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had wondered whence they came; but the knowledge of whole races of animals and vegetables, that lived, and flourished, and perished on this earth before the creation of man, and the existence of the present order of things, of long ages that rolled over the world before any being was here to record its history, of great revolutions which rent the granite ribs of the earth, like shreds, and fires that dissolved mountains as in the crucible of a chemist; – all these facts, now indisputably established, are the discoveries
the revelations - of our own day.
In mineralogy, chemistry, natural history, and natural philosophy, there has been an almost entire revolution. Old theories have become exploded, old errors abandoned, and philosophy founded on facts has become established. And two things are here specially to be remarked. Philosophy, before a sealed book to all but the learned, is now as familiar as household goods. Philosophy is no longer hidden within a sanctuary, to which a privileged class only are admitted; but the doors are thrown wide to the world, and whosoever will, may enter in and partake of its privileges. Science is not only familiar, but it is rendered practical and useful by application to the arts of life. Chemistry is no longer the mystery of the alchemist, nor the black art of the juggler. It is no longer the perquisite of the scholar nor the plaything of universities. It is in our schools and academies, it is in our workshops, — in the hands of mechanics and farmers, - practical men, who are every day turning it to practical account.
Mankind had before enslaved the horse and the ox, and taught them to toil in his service; they had before taught the rivers to turn the wheel of the mill, the waters to bear the ships, and the winds to speed them on their way; but it is within the present century that Philosophy has been chained to the car of human art, and been made to work for the comfort and pleasure of man. Philosophy, forty years ago a proud, privileged thing, the tool and instrument of the
few, is now the slave of the many; before the toy of the scholar, it is now the servant of the people; no longer hidden in colleges, it is at work in the field, on the highway, upon the railroad-track, on the great deep, in the mine, in the factory, in the kitchen. No longer is Philosophy a thing that lives aloof from the world, with gloved hand and slippered foot, too dainty to soil itself with the lead-work and hand-work of life; it is now a hard-fisted fellow, with sleeves rolled up, and sweaty brow, tugging and toiling to bless and benefit mankind.
Go to the great cities of the world, and you will find that Philosophy, Science, by application to art, lights them up with gas, and for
inhabitant the poor as well as the rich — banishes the gloom of night. Go to the machineshop, and you will find Philosophy there at work, constructing an engine that enables man to fly upon his journey with the speed of the bird. Go to another shop, and you will find Philosophy there, constructing a machine that shall bear you across the Atlantic in a single fortnight. Go to the cotton factory, and you will find Philosophy there at work, and producing a yard of cotton for ten cents, which, forty years ago, had cost you five times that sum.
Thus it is that Science, by its application to the arts of life, by being put into the possession of thousands of ingenious heads and hands, is conquering the great obstacles of nature. It is triumphing over the very shadows of night; it is cutting away mountains ; annihilating distance; dragging continents, before separated by the barriers of the deep, into proximity; enabling remote nations to shake hands, and inhabitants of distant cities to breakfast, dine, and sup together.
The Study of Natural History - Audubon and his
Works. T. M. BREWER.
The study of natural history is admirably adapted to impress the mind with the truths which religion teaches. The book of nature expounds the works of Omnipotence. What study can be grander or more ennobling? One of the best English poets has said,
" An undevout astronomer is mad!"
If this be true of the astronomer, who is obliged to content himself with very limited knowledge and distant admiration, what should we think of him who contemplates without wonder and awe the displays of divine power in the profusion of objects which natural history presents, inviting the most minute examination of their structure and properties?
The good effects of the study of natural history in a moral point of view entitle it to a very favorable regard. A trite proverb, but trite only because it is so true, tells us that "idleness is the root of all evil." Much of the immorality that pervades society originates in the want of agreeable and innocent occupation. Such occupation may be found in the study of the natural sciences. If any one should doubt the attractiveness of this study, let him read the poetic and animated pages of Wilson, Audubon, and other kindred spirits, and he cannot fail of being inspired with a love for their pursuits. It has been well remarked by Swainson, that "the tediousness of a country life is proverbial ; but did we ever hear this complaint from a naturalist? Never. To him every season of the year is interesting. With each succeed. ing month, new races of animals and plants rise into existence, and become new objects for his research, until autumn fades
into winter, and both the animal and the vegetable world sink into repose.”
6. Thus may our lives, exempt from public toil,
Find tongues in trees, books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones, and good in every thing." A very visible and decided change in the public mind, in favor of the study of natural history, has recently taken place in this country. We hail it as a harbinger of good. The study of natural history will afford profitable occupation for those leisure hours which our young men are too prone to spend in vicious indulgences.
No one has probably contributed more towards creating and fostering a taste for nature in this country, than the justly-celebrated naturalist John James Audubon. His magnificent paintings excited great interest, and his adventurous and enthusiastic pursuit of his darling study made him the object of general admiration. His undertaking was unrivalled for the boldness with which it was commenced, and the · perseverance and zeal with which it was executed. It will be an enduring monument of his enterprise and acquirements.
It is impossible to know the man without the highest respect for his fortitude, self-denial, and courage. We see in him the splendid painter of Nature, her eloquent historian, and the accomplished gentleman, all united in the same person, who appeared a few years since in the capital of Scotland, an unknown and friendless stranger, of humble means, and astonished the scientific world by his proposal to publish a work on ornithology upon a scale so magnificent as would have deterred many a wealthier devotee of science. We'follow the same individual, his object in Edinburgh accomplished, in the prosecution of his Herculean task. We find him now buffeting the waves on the shores of Labrador, now treading the unhealthy swamps of Florida, and again exploring the rivers and lagoons of Texas. We behold bim returning, with the spoils of patient assiduity, to meet
with an unexpected obstacle, thrown in his path by the commercial crisis of the country — the loss of nearly one half of the subscribers upon whom he had depended to repay his expenditures. But we see him superior to all disasters, surmounting all obstacles, and completing, in spite of them, the most magnificent work on natural history which the world has ever seen. Such a man would be an honor to any country and any age.
His life and labors excite an interest amounting to enthusiasm, and have unquestionably contributed much to the rapid progress which natural history has lately made in the public estimation.
George Washington. Charles W. Upham.
Long before the war of the American revolution broke out, a leader was raised up and perfectly fitted for the great office. Among the mountain passes of the Blue Ridge and the Alleghanies, a youth is seen employed in the manly and invigorating occupations of a surveyor, and awakening ihe admiration of the hardy backwoodsmen and savage chieftains by the strength and endurance of his frame, and the resolution and energy of his character. In his stature and conformation, he is a noble specimen of a man. In the various exercises of muscular power, on foot and in the saddle, he excels all competitors. His admirable physical traits are in perfect accordance with the properties of his mind and heart; and over all, crowning all, is a beautiful, and, in one so young, a strange dignity of manners and of mien, a calm seriousness, a sublime self-control, which at once compels the veneration, attracts the confidence, and secures the favor, of all who behold him. That youth is the