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قراءة كتاب The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 13, No. 360, March 14, 1829

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‏اللغة: English
The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction
Volume 13, No. 360, March 14, 1829

The Mirror of Literature, Amusement, and Instruction Volume 13, No. 360, March 14, 1829

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 5

hear comedy and tragedy at this play-going season. A young girl comes to town to see "the lions," and, with her "cousin," goes to the opera, where one guinea is paid for their admission, or even more if they be installed. Two Londoners would buy their tickets during the day, and thus pay but 17s. Another party are dying to hear Braham sing, or Paton warble her nightingale notes among the canvass groves and hollyhock gardens of Drury Lane and Covent Garden; or to sup on the frowning woes of tragedy, the intrigues of an interlude dished up as an entremet, or a melodrama for a ragout; or the wit and waggery of a farce, sweet and soft-flowing like a petit-verre, to finish the repast. They go, and between the acts try to count the wax and gas, the feet, and foot lights till they are purblind; they return home and dream of Desdemona, sing themselves to sleep with the notes of the last song, are haunted with the odd physiognomy of Liston, and repeat the farce-laugh till the dream is broken. Next day it is mighty pleasant to read how many hundred people the theatre will hold, how many pounds they all paid to get there; and how the splendid pile of Drury Lane rose on the area of a cockpit: and how Garrick played Macbeth in a court suit, and John Kemble enacted the sufferings of Hamlet in powdered hair. Upon all these subjects the Companion is conversant, although he does not set up for Sir Oracle, or shake his head like Burleigh. In short, he tells of "many things," from the cart of Thespis and the Roman theatres, with their 6,000 singers and dancers, to the companies on the present stages.

Thus, we have the Origin of the Drama—Rise of the Drama in England—Early English Theatres—Descriptions of all the London Theatres—and a pleasant chapter on the Italian Opera. The Appendix contains pithy chronologies of the dramatists and actors, bygone and contemporary—origin of all the varieties of the drama—the topography of the stage and scenery, costume—expenses of the theatres—masquerades—play-bills and editions of plays, and a host of theatrical customs. In truth, the book is as full as the tail of a fine lobster, and will doubtless repay the time and research which its preparation must have occupied. There is also a, frontispiece of the fronts of the twelve London Theatres.


Mr. James Jennings has favoured us with a copy of his Ornithologia; or the Birds, a poem; with copious Notes; &c. The latter portion is to us the most interesting, especially as it contains an immense body of valuable research into the history and economy of birds, in a pleasant, piquant, anecdotical style, without any of the quaintness or crabbedness of scientific technicality. Mr. Jennings's volume is therefore well adapted for presentation to young persons; whilst the knowledge which it displays, entitles it to a much higher stand than a mere book of amusement. To illustrate what we have said in its praise, the reader will find in the Supplement to the present Number, two or three of the most attractive Notes under "THE NATURALIST," which likewise contains Three Engravings of very curious subjects in other departments of Natural History.


We have already spoken in favourable terms of this volume. It consists of 15 conversations of a family circle, comprising a familiar explanation of the Huttonian and Wernerian systems; the Mosaic geology, as explained by Penn; and the late discoveries of Buckland, Humboldt, Macculloch, and others. By way of specimen, we take a portion of a conversation which introduces the very interesting subject of the formation of coal:

Edward.—As the Huttonians evidently fail in proving coal to be produced by fusion, I hope the Wernerians may succeed better, for I should be sorry if so interesting a subject were left unexplained.

Mrs. R.—To understand their account, it will be requisite for you to recollect the process of the formation of bogs and marshes, as it is from these that Werner derives coal. What I told you, also, of the change produced on wood by being long exposed to moisture and kept from contact with the air, will be of use here, as wood, in all stages of change, is often found in coal-fields, in the same way as in peat-bogs.

Edward. That is a very strong circumstance in favour of the alleged origin.

Mrs. R. There are some facts, indeed, connected with this, which prove this origin beyond question, as you will admit, when I tell you that specimens of wood are often found partly converted into coal and partly unchanged, or petrified by some other mineral.

Edward. This will, at least, be direct proof that wood may be converted into coal.

Mrs. R. One instance of this kind is mentioned by Brand, in his "History of Newcastle," as having been brought from Iceland, by Sir Joseph Banks. Dr. Rennie, in his "Essay on Peat Moss," gives a still stronger example. In the parish of Kilsyth, he tells us, there was found, in a solid bed of sandstone, the trunk of a tree in an erect position, the indentations of the bark and marks of the branches being in many parts of it still obvious. It rose from a bed of coal below the sandstone, and the roots which reached the coal, as well as the bark for an inch thick round the trunk, were completely converted into coal, while the centre consisted of sandstone. This specimen I have myself seen in the parsonage garden of Kilsyth, and this description is most accurate. Sir George Mackenzie lately found a specimen precisely similar, in the face of a sandstone rock in Lothian, and I have seen numerous specimens of bamboos and reeds in the sandstone quarries of Glasgow, with the bark converted into coal, and the centre filled with sandstone.

Edward.—But would not this prove that sandstone, also, was derived from wood?

Mrs. R.—No: it would only prove that the centre had been destroyed and removed; for the sandstone is not chemically composed of vegetable substances, but the coal is.

Edward—Still, I cannot conceive by what process the conversion is effected.

Mrs. R. By a natural process, evidently; being a continuation of that which converts mosses and marshes into peat. Nay, it is supposed not to stop at the formation of coal, but, by a continuation of the causes, the coal becomes jet, and even amber. The eminent chemist, Fourcroy, in proof of this, mentions a specimen in which one end was wood, little changed, and the other pure jet; and Chaptal tells us, that at Montpellier there are dug up whole cart-loads of trees converted into jet, though the original forms are so perfectly preserved that he could often detect the species; and, among others, he mentions birch and walnut. What is even more remarkable, he found a wooden pail and a wooden shovel converted into pure jet.

Edward. Then I suppose, from all these details, that coal might be formed artificially, by imitating the natural process.

Mrs. R. Mr. Hatchett made many ingenious and successful experiments with this design, and Dr. Macculloch has more recently succeeded in actually making coal. One of the strongest instances of the process, is the existence of a great quantity of wood only half converted into coal, at Bovey, near Exeter; this has been much discussed by the geologists; but there is a bed of coal found at Locle, on the continent, which is said to have been formed almost within the memory of man, though I have not yet seen any good account of it.

Altogether, we have been much gratified with these Conversations. As a hint, en passant, we remind the editor of such an oversight as that at p. 350-1, "Order in which the strata lies in the Paris basin."


There were many newspapers in the room, but there was nothing in them. There