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bridge built by Rennie, in the centre of the commercial world, will subsist to tell the most distant generations, here was a rich, industrious, and powerful city. The traveller, on beholding this superb monument, will suppose that some great prince wished, by many years of labour, to consecrate for ever the glory of his life by this imposing structure. But if tradition instruct the traveller that six years sufficed for the undertaking and finishing of this work; if he learns that an association of a number of private individuals was rich enough to defray the expense of this colossal monument, worthy of Sesostris or Cæsar, he will admire still more the nation in which similar undertakings could be the fruits of the efforts of a few obscure individuals, lost in the crowd of industrious citizens.”
Another magnificent work executed by Mr Rennie is the celebrated Breakwater across Plymouth sound. “ This great national work,” says a writer in the Quarterly Review,' “ was first contemplated by Lord Grey, when at the head of the naval administration ; but to Mr Yorke is due the merit of having adopted the plan and caused it to be carried into execution, notwithstanding the sinister bodings of those who were hostile to it; his own sound judgment, however, backed by the opinion of Mr Rennie, gave him assurance of the propriety, and of the successful issue of the undertaking. M. Dupin assures us that in planning this work, Mr Rennie availed himself of all the experience which his countrymen had acquired at Cherbourg. He is mistaken : Mr Rennie has indeed avoided their errors ; but he trusted to the resources of his own powerful mind, and imitated nothing that was done at Cherbourg. He never supposed that a set of wooden tubs filled with rubble could brave the violence of the waves ; nor that a dyke of such materials cased with stones of a larger description, could maintain its ground against the continued action of the sea. He was perfectly aware of the total disappearance of Fort Napoleon, which had been erected on the centre of the great dyke of Cherbourg, and finally of that of the dyke itself,a fate which might have been anticipated by reflecting that the rubble stones, upon the sloping sides of which the casing was let down, would, when once put in motion, act as so many rollers and facilitate the passage of the larger stones beyond the extremities of the base. Mr Rennie set to work with juster notions. He knew that to resist the force of the heavy sea which rolls in from the south and south-west, a very considerable slope would be necessary, and that great masses of stones from one to ten tons each would be required. The quarries from which these were procured are situated at Oreston on the eastern shore of Catwater; they lie under a surface of about twenty-five acres, and were purchased from the duke of Bedford for £10,000.”
Among the canals which Mr Rennie executed, and gave his chief personal attention to, were: the Crinan, the Lancaster, Aberdeen, Brechin, Grand Western, Kennet and Avon, Portsmouth, Worcester, Birmingham, and several others. Some of our finest docks and harbours were also constructed, or improved, under his superintendence. The docks at Hull, Greenock, Leith, Liverpool, and Dublin, attest his skill; as do the harbours of Queensferry, Berwick, Howth, Holyhead, Dunleary and Newhaven. His chief works in this way, however, are in the dock-yards, at Portsmouth, Plymouth, Chatham, and Sheerness. His design for the projected naval arse
senal, at Northfleet, was on so grand a scale as to be thought capable of containing, afloat, two-thirds of the whole navy ; but the estimated sum of eight millions, probably, induced government to abandon the scheme. The pier-head, at Ramsgate, owes much of its durability to the ingenuity of Rennie; and he also effected, what had long baffled some of the ablest civil engineers,the drainage of that vast tract of marsh-land, bordering upon the rivers Trent, Witham, New Welland, and Ouse.
This eminent man died on the 16th of October, 1821. He was buried in St Paul's, where his remains are interred near those of Sir Christopher Wren. “ Rennie,” says one of his biographers, “ has been compared with Smeaton, as an engineer; but the parallel is, in our opinion, not a correct one. Smeaton possessed much more theoretical knowledge than Rennie, and Rennie surpassed Smeaton in his practical
The latter was more of a man of science ; and, if he was less of a practical engineer, we may ascribe it, in some degree, to his having flourished at an earlier period of the arts, and at a time when the military and naval resources of our country were not called forth for its defence ; and when British capital, and British enterprise, had not dared to embark themselves in works of national magnitude and interest."
Sir Joseph Banks.
BORN A. D. 1743,--DIED A.D. 1820.
This distinguished naturalist was born in London, on the 13th of February, 1743. He was the son of William Banks, Esq. of Revesby abbey, in Lincolnshire. He passed successively through the classical schools of Harrow and Eton, and completed his studies at Christ-church, Oxford. His father died in 1761, and left him an ample fortune, which, however, had not the effect of inducing the young student to abandon for lighter pleasures and more frivolous pursuits, those studies on the prosecution of which he had already entered with all the vigour and greatly more than the ordinary perseverance of youth. Natural history in its various branches had formed his chief amusement while a schoolboy; and his love of this most attractive branch of science increased with the enlarged facilities which he possessed for its pursuit. In 1766 he made a voyage to Newfoundland, in company with his friend Lieutenant Phipps, afterwards Lord Mulgrave. In 1768 he obtained permission from the admiralty to accompany Captain Cook on his projected voyage of discovery in the southern hemisphere. His preparations for this voyage were made on the most liberal scale, and enabled him greatly to extend the boundaries of his favourite science. The success also with which he cultivated the friendship of the rude inhabitants of those islands at which the ships touched, proved in various instances of essential service to the expedition ; and both hemispheres owe to him a debt of gratitude,for while he gave the savages the improved tools and more useful productions of Europe, his exertions led to the introduction of the bread-fruit tree and the sugar-cane into our West Indian colonies.
In the summer of 1772 he went to Iceland. The result of his scientific researches on this occasion was communicated to the world by M. Von Troil, a Swedish clergyman, who formed one of his party, Mr Banks himself, although indefatigable in the pursuit of knowledge, having always disregarded the fame of authorship.
From the period of his return from Iceland, Mr Banks undertook no more distant expeditions, but continued to cultivate assiduously the principal branches of his favourite science. His house, library, and museum were thrown open to men of science whether British or foreign, and his patronage was never solicited in vain for any object connected with the advancement of the general interests of science.
By such means he acquired that popularity which in a few years led to his elevation to the president's chair in the Royal society. The election was indeed strenuously opposed by Bishop Horsley and a party of mathematicians, who were indignant at beholding the chair of Newton occupied by a man whom they could not regard as an adept in the stricter sciences; but Banks triumphed over all opposition, and held the honourable office, from which it was sought to drive him, during the remainder of his life,- period of forty-one years.
Mr Banks had early attracted the notice and regards of George III., whose tastes were somewhat akin to his own. In 1781 he received a proof of the royal favour in being created a baronet, and in 1795 he received the order of the Bath. Two years afterwards he was made a privy counsellor. His influence with his sovereign enabled bim to perform some valuable services to men of science throughout Europe, during the long interruption of friendly communication betwixt Great Britain and the continent. An eminent member of the French Insti. tute, in his eloge upon Banks, asserts that no less than ten times, different collections of plants addressed to the Jardin du Roi at Paris, but which had been captured by English vessels, were restored by Sir Joseph's intercession to their original destination.
In 1802 the National Institute of France elected Sir Joseph Banks one of their eight foreign associates, This circumstance drew down upon him the vituperation of his old opponent Horsley, who immediately addressed to him, and printed and circulated, the following letter:
TO SIR JOSEPH BANKS, &c. &c. “Sir,— The following article, extracted from the official French paper of the 18th instant, is not only so little honourable to your own character, but so insulting to the society over which you have long presided, and so repugnant to the genuine feelings of an Englishman, that the public voice demands from you an explanation of the letter, if it be authentic, or a disavowal of it, if it be a forgery.
“ NATIONAL INSTITUTE. "Letter of Sir Joseph Banks, President of the Royal Society of
London, to the President and Secretaries of the National Institute of France.
London, January 21st, 1802. “ Citizens,—Be pleased to offer to the National Institute my warmest thanks for the honour they have done me, in conferring upon me the title of associate of this learned and distinguished body. Assure, at the sanie time, my respectable brothers, that I consider this mark of their esteem as the highest and most enviable literary distinction which I could possibly attain. To be the first elected to be an associate of the first literary society in the world, surpasses my most ambitious hopes ; and I cannot be too grateful towards a society which has conferred upon me this honour, and towards a nation of which it is the literary representative ; a nation which, during the most frightful convulsions of the late most terrible revolution, never ceased to possess my esteem ; being always persuaded, even during the most disastrous periods, that it contained many good citizens, who would infallibly get the upper hand, and who would re-establish in the hearts of their countrymen the empire of virtue, of justice, and of honour.
Receive more especially, citizens, my warmest acknowledgments, for the truly polite manner in which you communicated this agreeable intelligence. I am, with sincere esteem for your distinguished talents, &c.
" Joseph Banks."
“ Now, Sir, notwithstanding my disgust at this load of filthy adulation, I shall trouble you with some calm remarks upon it. Supposing your acceptance of the nomination to be perfectly consistent with your dignity, (which, however, I deny,) there would be no material objection to the first and concluding paragraphs of your letter, which would have been amply sufficient for the purpose of acknowledgment: but the intermediate part is highly reprehensible : it is replete with sentiments which are a compound of servility, disloyalty, and falsehood; sentiments which ought never to be conceived by an English heart, never written by an English hand, and, least of all, by yours, distinguished as you are by repeated (out of respect to his majesty I will not say unmerited) marks of royal favour, and elevated to a station in which the country might be excused for looking up to you as the jealous guardian, not the betrayer, of its literary credit. Your respectable brothers' of the French Institute may, perhaps, be intoxicated by the incense which you have lavished before their altar of atheism and democracy; for, although they were companions of the respectable Bonaparte in his expeditions, and plundered libraries and cabinets with as much alacrity, and as little scruple, as he displayed in treasuries and in churches, I do not believe that the ungrateful nations whom they robbed ever composed such a brilliant eulogium on their talents and their vir. tues. No, Sir; it was reserved for the head of the Royal society of London, to assure an exotic embryo academy, that he is more proud of being a mere associate of the latter than president of the former; that he considers their election of him as the highest and most enviable literary distinction which he could possibly attain ;' and that he deems them the first literary society in the world. Sir, I have read with pleasure and with profit many volumes published by the Royal society; and, with due submission to you, I assert that the cultivation of science is more indebted to their exertions than to those of any other institution whatsoever. But I am yet to learn the merits of this novel association of revolutionary philosophers into which you have been enlisted. What acts, but acts of robbery, have we seen of theirs ? Where are the proofs of their pre-eminence ? It is incumbent on you to produce
those proofs, and to convince the British literati that your contempt of them is just. But the plenitude of your joy admits no consideration for English societies, or the English nation : you exult in your new honours, and your gratitude knows no limits but those of France; it overleaps the cradle of the infant institute, and expands itself thoughout a nation which you say has never ceased to possess your esteem during the most frightful convulsions of the revolution ; being always persuaded, even during the most disastrous periods, that it contained many good citizens who would infallibly get the upper hand (as you elegantly express it), and who would re-establish in the hearts of their countrymen the empire of virtue, of justice, and of honour.' Really, Sir, I know not which excites the greater admiration, the impetuous torrent of your esteem, which bears away the feeble impediments of loyalty, patriotism, morality, and religion, or the wonderful sagacity of your prognostics, some of which are acco
ccomplished, and for the rest we must wait for the consul's leisure. The good citizen Bonaparte has already got the upper hand, but when he will re-establish the empire of virtue, of justice, and of honour, in the hearts of the republican Frenchmen (where I suspect they never had much foundation) your penetration only can foresee. As to religion, you seem yourself to despair of its restoration, since you do not even mention it; or perhaps you deemed it a matter of too little importance to merit the consideration of philosophers. I must not omit another observation, that the French people • never ceased to possess your esteem during the most frightful convulsions of the revolution.' There is a singular coincidence between the sentiment and the time at which it is uttered. Your letter is dated January 21st. Sir, the 21st of January was the day on which the illfated Louis XVI. was executed by his treacherous subjects; and it is the anniversary of that day which you select to assure his assassins that they never ceased to possess your esteem !!! I will not assert that you designedly combined the declaration and the date; but the French jacobins are too quick-sighted not to remark the circumstance, and to deduce their inference; and the English jacobins will do the same: nay, I verily believe that this circumstance, together with an opportunity (which they are ever ready to embrace) of wounding the pride of Englishmen, were the motives which induced the publication of your letter. But after all, Sir, why this display of gratitude ? You must acknowledge it to be at least superfluous ; because the French nation, by electing you a member of their institute, merely discharged an old account. You understand me, Sir; but as the public are probably not so well informed, I must solicit their attention to the following anecdote. Soon after the judicial murder of Louis XVI. one of the officers who accompanied the unfortunate La Perouse returned to Europe with numerous specimens of natural history, collected during the early part of his voyage of discovery. In these latitudes he first obtained intelligence of the revolution, and being a man of honour, felt that he was accountable only to the crown of France, from which he had accepted his commission. Accordingly he brought his vessel to an English port, from whence, by permission of our government, the cargo was conveyed to London, and committed to the custody of a nobleman, who, at that time, was the agent of the French princes. This nobleman, having communicated the circumstance to Louis XVIII., was instructed to