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wholly without relation to some of the aspects and changes noted in certain other comets of our own time.
We scarcely know whether to be satisfied, or not, with our author's account of Mr. Adams's participation in the discovery of the planet Neptune. The passages alluding to it, both in the text and notes, have obviously been carefully studied in the phrases employed ; yet will be felt by many as hardly an adequate explanation of the peculiar circumstances. We quote the text as being the portion which comes more directly before the reader of these volumes.
I think it right to forbear in this work from more than an allusion to the certainly earlier, but unpublished labours-not, therefore, crowned by recognized success-of the highly distinguished and acute English geometrician, Adams, of St. John's College, Cambridge. The historical facts relating to these labours, and to Leverrier's and Galle's happy discovery of the new planet, are related circumstantially, impartially, and from well assured sources of authority, in two Memoirs, by the Astronomer Royal, Airy, and by Bernhard von Lindenau. Intellectual labours, directed almost at the same time to the same great object, offer, besides the spectacle of a competition honourable to both competitors, an interest the more vivid because the selection of the processes employed testifies the brilliant state of the higher mathematical knowledge at the present epoch.'
We ourselves admit fully the difficulty of the case; but we are very solicitous that Mr. Adams's merits in the discovery should not, from any accidents as to time or public communication, be underrated either by the present generation or by posterity; recollecting especially the circumstance, unnoticed by Baron Humboldt, that the planet was first seen (though not at the time recognized as such) through a telescope directed by Mr. Adams's suggestion to that point in the heavens, which his calculations indicated as the place of the disturbing body.*
We do not find in Humboldt's account of this wonderful discovery any notice of the singular differences between the assumed elements of the orbit of Neptune, on which Leverrier and Adams founded their successful calculations as to its place; and the actual elements as derived from present observation, and from
* Without wishing to raise any question of relative merits, M. Leverrier's high reputation will admit of our stating, that the value which Mr. Adams affixed to the limits of the inferior axis of the presumed planet was considerably nearer the reality than that assigned by his competitor in this remarkable discovery.
We are happy to find that Mr. Adams is still directing his great mathematical powers to the advancement of Astronomy. In sequel to the correction of an error in Burckhardt's value of the Moon's parallax, he has given a paper to the Royal Society, affording a closer approximation than that of Laplace to the secular variations in the Moon's mean motion. The mere notice of these papers will show the extraordinary refinements now attained in all the methods of astronomical research.
comparison with its former position, when seen, without recognition of its planetary character, by Lalande fifty-eight years ago. The detection of these discordances is mainly due to the American astronomers, Walker and Pierce; and they have led the latter to affirm that the planet Neptune cannot really be that indicated by the calculations of Leverrier and Adams !-a conclusion much too strange and startling to admit of easy acquiescence. Sir J. Herschel, in his Outlines of Astronomy,' has fully and happily elucidated the difficulty, and explained the error of this conclusion, by showing that the exact accuracy of the assumed or predicted elements was by no means necessary to the successful calculation of the place of the planet. Some points still remain open for solution ; but they are such as future observations cannot fail to determine; and meanwhile all that is most essential in the question may be regarded as finally settled. The whole history of this discovery forms, beyond doubt, the most remarkable passage in the records of astronomy.
In closing this article, which we have sought to render a just and impartial review of the volumes before us, we may add that there is reason to expect the publication of the last volume of the • Cosmos' in the course of the next few months. The specialty, as well as importance, of the subjects it will probably include, may
well justify a separate notice at some future time. Meanwhile, we would express our hope that it may be presented to the English reader under the same auspices as the volumes already published; where all that is more purely scientific bears evidences of that clearness and accuracy which Colonel Sabine's superintendence was sure to afford; while the translator has done ample justice to the peculiar and striking phraseology of the original. We would fain hope too that the translation may have the same advantage, of being submitted to the revision of the Chevalier Bunsen; whose affection for the venerable Humboldt renders it a labour of love, and whose knowledge of our language and literature has already been so eminently attested to the world.
Art. III.-1. Journal of a Cruise among_the Islands of the
Western Pacific. By John Elphinstone Erskine, Capt. R.N.
London. 1853. 2. Four Years in the Pacific. By Lieut. the Hon. Frederick
Walpole, R.N. 2 vols. London. 1849. 3. Adventures in the Pacific. By John Coulter, M.D. Dublin.
1845. 4. Friendly and Feejee Islands : a Missionary Visit to various
Stations in the South Seas. By the Rev. Walter Lawry.
London. 1850. 5. Second Missionary Visit. By the same. London. 1851. 6. Pitcairn's Island and the Islanders in 1850. By Walter
Brodie. London. 1851. 7. Pitcairn: the Islands, the People, and the Pastor. By the
Rev. Thomas Boyles Murray, M.A., Secretary of the Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge. London. 1853. TWENTY-THREE years ago we called attention to the vast working in the archipelagos of the Pacific.* Since that time, the scene of action has become greatly enlarged; strange revolutions have occurred in the fortunes of the communities within the influence of Christian enlightenment; many marvellous successes have been achieved, and much painful defeat sustained. As far as mere statistics could make out a case of progress, there is ample evidence before us to satisfy the sanguine and astonish the sceptic. It was an old topic of personal argument on the Romish side in religious controversy, to contrast their vast though somewhat legendary Eastern and Western conquests, and their armies of confessors and martyrs, with the scanty results effected by the much-vaunted emissaries of wealthy Protestantism. If the comparison was ever unfavourable to us, it has ceased to be so for some generations. Our achievements in the Pacific will stand any test of figures—if such tests were so valuable as partisans in their zeal would seem to make them—against aught that Rome has to show of real progress in the East, even with the addition of what is now but matter of history—the successes of the Jesuits in South America. And the lives of many of our champions of the truth in Polynesia, from the voyage of the good ship Duff in 1797 to this day, would adorn a hagiology
well as anything that is honestly recorded of the successors of Xavier But far better would it be for all to cease from such vain contests and to acknowledge the truth, that no party
* Quarterly Review, vol. xliii. p. 1-54.
has cause to exult in its missionary victories; that for reasons which have never been well studied or explained-though far be it from us to set them down as mere inexplicable mysteries of Providence- there has not been that measure of success accorded to the foolishness of preaching' among the heathen in these later times which attended it in the earlier ages of the Church. In many quarters, zeal, self-devotion, and martyrdom seem to have been expended for generations with little or no apparent result; in others, when the result has been great or sudden, it has shown but little sign of permanence. The tree, planted by modern missionary hands, though often fair and flourishing, has borne, and still bears, the character of a precarious exotic; multitudes, and even whole nations, have become Christians, and yet appear as if their Christianity could not live on without constant supplies of foreign teaching.
All this must be taken with much allowance; the exceptions, happily, are numerous ; yet, upon the whole, it is vain to deny that many travellers chronicle with a kind of disappointment their observations on the present state of the most advanced regions of Polynesia. Something of this may be owing to over-wrought expectations and unreasonable fastidiousness, much to the mere lack of excitement, produced by contrasting the homely reality of the present day with the poetical narratives of the earlier periods; for the romance of the first conversions, at least in the well-known and classical groups of the archipelago, is past; the idols of old adoration are nearly gone; and their power, perhaps, was never so great over the imaginations of their excitable but fickle worshippers as among Pagans of more stubborn stuff. In some localities the ancient delusion appears to subsist solely as a bond of political union among the decaying heathen party, which still contests the last ground rather in obstinacy than belief; in others, it is cherished by a few aged survivors of past times ; elsewhere, it haunts but as a pale and feeble spectre the secluded windward beach, or mountain lake, or volcanic crater. There are districts where its very memory seems to have perished, and the old tales of gods and monsters are preserved, we are told, only by the missionaries, who recount them to their pupils as amusing legends. The missionary crew of the Duff, the evangelizers of the Pacific, are dead and gone, their bones scattered over the countless islands of the great deep; and they have been followed by the first iconoclastic generation of their converts, zealous, pure, and self-devoted, many of them, doubtless, to be their teachers' crown of rejoicing. The present race (in the islands of which we speak) are born Christians, and are for the most part an educated and a civilized people, as far as mere outward teaching
VOL. XCIV. NO. CLXXXVII.
and demeanour can make them so. But with all this continued progress, though often such as seemingly to justify comparison between these islanders and ordinary European populations, there are many observers who come away with the conviction that much is wanting to place them really on or near a level—that the new Christians are deficient in the internal springs of action which belong to older communities, even though excelling them in many qualities of their profession; that they are yet in leadingstrings, and must needs remain so until a generation of more solidity of will arises under missionary teaching.
We will not here pronounce on the amount of truth which there
may be in these views, but rather refer our readers to the facts themselves, as we shall have more fully to detail them. There is in the mean time one circumstance in reading many of the narratives now before us which produces a very painful impression : it is the extreme unfairness which has been too commonly brought to bear against the missionaries and their proceedings, even by reporters whose substantial good intentions we have no right to controvert. Surely their work was one which, whatever exception we may take against particular views or instruments, ought to have excited the sympathies, not merely of those who belong to the religious party, as it is commonly called, but of all who do not take a perverse pleasure in contemplating human degradation as a kind of moral necessity. The object of these devoted men was to redeem the nations from no mere speculative misbelief, but from superstitions the most sanguinary and licentious. Even those who were careless as to the great truths which the Polynesians had to learn must feel upon reflection that merely to unteach the brutal and defiling lesson of ages of darkness was to confer a priceless blessing. Every prejudice should surely be in favour of the men who have by general confession accomplished the first and apparently most laborious part of their task; instead of which a large class of writers find a species of satisfaction in thinking nothing but evil. Have the missionaries succeeded in enforcing severe laws against moral laxity? It is a proof of their tyranny and success in making hypocrites, whose morals,' as Captain Beechey phrases it of the Tahitians, have undergone as little change as their costume:'Un peuple sale, triste, paresseux, et dissimulé, qui ne danse plus, qui ne rit plus,' as M. Dupetit Thouars describes them, with a truly Gallic appreciation of what constitutes a state.' Have the missionaries failed ? It
that their religious teaching is a delusion or a pretence. Is it a mixed case in which the Christianised savages retain a leaven of the habits of Pagan times as partially in the Navigators' Islands