Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB
[ocr errors]

that tendency may be struggled against The main purposes of Faraday's life and overcome in individual instances. were to make discoveries in science, and And a position in which honour may be to teach science by means of lectures. acquired, as well as personal advancement, Those who have heard him will bear testihas a tendency to ennoble and chasten a mony to his great success as a lecturer; man's theory of life, however much that they will remember the clearness with tendency may be overwhelmed by the indi- which he presented his subject, impressing vidual character of a man. But whether his hearers with the idea of a picture with this be so or not, Faraday in his own case sharply-marked distinct outlines. His il'realized the beauties of the pursuit of sci-lustrations and experiments were invarience. Selfishness seems to have had no ably appropriate and successful. All this place in his spirit. For example, a London was so well done, that it seemed quite a chemist with a slight reputation can, if he second nature to him; and yet, after all, choose, make a large income by giving it was, as is usual in such cases, the result opinions and assistance in the various of long study and practice. Early in life matters brought before him. But Faraday he took private lessons in elocution, and was not to be led away. by any such his teacher used often to attend his lectemptation. From 1832 to 1815 his “ pro-tures, in order to correct faults in address fessional business income varied from and delivery. Among Faraday's notes are 1501. to 201.

, being usually about the latter found several rules as to lecturing ; but, sum, and after 1815 he received no profes- what is especially strange, he had, as sional income at all. Dr. Tyndall says early as 1813, in his letters to Abbott, exthat he had to choose between a fortune pressed his views, in fact written what of 150,0001. on the one side, and his un- may be called a short dissertation, on the dowered science on the other. This qualifications of a good lecturer. Here speaks for itself. Throughout his life he the excellences to be aimed at and the was constantly consulted by the Govern- faults to be avoided were delineated most ment on matters of importance, but would exactly, and we cannot but admit that the never receive any pay, except in one in- result wished for was the same as that stance, and then only for the sake of the afterwards attained. It is evident that he person joined with him. He always, “as made a study of the art of lecturing, and a good subject, held himself ready to assist it is due to that study that his practice the Government.” If science did not help was so perfect. From these letters we to develope this entire freedom from sel- quote the following short extracts : fishness, at any rate it did not crush and destroy it.

“ A lecturer should appear easy and collected, One peculiarity of science is its cath

undaunted and unconcerned, his thoughts olicity. A feeling of brotherhood seems the contemplation and description of his sub

about bim, and his mind clear and free for to exist between scientific men in all parts ject. His action should not be hasty and vioof the world. Faraday had friends every- lent, but slow, easy, and natural; consisting where, and received from foreign coun- principally in changes of the posture of the tries and sovereigns honours, which he body, in order to avoid the air of stiffness or says rather bitterly," belonging to very sameness that would otherwise be unavoidable. limited and select classes, surpass, in my | His whole behaviour should evince respect for opinion, anything which it is in the power his audience, and he should in no case forget of my own to bestow." This is somewhat that he is in their presence. No accident that of an exaggeration. For though the hon- does not interfere with their convenience should our that England pays to her scientific disturb his serenity, or cause variation in his men be badly organized, yet she is not so his back on them, but should give them full

behaviour; he should never, if possible, turn devoid of great names, that to be associated with them is anything but a great exerted for their pleasure and instruction.

reason to believe that all his powers have been honour, in whatever form that honour may

A lecturer may consider his audience as be expressed.*

being polite or vulgar (terms I wish you to

understand according to Shuffleton's new dic* It would be useless to enumerate here all the tionary), learned or unlearned (with respect to honours which were conferred upon him. Suffice the subject), listeners or gazers. Polite comit to say that he received signs of esteem from uni. versities and societies in all civilized countries, the University of Cambridge distinguishing itself by be- bition a deputation from the Royal Society waited ing the first, as well as almost the last, to show on him to urge him to accept the Presidency. He some mark of its appreciation of his ability. But however declined that high office; and, what is esthe highest scientific position in England he never pecially strange, he afterwards refused the offer of actually held As we were told this year by a some- the Presidency of the Royal Institution, with which what stif picture in the Royal Academy's Exhi-l he was throughout his life so intimately connected.

pady expect to be entertained not only by the it cannot but be interesting to know somesubject of the lecture, but by the manner of thing of the nature of their creed. In the the lecturer; they look for respect, for language early part of the last century a Scotch consonant to their dignity, and ideas on a level Presbyterian clergyman, called Glas, was with their own. The vulgar – that is to say in deposed, Dr. Bence Jones tells us — general, those who will take the trouble thinking, and the bees of business, wish for “ Because he taught that the church should something that they can comprehend. This be subject to no league or covenant, but be may be deep and elaborate for the learned, but governed only by the doctrines of Christ and for those who are yet tyros and unacquainted his apostles. He held that Christianity never with the subject, must be simple and plain. was, nor could be, the established religion of Lastly, listeners expect reason and sense, whilst any nation without becoming the reverse of gazers only require a succession of words." what it was when first instituted; that Christ

did not come to establish any worldly power, Though these early letters contain an but to give a hope of eternal life beyond the occasional inaccuracy or harshness of ex- grave to his people whom he should choose of pression, they are on the whole remark- his own sovereign will : that the Bible and that ably clear, animated, and manly. For a alone, with nothing added to it nor taken away young man who educated himself they from it by man, was the sole and sufficient are indeed wonderful productions. They guide for each individual, at all times and in show throughout his constant anxiety to all circumstances; that faith in the divinity acquire a correctness and facility of ex- and work of Christ is the gift of God, and that pression. He is always talkative and the evidence of this faith is obedience to the

commandments of Christ.” lively, but we frequently meet with an air of constraint. He had not yet ac- We are elsewhere told that "faith was quired the

ars celare artcm.” But this held by him to be nothing more or less effort gradually diminished, until ulti-than a simple assent to the divine testimately it entirely disappeared. A sense mony concerning Christ with respect to of quiet humour crops up occasionally in his being delivered for the offences of men his writings. During a tour in Wales he and raised again for their justification, as writes

is recorded in the New Testament." “ We had time this morning to enjoy the inn

The Sandemanians are said to underwe had entered, and which possesses a very stand the precept concerning the comhigh character for cleanliness, attention, and munity of goods almost in its literal comfort. We certainly found it so, and entirely sense: every one is to consider all his posfree from the inconveniences which ions have in sessions liable to the calls of the church, general, more or less. Whilst at breakfast, the and they maintain it to be unlawful to lay river Dee flowing before our windows, the sec- up treasures upon earth for any distant or ond harper I bave heard in Wales struck his uncertain use. They abstain strictly from instrument and played some airs in very excel- blood and from things strangled. They lent style. I enjoyed them for a long time, and hold a lot to be sacred, and consequently then wishing to gratify myself with a sight of the interesting bard, went to the door and be- disapprove of cards, dice, and any game held - the boots! He, on seeing me open the of chance, where the object is merely door, imagined I wanted something, and quit- amusement. They seem to disapprove of ting his instrument took up his third character second marriage; for by marrying a second of waiter. I must confess I was sadly disap-time a man disqualifies himself for the pointed and extremely baulked. Even åt Beth-office of elder. They are also said to have gellert they had a good-looking blind old man, peculiar opinions about love-feasts, the though he played badly; and now, when I kiss of charity, washing each other's feet, heard delightful sounds, and had assured my- &c. self the harper was in accordance with the

Sandeman, from whom the sect takes effect he produced, he sank on a sudden many, its name, was a son-in-law of Glas, and many stages down into a common waiter. Well, after all I certainly left Llangollen several congregations were in time formed.

preached these doctrines in England, where regretting the barp less because of the person Faraday's family and that of his wife were who played it.”

members of the congregation in London. The moving mainspring of Faraday's But he was not an ordinary conformist. life was his religion. He belonged to the All his writings breathe the spirit of his sect of the Sandemanians. Few probably religion, and show how closely it was have even heard of this sect. But when intertwined with all the feelings of his we consider that its doctrines held so heart. A deep sense of religious truths powerful a sway over a man of such a usually carries with it an earnest anxiety character and so strong an understanding, I to convert others, but it was not so with him. He never obtruded the peculiarities that are made, even His eternal power and Godof his sect even on his friends. Dr. Tyn- head,' and I have never seen anything incomdall

says, “ Never once, during an intimacy patible between those things of man which can of fifteen years, did he mention religion to be known by the spirit of man which is within me, save when I drew him out on the sub- him, and those higher things concerning his fuject. He then spoke to me without hes-twure which he cannot know by that spirit.” itation or reluctance: not with any These are the few words of comfort he apparent desire to improve the occasion,' writes to his niece in her affliction : but to give me such information as I

“ Pcor Mary! But why poor? She is gone sought." He seems to have felt that in her hope to the rest she was looking for, and there are many paths leading to God, and

we may rejoice in her example as a case of the that we do not always assist each other in power of God, who keeps those who look to Him our course by struggling to induce others in simplicity through the faith that is in Christ. to leave the path they have chosen. The But her poor husband and her many children Bible was the “sole and sufficient guide are deeply to be felt for, and you also, and her for each individual,” and it would appear father. We join in deep sympathy with you he considered that every one was to inter- all.” pret it for himself, and by himself work

Every one must admire the singleness out his own salvation. " That is between of purpose with which Faraday carried me and my God," said he to his wife, when out in practice the principles of his religshe very reasonably asked him why he had ion, but we cannot but wonder at the not told her of his intention to make his confession of sin and profession of faith fessed by the sect to which he belonged.

strange peculiarities of the doctrines probefore the church. In 1810 he was elected However, we have not far to turn in order an elder of his church. In this capacity to find a reason which will account for his he preached every other Sunday, but his religion. Ile conformed to the faith of his sermons appear to have been effective

parents. We do not say it was a mere rather by his earnestness than by any hereditary conformity. On the contrary beauties of language or originality of he, if any man, sought for a reason for the matter. After a few years he gave up his faith that was in him; and it was doubteldership and became a simple member less after mature deliberation that he reof the church again.

tained this faith. But we must remember One would have thought that such a that very few men, even of the strongest man as Faraday would not have been mis- mental powers, wholly shake off the imrepresented as to his religious views. pressions of their childhood. The lessons But with many it was quite sufficient that learnt at the mother's knee or in the he was a man of science; therefore he schoolroom, of whatever nature they may inust be an atheist. Those who knew be, are invested with an inexplicable anything of him did not require any charm, and the remembrance of them is refutation of such a statement. The fol

ever fresh ; in some things we emancipate lowing is a quotation from one of his ourselves from the spell, but in others the lectures :

fascination still clings to us. “I believe that the truth of that future can- . You may break, you may sbatter the vase if not be brought to his knowledge by any exer- will, tion of his mental powers, however exalted they

But the scent of the roses will hang round it may be; but that it is made known to him by

still.” other teachings than his own, and is received through simple belief of the testimony given. It is the knowledge of this that induces Let no one suppose for a moment that the self- the various sects to struggle so fiercely for education I am about to commend in respect of managing the education of children in the things of this life, extends to any considera- accordance with their respective ideas. tion of the hope set before us, as if man by rea- Strong are the prejudices implanted in soning could find out God. It would be im-childhood; sometimes many are afterproper here to enter upon this subject further wards rooted out, sometimes few, but in than to claim an absolute distinction between general some remain and flourish like religious and ordinary belief. I shall be reproached with the weakness of refusing to apply green bay-trees. And not only do they those mental operations which I think good in blossom and produce their fruit, but they respect of high things to the very highest. I frequently propagate others to take the am content to bear the reproach. Yet even in place of those that have been eradicated. earthly matters I believe that the invisible And even in the few cases where the old things of Him from the creation of the world are prejudices have entirely disappeared, the clearly seen, being understood by the things 'newly-acquired antipathy to them gives

[ocr errors]

one- —

we

[ocr errors]

birth to others that are almost as bad. Diamagnetism. However, when his charThus no one approaches the subject of acter is generally known, he will be estireligion with his mind a tabula rasa; no mated far more highly than any mere

ordinary philosopher. He was not merely - From the table of bis memory

the greatest experimental discoverer, but Can wipe away all trivial fond records,

one of the noblest characters of our age. That youth and observation copied there."

We all study physiognomy either con

sciously or unconsciously. Of course we Seldom does a man lay aside altogether his are frequently deceived in our speculations. theological bias, and, after considering This may arise from there being excepwith judicial calmness all the various argu- tions to our rules, or as is more probable, ments on either side, select his sect accord- from our studies of the science having ingly. The queer growths of a tree are been shallow. Those who take an interest frequently attributable to a warp received in this study have of late derived great in youthful days, and in our opinion it is advantages from the Portrait Galleries of due to the Sandemanian influences of his 1866-8 and from the National Portrait parents and relations, that Faraday never Gallery at Kensington. How often does apprehended what seems to us the ab- the first sight of a portrait disappoint us. surdity of his peculiar tenets.

For example, in Warren Hastings we at Liebig, when in England, observed that first see a self-complacent gentleman with only the works which have a practical open mouth and half idiotic expression, tendency awaken attention and command without any of the ordinary signs of even respect, whereas in Germany the enrich- common intellect; and in Clive a rough, ment of science is alone considered worthy good-tempered, uncultivated yeoman, who of attention. This is partially true. But certainly had not seen much either of the it seems to us that trnth, whether referring camp or of the desk, although we cannot to material existence or not, is not only miss his firmness of decision and tenacity beautiful, but is also useful. It may be of purpose. Further consideration gives that we cannot at once see the use, but us a deeper insight into the character por

are constrained to feel that at some trayed. But in Phillips's portrait of Fartime or other, it may be far in the distant aday at the National Portrait Gallery, future, every truth that is brought within there is no temporary deception to the the scope of man's knowledge will in some most casual observer. We see at once the way or other be useful to man. How natural gaiety of temper, the higli prinmany discoveries, one built on the other, ciples of moral rectitude, the retiring dispreluded Newton's grand and most useful position combined withal with a strong discovery of the principle of gravity, and firmness of purpose. This brief sketch of yet each one of these, though a link in the his life and these few extracts from his chain connecting us with the great truth, writings give but a faint idea of the inhewould doubtlessly have appeared to most rent kindness and gentleness of his dispoof us the mere result of the “unprofitable sition, of his entire freedom from vanity, exercise of an ingenious mind." It cer- of the tenderness of his domestic affectainly is a fault of Englishmen to test the tions, of the pure and lofty morality to value of a discovery by its immediate which he strove to make his conduct conpractical use. Judged even by this stand- form, and of the genuine tolerance and ard, Faraday's work was valuable; but simple reverence which were instinctive to his name does not happen to be connected him. His life was perhaps too much that in the popular mind with any distinct of a recluse; we may perhaps lament that object, as Davy's with the safety-lamp, or he did not mix more in the world, that his Newton's with gravity. The public have intercourse was confined to so few; but we a dim mysterious idea that he made some must remember that the pursuit of science discoveries in magnetism and electricity was the purpose of his life, and to this which have not led to much practical purpose everything of necessity gave way. result. We shall not be surprised at this, He was particularly averze to ceremony if we consider what indistinct ideas the of any sort. He took no delight in any mention of his principal discoveries convey of the ordinary outward expressions of the to an ordinary mind.' Dr. Tyndall divides deepest feelings. Like Cordelia, he could his most important discoveries into four pot "heave his heart into his mouth ;" groups, at the head of which stand sever- but he had that within which passeth ally — Magneto-Electric Induction, the law show. A curious illustration of this is exof definite Electro-chemical Decomposi- hibited in his marriage. He wished his tion, the Magnetization of light, and wedding-day to be just like any other day,

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

and actually offended some of his near re- discovery of the principle of gravity by lations by not inviting them to his wed- | Newton. Faraday for the most part conding. In a letter to Miss Reid he says, fined himself to testing his own surmise3. “ There will be no mirth, no noise, no When he was successful, he was most hurry occasioned even in one day's pro- clear and precise, but when the speculaceedings. In externals that day will pass tion still refused to yield to the rigorous like all others, for it is in the heart that trials of facts, he, as we have said, lacked we expect and look for pleasure." Most precision. However, the first conception self-educated men exhibit their want of of a new truth is usually vague, and it is early training by some ruggedness of man- by an intuitive faith, which scarcely knows ner or other peculiarity, but Faraday was how to express itself, that the patient and polished in his manners, in his conversa- laborious pertinacity is produced which tion, in his writings. In every respect he ultimately brings the fruit to maturity. maintained the character of a refined Eng- Faraday had throughout his life overlish gentleman. This may perhaps be due tasked his brain, and in consequence sufto the fact that he had, after all, spent his fered occasionally from giddiness and loss youth in the midst of what Mr. Ruskin of memory. Sometimes he was obliged to tells us is “the best society, the kings and rest almost entirely from all his work. statesmen lingering patiently in those Towards the end of his life this loss of plainly furnished and narrow ante-rooms, memory was one of his principal troubles. our bookcase shelves.”

It was especially trying to him, inasmuch We have considered Faraday's character as his memory had formerly been so as a man, rather than as a philosopher strong. and a discoverer; but we may refer to At length, in 1865, he resigned his duone thing which strikes us at once in read- ties at the Royal Institution and retired ing his speculative papers - a want of altogether to Hampton Court. Here he precision. Dr. Tyndall suggests that it soon fell into a state of weakness and dewould probably have been obviated by cline, though he was still able to enjoy his some mathematical training. This would favourite diversions of repeating poetry doubtlessly have been of great advantage and seeing beautiful scenery. When asked to him. But it is rather by a kind of in- how he was, he once replied “ Just waitstinct than by a precise train of reasoning ing.” These two words comprise the that bold theories are advanced and whole story of the last year or two of his maintained. No one knew better than life, and on the 25th August, 1867, in his Faraday how important it is to distinguish seventy-sixth year, full of honours, he what is still in the region of theory from passed away quietly and peacefully. He what has been reduced into the region of had attained the blessings which Buckingfact; yet when he wandered into the re- ham invoked for King Henry. He had gion of theory, he sometimes lost himself “lived long," and had been “ever beloved in its mazes. He placed the most implicit and loving ;” and faith in his hypothesis as to lines of force,

“ When old time now led him to his end, although the corroborative facts were but

Goodness and he filled up one monument.” few. Still we must not forget that his faith in the unity and convertibility of He rests in the beautiful and retired cemenatural forces was very similar. We well tery at Highgate, in the shade of the clusremember with what earnestness Dr. Tyn- tering ivy, and beneath a stone reflecting dall, in his Rede lecture before the Uni- his own simplicity in its plain inscription. versity of Cambridge, contended that the And though this God's acre is the last restudy of natural science is not inconsistent treat of many an eminent man, we may with the culture of the imagination. We confidently say it does not contain one think he might perhaps have gone further, more truly great than this blacksmith's and shown that it is a great fallacy to sup- son. pose that any investigation of the truth destroys or injures the faculty of imagination. What it does is to enable us to distinguish between what is mere imagination and what is sober truth whether im

From The Cornhill Magazine.

SEEDBEARING AND OTHERagined or actually realized. Discovery METEORS

WISE. usually consists of alternate guessing and testing. Sometimes the happy guess is ASTRONOMERS are but now beginning made by one and the conclusive demon- to recognize the full significance of those stration by another, as was the case in the strange discoveries which have been made

[ocr errors]
« ZurückWeiter »