« PreviousContinue »
I can't help it,” she said, indulging her anger in her own room instead of executing Miss Matty's commission.
Meanwhile Miss Rivers was giving her opinion of Miss Lacy to the chairs and tables after her own fashion,
“What large passionate eyes! You have a Tartar there, John; her temper is a match for yours. Poor silly child! I have no doubt you try her patience. “Diamond cut diamond.' What sensible man would quarrel with a chit scarcely removed from babyhood. Give her a few play
things, and she will be satisfied. Can't expect much from a half-grown little thing like that, more's the pity.”
Convinced that Etta, from her small size, could not aspire to much excellence or possess powers of mind worth speaking of, she attached no importance to the angry words she had overheard, and blamed her brother rather than the girl. “He was always a cross-grained fellow," she murmured, putting her bonnet and cloak into the closet, and after arranging a few things as she liked to have them, she went to see him.
JAMES CLERK MAXWELL.*
F the men of science in our time, the name of
Clerk Maxwell is not one most familiar to
the general public. His studies and rescarches, being chiefly in the highest mathematical and physical departments, were understood and appreciated by the few and not by the many, But among scientific men, both at home and abroad; in the Royal Society, the British Association, and other learned bodies; and especially at Cambridge, where he laboured and taught in the last years of his life, no name ranked higher than that of Clerk Maxwell. The man, too, was loved, as much as the philosopher was admired; and there, as well as in other places where he before lived, bands of enthusiastic pupils or troops of choicest friends regarded him with the warmest feelings of respect and affection. His was indeed a character of rare and remarkable distinction. A man in the foremost ranks of science, yet retaining the simplicity and playfulness of boyhood; buoyant in spirit and genial in disposition ; bright and full of humour; and above all, a man of strong religious faith, and humble, fervent piety: such a character was worthy of a biography, and the story of his life has an interest far wider than that suggested by scientific reputation alone. And this biography has been well and wisely done. The general memoir was undertaken by Lewis Campbell, the accomplished Greek professor at St. Andrews, Maxwell's early schoolfellow at Edinburgh, and his friend and correspondent through life; while William Garnett, professor of natural philosophy at University College, Nottingham, a pupil of Maxwell at Cambridge, has furnished a lucid and able sketch of his principal contributions to science. The volume is enriched by some of the minor essays and researches not reserved for separate publication in the works to be issued from the University Press; by a varied and judicious selection from his correspondence; and is also brightened by specimens of the poetical and artistic jeus d'esprit with which Clerk Maxwell (reminding us in these of Edward
Forbes) tempered the solemnity and relieved the strain of scientific study.
He was born at Edinburgh, June 13, 1831. His father, John Clerk Maxwell, bore in his veins the blood of two old Scottish families, the Midlothian Clerks and the Dumfriesshire Maxwells. His grandfather, John Clerk, younger brother of Sir George Clerk Maxwell, of Penicuick, was the author of a book famous in its day, “Naval Tactics." His eldest son, John, became Lord Eldin, a judge of the Court of Session, noted for his shrewdness and wit, as well as for legal lore. Lord Eldin's younger brother, Willie Clerk, was the friend and comrade of Walter Scott in their early years. When Sir George Clerk, asterwards M.P., a warm supporter of Sir Robert Peel, succeeded to Penicuick on the death of his uncle, Sir John, the younger son succeeded to the property of Middlebie, which descended to him from his grandmother, Dorothea, Lady Maxwell, and had to be held separate from the Midlothian estate. He married in 1827, Frances, daughter of Robert Cay, of Charlton, Northumberland, and James Clerk Maxwell was their only son. He was born in their town house in Edinburgh, but for some years they chiefly lived at Glenlair, a small property saved from the once wide domains of Middlebie, most of which had passed into other hands, through the fault of earlier spendthrift or speculating Maxwells.
The old adage as to the child being father to the man was most notably verified in Clerk Maxwell. In his earliest years he was full of wonder and curiosity, as most boys are, but with the addition in his case of a persistent resolve to understand the causes of things. ""Show me how it doos,'” his father wrote to a friend, “are words never out of his mouth.” One of his first feats, when only three years old, was to learn the mode of “doing" in the house bells. He watched the row of bells in the kitchen, and made a servant ring every one in turns, and then made his father show him the holes where the wires went through. The way the water travels from the pond, past bridge and mill and smiddy, till it gets to the sea where the ships sail, was another wonder and study of his youngest boyhood. His cousin, Mrs. Black
* The Life of James Clerk Maxwell, with a selection from his correspondence and occasional writings, and a sketch of his contributions to science. By Lewis Campbell, M.A., LL.D., St. Andrews, and William Garnett, il. A., Nouingham. (Macmillan & Co.)
burn, remembers that throughout his childhood his constant question was,
What's the go o' that? What does it do?” Nor was he satisfied with a vague reply, but would reiterate, “But what's the particular go of it?” There is in the book a droll sketch of a barn-ball at the harvest home at Glenlair in 1837. The boy of six, instead of looking at a marvellous solo dancer, the observed of all observers, is standing beside the fiddler gazing intently on his bow, no doubt musing on the cause of the sound, and determined to know “the go of that some day. When walking with his nurse, she usually had to come home laden with plants, stones, and miscellaneous " finds," all of which were laid out on a table till his parents told him all about each object. Possibly his good auntie, Miss Cay, was not quite so patient, as she used to say it was vexatious to be asked such a heap of questions one could not answer “by a child like that.”
As the years went on he was as ingenious with his hands as he had been observant with his eyes. In basket-weaving, knitting, scal-making, and other indoor occupations, he showed speedy proficiency, but soon was most at home in all the boyish sports of country life. With his leapingpole, of which he had great mastery, he “made tracks” across country anywhere and everywhere, with an eye for all he saw and pluck to meet any emergency. His love of nature and of out-door txercise did not interfere with his appetite for book learning, for he devoured whatever came within his reach. His mother guided his education in his early years, and gave a bias to his tastes and feelings which grew with his growth. His knowledge of the Bible was extensive and minute. The Book of Psalms he knew so thoroughly that he could tell the place of almost any verse quoted. At eight years old it is said that he could repeat the whole of the 119th Psalm, so wonderful was his memory. His knowledge of Milton began also at a very early period. These things were not known merely by rote; they occupied his thoughts and imaginations, and sank deeper than anybody knew.
We have dwelt longer than may seem at first sight fitting upon these traits of juvenile character. But, after all, the mental qualities of the philosopher of later life are clearly seen in these rudimentary forms. The objects are vaster, and the instruments of research more powerful, but the spirit and method of the man were the same as in
one of the masters at Winchester, introduced some of the method and tone of English school life. The master of Maxwell's class, Mr. A. N. Carmichael, was one of the best scholars and ablest teachers of his time. But the comparatively ra country boy, joining in the middle of the second year, was not at home amongst the trained youth of the class, and did not show the latent power that was in him. His backwardness, and uncouthness of speech and dress, were misjudged, and a contemptuous nickname was fastened upon him. Before the course of six years was ended, however, he had won his way to the hearts and to the respect of both masters and boys. At the age of fourteen he got the Mathematical medal in his class, the prize for English verses, and held a good place in classical scholarship.
From the Academy he went, in 1846, to the University of Edinburgh, where he attended classes during three sessions. Professor James D. Forbes, of the Natural Philosophy class, was his favourite teacher, and between the pupil and professor there then began a lifelong friendship. Forbes encouraged him in his scientific studies, allowed him the use of his experimental room and apparatus, and introduced him at the Royal Society of Edinburgh. To have been thus favoured by James D. Forbes was a proof of high character as well as genius, which will be understood by all who knew the professor. Under this influence Maxwell soon burst into a splendour of reputation of which his earlier years gave no adequate promise. It was an unusual thing for papers to be communicated to the Royal Society by a youth under sixteen, which the president, Sir Thomas M. Brisbane, described as ingenious and original. The first paper was on “Oval Curves and those having a plurality of Foci.” The paper was read by Professor Forbes, who added com ments of his own.
At the university, besides the prime influence of Professor Forbes, he owed much of his intellectual development to Sir William Hamilton in Mental Philosophy, Gregory in Chemistry, attending also the Mathematical class of Kelland, and the Moral Philosophy of Wilson, better known as Christopher North. The Art curriculum of a Scottish university is unrivalled for breadth of study, but lacks the organisation and the inducements for eminence in the special departments, whether classical or mathematical, for which the English universities are renowned. The bent of Maxwell's mind evidently pointed to Cambridge as the best sphere for study and distinction.* In 1850 he entered at Peterhouse, but removed soon to Trinity. He had the advantage of having Hopkins as tutor, and came out second wrangler, with Routh as first, with whom he was bracketed as Smith's prizeman. It is said that “he succeeded by sheer strength of intellect, though with
After the death of his mother the education of the son became a pressing question. A short and unsuccessful experiment having been tried with a private tutor, his father resolved to reside in Edinburgh and put him to school. The Edinburgh Academy was then in highest favour with the upper classes of the capital. It had been founded a few years before, in 1824, being much needed on account of the great extension of the New Town. The celebrated High School was still in the Old Town, the removal to its present site on the Calton Hill being hastened by the successful rivalry of the Academy. The rector, Archdeacon Williams, an Oxford first-classman, and for a time
* A footnote in the Memoir contains extracts from the journal kept by Mrs. Morrieson (formerly Campbell, née Pryce, of an old Welsh family), the mother of the biographer, a woman of sing war brightness and shrewdness, well known in Edinburgh society in her day, gives in few words some characteristic traits of Maxwell. In 1850, October 28th, she wrote, “ His manners are very peculiar; but having good sense, sterling worth, and good humour, the intercourse with a College will rub off his oddities, I doubt not of his becoming a distinguished man.' And again, in January, 1851, " James Clerk Maxwell is full of genius. doubt he will be a dins : philosopher some di
I lidic na
the very minimum of knowledge how to use it with advantage under the conditions of examination.” His tutor, William Hopkins, said of him: “He is unquestionably the most extraordinary man he has met with in the whole range of his experience; it appears impossible for him to think incorrectly on physical subjects; in analysis, however, he is more deficient; he looks upon him as a great genius, with all his ećcentricities, and prophecies that one day he will shine as a light in physical science, a prophecy in which all his fellow-students strenuously unite.” These notes of a conversation with Hopkins are preserved in a diary kept at the time by Mr. W. N. Lawson, of the Equity Bar.
While working hardest he was never a recluse, and made many warm friendships, both among his own compatriots and among men then first known to him, such as Farrar, now Canon of Westminster, and Butler, now head master of Harrow. One of his set, the Rev. G. W. H. Tayler, says of him at this time (1852), “This acute mathematician, so addicted even then to original research, was among his friends simply the most genial and amusing of companions, the propounder of many a strange theory, the composer of not a few poetic jeux d'esprit.” Another friend in his journal records, “Maxwell, as usual, showing himself acquainted with every subject upon which the conversation turned. I never met a man like him. I do believe there is not a single subject on which he cannot talk, and talk well too, displaying always the most curious and out-of-theway information.”
About two years after taking his degree he was appointed Professor of Natural Philosophy at Marischal College, Aberdeen; and when this chair was abolished four years later by the fusion of the two Aberdeen colleges into one university, he received the appointment of Professor in King's College, London. This post he held for six years, when he resigned, and retired to his country seat in Dumfriesshire, where he remained for five years, when he accepted the newly founded chair of Experimental Physics, with the charge of the Cavendish laboratory, at Cambridge, a post which he held till hir death in 1879.* The clearness of his teaching, and the contagion of his enthusiasm, in the words of his biographer, “impelled the mind of Cambridge to a fresh course of real investigation."
The second part of the biographical volume presents a brief statemeni by Professor Garnett of Maxwell's chief contributions to science. These contributions are to be published separately and in extenso by the Cambridge University Press. Our space, and the purpose of this paper, must compel us to abstain from giving details, and allow us merely to indicate the main directions in which he worked. Passing over his purely mathematical studies, the subjects which most interest us in science were his researches on colour, on electricity, and on molecular physics. His essay on the nature of Saturn's rings, for which he obtained the Adams prize at Cambridge, was characterised by
Sir George Airy as one of the most remarkable applications of mathematics to physics that I have ever seen.” It was shown that the theory of a solid continuous ring did not bear mathematical investigation so well as the theory of a cloud of separate meteoric bodies circulating round the planet. The same skilful application of his favourite instrument of investigation led him to demonstrate that the lines of magnetic force are due to a medium, the particles of which are the vehitle both of electric and magnetic forces, and in all probability of light also. Faraday's direct experiments had led him to desiderate some such medium, as “he found it difficult to conceive of curved lines of force being due to direct action at a distance.” In a characteristic letter, 25th March, 1857, Faraday says: “I was almost frightened when I saw such mathematical force made to bear upon the subject, and then wondered to see that the subject stood it so well.” Maxwell's paper, read before the Cambridge Philosophical Society, and published in vol. x. of their Proceedings, is confessedly only a translation of Faraday's ideas into mathematical language, but with illustrations and extensions, opening up new paths of investigation, and establishing the theory that all the phenomena of electricity, magnetism, and light can be accounted for by motion of a medium with definite mechanical constitution, to the study of which mathematical formulæ can be applied.
The most original and important researches are probably those on molecular science.
He began with the examination of gases, which are composed of detached molecules rushing with wild rapidity in straight lines, and perpetually coming into collision with one another, or impinging on the sides of the containing vessels. In fluids the molecules are more densely crowded, and motion therefore less free. In solids, each molecule can only move through a minute distance from its normal position, but yet with inherent tendency to dart forward if liberated, so that the movements are essentially of the nature of vibrations. But even in the densest solids these vibrations are perpetual. Those who were present at the British Association at Bradford, in 1873, will remember the piofound impression made by his famous “Discourse on Molecules,” which has been more often quoted, perhaps, than any other of his published works. The close of that Discourse was a noble and manly avowal of his belief in the Divine power and wisdom by which the worlds were made, and showed clearly his attitude towards the materialistic doctrines avowed by some men of science.
In the heavens we discover by their light, and by their light alone, stars so distant from each other that no material thing can ever have passed from one to another; and yet this light, which is to us the sole evidence of the existence of these distant worlds, tells us also that each of them is built up of molecules of the same kinds as those which we find on earth. A molecule of hydrogen, for example, whether in Sirius or in Arcturus, executes its vibrations in precisely the same time.
Each molecule, therefore, throughout the universe bears impressed upon it the stamp of a metric system as distinctly as does the metre of the Archives at Paris, or the double royal cubit of the Temple of Karnac.
* In the January “Sunday at Home" we have given some account of his religious life and Christian character.
natural and revealed truth : “Almighty God, who hast created man in Thine own image, and made him a living soul that he might seek after Thee, and have dominion over Thy creatures, teach us to study the works of Thy hands, that we may subdue the earth to our use, and strengthen our reason for Thy service; and so to receive Thy blessed Word, that we may believe on Him whom Thou hast sent to give us the knowledge of salvation and the remission of our sins. All which we ask in the name of the same Jesus Christ our Lord.”
worlds within worlds.
Here are worlds within worlds, says philosophy's daughter (As physical science we've
courted the dame), From the universe down to a
mere drop of water You may search where you will
but the rule is the same, You may search for a lifetime,
and nature still forces Your wonder and awe at her bound.
No theory of evolution can be formed to account for the similarity of molecules, for evolution necessarily implies continuous change, and the molecule is incapable of growth or decay, of generation or destruction.
None of the processes of Nature, since the time when Nature began, have produced the slightest difference in the properties of any molecule. We are therefore unable to ascribe either the existence of the molecules or the identity of their properties to any of the causes which we call natural.
On the other hand, the exact equality of each molecule to all others of the same kind gives it, as Sir John Herschel has well said, the essential character of a manufactured article, and precludes the idea of its being eternal and self-existent.
Thus we have been led along a strictly scientific path very near to the point at which science must stop-not that science is debarred from studying the internal mechanism of a molecule, which she cannot take to pieces, any more than from investigating an organism which she cannot put together. But in tracing back the history of matter, science is arrested when she assures herself, on the one hand, that the molecule has been made, and, on the other, that it has not been made by any of the processess we call natural.
Science is incompetent to reason upon the creation of mat. ter itself out of nothing. We have reached the utmost limits of our thinking faculties when we have admitted that because matter cannot be eternal and self-existent it must have been created.
It is only when we contemplate, not matter in itself, but the form in which it actually exists, that our mind finds something on which it can lay hold.
That matter, as such, should have certain fundamental properties, that it should exist in space and be capable of motion, that its motion should be persistent, and so on, are truths which may, for anything we know, be of the kind which metaphysicians call necessary. We may use knowledge of such truths for purposes of deduction, but we have no data for speculating as to their origin.
But that there should be exactly so much matter, and no Bore, in every molecule of hydrogen is a fact of a very different order. We have here a particular distribution of matter -a collocation—to use the expression of Dr.'Chalmers, of things which we have no difficulty in imagining to have been arranged otherwise.
The form and dimensions of the orbits of the planets, for instance, are not determined by any law of nature, but depend upon a particular collocation of matter. The same is the case with respect to the size of the earth, from which the standard of what is called the metrical system has been derived. But these astronomical and terrestrial magnitudes are far inferior in scientific importance to that most sundamental of all standards which forms the base of the molecular system. Natural causes, as we know, are at work, which tend to modify, if they do not at length destroy, all the arrangements and dimensions of the earth and the whole solar system. But though in the course of ages catastrophes have occurred and may yet occur in the heavens, though ancient systems may be dissolved and new systems evolved out of their ruins, the molecules out of which these systems are built- the foundation-stones of the material universeremain unbroken and unworn. They continue this day as they were created— perfect in number and measure and weight; and from the ineffaceable characters impressed on them we may learn that those aspirations after accuracy in measurement and justice in action, which we reckon among our noblest attributes as men, are ours because they are essential constituents of the image of Him who in the begin. ning created not only the heaven and the earth, but the materials of which heaven and earth consist.
In this Discourse were given only the results of scientific research of the highest class as bearing upon natural religion. It was as plain a testimony as the nature of the subject and the audience admitted of, but in his private journals and in his letters, many of which are given by his biographer, the true faith and earnest piety of the man are conspicuous. Among his papers was found the following brief collect, or prayer, devoutly expressing his feelings as a student at once of
And while this is certain of objects
material, Not many, I fancy, will care to deny That to manners and usages—things
No less does the truism aptly apply ; And therefore it follows, with perfect propriety, There are worlds within worlds in the world of society.
There's the world of high art, famed for jargon ästhetic,
And scorn at the outer barbarians hurled ; Whose votaries revel in raptures poetic,
That carry them out of the workaday world ; But whose views, be it whispered, are too transcendental For mortals less gifted—or less sentimental.
There's the world that is horsey, and lives in the stables,
The faster the pace all the better the fun;
The chances of ruin are twenty to one ;
There's the world that seeks wealth with untiring persistence:
We certainly cannot consider it strange,
Their principal thoughts are for ever on 'change;
The musical world, and the wide world of please c',
The world--but enough !—if I note every one,
Will long be exhausted before I have done.
SKETCHES IN THE MALAY PENINSULA.
BY THE AUTHOR OF “A LADY'S LIFE IN THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS," "UNBEATEN TRACKS IN JAPAN," ETC
T is strange that I should have written thus far*
and have said nothing at all about the people
from whom this peninsula derives its name, who have cost us not a little blood and some treasure, with whom our relations are by no means welldefined or satisfactory, and who, if not the actual aborigines of the country, have at least that claim to be considered its rightful owners which comes from long centuries of possession. In truth, between English rule, the solid tokens of Dutch possession, the quiet and indolent Portuguese, the splendid memories of Francis Xavier, and the numerical preponderance, success, and wealth of the Chinese, I had absolutely forgotten the Malays, even though a dark-skinned military policeman, with a gliding, snake-like step, whom I know to be a Malay, brings my afternoon tea to the Stadt-haus! Of them I may write more hereafter. They are symbolised to people's minds in general by the dagger called a kris, and by the peculiar form of frenzy which has given rise to the phrase "running amuck.”
The great coco-groves are by no means solitary, for they contain the kampongs, or small raised
villages of the Malays. Though the Malay builds his dismal little mosques on the outskirts of Malacca, he shuns the town, and prefers a life of freedom in his native jungles, or on the mysterious rivers which lose themselves among the mangrove swamps. So in the neighbourhood of Malacca these kampongs are scattered through the perpetual twilight of the forest. They build the houses very close together, and whether of rich or poor the architecture is the same. Each dwelling is of planed wood or plaited palm-leaves, the roof is high and steep, the eaves are deep, and the whole rests on a gridiron platform, supported on posts, from five to ten feet high, and approached by a ladder in the poorer houses and a flight of steps in the richer. In the ordinary houses mats are laid here and there over the gridiron, besides the sleeping-mats; and this plan of an open floor, though trying to unaccustomed Europeans, has various advantages As, for instance, it ensures ventilation, and all débris can be thrown through it, to be consumed by the fire which is lighted every evening beneath the house to smoke away the mosquitos A baboon, trained
. to climb the coco-palms and throw down the nuts, is an inmate of many of the houses. The people
ERRATUM. - In chapter 11, page 22, for £260, read $260.