly award him a more simple, yet expressive, meed of praise.
His name occurs frequently in the third part of Mr. Peirce's treatise, wbich enumerates the various recent experiments made by him, and confirmed by Faraday, upon the communication of vibrations from one part of a system to another. Here, also, learn we, how the vibrations of a chord are strengthened by the violin it is stretched upon, and how those of one sonorous body are communicated by the air to another susceptible of the same mode of vibration. Thence we gather, through the skillful experiments of the French professor, some notion of the secrets employed in building the ancient amphitheatres, of the use of those rase mentioned by Vitruvius, and of the flutes which sounded the proper pitch for the voice of the Roman orator.
We miss some not less curious facts of the same nature, due, also, to M. Savart, whose delicately organized ear is well adapted to these researches. He found that the sound of a string, or pipe, or any other instrument, exerts a very remarkable influence on thin streams of water escaping under a suflicient pressure through a small circular aperture. When the orifice is horizontal, and the stream flows perpendicularly, it will be found, upon issuing, to assume the figure of a cylinder somewhat conical — immediately below the apex the liquid column swells; an annular compression follows, then a new dilation, and so on successively. The fluid seems to assume this form of column in consequence of its vibrations; for, by a practised ear, it is perceived to emit a feeble sound, which may be confirmed by receiving the stream upon a stretched membrane. This ingenious apparatus is known to vibrate in unison with every sound communicated to it. Let us suppose that in the present case, it reveals A as the note produced by the vibrating fluid. Producing this note upon a violin or bass-viol — as the pitch may require - suddenly the water-stream is seen to obey the magical power of music, and to execute a kind of dance. On sheets of water the effect is still more remarkable. Columns allowed to fall upon conical and other sursaces form symmetrical sheets, or undulate like things of life, twining themselves with caprice, and
grace, and elasticity. By proper instruments the very cataract might be made to jump with unknown joy, and the rain to fall in rhythmic measure.
After these beautiful experiments, who will deny that, as poets say, matter recognises harmony, and that, to verify the fable of Orpheus, we have only to multiply by centuries, and their vague superstitions, the interesting feats of Mr. Savart. But how wondrous soever such facts may appear, philosophers will ever seek, and sometimes succeed in accounting for them. For ourselves, we can but see in every effect an almighty cause, whose manifold, yet simple means, are each capable of originating a thousand varied phenomena which increase in mystery the nearer we approach the source from whence they flow.
By studying the manner in which sound is produced in the various musical instruments, we may attain a knowledge of the vocal mechanism by which we communicate our ideas, and of the apparatus through which we are impressed with those of our fellow creatures, by the melody of voice or of instrument. These subjects are respectively discussed in the two concluding chapters of the volume before us. We can hardly presume to descant upon these topics here, and only extend our remarks because the explanations of them afforded by Mr. Peirce appear less satisfactory than the preceding portions of bis work. It is true, physiologists have failed to teach us the use of every part of that very complicated organ, the ear, but we may, nevertheless, partially divine how we receive impressions of articulate and musical sounds, two functions, for which different organs may evidently be requisite. It is our belief, that in the human ear these are combined; that the vestibulus is, with its adjacent parts, the seat of the one, and the partition which bisects the cochlea, that of the other.
The restibulus is a small cavity, exhibiting windows closed by membranes, and filled with a gelatinous fluid highly susceptible of vibration. From the inner side, a nerve, forming a pencillike expansion in the liquid, connects this cavity with the brain. When the air is put in vibration by a sonorous body, the vibrations are communicated to the liquid, and thence to the numerous pervous threads which transmit them to the brain. Thus far all is indisputable. Beyond this, facts give place to hypotheses, and the mode in wbich the vibrations become articulate sounds - mingled as the question is with mysteries that seem impenetrable — will possibly never be revealed to man. An anatomical examination of the partition in the cochlea, NO. VII.- VOL. IV.
shows it to be a lamina composed of innumerable chords, transverse to its length. Each of these is connected with a nervous thread, and the whole partition thus forms a kind of hearing harp. If we conceive that these miniature chords, by some reason unknown to us, may, notwithstanding their minuteness, each vibrate in unison with a musical note, exactly as is the case with musical strings, of the same fundamental tone, we have at once a key to our aptitude for hearing music. Thus, may we also comprehend why some persons, who distinguish the feeblest voice, have no taste for music, and why the same performance is known to produce opposite effects upon different persons. This is the opinion of an eminent physiologist, and seems worthy the attention of medical men.
By the foregoing theory, may be readily explained a curious fact, published in many of the public journals of the past year. A gentleman, in one of the most musical towns of Germany, displayed an aversion to music. If he chanced to be in a room where preparations for it were commencing, at the first sound of the piano or harp, he was constrained to withdraw. It was by accident remarked, that when one ear was stopped the other experienced all the pleasure harmony occasions. The supposition of a very slight difference in the musical apparatus of the two ears, as already described, will readily account for this singular circumstance.
In taking leave of Mr. Peirce, we would renew the expressions of our satisfaction with his treatise on acoustics. It is entitled the second volume of a course of natural philosophy, but its predecessor has not yet reached us, unless he refers to an excel. lent algebra, wbich we desire to recommend. It has been said that he is engaged in translating and preparing for the press, the concluding volume of the monument raised to the memory of Laplace, by the late Dr. Bowditch, and beneath which the grand and simple architect himself lies entombed. It is well known that Professor Peirce is the same intelligent young friend, who, in proportion as the sheets of the Mécanique Céleste appeared, read over and corrected them. Who, then, so well as he, can complete the interrupted task of his early benefactor ?
ART. VI. – 1. The Life of Friedrich Schiller, comprehending
an Eramination of his Works. Boston : 1833. 1 vol.
12mo. 2. Sartor Resartus. Boston: 1835. 1 vol. 12mo. 3. Critical and Miscellaneous Essays. By THOMAS CARLYLE.
Boston : 1838. 2 vols. 12mo.
It is now some ten or twelve years since the name of Thomas Carlyle began to be faintly heard, in connexion with some of the papers contained in the volumes of collected essays, recently published at Boston. The disquisitions upon Richter, German Literature, and Robert Burns, first attracted the attention of the reading men in this country. These were followed by the essays on the “ Signs of the Times” and “ Characteristics, - productions of an order so remarkable and startling, that they created a prodigious sensation in the intellectual world; the before applausive murmurs of many were changed into groans and hisses, while others shouted out a louder cry of joy and hope. “What is this Voice ?" some cried ; and while on the one hand it was answered, that it must be from a lunatic ghost, it was so strange and hollow,- on the other hand, there were those who said it was a warning voice, from a far and dim, but true and pure world. Meanwhile, the newspapers said little or nothing, and Rumor passed by the phenomenon as a small thing, and busied herself in stocks, and state elections; but, silently, in many garrets and halls, brains were busy over the writings of which we have spoken, and a party was forming about them, as the summer vapors gather to the electrical cloud, “a little cloud, like a man's hand.” We had next given to us a Life of Schiller, printed in London in 1824 or 5 ;* a work with which all were pleased, and many delighted. In 1836, a volume was put forth in Boston, called Sartor Resartus, containing a series of papers first printed in Frazer's Magazine, London, in 1833 – 4. This volume appeared without the author's name, but was known by all to be from the Anglo-Gerinanic
* The Preface to the volumes of Essays before us, says 1825 ; but in the article on Schiller, vol. 22, 273, it is stated to have been published in 1824