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of the world of spirits, and seeking in vain for means of utterance, which shall be intelligible to those in the body. A philosopher, too, might accept and interpret the legend. For it is sober truth, that the apparently aimless and meaningless movements of the magnetic-needles when vibrating at such times, are, after all, the expressive finger-signs of a dumb alphabet, in which nature is explaining to us certain of her mysteries; and already too, we are learning something of their significance.
Peculiar difficulties have attended the transmission of electric signals through some of the railway tunnels. Those have been traced in some cases to the effect of the moisture trickling down the walls in destroying insulation; and the wires have in consequence been coated, like those of the marine telegraph, with gutta percha. In other cases the index-needles at the stations nearest the tunnels have remained set to one side for considerable periods. This has been referred to the influence on the tunnel wires of electrical or magnetic disturbances in the strata in the neighbourhood of the tunnel. If this view be well founded, it would be wise to make the telegraph-wires, where they pass through the tunnels, of copper, and not of iron, as the nonmagnetic character of the former metal makes it less susceptible of electrical excitement. A wire cannot be magnetic and electrical in the same direction at the same time. If a telegraph-wire become magnetic in the direction of its length, like a long compassneedle, it will resist the passage of comparatively feeble electric currents, which would have traversed it had it been non-magnetic. This fact, perhaps, has not been sufficiently considered in the explanations which have been given of the derangements of the telegraph. Iron becomes so readily magnetic that the telegraphwires, when made as they now are of that metal, cannot in certain circumstances escape being magnetised by the earth. Now that railways are projected in India, it may not be amiss also to notice that near the Equator iron rods or wires lying north and south after a time become magnetic. And wherever, in other regions, the wires are extended in the direction of the magnetic dip, the same effect will occur. The cheapness, elasticity, and strength of iron, however, more than counterbalance the inconveniences referred to.
The defects referred to in the electric telegraph we have been considering, we may soon expect to see lessened, since so many accomplished men are strenuously seeking to remedy them. The step-by-step, the electro-chemical, and the printing telegraphs are less liable to disorder by atmospheric influences than the magnetic-needle arrangement, which is chiefly in use at present. Their merits, however, have been but lately brought
before the public; nor have they been tested for any long period on the large scale. It will be enough, therefore, if we cordially wish them success.
Meanwhile, if our electric telegraph is not perfect, as no tool of man's is, it assuredly is a most wonderful instrument: And it has been brought from small beginnings to its present completeness in a singularly short period of time. To unscientific observers, indeed, the rapidity of its development cannot, we think, but seem miraculous. Like some swift growing tropical plant, it has spread in a few months its far stretching iron tendrils throughout the length and breadth of the land. It would have done so, however, twenty years ago, had the mechanical conditions for its extension existed: -and we must thank the railroads for its early maturity. Till they provided a secure pathway for its progress it could only exist in embryo. It now fringes every railway with its harp-like wires, apparently as inseparable and as natural an appendage, as the graceful parasitical orchidea which spread along the branches of the South American forest
Nursling, however, as the electric telegraph is of this century, almost of this decade, an ingenious pupil of Niebuhr might find in an ancient tradition its birth foretold centuries ago. In the year 1517, as the historians of the Reformation tell us, the Elector Frederick of Saxony had a strange dream. The monk Luther appeared to him, writing upon the door of the palace-chapel at Wittemberg in his dominions. But the pen which Luther handled was so long that its feather-end reached to Rome, and shook the Pope's triple crown on his head. The cardinals and princes of the empire ran up hastily to support the tiara, and one after another tried in vain to break the pen. It crackled, however, as if it had been made of iron, and would not break; and whilst they were wondering at its strength, a loud cry arose, and from the monk's long pen issued a host of other pens.'
The Elector's dream, has been fulfilled in our own day. The long pen of iron sprouting forth hosts of pens is in our hands; and every day grows longer. It has reached to Rome, and much further; and shaken popes and kings, and emperors' crowns; and foretold, like the pen which Belshazzar saw, the fall of thrones and the ruin of dynasties. It has written much of wars and revolutions, and garments rolled in blood; and must write much more. But it is the emblem and minister of peace-and the Long Pen shall yet vanquish the Long Sword.
ART. V. Report of the Select Committee of the House of Commons appointed to consider the Constitution and Management of the School of Design. 1849.
HOUGH it is not very usual for the English to acknowledge their inferiority to other nations, it cannot be denied that some time ago they seemed disposed to yield the palm of taste and skill in the Fine Arts, with scarcely a struggle, to their continental neighbours. Perhaps it was from bashfulness, perhaps from pride, perhaps-and this we think the most probable
from ignorance: But to whatever cause we are to assign it, there is little doubt of the fact, that not very long ago most of us were ready to run down cur own national taste, and to regard as hopeless any attempt to raise or purify it. The efforts of our painters and sculptors had not, indeed, been universally unsuccessful; and we had for some time been forced, in spite of ourselves, to acknowledge that individual genius was not extinct among us. But, while we recognised the merits of Reynolds, of Gainsborough, or of Chantrey, we were slow to believe that the mass of their countrymen could by possibility have among them any kindred feelings, or latent sympathies for the powers which such men as we have named possessed in so eminent a degree. Do you think, Mr. Haydon,' said a late prime minister, that the people will ever have any taste?' The answer was, 'How should they, if no means are taken to educate • them?'
We are happy to say, that of late some most praiseworthy endeavours have been made to supply this defect in our national character; and, so far as we have the means of judging, they have been made with the happiest effects. The great increase in the number and character of our Exhibitions, and in the facilities afforded for visiting our most valuable Collections, has been attended by a fully proportionate increase in the number of the visitors, and by a very perceptible improvement in their behaviour and intelligent observation; and this improvement has been most marked, where it is most gratifying, in the lowest classamong the mechanics and artisans.
For another important step in the same direction, the establishment of schools of design, the public are much indebted to the zeal of Mr. Ewart, who about fourteen years ago drew the attention of the House of Commons to the subject, and obtained the appointment of a committee to inquire into the best means of extending a knowledge of the arts, and of the principles of design, among the people (especially the manufacturing popula
tion) of the country.' From the report of this committee, which carried on its inquiry for two sessions, the following points appear to have been established:-That from the highest branches of poetical design, down to the lowest connexion between design and manufactures, the arts had hitherto received little encouragement in this country; that a lamentable ignorance of art was manifest among our workmen, especially among those engaged in what are called fancy trades, the silk trade, the ribbon trade, the china trade, and others-although an earnest desire for instruction appeared to prevail among them; that in this respect the workmen of France, and of other parts of the Continent, enjoyed a very great advantage over our own; one of the results of which was, that French manufactures were in many cases preferred to British, solely on account of the superiority of their patterns; and, lastly, that this superiority on the part of the French workmen appeared to be in a great measure attributable to the Schools of Design diffused through that country.
This report was presented in 1836. In the following year the Government School of Design was opened at Somerset House; and the establishment of this central institution has been followed at intervals by the opening of branches at Manchester, Birmingham, Sheffield, Glasgow, the Potteries, Leeds, York, Norwich, Newcastle, Nottingham, Coventry, Spitalfields, Paisley, Dublin, Belfast, and Cork. The earliest of these provincial schools, however, was only established in 1840; while some have only commenced operations within the last few months. Indeed, the schools at Cork and Belfast are not yet open for the reception of students. The system is therefore as yet quite in its infancy; and cannot be supposed to have borne fruit enough to enable us to pronounce any definitive sentence upon it. Time enough had, however, elapsed, and sufficient experience had been collected, before the beginning of last session, to make it both reasonable and desirable for Parliament again to take up the question; and to inquire how far the exertions that had been made promised to be successful, how far what we have done justifies us in continuing the experiment, and
* Some confusion has arisen from the translation of the French 'Ecole de Dessin,' or drawing school, into the English School of 'Design.' Few, if any, of the French schools are what is properly meant by Schools of Design; and their influence upon French manufactures has resulted from the effect they have had on the general taste of the country, rather than from any direct inculcation of the principles of ornamental design. Drawing enters into the ordinary instruction of the elementary schools of Holland and the Low Countries.
whether the experience of the first few years of its working points to the necessity of any change in the mode of proceeding, or of any fresh steps being taken towards a further development. This task was accordingly undertaken by the Parliamentary Committee over which Mr. Milner Gibson presided last session, and of which the report is now lying before us.
We lock upon the result as highly satisfactory. A good deal of the evidence relates to questions relating to the management, which, though doubtless interesting to the parties concerned, are not likely to be particularly so to the public; and which we shall therefore take the liberty of passing over without further notice. But, on those parts which bear upon the success of the schools, and upon the wants which they have brought to light, we now purpose to say a word or two.
Before inquiring what the schools have done, we ought first to ask what they have had to do, and what have been the means placed at their disposal for doing it? We shall then be in a position to see how far it was reasonable to expect that they would succeed, and to measure their actual results by a fair standard.
The object of the schools, generally speaking, was the improvement of decorative art: and it is important to remark at the outset that, at the time they were founded, very few people in the country knew what decorative art was, and still fewer had any definite idea of the way in which to set about improving it. Even now, after a great deal of attention has been given to the subject, we find Mr. Herbert, one of the head masters of the London School, and a man in every way qualified to form a correct judgment on the point, declaring (Ev. 1779.) that he does not believe there are five men in the country equal to teach ornamental art. Indeed, it must be obvious to all who will take the trouble to consider of the matter, that the study is one of no small extent and difficulty. The case is neatly enough stated in the following judicious observations:- Decorative art,' says the writer, like architecture, has a double end to answer: it has to serve some purpose of man's physical life, and, at the same time, to convey an impression of Beauty. It may be assumed that, unless it does the former, it cannot do the latter permanently. The consciousness of the unfitness of an object for its 'purpose soon vitiates the pleasure derived from its beauty. In having this double object, decorative art resembles Nature, who seems, as far as we understand her, always to provide for the existence and comfort of her creatures by means which are, in themselves, exquisitely beautiful; and seldom lavishes upon 'us effects of beauty which do not also answer some other end.