« AnteriorContinuar »
Mrs. Grote were a great contrast to each sprinkling of fashionable outsiders, among other ; it did not require Sydney Smith's whom the hostess had family connections. wit to discover that they had exchanged Bat there is antipathy, as well as symattributes. He was so measured and de- pathy, even among the followers of scicorous in all things, and his wife so much ence"; Faraday was right, human nature is the rererse—at least in talk. I remember the same everywhere. For instance, Sir her startling a sedate and somewhat dull Richard Owen and Professor Huxley set of people. by saying that nothing would not be asked to meet one another; would go right in the world till marriages and, alas ! though they had been the closwere entered upon like the tenancy of a est of friends, Sedgwick and Murchison house, with leases of seven, fourteen, and no longer hunted Siluria in couples. twenty-one years, renewable or not, at Even astronomers can be the reverse of pleasure.
nice with each other, though the objects We did not say things so crudely, in of their affections are so far removed. the Fifties, as it is the fashion to do now. Arago's abuse of his fellow-worker was the No one would ever have associated the most comprehensive in the language ; he idea of female vanity with Mrs. Grote, said of Leverrier that he was the greatwhose dressing Sydney Smith summed up est scoundrel within the orbit of Neptune.” as grotesque ; nothing could be more Our own astronomer, Adams, had in careless, more incongruous, or more shabby those days, or at least his friends bad for than her garments. But the strong-mind him, a grudge against Airy for neglecting ed woman had her little weakness—she to notice his paper on the “ Perturbations was proud of her legs. When Susan of Uranus,” and thereby in point of time, Durant was modelling her statue of “ The losing to England the honor of the disForsaken Shepherdess," which was sub- covery of Neptune. Leverrier found the sequently placed in the Mansion House, planet by accident, which Adams had her friend, Mrs. Grote, proffered herself proved by inductive reasoning must be as a model for the legs, which, Arcadian ihere, in the exact place, where the lucky like, were scant of covering ; the result Frenchman's telescopic vision found it. folly justified the lady's pretensions. In common justice it must be said, no
The Grotes, Lord lloughton-who, by- international jealousies ever interfered the-by, was pointed out to me as the with the hospitable receptions accorded to cool of the evening” the first time I ever distinguished foreigners, in the scientific sa w him — Sir Emerson Tennant, Sir society of London. llenry Rawlinson, Sir Charles Fellows, Among the foreign savants to be met Mr. Fergusson, and a host of other non- with at the Murchisons, the Lyells, the scientific people were to be met at Mrs. Barlows, and elsewhere, there remains on Barlow's delightful parties in the old days. my mind a very distinct recollection of Mr. Barlow became Honorary Secretary M. Quételet, whom we met first at the of the Royal Institution as long ago as Spences. This well-known Belgian as1843, and for more than twenty years he tronomer and statistician, was a nobleand his wife gave an eminently social as- looking man, whose conversation was full pect to the learned gatherings. They of grave interest. Just at this time, the lived in Berkeley Street, conveniently Christian socialism of Maurice and Kingsnear the Institution. It was Mrs. Bar- ley, was attracting the attention of many Jow's custom during the Session to invite earnest-minded men, who desired to lessen the Friday evening lecturer to meet a the evils that appeared to be no other than party at dinner, at seven o'clock, the lec- the noxious products of civilization. It ture beginning at nine. The guests were will be remembered that a savage attack mostly bidden in compliment to the lec- had been made on the two clergymen, by turer's special subject. If Lyell was to Wilson Croker in the pages of the Quardiscourse on the impressions of rain drops terly, and this circumstance brought the on ancient strata, giving us thereby a back matter still more under discussion. ID cast of the weather in pre adamite times, reference to the vexed question, M. Quéteor if Ramsay was to expound his theory let used these remarkable words : “c'est of glacial action in the formation of lake la société qui prépare le crime, le coupable basins—then the party would consist of n'est que l'instrument qui l'erécute.”' geologists and their wives, with a judicious Another foreigner, who was often to be met in society at the time—a Frenchman, nine, snub-proof coat-of-mail could rewhom Kinglake might have classed with sist. those deserving to be Englisbmen, if born Oh, I thought you were the great M. again, was M. Sainte-Claire Deville. He Dumas,” exclaimed the bewildered lady. had only recently rediscovered aluminium, Here the hostess intervened, but not aided in his researches by a grant from too soon as to spoil our enjoyment of the the Emperor Louis Napoleon, who inuch petite comedie. as he hated the Victor Hugos of the pen, The Barlows' hospitalities were not knew how to be civil to men of science. confined to their weekly dinners ; for dur. Aluminium was to be so cheap, that ing the Royal Institution Session, Mrs. houses were to be roofed with it, and iron Barlow received her friends at her own pots and kettles were to be superseded by house, after the lecture was over at ten the lighter metal. Alas, to our cost, o'clock. These gatherings had something every storın still finds out our loose tiles ; of the character of a French salon; the and cumbrous iron still holds its sway in same people--always with a pleasant inthe kitchen.
fusion of strangers-met week after week, In my old note-book, among other for not as fortuitous atoms in the social whirleign friends and acquaintances, there ap- pool, but having sympathy of tastes and pears the name of the celebrated French interests, that gave a feeling of continuity chemist, Dumas ; and I am thereby re- to the meetings. There was hardly an minded of an amusing incident. The English notability in the ranks of science, contributions of this distinguished man to or a foreign savant visiting London, who the science of organic chemistry, were am- did not on one or more occasions, put in ply sufficient to justify a large amount of an appearance in Berkeley Street. Literself-esteem; but vanity is not a becoming ature and diplomacy were also well repregarment when it has no revers of humility. sented. The listener might gather in a M. Dumas was not only known for his focus, something of the spirit of the age. laboratory work, he was associated with Lacaita and Pollock discussing a new readthe dignity of official life, having held the ing of Dante, while a very young manporte-feuille of Agriculture and Com- but we know even the youngest of us are merce ; but yet he was not happy, he had not infallible-was declaring the new Gosa crook in his lot, for his name was the pel according to Carlyle. Lord Stanhope same as that of the too prolific novelist - might be heard quoting Avicenna and the author of “Monte Cristo,” and noth- Averroes, tracing the influence of Arabic ing irritated the man of science so much learning on the Reformation ; and Maurice as being mistaken for his namesake. It assenting to the line of argument, with chanced on one occasion, the distinguished the remark that Protestantism was always savant being the guest of the evening, favorable to science. Vernon Lushington that a lady well known in society as a would perhaps be looking up volunteer great lion hunter, desired, with her usual lecturers for the Workingmen's College, charming audacity, to be introduced to which he and many other earnest-minded the dignified, muchly decorated French- men had so much at heart. There was in
She immediately began pouring all probability heterodoxy enough present out the torrent of her flattery, the first to veto “ Eternal punishment,” though words of which nearly convulsed the by- the Council of King's College had lately standers, who of course took in the humor expelled Maurice on that count, from the of the situation. Oh, Monsieur Du- two chairs he had filled with so much dismas,” exclaimed the effusive lady, “ I ain tinction. delighted to meet you, but you are no To return to things more mundane ; Lord stranger to me, you have not in England Wrottesley and Sir Roderick Murchison a greater admirer than myself ; I knew were very likely talking over the foreign every line of your writings, from dear savants who were to be present at the next • Monte Cristo,' to the delightful ‘Mous- meeting of the British Association ; but quetaires ;' I hope you will allow me to whatever the subject, it was sure in Sir send you a card for my next soirée on-” Roderick's case, to culininate in soine re
“Madam, I am in no way connected mark about the Czar of All the Russias. with the writer you allude to," said the The very courteous reception accorded to savant with a cold disdain, that no asi- our English geologist at St. Petersburg
had made a deep impression on the author all this might have been prevented, and of “ Siluria.” The story goes that some I believe before many years are over that mischievous friends made a bet between Statesmen will acknowledge that this is a them, as to the number of times that Sir political mistake.” Roderick Murchison would contrive to Several years afterward I was present at bring in the name of his “ august friend” one of those delightful ineetings, that during the conversation, which was care- Sydney Smith used to call in the old days fully to be kept off Russia, and all kindred not Murchison's swarries, but his quartopics. The talk was about feats of mem- ries, where every lady is expected to ory, and many notable instances were carry a geological bammer insiead of a given, when Sir Roderick interposed, say- fan.
fan. It was at the time when the Treaty ing, “ It is a curious fact, that the Em- of Paris was virtually set aside, by the re. peror Nicholas has the most remarkable
appearance of the Russian Fleet in the memory of any inan I ever met”—then Black Sea. In remarking on the circumfollowed an anecdote which the friend stance, Sir Roderick said : “I told you who lost his bet, not having a royal mem- years ago, that England would derive no ory, somehow forgot.
ultimate advantage from the Crimean There was no man whose side faults, War !!! deserved to be, and were, more fully for- When President of the Geological Sogiven than Sir Roderick’s. Generous by ciety, Sir Roderick usually gave an annual nature and in practice, and with sincere conversazione” at Willis's Rooms, for convictions, he showed to the class whose on these occasions, even his spacious inheritance of leisure is too often spent in house, 16 Belgrave Square, was not large frivolity or worse, the excellent example enough for the numerous guests.
“ La of devotion to hard work. I have heard spirituelle Lady Murchison," as Alexander
” Sir Andrew Ramsay, who frequently ac
Humboldt called her, was always present ; companied him on his geological surveys, but one evening, in later years, her kindly declare, that he never knew a man of such presence was missed by all ; and on askinexhaustible physical and mental energy. ing Sir Roderick the cause of her absence, Sir Roderick would walk from dawn to he replied “ my wife has struck work at sundown, talking all the time of the Palæo- last.” zoic rocks, never varying the subject, as To her the learned geologist owed his much as by a mention of strata above the first initiation into the love of science ; old red sandstone.
she was a good conchologist before they Of Sir Roderick's loyalty to the Czar, married, and an excellent draughts-womI may mention the following curious in- an. Lady Murchison illustrated many of cident. It will be remembered that he had her husband's works. Other men also spent some years in Russia, when prepar- had wives who helped and sympathized in ing his great work on the Geological their scientific labors. General S:ubine's Structure of that country.
In the au
wife translated, and he edited, Humboldt's tumn of 1854, Mr. Crosse and I were stay- Cosmos. They were a delightful couple ; ing in a country house, where Sir Roder- each seemed to reflect the bright intelliick was also a guest. He took me in to gence, and the happy amiability of the dinner one day, a day to be remembered other. Among the scientific men of that for the news of the battle of the Alma day, there was a marked respect for fehad reached England. At dinner, amid male intellect, and the women wisely exermuch enthusiasın, our host proposed that cised their influence, without clamorously we should all drink to the “ success of the asserting their equality. I know of no British Arms.”' To my surprise, nay one, who made choice of his wife“ beconsternation, my neighbor reversed his cause she was a goose, as Charles Dickglass, guarding it with his hand, when the ens is reported to have said he did. Cour. servant was about to pour out the wine. teous chivalry toward women, is averred
“Not drink the health of our Army, to be at once the root, and the finest blosand you a soldier, Sir Roderick !”' somn of good manners. The plant flour
No,” he answered me, “I cannot ished in the Fifties, and it is worth predrink to the success of an unnecessary serving. war ; my long friendship with the Em- Among the pleasant gatherings of those peror Nicholas, has made me aware that days, whether it was Royal Institution
lectures, British Association meetings, or dent from “ the cramped domain of an. in such private circles of society as in any cient synthesis.” Herschel and Peacock way affected to be fashionably scientific, were associated with him, in trying to inthere was one face, I was always seeing ; troduce the new analytic methods of matheit was a face, that never looked a wrinkle matical reasoning which bad already obolder, and which I could fancy had never tained on the Continent. There is an looked young
young. The owner of this ubiqui- am using story told of the flutter produced tous, sub-acid face, was Babbage. No by these proceedings, among the Dons of man was more ready for conversation in Cambridge. medias res ;-greetings and weather talk It will be remembered that Newton were taken as said, and if your observa- used dots in certain synıbols, while Leib. tion was pointless—his repartee came nitz employed d’s as a sign. Babbage smart and sharp, with a ready click. Uns proposed meetings for the propagation of fortunately for himself he was a man with the d'3—consigning to perdition all those a grievance, his calculating machine was who supported the heresy of the dots. never completed, though the patience of The joke was so little understood, that the Government, and his own private fortune big-wigs denounced the young philosohad been heavily taxed. Both Mr. Bab. pbers as infidels. When they were about bage and Count Strezlecki were dining at to publish a translation of Lacroix, it was Lady Murchison's, when the Count ob- necessary to decide on a titie, and Babserved, that in China, where he had lately bage suggested that it should be “ The been travelling, they took great interest Principles of pure D'ism, in opposition in the calculating machine, and particu- to the Dot-age of the University. larly wanted to know if it could be put in If Babbage, Wheatstone, Grove, Owen, the pocket.
Tyndall, and a host of other distinguished Tell them” replied Babbage“ that it scientists were to be met very generally in is in every sense an out of pocket ma- the society of the day, there was one inan
who was very conspicuous by his absence It was at this sanie dinner, if I remem- —this was Faraday !
-this was Faraday ! His biographers ber rightly, that a sham apple made of say, that in earlier ycars, he would occasome hard substance, fell from the mas- sionally accept Lady Davy's invitations to sive épergne in the centre of the table. dinner ; but I never heard of bis going It rolled toward me, and Mr. Babbage, elsewhere, except in obedience to the comarresting its course, presented it to our mands of royalty. I remember his shakhost saying “ Sir Roderick here comes an ing hands with me one evening, immeerratic boulder for you to classify." diately after the lecture, in a hurried manBabbage had known Ada Byron from ner, and with an anxious look ; before I
; her childhood ; he was much attached to could ask any questions he was gone, like her, and took special interest in the philo- one of his own electric flashes.
Some one sophical studies to which she devoted her. told me that Faraday was bidden to the self. After she became the wife of Lord Queen's ball ! Lovelace, she translated and published a One does not easily associate Faraday's memoir of General Menabrea on the ele. name with the frivolities of life, but he mentary principles of the Analytical En- bad a wholesome liking for them—as a gine, adding notes of her own, " which,"
which,” recreation, not as the whole duty of man. said Babbage, were a complete demon- He records in his journal, written when in stration that the operations of analysis are Rome, that he went to a masked ball at capable of being executed by machinery.” the time of the Carnival, with a lady, who I remember his telling me, that he hoped knew all his acquaintance, and enjoyed to leave behind him notes and diagrams himself immensely. He adds that he was sufficient to enable some future philosopher attired in a nightgown and nightcapto carry out his idea of the Analytical garments, I presume, which did duty for machine.
a domino. The Carnival evidently afWe are too much accustomed perhaps forded him great amusement, for he exto connect Babbage's name only with his patiates largely on it in his early letters great failure—the incompleted calculating and his diaries. machine—but he did good work in his In later life, Faraday retained a taste day ; he was the first to relieve the stu- for all scenic representation ; the more
as Bishop Berkeley says, metaphysicians philosopher in his most vivacious manner, first raise a dust, and then complain they and his ever cheery voice, welcomed us, cannot see. It is a fact, and that is not forgetting however to place a mark in enough for us, that scientific men are his book. generally cheerful minded, and can take These were winter days, a busy time pleasure in wholesome frivolity; they, with “ lectures" and laboratory work ; more easily than scholars or poets, can but we wanted to engage the Faradays to get out of iheir sphere of work, can more pay us a visit at Fyne Court, in the late easily unbend the bow, and restore there- summer, when they would be able to get by the balance of their physical well- away from London. Mr. Crosse, who being.
fully shared in Faraday's delight in a This was certainly the case with Faraday thunder-storm, said laughingly, that he —though not perhaps conspicuously to hoped we might have a "rattling good the world at large, with whom, bis rela- storm, to welcome them to the Quantock tions were those of a solemn teacher of hills ;" adding“ but I am sorry to say nature's mysteries, a grave exponent of that we are not unfrequently disappointed, her laws, and above all a man of such ab- owing to tbat abominable Bridgwater struse originality that he seemed a dweller river which carries off some of our best in the very empyrean of thought.
storms." One of the earliest visits we paid in This remark led to a discussion upon London, after our marriage in 1850,– the electric attraction of river systems, and was an afternoon call on Mr. and Mrs. the consequent distribution of rain. Faraday at the Royal Institution. My Schönbein's recent researches on ozone husband was on terms of intimacy with were touched upon, in reference to its exthe great electrician, being himself an en- cess in the atmosphere, or its absence, thusiastic laborer in the same field—a field being possibly in some way connected whose limits were even then known to be with influenza and other epidemic disas illimitable as Cosmos itself.
orders. Dr. Faraday then asked Mr. I had never yet seen Faraday. A feel- Crosse about his experiments upon “ the ing of awe overcame me, as we ascended carrying and transferring power of electhe long flight of stairs leading to the tricity.” In conclusion he remarked, on Upper Chambers of that famous house in hearing of Mr. Crosse's success in the Albemarle Street. With the knowledge transfer of pure silver throngh distilled that we were approaching the Arcana of water by slow electric action, ** that there Science, I was in no condition of sym- can be no doubt that that power has been pathy with the fools that rush in, but astonishingly influential in bringing about rather felt restrained by the reverent spir- many of the earthy and metalliferous arits of those who fear to tread, on sacred rangements of the globe.”'
" ground. The very sound of the homely The conversation had begun simply door knocker, rapped on my heart. Youth enough, about the novels of Lever and and ignorance are ever diffident—at least Trollope, and the promise of the first they ought to be—and they were in the Exhibition, which was to be opened ere days that are past. We entered, and many months ; but science was too near were kindly greeted by Mrs. Faraday, to both these enthusiasts for them to rewho led us through the outer siting-room, main long without touching on the subinto an inner sanctum ; there was Faraday ject. himself, half reclining on a sofa—with a Leaving the eager talkers to their alloheap of circulating library novels round tropic condition of oxygen in the atmoshim; he had evidently rejected some, phere, and the ceaseless interchange of that were thrown carelessly on the floor- atoms in the earth beneath ; Mrs. Faraday but his eyes were glued on the exciting drew me aside, and candidly told me, in pages of a third volume.
much kindness, and with true wifely wis“ He reads a great many novels, and it dom, that our bouise, was of all places, is very good for him to divert his mind,” the one where she could not permit her said Mrs. Faraday to us, later on.
husband to spend his holiday. She was It was a touch of nature, delightfully well aware that Fyne Court had its laborareassuring ; the feeling of awe gave place tories and fo es, in short had electrito warmest human sympathy, when the cal arrangements from garret to basement,