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or rather what it used to be, (for machinery has silenced their songs !) what it still is to the boatmen of the south and the herdsmen of the Alps, verse, in another sense of the word, has been to Mary Colling, and her fellow-poets in humble life; and knowledge, in any of its numerous branches, might be, if facilities for it were afforded to all who are desirous of obtaining it. The good is very great which might be done by parochial libraries, if they were judiciously extended, and by servants' libraries in the houses of the wealthy. But of such libraries, books of direct moral and religious instruction should form the smallest part; for to put such books into the hands of those who are in no degree prepared for them by their feelings and the course of time, is adniinistering as physic that which can never be wholesome, unless it is taken as food.
Sunday,' said Dr. Johnson, ' was a heavy day to me when I was a boy. My mother confined me on that day, and made me read “ The Whole Duty of Man,” from a great part of which I could derive no instruction. When, for instance, I had read the chapter on theft, which, from my infancy, I had been taught was wrong, I was no more convinced that theft was wrong than before; so there was no accession of knowledge. A boy should be introduced to such books by having his attention directed to the arrangement, to the style, and other excellences of composition; so that the mind, being thus engaged by an amusing variety of objects, may not grow weary.'
But when it is desired that persons should instruct themselves, and with no stronger motive than the desire of knowledge, and the pleasure which they find in the pursuit, the books which are provided for them must carry their own attraction. The more they can inform and gratify an inquisitive mind, the better ; but any are useful if they amuse minds which would otherwise be idle, any, in truth, that are not mischievous. History is attractive to most readers ; biography, travels, natural history, fiction, and poetry, to almost all
. The populace in Italy are not unacquainted with Ariosto and Tasso, though the Italians are not a more intellectual people than the English. It has lately been stated, that in a subscription library at Glasgow, to which the operatives have access, the books most in request are the Newgate Calendar,' and Sir Walter Scott's novels.
Perhaps station in life has never been so signally disregarded in this country, in deference to literary merit, as it was some forty or tifty years ago in Portugal, when the two poets, Domingo dos Reis Quita, and Francisco Dias Gomez, were members of the Royal Academy at Lisbon: the first of these writers was a barber; the second a poor tradesman, who kept one of those humble shops
in which every thing belonging to common household use is sold; and the first prince of the blood was at that time President of the Academy. Britton, the small-coal man, indeed, was admitted into high company for his musical talents ; for as misfortune makes men acquainted with strange bed-fellows, so music, as well as dogs, horses, and cricket, bring them into strange society. The pursuits of agriculture, while they were in jashion, had the same harmonizing effect. In our own country, however, genius in humble life has seldom or never been neglected after it has once found means of making itself known; and to this both Scotland and England may at this day proudly bear testimony. But it is not the number of authors in humble life (nor, indeed, in any station) that we are desirous to have increased; it is the number of readers; we would have the intellectual pleasures of the higher and educated classes extended, as far as possible, to all; and greatly extended they may be, for the benefit of all.
There is, at this time, a weaver in the city of Norwich, who takes his place at the loom, during the summer months, at five in the morning, and yet rises two hours earlier for the pleasure of cultivating a flower-garden. That pleasure most persons in the country and in the smaller towns may enjoy; and none of those who enjoy it will frequent the public-house, or that new seminary of mischief, sedition, and sin of every kind, the beer-shop. The country also affords facilities for all the interesting pursuits connected with natural history; and, except London, none of our cities are so large as to preclude their inhabitants from those enjoyments which the country affords. In towns there are advantages for scientific pursuits; and some of the highest enjoyments which art can afford are open for all who have eyes to see and ears to hear, —those enjoyments which are derived from music and from architecture. When we say that these are to be found in our cathedrals, let us not be accused of inviting people thither, as to a theatre, for the sake of entertainment; though no ill would be done even if that undisguised motive took them within reach of sound instruction and the words of life; and some of those who entered the church with no better impulse might haply remain to pray. But we speak of music as a pleasure common to all, and which is capable of being improved as a highly intellectual gratification, In many countries it contributes greatly to the happiness of the people; indeed, it would not be a mere refinement to affirm that the Spanish guitar has no inconsiderable effect in making the peasantry of that delightful country contented with their lot; they are held by the ear, and will not be led by the nose to their own destruction; the revolutionary drum will not draw them into the dance of death!
Would you then, says the objector, have the lower classes in, structed in literature and in the arts and sciences ?- We would encourage them as far as possible to instruct themselves, being perfectly convinced that it would be for the benefit of all. The enemy scatters his tares among the good seed, in fields where the sower has been before him; but that enemy has the wastes to himself in full occupancy, and it is the unweeded garden which is possessed by things rank and gross in nature.' Give the people such moral and intellectual pleasures as can be given them, and
you will in the same degree withdraw them from such as are injurious to themselves and others. No wise man would wish to see High Life below Stairs in reality; for this, which, upon the stage, is an excellent farce, leads to tragedy whenever it is no fiction. But the wise and the good, who see what men are, and rightly consider what they were created to be, must, as they love their country and their kind, wish to see intellectual life, moral life, spiritual life everywhere.
Art. IV.-Principles of Geology, being an Attempt to Explain
the Former Changes of the Earth's Surface, by Reference to Causes now in Operation. By Charles Lyell
, Esq., F.R.S., Professor of Geology in King's College, London. Vol. II.
London. 1832. NO O one, twenty years ago, would have conceived it possible
that a work on the principles of geology' should appear, replete with discussions such as those into which Professor Lyell here enters. The alterations wrought in plants and animals by domestication, climate, and other conditions of existence;—the limits of the deviations which may thus take place from an original type ;-the phenomena of mixed races, and the possibility of their continued fertility ;—the laws which regulate the geographical distribution of plants and animals ;—the mode in which species may be diffused, and again, in which their limits may be contracted, and how at last they may be eliminated and become extinct;the effects produced in the animal and vegetable world by the advance of human population ;-these, and such as these, are the themes which enliven the pages of this interesting and instructive volume. And though our readers may, at first, think that the changes to which man himself, together with his works, is subjected, and the waves' that
have rolled Above the cities of a world gone by;' and the sands' that have filled up the palaces of old, and the
ocean bed strewed with treasures and skeletons, the tribute of our
• Methought I saw a thousand fearful wrecks,
Inestimable stones, unvalued jewels,
The readers of our review of the Professor's first volume, are aware of the important discovery to which geology has owed its recent advance and form :-namely, that the organic fossils which the earth contains, offer a series of genera and species, so far fixed and constant, that they enable us to distinguish and identify the successive beds by indisputable evidence, in thousands of cases, where we should look in vain for light to those mineralogical characters which were mainly attended to by the geologists of an earlier school. All who have the slightest acquaintance with the recent additions to our knowledge of the earth, either in this or in other countries, know well that the study of organic remains, more than any other single class of facts, has instructed and can instruct us on questions of the contemporaneous or successive origin of mineral deposits. Those who have traced the history of this portion of geology know also, that, in this region at least, we owe the discovery of the importance of this criterion, and a vast body of the first examples of its successful application, to a countryman of our own, an early, though long unnoticed, labourer in this now favourite field. But though the merits of Mr. William Smith have long been familiar to the minds of geologists, they had not till recently found any official organ to give them their proper praise. It was, therefore, with peculiar satisfaction that we heard this gentleman, at the last anniversary meeting of the geologists of this country, saluted by their public voice as the father of English geology. The first of the prize medals which the Geological Society has, by
the donation of the late lamented Dr. Wollaston, the office of adjudging, was given to Mr. Smith, in consideration of his being a great original discoverer in English geology; and especially for his having been the first, in this country, to discover and to teach the identification of strata, and to determine their succession, by means of their imbedded fossils.' This honour was additionally graced by the dignified and philosophical eloquence of the address delivered on that occasion by the president, Professor Sedgwick; and by the singularly interesting account of the early history of Mr. Smith's discoveries, which it contained.
This act of tilial duty will give pleasure to all who desire that the utmost zeal and activity in pushing on the boundary of science should be combined with justice and gratitude towards those who have given the impulse to its progress, and the instruments to its achievements. That in attempting to trace the past history of the earth, we must use the study of organic fossils as the right-hand of our philosophy, is now so generally allowed, that it might appear superfluous to expend a word on the subject. Such, indeed, bas of late been the general admission throughout geological Europe; and to find any one contesting the point at present, will probably be considered by geologists as an occurrence rather fitted to amuse our curiosity than to affect our opinions. Yet the atmosphere of the geological world has recently been startled by the authoritative accents of a voice uttering expressions of no small disdain and contempt against those who presume to classify strata on organic evidence. It ought surely to be obvious,' we are told, that when remote beds are said to be identified because their fossils are the same, the proposition is identical and nugatory; since it is simply to say, that similar fossils exist in two places.'* Now, the observer
* M'Culloch's Geology, vol. ii. By the bye, we are the last persons who would decry the liberality of government in grants for scientific purposes, when these are properly applied ; but we have yet to learn what adequate harvest is to be reaped from the expenditure of more than 70001. on this gentleman's mineralogical survey of Scotland. From a return to an address of the House of Commons, dated 230 December, 1830, it appears that Dr. M'Culloch, having been allowed 17. per diem for personal expenses, 21. per diem as remuneration, and 28. per mile for travelling expenses, solemnly declared before the Scotch Barons of Exchequer, that his average rate of travelling, throughout one of his scientific excursions among the rugged mountains of the Highlands, was forty-five miles per diem-and in another of them fifty-two! When we consider that the doctor must have travelled hammer in hand, knocking at every crag, and peering into every crevice—that he worked, by his own account, so hard for many months in each of these summers as never to allow himself a Sunday—and that the region he was exploring presents very considerable obstacles, both over head and under foot, to the locomotiveness of ordinary mortals we cannot wonder that the canny barons should have begun to suspect himn of being in actual possession of the seven-league boots. The correspondence in which he answers their inquiries is embodied in the Return, and we cannot sufficiently express our surprise that it should have so long escaped the notice of Mr. Joseph Hume. 70001.!!!