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SCIENTIFIC MEETING AT CAMBRIDGE.
which the memoirs are subjected, an opportunity We were not so fortunate as to be able to listen to the for the friendly collision of intellect and the inproceedings of the American Association for the Advance-structive comparison of opinions, which nothing ment of Science, at its late meeting at Cambridge, but but oral discussion can yield. These topics might are glad to be able to adduce undoubted authority for its be easily expanded, but I think I should undertake respectability and success. On 21 Aug., the last day, at a very superfluous office should I endeavor more in dinner, Mr. Edward Everett spoke as follows:detail, on the present occasion, to set forth the usefulness of institutions of this kind.
In my humble opinion, the transactions of the Association, at its present meeting, have been highly creditable to its members and to the science of the country. I had an opportunity in 1841 of attending the annual meeting of a similar association at Florence, consisting of between nine hundred and a thousand of the men of science of Italy and the neighboring countries; and in the years 1842, 1844, and 1845, I enjoyed a similar opportunity in reference to the meetings of the British Association for the Promotion of Science. It appears to me, that, in the scientific character of its proceedings at the present meeting, the American Association will compare advantageously with those of Europe. The number of men of science in attendance is much less; but I think the volume of this year's transactions when published will show proportionably as large a number of communications, on interesting and important topics, in most of the departments of science, and exhibiting as much original research and sound speculation, as the annual reports of any of the European associations. I make this remark with the less hesitation, because I have myself borne no other part in the scientific labors of the Association than that of a gratified and instructed listener; and also because among the circumstances which have enabled the Association to present such fair ground of comparison with its European contemporaries, no one can forget that European talent of the highest order is to be found in our ranks.*
I am aware that it has been objected to them at home and abroad, that they do not lead to the discovery of truth. The question is frequently asked, in reference to the great European associations of this kind, what discoveries have been made by them? Well, sir, in this demand for discoveries as a test of usefulness on the part of associated or individual effort, there is no little vagueness and a good deal of injustice. It appears to me quite unreasonable, as an exclusive test of utility, to demand, either of scientific bodies or of single votaries of science, that they should make discoveries. If by "discoveries" we mean matters of fact before unknown, such as the discovery of the exist ence of the American continent, or of the planets Uranus or Neptune, or of the effect of vaccination, it would be shutting up the domain of science within very narrow limits to exclude from it all but a very few, who, to the greatest sagacity and generally also the greatest diligence, have united the greatest good fortune. If we set up this standard we should strike at the root not merely of this Association, but of almost every other specific form of scientific action. Discoveries such as I mention are, necessarily, more or less casual in their immediate origin; or, rather, there is a happy inspiration-an unexplained, inexplicable kindling of mind—which no logic can teach, no discipline certainly produce. That the globe was spherical, was not first conceived by Columbus; how happened it that he first formed the practical conception of reaching the Indies by sailing to the west? The perturbations of Uranus have been studied by astronomers for a quarter of a century; what inspired Leverrier and Adams alone, with the happy thought of deducing from them the exist ence of an undiscovered planet?
I think no one, sir, could have attended any considerable number of the meetings of the Association, and witnessed its course of operations, but must have been satisfied, if he had doubts before, of the utility of such an institution. A meeting of scientific men from every part of the Union, with the opportunity thus afforded for entering into friendly personal relations, is itself an object of no mean importance; If we use the term "discovery," in reference especially in a country so large as this, and destitute to great general laws of nature, such as the Coof any one great metropolis. It cannot have escaped pernican System, the attraction of gravitation, the any one's observation, that much time, labor, and relations of electricity and magnetism, then the skilful research must have been devoted to the prep-unreasonableness of objecting to scientific assoaration of many of the memoirs, which it is highly ciations, that they have not produced and are not probable would not have been bestowed upon scien- likely to produce such results, is still more apparific pursuits, under other circumstances. Much is ent. Discoveries of this kind, even though apgained, at all times, by the actual presence of the parently referable to single authors, to particular instructor, and the animation of the living voice. An impression is made by them, which is rarely produced by the lifeless page of the printed volume. I do not of course mean that lecturing can ever take the place of study; but it is an admirable assistant. Then, too, the meetings of the Association possess the advantage of affording, in the discussions to
periods of time, and to distinct courses of research, are so only in a limited degree. They are the product of the whole condition of science at the time;-they are its consummate flower-its ripened fruit. Such discoveries strike their roots far into the past-they are not made; they have grown. The preparation of centuries has gradually opened the way for them ;-hundreds of present meeting were Professors Agassiz and Guyot of minds have taken part in the discovery, hundreds of years before it is made. At length the world
*Among the activemembers of the Association at the Neuchatel.
of science is ripe for the grand result; the full-seemed to me so full of wisdom as to impress ness of time is come; the gifted genius destined itself upon my memory. Cowley addresses to put the last hand to the work is born, and the Hobbes as "The great Columbus of the golden "discovery" is made; not seldom, perhaps in lands of new philosophies." Few persons, at the popular acceptation, with an exaggeration of its present day, would be disposed to admit the claim absolute novelty; an overrating of the originality of the philosopher of Malmesbury to this magof the discoverer and consequent injustice to his nificent title. But the strain in which Cowley predecessors. Pope beautifully says:proceeds, however uncouth in point of versification, is singularly acute and discriminating :— Thou great Columbus of the golden land of new philosophies!
Nature and nature's laws lay hid in night -
This certainly is very happily said, by way of epigrammatic eulogy ;-but it would not bear scientific examination. The illustrious philosopher, as just and modest as he was great, did not so deem of himself. Were the laws of nature wholly hidden in darkness before the time of Newton? Had Copernicus, Tycho, Kepler, Galileo thrown no light upon them?
Thy task is harder much than his,
But thy eloquence and thy wit
Has planted, peopled, built, and civilized it. The verse is rude, but the lesson is significant. Columbus may set foot on a continent before unseen by civilized man; Copernicus may sweep So, too, and perhaps this is a still more impor- away the cycles and epicycles of the Ptolemaic tant reflection, after the discovery of some such theory, and establish the sun on his central throne; general law is made, the work of science is by no and Newton may demonstrate the wondrous law means exhausted. Even if it were true that sci- which binds every member of the system-forever entific associations had no tendency to promote dis- attracted and forever repelled-to that mysterious covery, in either sense of the word, it might still centre. But after all these great discoveries have be a matter of great importance, that they furnish been made, there is not only room, there is a cryoccasions and facilities for illustrating and dif- ing demand, a great intellectual necessity, for furfusing more widely the knowledge of the great ther progress. Other discoverers, other philosolaws of nature. This is a point on which, if phers must rise to unfold the consequences of time permitted, and I were addressing an audience these primordial truths;-to plant and people of young men who needed encouragements to en- these scientific continents (if I may be allowed to gage with ardor in the pursuit of science, I would carry on Cowley's metaphor) with new experigladly enlarge. I would say to them, fear not ments and observations; to build them up with that the masters who have gone before you, have harmonious systems; to civilize them into a rereaped the field of science so thoroughly, as to fined adaptation to the wants and service of moral leave neither harvest nor gleaning for their success-beings.
ors. True, indeed, the Newtons have lived and This is the work left to the mass of the scientaught; not to supersede and render superfluous, but to prepare the way for disciples and followers, not unworthy to be called the Newtons of after ages. The discovery of a great law is an enlargement, not an exhaustion, of the domain of science. Each new truth is a lever for the discovery of further truth. It may never be given again to the human intellect, (but who shall say that it never will be given ?) to attain another generalization at once of such divine simplicity and stupendous magnitude as the law of gravitation. But I think it may with truth be said, that the system of the universe resting on that law has been more fully developed by the successors of Newton than by himself. It was believed in 1729 that the maximum of telescopic power had been attained; and the solar system, as then understood, comprised six primary planets and ten secondaries! There are now discovered nineteen planetary bodies which revolve round the sun, and (if we allow two satellites for Neptune,) twentyone secondaries!
This important truth, that a great discovery not only leads to, but stands in need of, further researches, is most happily expressed in a fine apostrophe of the poet Cowley to the philosopher Hobbes, which attracted my notice as I happened into the bookseller's the day before yesterday, and
tific community, and no one can reasonably deny that an association like ours is an approved and effective part of that system of concerted action, by which men advantageously unite themselves to accomplish desirable ends. And it is most cheering to learn from the example of the great discoverers that the materials for carrying on their work, the elements of further discovery—surround us on every side. There is no error more gross than that the knowledge of the great truths which form the glory of modern science must be directly sought from the depths of the heavens above or of the abyss below. Or if philosophical analysis enables us, in some degree, to penetrate to the mysteries of the earth we inhabit or of the mighty universe of which it forms so small a part, it is by virtue of laws and principles exemplified as clearly in the motes that cheaply people the sunbeam-as in the mighty spheres that are held in their orbits by the sun. The law of gravitation was suggested to Newton, not by the magnificent spectacle of a comet drawn down to the sun from the outskirts of the solar system, but by an apple falling from a tree to the earth. The glass which I hold in my hand, with the water it contains, is of itself a richly stored cabinet of scientific truth.
By the ancients, the water, believed to be a simple substance, was no doubt regarded chiefly
as the element designed to moisten and fertilize scientific transactions, that they have been animated and encouraged by this unusual presence; and the persevering attendance of our fair friends to the close of the session authorizes the hope that they have been gratified listeners. How much our social meetings in this hall have been enlivened by their presence I need not say. I trust the example which they have set, the present year, will be followed at the future meetings of the Association. When we recall the names of Caroline Herschell, of Mary Somerville, and may I not add of our own Maria Mitchell, we need no arguments to show that the cultivation of science is by no means the exclusive mission of man. The time may come perhaps when my successor in the duty I now perform will be called upon to return the acknowledgments of the Association not only to the ladies who have honored the meetings by their presence, but to those who have contributed to their scientific transactions. I beg leave, sir, to submit the following motion :—
the earth, to quench the thirst of man, to separate
But it is time, sir, to think of performing the duty for which I originally rose to address you. It is one of the most pleasing incidents of the present meetings of the Association that they have been attended by so many ladies. Many of the members of the Association from a distance have been accompanied with their wives and daughters who, together with the ladies of Cambridge, have not only from day to day honored our social table with their company, but have given their diligent attention in the sections. The Association has, I understand, been favored in this way for the first time at the present meeting. I am sure I speak for all those who have taken part in the
Resolved, that the thanks of the American Association for the Advancement of Science be given to the ladies who have honored the meetings of the Association with their attendance.
O'ER THE HILL.
ONE morning as he wended
To beguile the fleeting hours:
And these fair fruits decay.
O'er the hill there, o'er the hill!
Again, high noon was glowing
On a wide and weary plain;
Than the morning's rosy youth,
His unaltered brow of truth:
Sang alluring voices still :
O'er the hill there, o'er the hill!
With the burden of the day,
Through a "straight and narrow way."
As it were a gentle rill,
THE SHETLAND ISLES.
waters. The haze thickened to a fog, which grew more and more dense, and finally closed over head.
A LETTER FROM MR. BRYANT TO THE N. Y. EVENING After about three hours' sail the captain began to
Aberdeen, July 19, 1849.
Two days ago I was in the Orkneys; the day before I was in the Shetland Isles, the "farthest Thule" of the Romans, where I climbed the Noup of the Noss, as the famous headland of the island of Noss is called, from which you look out upon the sea, that lies between Shetland and Norway.
grow uneasy, and was seen walking about on the bridge between the wheel-houses, anxiously peering into the mist, on the look-out for the coast of the Orkneys. At length he gave up the search, and stopped the engine. The passengers amused themselves with fishing. Several coal fish, and a large fish of slender shape were caught, and one fine cod was hauled out, by a gentleman who combined, as he gave me to understand, the two capacities of portrait painter and preacher of the gospel, and who held that the universal church of Christendom had gone sadly astray from the true primitive doctrine, in regard to the time when the millennium is to take place.
The fog cleared away in the evening our steamer was again in motion; we landed at Kirkwall in the middle of the night, and when I went on deck the next morning we were smoothly passing the shores of Fair Isle-high and steep rocks impending over the waters, with a covering of green turf. Before they were out of sight we saw the Shetland coast. the dark rock of Sumburg Head, and behind it, half shrouded in mist, the promontory of Fitfiel Head-Fitful Head, as it is called by Scott, in his novel of the Pirate. Beyond, to the east, black rocky promontories come in sight one after the other beetling over the At ten o'clock, we were passing through
From Wick, a considerable fishing town in Caithness, on the northern coast of Scotland, a steamer, named the Queen, departs once a week, in the summer months, for Kirkwall, in the Orkneys, and Lerwick, in Shetland. We went on board of her about ten o'clock on the 14th of July. The herring fishery had just begun, and the artificial port of Wick, constructed with massive walls of stone, was crowded with fishing vessels which had returned that morning from the labors of the night; for in the herring fishery it is only in the night that the nets are spread and drawn. Many of the vessels had landed their cargo; in others the fishermen were busily disengaging the herrings from the black nets and throwing them in heaps; and now and then a boat, later than the rest, was entering from the sea. The green heights all around the bay were covered with groups of women, sitting or walking, dressed for the most part in caps and white short-sea. gowns, waiting for the arrival of the boats manned a channel between the islands leading to Lerwick, by their husbands and brothers, or belonging to the families of those who had come to seek occupation as fishermen. I had seen two or three of the principal streets of Wick that morning, swarming with strapping tellows, in blue highland bonnets, with blue jackets and pantaloons, and coarse blue flannel shirts. A shop-keeper, standing at his door, instructed me who they were.
"They are men of the Celtic race," he saidthe term Celtic has grown to be quite fashionable, I find, when applied to the Highlanders. They came from the Hebrides and other parts of western Scotland to get employment in the herring fishery. These people have travelled perhaps three hundred miles, most of them on foot, to be employed six or seven weeks, for which they will receive about six pounds wages. Those whom you see, are not the best of their class; the more enterprising and industrious have boats of their own, and carry on the fishery on their own account."
the capital of Shetland, on the principal island, bearing the name of Mainland. Fields, yellow with flowers, among which stood, here and there, a cottage, sloped softly down to the water, and beyond them rose the bare declivities and summits of the hills, dark with heath, with here and there still darker spots, looking like blots on the landscape, where peat had been cut for fuel. Not a tree, not a shrub, was to be seen, and the greater part of the soil appeared never to have been reduced to cultivation.
About one o'clock we cast anchor before Lerwick, a fishing village, built on the shore of Bressay Sound, which here forms one of the finest harbors in the world. It has two passages to the sea, so that when the wind blows a storm on one side of the islands, the Shetlander in his boa. passes out in the other direction, and finds himself in comparatively smooth water. It was Sunday, and the man who landed us at the quay and took our baggage to our lodging, said as he left
We found the Queen a strong steamboat, with a good cabin and convenient state rooms, but dirty"It's the Sabbath, and I'll no tak' my pay now, and smelling of fish from stem to stern. It has seemed to me that the further north I went the more dirt I found. Our captain was an old Aberdeen seaman, with a stoop in his shoulders, and looked as if he was continually watching for land; an occupation for which the foggy climate of these latitudes gives him full scope. We left Wick between eleven and twelve o'clock in the forenoon, and glided over a calm sea, with a cloudless sky above us, and a thin haze on the surface of the
but I'll call the morrow. My name is Jim Sinclair, pilot, and if ye 'll be wanting to go any where, I'll be glad to tak' ye in my boat." In a few minutes we were snugly established at our lodgings. There is no inn throughout all the Shetland islands, which contain about thirty thousand inhabitants, but if any of the readers of the Evening Post should have occasion to visit Lerwick, I can cheerfully recommend to them the comfortable lodging-house of Mrs. Walker, who
keeps a little shop in the principal street, not far | a Pictish castle in the midst; one of those circu
from Queen's lane. We made haste to get ready for church, and sallied out to find the place of worship frequented by our landlady, which was not a difficult matter.
lar buildings of unhewn, uncemented stone, skilfully laid, forming apartments of such small dimensions as to lead Sir Walter Scott to infer that the Picts were a people of a stature considerably be
deep Sabbath silence reigned over the scene, except the sound of the wind, which here never ceases to blow from one quarter or another, as it swept the herbage and beat against the stone walls surrounding the fields. The ground under our feet was thick with daisies and the blossoms of the crow-foot, and other flowers, for in the brief summer of these islands, nature, which has no groves to embellish, makes amends by pranking the ground, particularly in the uncultivated parts, with a great profusion and variety of flowers.
The little town of Lerwick consists of two-low the ordinary standard of the human race. A story houses, built mostly of unhewn stone, rough cast, with steep roofs and a chimney at each end. They are arranged along a winding street parallel with the shore, and along narrow lanes running upwards to the top of the hill. The main street is flagged with smooth stones, like the streets in Venice, for no vehicle runs on wheels in the Shetland islands. We went up Queen's lane, and soon found ourselves at the door of the building occupied by the free church of Scotland, until a temple of fairer proportions, on which the masons are now at work, on the top of the hill, shall be completed for their reception. It was crowded with attentive worshippers, one of whom obligingly came forward and found a seat for us. The minister, Mr. Frazer, had begun the evening service, and was at prayer. When I entered, he was speaking of "our father the devil;" but the prayer was followed by an earnest, practical discourse, though somewhat crude in the composition, and reminding me of an expression I once heard used by a distinguished Scotchman, who complained that the clergy of his country, in composing their sermons, too often "mak' rough wark of it."
The next morning we were rowed, by two of Jim Sinclair's boys, to the island of Bressay, and one of them acted as our guide to the remarkable precipice called the Noup of the Noss. We ascended its smooth slopes and pastures, and passed through one or two hamlets, where we observed the construction of the dwellings of the Zetland peasantry. They are built of unhewn stone, with roofs of turf held down by ropes of straw neatly twisted; the floors are of earth: the cow, pony, and pig live under the same roof with the family; and the manure pond, a receptacle for refuse and filth, is close to the door. A little higher up, we came upon the uncultivated grounds, abandoned to heath, and only used to supply fuel by the cutting of peat. Here and there women were busy piling the square pieces of peat in stacks, that they might dry in the wind. "We carry home these pits in a basket on our shoulders, when they are dry," said one of them to me; but those who can afford to keep a pony, make him do this work for them. In the hollows of this part of the island we saw several fresh-water ponds, which were enlarged with dykes, and made to turn grist-mills. We peeped into one or two of these mills, little stone buildings, in which we could scarcely stand
I looked about among these descendants of the Norwegians, but could not see anything exotic in their physiognomy; and but for the harsh accent of the preacher, I might almost have thought myself in the midst of a country congregation in the United States. They are mostly of a light complexion, and an appearance of health and strength, though of a sparer make than the people of the more southern British isles. After the service was over, we returned to our lodgings, by a way which led to the top of the hill, and made the circuit of the little town. The paths leading into the interior of the island were full of people re-upright, enclosing two small stones turned by a turning homeward; the women in their best attire, a few in silks, with wind-tanned faces. We saw them disappearing, one after another, in the hollows, or over the dark, bare hill tops. With a population of less than three thousand souls, Lerwick has few places of worship-a church of the Establishment, a free church, a church for the Seceders, and one for the Methodists. The road we took commanded a fine view of the harbor, surrounded and sheltered by hills. Within it lay a numerous group of idle fishing vessels, with one great steamer in the midst; and, more formidable in appearance, a Dutch man-of-war, sent to protect the Dutch fisheries, with the flag of Holland flying at the mast-head. Above the town, on tall poles, were floating the flags of four or five different nations, to mark the habitations of their consuls.
On the side opposite to the harbor lay the small fresh-water lake of Cleikimin, with the remains of
perpendicular shaft, in which are half a dozen