Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 14.djvu/833

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SKETCH OF SIR HUMPHRY DAVY.

mound was a moraine. Let us remember, then, that a tarn may lie in a complete rock basin, ice-formed; in a glaciated hollow dammed on the lower side by a moraine or other accumulation of rocky débris; or it may owe part of its depth to a rock-inclosed hollow, and part to a morainic dam. Therefore, on a summer's day, as we lie dreamily gazing upon the rippling waters of these mountain tarns, we may sometimes think of an age which is past, when the ice-sheet moved majestically over the now heather-clad fells, and all the country lay "clad in white samite, mystic, wonderful."—Popular Science Review.

 

SKETCH OF SIR HUMPHRY DAVY.

HUMPHRY DAVY, one of the world's greatest chemists, and the discoverer of the electric light, was born December 17, 1778, at Penzance, in Cornwall. His father, a wood-carver and gilder by trade, died in 1794, leaving his widow and five children, the oldest of whom was Humphry, in destitute circumstances.

Humphry was a strong, active, healthy child, and gifted with a singularly retentive memory. Sent to an elementary school at the age of six, he made such rapid progress that soon the master had him transferred to the town grammar-school. In his boyhood he manifested a strong liking for open-air sports—riding, fishing, shooting, and the like—also for making collections of natural-history specimens. This bias was anything but pleasing to his teachers and guardians, who feared that, unless he gave more time and attention to his book-lessons, he would grow up to be a ne'er-do-well. Fishing was his favorite amusement. When a little child he was to be seen after every rain—and rains are exceptionally frequent at Penzance—fishing in the street-gutters. At nine years of age he went to live in the household of a Mr. Tonkin, a friend of his mother's family, resident at Varfell, a little village in Mount's Bay. The site of Varfell is a charming one, and the surrounding country is rich in minerals. Young Davy, who was of a poetic temperament, was at home in this delightful nook, and what with his shooting, fishing, and collecting, his days were full of enjoyment. Evidently he loved nature rather than books, and though his guardian feared that his studies—if study that may be called which was all play—were taking a wrong direction, he was in reality acquiring the rudiments of a very solid education—acquaintance with nature's ways. The little child who fished in the gutters of Penzance later wrote that charming work, "Salmonia, or Days of Fly-Fishing," wherein, mingled with notes of his piscatorial exploits in the trout-streams of the Austrian Alps, are philosophical reflections on the deepest problems of the universe. As a boy he loved to roam among the hills of his native