Page images

it was remarked, had been surveyed with the feeling of an artist and the precision of a tactician. A strong and manly sympathy with military devotion never blinded Sir Archibald to the sufferings inflicted by war, but permitted him always to give warm and impartial praise to every brave action on whatever side.

Wordy the "History" was no doubt found to be, and wordy, too, many wondered, with less variety in expression than might have been expected from Sir Archibald's long literary experience. The same defect frequently crops up

in the "Autobiography." In the "Continuation" almost every statesman referred to is somewhat unnecessarily described as a "remarkable man." Thus, "Lord Grey was beyond all doubt a most remarkable man." Daniel O'Connell is "a very remarkable man." Lord Eldon is "one of the most remarkable men who ever sat on the woolsack." Thiers is "undoubtedly a very remarkable man." Louis XVIII. is "undoubtedly a very remarkable man." Then Canning's talents for business and debate "were of the very first order." Palmerston's talents for diplomacy and administration "are unquestionably of a very high order." And so fond had the historian become of the phrase, or so expressive did he deem it, that it is used with reference to the same statesman a second time on the same page. Lord Melbourne alone hardly comes up to Sir Archibald's standard, or at least only in a hypothetical sense, as "if his talents were not of a very high order." In like manner the "Autobiography" sets down what is no doubt quite true, but not needing expression, that the Marchioness of Londonderry was "a very remarkable woman." Dr. Whewell was a man of very great abilities." Sir Henry Rawlinson is "a very remarkable man." Monckton Milnes, only a page or two onward, is also "a remarkLord Palmerston turns up again as "one of the most remarkable men of the age." Mr. Secretary Walpole is also "a superior man." A conversation with the Princess Mary of Cambridge was "very remarkable." Lord Provost Clouston is another man of "remarkable intelligence." The Hon. Mr. Vernon and the late Colin Campbell, Colgrain, are each simply "superior" men.

[ocr errors]

able man."

But John Hope was a "remarkable man," as was also Professor Wilson and Duncan M'Neill; and so on through both volumes, till we come to poor Lord Elgin, "although not a man of very remarkable talents."

Apart from Interlocutors, and some were so elaborate and interesting as almost to reach the dignity of literature, the chief book-work engaged in by Sir Archibald in his later years is represented by the volumes making up the "Continuation" of the "History" from the battle of Waterloo to the accession of the Emperor Napoleon III., the early volumes of which were issued in 1852; and the lives of the half-brothers, Castlereagh and Londonderry, completed in 1861. The first added little or nothing to his fame as historian of the "Wars of the Revolution," being, indeed, frequently spoken of as a "Book of Fallacies" and exploded political crotchets. Nor did the second fare much better, Castlereagh himself being an unpopular subject since the power of the people has become a fact. The Marquis, in his prime one of the most dashing cavalry officers who ever served under Wellington, was latterly known as an unsuccessful diplomatist, a vain, fussy statesman, and might have been forgotten altogether had it not been for Seaham harbour, docks, and railway, in which the Murat of the British army exhibited all the enterprise and shrewdness of a Sunderland skipper. The preparation of the Londonderry volumes led Sir Archibald on more than one occasion to Wynard and Seaham, the first, in addition to its famous Ghost Story, having suffered more from fire in recent days than any mansion of its kind; the second, purchased from Mr. Milbanke, father of Lady Byron, the marriage of the poet having taken place within the modest. mansion on the estate. Although the Marchioness of Londonderry was, as Sir Archibald records, a "remarkable" woman, even when she was an "infant" but wealthy ward in Chancery, he admits that he never was able to divest himself of a certain degree of awe, or feel altogether at ease in her company. While there is much-rather too much-in the "Autobiography" regarding visits to great people and great houses, all readers will peruse with pleasure the graphic details given by one who not only saw but took part in suppressing the Cotton

spinners' Combination, the Glasgow riots of 1848, the lesser Briggate rising concerning the Stone Pulpit, and, indeed, who was familiar with all the ups and downs of Glasgow life, from the passing of the Reform Bill to a period even beyond the trial of Mrs. M'Lachlan, in which he was concerned, and describes. Every reader of the "Autobiography" will turn over its pages with pleasure, not only because it records the opinion and the experience of a careful observer, or even because he was a painstaking and intelligent Judge, but because they will see therein reflected a generous appreciation of politicians who differed from him in thought, as his fine review of Macaulay's "History" still bears witness.


LATEST and, to all present appearances, last scientific Master of the Mint, Thomas Graham was also the last of that brilliant group of inquirers who did so much to reveal the wonders of chemical science during the first half of the present century. Berzelius, given to Sweden in 1779, one year after the death of his illustrious countryman, Linnæus, was spared to carry on his researches till Graham had established for himself a world-wide reputation, first in the Andersonian Institution here, as successor to Ure, and afterwards in University College, London, as the successor of Professor Edward Turner. Born in 1805, Graham was busy with experiments when Davy was called away in 1829 at the early age of fifty-one. Dalton, born in 1766, was spared till he reached seventy-eight; while Faraday was only five years younger when he died in 1867, two years before his friend Graham, then Master of the Mint in succession to Sir John Herschel. ClerkMaxwell, a friend and favourite with all the scientific men of his day, was cut off Nov., 1879, at the early age of forty-eight, while his successor in the new

Laboratory at Cambridge, Lord Rayleigh, president of the British Association, was born so recently as 1842. Graham's friend and pupil, Dr. Young of Kelly, who died only last year (1883), was spared till he had reached seventy-two. Without making any pretensions to having been a discoverer herself, but justly esteemed as a profound interpreter of researches made by others, the case of Mary Somerville, who showed so wisely the "Connection of the Physical Sciences," remains still without a parallel so far as age and mental activity is concerned. This good lady, known in youth as "The Rose of Jedwood," did not commence publishing till she was near fifty, when Brougham induced her to undertake a translation of Laplace's "Mecanique Celeste." Mrs. Somerville lived till she was ninety-two, her brilliant intellect remaining so vigorous that at the age of eighty she sent out her famous treatise on that science of molecules which Graham had evolved with so much patience and ingenuity. Fascinating beyond the dreams of romance as have been the discoveries made during the present century by Graham and his brother scientists, it must be remembered at the same time that they had a long line of predecessors, and are certain to have many after them fitted by careful training to pass on the torch of knowledge. As it is impossible to eliminate altogether some notice of astrology in the history of astronomy, so the early alchemists must be accepted as in some way preparing the ground for our modern Wollastons, Stahls, Liebigs, and Lavoisiers. Earlier even than the alchemists of the Middle Ages, earlier even than the introduction of the Christian Era, Lucretius was speculating with much ingenuity and accuracy concerning that atomic theory with which Graham's name is now so closely associated. "Sunt igitur solida primardia simplicitate," &c., writes the poet in his first book of Nature-all primordial bodies are solid in their simplicity, and consist of the smallest parts closely united, not combined by a union of others, but rather endowed with eternal simplicity.

Younger than Graham by twelve years, one of his most distinguished followers was the late Dr. Angus Smith of alkali fame, who shortly before his death in the spring of 1883 put together for the Graham Lecture Committee

of the Glasgow Philosophical Society a brief memoir of his friend, full of suggestive matter concerning investigations pursued by the Master of the Mint. Engaged in preparing the paper as a lecture to be delivered by himself before the Philosophical Society, Dr. Angus Smith was seized with his fatal illness, but contrived amid much feebleness and effort to get the manuscript sent on here, where it was read to members by Professor Ferguson. The title, "Life and Works," is only correct in a modified sense. The "Life" is admitted to be but fragmentary in character, while "Works" rather indicate work accomplished than present Graham's researches at length. The special value of the memoir centres in the sixty-four letters hitherto unpublished, furnished by Dr. Smith, and addressed by Graham for the most part to relatives at home-his mother, sisters, and brother-although one or two of exceptional interest connect themselves with Liebig and Professor Johnston of Durham University. Here is a pleasant glimpse flashed to his sister Margaret, from Köchlin's Laboratory, at Mulhausen, Alsace-"We found here the excellent chemist Schlomberger, who has written the best papers on madder. The chemist was throng at work in his blouse coat and wooden clogs. Köchlin is himself a most interesting person. By the way, C. Thomson is studying with him; he has a high opinion of Walter Crum, and pronounces him, now that James Thomson is getting old, the most accomplished printer we have in England. The afternoon. we devoted to Mr. Hoffer's own establishment; John finds them exceedingly communicative, and they seem to show us everything without reserve. He thinks that he has already attained the most important objects of his mission, and that he will be able on returning to produce the beautiful madder rosereds for which Alsace is famed, so that the journey will not be lost." Again, and also to his sister, a few years earlier, when in Edinburgh-"The gingerbread was excellent. Mr. Johnston got away the last of it as a supply for his Durham journey, thinking greatly of it from the scientific principles upon which it had been baked." A prince of chemists in his laboratory, out of it Graham's life glided on in the most uneventful manner, and may be condensed within the

« PreviousContinue »