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KATTJRAl PHIlOSOPHY, MECHANICS, CHEMISTRY, GEoloGY AND MINERAlOGY,
NATURAl HISTORY, COMPARATIVE ANATOMY AND PHYSIOlOGY,
AND THE FINE AND USEFUL ARTS.
JOHN W. WEBSTER, M. D.
Lecturr on Chemistry and Mineralogy in Harvard University; Member of the American
MR DANIEL TREADWELL,
Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, &c.
VOL. II.—JULY, 1824 To JULY, 1825.
PUBLISHED BY CUMMINGS, HILLIARD, it CO. NO. 1 CORNHILL.
University Press—Hilliard $ Metcalf.
PHILOSOPHY AND THE ARTS.
Art. I.—Memoir of the Life of Martin Henry Klaproth4* By E. G. Fischer. (Edin. Philos. Jour.)
Martin Henry Klaproth, who was born at Wernigerode on the 1st of December 1743, and died at Berlin on the 1st of January 1817, is a remarkable instance of the extent to which a powerful mind may deliver itself, by a calm, but conscientious and persevering assiduity, from a fate which seemed to have doomed it to mediocrity or insignificance. His father, a citizen of Wernigerode, had the misfortune to lose his whole goods by a great fire, on the 30th of June 1751, so that he was able to do little or nothing for the education of his children. The subject of this memoir was the second of three brothers, of whom the eldest, a respectable clergyman, died many years ago at Plauen on the Havel,— the youngest, who was Private Secretary at War, and Keeper of the Archives of the Cabinet, died a few years ago at Berlin. Klaproth, like his two brothers, obtained such meagre instructions, in the Latin language, as the school of Wernigerode afforded, and was obliged, like them, also to procure his small school fees, by singing as one of the church choir. But the very circumstance which the wisdom of Providence made the beginning of his future distinguished course in life, seemed likely at the time of its occurrence to have placed him in a sphere inferior to that of his brother. It was his first intention, as it was also that of his elder brother, to have studied theology, but an unmerited hard treatment which he met with at school, so disinclined him to study, that he determined, in his 16th year, to learn the trade of an Apothecary. Five years which he was forced to spend as an apprentice, and two which he passed as an assistant, in the public laboratory at Quedlinburg, do not seem to have furnished the best education for a great chemist; for they placed him out of the reach of scientific study, and instead of that, secured nothing for him but a certain mechanical adroitness in the most common pharmaceutical reparations. In a paper which was found amongst those that e has left behind him, he thus expresses himself: "I cannot boast of the instruction which I have received from my teachers. On the contrary, I was obliged to content myself with such information as I could gain, in those times, from the mechanical operations of my elder companions, and with the perusal of a few old Apothecary books, for the study of which, too, I had but little leisure."
* Read at the Public Sitting of the Royal Academy of Sciences at Berlin.
Yol. H.—no. 1. 1
He always regarded, as the epoch of his scientific instruction, the time when he first entered the public laboratory at Hanover, in which he spent two years, namely, from Easter 1766 till the same time in 1768. It was there that he first met with some chemical works of merit, especially those of Spielman and Cartheuser, in which a higher scientific spirit already breathed.
The love of science thus awakened, naturally aimed at a more complete developement. He was anxious to go to Berlin, of which he had formed a high idea from the chemical works of Pott, Henkel, Rose the elder, and Markgraf. An opportunity presented itself, and, about Easter 1768, he was placed as assistant in the laboratory of Wendland, at the sign of the Golden Angel, in the Street of the Moors. Here he employed all the leisure which a conscientious discharge of the duties of his station left him, in completing his own scientific education. And as he judged very correctly, that a profounder acquaintance with the ancient languages, than he had been able to bring with him from the Latin school at Wernigerode, was indispensable for a complete scientific education, he applied himself with great zeal to the study of the Greek and Latin languages, and had the good fortune to enjoy in this study, the assistance of a worthy and learned Preacher and Doctor of Theology, who is still alive, 1 mean Mr Popplebaum.
After two years and a half, that is, about Michaelmas 1770, lie was permitted, by fortunate circumstances, to go to Dantzig, as assistant in the public laboratory. But in march of the following year, he returned to Berlin, as assistant in the office of the elder Valentine Rose, who at that time was known as one of the most distinguished chemists of his day. But this connexion did not continue long, for Rose died in 1771. On his death-bed he requested Klaproth to undertake the superintendence of his office. He thus, after a most honourable and long continued trial, became superintendant of the office of Rose, in which a greater number of distinguished chemists were formed than in any other, since, beside the elder Rose and Klaproth, this office afforded a larger or smaller portion of their education to Hermbstadt, Gehlen, Valentine, the younger Rose, and several other excellent pharmacopolists. Klaproth not only superintended this office for nine years, with the most exemplary fidelity and conscientiousness, but, what particularly displayed his honourable character as a man, he himself undertook the education of the two sons of Rose, as if he had been a second father to them. The younger of the two died when be had scarcely reached the age of manhood. The elder, whom, after his own example, he permitted to pass from the study of theology to that of medicine, became in after life his most intimate friend, and the associate of all his scientific researches. Several years before the death of Rose, which happened in 1808, much too soon for science, they wrought together, and Klaproth was seldom satisfied with the results of nis experiments, till they were repeated by Rose. Klaproth often asserted to the author of this memoir, that, in regard to many of his discoveries, as, for instance, with respect to the important method of analyzing by means of barytes, he scarcely knew whether the merit of the discovery was more to be ascribed to himself or to Rose. Like Valentine Rose, all the other members of the worthy family of Rose honoured Klaproth with the attention of children till his death.
In the year 1780, when Klaproth was thirty-seven years of age, he went through his trials for the office of Apothecary, with distinguished applause. His Thesis, " On Phosphorus and Distilled Waters," was printed in the Berlin Miscellanies for 1782. Soon after this, Klaproth bought what had formerly been the Fleming Laboratory in the Spandau Street, and he married Sophia Christiana Lehman, with whom he