Page images
PDF
EPUB

For this, that wins for whom he holds his No part or corner man can look upon, peace.”

But there are objects bid him to be gone

As far as he can fly, or follow day, The “Forest ” and “Underwoods ” — Rather than here so bogged in vices stay. names by which Jonson designated two

The whole world here leavened with madness collections of his minor poems-consist,

swells ; with some love-songs, chiefly of eulogistic

And, being a thing blown out of naught,

rebels epistles and addresses to his friends and

Against his Maker, high alone with weeds patrons. It is usual to speak of these

And impious rankness of all sects and seeds: poems as abounding in profound thought Not to be checked or frightened now with and wise insight into human life. They fate, certainly look as if they did. They have But more licentious made and desperate! a grave sententious air which their matter

Our delicacies are grown capital, really hardly warrants. There are good

And even our sports are dangers! what we

call things in them, and even striking things ; Friendship, is now masked hatred! justice but such are rare. They are ingenious fled, and labored, while the body of thought And shamefacedness together! all laws dead in them is sufficiently common-place. The That kept men living ! pleasures only sought! same thing may be observed in his “ Dis- Honor and honesty, as poor things thought coveries,” a collection of his ideas on var

As they are made ! pride and stiff clownage ious disconnected subjects expressed in

mixed

To make up greatness ! and man's whole good prose. Thoughts which occurred to him

fixed he wrapped up in large bundles of lan

In bravery, or gluttony, or coin, guage, and put by here

for posterity. For All which he makes the servants of the the most part, they are by no means groin“ discoveries.” They are not such things

Thither it flows !" as Bacon wrote in bis essays, or Selden said at his table. They contain none of the

Further we can not quote; what follows subtle penetrating judgments of an original is worse than the worst parts of Juvenal. .

Jonson and some of his friends thought dicta ; but always within certain limits of his translations his best things. For vig. knowledge already established. Jonson orous closeness, and a large command of

, can select true judgments to give his the resources of his own language in conauthority and sanction to, but he has none

veying the meaning of another, they have of that quality which loves to unfold the scarcely any parallels. Gifford who was inner heart of true notions, or of that trained in a different school, does them which loves to lay naked and confute great injustice. those which are false.

But we have no further space in which The free use of satire always requires to discuss them, and must here conclude something of vulgarity in the mind, and our notice. Jonson in his lifetime made recklessness in the temper, of him who warm friends and bitter enemies ; and the employs it. You can not strike hard,

same fate has attended his reputation. and also strike with discrimination; and He has been extravagantly lauded, and the deeper a man's insight, the more cer- unjustly undervalued and maligned. Our tainly does his knowledge of the

complex object has been to set down as accurately as intertangling of good and evil restrain his possible the estimate of an unbiased judghand from sweeping blows of

ment. He was a great though not an

censure. But there is a certain sharpness, vigor, write his name high in the roll of literary

engaging man; and history will always

; and healthy indignation, which ennoble to some extent just satire. Jonson has achievement. No man ever owed less to these qualities in great perfection ; but he others. It was part of his deficiency, as is apt to descend into vituperation, and well as part of his greatness, to be formed to rail with a disregard of all limits either

for standing alone: in his applications or his expressions. “Thy star was judgment only and right sense, Read his description of his own times : Thyself being to thyself an influence."

From Fraser's Magazine.

THE HISTORY OF SCIENCE; AND SOME OF ITS LESSONS. *

a

Among the many and varied works often very ignorant of what has been done which bear the familiar name of William by any one but themselves. Whewell on their title-page, the one Dr. Whewell seems to have secured for which we take as the text for this article himself all the advantages of an academic -The History of the Inductive Sciences- life with few of its drawbacks. Highly will perhaps be the most widely read and distinguished as an under-graduate and as the longest remembered.

a prize-man, he has passed in succession Elementary treatises, however able, are through almost the whole range of Colin due time superseded; sermons, moral lege appointments, working his way dissertations, and educational writings, steadily upwards till he attained the enviare, with only a few illustrious exceptions, able position of head of the most influenforgotten, or but locally remembered; tial College of his University, But as he metaphysics find but few readers at any always maintained the character of a gentime; poetry, unless of rare merit, scarce- eral scholar and a man of the world while ly endures for half a generation; even passing through the subordinate grades, scientific memoirs run the greatest risk so neither did he suffer the demon of in(in this age of universal publication) of dolence to overmaster him when he atbeing buried in the course of a few years tained a position compatible with digniunder a merciless accumulation of learned fied ease. La vie c'est le travail, might lumber : but a history of the greatest ef- be considered his motto, as it was that of forts of discoverers in science in all ages, an illustrious French mathematician. The bids fair, if executed with ability, impar- extent and variety of his acquirements, tiality, and vigor, to be read from gene- his known superiority to all petty intrigue, ration to generation, and to remain a per- and his masterly command of language, manent work in British libraries. In fact, enabled him to carry out a work like the it is not in the nature of history to be- History of Science with advantages which come obsolete.

few men possess. Among these might be That the Master of Trinity brings un reckoned the seemingly incompatible bencommon qualifications to the task, no efits of academic privacy and all the apacompetent judge will question; and cir- ratus of learning, with sufficient proximicumstances have favored his natural apti- ty to the metropolis to enable him to form tude. His diligence, his extensive read a part of its society, and personally to ing, and the judicial character of his mind, know its most illustrious men. constitute the fundamental requisites for The

appearance of a third edition of the such an undertaking. He is also in some History of the Inductive Sciences, which respects more qualified for it than one gives us the occasion of making these rewho has devoted his exclusive energy to marks, is a proof that the merit and value the cultivation of any special branch of of the work correspond to the favorable science, and who has earned for himself a circumstances of its composition. And conspicuous position as a discoverer. this edition, we are glad to observe, is isSuch a concentration of mind exhausts sued in a less expensive shape than the more of a man's energies than the mere two former ones, at a price, indeed, which result would seem to account for. Hence ought to bring it quite within the reach of the notorious fact that men of science are ordinary students as well as of general

readers. Both these classes, we are satis

fied, will be benefited by its perusal. * History of the Inductive Sciences from the Earli

. For if history be of any value, it must be est to the Present Time. By William Whewell, D.D. Third Edition. Three Volumes. London : John of value to those who study the subjects W. Parker and Son. 1857.

of which it treats. As the history of Eng

a

land is of importance to the student of motics, and atmology; magnetism, electhe art of government, or the history of tricity, chemistry, mineralogy, botany, the Jewish people conduces to a correct zoology, physiology, and geology. Of interpretation of the Old Testament, so course the greater number of these scithe history of science is of the utmost im- ences are entirely modern, or the offportance in giving fresh interest to the de- spring of the last three hundred years. tails of science; and being “Philosophy The author treats of them in succession, teaching by Example,” it is a most prac- and instead of bewildering us by attempttical lesson to those who desire to learn ing to assign to each author all the facts how they too may promote its onward and laws he has brought to light, he dismarch, as well as to the larger class who poses the progress of discovery into periconsider it merely as an interesting pic-ods to which were annexed the developture of human intelligence.

ment of some considerable theory, of The form into which Dr. Whewell has which he traces, 1, the rise of anticipation, thrown his work fits it, we think, all the 2, the full development, and 3, the extenbetter for these ends. A complete bibli- sion and application. Thus, to take a faography of science would have been in- miliar example, the theory of physical ascomparably more bulky and of course far tronomy had its anticipatory period under less readable. It does not profess to be a Galileo and Kepler, its grand developsystematically complete history. Of this ment under Newton, and its extension the author repeatedly warns us; and the and application through the labors of Laspecial student must expect rather to be grange and Laplace. Physical optics, or guided by it in his inquiries than to have the undulatory theory of light, was in like his inquiries fully answered. It is through- manner heralded by the labors of Hooke out remarkable rather for the elevation of and Huyghens, it attained the full dignity the point of view assumed, and the cor- of a science in the hands of Young and rect and often picturesque groupings of Fresnel, and was farther established and the parts, than for the completeness of happily applied by the profound labors the detail

. As a faithful and artistic pan- of Airy and Hamilton, of Cauchy and of orama often gives rise to a more lively Lloyd. and impressive conception of a country

This mode of arranging the History is than a geometrical ground plan, so does not only in the main founded on the acDr. Whewell's history differ from those of tual progress of knowledge in any dethe meritorious compilers whom he cites partment, but it serves as an impressive in his preface. It is on this very ground technical memory by relieving the readthat his work may be read, while the other's attention from a multiplicity of minute ers are only consulted ; and by leading the details, and by fixing bis notice on the reader imperceptibly onwards from the turning points of observation and of thefacts to the philosophy of the subject, this ory, and on the truly eminent men who mode of treatment not only adds to it a have illustrated each department. No higher interest, but encourages the stu- doubt it involves as a primary condition, dent to make deductions for himself, or that inferior men and third-rate advances to accept these which in the sequel or in science shall be nearly overlooked, and complement to the “History,” Dr. Whe- as it were (though not in reality) forgotwell himself has placed before those who ten. This is likely to be unpopular when have the courage to follow him through the history is brought down, as it is in the less popular pages of his Philosophy these volumes, to our day. Hundreds of of the Inductive Sciences.

persons are ready to complain that their The method, then, which our author contributions to science have been negadopts, or the scheme of the panoramic lected. Self-love is also ready enough to principle to which we have referred, is suggest that other inventions or theories briefly this. By the inductive sciences he not more important than their own have means, in this instance at least, the induc- found a passport to general appreciation tive physical sciences; and among these in the pages of Dr. Whewell. All that he includes a sufficiently wide range of we can say is, that the public, for whom knowledge to meet the wishes, one may Dr. Whewell writes, ought to be very presume, of the most aspiring student – grateful to him for exercising an unfetnamely, formal astronomy, mechanics, tered judgment in this respect, and in dophysical astronomy, acoustics, optics, ther-| ing with regard to writers and discoverers of the nineteenth century, that which but to relations of space and the like.” the slow but sure decision of mankind at This, no doubt, is true. Whether it large has already done for those of the really offers an analysis of the defect of seventeenth and eighteenth, gleaming the the understanding which constituted the productions destined permanently to sur- primary error of the ancients, or whether vive, and leaving to comparative obscurity it only states their error in different words, those which, though by no means value- is another question. less in themselves, are sure to be absorbed But whatever may be the mental coninto the wider generalizations by which stitution which induced this defect, it may they are replaced.

perhaps be more familiarly illustrated by In referring to the laws which appear noticing the generic difference between to regulate the progress of physical science, different classes of thinkers coëxisting in we are met at the very threshold of the our own age of the world, none of whom inquiry by the startling fact that the most are destitute of ability-nay, whose abilicivilized nations of antiquity advanced ties may be respectively of the highest or. but a little way in the interpretation of der, but being heterogeneous, admit of no nature. The marked contrast between accurate comparison. We have often the continuity of triumphant discovery had occasion to observe how a person during the last three or four centuries of whose mind has long run in metaphysical the world's duration, and the excessive grooves, finds it difficult even to conceive slowness and uncertainty of its progress clearly a fact or a group of phenomena in all the long previous ages of human in science; and still more difficult to find history, must forever remain, in one any thing to prefer in a true to a false sense at least, a curious enigma. We may explanation of them. The preposterous indeed analyze the cause of the anomaly heresy as to the cause of color, maintained so far as to say that the Greeks and Ro- by Goethe, is a single example of this mans fell into such and such mistakes in kind of partial paralysis of the underthe interpretation of nature and in the standing. construction of science, but the greater But a similar weakness of perception difficulty remains behind—Why should and energy obtains even amongst cultivaphilosophers so acute as those of the tors of mathematics and the natural schools of Athens have fallen into errors sciences. There appear to us to be three which men of not superior intelligence orders of mind which prevail amongst were able, nearly two thousand years those who are popularly known as “philolater, to perceive and avoid ? Does it not sophers ”—that is, physical philosophers : appear like a sort of judicial blindness first, those whose ideas run in the channel which blunted the perceptions of those of mathematics, or whose leading “ideas” ancient speculators to the reality and in the somewhat technical sense in which importance of truths which they were the word is used by Dr. Whewell) are perpetually touching, but never distinctly Space and Number. Secondly, we have acknowledged to be truth, much less ac- the physicists or natural philosophers, quired a mastery over them?

who (usually with more or less aid from Dr. Whewell ascribes the error of the mathematics) trace the mutual dependancients (History, book i. chap. iii. sect.ence of events or phenomena with refer2) not to ignorance of the value of ex- ence to cause and effect, and whose ultiperience, nor to indolence in collecting mate aim it seems to be to obtain numerifacts, nor yet to the absence of effort to cal proof of the accuracy of their conjecclassify and systematize these facts. Nor, tures as to such mutual relations. To he adds, can it be ascribed to a de- such reasonings, the “ideas ” of Cause, ficiency in their speculative powers, for and Force or pressure, would, in the lanwhich indeed the Greeks were famous. guage of Dr. Whewell, be “appropriate." According to him, “the defect was that Finally, we have those cultivators of though they had in their possession Facts science who have attained just distinction and Ideas, the ideas were not distinct or by classifying the objects of animate or appropriate to the facts.” For example, inanimate nature according to their forms

The reason of Aristotle's failure in his and properties, constituting Natural Hisattempts at mechanical science is, that he tory. And this last, though it might did not refer the facts to the appropriate appear the humblest effort of the three, idea, namely Force, the Cause of Motion, requires, as we know, a very rare sagacity and a very peculiar constitution of with certain studies seems to paralyze (we mind. Such classifiers were Linnæus and repeat the expression, though we have Cuvier, and such are Owen and Agassiz. employed it before, since no other appears In Dr. Whewell's phraseology the so well to describe the fact) those organs “ideas” of Likeness and Natural Affinity of thought which are essential to proare predominant in the minds of such gress in other departments. Those of the persons.

ancients who succeeded at all in promoting Now, though two of the habits of mind natural knowledge, belonged chiefly to pointed at in this triple division are not the first or to the third class—to men of unfrequently — nay, very frequently geometrical minds, or to those who foundfound to be highly developed in one ined science upon the classification of redividual, it is exceedingly rare if not un- semblances. Of these the geometers exampled to find all three. Newton him- were the stronger, and the natural historself was

a mathematician and natural ians the weaker section. The absence of philosopher, and both as one and the other the notion of efficient casual relation, so he stood in the very highest rank. But conspicuous in the writings of the ancient he was nothing of a naturalist; perhaps Greeks and Romans, and which is charache could not have been one. Dr. Young, teristic of their small success in Physics the nearest approximation to that purely Proper, so far accounts for this. For ideal man,

an Admirable Crichton,” what principle of classification can be though he possessed extraordinary satisfactory which has not a connection mathematical ability of a certain but more or less specific with some common limited description, and a penetration into cause, producing like configurations, or the causal relations of things little infer- certain organs having a common end or ior even to that of Newton : and though intention ? to these two endowments he added the We do not now enter farther into this usually incompatible accomplishment of inquiry, nor shall we pause to characterize a first-rate linguist, yet showed not the the remarkable state of hybernation which smallest aptitude for the study of natural affeeted the human intelligence during history, and certainly did not succeed in the middle ages, regarding which Dr. that of medicine, which is most nearly Whewell has entered into some curious allied to it. On the other hand, natural- details ; but we turn at once to the strikists, or those who have devoted them ingly contrasted progress of physical selves to the sciences of classification and science since the revival of letters. We homological studies, have not often at- propose to regard this progress in its tained to eminence in the pursuits of general and collective aspect, and from a natural philosophy even in its more purely somewhat different point of view from experimental department, and have hardly that in which Dr. Whewell presents it. ever ranked as profound either in pure The first thing which strikes us is the or applied mathematics. We can not just rapidity and continuity of modern pronow recall a single example of the latter gress, and also the smallness of the capital combination, and not above one or two (so to speak) with which the revivers of (and those not illustrious) of the former. science embarked on their great undertakNow, we are anxious to observe that the ings for enlarging the intellectual wealth exclusiveness of these forms of intellectual of mankind. action and apprehension, amounting almost THREE HUNDRED YEARS AGO, men hardly to an antipathy or natural “ abhorrence” knew more of physical science than they of certain combinations of thought, is a bad known fifteen hundred years precurious phenomenon well worthy of study viously. Whether the sun moved round on its own account, whilst it serves, as we the earth, or the earth round the sun, was conceive, to account in a great measure a question which had only then begun to for the strange failure of the ancients in excite an interest, and which was far from speculations relating to natural philosophy. being satisfactorily answered. The force For surely it goes some way to explain a required to support a body on a smooth state of things which prevailed among slope was a problem insoluble by the certain nations in certain ages of the theoretical mechanics of the day.* Wheworld, if we can show that in our age

* We do not overlook Leonardo da Vinci's solu. and our own ation an addiction to tion; but it was unpublished, and formed no part certain forms of thought in connection of the received doctrines of the age.

« PreviousContinue »