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sopher, it was by no means difficult to insinuate, that they who agreed with him in his philosophical speculations, agreed with him, likewise, in his political creed. Thus, with many, the opinions of a philosopher as to the blunts and the points, were regarded as the index of his opinions as to the American war; and the celebrated dispute among the “ little” and the “big-endians" recorded by Lemuel Gulliver, furnished an apt representation of the folly and the rancour which found their way into this discussion.
Ere long, the Royal Patron of the Society. whose strong feeling in reference to the American war is well known, became interested in the controversy, and often gave unequivocal indications of the manner in which he was anxious to see it decided. This soon reduced it to neither more nor less than a Government question. In 1773, when it was proposed to fix conductors to the powder magazine belonging to the Board of Ordnance at Purfleet, that Board applied to the Royal Society for their opinion as to the most proper kind to be employed. The society replied by quoting their own annual advertisement from the year 1762 downward, “ That it is an established rule of the Society, to which they will always adhere, never to give their opinion, as a body, on any subject either of nature or art, that comes before them.” The Society were then requested to appoint a Committee, for this purpose. After much discussion this was agreed to, and a committee, consisting of Mr. Cavendish, Dr. Watson, Dr. Franklin, Mr. Robertson, and Mr. Wilson, was appointed. After examining the building, the four genthemen first named, recommended pointed conductors : Mr. Wilson dissented from their judgment, and assigned his reasons in a long paper. His votions were refuted by Nairne, Henley, Swift, and others. Dr. Musgrave, on the other hand, defended his speculations,
In 1777 the Purfleet magazine received damage from lightning, although it had been previously furnished with conductors. The Royal Society, again requested to give an opinion, appointed a Committee of nine of the most distinguished electricians : their deliberate judgment was agaiu in favour of pointed conductors, and again was their judgment opposed by Mr. Wilson. In this stage of the business the Royal Patron of the Society directed Sir John Pringle to employ his official influence in strengthening Mr. Wilson's hands. Sir Joho replied, that “ duty as well as inclination would always induce him to execute His Majesty's wisbes to the utmost of his power: but, Sire, (said he) I cannot reverse the laws and operations of nature.” “ Then,” said, his Majesty, ".perhaps, Sir John, you had better resigna ?” Sir John took the hint, and
a Soon after this occurrence a friend of Franklin wrote an epigram which may not be deemed unworthy of preservation here:
While you, great George, for knowledge hunt,
The nation's ont of joint:
resigned at the next anniversary, Sir Joseph Banks being appointed his successor the same evening. Whether he had or had not engaged to reverse the laws of nature, I am not prepared to say.
Sir Joseph was no sooner seated in the President's chair than he began to manifest his dislike of Americans and American philosophy,a and of all those members who accidentally testified their esteem of his learned predecessor. He also gave the most decisive indicationsof his philosophical bigotry, of his determination, unduly to exalt some branches of inquiry, and as unduly to depreciate others; and of another determination, which he had not sufficient discretion to disguise, to convert a fellowship or brotherhood of philosophers, into a monarchy, or rather into a despotism of which he alone was to be the focus of power and authority. Such is the force of self-delusion, when a coterie of sycophantic danglers surround an individual of this description, and foster his love of domination, that it would seem as though Sir Joseph actually fancied himself a kind of monarch, and formed his phraseology and expected to be approached accordingly. It was no longer the Council of the Royal Society, or the Secretaries of that learned body, but, “ My Council," " My Secretaries," " My Assessors," * MY Society," &c. He held his court in Soho Square; and none but those who were introduced into the regal apartments there in due form, and danced attendance with due frequency, could obtain admission into the Royal Society, or continue to attend its meetings with comfort, if they had been elected Fellows in better days.
That men of real genius and science should be disgusted with all this, was naturally to be expected; as well as that men of independence should make some efforts to deliver themselves from so disgraceful a thraldom. Hence originated the new class of dissentions which agitated the Royal Society between the years 1781 and 1785, and to which the eulogists of Sir Joseph Banks have now so unwisely recalled the public attention.b
• The bitter spirit (as the writer in the New Times calls it) did
Franklin a wiser course pursues,
By keeping to the point. a This anti-American spirit is scarcely yet extinguished. [If it be, there is nu proof that their Scientific spirit has increased.] Seven years ago there were not more than three American Fellows of the Royal Society; and even at the present moment there are not sir.
b A biographer of Sir Joseph Banks in the New Times of July 14, 1820, whose ignorance of science and of facts is so obvious, that it would be a waste of time to render it more prominent, terminates bis misrepresentation of these matiers, thus :
“ All intellectual propensities have their merits, (those of lying, slandering and thieving, for example, and the use of practical mathematics is important and extensive. We honour the great inventors--the world is debtor to New
not break out on the dismissal of Dr. Hutton from one of the secretaryships,' but much earlier. Some of the causes which fomented it will appear by a few quotations from a pamphlet entitled “An History of the Instances of Exclusion from the Royal Society," published early in 1784.
“The charge we bring against Sir Joseph Banks is,that, though not intrusted with any such power, either by statute or custom, and very unfit, from his acknowledged violence of temper and from his incapacity to judge of literary qualifications, in which he is himself shamefully deficient, to be intrusted with it, he has repeatediy interposed in a clandestine manner, to procure rejections of proper candidates, with the visible design of taking away the privilege of the body at large, and making himself the sole master of the admissions,-in other words, the monarch of the Society."
In proof of this charge, we are told that during the twelve weeks which, according to the statutes, the certificate recommending a candidate hung up in the Society's rooms, it was the habit of Sir Joseph to prejudice the minds of those who attended the Soho Square levees, by making known his resolution in phraseology not
But of a thousand mathematicians, not the human cube root has ever been, or will be, more than the depository of the dusty problems, that the bookmakers of the art, the Simpsons, and Huttons, and BONNYCASTLES, have transmitted to them. This pride 'that puffeth up,' has had more fatal powers of perversion, and religion has no where found more inveterate prejudice or more morbid repulsion than among those men, rendered incapable of discerning truth unless it came in the whole dignity of an algebraic formula. The bitter spirit broke out in the Royal Society on the dismissal of Dr. HUTTON from one of the secretaryships. How Dr. Hutton, whose life, till he was mature, was spent in keeping a village school in Westmoreland, (videlicet, the vil, lage of Newcastle upon Tyne,) could have sustained the office without numberless offences against the habits of good society it is difficult to conjecture ; and his merits as a mathematician were common-place.
• Lands he could measure, terms and tides presage,
And even the saying ran, that he could gauge.' "Sir Joseph Banks, in point of general accomplishment, public utility, and rational and enlarged employment of his understanding, was worth the whole host, of which no single name did honour even to their own narrow pursuit. HORSLEY, afterwards a bishop, was the principal among the disturbers. His Commentary on the Principia, the most meagre and inefficient that ever came from the press, is this man's tribute to science. But he was virulent, insolent and intriguing. The Bench restrained him, and he gradually cooled, but in the hostility against Sir Joseph Banks he gave full way to the bitterness of his nature. The President's conduct was put to the vote, and on the 8th of January, 1784, the Resolution“ that this Society do approve of Sir Joseph Banks for their President, and will support him," was carried by a great majority. Measures of conciliation were now adopted. A vote was passed, that Dr. H on had done nothing to forfeit the confidence of the Society: and, on the other hand, that it would be more convenient to have his office executed by a resident in London. Since that period opposition has slept. The Presidency has been in honour and activity."
very courtly, but suited to the purpose and varied to accord with the occasion. “We want no mathematicians.” “No more worshippers of old Cardan for me.” “I'll have no schoolmasters." « Let us have no country surgeons.” “He ! why he is an author! Who could think of proposing bim? We want no authors ;” and so on. If these, and similar remarks, scattered with great activity during the twelve weeks' probation, seemed likely to fail in their effect, then “the President would run about the room on a night of election, out of breath with anger and impatience, seducing the ignorant, awing the timid, and deceiving the wise; cajoling as many as possible to put in black balls :" and often “inducing the candidate or his friends, from an apprehension of rejection, to avoid the mortification by taking down the certificate.”
Among the candidates rejected principally by black-balling, in the years 1781, 1782, and 1783, were, Mr. Henry Clarke, of Manchester; Mr. Meyrick (by the President asking more than 100 persons in the room to vote against him;) Dr. Bates, a physician at Buckingham; Dr. Hallifax ; Dr. Enfield (here the cry was “ I'll have no Dissenters ;') Dr. Berenbrock and Dr. Blane, two eminent physicians ; and Major Desbarres, the friend and maritime tutor of Captain Cook. Shortly after the “black-balling" of this latter named gentleman, the following paragraph appeared in the public papers :
“Yesterday Major Desbarres kissed His Majesty's hand on being appointed Governor of Nova Scotia. This reward, we hear, has been conferred on this able and spirited officer, for great national services, in recompense of much time and much money, for having saved by his philosophical labours, many of the king's ships, and the lives of many of our fellow subjects.”
Art. I.—2. The Cyclopædia ; or, Universal Dictionary of Arts,
Sciences, and Literature, by ABRAHAM REES, D. D. F. R. S. F. L. S. S. Amer. Soc. ; with the Assistance of eminent professional Gentlemen ; 4to. 39 volumes, besides 5 rolumes of Plates, and 1 of Atlas. Longman. London.
It would be unpardonable in us to pass without notice the completion of a Work, which has occupied upwards of eighteen years in its publication ; and which, far more than any other single work which has preceded it, or that perhaps has been contemporary with it
, has extended the bounds of useful knowledge; by putting upou record, and making accessible to general readers, the improvements made and making, in nearly every branch of Science and of the Arts, particularly all those of the latter, which have Chemistry or Mechanics for their basis. The numerous plates (by Lowry) Vol. II.
of machines and apparatus for effecting almost every kind of purpose, which are given in this work, have a minuteness of detail, and a degree of accuracy in the drawing and engraving, which are without a parallel in any work extant: the articles referring to these plates, a have in general the merit, of having been written by persons, either extensively engaged in the art or manufacture treated of, or else they have been written by scientific persons, who have, with few exceptions, qualified themselves for the task, by minute investigations and inquiries, carried on in the most extensive of the laboratories, work-shops, manufactories, and public works, which so distinguish our country, by consulting original works, and by researches in the learned transactions and scientific journals, for records of the origin of inventions and improvements, and of the progress and proceedings relating thereto; in the furnishing of which materials, the writer is glad to perceive, that the " Philosophical Magazine” has held a distinguished place in the estimation of numbers of the Cyclopædia writers. With respect to most of the other branches of art, and the useful or curious applications of science and literature, the articles thereon, have mostly been written by men, eminent in their several professions, or paths of study, as will be perceived by perusing the following list, which we have prepared, from the acknowledgments made by Dr. Rees, in the preface to the first volume, compared with the announcement of his contributors' names, which were printed on the covers of parts 8 to 28, inclusive, with a few additions, which have happened to fall within the writer's knowledge or inquiries. Abernethy, John
Anatomy, Physiology Aikin, Arthur
Chemistry, Geology, Mineralogy Aikin, Edmund
made Drawings Arrowsmith, Aaron
directed Maps Bacon, John
Sculpture Bakewell, Robert Geology, Mineralogy, Rock, Strata,
Wool, Worsted, &c. Barlow, Peter
Algebra, Analysis, Geometry, Strength
Topography a It would be an act of injustice in the writer, were we to omit mentioning, the large share which Mr. Wilson Lowry has had, in procuring the assistance of able scientific men, as contributors to this work; seeing, that Dr. Rees, in his preface, has wholly omitted to mention this distinguished artist!