Page images

Amelia, though full of tenderness and | Tatler, the World, the Connoisseur add contruth, wants the bracing inspiring vivacity firmation strong to the testimony of and vigour of the other two novels of Parson Adams, Trulliber, Trunnion, Squire Fielding. The open-air and roadside-inn Western, the Fool of Quality, Betsey adventures of Joseph and the parson on Thoughtless, and the like. Compare the the one hand and of Tom Jones on the picture of past times thus obtained with other give a picture of rural life in Eng- the impression produced by our own age. land that is unsurpassed in our litera- Admitting that we are as a community ture. The indelicacy and coarseness of more decent and refined than were our many passages in these works, transcripts forefathers, are we more virtuous ? In as they doubtless are from nature, seem the general progress of refinement vice blown away by the hearty laughter, the participates, and is none the less poisonous bluff robust merriment that accompanies for being distilled. We wear the mask them. Smollett, who studied the same better than did the gallants and gay ladies models that Fielding copied, has not the of old, and so far render the homage same breadth of hand or power of execu- which vice pays to virtue in hypocrisy. tion, and some of his scenes excite a feel. The revelations of the law courts, no less ing of disgust that honest readers of Tom than the sensational stories of our novelJones never can feel. Recurrence to mere ists, betray the existence of much evil in indecency as a means of entertainment our society. Upon the whole, however, marks a very low intellectual type, and by there is reason enough not to wish for the this canon of criticism Mrs. Aphra Behn return of the old times. That the coarseought to be judged. Mr. Forsyth justly ness of manners did grievously blunt the reprobates the social condition which could edge of moral sensibility is pointedly permit Behn's works to be read aloud in a shown by Fielding, in the inconsciousness drawing-room among ladies with applause, with which he makes his hero keep up and he gives the oft-repeated anecdote connection with Lady Bellaston after he told by Sir Walter Scott of his grand-aunt, has formed an attachment to Sophia Mrs. Keith, who in old age turned with Western. with nausea from reading the books she Mr. Forsyth has an amusing chapter on had heard with complacency in her youth. the parson of the seventeenth century. We suspect there was as much stupidity The book of Eachard's entitled Causes of as want of refined taste in the society that the Contempt of the Clergy, which he quotes, permitted reading of that kind. A man was once very pithily, though cynically, may pass indulgently over Shakespeare's answered by a note on the flyleaf, — “ The double entendres who would not endure to good sense of the laity.” Mr. Forsyth has read Wycherly from beginning to end. collected evidence enough to show that it Stories of the Mrs. Keith kind could easily was the selfishness and bad manners of be multiplied. We knew an octogenarian the laity that more than anything else veteran of high standing who, finding no placed the clergy in a false and humiliating amusement in the Guy Livingstones and position. The best specimen of the class Lady Audleys of the day, had recourse to is Sir Roger de Coverley's chaplain, “a

Tom Jones, Peregrine Pickle, and their com- person of good sense and some learning, peers, in order to wile away the sleepless of a very regular life and obliging conhours of night. These exhausted, he was versation," who understood backgammon, induced by the notoriety of the lady to and lived in the family rather as a relation try Aphra Behn's works. Man of the than a dependent, and who showed his camp though he was, and far from squeam- good sense by preaching in regular succesish, the dirty dullness of the book thor- sion the sermons of Tillotson, Saunderson, oughly repelled him, and before many Barrow, Calamy, and South, instead of pages were read he put the volumes wasting his spirits in laborious composiaway.

tions of his own. He heartily loved Sir Mr. Forsyth, in his instructive and en- Roger, and stood high in the old knight's tertaining volume, has succeeded in show- esteem, having lived with him thirty years, ing that much real information concerning during which time there had not been a the morals as well as the manners of our lawsuit in the parish. ancestors may be gathered from the novel- Here is a chapter on dress suggestive of ists of the last century. With judicial im- comparisons. Costume is a subject on partiality he examines and cross-examines which novelists, like careful artists, are the witnesses, laying all the evidence be- studiously precise. The late Mr. Thackfore the reader. "Essayists as well as nov- eray, when inquiring for a life of Wolfe to elists are called up. The Spectator, the assist him in the Virginians, said, in his bluff way, “I don't care about his politics | self; and, secondly, because in Sir John or his campaigns, but I want something Herschel the power of scientific observathat will tell me the colour of his tion was pre-eminently associated not only breeches !” Ladies' hair was as deluding with the power of appealing to tens of a century ago as at the present time. “I thousands by his writings, but with all heard lately of an old baronet,” says those qualities which, when we find them Graves, in the Spiritual Quixote, “ that fell in a great man, make him universally bein love with a young lady of small fortune loved. at some public place for her beautiful In attempting to give a sketch of a man brown locks. He married her on a sudden, who was so emphatically the son of his but was greatly disappointed upon seeing father, both in thought and work, it is imher wig or tête the next morning thrown possible to speak of one without referring carelessly on her toilette, while her lady- to the other. Not only were they laship appeared at breakfast in very bright bourers in the same vast_field, but for red hair, a colour the old gentleman had a many years of his life Sir John Herschel particular aversion to.”

was engaged in researches which may be Mr. Forsyth's analysis of stories that looked upon as an extension of those comfew people read now-a-days will be wel- menced by his father. Born at Slough in come to many who wish to know the pith 1792, he passed his childhood under the of works once so celebrated and still often shadow of that giant telescope which his referred to by name. The closing chapter father's skill and indomitable perseverance of the book is concerned with novels well had erected, and to which the liberality of chosen to illustrate the transitional state the King, who endowed the father with a of manners from the coarseness of George sum of 2001. a year, enabled him to devote II.'s reign to the age of Queen Victoria. all his energies. Here we may stop to reThe Vicar of Wakefield and Evelina exhibit mark upon the large amount of immortal the earlier features of this transitional work which has been done under analo state – the works of Miss Edgworth and gous conditions. The names of Ptolemy, Miss Austen their later development. We Galileo, and Tycho at once occur to us as fear that there is little to be expected from having been similarly aided in the very the inculcation upon novel-writers of a science which the Herschels have so brilsense of responsibility. If their own liantly cultivated. How much work is genius does not make them high-minded still remaining undone in the presence of and pure, the chances are that the writing exactly the opposite conditions now, wben under a sense of moral responsibility will the même inutile of Louis Quatorze is clean render their works dull and unreadable. forgotten, abstract science is all but an Yet we cordially agree with the words outcast, and “ Her Majesty's Government" quoted by Mr. Forsyth in his conclusion - the modern King – while indeed it to the effect that the ideals we set before performs its duty in buying pictures, does us in fiction, as in other regions of mental nothing for the furtherance of natural and moral activity, can scarcely be too knowledge, and all too little for its distribhigh or too ardently and steadfastly ad- ution! hered to.

John Herschel, indirectly profiting without doubt by this magnificent endowment, and reared in an atmosphere of wonderful discoveries, went to Eton and subsequently

to St. John's College, Cambridge, filled From The Saturday Review. with an intense love of his father's purSIR JOHN HERSCHEL.

suits; and, as a result of his early trainIt is a good sign for England that the ing and his own mental powers, he came death of a scientific man like Sir John out senior wrangler and first Smith's Herschel, although he had lived for many prizeman in 1813, with Peacock as second years in close retirement, had rarely been wrangler, and Babbage — backing out of seen except by members of his own family the battle of giants captain of the poll. and personal friends, and had long given in the same year he sent his first paper to over scientific work of the more serious the Royal Society. kind, is felt as a great and national loss. In 1816 we find him engaged in astroHigh and low, rich and poor, lament the nomical work in one of those prolific fields absence of one who has been to most of of observation which his father had opened them little more than a name; first, be- up to an astonished world. The fixed cause the dignity of a life spent in the stars, on which the prestige of immutabilstudy of nature is beginning to assert it-'ity had rested after Galileo had spatched


it from the sun, had been found to includes on spectrum analysis, for although he some which appeared double or treble, not would certainly, as a result of these exbecause they were in the same line from periments, have anticipated Kirchhoff and the eye, but because they were physically Bunsen, if he had been gifted with that connected, revolving round each other, or kind of genius which dominates the mind rather round a common centre of motion, of the discoverer, his mind was intent up

our earth does round the sun. This, on a great project which he did not delay and an examination of the nebulæ and to put into execution. This was nothing clusters discovered by his father, engaged less than an endeavour to do for the much of Herschel's attention for some Southern heavens that which his father years, and in conjunction with Sir James and himself had done for the Northern South he presented a paper to the Royal ones. This project he carried into execuSociety, embodying upwards of 10,000 ob- tion in the year 1834, by taking his celeservations on the double stars, which was brated 18 1-2 inch reflector, of 20 feet printed in 1824; and in 1832 a catalogue focal length, made by himself, and a smallof 2,000 nebulæ and clusters was also er refractor, to the Cape of Good Hope, printed in the Philosophical Transactions. and erecting his observatory at Feldhau

But this by no means represents the sum sen, near Table Bay. Here for four years total of his activity during this period. of self-imposed exile his industry was simThe Mathematical papers communicated in ply unparalleled. It requires an intimate 1813 and the following years to the Philo- acquaintance with the working of large sophical Transactions, were soon supple- reflecting telescopes of the construetion mented by papers on Chemistry, many of adopted by Sir John Herschel to apprewhich appeared in the Edinburgh Philo- ciate the tremendous labour and patience sophical Journal about 1819. In 1820 involved in the work he had set himself to physical science was added to chemical do. Those who have only seen astronomscience, and Herschel broke ground in his ical observations carried on in an observamany researches on optical questions by a tory where for the most part equatorially paper in the Philosophical Transactions on mounted refractors, with observing chairs the action of crystallized bodies in homo- allowing the utmost ease to the observers, geneous light; while, with astonishing are employed, can form no idea of the exversatility, in 1824 he had sufficiently mas- treme discomfort of him who is perched tered the subject of electricity to deliver high up, on a small stage, standing for the the Bakerian Lecture before the Royal most part in the open air; yet this was Society on the motion produced in fluid Herschel's self-imposed duty, not only in conductors when transmitting the electric his Cape observations, but in the earlier current. We note these incidents merely work to which we have before referred. to show Herschel's many-sidedness in his Such was his industry that he by no scientific work, not by any means to ex- means confined himself to his “sweephaust its list; for this many pages in the ings,” double star observations, and Royal Society's Index of Scientific Papers " nightwork” generally. Some of the would have to be quoted. There is one most beautiful drawings of sun spots that item of what may be termed his miscella- we possess are to be found in the volume neous work to which we must specially in which his work is recorded, entitled refer. In 1822 we find him investigating Results of Astronomical Observations the spectra of coloured flames, and these made during 1831-38 at the Cape of Good researches were carried on, at intervals at Hope, being the Completion of a Teleall events, till 1827, when he wrote, “ The scopic Survey of the whole Surface of the colours thus contributed by different ob- Visible Heavens, commenced in 1825”; a jects to flame afford in many cases a ready volume, let us add, which was published and neat way of detecting extremely mi- partly at the expense of the Duke of nute quantities of them.” Here we find Northumberland. `In addition to all the spectrum analysis almost stated in terms, new knowledge of old nebulæ, and deand yet, although Herschel, Brewster, and scriptions of those he had discovered in Fox Talbot were on the track of the most the Southern hemisphere, Sir John Herbrilliant discovery of our age, the clue schel took advantage of the position at the was lost and little came of their labours. Cape to delineate the magnificent nebulæ It is one thing to make observations, and of Orion, as well as that surrounding in another to plan and conduct researches in Argûs, and to determine the places of all a perfectly untrodden field; and it is no the included stars visible in his large indisparagement of Herschel to make this strument. The fidelity of these drawings remark in connexion with his experiments' is something wonderful.

vol. xxi.



We may fitly complete our notice of Sir son as if under a spell; there is nothing to John Herschel's work by referring to the cloud the scene. In another kind we have two catalogues which within the last few large knowledge and almost equal Auency, years he has presented to the Royal and but the poetry runs riot into sensationalRoyal Astronomical Societies — one of all ism, and nature is studied under difficulties known nebulæ, in which are brought to- the author, the showman, is everywhere. gether all the observations of Messier, his In yet another kind we find power of writfather, himself, Lord Rosse, Lassell, Bond, ing and some knowledge; but here the and others; the other a seventh catalogue harvest is not for the reader, but for the of double stars, completing the former writer, who therefore hesitates not to spice lists presented to the Royal Astronomical his articles highly, in order that his inacSociety during the years 1827-37.

curacies may escape detection by the maSo much in brief for Herschel's observa- jority of his readers. We cannot pursue tional and experimental work. As a this analysis further; suffice it to say that scientific writer he was equally diligent. Herschel's more popular writings wire suImmediately after taking his degree, in preme in the highest class. And with all 1813, he commenced writing on mathe- his consciousness of intellectual powers, matical subjects, and afterwards these he was never tempted into the weak vanity were changed for physical studies. In the of scepticism. Very lately he observed Edinburgh Philosophical Journal and in of a well-known work upon the origin of various encyclopædias articles of unsur- species, that, if its author had only recogpassed excellence and clearness are to be nized a Creator, he would have made one found from his fertile pen, for instance, of the greatest discoveries of science. his articles on Meteorology, Physical Herschel's latest scientific publication Geography, and the Telescope, which have was his Outlines of Astronomy, first pubbeen reprinted in a separate form. Some lished in 1819, a work which would have of this work appeared before he went to almost if not quite sufficed to make the the Cape, as also his Preliminary Discourse reputation of any ordinary man: it has on Natural Philosophy and his Treatise on already run through several editions, and Astronomy. In all these there is evidence has been translated into several languages, of Herschel's great power as a writer, and Chinese among the number. The last of his appreciation of the importance of publication which bears his name was the natural knowledge in itself; while his fruit of that vigorous old age which sought thorough acquaintance with the position recreation in change of occupation; and it of England with regard to science may is characteristic alike of the versatility of probably have had something to do with Herschel's genius and of the immortal inthe fertility of his pen. For instance, in terest of the Homeric poems that his final his Treatise on Sound he writes : “In volume should have been a translation of England whole branches of Continental the Tiad into English hexameters. Sir discovery are unstudied, and indeed John Herschel had long been accustomed almost unknown even by name. It is vain to charm his friends by sparkling vers de to conceal the melancholy truth. We are société, and in his leisure hours he would fast dropping behind.” This charge, we divert himself with indulging in the comgrieve to say, still holds good, because our position of Latin verse. Governments, existing as they do for po- It is some consolation to know that the litical reasons, care little for the cultiva- great man at whose labours we have raption of science as a means of national idly glanced died full of honours in a ripe advancement. This consideration gives old age. Too often the merits of an Engadditional value to another class of Her- lish man of science are for the first time schel's writings — writings which have en- recognized when he has gone from among deared his name to tens of thousands and us. This was by no means Herschel's case. made it a household word, and have been His scientific labours received the highest a powerful engine of instruction and a honours which the Royal Society, the valuable incentive to scientific study. Paris Academy of Sciences, and the Royal

There are many kinds of popular scien- Astronomical Society can bestow. A bartific writing. In one we find a full knowl- onetcy was conferred upon him on his reedge and complete grasp of the subject turn from the Cape, where, let us add, all associated with a power of manipulating his observations were made at his own exlanguage and a vein of poetry, the greatest pense. St. John's College conferred upon charm of all being the perfect suppression him the first of its Honorary Fellowships; of the writer. The field of nature ex- Oxford granted him her D.Č.L. ; and Marplored alone meets the eye, and one reads 'ischal College, Aberdeen, claimed him as

[ocr errors]

its Rector. But he was never President

From The Examiner.

NEMESIS IN PARIS. of the Royal Society or of the British Association.

We have yet to hear the true story of The distinguishing feature of his char- the terrible disaster, in which culminated acter was the quality which we can best all the previous disasters of Paris and of describe by a very trite but expressive ap- France, on Wednesday last; and we may pellation, simplicity. The pride of intel- expect to find that its circumstances have lect and the vanity of cleverness - quali- been far more exaggerated than we already ties different in themselves, though often know them to be. Neither Nôtre Dame, confounded - were equally absent from the Louvre, nor the Sorbonne, the great his nature, while that self-reliance which historic centres of French religion, art, is their better counterpart never failed to and literature, have been destroyed. assert itself. The womanly jealousies and Neither the Tuileries, the Hôtel de Ville, part zanships which too often discredit the nor the Palais Royal are probably as “utcareer of philosophers were abhorrent to terly reduced to ashes” as M. Thiers and his natäre, while in the scramble for titular the newspaper correspondents announced. distinctions his form could never be de- But the best is bad enough; and, when scried. His spirits were those of a boy, full abatement has been made from the happy not only in the enjoyment of life sensational stories of burning palaces and but in the consciousness of being able to mangled corpses, it may be that the ugly give the highest pleasure to others, while residue of fact will have a yet uglier his sympathy was ever ready and ever ju- significance than has yet been attached to dicious. We may give a characteristic in- it. The lurid flames of Wednesday have, stance of this quality. If anything à pri- for the present, thrown into the shade the ori might have been thought alien from ten weeks' struggle between the National Herschel's pursuits it would have been the Assembly and the Paris Communists, to rifle movement, and yet he mainly incited which this great catastrophe is a ghastly a rural district to organize its corps by sequel, if, indeed, it is not rather an epistanding up in the big room of a country sode than a sequel ; and a temporary veil inn, and telling his neighbours — at that has been thrown over the dismal prospect time much excited by the insolence of Na- of wretchedness and degradation through poleon's colonels

that if we were invaded which France will certainly have to pass we must fight like wild cats.

before she can again take her place among It is a welcome indication of the grow- the nations of the world. Before long we ing feeling of the value and dignity of sci- shall doubtless be weary of talking grandly entific work that the remains of Sir John about the horrors of the catastrophe itself, Herschel should rest in Westminster Ab- and of the vague and vindictive denunciabey, close to the grave of Newton. Of tions of its real or supposed authors that his private life in his beautiful home of are now so plentiful, and shall have time Collingwood, at Hawkhurst in the rich to inquire as to its real meaning, and to Weald of Kent, we should have much to apportion the blame with some semblance say if we could bring ourselves to expose of justice. to the public gaze the interior of a house- The event is not one to be rightly unhold singular for the unbroken affection derstood by the false light of its own unwhich united all its members, the earnest- natural flames, and still less should we ness and purity of its aims, the talent, the venture to trace out the causes of it by taste, and the gracefulness of all its pur- that light alone. It may be that the remsuits. The lady whom Sir John Herschel nant of the Commune, wbich remained in made the partner of his life was in every power when the troops from Versailles way worthy of him, with an intellect to broke through the walls of Paris on Monapprehend his deepest studies, a self-for- day; gave orders, open or secret, for this getting devotion to ease every labour, a terrible, wholly indefensible, and most beauty and gentleness which lightened short-sighted vengeance on its conquerors; the philosopher's study with all the charms and, if it did so, we need not greatly wonof graceful happiness. The children who der, as, during the past fortnight and grew up under such auspices reflected the more, every healthy element in the domivirtues and abilities of their parents, nant party has been weeded out, and only while in Alexander Herschel we find the the worst representatives of Red Repubthird generation of a family of science. licanism in its worst form have been suf

fered to remain. Or it may be that the wanton incendiarism was the act of a few unauthorized madmen, aliens or foreigners,

« PreviousContinue »