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a fellow-labourer with those who performed them. For the long period during which he was the chief patron of science, he was also and equally its chief cultivator and extender. He gave to it not only his name, his influence, and his fortune, but his whole tiine, faculties, and exertions.
Sir Humphrey Davy.
The three individuals last mentioned, who, born to rank and affluence, devoted themselves with so much ardour to scientific pursuits, were enabled to accomplish what they did, in a great measure, from the peculiar advantages of their position, which afforded them both leisure for the prosecution and maturing of their several schemes, and money to expend on the necessary apparatus and experiments. This proves to how much profit the rich man may turn his fortunate external circumstances, even in the pursuit of knowledge, if he can only rouse himself to enter with earnestness upon that enterprise But still the ambition of aspiring minds, left to struggle unassisted by such external aids, has achieved, after all, quite as great things as all the resources and immunities of what might be deemed the happiest worldly lot have ever given birth to. We now return to accompany, for a while, the onward steps of another of those courageous adventurers, who began and carried on the work of mental cultivation, without heeding the worldly disadvantages against which he had to contend.
HUMPHREY Davy was born in 1978, at Penzance, in Cornwall. His father followed the profession of a carver in wood in that town, where many of his performances are still to be seen in the
houses of the inhabitants. All that we are told of Davy's school education is, that he was taught the rudiments of classical learning at a seminary in Truro. He was then placed by his father with an apothecary and surgeon in his native place. But, instead of attend ing to his profession, he spent his time either in his master's garret, sometimes to the no small danger of the whole establishment; and the doctor and he at last agreed to part. About his fifteenth year he was placed as pupil with another surgeon residing in Penzance; but it does not appear that his second master had much more success than his first, in altempting to give him a liking for the medical profession. The future philosopher, however, had already begun to devote himself, of his own accord, to those sciences in which he afterward so greatly distinguished himself ; and proceeding upon a plan of study which he had laid down for himself, he had, by the time he was eighteen, obtained a thorough knowledge of the rudiments of natural philosophy and chymistry, as well as made some proficiency in botany, anatomy, and geometry. The subject of metaphysics, it is stated, was also embraced in his reading at this period.
But chymistry was the science to which, of all others, he gave himself with the greatest ardour; and, even in this early stage of his researches, he seems to have looked forward to fame from his labours in this department. The writer of the memoir of Sir Humphrey to which we are indebted for these particulars, quotes an exclamation which broke from him one day in after life, as he was contemplating, along with a friend, a picture of one of the mines of his native district, which shows what were the visions of his solitary rambles. “How often, when a boy,” said he,“ have I wandered about those rocks in search after new minerals, and, when tireil, sat down upon those crags, and exercised my fancy in anticipations of future renown!" The peculiar features of this part of the country doubtless contributed not a little to give his genius the direction it took. The mineral riches concealed under the soil formed alone a world of curious investigation. The rocky coast presented a geological study of inexhaustible interest. Even the various productions cast ashore by the sea were continually affording new materials of examination to his inquisitive and reflecting mind. The first original experiment, it is related, in which he engaged, had for its object to ascertain the nature of the air contained in the bladders of seaweed. At this time he had no other laboratory than what he contrived to furnish for himself, by the assistance of his master's vials and gallipots, the pots and pans used in the kitchen, and such other utensils as accident threw in his way. These he converted, with great ingenuity, to his own purposes. On one occasion, however, he accounted himself
particularly fortunate in a prize which he made. This was a case of surgical instruments, with which he was presented by the surgeon of a French vessel that had been wrecked on the coast, to whom he had done some kind offices. Examining his treasure with eagerness, Davy soon perceived the valuable aid he might derive in his philosophical experiments from some of the articles; and one of the principal of them was, in no long time, converted into a tolerable airpump. The proper use of the instruments was, of course, as little thought of by their new possessor, as that of his master's gallipots was wont to be when he had got them up to his garret. Davy's subsequent success as an experimentalist, it is well remarked by the writer to whom we have referred above, was probably owing, in no small degree, to the necessity he was placed under, in his earliest researches, of exercising his skill and ingenuity in this fashion
* Had he," proceeds his biographer, " in the cominencement of his career, been furnished with all those appliances which he enjoyed at a later period, it is more than probable that he might never have acquired that wonderful tact of manipulation, that ability of suggesting expedients, and of contriving apparatus so as to meet and surmount the difficul. cies which must constantly arise, during the progress of the philosopher through the unbeaten tracks and unexplored regions of science. In this art Davy certainly stands unrivalled ; and he was unquestionably indebted for his address to the circumstances which have been alluded to: there never, perhaps, was a more striking exemplification of the adage, that necessity is the parent of invention."
A curious catalogue might be made of the shifts to which ingenious students in different departments of art have resorted, when, like Davy, they have wanted the proper instruments for carrying on their inquiries or experiments. His is not the first case in which the stores of an apothecary's shop are recorded to have fed the enthusiasm, and materially assisted the labours of the young cultivator of nat ural science. The German chymist, Scheele, whose name ranks, in his own department, with the greatest of his time, was, as well as Davy, apprenticed in early life to an apothecary. While living in his master's house, he used secretly to prosecute the study of his favourite science by employing often half the night in reading the works that treated of it, or making experiments with instruments fabricated, as Davy's were, by himself, and out of equally simple materials. Like the young British philosopher, too, Scheele is recorded to have sometimes alarmed the whole household by his detonations ; an incident which always brought down upon him the severe anger of his master, and heavy menaces intended to deter him from ever again applying himself to such dangerous studies, which, however,
he did not long regard. It was at an apothecary's house that Boyle and his Oxford friends first held their scientific meetings, induced, as we are expressly told, by the opportunity they would thus have of obtaining drugs wherewith to make their experi. ments. Newton lodged with an apothecary, while at school, in the town of Grantham ; and as, even at that early age, he is known to have been ardently devoted to scientific contrivances and experiments, and to have been in the habit of converting all sorts of articles into auxiliaries in his favourite pursuits, it is not probable that the various strange preparations which filled the shelves and boxes of his landlord's shop would escape his curious examination. Thus, too, in other departments, genius has found its sufficient materials and instruments in the humblest and most common articles, and the simplest contrivances. Ferguson observed the places of the stars by means of a thread with a few beads strung on it, and Tycho Brahe did the same thing with a pair of compasses. The self-taught American philosopher, Rittenhouse, being, when a young man, employed as an agricultural labourer, used to draw geometrical diagrains on his plough, and study them as he turned up the furrow. Pascal, when a mere boy, made himself master of many of the elementary propositions of geɔmetry, without the assistance of any master, by tracing the figures on the floor of his room with a bit of coal. This, or a stick burned at the end, has often been the young painter's first pencil, while the smoothest and whitest wall he could find supplied the place of a canvass. Such, for example, were the commencing essays of the early Tuscan artist, Andrea del Castagno, who employed his leisure in this manner, when he was a little boy tending cattle, till biis performances at last attracted the notice of one of the Medici family, who placed him under a proper master. The famous Salvator Rosa first displayed