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As a Patron and Friend to those branches of practical science

practical science by which our “ Merchants have become as princes, and our Traffickers the honourable of the earth," allow me to offer, at the shrine of grateful regard, the following pages ; which I do the more readily from the opportunity which it affords me of publicly stating how very sincerely


Your faithful

and obliged humble Servant,



January 1, 18:25.


Ever since the days of the LORD CHANCELLOR Bacon, natural philosophy hath been more and more cultivated in England. That great genius first set out with taking a general survey of all the natural sciences, dividing them into distinct branches, which he enumerated with great exactness. He inquired scrupulously into the degree of knowledge already attained to in each, and drew up a list of what still remained to be discovered; this was the scope of his first undertakmg. Afterward he carried his views much farther and shewed the necessity of an experimental philosophy, a thing never before thought of. As he was a professed enemy to systems, he considered philosophy, no otherwise than as that part of knowledge which contributes to make men better and happier: he seems to limit it to the knowledge of things useful, recommending above all the study of nature, and showing that no progress can be made therein, but by collecting facts and com_ paring experiments, of which he points out a great number proper to be made.

But notwithstanding the true path to science was thus exactly marked out, the old notions of the schools so strongly possessed people's minds at that time, as not to be eradicated by any new opinions, how rationally soever advanced, until the illustrious Mr. Boyle, the first who pursued Lord Bacon's plan, began to put experiments in practice with an assiduity equal to his great talents. Next, the Royal Society being established, the true philosophy began to be the reigning taste of the age, and continues so to this day.

! The immortal SIR ISAAC NEWTON insisted, even in his early years, that it was high time to banish vague conjectures and hypotheses from natural philosophy, and to bring that science under an entire subjection to experiments and geometry. He frequently called it the experimental philosophy, so as to express significantly the difference between it and the numberless systems which had aris a merely out of the conceits of inventive brains : the one subsisting no longer than the spirit of novelty lasts; the other never failing whilst the nature of things remains unchanged.

The method of teaching and laying the foundation of physics, by public courses of experiments, was first undertaken in this kingdom, I believe, by Dr. John Keill, and since improved and en

larged by Mr. HAIKSBEE, Dr. DESAGULIERS, Mr WHISTON, Mr. Cores, Mr. WHITESIDE, Dr. BRADLEY, our late Regius and Savilian professor of Astronomy, and the Reverend Dr. Bliss bis successor.-Nor has the same been neglected by Dr. James, and Dr. David GREGORY, Sir ROBERT STEWART, and after him Mr. MACLAURIN.Dr Helsham in Ireland, Messrs S'GRAVESANDE and MUSCHENBROEK, and the Abbe Noller in France, have also acquired just applause thereby.

The substance of my own attempt in this way of instrumental instruction, the following sheets (exclusive of the astronomical part) will shew: the satisfaction they have generally given, read as lectures to different audiences, affords me some hope that they may be favourably received in the same form by the public.

I ought to observe, that though the five last Lectures cannot be properly said to concern experimental philosophy, I considered, however, that they were not of so different a class, but that they might, without much impropriety, be subjoined to the preceding ones.

My apparatus (part of which is described here, and the rest in a former work*) is rather simple

* Astronomy explained upon Sir Isaac Newton's principles, and made easy to those who have not studied mathematics.

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