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with regard to the pauses and flow of his verses into each other, it will appear that he has performed all that our language would admit; and the comparison of his numbers with those who have cultivated the same manner of writing will show, that he excelled as much in the lower as in the higher parts of his art, and that his skill in harmony was not less than his invention and learning.' These surely are not words of condemnation.
Upon the whole, the greater part of Mr. Hazlitt's book is either completely unintelligible, or exhibits only faint and dubious glimpses of meaning; and the little portion of it that may be understood is not of so much value, as to excite regret on account of the vacancy of thought which pervades the rest. One advantage of this style of writing is, that Mr. Hazlitt's lectures will always be new to his hearers, whether delivered at the Surrey Institution or elsewhere. They may have been read or they may have been heard before; but they are of that happy texture that leaves not a trace in the mind of either reader or hearer. Connected thought may be retained, but no effort of recollection has any power over an incoherent jumble of gaudy words.
ART. X.-1. Considerations respecting Cambridge, more particularly relating to its Botanical Professorship. By Sir James Edward Smith, M. D. F. R. S. &c. President of the Linnæan Society. London. 1818. pp. 60.
2. A Vindication of the University of Cambridge from the Reflections of Sir James Edward Smith, President of the Linnaan Society, &c. By the Rev. James Henry Monk, B. D. Fellow and Tutor of Trinity College, and Regius Professor of Greek in the University of Cambridge. 2d Edition. London. 1818. pp. . 95.
CONTROVERSY between a President of the Linnæan Society and a Regius Greek Professor is an occurrence of some importance in the transactions of the literary world, and minor combatants may for a space repose upon their arms;
Discessere omnes medii spatiumque dedere.
The contest, however, assumes a still more serious aspect, when considered as involving to a certain degree the credit and character of a learned and numerous body of men, who are vigorously, if not skilfully, assailed by one combatant, and defended, successfully, as we think, by the other.
The combat would have been even yet more important, had it been a regular and embodied charge of the whole Linnæan Society against the University. The former would then, of course, have
brought into the field their auxiliary forces, the Horticultural and Gooseberry societies, with the irregular troops, the tulip-fanciers and prize-auricula-men. And what with their systematic arrangements' and' classifications,' their patent averruncators' and pruning hooks, they would, no doubt, have formed a very imposing and formidable body, and might, perhaps, have taken by storm the botanical chair. Fortunately for Professor Monk, he has had to contend with Sir James Smith single-handed, although, to measure Sir James by the language in which he speaks of himself, he is, at least, equivalent to the rest of the Linnæan Society put together, Unus qui multi militis instar erit.
It required, assuredly, no trifling degree of self-confidence to advance a serious and vehement charge against a university, which, unquestionably, boasts amongst its members as many men of talent and integrity, as can be produced by any academical institution in Europe. We are inclined to suspect that the President of the Linnean Society has still lurking in his breast some of those prejudices against English universities, which are observable in most persons who have gone through their academical career in Edinburgh. This is, indeed, sufficiently evident, from the affectionate earnestness with which he exhorts his Alma Mater to avoid the bigotry and intolerance, which, in spite of the Northern lights that have gradually illuminated our hemisphere, still darken the shores of Isis and of Cam.
The history of the present controversy may be related in few words. Professor Martyn has filled the botanical chair at Cambridge for more than fifty years; but for the last twenty he has enjoyed the emoluments of his office without performing any of its duties. It was to be expected, in the natural order of events, that the professorship would be vacant at a period not very remote. It had been suggested to Sir James Smith, that he might come forward upon that occasion as a candidate for the office, with great probability of success. Two objections, indeed, there were; in the first place he was not a member of the university; and, secondly, he was a dissenter; and therefore could not conscientiously subscribe to our articles of faith, without which subscription no degree could be taken. These difficulties, however, which may, in fact, be resolved into one, did not appear to be insuperable, and, accordingly, Sir James commenced operations. As it was known that more than one member of the university intended to come forward, as a candidate for the botanical chair, in the event of a vacancy, it was, at least, a piece of good generalship in Sir James to obtain a footing in the place while his competitors were kept back by motives
VOL. XIX. NO. XXXVIII.
tives of delicacy, and to discharge, if possible, a part of the professorial functions, while he was as yet only a professor in posse. Accordingly he obtained from Mr. Martyn, a letter, dated March 14, 1818, formally requesting him to read a course of botanical lectures in the ensuing Easter Term. The vice-chancellor so far forgot his usual love of precedent as to grant his sanction to this very unprecedented intrusion, and an advertisement was published, announcing that Sir James Edward Smith's lectures would commence on the 6th of April. Meanwhile,' says Sir James, ' I returned home for a fortnight, thinking of no opposition.' Opposition, however, was at work. A representation was made to the vice-chancellor by the tutors of fourteen colleges, expressing their strong objection to the appointment of any public lecturer, who was neither a member of the University nor of the Church of England. The consequences of this were, that the vice-chancellor withdrew his sanction, Sir James Smith abandoned his lectures, and published an angry pamphlet, which has been temperately, but decisively answered by Professor Monk.
The character of Sir James's publication is singular, in many respects; it is a remarkable instance of that egotism and self-importance, which an exclusive devotion to one science is so apt to generate in a man by leading him to exalt, in an undue degree, the importance of his own pursuits, and to depreciate the merit of those whose researches have been directed towards objects of a different kind. The natural consequence of this is that Sir James has treated the question, as if there were only one party whose interests and reputation were at stake; and, in behalf of that party, he has not scrupled to impute the worst of motives to his opponents, without supporting his charge by a tittle of evidence, or even the shadow of probability. His assertions are generally unguarded and incorrect; and his arguments drawn from precedent betray, to use his own words, an ignorance of the history and laws of the university.' As a discussion of these particulars would have but little interest for the generality of our readers, we shall content ourselves with referring them to the clear and satisfactory statements of Professor Monk, and proceed to consider the more prominent features of the subject; viz. first, the comparative importance of botanical pursuits; secondly, the propriety of conferring an academical office upon a person who is both an alien to the university and a dissenter from the established church.
The distinguished attainments which have deservedly placed Sir James at the head of the Linnæan Society are too well known to need the tribute of our acknowledgment. Nor are we disposed to deny to his favourite science that degree of consideration and respect which its intrinsic importance deserves. But neither do the
talents or acquirements of any individual, however undisputed, justify unqualified self-recommendation; nor can any pursuit, which demands so little exertion of the higher powers of intellect as botany, justly claim that pre-eminent rank, which properly belongs to the nobler exercises of human reason. In estimating the relative importance of the sciences, we form our scale, for the most part, not only according to their different degrees of usefulness, but according to the opportunities which they afford for the display of all the higher faculties of the mind; and surely no person can pretend, that natural history, in any of its branches, calls for so vigorous an exertion of any talent, inventive or retentive, as the inquiries of moral philosophy, the abstruse investigations of geometrical or analytical truth, or the acquirement of that critical sagacity, which Longinus emphatically terms the last result of practised experience. Every man's personal observation will have informed him, that the reputation of an extremely good botanist may consist with a very moderate portion of intellect; such a portion, in short, as would never have made its professor a profound scholar, or an able mathematician: and, accordingly, the world in general thinks more highly, and with justice, of those who have arrived at eminence in these departments of literature, than of one who can run through the whole nomenclature of Tournefort or Linnæus. For the same reasons we are not of the number of those, who think it a great defect in our academical system, that more attention is not paid to botany and its kindred sciences. Next to the formation of religious principles and virtuous habits, the great object of education is to discipline the mind, and to fortify its powers; to strengthen and improve its faculties by exercising them upon those objects which are best calculated to sharpen them by difficulty, before it is called upon to take a wider range in the arts and sciences, which, without this preparation, would be apt to perplex and confuse. We are therefore inclined to think that our universities do right, in limiting the essential studies of their youth to a few of the most important branches of learning, giving, at the same time, a due portion of encouragement to those departments of science, which, if they do not materially invigorate or sharpen the faculties of the mind, enlarge the sphere of its view, and diversify the dry and, seemingly, barren speculations of geometry, or philology, with the visible or tangible phenomena of physical experiment. We are, therefore, entirely disposed to agree with Professor Monk in the following judicious and well expressed remarks.
It is impossible to assent to the propriety of botany becoming a primary pursuit among the youth of our University. The regular and established objects of study are the classics, the mathematics, and natural philosophy, a competent portion of metaphysics, and such an ele
mentary knowledge of Divinity, as may form a groundwork of the theological pursuits of those who are designed for holy orders; and furnish every student with an introduction to the evidences of religion, as well as to the history, the allusions, the idioms and phraseology of the Scriptures. It has been decided by long experience, that these studies supply the best and surest mode of forming the taste and cultivating the mind, during the most important season of life, of strengthening the reasoning and other faculties, particularly that of memory, of generating correct and liberal habits of thinking, and of storing the mind with va luable knowledge. They are, accordingly, the primary subjects of academical instruction, and to proficiency in them, the rewards and honours of the place, in their gradations, are attached. I consider the studies of chemistry, anatomy, mineralogy and botany, as useful, though subordinate, objects of attention: and upon those sciences, with the exception of botany, as well as the arts and manufactures of the country, and upon modern history, regular courses of lectures are given with great ability, by the respective Professors. These lectures are highly beneficial, both in diffusing among the votaries of the severer studies, a gentlemanly portion of general information, and in supplying direction and encouragement to others, who are precluded by want of taste and ability, or by other circumstances, from becoming proficients in the regular pursuits, and who might, without such assistance, waste much valuable time in idleness.' p. 10.
This we presume to be a very fair and reasonable account of the system of instruction at present pursued in both our Universities; and, for our own parts, we scruple not to confess, we hope never to see the day, when the physical sciences shall take precedence of the intellectual; when, instead of the sublime speculations of Newton, Leibnitz, Euler, and Laplace, the majestic accents of the tragic muse of Greece, and the finished eloquence of Demosthenes or Tully, our academic cloisters shall resound only with floetz, and trap, and schistus, or with Banksias, and Dryandrias, and all the andrias and gynias of the Systema Naturæ.
It is no doubt true, as Sir James Smith observes, that classical studies may derive illustration from botany. As an instance of this, he observes that the acanthus of Virgil is still undetermined; and adds, ' I am persuaded, of what no commentator has hitherto con
Here indeed one of our Universities lies open to reproach. A degree is generally considered by the bishops as a necessary qualification for holy orders; aud yet, constituted as the examinations now are at Cambridge, of what importance can it be, with reference to the duties of the sacred office, whether the candidate has proceeded to the degree of B.A. or not? Why do not the governing members of that learned and enlightened body remove from it a stigma which is too justly merited, and make an acquaintance with at least the elementary parts of divinity, the evidences of revealed religion and the Gospels in their original tongue, an essential and indispensable part of that knowledge which shall entitle its possessor to an Academical degree? At present, we fear that the Professor's remarks on this head are true only of particular colleges. The University examinations are in this respect glaringly and inexcusably defective.