Page:Experimental researches in chemistry and.djvu/503

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488
[1855.
On Mental Education.

to the past. In 1823, Wollaston discovered that beautiful substance which he called Titanium, believing it to be a simple metal; and it was so accepted by all philosophers. Yet this was a mistake, for Wohler[1], in 1850, showed the substance was a very compound body. This is no reproach to Wollaston or to those who trusted in him; he made a step in metallurgy which advanced knowledge, and perhaps we may hereafter, through it, learn to know that metals are compound bodies. Whp, then, has a right to quote his mistake as a reproach against him? Who could correct him but men intellectually educated as -he himself was? Who does not feel that the investigation remains a bright gem in the circlet that memory offers to his honour?

If we are to estimate the utility of an educated judgment, do not. let us hear merely of the errors of scientific men, which have been corrected by others taught in the same careful school; but let us see what, as a body, they have produced, compared with that supplied by their reproaches. Where are the established truths and triumphs of ring-swingers, table-turners, table-speakers? What one result in the numerous divisions of science or its applications can be traced to their exertions? Where is the investigation completed, so that, as in gas-light ing, all may admit that the principles are established and a good end obtained, without the shadow of a doubt?

If we look to electricity, it, in the hands of the careful investigator, has advanced to the most 'extraordinary results: it approaches at the motion of his hand; bursts from the metal; descends from the atmosphere; surrounds the globe: it talks, it writes, it records, it appears to him (cautious as he has learned to become) as a universal spirit in nature. If we look to photography, whose origin is of our own day, and see what it has become in the hands of its discoverers and their successors, how wonderful are the results! The light is made to yield impressions upon the dead silver or the coarse paper, beautifully as those it produces upon the living and sentient retina: its most transient impression is rendered durable for years; it is made to leave a visible or an invisible trace; to give a result to be seen now or a year hence; made to paint all natural forms and even colours; it serves the offices of war, of peace,

  1. Annales de Chimie, xxix. p. 166.