Page images
PDF
EPUB

in its structure, and admits but of few notes; the fifth and the key being the prevailing ones; and which are now and then alternated by the fourth and note below the key.. The instru. ment can only properly play upon one key, the fundamental note 10 which the drønes are tyned: this forms the key-note, of every bagpipe piece; and from which there hardly can be any depar. ture. The initrument, however, being provided with an addicional note a full cone below, the drones, that note is rome. times founded in connection with the second and fourth, which are respectively the third and fifth above the additional note it. self; and hence the music may be said to pass into a new key ; although the tranfition be incomplete; the passages being but fort, and the drones all the while continuing to found the principal key-note; giving hence birth, for a short time, to a inoft horrible discord. From this state the music is relieved by rifing up again to the principal key; and the effect has been compared to a gleam of bright fun-fhine, suddenly burttiag from a dark cloud, The key note and the note below being made to succeed one another, is a passage in common with a great many reels, and particularly offentive to the Italians : a. passage which almost never occurs in the vocal mufic, except in some airs of the minor mode, and where it is admillible, in a certain degree, even in regular music. The measure, especially of the flow parts, is often irregular, the performer frequently lengthening notes for the sake of effect, and also sometimes fufpending the measure, to introduce certain flourilhes and graces peculiar to the inftrument, which it is very difficult, if at all possible, to reduce to notes; and in the performance of which the Highland pipers can vie in execution with the molt corrupted of the Italian fiddlers. The contraft in measures, it is only to be farther remarked, which would disgust a regular mu. fician, gives rapture to a Highlander: a notable fact, and which countenances what we read of concerning the effects of ancient music.

Bagpipe music should seem thus to be the music rather of real nature, and of rude pafcon, than the music of a fine art. It is the voice of uproar and of misrule. The mournful ,may appear, but it is the mournful of wrath and terror. The effect of such music-feems to be much owing to the instrument itself, for it is loit upon softer ones, as the violin and fute. The boilteroufness of the performance, the peculiar tone of the pipe and drone, the rapidity of the variations, we are able to conceive, may excite all that rage of ardour and impetuofity which have been ascribed to them.

Probably the bagpipe, or at least pipe and pulsatile inktra. ments, prevailed in the very first times in the Highlands of Scotland, as appears from Aristides Quintilianus, who speaks of the Celtic music as fit only for fierceness and fury, the music

Yet it is to be conjectured, notwithlanding his authority, that such kind of music as he describes, and no other

oply,

of war.

[ocr errors]

only, for the most part, would be known to strangers, who would see those people chiefly in times of disorder and arms; and hence this is no sufficient proof that a pacific, gay, or tender music, befitting the times of tranquillity, was a wanting. At the same time, however, most probably the Highland music was at first, as in all rude nations, chiefly of a warlike kind; and the harp may have only been introduced in the course of a barbarous civilization.'

In the succeeding volumes, we may probably meet with more entertainment and greater information ; but we would recommend to the author a more exact discrimination of what is really important, in the works from which he must neceffarily collect.

Philofophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London. Vol.

LXXIV. For the Year 1784. Part 11. (Concluded; from vol. lix. p. 417.)

. . :

ral Terın is a determinate Function of z the Distance from the first Term of the Series. By Edward Waring, M. D. &c. - Dr. Waring, in this paper, extends and elucidates fome parts of the Meditationes Analyticæ ; of course the principles of many of the rules are to be found in that work! Papers of this kind are incapable of abridgement, and we shall only add, that; in the conclusion, our author endeavours to establish his own claim to algebraical inventions, in the work juft mentioned.

While his arguments on this subject are satisfactory, his observations deserve applause, for their extreme candour and liberality. We are glad to find, that the author has carried his improvements into geometry,' and discover. ed many new properties of conic sections. It were to be defired, that he would not confine them to the narrow sphere of his particular acquaintance.

Art. XXIX. Account of a remarkable Frost on the 23d of June, 1783. By the Rev. Sir John Cullum, Bart. F.R.S. S. A.

We have seen severe frosts in this month ; but the severity of that, which happened in 1783, was indeed remarkable. Even the hardy Scotch fir suffered from its attack; but it is more remarkable, that the dry haze, so general in that year, disappeared on the 2nd of June, and immediately the thermometer funk to 50°: on the 23d, it must have been far be. low-326 On the 24th the haze returned; and, the following day, the leaves of many vegetables were covered with a clammy sweetness. These remarks 'may contribute to illustrare this hitherto inexplicable phenomenon.

Art.

[ocr errors]

tures.

Art. XXX. On a new Method of preparing a Test Liquor to shew the Presence of Acids and Alkalies in chemical Mix

By Mr. James Watt, Engineer. - Every person has, in their turn, , been deceived by the tests for alkalies, though the changes, from the presence of acids, have been sufficiently decisive. Phlogisticated nitrous acid, with an alkali, by the test of litmus, will appear acid, when other tests determine it to be alkaline. This ambiguity may lead the chemift into many errors; and it is of use, therefore, to be informed, that an infusion of the leaves of the common red cabbage, was very sensible in the changes of colour, both from alkalies and acids ; and not liable to be influenced by the presence of phlogiston. Mr. Watt advises chemists, to preserve them by means of acids, and, when they are used, to neutralize the acid by means of chalk or fixed alkali. He afterwards found, that, in hot weather, fpirits of wine were necessary to prevent moulding. Since reading this paper, we have found cloves equally useful; and they have preserved the liquor, without any other addition, in the late warm weather ; but perhaps the heat has not yet been great enough, to give this method a fair trial.

Art. XXXI. An Account of a new Plant of the Order of Fungi. By Thomas Woodward, Esq.-We should prefer forming a new genus for this peculiar plant, at least till it has been more accurately examined : it is however nearly allied to the lycoperdon. It has not been before noticed, because its growth is very rapid, and its volva generally buried from fix to eight inches in the earth. Plants have been found in a decaying state, where, the day before, there had been no appearance of any; and it has since appeared probable, that they sometimes come to perfection, before they rise above the surface.

Art. XXXII. Experiments to investigate the Variation of Local Heat. By James Six, Esq.-In our fifty-fifth volume, page 361, we explained the construction of Mr. Six's thermometer, and then objected to it, that the resistance of the index, with the necessary bulk of the spirits, would diminish its sensibility. It must be owned, however, that the force of these objections is leffened when it is used in comparative experiments ; we do not think that they are entirely removed. Mr. Six, as usual, found, that the heat diminished as the thermometers were raised from the earth during the day time; but, in the night, the order was frequently reversed. The ftate of the atmosphere was found to influence this change ; for when the sky, during the night, was dark and cloudy, all the thermometers agreed very nearly with each other. In the day time, the variation, at different heights, seemed not to be Vol. LX. July, 1785.

affected

affe&ted by the state of the air, except as it was cold or hot. In the cold weather it was less observable. It is not allowable to enter on long discussions ; but if Mr. Six reflects on the solvent power of the air, or rather, to avoid disputes, on the effects of evaporation, combined with those of the heat reflected from the earth, the greater number of appearances will be explained. He should consider too, that air is a bad conductor of heat, and that his thermometers are not so easily affected as the smaller inftruments ; confequently, a little variety will arise from their being fixed to a large body, or fufe pended in the open air.

Art. XXXIII. Account of some Observations tending to in. vestigate the Confiruction of the Heavens. By William Herfchel, Esq. F. R. S.-Mr. Herschel has now applied a new telescope of confiderable powers, though weaker than one he designed to construct, to the more distant fixed stars. It was always presumed that the nebulæ and milky-way were clufters of stars, because the better our instruments were, the more elearly we perceived the bodies of which some of the nebulæ were composed. This powerful telescope has separated many of these clusters into their component stars; and the milkyway appears, through it, to be of the fame kind.

From an actual enumeration of some fields of view, Mr. Herschel com-putes that a belt of 15° long and 2° broad cannot contain less than fifty thousand itars, which may be distinctly counted. Befides this astonishing number, our author has discovered four hundred and fixty-fix new nebulæ, which, so far as we know, have not yet been seen by any other person.

The attempt to investigate the construction of the heavens is of an astonishing magnitude. We entered on it with doubt and hesitation, and we now follow our author's iteps with' refpectful timidity. It is the privilege of genius, to express its sublime conceptions in a clear, comprehensive, and peculiar language ; so that, from the difficulty of the subject, and the want of diagrams, we almoit despair of conveying any accurate idea of Mr. Herschel's observations. But we shall make the attempt. *A flight reflection will convince us, that the spherical appearance of the heavens is an optical deception ; and that the stars are more properly fcattered indiscriminately, or arranged in an order very different from that in which we perceive them. Mr. Herschel seems to assume it as a position, that they are arranged in ftrata, and then examines how far this opinion agrees with the appearances. If a number of stars are arranged between two parallel planes indefinitely extended, but at given considerable distance from each other, eye placed any where within it, will see the stars in the direction

of

[ocr errors]

of its length and height, with all those in the intermediate fie tuations projected into a great circle. This exactly agrees with the appearance of the milky-way, and Mr. Herschel thinks it highly probable that the sun is in the same stratum., But, if a smaller stratum intersect the great one, the eye, at no great distance from the point of intersection, will see the smaller ftratum as a lucid branch; so that it is probable this great ftratum is intersected by another, and that our sun is in a part of it not far diftant from the point of interfection. This is confirmed by what our author calls a ttar-gage ; for he, who talks of col. lecting bundles of stars of two or three hundred at a time, and offering them to the Royal Society,' may be allowed to asfume the rule, and gage the heavens. In the parallel from 92° to 94' north polar distance, and 15h 10' right afcenfion, the star-gage runs

up

from 9.4 stars in a field of view to 18.6. But in the parallel from 780 to 80°, and right ascension 11, 12, 13, and 14", from 3.1 it seldom rises above 4. We just now observed, that, in this stratum, those stars which are in the di. rection of the length and height of the plane, with those in the intermediate situations, appear in the form of a great circle ; those in the direction of its fides necellarily appear to be scattered without any particular arrangement. From this it feems to follow, that the milky-way, and the diftinct stars of different magnitudes belong to the stratum, or perhaps more properly speaking, the groupe to which the fun belongs. We are by no means clear refpe&ting Mr. Herschel's opinion of the other strata ; in one passage he seems to consider each nebula as a distinct ftratum.

• If the eye were placed somewhere without the stratum, at no very great distance, the appearance of the stars within it would assume the form of one of the less circles of the sphere, which would be more or less contracted to the distance of the eye; and if this distance were exceedingly increased, the whole ftratum might at last be drawn together into a lucid spot of any shape, according to the position, length and height of the stratum.”

In another passage, he is rather inclined to think the strata formed of groupes of nebulz; and this seems by much the most probable opinion.

• A very remarkable circumstance, attending the nebulæ and clusters of stars is, that they are arranged into strata, which seem to run on to a great length; and lome of them I have already been able to pursue, so as to guess pretty well at their form and direction. It is probable enough, that they may furround the whole apparent sphere of the heavens, not unlike the milky-way, which undoubtedly is nothing but a stratum of

fixed

C 2

« PreviousContinue »