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MEMOIRS

OF

THE LIFE

OF

SIR HUMPHRY DAVY.

CHAPTER I.

RESEARCHES ON FIRE-DAMP. - DISCOVERY OF A SAFETY LAMP. —- DIF

FERENT FORMS OF THIS LAMP. — EXTRACTS FROM COMMUNICATIONS RELATIVE TO THE USE OF THE LAMP. MR. PLAYFAIR'S OBSERVATIONS ON IT. — RESEARCHES ON FLAME. — PUBLIC DINNER AT NEWCASTLE. — PRESENT OF PLATE IN ACKNOWLEDGMENT OF THE BENEFIT OF THE SAFETY LAMP. — IS CREATED BARONET. - LETTERS FROM MR. BUDDLE, VINDICATING, AFTER LONG TRIAL, THE VALUE OF THE SAFETY LAMP.

Soon after my brother's return from the Continent he entered upon a new train of inquiry, — the investigation of fire-damp, with a view to the protection of the mines in which it occurs, and the workmen who are exposed to its destructive agency; - objects of the first importance in relation to the interests of humanity, and hardly less so as regards national wealth, and which were completely accomplished by his well-known discovery of the safety lamp.

He first published the results of the investigation in the “ Philosophical Transactions,” in a series of papers, which rapidly succeeded each other, and which were communicated to the Royal Society with.

VOL. II.

out hesitation or delay, without any mystery or concealment, and in the simplest and least ostentatious manner possible. When he had brought the inquiry to a certain close, he wrote a connected account of all his labours on fire-damp and flame. The work was entitled, “ On the Safety Lamp, for preventing Explosions in Mines, Houses lighted by Gas, Spirit Warehouses, and Magazines in Ships, &c.; with some Remarks on Flame," — " with the hope (as he states in the preface) of presenting a permanent record on this important subject to the practical miner, and of enabling the friends of humanity to estimate and apply those resources of science, by which a great and permanently existing evil may be subdued.” He adds, “I have given the extracts from my papers nearly in the order in which they were published, which will, I hope, both render the facts more intelligible, and show the gradual progress of the inquiry, in which every step was furnished by experiment and induction, in which nothing can be said to be owing to accident, and in which the most simple and useful combination arose out of the most complicated circumstances.” .

“ The results of these labours (he continues) will, I trust, be useful, to the cause of science, by proving, that even the most apparently abstract truths may be connected with applications to the common wants and purposes of life.”

He concludes his preface, by remarking, that “ the gratification of the love of knowledge is delightful to every refined mind; but a much higher motive is offered for indulging in it, when that knowledge is felt to be practical power, and when that power may be applied to lessen the miseries, or increase the comforts of our fellow-creatures."

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