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men unknown to science-from the recesses, not of the study or laboratory, but of Chancery—not from the heights of the observatory, but from those of the Master's Office-(dire facies, inimicaque Trojæ Numina)—the Accountant-General leading the fight for the Naturalists, against the Natural Philosophers. The Court of St James's is thought not to have here preserved a strict neutrality, any more than the Court of Chancery: his late Majesty had, in early life, been unfortunate in his scientific speculations, for he espoused the side of the blunt conductors, and was defeated by the party of Franklin in Somerset House, a little before his greater defeat by the same party in America; he took much interest in Gardening and Farming, and their kindred Botany, and he found congenial principles as well as taste in Sir Joseph Banks. The aristocracy declared for him; Botany being more fashionable than Mathematics; and even the Church showed no proneness to support their brother, when he arrayed himself against the powers that be. Thus the fate of Mathematics was sealed; those who took delight in such pursuits seceded, and for years the Transactions contained none of their works. The same arbitrary spirit which had expelled the severer sciences prevailed more or less during Sir Joseph's long reign, though it was greatly mitigated during the latter half of it. But a worse contamination crept in towards the end of it, which still seems to pervade the body in full force, and must prove fatal if not speedily checked. The influence of mere rank, whether of the aristocracy or of place, has become unlimited in the Society's affairs. Persons are chosen on the Council whose literary attainments consist of reading and writing, and whose science may carry them as far as ciphering, merely because they are lords, or are in some station under government. A spirit of jobbing, and of dependence upon official patronage, seems to be rather cultivated than repressed. The influence of the Society has been employed in obtaining promotion to scientific offices for the private favourite, or the supple courtier, rather than the profound student of nature, friendless and ignorant of the ways of men, buried in his closet and outwatching the Bear.' Men of undoubted science have been refused admittance into the Society on various pretences—but in reality because they were unbending. And places in the Society have sometimes been given to the favourite and the flatterer, because he was not an eminent man. Far from marvelling at other bodies being formed for real business, and at other works being enriched at the expense of the Philosophical Transactions, we regard the superiority which the Society still enjoys, as an extraordinary proof of the indestructible nature of an ancient and once illustrious
· I trust that with these new Societies we shall always preserve the same amicable relations, and that we shall mutually assist each other; and that they, recollecting our grand object, which is to establish principles on undoubted reasoning and experiments, and to make useful applications in science, will, should any discoveries be made by their members respecting general laws, or important facts observed, which seem to lead to purposes of direct utility,* do us the honour to communicate them to us,—they will have no dishonourable place in being published in those records, which remain monuments of all the country has possessed of profound in experimental research, or ingenious in discovery, or sublime in speculative science, from the time of Hooket and Newton, to that of Maskelyne and Cavendish.
• I am sure there is no desire in this body to exert anything like patriarchal authority in relation to those institutions, or (and) indeed if there were such a desire, it could not be gratified. But I trust there may exist in the new Societies that feeling of respect and affection for the Royal Society which is due to the elder brother, to the first-born of the same family,--and that we shall co-operate in perfect harmony, for one great object, which, from its nature, ought to be a bond of union and of peace, not merely among the philosophers of the same country, but even amongst those of different nations. Pp. 5, 6.
It would have been foreign, not to the subject, but to the purpose of this discourse, and certainly little befitting the occasion of its delivery, to recount the causes which have of late years lowered the illustrious body over which Newton once presided; and have, far more than any whimsical notions of subdividing the work of research, or even any vain desires of personal distinction, caused new associations of eminent men to spring up and to flourish, at the expense of the ancient stock. A severe blow was given to the institution, which began in the cultivation of the Mathematics, by the controversy between the Botanists and Mathematicians, and the defeat of the latter. The debate is yet remembered, whose unwonted jar broke the silence that had reigned in Somerset House for the first time since the workmen had quitted its vaulted halls—the debate in which Bishop Horsley, leading the Mathematical opposition, complained of Newton's chair being filled by a Botanist, surrounded
by his groups of feeble amateurs; and in which men were brought down fas the Parliamentary phrase is) to answer him,
* We should take leave to ask, what kind of discoveries those are which remain after the ones here enumerated ?
+ When Hooke is compared with Newton, we have no right to start at Maskelyne and Cavendish being also brought together. Here, as in other passages, we find the quarrels of Hooke with the chair have been forgiven.
through the outer coverings of the body, and inform him what was passing within. In the same discourse are praised two men, whose fame being evanescent, their merits would have required much of the tactus doctus to draw them from their dark abode' -a Dr Cartwright, who improved the pistons of steam engines, and a Mr Jordan, who, we believe, was agent of Barbadoes, and an amateur in optical matters. The habit of praising seems to be easily imbibed, and to overrun the whole composition of him who indulges in its sweets. So the discourse on delivering the medal to Mr Pond digresses into panegyrics upon his great predecessors-Halley and Bradley—which no one could have complained of, for their names stand among the highest in the annals of science; but Dr Maskelyne is associated with them-his
was a kindred spirit to that of those illustrious philosophers' -for no other reason that we can discover, except that we
remember him with so much respect and affection.' The eulogy upon Mr Pond, the successor of these eminent men, is sufficiently ample, and, we make no doubt, abundantly well deserved; but it closes with an exhortation somewhat awkwardly phrased, and at much variance with what went before; for after testifying no little gratitude for his five-and-twenty years' services, and bestowing the medal in token, as it were, of ' value 6 received, we were naturally led to believe that the Astronomer Royal (whose appointment is avowed as the doing of the Society, and in return for his useful labours in the service) had already performed enough to establish his title as successor to the office; but the conclusion points to the future as the scene of his glory, and bids him endeavour to be worthy of having his "namc transmitted to future generations with those of your illustrious predecessors.'
The known rule of the Royal Society, which we have inscribed on every part of every volume of its Transactions, and to which,
(says the half-yearly notice,) they will always adhere,' is, never to give their opinion as a body upon any subject, either 6 of nature or art, that comes before them. The Council, which is the executive power, we may well suppose still less presumes to sit in judgment on any scientific subject, except in the necessary discharge of its duties, the selection of papers for publication, and the awarding of prizes. We therefore regard the statement in the following passage as a strong proof of the Council's entire satisfaction with the accuracy of the observations at Greenwich, since the accession of the present distinguished Astronomer Royal. Nothing could have tempted the Council to depart from its wonted caution, and commit itself, if
we may so speak, by vouching for the correctness of the present observers, but a most implicit trust in their merits as observers, a trust, of course, grounded, not, like their opinion of Dr Maskelyne's spirit being akin to Halley's and Bradley's, upon feelings of personal respect and affection;' but upon actual verification in a number of instances—for surely, it is no mere matter of empty eulogy, or even of philosophic speculation, to avouch the accuracy of observations which are of such immense practical importance as those carried on at Greenwich. The Council must, therefore, have been aware that some such testimony was called for, possibly by rumours of errors in the nautical tables, which had gone forth. Such rumours must now be held as utterly groundless. I now present to you this • medal as a token of the respect of the Society, and of the
confidence of the Council in the great accuracy of your Observa* tions.'-(p. 76.) Nor let it be said that this applies only to the observations last made by the Astronomer Royal on the Parallax question; for the medal is expressly adjudged to him, ' for his various papers and observations communicated to the • Royal Society;' (p. 66.) according to the modern practice of lumping together a number of Essays, when it is wished to give the medal to a person who has never produced any one of merit sufficiently prominent to deserve it-making bulk in some sort supply the place of value. But indeed, it should seem that the observations on the parallax controversy are rather excluded from the number of those to which the remarkable passage cited can apply; for it is expressly stated, (p. 70.) that, • in awarding the medal, the Council do not at all mean to ex
press an opinion on this subject; when two such astronomers (Dr Brinkley and Mr Pond) differ, it would be presumptuous, and almost impossible for them to decide; it is, however, • highly satisfactory to know, that the question is now reduced within such very small limits, the difference between the • Greenwich and Dublin observations generally amounting to • less than a second;' and the same medal is, the very next year, awarded to Dr Brinkley, the antagonist observer, for his
various communications, printed in the Philosophical Trans• actions.' (p. 82.) So that the whole question being one of accuracy in the two observers and their instruments, the Council, in professing to hold the scales quite even between them, professes also not to decide in favour of the accuracy of Mr Pond's observations, as far as regards this controversy; therefore the marked expression of confidence in the great accuracy 6 of Mr Pond's observations,' above cited, cannot possibly apply to his late observations connected with the parallax of the fixed stars. We are the more anxious to set this matter on its right footing, because the testimony of the Council, if given to support the general correctness of the Greenwich observations, ought to have great weight, supposing always that body to be of competent ability and experience, and of unsuspected impartiality in its decisions; it is, or at least it ought to be, an authority from which there could hardly be an appeal; it ought to set at rest all cavil and allay all doubts. If, on the other hand, the decision has been hastily come to, for the purpose of putting down (as the late President would have said) all opposition or if the Council are a less learned, a less purely scientific, a more political body than they were wont to be in olden times—then the point is possibly not yet determined, although the decision has been pronounced. At all events, the Astronomer Royal is no longer singly answerable to the public; he is primarily responsible, no doubt, as the observer, but he has good sureties; his bondsmen are the Council of the Royal Society, and they, having volunteered their liability, must stand or fall by the result.
In awarding the prize of the following year to Dr Brinkley, the President enters somewhat at length, and with much propriety and great distinctness of statement, into the controversy more than once alluded to in this article. Our scientific readers are aware that Dr Brinkley, as far back as 1810, communicated to the Royal Society a very short notice of his observations upon the star a Lyre; they were made with the eight feet circle of the Dublin observatory, and were 47 in number, 22 being made in opposition, and 25 in conjunction; and all these comparisons between the direction of the instrument at opposite points of the earth's orbit, agreed in showing a want of parallelism, and the mean angle, or the parallax, was found to be 2.52.-Philosophical Transactions, 1810, p. 204. This certainly indicated a much smaller distance than had been assumed or suspected by astronomers for any of the fixed stars. Dr Bradley satisfied himself by many observations, that the annual parallax of , Draconis was not equal to 1", (Philosophical Transactions, 1728, p. 637 ;) and Mr Michell thought Sirius himself, the nearest of them, in all probability, not more than 1".—(Philosophical Transactions, 1767, p. 234.) Accordingly, Dr Brinkley's parallax has been doubted by other astronomers, and Mr Pond has denied it altogether. His argument is, that in proportion to the inaccuracy of the instruments employed, astronomers have been always led to believe they had discovered a parallax;