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science is unfolded by one mind, and applied and extended, as in the case before us, by others. The decomposing energies of the pile of Volta were discovered by Nicholson, Carlisle, and Cruickshank. They were extended and applied to chemical generalisations by the eminently superior talents of Davy. Mr. Tennant discovered that explosions would not pass small tubes; and this is the clue to the mystery of the safety-lamp. But every page of the history of science records analogous instances, and shows that, however eminent may be the merit of an inventor, he who applies and improves upon the invention, who extends its precincts, and levels it to the purposes of common life, is the real benefactor, and that he it is who should reap the praise and enjoy the renown; but such, as I have before said, is not Mr. Dalton.
My third query is directed to the applications of this theory to the more abstract and refined departments of chemical science; and happy should I be, if, under this head, I could find grounds of justifying the determination of the Council in regard to this royal medal; here it is that Richter comes in for his share of conquest, and that Gay-Lussac stands preeminent; but here chiefly it is that we ascribe, as is most due, much honour and credit to the laborious industry of Dr. Prout, who has applied the theory of proportions to some intricate questions of vegetable and animal composition, and who has thrown out some singularly felicitous hints on the relations between the specific gravities of bodies in their gaseous states, and the weights of their atoms.
Thus, then, I have endeavoured candidly to weigh Mr. Dalton's pretensions, as urged in the President's speech, and find them, in their utmost latitude, insufficient and unsatisfactory. Even his best friends and professed admirers must allow, if they have condescended to read the preceding quotations, that his claims are certainly not founded upon a rock, that at least much suspicion hangs over their authenticity; and if there be any who are not satisfied with the evidence I have adduced, let them attentively peruse "Higgins's Comparative View," and afterwards the second volume of "Dalton's New System," "and then to breakfast with what appetite they have." The fact is, that over the present question there should
neither hang doubt nor discrepancy; the title should be without flaws, the claim without a drawback; and that which crowns the impropriety of the present adjudgment is, that a list of names might easily be produced upon whom the distinction might have been conferred without a shadow of impropriety or inconsistency; three or four such may be found in the Council itself, and several in the lists of the Society: Philosophers, whose discoveries are really their own, and who have not only enlightened and enriched science, but have exalted the name and fame of the Royal Society by their splendid contributions to its published Transactions, a set of volumes in which the name of Dalton scarcely appears, except annexed to one or two unimportant and flimsy papers.
Of Mr. Ivory I have much less to say; he is universally admitted to be a deep and skilful mathematician, but his researches are, unfortunately, of a very abstract nature; and though of his abilities and originality there may be no doubt, the usefulness of his inquiries is open to a query. Some may find an interest in abstruse investigations, having for their object the determination of the figure which the earth would assume were it made of calf's-foot jelly instead of rock and stone, and such a question may cost months of daily and nightly labour to solve much midnight oil, and much sweat of the mental brow may be expended in its determination: but when settled, where is the fruit of the demonstration ?
Upon the whole, it may, I think, fairly be assumed that, although the claims of Mr. Ivory to the honour which has now been bestowed, are far more substantial than those of Mr. Dalton, they are yet open to objection, and that, upon the present important occasion, he whose discoveries and inventions have most largely contributed to the general extension of science, or most decidedly bear upon the progress and perfection of the useful arts, should have taken precedence, and should have been selected from among his less industrious compeers as most worthy in himself, and most efficient as an example to others.
I am, Sir, yours, &c.
F. R. S.
Essays and Gleanings on Naval Architecture and Nautical Economy.
THE impulse which these branches of naval science have lately received, is well exemplified in the above periodical work. This work is worthy of particular notice at the present eventful period of the arts. Not only do the national prosperity and honour depend on our naval ascendancy, but even our safety and existence as a nation would be endangered by signal defeats at sea. It may be asserted, without fear of contradiction, that the whole range of nautical economy never demanded more serious and ardent attention from our government than at the present time. A vigorous branch of the British stock now actually rivals us in commerce, and has shown the native prowess of its descent by deeds in war, worthy of the original and experienced parent. The junction of France and Spain, uniting a long and contiguous coast of ports to this country, and the internal aspect of affairs in Britain, enforce on us the watchfulness of serious concern, if they do not sound the tocsin of enthusiastic exertion. So much is the present compound existence of the British nation engrafted on her command of the seas, that a single defeat, or a suspension for a short time of her domination, would be a most convulsive crisis, fraught with ruin and inexpressible distress.
The progress of events and new discoveries render alterations expedient; and it is only by constant examination of these circumstances, and by fostering a knowledge of the principles on which they depend, that we can determine on the line of conduct to be adopted. Repeated epochs have shown us, that the forms of our ships have frequently become antiquated and unfit for further use. Such were the lofty, broad, high-sterned vessels of the seventeenth century. Subsequently, the forty-four gun ships, on two decks, came into disuse. Then followed the sixty-fours; and the seventy fours are fast going out of vogue. The same might be said of other descriptions of vessels, which there is no occasion to particularise. It is worthy of remark, that they were all rendered useless by the superiority, in sailing qualities, of the vessels of our antagonists, who adopted other descriptions of ships, which we were soon obliged to imitate.
As all those manoeuvres which are performed in military struggles by the marching of troops, are effected in naval
encounters by the sailing and the evolutions of ships, it is evident that victory may greatly depend on the qualities and characters of our floating batteries. On land it is not to be expected that any advantage can be calculated on from inherent superior celerity of movement, as the agents in each case must be supposed to be possessed of the same physical powers; in such case, it must be skill and valour alone that can give the ascendant: but, at sea, not only is ability advantageous, but increased facility of execution may be possessed by the superior architecture and equipment of vessels. In the instance of preponderating force being pos sessed by the enemy, celerity of motion in the retreat becomes of augmented benefit; as it is also, when, from the inferiority of the enemy, pursuit must be resorted to.
A large ship of superior velocity has the power of making every ship of inferior force its easy prey. The same may be said of fast-sailing fleets, which ought always to have the ships composing them of equal powers of sailing; as the velocity of the whole must be regulated by that of the slowest, in order to insure her protection.
Our enlightened naval historian, Captain Brenton, vol. i. p. 40, of his work, says "Whoever reads with attention the history of our naval actions in the East or West Indies, America, or the North Sea, will readily attribute the failures of Hughes, Rodney, Graves, Byron, and Parker, to the miserable state of our shipping. And further on, he observes" The Dutch, Spanish, and Russian armaments of 1787, 1790, 1791, called forth men who applied themselves with much assiduity to the improvement of the marine; the suggestions of officers of experience were attended to; the best and most approved models were selected and built after; and the Courageux, of seventy-four guns, taken from the French as far back as 1761, was the favourite of the service the Leviathan was as near a resemblance to her as the builder of Chatham dock-yard could produce; and in the actions of 28th and 29th of May, and 1st of June, 1794, under the command of that high-spirited nobleman, the late Lord Hugh Seymour, this ship was one of the earliest in action."
Captain Brenton attributes the glorious victory under Lord Howe, in a principal degree, to the fast sailing of the Queen Charlotte and Royal George, ships of enlarged dimensions, which brought the enemy to action, by cutting the line at the desired time before the others.
From the same work we extract the following remarks, as
further proof of the lamentable comparative state of our shipping, and our deficiency of knowledge in the principles of the art. "The Victory is one of the most perfect vessels, of her size, we ever had; but we have unfortunately failed in our attempts to produce one exactly similar to her. The Boyne was so intended, but, on being launched, was discovered to be two feet narrower on the quarter-deck, and found to sail wretchedly."
It is unnecessary further to point out our degrading inferiority. The cause of this is plain; the nautical arts and sciences have been less cultivated in this country than in any maritime nation in the world. By the wise encouragement of talent, foreign nations have produced men learned in the art, and distinguished by their scientific acquirements*. It is not, therefore, matter of surprise, that the nation at large, and the navy in particular, have been loud in their complaints on the subject. The evil was in consequence remedied in part, by following the foreign nations closely in their models, for which we have been indebted to the unrivalled intrepidity of our sailors, who have captured their vessels; but this uncertain expedient has necessarily been accompanied with detracting attendants: our enemies have in the mean time improved on their models; and thus, with all the expense of dispensing with badly-constructed vessels, we have constantly been inferior to foreigners in the qualities of our warlike navy.
This exasperating deficiency, which has been so often reiterated throughout the nation, excited the ardent attention of many public-spirited noblemen, who proposed the formation of a "Society for the Improvement of Naval Architecture;" accordingly, a public meeting was convened at the Crown and Anchor Tavern, on the 14th of April, 1791, at which the late Marquis of Hastings presided. The institution was unanimously established and supported by numerous noblemen and gentlemen; among whom were, His Royal Highness the Duke of Clarence, Earl Stanhope, Lord Mulgrave, Sir Joseph Banks, Sir Charles Middleton, and Dr. Hutton. They all agreed to a resolution" That the theory and art of ship-building being objects of the first magnitude and importance to these kingdoms, and not so well understood in this country as matters of so much consequence deserve, a remedy
When a bridge, or other national edifice, is contemplated, many hundred pounds are given for plan and estimates; but how contrary is the practice in ship-building!