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been, in some measure, the centre of botany, and the mart of new plants and shrubs.
The confidence, arising from this community of occupations, gave Sir Joseph opportunities of still more directly serving his country; and it is said, that the minister sometimes employed his influence to make the monarch adopt resolutions which political circumstances rendered necessary, but which his natural affections rendered repugnant to him.
Any one who has an idea of the complicated and mysterious progress of the smallest affairs in a government, where intrigues of the heart mingle every moment with the interests of party, must at once conceive the importance that a man might acquire in a situation such as this. It is a thing to be wondered at, that Sir Joseph neither used it for increasing his fortune, nor for gratifying his vanity.
Whatever favour he possessed, he always made it reflect upon the sciences which had procured it for him. Wherever an association was formed for a useful enterprise, he hastened to take part in it; every work that required assistance in money, or patronage from authority, might reckon upon his support. Whenever any important inquiry was to be undertaken, he pointed it out, and made known the most efficacious means for accomplishing it. He was thus a party in forming the plans of all the great voyages undertaken after his own : he contributed much to the establishment of the Board of Agriculture: being one of the first and most active members of the African Association, he constantly obtained encouragement for those who have attempted to penetrate into that part of the world. It was in consequence of his repeated recommendations that the discovery of a North-west Passage round America was thought of being tried, and that the enterprise was persevered in, notwithstanding the bad success of a first attempt. All the operations referring to the measurement of the meridian, whether it was English or French that laboured in them, were favoured by him ; in the time of war, as in peace, passports and hospitable treatment were assured to them by his exertions. But what we have already stated, and what it is especially our duty to celebrate in this discourse, is the indefatigable generosity with which, amidst the most violent national antipathies, he softened
the evils of war toward those who were engaged in scientific researches.
The virtuous Louis XVI., at the opening of the American war, had, of his own accord, caused orders to be given to his vessels everywhere to respect Captain Cook and his companions. To the honour of our so much calumniated age, this beautiful example has become an article of the law of nations; but it was chiefly the unremitting zeal of Sir Joseph Banks that procured its being inscribed as such. Not only did he never neglect an opportunity of engaging the English government to conform to it, but also more than once preferred solicitations to foreign governments. At the commencement of the war, he had obtained similar orders to be given in favour of La Peyrouse, if he still existed, and had inquiries made for him in every sea. When discords had put an end to Entrecasteaux's expedition, and M. de la Billardiere's collections were transported to England, he succeeded in getting them restored to him ; and he also added the delicacy of sending them without even having looked at them. He would have dreaded, he wrote to M. de Jussieu, to carry off a single botanical idea, from a man who had gone to obtain them at the peril of his life. Ten different times, collections addressed to the Jardin du Roi, and taken by English vessels, were recovered by him, and delivered up in the same manner. He even sent to the Cape of Good Hope, to release the cases belonging to M. de Humboldt, that had been taken by pirates, and would never receive
reimbursement. He considered himself, as it were, accountable for all the injuries that his countrymen might do to science and its cultivators; and still more, he thought himself obliged to repair the evil that other nations might cause them. Having learned by the public prints that our colleague Broussonet was obliged to flee from the executioners of his country, he immediately gave his correspondents in Spain an order to let him want nothing. His assistance reached him at Madrid and Lisbon, and followed him to Mo
When the celebrated mineralogist Dolomieu, by the greatest violation of the right of nations, and to satisfy the vengeance of an enraged woman, was cast into the dungeons of Messina, it was the ingenious humanity of Sir Joseph B. that first penetrated the subterranean abode where he
concealed from the whole world, and which gave him some relief by news of his country and family. If he did not accomplish his liberty, it was not for want of employing all the means imaginable with the government which detained him with so much injustice. And what he did for our countrymen, he was not less zealous to demand for his own. Every one is aware of that other violation of the right of nations, by which thousands of Englishmen residing, or peaceably travelling, in France, were declared prisoners of war. Sir Joseph hastened to find out all those in favour of whom some scientific occupation or title could be alleged ; it was through the Institute that he was enabled to make the claim, and the Institute was not less eager than himself in the use of this pretext. Thus were several persons worthy of esteem rescued from a captivity which might perhaps have been fatal to them.
Assuredly he who thus uses his influence, has every right to watch that it remain untouched; it is even his duty to do so ; and in this universal struggle for power, when chance has brought some portion into the hands of a man animated with such sentiments, should he neglect to preserve it, society in general would have a right to complain. This is the only answer which Sir Joseph's friends can have to make to what might be said against the jealous care with which he prevented whatever might weaken the consideration of his place, or excite discord in his Society. Sometimes, we admit, his precautions might have appeared extravagant ; but, attacked so often by exasperated men, had he not reason to dread, that a moment of relaxation might grant them success ? The mere fact of having replied with some politeness to the Institute, which in 1802 named him a foreign associate, reawoke all the fury of Dr Horsley, who seemed to have forgotten him for fifteen
years, and whose age, and episcopal dignity, ought to have inspired more moderation. He wrote a virulent pamphlet against Sir Joseph Banks, and after his death, left inheritors of his hatred which the death of Sir Joseph himself could not calm.
Considering ourselves capable of forming as impartial a judgment as posterity, we think it our duty to offer the unreserved tribute of praise to the courage in Sir Joseph Banks, which engaged him in so many perilous enterprises ; the whole use which
he made of his influence in supporting whatever was useful; the exemplary assiduity with which he performed the duties of an honourable office; the amenity which he introduced into the intercourse of the lovers of science; and the generous solicitude he displayed for those pursued by misfortunes: And when we reflect how, in reality, and in spite of impotent attacks, he was recompensed by the esteem of the public, and how happy he must have been in the very exercise of so unremitting a benevolence, and to which he had given so wide a range, we consider it as an urgent duty, to present him as an example to many rich men, who pass in an indolence, fatiguing to themselves and to others, a life which their condition in the world might enable them so easily to render useful to mankind.
His domestic happiness equalled all his other sources of enjoyment. He did not lose his respectable mother till 1804; an accomplished and intelligent sister lived nearly as long as himself; an amiable wife always formed the charm of his society. Nature herself seemed to have been equally favourable to him as fortune. His person was tall and finely formed; his constitution vigorous; and if the gout troubled his latter years, and even deprived him for some time of the use of his limbs, it could neither alter his intellect nor his disposition.
The last moments of a life entirely devoted to the improvement of science, were employed in forwarding its interests after he should cease to live. In dying, he bequeathed to the British Museum his rich library of Natural History, a collection formed by fifty years of assiduous research, and which the Catalogue drawn up under the eye of Mr Dryander has rendered celebrated over all Europe, and even useful to those who have not the
power of visiting the Library, from the regularity with which not only the works of which it is composed, but even the particular memoirs which enter into these works, are there enumerated and arranged under the different subjects to which they belong. He made rather a slender provision for the great botanist Mr Brown, who had sacrificed to him hopes greatly superior to all that he could expect from him, but who himself thought that science, and the friendship of a man like Sir Joseph Banks, merited such a saerifice. He also assigned funds for continuing the execution of
botanical drawings of new plants, that had been commenced in the Royal Gardens at Kew, by the excellent artist Mr Bauer.
Sir Joseph Banks died on the 19th May 1820, leaving no issue. The Royal Society elected for their President Sir Humphrey Davy, who will equal him in all his good qualities, and who will not give rise to the same objections ; for, young as he still is, his discoveries are among the most admirable of the age. Sir Humphrey Davy was already before this a foreign member of the Institute; and the Academy of Science has named, in the place of Sir Joseph Banks, M. Gauss, Professor of Gottingen, to whom his excellent labours in the mathematics long gave a title to that honour.
Remarks and Experiments relating to Hygrometers and Eva
poration. By Mr HENRY MEIKLE. Communicated by the Author.
It is now pretty generally admitted, that hygrometers, formed of absorbent substances, being necessarily of a changing or perishable nature, are extremely liable to have their sensibility impaired through length of time; so that little confidence can be placed in them, however accurately they may have been at first constructed. Nor is there much reason to expect that two such hygrometers will agree, unless the one have been made from the other, or both have been graduated from some less vague instrument; but even admitting that they did agree, what security have we that such accordance shall continue ? Professor Leslie's hygrometer is entirely free from this objection, as likewise Mr Daniell's, and some modifications of it proposed by Mr Jones and others. The principle of the latter sort is to cool down an even or polished surface exposed to the air, till a deposition of moisture begin to adhere to it; and if we could easily and accurately ascertain this reduced temperature, we should be enabled to determine the state of the air with regard to moisture. The cooling principle here employed, as the most convenient, is the evaporation of ether; and for that purpose, a supply of this costly liquid, of rather a superior quality, must be constantly carried along with the instrument.