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and vii. 4. which, he fays, affert the abfolute univerfality of the deluge, and the total deftruction of every vegetable, as well as animal,in every part of the world. It would be easy to fhew the abfurdity of his reafoning, and to prove that his zeal, whether real or affected, for the literal fenfe of the Bible, or rather perhaps of the vulgate translation, is highly injurious to the caufe of revealed religion. By rejecting every liberal interpretation of fcripture, though founded on the most rational and philofophical principles of criticifm, and by refolving the facts of facred hiftory into inexplicable miracles and myfteries, the injudicious and narrow-minded friends of revelation furnish its enemies with their strongest arguments against it. The language of thefe two claffes is often fo much alike, that it is difficult to diftinguifh the one from the other. We have charity enough to fuppofe, that M. BURTIN belongs to the former: but when he talks of the dangerous confequences of not strictly adhering to the literal fenfe of fcripture, and at the fame time acknowleges, that it is impoffible to reconcile this with phyfical obfervations, he reminds us of the author of the Dictionaire Philofophique, who, after endeavouring to fet every thing relative to the flood in the most improbable point of view, clofes his account of it with the following remark: "The deluge being the most miraculous event ever known, it would be abfurd to attempt to explain it. Thefe are myfteries, which are believed by faith; and faith confifts in believing what reafon does not believe, which is another miracle *."
The phenomena of adventitious foffils, which, according to this author, cannot be at all afcribed to the deluge, are, he fays, certain indications of the grand revolution of which he fo often speaks but befide this, he finds proofs of feveral other revolutions, fome prior, and others pofterior, to his principal. one. The former are pointed out by the dendrolites, phytolites, and carpolites, which are found accompanied with fhells and other marine productions: but, above all, by the foffil worm-eaten woods, which fhew that the ancient fea did not cover the whole of the earth, but that fome parts of it, either islands or continents, were left dry, and produced thefe vegetables. For the origin of coal-pits, he thinks. a very remote period muft alfo be affigned, prior to that refidence of the ocean on our continents, which immediately preceded the grand revolution later revolutions, but ftill different from the deluge, are indicated by the vast ftrata of bones depofited in gypfine and calcareous beds, which, becaufe unaccompanied
* Vide Dicionaire Philofophique, Article Inondation.
by marine productions, he concludes, are the relics of unknowa terreftrial animals.
With respect to all these various revolutions, M. BURTIN bewilders himself in a labyrinth of vague and indefinite conjectures into this fcene of intricate confufion, in which clouds and darkness thicken as we advance, we shall not conduct our readers: but we fhall endeavour to lay before them the opinion of the author concerning that grand revolution, which he mentions in almost every paragraph, and repeatedly tells us he has fully demonftrated.
He obferves that, if the phenomena of adventitious foffils were owing to the deluge, human bones, and the ruins of antediluvian buildings, muft have been difcovered among them; for, according to him, it is evident from the fecond chapter of Genefis, that the land now inhabited is exactly the fame with that in which the antediluvians dwelled: in this cafe alfo, foffil skeletons of known animals must have been found: but nothing of this kind having yet occurred, he fays that this circumítance, together with the numerous relics of unknown ter-reftrial animals, found in the bowels of the earth, amounts to a full proof, that our continents must have existed before they were covered by the ancient ocean, and must then have been inhabited, not by human beings, but only by animals of a very different kind from those which now exift; and, left a few brafs nails, that have been found in the earth at Nice, and an old key, dug up at Montmartre, fhould be held up to confute this curious theory, he very prudently obviates the objection, by afcribing them to later revolutions. We cannot fee, however, why thefe fhould not be admitted to fupport M. BURTIN'S opinion, as well as a hatchet of jade-ftone, difcovered near Bruffels; of which, he fays, en difant à l'homme qui penfe, that he is very forry it is the only monument of the kind which has ever been difcovered and examined with proper attention. Our readers will, perhaps, be defirous to learn what the fecret intelligence is, which this myfterious hatchet whispers in the author's car. Had we been intrufted with the whole of it, they might have had a chance of being equally knowing; for we fear we should have been as leaky as Parmeno in Terence, and for a fimilar reafon *: but the fagacious author has not thus favoured us; however, from a few hints that he has dropped,
Sin falfum, aut vanum, aut fictum eft, continuo palam eft:
Prein tu, taceri fi vis, vera dicito.
Terent. Eunuch. A&t. 1. Sc. z.
we think we can give a fhrewd guefs; and we are fo delighted with the difcovery, that we can fcarcely forbear applying the old adage, Verbum fat, to ourfelves. Know then, courteous readers! that this hatchet of jade-ftone, though it does not precisely tell us of what particular fpecies thofe animals were, that inhabited the earth before the grand revolution, proves, however, that they were not fuch mere brutes, as fome people, from the form of their bones, are ready to fuppofe. This admirable reasoning inclines us to fufpect, that Dean Swift was a deeper ftudent in geology than is generally imagined; and that his account of the Houyhnhmns is a real defcription of the primitive inhabitants of our earth; for he exprefsly tells us, that these fagacious animals "have a kind of hard flint, which, by grinding against other ftones, they form into inftruments that ferve inftead of wedges, axes, and hammers." If our fufpicions be juft, M. BURTIN's opinion has no great claim to originality; and he would have acted more fairly, had he quoted the author who has anticipated him in fo important a difcovery. We must however applaud the caution with which he divulges these hints; for he obferves that those philosophers who go further than he has done, and who, from the foffil bones that have been difcovered, attempt to afcertain the particular genus and fpecies of thefe intelligent animals, would act with greater prudence, if they concealed their conjectures from the public; and he adds, that he proposes thefe conjectures, without confidering them as of any weight, not fo much to difplay knowlege, as to prove how little is really known:' for he declares, that he would always rather acknowlege his ignorance, than give way to the idle defire of convincing others of that, of which he is not convinced himself."
To these cautious expreffions, the author adds a vindication of himself from an accufation of Pre-adamitifm; to which, he feems to apprehend, fome may think him liable: he promises that he will prove his theory to be strictly confonant to the words of Mofes; and he infifts on it, that, provided he excepts the human fpecies, he may believe rational animals to have exifted on the earth before Adam, without being guilty of this terrible herefy, for which, about the middle of the lait century, poor Ifaac de la Pereira was fo roughly handled by the Inquifition.
By this time, however, our readers will naturally look for fome more explicit account of the nature and effects of the grand revolution, which is held forth as the principal object of this differtation. We fhould be happy to gratify an expectation fo reasonable: but, alas! this is not in our power. M. BURTIN writes much about it, but fays nothing that affords
us light to find any certain way, amid the confufed and obfcure wilderness of words, in which he involves his fubject. All we can collect is, that when the fea retired from our continents, it furrowed fome of the fofter parts of the land: but as it retired in a rectilineal direction, it could not occafion irregular fur rows and inequalities; thefe muft therefore be afcribed to fresh water torrents, which had a much greater share than the fea, in modelling the furface of the earth.
In the last chapter, M. BURTIN endeavours to prove that this, and several other revolutions, happened long before the creation of Adam: this he attempts to reconcile with the Mofaic hiftory, by altering creavit into creaverat, in the firft verfe of Genefis; thus making this fentence refer to a period much more remote than the events recorded in the following verses. We mean not to object to this interpretation: but we cannot help reminding the author, that he here takes a liberty of the fame kind with that for which he had cenfured M. De Luc.
We fhall not detain our readers with any further particularsof this differtation, which cannot furely be called AN ANSWER to the queftion propofed. They who are acquainted with M. De Luc's writings, will fee what little claim to originality M. BURTIN has, in thofe parts of his theory which are the moft rational; and, from his objections to that gentleman's hypothefis, it is evident that he either cannot, or will not, understand what he pretends to combat; for he fometimes adopts part of M. De Luc's theory; which, after he has, with great parade, enveloped it in obfcurity, he produces as his own, in oppofition to what this philofopher has advanced. Of this we might give feveral inftances: but the fact will be obvious to any who take the pains to compare this differtation with M. De Luc's letters on the theory of the earth, published about eleven years ago, and with his excellent vindication of this theory, in anfwer to Dr. Hutton, printed in our Review, vol. ii. of the New Series.
Befide the above Differtation, this volume contains a defcription, by Dr. VAN MARUM. of the jaws of a very large animal, dug out of the ground at St. Peter's Hill, near Maestricht. From the character here mentioned, the Doctor concludes that it belonged to the genus of dolphins: but the number and fhape of its teeth are very different from thofe of any fpecies hitherto known. Hence we have fome fufpicion of its having been a Pre-adamite, perhaps the owner, if not the maker, of the wonderful hatchet difcovered near Bruffels, which, it is eafy to fuppofe, it might have loft there on its way to Maeftricht. Sow. ART.
ART. XVI. Hiftoire et Memoires de la Societé des Sciences Phyfiques de Laufanne: i. e. The History and Memoirs of the Philofophical Society of Laufanne. Vol. II. For the Years 1784, 1785, 1786. 4to. 540 Pages. Laufanne. 1789.
"HIS fociety has not long been inftituted: the first volume of its Memoirs was publifhed in 1784; fince which, we are here informed, it has acquired a more firm and extenfive establishment; and, in confequence, the fecond volume is prefaced with a lift of its members, and an account of its regulations. On perufing this account, we cannot help expreffing our aftonishment at the diftinction in rank eftablished between honorary and ordinary members, especially as the obligation of promoting the literary celebrity of the inftitution is impofed only on the latter class. In the philofophical and learned world, all civil diftinctions fhould ceafe; and fuperiority in knowlege and utility should be the only title to fuperiority of rank. We may excufe the denomination of honorary members in those philofophical focieties which are erected under absolute governments, where the learned are obliged to pay their court to the great, in order to be protected from the caprice of minifterial jealoufy, and from the exertions of arbitrary power: but, under a free and a republican government, fuch diftinctions are as unneceffary as they are abfurd. In the lift here given of honorary members, we find fome perfons eminent for fcience and abilities, to whom we are ready to pay every just tribute of refpect: but we cannot fee what right they have, in this fociety, to a pre-eminence in rank, beyond those who contribute moft, by their labours, to enrich its memoirs, and to extend its reputation.
Of the memoirs in the first volume, which is not above half as large as the fecond, we shall juft mention the titles: as they never before came under our notice.
Concerning the Decompofition and Recompofition of Stones, by means of natural Agents. By the Count DE RAZOUMOWSKI.
By natural agents, the Count means air, water, and heat: he thinks that the decompofition of ftones, expofed to the atmofphere, is owing to the action of water, or of fire, either folar or fubterraneous, and not merely to that of the air, unlefs this be accidentally impregnated with faline corrofive particles.
Tables of Quadrupeds, arranged according to their Refemblances to each other. By M. J. P. BERTHOUT VAN BERCHEM. Defcription of a Steam-engine to raife Water without a Pifton; defigned for draining the Marshes that lie near the Lakes of NeuAPP. REV. Vol. III.