Imagens das páginas

and are heartily sorry for it. We have pryed into the arcana of nature and of art, and paid dearly for our curiosity. We have acquired just skill enough to take the Kaleidoscope to pieces, and find that its beautiful and ever-varying forms are composed of nothing but beads and bits of broken glass. But why should we complain? In learning to take the machine to pieces, we have also learned to put it together again: so that the delight we receive in looking through it is only changed in its kind,—not destroyed. That which was a restless and everchanging admiration, has become a quiet and permanent love. Then, we gloried in the skies and the trees and the flowers, because we felt that the presence of them made us happy: now, if we glory in them less we love them more—for we know that at least they ought to make us happy; and that if they do not, it is not their fault but ours.

But the memory of what has been is enticing us to forget what is—the play-house, Mr EUiston, and every thing else. And this is not as it should be—for in "this visible, diurnal, sphere,"—this real world in which we live,—there are few better places than a play-house. For our own parts, we know of none,—except an open common, and an enclosed garden. Why these are better than a play-house, or any other place, we cannot stop to tell. And if we could, it would be fruitless to attempt to make those understand what we mean, who do not already feel it.

We said in our last, that the absence of Mr Elliston had deprived the theatre of that delightful class of characters which he alone was capable of representing. But perhaps we did not attribute the neglect of them to the right cause. The characters themselves have become obsolete, because their prototypes are no longer to be found in real life: And with all their charms they are not of a kind to maintain their influence over us for any length of time, when we know that they are nonentities. There was nothing essentially natural in them. They were not sufficiently founded on the permanent, to be allowed to rank as pictures. They affected us as an authentic bust or portrait does,—be* cause they were copies of nature; not as the Apollo does,—precisely because it is not a copy, but an imitation.

They arose out of a certain state of society, and have decayed with the decay of that state.

In fact, the beau ideal of a man of fashion is extinct among us, as well on the stage as in the drawing-room. Those delightful creatures, the Sir Harry Wildairs, Young Mirabels, &c are superseded by stiff neckcloths, tight pantaloons, and the milling cut. The former must have been very mischievous people. They seemed " framed to make women false," so that the change is perhaps for the better—unless we admit the maxim, that it is better to do mischief than to do nothing. Indeed our modern Mirabels are the most harmless if not the most innocent creatures in the world. They would not injure a lady's honour if they could, if it required any trouble; —and they could not if they would, if it required any wit. Then as for love,—the very nameas well asthe thing is prescribed among them—from the court to the city—from White's to the Stock Exchange. Damages have taken the place of duels—horses of mistresses —and boxing of intrigue. Or if they do fight now and then, it is not to defend a woman's honour,—for they would scorn to own a woman who had any; or to prove that they possess it themselves: but merely to show that they have nerves and impudence enough to do without it.—Then if they drink, it is not to get wit or spirits, but to get drunk. Even Burgundy— "dear, delightful Burgundy!" can do nothing for them—for their stomachs are as hard as their faces: or if it makes any change at all in them it is that it finds them fools and leaves them beasts.

In short, a modern rake is a perfect negation of all possible qualities, good, bad, or indifferent. He has no knowledge, no fancy, no wit, no imagination, no passions—he has no love and no hate—no pride, no vanity, no ambition—no hopes, no fears —no taste, no feeling, no manners, "no nothing." —Yes—he has a body,—as every modest woman who is obliged to pass along Bond Street at a certain hour can testify, when three of the species, linked together, shoulder her off the pavement. A body which, to make it complete, is endowed with the head of a pin, the stomach of an ostrich, and the nerves of a brick wall.

We hope that now Mr Elliston has returned to the theatre, he.will remain there. For these nameless non-entities have hitherto been confined to the lobbies, the park, and the fashionable streets; and they do no harm there, except to block up the way. But if their entertaining and brilliant predecessors should be banished from the stage for want of an actor with grace and spirit enough to represent them, who knows if the easiness of the task may not tempt our modern play-makers to replace them by these sons of the " mighty mother"—these mock diamonds set in lead—these multiplication tables of nothing. Such an exhibition, if it were true to nature, would be duller than the New Series of an Old Magazine,—or a debate on the corn-bill,—or a chapter of the statutes at large, put into blank verse.

We must now take leave of our readers till the next season. We hope a month's unceasing fine weather will account for and excuse our meagre Notices of the Acted Drama in London, in this and the last Number. The sun has, of late years, been so rare a visitant, and is always so welcome a one to us, that we could not persuade ourselves to pay him so ill a compliment as to leave his presence even for that of gas-lights and gay faces; though by the way, these latter do not now greet us at the theatres so frequently as we could wish. Old Drury in particular,—who was once a favourite with us,—seems to be getting into her dotage, and has lately not been able "to see company." She is becoming progressively worse and worse, under the hands of the amateur practitioners who have undertaken to prescribe for her during her last attack. And no wonder—for they do not understand her case. It lies in a nut-shell. Her disorder consists in a mal-formation of parts. The body is too large for the limbs to support. And, to utter an ungracious truth, the sooner she and her unweildy neighbour in Covent Garden "depart this life," the better. For this latter is afflicted in the same way; and though a more vigorous constitution, and more judicious treatment, have enabled her to bear up against the disease with less apparent injury to her general health, yet she must sink under it at last. We hope it is not inhuman to wish, as we heartily do, that they were both out of their misery. We might then have a chance of seeing a healthy and

well-formed youth spring up, to occupy the places which they do but encumber. A. Z.


As this instrument has excited great attention, both in this country and on the Continent, we have no doubt that our readers will take some interest in the history of the invention. In the year 181*, when Dr Brewster was engaged in experiments on the polarisation of light by successive reflections between plates of glass, which were published in the Philosophical Transactions for 1815, and honoured by the Royal Society of London with the Copley Medal, the reflectors were in some cases inclined to each other, and he had occasion to remark the circular arrangement of the images of a candle round a centre, or the multiplication of the vectors formed by the extremities of the glass plates. In repeating, at a subsequent period, the experiments of M. Biot on the action of fluids upon light, Dr B. placed the fluids in a trough formed by two plates of glass cemented together at an angle. The eye being necessarily placed at one end, some of the cement which had been pressed through between the plates appeared to be arranged into a regular figure. The symmetry of this figure being very remarkable, Dr B. set himself to investigate the cause of the phenomenon, and in doing this he discovered the leading principles of the Kaleidoscope. He found that, in order to produce perfectly beautiful and symmetrical forms, three conditions were necessary.

1. That the reflectors should be placed at an angle, which was an even or an odd aliquot part of a circle, when the object was regular, and wholly included in the aperture; or the even aliquot part of a circle when the object was irregular.

2. That out of an infinite number of positions for the object both within and without the reflectors, there was only one position where perfect symmetry could be obtained, namely, by placing the object in contact with the ends of the reflectors.

3. That out of an infinite number of positions for the eye, there was only one where the symmetry was perfect, namely, as near as possible to the angular point, so that the circular field could be distinctly seen; and that this point was the only one out of an infinite number at which the uniformity of the light of the circular field was a maximum.

Upon these principles Dr B. constructed an instrument, in which he fixed permanently across the ends of reflectors, pieces of coloured glass, and other irregular objects, and he shewed the instrument in this state to some Members of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, who were much struck with the beauty of its effects. In this case, however, the forms were nearly permanent, and a slight variation was produced by varying the position of the instrument, with respect to the light. The great step, however, towards the completion of the instrument remained yet to be made, and it was not till some time afterwards that the idea occurred to Dr B. of giving motion to objects, such as pieces of coloured glass, &>c. which were either fixed or placed loosely in a cell at the end of the instrument. When this idea was carried into execution, the kaleidoscope, in its simple form, was completed.

In this state, however, the kaleidoscope could not be considered as a general philosophical instrument of universal application; for it was incapable of producing beautiful forms unless the object was nearly in perfect contact with the end of the reflectors, and by of the therefore to remove this limitation by employing a draw tube and lens, by means of which beautiful forms could be created from objects of all sizes, and at all distances from the observer. In this way the power of the kaleidoscope was indefinitely extended, and every object in nature could be introduced into the picture, in the same manner as if these objects had been reduced in size, and actually placed at the end of the reflectors.

When the instrument was brought to this state of perfection, Dr Brewster was urged by his friends to secure the exclusive property of it by a patent, and he accordingly took out a patent for "a New Optical Instrument for creating and exhibiting beau

The next, and by far the most important step of the invention, was

tiful forms." In the specification of his patent he describes the kaleidoscope in two different forms. The first consists of two reflecting planes, put together according to the principles already described, and placed in a tube, with an eye-hole in the particular position which gives symmetry and a maximum uniformity of light, and with objects such as coloured glass, placed in the position of symmetry, and put in motion either by a rotatory movement, or by their own gravity, or by both combined. The second form of the instrument, described in the specification, is, when the tube containing the reflectors is placed in a second tube, at the end of which is a convex lens which introduces into the picture objects of all magnitudes, and at every distance, as has been already described.

After the patent was signed, and the instruments in a state of forwardness, the gentleman who was employed to manufacture them under the patent, carried a kaleidoscope to shew to the principal London Optician, for the purpose of taking orders from them. These gentlemen naturally made one for their own use, and for the amusement of their friends; and the character of the instrument being thus made public, the tinmen and glaziers began to manufacture the detached parts of it, in order to evade the patent; while others manufactured and sold the instrument complete, without being awore that the exclusive property of it had been secured by a patent.

In this way the invasion of the patent right became general among that class of individuals against whom the law is seldom enforced but in its terrors. Some workmen of a higher class were encouraged to piracy by this universal opposition to the patent; but none of the respectable London opticians would yield to the clamours of their customers, to encroach upon the rights of an inventor, to whom they were at least indebted for 8 new and a lucrative article of trade.

In order to justify these piratical proceedings, it became necessary to search for some combinations of plain mirrors, which might be supposed to have a resemblance to Dr Brewster's instrument; and it would have been strange indeed, if some theorem or experiment had not been discovered, which could have been used to impose upon the great crowd who are entirely ignorant of the principles and construction of optical instruments. There never was a popular invention, which the labours of envious individuals did not attempt to trace to some remote period; and in the present case, so many persons had hazarded their fortunes and their characters, that it became necessary to lay hold of something which could be construed into an anticipation of the kaleidoscope.

The first supposed anticipation of the kaleidoscope was found in Prop. XIII. and XIV. of Professor Wood's Optics, where that learned author gives a mathematical investigation of the number and arrangement of the images formed bytworerlectors.eitherinclined or parallel to each other. These theorems assign no position either to the eye or to the object, and do not even include the principle of inversion, which is absolutely necessary to the production of symmetrical forms. The theorems indeed are true, whatever be the position of the object or of the eye. In order to put this matter to rest, Dr Brewster wrote a letter to Professor Wood, requesting him to say if he had any idea of the effects of the kaleidoscope when he wrote these propositions. To this letter Dr B. received the following handsome and satisfactory answer:

"St Johns, May \9th, 1818. "Sir,—The propositions I have given relating to the number of images formed by plane reflectors inclined to each other, contain merely the mathematical calculation of their number and arrangement. The effects produced by the kaleidoscope were never in my contemplation. My attention has for some years been turned to other subjects, and I regret that I have not time to read your Optical Treatise, which I am sure would give me great pleasure. I am, Sir, your obedient humble servant,

"J. Wood."

The next supposed anticipation of the kaleidoscope was an instrument proposed by Mr Bradley in 1717. This instrument consists of two large pieces of silvered looking-glass, five inches wide and/bur inches high, jointed together with hinges, and opening like a book. These plates being set upon a geometrical drawing, and the eye

being placed in front of the mirrors, the lines of the drawing were seen multiplied by repeated reflections. This instrument was described long before by Kircher, and did not receive a single improvement from the hands of Bradley. It has been often made by the opticians, and was principally used for multiplying the human face, when placed between the mirrors; but no person ever thought of applying it to any purpose of utility, or of using it as an instrument of rational amusement, by the creation of beautiful forms. From the very construction of the instrument, indeed, it is quite incapable of producing any of the singular effects exhibited by the kaleidoscope. It gives, indeed, a series of reflected images arranged round a centre; but so does a pair of lookingglasses placed angularly in an apartment, and so do the pieces of mirror glass with which jewellers multiply the wares exhibited at their windows. It might therefore be as gravely maintained that any of these combinations of mirrors was a kaleidoscope, as that Bradley's pair of plates was an anticipation of that instrument. As the similarity between the two has been maintained by ignorant and interested individuals, we shall be at some pains to explain to the reader the differences between these two instruments; and we shall do this, first, upon the supposition that the two instruments are applied to geometric lines upon paper.

1. In Bradley's 1. In the kaleiinstrument, the doscope, the length length is less than of the plates must the breadth of the be four, or five, or plates. six times their


2. Bradley's in- 2. The kaleidostrument cannot scope cannot be be used with a used without a tube. tube.

3. In Bradley's 3. In the kaleiinstrument, from doscope, the eye is the erroneous po- placed so that the sition of the eye, uniformity of light there is a great in- is a maximum, and equality of light the last sectors are in the sectors, and distinctly visible, the last sectors are

scarcely visible.

1. In Bradley's 4. Inthekalei

instrument, the telescope, all the

figure consists of sectors are equal, elliptical, and consequently unequal lectors.

doscope, the equal sectors all unite int on complete and perfectly symmetrical figure.

6. In the kaleidoscope, the secondary reflections are entirely removed, and therefore no confusion takes place.

7. In the kaleidoscope, the eye is 5laced so that these effects of junction are invisible.

5. In Bradley's instrument, the unequal sectors do not unite, but are all separated from one another by a space equal to the thickness of the mirror glass.

6. In Bradley's instrument, the images reflected from the first surface interfere with those reflected from the second, and produce a confusion and overlapping of images entirely inconsistent with symmetry.

7. In Bradley's instrument, the defects in the junction of the plates are all rendered visible by the erroneous position of the eye.

The reader will observe, that in this comparison the two instruments are supposed to be applied to geometric lines upon paper, and that this was the only purpose to which Bradley ever thought of applying his mirrors; yet the kaleidoscope is in every respect a superior instrument, even for that inferior purpose, and gives true symmetrical forms, which the other instrument is incapable of doing.

In the comparison which has now been made, we have degraded the kaleidoscope, by contrasting its effects with those which Bradley's instrument is capable of producing* for these effects are not worth the looking at. When we attempt to employ Bradley's instrument to produce the effects which have been so much admired in the kaleidoscope, namely, to produce beautiful forms from transparent or opaque coloured objects contained in a cell, and at the end of the reflectors, it fails so entirely, that no person has succeeded in the attempt. It is indeed quite impossible to produce by it the

and compose a perfect circle, and the picture is perfectly symmetrical.

5. In the kalei

beautiful and symmetrical forms which the kaleidoscope displays. Had this been possible, Dr Brewster's patent might have been invaded with impunity by every person who chose to manufacture Bradley's instrument; but this was never tried*, and for the best of all reasons, because nobody would have purchased it.

We trust that no person, who wishes to judge of this subject with candour, will form an opinion without having actually seen and used the instrument proposed by Bradley. Let any person take Bradley's plates, and, having set them at an angle of 30° or 22£°, place them upon a cell containing fragments of coloured glass, he will infallibly find that he cannot produce a picture of any symmetry or beauty. The disunion of the sectors, the darkness of the last reflections, and the enormous deviation from symmetry, towards the centre of the figure, will convince him, if he required conviction, that the instrument is entirely useless as a kaleidoscope. To those, however, who are not capable, either for want of knowledge, or want of time, to make such a comparison, we may present the opinion of three of the most eminent natural philosophers of the present day, viz. the celebrated Mr Watt, Professor Playfair, and Professor Pictet.

"It has been said here," says Mr Watt, "that you took the idea of the kaleidoscope from an old book on gardening. My friend, the Rev. Mr Corrie, has procured me a sight of the book. It is Bradley's Improvements of Printing, and Gardening. London 1731, part 2d. chap. 1st. It consists of two pieces of looking glass of equal bigness, of the figure of a long square, five inches long and four inches high, hinged together, upon one of the narrow sides, so as to open and shut like the leaves of a book, which, being set upon their

* In illustration of this argument, we may state the following fact Mr Carpenter of Birmingham, being anxious to evade Dr Brewster's patent, at a time when the manufacture of the patent kaleidoscope was in the hands of another person, attempted to construct instruments in imitation of Bradley's. After exercising his ingenuity for some time, he abandoned the attempt as impracticable, and set off for Scotland for the purpose of offering his services in manufacturing the patent instrument.

« AnteriorContinuar »