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Sedgwick, Buckland and De la Beche, of inquiry into the physical and biological Henslow and Daubeny, Roget, Richard- conditions of the Deep Sea, on which, with son, and Edward Forbes, with many oth- my colleagues, Prof." Wyville Thomson ers, perhaps not less distinguished, of whom and Mr. J. Gwyn Jeffreys, I had been enmy own recollection is less vivid.
gaged for the three preceding years. That In his honored old age, Sedgwick still for which I had asked was a circumnaviretains, in the academic home of his life, gating expedition of at least three years' all his pristine interest in whatever bears duration, provided with an adequate scienon the advance of the science he has tific staff, and with the most complete adorned as well as enriched; and Phillips equipment that our experience could destill cultivates with all his old enthusiasm vise. The Council of the Royal Society the congenial soil to which he has been having been led by the encouraging tenor transplanted. But the rest,-our fathers of the answer I had received to make a and elder brothers,—“Where are they?" formal application to this effect, the liberal It is for us of the present generation to arrangements of the Government have show that they live in our lives; to carry been carried out under the advice of a forward the work which they commenced; Scientific Committee, which included reand to transmit the influence of their ex- presentatives of this Association. H.M. ample to our own suceessors.
ship Challenger, a vessel in every way suitThere is one of these great men, whose able for the purpose, is now being fitted departure from among us since last we met out at Sheerness. The command of the claims a special notice, and whose life— Expedition is entrusted to Capt. Nares, an full as it was of years and honors—we officer of whose high qualifications I have should have all desired to see prolonged myself the fullest assurance; while the for a few months, could its feebleness have scientific charge of it will be taken by my been unattended with suffering. For we excellent friend, Prof. Wyville Thomson, at should all then have sympathized with whose suggestion it was that these investiMurchison in the delight with which he gations were originally commenced, and would have received the intelligence of the whose zeal for the efficient prosecution of safety of the friend in whose scientific la- them is shown by his relinquishment for a bors and personal welfare he felt to the last time of the important academic position the keenest interest. That this intelligence, he at present fills. It is anticipated that which our own expedition for the relief of the Expedition will sail in November next; Livingstone would have obtained (we will and I feel sure that the good wishes of all hope) a few months later, should have been of you will go along with it. brought to us through the generosity of The confident anticipation expressed by one, and the enterprising ability—may I my predecessor, that for the utilization of, not use our peculiarly English word, the the total eclipse of the sun then impendings "pluck”-of another of our American our Government would " exercise the same brethren, can not but be a matter of na- wise liberality as heretofore in the interests tional regret to us. But let us bury that of science,” has been amply fulfilled. An regret in the common joy which both na- Eclipse Expedition to India was organized tions feel in the result; and while we give at the charge of the Home Government, a cordial welcome to Mr. Stanley, let us and placed under the direction of Mr. glory in the prospect now opening, that Lockyer; the Indian Government contriEngland and America will co-operate in buted its quota to the work; and a most that noble object which—far more than the valuable body of results was obtained, of discovery of the Sources of the Nile-our which, with those of the previous year, a great traveler has set before himself as his Report is now being prepared under the true mission, the extinction of the slave direction of the Council of the Astronomitrade.
cal Society. At the last meeting of this Association, It has been customary with successive I had the pleasure of being able to an- occupants of this chair, distinguished as nounce that I had received from the First leaders in their several divisions of the 10Lord of the Admiralty a favorable reply to ble army of science, to open the proceeda representation I had ventured to make ings of the meetings over which they reto him, as to the importance of prosecut spectively presided with a discourse on ing on a more extended scale the course some aspect of Nature in her relation to man. But I am not aware that any one posterity, I care not which. It may well of them has taken up the other side of the wait a century for a reader, as God has inquiry—that which concerns man as the waited six thousand years for an observer." "Interpreter of Nature;" and I have there- And when a yet greater than Kepler fore thought it not inappropriate to lead was bringing to its final issue that grandest you to the consideration of the mental of all scientific conceptions, long pondered processes by which are formed those fun- over, by his almost superhuman intellect, damental conceptions of matter and force, which linked together the heavens and of cause and effect, of law and order, which the earth, the planets and the sun, the furnish the basis of all scientific reasoning, primaries and their satellites, and included and constitute the Philosophia prima of even the vagrant comets, in the nexus of a Bacon. There is a great deal of what I universal attraction, establishing for all can not but regard as fallacious and mis- time the truth for whose utterance Galileo leading philosophy—“oppositions of sci- had been condemned, and giving to Kepence falsely so called "-abroad in the ler's laws a significance of which their world at the present time. And I hope to author had never dreamed, --what was the satisfy you that those who set up their own meaning of that agitation which prevented conceptions of the orderly sequence which the philosopher from completing his comthey discern in the phenomena of nature putation, and compelled him to hand it as fixed and determinate Laws, by which over to his friend? That it was not the those phenomena not only are within all thought of his own greatness, but the human experience, but always have been, glimpse of the grand universal order thus and always must be, invariably governed, revealed to his mental vision, which shook are really guilty of the intellectual arro- the serene and massive soul of Newton to gance they condemn in the systems of the its foundations, we have the proof in that ancients, and place themselves in diame beautiful comparison in which he likened trical antagonism to those real philosoph- himself to a child picking up shells on the ers by whose comprehensive grasp and shore of the vast ocean of truth—a compenetrating insight that order has been so parison which will be evidence to all time far disclosed. For what love of the truth at once of his true philosophy and his proas it is in Nature was ever more conspicu- found humility. ous than that which Kepler displayed in Though it is with the intellectual reprehis abandonment of each of the ingenious sentation of Nature, which we call Science, conceptions of the planetary system which that we are primarily concerned, it will not his fertile imagination had successively de- be without its use to cast a glance, in the vised, so soon as it proved to be inconsist- first instance, at the other two principa ent with the facts disclosed by observation ? characters under which man acts as her In that almost admiring description of the interpreter—those, namely, of the artist way in which his enemy Mars, “ whom he and of the poet. had left at home a despised captive," had The artist serves as the interpreter of “burst all the chains of the equations, and Nature, not when he works as the mere broke forth from the prisons of the tables," copyist, delineating that which he sees who does not recognize the justice of Schil- with his bodily eyes, and which we could ler's definition of the real philosopher as see as well for ourselves, but when he enone who always loves truth better than his deavors to awaken within us the percepsystem? And when at last he had gained tion of those beauties and harmonies which the full assurance of a success so complete his own trained sense has recognized, and that (as he says) he thought he must be thus impart to us the pleasure he has himdreaming, or that he had been reasoning self derived from their contemplation. As in a circle, who does not feel the almost no two artists agree in the original constisublimity of the self-abnegation with which, tution and acquired habits of their minds, after attaining what was in own estimation all look at Nature with different (mental) such a glorious reward of his life of toil, eyes; so that to each, Nature is what he disappointment, and self-sacrifice, he ab- individually sees in her. stains from claiming the applause of his The poet again, serves, as the interprecontemporaries, but leaves his fame to af- ter of Nature, not so much when by skilter ages in these noble words: “ The book ful word-painting (whether in prose or is written; to be read either now or by verse) he calls up before our mental vision the picture of some actual or ideal scene, tation of Nature represents her not merely however beautiful, as when, by rendering as she seems, but as she really is. into appropriate forms those deeper impres- When, however, we carefully examine sions made by the nature around him on the foundation of that assurance, we find the moral and emotional part of his own reason to distrust its security; for it can nature, he transfers these impressions to be shown to be no less true of the scientithe corresponding part of ours. For it is fic conception of Nature, than it is of the the attribute of the true poet to penetrate artistic or the poetic, that it is a representhe secret of those mysterious influences tation framed by the mind itself out of the which we all unknowingly experience; materials supplied by the impressions and having discovered this to himself
, to which external objects make upon the bring others, by the power he thus wields, senses; so that to each man of science into the like sympathetic relation with Nature is what he individually believes her Nature—evoking with skilful touch the to be. And that belief will rest on very varied response of the soul's finest chords, different bases, and will have very unequal heightening its joys, assuaging its griefs, values, in different departments of science. and elevating its aspirations. Whilst, Thus in what are commonly known as the then, the artist aims to picture what he “exact" sciences, of which astronomy may sees in Nature, it is the object of the poet be taken as the type, the data afforded by to represent what he feels in Nature ; and precise methods of observation can be to each true poet Nature is what he indivi- made the basis of reasoning, in every step dually finds in her.
of which the mathematician feels the fullThe philosopher's interpretation of Na- est assurance of certainty; and the final ture seems less individual than that of the deduction is justified either by its conforartist or the poet, because it is based on mity to known or ascertainable facts-as facts which any one may verify, and is ela- when Kepler determined the elliptic orbit borated by reasoning processes of which of Mars; or by the fulfilment of the preall admit the validity. He looks at the dictions it has sanctioned—as in the ocuniverse as a vast book lying open before currence of an eclipse or an occultation at him, of which he has in the first place to the precise moment specified many years learn the characters, then to master the previously; or, still more emphatically, by language, and finally to apprehend the the actual discovery of phenomena till ideas which that language conveys. In then unrecognized--as when the perturbathat book there are many chapters, treat tions of the planets, shown by Newton to ing of different subjects; and as life is too be the necessary results of their mutual atshort for any one man to grasp the whole, traction, were proved by observation to the scientific interpretation of this book have a real existence; or as when the uncomes to be the work of many intellects, known disturber of Uranus was found in differing not merely in the range but also the place assigned to him by the compuin the character of their powers. But tations of Adams and Le Verrier. whilst there are “diversities of gifts,” there We are accustomed, and I think most is “the same spirit." While each takes rightly, to speak of these achievements as his special direction, the general method triumphs of the human intellect. of study is the same for all
. And it is a very phrase implies that the work is done testimony alike to the truth of that method by mental agency; and the coincidence and to the unity of Nature that there is an of its results with the facts of observation ever increasing tendency towards agree- is far from proving the intellectual process ment among those who use it aright; to have been correct. For we learn from temporary differences of interpretation be- the honest confessions of Kepler, that he ing removed, sometimes by a more com- was led to the discovery of the elliptic orplete mastery of her language, sometimes bit of Mars by a series of happy accidents, by a better apprehension of her ideas; and which turned his erroneous guesses into lines of pursuit which had seemed entirely the right direction; and to that of the pasdistinct or even widely divergent being sage of the Radius Vector over equal areas found to lead at last to one common goal. in equal times, by the notion of a whirling And it is this agreement that gives rise to force emanating from the sun, which we the general belief—in many to the confi- now regard as an entirely wrong concepdent assurance—that the scientific interpre- tion of the cause of orbital revolution
(See Drinkwater's “ Life of Kepler,” in the by intellectual processes ; the apparent Library of Useful Knowledge, pp. 26-35.) simplicity and directness of those processes It should always be remembered, moreov- either causing them to be entirely overlooker, that the Ptolemaic system of astronomy ed or veiling the assumptions on which with all its cumbrous ideal mechanism of they are based. Thus Mr. Lockyer “centric and excentric, cycle and epicycle, speaks as confidently of the sun's chromoorb in orb,” did intellectually represent all sphere of incandescent hydrogen, and of that the astronomer, prior to the invention the local outbursts which cause it to send of telescope, could see from his actual forth projections tens of thousands of miles standpoint, the earth, with an accuracy high, as if he had been able to capture a which was proved by the fulfilment of his flask of this gas, and had generated water anticipations, and in that last and most by causing it to unite with oxygen. Yet memorable prediction, which has given an this confidence is entirely based on the asimperishable fame to our two illustrious sumption that a certain line which is seen contemporaries, the inadequacy of the ba- in the spectrum of a hydrogen flame, is afforded by actual observation of the means hydrogen also when seen in the perturbations of Uranus, required that it spectrum of the sun's chromosphere; and should be supplemented by an assumption high as is the probability of that assumpof the probable distance of the disturbing tion, it can not be regarded as a demonplanet beyond, which has been shown by strated certainty, since it is by no means subsequent observation to have been only inconceivable that the same line might be an approximation to the truth.
produced by some other substance at pres-, Even in this most exact of sciences, ent unknown. And so when Dr. Huggins therefore, we can not proceed a step, with- deduces from the different relative posiout translating the actual phenomena of tions of certain lines in the spectra of difNature into intellectual representations of ferent stars, that these stars are moving those phenomena; and it is because the from or toward us in space, his admirable Newtonian conception is not only the train of reasoning is based on the assumpmost simple, but is also, up to the extent tion that these lines have the same meaning of our present knowledge, universal in its —that is, that they represent the same eleconformity to the facts of observation, that ments—in every luminary. That assump
: we accept it as the only scheme of the uni- tion, like the preceding, may be regarded verse yet promulgated which satisfies our as possessing a sufficiently high probability intellectual requirements.
to justify the reasoning based upon it; When, under the reign of the Ptolemaic more especially since, by the other resystem, any new inequality was discovered searches of that excellent observer, the in the motion of a planet, a new wheel had same chemical elements have been detect. to be added to the ideal mechanism-as ed as vapors in those filmy cloudlets which Ptolemy said, “ to save appearances.” If seem to be stars in an early state of conit should prove, a century hence, that the solidation. But when Frankland and motion of Neptune himself is disturbed by Lockyer, seeing in the spectrum of the yelsome other attraction than that exerted by low solar prominences a certain bright line the interior planets, we should confidently not identifiable with that of any known expect that not an ideal but a real cause terrestrial flame, attribute this to a hypofor that disturbance will be found in the thetical new substance which they propose existence of another planet beyond. But to call Helium, it is obvious that their asI trust that I have now made it evident to sumption rests on a far less secure foundayou, that this confident expectation is not tion, until it shall have received that verifijustified by any absolute necessity of Na- cation which, in the case of Mr. Crookes's ture, but arises entirely out of our belief in researches on Thallium, was afforded by her uniformity; and into the grounds of the actual discovery of the new metal, this and other primary beliefs, which serve whose presence had been indicated to him as the foundation of all scientific reason- by a line in the spectrum not attributable ing, we shall presently inquire.
to any substance then known. There is another class of cases, in which In a large number of other cases, morean equal certainty is generally claimed for over, our scientific interpretations are clearconclusions that seem to flow immediately ly matters of judgment; and this is emifrom observed facts, though really evolved nently a personal act, the value of its re
sults depending in each case upon the what was in the first instance a matter of qualifications of the individual for arriving discussion, has now become one of those at a correct decision. The surest of such “self-evident” propositions, which claim judgments are those dictated by what we the unhesitating assent of all whose opinterm "common sense,” as to matters on ion on the subject is entitled to the least which there seems no room for difference weight. of opinion, because every sane person We proceed upwards, however, from comes to the same conclusion, although he such questions as the common sense of may be able to give no other reason for it mankind generally is competent to decide, than that it appears to him “self-evident.” to those in which special knowledge is reThus, while philosophers have raised a quired to give value to the judgment; and thick cloud of dust in the discussion of the thus the interpretation of Nature by the basis of our belief in the existence of a use of that faculty comes to be more and world external to ourselves of the Non more individual - things being perfectly Ego, as distinct from the Ego_and while “self-evident" to men of special culture, every logician claims to have found some which ordinary men, or men whose trainflaw in the proof advanced by every other-ing has lain in a different direction, do not the common sense of mankind has arrived apprehend as such. Of all departments of at a decision that is practically worth all science, geology seems to me to be the the arguments of all the philosophers who one that most depends on this speciallyhave fought again and again over this bat- trained “common sense”; which brings, tle-ground. And I think it can be shown as it were, into one focus the light afforded that the trustworthiness of this common- by a great variety of studies--physical and sense decision arises from its dependence, chemical, geographical and biological; and not on any one set of experiences, but up throws it on the pages of that Great Stone on our unconscious co-ordination of the Book, on which the past history of our whole aggregate of our experiences--not on globe is recorded. And whilst astronomy the conclusiveness of any one train of rea- is of all sciences that which may be consoning, but on the convergence of all our sidered as most nearly representing nature lines of thought toward this one centre. as she really is, geology is that which most
Now this “common sense," disciplined completely represents her as seen through and enlarged by appropriate culture, be- the medium of the interpreting mind; the comes one of our most valuable instru- meaning of the phenomena that constitute ments of scientific inquiry - affording in its data being in almost every instance many instances the best, and sometimes open to question, and the judgments passthe only, basis for a rational conclusion. ed upon the same facts being often differLet us take as a typical case, in which no ent according to the qualifications of the special knowledge is required, what we are several judges. No one who has even a accustomed to call the "flint implements" general acquaintance with the history of of the Abbeville and Amiens gravel-beds. this department of science can fail to see that No logical proof can be adduced that the the geology of each epoch has been the peculiar shapes of these flints were given reflections of the minds by which its study to them by human hands; but does any was then directed; and that its true, prounprejudiced person now doubt it? The gress dates from the time when that “com. evidence of design, to which, after an ex- mon-sense" method of interpretation came amination of one or two such specimens, to be generally adopted, which consists in we should only be justified in attaching a seeking the explanation of past changes in probable value, derives an irresistible co- the forces at present in operation, instead gency from accumulation. On the other of invoking the aid of extraordinary and hand, the improbability that these flints mysterious agencies, as the older geologists acquired their peculiar shape by accident, be- were wont to do, whenever they wantedcomes to our minds greater and greater as like the Ptolemaic astronomers—"to save more and more such specimens are found; appearances." The whole tendency of until at last this hypothesis, although it can the ever-widening range of modern geolonot be directly disproved, is felt to be almost gical inquiry has been to show how little inconceivable, except by minds previously reliance can be placed on the so-called “possessed” by the “dominant idea" of "laws" of Stratigraphical and Paläontologithe modern origin of man. And thus cal Succession, and how much allowance has