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relying on the talent and skill displayed by Mr Babbage as a mechanist in the progress of this arduous undertaking, not less for what remained, than on the matured and digested plan and admirable execution of what is completed, the Committee did not hesitate to express their opinion, that in the then state of the engine, they regarded it as likely to fulfil the expectations entertained of it by its inventor.
This report was printed in the commencement of the year 1829. From that time until the beginning of the year 1833, the progress of the work has been slow and interrupted. Meanwhile many unfounded rumours have obtained circulation as to the course adopted by Government in this undertaking; and as to the position in which Mr Babbage stands with respect to it. We shall here state, upon authority on which the most perfect reliance may be placed, what have been the actual circumstances of the arrangement which has been made, and of the steps which have been already taken.
Being advised that the objects of the projected machinery were of paramount national importance to a maritime country, and that, from its nature, it could never be undertaken with advantage by any individual as a pecuniary speculation, Government determined to engage Mr Babbage to construct the calculating engine for the nation. It was then thought that the work could be completed in two or three years; and it was accordingly undertaken on this understanding about the year 1821, and since then has been in progress. The execution of the workmanship was confided to an engineer by whom all the subordinate workmen were employed, and who supplied for the work the requisite tools and other machinery; the latter being his own property, and not that of Government. This engineer furnished, at intervals, his accounts, which were duly audited by proper persons appointed for that purpose. It was thought advisable with a view, perhaps, to invest Mr Babbage with a more strict authority over the subordinate agents that the payments of these accounts of the engineer should pass through his hands. The amount was accordingly from time to time issued to him by the Treasury, and paid over to the engineer. This circumstance has given rise to reports, that he has received considerable sums of money as a remuneration for his skill and labour in inventing and constructing this machinery. Such reports are altogether destitute of truth. He has received, neither directly nor indirectly, any remuneration whatever; on the contrary, owing to various official delays in the issues of money from the Treasury for the payment of the engineer, he has frequently been obliged to advance these payments himself, that the work might proceed
without interruption. Had he not been enabled to do this from his private resources, it would have been impossible that the machinery could have arrived at its present advanced state.
It will be a matter of regret to every friend of science to learn, that, notwithstanding such assistance, the progress of the work has been suspended, and the workmen dismissed for more than a year and a half; nor does there at the present moment appear to be any immediate prospect of its being resumed. What the causes may be of a suspension so extraordinary, of a project of such great national and universal interest,-in which the country has already invested a sum of such serious amount as L.15,000, -is a question which will at once suggest itself to every mind; and is one to which, notwithstanding frequent enquiries in quarters from which correct information might be expected, we have not been able to obtain any satisfactory answer. It is not true, we are assured, that the Government object to make the necessary payments, or even advances, to carry on the work. is not true, we also are assured, that any practical difficulty has arisen in the construction of the mechanism ;-on the contrary, the drawings of all the parts of it are completed, and may be inspected by any person appointed on the part of Government to examine them.* Mr Babbage is known as a man of unwearied activity, and aspiring ambition. Why, then, it may be asked, is it that he, seeing his present reputation and future fame depending in so great a degree upon the successful issue of this undertaking, has nevertheless allowed it to stand still for so long a period, without distinctly pointing out to Government the course which they should adopt to remove the causes of delay? Had he done this (which we consider to be equally due to the nation and to himself), he would have thrown upon Government and its agents the whole responsibility for the delay and consequent loss; but we believe he has not done so. On the contrary, it is said that he has of late almost withdrawn from all interference on the subject, either with the Government or the engineer. Does not Mr Babbage
* Government has erected a fire-proof building, in which it is intended that the calculating machinery shall be placed when completed. In this building are now deposited the large collection of drawings, containing the designs, not only of the part of the machinery which has been already constructed, but what is of much greater importance, of those parts which have not yet been even modelled. It is gratifying to know that Government has shown a proper solicitude for the preservation of those precious but perishable documents, the loss or destruction of which would, in the event of the death of the inventor, render the completion of the machinery impracticable.
perceive the inference which the world will draw from this course of conduct? Does he not see that they will impute it to a distrust of his own power, or even to a consciousness of his own inability to complete what he has begun ? We feel assured that such is not the case; and we are anxious, equally for the sake of science, and for Mr Babbage's own reputation, that the mystery for such it must be regarded-should be cleared up; and that all obstructions to the progress of the undertaking should immediately be removed. Does this supineness and apparent indifference, so incompatible with the known character of Mr Babbage, arise from any feeling of dissatisfaction at the existing arrangements between himself and the Government? If such be the actual cause of the delay, (and we believe that, in some degree, it is so,) we cannot refrain from expressing our surprise that he does not adopt the candid and straightforward course of declaring the grounds of his discontent, and explaining the arrangement which he desires to be adopted. We do not hesitate to say, that every reasonable accommodation and assistance ought to be afforded him. But if he will pertinaciously abstain from this, to our minds, obvious and proper course, then it is surely the duty of Government to appoint proper persons to enquire into and report upon the present state of the machinery; to ascertain the causes of its suspension; and to recommend such measures as may appear to be most effectual to ensure its speedy completion. If they do not by such means succeed in putting the project in a state of advancement, they will at least shift from themselves all responsibility for its suspension.
ART. II.-The Poetical Works of Anne Radcliffe. St Alban's Abbey; a Metrical Romance. With other Poems. 2 vols. 8vo. London: 1834.
B OOKSELLERS are certainly a peculiar people, and do venture to play very fantastic tricks before the public. Here are two volumes given to the world—as if for the first time-without a hint of their having ever appeared before-bearing with all solemnity the date of 1834 on the titlepage; and yet these selfsame sheets were printed and published in 1826. So palpable indeed is the patchwork, that what ought to be the first page of the first volume, is actually page ninety-first; the truth being, that all these poems were appended to Mrs Radcliffe's posthu
VOL. LIX. NO. CXX,
mous romance of Gaston de Blondeville. The tale occupied two volumes, and ninety pages of the third; the remaining vo lume and a half being occupied with the sheets which are now ⚫ done up' in these two volumes, bearing the date of 1834. The publisher, in short, has disjoined them from the romance, and has sent them forth in a new cover, apparently in the expectation that the oblivious public would receive them as a new arrival.
We do not much quarrel, however, with their appearance. Their merits are certainly not high; but were they less than they are, they would still be received with grateful interest, as the last relic of a highly-gifted and amiable mind, which, in its day, exercised no mean influence over the spirit of literature, and the charm of whose productions has perhaps been acknowledged more universally, and with less dispute, than that of any other English writer of fiction. Tastes have no doubt greatly altered since the days when each successive tale of mystery from her pen was hailed with curiosity and delight; another people have arisen that know not Joseph; other principles of composition, other objects of interest, have superseded, in novel-writing, the stimulus of wonder and superstitious fear; nor, with the exception of the anonymous romance of Forman (which we recollect perusing with deep interest, and which, though its name is probably unknown to most of our readers, we had the satisfaction of finding had been a favourite with Sir Walter Scott), and the wild creations of Maturin, in his Montorio and Melmoth, has any author of superior talent for a long time past ventured to strike the chord which had, in her hands, been made to discourse such eloquent music. Yet there is a charm in her compositions which can never entirely fade; and she need have little apprehension for her posthumous fame, whose romances have been praised by Sheridan, commented on with admiration by Fox, placed by Scott among the elite of English fiction, and associated by Byron with the works of Shakspeare, Otway, and Schiller, as having stamped upon his mind, by anticipation, the image of the City of the Sea.
Mrs Radcliffe has shared the fate of many an inventor. She has been made answerable for the sins of her imitators; and the just tribute to which she was entitled, as having opened up an original walk in composition, has been withheld, from disgust at the extravagances of the rabble rout' who had rushed in after her, filling every dingle and bushy dell of that wild wood into
*Childe Harold, canto iv., st. 18..
which she had forced an entrance. Not perceiving that the very effect of her romances was dependent on the skill with which she knew how to relax, as well as to press, the springs of terror and suspense ;-to transport the reader, wearied with the darkness visible of Apennine castles, or the scenes of torture in the vaults of the Inquisition, to the moon-illumined streets of Venice, or the sunset dance by the Bay of Naples ;-from the fierce encounters of condottieri, to the quiet and mournful solitude of Le Blanc or La Vallee they laboured to eclipse her in her own field by the simple expedient of crowding wonders and terrors on each other without an interval of repose. In their hands, her dreary passages,' always too long, now became ten times longer and more intricate; the castles more and more perplexing in their architecture; the personnel of the robbers more truculent; the gleam of daggers more incessant; the faces of the monks more cadaverous; and the visits of ghosts so unjustifiably obtrusive, that they came at length to be viewed with as much indifference by the reader as they were of old by Aubrey or Dr Dee. No wonder if this school of romance-which, resting as it undoubtedly does, at the best, on no very elevated sources of interest, requires peculiar caution and dexterity in the handling of its materials should soon have fallen into utter discredits from the coarse, bungling workmanship of its disciples, and should now recall to our recollection little else than a mass of puerile and revolting absurdity, into the perusal of which we are ashamed to think that, even in boyish days, we should ever have been betrayed.
But Mrs Radcliffe was as truly an inventor, a great and original writer in the department she had struck out for herselfwhether that department was of the highest kind or not-as the Richardsons, Fieldings, and Smolletts, whom she succeeded and for a time threw into the shade; or the Ariosto of the North, before whom her own star has paled its ineffectual fires. The passion of fear, the latent sense of supernatural awe, and curiosity con'cerning whatever is hidden and mysterious'-these were themes and sources of interest which, prior to the appearance of her tales, could scarcely be said to be touched on. The Castle of Otranto was too obviously a mere caprice of imagination; its gigantic helmets, its pictures descending from their frames, its spectral figures dilating themselves in the moonlight to the height of the castle battlements-if they did not border on the ludicrous, no more impressed the mind with any feeling of awe, than the enchantments and talismans, the genii and peris, of the Arabian Nights. A nearer approach to the proper tone of feeling, was made in the Old English Baron; but while it