Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 6.djvu/676
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.
bridge, Massachusetts, to attend Winthrop's lectures on "Experimental Philosophy." He then, after the manner of his country, "taught school" at Wilmington; and afterward became master of a school at a place originally called Rumford, but subsequently rechristened Concord, when the disputes as to the State to which it belonged were finally settled, and it was ceded to New Hampshire for good and all.
Shortly before attaining the age of twenty, Thompson, a fine, handsome young man, married—or, to use his own expression—"was married by" Mrs. Rolfe, a wealthy widow of Concord. There was now no more occasion to "teach school," and Thompson hoped for leisure to pursue science vigorously; but the American Revolution breaking out, he speedily found his way to England, in 1778 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, and two years later became an under-secretary of State, and colonel of the king's American Dragoons. At the conclusion of the war he was knighted by George III., and, having met the Elector of Bavaria at Strasbourg, passed a considerable time in Munich, busying himself in improving the breed of cattle and in building workhouses, and it was in order to find the most economical method of lighting the workhouse in Munich that he initiated the series of experiments afterward embodied in a paper on "The Relative Intensities of the Light emitted by Luminous Bodies," read before the Royal Society.
Honors now fell thickly upon the successful American. In 1785 he was elected member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences, and in the two succeeding years was made a member of the Berlin Academy of Sciences, and received the order of St. Stanislaus. Finally, Sir Benjamin Thompson became Lieutenant-General of the Bavarian Armies, received the order of the White Eagle, and was made a Count of the Holy Roman Empire.
After the death of his wife he traveled for sixteen months in Italy, and during his stay at Verona rebuilt the kitchens of the two great hospitals—La Pieta and La Misericordia. Seven-eighths of the firewood were saved, and his success in this enterprise appears to have greatly encouraged Count Rumford to pursue his investigations into the proper management of fuel. A curious essay written by him about this time contains the mixed philanthropic and philosophic germ of the Royal Institution. This is a "proposal for forming in London, by private subscription, an establishment for feeding the poor and giving them useful employment, and also for furnishing food at a cheap rate to others who may stand in need of such assistance, connected with an institution for introducing and bringing forward into general use new inventions and improvements, particularly such as relate to the management of heat and the saving of fuel, and to various other mechanical contrivances by which domestic comfort and economy may be promoted." This was followed by other essays on "Food and feeding the Poor," on "Rumford Soup and Soup-Kitch-