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Chap. V.
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1772.

Banks to Pennant ; Aug., 1772.

Book II, was first called to them by Banks, when he communicated in. to Thomas PENNANT, of Downing, his minute survey, and his drawings of the basaltic columns.

He thought that the mind can scarcely conceive of any. LiBraBy. thing more splendid, in its kind, than the now famous cave. The Visit to When he asked the local name of it, his guide gave him an

answer which, to Mr. Banks, seemed to need explanation, August 12.

though the name has nowadays become but too familiar to our ears. The Cave of Fiuhn,' said the islander. "Who or what is “ Fiuhn”?, rejoined Banks. The stone, he says, of which the pillars are formed, is a coarse kind of basalt, much resembling the 'Giants' Causeway' in Ireland, though none of them so neat as the specimens of the latter which I have seen at the British Museum. . . . Here, it is dirty brown; in the Irish, a fine black.' But he carried away with him the fullest impression of the amazing grandeur of

the whole scene. The Tour In The tourists reached Iceland on the twenty-eighth of

August. They explored the country, and saw everything notable which it contained. On the twenty-first of September they visited the most conspicuous of the geysers, or hot-springs, and spent thirteen hours in examining them. On the twenty-fourth, they explored Mount Hecla.

The most famous geyser described by Von Troil (who acted usually as penman for the party) was situate near a farm called Harkaudal, about two days' journey from Hecla. You see, he tells us, a large expanse of fields shut in, upon one side, by lofty snow-covered mountains, far away, with their heads commonly shrouded in clouds, that occasionally sink (under the force of a prevalent wind) so as to conceal the slopes, while displaying the peaks. The peaks, at such moments, seem to spring out of the clouds themselves. On another hand, Hecla is seen, with its three ice-capped sum

ICELAND.

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mits, and its volcanic vapours; and then, again, a ridge of Book II, stupendous rocks, at the foot of which the boiling springs The Fourgush forth, with deafening roar, and are backed by a broad BARRSI IN marsh containing forty or fifty other springs, or 'geysers," MUSEUM from which arise immense columns of vapour, subject of LIBRABY. course to all the influences and lightings-up of wind and sky. Our tourists carefully watched the 'spoutings' of the springs—which are always fitful-and, according to their joint observations, some of these rose to the height of sixty Von Troil to feet. Occasionally—it has since been observed by later 7 Sept., 1773 explorers—they reach to an elevation of more than three times that number of feet.

Nor did Mr. Banks neglect the literature of Iceland, which abounds with interest. He bought the Library of Halfdan EINARSSON, the literary historian of Iceland, and inade other large and choice collections. And he presented the whole to the British Museum-after bestowing, I believe, some personal study on their contents —upon his return to England at the close of the year.

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POSITION
AND INFLU-

JOSEPH

For many generations, it has been very conducive to the Social possession of social prestige in this country that a man should have acquired the reputation of an adventurous tra- ENCE OF Sir veller. Even if the traveller shall have seen no anthropo- Banks. phagi, no men 'wbose heads do grow beneath their shoulders,' he is likely to attain to some degree of social eminence, merely as one who has explored those

* Antres vast and desarts idle,” of wbich home-keeping people have no knowledge, save from the tales of voyagers. To prestige of this kind, Mr. Banks added respectable scientific attainments, a large fortune, and a liberal mind. He was also the favoured

Chap. V.

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Book Il, possessor of graceful manners and of no mean powers of The Foun- conversation. It was, therefore, quite in the ordinary course

E of things that his house in London should become one of Myskum the social centres of the metropolis. It became much more

than that. From the days of his youth Banks had seen much of foreigners; he had mixed with men of European distinction. An extensive correspondence with the Continent became to him both a pursuit and an enjoyment, and one of its results, in course of time, was that at his house in Soho Square every eminent foreigner who came to England was sure to be seen. To another class of persons that house became scarcely less distinguished as the abode, not only of the rich Collections in natural history which their owner had gone so far to seek, and had gathered with so much toil and hardship, but of a noble Library, for the increase of which the book-shops of every great town in

Europe had been explored. The Royal The possessor of such manifold distinctions and of such and its'his- habits of mind seemed, to most men, marked out as the

natural head of a great scientific institution. Such a man would be sure to reflect honour on the Society, as well as to derive honour from his headship. But at this particular epoch the Royal Society (then the one conspicuous scientific association in the kingdom) was much embroiled. Mr. Banks was, in many respects, just the man to assuage dissensions. But these particular dissensions were of a kind which his special devotion to natural history tended rather to aggravate than to soften.

Mathematicians, as all men know, have been illustrious benefactors to the world, but—be the cause what it maythey have never been famous for a large-minded estimate of the pursuits and hobbies of other men, whom Nature had not made mathematical. At the time when Joseph

SOCIETY,

TORY UNDER THE RULE OF SIR JOSEPH BANKS.

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BANKS leaped-as one may say-into eminence, both Book II, scientific and social, in London, Sir John PrINGLE was THE FOUNPresident of the Royal Society, and his position there somewhat resembled the position in which we have seen Sir Museum Hans SLOANE to have been placed. Like Sir Hans, Library. PRINGLE was an eminent physician, and a keen student of Sce before, physics. He did not give umbrage to his scientific team, c.6. exactly in the way in which SLOANE had given it-by an overweening love of reading long medical papers. But natural, not mathematical, philosophy, was his forte; and the mathematicians were somewhat uneasy in the traces whilst Sir John held the reins. If PRINGLE should be succeeded by Banks, there would be a change indeed on the box, but the style of coachmanship was likely to be little altered. It is not surprising that there should have been a good deal of jibbing, just as the change was at hand, and also for some time after it had been made.

Mr. BANKS was elected to the chair of the Royal Society THE ELECon the 30th of November, 1777. He found it to be a Presidenci. very difficult post. But, in the end, the true geniality of 1777. the man, the integrity of his nature, and the suavity of his manners, won over most, if not quite all, of his opponents.

The least that can be said of his rule in that chair is that he made the Royal Society more famous throughout Europe, than it had ever been since the day when it was presided over by NEWTON.

For it was not the least eminent quality of Banks' character that, to him, a touch of science made the whole world kin.' He was a good subject, as well as a good man. He knew the blessings of an aristocratic and time-honoured monarchy. He had that true insight which enables a man to discriminate sharply between the populace and the People.

TION TO THE

30 Nov.

an

III

Book II, But, when the interests of science came into play, he could Tue Foun. say—with literal and exactest truth,

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‘Tros Tyriusve mihi nullo discrimine agetur.'

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Banks, passim.

He took a keen and genial delight both in watching and in promoting the progress of science on the other side of the Channel, whether France itself lay under the loose rule of the republican and dissolute Directory, or under the curbing hand of the First Consul, who was already rapidly aspiring towards empire.

On ten several occasions, BANKS was the means of inducing our Government to restore scientific collections,

which had been captured by British cruisers, to that magCuvier, nificent Botanic Garden (the Jardin des Plantes, at Paris) Éloge de M.

for which they had been originally destined. Such conduct could not but win for him the affectionate reverence of Frenchmen. On one eminent occasion his good services

went much further. BANKS’in. Men yet remember the European interest excited by the

adventurous expedition and the sad fate of the gallant seaman, John Francis De La PÉROUSE. When the long

search for LA PÉROUSE, which had been headed by the PEDITION OF French Admiral BRUNI D’EUTRECASTEAUX, came by discords

to an untimely end, the collection of specimens of natural history which had been made, in the course of it, by DE LA BILLARDIÈRE, was brought into an English port. The commander, it seems, felt much as SLOANE's captain * had felt at the time of our own Revolution of 1688. From LEWIS THE SIXTEENTH he had received his commission. He was unprepared to yield an account of its performance to anybody else. He brought his cargo to England, and

TERVENTION WITH KE SPECT TO SOME OF THE FRUITS OF THE Ex

I Can T

Demar

LA PÉROUSE.

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