Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 2.djvu/518

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

tional advertisements, and the customary arts and tricks by which notoriety is manufactured and "success" secured. It is to the credit of New York intelligence, and evinces a growing appreciation of the intrinsic claims of science, that the customary clap-trap of agents, whose maxim is, "The public must have a certain amount of humbug, you know," was entirely dispensed with in the present instance.

Prof. Tyndall's course of lectures was any thing but child's-play for his audience. Boston, indeed, has complained that they were elementary, if not rudimentary; but Boston is in many things exceptional—there has been no such complaint in other cities. In New York the prevailing criticism has been rather of an opposite kind—not, perhaps, that the lecturer's presentations had been too abstruse for ordinary intelligent apprehension, but that they have been too incomplete to be satisfactory. The phenomena shown have been out of proportion with their explanations, a defect which could only be remedied by giving thirty-six lectures in the place of six. But this was impossible, as Prof. Tyndall's time to tarry with us was short. The method that he has followed, we think, has been very skilfully adapted to the circumstances. There has been a great amount of general reading in books and magazines, and of study in our schools and colleges, upon the subjects he has selected, but the ideas acquired have been vague and unsatisfactory, from lack of observing the actual phenomena that have been read about. The lecturer assumed this state of mind in his hearers, and that the literature of the subject is everywhere accessible for further reference, and he accordingly constructed his course so as to bring under direct observation a wide range of the actual phenomena he had chosen to deal with. These were presented in their beauty and variety, with consummate skill and impressiveness, and as much of elucidation as time allowed. The ideas of many upon the subject of Light, the theory of its nature, and its various complex affections, were clarified and rendered more precise, while many others for the first time witnessed a series of marvellous effects, which gave them a new conception of the exquisite and wonderful play of natural forces, and which will incite them to further study and prepare them for it.

The triumph of Prof. Tyndall, so far from being his first lecture with all its advantages of novelty, was really his last lecture, and what is more, the concluding part of it, which was without experiments. He closed his course by an estimate of the work, and a statement of the claims of original investigators, and this was listened to by his vast audience with a close and almost breathless attention, which attested both the intellectual quality of the assemblage and their interest in the highest scientific objects and themes.

 

MRS SOMERVILLE.

To the question "Who is the most intellectual woman that has yet appeared?" a variety of answers will probably be returned; but to the question "Who is the most scientific woman that has yet appeared?" but one answer will be given; it is—"Mary Somerville." Not only was she a woman of eminent capacity, but, what is very remarkable, her mental vigor was prolonged to a period surpassing by many years the allotted life of man. The first work that made her name known to the world was in 1826, and her last book, an able treatise in two volumes, was published forty-three years later, in 1869, and that long interval was fruitful in works of ability in different departments of science.

Mrs. Somerville died at Naples November 29th, within rather less than a month of the ninety-second anniversary