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United States may fairly challenge comparison, not only with England, but with the whole civilized world. Her poets, historians, philosophers, naturalists, geologists, bear names everywhere known and honored; their works are in every library, and have taken their place as standards and authorities in their several departments; and is there any reason why we should despair that the Canada of the present generation, may thus look forward to the day, and that within the lifetime of many young and earnest spirits now amongst us, when she too may have a literature of her own, and names emblazoned on the rolls of science, which shall make their nation known and honored in the great commonwealth of letters ? Why should this be more hopeless in our case, than it was in the case of the United States, as described in 1820 ? One great advantage was certainly possessed by the United States, even as far back as the date just mentioned, which we do not possess at present, and it is one that has been afforded to them since that time in a still greater measure; I allude to the number and excellence of their public Libraries. From a statement which I saw some little time since, I find that there are now in the United States, 50 Libraries containing upwards of 15,000 volumes each ; and six of them with over 60,000. Some of these, including that at Harvard College, Boston, which is the largest of all, with 112,000 volumes, have been in existence for a long period; and must afford immense advantages to students in every department. While in the whole of Canada, with the exception of perhaps the Library of the Houses of Parliament, now just in course of forma tion, there is not one Library, public or private, that deserves notice, as supplying the wants of Literature or Science, or to which reference can be made, in case of need, with any reasonable hope of finding required information on any particular subject. One of the finest Libraries in the States, the use of which is given most freely to the public, was, with the building in which it is placed, the munificent gift of a private individual - the late Mr. Astor; and contains upwards of 80,000 volumes. I hope the time is coming when wealthy citizens of Montreal will, in increasing numbers, thus show their affection for their country, by assisting in providing useful Institutions for the benefit of the people. And though
we cannot yet boast of being in any marked sensé a literary people in Canada, yet there are evident proofs of great and continual improvement in this particular. In à lecture which I delivered in the early part of the year 1855, I took occasion to remark upon the very large increase shown every year in the returns made to Government of the books imported into Canada; and that, while the total imports of the years 1852–3 showed an increase of about 374 per cent. in the latter year above the former, the value of the books imported showed very nearly as great a proportion of the whole-being £103,253 in 1853, against £75,100 in 1852. This sum however 'we find had risen in 1856 to £159,156 ; and though since then it has been somewhat less, as, owing to the difficulties of trade, have been the imports of every kind, yet still keeping far above what it used to be in former years. And in matters of science, I was pleased to find, on reading the account of the interesting proceedings which took place on the occasion of the first opening these New Buildings, (at which I was much disappointed that I could not be present, having been prevented by illness) that Professor Hall of Albany, himself occupying a distinguished position in the ranks of science, and well acquainted too with Canada, bore honorable testimony to the progress that had been making here. He felt warranted in saying that, during the last fifteen years, no state or country, on this or on the other side the Atlantic, had made more rapid progress in scientific investiga tions than Canada had done during that period. He referred more especially to the department of Geology: and I believe that in this department more care has been taken and greater results produced than in any other; but it has not been to the exclusion of others. I might refer to this very course of Lectures, and others which have preceded it in former years, to show that there are amongst us those, who are wel qualified to treat other subjects, whether of Natural History, Astronomy, and the like, with much knowledge and talent. And our bi-monthly periodical" The Canadian Naturalist," the papers in which are all contributed by members of this Society, is surpassed in excellence, as I believe, by no publication of the kitid on this continent; and has been repeatedly Doticed with approbation in England.
It is a subject for much satisfaction to observe that there is an encreasing earnestness thus being manifested amongst us for the diligent and the systematic study of particular branches of science; and that in botany and entomology and meteorology, but especially in geology, (to which last, as I mentioned, Professor Hall particularly alluded, giving high praise to Canadian geologists) we are making very considerable progress. Mere popular lectures on such şubjects, or a superficial attention to them as matters of amusement, can only be really useful signs, when there is a stronger and fuller current running beneath; and when we can feel assured that we have some of our members who are really masters of the science, and able and willing to direct aright the popular mind.
And here I would observe on the great importance at all times of accurate and systematic study on any subjects. It is remarkable in general society, how comparatively rare it is to meet with people, who have really made themselves masters of any particular subject; but when they have, and can give reliable and valuable information, they become then, in that department, an important authority, and worth listening to in society. It used to be said that a man of one book, the “homo unius libri,” was a dangerous man; that is, a person who was really master of one book, even if only one, was dangerous to argue with respecting it: as he would be almost sure to overpower you. And so in public life, in Parliament, if instead of talking superficially and often foolishly on any, or every question, a member is known to have made some one important question his particular study, he will be listened to with respect and attention, because he can then really give some reliable and useful information. And so in every case, if besides general gossip and passing remarks, people can bring into society, on any subject, really accurate and sensible information, whether of literature, or science, or trade, it is adding to the general stock, and advancing the intelligence of all. Sometimes, however, people get up facts or information in a dry mechanical way, without being able to exercise their minds, and, by intruding their particular line into the conversation on all occasions, become tedious and disagreable. I was lately reading in a little piece of American autobiography, an amusing account of the artificial way in which informa
tion is supposed sometimes to be got up for use. "I found (says the writer) the other day, a gentleman very fine in conversational information. The talk ran upon mountains. He was wonderfully well acquainted with the leading facts about the Andes, the Apennines, and the Appalachians; he had nothing particular to say about Ararat, Ben Nevis, and various other mountains, that were mentioned. By and bye some revolutionary anecdote came up, and he showed singular familiarity with the lives of the Adamses, and gave many details relating to Major André. A point of Natural History beïng suggested, he gave an excellent account of the air bladder of fishes. He was very
upon the subject of agriculture: but retired from the conversation when horticulture was introduced in the discussion. So he seemed well acquainted with the geology of Anthracite, but did not pretend to know anything of other kinds of coal. There was something so odd about the extent and limitations of his knowledge, that I suspeeted all at once what might be the meaning of it, and waited till I got an opportunity. 'Have you seen the new American Cyclopedia ?' said I. 'I have,' he replied, "I received an early copy.” “How far does it go?' He turned red and answered, 'to Araguay. Oh! said I to myself;---not quite so far as Ararat; that is the reason he knew nothing about it; but he must have read all the rest straight through, and if he can remember what is in this volume, until he has read all those that are to come, he will know more than I ever thought he would.”
In all well arranged systems of education it is necessary to provide, not merely for storing the memory with facts, but for the exercise of the mind; and, in the systems pursued in the great educational establishments in England, it is for this purpose that such care is taken to make the pupils pass through such a long training, either in the mathematics or classics. It is not merely for the sake of the information imparted, but for the habits of application and accuracy acquired by such discipline, without which no excellence can be acquired in any departments. And this may be applied still further: I saw the other day an account of an Introductory Lecture, on the opening of the Ladies' College, 47 Bedford Square, London, delivered by the Professor of Mathematics to
the Institution. The Lecture was very well attended by friends and supporters of the College, and also by a large number of the lady pupils. The subject chosen for the discourse was the "Importance of the study of mathematics.” After a few preliminary observations, the lecturer remarked that though the female mind might not retain all the principles of abstruse mathematics and ancient history, yet the study of those subjects would tend very much to the sound cultivation of the female mind, and would fit them for the everyday life they would have to mix in. He urged the necessity of pursuing these studies, and showed how mathematics assisted what was called the accomplishments, and where they partook of the nature of that study. The great difficulty to be overcome in teaching this science was the construction of the female mind. He found that the mind of men was hard and inflexible, and required a great deal of hammering to make an impression on it, but when it was made it was permanent, while the female mind was more delicate, flexible, and more easily susceptible of impressions, but did not retain them, and the result was that the instruction had to be repeated again and again. He concluded by impressing on his audience the importance of this study, in order to develop the female intellect, and, by making them think for themselves, protect them from bigotry and superstition.*
* In an article published some few years ago in the Quarterly Review, On Music, there were some very interesting remarks on the connection between Music and Mathematics.
“ The connection between sound and numbers is a fact which at once invests music with the highest dignity. It is like adding to the superstructure of a delicate Bower, the roots of an oak of the forest. Far from being a frivolous art, meant only for the pastime of the senses. in hours of idleness, it would seem to be of that importance to mankind that we are expressly furnished with a double means of testing its truth. The simple instinct of a correct ear and the closest calculations of a mathematical head give the same verdict. Science proves what the ear detects--the ear ratifies what science asserts -instinct and demonstration coalesce as they do with no other art: for though the same species of identity exists between the rules of perspective and the intuition of a correct eye, yet the science in this instance is neither so profound nor the instinct so acute. The mere fact that music and mathematics should be allied is a kind of phenomenon. One can hardly believe how Euclid and