INTRODUCTORY NO. 2
By William Wagner
Edited by Ethan Wolfe
I congratulate you, Ladies and Gentlemen, upon the occasion which brings us together. Our Institution founded for the intellectual and scientific improvement of the youth of our bounty is now about entering upon its spring course. Its judiciously selected and excellent Lectures delivered last season in this Hall have proved not less honorable to the faculty than important in their effects. I see before me a large number of young persons full of ardour, intelligence, and enterprise, who will carry into active life the deep and lasting influences of their present persuits and amusements. Surrounded as you are on all sides in this gay and opulent city with temptations to idle dissipation or vicious indulgence, and exposed to the worst and most alluring examples, freed as many of you are from the salutary restraint imposed by the sanctity of the parental house, you have discovered in these Halls amusements ever new and fascinating, innocent and intellectual. Here you have met associates and found friends eager in the same pure enjoyments. Here you have been led from other entertainments to useful knowledge, and thence onward to the most noble and invigorating exercises of the mind, in the study and contemplation of physical and moral truth.
But the courses of Lectures which have been arranged for this season forms a new epoch in the progress of the science in this city. It is not merely that fresh and valuable source of information that is now opened to you all. That indeed would be much. But I cannot but regard the number, the talent, and the well earned reputation of those public spirited Professors who have volunteered to deliver the several courses as giving the most flattering testimony to the value of this Institution. It is a proof of the deep public interest taken in the character and welfare of our commercial youth, whilst at the same time, it must furnish to them motives of kindling excitement in the persuit of all that can exalt and dignify the character of the American. The good house wife uses method in preparing her preserves and in taking care to have good bread. The father has his method of governing the children, and the mother has sometimes her method of governing the father. The former has his method of sowing his wheat, and our faculty will have their methods of handling their subjects. These Gentlemen, severally and honorably distinguished in the various Sciences, amidst the pressure of private occupations, found or made time to devote a portion of their talents and aquirements to the instruction and amusements of those whom I now address. This is an example worthy of republican antiquity, honorable to our state of society, and especially honorable to you for whom the labour was undertaken. Let it be also to us, and to you, an animating example of unceasing and unflagging devotion to the common good and the welfare of others.
The Lectures intended to be delivered here by men intimately conversant with the subjects they have selected will give you a comprehensive view of those several sciences. They, I trust, will stimulate the mind to enquiry, furnish broad and leading principals, as well as point out the sources of minute and accurate knowledge, and in the course of time, with proper labour and industry on your part, we hope to make you masters of those walks of science which you may have selected for your Profession. To become a proficient in any one of these requires the labours of years; to become skilful in all of them must demand the constant toil of a long and studeous life. Of what use then, to those who can give such persuits little more than broken intervals of time, and minds distracted by other duties and other cares--of what real use is that general and that superficial information to be gained by these and similar aids? The question is natural and it is important. We have thought that the reply to it, showing the true advantages of general knowledge to men engaged in active business, would be no unappropriate or unfruitful subject for this introductory lecture. Upon this head, the pedantry of erudition and the pedantry of worldly wisdom are for once agreed in writing to despise and degrade such aquirements, the one viewing them and leading only to variety and self conceit, and the other as a trifling waste of time to no practical purpose.
Pope, a poet distinguished above his brethren for sagacity and shrewdness of observation upon men and manners, said: “A little learning is a dangerous thing. Drink deep, or taste not of the Pierian spring. There, shallow drafts entoxicate the brain, and drinking largely sobers us again.” But our accomplished ex-Governor, at the opening of this Institution, tritely remarked that as a little learning was a dangerous thing, but none at all was much worse. This opinion so agreeable to the pride of learning has been re-echoed by thousands with whom no poet would be an authority, on any other question until it has almost become an adage. Like all remarks of acute observers, and like all maxims obtaining obtaining any currency, this too has its share of truth. Had it not been so, it would never have been received as true--but it is true only of the smatterer in everything. It is true only of him who has never disciplined himself to any regular pursuit whatever, of him whose superficial aquirements are not the recreations of an active and useful life, nor the decorations of a mind exercised in other and solid avocations. The profoundest scholar, the man of the loftiest and rarest science, who forgets the immensity of the unknown in gazing upon his own little treasure of fancied science, may be as truly intoxicated by such comparatively shallow draughts as the most superficial tyro whom he scorns. And this intoxication too, if we can trust to frequent observation, is far more likely to befall the professed but trifling scholar than the accurate man of business who seeks in books a refreshment from toil, or who flies to science to satisfy the craving desire of knowledge. But all knowledge is in itself valuable. It was made for man, and his mind was formed to cover and grasp at its attainment. It is an inate desire, springing from the highest appetites of his nature; the desire of it being alike the kind gifts of his creator.
Let us for a moment pause and cast a vapid glance at the means of intellectual accomplishment which in this age and country, nay in this very institution, are within the reach of any young person who, without defrauding his daily calling of a single duty or a single thought due to it, will yet devote to better objects, those hours which might be passed in indolence or folly. Let us suppose these hours faithfully and judiciously employed for a few years, and then estimate fairly the amount and value of the information thus accumulated. Let us see wether the knowledge thus rewarding his liberal curiosity, and which confessedly must fall short of the accuracy and extent of that science, won by the exclusive notary of learning, is yet in any sense worthless or little. Let us select from among the illustrious dead of past ages some great man ardent in the search of philosophy and crowned with all its honors, a man who wasted no labour on the mere curiosities of learning, whose talent, character, and station led him to apply his powerful intellect to such studies only as had a direct bearing upon the uses of society, or the conduct of life. Let us then estimate at their real worth the attainments of such a man. Let us for example take Cicero. He was a man of wealth, rank, and genius, whose eloquence was the fruit of many a midnight study, and who by that eloquence became the saviour of his country. Nations were his clients, wealth and power were the reward of his talents, but though he neglected no duty and shrunk from no toil, he fled gladly from the tumultuous applause of the forum and the sway of the Senate to the silence of his library. Who has a right to blame him? If that time which other men are wont to bestow upon Athletic Ball playing, festivals, and skews, upon grosser and meaner pleasures, or even upon the rest and relaxation of body and mind of as much time as they give to envivial feasts, to their sports, or to the gambling table, so much have I given to letters and philosophy.
“Other studies,” said this ardent and accomplished student then in the height of his fame, and in the noontide of his life, “other studies belong to particular times or places, or periods of life alone. But these nourish and strengthen the useful mind, they please and soothe old age. They adorn prosperity, they afford a refuge and consolation in adversity. They delight at home, they are useful abroad. They are with us and about us, by day and by night, on the road and in the fields.” Such was the ardent eulogy which the most accomplished man of antiquity poured forth on his favorite studies, in one of the most magnificent effusions of his genius. It was doubtless just, yet the amount of useful aquirement and eloquent accomplishment, deserving as it did all his toils and all his praise. That this great man could attain not only by diligent study but by travel extensive as the then known world, and by wealth and power, devoted to the collection of books and works of art, all this was far inferior to that within the reach of any one who now listens to me.
This assertion may seem absurd. Its apparent extravigance may provoke a smile, yet the slightest analysis will convince us of its substantial truth. The orater, philosopher, and statesman of the Roman republic's last age had studied under the first teachers of Athens, then still the mother of arts and school of sages, all that the times knew of physical philosophy. He had become intimately aquainted with the theories and conjectures of the most celebrated teachers, but he soon learned that theory and conjecture were all they had to teach, and finding no end “in wandering mazes lost” concluded that it was impossible for a wise man to form any definite opinion on the laws of nature. He turned away from the study of the material world dissatisfied, declaring with Socrates that such enquiries were rather curious than profitable. Let us now look upon our own times and country and mark what are the opportunities of knowledge afforded to those who can employ the hours not engrossed by real business in attending the Lectures of some competent teacher of physical science. Here, a learned and able professor of Natural Philosophy, with the aid of an apparatus in which the most recondite discoveries of science are experimentally illustrated by some of the most ingenious and delicate productions of mechanical skill, can unfold to the attentive pupil the great laws of attraction and repulsion, of motion, of mechanics and of light. These are laws generalized from thousands of observations and experiments, perhaps destined hereafter to be more accurately explained or resolved into still more universal rules, but never to be contradicted or unsettled by any other system. Our Natural Philosopher can guide you to an aquaintance with truths beyond the reach of mere observation, but learned from the demonstration of pure reason, the mathematical laws of matter and motion which when once apprehended are felt to be beyond the power of time and change, to reach far beyond the bounds of our little earth, to extend throughout all actual or possible creation, to be infinite and eternal as the omnipotent himself, and as it were, a natural revelation of his immutable and alwise government.
In the kindred science of Chemistry, we will exhibit to you the boldest achievements of that branch of learning, and her humblest and most useful toils: now anylizing the atmosphere or resolving the globe into its constituent elements, and now descending with patient industry to the aid of the dyer at his vat, or the metalurgist at his furnace, or to throw the friendly light of her safety lamp over the perelous path of the miner in the dark bowels of the earth. Chemistry supplies the best examples of a purely inductive science, and the progress which it has already made is sufficient to make known the final composition of the bodies which man sees on every side around him. It teaches that out of about 65 simple substances, all these bodies are constituted. It shows him how to obtain each of those simple substances in a state of purity, and when it is required, it points out how these simple substances are to be converted into such compound bodies as are necessary to the arts and conveniences of life. The subjects which chemistry embraces are so many necessities of man in his social life. A few examples of the departments of art founded on Chemistry will suffice to shew how desirable a knowledge Chemistry is to every man, whatever his occupation in life. Among these stand prominent the extraction of metals from their ores, the subject of artificial light or the various modes of artificial illumination, the arts of dying and bleaches, the substances fit for fuel, the nature of firedamp in mines, the artificial production of Ammonia in reference to agriculture, Gunpowder, artificial minerals, chemical tests, and the detection of poisons. Ventilation and disinfection agents, cements, pigments, metallic alloys, and other subjects, which is needless to enumerate.
In the noble science of Astronomy, you will receive graphic discriptions of the celestial scenery, and it will be brought down to the most recent discovery and improvements so that those who attend the whole course will receive a clear and correct idea of the science in its present advanced state. In taking a view of the planetary system to which we belong, and in whose past history and future fate we have the deepest interest, there is certainly no branch of science better fitted to be made the leading subject of general instruction than that which relates to the planetary and sideral universe. The truth which it reveals are so startling in their nature, and apparently so far beyond the reach of human intelligence, that men of high literary fame have confessed their incapacity to understand them and their inability to believe them. For the Philosopher pushes his discoveries to the utmost verge of visible creation, indeed I may say with flair, that…
He flies with comets in excentric flight
and soars in air beyond the worlds dim light
Disdains the path that common footsteps tread
and breathes the spirit of the mountains head
He flies through scenes unvisited before
Exhausts this world and then imagines more
There are few indeed, we fear, who really believe that they sojourn upon a revolving globe, and that each day and year of life is measured by its revolutions. There are few who believe that the great luminary of the firmament whose restless activity they daily witness, is an immoveable start controlling by its solid mass the primary planets of our system, and forming as it were, the gnomen of the great dial which measures the thread of life and the tenure of empires. Fewer still believe that each million of stars, those atoms of light which the Telescope can scarcely descry, are centres of planetary systems that may equeal or surpass our own, and still smaller is the number who believe that the solid pavement of the globe upon which we rightly slumber is an elastic crust imprisoning fires and forces which have often burst forth with tremendous energy, and are at this very minute struggling to escape, now finding an outlet in volcanic fires, now heaving the shaken earth, now upraising islands and continents, and gathering strength perhaps for some final outburst which may shatter our earth in pieces, or change its form, or scatter its waters over the land. And yet these are truths than which there is nothing truer, and nothing more worthy of our study. In surveying the bodies of our systems, the first and the grandest object which arrests our attention is the glorious sun, the centre and soul of our system, the lamp that lights it, the fire that heats it, the fountain of colour which gives it’s azure to the sky, its verdure to the fields, its rainbow hues to the gay world of flowers, and the “purple light of Love to the marble cheek of youth and beauty.
Earths round each sun
in quick explosions burst
And second planets issue from the first.
Bond as they journey with projectile force,
In bright elipses
their reluctant course,
Orbs wheel in orbs
round centres centres roll
one revolving whole,
Onward they move amid their bright abode
Space without bound, the bosom of their God!
In the all-comprehending Science of Geology, you will receive correct impressions of the importance of that subject to the American people, the value of it cannot be overated, and a certain degree of aquaintance with it is now a necessary part of a liberal education. In a community like ours where knowledge is so widely diffused and has become professionally necessary, those who have had the benefit of an academic education (or even a collegiate one) must resume their studies and raise their general knowledge to a much higher level, while those who have not enjoyed this advantage have a still higher step to take and a still greater defect to supply. For John Herschell has said of Geology--or the science of the earth--that in the magnitude and sublimity of the objects of which it treats, it ranks in the scale of sciences next to Astronomy, to which we may add that it will ever be more cultivated, because a knowledge of it is more readily attainable, and in aeconomic importance, it is truly an American Science. It may be persued without that severe preparatory discipline of Mathematical Study which is required of the rotaries of Astronomy, before they can advance even to the threshold of the Temple. In making this assertion, it is in no means intended to deny the dependence of Geology on the other sciences. On the contrary, it is admitted that he who would be a perfectly accomplished Geologist ought to be familiar with the whole circle of them; he ought to be thoroughly versed in mathematics and general physics that he may know what are, and what are not, sound data on which to found his inferences. He ought to be skilled in mineralogy that he may know the proximate differences and constituents of rocks. Of the general results of Chemistry he must not be ignorant, and he will find it a great advantage to be expert in chemical analysis. The organic remains entoomed in the strata will make constant demands upon him, for a knowledge in all its branches, and the most particular part of which is to possess such an intimate aquaintance with those nice distinctions which constitute specific differences in Conchology, which altho’ branded with the epethet of a trivial Science, it is the key to the most interesting portions of our subject. A profound knowledge of comparative anatomy is also indispensable; the great Cuvier said: “give me a bone, and I will construct an animal”. A competent astrologist, from the examination of detached bones, can remodel the entire skeleton of animals of unknown genera. Such is the harmony of proportion, the adaptation of means to ends and of parts to uses, which the wisdom of the creator has manifested in the structure of organic bodies. The Geologist ought to be a Botanist of the highest order, and in the most extensive sense of the term, he ought to be able from the examination of a stem, a leaf, or seed vessel--to determine the natural group to which the plant belongs, and by printing out its habits, to throw light on the circumstances under which the stratum containing it was deposited. Aquirements so varied and extensive as these are attainable by few. Again, Geology is no longer a merely curious speculation. On the contrary, it is one of the sciences which most surely leads to practical results. It has methodized the crust of the earth and taught us to look for certain books upon certain shelves of a library. Coal is nowhere found but in the coal measures, and a knowledge of the position of the coal and iron strata and of the rocks usually associated with them has guided the Capitalist to the spot where he might engage in the search for those products with the least chance of disappointment, and in many instances had the directions of science been sought and followed, vast sums would have been saved to the community. Deceived by appearances or misled by designing individuals, persons have sought coal at a great expense in formations in which it has not occurred, whereas attention to the simplest principals of Geology would have shewn the folly of such attempts. Because Pennsylvania is rich in coal, it was imagined in the neighbouring state of New York that the precious gift might also be found there, and the resemblance of certain Silurian rocks on the banks of the Hudson to the bitumenous shales of the true coal formation appeared to sanction the surmise. Accordingly, mining adventurers squandered away a large amount of capital until Geology, at the invitation of the Legislature, authoritatively declared the futility of the attempts.
In the important subject of Mineralogy, we shall show you its advantages, first in an aeconomic importance, because the majority of mankind refer all things to that standard. We pretend not to guide the mariner across the watery deep, and to enable him by measuring the distance of the moon from some of the fixed stars to ascertain his situation on the pathless ocean, but upon our own element the Sand, we can confer upon mankind benefits of no mean order. We can impart a system to the miner, so that, no longer trusting to dreams, omens and the divining rod, no longer grouping his way in the dark, he may prosecute with confidence and approach to certainty those costly operations which are necessary to extract from the earth the treasures there stored up for our use. These treasures exist in sufficient abundance to afford a rich reward to our toils and at the same time they have wisely and benificently been rendered sufficiently difficult of access to stimulate industry, and call forth all our energies. The mineral wealth of the earth has not been distributed through it at random, but each formation in the receptacle of certain minerals. The Chemist, the Mathematician, and Miner find our subject interwoven in their respective pursuits; the traveller by its aid gleans instruction in the lonest solitudes, the enjoyment afforded by Mineralogy is exhibited in the Zeal with which the student pursues his investigations. Poverty presents no obstacles, and distance lets no bounds to his persuits, pestilential climates, and the savage wilderness, amid the glare of equatorial Sun, the gloom of polar nights, and the Sahara of the Arctic regeons, are eagerly sought and explored as fields of new discovery. Toil, exposure, and physical ills in every form are endured without a murmur when engaged in examining the riches of nature, and when each step leads to a new and higher enjoyment. If you will examine the subject of Mineralogy carefully, you will find that it is the basis of domestic and public aeconomy, that it contributes essentialy to the property of families and the wealth of nations by the advantages which its resources offer, to agriculture, commerce, the arts, to manufactures and to all the wants of life, it is to this science he is indebted for the metals which multiply his forces and contribute to his deference.
Indeed it is the plough-share, the axe, the anvil and the burthen carrier of the Deep.
We shall set forth the value and importance of Botany, but to convey a proper estimate of its value and importance, we might fill a volume such is the extent of the vegetable kingdom. Of what great use is it in strange countries to be able to distinguish the plants fit for food from such as are poisonous, and to recognise those which have been employed in medicine or in any of one of those numerous acts to which the vegetable world is subservient! Even all elementary knowledge of Botany is of exceeding interest and importance. Travellers in unknown lands know full well that life or death often depends upon their aquaintance with this science. An aquaintance it may be, not derived from learned treatises however. But simply from little more than ordinary observation of those edible plants with which all person are familiar. But even this is still a knowledge of Botany. An all wise Providence has so arranged that plants may be associated into families from their external resemblances, and further that plants possessing such resemblances to each other have many properties in common. But while the value of this law is indispensable, a further knowledge of Botany is necessary to the traveller, since he will frequently find associated together edible and poisonous plants. The deadly Upas is placed by the delicious Fig, the first furnishing to the warlike inhabitants of Ethiopia the poisonous juices in which they dip their arrows, the latter furnish the most delightful fruit. And it not unfrequently happens that while one part of the plant yields an article of food, another is laden with noxious properties. For example, the tubers of the potatoe plant form a valueable article of diet, while its green colored fruit is poisonous. A plant is an organized creation, it is so in virtue of certain strange operations which are rendered active by the solar influences, involved in the great phenomena of light and by the excitation of caloric force and electrical circulation. It is a striking exemplification of the united action of certain empyreal powers, which give rise to the combination of inorganic principals under such forms that they become capable of obeying the misterious impulses of life. The Poet has imaged the agency of external powers in various shapes of spiritualized beauty, from the Goddess Hera and her attendant nymphs to the romantic enchantress who called up flowers by the light of her wand, we have in all these creations foreshadowings of the discovery of those powers which science has shewn as essential to vegetable life. A power from without influences the plant, but the animal is dependent upon a higher agency which is potent within him. The Poets dream pleases the imaginative mind, and associateing in our ideas all that is gracefull and loveable in the female form with that diviner feeling which impresses the soul with some unseen spirituality. The spirit floating over these forms of beauty and adorning them with all the richness of colour, painting the rose, and giving perfume to the violet, is in the poets mind one which ascends to nearly the highest point of etherealization, and which becomes indeed to him a spirit of light, they ride upon the Zephirs, and they float in all the luxury of an empyreal enjoyment down to the earth upon a sunbeam. Such is the work of the imagination. What is the result of the search of plodding science of the truth? The sun-beam has been torn into rays, and every ray tasked to tell of its ministry. Nature has echoed from plant to plant, proclaiming that every function of vegetable life is due to the spirit of the sun.
She comes! The Goddess! Thro’ the whispering air
Bright as the morn descends her blushing car
Each circling wheel a wealth of flowers entwines
And gemed with flowers the silken harness shines
The golden bits with flowery studs are stacked
And knots of flowers the crimson reins connects
And now on earth the silver axle rings
And the shell sinks upon its slender springs
Light from her airy seat, the Goddess bounds
and steps celestial press to the pansied grounds
We shall demonstrate to you the importance of the subject of Comparative Anatomy and Zoology. We are startled when we name it at the immense fields of knowledge which it entraces, and that of the greatest interest and importance. It is not confined to the Naturalist! The merchant, the manufacturer, the agriculturist, the traveller, the sportsmen, have all to seek aid in their several pursuits from a knowledge of these departments of natural History. Look at the value of our fisheries and judge how available to the commercial world becomes this knowledge of natural history. Nay more but for our knowledge of animal life, one of the most important articles of food would in time have entirely disappeared from many of the European Rivers. The angler too, how much more successful is he in his sport who has studied the circumstances which influence the humors of his prey? Is it less true of the sportsman, who unwearied by travels over hill and dale, that his success is intimately dependent on his knowledge of the habits of the game? The wild goose chase is proverbial, but besides the actual chase of the Bird in which no one succeeds who does not understand its habits, there are many figurative wild goose chases in the animal kingdom in which success fails from ignorance of particulars, which the study of Natural History could easily have supplied. A practical illustration of the benefits even of a slight knowledge of Zoology presents itself in the case of a traveller or emegrant in some unknown country. He has pitched his tent or raised his hut, and then, he finds the locality infested by serpents. He is all anxiety and fear, he knows not what to do, whether to proceed to another spot or to remain and brave the danger. Some aquaintance with the structure of reptiles would at once have decided his plans, for with the first he killed, he could decide whether they were venemous or harmless. The venemous for the common viper is one possessed on either side of the head, glands which secrete their venom and to conduct it to the wound, they inflict upon their prey. They are furnished with two hollow but long recurved and sharply pointed teeth in their upper jaw. The harmless serpents have no such apparatus, and thus the two genera are at once distinguished by the absence or presence of the fang in question.
We shall give you a comprehensive view of the Physical Sciences, the systems of knowledge founded on intuitive convictions of the human mind to which the name of science is currently given, are in particular the abstract or mathematical sciences. Those collected from the perceptions of sense, with or without the aid of instruments, and of the abstract sciences, and methodised by means of the faculty of grouping individuals appearances into compound unities are the Inductive Sciences, under which falls the chief part of physical knowledge such as Physics Civil Engineering and Mechanical Engineering several branches of Natural Philosophy, the whole of the Electrical, Magnetical & galvanical sciences the construction of the Steam Engine, Railways, Hydraulic Press, Time Keepers, Artesian Wells, Gunnery, the Pendulum, Telescopes, Microscopes, the Barometer, &c. When we have considered these, we shall be able to estimate the vast importance of a knowledge of its various subdivisions to men particularly to those living in countries newly settled, and where the division of labor has not been carried sufficiently far to save every man from the necessity of being his own engineer and overseer. Even in the long established social communities of modern Europe, we have but to glance the eye over the career of individuals of great activity of mind rather than of solid education to discover how much time and money are actually wasted in the vain hope of what is unattainable. Many a man of Genius in former times, unenlightened by the knowledge these Lectures are intended to convey, has wasted his life and fortune in fruitless efforts to discover the perpetual motion. And altho’ this is not often now the object to which uninstructed ingenuity is directed, there is still as much health, as much genius, as much industry, as much wealth, consumed on things unattainable as in former ages. In Hydrostatics, it is self evident that a solid and insoluable body immersed in a liquid must displace a quantity of the liquid equeal to its bulk. The discovery of this fact cost Archemides a great effort. But the moment it occurred to this mind, it was self evident, and required no effort to obtain universal assent. The refraction of light to which so many phenomena can be refered admits of no explanation. The evidence of the truth of this law is as yet derived solely from observation. The law of universal gravitation rests ultimately on observation. It is the greatest achievement of Inductive Science. It is expressed in the language of Mathematics, but it has nothing of the character of a mathematical truth. We shall also give you thorough and fundamental knowledge in the Sciences of Architecture & Civil Engineering by which you learn the properties of building materials, and to us Americans, such information renders this chair one of the most important in the faculty. An Engineer or Architect to be enabled to make a judiceous selection of materials and to apply them so that the ends of sound economy and skillful workmanship shall be equeally subserved, must know their ordinary durability under the various circumstances in which they are employed, and the means of increasing it when desirable, their capacity to sustain without injury to their physical qualities permanent strains, whether exerted to crush them asunder or to break them transversely. Their resistance to rupture and wear from percussion and attrition, and finally the time necessary to convert them to the uses for which they may be acquired. Your attention will be drawn to the materials in general use for civil constructions. To those which constitute the more solid components of Structures such as Stone, brick, Wood, and the Metals; to the cements, Mastics, glue, etc., which are used to write the more solid parts, to the various mixtures and chemical preparations such as solutions of salts, Paints, Bitumenous substances etc. employed to cool the more solid parts and protect them from the chemical and mechanical action of atmospheric changes and the causes of destructibility. The durability of building stone will be fully explained, and the different kinds of lime for cementing them, with the durability of different timber for construction, the season for cutting it, seasoning, etc. You will be instructed in the general principals of framing timber into houses bridges & laying out and surveying roads, making Reconnaisances, locating Railways, driving tunnels thro’ rocks, digging canals, building locks, etc etc.
Ethnology will occupy a chair in this Institute and will be perhaps the first regular course on that subject ever delivered in America. It is the science which discribes the peculiarities of nations, with their customs &c. Our investigations would be incomplete if we had not ventured to trace some of the most marked features of the human race considered with reference to physical gradations to the Geographical distributions of cotemporaneous types to the influences upon man by the forces of nature, and the reciprocal, although weaker action which he in his turn exercises on these natural forces. Dependent altho in a lesser degree than plants and animals on the soil and upon the meteorological processes of the atmosphere with which he is surrounded, escaping more readily from the controul of natural forces by activity of mind and the advance of intellectual cultivation, no less by his wonderful capacity of adapting himself to all climates, man everywhere becomes most essentially associated with terrestrial life. It is by these relations that the obscure and much contested problem of the possibility of one common descent enters into the sphere embraced by a general physical cosmography which treats of the arrangements of all parts of the world. The investigation of this problem will impart a nobler, and if I may so express myself, more purely human interest to these courses of Lectures. The vast domain of language, in whose varied structure we see misteriously reflected the destinies of nations, is most intimately associated with the affinity of races. The most important questions of the civilization of mankind are connected with the ideas of races, community of language, and adherence to one original direction of the intellectual and moral faculties. As long as attention was directed solely to the extremes in varieties of color and form, and to the vividness of the first impression of the sense, the observer was naturally disposed to regard races rather as originally different species than as mere varieties of the permanence of certain types in the midst of the most hostile differences, especially of climate, appeared to favor such a view, not with standing the interval of time from which the historical evidence was derived.
Another very important subject we shall call your attention to is Chemical Agriculture. This chair is purely American hence of great importance to the arising generation. The art of Culture indeed is almost entirely a chemical art since nearly all its processes are to be explained only by chemical principles. If you add lime or gypsum to your land, you introduce new chemical agents; if you irrigate your meadows, you must demand a reason from the chemist for the abundant growth of grass which follows. Do you find animal manure, powerful in its action, is the effect of some permanent while that of others is speedily exhausted? Does a mixture of animal and vegetable manure prepare the land best for certain kinds of grain, do you employ common salt or gypsum or saltpetre or nitrate of soda with advantage? In all these cases you observe chemical results, which you would be able to control and modify did you possess the requisite chemical knowledge. It is not wonderful that even theoretical agriculturists should be far behind in the knowledge of these principals on which their most important operations depend? The greatest light has been thrown upon the art of culture by the researches of organic chemistry, a branch which may be said to have started if not into existance at least into a new life within the last ten years. Every day, too, is adding to the number and value of its discoveries, and the agriculturist may well be pardoned for not keeping pace with the advancement of a department of science which even the professed and devoted chemist can scarcely overtake. I will not dwell on any of the mechanical points such as ploughing, fallowing, as being only so many methods by which chemical action is induced or facilitated. We will show you how the feeding of your cattle and the raising and management of dairy produce are not beyond the province of chemistry, but that the only approach to scientific principal yet made even in these branches of husbandry is derived from the results of chemical research.
Human Anatomy and Human Physiology will occupy the attention of a special Professor. He will illustrate his subject in the most lucid and intelligent manner, and will be most interesting, because one and all of us are interested in them. The human body is composed of a greater number of organs in a higher state of development than is to be found in any other terrestrial animal. Adopting the human body as the standard, we compare with this all other Animals, and assign to them their relative places in the in the animal kingdom either higher or lower according as they approach this standard or are remote from it. The student will see at one glance that a wide range of exceedingly interesting subjects opens before him. Contemplated as a mere mechanism, the human system is full of wonders. The principals of common Mechanics, of Hydraulics, Pneumatics, of Optics, of Acoustics, are abundantly illustrated in the human body to contrivances of the most exact and exquisite adaption. But this congeries of beautiful mechanisms is all regulated by a nervous system, making it by its fibrils to be alive with feeling in every part. It is not only mechanism but living mechanism that developes to us its wonders so numerous and diversified, And then when we look at the soul, that side of our nature which is in relation to the Infinite, connected as it is by the nerves with every part of this mechanism, the interest of the study in the hands of that Gentleman appears exceedingly great and its variety never ending. It is not dry bones you are going to study in this connection, but it is the body and the spirit united, and I feel sure they will do their subjects justice.
The number and variety of the objects we have alluded to give use to the question whether general considerations of physical phenomena can be made sufficiently clear to persons who have not aquired a detailed and special knowledge of discriptive Natural History? We think we ought to distinguish here between him whose task it is to collect the individual details of various observations and study the mutual relations existing among them, and him to whom these relations are to be revealed under the form of general results. The former should be aquainted with the specialties of Phenomena, that he may arrive at a generalization of ideas as the result, at least in part, of his own observations, experiments, and calculations. It cannot be denied that where there is an absence of positive knowledge of physical phenomena, the general results which impart so great a charm to the study of nature can not all be made equeally clear and intelligible to the student. But still, we venture to hope that in the work on which this faculty is now about to enter, on the physical laws of the universe, the greater part of the facts can be made manifest. The picture of nature thus drawn, notwithstanding the want of distinctness of some of its outlines, will not be less able to enrich the intellect, enlarge the sphere of ideas, and nourish and vivify the imagination. We shall endeavour to distinguish between these great results which form as it were, the Beacon Lights of science and the long series of means by which they have been attained. The study of the Sciences that promises to lead us through the vast range of creation may be compared to a journey in a far distant land. Before we set forth, we consider--and often with distrust--our own strength, and that of the guide we have chosen. But the apprehensions which have originated in the abundance and difficulties attached to the subjects we would embrace recede from our view as we remember that with the increase of observations in the present day, there has also arisen a more intimate knowledge of the connection existing among all phenomena.
Knowledge, my friends, is power. Instruct the Artisan in the powers and principles of Nature, and he can always employ them in the cheapest and most effectual manners. But ignorance has no security from error. If right it is only right by accident, Ignorance is therefore weakness. If the weakness be unobserved by others or felt by the artisan himself, it is only because he and his employees are alike uninstructed. It must be apparent to every mind that if the physician were unaquainted with the structure and functions of the body, if he know little of the nature of deseases or of the properties of medicinal substances, his art would become the art of killing rather than that of cureing. But there is little more quackery in attempting to treat an animal system of the nature of which we are ignorant than there is in undertaking to manage inanimate agents respecting which we are equeally ignorant. It can savor but little more of presumption for a man who is unaquainted with anatomy to undertake the treatment of complicated fracture or dangerous wounds, than it does for him who understands neither the laws of motion nor the principals of machinery to offer to construct or repair a complicated engine or instrument. In some cases, both may succeed, and since the structure of most machines is less intricate than that of a limb, it is not to be doubted that the uninstructed artisan will succeed more frequently than the uninstructed surgeon. The uninstructed artist is not prepared for new emergencies; he can move in only one dull routine, and over that he travels almost without observation or thought. If he had been accustomed however from youth to regard the process of his art as specimens of yet more extensive operations which God is carrying on throughout all nature: as examples of comprehensive principles which are at work in all places and at all times and which embrace innumerable instance, generally but not precisely similar, he would not have been so easily baffled. Having studied and mastered the great laws on which his art depends, he would be prepared for difficulties, and often would have them converted to sources of profit, what has now proved only the occasion of defeat and disappointment. He would have found in Science not only the experience of his instructors or predecessors in the same art, but the experience of all mankind, both Philosophers & Artisans. The very object of Science is to present us with the result of all their observations and experiments on any given subject, embodied in the simplest and most regular form.
Though naturaly inferior to many of the animals in strength and agility, man becomes their superior by means of the arts. These arts are in the first instance suggested by necessity, afterwards they are improved by Science. The application of Science to the Arts has been neglected to the prejudice both of the Philosopher and the Artisan. The discoveries of the one have often remained unproductive for the want of practical knowledge, and the manual skill of the other has frequently accomplished little because it required the aid and guidance of Science. Material substances are subject to fixed laws--they cannot be employed except in obedience to those laws unless the laws are understood, and they cannot be understood without Science. Science cannot be superceeded by experience nor arbitrary rules, since these teach nothing but disconnected facts and processes. It is Science alone which teaches us laws of the requisite simplicity and generality. A knowledge of such laws confers great advantages on the labouring man, as it prepares him for new emergencies, as it gives him command of the simplest and most aeconomical methods of obtaining his ends, as it enables him to appreciate proposed improvement especially in his own art, as it qualifies him to become an inventor or discoverer as it tends to enlarge his mind and improve his moral character.