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looking after insects and plants. This gentleman was the celebrated Sir James Edward Smith, author of some of our best works on botany, and he had come purposely to Manchester to ascertain some facts in scientific botany, little expecting that he should find all he wanted in this poor old Crowther, the humble ticket porter, a man who has been mentioned by Sir J. E. Smith in his letters as one of the most accurate and skilful practical botanists of that day." I mention this to show what good service may be accomplished by a man so humble in position as Crowther.
Upon this side of Manchester you possess advantages, for those anxious to follow out the pursuit of Natural History, such as are not furnished in a similar degree upon any other side of the town. The valley of the Irwell, stretching away from Pendleton through Agecroft, and past the bridge as far as the Molyneux Junction, is certainly the most picturesque valley in the neighbourhood of Manchester, and is second only to the neighbourhood of Bowdon in the rarity and variety of its plants. On Saturday afternoon last, I was out with a large party, guided by James Percival, junior, a sizer, who lives at Prestwich, and before him I was glad to hold my tongue, so accurate did I find his knowledge in connection with plants, although he has gained it all after working hours. He took us through this valley, and showed us rare plants in the greatest variety. Upon the Stretford side of the town, in the Oxford Road Side, and upon the Ashton side, there is comparative barrenness, when you look at the fertility of the valley of the Irwell.
In particular reference to the moral influence of Natural History, just let me remark, that while other subjects tend to develope our intellectual faculties to the highest, to exercise our memory and various other faculties of the mind, Natural History seems to come home more especially to our warmer and better
Dature, and to influence all our kindlier feelings, because we are brought directly into the presence of the world that GOD made. Not that I undervalue the town, or would laud the country at the expense of the town. It is quite a mistake to say that “GOD made the country, and man made the town.” It is true in a certain sense, but it is a mistake if, by saying 80, we mean to identify the two parts, one with humanity, the other with the Divine Nature,-because God made both; only when we get into the country, we find ourselves brought more completely face to face with the unmarred, purer works of the ALMIGHTY, and these from their very nature do commend theinselves to our better feelings. I never knew any man yet, who might be suffering from discontent, or any of the little troubles that visit us all in turn in connection with business, go out among the birds of the valley, or neek the primroses and wild flowers innumerable in the hedges, and not come back with his spirit purit ed, and a more peacefully-minded man, with more encouragement and love in his heart on account of this wonderful salutary influence of nature. It is a something that cannot be defined; but let any man go out where he may see the smooth green grass stretching before him, and where the warmth of the sun and the sweet breeze will wrap round him like a garment, let him live among these things for half-anbour, and then say if he has not felt his spirit visited by some unseen influence, that has brought out feelings in him of which he was hardly conscious before, and that sends him home a better man every way, more disposed to be contented and happy. Of all the secrets in the world for the enjoyment of life, I think that the love and culture of Natural History ought to stand foremost, -I mean of things we may take up for our amusement and intellectual pursuit. There is nothing I look back upon, after a quarter of a century's experience of nature, with more pleasure than the little facts and experiences that have been accumulating through all that time, as it were in the coffers of my intellectual bank—the property that no man can take from me; and every man may accumulate the same.
And lastly, I would refer to this other fact—that it is in cultivating this knowledge that we most effectually realise life, because life does not consist altogether in the occupations to which we devote our energies during the day, but as largely in those we attend to when business is over, or in the intervals of business. “Business must be attended to;" that is the first rule; the second is to attend to the intervals of business, which require filling up as much as the business hours themselves. A man who can count fifty birthdays, reckons life in a very meagre manner unless he has accumulated during the leisure hours and days of his life, the beautiful and animating ideas which nature supplies. We may get them from books, but we get them from nature at first hand. I love books, and would never disparage them, in regard to nature; merely observing that books and nature are a kind of reflex one of the other ;-we go into the country, and read the “Book of Nature ;" we go into the library, and there we read again; neither can be profitably pursued without the culture of the other. In the lecture room and class room, recollect, we must not expect too much of the teacher; the teacher is like the farmer's daughter, blythe and buxom, who comes out with her apron full of grain; and scatters it amongst the chickens; they must pick it up if any good is to be done with it: like the farmer's daughter, our teacher scatters the grain, and it is for every pupil to pick it up, and to turn it into good red, swift, energetic blood, that shall become the sound muscle and bone that alone can make him strong. What we get in the lecture room is, as it were, the index to what we have really to acquire by patient and personal observation of nature.
Delivered at the Kensall Green Mechanics' Institute, London, and at
Wigan Mechanics' Institute.]
In forming an estimate of the value of any branch of knowledge, we should, I think, be cautious of the invariable application of the cui bono question : neither be always inclined to adopt the mathematician's standard of excellence, who, after reading * Paradise Lost," said, “Very fine; but what does it prove?" Let us not despise an inquiry into those finer and deeper, if more remote, matters which constitute the charm and poetry of life, and have powerful indirect efforts on the character and happiness of the individual man, and on the intellectual progress of nations. Goëthe, in an eloquent passage, says, " When the man of the world is devoting his days to Fasting melancholy for some deep disappointment, or in the ebullience of his joy is going out to meet his happy destiny, the all-conceiving spirit of the poet steps forth, and with soft transitions tunes his heart either to joy or woe." Would that I, with equally lofty eloquence, could impress on you the conception I myself have formed of the pracucal value of a more general acquaintance with those studies which chasten the taste, discipline the
mind, invigorate the understanding, improve the heart, and keep in abeyance the corroding and baser feelings which embitter and shorten the term of human existence. For us, then, let not Hamlet breathe his lofty philosophy, nor Bacon teach wisdom, in vain; nor Milton pass the bounds of place and time, to trace the councils of hell, and lead the choirs of heaven.
The thoughts and faculties of our intellectual frames, and all that we admire and reverence in human genius; the moral laws, which are ever felt by us with pleasure or with remorse according as they are obeyed or violated; the virtuous qualities of those we love, and the vices we view with abhorence on pity; the feeling of dependence upon the gracious God who formed us, and the expectation of a state of being whose duration shall not be measured by tht beatings of a feeble pulse;—all these tend to impresi on us the importance of a knowledge of the relatioi of our minds to our mortal bodies.
Be it far from me to presume to lead you into th mazes of metaphysics, where, indeed, I apprehen leader as well as followers would soon be hopelessl entangled: on the contrary, it is my intention to b as matter-of-fact as possible, and to adhere prett closely to the recital of ascertained facts and pheno mena. In the first place, let us understand the terms will be necessary to employ. By mind I mean ni the scul per se, but the soul as it dwells in the body not the disembodied, but the embodied spirit. Ti body, on the other hand, is only animated matte Two worlds, one intellectual and the other sensua were equally given to us from the beginning; ar all attempts to deduce them from one principle (e cepting the Divine source) have failed. This, the is the duality which we must accept as the boundat line of mortal knowledge. For information touchir the soul in its future state of existence we must lol alone to revelation. It is beyond the limits of huin