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Memoir of Sir Humphrey Davy.
suits, introduced him to the notice of only a limited quantity of air, proCount Rumford ; and being shortly duces such a body of azote and carboafterwards elected to the Professor- nic acid, as prevents the explosion of sbip of Chemistry in the Royal Insti- the fire-damp; and, by the formation tution, he removed to the metropolis, of its apertures for the egress and and gave up all thoughts of the medi- admission of air, is incapable of comcal profession. A series of highly municating any explosion. Thus lanvaluable publications on chemical sci- terns, made air-tight, and supplied ence, are proofs of the ardour with within by tubes of minute diameter, which, on receiving this appointment, or from apertures covered with wire he pursued its investigation.
gauze, and placed below the flame, In 1802, he commenced a course of with a chimney at the upper part for lectures before the Board of Agricul- carrying off foul air, afforded the reture, which were highly approved. quisite security. Discovering, afterIn 1803, he was elected F.R.S.: in wards, that a constant flame might be 1805, a Member of the Royal Irish produced from the explosive mixture Academy; and besides corresponding which issued through the apertures, with the most eminent scientific cha- Sir Humphrey introduced a very small racters on the continent, was on terms lamp within a cylinder made of wireof friendly intercourse with Banks, gauze, having six thousand four hunCavendish, Wollaston, Babington, and dred apertures in the square inch. The others equally celebrated.
lamp, when fully ignited, was introIn 1806, he was appointed Secre- duced, with the cylinder, into a large tary of the Royal Society; having, jar, containing several quarts of the about this time, made what is scien- most explosive gas, distilled from tifically termed one of the most coal and air. The flame of the wick brilliant discoveries of modern times.” | instantly disappeared; the cylinder This was the decomposition of two became filled with a feeble but steady fixed alkalies, potash and soda. He green-coloured flame, which burnt tiil found them, in direct refutation of an it had destroyed the explosive power adopted hypothesis, to consist of a of the atmosphere.
Thus the very metallic base, blended with a large material which had hitherto produced quantity of oxygen. The metals thus destruction, was rendered subservient discovered, were called potassium and to the production of an useful light. sodium. In 1808, he received a It should be mentioned, that the prize from the French Institute; and, coal-owners of Tyne and Wear evinced in 1810, was presented with the hono- their gratitude by presenting him with rary degree of LL.D. by the Provost a service of plate, worth £2000; and and Fellows of Trinity College, Dub- that the few catastrophes which have lin. In the following year, the Prince since been recorded, are attributable Regent was pleased to confer upon solely to negligence in the use of bis bim the honour of knighthood ; being lamp. the first individual who received that Marks of distinction from almost honour at his hands.
every foreign institution, have succesBut the discovery with which his sively shewn the estimation in which name is more especially associated, Sir Humphrey is held ; and in 1818, and by which alone he would have he was created a Baronet of the king ensured the gratitude of posterity, is, dom. His travels in Europe have “ The Safety Lamp,” for preventing been directed, chiefly, to the investithose dreadful occurrences of death gation of volcanic phenomena--to the and mutilation, supposed to be inse- instruction of miners in the use of his parably connected with a miner’s occu- safety lamp—to the examination of pation. The usual method of lighting the Herculanean MSS.—and to the those parts of the mine in which dan- remains of the chemical arts of the ger was apprehended, was by a steel ancients. The manuscripts he found wheel, revolving in contact with flint, to have been cemented by a substance and emitting a series of sparks. A generated in fermentation; but very variety of experiments, during a visit few were soluble by the composition to the collieries in the north of Eng- applied to them. Curiosity was anxland, suggested this beneficial inven- iously excited amongst the learned, tion. Its principle is this: the flame when this visit was announced; and of the lamp, by being supplied with from a recollection of the prodigious services which chemistry had rendered | Replies to Queries:-on the Influence of to the arts, very flattering results were Love and Terror ;-and, on Written anticipated from the labours of so and Extempore Sermons. eminent a character. Time, however, had rested his consuming hand too MR. EDITOR. Jong upon these esteemed relics; and SIR,-Your correspondent, M.J. (in though partial success attended Sir col. 887, No. 44,) asks—" Which is Humphrey's endeavours to restore the more calculated to restrain the them, it served but to confirm the sinful passions, and promote grateful value of the treasures thus lost for devotion; a contemplation of the terever to the curious. The classic spots rors of judgment, or a believing view to which he resorted, were, the baths of the love and grace of the Saviour ?" of Titus and of Livia, and the ruins of I answer, the latter ; because the imRome and Poinpeii. Canova furnish- pression of terror upon the mind is ed him with pigments, wbich bad been never so permanent, nor accompanied deposited in vases, and discovered with those softer feelings, of admiraduring the excavations, for compari- tion of the goodness, and gratitude for son with such remnants of paintings the mercy, of God, which are the as reinained in the above - named natural concomitants of a believing places.
view of the grace and love of Christ. Shortly after bis return to England, A mind burdened with guilt, and in 1820, the chair of the Royal Society awakened to a sense of its condition became vacant by the death of that by the terrors of judgment, and led to distinguished character, Sir Joseph seek a Saviour, simply from the fear Banks ; and to it, notwithstanding of the wrath to come, is not the most the opposition of a few individuals, likely to live in the exercise of gratewho nominated Lord Colchester, Sirful devotion, and to restrain from sin ; Humphrey Davy was elected by a for if the images of wrath and terror, very great majority ; Dr. Wollaston, which oppress it, are once obscured a gentleman of extraordinary know- by any of the innumerable circumledge, and as uncommon modesty, stances calculated to have that effect, declining to appear as a competitor, the restraints from sin, and motives to when apprised of his friend's nomi- holiness, are obscured and banished nation.
along with them.-Whereas the expeIt was in the year 1812, that Sir rience of the love of Christ is a pleaHumphrey was united to Mrs. Apreece, sure so infinitely superior to any this widow of S. A. Apreece, Esq. and world can afford, and the affection for daughter and heiress of the late Chas, devout praise and humble adoration Kerr, Esq. of Kelso. In the ample and devotion it necessarily induces, fortune, amiable qualities, and high so ardent, that he who has once tasted mental endowments, of this lady, he and felt its influence, can never wilhas made a discovery as pleasing to fully sin against the object of his arhimself, as his others have been ad-dent attachment. The settled tranvantageous to the world,
quillity of mind-tbe inexhaustible Sir Humphrey Davy's Works are source of consolation and enjoyment, -Chemical and Philosophical Re- which the true believer finds to be in searches, chiefly concerning nitrous his possession-will ever effectually oxide, and its respiration, 8vo. 1800—deter him from sin against God ;-for A Syllabus of a Course of Lectures it is unreasonable to suppose, that the on Chemistry, delivered at the Royal true believer in Christ will barter the Institution, 8vo. 1802– Lecture on a solid happiness he has acquired by Plan for Improving the Royal Insti- Jesus, for the tame, unsubstantial, tution, and making it permanent, 8vo. and fleeting enjoyments, of this earthly 1810_Elements of Chemical Philoso-state. These feelings will give permaphy, 8vo. 1812-Elements of Agricul- nency to his endeavours to avoid the tural Chemistry, in a Course of Lec-commission of sin, because it is the tures for the Board of Agriculture, forfeiture of his happiness, and the 4to. 1813—besides a variety of ingeni- cause of future misery—the misery of ous and useful scientific papers, pub- a recollection lished in the Philosophical Transac
“Of joys departed," tions, Philosophical Magazine, and than which nothing can be more acute. Nicholson's Journal.
Moreover, the fear of judgment can
never restrain sinful desires ; it may mutton suet. And Parmentier adds, for a short period put an end to their that eggs which have not been fecungratification; while the love of Christ dated, keep much better than those accomplishes both, by presenting en- that have. He also says, that such joyments infinitely superior to the eggs are no way inferior, either in size pleasures of sin. For these reasons, or flavour, to the others, and that the I am inclined to the opinion I have hens lay quite as many ; so that those given.
who keep fowls for the sake of eggs, M. J. also asks, “ Are written or should have hens only. He recom. extempore sermons calculated to pro- mends the common hen as the most duce the greater good ?”-In reply to productive, but prefers the blackthis, it may be sufficient to inform him legged to the yellow.There is also what has been the universal experi- a way of preserving eggs by varence of preachers, viz. that extempore nishing. sermons generally succeed the best in fixing the attention, which is one grand aim of the speaker. Even great men Answer to the Query inserted col. 887, of the Establishment, and others, who “ Whetier the recorded actions of Judeliver their sermons from a book, are lius Cæsar are more entitled to the careful by every little art to conceal it respect and esteem of mankind, than from their hearers, and by their man- those of Alexander the Great?” ner, and tone, and gesture, to impress upon them a conviction, similar MR. EDITOR. to what might be expected if they SIR,---In contrasting the recorded acwere speaking extemporaneously. Iftions of these two eminent warriors, M. J. is much accustomed to hear there is one difficulty which obviously popular men of the present day, he presents itself, namely, in finding an must frequently have observed this. historian who has discharged his duty Besides, there is a great prejudice in with a disinterested and unsuspected the public mind, against sermons fidelity. Having, in a degree, surbeing read from the pulpit, and espe- mounted this obstacle, I shall comcially in dissenting congregations; mence with Alexander the Great,and if he will consult hearers in gene- "a man without a model"--a man, ral, he will find the preference given whom Seneca said of Caligula, to extempore discourses. He must ture seemed to have brought forth, to be aware too of the influence which shew what was possible to be produced graceful action, and easy manner, from the greatest authority.' have upon the minds of hearers ; and We have on record the actions of it is easy to perceive there is more Alexander from a very early period of room for, and less labour attending, bis life, so that we are enabled to form the exhibition of these graces of elocu- a correct judgment of his habits and tion, when a man not compelled to dispositions. We see ambition, not look at a book for every word he has only strongly guiding his actions beto say. The mind is unfettered, the fore his mind became corrupted by eye is not fixed on one object, nor is wealth and power, but in its natural the body confined to one posture, but growth, springing up with that stern the speaker at pleasure may give and sullen feature, which marked the action and passion to the several conduct of his later days. The proofs parts of his discourse, which can we have of this, stand unequalled in never fail in fixing the attention; and the annals of history, and are of such a if this be once gained, the speaker nature, that I challenge any one to bring has accomplished one grand object of the like against Julius Cæsar. I do bis preaching.
not mean to insinuate that Cæsar had I am, Sir, your's, respectfully, no ambition: it is a spirit that is cheDUGALD. rished and cultivated by all conque
It was this which caused Cæsar Answer to a Query on the Preservation to invade Britain and Gaul. All that of Eggs, inserted col. 620. I here contend, is, that Alexander's
ambition, nourished to a greater exM. REAUMUR informs us, that he found tent, caused bim to commit acts of eggs might be preserved for months, the most extravagant nature. or even years, by being covered with It has been urged, though with what
justice I am unable to judge, that deeds is sufficiently notorious to every Alexander fought not for what is called individual, and needs no attempt, on fame, but that a greater portion of my part, to give it its just colourhis wars were just ones. This is in ing: direct contradiction to Alexander's To deny that Julius Cæsar is free own declaration, for he acknowledged from the charge of cruelty, would be that he had invaded many countries but the height of absurdity, when it for the mere love of being thought is known how he put the senators to invincible, which fact will stand as a death, and crucified the pirates. But lasting monument, (to bis eternal dis- whatever were his vices and his crugrace,) erected by his own vices, and elties, his life can never be blotted by will place him on a level with the weak- the murder of a Callisthenes or est men that ever governed Rome. Parmenio.
With respect to the wars in wbich The most important action that has Julius Cæsar engaged, it will be ad- been held, as much in favour of Alexmitted, though tempted to some by ander, is that of his conduct to Daambition, that many of them were rius's wife. Now, I cannot see the those wbich justice demanded. Those least praise whatever due to Alexanof Egypt and Africa may be mention- der, for such conduct. Is one moed. Cæsar did not wish for the war narch to invade unjustly the territories with Pompey. Suffice it then to say, of another-destroying his army, bis that Cæsar's wars were not carried on power, and his happiness,—and to with a determined and declared wish have admirations bestowed upon him of being thought the Monarch of the for pot extending his usurped power Universe.*
to the misery of the whole family? If But to proceed to the cruelties per a monarch is thus to be complimented petrated by these two individuals, for the use of power so gained, praise with which we find their history well may be lavished upon the perpetrator stored; to every person who is willing of the most atrocious crimes. to decide, without that robber of many It is true, that Alexander, after an illustrious character's just demand, great, bloody, and unnecessary batPrejudice, it will appear to demon- tles, extended a liberal hand to his stration, that the murders of Alexan- officers—it is true, that he has shed der exceed in a great degree those of tears over the dead bodies of sufferers Cæsar. In short, it is evident that -and it is true, that he never acted Alexander was much inclined to a with treachery in the field: but I ask, love for slaughter, (tov often the how has he been liberal ? by robbing natural attendant on ambition,) with the world ?-What use were his tears out any regard or distinction whatever over those whom he had wantonly to age or sex. The recollection of the destroyed ? and, What justice or mehorrid tortures that he inflicted upon rit is there due to him for invading Betis and Bessus-upon his physician, unjustly a country, and then fighting for not being able to save the life of the inhabitants without treachery? one of his friends—Clytus, for speak- I am at a loss to find any wise ing the truth to him when he was dis- and honourable traits in the character gracing his own existence-Parmenio of Alexander, while in that of Cæsar's and his father, for suspicions against it may be done with comparative ease. them unenforced by any great proofs Look at his conduct at Ulterior Spain,
-and Callisthenes, for refusing to which, as long as posterity rememworship him as a God! fully proves how bers the name of Julius Cæsar, will far Alexander indulged in the perpe- reflect an honour on his character. tration of murder. The latter crime The close of the lives of these two cannot be better spoken of than is characters, is, of itself, sufficient to done by Seneca:- L" This is a crime prove to whom we ought to give preof so heinous a nature, that it en- ference. The end of Alexander's extirely obliterated the glory of all his istence was that of drunkenness and other actions.” The enormity ofhis other debauchery, carried to the highest
pitch-dying stupified with intoxica
tion. In that of Julius Cæsar, we * This title was applied to Alexander by his own desire, when he inquired if his father Ju- find the contrary: he shunned many piter had not allotted to him the empire of the of his previous vices, and performed, world.
in a great measure, the duty of a king