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to the great problem upon the determination of which their energies were about to be devoted—the figure of the earth. What was our astonishment to hear one of them blurt out with all the earnestness imaginable, -'What stuff! every body knows it's round, don't they? We could scarcely conceive him to be in earnest; but, if a joke, it appeared without exception to be the best acted assumption of ignorance we had ever witnessed. All doubt was, however, soon removed; for, passing by this with a smile, we spoke of the Topographie and the Geodesie of Puissant-works of which they had never even heardno, nor even of the pretty little manual of Francæur on the latter subject. Nay, more, we found that with the very objects of the survey, and with the more delicate adjustments and manipulations of the instruments themselves, they were wholly unacquainted ; although they had some rude knowledge of the theodolite, and professed once to have been up to grinding equations, but had almost forgotten all about it, it was such a bore.' Yet these, thought we, are the men to whose care and skill we have to trust for the accuracy of the costly and important Irish survey! Checks and counter-checks are indeed needed to secure even approximate accuracy with such agents; and we could not divest ourselves of the idea that the kind of correction so familiar with observers, known as the method of give-and-take,' was the main secret of the accordance of the alleged results. We had always prided ourselves upon the accordance between the calculation and measurement of the * base of verification' in the great English survey: but, after such a specimen as this, with what face could we continue to do so? This, too, was a military survey; and it brought to our mind that the notorious affair of Major Sabine was the affair of a military surveyor.
With all our respect for many worthy, honest, and well-informed men, we could not prevent such thoughts haunting us—no, nor can we yet. Minute accuracy is not a soldier's business; all his habits are opposed to it; and the dashing volatility which is the chief cause of the choice of that profession is incompatible with the qualities required in a careful observer. It is a mockery of science to put such men to work out its delicate details ; it is an injury in many ways to the men themselves, to place them in positions for which neither their education nor their natural predilections fit them.
Such a display of erudition would, of course, excite much curiosity as to the means by which it had been produced. We have exercised industry, at any rate, and we have sought truth;
* Babbage, Reflections on the Decline of Science in England, chap. iv.
but, as is usual in such cases, we have been refused information (even by liberal-minded men), on the ground that the general orders of the Board of Ordnance were, that "no communication relative to the duties of any appointment should be made to a person unconnected with the service. It was even held by them, that this order extended to their educational secrets, as well as to their personal positions in the eye of the service! From other sources, however, we have gleaned a good deal ; and we feel very great confidence in the accuracy of our statements. If in any case we should have fallen into error, it would not be our own fault, but that of the system; which, by enjoining secrecy, prevented an adequate testing of our information. If in the event of any error being found, it be pointed out to us, and its fallacy fairly established, we shall readily make the amende in as frank a manner as we are able. We are, indeed, sorry to speak harshly of any man, or of any Board, but our pledge to the public demands that we speak what we honestly believe to be the truth, and we proceed at once to our purpose.
The Royal Military Academy emanated from the mathematical school in the 'I'ower, which was founded in the time of Charles II., by Sir Jonas Moore, the Surveyor-General of the Ordnance. As an institution, per se, it dates back to the period of George II., who, under royal warrants of April 30th and November 18th, 1741, founded it, 'for instructing persons belonging to the military part of the Ordnance in the several branches of mathematics, fortification, &c., proper to qualify them for the service of artillery and the office of engineers. This institution is under the direction of the Master-General and Board of Ordnance for the time being; and at first the lectures of the masters in the academy were attended by the practitioner-engineers, with the officers, sergeants, corporals, and private men of the artillery, besides the cadets. however, none are educated there but gentlemen-cadets, to the number of 180. The Master-General of the Ordnance is always captain of the cadet company, and governor of the academy; under him are a lieutenant-governor and an inspector of studies. The masters have been gradually increased from two or three at first, to nearly twenty. So say the editors of Dr. Hutton's Dictionary (1814); but, though the number of cadets is the same now as at that date, there is a slight change in the number of professors and masters. The present establishment is, we believe, a professor of mathematics and seven masters ; a professor of fortification and five masters; two French, two German, and two drawing masters. The fencing and dancing
masters are discontinued, and the master for chymistry is changed into a chymical lecturer in the person of Dr. Faraday; the professor of mathematics also giving courses of lectures on what subjects it may please him to class under the name of Natural Philosophy.'
The half-yearly "batch,' as it is elegantly termed, of gentlemen-cadets, who have qualified themselves in the several branches of theoretical study required by the regulations for the service,' is, on the average, composed of about twenty. From three to six of these, according to their transcendant talents and acquirements, receive their commissions in the Royal Engineers, and are sent to Chatham to receive their
course of professional instruction ;' whilst the remaining ones are disposed of in the horse and foot artillery, or in the trainthe horse artillery being always considered the crack service, being ornamented with moustaches and lace. Their commissions are given,' not 'sold' to them; and, taken all together, they are a fair specimen of the English soldier.
But to come to our more immediate subject. The officers chosen for the survey are the intellectual élite of the Royal Engineers ; and the two gentlemen just introduced to our readers were appointed to this service! If these be the two transcendentals-the first and second wranglers of the Royal Military Academy-what must be the two at the bottom of the list? Yet even poor · Wooden-spoon' can get his sword !
Whence arise such singular anomalies? Are the masters at the Woolwich Academy satisfied with merely attending in their places at the stated times, going through some system of mystification, incomprehensible to their pupils, to show their own profound knowledge; or are they incompetent to impart the requisite instruction? There are some clever men amongst them-men of high reputation, we know—but few out of the
twenty. We have some clue to the materiel of instruction the cadets receive, in the class-books of most of the military institutions : but we have scarcely any, or rather none, in this, except as regards mathematics. Of classical instruction there is not even the form; and, with respect to French and German, the utmost that is aimed at is to give a little conversational acquirement, and the ability to read the most elementary compositions--for elementary, didactic works always are in every language. No attempt to give a literary knowledge of either language is made, and in our opinion such an attempt would be fruitless, when the objects of the study are taken in connexion with the general habits of the cadet-company. As to drawing, there are two classes exhibited at the public halfyearly examination, at which we have occasionally been present, one being an attempt at landscape, whose blotchy appearance suggests the idea of nature disfigured by the mange; the other composed chiefly of army costumes—one man holding by the bridle a horse with legs betokening that he never meant to run away-another mounted, sword in hand, with his cloak .fluttering in the breeze' which a neighbouring aspen defies to move a leaf; the warrior's visage as fierce as black moustaches can make it, and backed by a cloud of gunpowder smoke. The cadets learn also to 'print' letters of 'regulation dimensions ;' to draw bastions and horn works, and to lay down from scale the progress of a siege, with probably as much knowledge of the reasons for every step as most of them will ever want! They also study perspective, descriptive geometry, and the method of horizontals;' and possibly some other topics of like nature. What they study of the principles of fortification, mining, gunnery, or the other subjects which the continental soldiers consider to be qualifications for an officer, we really are not able to tell, since there is not a single manual of their acknowledged course to be procured, except, indeed, their “professional papers,' which, if procured, could only be procured on the pledge of not making use of them! How cruel to keep such 'stores of wisdom'thus locked up from general use !
If these works be good for anything, why not give to the public the benefit of them? Possibly, however, the authors of these papers have consulted their own reputation, such as it is, in protecting them from public comment. We have also seen a lithographic 'survey of Woolwich-common' performed by the gentlemen cadets of the Royal Military Academy, executed under the direction of Captain Somebody (whose name we cannot recall); which is the finest specimen of the higgledy-piggledy style of field-book registration that we have ever witnessed: and likewise a lithographic course of practical geometry that would astonish Monge himself, unrivalled as the French consider him in his drawings and geometrical designs !
We do not know that it has ever been promulgated by way of royal proclamation, or official general orders, what kind of mathematics or what amount of acquirement is essential for the use of an artillery or engineer officer in the British service. On one occasion, being interested in the welfare of a young friend who was going into the line,' we were desirous of forming some kind of comparison between his acquirements and those of the young men in the scientific branch of the service;' and we applied to a gentleman of the Royal Military Academy, through the introduction of a mutual friend, to ob
tain such information. “I would gladly tell you if I knew,' was his reply; “it is, however, such a quantity, that though the maximum is not large, the minimum is very small. I have asked the same question in all quarters myself; and only last evening a field-officer of the Royal Artillery told me that he had never found the slightest use for his mathematics during his whole life. This officer, too, holds a post of high responsibility in the garrison-one that would require mathematics, if any post could. I tell
what our cadets do study, if that be of any use to you ; but to what purposes their knowledge is applied, you have little chance of obtaining satisfactory information.'
This gentleman was engaged in teaching mathematics to a professional class, whilst he was ignorant of all its professional applications—and, as it would appear, was studiously kept in ignorance! He and his fellow-labourers, however, had a book from which to teach, and they were directed what to teach from the book. Yet it does not appear to us, that had they been admitted into the arcanum of professional secrets, they might have been enabled to invest the subject with a degree of interest to their pupils; and we cannot look at the names and productions of many (nay, nearly all, till very recent times) of the men who have conferred honour on that institution, without thinking it probable that many simplifications in mathematics, as adapted to professional use, must have resulted. Still this secrecy is quite in keeping with the narrow jealousy which is so proverbial in the Royal Military Academy, and which has a recorded existence from the very earliest period of its history; and, as even the book upon which this review is founded will prove, is now as 'instinct with life' as it was in the days of Müller and Simpson.* And this is the way to work out the scientific education of a British officer.
The true amount of mathematical knowledge required at Woolwich is just enough to enable the cadets to pass their examinations; and, as this depends partly on the regulations of the Master-General, and partly on the professor of mathematics, as examiner, it will be casy to judge how variable in style, amount, and character, this quant. suff. will be. The discontent, too, which has of late so frequently been noticed through the
Simpson's Geometry, preface to the later editions, and Dr. Hutton's Life of that great mathematician, prefixed to the Select Exercises, 1792, pp. xi. to xiii. It is evident from the Doctor's closing sentence, that the feuds had been still maintained, and that the professor of mathematics had found men of still humbler calibre than Simpson found Müller to be. We do not learn that of later years, even since the times of Martemont and Landmann, the professors of fortification have been men of remarkable science, though, like the semi-learned, somewhat fond of canvassing and lowering the scientific talents of others.