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The present volume, which is designed to take a systematic, but popular, sarvey of the most interesting features of the general SCIENCE OF NATURE, for the purpose of elucidating what has been found obscure, controverting and correcting what has been felt erroneous, and developing, by new and original views and hypotheses, much of what yet remains to be more satisfactorily explained, derives its origin from the following circumstances :
Towards the close of the year 1810, the author had the honour of receiving a visit from a deputation of the Directors of the SURREY INSTITUTION, founded on what had been antecedently the LEVERIAN MUSEUM, with a request on the part of their Chairman, Dr. Adam Clarke, that he would undertake a department of lectures in that literary and scientific establishment; with the generous offer of leaving to himself a nomination of time, terms, and subject. He regretted his inability of acceding to so kind a request at that particular period; but being a little more at liberty not long afterward, he readily consented, on a second application by Dr. Lettsom and other Directors; and the ensuing volume contains the course of study he ventured to make choice of; the lectures having been divided into series, and delivered in successive years.
It was his intention to have carried the plan to a somewhat more protracted extent, though the present is sufficiently complete for the outline laid down; but, though earnestly and repeatedly pressed to proceed farther, or even to go over the same lectures again, an augmented sphere of professional duties compelled him, with much reluctance, to decline the invitation; and the same cause has prevented him, till the present period, from fulfilling a subsequent request to submit them to the public; though he has always intended to do so as soon as he could find leisure.
As the lectures were delivered from general recollection, though with the author's manuscript at hand, it is possible that those who took notes may find a few passages in the presel text slightly varied from what was
uttered at the time. Yet he believes that, upon an accurate examination, such discrepancies will be found but few, and of no importance.
The INSTITUTION has had its day, but it set in glory, and had the satisfaction of reaping its own reward. Its proprietary shares, like those of every other literary institution in this metropolis, were soon found to have been fixed at too low a price. And, a difficulty having been experienced in obtaining the consent of every proprietor to an adequate additional subscription, it was wisely resolved, almost from the first, to make a yearly encroachment
upon the capital, and to maintain the Institution at its zenith of vigour and activity till the whole of such capital should be expended, rather than to let it live through a feeble and inefficient existence, though for a longer period of time, by limiting it to the narrow scale of its annual income alone.
To the crowded and persevering audience by which, from year to year, the author had the gratification of being surrounded, many of whom are yet within the circle of his acquaintance and friendship, he still looks back with gratitude ; and can never forget the ardour and punctuality of their attendance. It is a lively recollection, indeed, of the manner in which his labours were received, when delivered, that chiefly induces him to hope for a favourable reception of them in their present form. The
progress of time, and the mental activity with which it has been followed up, have strikingly confirmed various hints and opinions which he ventured to suggest as he proceeded, and have introduced a few novelties into one or two branches of science since the period referred to; but the interval which has hereby occurred has enabled the author to keep pace with the general march of the day, and to pay due attention to such doctrines or discoveries in their respective positions of time and place,
TABLE OF CONTENTS.
NATURE OF THE MATERIAL WORLD; AND THE SCALE OF UNORGANIZED AND ORGANIZED
TRIBES THAT ISSUE FROM IT.
XI. On Temperaments and Constitutional Propensities
ON MATTER, AND A MATERIAL WORLD. .
In the comprehensive range of science proposed to be treated of in the SURREY INSTITUTION, the department to which I shall have the honour of beseeching your attention will be that of NATURAL PHILOSOPHY, or Physics, in the most extensive sense of these terms: that branch of science which makes use of the individual principles and discoveries of every other branch within the range of nature, as the architect makes use of the bricks, the mortar, the wood, and the marble of different artisans, and builds up the whole into a perfect edifice; which takes a bird's eye view, as it were, of a picturesque and spreading landscape from some commanding eminence; and, without having laboured in the details of arranging the ground, of cultivating the soil, of planting the woods, of winding the rivers, of enriching the scenery with flocks, herds, bridges, and buildings, points out the general connexion of part with part, and the harmony which flows from their combined effect. This, indeed, is to employ these terms in a somewhat wider sense than has been assigned to them in modern times; for even the Natural Philosophy of Lord Bacon, though it embraces the two divisions of special physic and metaphysic, as he calls them, does not extend to the doctrine of "the nature and state of man,” which is transferred to another division of general science ;* yet that the study of physics, or natural philosophy, had this more extended meaning among the Greeks and Romans, is clear, since the poem of Empedocles on Nature," and that of Lucretius, on “the Natur of Things,” the two most complete physiological works of which we have any account in antiquity, were expressly formed upon this comprehensive scale; and hence the philosophy of geology and mineralogy, the philosophy of botany and zoology, the philosophy of human understanding, the philosophy of society and whatever relates to it, or general and synthetical surveys of these different departments of science, are as equally branches of physics, or the nature of things, as equally part of the BOOK OF NATURE, as any separate branch which is more ordinarily so arranged.
Thus explained, the scope of the study before us is almost universal, and only a small portion of it can be engaged in during a single series. I shall endeavour to advance in it as I am able; and the infinite variety it presents to us will at all times, I trust, prevent the pursuit from proving dull or uninteresting. Could it indeed be completed as it ought, it would constitute the PHILOSOPHIA PRIMA, or universal science of the great author I have just adverted to.
My sole object, however, is to communicate information so far as I may
* Advancement of Learning, b. ii. p. 52. 56. vol. i. 4to. General science is here divided into threc classes : I. Doctrina de numine, or Divine Philosophy. II. Doctrina de natura, or Natural Philosophy. II. Doctrina de homine, or Human Philosophy. The common stem from which they ramify is denomi nated philosophia prima, primitive, summary, or universal philosophy.