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advance. The navigator, manufacturer, statesman, and philosopher concur in their opinions of their progress and effect, and our ameliorated condition affords the best testimony of their improvement. We should sincerely lament to fall under the imputation that we are insensible to the merit of the arts to which we first alluded. They have been found worthy of the pursuit of men of the most exalted talents, they are the admiration of the most refined, and states have founded a portion of their glory on their encouragement and protection. Were we disposed to abate considerably the estimation in which they are held, such attestation of their value would decide against us; but it is more our desire to claim impartial countenance and support for the less splendid branches of our knowledge, whose services are of as much importance, but less obtruded on our observation.
Whatever, however, may be determined as to the comparative importance of the results which flow from these different branches of our knowledge, it is plain they require the same general circumstances to favour their growth; exemption from the desolation of wars, pestilence, and famine, opulence is required to give reward, and leisure must be had for application; but above all, a government should exist in which the preponderating influence of the people forbids that a nation should be subject to the narrow views and interests, that with few exceptions, appear at all periods to have regulated the dominion of despotism. The suspicion natural to tyranny, its dread that light or information should expose its deformity, or the tottering foundations on which it must ever stand, makes it feelingly alive to the dangers resulting to its existence from all freedom of enquiry. If any science could have been exempted from its persecution, that which comprises an explanation of the mechanism of the universe, might have been selected as least obnoxious to its fears: but can we read without abhorrence, the recantation that Galileo was compelled to make of his errors in the adoption of the theory of Copernicus, as being inconsistent with the text of the holy scriptures; or peruse without disgust the remarks which with real or
affected simplicity his biographer and disciple has made on this signal instance of absurdity and baseness exhibited by the Inquisition. This great philosopher, whose skill was on this occasion rivalled by the excellence of his sense, professed to renounce a system which he had proved was founded on the soundest principles, did not choose to suffer martyrdom in defence of a speculation of which he knew the surrender would afford no permanent triumph to his opponents, and consented to thank Providence for the benefit it had bestowed on him in removing his delusions.
It is impossible to consider the unrivalled eminence which the arts attained during the prosperity of some of the Italian republics, without being convinced of the prodigious effects sometimes produced on the energies of the human mind, by an exemption, not merely from the restraint of absolute authority, but even from the languor and tameness often produced by very regular governments, though calculated for the tranquillity and comfort of a people. The internal condition of these states was a perpetual struggle of faction amongst the citizens, a contest for power and popularity amongst the rich, a defective administration of the laws, and a doubtful state of private morals. We suspect the same observations may be applied to some of the ancient Greek republics, yet amidst such scenes were reared the most finished monuments of art. We by no means recommend that excellence should be purchased at this expense; it is to be hoped, however, that the mode of combining a high degree of freedom with public integrity, is yet within the reach of political chemistry, and the example of one rising republic on the globe seems favourable to the expectation.
The wars of modern days have less the character of ferocity and devastation than those of former periods. How little have the arts and sciences suffered from the sanguinary conflicts and uninterrupted campaigns of twenty years! The sovereigns of Europe, with a policy worthy of enlightened statesmen, confirmed by their anxiety for the preservation of the distinguished monuments of art, the dignity and importance that has been
at all times annexed to them by the wisest of mankind. The tone of moderation that prevails in Europe, the recent experience of past calamities, we hope may avert for a long period the ravages of hostility; an increasing humanity and more exalted ideas of moral duty will at least mitigate their evils, and precludes the belief that the barbarity of Roman or Gothic conquest should again infest the world.
Besides these general circumstances, which are indispensable to the prosperity of our knowledge, it has always been the object of governments, which have thought the happiness and interest of their subjects merited their attention, to promote the advancement of literature, science, and art by public institutions, in which the various discoveries could be collected and concentrated, by diffusing them again in lectures or publications, by rewards of honour or profit, and by all the inducements which urge men on to excellence and distinction. We firmly believe these are wise expedients, and if seconded by the assistance and example of individuals, conspicuous from their talents and their eminence, must contribute essentially to the improvement of the sciences, and the application of discoveries to the use of mankind.
It is, however, an observation of Bacon, that "the patrimony of learning is sometimes improved, but seldom augmented:" as this remark is intended to include the sciences, it appears to apply in some of them more to the manner than to the amount of their increase. The great discoveries, the extension of the estate of such sciences, has been effected chiefly at considerable intervals of time, and has been achieved by a few men, and amongst them, by some who broke through all the obstacles presented by ignorance, oppression, and calamity to their progress, and unassisted by advice or example, either dug by their own efforts the treasures of knowledge from the ruins under which they were concealed, or with a sagacity only granted to them amongst the children of men, traced, explained, and demonstrated, the eternal laws which guide the mechanism of the universe, or are impressed on the materials of which it is composed. To the appearance of such individuals, neither institutions, rewards, or the labours of former learning, much contributed;
they stood upon an eminence on which the hand of nature had placed them, and from thence surveyed the regions of science, which to the rest of mankind appeared involved in impenetrable darkness. Amongst these Galileo appears in the first rank; he laboured under the disadvantages of poverty, a defective education, and of a constitution impaired by unremitted attention; he came to maturity at a time when the freedom of the Italian republics was extinguished, and learning had lost much of its authority and protection. Yet in a short period, the efforts of his genius, like a revelation, dispelled the mists engendered in the paganism of science, broke the chains of scholastic authority which from age to age had bound the understandings of mankind, and laid the foundations of the most sublime knowledge that a man could leave to posterity as an inheritance.
The merit of Bacon, who was the cotemporary of Galileo, makes a portion of the glory of the country in which he was born. The period in which he lived, and the government of which he was a subject, were not favourable to the pursuits of real science; yet, in the midst of poverty and disgrace, he contrived to leave memorials of acuteness, depth of thought, and extent of views, that stand unrivalled amongst the productions of human genius.
Newton appeared about a century afterwards, and at a period indeed in which learning met the amplest protection, and enjoyed the unlimited freedom it deserves. Sill were his discoveries the early produce of a mind neither excited by the hopes of reward, or by competition, or aided by peculiar instruction. Original and unbounded invention was the characteristic of his genius, and its efforts were animated by the love of truth alone.
The known attachment we have to the distinguished Institution not long since founded, must prevent these observations from being considered as intended to depreciate its value; but it is always of advantage to such establishments, that the benefits to be expected from them, should neither be exaggerated or mistated. The public are apt to hope for a rapidity of improvement which experience does not justify us
in concluding, is often the result of the best digested plans, and disappointment frequently leads them to think that because much has not been at once effected, that nothing can be done. Some sciences and arts appear in their mode of advancement, to form exceptions to the laws which direct the progress of the rest, and are best promoted by assembled talent and instruction. The knowledge of chemistry has been obtained by a gradual accumulation of discoveries, by unwearied experiment, and incessant observation. It has been augmented by this slow process of continued addition, and its mass now being subjected to the invigorating warmth of the rays of genius, forms the most extended, rich, and productive possession, that can be cultivated for the use of man.
With all the attention, however, that talent or industry has bestowed on this science, no general principles seem to have been detected, by which, as by the laws of gravitation and motion, a series of discoveries are at once revealed, or numerous phænomena explained. Experiment has not often furnished more than insulated facts. To the preservation of these, to their adaptation to the purposes of society, to their accumulation, to their diffusion as an increase of knowledge, public institutions are eminently calculated. Such assemblies disseminate widely the love of science, they open a ready access to obtain it, they concentrate the expensive materiel indispensable to its advancement, and add a splendour to the intrinsic value of human information.
In a government constituted like our own, where although the people have considerable authority, conventional and hereditary distinctions add to the natural predominance of wealth, and effectually secure to those who are possessed of them, a large portion of power, it is of great importance that the persons thus distinguished, should contract a taste for such arts and sciences as are most conducive to the morality and well-being of the people. Their example and opinions are obviously decisive, in regulating and directing the habits and tastes of a nation, and through intermediate steps even to low gradations in the orders of the community. The productions of some of the arts which have always secured the highest