Изображения страниц

position it will not ignite. This arises from the fact that no air can reach the centre of the flame, so that combustion is not supported. In proof of these statements the lecturer exhibited many very interesting experiments, which Fere highly successful, and gave the greatest satisfaction to a very numerous audience.

SOUTHWARK LITERARY AND SCIENTIFIC INSTITUTION. On Wednesday, the 21st ultimo, Mr. Woolnoth delivered a lecture on physiognomy to the members of this institution. He observed, that a lecture on physiognomy must be somewhat personal, but he trusted that the members would hear him out. Although he might, perhaps, point out rules for the detection of evil passions, yet they were not to imagine that one bad quality infected the whole man, for it might be counteracted by co-existing circumstances. Men ought not to judge of the mind by one blemish, any more than they did of the face by one feature. He would commence with enry, the most terrible and least excusable of passions. The passion of revenge could plead, in its own excuse, wrongs inflicted: but envy dealt not with the faults, but with the good qualities of others. It is most easily perceived in little children, who have not the skill to conceal it. He could relate an instance of envy which would be almost ridiculous if it were not horrible and true. Two ladies, for a long time, vied with each other in their mutual entertainments, until the one, finding herself eclipsed by the other, conceived a deadly hatred for her quondam friend. At length, the latter died, but the hatred of her rival did not then cease ; for, seeing the funeral pass before her vindow, she was so irritated by the splendid trappings of the hearse, that she eclaimed to her friends, “ Come, let us stare this proud creature out of wantenance" (meaning the corpse). Envy was denoted in the countenance by a peculiar shrinking of the eye, and an absence of colour in the eye, during the act. The poets often spoke of “pale-eyed envy,” perhaps without knowing exactly what they meant; but envy certainly was pale-eyed. In malice, the colour left the lips : in strong passion, the colour went and came rapidly.

Conceit was often confounded with vanity; but though all conceited people were Fain, yet all vain people were not conceited. A man might be vain of the talents which he possessed, but, to be conceited, he must not possess the faculty of which he boasted. Conceited people had generally round, playful, animated eyes, a good-natured face, beaming with inward satisfaction; all the features having an upward turn, particularly the mouth and eyes, which are curred upwards. In contempt, the mouth curves downwards, and it would seem that the conceited man's profound contempt for all other people, gave his features a downward turn, until the recollection of his own superiority twisted them up again.

Cunning was the peculiar faculty of rogues, and the only one of fools; it was rather an exercise than a quality of the mind; it was the lowest attribute of human intelligence, and the highest order of brute excellence. He (the lecturer) recollected a Mr. Dance, who was drawn for the militia, and escaped the finding a substitute, by the following cunning contrivance: He went before a magistrate with a friend who swore that he was not compos mentis, and, said Mr. Dance afterwards, “When the magistrate believed that I was not compos mentis, who was the fool-he or IP" The eye of the cunning person resembled that of the child or the idiot, probably, because he never arrived at wisdom. It was also restless, as if from being continually on its guard. The nose was tight at top, and round at bottom; the mouth had a smirk, and the under eyelid seemed inclined to shut over the other. Ill-nature was principally exhibited in vulgar persons; it was not identical with self-love, though akin to it. In the face of the ill-natured man all the features were concentrated; a strong line ran from the wing of the nose to the corner of the

mouth; a line of which Michael Angelo made great use in his picture of the last judgment.

The lecture was illustrated by cartoons of heads, and gave great satisfaction to the audience, although the inclemency of the weather prevented many from attending WESTERN LITERARY AND SCIENTIFIC INSTITUTION,

LEICESTER SQUARE. On Thursday, the 22nd ult., Dr. Edwin Lankester delivered to the members of this Institution the first part of a lecture on the “ Natural History of Plants Yielding Food.” He commenced by explaining that the object he had in view, was to bring before them the general relation existing between the three kingdoms of nature, animal, vegetable, and mineral, and particularly where there was a dependence one upon the other. Thus it would be seen that the vegetable depended on the mineral, and the animal upon the vegetable. It was a subject of the greatest importance on account of the dependence of man upon the vegetable kingdom for every description of food, and excited at the present moment more attention than any other. The learned lecturer then observed that all nature was composed of certain elements, in number fifty or sixty, as far as the discoveries of chemists had hitherto gone; that the most important of these, in the composition of plants, were, oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen, in the several combinations which they formed. That carbon existed in great quantities in the vegetable kingdom, and, by its combinations, went to form in them, as in animals, the solid parts. As an instance, on burning wood or other vegetable matter, the oxygen, hydrogen, and nitrogen were disengaged, but the carbon remained in the form of charcoal. The purest form of carbon was the diamond. He then explained, with the assistance of tables, in what proportions the important elements of oxygen, hydrogen, nitrogen, and carbon entered into combinations with other substances and produced those secretions in plants which form the principal food of man and other animals. These could be much more easily described by the means of the tables we have alluded to, and we regret that the want of space prevents our entering more fully into the scientific part of the discourse. We can only assure our readers, that an attendance at the next lecture will well repay them. But to proceed: from these secretions, which he divides into two kinds, the carbonaceous and nitrogeneous, he selected for consideration the substance called starch. Starch is secreted in the cells of the leaves, stem, and roots of numerous plants, and more especially the following: arrow-root, rice, sago, tapioca, cassava, potatoes, and wheat. It was, however, he said, a popular error to suppose that in arrow-root there was something particularly nutritive, and on that account it was given to the sick; but as it served only to keep up the animal heat, the slow combustion which went on in every animal, that is, to afford fuel for the oxygen to feed upon, he did not see how it could be termed nutritious. It did not possess that pro. perty which those substances called nitrogeneous possessed, of building up the fabric of the animal body. This was also the case with the other plants yielding starch. It might be argued that children, and even grown-up people, were supported by such food, and that animals were fattened to excess upon plants which yielded it. He did not think that the former were ever fed upon this alone, but that it was generally mixed with milk and sugar, which possessed the necessary constituent; and, as regarded the fat of animals, it was accounted for by Professor Liebig, who explained that when this description of food was taken in in large quantities, a very slight change, a kind of imperfect combustion was necessary, as might be seen by comparing its composition with that of fat, to convert it into the latter in the system of the animal.

The consideration of this article of food brought him to that of the potato, a plant containing a very large proportion of starch, and, on that account, ranking very low amongst the different kinds of diet used by man. It would be asked, How, then, did so large a portion of the population of Ireland subsist almost solely on this plant? Now, in answer to this, the potato does possess a small proportion of the nitrogeneous combination, namely 2 parts in 100; but it was well known, by the inquiries lately instituted in Ireland, that a large quantity of this description of food was necessary for the support of man,—that the Irish peasant consumed as much as 14 lbs. of potatoes in one day. It was, therefore, a question worthy of consideration, whether the cultiration of this plant to a great extent was beneficial to a country; for, independent of the fact that one-fourth of wheat is equivalent to the fourteen lbs. of potatoes, the latter is a very precarious crop, as has been seen in the last year, and when it has failed, the inhabitants have nothing to fall back upon ; whereas the cultivation of wheat, besides its nutritive advantages, would give risa in Ireland to a great increase in agricultural enterprise, and consequently a greater demand for agricultural labour. Common as the potato has now become, it was many years after its introduction from South America, before its caltivation was carried to any great extent; and it is said to have been adopted as food so generally by the Irish, from the fact of a cargo being wrecked on the coast of that country. The peasantry finding it to grow with little labour, it from that time spread rapidly in that part of Ireland. A great prejudice existed against it for some time, for the reason that it belongs to an eader of plants, many of which yield deadly poison ; and because poison is centained in its own leaves and berries. The learned Doctor then adverted to the potato disease. It had been supposed by some that the plant was Tearing out; but, from the reports of scientific men, who had investigated the mbject, it appeared there was no reason to apprehend this; and there was quite sufficient cause in the late wet seasons, and changeable state of the atmosphere, to account for the disease which seems to have seized the potato, almost universally, in the last year. The young plant grows rapidly; and in the season when it ought to deposit the starch, the ligneous matter had not strength to carry on this secretion, but imbibed and deposited water instead, which afterwards brought on a decomposition in the tuber when exposed to the oxygen of the atmosphere. There is no doubt of the plants for the next year being capable, under a favourable season, of producing a sound potato ; for the young plant soon becomes independent of the tuber, and derives its nourishment from the earth.


It will be seen in another part of this number, that the Second Lecture takes place on the 5th instant.

WALWORTH LITERARY AND SCIENTIFIC INSTITUTION. Our correspondent's letter came to hand at such a late period of the month, that we can only give a summary of its contents. The first Annual General Meeting of this society took place on Tuesday, the 20th ultimo; the Rev. J. W. Watson being in the chair. The reports of the committee were then read by the Rev. G. Rogers and Mr. B. M. Hubberdine, and proved that the Society was progressing most satisfactorily; as, after paying off all the necessary debts, a balance remained in the hands of the committee. The number of members had also increased to upwards of 600, and the lectures and classes had been well and constantly attended. The want of a good lecture room was, however, seriously felt, and the Rev. S. Green, who spokon this branch of the subject, strongly recommended the committee to takeit into their consideration. Votes of thanks were then proposed to the cmmittee, and other officers, for their unremitting attention during the past year; after which the meeting proceeded to the election of other offices, by ballot. The following gentlemen were elected to serve on the committee: the Rev. G. Rogers, Rev. S. Green, Rev. J. W. Watson, Rev. F. F. Stitham ; Messrs. J. S. Noldwritt, C. Crisp, R. S. Faulconer, Beel, Dickenson, J Thomp

son, B. W. Wells, W. R. Harris, F. H. Curran, H. G. Rogers, W. J. Watson, F. Hardy, Eckford, Bennett, Kemp, Budden, and B. W. Hubberdine. Treasurer, Mr. Thomas Drake; Auditors, Mr. David Lyons, Mr. W. Hubberdine, and Mr. F. Edgington.

Having sketched the origin and progress of the London Institution, as an illustrious example of the highest order of these establishments, we proceed, by way of contrast, to notice the existence of one in its immediate neighbourhood-the type of a class altogether as humble, as the former is aristocratic, in its pretensions, though not, perhaps, less efficient within the narrow sphere of its operations.

The Finsbury Institution for Sunday-school teachers and senior scholars, originated in the efforts of a few young people for self-improvement. In the autumn of 1840, about ten teachers of the New Tabernacle Sunday-school arranged to meet in a private room, on Monday evenings, to read the Scriptures, and converse upon them. Shortly afterwards, a teacher suggested the formation of an Institute for the special benefit of Sunday-school teachers and senior scholars. The project was well received; the necessary steps were taken; and “The Finsbury Institution” was opened on the first Thursday in 1841. H. Althans, Esq., the well-known friend of Sunday-schools, delivered a suitable address; and the association commenced with ninety-five subscribers.

The general plan of the proceedings is, for a LECTURE, or ESSAY, to be read on Monday evenings, followed by a discussion on the subject of discourse; a Bible-class meeting, on Friday evenings, under the direction, at present, of Dr. Hewlett. Classes have also been formed for the practice of Sacred Music; the study of English Grammar; the French Language ; and Elocution. The Grammar class is now discontinued. The same remark applies to a LADIES' class for mutual improvement by reading, essays, and conversation. Not to indulge in satire, we think it probable that a preponderance of the latter element occasioned the failure of this effort. THE LIBRARY, consisting, at first, of books lent and presented, has recently been enlarged at the expense of the Institution, and twenty pounds have been laid out in the purchase of music for the singing class.

The terms of subscription being extremely moderate-one shilling per quarter, paid in advance-the Institution is open to the reception of donations from benevolent individuals. We understand the support received from the metropolitan ministers and teachers has not equalled the expectations of the founders ; but matters are, on the whole, in a prosperous condition. We gladly, therefore, embrace the present opportunity of calling the attention of our London readers, especially those connected with Sabbath-schools, to this useful Institution. Compared with the amount of subscription, its advantages are surprising; and its whole character being imbued with a religious spirit, it is, in this point, preferable to most mechanics' institutions.

It deserves to be recorded that the above is not the only institution in which religious and secular knowledge are cultivated together. We are æquainted with a MUTUAL IMPROVEMENT ASSOCIATION framed for this erd, consisting entirely of young men between the ages of sixteen and twnty-five, and professing orthodox views of Christianity. Its meetings are heli every Thursday evening, in the vestry of Weigh-house Chapel, from halfpast six to eight o'clock. The proceedings are regularly opened by " the chairhan reading a portion of the Holy Scriptures, and concluded with prayer for the divine blessing." On these occasions the attention of the members is principally given to those religious points on which they are all agreed ;" and their lectures and treatises on other subjects are designed to "show forth the goodness and wisdom of God, to the full extent of their power.” As every member is required, in turn, to exercise himself in this way, or pay a fine. it may be supposed that some degree of mental culture, some stock of information, some previous course of general study, are necessary qualifications. But, in forming similar associations, where desirable, this part of the plan might be easily modified so as to facilitate the admission of young men less happily circumstanced in these respects. In the society here referred to, the number of members is limited to twenty, that each may have an opportunity of taking part in the proceedings, without the meeting being prolonged to an objectionable hour. Thus, after a lecture or essay has been read, its facts and positions become the subject of general remark, and any member is at Liberty to advance anything that may have occurred in his own reading, observation, or experience. When one subject has been disposed of, another, previously agreed upon, is brought under consideration; and, in place of a single essay, each member reads such notes as he may have prepared, or makes such observations as the addresses of others may suggest. A subject is thus exhibited in every possible veriety of light and shade, in every striking aspect, every peculiarity of view. It is, if we may be allowed the expression, turned inside out, so that every one may “look at both sides of the question.” We need scarcely tell our rearders, that in these exercises much useful information is often elicited, that would never have been acquired in a course of private study, and that the mental discipline involved is of itself invaluable.


Such a mutual improvement association may be started, and even carried to successfully, with very slender materials. A few young men, imbued with the love of knowledge, possessed of a few useful books, and leisure to meet together, once or oftener in the week, are all that is required. In the case of the Finsbury Institution, we have seen how the efforts of ten young persons in this direction issued in the formation of that important establishment. Let none, therefore, despair from the paucity of numbers, or the apparent feebleness of their endeavours. Let all but hope and struggle for success, and success will come.

If, as is the case in the Association to which we have referred, a Book Society can be established in connexion with the mutual improvement class, much good may be expected to result. A greater interest being excited, a greater measure of success may be anticipated. A wider range of sympathies being brought into exercise, a firmer bond of union and co-operation is established. By practising economy in the purchase of books, and when they have passed through the hands of all the members, selling them at reduced prices, the expenses of management may be contracted within very moderate limits; and as the book society may include many who are either unwilling or unable to attend the mutual improvement class, the advantages of members may be here more readily secured, and the society's affairs conducted on a scale of proportionable magnitude.

We have made these observations with the view of drawing the attention of our readers to a few of the advantages that may be secured by a friendly union for purposes of self-improvement, and in the hope that some, at least, of those who have not yet experienced these benefits may be induced to seek them, and that others, who have felt their worth, may be encouraged to make yet greater and more valuable acquisitions.

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »