The death of George Peabody, which occurred on the evening of November 4th, at his residence in London, will be lamented in both hemispheres. Our readers are perfectly familiar with the princely benefactions this benevolent man has made to the poor of London and for educational purposes in his native land. He was born at Danvers, Mass, Feb. 18, 1795. He visited the Unite! States for the last time in June of the present year, during which visit he made an additional gift to the cause of education in the South. A single line of the American poet, Holmes, expresses not onbf the character of this great hearted m:'n, but the affectionate esteem with which he was universally regarded, " The friend of all his race ; God bless him ! " An excellent portrait ? f Mr. Peabody was published on page 181, Vol. XVI., of this journal. Oersted's Discovery ot Electro-magnetism, Our readers having read a communication from Dr. Adolph Ott, denying the claims of Oersted to this discovery, will be interested in_the perusal of the following account of it given in the last volume of the " Report of the Smithsonian Institute," which is as follows : " What at the present day is of most import to the memory of Oersted in relation to this work, is perhaps the palpable proof found therein of his ceaseless preoccupation with the subject of electrical phenomena. He had conferred great improvements on the pile; he was one among the most practiced experimenters in employing it ; he had formally indicated magnetism as one of the phenomena of which it would some day furnish the explanation, and no one was better prepared than himself to advance to the practical realization of this new conquest. " Yet all the attempts thus far made had remained unfruitful. The expadient had been tried of placing the two poles of a battery as highly charged as possible in a parallel line with the poles of a strongly magnet"zed.needle ; no effect, however, had been produced. Nevertheless, the conviction still prevailed, especially with Oersted, that a relation must exist between galvanism and electricity. The route to the discovery was unknown, though hazard might open it unexpectedly. " Fortune, it might be said, ceased to be blind at the moment when to Oersted was allotted the privilege of first divining that it was not electricity in repose accumulated at the two poles of a charged battery, but electricity in movement along the conductor by which one of the poles is discharged into the other, which would exert an action on the magnetized needle. While thinking of this—it was during the animation of a lecture before the assembled pupils—Oersted announces to them what he is about to try ; he takes a magnetic needle, places it near the electric battery, waits till the needle has arrived at a stat.e of rest ; then seizing the conjunctive wire traversed by the current of the battery, he places it above the magnetic needle, carefully avoiding any manner of collision. The needle-r-every one plainly sees it —the needle is at once in motion. The question is resolved. Oerstei has crowned, by a great discovery, the labors of his whole previous life. " It was on the 21st July, 1820, that Oersted communicated to learned Europe the important fact with which his genius had just enriched science. He consigned it to a small tract written in Latin, of only four pages in 4to, which, notwithstanding its conciseness, presented with perfect clearness, the results of more than fifty experiments, and left scarcely anything to be added on the subject. This composition, entitled Exprimenta area effeetum, etc.—(Experiments on the effect of the electrical conflict upon the magnetic needle)—was addressed the same day by post to all the societies in Europe which occupy themselves with the natural sciences. A French translation of it appeared in the number of the Annales de chimie et de physique for August, 1820, from which I transcribe a few expressions employed by Oersted on this occasion! " The first experiments on the subject I undertake to explain were made in the lectures which I gave last winter on electricity and magnetism. They evinced in general, that the magnetic needle changed its direction through the influence of the voltaic apparatus, and that this effect took place when the circuit was formed, and not when it was interrupted ; a process which had been attempted in vain by celebrated physicists, some years before. But, as my experiments had oeen made with an apparatus of small energy, the effect of which was not so striking as was called for by the importance of the fact to be established, I invited my friend Es-march, judicial councillor to his Majesty, to unite with me in repeating them with a more powerful apparatus. We had also for associates and witnesses, the Chevalier de Vlengel, MM. Hauch and Reinart, professors of natural history ; Jacob-son, a very skillful physician and chemist, and Zsise, professor of philosophy. I made other experiments when alone, and if these taught me anything new, I took the precaution of repeating them in the presence of these eminent men of science. * * * In order to make the experiment, we put in communication the opposite poles of the voltaic apparatus by a metallic wire, which we will call, for brevity, the conducting or conjunctive wire ; and we will designate the eff ciet, which is manifested in this conductor and around it during the voltaic action by the term electric conflict. “ Let us suppose now that the rectilinear part of this wire is horizontal, and placed above and parallel to a magnetic needle freely suspended * * * the latter will move in such a manner that, under the part of the conjunctive wire which is nearest to the negative pole of the apparatus, it will deviate towards the west. * * * If the conjunctive wire is arranged horizontally under the needle, the effects are of the same nature with those which take place when the wire is above the needle ; but they act in an inverse direction—that is to say, the pole of the needle, under which is the part of the conjunctive wire that receives the negative electricity of the apparatus, inclines towards the east. * * '"' It appears, from tho facts stated, that the electric conflict is not inclosed in the conducting wiro, but that it has around it quite an extensive sphere of activity. We may conclude from the observations that this conflict acts by a vortical or whirling movement.”
This article was originally published with the title "Obituary.—George Peabody"