Classic History Books


Great Britain and Her Queen - by Anne E. Keeling

are honoured and useful and speaking unadvisedly on matters theological, this ought not to deter us from
acknowledging the value of true service rendered. The Queen's reign can claim as its own such men as

John Herschel, worthy son of an illustrious father, Airy, Adams, and Maxwell, Whewell and Brewster

and Faraday, Owen and Buckland and Lyell, Murchison and Miller, Darwin and Tyndall and Huxley,

with Wheatstone, one of the three independent inventors of telegraphy, and the Stephensons, father and

son, to whose ability and energy we are indebted for the origination and perfection of our method of

steam locomotion; it can boast such masters in philosophy as Hamilton and Whately and John Stuart

Mill, each a leader of many. It has also the rare distinction of possessing one lady writer on science who

has attained to real eminence - eminence not likely soon to be surpassed by her younger sister-rivals - the

late Mrs. Mary Somerville, who united an entirely feminine and gentle character to masculine powers of

mind.

Only to catalogue the recent discoveries and inventions we owe to men of science, from merciful
anaesthetics to the latest applications of electric power, would occupy more space than we ought here to

give. All honour to these servants of humanity! We rejoice to find among them many who could unite the

simplest childlike faith with a wide and grand mental outlook; we exult not less to find in many Biblical

students and commentators the same patience, thoroughness, and resolute pursuit of the very truth as that

exemplified by the devotees of physical science. God's Word is explored in our day - the same clay

which has seen the great work of the Revised Version of the Scriptures begun and completed - with no

less ardour than God's world. And what vast additions have been made to our knowledge of this earth!

We have seen Nineveh unburied, the North-West Passage explored, and the mysterious Nile stream at

last tracked to its source. To compare a fifty-years-old map of Africa with one of the present day will a

little enable us to estimate the advances made in our acquaintance with the Dark Continent alone; similar

maps including the Polar regions of North America will testify also to a large increase of hard-won

knowledge.

Exploration - Arctic, African, Oriental and Occidental - has had its heroic devotees, sometimes its
martyrs. Witness Franklin, Burke and Wills, and Livingstone. The long uncertainty overhanging the fate

of the gallant Franklin, after he and the expedition he commanded had vanished into the darkness of

Arctic winter in 1845, and the unfaltering faithfulness with which his widow clung to the search for her

lost husband, form one of the most pathetic chapters of English story. The veil was lifted at last and the

secret of the North-West Passage, to which so many lives had been sacrificed, was brought to light in the

course of the many efforts made to find the dead discoverer. As Franklin had disappeared in the North, so

Livingstone was long lost to sight in the wilds of Africa, and hardly less feverish interest centred round

the point, so long disputed, of his being in life or in death - interest freshly awakened when the remains

of the heroic explorer, who had been found only to be lost again, were brought home to be laid among

the mighty dead of England. The fervent Christian philanthropy of Livingstone endeared him yet more to

the national heart; and we may here note that very often, as in his case, the missionary has served not

only Christianity, as was his first and last aim, but also geographical and ethnological science and

colonial and commercial development. We have briefly referred already to some of the struggles, the

sufferings, and the triumphs of missionary enterprise in our day: to chronicle all its effort and

achievement would be difficult, for these have been world-wide, and often wonderfully successful. Nor

has much less success crowned other agencies for meeting the ever-increasing need for religious

knowledge, which multiply and grow in number and in power. Witness, among many that might be

named, the continuous development of the Sunday School system and the immensely extended

operations of the unsectarian Bible Society.

 

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