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With the exception of the letters already referred to, the directors have had little information from Africa, excepting what relates to the painful subject of the slave trade, to which they have already adverted ; and they are under considerable apprehensions lest much of what they attempted to do for Africa should be counteracted by the influence of that pernicious traffick. In the mean time, enough at least has been done to prove the practicability of success, in case fair scope should be afforded to their efforts, by the removal of this grand barrier to all improvement and to all happiness. In particular, the directors have continued to receive the most satisfactory proofs that Africans are as susceptible of intellectual and moral culture as the natives of any other quarter of the globe : but they feel persuaded that the members of this Institution require no fresh facts or illustrations to convince them of this truth.
The directors are unwilling to omit, in their report, the relation of an interesting circumstance which occurred a few months ago at Liverpool.
Some time in the month of September last, Mr. Roscoe was informed that nine black men were confined in the borough gaol of Liverpool for debt ; and on further inquiry he learned that they had been arrested by the master of a Portuguese vessel from the Brazils, then in the port, for the purpose, as was supposed, of keeping them in safe custody until his ship should be ready for sea. As it appeared clearly that in such a case no debt could exist, Mr. Roscoe engaged two friends to put in bail for the defendants ; but before an order was obtained for their discharge, the master and his agents, being aware of these proceedings, surrounded the gaol with a great number of Portuguese seamen and other persons, armed, for the purpose of seizing the prisoners ; and the attorney for the master sent an order to the gaoler to discharge them.
The black men, however, were apprised of their danger; their fellow prisoners declared they should not be taken away by force; and the keeper of the gaol, with a spirit of humanity which does him the highest credit, informed them, that, although they were at liberty to leave the prison, they might stay as long as they pleased. The ruffians were therefore obliged to depart without their prey, and the next day Mr. Roscoe attended a meet. ing of the magistrates and recorder, when an inquiry took place into these proceedings ; and the agents and the master. having undertaken, on his not being prosecuted, that the men should be set at liberiy, and that he should pay all the costs, and relinquish further proceedings, they were immediately re. teased from their confinement. The magistrates shewed a proper indignation at this abuse of the process of their court': but it appearing that the Portuguese captain could not speak English, and that he had been induced to adopt these measures by the advice of others; and it also appearing that these negroes were considered of great value, having been bred to the sea, and one of them being the boatswain of the ship, so that the master would sustain a loss, which he calculated at not less than one thousand pounds, the intention of prosecuting him was relinquished. Eight of these men iinmediately afterwards entered, most cheerfully, into his Majesty's service ; and the ninth, being more infirm, was taken by a friend of Mr. Ros. coe's on board one of his own vessels.
In the course of these proceedings, Mr. Roscoe was most ably assisted by Mr. Stanistreet and Mr. Avison, two very respectable solicitors; who most strenuously advocated the cause of the prisoners at several hearings on the subject, and generously declined any recompense for their services.
So convinced were the magistrates and recorder of Liverpool of the iniquitous nature of this transaction, that they soon after passed an order, that no process of arrest should hereafter issue, except in case where an affidavit is made that the cause of action actually arose within the borough ; a resolution which will effectually prevent such abuses in future. .
The directors felt that it was incumbent on them, in the name of the Institution, to convey their thanks to Mr. Roscoe, and to the gentlemen who had assisted him on this occasion, for their humane and successful interposition in behalf of these men.
From the London Monthly Magazine.
THE ROYAL INSTITUTION.
Royal Institution, Saturday, December 17th. Imperfect as this sketch must necessarily be, yet it cannot fail of interesting such of our readers as are watchful over the progress of chemical science, and who, from their local situation, are unable to derive more full and more accurate information on the subject.
The professor opened his course with an intimation of those important discoveries which he should have to communicate, and illustrate during the ensuing winter. . In that place he al. ways delivered himself with pleasure, because he was sure to experience candour; 'at present, however, he had not only to . ask their confidence, but solicit their indulgence. He felt him.. self in the situation of the architect, who, in changing the foundation of a building, must necessarily create much inconveni- . ence to the inhabitants, while the new edifice was rearing. He gave a sketch of chemical history, and speaking of the alchemists and their mode of operating, he said, with regard to the masters all was mystery ; to the pupil, surprize and astonishment. Chemistry, he said, might be considered and treated either as an art or a science, and its investigation might be after the order of analysis or synthesis : in the course now entered upon, he should adopt the synthetical mode, and he thought it necessary to apprize the audience, that his lectures would be chiefly adapted to the practical student, and that they would have no particular conneetion with, or reference to the arts and necessities of life. The application of chemistry to these would be reserved for anothér season ; it was a source of much satisfaction to know, that philosophical discovery, and practical utility, would advance with equal pace.
Solar heat was the great principle by which chemical changes were perpetually taking place in the natural world, and the chemist imitating this principle by means of artificial heat, had been aptly called tlie philosopher by fire. Hence, Mr. Davy was led to consider the laws of attraction and repulsion, observing, that the term attraction had been first applied to chemical phenomena ; and since, according to the principle laid down by the illustrious Newton, no more causes are to be introduced in philosophy than are necessary to explain the effect, he was willing to refer the whole system of chemical agency to the different electrical states in which bodies are
found. The professor, in this instance, as on former occasions, was unwilling that he should be supposed capable of stopping at any cause, less than the energy of the divinity. “Aitraction, (said he) so capable of elucidating the phenomena of nature, was but the agent of the supreme intelligence, who, whether the dust was scattered in the wind, or the planets carried round the sun, was still the governour, whose wisdom preserr- . ed, in their harmonious order, the vast system of the world.” He next explained the theories of Stahl and Lavoisier, particu·larly with regard-to combustion, and shewed in what their dif
ficulties consisted, all of which he thought might be obviated by introducing the positive and negative principle, the former ever attaching itself to inflammable matter, and the negative to oxygen. Sulphur, and phosphorus, which till within a few months had been regarded as simple bodies, he had decomposed, and should be able to shew, by decisive experiments, that they consisted of oxygen, hydrogen, and a certain basis. Chiara coal had yielded to analysis, and proved to be composed of the carbonaceous principle and hydrogen : the diamond likewise was now found not to be pure carbon, but consisted of the car. bonaceous principle and oxygen ; aud plumbago also he thought must be referred to the carbonaceous principle with a small portion of iron. Hence he was led to speak of the importance of the discovery of the new metals, Potasium and Sodaum, and of the still more important results to chemistry, which these bodies were likely to produce He had in the last course only exhibited these metals in very small portions ; hereafter he should be able to gratify the audience with specimens in large quantities. As soon as he had made known his discoveries, the chemists in France and Sweden immediately repeated his experiments, and hit upon a different method of decomposing the alkalies by which the new metals were obtained more abundantly, than by means of the voltaick battery.
Mr. Davy next referred to the decomposition of ammonia, the base of which, if we did not misunderstand him, would combine with mercury, and in the proportion of only the one-twelve thousandth part would render that metal solid, and by this operation reduce the specifick gravity from thirteen, (that of mercury) to three, the specifick gravity of the compound. The horacick and fluorick acids, have been decomposed by Mr.
.. ! (MAY, Davy, but at present, the muriatick acid has not yielded to the powers of his apparatus, though he fully expected it shortly would. That the bowels of the earth contained various ores of metals, had been long ascertained, but it was reserved for the discoveries of the present year to prove, that the different earths on which we daily walk, are also the repository of metallick bodies ; of these he had decomposed four, namely, . lime, magnesia, strontites, and barytes, all of which had produced metallick bases. From these circumstances he was led to conclude, that the two grand principles ever operating in nature, are the inflammable and the oxygenous. These he said, will account for all the phenomena of volcanoes, and other subterraneous fires,
In adverting to the results which he had anticipated from the · voltaick battery, and which had more than answered his expec
tations, he was proud to state that it had originated in the pri. vate munificence of a few enlightened men, and liberal patrons of science. The sum of 20,000 francs had been devoted by the court of France for a similar purpose : but the idea of a subscription in this country was no sooner started, than it was cordially embraced ; and in a short time, the liberality of individu, als had raised a larger sum, than, in France, was furnished from the National Treasury, and by Imperial command. Hence he must notice the utility of publick institutions to the progress of science. The promotion of philosophical discove. ry was attended with much labour, and no profit to the student. It demanded, not only his time and attention, but an expense which was not often within his reach. The man of letters required no such apparatus to pursue his inquiries : his instrument was his mind : the whole moral world was its subject. In the fine arts, whoever had attained fame, was sure of obtaining fortune also. To the experimental philosopher no such
objects were presented, fortune could not be his aim. His re· putation might be established after his death, but till then his
authority must be questionable. He had, however, a consolation of a nobler kind ; the conviction that he was devoted to the cause of truth ; that he had enlarged the human intellect, and in developing the laws of nature, he demonstrated the wisdom and benevolence by which it was governed.