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at the first summons of the besieger. The approaches must be gradually made and secured, the mine must be daily sprung, and the nightly bivouac endured, before she opens her crypts, and discloses her secrets. It is but to the priest that never quits its shrine--that the oracle yields its response; it is but by the light of the vestal fire that never dims, that the mortal eye in its socket of flesh can bring into view the infinitely little, and command the infinitely distant, and survey the infinitely great. Thus urged by continued pressure-thus questioned by perpetual interrogation, the material universe surrenders its laws to the courage and assiduity of the sage ;--a rich harvest of invention and discovery is gathered into the treasury of knowledge, and the bounty of the State is usuriously repaid in public benefits and national glory.
In our English institutions, on the contrary, it is only the sages of the Netropolis, and of the Universities in its vicinity, that can thus work in combination; and did they work continuously and in numbers, science might doubtless flourish under their patronage, and be advanced by their labours. But they hold their meetings only during six months of the year, and the door of the Royal Society is closed against the humble votary of science, whatever be his genius, who cannot pay their entry and composition money, the golden key which alone can open it : And even the active philosopher who, amid the Scottish and Irish mountains, may desire to be a member of the institution, and perchance to honour it with his name and his genius, must pay the same extravagant price, though he never treads its halls, nor receives any other benefits than a copy of its Transactions. The Society, therefore, includes but a small section of the scientific community, and the defect in number and funds is supplied by the indiscriminate admission of gentlemen of wealth, rank, and office, who form by far the most numerous, and certainly a very influential class of the Royal Society.
The functions required from a body thus constituted, must be perfornied in committees of various shades of capacity and knowledge; and independently of the undue influence of official functionaries, there is always found in such a democratic council some little aspirant for power, who obtains a temporary supremacy, as much from the ignorance of his unlettered colleagues, as from the interested devotion of his scientific friends. The clashing interests of universities, castes, and professions, are all more or less represented and fostered in these judicial conclaves : But the provincial philosopher has no representative there, and whether he be a competitor for medals or for fame, he will have little chance of success against an university or a metropolitan rival. And even if he is ambitious only of a niche for his discoveries in the Philosophical Transactions, or desires a testimony
to the priority of his labours, he will succeed in neither, if some influential leader in the society, or some upstart member of a committee has been pursuing the same train of research. Owing to the small number of able men who compose these committees, there is perhaps only one who is really well acquainted with the subject of the communication submitted to its judgment; and should the views of the unbefriended philosopher stand opposed either to his inquiries, or even to his theories, he will not scruple to report them as erroneous, and perchance lay claim to the discoveries themselves.
From these observations, our readers will understand how the claims of Mr. Watt must have fared in a body thus constituted, and thus managed. He was not a Fellow of the Society, and he was little known as a chemist to the resident members. Though his world-wide reputation was then not only hatched, but fledged, its pinions had not raised it to Fame, and it had scarcely reached in its commanding phase the coteries of the Royal Society: But, though his rights were trodden down under the influences which we have recorded, yet Truth, ever elastic and free, never fails to extricate itself from beneath the compressing foot of the usurper; and, though half a century has, in this case, been required to correct the errors, and to remove the prejudices of the dispensers of fame, another period of equal length would have been necessary, but for the preservation of written documents, and the energy of filial affection. A century and a half of cons troversy has not counteracted the evil influences of the Royal Society in depriving Leibnitz of his due honour as an independent inventor of the Differential Calculus, though the time is fast approaching when even England will do homage to his name, Nor are these the only cases in which the history of science has been falsified, and the rights of genius withheld. In the past, and in the passing century, the upright historian will find abundant proofs of the dishonesty of individual arbiters, and of the remissness and partiality and corruption of scientific institutions. Need we seek for any other illustration of our views, or any other proof of the fact, than in the very recent history of the discovery of a new planet. This grand discovery-the greatest that has ever illustrated any age or nation--has been lost to England, by the ignorance, the listlessness, and perchance the jealousy of individuals, and through the indolence and inefficiency of her scientific institutions. Had there been an Academy of Sciences in England such as that in France, and an astronomer such as that at Berlin, Cambridge would have had to boast of her second Newton, and England would have pointed to the two remotest planets in our system as the trophies of her genius and the emblems of her glory.
ART. VII.-Ireland—The Devon Commission--- Lord George
Hill's Facts from Gweedore. THE difficulties which a consideration of the social condition of Ireland at any time presents, are increased to such a degree by the calamity which has annihilated the produce of two million acres of land, and four-fifths of the food of the peasantry, and which has placed five hundred thousand destitute men as labourers on public works,* undertaken for the purpose of enabling them to obtain temporary relief, that we have been often tempted in despair to abandon the task which we had proposed to ourselves of saying a few words to our readers on the Report presented in the last session of Parliament, by the “ Commissioners appointed to inquire into the state of the law and practice in respect to the occupation of land in Ireland.” Parliament will have again met before what we write can be published--but events will have already anticipated legislation. A panic has seized the creditors whose money was invested in mortgages of land. Suits of foreclosure, in twelve hundred eases, were instituted last term in the Irish courts. This is but the beginning of troubles. The landlords are in their turn unwontedly busy in the various local courts through the country in litigation with the occupiers of the land. In ordinary times, the payment of rent is sought by a proceeding, formerly instituted for the recovery of the possession of the land, the rent of which is not forthcoming--the payment of the rent and that alone is thonght of—a change of possession not being contemplated by either of the parties to the suit. The object is now not the payment of the rents-a thing altogether hopeless in the case of the holders of small patches of potato ground, but the restoration of the land itself to the proprietor, and the course taken is by a proceeding, which demands the payment of rent as a debt-enables the landlord to imprison his tenant, and exact as the price of his liberation the surrender of the land. There can be no doubt that many of the wealthier farmers have taken advantage of the distress, to withhold the payment of rent. The pressure of the mortgagee on the one hand, and the diminution of the fund from which he is to be paid, on the other, will inevitably produce the early sale of many of the more encumbered properties. If any thing can save them, it is legislation in the spirit of a late Treasury minute, which proposes the sale of entailed properties for arrears
* The number employed last week was between 470,000 and 480,000 ; this week it will amount to above 500,000. The amount paid by the Board of Works, between Monday and Saturday last, was £170,000. The number of each labourer's family cannot be regarded as less than four, and this will be 2,000,000,-—January 18, 1847.
of the debt incurred by the acceptance of loans from the public for their improvement. We fear, however, that the measure is too late, and we hope to shew in the course of this paper, not sufficiently extensive.
The terms of the Commission with which Lord Devon was entrusted, seemed to limit the inquiries of the Commissioners to the condition of the country, as affected by the relations existing between landlord and tenant. The influences of those relations, considered with reference to the large body of agricultural labourers who are not holders of land--and the effect of the laws of real property, considered with reference to the proprietors of entailed estates, do not seem to have been regarded by the Commissioners as properly within the range of their inquiry, though both subjects are incidentally illustrated by the valuable body of evidence which they have collected.
In England, the existing law of landlord and tenant, as far as it was the creation of statutes, which it is sometimes said to be, was the creation of statutes which but regulated pre-existing enstoms. In that country the ancient fabric of society cannot be said to have been ever wholly broken up. Any modification of her immemorial laws, whether such modification proceeded from legislative enactinent or judicial interpretation, implied but the development of an existing living principle. The efforts, accordingly, of her courts of law, have at all times been to recoucile each new decision with antecedent practice, so that the innovation should seem to have been a part of the old and rightful order of things. The legal fictions, drawn from the system of feudal society, in which principles were embodied and expressed, might or might not be reconcilable with the truth of facts, but nevertheless they answered their purpose, excluding in each case partial views of unimportant circumstances, which clouded and embarrassed what their propounders desired to represent as universal truths. These fictions were in fact the proverbs of the wise, in which, as in those of the people, some general and weighty truth lay imbedded. And they silenced disputants, because their justice was universally acknowledged. In Ireland it was altogether different. There the legal fiction sounded not like a universal truth, but like a particular falsehood.
It may seem fanciful to refer inconveniences and evils of the nineteenth century to the unliealed dissensions of the fifteenth and sixteenth ; but we think it impossible to look to the history, of Ireland, and not assent to the general truth of the proposition which we have advanced. In the reign of Henry the Second, we have what has been called the conquest of Ireland. Examine his acts when in that country, and what do we find? a treaty. with the native princes, in which they acknowledge him as lord paramount-and a contemporaneous meeting of the clergy, in
which the old laws of the country are still represented as suhsisting, an ordinance of the synod of Cashel declaring ecclesiastical lands free from the esactions of secular men. The kings of Irish provinces were to become tributaries to Henry, who was to protect them in the administration of their own governments in their own way. They paid tribute, or promised to pay it—but, to use the language of Sir John Davis, their relation to Henry was not that of 5 subjects”—they were tributary kings—“ not subjects but sovereigns. They governed their people by the Brehon law, they made their own magistrates and
officers. They parloned and punished all malefactors within their several countries, they made war and peace one with another without controlment, and this they did not only during the reign of King Henry the Second, but afterwards in all times even until the reign of Queen Elizabeth.” In all official documents of the period, these Irish toparchs have given to them by Henry the style and title of kings. Henry's stipulations with his English barons, who had already established themselves in Ireland, were of a nature wholly distinct
. They were subjects of the English crown. To it they continued to owe an inalienable allegiance. Their birth in England gave Henry this, as a right. Such of them, too, as had lands in England, owed him feudal services for their English lands. The case was different as to their Irish possessions. These were conquests made in their own right, and they now consented for the first time to hold them of the king and his heirs. This created the necessity of new oaths of allegiance-of stipulations by them to observe the law of England on the condition of protection on his side. Charters were given to Dublin and Waterford, and the citizens of each were obliged to observe English laws and manners. A few of the natives, too, sought to be governed by English laws, and the five families -or tribes-of O'Neil, O'Brien, O'MʻLaghlin, O'Murrogh, and O'Connor, were admitted to the privilege. Thus there were by express compact with England two distinct peoples established in the land, governed by laws wholly different.
The effects on society, arising from the existence of two conflicting nations on the same soil, and which Davis tells us lasted from the first invasion till Elizabeth's time, may be traced through the whole interval. The Irish princes are described, as for a century and a half, faithful to their engagements with England, the nature of their duties being of a kind which they were probably not very unwilling to perform. Their assistance, cheerfully and efficiently given, against rival septs or English rebels, was often the subject of compliment and reward from the English government. It is perhaps impossible to understand, with entire distinctness, by any analogies which modern society can VOL. VI. NO. XII,