Page images

through mismanagement and quackery, is absolutely inconceivable. Look at the filthy and frightful ulcers that we see so frequently in natives, aggravated even to death by inert or injudicious treatment! Look at the vast department of surgery, occupied by whom * By ignorant beings who know not a vein from an artery, and who could not secure a comparatively small blood-vessel, however alarming the hemorrhage might be.

I would beg to remind respectable and wealthy natives that in serious illness they have themselves recourse to European skill. I would entreat of them to extend its benefits to their poorer countrymen, and make this skill their own in very deed for ever by now encouraging in every possible way the study of medicine on European principles among the youth of the country, disposed to cultivate it. I would beg of them to patronize as much as lies in their power this institution which they owe to the philanthropy of Government. I would beseech of them, each in his circle, to neutralize as much as he may, by precept and example, the force of silly and unfavourable prejudices against the cultivation of a glorious and beneficent science; and I would most earnestly beseech of them, not only to take an interest in the progress and welfare of their young countrymen while students within the walls of this College, but to substantially patronize them when they leave it qualified by a careful course of education to practise their profession.

Finally, I would fain say no less to you, my young friends, than to natives of every denomination; you may believe me when I assert, if ever there was a truly wise and liberal measure adopted, by authority, for your good, it is that which has called into existence amongst you an institution for instructing you in Medical Science.

Far be it in me to disparage whatever may be really useful in your indigenous practise, for I believe that there is no country where the Omnipotent has not mercifully permitted a modicum of medical knowledge to spring up. You have, I believe, more especially in the vegetable kingdom, some valuable articles in your materia medica. I doubt not too, that you may have among you some remarks or observations on medical topography, and meteorology which would be an acquisition to the note book of the European pathologist. You must also, I presume, have had always on the lists of the profession (such as it is) shrewd and intelligent native observers who (however wrong they might be in strict physiological and pathological theory) have noted the phenomena of some diseases judiciously and well, and have been in the habit of treating them with practical skill. On the other hand, there can be no question that your materia medica contains many articles of a fantastic, useless, or destructive character, of which further advance in European Science will point out to you the mischief and the danger.

A celebrated writer has asserted, in substance, that were the British to-morrow to quit India for ever, they would leave behind them no lasting monument of good, no features of general improvement on the face of the country, no durable effect of beneficent power. In his day that assertion might have been correct ; but I deny its applicability

to ours, in which, strange to say, it has been repeated with equal confidence, though by men less eminent.

Can it be maintained, I ask, that if we were now to quit India, we should indeed leave behind us no durable monuments of good Government, no lasting effects of philanthropic exertion,-no features of general improvement in the country No 1 I will venture to say, that were there no other fact to which we could appeal in contradiction of such an unqualified assertion, the Hindoo and Medical Colleges would alone go far to supply an ample refutation of it. You may rely upon it, that, with whatever other faults our tenure of this country may be chargeable, that prosterity will gratefully acknowledge the noblest of all our acts :—The enfranchisement of native intellect from the darkness of ignorance, and the yoke of superstition which is ever its concomitant.

Even yourselves, my young friends, with the comparatively scanty knowledge which you have had time or opportunity as yet to acquire, will I am sure readily allow that you have derived the liveliest satisfaction from it, and that by its light you view several things very differently to what you previously did. What is the reason that in the uneducated we generally find an extraordinary apathy of character, and a total inaptitude to the higher mental incentives For the same reason that stagnant waters putrify, does the uneducated mind become barren and brutified. As the waters to keep fresh must run, or be fed from the great depths of nature, so must the mind have the never ceating stimulus of various knowledge and science to keep its faculties in motion. The uneducated man is confined to a few animal gratifications, and his supreme delight is listless quietude. Not so the educated man; his soul ranges beyond the limits of mere physical enjoyments into the regions of science. He finds that the mind like the body has its appetites—and that the intellectual appetite, unlike the animal appetite, “grows by what it feeds on.” He never can be said to be alone,—to be without entertainment, or a pleasing companion. All nature is the theatre of his recreations; in her empire is the reward of his toils. If displeased, or wearied with the frivolity or tediousness of the living, he can in a moment, by that talisman which education has placed in his hand, commence on high and interesting themes with the dead

Much remains yet to be done, gentlemen, but believe him not, who shall invidiously assert, that our Government has done nothing for India. We can point with exultation, not to proud piles of useless ostentation, but to temples dedicated to the beneficent deities of knowledge and morality, where disciples of all creeds and complexions may do homage without scruple, and perform their devotions without fear. We can cite as the founders and supporters of these beneficent institutions the most distinguished members of our Anglo-Indian Society : but it is a just cause of congratulation that the great work of educating the people of India, no longer left to the precarious exercise of individual philanthropy, is now recognized by the Government, as a duty imposed on it by the highest considerations of policy, justice, and humanity.

It can scarcely be expected of me in this place, or on this occasion to appeal to any specific evidence of the cheering fact I have now stated. If any were required indeed— this institution, established by Government in a spirit of liberality, worthy of the noble cause to which it is devoted, might supply it; while the presence here this day of the distinguished nobleman now at the head of this administration, may be justly regarded as an indication of his recognition of this enlightened policy; and as a proof of the interest he takes in your improvement, a mark of condescension, which should stimulate

Jou, as I sincerely hope it may, to renewed and unceasing exertions in your important and most interesting studies.

Let me not conclude this address without paying a just tribute to those, to whom India is indebted for the institution—to Lord W. Bentinck and Sir C. Metcalfe. Their names already belong to history in whose page their memories will live; but they will be more effectually handed down to posterity, by the moral effects of those philanthropic

measures by which they paved the way for your ascent to the highest degree on the scale of civilization.

[merged small][merged small][merged small][ocr errors][merged small]

In the commencement of my second course of Lectures on Chemistry for the pupils of this institution, I cannot but experience the highest satisfaction when I contrast the circumstances of the present occasion with those of the first day on which I had the honor of addressing the classes of the Medical College. On the opening of that preliminary series of lectures, many and seemingly insuperable obstacles opposed the success of my undertaking. In ignorance of the amount of capacity of my pupils, uncertain as to the feelings with which they might regard the science I was called on to teach them, destitute, too, of the apparatus requisite for the illustration of my lectures, I commenced my duties under the most painful apprehensions. But the experience I have acquired, and the events which have occurred during the past three months, have been amply sufficient to dispel all these forebodings. In the brief course I gave during that period, I found my pupils not only apt and industrious, but literally enthusiastic in the pursuit on which I was leading them. I found them conscious of no difficulty either in the nomenclature or the purposes or manipulation of the science, in short, I found them possessed of every requisite a teacher could desire. The deficiencies of apparatus and materials again were but of very brief duration, the Government with its characteristic liberality and zeal for the great cause of education, leading the way in supplying every article at its disposal, an example followed in a corresponding spirit by the managers of the Hindu College, and by many private individuals. Under all these circumstances I should be totally destitute of the zealous and warm feelings essential to my situation did I not regard with the utmost gratification the occasion for which we are this day


Reflecting for a moment on the nature of the audience, I now have the honor of addressing, composed as it is of many distinguished patrons of the cause of native education, of the foundation pupils of the Medical College, and of pupils of the Hindu College, not destined for the medical profession, I cannot but feel that I will best discharge my duty to the entire by explaining the nature, objects and useful application of the science I am appointed to teach, and submitting at the same time to the judgment of my hearers the system of instruction it is my intention to adopt. In explaining the nature of the science, I will perhaps be obliged at first to enter into a few details of an abstract and perhaps abstruse character, but I shall endeavour by experimental illustrations to facilitate the general comprehension of any difficult parts of the subject, and I shall pass from these as rapidly as possible to topics of more general interest.

As the study of Chemistry is but a subordinate branch of the mighty system of science to which the term Natural Philosophy has been applied, it will facilitate the object I hold in view, if we occupy a few moments in considering the proper import of

these terms.

Natural Philosophy in ordinary language, means nothing more than the science or knowledge of natural truths. It embraces thus every fact in the phenomena of the

universe, which our intellect is capable of comprehending and of arranging in similar groupes, referrable to the same or to analogous causes. These causes may be unknown, but their effects are obvious, so much so indeed that a clue to their proper classification may be found in the indisputable proposition—that all the material masses in nature are composed of indestructible particles or atoms, combined or held together by attraction of various kinds, and these particles being in themselves inert or incapable of changing their state of motion or of rest. These few great truths, as that popular and elegant writer, Dr. Arnott, observes, lead to a ready comprehension of the nature or constitution of the masses of the universe and of the movements occurring among them and the laws by which they are governed. And even when we leave the comparatively narrow circle to which a contemplation of mere material and terrestrial phenomena would restrict us, when for instance we investigate the nature of heat and light and eletricity and magnetism, and when we ascend to the sublimest of all studies, that of the movements of the heavenly bodies, these truths still point to the readiest path by which our investigations may be persued with facility and success.

As it is under the head of attraction that Chemistry becomes a department of Natural Philosophy, or of the knowledge of natural truths, I may so far anticipate a subsequent lecture as to enumerate the varieties which the natural force of attraction present. We have thus the attraction of gravitation which causes all bodies to move towards each other in proportion to their mass, as substances fall towads the earth, as the tides obey the approach of the moon, and by which the heavenly bodies are balanced in their perpetual career through space. Again, there is the attraction of cohesion by which two smooth and uniform substances, such as polished metals or glass, or cut Indian rubber, adhere together, and lastly you have the electric attraction to which, as it embraces the magnetic and the chemical, I shall advert in more detail.

Without entering into minutiae which to the majority of my hearers would prove utterly unintelligible, a few remarks will sufficiently explain what is meant by the words electric attraction. When a piece of glass or wax, or many other substances are rubbed by silk, it is found that the glass acquires the power of attracting or drawing towards it various light bodies in its vicinity. This is simply illustrated by the action of the electrical machine before you, in which friction excites this property to a remarkable degree.*

Now you will observe that in these experiments the attracted substances undergo no change of properties. Their color, form, &c. remain as they were before in every respect. To this then the specific name of common electric attraction is given to distinguish it from the next which may be called the polar or magnetic, because under its insluence bodies are disposed to place themselves in a determinate position with regard to the cardinal points of the earth, pointing N. S. E. or W. and while so effected have the additional property of attracting iron and a few other substances with great power. With the common magnet or compass needle, almost all my auditors are familiar. You know how it points nearly to the North and South, and how powerfully it attracts iron. The cause of this polarity and attraction remained for ages one of nature's most mysterious secrets, but the splendid discoveries recently made by Faraday and Oersted unequivocally prove that the magnetic is but a species of electric attraction. The minute and detailed accounts of these discoveries I must reserve for another occasion. The proof I will shew you now. Whenever an electrical current is "stablished in a certain direction in any substance, that substance tends to place ** Here Dr. O'S. illustrated his remarks by an experiment with paper figures, bells, &c. c


itself in the same direction as the magnetic needle or mariner's compass, and it attracts masses of iron in the same manner. An electric current being thus excited in two minute plates of zinc and copper, and made to circulate round a piece of common iron, converts it instantaneously into a magnet of extraordinary power.”

Such are two of the varieties of electric attraction. The third is the chemical which differs remarkably from the other species enumerated. It only acts at insensible distances; it changes the secondary properties of the bodies between which it operates, and thus gives rise to the endless and beauteous variety of color, form and fabric, which by means of a few simple substances, only 54 in number, renders the constituents of this globe the inexhaustible sources of happiness and delight to mankind.

The names of these 54 substances I have written on the list before you. They are called simple or elementary, because they have not been decomposed or converted into more than one distinct substance. With the names of many of them, even the youngest of my hearers is familiar. There is gold for instance and copper and silver and lead and iron well known to every one, and called simple, because we cannot from gold or iron, &c. make any substance of different properties unless some other substance be present. These simple substances are arranged under the heads of airs or gases, of metals and of solid non-metallic bodies. Now combined with each other in various proportions and numbers under the extraordinary power of the last or chemical variety of electrical attraction, these 54 substances constitute the whole material form of our globe, and its inhabitants themselves. The air we breathe, the waters we drink, the soil that yields us food, our food itself, in all its varieties, the fabrics of our attire, of our dwellings, our machinery, of the implements of war, of husbandry, of all the pursuits of life, are thus simply and thus the more wonderfully constructed. You may contemplate all the objects which surround you in this room, and however great their variety, their ingredients are enumerated on that list. It is their association by electric attraction or affinity that gives rise to the variety you behold. The science of chemistry is that then, which examines the relations this species of attraction or affinity establishes, which ascertains the nature and constitution of the compounds thus produced, and which determines the laws by which its action is guided.

A few readily intelligible experiments will illustrate what I have stated regarding the distinguishing properties of simple substances and the peculiarities of the chemical electric attraction. These experiments will further impress on the minds of the student this distinguishing feature of chemical attraction, namely, the changes which it effects

in the form, color, smell, and other secondary properties of the bodies between which it operates.

The domain of the science may thus appear to be what in truth it is of vast and almost infinite extent, nevertheless its study presents facilities which soon enable us to master its details. Between Chemistry and the study of a language previously unknown to us, a striking analogy may be traced. The words of the language, however numerous, are composed of but a few letters. We learn the forms and sounds of these letters to associate them in words, and these words again we can analyze and divide into their original elementary constituents. Thus it is with the materials of this world, we look around us, are amazed. at its grandeur and diversity, and our senses are confused as when we open a volume in an unknown tongue. But experiment and analysis essect for

* Dr. O'S. performed the experiment with the temporary magnet, and De la Rive's apparatus. * These were written on the board in front of the auditors. 1 Here the professor explained by experiment the change of properties caused by the chemical union of various gases.

[ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »