Obrazy na stronie
PDF
ePub

THE

Eclectic Review.

APRIL, 1855.

Art. I.-Literary Papers by the late Professor Edward Forbes,

F.R.S. Selected from his Writings in the Literary Gazette.
London : Reeve. 1855.

EDWARD FORBES was born on the 12th of February, 1815, at Douglas, in the Isle of Man, where his father carried on business as a banker. At an early age he exhibited a passion for the study of natural history, and began to collect specimens and form a museum. When about twelve years old he obtained a few books upon geology and palæontology; among which were Conybeare's Geology of England,' and Parkinson's Organic Remains,' the two works to which nearly all the geologists of twenty years standing are indebted for the love they bear to their science, and the zeal with which they have pursued it. When about sixteen years of age he came to London, probably with the intention of becoming by profession an artist, and for some months studied drawing under Sass. But although he greatly excelled in the use of the pencil, and possessed the taste and feeling which, to a man of his untiring industry, would have secured success, his love of natural history was stronger than his love of art, and to the study of that science he resolved to devote his life. But the instruction he had received in drawing was not lost, as the beautiful illustrations of his books and lectures sufficiently attest.

Soon after he had left London, Edward Forbes entered the University of Edinburgh as a medical student, and was among the most assiduous and successful of his class and year; but, although he attended lectures, and studied with regularity, his N.S.-VOL. IX.

CC

pursuits were made subservient to the prime object of his lifethe study of natural history. Even at this period he was known, both to the professors and students, to have an intimate acquaintance with the mollusca and radiata, a circumstance which accounts for that profound knowledge of the lower classes of animal life, which not only distinguished him when a man among naturalists, but enabled him to pursue those researches, and grasp those generalizations, which will secure him in the future records of science a permanent place among the most eminent observers and interpreters of nature. Without this early devotion of his energies to his future pursuits, his natural power of observation and educated capacity of detecting generic distinctions and minute differences would have been expended with less advantage to science and less honour to himself. So great is the necessity for the faithful employment of early life, in laying a safe foundation for the exercise of the judgment and taste of mature age.

In 1833 he was joined by a fellow student for a tour in Norway, where he made a large collection of plants and mollusca, and commenced his investigation of the distribution of animal life in the Northern Seas. The results of this journey he published in the Magazine of Natural History,' under the title Notes of a Natural History Tour in Norway.' In 1836 he succeeded, with the assistance of a few friends, all of whom are now more or less known as men of science, in establishing at Edinburgh the Botanical Society, in which he held the office of foreign secretary, To this society he communicated many of his early papers, and greatly aided in the formation of a public herbarium, by a presentation of his own collections and those he obtained from his friends. In 1837 he visited Paris, to continue his studies under the eminent French naturalists who then taught in that city; and in the same year visited the Mediterranean and coast of Algiers, the results of which journey were briefly recorded in his paper on the Land and Fresh Water Mollusca of Algiers and Bougia.'

From this period to the year 1841 our author was actively engaged as an observer, gathering information from all sources, and frequently visiting foreign countries; sometimes to test the truth of preconceived hypotheses, and sometimes to enlarge his acquaintance with the distribution of animal and vegetable life. How usefully this period of time was employed his numerous published papers attest, but especially his admirable History of British Star Fishes, and other Animals of the Class Echinodermata,' a book which is scarcely less admirable for its graphic illustrations than for the minute accuracy of the information it contains, its vivid descriptions and pleasing style.

THE

Eclectic Bevicw.

APRIL, 1855.

Art. I.-Literary Papers by the late Professor Edward Forbes,

Selected from his Writings in the Literary Gazette. London: Reeve. 1855.

EDWARD FORBES was born on the 12th of February, 1815, at Douglas, in the Isle of Man, where his father carried on business as a banker. At an early age he exhibited a passion for the study of natural history, and began to collect specimens and form a museum. When about twelve years old he obtained a few books upon geology and palæontology; among which were Conybeare's Geology of England,' and Parkinson's Organic Remains,' the two works to which nearly all the geologists of twenty years standing are indebted for the love they bear to their science, and the zeal with which they have pursued it. When about sixteen years of age he came to London, probably with the intention of becoming by profession an artist, and for some months studied drawing under Sass. But although he greatly excelled in the use of the pencil, and possessed the taste and feeling which, to a man of his untiring industry, would have secured success, his love of natural history was stronger than his love of art, and to the study of that science he resolved to devote his life. But the instruction he had received in drawing was not lost, as the beautiful illustrations of his books and lectures sufficiently attest.

Soon after he had left London, Edward Forbes entered the University of Edinburgh as a medical student, and was among the most assiduous and successful of his class and year; but, although he attended lectures, and studied with regularity, his

N.S-VOL. IX.

CC

pursuits were made subservient to the prime object of his lifeThe study of natural history. Even at this period he was known, both to the professors and students, to have an intimate acquaintance with the mollusca and radiata, a circumstance which accounts for that profound knowledge of the lower classes of animal life, which not only distinguished him when a man among naturalists, but enabled him to pursue those researches, and grasp those generalizations, which will secure him in the future records of science a permanent place among the most eminent observers and interpreters of nature. Without this early devotion of his energies to his future pursuits, his natural power of observation and educated capacity of detecting generic distinctions and minute differences would have been expended with less advantage to science and less honour to himself. great is the necessity for the faithful employment of early life, in laying a safe foundation for the exercise of the judgment and taste of mature age.

In 1833 he was joined by a fellow student for a tour in Norway, where he made a large collection of plants and mollusca, and commenced his investigation of the distribution of animal life in the Northern Seas. The results of this journey he published in the ‘Magazine of Natural History,' under the title Notes of a Natural History Tour in Norway. In 1836 he succeeded, with the assistance of a few friends, all of whom are now more or less known as men of science, in establishing at Edinburgh the Botanical Society, in which he held the office of foreign secretary. To this society he communicated many of his early papers, and greatly aided in the formation of a public herbarium, by a presentation of his own collections and those he obtained from his friends. In 1837 he visited Paris, to continue his studies under the eminent French naturalists who then taught in that city; and in the same year visited the Mediterranean and coast of Algiers, the results of which journey were briefly recorded in his paper On the Land and Fresh Water Mollusca of Algiers and Bougia.'

From this period to the year 1841 our author was actively engaged as an observer, gathering information from all sources, and frequently visiting foreign countries; sometimes to test the truth of preconceived hypotheses, and sometimes to enlarge his acquaintance with the distribution of animal and vegetable life. How usefully this period of time was employed his numerous published papers attest, but especially his admirable · History of British Star Fishes, and other Animals of the Class Echinodermata,' a book which is scarcely less admirable for its graphic illustrations than for the minute accuracy of the information it contains, its vivid descriptions and pleasing style.

his inaugural lecture at King's College to a class who soon learned, as all intelligent persons did who were admitted to familiar intercourse, to honour and love him. In the same year he was elected assistant secretary to the Geological Society of London, a post of great honour, but one of the most laborionis a man of science can accept. This situation he retained until he was appointed palæontologist to the Geological Survey of Great Britain, and fulfilled its duties with the highest honour to himself and advantage to the Society; and that, too, as the successor of Mr. Lonsdale, one of the most unwearying and best informed palæontologists of the age, to whom every geologist has been more or less indebted. But although his official labours were so heavy, the productions of his pen and pencil were numerous, all stamped with that originality of thought and breadth of handling of which his early labours had given promise. Among the papers which he produced at this time, we may mention, as especially deserving notice, his memoir “On the Geological Relations of the Existing Fauna and Flora of the British Isles,' to which we shall presently refer. We need not tell how efficiently he held the office of president of the Geological Society, or allude to the masterly summary of the state of geology which he gave to the Society from the president's chair, at the aniversary meeting in February 1854. These are fresh in the memory of every geologist who had an opportunity of attending the meetings of the Society, or of reading its proceedings.

Soon after his term of office in the Geological Society had expired, Professor Forbes was elected to the chair of Natural History in the University of Edinburgh, which had become vacant by the lamented death of Dr. Jameson. In the meridian of manhood he thus obtained the highest object of his ambition. By the force of his genius and industry he had achieved many conquests for science and much honour for himself; he had been received by the most eminent naturalists and geologists as one fitted to continue their labours, and to sustain the reputation of their names; he had been crowned with the highest distinctions science can bestow.

now reunited to many of his earliest friends; took his seat again as a resident member at the Botanical Society, in the formation of which he had been so active; and became a teacher and an authority where, not twenty years before, he had been a pupil. Welcomed on all sides by attached friends and admiring scholars, a wide sphere of usefulness seemed to be opened to him, and his heart might well congratulate his intellect that the time had come when the desires of each could be satisfied without privation to the other. But he had also come nearly to the end of the race he had to run. He

He was

« PoprzedniaDalej »