Art. XVII. [Review of The Bakerian Lecture on the Theory of Light and Colours, by Thomas Young]
[Henry P Brougham] *
Light, Hypothesis, Societies, Truth, Publishing, Periodicals, Controversy, Lectures, Gender, Institutions, Ether
Leonhard Euler, Robert Hooke, Christiaan Huygens, Nicholas Malebranche
Young1802c, Newton 1687, Newton 1704
Begins: 'As this paper contains nothing which deserves the name, either of experiment or discovery, and as it is in fact destitute of every species of merit, we should allowed it to pass among the multitude of those articles which must always find admittance into the collections of a Society which is pledged to publish two or three volumes every year. [...] But we have of late observed in the physical world a most unaccountable predilection for vague hypothesis daily gaining ground; and we are mortified to see that the Royal Society, forgetful of those improvements in science to which it owes its origin, and neglecting the precepts of its most illustrious members, is now, by the publication of such papers, giving the countenance of its highest authority to dangerous relaxations in the principles of physical logic' (450–51). Relates that Thomas Young 'introduced himself to the literary world, by a few desultory remarks upon the theory which he appeared to think new, but which had been previously exposed and refuted—the muscularity of the crystalline lens. Soon after this he retracted his opinion; and a year or two ago he again brought it forward' (451). Comments: 'Were we to take the trouble of refuting him, he might tell us, My opinion is changed, and I have abandoned that hypothesis: but here is another for you. We demand, if the world of science, which Newton once illuminated, is to be changable in its modes as the world of taste, which is directed by the nod of a silly woman, or a pampered fop? Has the Royal Society degraded its publications into bulletins of new and fasionable theories for ladies who attend the Royal Institution?' (452). Proceeds to outline and refute Young's version of the 'Eulerian hypothesis'.
© Science in the Nineteenth-Century Periodical Project, Universities of Leeds and Sheffield, 2005 - 2020
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