Page:Biographies of Scientific Men.djvu/29

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7
LAVOISIER

of fossilized people who are too lazy to work themselves, and who try to suppress the capacity of work in others."[1]

How few think justly of the thinking few!
How many never think who think they do.

In his Traité de Chimie Lavoisier described more fully the formation of oxides, and the phenomenon of combustion; and he proved (1777-78) that the calces of lead, tin, and mercury are oxides of these metals. But the phlogistic theory was still held by many honoured workers in chemistry, and they believed that in Cavendish's inflammable air (hydrogen) was the long-cherished, but undiscovered, phlogiston. Concerning the solution of metals in muriatic or vitriolic acid with the evolution of inflammable air, these phlogistonists stated that the metals lose phlogiston by the process, and that a calx is a metal minus phlogiston or "metallic spirit"!

The quantitative work of Lavoisier, his weighing and measuring, and the philosophical deductions of his experiments, completely shattered the theory of phlogiston—a theory which prevented the advance of science and proved to be a false doctrine, which unfortunately lasted nearly

  1. Quoted from a letter to the author.
    It will be remembered that the late Prof. Hughes was turned from publishing a paper on wireless telegraphy by the unfortunate criticism of the late Sir George Gabriel Stokes, who, with others, failed to appreciate it. One sees now what a discovery Hughes had made, and how it was lost to the world by the mighty authority, if not the intellectual pride, of a distinguished physicist! Was it jealousy or prejudice, or both? Sometimes old men are jealous of the work of younger men (e.g., Davy of Faraday)!