« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
It is with willing hearts that we have paid this humble tribute to the memory of an amiable and devoted servant of our Lord, though he followed not with us. We are not conscious of honoring his memory the less, or of regarding him with less affection, on account of his having been a methodist. We love to see such spirits as his, every where; and we love to honor them wherever they appear. We are conscious of no hostility to any denomination of christians. We have no wish to see the number of christian denominations in our country diminished; for we regard each as a salutary check on all the others; we regard each as an additional security for the general doctrinal correctness, and the evangelical growth and enterprise, of all the rest. But when we see any one denomination, with its hands against every other, pursuing a policy fitted, in our judgment to jeopardize the interests of our common christianity, we cannot hold our peace, and we shall not.
A few words more on this painful topic, and we have done. In our number for September last, we gave a brief exposition of the ecclesiastical system of the methodist episcopal church. We deemed it proper to inform the public what sort of a system methodists propose to establish in the place of those institutions, planted by our fathers, which have made New-England what it is, and which they are so busily working to undermine and subvert. We presented the outline of that system, drawn from methodist authorities alone. The spirit in which it was founded, we illustrated by quoting the very words of its founder. We stated that the system was throughout a system of power on the one hand, and of obedience on the other; carried to the utmost reach which the spirit of our civil institutions, and the spirit of our people, will allow. We stated that the power is placed in the hands of the clergy, and guarded there by every security which the nature of the case admits; while the laity have only to obey. We showed that the entire “temporal economy” of methodism is calculated to render the ministry as independent of the people as possible. Some of our readers know with how much violence we have been assailed for so doing; others can see for themselves by consulting the periodical cited in our margin.*—But how have these statements of ours been met?-The abuse which has been so copiously employed by way of answer, we shall not stoop to notice. The quibbles and evasions, worthy of some veteran special pleader, by which the writers alluded to, attempt to divert attention and to seem to argue, we shall expose—if at all-on some other occasion. With all their violence, and with all their attempts at evasion, they have not ventured to deny one of our material positions. They complain of our description; and yet with the same breath, they defend the very system which we have described. Let our readers take the Book of Discipline, and our article, and theirs; and judge for themselves.
* Methodist Magazine and Quarterly Review for January 1830.
ART. IX.-REVIEW OF SIR HUMPHRY Davy's SALMONIA.
Salmonia ; or Days of Fly Fishing. In a series of conversations. With
some account of the habits of fishes belonging to the genus Salmo. By an ANGLER. London : John Murray. 1828. pp. 273, 12mo.
It may appear singular to our readers, that we should introduce to their notice a work, which, from its title, appears so incongruous to our pursuits. We have felt, however, an unusual degree of interest in the perusal of this little book; not indeed from any desire to learn the art of which it treats, but because it contains nearly all that we have been able to gather, respecting the moral and religious views of one of the most celebrated men of our time, Sir Humphry Davy ;-bearing, indeed, the last impress of that illustrious mind, which has stamped its image so indelibly upon the age in which we live.
“These pages (as the preface tells us,) formed the occupation of the author, during many months of severe and dangerous illness, when he was wholly incapable of attending to more useful studies, or of following more serious pursuits. They constituted his amusement in many hours which otherwise would have been unoccupied and tedious; and the conversational manner and discursive style, were chosen as best suited to the state of health of the author, who was incapable of considerable efforts and long continued attention."
Novelists tell us that their story is only a convenient method of representing the manners of the age, which it is their main purpose to exhibit. In like manner, we conceive that Sir Humphry Davy selected this theme, and laid his plot as he did, because he thus found a convenient way of withdrawing his mind from preying on itself, under the pressure of long confinement from pain and sickness; and of carrying it abroad into “the varied field of nature,” in which it was so eminently fitted to expatiate with profit and delight.
It was evidently a leading object with the author, to draw the picture of a wise man in his amusements; and he accordingly represents these seasons of amusement, as only occasional and tem
porary; such as were demanded by severe application to business, and adapted to refresh the mind, and prepare it for more important duties. The philosopher moreover, although he here wanders off in a short excursion into the territories of the sportsman, is represented as still carrying with him a mind deeply imbued with
the love of nature, ever drawing on its stores of various knowledge, and refined by habitual intercourse with the most cultivated society; and, instead of the barren or frivolous objects which engage the attention of the mere sportsman, the charms of the landscape—the variety and beauty of natural productions—the curious forms and habits of birds, fishes, and insects the great phenomena of nature—and, in the intervals of refreshment or repose, various topics of morals and religion, constitute, alternately, the subjects of entertainment.
When an individual occupies so large a space in the public eye, as Sir Humphry Davy has done for the last thirty years, and we are inclined to think that he attained a higher degree of popularity, than was ever before enjoyed by any man of science among his cotemporaries,) we are eager to learn whether, like Boyle, and Newton, and Pascal, he lent his authority to the cause of virtue and religion; or whether, like too many men of science of equal renown, whose names we forbear to mention, he employed his vast influence to corrupt the hearts of those, whose understandings he contributed to enrich and ennoble. When, moreover, a mind exhibits such superior energies in this incipient stage of its existence, we cannot feel indifferent to its own ultimate destiny. We can hardly forbear asking, what grounds we have to hope, that one who, while on earth, has so assiduously and so successfully studied the works of God, and, with such sagacity developed the secret laws by which he governs the material world, will rise to brighter discoveries in heaven, and bear a superior part in the praises of Him whose “ lowest works," where he is but “ dimly seen,” have excited in his breast such passionate admiration. Gratitude would even prompt us to desire, that one who has contributed so much, as Sir Humphry Davy is acknowledged to have done, to the happiness of his race, should receive a nobler reward, than the fleeting honors of this world can afford.
It is probably known to our readers, that Sir Humphry Davy died at Geneva on the 28th of May last. Supposing that many who have not access to the scientific journals which contain memoirs of his life, will feel interested to learn some particulars of the private history of this justly celebrated individual, we shall preface our remarks upon the work under review, with a brief sketch of the author.
Sir Humphry Davy was born at Penzance in Cornwall, December 17, 1779. His family was respectable in rank, but not affluent in
fortune; and young Davy who had little or no inheritance in prospect, early felt the useful stimulus of the fact, that his success in the world, depended, under Providence, upon the efforts of his own genius. He did not receive a regular academic education, but enjoyed, during his childhood, such literary advantages only as were afforded by the grammar schools of Penzance and Truro. Here, however, he gave decided indications of genius, and was always considered as a remarkable boy; and it is said, that many of the natives of Penzance still remember his poems written at the early age of
. At fifteen, he placed himself with an eminent surgeon of his native town, with the view of preparing for the medical school at Edinburgh. He shortly evinced the superiority of his mind, in the broad basis which, of his own accord, he laid down for a medical education. Though precluded from the advantages of a university course, yet, at this early age, he had the sagacity to perceive the necessity of laying the foundation of such a medical education as that to which he aspired, deep in the sciences. By bis eighteenth year, we are told, he had acquired the rudiments of botany, anatomy, and physiology, the simpler mathematics, metaphysics, natural philosophy, and chimistry. This happened to be the era of the most distinguished discoveries in pneumatic chimistry; and an original and inventive genius like Davy's, would find here a most attractive field for the exercise of its powers, while the applause and distinction that were awarded to the chimical discoveries of Scheele, and Priestley, and Lavoisier, would naturally arrest so aspiring an ambition. In March, 1798, he commenced his chimical studies, with all the enthusiasm of youthful genius. He at once became an original experimenter. By a chimical examination of sea weed, he proved that this vegetable exerts the same agencies on air contained in sea water, that land vegetables exert on atmospheric air. These researches were published, and they immediately introduced young Davy to the notice of the scientific world. About the same time, an eminent English physician, Dr. Beddoes, had set on foot the project of a pneumatic institution at Bristol, for the purpose of performing extensive experiments on the healing powers, which were supposed to reside in some of the newly discovered gases. Davy, then in his nineteenth year, engaged with the Doctor to superintend the new institution, on condition of having the entire management of it. Here his industry was almost unexampled; and it was here, within a period of less than two years, and while under twenty years of age, that he performed those daring experiments on the respiration of the gases, and made those discoveries respecting the effects of the nitrous oxyd, or “exhilirating gas,” on the animal system, which are still read or heard with astonishment, by every student of chimistry.
Enthusiastic expectations were at this time cherished respecting the aid which the arts were to derive from the science of chimistry, as well as from several other kindred branches of natural science. With such views, an institution was formed in London, called the Royal Institution of Great Britain, planned by our countryman Count Rumford, and encouraged by the most munificent patronage, for the purpose not only of promoting the researches of science, but also of reducing its results to practice, and diffusing the knowledge of them throughout society. To the chimical chair in this institution, Mr. Davy was transferred, through the particular agency of Count Rumford; whose penetration discerned in the “Researches on Nitrous Oxyd," which our young chimist had just published, that union of the philosopher with the man of business, which qualified him peculiarly for such a station. Davy occupied the place of lecturer to the Royal Institution for nearly twelve years; and it was here, within this comparatively short period, and before he had reached the prime of manhood, that nearly all his great chimical labors were performed. We have not room to exhibit a full analysis of these labors, but for such an analysis we beg leave to refer our readers to a contemporary journal.* The difficulty and magnitude of these labors, none but chimists can fully appreciate. They evinced a profound knowledge of the science, and pre-eminent skill in the art of chimistry, especially in the intricate department of analysis. They were directed to the profoundest inquiries in chimical philosophy; they also extended their results to the improvement of a great number of the arts of common life; they developed new principles and laws of nature, and put into the hands of other inquirers new means and instruments of research. Rarely have we seen blended in the same individual, in so high a degree, originality to invent, common sense to apply, and ability to teach. Davy had only reached the mature period of youth, when he had attained to a height of worldly honors to which few of our race, and still fewer of the votaries of science, have ever risen. Successful in all his great undertakings, fortunate in his discoveries, and triumphant in the controversies he had maintained on several of the leading doctrines of chimical philosophy, with some of the most distinguished men of the age, he was complimented with the highest literary rewards in various parts of the world, and distinguished by his sovereign with the honors of knighthood. Having, about the same time, become by marriage the possessor of an ample fortune, he withdrew from the professorship of chimistry at the Royal Institution, and no longer exercised, professedly, the vocation of a chimist. Still,
* See American Journal of Science for Jan. 1830.