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one period and the other, during which these geographical names had been altered. Another argument tending to show the proximate date of the inscriptions was, that Herodotus especially assigned to the Assyrian empire a duration of 520 years anterior to the defection of the Medes—an event which was known to have taken place in the eighth century before Christ. Many tables and cylinders had been found in different places, covered with historical writings; but the most important of all was house of records.” Mr Layard, at Keyunjuk, had penetrated into a chamber which appeared to be of the same class as the house of records noticed by Ezra, where was found the copy of the decree of Cyrus permitting the Jews to return from captivity. In this chamber Mr Layard found an enormous number of terra cotta tables piled up from the floor to the ceiling, and representing apparently the archives of the empire during a long historical succession. Mr Layard had packed, by the last accounts, five cases for transport to England, but he had only exhausted one small chamber of the apartment. When the whole collection had been disinterred and examined, itwas probable that we should have a better account of the history, religion, jurispru. dence, and philosophy of the Assyrians, thirteen centuries before the Christian era, than we had of either Greece or Rome during any part of their history.

STATISTICS.

The statistical department we must entirely pass over. The able papers that were read in this section by Porter, Fletcher, and Johnston will not bear to be condensed; and they have appeared in the public prints in a more perfect form than any of the other communications.

MECHANICS,

Dr Robinson presided in this section. Several communications of an interesting nature were placed before the meeting, after which Mr James Nasmyth explained to the section his improvements in forging iron. In forging shafts for the paddle-wheels of steamers, for exainple, it was of most essential importance that the shaft should be sound from the surface to the centre. The common plan, by which the section was alternately elongated in different directions, could not effect this object. It did, in fact, effectually cripple or disintegrate the central parts of the shaft, just as one by heating a rod of wood would separate the central fibres, and thereby weaken it. To prevent this elongation, Mr Nasmyth forged his shafts in a 'hollow wedge, thereby giving rise to three forces converging upon the centre, and thus securing a complete consolidation of the metal.

On the following day, Mr Nasmyth gave an account of his new arrangement of the reflecting telescope, by which great additional comfort was afforded to the observer. This consisted in having the centering or trunnions at the centre of gravity, through one of which, in a tubular form, the rays from the reflector within were thrown into the eye thus placed, as in the Newtonian telescope at the side. The advantage from this elegant arrangement is, that the eye does not require to move upon a movement of the telescope, Mr Lassells, Liverpool, to whom so much is due in the polishing of specula, observed, that if Mr Nasmyth could give an equatorial movement, his instrument, he thought, would be perfect. He then described his plan of casting specula, by which all unsoundness was avoided.

Several other matters were brought under the consideration of the section during this sitting. The third day there were several communications presented, all of which possessed more or less interest. In the first paper, Mr Lassells gave an explicit ac. count of his new

method of supporting a large speculum, free from sensible flexin in all positions. This he proposed to do when in a horizontal position, by supporting it at eighteen different points, on which the weight might bear equally; and by chating the speculum with ribs, he proposed to adapt levers, that, when the telescope is elevated, they might bear the weight among them, and thus prevent it from disturb ing the true form of the speculum. Dr Robinson said that Mr Lassello proposed to remedy a hitherto incurablo defect. It did appear to him that the suggestions af M. Lassells would remedy the annoying evils which every astronomer had to contend with. The evil arising from flexure was much felt in Lord Rosse's telescope, and of course lay much in the way of its efficiency. Mr Lassells was an example (and he wished there were many more) of a gentleman devoting his leisure hours, and sacrificing some, perhaps, which should be given to repose, to the cause and progress of science.

The last day, the section was again occupied with important communications. Mr Geo. Buchanan read a paper on improvements in valves and stop-cocks for regulating the passage of fluids. In this paper he explained the principles of his improved valves or stop-cocks, and illustrated their operation by various interesting experiments on working models, which appeared to act with excellent effect. An animated discussion accidentally arose relative to the respective claims of Messrs Stephenson and Fairbairn to be considered the inventors of the tubular bridge, which was brought to a close by the President, before any conclusion had been arrived at. Sir David Brewster then made a communication on a tubular crane invented by Mr Fairbairn, which appeared, from its lightness and range, to be highly satisfactory. Mr Petrie then read a number of valuable communications on the subject of galvanism, tracking the power of a current of electricity. He made also a communication on the powers of minute vision. Professor C. P. Smyth made his communication on the subject of a telescopic sight for rifles. Instead of the eye having to look at three points, viz., the niche at the eye, the niche at the extremity of the barrel, and the object to be hit, there were but two in his rifle—the cross wires in the telescope, and the object. This made the aim a far easier matter. Mr Usher then gave a notice of his steam plough, which he afterwards showed in operation. This closed the business of the mechanical section.

There were two public meetings, and two full-dress promenades, held in the Music Hall, in connection with the Association, all of which were largely attended. Professor Bennett lectured on the passage of the blood through the minute vessels of animals; Dr Mantell on the bones of extinct birds from New Zealand; and Mr Nagmyth on his recent discoveries in the moon. There were also several excursions to objects of interest within a few miles of Edinburgh. Some visited the Bell Rock Lighthouse; some betook themselves to the Bass Rock, and the ruins of Tantallon Castle ; while others examined the various geological phenomena in the neighbourhood of the city, under the able guidance of Mr C. Ñ‘Laren and Mr R. Chambers.

The General Committee held its concluding meeting on Wednesday the 7th, at one o'clock, when the office-bearers for 1850-1 were appointed, and grants of money voted for researches in various scientific departments. The proceedings of the Association terminated with a general meeting, held in the Music Hall, at three o'clock, which was very numerously attended. When several resolutions had been moved, and passed with acclamation, Sir David Brewster said—In closing the twentieth meeting of the British Association, I must congratulate you on the great success which has attended it. In order that a meeting for the advancement of science may be a successful one, many circumstances must concur. When the attendance is numerous, as on the present occasion, we obtain the pecuniary means of carrying on new investigations, in which, from their expense, philosophers cannot be expected to embark. In this way, science is directly promoted, and new paths of research are opened up and made accessible to humble and unbefriended inquirers. But, however important a numerous attendance may be, the character of the Association mainly depends on the number and value of the reports and communications made to the sections. Both these causes have been happily combined in making our present meeting one of very considerable interest. The prosperous state of our funds has enabled us to make a grant of £300 to support that most admirable institution, belonging to the Association, the Kew Observatory, under the superintendence of Mr Ronalds, and to make several grants of money to enable some of our more active members to pursue inquiries, which must otherwise have been either abandoned or delayed. But, while we look forward with confidence to the results of such inquiries, it is of more consequence to be able to state, that at no previous meeting have the communications made to the sections been more valuable, and more replete with new facts and original views. Discoveries, indeed, of no small value, have been communicated for the first time at this meeting, and the most important of these by some of the younger members of the Association. To us older members, whose term of labour is about to expire, it is no slight gratification to mark the living genius which is now luxuriant around us, and which promises, by the fruit which it bears, to maintain and extend the scientific and literary glory of the empire. Nor is it less interesting to us, who live in a portion of the kingdom less favoured than the rest in point of wealth and endowments, to observe how actively science is often pursued under difficulties and embarrassments; and how minds of a high order put forth new energies in resistance to the very power which would otherwise crush and destroy them. In taking a view of the intellectual condition of the past, there is a natural and a commendable tendency to exaggerate, in any comparative estimate, the merits of our more immediate predecessors. This, doubtless, arises from the affectionate relation which exists between the teacher and the taught—from the absence of all those rival feelings from which our prostrate nature is seldom wholly free-and from the respect which is always due, and ever paid, to the illustrious dead. But, without taking into account this influenee over our judgment, I have no hesitation in saying, that, however brilliant be the names, and glorious the memories, of those eminent men who have adorned the universities of our eastern and western metropolis, there never was a period in our history when their chairs were better filled, their youth better instructed, and science and literature more energetically advanced, than by the distinguished professors who have taken such an active part in the business of the British Association. In the distribution of praise, it is often unwise, and sometimes unjust, to dispense it individually ; but I feel that my eminent colleagues around me, and even those whom it may personally affect, will excuse the error which I may thus commit, if I name the distinguished President of the College of Surgeons, Professor Syme, who has earned our gratitude by the generous combination of hospitality and science, Scotland had lately occasion to lament his absence from her sanitary sphere ; but she now welcomes him back from his brief but voluntary exile, to pursue with new ardour the profession which he adorns, and to enjoy, in his tusculan villa, the enviable blessings of social and domestic life. From the present, let us now look to the future. From Edinburgh we pass to Ipswich, in the vicinity of the metropolis, where a peculiar combination of circumstances cannot fail to make the next meeting of the British Association one of high interest. Great numbers of British and of foreign philosophers may be expected on that occasion ; and we are confident that, under the able presidency of Mr Airy, our illustrious Astronomer-Royal, to whom every branch of the physical sciences owes such deep obligations, the meeting at Ipswich will be one of the most successful that has yet been held.,

WORDSWORTH.

TOWARDS the close of a festive evening, who has not perceived that the brilliant lights become dim and go out nearly at the same time? So several great men, whose genius made the last half century glorious, have of late been extinguished by death. Southey, Jeffrey, and Wordsworth, who attracted public notice almost on the same day, many years ago, have latterly become mere names, though names that will never die. The elder poets of the age have passed away in quick succession. Wordsworth, the greatest of them all the only man who incorporated poetry with his life, and spent each hour as a priest at the altars of nature and humanity—is no more. For many years, he had enjoyed that true renown which almost exclusively encircles the memory of departed genius. Fame, in as pure and reverent a form as if it floated over his grave, was daily wafted to him living in his mountain solitude. He had risen far above the detraction and sneers of superficial critics; and, in the light of his “orb of song," all other poetry was becoming

ceased to grow,

eclipsed. He was producing nothing new; but the numerous editions of his collected works gave him the appearance of poetical vitality, like the abundant foliage of shoots from a trunk which, in itself, has long

We cannot help adverting, in a few words, to the new era of poetry introduced by Wordsworth and his contemporaries. Then genius--the thing which had amused coteries at their tea-tables—arose like a giant from wine. The most of their predecessors, feeble by nature and fantastic by training, had but the mimicking notes of song, and worshipped artificial muses, the tripod of whose oracles was the embroidered cushion of fashionable life. They discarded everything genuine—exorcising nature from nature, and manhood from man, until the universe was an absurd fable. But the new men were born poets, and the stirring times during and after the French Revolution nurtured their genius for free and bold efforts; for the trumpet-blast of war had dispersed all forms of foolish phantasy and mythology from the sacred soil to which these men clung, at first in patriotic love, and afterwards in poetic passion; so that scenery now had its own charm of aspect and expression unfolded and vivified by sensitive and loving minds, which touched and blended with flowers and stars, until material things took a spiritual image, and gave forth a spiritual meaning. They also entered within the recesses of humanity, far under its conventional and petty outward distinctions. The noble band, however, had different tendencies and vocations. Scott revived the times of chivalry and feudalism, and his muse lingered by " the shores of old romance," and echoed the various music which had been sounded from the tide of Scottish story. Byron put hintself into nature and man, instead of drawing these into himself; for the landscape took the lights and shades of his own face, heaven and earth wore his smile or frown, and inanimate things became possessed with his own temperament—rivers rolling on calmly or in tempest, as his blood chanced to flow—and mountains catching the lofty or the depressed air of his noble brow; whilst humanity only had a life in his individual soul, and all his heroes were so many Byrons. Yet better far to have nature and humanity Byronic than Blue-stockingish. Keats arose in utter contrast with Byron; but the genius of Shelley mediated between the unlike pair. Yet greater than the potency of all these, and of Coleridge too (whose genius cannot even be arranged, much less classified), in revolutionising poetry, was the influence of Wordsworth, whose genius, less comprehensive, was yet more compact in character and purpose, and settled into a more calm, steady, and complete intuition and expression. Of all his contemporaries, too, Wordsworth most entirely devoted himself to poetry, for not only were his works exclusively in its service, but his private life was nothing but an earnest culture of his poetical nature. He separated himself unto the muses, both as an artist and a man. From youth, he brought his soul into close and conscious harmony with the external world, daily interpreting the one by the other. Even though he had not been guided by the single aim of securing for himself a high place among the bards of his native land—though he had been wholly without ambition, and had never penned a verse to be repeated by himself or others, he would still have maintained the same deep and undivided communion with nature; and the “harvest of a quiet eye,” though not laid up in public storehouses, but garnered in his own mind, would not have been less. In this respect, what a contrast does he exhibit to almost all his brethren and associates! Coleridge, Southey, and Wilson, who promised, in their fervid youth, enthusiastically to cultivate poetry as all in all, subsequently took to the most diversified and distracting occupations of prose literature. Apart, too, from their formal labours, their life was equally restless, being passed in the midst of influences far less natural and simple than those which Wordsworth every day courted, whilst the purpose of developing and nurturing the poetic elements and tendencies of their souls was wanting. Their track did not lie invariably, or even generally, like his, over mountains, through vales, and beside lake and stream, seeking the pure and sublime inspiration which such scenes can communicate to meditative genius.

* The bard cannot have two pursuits ; aught else

Comes on the mind with the like shock as though

Two worlds had gone to war, and met in air." If the tendency of poetry be to elevate and spiritualise, then the gifted men who produce it should, for their own sakes, seek that it be in them as a constant mood, and not as an occasional fit. It should be their inward life, received uninterruptedly into the soul, and not merely now and then gathered, in short inspirations, to be put out in books. Let it have full possession of their nature, and institute between them and the internal world such a communion as shall make them know and respond to the endless succession of meanings flitting over the face of every object around them. They do not need to have a single prosaic moment from

any failure in the sources of poetry, for these are free and inexhaustible; and they should see that the faculties of poetry be ever open and receptive. Providence is but a prolonged and continuous act of creation; and so genius, if it has its seasons and periods of creative energy, should follow up these with the process of renovation. Not that it should always labour; but it should always live and grow, absorbing into its own constitution, and assimilating to itself, this glorious world, which was made for man—for his consciousness, as well as for his senses and appetites. For poetry is not only worthy of a literary embodiment, but of a close and permanent incorporation with the soul; and the author of many poems is far inferior to the man who lives, moves, and has his being in poetry, though this man may want “the accomplishment of

A Village Milton, whose whole being is ever in harmony with nature, though he does not sing at all, is greater than all your musical Drydens and Popes, with their occasional snatches of song. The "vision and the faculty divine” may be exercised in silence; the muse may be a dumb though not an idle spirit, and the soul may be pervaded to ecstacy with the effluence of nature, which yet finds no escape. We are not speaking of a mere day-dreamer, whose imagination, though it seem active, is truly passive, and who is constantly projecting but never executing grand poems. We are not speaking of the man who carries about in his brain the outlines of many an epic or tragedy—the first easy designs of a thousand poems, which are never to be finished; but we refer to him whose soul hourly overflows with poetry. We would rather have a fine sonnet in print, than a sublime epic in the brain; but

verse.

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