Page images

the river,

we can scarcely hope that it will ever rival the gardens of Kew, Edinburgh, Liverpool, or Glasgow. It enjoyed great celebrity in the days of one of its ancient professors, Dillenius; and surely no effort should be spared to revive its former reputation.

The Literary and Philosophical Society of Manchester, instituted in 1781, was the first example, in one of our provinces, of a large association of private individuals for the purpose of contributing funds for the publication of literary and scientific memoirs. We have prefixed to this article the title of the last volume of their Transactions, nine volumes of which are now completed, because they are of higher merit than those of any other provincial institution, and are surpassed by few of our metropolitan societies. Those who are aware of the limited sale of scientific works, even of profound research, and who know the

consequent reluctance of publishers to undertake the publication of them at their own risk, even when proceeding from authors of acknowledged talents, will be able to appreciate the claims of Manchester to our gratitude in providing funds for so meritorious an object, and will regret with us, that forty years elapsed before any other town or county had the spirit to follow the example. Dr. Percival, who promoted actively the incorporation of the Manchester Society, and contributed so many valuable communications on various subjects to its Transactions, was conscious of the facility with which ample funds can always be raised for any great national object in this country, and the result of the experiment justified his most sanguine hopes. The volumes composing the first and second series of these memoirs are almost equally divided between literary and scientific articles. Many of the former are written with great originality and elegance; but we shall not dwell on their merits, because literature stands much less in need of this description of patronage than the experimental sciences; and these essays would probably have appeared before the public, and perhaps in works of more general circulation, had no provincial institutions ever existed in the country. But the philosophical and chemical papers, by Mr. Dalton, Mr. Henry, and others, in the Manchester Memoirs, which have given rise to a series of interesting experiments both here and on the continent, and have led the way to important discoveries, might perhaps have remained to this day unpublished had not the Manchester Society lent their liberal assistance, and honoured and encouraged the authors with distinguished marks of

We wish not to be understood to express an opinion that communications relating to the mathematical and physical sciences should exclusively enjoy the patronage of the provincial L 4


their esteem.


institutions; all subjects, such as statistics for instance, which are important, but cannot be popular, deserve their particular attention. We learn with satisfaction (January, 1826) that a considerable sum has been lately subscribed in Manchester for forming a Museum of the Fine Arts and Natural History, and that progress has already been made in this desirable undertaking.

The Royal Geological Society of Cornwall, instituted in 1814, have edited two volumes of Transactions of considerable merit. We have placed the titles of these also at the head of the present Article, but our limits forbid our entering into a particular examination of their contents. They relate to a district inexhaustibly rich in all the varied treasures of the mineral kingdom, and singularly adapted, both from natural structure and artificial excavations, for the study of subterranean phenomena. The attention of the scientific world may be particularly directed to the essay of Mr. Carne, in the last volume of these Transactions, on the relative Age of the Veins of Cornwall.' The first volume contains also some valuable notices on the same subject. The history and phenomena of these veins are of the highest interest, whether considered in an economical point of view', or with relation to geological speculation, and the revolutions of the earth's surface. Mr. Carne has combined in his investigation, the practical knowledge of the miner with enlarged scientific views. The construction of a geological map of Cornwall is in the contemplation of this society; and their museum at Penzance is already richly stored with specimens of the rocks and minerals of that county.

The Liverpool Royal Institution was also founded in 1814, and has received a charter of incorporation. It is instituted to promote literature, science and the fine arts; and the sum of £26,000 has been raised for its support. It possesses casts of many of the Elgin marbles, presented by his Majesty, as also those of Ægina, and the Phigalean frieze. Triennial exhibitions of the works of native artists have been opened there. Lectures have been delivered on a great variety of subjects, and a literary and philosophical society is connected with the institution. A museum was begun in 1819, but we regret that here, as very generally, in England, zoology has not received a due share of attention. The foreign commerce of this town has increased so as to rival, within the last few years, that of London itself, and so active is the intercourse with various and distant regions, and particularly with North and South America, that the institution might soon form, without incurring great expense, a collection of preserved specimens from the animal kingdom, and a gallery of comparative anatomy of the highest utility and interest. The proprietors of the botanic garden of this town have set an example well worthy of imitation

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


in this respect, as they have fully availed' themselves of the advantages of their position. This garden is supported by voluntary contributions, and it cannot therefore be regarded (like those of Kew and Edinburgh) as a perinanent national institution. Yet we believe it contains, at present, a greater number of living plants than either, and is perhaps without a rival in regard to variety and rarity of species, unless we ought to except the garden of Glasgow.

We may take this opportunity of remarking, that the botanic gardens of Great Britain are supposed to contain between 14 and 15,000 living species of plants, and are the richest in the world. The principal foreign establishments are supplied with their rarest plants from this country. The gardens of Lee and Kennedy at Hammersmith, and of Loddiges at Hackney, are on so extensive a scale, that they may be considered as national monuments of the taste of the English people; and they deserve mention, also, as having been rendered exceedingly useful to science through the liberal spirit of the proprietors. On entering the principal appartment at Mr. Loddiges, the visitor finds himself suddenly transported into a grove of palms, flourishing in all their native luxuriance, many of them of full size, and clothed with foliage unbroken by exposure to the winds and the thunder-shower-in many cases, in fact, more splendid than they are often to be met with in their native climate. So large an assemblage of tropical plants and trees of full growth was never before seen at such a distance from the equinoctial regions.

The institution of the Philosophical Society of Cambridge in *1819, affords a decisive proof of the more enlightened views now entertained by that university respecting scientific pursuits. About twelve years since, we remember a work then just published, entitled Memoirs of the Analytical Society,' evidently the production of young men, whose enthusiastic attachment to abstract mathematics promised, under skilful guidance, still more valuable fruits. But consisting only of the junior members of the university, the society was neglected, or discouraged, and soon appeared to be forgotten. From this germ, however, sprang the present institution, some of the most active members of the Analytical Society having afterwards acquired sufficient influence to form, on a more enlarged plan, an association which the university itself was at length prevailed upon to support. The first volume of their Transactions, printed at the expense of the University, contains a collection of papers highly creditable to the contributors, and to their Alma Mater.

The Bristol Institution for the Advancement of Science, Literature, and the Arts,' has prospered greatly in its first efforts. A building was erected in 1820, at the expense of £11,000, and


[ocr errors]


The Horticultural Society established in 1804, although de signed rather to promote luxury than science, must not be omitted here, since memoirs are found in their Transactions which throw light on the physiology of the vegetable kingdom, and a portion of their ample funds is employed in procuring foreign plants, of which a rich assemblage already exists in their extensive garden at Chiswick.

The London Institution, 'for the Advancement of Literature and the Diffusion of Useful Knowledge,' was founded in 1805, and chartered in 1807. The original sum raised for its support was £80,000, and further subscriptions have since been added. £35,000 were expended on the building. The library, once under the direction of Porson, contains already above 25,000 volumes, and £500 is every year laid out in the purchase of new books. The laboratory and philosophical instruments are excellent; and lectures are delivered annually in the theatre on various branches of natural philosophy and literature, to audiences commonly exceeding 500 in number.

The Geological Society of London, established in 1807, and chartered in 1825, has been eminently successful in giving a new impulse to the study of geology in Great Britain. In no department of science was the co-operation of numerous individuals more required, as a great variety of attainments is necessary for the prosecution of this study, and the facts and observations which bear upon it must be collected from a great extent of country. Of the Transactions edited by this institution, six volumes are now before the public; they contain a vast body of new and interesting matter; many memoirs, illustrated by maps and well executed plates, in which information is found concerning the mineral structure of some of the most distant quarters of the globe; but, of the strata of England, in particular, they supply us with details more ample than have as yet appeared respecting any tract of the same extent in the world. Their library, collection of maps, and museum, have the rare merit of being very accessible. The latter contains a very full suite of the rocks of Great Britain and of the organic remains which they inclose, arranged according to the order of the super

3. Ursus Tibetanus (the Bear of Thibet) was obtained by the French in the British dominions, and first described and figured by M. F. Cuvier, from a drawing of M. Duvaucel.-Hist. des Mam. Liyr. 41.

4. But every English naturalist must particularly regret that the large Tapir of Sumatra (Tapirus Malayánus), a fine specimen of which is now preserved in the inuseum at the India House, stould have been first figured and described by a foreigner, although the animal was not only discovered by the British, but a living subject, sent from Ben coolen, had been long kept in the menagerie at Barack pore.a

Lin. Soc. Trans. vol. xii. 270, F. Cavier, Hist. des Mam. Livraison 4.

[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

Deus position of the strata. The labours of this society, which has

ever cultivated geology as an inductive science founded on obserDevation, have tended much to remove the discredit cast upon the dem, a study by the wild speculations of earlier authors, and by the gia veheinence and passion displayed by the Edinburgh school during ir em the controversy respecting the Wernerian and Huttonian hypo

theses for explaining the original formation of the strata on the Literaria earth's surface.

The institution of the Astronomical Society of London in supe 1821, was actively promoted by many of the most distinguished

fellows of the Royal Society. Besides an excellent volume of mot Transactions already published, we have pleasure in being able to

state other important benefits which have resulted from their efforts. A valuable set of tables for reducing the observed

to the true places of stars is preparing at the expense of the try society, including above 3,000 stars, and comprehending all me known to those of the fifth magnitude inclusive, and all the most

useful of the sixth and seventh. An incident which occurred Os during some of the proceedings of this society has given origin to

one of the most extraordinary of modern inventions. To ensure las accuracy in the calculation of certain tables, separate computors

had been employed, and two members of the society having been chosen to compare the results, detected so many errors, as to induce one of them to express


regret that the work could not be executed by a machine. To this the other member, Mr.

Babbage, at once replied, “ that this was possible;' and persebarvering in the inquiry, which had thus suggested itself, he pro

duced at last a working model of a machine for calculating tables with sarprizing accuracy. The government, with equal judgment and liberality, have encouraged this admirable invention, and induced Mr. Babbage to undertake the construction of an engine applicable to more extensive calculations, which is now proceeding as rapidly as its very difficult and complex nature will admit.*

After this brief enumeration of the chief scientific institutions of the metropolis, which the reader cannot peruse without being struck with their recent increase, we hasten to consider the rise and progress of similar institutions in the provinces. The progress of these forms, indeed, a still more novel and characteristic feature of the times; and as they are capable of being extended almost indefinitely, they may exert hereafter a more important inAuence on the character and intellectual attainments of the nation

Por a more full account of this extraordinary machine, see Mr. Babbage's Letter to Bir H. Davy, 'On the Application of Machinery to the Calculation of Mathematical Tables, published by Boothe, Brook-street, Portland-plage. L 2

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]



« PreviousContinue »