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the Institute holds out equally useful opportunities, in bringing science within the means of the class of artisans and others almost for whose especial benefit and improvement the Institute arose. This class of students in natural and other sciences is far too small, but it is firmly believed that ultimately the number must increase. The existence in some towns, as Manchester, of a large class of artisans and others who take delight and have skill 'in natural science, especially botany, shows that this branch of natural history is susceptible of being made useful and popular.
“It cannot be said that Birmingham artisans have less capacity than a similar class in other towns, and therefore it is hoped and believed that ultimately this class of persons will gradually be found to acquire tastes of a more elevated and classical kind than at the present time."
Of course Birmingham artisans are not deficient in capacity ; but perhaps they may not possess the same facilities for indulging in intellectual tastes as are presented to the humbler classes in other towns. Is there a Field Club in connexion with the botanical class of the Midland Institute, enabling the students to watch Nature in the free exercise of her functions ; or are their observations confined to the traces of her handiwork as exhibited in the inanimate objects of the museum ?
The scope of this Institution is perhaps the most extensive of any of its kind that has come under our notice. Besides numerous courses of lectures, delivered in some cases by men of the highest scientific attainments, there are classes in geometry, English history and literature, algebra (2), advanced and elementary arithmetic, writing, French, English grammar, composition (2), chemistry (several), botany, experimental physics, and the penny lectures and penny readings, both of which are betier attended than all the rest of the classes together (excluding that in elementary arithmetic, which is numerously attended). There are also a museum, library, and the other adjuncts to such an establishment. We do not, however, see any mention made of classes in zoology, geology, mineralogy, &c., for which there must be great scope in such an important town as Birmingham.
In striking contrast with the proceedings of the Institution just named, we have those of the “ YORKSHIRE PHILOSOPHICAL SOCIETY," whose operations are carried on in the city of York. Favoured with one of the most perfect museums in the world, under the guardianship of seven curators, each superintending his own department of science, with an excellent observatory, under the care of a committee of six gentlemen ; and, with every advantage that wealth affords, this society maintains a high position amongst those of Great Britain. The lectures delivered during the last session, as well as the “Communications to the monthly meetings,” were various and interesting. Amongst the latter are many of general interest, and one or two extracts from the Report will, we think, please our readers better than any further comments of our own. A Paper on “ ALUMINIUM," by W. Proctor, Esq., F.C.S. (read March 5th).
“He traced the history of the discovery of Aluminium from the time of Davy to that of Wohler and Deville, who first obtained it in any quantity, and described the process adopted by the latter chemist for procuring Aluminium by the decomposition of its chloride by metallic sodium. Certain difficulties attendant on this process led Dr. Percy to suggest the mineral called Cryolite, a fluoride of aluminium and sodium, as a source of aluminium. The process consists in heating the powdered mineral, with common salt and sodium, for two hours in a covered crucible ; at its conclusion the metal is found at the bottom of the slag. The price of the metal, when it was first obtained, was £5 to £6 per ounce. In 1806 Deville had reduced it to €3 per ounce, and it is now usually worth 5s. per ounce, although Mr. Gerhard, who is engaged in preparing the metal from cryolite on a large scale at Battersea, stated at a meeting of the Society of Arts, that he had undertaken a contract at 3s. 9d. per ounce.
“ Aluminium is a white metal, with a bluish tinge, and a lustre inferior to that of silver. Its specific grav. is 2:6, or about one fourth that of silver, a property of importance, as this lightness causes a given weight of aluminium to go as far in the manufacture of articles as four times the quantity of silver. It is malleable, and ductile, and possesses considerable tenacity ; when pure, it is as hard as silver, but it has no great elasticity, and requires rather a high temperature to fuse it. It is not oxidized by exposure to air, even at high temperatures ; it resists the action of sulphur and sulphuretted hydrogen, which so rapidly tarnish silver, and is insoluble in any of the ordinary acids, except the muriatic; potass, soda, and ammonia in solution dissolve it rapidly; and the beautiful frosted appearance seen on articles manufactured of aluminium is produced by plunging them for a short time in a solution of potass at blood-heat, and then immersing them in nitric acid.
“It will easily be seen that a metal possessing the properties above described will be capable of many applications, and aluminium has already been employed in the manufacture of a great number of articles. Its chief use, however, will probably be in the production of alloys, as it gives increased hardness to whatever metal it is used with. An alloy of three parts aluminium and 97 parts iron has the brilliancy of pure silver, and does not tarnish. 100 parts silver and 5 parts aluminium form an alloy as hard as sterling silver, and as easily worked as the pure metal. Copper, with a quarter of its weight of aluminium, gives an alloy of the colour of gold, and very malleable. With 20 per cent. of aluminium the alloy is white; and a mixture of 90 parts copper and 10 parts aluminium is harder thau bronze, and has been used for the works of clocks and watches. Calvert describes an alloy of 15 aluminium and 78 iron, which does not rust in moist air or water.
Another paper of deep interest was read, April 2nd, by the Rev. J. Kenrick,
Bearing, as it does, upon the supposed age of the human race, and expressing the opinions of an enlightened clergyman and antiquary, we recommend it to the careful consideration of our readers :- .
“ Kent's Hole is a fissure in the limestone rock, which belongs to the Old Red Sandstone formation. Its floor is covered with a stalagmitic deposit, under which lies a bed of mud and gravel, brought in by a flood of water. According to Mr. M'Enery, the various contents of the cave follow each other in this order, proceeding downwards from the surface. First, black pottery,
articles belonging to the Romano-British period, when the Romans had an encampment on the down above the cave. Lower down were found arrows and spear-heads of flint, and stone axes, among fossil teeth and bones of herbivorous and carnivorous animals, but no pottery or other works of art ; lowest of all the bed of diluvial mud, containing merely animal remains, but no works of art, except some flint instruments adhering to its upper surface. Mr. M'Enery's description of the succession of deposits, however, has been called in question by a geologist of great eminence, Mr. Godwin Austen, who maintains that the human remains and the arrow-heads and knives of flint
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occur promiscuously with the bones of the extinct animals in all parts of the cave, and through the entire thickness of the clay ; and that no distinction, founded on condition, distribution, or relative position, can be established, whereby the human can be separated from the other relics.
“ Mr. M'Enery observed that the flint implements found in the lower deposit were rude, compared with those higher up. This is in accordance with what Mr. Worsaae and other antiquaries have remarked, that what has been called the stone period requires to be subdivided, and that there are marks of two stages of advancing civilization, discriminated by the different degrees of skill shown in the manufacture of the implements of flint.
“Mr. M'Enery's researches give a truly formidable view of the strength and ferocity of the carnivorous animals to whom Kent's Cavern served as a den or a sepulchere ; such as the Machairodus latidens, the Ursus spclaus, and the Hyæna. Even the large pachydermata, as the Elephas primigenius and Rhinoceros tichorhinus, whose bones were found here, must have been dangerous contemporaries to man, armed only with flint implements. Whether they were really contemporaries here is rendered doubtful by the conflicting accounts of Mr. M'Enery and Mr. Austen. Scientific inquirers, however, as Professors Owen and Phillips, have expressed themselves in favour of the opinion that man may have been contemporary with some of the now extinct species of mammalia. This can indeed furnish us with no exact measurement of time, but it seems to carry the history of man further back into past ages than our ordinary chronology allows. Geology has shown, that the progress sive changes which the globe has undergone, have been a continued preparation for his residence. He could not want the means of subsistence where the ox and the deer could live, and their bones have been found in the Kent Cavern. It seems in accordance with the wisdom and benevolence of his Creator, that the scene thus prepared for him should not wait long for his introduction."
Most reluctantly do we pass over many other instructive communications to this society, by W. Reed, Esq., F.G.S., on “ Fossil Fishes of Monte Bolca;" “ The Bovey-Tracy Coal ;" “Archæological Papers," by the Rev. J. Kenrick ;" and two on the “Decay of Building-Stones,” by Dr. Proctor ; but we must pass on to other useful institutions.
In DEVONSHIRE an association has just been formed for “the Advancement of Science, Art, and Literature.” It is supported by several gentlemen of high position and influence, and its meetings are to be held by turns in the various towns of importance in the county. Exeter was the first rendezvous, and the most interesting feature of the first meeting was the visit of the members of the Bovey-Tracy coal-fields, under the guidance of the well-known Devonshire geologist, Mr. Pengelly.
During the Easter recess a somewhat similar exhibition to the one at Northampton, recorded in our April number, took place at Romsey, in Hampshire. It was called an “Exhibition of the Works of Art and Industry," and was honoured with the presence of the Premier and several other noblemen and ladies. The display was chiefly of a local character, but was enriched by contributions from the collections of the nobility and gentry of the neighbourhood, and from the South Kensington Museum.
NATURALISTS' FIELD CLUBS. THESE excellent societies are gaining increased vitality, and new ones
1 are springing into existence in every nook and corner of Old England; and, as they are capable of thriving wherever a flower blossoms, or whereever the earth's crust is laid bare to human vision, requiring neither rich patrons, large income, nor magnificent halls of assembly, but only God's pure air and green fields as meeting places, we have no doubt that each succeeding season will see them multiply in numbers and importance.
At WIGAN, in the midst of smoke and grime, but in the centre also of a rich geological field, such a society has just been formed, and was recently inaugurated with some éclat.
The demonstration itself was of an interesting character. Collections of objects of natural history, magnificent microscopes, interesting microscopical objects, aquaria, fern-cases, geological collections; with speeches, singing, instrumental music, and refreshments, were the attractions which ushered into existence what, we have no doubt, will be a successful and agreeable society.
A circular, bearing the signature of several leading men of intelligence, in CLIFTON, was issued in March last, to the inhabitants of Bristol and the neighbourhood, calling upon them to form a Field Club, after the model of those at “Worcester, Malvern, Liverpool, and other large towns,” and to “restore to Bristol the prestige it once possessed” for the successful cultivation of natural history. The programme contains every element of success : a low subscription, short excursions, the publication of transactions, &c. &c., and, we hope, although it is not mentioned, the admission, nay, every encouragement for the attendance of ladies. We trust the good people of Bristol have responded to the call, and shall now take a run over to TEIGNMOUTH, where there is a small but successful Field Club, which entertained the Archæological Association in 1861. The “ proceedings" of this club show that the delightful combes and coves of Devonshire are not neglected by naturalists and geologists; and we find that Mr. Pengelly is an active member of the society, and often imparts a deep interest to its meetings by his instructive addresses on the geology of the district.
The MANCHESTER FIELD-NATURALISTS SOCIETY continues to flourish, under the active secretaryship of Mr. Grindon; and, to quote the last Report, “ the year 1861 has been a period of unbroken prosperity. Everything has gone well, and the prospects for the future are altogether satisfactory."
On the 12th February, the society numbered 430 members, of whom 103 were ladies. Fourteen excursions were made into the surrounding country during the season ; and here, as at Liverpool, we find that the ladies are amongst the most successful collectors of plants. Prizes are offered for the best herbaria and cabinets of insects, and photographic views are taken of the places visited.
The soirées, we are told, have been even more successful than the excursions, and the “ club” is extending its influence into every circle of society.
The Report says, with great truth,
“ It is not to be expected that the Field-Naturalists' Society, or any similar society, can ever make a great display before the public of what they have accomplished in the shape of work. It is sufficient to find that scientific tastes and philosophical habits of thought are developed, and have had a practical turn given to them, and that members take up different branches of natural history, and apply themselves to sedulous private study, known only to their private friends. This is largely the case in the field-Naturalists' Society. It is difficult now to go into intelligent company in Manchester, and not find some person who is either a member of the Society, or has attended one of their soirées or excursions as a visitor, and who is glad to acknowledge the pleasure experienced there, and the encouragement he has received to personal inquiry and observation. The amount of latent scientific taste in Manchester is far greater than many would conceive possible, and the Field-Naturalists' function and pleasure is to draw it out and give it direction."
The LIVERPOOL FIELD Club also continues to extend its numbers and influence. At the close of the season of 1861 it had 630 members, of whom 184 were ladies. At each meeting during the present season many new members have joined. The ladies are the life and soul of this society, and, in order to hold out additional inducements to them to join its excursions, the committee have added to the prizes already granted for the largest number of species collected, another, which is accorded to the lady who gathers and arranges the best bouquet of wild flowers. The "bouquet prize" is an object of great competition amongst the fair ones of Liverpool. We may mention, for the guidance of the directors of other similar societies, that these prizes are well calculated to maintain the interest of the members in the excursions, not so much on account of the value of the books, as the honour which the prizes confer on the successful candidates. The greatest number of species of plants collected during the season was 124, by Mrs. Gibson, and the numbers on other occasions varied from 67 upwards. Miss Rowe, a young lady member of this club, is remarkably successful in these competitions, and possesses very extensive knowledge in systematic botany.
The HOLMESDALE NATURAL HISTORY CLUB (Surrey) are publishing a “Flora of the County of Surrey,” concerning which we are informed by circular that,
“ The Flora will be arranged on the natural system, and the nomenclature and classification will correspond, as far as practicable, with those of the fifth edition of the London Catalogue of British Plants,' on which the manuscripts of Mr. Salmon are based."*
In our last number but one (April), we had occasion to refer to the
* The publication originates in a collection of plants formed by the late J. D. Salmon, Esq. ; and if any of our readers should require copies of the work, they may have them by applying to Mr. J. A. Brewer, Holmesdale House, Reigate. The price to subscribers is 7s. 6d.