« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
of fifteen hundred pounds. One other individual also, contributed handsomely toward the same object,—the late Mr. Thomas Wedgewood, who presented Dr. B. with one thousand pounds, for the furtherance of this design. *
It might here be mentioned, that a few months after this, two intelligent-looking boys were often seen with Dr. B. with whom they were domesticated. The Dr. was liberally remunerated for superintending their education, (with suitable masters ;) and this he did at the dying request of their father, who had recently deceased in Italy. Dr. Beddoes took great pains with these boys, so that when they entered at Eton, they were found quite equal to other boys of their own age, in classical attainments, and greatly their superiors in general knowledge. The father was the above Mr. Lambton, and one of the two boys, is the present Earl of Durham. One of the precepts strongly inculcated on these youths, was, “Never be idle, boys. Let energy be apparent in all you do. If you play, play heartily, and at your book, be determined to excel. Languor is the bane of intellect.”
* The house of the Pneumatic Institution was situated in Dowry Square, Hotwells; the house in the corner, forming the north angle of the Square.
I remember to have seen Mr. Lambton at Dr. B.'s. He had a fine countenance, but it betrayed the hue of consumption. After having been for some time under the care of Dr. Beddoes, the Dr. recommended his patient to try a warmer climate, when Mr. L. departed for Italy. Mr. Lambton's health still declining, and considering that his only chance for life depended on the skill of his own experienced physician, he wrote to Dr. Beddoes, urging him, without delay, to set off, I think, for Naples. This I received from Dr. B. himself, who said, at the same time, “On Monday morning I shall set off for Italy.” But before Monday, the tidings arrived that Mr. Lambton was dead !
The two young Lambtons had the additional privilege of living under the same roof with Mr. Davy, and on various occasions, through life, the Earl of Durham and his brother, have testified a deep sense of respect and friendship for the illustrious chemist, who so enlivened and edified their younger days.
When Dr. Beddoes introduced to me young Mr. Davy, (being under twenty) I was much struck with the intellectual character of his face. His eye was piercing, and, when not engaged in
converse, was remarkably introverted, amounting to absence, as though his mind had been pursuing some severe trains of thought, scarcely to be interrupted by external objects; and from the first interview also, his ingenuousness impressed me as much as his mental superiority. Mr. D. having no acquaintance in Bristol, I encouraged and often received his visits, and he conferred an obligation on me, by often passing his afternoons in my company. During these agreeable interviews, he occasionally amused me by relating anecdotes of himself; or detailing his numerous chemical experiments: or otherwise by repeating his poems, several of which he gave me (still retained ;) and it was impossible to doubt, that if he had not shone as a philosopher, he would have become conspicuous as a poet. *
I must now refer again to the Pneumatic Institu
* Mr. Davy often asked me to attend his experiments, at the Wells, and as an evidence of the zeal with which he wished to induce as many as he could to pursue his favourite chemistry, in consequence of my taking great interest in his proceedings, he urged me to pursue chemistry, as a science. To prove that he was in earnest, he bought for me a box of chemical tests, acids, alkalies, glass tubes, retorts, blow-pipe, trough, &c. &c. and assisted me in some of my first experiments. The trough I occasionally use at the present time.
tion, to which the medical world looked with some anxiety, and which excited much conversation in the circle where I happened to be placed. Dr. Beddoes early in the year 1798, had given an admirable course of Lectures in Bristol, (at the Red Lodge) on the principles and practice of Chemistry, and which were rendered popular by a great diversity of experiments ; so that, with other branches of the science, the gases, had become generally familiar. The establishment of the Pneumatic Institution immediately following, the public mind was prepared, in some measure, to judge of its results; and a very considerable increase of confidence was entertained, from the acknowledged talents of the young superintendant ; so that all which could be accomplished was fully calculated upon. The funds also which supported the Institution being ample, the apparatus corresponded, and a more persevering and enthusiastic experimentalist than Mr. Davy, the whole kingdom could not have produced; an admission which was made by all who knew him, before the profounder parts of his character had been developed. No personal danger restrained him from determining facts, as the data of his reasoning; and if Fluxions, or some other means,
had not conveyed the information, such was his enthusiasm, he would almost have sprung from the perpendicular brow of St. Vincent, to determine his precise time, in descending from the top to the bottom.
I soon learnt from Mr. D. himself the course of his experiments; many of which were in the highest degree hazardous, when, with friendly earnestness, I warned him against his imminent perils. He seemed to act, as if in case of sacrificing one life, he had two or three others, in reserve, on which he could fall back, in case of necessity. He sometimes so excited my fears, that I half despaired of seeing him alive the next morning. He has been known sometimes to breathe a deadly gas, with his finger on his pulse, to determine how much could be borne, before a serious declension occurred in the vital action. The great hazards to which he exposed himself may be estimated by the following slight detail.
Dr. Mitchell, as well as Dr. Priestley, had stated the fatal effects on animal life, of the gazeous oxide of azote ; Mr. Davy, on the contrary, for reasons which satisfied himself, in its pure state, thought it respirable ; at least, “that a single inspiration of this gas might neither