Decline of Science in England HTML version

causes which have led to it have been long operating, and would
have produced this result whether I had ever speculated on that
subject, and whatever might have been the fate of my
If any one shall endeavour to account for the opinions stated in
these pages by ascribing them to any imagined circumstance
peculiar to myself, I think he will be mistaken. That science
has long been neglected and declining in England, is not an
opinion originating with me, but is shared by many, and has been
expressed by higher authority than mine. I shall offer a few
notices on this subject, which, from their scattered position,
are unlikely to have met the reader's attention, and which, when
combined with the facts I have detailed in subsequent pages, will
be admitted to deserve considerable attention. The following
extract from the article Chemistry, in the Encyclopaedia
Metropolitana, is from the pen of a gentleman equally qualified
by his extensive reading, and from his acquaintance with foreign
nations, to form an opinion entitled to respect. Differing from
him widely as to the cause, I may be permitted to cite him as
high authority for the fact.
"In concluding this most circumscribed outline of the History of
Chemistry, we may perhaps be allowed to express a faint shade of
regret, which, nevertheless, has frequently passed over our minds
within the space of the last five or six years. Admiring, as we
most sincerely do, the electro-magnetic discoveries of Professor
Oersted and his followers, we still, as chemists, fear that our
science has suffered some degree of neglect in consequence of
them. At least, we remark that, during this period, good
chemical analyses and researches have been rare in England; and
yet, it must be confessed, there is an ample field for chemical
discovery. How scanty is our knowledge of the suspected
fluorine! Are we sure that we understand the nature of nitrogen?
And yet these are amongst our elements. Much has been done by
Wollaston, Berzelius, Guy-Lussac, Thenard, Thomson, Prout, and
others, with regard to the doctrine of definite proportions; but
there yet remains the Atomic Theory. Is it a representation of
the laws of nature, or is it not?"---CHEMISTRY, ENCYC. METROP.
When the present volume was considerably advanced, the public
were informed that the late Sir Humphry Davy had commenced a
work, having the same title as the present, and that his
sentiments were expressed in the language of feeling and of
eloquence. It is to be hoped that it may be allowed by his