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might be made a new and a great Country! It now boasts a fertile soil, an ingenious and robust peasantry, and a rich aristocracy; but the bane of the nation is the equality of poverty amongst the lower orders. All are slaves, without the probability of becoming free; they are in the state of equality which the sans-culottes wished for in France; and until emulation and riches, and the love of clothes and neat houses, are introduced amongst them, there will be no permanent improvement.
Changes in political institutions can, at first, do little towards serving them. It must be by altering their habits, by diffusing manufactories, by destroying middle-men, by dividing farms, and by promoting industry by making the pay proportional to the work." And in another place he observes
“ The great vice of the people is want of perseverance: nothing is finished; they begin grandly and magnificently, but complete very little. In mining, they build machinery before they have discovered a vein ; in fisheries, they erect their cellars before they have purchased nets ; and they build magnificent stables, which they intend for their studs, but which they are themselves obliged to inhabit. Foresight and prudence are unknown.”
Sanguine expectations were at one time entertained that the catalogue of Greek and Roman classics would be greatly enriched by the discovery of new treasures among the ruins of Herculaneum; and under the auspices of Mr. Hayter, who, with the consent of the Neapolitan Government, was despatched to Italy for this purpose, a complete treatise of Polidorus, on the subject of music, was successfully deciphered. The process employed was the substitution of false backs of gold-beater's skin, by bit and bit, as the unrolling was performed, by which the brittle and carbonized papyri were rendered flexible. A facsimile was then made of the MS. by a draftsman unacquainted with the language, and, finally, it was transferred to the antiquarian to decipher. The great expense and difficulty, however, of this process, and the little success which had attended it, rendered some more easy means a great desideratum; and accordingly Sir Humphry Davy, when he visited Italy in 1818, directed his attention to the subject. He found, contrary to general opinion, that the carbonization of the manuscript was the effect of slow decomposition, and not the effect of fire; and consequently the means which he suggested, viz. chlorine and ether, were such as possessed the power of decomposing, or at least dissolving, the bituminous matter by which the leaves were agglutinated together. The plan was perfectly successful; but in consequence of the unworthy jealousy of the curators of the museum, and the injured state of the manuscripts themselves, the result, upon the whole, has rather proved interesting to chemistry than to the cause of classical literature. On his return on the 30th of November, 1819, he was elected to the highest scientific dignity in this country—which is to fill the chair of the Royal Society.
The last of Sir H. Davy's scientific labours which we shall notice, is the method of preventing the corrosion of copper sheeting by sea-water. These labours were commenced in 1823, and finished in 1826, and the results were communicated in four successive papers to the “ Philosophical Transactions.” It adds greatly to the merit of this, as it did also to the author's previous discovery of the safety-lamp, that each was the fruit of a prescribed task,—the first by the Lords Commissioners of the Navy, and the latter by the Rev. Dr. Gray; both were the result of elaborate and judicious experiments, and both equally fulfilled the objects for which they were designed. Formerly it was supposed, that the corrosion of copper by sea-water depended on some impurity of the metal, or some imperfection in its manufacture; but Sir H. Davy showed, that the purest copper was liable to this effect, which depended on the electricity of the metal being different from that of the oxygen or acid with which it was combined. It was, in fact, weakly positive, and, agreeably to a general law, became readily oxidizable under such circumstances; but that, when united to one-fortieth to one hundred and fiftieth part of zinc, or iron surface, it became then relatively negative, and completely protected from the influence in question. It unfortunately turns out, however, that the same negative power which protects the copper from corroding and oxidizing agencies, renders it in the same degree attractive of electropositive bodies, and therefore of the earthy substances contained in sea-water, which, becoming deposited on a large scale on the bottom of the vessel, form an adventitious surface, in the highest degree favourable for the attachment of weeds and marine animals, so that on some occasions the bottoms of vessels have been found in so extremely foul a condition, and the sailing so much impeded in consequence, that the attainment of port has been rendered almost impracticable. As on other occasions, however, so on this, the plan, deemed to have failed in the hands of the original inventor, is likely now to turn out a successful speculation, and a patent has lately, we understand, been taken out for covering ship's bottoms with iron-plate protected by zinc—the iron, besides its cheapness, not being liable to the inconveniences above-mentioned; thus confirming the truth of a remark made by the author himself on another occasion, that “ It is in the nature of physical science, that its methods offer only approximations to truth; and the first and most glorious inventors are often left behind by very inferior minds, in the minutiæ of manipulation; and their errors enable others to discover truth.”
But it is time that we turn to other scenes, more interesting still than those in which we have hitherto viewed Sir H. Davy. It must be, indeed, pleasing to every Christian mind to learn, that he, who, by his profound and extensive knowledge of nature's most hidden works, had become an ornament to his country and a blessing to the human race, had not forgotten the God from whom all nature sprung. For it is a lamentable truth, that many, who, like Sir Humphry, have become eminent in medical and philosophical science, and who have thus been able to contemplate more nearly than other men the wonders of the power, and goodness, and wisdom of the Great Creator, have not learned to adore and praise him, but have ventured to deny his existence, or to attribute the most magnificent of his visible works to chance. At every step, Sir Humphry saw and confessed the presence of a creating and all-ruling Providence.
“In every thing belonging to the economy of nature,” he says, “I find new reasons for wondering at the designs of Providence-at the infinite intelligence by which so many complicated effects are produced by most simple causes. The precipitation of water from the atmosphere, its rapid motion in rivers, and its falls in cataracts, not only preserve this element pure, but give it its vitality, and render it subservient even to the embryo life of fish. ... So that the perturbation and motion of the winds and waves possess a use, and ought to impress us with a beauty higher and more beautiful even than that of the peaceful and glorious calm."*
Great as were the acquirements of his mind, and much as he must have admired the developement of genius and the results of deep study in other men, he declares that he considers a firm faith in the doctrines of Christianity more highly to be prized than any
other ornament of the human mind. In the work above quoted, the sentiments of “ Physicus” on this subject, which may be received as those of the author, are thus expressed :
“I envy no quality of the mind or intellect in others ; be it genius, power, wit, or fancy; but if I could choose what would be most delightful, and I believe most useful, to me, I should prefer a firm religious belief to every other blessing : for it makes life a discipline of goodness, creates new hopes when all earthly hopes vanish; and throws over the decay, the destruction of existence, the most gorgeous of all lights ; awakens life even in death, and from corruption and decay calls up beauty and divinity; makes an instrument of torture and of shame, the ladder of ascent to Paradise; and, far above all combinations of earthly hopes, calls up the most delightful visions of palms and amaranths, the gardens of the blest, the security of everlasting joys, where the sensualist and the sceptic view only gloom, decay, annihilation, and despair.”
Salmonia," p. 86.
But those, who have read the two works to which we have alluded, must have wondered at the very favourable, we must say beautiful, light in which several of the doctrines and points of discipline peculiar to the Catholic Church are presented to them. The world has not been told the cause of this. Dr. John Davy, in the memoirs of his brother's life, somewhere says, that Sir Humphry selected his principal speakers on the subject of religion (and to whom he generally gave the palm of victory in the controversial dialogues) from the Catholic Church, because that Church has always exacted from its followers an uniformity and stability of belief in its articles of faith; and we do not know that Dr. Davy could have passed a higher encomium on those sacred ministers of religion who consider themselves the successors of the apostles, who received from their Divine Master the command to teach to all nations the faith that he had taught to them, and which must be as immutable as He who brought it down upon the earth. Sir Humphry could not, therefore, have found a more powerful reason for the manner in which he has expressed himself in favour of the tenets of the Catholic faith. But it was not this mere abstract idea alone, that influenced his mind on this point; and we shall, before we conclude this article, perhaps reveal more than his biographer knew-certainly more than he has narrated. We will now extract, from the more important of the two works before us, “ Consolations in Travel, or the Last Days of a Philosopher," some of the ideas on religious subjects, which are scattered throughout, that our readers may learn what were the opinions of our great philosopher, during his last days, and what true Consolations he derived from his travels.
The work is composed of a series of six dialogues upon different and important subjects. The interlocutors in the first dialogue are Philalethes-a name worthy of him who bore it, for it is under this name that Sir Humphry expresses his own sentiments. Ambrosio and Onuphio, two distinguished Britons, with whom Philalethes had formed an intimacy during his residence in Rome. Ambrosio is a man of highly cultivated taste, of extensive historical and classical knowledge, and in religion a Catholic. Onuphrio is also possessed of great learning, but his opinions are of that kind which we too frequently meet with in English gentlemen, whose education has not been guided by religion. He admits little that his own reason cannot teach him; he seems indifferent to every form of faith, and advances in many of his sentiments almost to the verge of scepticism.
The different opinions, however, of both Philalethes and of Onuphrio seem to be stated only that they may be confuted by the Catholic
Ambrosio. The scene of their conversation opens on a spot where all their enthusiasm, classical and religious, might well burst forth. It is in the Colosseum, which, “ for the hundreth time even,” may be viewed with new admiration. The place and the time—the evening, when the pious followers of the cross were paying their adorations to their Saviour at the different stations at which the stages of his passion are represented within its vast area—naturally drew from Ambrosio reflections
the triumph of that religion, which had endured its most bloody conflicts
that spot, but which . now had raised, at a short distance from them, a temple in honour of one of its persecuted ministers more glorious than any that had been erected to receive the adorations of the Pagan deities. Prophecies had been verified in the establishment of that religion, and miracles had been wrought to extend and to confirm it; there would, therefore, be no apprehension of what Onuphrio expresses, even if the magnificent dome of St. Peter's may hereafter be in a similar state to that in which the Colosseum now is, that “its ruins may be preserved by the sanctifying influence of some new and unknown faith.” We cannot wonder that Onuphrio should thus express himself, for like all who have imbibed an indifference for religion, who consult their own limited understandings, and not the eternal decrees of Omnipotence, he thinks that the history of religion is like to the “ general history of all the works and institutions belonging to humanity." He would reverence religion in the followers of Brahmah, in the discipline of Mahomet, and can wonder at it in all the variety of forms which it adopts in the Christian world.” It is pleasing to us to observe, that the author permits the Catholic speaker to answer these, certainly not religious, opinions, by pointing to the history of the world, to the rise and fall of empires, to the destinies of the Jewish dispensation, as so many preparations for the promulgation and final establishment of a creed fitted for the most enlightened state of the human mind, and equally adapted to every climate and every people.”. When Ambrosio and Onuphrio withdraw into the city, Philalethes is left alone, at a moment when a less enthusiastic mind than his would have risen almost to a state of ecstacy; when the moon was floating above him, and the majestic ruins, amidst which he sits, in a flood of intense splendour. The reveries in which he indulges, in the company of spectres of the ancient Romans, pass into visions, by the aid of which he is borne away to the first ages of the world and of the human race. man, but he contemplates him without the light of revelation; he sees him struggling against the desolation of his savage state upon the earth, guided in his search for temporal happiness only