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of motion are, as is well known, the power of animals, gravity, heat, the winds, and water. There are various others of less power, or of more difficult application. Mechanical philosophy, therefore, may be said to be, that science which instructs us in the knowledge of natural moving powers, animate or inanimate; in the manner of modifying those powers, and of increasing the intensity of some of them by artificial means, such as heat and electricity; and in applying the varieties of force and motion, thus derived from natural agencies, to the arts of life. This is the object of mechanical philosophy. None can doubt, certainly, the high importance of this sort of knowledge, or fail to see how suitable it is to the elevated rank and the dignity of reasoning beings. Man's grand distinction is his intellect, his mental capacity. It is this, which renders him highly and peculiarly responsible to his Creator. It is this, on account of which the rule over other animals is established in his hands; and it is this, mainly, which enables him to exercise dominion over the powers of nature, and to subdue them to himself.
But it is true, also, that his own animal organization gives him superiority, and is among the most wonderful of the works of God on earth. It contributes to cause, as well as prove, his elevated rank in creation. His port is erect, his face towards heaven, and he is furnished with limbs which are not absolutely necessary to his support or locomotion, and which are at once powerful, flexible, capable of innumerable modes and varieties of action, and terminated by an instrument of wonderful, heavenly workmanship,—the human hand. This marvellous physical conformation, gives man the power of acting, with great effect, upon external objects, in pursuance of the suggestions of his understanding, and of applying the results of his reasoning power to his own purposes. Without this particular formation he would not be man, with whatever sagacity he had been endowed. No bounteous grant of intellect, were it the pleasure of heaven to make such grant, could raise any of the brute creation to an equality with the human race. Were it bestowed on the Leviathan, he must remain, nevertheless, in the element where alone he could maintain his physical existence. He would still be but the inelegant, misshaper inhabitant of the ocean, “wallowing unwieldy, enormous in his gait.” Were the Elephant made to possess it, it would but teach him the deformity of his own structure, the unloveliness of his frame, though “ the hugest of things,” his disability to act on external matter, and the degrading nature of his own physical wants, which lead him to the deserts, and give him for his favourite home the torrid plains of the tropics. It was placing the King of Babylon sufficiently out of the rank of human beings, though he carried all his reasoning faculties with him, when he was sent away, to eat grass like an ox. And this may properly suggest to our consideration, what is undeniably true, that there is hardly a greater blessing conferred on man than his natural wants. If he had wanted no more than the beasts, who can say how much more than they, he would have attained? Does he associate, does he cultivate, does he build, does he navigate? The original impulse to all these, lies in his wants. It proceeds from the necessities By
of his condition, and from the efforts of unsatisfied desire. Every want not of a low kind, physical as well as moral, which the human breast feels, and which brutes do not feel and cannot feel, raises man, by so much, in the scale of existence, and is a clear proof, and a direct instance, of the favour of God towards his so much favoured human offspring. If man had been so made as to have desired nothing, he would have wanted almost every thing worth possessing
But doubtless the reasoning faculty, the mind, is the. leading characteristic attribute of the human race. the exercise of this, he arrives at the knowledge of the properties of natural bodies. This is science, properly and emphatically so called.
It is the science of pure mathematics; and in the high branches of this science lies the true sublime of human acquisition. If any attainment deserve that epithet, it is the knowledge, which, from the mensuration of the minutest dust of the balance, proceeds on the rising scale of material bodies, every where weighing, every where measuring, every where detecting and explaining the laws of force and motion, penetrating into the secret principles which hold the universe of God together, and balancing world against world, and system against system. When we seek to accompany those, who pursue their studies at once so high, so vast and so exact; when we arrive at the discoveries of Newton, which pour in day on the works of God, as if a second fiat for light had gone forth from his own mouth ;-when, further, we attempt to follow those, who set out where Newton paused, making his goal their
starting place, and proceeding with demonstration upon demonstration, and discovery upon discovery, bring new worlds, and new systems of worlds within the limits of the known universe, failing to learn all only because all is infinite; however we say of man, in admiration of his physical structure, that “in form and moving he is express and admirable,” it is here, and here without irreverence, we may exclaim, “in apprehension how like a God!” The study of the pure mathematics will of course not be extensively pursued in an institution, which, like this, has a direct practical tendency and aim. But it is still to be remembered, that pure mathematics lie at the foundation of mechanical philosophy, and that it is ignorance only, which can speak or think of that sublime science as useless research or barren speculation.
It has already been said that the general and well known agents, usually regarded as the principal sources of mechanical powers, are, gravity, acting on solid bodies, the fall of water, which is but gravity acting on fluids, air, heat, and animal strength. For the useful direction and application of the four first of these, that is, of all of them which belong to inanimate nature, some intermediate apparatus, or contrivance, becomes necessary; and this apparatus, whatever its form, is a machine. A machine is an invention for the application of motion, either by changing the direction of the moving power, or by rendering a body in motion capable of communicating a motion greater or less than its own to other bodies, or by enabling it to overcome a power of greater intensity or force than its own. And it is usually said that every machine, however apparently complex, is capable of being resolved into some one or more of those single machines, of which, according to one mode of description, there are six, and according to another, three, called the mechanical powers. But because machinery, or all mechanical contrivance, is thus capable of resolution into a few elemen tary forms, it is not to be inferred that-science, or art, or both together, though pressed with the utmost force of human genius, and cultivated by the last degree of human assiduity, will ever exhaust the combinations into which these elementary forms may be thrown. An indefinite, though not an infinite reach of invention may be expected; but indefinite, also, if not infinite, are the possible combinations of elementary principles. The field, then, is vast and unbounded. We know not, to what yet unthought of heights the power of man over the agencies of nature may be carried. We only know, that the last half century has witnessed an amazingly accelerated progress in useful discoveries, and that at the present moment, science and art are acting together, with a new companionship, and with the most happy and striking results. The history of mechanical philosophy, is, of itself, a very interesting subject, and will doubtless be treated in this place fully, and methodically, by stated lecturers.
It is a part of the history of man, which, like that of his domestic habits and daily occupations, has been too unfrequently the subject of research; having been thrust aside by the more dazzling topics of war and political revolutions. We are not often conducted by historians. within the houses or huts of our ancestors, as they were