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HE most pleasing employment in the conduct of a miscellaneous
publication, is to procure such literary pieces as are calcu. lated to afford both pleasure and improvement; to depict those traits of exemplary character that tend to excite ingenuous minds to virtuous emulation; and to record such transactions as may exhibit man in the most ennobling views. While we continue to attend to these important objects, it is with extreme concern that we perceive the painful necefsity of ftill devoting no small portion of our miscellany to the narration of events, from which Humanity must turn with horror. Principles, just and good abstractedly considered, but carried to absurd and mischievous extremes, have been productive of calamities, diftinguished by more than common varieties of woe. A country, which so lately displayed all the elegancies of polished life, and the conciliating manners that heighten the pleasures of social intercourse, now exhibits fuch scenes of cruelty and defolation, as recall to memory the moft favage and ferocious times.
In our last periodical address, we considered the events of the year 1792 as of the most awful kind. But the year which has just expired appears to have furpalled even that eventful period in acts of atrocity and horror. We had just seen a mild and beneficent fovereign brought to a public trial: we now behold him conducted to the scaffold, and executed with circumstances of indignity, that bespeak not the justice of an august national tribunal, but the contemptible triumph of little minds, devoid of every dignified sentiment and of all virtuous sympathy. We behold his unhappy confort conducted, a few months after, to the same fatal spot; and, what seems more wonderful still, many of the most conspicuous characters in the revolution, those, moreover, who had gloried in having voted for the death of their sovereign, exhibiting, on that very scaffold, the triumph of a faction, which, in the plenitude of its power, seems to bid defiance to the most venerable principles; which, blending caprice with violence, makes no distinction between the degrading absurdities of superstition and the ennobling worship of a pure and rational religion; and which, with the fame facility that it destroys a calendar, contributing merely to the greater convenience of commercial intercourse, would eradicate those divine principles, which, pointing to happier scenes, have in all ages been productive of the most soothing consolations in calamity, and the happieit sources of true enjoyment in prosperity.
PRE FACE. To our own country, the dreadful state of anarchy to which France is now reduced ; the despotism under which she groans, unknown to the most arbitrary periods of her history; and the blood literally streaming in her cities ; may afford the most falutary lessons. It may teach us, that admitting the reality of some existing grievances, there are lawful modes of redress, in proper times and circumstances, that will preclude the dangerous resort to expedients, by which the unprincipled and ambitious may rise into notice and power, while the good and virtuous are involved, by the arts and crimes of a faciion, in unexpected and inevitable ruin. It may inculcate the abfurdity of expecting an ablolute freedom from defect in inftitutions, which, however excellent, must ftill partake of that imperfection inseparable from whatever is of human construction ; fatisfied, that that government, after all, is fufficier is perfect, in which, comparatively, few real grieva ices are felt; every member of the community has the moit ample security for ine enjoyment of civit and religious liberty; and the social rights of man, and that true liberty and equality which result from then, exist not in impracticable or mischievous theory, but in kind equal rule, the government of Jaws.'
These sentiments, we hope, are not incompatible with the most ardent wishes for the restoration of peace, for the diffusion of universal happiness, and that our hoftile neighbours may soon find how effential are the fanctions of Religion and Law, to the preservation of that Liberty for which they profess to contend. In the mean time, it will be our duty, in the conduct of this Miscellany, not to listen to the emotions of indignation, or to the violence of declamation, but to relate, with candour and discrimination, the various events that occur, and to present the best discussion of the political measures that may be adopted in this country, by that accurate and impartial account of the proceedings in parliament by which we have hitherto been distinguished; attending, moreover, with unremitting asiduity, to the various sources of miscellaneous literature that may contribute to the entertainment of our readers, and preserve to the Universal Magazine its wonted dir, tinction as the Repository of Knowledge and Pleasure.
KNOWLEDGE AND PLEASURE,
Thoughts on the ASTRONOMICAL Discoveries of the Ancients:
Illustrative of a beautiful Frontispiece, representing URANIA, the Muse of Astronomy.
Yon heavenly orbs, the glad abodes of life
A KENSIDE. IT T is worthy of observation, that where, at first, with contenipt and ri
there are many important truths, dicule, when discovered to the mowhich, ages ago, were taught by thé derns. These truths even proved ancients, and at lait adopted by the dangerous to those who held then, as moderns, after having undergone a not Galileo, the illuftrious Florentine phiuncommon fate, that of being rejected lolopher, experienced in the sevenand condemned with disdain. This teenth century, in the prison of an has been particularly the case with Inquisition. Yet both these doctrines astronomy. That the earth moves are now so well establihed, that they round the sun, and that there are anti- meet with universal approbation. And podes, are truths that were known thus, for two centuries paft have we long ago, although received every proceeded to re-introduce the most
celebrated of the ancient opinions ; chus, writing on the subject against still affecting, however, not to know fome of the philosophers of his own that we are indebted, in any respect, age, placed the sun immoveable in to those who first held them. the centre of an orbit, described by
The molt rational iyítem in itself, the earth in its circuit.' And Sextus and which agrers beit with the most Empiricius alio cites him as one of the accurate cblervations, is that pro- principal supporters of tnis opinion. posed, about the year 1530, by Ni- There is alio a passage in Plutarch, colaus Copernicus, a celebrated artc- by which it appears, tüt Cleanthes nomer of Poland, who placed the fun accused Ariilarcis or iinpiety, in in the centre, and supposed all the troubling the se: ote of Veita and all p’anet , with the earth itself, to re- the Latian gods; when, in giving an volve round the fun. Hence this has account of the phenomena of the plabeen called the Copernica, system ; nets in their courses, he taught that but it is a matter of surprise how a heaven, or the firmament of the fixed fyftem fo faily and distinly incul- itars, was immoveable, and that the cated by the ancients, should derive earth moved in an oblique circle, reits name from a modern philosopher volving, at the same time, round its Pythagoras, Philulaus, Nicetas of own axis. Syracufe, Plato, Aristarchus, and Theophrastus, as quoted by Plumany others among the ancients, have tarch, says (in his History of Altroin a thouland places expressed this nomy, which has not reached our opinion; and Diogenes Laertius, times) that Plato, when advanced in Plutarch, and Stobus, have with years, gave up the error he had adoptgreat precision tramínitted to us their ed, of masing the fun surn round ihe ideas. And that this system was net earth; lamenting, that he had not received universally, at a more early placed it in the centre, but had put period, mult be ascribed entirely to the earth there, contrary to the order the force of prejudice.
Nor is it at all wonderful Pythagoras thought that the eart that Plato fould resume an opinion was a moveable body, and so far from which he had early imbibed in the being the centre of the universe, that schools of the two celebrated Pythait performed its revolutions round the goreans, Archytas of Tarentum, and region of fire; that is, the sun, and Timeus the Locrian; as we see in St. thereby formed day and night. This Jerome's Apology for Christianity knowledge he obtained, it is said, againit Rufinus ; and in Ciccro we among the Egyptians. Some impute fee, that iferaclides of Pontus, who this opinion to Philolaus, the difciple was a Pythagorean, taught the fame of Pythagoras; but it is evident, that do&rine. he had the merit only of being the That the earth is round, and inpublisher of it, and of several other habited on all sides, and, consequentopinions beloging to that school; ly, that there are Antipodes, or peofor Eufebius expressly afirms, that he ple whof feet are directly opposite to was the first who put the system of ours, is one of the moit ancient docPythagoras into writing. Palolaüz trines inculcated by philosophy. Dioadded, that the earth moved in an genes Laertius fays, that Plato was oblique circle, by whichi, no doubt, the firii who called the inhabitants of he meant the zodiac.
the earth opposite to us, Antipodes. Ariftarchus of Samos, who lived He does not mean, that Plato was about three hundred centuries before the first who taught this opinion, but Jesus Christ, was one of the princi; al only the first who made use of the defenders of the do:rrine of the earth's term Antiļodes; for, in another place, mocion. Archimedes, in his book he mentions Pythagoras 2; the first di Arenaris, informs us, 'that Aristar- who taught it. There is also a pas5