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chiefly illustrates the application of some principles rather than furnishes a general exposition of the principles of the science. Why not take such a book as J. S. Mill's Principles of Political Economy? Here we have the most recent state of the subject presented in a scientific form, together with illustrations of its applications; and this by a thinker and writer of the highest character.
8. The Reports of the Examiners and the Examination Papers might be widely circulated among members of Mechanics’ Institutes with advantage. The Reports point out the defects in the education supplied in these institutions, and contain valuable suggestions as to the course of study that may be pursued. We conceive the diffusion of these documents must tend to improve both the organization of the classes and the teaching in our Mechanics' Institutions.
ABt. IV.-Memorials, Scientific and Literary, of Andrew Crosse, the
Electrician. London: Longmans and Co. 1857. Not far from the town of Taunton there recently dwelt a man who would have been regarded as a kind of enchanter had he lived in a less intelligent age. The superstitious peasant would have quickened his step as he passed along the road, overarched with solemn trees, which ran not far from the mansion of the magician; or if he had stopped, it would have been to direct your eye to the poles fastened to the summits of the tallest trees, and to tell you in a whisper that these were the wands by which the sorcerer conjured up storms, or controlled them, at pleasure. You would be informed that this wonderful being could draw fire from mist, and extract streams of sparks from the drifting fog. He could entice the lightnings from heaven, and put them into his phials, or use them to make sport for his friends. He played with thunderbolts as if they were harmless toys, and handled the red shafts of the tempest as if he had forged them himself. And this man too, it was said, had learnt many secrets of nature, and could tell how she made her crystals, and slowly formed her minerals in the caverns of the earth—nay, it was rumoured that he could beat her at her own work, and had actually fashioned divers substances the like of which had never yet been discovered in the ground. But stranger than all, it was believed that this great enchanter could produce creeping things that had life in them, by means of his mystic arts, for had he not thrown his electrical spells over dead minerals and poisonous liquids, and constrained them to bring forth insects which were perfect in all their parts, and as vigorous as if they had been hatched without any magical compulsion ?
Much more, too, you would have heard respecting the deeds of this mighty wizard, all expressed in muffled tones, and doubtless with sundry embellishments such as the popular fancy loves to employ when it approaches the dim region of the supernatural. But in good sooth Andrew Crosse—that was the name of the magician-was not less remarkable in the eyes of men of science in the nineteenth century than he would have been to a Somersetshire peasant in the days of the Plantagenets. Many a distinguished philosopher listened eagerly, and with unfeigned astonishment, to the accounts of his researches; and those who visited his mansion of Thunder--for such it might be called gazed with surprise on his gigantic apparatus for gathering the electric fluid from the atmosphere, and watched him with no little dread whilst he operated on the lightnings which lay coiled up in his Leyden jars. True, his name is not extensively known except amongst the followers of science, for Crosse was a modest, unpresuming man, a diligent student of nature, who was more bent upon exploring her secrets than on blowing the trumpet of his own exploits. But careless as he was of public attention whilst living, it is the more necessary that justice should be rendered to his labours now that he is dead ; and therefore it is with no small pleasure that we refer our readers to the volume, in which his widow has collected some memorials of his life and researches. Brief and disjointed these certainly are; but the writer lays claim to no literary merit in the execution of her work; and considering how difficult it is for relatives to wield the biographical pen with discretion, we say much when we say that she has produced a judicious and unpretending book.
Andrew Crosse was born in 1784. He was the descendant of a respectable family long established at Fyne Court, in the manor of Broomfield. It is of little moment to say that the head of the race is supposed to have come over with the Conqueror. Whose forefathers did not, we should like to know? The quantity of ancestral gentlemen who accompanied the Norman marauder appears to have been prodigious; and if William could have foreseen that he was founding pedigrees by the thousand, he would assuredly have been proud of his genealogical achievements. Young Crosse received a somewhat rambling education. He was taken to France for a time, and learned to speak French
fluently as a child, but totally forgot it as a man. He was taught Greek before he studied Latin, and could write in the language of Hellas before he could even scrawl in his own mother tongue. For a period of more than nine years he was sent to Seyer's school, at the Fort, Bristol, where Eagles, the 'Sketcher' of Blackwood, Broderip, the naturalist, Jenkyns, Master of Balliol, and others of subsequent note, were his schoolfellows. There, as he says, he was caned, on an average, not less than three times a day for seven years, though never once formally flogged. Andrew was a wild laughing lad, passionately fond of a frolic, and doubtless entitled to a little scourging occasionally; but Seyer dealt out his blows with undistinguishing liberality. For, once, when the boy was rehearsing his Virgil, the pedagogue happened to look at the book, and found that a large portion was torn out, bis pupil having repeated his lessons day after day from memory alone.
Instead of expressing any surprise at the feat, the master inflicted a caning, though the leaves had been removed by a malicious schoolmate; and whenever his temper was particularly awry, the equitable Seyer would ask to look at the Virgil, and administer a dose of castigation as if the offence were perfectly new and unliquidated. During these nine years, too, Andrew never had enough to eat; the mistress compelled him to feed on 'vile black potatoes,' and a conglomerate of fatty refuse which was dignified with the name of hashed mutton.' One little retaliatory act on the part of the boy is worthy of mention, because it shows that his taste for mischief had something of a scientific turn. Seyer detected him one day in the process of manufacturing rocket powder, and having carried off the inflammable mixture, it was placed on the window-sill of a room, and locked up for the time. To recapture it was impossible, but it occurred to the bereaved youth that he might perhaps fire the compound by means of a burning-glass. A lens was procured ; the sun was shining ; its rays were speedily concentrated, and to the infinite delight of the lad a brilliant explosion ensued. It was well,' said he, “ that the house was not set on fire; as for me, I was reckless of all consequences.
Mr. Crosse always attributed his scientific tendencies to an amusing cause: he had a good appetite, and this made him an electrician. The reader will scarcely see how, for there are thousands of boys equally endowed with gastric energy, who never rise to eminence in anything. The explanation, however, is this:- The drawing-master lived at some distance from Seyer's establishment, and not far from his residence there stood a tavern where joints of beef, beautifully boiled and beautifully roasted, were exhibited in the window in alluring array. To a boy with a lively appetite, who was fed on vile black potatoes, mutton conglomerate, and other boarding-school atrocities, the vision of such dainties, all in a state of orthodox cookery, was peculiarly impressive. But to taste them was bliss; that bliss he thought he might frequently enjoy if he could obtain leave to accompany his companions on their excursions to the artist's house. Professing to be smitten with a love of the fine arts, he procured the requisite permission, and commenced a series of studies in boiled and roast. Whilst thus engaged on one occasion, his eye was attracted by a syllabus of certain lectures to be delivered on Natural Philosophy. These he resolved to attend. The second course was on Electricity; and such was the fascination this subject exercised, that his future pursuits, as he says, were at once decided. We have no doubt that the liking for electrometers and voltaic batteries would have been excited by other means, even if the tavern in question had never displayed a single joint, or produced a single drop of gravy; but we cannot deny that the rampant appetite of the youth, and the cruel cuisine of the mistress, contributed to hasten the result.
Nor was it long before Andrew introduced some of the wonders of electricity to the notice of his schoolfellows. To one so full of fun the painful surprises of the Leyden phial must have opened out a source of exquisite enjoyment. The younger lads, as might be expected, were freely victimized. A large box, without door, was set on one end in the hall, and at the back there appeared a transparency representing a place which is said to have a peculiar sort of pavement, very excellent, but very in. substantial. A horrible object, with a pitchfork in hand, hovered in front of the view, whilst at one side there stood a figure dressed like a witch, and attended by a familiar spirit of a somewhat corporeal cast. The patient was either driven or enticed to the spot, and whilst gazing on the spectacle, and wondering what the mystery could mean, the contents of a Leyden jar were sent through his person. Boy after boy was thus led into the snare, and received a hearty shock, to his own excessive astonishment, but to the infinite delight of his tormentors. Need we say that the leader of the revels--the highpriest of the performance-was Andrew Crosse? It was in sport that he commenced his electrical operations, with nothing but a broken barometer tube for his machine, and an apothecary's phial for his battery; but before many years had elapsed he was lord of the finest apparatus in the kingdom, and was ardently engaged in conducting some of the most remarkable experiments which philosopher ever undertook or accomplished.
His Lightning Apparatus.
The liking for science thus developed in the youth became the master passion of the man. After studying for a time at Oxford—which he described as a perfect hell upon earth,' —he found himself in possession of a comfortable fortune on attaining his majority, and established himself quietly in the family nest at Broomfield. There his days were spent, with little exception, not in dull, ignoble vegetation, like many a country squire, nor yet in making orders on putative fathers, and passing indignant sentences on hardened poachers, like many a country magistrate, but a large portion of his time was devoted to philosophical pursuits which demanded an extraordinary amount of patient toil, and to the imitation of processes which Nature conducts in such a calm, deliberate way, that centuries seem to go for moments in her great laboratory. Not that Mr. Crosse's duties as justice of the peace, landed proprietor, or head of a family, were at all neglected—no man appears to have been more conscious of his responsibility on these points but his chief business in this world, secularly speaking, was to cultivate electricity, and to draw out new uses for its wonderful powers. And if ever mortal succeeded in taming this fiery spirit, and compelling it to drudge like some fettered, but sleepless familiar-if ever, on the other hand, philosopher knew how to exhibit it in its might, forcing it to display its strength in angry, but measured leaps of flame, which burnt or dissipated all that opposed, Andrew Crosse was assuredly the man.
In visiting his seat at Broomfield, the splendid apparatus he employed for extracting electricity from the atinosphere would first arrest the attention. Fancy the electric telegraph of our railways stretching across a forest, with its posts mounted on the tops of the highest trees, and the reader will be enabled to form some idea of the scene in Mr. Crosse's park. Far overhead ran wires supported by poles which rose from the summits of the trees, and were provided with an insulating arrangement to prevent the dispersion of the fluid. The duty of these wires was to fetch in the electricity from the clouds and the fogs, so that it might be examined at ease by the owner of the mansion. Within the building there was a large room with an arched roof, originally intended for a music hall, but now occupied by voltaic batteries, galvanic piles, electrical jars, and other implements of philosophy. It was a place where strange processes were in progress, and where subtle streams of fluid, Aowing in silent but ceaseless currents, were busily employed in piling up little mineral fabrics, and compelling the obedient atoms to fashion themselves into exquisite forms of crystal architecture. But it was a place also where the same element might be seen in its pride, and