Imágenes de páginas

evening company; of ladies and gentlemen without regard to numbers. Tea and fruits are given to the guests coming until twelve or after. Often superb concerts are given with the finest vocal and instrumental performers."

He was

The parenthetic sentence, which we ought perhaps to have omitted, is an ominous one. Incompatibility of tastes began, ere long, to be manifest. The Count was a student, wishing to devote more time to science than to his wife's guests. also methodical and avaricious of his hours. Madame de Rumford was a gay woman, to whose happiness the blandishments and excitements of society were as necessary as air to her physical existence.

Time increased rather than diminished these differences, and in the spring of 1809 an amicable separation ensued, the Count retiring to a villa, at Auteuil, then a suburb of Paris, where were passed the remaining years of his life.

Very little of bitterness seems to have attended this separation, and the parties, living apart, continued on good terms with one another. The Countess has said that, when, on one occasion, Madame de Rumford sent word to her father that a pair of her horses had become unsafe, and that she wished he would buy them, he returned the good-natured reply that he would willingly do so, provided she would be magnanimous and not cheat him.

Madame de Rumford remained in Paris until her death in 1836, maintaining one of the finest saloons of the capital, and dispensing a hospitality almost princely to scores and hundreds of the most distinguished personages of her time.

Count Rumford has been censured for espousing interests inimical to his country during our Revolutionary War. We attempt no justification of his course during that period. It may be said, however, in palliation thereof, that undeserved persecutions, prompted by an intolerant patriotism, acting upon a proud nature, rendered moody by unjust aspersions, forced him to a course he took unwillingly.

Certain, indeed, it is that in his mature years he cherished for this country and its people the kindest feelings, and in 1798 thought seriously of resuming here his residence. But his connection with the Royal Institution defeated, for the time, this purpose, which was never resumed.

The most friendly sentiments were also entertained towards him, on this side of the ocean, and, about the close of the last century, he was cordially invited by the government of the United States to return to his native land and take the leading part in the formation of our Military Academy, since established at West Point. This flattering invitation he was obliged to decline, but subsequently testified to his lively sense of the honor done bim, and of his interest in the institution, by bequeathing to it “all his books, plans, and designs relating to military affairs."

Count Rumford passed the last half a dozen years of his life at his country house at Auteuil-a house which five years ago was made sadly interesting as the unconscious witness of the assassination of Victor Noir by Prince Pierre Bonaparte. His life here was a retired one. He attended occasionally the sittings of the French Institute, of which he was a member, but rarely went abroad, devoting his working hours to his favorite studies, and those of his leisure to the embellishment of his grounds and to the culture of rare flowers, of which he was

very fond.

The space allowed has permitted but a fleeting glance at a few only of the more prominent incidents in the life of this great man. A constant mingling for more than forty years in the best society of Europe gave to his manners a polish and a charm quite sensibly felt by all whose fortune it was to meet him.

In the natural sciences, and their application to the arts, he was learned to an eminent degree. He was well versed in general literature, and read and wrote and spoke the German, Italian, French, and Spanish languages with the same facility he did his native tongue. The three solid octavos which contain the record of his most important labors, investigations, and discov: eries, attest not only the versatility of his genius, but the beauty and clearuess of his style as a writer of pure English.

Deserved was the monument reared to his honor in the English Garden at Munich, whereon he is designated as “Friend of Mankind.” With abundant opportunities for acquiring large wealth, he enriched only others, never himself. For none of his numerous inventions would he ever consent to take out a single patent. By his will, witnessed by Lafayette, he bequeathed all of his limited property, excepting a few keepsakes and private legacies of moderate amounts, to public institutions.

His death, which was unexpected, occurred at Auteuil on the twenty-first day of August, 1814. His friend, Baron De Lessert, followed to their last resting place his mortal remains, and delivered at his open grave a brief but appropriate address. “In England, in France, in Germany, in all parts of the continent,” said he, “the people are enjoying the blessings of his discoveries ; and from the humble dwellings of the poor to the palaces of the sovereigns, all will remember that his sole aim was always to be useful to his fellow men.”

Six months later the Baron Cuvier pronounced before his associates of the French Institute, an eloquent éloge detailing the history of his life and works.

The great mass of mankind pass across the earth and leave no lasting trace behind them. This cannot be said of Rumford. He made an impress upon the world which centuries will not efface, and memorials of his beneficent labors abound in every civilized land ; in the streets and pleasure grounds of Munich ; in the institutions of science and benevolence reared by him in England and Bavaria ; in his generous gifts to the Academy of Arts and Sciences, and to Harvard College, in America; in the full volumes which detail, in various languages, the researches and discoveries of his busy life; and especially in his numerous inventions, wherein science, allied with art, has increased immensely the comforts of mankind.


"I HAD rather believe all the fables of the Talmud and the Alcoran than that this universal frame is without a Mind." So wrote the great father of inductive philosophy. But some of his disciples in the department of physical science do not swear in the words of their master. Having renounced faith in the invisible, as an outgrown and obsolete principle, good enough for the childhood of the race, and as a cover for ignorance, but not comporting with the certitude of modern Positivism, which limits knowledge to what can be cognized by the senses, they "say in their heart," and scruple not to declare with their lips, that this universal frame is without a mind; for they have not seen it, nor has the scientist detected it with his finest instruments, or his most powerful microscopes, or his most exhaustive chemical analysis. It is in vain that you attempt to reason from analogy, and point to this lesser frame of the human body whose wondrous mechanism not only implies the existence of some designing mind active in its construction, but whose living movements and rational operations imply the presence of a mind within it. They have analyzed the brain and have not found it; but have found instead that certain movements of the brain are invariably connected with certain activities of thought and feeling; that affections of the brain affect the thinking faculty, so called; and that paralysis wholly extinguishes it, so far as outward demonstration is concerned, which is the only evidence of reality. Hence the conclusion is inevitable that thought and feeling are the product or function of the brain, generated by it as heat is generated by friction, or light by combustion; and mind as a distinct entity nowhere exists. Or if, baffled by such reasoning, you venture to suggest that these same imponderables, heat, light, magnetism, and the rest are not the product or properties of matter, which supplies the conditions, but is not the cause of their activity; that they are the primary and actuating forces, while matter is the secondary and passive recipient—the manifestation, not the constituent of force; that they merely reside in matter, as the life-principle in the body, and are released, not destroyed, by its dissolution ; this they may admit as regards these physical forces, for so the doctrine of the correlation and conservation of forces implies; but not so of life, for has not Mr. Tyndall found in matter the promise and potency of every form and quality of life?” And what is life, according to Herbert Spencer, but simply " the continuous adjustment of internal relations to external relations"-a definition doubtless plain to him that understandeth, and clear of all metaphysical conceptions, till it occurs to ask what is the power that adjusts these relations so wondrously and constantly to each other? To such miserable shifts of conception and definition does this school resort, to avoid the admission of an immaterial entity as the cause of material phenomena. Indeed, they cannot use the most common words without finding in them a refutation of their doctrine. Phenomenon is what appears ; substance is · what stands under it and does not appear, but for that reason only the more truly is. The belief in the invisible as the ground of all reality, is the condition of science itself; for as Coleridge has truly said, “If the invisible be denied, or (which is equivalent) considered invisible from the defect of the senses, and not in its own nature, the sciences even of observation and experiment lose their essential copula. The component parts can never be reduced into a harmonious whole, but must owe their systematic arrangement to the accidents of an ever-shisting perspective."

To find the cause of phenomena in the phenomena themselves is only possible by a denial or falsification of the idea of cause, and a substitution for it of a conception of the understanding drawn from sensible things. Thus J. Stuart Mill and others of the sensational school define cause to be invariable antecedent, according to which, if it be antecedent in space, a wheelbarrow is the cause of the man who wheels it; or if it be antecedent in time, the bud is the cause of the flower, or evening the cause of sunset ; where cause and effect are simultaneous, as fire and heat, or life and its manifestations, there is no cause at all. The true idea of cause always implies some power below or behind phenomena which of course is in its nature invisible, else it would itself be phenomenal.

« AnteriorContinuar »