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SCIENTIFIC MEETING AT CAMBRIDGE.
which the memoirs are subjected, an opportunity We were not so fortunate as to be able to listen to the for the friendly collision of intellect and the inproccedings of the American Association for the Advance structive comparison of opinions, which nothing ment of Scievce, at its late meeting at Cambridge, but but oral discussion can yield. These topics might are glad to be able to adduce undoubted authority for its be easily expanded, but I think I should undertake respectability and success. On 21 Aug., the last day, at
a very superfluous office should I endeavor more in dinner, Mr. Edward Everett spoke as follows:
detail, on the present occasion, to set forth the useIn my humble opinion, the transactions of the fulness of institutions of this kind. Association, at its present meeting, have been I am aware that it has been objected to them at highly creditable to its members and to the science home and abroad, that they do not lead to the disof the country. I had an opportunity in 1841 of
of truth. The question is frequently asked, attending the annual meeting of a similar associa- in reference to the great European associations of tion at Florence, consisting of between nine hun- this kind, what discoveries have been made by dred and a thousand of the men of science of Italy them? Well, sir, in this demand for discoveries and the neighboring countries; and in the years as a test of usefulness on the part of associated or 1842, 1844, and 1845, I enjoyed a similar opportu- individual effort, there is no little vagueness and a nity in reference to the meetings of the British As- good deal of injustice. It appears to me quite sociation for the Promotion of Science. It appears unreasonable, as an exclusive test of utility, to deto me, that, in the scientific character of its pro- mand, either of scientific bodies or of single votaceedings at the present meeting, the American ries of science, that they should make discoveries. Association will compare advantageously with those If by " discoveries” we mean matters of fact beof Europe. The number of men of science in fore unknown, such as the discovery of the existattendance is much less; but I think the volume of ence of the American continent, or of the planets this year's transactions when published will show Uranus or Neptune, or of the effect of vaccinaproportionably as large a number of communica- tion, it would be shutting up the domain of science tions, on interesting and important topics, in most within very narrow limits to exclude from it all of the departments of science, and exhibiting as but a very few, who, to the greatest sagacity and much original research and sound speculation, as generally also the greatest diligence, have united the annual reports of any of the European associa- the greatest good fortune. If we set up this tions. I make this remark with the less hesitation, standard we should strike at the root not merely because I have myself borne no other part in the of this Association, but of almost every other spescientific labors of the Association than that of a cific form of scientific action. Discoveries such gratified and instructed listener; and also because as I mention are, necessarily, more or less casual among the circumstances which have enabled the in their immediate origin ; or, rather, there is a Association to present such fair ground of compar- happy inspiration—an unexplained, inexplicable ison with its European contemporaries, no one can kindling of mind—which no logic can teach, no forget that European talent of the highest order is discipline certainly produce. That the globe was to be found in our ranks.*
spherical, was not first conceived by Columbus ; I think no one, sir, could have attended any con- how happened it that he first formed the practical siderable number of the meetings of the Association, conception of reaching the Indies by sailing to the and witnessed its course of operations, but must have west ? The perturbations of Uranus have been been satisfied, if he had doubts before, of the utility studied by astronomers for a quarter of a century ; of such an institution. A meeting of scientific men what inspired Leverrier and Adams alone, with from every part of the Union, with the opportunity the happy thought of deducing from them the existthus afforded for entering into friendly personalence of an undiscovered planet ? relations, is itself an object of no mean importance ; If we use the term “ discovery,” in reference especially in a country so large as this, and destitute to great general laws of nature, such as the Coof any one great metropolis. It cannot have escaped pernican System, the attraction of gravitation, the any one's observation, that much time, labor, and relations of electricity and magnetism, then the skilful research must have been devoted to the prep- unreasonableness of objecting to scientific assoaration of inany of the memoirs, which it is highly ciations, that they have not produced and are not probable would not have been bestowed upon scien- likely to produce such results, is still more appar:ific pursuits, under other circumstances.
Much is ent. Discoveries of this kind, even though apgained, at all times, by the actual presence of the parently referable to single authors, to particular instructor, and the animation of the living voice. periods of time, and to distinct courses of research, An impression is made by them, which is rarely are so only in a limited degree. They are the produced by the lifeless page of the printed volume. product of the whole condition of science at the I do not of course mean thai lecturing can ever take time ;- they are its consummate flower—its the place of study ; but it is an admirable assistant. ripened fruit. Such discoveries strike their roots Then, too, the meetings of the Association possess far into the past—they are not made ; they have the advantage of acording, in the discussions to grown. The preparation of centuries has gradAmong the activemembers of the Association at the minds have taken part in the discovery, hundreds
ually opened the way for them ;-hundreds of present meeting were Prosessors Agassiz and Guyot of Neuchatel.
of years before it is made. At length the world of science is ripe for the grand result; the full- seemed to me so full of wisdom as to impress ness of time is come ; the gifted genius destined itself upon my memory. Cowley addresses to put the last hand to the work is born, and the Hobbes as “ The great Columbus of the golden
discovery” is made ; not seldom, perhaps in lands of new philosophies." Few persons, at the popular acceptation, with an exaggeration of its present day, would be disposed to admit the claim absolute novelty ; an overrating of the originality of the philosopher of Malmesbury to this magof the discoverer and consequent injustice to his nificent title. But the strain in which Cowley predecessors. Pope beautifully says :
proceeds, however uncouth in point of versificaNature and nature's laws lay hid in night
tion, is singularly acute and discriminating : God said, " Let Newton be;" —and all was light.
Thou great Columbus of the golden land of new philoso
phies ! This certainly is very happily said, by way of Thy iask is harder much than his, epigrammatic eulogy ;—but it would not bear sci- For thy learned America is entific examination. The illustrious philosopher,
Not only first found out by thee,
And rudely left to future industry, as just and modest as he was great, did not so But thy eloquence and thy wit deem of himself. Were the laws of nature Has planted, peopled, built, and civilized it. wholly hidden in darkness before the time of New- The verse is rude, but the lesson is significant. ton ? Had Copernicus, Tycho, Kepler, Galileo Columbus may set foot on a continent before unthrown no light upon them?
seen by civilized man ; Copernicus may sweep So, tow, and perhaps this is a still more impor- away the cycles and epicycles of the Ptolemaic tant reflection, after the discovery of some such theory, and establish the sun on his central throne ; general law is made, the work of science is by no and Newton may demonstrate the wondrous law means exhausted. Even if it were true that sci- which binds every member of the system-forever entific associations had no tendency to promote dis- attracted and forever repelled-to that mysterious covery, in either sense of the word, it might still centre. But after all these great discoveries have be a matter of great importance, that they furnish been made, there is not only room, there is a cryoccasions and facilities for illustrating and dif- ing demand, a great intellectual necessity, for furfusing more widely the knowledge of the great ther progress. Other discoverers, other philosolaws of nature. This is a point on which, if phers must rise to unfold the consequences of time permitted, and I were addressing an audience these primordial truths ;-to plant and people of young men who needed encouragements to en- these scientific continents (if I may be allowed to gage with ardor in the pursuit of science, I would carry on Cowley's metaphor) with new experigladly enlarge. I would say to them, sear notments and observations; to build them up with that the masters who have gone before you, have harmonious systems; to civilize them into a rereaped the field of science so thoroughly, as to fined adaptation to the wants and service of moral leave neither harvest nor gleaning for their success- beings.
True, indeed, the Newtons have lived and This is the work left to the mass of the scientaught; not to supersede and render superfluous, tific community, and no one can reasonably deny but to prepare the way for disciples and followers, that an association like ours is an approved and not unworthy to be called the Newtons of after effective part of that system of concerted action, ages. The discovery of a great law is an en- by which men advantageously unite themselves to largement, not an exhaustion, of the domain of accomplish desirable ends. And it is most cheerscience. Each new truth is a lever for the dis- ing to learn from the example of the great discovery of further truth.
It may never be given coverers that the materials for carrying on their again to the human intellect, (but who shall say work, the eleinents of further discovery-surround that it never will be given ?) to attain another gen- us on every side. There is no error more gross eralization at once of such divine simplicity and than that the knowledge of the great truths which stupendous magnitude as the law of gravitation. form the glory of modern science must be directly But I think it may with truth be said, that the sought from the depths of the heavens above or of system of the universe resting on that law has the abyss below. Or if philosophical analysis been more fully developed by the successors of enables us, in some degree, to penetrate to the Newton than by himself. It was believed in 1729 mysteries of the earth we inhabit or of the mighty that the maximum of telescopic power had been universe of which it forms so small a part, it is attained ; and the solar system, as then under- by virtue of laws and principles exemplified as stood, comprised six primary planets and ten sec- clearly in the motes that cheaply people the sunondaries! There are now discovered nineteen beam-as in the mighty spheres that are held in planetary bodies which revolve round the sun, and their orbits by the sun. The law of gravitation (if we allow two satellites for Neptune,) twenty- was suggested to Newton, not by the magnificent one secondaries !
spectacle of a comet drawn down to the sun from This important truth, that a great discovery the outskirts of the solar system, but by an apple only leads to, but stands in need of, further re- falling from a tree to the earth. The glass which searches, is most happily expressed in a fine apos- I hold in my hand, with the water it contains, is trophe of the poet Cowley to the philosopher of itself a richly stored cabinet of scientific truth. Hobbes, which attracted my notice as I happened -By the ancients, the water, believed to be a into the bookseller's the day before yesterday, and simple substance, was no doubt regarded chiefly
as the element designed to moisten and fertilize scientific transactions, that they have been animathe earth, to quench the thirst of man, to separate ted and encouraged by this unusual presence; and Greece from the lands of the barbarians. By a the persevering attendance of our fair friends to great progress of art, it came to serve for the con- the close of the session authorizes the hope that struction of a clepsydra. Modern science early they have been gratified listeners. How much our took note of the expansive powers of steam. The social meetings in this hall have been enlivened Marquis of Worcester, Savery, and Newcomen by their presence I need not say. I trust the exattempted, and Bolton and Watt perfected, the ample which they have set, the present year, will machinery which has made the vapor of boiling be followed at the future meetings of the Associawater the life-spring of modern industry, and in tion. When we recall the names of Caroline Herthe hands of our own Fulton converted it into the schell, of Mary Somerville, and may I not add of great means of commerce and communication our own Maria Mitchell, we need no arguments around the globe. Questioned by chemical sci- to show that the cultivation of science is by no ence, the same limpid element is made to yield to means the exclusive mission of man. The time Cavendish and Priestley the secret of its gaseous may come perhaps when my successor in the duty composition, and thus becomes the starting point I now perform will be called upon to return the of no inconsiderable portion of our modern chem- acknowledgments of the Association not only to istry ; teaching us at the outset the somewhat the ladies who have honored the meetings by their startling fact, that aqua fortis and the common air presence, but to those who have contributed to we breathe consist of precisely the same ingre- their scientific transactions. I beg leave, sir, to dients, in proportions a little varied. Physiology submit the following motion :here takes her turn: and my friend opposite, who favors me with an approving smile, (Prof. Agassiz,) ciation for the Advancement of Science be given to
Resolved, that the thanks of the American Assois ready to subject the contents of the glass to the the ladies who have honored the meetings of the creative focus of his microscope, and to demon- Association with their attendance. strate the organization, circulation, and whole animal economy of orders of beings, whose existence is apparent only under the higher powers. Not
O'ER THE HILL. content with the harvest of science to be reaped from the water, our worthy president (Prof. Henry) One morning as he wended is thinking of the glass. To his eye it is a toler- Through a path bedight with flowers, able cylinder. His mind runs upon electricity, Where all delights were blended induction, and the relations of galvanism and mag
To beguile the fleeting hours :
Sweet youth, pray turn thee hither, netisin, to the illustration of which he has him
Said a voice along the way, self so materially contributed. Here we reach
Ere all ihese roses wither, the magnetic telegraph—the electric clock—and And these fair fruits decay. their application to the measurement of differences But the youth paused not to ponder of longitude, and the observation and record of If the voice were good or ill, celestial phenomena ;-an apparatus so wonderful
For, said he, my home is yonder that, as we have heard in the sections, a child of
O'er the hill there, o'er the hill! twelve years old, who sees it for the first time, Again, high noon was glowing can observe and record the passage of a star over On a wide and weary plain ; the wires of the micrometer, more correctly than
And there, right onward going, it could be done by the most skilful observer in
Was the traveller again :
He seemed another being the ordinary way. Thus we are carried back to
Than the morning's rosy youth, a more accurate observation of the heavens, by
But I quickly knew him, seeing that electric spark which Franklin first drew from His unaltered brow of truth : the clouds.
But stranger, rest till even, But it is time, sir, to think of performing the Sang alluring voices still : duty for which I originally rose to address you.
But he cried-my rest is heaven! It is one of the most pleasing incidents of the
O’er the hill there, o'er the hill! present meetings of the Association that they have The shades of night were creeping been attended by so many ladies. Many of the A sequestered valley o'er, members of the Association from a distance have Where a dark deep stream was sweeping been accompanied with their wives and daughters By a dim and silent shore ; who, together with the ladies of Cambridge, have
And there the pilgrim bending not only from day to day honored our social table
With the burden of the day,
Was seen still onward wending with their company, but have given their diligent
Through a straight and narrow way.” attention in the sections. The Association has,
He passed the gloomy river I understand, been favored in this way for the As it were a gentle rill, first time at the present meeting. I am sure I And rested-home forever ! speak for all those who have taken part in the O'er the hill there, o'er the hill!
THE SHETLAND ISLES.
waters. The haze thickened to a fog, which grew
more and more dense, and finally closed over head. A LETTER FROM MR. BRYANT TO THE N. Y. EVENING After about three hours' sail the captain began to
grow uneasy, and was seen walking about on the Aberdeen, July 19, 1849. bridge between the wheel-houses, anxiously peerTwo days ago I was in the Orkneys; the day ing into the mist, on the look-out for the coast of before I was in the Shetland Isles, the “ farthest the Orkneys. At length he gave up the search, Thule” of the Romans, where I climbed the Noup and stopped the engine. The passengers amused of the Noss, as the famous headland of the island themselves with fishing. Several coal fish, and of Noss is called, from which you look out upon a large fish of slender shape were caught, and the sea, that lies between Shetland and Norway. one fine cod was hauled out, by a gentleman who
From Wick, a considerable fishing town in combined, as he gave me to understand, the two Caithness, on the northern coast of Scotland, a capacities of portrait painter and preacher of the steamer, named the Queen, departs once a week, gospel, and who held that the universal church of in the summer months, for Kirkwall, in the Ork- Christendom had gone sadly astray from the true neys, and Lerwick, in Shetland. We went on primitive doctrine, in regard to the time when the board of her about ten o'clock on the 14th of millennium is to take place. July. The herring fishery had just begun, and The fog cleared away in the evening : our the artificial port of Wick, constructed with mas- steamer was again in motion ; we landed at Kirksive walls of stone, was crowded with fishing ves-wall in the middle of the night, and when I went sels which had returned that morning from the on deck the next morning we were smoothly passlabors of the night ; for in the herring fishery it ing the shores of Fair Isle-high and steep rocks is only in the night that the nets are spread and impending over the waters, with a covering of drawn. Many of the vessels had landed their
Before they were out of sight we cargo ; in others the fishermen were busily dis- saw the Shetland coast, the dark rock of Sumengaging the herrings from the black nets' and burg Head, and behind it, half shronded in mist, throwing them in heaps ; and now and then a boat, the promontory of Fitfiel Head-Fitful Head, as later than the rest, was entering from the sea. it is called by Scott, in his novel of the Pirate. The green heights all around the bay were cov- Beyond, to the east, black rocky promontories ered with groups of women, sitting or walking, come in sight one after the other beeiling over the dressed for the most part in caps and white short- sea. At ten o'clock, we were passing through gowns, waiting for the arrival of the boats manned a channel between the islands leading to Lerwick, by their husbands and brothers, or belonging to the the capital of Shetland, on the principal island, families of those who had come to seek occupation bearing the name of Mainland. Fields, yelas fishermen. I had seen two or three of the prin- low with flowers, among which stood, here and cipal streets of Wick that morning, swarming with there, a cottage, sloped softly down to the water, strapping tellows, in blue highland bonnets, with and beyond them rose the bare declivities and blue jackets and pantaloons, and coarse blue flan- summits of the hills, dark with heath, with here nel shirts. A shop-keeper, standing at his door, and there still darker spots, looking like blots on instructed me who they were.
the landscape, where peat had been cut for fuel. “ They are men of the Celtic race,” he said — Not a tree, not a shrub, was to be seen, and the the term Celtic has grown to be quite fashionable, greater part of the soil appeared never to have I find, when applied to the Highlanders. “They been reduced to cultivation. came from the Hebrides and other parts of western About one o'clock we cast anchor before LerScotland to get employment in the herring fishery. wick, a fishing village, built on the shore of BresThese people have travelled perhaps three hundred say Sound, which here forms one of the finest miles, most of them on foot, to be employed six or harbors in the world. It has two passages to the seven weeks, for which they will receive about six sea, so that when the wind blows a storm on one pounds wages. Those whom you see, are not the side of the islands, the Shetlander in his boa. best of their class ; the more enterprising and in- passes out in the other direction, and finds himdustrious have boats of their own, and carry on the self in comparatively smooth water. It was Sunfishery on their own account.''
day, and the man who landed us at the quay and We found the Queen a strong steamboat, with took our baggage to our lodging, said as he lefta good cabin and convenient state rooms, but dirty " It's the Sabbath, and I'll no tak’ my pay now, and smelling of fish from stem to stern. It has but I 'll call the morrow. My name is Jim Sinseemed to me that the further north I went the clair, pilot, and if ye 'll be wanting to go anymore dirt I found. Our captain was an old Aber- where, I 'll be glad to tak' ye in my boat.” In a deen seaman, with a stoop in his shoulders, and few minutes we were snugly established at our looked as if he was continually watching for land; lodgings. There is no inn throughout all the an occupation for which the foggy climate of these Shetland islands, which contain about thirty Jatitudes gives him full scope. We left Wick be- thousand inhabitants, but if any of the readers of tween eleven and twelve o'clock in the forenoon, the Evening Post should have occasion to visit and glided over a calm sea, with a cloudless sky Lerwick, I can cheerfully recommend to them the above us, and a thin haze on the surface of the comfortable lodging-house of Mrs. Walker, who
keeps a little shop in the principal street, not far Pictish castle in the midst ; one of those circufrom Queen's lane. We made haste to get ready lar buildings of unhewn, uncemented stone, skilfor church, and sallied out to find the place of fully laid, forming apartments of such small dimenworship frequented by our landlady, which was sions as to lead Sir Walter Scott to infer that the not a difficult matter.
Picts were a people of a stature considerably beThe little town of Lerwick consists of two-low the ordinary standard of the human race. A story houses, built mostly of unhewn stone, rough deep Sabbath silence reigned over the scene, excast, with steep roofs and a chimney at each end. cept the sound of the wind, which here never They are arranged along a winding street parallel ceases to blow from one quarter or another, as it with the shore, and along narrow lanes running swept the herbage and beat against the stone walls upwards to the top of the hill. The main street surrounding the fields. The ground under our is flagged with smooth stones, like the streets in feet was thick with daisies and the blossoms of Venice, for no vehicle runs on wheels in the Shet- the crow-foot, and other flowers, for in the brief land islands. We went up Queen's lane, and soon summer of these islands, nature, which has no found ourselves at the door of the building occu- groves to embellish, makes amends by pranking pied by the free church of Scotland, until a tem- the ground, particularly in the uncultivated parts, ple of fairer proportions, on which the masons are with a great profusion and variety of flowers. now at work, on the top of the hill, shall be com- The next morning we were rowed, by two of pleted for their reception. It was crowded with Jim Sinclair's boys, to the island of Bressay, and attentive worshippers, one of whom obligingly one of them acted as our guide to the remarkable came forward and found a seat for us. The min- precipice called the Noup of the Noss. We asister, Mr. Frazer, had begun the evening service, cended its smooth slopes and pastures, and passed and was at prayer.
When I entered, he was through one or two hamlets, where we observed speaking of “our father the devil;” but the the construction of the dwellings of the Zetland prayer was followed by an earnest, practical dis- peasantry. They are built of unhewn stone, with course, though somewhat crude in the composi- roofs of turf held down by ropes of straw neatly tion, and reminding me of an expression I once twisted ; the floors are of earth : the cow, pony, heard used by a distinguished Scotchman, who and pig live under the same roof with the family; complained that the clergy of his country, in com- and the manure pond, a receptacle for refuse and posing their sermons, too often “mak’ rough wark filth, is close to the door. A little higher up, we
came upon the uncultivated grounds, abandoned to I looked about among these descendants of the heath, and only used to supply fuel by the cutting Norwegians, but could not see anything exotic in of peat. Here and there women were busy piling their physiognomy; and but for the harsh accent the square pieces of peat in stacks, that they of the preacher, I might almost have thought my- might dry in the wind. “ We carry home these self in the midst of a country congregation in the pits in a basket on our shoulders, when they are United States. They are mostly of a light com- dry,” said one of them to me ; but those who can plexion, and an appearance of health and strength, afford to keep a pony, make him do this work for though of a sparer make than the people of the them. In the hollows of this part of the island more southern British isles. After the service we saw several fresh-water ponds, which were enwas over, we returned to our lodgings, by a way larged with dykes, and made to turn grist-mills. which led to the top of the hill, and made the cir- We peeped into one or two of these mills, little cuit of the little town. The paths leading into stone buildings, in which we could scarcely stand the interior of the island were full of people re- upright, enclosing two small stones turned by a turning homeward; the women in their best attire, perpendicular shaft, in which are half a dozen a few in silks, with wind-tanned faces. We saw cogs; the paddles are fixed below, and there them disappearing, one after another, in the hol- struck by the water, turn the upper stone. lows, or over the dark, bare hill tops.
A steep descent brought us to the little strait, population of less than three thousand souls, Ler- bordered with rocks, which divides Bressay from wick has few places of worship-a church of the the island called the Noss. A strong south wind Establishment, a free church, a church for the was driving in the billows from the sea with Seceders, and one for the Methodists. The road noise and foam, but they were broken and checked we took commanded a fine view of the harbor, by a bar of rocks in the middle of the strait, and surrounded and sheltered by hills. Within it lay we crossed to the north of it in smooth water. a numerous group of idle fishing vessels, with one The ferryman told us that when the wind was great steamer in the midst ; and, more formidable northerly he crossed to the south of the bar. As in appearance, a Dutch man-of-war, sent to pro- we climbed the hill of the Noss the mist began to tect the Dutch fisheries, with the flag of Holland drift thinly around us from the sea, and flocks of flying at the mast-head. Above the town, on tall sea-birds rose screaming from the ground at our poles, were floating the flags of four or five differ- approach. At length we stood upon the brink of ent nations, to mark the habitations of their con- a precipice of fearful height, from which we had suls.
a full view of the still higher precipices of the On the side opposite to the harbor lay the small neighboring summit. A wall of rock was before fresh-water lake of Cleikimin, with the remains of us six hundred feet in height, descending almost