Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 10.djvu/110

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THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY.

that the mystery which is farthest removed from our knowledge—I mean the transmission of original sin—should be that without which we can have no true knowledge of ourselves. It is in this abyss that the clew to our condition takes its turnings and windings, insomuch that man is more incomprehensible without this mystery than this mystery is incomprehensible to man."

 

SKETCH OF DR. ARNOTT.

AMONG the agencies for the diffusion of the knowledge of physics and the taste for its study in the past generation, few were more effective and successful than "The Elements of Physics," a treatise for schools, by the author whose portrait will be found in the present number of the Monthly. It was a work in many respects of peculiar and remarkable excellence, from the felicitous treatment of the subject, the fullness and aptness of illustration, the pleasant and attractive style, and what may be called the practicalness of the book, or the prominence it gave to the exposition of familiar phenomena. Many students of both sexes in our higher schools received a bent in the direction of scientific study from the use of this text-book, which lasted through life; and, as a new edition of the volume is about to appear, brought up to the time by judicious and able editors, there are many who would like to know something about the personal character and life of the author.

Neil Arnott was born on the 10th of May, 1788, at Arbroath, in Scotland. On his father's side he was descended from a Lowland family, and his mother was the daughter of a Highland clan. His youth was passed at Dysart, near Montrose. At the age of ten he became a pupil in the Aberdeen Grammar-School, where he remained the next three years.

In consequence of having been successful at the Bursary competition at Marischal College, in 1801, he became a student there, and completed the regular course, obtaining the degree of M. A. in his seventeenth year. It was during his third year in college, under the admirable instruction of Prof. Copland, that his mind was directed to natural philosophy, which henceforth became his favorite study. He chose medicine as his profession, and went through the medical course at Aberdeen. For the purpose of completing his studies, he went to London in 1806, and became a pupil in St. George's Hospital, under Sir Everard Home. Through the influence of the latter, he was appointed surgeon in the East India Company, where he gained valuable experience for his after-work. Having settled in London in 1811, he not only obtained large success as a medical practitioner, but at the same time was collecting materials for his future work on "Physics." In 1815 he was appointed physician to the French embassy, and after-