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offering our meed of homage to the memory of one whose intimate friend se are proud to have been for the long period of twenty-one years, or from attempting to sketch that character, and those great acquirements in science, literature, and art which we have had every opportunity of studying in their early dawn, as well as of appreciating in their full maturity.
It was at the commencement of the Edinburgh academic session 1833-34 we first met Forbes. He was then 18 years of age, and had already spent one year in the University as a medical student. When a boy in his native place of Douglas, in the Isle of Man, he had exhibited a taste for drawing and for forming collections of natural objects, so that, when his school education was over, it was a question whether he would follow art or science as a profession. The latter did not appear to his friends to offer any brilliant sdvantages, and he was accordingly induced to visit London, and commence regularly the student-life of an artist. Six months' training, however, in the school of the late Mr Sasse, convinced him that something more was required fully to occupy his mind. But as pure science was still considered by his friends a very unproductive method of obtaining a livelihood, he was obliged to consent to study medicine, as the means of enabling him at the same time to combine practical aims with the indulgence of his tastes. This brought? him to Edinburgh, where he first matriculated in 1832, and attended the usual routine of the medical classes for three successive years. During this period he could never conquer his dislike to medicine as a profession. He was seldom seen in the dissecting-room or Infirmary. Even his attendance on the purely medical classes was of no great use to him, as he did little but sketch the features of the professor or of the surrounding students. We still, fortunately, possess some of the rough pen and ink sketches he then made, and here give one of the late Professor Hamilton, which he drew at our side when we attended together the lectures of that distinguished teacher of midwifery :
But, whilst inattentive to the more strictly medical studies, he was enthusiastic in his attendance on the botanical and natural history lectures and excursions of Professors Graham and Jameson, with both of whom he became very intimate. His tendencies were to ramble over the country, and explore the neighbourhood of Edinburgh to a considerable distance, collecting plants, shell insects, minerals, and every other object interesting to a naturalist. Many are the struggles we have had to resist his invitations on these occasions, in order
to follow our own more special subjects of study. With the results of those excursions his rooms were always littered—specimens of rocks, shells, plants, books, sketches and scraps of poetry, being intermingled in admired confusion.
Nothing could be more diversified than the mental characteristics of the various young men who constituted the privileged set of Forbes' friends during the years 1834-5 and 35–36. To suppose, as some do, that they were all naturalists like himself, is very erroneous. They were chosen from the literary, theological, legal, and medical faculties of the University, and therein was the chief charm of their society. They were all ardent students, however, in their respective departments, and leaders in the Speculative, Physical, and Medical societies. Though hard workers, they by no means despised recreation—they did not “ scorn delights ” though they lived “ laborious days." Hence there was a geniality and feeling of good fellowship flung over their scientific, literary, and professional discussions ; an intermingling of wit, poetry, song, and good sense at their convivial meetings; a total absence of jealousy, and a strong desire for one another's advancement, which not only cemented their friendship, but exercised a great influence on their subsequent career. Theirs, indeed, was the true enjoyment of the student's life, in which the utile and the dulce-hard study and refined enjoyment-mingled together in glorious harmony.
“ Denkt oft, ihr Brüder
An unsre Jugendfröchlichkeit!
Die goldne zeit.” Such, indeed, were the strong feelings of friendship and unity of sentiment which existed amongst this group of students, that a society or order was at length formed, the members of which were distinguished in the University by wearing a red ribbon across their breasts. This association aimed at bringing together every earnest student, who also possessed feelings of good fellowship, so that mutual assistance might be afforded in their various pursuits. It embodied rules for testing and admitting candidates, and put forth the following manifesto, chiefly drawn up by Forbes, as expressive of its principles :
“The highest aim of man is the discovery of the truth ; the search after truth is his noblest occupation. It is more-it is his duty. Every step onwards we take in science and learning tells us how nearly all sciences are connected. There is a deep philosophy in that connection yet undeveloped a philosophy of the utmost moment to man-let us seek it out. The world in which we live is a beautiful world, and the Spirit of Omnipotence has given us many pleasures and blessings-shall we not enjoy them? Let us refresh ourselves with them thankfully, whilst we go forth in our search after truth. We are all brethren, but it has pleased God variously to endow our minds : some delight in one thing, some in another; some work for the good of the body, and some for the good of the soul ; let us all work together in fellowship for our mutual happiness and joy. Wherefore should men quarrel one with another, because they hold different doctrines ? Such as seek for truth in the right spirit sympathise with each other, and however opposite may be their present opinions, revile them not, but assist in their development, knowing, however wide apart may seem the paths they have chosen, one goal is aimed at, and if persevering, both must meet in the one wished-for temple. Let those who feel the spirit to develope the wisdom of creation, and to act for the good of their fellow-men, strong within them, unite together in a bond of fellowship, each brother devoting his time and his energies to the department for which he feels and proves himself best fitted, communicating his knowledge to all, so that all may benefit thereby, casting away selfishness and enforcing precepts of love. By such means glory shall accrue to his order, so that it may wax powerful in intellectual strength, and become a mental and a moral safeguard to the world, and a bond of union among all nations. Such is our brotherhood.”
Of this brotherhood Charles E. Stewart was president, and Donald Mackaskill and Edward Forbes vice-presidents. Stewart died in 1838, and was succeeded by Forbes, who assuredly has ever carried out the principles of the order, and been actively engaged in bringing about co-operation among earnest men for the advancement of truth.
In the session 1834–5, he and three others of the brethren were associated in bringing out a weekly publication, called the “University Maga.” It was illustrated by sketches of several prominent men about College, by Forbes, and contains several of his poetical effusions. The following is one of his songs at this period, and bore relation to a public meeting of the medical students, having reference to the then imperfect working of Mr Warburton's Anatomy Bill.
THE ANATOMY BILL. “O come, ye grieving Medicals, and listen to my lay, Warburton's bill the subject is, a bad one, too, you'll say,– But what else can I sing about, since in the rooms around, Than that curs'd bill, no other subject happens to be found! O measureless the evils are that measure hath brought on : Anatomy is cut up quite, and surgery is done! The demonstrators, too, are now all at their wits' end set, And though they're at extremities, not one limb can they get. Should one by chance a thorax get, one's parted from the part, By that disheartening bill ere yet one can cut up the heart; Our bones are boned and buried too, ere bonus we may gain, And to examine arteries, we try it all in vain! The lecturers deserted are amid their empty rooms, And grave as dead men lying fast enshrouded in their tombs! No resurrectionist dare take his digger in his paws, Lest that cursed bill should hook him with its prohibition clause. The bill which burking should prevent has burked anatomy ! The bill for keeping murder down has murdered surgery! The operation 's capital, as some old fools have said, Since operations of all sorts it knock'd hath on the head! O Billy, Billy Warburton! what have you been about? More subjects far had been brought in, had your bill been thrown out; And if with better measure you don't furnish us, I ween, Soon in the schools, as well as rooms, no body will be seen ! Then rouse ye, suffering Medicals, your sentiments declare; The dead weight of Warburton's bill no longer calmly bear; Petition ! meet! and speechify! seize all sorts of occasions
To demonstrate how much you stand in need of demonstrations! On the approach of spring, 1836, it became necessary for him to prepare for his examination, at the prospect of which he manifested, on all occasions, the greatest repugnance. But as the necessity of “ going up” was strongly urged upon him by his friends, and as he was deficient in the requisite knowledge, the writer of this sketch (being at the moment considered chief medicus of the set), undertook to grind him in anatomy and physiology. With great trouble we at length forced him to write out his schedule of study and send it in to the secretary's office. Then commenced many dismal evenings and yawnings over the bones, and anatomical books, of which he soon became weary, often asking friends to come in at the time when he thought he should be tired of such work. We need scarcely say that Cloquet's Anatomy and the bones were
then thrown aside, for an evening of gaiety and philosophical discussion. His ideas of an examination at this time were described in the following fragment of a
VISION OF ONE “GOING UP.”
Then reading Cloquet, fell asleep again!” After this it need not be wondered at, that when summoned to appear on a certain afternoon, he at the appointed time was non inventus. He shortly afterwards, however, assisted actively in the formation of the Botanical Society, in which he was especially a supporter of the plan for exchanging specimens of plants, whereby his knowledge of their localities might be extended.
He spent the winter session of 1836–7 in Paris, attending the professors of the Jardin des Plantes and the Sorbonne. Here he drew around him English and French students, and propagated the principles of the order already referred to, a branch of which he organised there, and which we found in full operation on our visiting Paris in the following year. In the autumn of 1836 he roamed over the south of France, and crossed the Mediterranean to Algiers. He had previously visited Norway, and from this time he was in the babit of making autumnal excursions to various parts of Europe, “botanizing, geologizing, and zoologizing," as he used to express it. The results of these expeditions were published in numerous papers which he communicated to the various scientific journals, and they laid the foundation of that extensive knowledge of nature, and of that brilliant reputation which he subsequently attained.
He passed the session 1837-8 in Edinburgh, a winter memorable for the serious snow-ball riot among the students, to quell which the military were called out, who entered the College at the point of the bayonet. This dis turbance gave rise to an immense number of songs and pasquinades, many of which were written by Forbes, who afterwards published the greater number as a pamphlet, under the name of “ The Snowdrop.” He illustrated it with sketches of the present Lord Robertson, who successfully defended the 16cused students on their trial, and of the accused and accusers who figured in court. Amidst all his gaieties and lighter productions, however, science was not forgotten, for in 1838 he published his “ Malacologia Monensis, or Catalogue of the Mollusca inhabiting the Isle of Man and the neighbouring sea." This, his first work, was dedicated to Professor Jameson, “by his sincere admirer and attached pupil."
The years 1839 and 1840 were occupied principally in extending his knowledge of marine zoology, although other parts of natural history were not neglected. He lived for many months together with his friend, Mr Goodsir, at Anstruther, in Fife, in whose company he dredged, not only the neighbouring seas, but extended his excursions to the Shetland and Orkney Islands, and also to the Hebrides. In the winter seasons he gave numerous lectures to popular institutions in Edinburgh, St Andrews, Cupar, and Dundee, and commenced a systematic course to the students of Edinburgh, on natural history, which for want of encouragement was not concluded.
In those investigations into marine zoology, he employed the dredge, an instrument which he was accustomed to say is as useful to the naturalist, as the thermometer is to the natural philosopher. Certainly he and Mr Goodsir used it continually in their numerous joint excursions, and through Forbes it was elevated into a very important means of research. When the British Association met in Glasgow, in 1840, he proposed that a dredging commitee should be formed, the establishment of which he celebrated by the following song. Its style may be judged of by the first three verses :
THE DREDGING SONG.
And its mystical triangle,
Odd fishes to entangle !
Mid scenes exciting wonder ;
As it roveth the waters under!
Then a-dredging we will go !
Our gallant dredge is sinking;
Will find itself in a twinkling !
And break themselves into sections;
Must come to fill collections !
The creatures strange the sea that range,
Though mighty in their stations,
Of their loves and depredations :