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limits, to attempt it. But let any man compare his own nature with that of a plant, of a brute beast, of an idiot, of a savage ; and then consider that it is in mind alone, and the degree to which he improves it, that he differs essentially from any of them.
And let no one think he wants opportunity, encouragement or means. I would not undervalue these, any or all of them, but compared with what the man does for himself, they are of little account. Industry, temperance, and perseverance are worth more than all the patrons, that ever lived in all the Augustan ages. It is these, that create patronage and opportunity. The cases of our Franklin and Fulton are too familiar to bear repetition. Consider that of Sir Humphrey Davy, who died last year, and who was in many departments of science, the first philosopher of the age.*-He was born at Penzance in Cornwall, one of the darkest corners of England ; his father was a carver of wooden images for signs, and figure-heads, and chimneypieces. He himself was apprenticed to an apothecary, and made his first experiments in chemistry with his master's phials and gallipots, aided by an old syringe, which had been given him by the surgeon of a French vessel, wrecked on the Land's End. From the shop of the apothecary, he was transferred to the office of a surgeon; and never appears to have had any other education, than that of a Cornish school, in his boyhood. Such was the beginning of the career of the man, who, at the age of twenty-two, was selected, by our own countryman, Count Rumford,
* The sketch of Sir Humphrey Davy, which follows, to the end of the lecture, is abridged from the article in the Annual Biography for 1830. of man.
( himself a self-taught benefactor of mankind) to fill the chair of Chemistry at the Royal Institution, in London, such was the origin and education of the man, who discovered the metallic basis of the alkalis and the earths; invented the safety-lamp; and placed himself, in a few years, in the chair of the Royal Society of London, and at the head of the chemists of Europe. Sir Humphrey Davy's most brilliant discoveries were effected by his skilful application of the Galvanic Electricity, a principle, whose existence had been detected, a few years before, by an Italian philosopher, from noticing the contractions of a frog's limb suspended on an iron hook, a fact which shows how near us, in every direction, the most curious facts lie scattered by na
With an apparatus, contrived by himself to collect and condense this powerful agent, Sir Humphrey succeeded in decomposing the earths and the alkalis; and in extracting from common potash, the metal (before unknown) of which it consists ;—possessing at 70° of the thermometer the lustre and general appearance of mercury, at 50°, the appearance of polished silver and the softness of wax; so light that it swims in water; and so inflammable that it takes fire, when thrown on ice.
These are perhaps but brilliant novelties; though connected, no doubt, in the great chain of cause and effect, with principles of art and science, conducive to the service
But the invention of the safety-lamp, which enables the miner to walk unharmed through an atmosphere of explosive gas, and has already saved the lives of hundreds of human beings, is a title to glory and the gratitude of his fellow men, which the most renowned destroyer of his race might envy.
The counsels of such a man, in his retirement and meditation, are worth listening to. I am sure you will think I bring this lecture to the best conclusion, by repeating a sentence from one of his moral works :
“I envy,” says he, “ no quality of the mind or intellect in others; not genius, power, wit or fancy; but if I could choose what would be most delightful, and I believe most useful to me, I should prefer A FIRM RELIGIOUS BELIEF to every other blessing.
ADVANTAGES, AND PLEASURES
INTRODUCTION. I. Mathematical Science.
II. Differcnce between Mathematical and Physical Truths. III. Natural or Experimental Science. IV. Application of Natural Science to the Animal and Vegetable World. V. Advantages and Pleasures of Science.
In order fully to understand the advantages and the pleasures which are derived from an acquaintance with any science, it is necessary to become acquainted with that science, and it would therefore be impossible to convey a complete knowledge of the benefits conferred by a study of the various sciences which have hitherto been chiefly cultivated by philosophers, without teaching all the branches of them. But a very distinct idea may be given of those benefits, by explaining the nature and objects of the different sciences; it may be shown by examples how much use and gratification there is in learning a part of any one pranch of knowledge; and it may thus be inferred, how great reason there is to learn the whole.
It may be easily demonstrated, that there is an advantage in learning, both for the usefulness and the pleasure of it. There is something positively agreeable to all men, to all at least whose nature is not most grovelling and base, in gaining knowledge for its own sake. When you see any thing for the first time, you at once derive some gratification from the sight being new; your attention is awakened, and you desire to know more about it. If it is a piece of workmanship, as an instrument, a machine of any kind, you wish to know how it is made ; how it works; and what use it is of. If it is an' animal
, you desire to know where it comes from ; how it lives; what are its dispositions, and, generally, its nature and habits. This desire is felt, too, without at all considering that the machine or the animal may ever be of the least use to yourself practically; for, in all probability, you may never see them again. But you feel a curiosity to learn all about them, because they are new and unknown to you. You accordingly make inquiries; you feel a gratification in getting answers to your questions, that is, in receiving information, and in knowing more,—in being better informed than you were before. If you ever happen again to see the same instrument or animal, you find it agreeable to recollect having seen it before, and to think that you know something about it. If you see another instrument or animal, in some respects like, but differing in other particulars, you find it pleasing to compare them together, and to note in what they agree, and in what they differ. Now, all this kind of gratification is of a pure and disinterested nature, and has no reference to any of the common purposes of life ; yet it is a pleasure—an enjoyment. You are nothing the richer for it; you do not gratify your palate or any other bodily appetite ; and yet it is so pleasing that you would give something out of your pocket to obtain it, and would forego some bodily enjoyment for its sake. The pleasure derived from science is exactly of the like nature, or, rather, it is the very same. For what has just been referred to is in fact Science, which in its most comprehensive sense only means Knowledge, and in its ordinary