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The Horticultural Society established in 1804, although designed 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 superposition of the strata. The labours of this society, which has ever cultivated geology as an inductive science founded on observation, have tended much to remove the discredit cast upon
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. Livr. 41.
4. But every English naturalist must particularly regret that the large Tapir of Şumatra (Tapirus Malayánus), a fine specimen of which is now preserved in the inuseum at the India House, slould 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.
the study by the wild speculations of earlier authors, and by the vehemence and passion displayed by the Edinburgh school during the controversy respecting the Wernerian and Huttonian hypotheses for explaining the original formation of the strata on the earth's surface.
The institution of the Astronomical Society of London in 1821, was actively promoted by many of the most distinguished fellows of the Royal Society. Besides an excellent volume of 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 society, including above 3,000 stars, and comprehending all known to those of the fifth magnitude inclusive, and all the most useful of the sixth and seventh. An incident which occurred during some of the proceedings of this society has given origin to one of the most extraordinary of modern inventions.
To ensure 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 his 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 persevering in the inquiry, which had thus suggested itself, he produced 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 influence on the character and intellectual attainments of the nation
* For a more full account of this extraordinary machine, see Mr. Babbage's Letter to Sir H. Davy, 'On the Application of Machinery to the Calculation of Mathematical Tables,' published by Boothe, Brook-street, Portland-plane.
than even the societies of London. We shall first consider separately the establishments for promoting astronomical science. The Observatory of Oxford came next after the royal foundation at Greenwich already mentioned. It was begun in 1772, from funds bequeathed by Dr. Radcliffe, and observations have been regufarly registered there ever since its completion. The superior accuracy obtained by the comparison of independent corresponding observations, and the necessity of multiplying the positions of observers in a country where changes in the state of the atmosphere are so frequent, constitute sufficient grounds for desiring the foundation of observatories at all our universities. But they may also be appropriated to the instruction of academical students, as they afford opportunities for the delivery of lectures illustrating the practical application of mathematics to astronomy, and may add a powerful stimulus and zest to the prosecution of mathematical studies in general. We cannot mention the excellence of the Radcliffe Observatory, and the costliness and beauty of the instruments, without remembering with regret the scanty attendance of students on the astronomical lectures at Oxford. We have already declared our opinion of the superior advantages of tuition by private lectures, the system at present adopted in our universities;* but consistently with this plan, and without wishing that the cultivation of physical science should constitute a leading branch of the regular education of our academical youth, we feel satisfied that public lectures may be introduced with propriety, as accessary to other studies, wherever the exhibition of philosophical instruments and experiments, or specimens of natural history, is required.
The Observatory of Dublin was begun in 1783, but many years elapsed before it was completed. The instruments are now considered as equal to those of Greenwich. Scarcely a year for the last fifteen has elapsed in which the Transactions of the Royal Society, and of the Royal Irish Academy, have not been enriched with valuable memoirs from the eminent astronomer at the head of this institution. The lectures on astronomy delivered by Dr. Brinkley have also been of eminent utility.
An observatory was erected at Armagh, and endowed, in 1793, by the late primate of Ireland, Lord Rokeby, who munificently provided funds out of his private property for the maintenance of an astronomer and one assistant. We may refer our readers to the Transactions of the Royal Irish Academy, and to the Philosophical Transactions of 1806, for proofs of the utility of this institution. The valuable instruments now constructing at the expense of the present primate, and his recent judicious choice of
Quarterly Review, No. LXV. p. 265.
an astronomer, will soon enable this observatory to rank amongst the first in Europe. To the above we are happy to add the Observatory lately erected at Cambridge, inferior to none in the beauty and appositeness of the building, the expenses of which, as well as of the instruments, have been defrayed partly by the funds of the University, and partly by a subscription among the members. The favourite studies of the University are admirably calculated to ensure the success of the establishment.
Private observatories have multiplied so remarkably in England since the commencement of the last reign that we cannot attempt an enumeration of them. They afford evidence of the diffusion of scientific taste amongst the wealthier classes in the country, and many of them have produced lasting monuments of their successful labours. The observations made, for example, on double stars, at Mr. South's private observatory, by himself and Mr. Hershell, published in the Philosophical Transactions,* obtained immediately Lalande's medal from the French Institute—a circumstance equally honourable to the French and to this country.
It is evident from such facts, and from the liberal grants voted of late years by parliament to the Observatory of Greenwich, that exertion on the part of the people, and of the government, in promoting astronomical inquiries, has, during the last half-century, been accelerated by a progressive impulse. The expeditions fitted out at the expense of government during the last reign, for the express purpose of observing the transit of Venus at the remotest parts of the globe, were worthy of the country wherein that beautiful and important phenomenon was first predicted and observed by Horrox. These have been munificently followed up by the establishment of a Royal Observatory at the Cape of Good Hope, which, together with the East India Com pany's Observatory at Madras, will supply the most useful corresponding operations, from whence an extensive classification of the stars of the southern hemisphere will undoubtedly result.
It is remarkable that no public observatory, where observations are regularly registered, exists at present in Scotland. That of the Calton Hill, at Edinburgh, is unprovided with instruments, the whole funds having been exhausted on architectural embellishments. The building is certainly entitled to admiration; but this is not the only instance in the recent history of the philosophical institutions of Great Britain in which the whole, or too large a proportion, of the resources raised expressly for scientific purposes have been consumed in the construction of ornamental edifices,
There is also a professorship of practical astronomy in the University of Edinburgh, but we are not aware that any
lectures are delivered there on that science. Some private gentlemen of Glasgow had the spirit a few years since to expend £6000 in erecting a building, and in purchasing instruments for astronomical purposes, but these have since been sold by public auction, and there are now no lectures delivered on astronomy in the College! We mention the extraordinary failure of so laudable a project, in the hope of awakening the public spirit of a city at once the seat of an ancient and flourishing university, and in the enjoyment of commercial prosperity unexampled in Scotland.
We shall next proceed to the chief provincial institutions devoted to other branches of philosophical inquiry. The first cabinet of natural curiosities formed in England was that of Sir John Tredescant, in the reign of Charles I., which contained many rare and valuable objects, and was farther enriched by his successor; and having become afterwards the property of Mr. Elias Ashmole, was by him bequeathed to the University of Oxford. There it has remained for more than a century and a half, and the scythe of Time has, during that period, unfortunately been more active than the liberality of succeeding donors. The ravages committed by insect plunderers, the Ptinus fur and his predatory associates, on the specimens preserved in some of the zoological departments, were long regarded by the learned sons of Alma Mater with a degree of resignation which every collector in natural history will often have occasion to envy. "The University has been indebted, for the arrangement and enlargement of this museum, to the present keeper, Mr. Duncan; and we trust that his liberal exertions will not be unseconded, and that amidst the, now numerous, provincial establishments of this class, the Ashmolean Museum wil not much longer be permitted to hold the first rank in antiquity, and the lowest in importance. The improved disposition of the age to cultivate physical science has been sensibly felt in the University of Oxford, and the lec: tures on Geology and Mineralogy, on Comparative Anatomy, Natural Philosophy and Chemistry, have been more fully at tended than formerly. The funds of the Radcliffe Library have been exclusively expended in the purchase of valuable and expensive works on natural history and physical science; and the extensive collections formed by Dr. Buckland, the present professor of mineralogy and geology, deserve commendation, as being rich in many branches of geology-and as to the fossil organic remains of the alluvial strata, unrivalled by any in Europe. Uni til the removal of the Botanic Garden from its present unfavourable situation, where it is subject to occasional floods from