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Zoology.—A species of shrew has been lately discovered by Professor Savi, in Tuscany, to which he has given the name of Sorex etruscus. It is the smallest of all known quadrupeds, and less even than some insects. Its length is about one inch and a half, and its weight 36 grains.
One of the teeth of the Mastodon, or Mammoth, as it is sometimes improperly called, was presented a few days since by Mr. W. Moore to the Lyceum of Natural History. A party of gentlemen immediately set out for the spot from whence the tooth was said to have been procured. T'hey were so fortunate as to discover, on the farm of Mr. William Crosson, nearly the entire skeleton of this enormous animal. The liberality of that gentleman enabled the exploring party to procure almost every part of the skeleton. It is now in the Cabinet of the Lyceum. This is the first time, to the best of our knowledge, that any remains of this huge animal have been discovered in the state of New-Jersey.
Dr. Mitchill is at present engaged in investigating the structure of the very curious reptile from Gcorgia, known to naturalists under the name of Siren. He has recently received six of these animals in their living state, and we understand that he proposes to distribute them among the different scientific societies in this city, of which he is a member.
Arts.-- The experiment of covering a ship’s bottom with leather, instead of copper, has recently been tried in this port. The expense is estimated to be much less than that of copper, whichit is necessary to renew frequently. Sir Humphrey Davy has, however, announced that copper fastened by tin nails, will remain uninjured for any definite period.
The experiments of Mr. Faraday, of England, on the condensation of the gases promise to be of the highest utility. If meanis can be discovered of governing these gases properly, they may probably supersede the use of steam, and change the face of mechanical science. • In applying the condensed gases as mechanical agents,' says Sir Humphrey Davy, the apparatus must be at least as strong as that used by Mr. Perkins in his high pressure engine; but the small differences of temperature, required to produce an elastic force, equal to the pressure of many atmospheres, will render the explosion extremely small; and if future experiments should realize the views here developed, the mere difference of temperature between sunshine and shade, or air and water, or the effects of evaporation from a moist surface, will be sufficient to produce results which have hitherto been obtained only by a great expenditure of fuel.? We refer the curious inquirer to the London Annals of Philosophy" for farther details.
New-York, 1823. I was sitting this morning at breakfast, when the servant presented me with that constant purveyor of the insatiable appetite for novelty, which here universally prevails,--the newspaper. It received a heartier welcome than usual; for I perceived that one of the Havre packets had arrived, and that more than one column was filled with intelligence from that spot which holds all that is dear to me on earth. Singular paradox! that in proportion as we are removed from the immediate and entire contemplation of those objects to which we are attached, does the original sentiment increase in vigour and intensity. I know there is much to blame in France,- I know that twice treason and corruption have triumphed over the pledged honour and the nascent liberties of Frenchmen ; yet I could not but repeat to myself the lines of the English poet, penetrated with a painful but honourable emotion :
with all thy faults, I love thee still,
My country! But let me not wander away into the regions of feeling, while I should be pursuing the more appropriate path of relating facts, Let the topic plead my pardon. If it were necessary
I should at least have every lover of his country for my inter
I shall not pretend, in any letters which I may hereafter write to you, to pursue any regular plan, but I intend to give you my impressions fresh and unbiassed as they arise in my own bosom. If you thus lose the regularity and force of a dissertation, you will be recompensed at least by the candour of my remarks. .
There is a feature in the character of this country, which I may as well notice at once,--the extensive dissemination of newspapers. Notwithstanding something has been said on this subject by previous travellers, I am inclined to think that they have not treated it as its importance demands. In my opinion, there is no one thing more characteristic of the people of the United States, or more decisive in its effects on the national habits and manners, than the extraordinary avidity for reading the public journals. In the house in which I live, there are taken in no less than five daily newspapers, and several more are printed in this city. They are three or four times as large Vol. I. No. III.
as our French papers, and contain foreign and domestic news, original articles on every subject, and innumerable advertisements, which with us are confined to the Journal des Affiches. The spirit of party, though it is now greatly diminished by circumstances of a peculiar nature,(I mean the annihilation of the federal party,) yet exists, and always will exist in a free country. Hence the measures of government, the character of individuals, the policy of great public acts, the local interest of particular districts, are canvassed with a freedom and severity of remark, with an elevation of sentiment, a force of sarcasm, and too often with a coarseness of sentiment, and disregard to decency, which in either extreme are entirely unknown to us. Public opinion acts to a certain degree upon the conductors of the press, but they are supposed to react more strongly upon
, it. If the editors of these newspapers do not state new facts, by recurring to old ones, they keep alive the prejudices and the partialities, the attachments and the hatred of their readers ; and preserve them all in constant readiness, to act as occasion may require. And unfortunately, perhaps, (for I have not yet found an American to admit, that the frequent recurrence of their elections for the national, as well as state and merely local officers, is detrimental to the stability of government) unfortunately these opportunities are not rare. Every few months--once at least in every year—the great mass of the public servants are called up to the bar of public opinion. These editors act as their authorized accusers or advocates; their official, nay their private characters are laid bare to the malignant inspection of every citizen, and the people, in all the solemnity of supreme and undisputed power, pronounce on the truth or falsehood of the charges which may be preferred. I confess that with all my love for free government, with all my respect for the influence of that chartered libertine, the press, upon society, I am not prepared to approve a practice which may sometimes be productive of good, but which, at the same moment, pampers the vilest propensities of our nature, and gives an opportunity to the feeblest assassin to aim a successful blow at the fairest and most honourable fame. But I would not have you consider this the opinion of Americans. They are the warm advocates of this plan of licensed espionage and indefinite arraignment. They consider it essential to their republican institutions, and a valuable part of their liberties. When you make your objections, they point you to the courts of law, and tell you there is your redress; but how often have ştale but constantly repeated inuendoes how often have dastardly and dark suspicions, cautiously expressed, scathed the
heart and destroyed the best hopes, before a remedy-(if reme. dy indeed there be under the strict rules of law,)-could be drawn from the vivifying verdict of an honest jury. However, there are in truth great difficulties about this subject. The proper regulation of the press is one of the most interesting problems which a paternal government could resolve. Our censure could never enter into such a solution—that miserable attempt of an effete and corrupt government to defend and screen its own wickedness and fraud and imposition. Perhaps, after all, the liberty of the press, such as it exists in America and England, may be necessary to the vitality of free institutions. If it be so, no honest man will object to a temporary inconvenience which secures such invaluable blessings.
These new papers are the receptacles of remarks of the most diversified merit, from every quarter and upon every topic which may be supposed to interest the community ; whether it be to arraign an individual, or to prepare the public mind for any great change in the cardinal principles of the constitution. They may be compared to those dreaded lions at Venice, which received in their silent but open mouths the denunciations of private revenge, thus placed before a secret and infamous tribunal. But thanks be to God, the people of this country openly pronounce judgment on these accusations. The public press is in fact the great moral lever, which moves every thing in this community; from the influence of which no man, however insignificant or however great, is for a moment secure. I have sometimes trembled as I have heard its effects described, and listened to instances of individual power admirably organized and secured, suddenly prostrated by its energies-and then reflected, that the press was too often conducted by those instinctive critics and logicians—those ready-made statesmen and impudent pretenders to universal knowledge, whose existence is not confined to France-quacks, whose hearts have been seared in the trade of politics, and whose minds, such as they are, received no original direction from a liberal education and honourable associates. The security against these evils is in the virtue and intelligence of the people, and those guarantees of the public repose have rarely, I believe, been found unavail
I ing. There is a large mass of virtue and talent to be found among those placed in the responsible situation of editors of newspapers : indeed, I have already been introduced to some of this description ; but they themselves have admitted the existence of such men as I have portrayed, and have deeply lamented to me the occasional influence they possess over the minds of men, in every respect their superiors-an influence acquired and maintained by the wonderful magic of types and ink.
I will dwell no longer on the darker side of the picture. The benefits which the circulation of newspapers confers on the people of the United States, are immense and incalculable. The people here, of whatever class or character, are all read
Education is, in the most populous portion of the United States, provided by law, and few there are who do not participate in the blessing. It is here a disgrace not to be able to read; and I have seen every eye directed to an unfortunate witness, who in the course of his examination in a court of justice, confessed his ignorance in this particular. His grey hairs, however, gave an ample explanation ; he was of those times (now so popular with the enlightened and liberal Francis of Austria,) when a printing press was considered heretical, and knowledge dangerous to governments. The anecdote is worth more than all I can say, to show the astonishment with which any one is here regarded, who is destitute of elementary education. I trust that one day, (thanks to the public spirited patrons of our · Ecoles de l'Enseignement mutuel,') the same honourable feelings may prevail, with equal justice, in our France.
These newspapers contain a vast variety of information on every topic; and they are perused by every individual, from the legislator down to the most ordinary ploughman : to the former they afford indications of public opinion; to the latter they give subjects of contemplation, and stimulate his curiosity to farther inquiry. They are to him what books are to the former, the nutriment of mind. Called upon at short intervals to declare their preference for individuals by their votes, the humble classes of the community seek in these convenient repositories, the arguments for the cause they support, and in their turn frame new ones in its defence. In one of my early walks, in the mercantile part of the town, 1 observed a porter, who had procured a newspaper from under the door of a warehouse not yet open, engaged in reading its contents to two of his fellows who were intently listening; these men were, doubtless, poor, but they were acquiring a moral and intellectual independence better than that of riches. I dwelt upon the sight with pleasure ; for, perhaps with one exception, such incident is only to be met with in this country.
The number of newspapers circulated among the people is enormous. It would be incredible to me, if I had not known my informant to be well acquainted with the fact which he related. Every county, even every town has its newspaper, published either daily, or two or three times a week. In this state, which possesses a population of about 1,300,000, there are, Iam told, more than 100 public journals, constantly diffusing, with various