has a distinguishing number. The cost, in consideration of the quantity ordered from the makers at one time, including the case, is 5s. 6d.; and without the case, 4s. 6d. for each thermometer. At the suggestion of Sir John Herschel, they have also undertaken, by the photographic process, to secure a daily record of the appearance of the sun's disk, with a view of ascertaining, by a comparison of the spots upon its surface, their places, size, and forms, whether any relation can be established between their variations and other phenomena. The Council of the Royal Society has supplied the funds, and the instrument is in course of completion. The same beautiful invention, which seems likely to promote the interests of science in many branches at least as much as those of art, is employed, under the able direction of the committee, and of Mr. Welsh, the curator, to record, by a self-acting process, something similar to that of the anemometer, the variations in the earth's magnetism.

From the address of the President we make the following extracts, as illustrative of the progress of science during the past year. In respect to the progress of astronomical science, the large number of planets and comets discovered of late years, while it evinces the diligence of astronomers, has, at the same time, brought additional laborers into the field of astronomical science, and contributed materially to its extension. The demand for observations created by these discoveries has been met by renewed activity in existing observatories, and has led to the establishment, by public or private means, of new observatories. For instance, an observatory was founded in the course of last year by a private individual at Olmütz, in Moravia, and is now actively at work on this class of observations. Various such instances have occurred within a few years.

[ocr errors]

'In addition to the advantages just stated, the observations called for by the discovery of new bodies of the Solar System have drawn attention to the state of Stellar Astronomy, and been the means of improving this fundamental part of the science. The following are a few words on the existing state of Stellar Astronomy, so far as regards catalogues of stars. Subsequently to the formation of the older catalogues of bright stars, astronomers turned their attention to observations in zones, or otherwise, of smaller stars, to the ninth magnitude inclusive. Lalande, Lacaille, Bessel, Argelander, and Lamont, are the chief laborers in this class of observations. But these observations, unreduced and uncatalogued, are comparatively of little value. The British Association did great service to astronomers by reducing into catalogues the observations of Lalande and Lacaille. A catalogue of part of Bessel's zones has been published at St. Petersburg, and a catalogue of part of Argelander's zones at Vienna.

Lamont's zones have also been reduced in part by himself. The catalogue of 8,377 stars, published by the British Association in 1845, is founded mainly on the older catalogues, but contains, also, stars to the seventh magnitude inclusive, observed once only by Lalande or Lacaille. The places of the stars in this catalogue are, consequently, not uniformly trustworthy; but as the authorities for the places are indicated, the astronomer is not misled by this circumstance.

"The above are the catalogues which are principally used in the observations of the small planets and of comets. This class of observations must generally be made by means of stars as fixed points of reference. The observer selects a star from a catalogue, either for the purpose of finding the moving body, or for comparing its position with that of the star; but from the imperfection of the catalogue, it sometimes happens that no star is found in the place indicated by it; and in most cases, unless the star's place has been determined by repeated meridian observations, it is not sufficiently accurate for final reference of the position of the planet or comet. In catalogues reduced from zone observations, the star's right ascension generally depends on a single transit across a single wire, and its declination on a single bisection. This being the case, astronomers have begun to feel the necessity of using the catalogue places of stars provisionally, in reducing their observations, and of obtaining afterwards accurate places by meridian observations.

"It will be seen by this statement that, by the observations of the small planets and of comets, materials are gradually accumulating for the formation of a more accurate and more extensive catalogue of stars than any hitherto published. The modern sources at present available for such a work are the reduced and published observations of the Greenwich, Pulkowa, Edinburgh, Oxford and Cambridge observatories, and the recently completed catalogue of 12,000 stars observed and reduced by the indefatigable astronomer of Hamburg, Mr. Charles Rumker, together with numerous incidental determinations of the places of comparison stars in the Astronomische Nachrichten.'

"To complete the present account of the state of Stellar Astronomy, mention should be made of two volumes recently published by Mr. Cooper, containing the approximate places arranged in order of Right Ascension of 30,186 stars from the 9th to the 12th magnitude, of which only a very small number had been previously observed. The observations were made with the Markree equatorial, and have been printed at the expense of Her Majesty's Government."

Some anxiety was felt by astronomers respecting the continuation of that most indispensable publication the Astronomische Nachrichten, after the decease of the editor, Mr. Petersen, in February last. This

has been dispelled by a recent announcement that the King of Denmark has resolved to maintain the Altona Observatory in connection with that of the editorship of this work.

Generally, it may be said of Astronomy, at the present time, that it is prosecuted zealously and extensively, active observations being now more numerous than ever, and that the interests of the science are promoted as well by private enterprise as by the aid of government. In regard to the progress of the departments of geography and ethnography, Lord Harrowby remarks: "The great navigations which are opening up the heart of the South American continent, by the Paraguay, the Amazons, and the Orinoco; that are traversing and uniting the colonies of Victoria and South Australia by the River Murray; the projected exploration of North Australia; the wonderful discoveries in South Africa by Livingston and Anderson; and the explorations of Central Africa by Barth and Vogel; the pictures given us by Capt. Erskine and others of the condition of the islanders of the South Pacific, passing in every stage of transition from the lowest barbarism to a fitness for the highest European and Christian culture; these, and a hundred other topics, awaken an ever-new interest in the mind of the philosopher and statesman, in the feelings of the Christian and the lover of his kind. What new fields for science! What new opportunities for wealth and power! What new openings for good! "It is happily becoming every year less and less necessary to press these things on public notice. In an age of gas and steam-of steamengines and steamboats-of railroads and telegraphs, and photographs -the importance of science is no longer questioned. It is a truism— commonplace. We are far from the foundation days of the Royal Society, when, in spite of the example of the monarch, their proceedings were the ridicule of the court; and even the immortal Butler thought the labors of a Wallis, a Sydenham, a Harvey, a Hooke, or a Newton, fit subjects for his wit."

The noble lord glanced cheeringly at the increasing facilities for education in science which are being opened up in this country. "The encouragements and assistance already given (he said) by the State to the education of the people in various shapes; the superior class of trained and examined teachers who are spreading over the land, and whose training has in no small degree been in physical science; the books provided for early education by our societies and by individual enterprise, having the same character; the every-day more and more acknowledged connection between agriculture and science, showing itself in such papers as enrich the pages of the journals of the Royal Agricultural Society; the establishment of the department of science with its school of mines under the Board of Trade; the improvement

which is to be expected under the action of the charity commissioners in the system of our old grammar schools; the spontaneous action of our old universities, not superseded, but facilitated and stimulated, by parliamentary interposition; these and such like changes which are taking place, partly within the bosom of society itself, and partly by the action of government, will shortly provide such means of scientific education, although not systematized with the exactness of continental organization, as will, after our rough English fashion, adequately provide for all our wants in that respect, and give us no cause to lament over any deficiencies in practical results.

"But will there be encouragement to make use of these facilities? Are there rewards in prospect, whether of direct emolument or social consideration, which will induce men 'to wear out nights, and live laborious days,' in a service which has hitherto, in the world's eye at least, appeared often to be ill requited? Now, the real stimulant to science has at all times been the delights of the pursuit itself, and the consciousness of the great services rendered to humanity by every conquest within the domain of truth; but still these questions may fairly demand an answer. To the questions of pecuniary rewards, I will presently advert. They have certainly been miserably inadequate ; but in regard to social considerations, I think there has existed some misunderstanding. It has been often asserted, and made the subject of lamentation or complaint, that men of science do not enjoy in this free country the consideration which they do in some countries less favored otherwise in their institutions than ourselves. Now, if by this it is intended to express that men of science are not made Knights of the Garter or peers of parliament; that they are not often met with in the hearts of wealth and fashion; that they are not called into the councils of their sovereign, or sent to represent her in foreign courts, I admit the fact; but, then, I doubt whether these are the natural or fitting objects of ambition to the scientific man: and if it is intended by the assertion that they are not, as a class or individuals, appreciated by their fellow-citizens for their genius and honored for their services, I cannot so fully admit the fact. I would ask any of those whose presence adorns this meeting, Do they not find that their names are a passport into any society, the proudest in the land? Whose doors that are worth entering are not open to them? There are certain advantages, superficially considered, which will always belong to mere wealth or power; but are they such as the lover of science can bring himself to envy or desire? Wherever he is known, he is honored. 'Still, however, in regard to science, I must admit that there is one great deficiency. For often may it be said of science, as it was said satirically of virtue by the poet, Laudatur et alget,-It is praised and


starves. The man of science may not desire to live luxuriously; he may not, nor ought he, desire to rival his neighbors in the follies of equipage and ostentation, which are often, indeed, rather a burden imposed by the customs of society than an advantage or even a gratification to the parties themselves; but he must live, and for the sake of science itself he ought to be able to live, free from those anxious cares for the present and the future, or from the calls of a profession, which often beset and burden his laborious career. Why was our Dalton compelled to waste the powers of such an intellect on private teaching? As a teacher, a physician, or a clergyman, or more rarely as a partner in a profitable patent, such a man may earn a competence, and give to science the hours which can be spared from his other avocations; and it is, indeed, astonishing what results have been the produce of these leavings of a laborious life, these leisure hours, if so they may be called, of men who are engaged in arduous duties of another kind. But this ought not to be; and it will not long be, I am confident. It must give way before the extended cultivation of science itself. The means of occupation, in connection with our schools, and our colleges, and our examinations, will increase; and I cannot but hope that a grateful country will insist upon her benefactors in science receiving a more liberal share of her bounty than has hitherto been allotted them. Nor have I any fear that the study of science should ever become too exclusive, that is, should make us too material,—that it should overgrow and smother those more ethical, more elevating, influences which are supposed to grow from the pursuit of literature and art.

"In the first place, the demands of science upon the patient and laborious exercise of thought are too heavy, too severe, to make it likely that it should ever become the favorite study of the many. In art and literature the mind of the student is often comparatively passive, in a state of almost passive enjoyment of the banquet prepared for him by others; in those of science the student must work hard for his intellectual fare. He cannot throw up his oars,

'And let his little bark attendant sail,

Pursue the triumph, and partake the gale; '

but he must tug at the oar himself, and take his full share in the labor by which his progress is to be made.

"Nor indeed, when I read the works of a Whewell, and a Herschel, and a Brewster, a Hugh Miller, or a Sedgwick, and a hundred others, the glory of our days, can I see any reason for apprehending that the study of science deprives the mind of imagination, the style of grace and beauty, or the character of its moral and religious tone, its elevation and refinement."

« VorigeDoorgaan »