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columns, of 62 lines, and 60 letters; making for each page about 3700 letters, and for each treatise nearly 120,000 letters; and yet it is sold at the same price with the Library for the People. In order to realize the promise of containing in each number as much as is sold for five shillings of some works, and ten of others, the numbers should contain between nine and ten times as much as they.do. :. We now come to describe, somewhat more in detail, the Library published by the Society, and which realises every promise held out by that most distinguished body.
These publications were introduced by a Discourse upon the Objects, Advantages, and Pleasures of Scientific Pursuits, designed to prepare the reader for the series of treatises upon alt branches of physical science. After dividing the whole of human knowledge into its grand classes, it gives a plain and most easily understood description of the nature of the pure mathematical sciences, with many illustrations of their use in practice; a full account of the difference between necessary and contingent truth, and the evidence upon which mathematical and physical propositions rest; and a copious illustration of the various branches of natural philosophy, with a variety of examples of their application to the animal and vegetable world. It closes with a discourse upon the advantages and pleasures to be derived from the study of those sublime and interesting sciences. This subject is placed in an original and striking light in the following passage
“ That every man is capable of being delighted with extending his information upon matters of science, will be evident from a few plain considerations.
“ Reflect how many parts of the reading, even of persons ignorant of all sciences, refer to matters wholly unconnected with any interest or advantage to be derived from the knowledge acquired. Every one is amused with reading a story: a romance may please some, and a fairy tale may entertain others; but no benefit beyond the amusement is derived from this source : the imagination is gratified; and we willingly spend a good deal of time, and a little money, in this gratification, rather than in rest after fatigue, or in any other bodily indulgence. So we read a newspaper, without any view to the advantage we are to gain from learning the news, but because it interests and amuses us to know what is passing. One object, no doubt, is to become acquainted with matters relating to the welfare of the country; but we read the occurrences which do little, or not at all, regard the public interests, and we take a pleasure in reading them. Accidents, adventures, anecdotes, crimes, and a variety of other things, amuse us, independent of the information respecting public affairs, in which we feel interested as citizens of the state, or as members of a particular body. It is of little importance to inquire how and why these things excite our attention, and wherefore the reading about them is a pleasure : the fact is
certain ; and it proves, clearly, that there is a positive enjoyment in knowing what we did not know before ; and this pleasure is greatly increased when the information is such as excites our surprise, wonder, or admiration. Most persons who take delight in reading tales of ghosts, which they know to be false, and feel all the while to be silly in the extreme, are merely gratified, or rather occupied, with the strong emotions of horror excited by the momentary belief, for it can only last an instant. Such reading is a degrading waste of precious time, and has even a bad effect upon the feelings and the judgment. But true stories of horrid crimes, as murders, and pitiable misfortunes, as shipwrecks, are not much more instructive. It may be better to read these than to sit yawning and idle—much better than to sit drinking or gaming, which, when carried to the least excess, are crimes in themselves, and the fruitful parents of many more. But this is nearly as much as can be said for such vain and unprofitable reading. If it be a pleasure to gratify curiosity, to know what we were ignorant of, to have our feelings of wonder called forth, how pure a delight of this very kind does Natural Science hold out to its students ? Recollect some of the extraordinary discoveries of Mechanical Philosophy. How wonderful are the laws that regulate the motions of Auids! İs there anything in all the idle books of tales and horrors more truly astonishing than the fact, that a few pounds of water may, by mere pressure, without any machinery, by merely being placed in a particular way, produce an irresistible force? What can be more strange, than that an ounce weight should balance hundreds of pounds, by the intervention of a few bars of thin iron ? Observe the extraordinary truths which Optical Science discloses. Can anything surprise us more, than to find that the colour of white is a mixture of all othersthat red, and blue, and green, and all the rest, merely by being blended in certain proportions, form what we had fancied rather to be no colour at all, than all colours together? Chemistry is not behind in its wonders. That the diamond should be made of the same material with coal ; that water should be chiefly composed of an inflammablo substance; that acids should be almost all formed of different kinds of air, and that one of those acids, whose strength can dissolve almost any of the metals, should be made of the self-same ingredients with the common air we breathe ; that salts should be of a metallic nature, and composed, in great part, of metals, fluid like quicksilver, but lighter than water, and which, without any heating, take fire upon being exposed to the air, and, by burning, form the substance so aboundings in saltpetre and in the ashes of burnt wood: these, surely, are things to excite the wonder of any reflecting mind—nay, of any one but little accustomed to reflect. And yet these are trifling when compared: to the prodigies which Astronomy opens to our view: the enormous masses of the heavenly bodies; their immense distances ; their countless numbers, and their motions, whose swiftness mocks the uttermost. efforts of the imagination.”
“ To pass our time in the study of the sciences, in learning what others have discovered, and in extending the bounds of buman knowVOL. XLVI. NO, 91.
ledge, has, in all ages, been reckoned the most dignified and happy of human occupations; and the name of Philosopher, or Lover of Wisdom, is given to those who lead such a life. But it is by no means necessary that a man should do nothing else than study known truths, and explore new, in order to earn this high title. Some of the greatest philosophers in all ages have been engaged in the pursuits of active life; and an assiduous devotion of the bulk of our time to the work which our condition requires, is an important duty, and indicates the possession of practical wisdom. This, however, does by no means hinder us from applying the rest of our time, beside what nature requires for meals and rest, to the study of science; and he who, in whatever station his lot may be cast, works his day's work, and improves his mind in the evening, as well as he who, placed above such necessity, prefers the refined and elevating pleasures of knowledge to the low gratification of the senses, richly deserves the name of a True Philosopher.
“ One of the most gratifying treats which science affords us is the knowledge of the extraordinary powers with which the human mind is endowed. No man, until he lias studied philosophy, can have a just idea of the great things for which Providence has fitted his understand: ing, the extraordinary disproportion which there is between his natural strength and the powers of his mind, and the force which he derives from those powers. When we survey the marvellous truths of Astronomy, we are first of all lost in the feeling of immense space, and of the comparative insignificance of this globe and its inhabitants. But there soon arises a sense of gratification and of new wonder at perceiving how so insignificant a creature has been able to reach such a knowledge of the unbounded system of the universe—to penetrate, as it were, through all space, and become familiar with the laws of nature at distances so enormous as baffle our imagination—to be able to say, not merely that the Sun lias 329,630 times the quantity of matter which our globe has, Jupiter 308, and Saturn 93 times; but that a pound of lead weighs at the Sun 22 lbs. 15 ozs. 16 dwts. 9 grs. and of a grain; at Jupiter 2 lbs. 1 oz. 19 dwts. I gr. 24; and at Saturn 1 lb. 3 ozs. 8 dwts. 20 grs. i'r part of a grain; and what is far more wonderful, to discover the laws by which the whole of this vast system is held together and maintained through countless ages in perfect security and order. It is surely no mean reward of our labour to become acquainted with the prodigious genius of those who have almost exalted the nature of man above its destined sphere; and, admitted to a fellowship with those loftier minds, to know how it comes to pass that by universal consent they hold a station apart, rising over all the Great Teachers of mankind, and spoken of reverently, as if NEWTON and LAPLACE were not the names of mortal men."
The treatises which have followed this introductory discourse, are upon Hydrostatics, Hydraulics, Pneumatics, and Heat, and the series is regularly continued. It is difficult to praise too highly the admirable union of plain and pure English diction, with profound scientific views, which distinguishes these works. One or two errors, which had crept into the early numbers, have since been rectified in new editions; and we learn that the circulation has already reached ten thousand, and is rapidly increasing. The Society have announced, that as soon as a few more treatises upon Natural Philosophy are published, a few upon general subjects will be introduced, and then a series on the different branches of Mathematics. We cannot help wishing that the desire for these works may be gratified, by publishing the Mathematical treatises, which are understood to be nearly ready, out of their turn, while the historical series is going on, in order that a preparation may be made for completing the series of Physical treatises, by pursuing the more abstract and mathematical parts of these sciences. When this great work is completed, if finished as it has been begun, it will undoubtedly form by far the most important of the contributions from men of science and letters to the instruction and improvement of mankind,
It is quite impossible to contemplate the efforts thus making for the improvement of mankind, without feeling the mind elevated with an extraordinary hope, and even a lively faith, in the success of so grand a work. The Society, which has nobly undertaken to provide the means of self-instruction for all classes, has adopted the true method of remedying the prevailing ignorance. It has set before the world the advantages and pleasures of science, and it has taken upon itself to enable all men, with a little patience and attention, to learn every branch of useful knowledge. To the common people, including inferior tradesmen and artisans, this gift is invaluable; there is no class of them, from the mechanist down to the day-labourer in husbandry, who may not both improve their understanding and better their hearts, and also mend their circumstances, by studying some branch or other of Natural Philosophy. Can any one doubt that a knowledge of Chemistry is practically useful and immediately profitable to the bleacher, the dyer, the painter, the glassmaker, the brewer? or that those who work in the line of engineers will gain by knowing the nature of the mechanical powers ? or that bankers and canal men must be the better at their craft for knowing hydraulics ? But the peasant has to deal with plants, and with cattle, and with manure,-surely he will be the better at his craft for knowing something of vegetation, of zoology, and of mineralogy. These works of the Society are most important to these classes ; because, especially in villages and hamlets, and farm houses, they cannot have the aid of teachers, and must, if they learn at all, rely on their own reading for instruction. The Society has, first, brought science down to the level of the most ordinary capacity, and enabled the reader, how ignorant soever, to master it by merely attending to what he reads. If any of its treatises should still be found not adapted to teach the peasant, hands far inferior to those which prepared them, may make their contents still more simple and familiar.
But there is another class, far higher in society, though, generally speaking, not more versed in scientific matters, who must, soon feel the desire of repairing the defects of education, and, though late, of becoming acquainted with the laws and structure of the universe they live in. Philosophy has only of late years , made its way into the higher orders of the community; and now, that its lessons are so much better relished, and the learning of them is so much more in vogue than it used to be twenty or thirty years ago, persons of a certain station and age, how desirous soever of understanding them, are unwilling to go to school again, and are prevented from attempting to teach them-: selves, by the want of books, so planned and so written, as to make what they contain intelligible to ignorant readers, who have not the aid of a tutor in their studies. This defect is now in the course of being supplied by the Society; and any one who regrets having neglected science in early youth, when few patricians thought of pursuing it, will now be able to taste its gratifications. He may take up any of the treatises that strikes his fancy: he will find it easy to learn the branch of science. handled in it. He will then learn his own force of acquirement, and be desirous of exerting it in gaining some other branch.
After thus mastering all the departments, as far as a popular knowledge goes, he will probably have found that his taste and capacity lead him to one division by preference; to this he will addict himself peculiarly, and, no longer satisfied with a general and somewhat superficial knowledge of it, he will again study these works, and be led from them to deeper and more detailed treatises. His time being his own, he may even discover new . truths, or new applications of the truths thus learned ; and for one devoted to science, that we now have, we may live to see , hundreds, who, despising the frivolous amusements, or less innocent occupations of their station, shall deem it their highest joy and chiefest good to shed a light upon the dark places of philosophy, and live after death in the reverence and gratitude of posterity --for one now capable of relishing the PRINCIPIA and the Me-, CHANIQUE CELESTE, we may have hundreds who shall deem their education as accomplished gentlemen imperfect, until they can follow and enjoy the most sublime of all the efforts of human genius.