Friday, September 21, 2012


An extract from the project Gutenberg EBook of Self Help, by Samuel Smiles

(with additional highlights and links!)


"Neither the naked hand, nor the understanding, left to itself, can
do much; the work is accomplished by instruments and helps, of
which the need is not less for the understanding than the hand."--

"Opportunity has hair in front, behind she is bald; if you seize
her by the forelock you may hold her, but, if suffered to escape,
not Jupiter himself can catch her again."--From the Latin.

Accident does very little towards the production of any great
result in life.  Though sometimes what is called "a happy hit" may
be made by a bold venture, the common highway of steady industry
and application is the only safe road to travel.  It is said of the
landscape painter Wilson, that when he had nearly finished a
picture in a tame, correct manner, he would step back from it, his
pencil fixed at the end of a long stick, and after gazing earnestly
on the work, he would suddenly walk up and by a few bold touches
give a brilliant finish to the painting.  But it will not do for
every one who would produce an effect, to throw his brush at the
canvas in the hope of producing a picture.  The capability of
putting in these last vital touches is acquired only by the labour
of a life; and the probability is, that the artist who has not
carefully trained himself beforehand, in attempting to produce a
brilliant effect at a dash, will only produce a blotch.

Sedulous attention and painstaking industry always mark the true
worker.  The greatest men are not those who "despise the day of
small things," but those who improve them the most carefully.
Michael Angelo was one day explaining to a visitor at his studio,
what he had been doing at a statue since his previous visit.  "I
have retouched this part--polished that--softened this feature--
brought out that muscle--given some expression to this lip, and
more energy to that limb."  "But these are trifles," remarked the
visitor.  "It may be so," replied the sculptor, "but recollect that
trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle."  So it was
said of Nicholas Poussin, the painter, that the rule of his conduct
was, that "whatever was worth doing at all was worth doing well;"
and when asked, late in life, by his friend Vigneul de Marville, by
what means he had gained so high a reputation among the painters of
Italy, Poussin emphatically answered, "Because I have neglected

Although there are discoveries which are said to have been made by
accident, if carefully inquired into, it will be found that there
has really been very little that was accidental about them.  For
the most part, these so-called accidents have only been
opportunities, carefully improved by genius.  The fall of the apple
at Newton's feet has often been quoted in proof of the accidental
character of some discoveries.  But Newton's whole mind had already
been devoted for years to the laborious and patient investigation
of the subject of gravitation; and the circumstance of the apple
falling before his eyes was suddenly apprehended only as genius
could apprehend it, and served to flash upon him the brilliant
discovery then opening to his sight.  In like manner, the
brilliantly-coloured soap-bubbles blown from a common tobacco pipe-
-though "trifles light as air" in most eyes--suggested to Dr. Young
his beautiful theory of "interferences," and led to his discovery
relating to the diffraction of light.  Although great men are
popularly supposed only to deal with great things, men such as
Newton and Young were ready to detect the significance of the most
familiar and simple facts; their greatness consisting mainly in
their wise interpretation of them.

The difference between men consists, in a great measure, in the
intelligence of their observation.  The Russian proverb says of the
non-observant man, "He goes through the forest and sees no
firewood."  "The wise man's eyes are in his head," says Solomon,
"but the fool walketh in darkness."  "Sir," said Johnson, on one
occasion, to a fine gentleman just returned from Italy, "some men
will learn more in the Hampstead stage than others in the tour of
Europe."  It is the mind that sees as well as the eye.  Where
unthinking gazers observe nothing, men of intelligent vision
penetrate into the very fibre of the phenomena presented to them,
attentively noting differences, making comparisons, and recognizing
their underlying idea.  Many before Galileo had seen a suspended
weight swing before their eyes with a measured beat; but he was the
first to detect the value of the fact.  One of the vergers in the
cathedral at Pisa, after replenishing with oil a lamp which hung
from the roof, left it swinging to and fro; and Galileo, then a
youth of only eighteen, noting it attentively, conceived the idea
of applying it to the measurement of time.  Fifty years of study
and labour, however, elapsed, before he completed the invention of
his Pendulum,--the importance of which, in the measurement of time
and in astronomical calculations, can scarcely be overrated.  In
like manner, Galileo, having casually heard that one Lippershey, a
Dutch spectacle-maker, had presented to Count Maurice of Nassau an
instrument by means of which distant objects appeared nearer to the
beholder, addressed himself to the cause of such a phenomenon,
which led to the invention of the telescope, and proved the
beginning of the modern science of astronomy.  Discoveries such as
these could never have been made by a negligent observer, or by a
mere passive listener.

While Captain (afterwards Sir Samuel) Brown was occupied in
studying the construction of bridges, with the view of contriving
one of a cheap description to be thrown across the Tweed, near
which he lived, he was walking in his garden one dewy autumn
morning, when he saw a tiny spider's net suspended across his path.
The idea immediately occurred to him, that a bridge of iron ropes
or chains might be constructed in like manner, and the result was
the invention of his Suspension Bridge.  So James Watt, when
consulted about the mode of carrying water by pipes under the
Clyde, along the unequal bed of the river, turned his attention one
day to the shell of a lobster presented at table; and from that
model he invented an iron tube, which, when laid down, was found
effectually to answer the purpose.  Sir Isambert Brunel took his
first lessons in forming the Thames Tunnel from the tiny shipworm:
he saw how the little creature perforated the wood with its well-
armed head, first in one direction and then in another, till the
archway was complete, and then daubed over the roof and sides with
a kind of varnish; and by copying this work exactly on a large
scale, Brunel was at length enabled to construct his shield and
accomplish his great engineering work.

It is the intelligent eye of the careful observer which gives these
apparently trivial phenomena their value.  So trifling a matter as
the sight of seaweed floating past his ship, enabled Columbus to
quell the mutiny which arose amongst his sailors at not discovering
land, and to assure them that the eagerly sought New World was not
far off.  There is nothing so small that it should remain
forgotten; and no fact, however trivial, but may prove useful in
some way or other if carefully interpreted.  Who could have
imagined that the famous "chalk cliffs of Albion" had been built up
by tiny insects--detected only by the help of the microscope--of
the same order of creatures that have gemmed the sea with islands
of coral!  And who that contemplates such extraordinary results,
arising from infinitely minute operations, will venture to question
the power of little things?

It is the close observation of little things which is the secret of
success in business, in art, in science, and in every pursuit in
life.  Human knowledge is but an accumulation of small facts, made
by successive generations of men, the little bits of knowledge and
experience carefully treasured up by them growing at length into a
mighty pyramid.  Though many of these facts and observations seemed
in the first instance to have but slight significance, they are all
found to have their eventual uses, and to fit into their proper
places.  Even many speculations seemingly remote, turn out to be
the basis of results the most obviously practical.  In the case of
the conic sections discovered by Apollonius Pergaeus, twenty
centuries elapsed before they were made the basis of astronomy--a
science which enables the modern navigator to steer his way through
unknown seas and traces for him in the heavens an unerring path to
his appointed haven.  And had not mathematicians toiled for so
long, and, to uninstructed observers, apparently so fruitlessly,
over the abstract relations of lines and surfaces, it is probable
that but few of our mechanical inventions would have seen the

When Franklin made his discovery of the identity of lightning and
electricity, it was sneered at, and people asked, "Of what use is
it?"  To which his reply was, "What is the use of a child?  It may
become a man!"  When Galvani discovered that a frog's leg twitched
when placed in contact with different metals, it could scarcely
have been imagined that so apparently insignificant a fact could
have led to important results.  Yet therein lay the germ of the
Electric Telegraph, which binds the intelligence of continents
together, and, probably before many years have elapsed, will "put a
girdle round the globe."  So too, little bits of stone and fossil,
dug out of the earth, intelligently interpreted, have issued in the
science of geology and the practical operations of mining, in which
large capitals are invested and vast numbers of persons profitably

The gigantic machinery employed in pumping our mines, working our
mills and manufactures, and driving our steam-ships and
locomotives, in like manner depends for its supply of power upon so
slight an agency as little drops of water expanded by heat,--that
familiar agency called steam, which we see issuing from that common
tea-kettle spout, but which, when put up within an ingeniously
contrived mechanism, displays a force equal to that of millions of
horses, and contains a power to rebuke the waves and set even the
hurricane at defiance.  The same power at work within the bowels of
the earth has been the cause of those volcanoes and earthquakes
which have played so mighty a part in the history of the globe.

It is said that the Marquis of Worcester's attention was first
accidentally directed to the subject of steam power, by the tight
cover of a vessel containing hot water having been blown off before
his eyes, when confined a prisoner in the Tower.  He published the
result of his observations in his 'Century of Inventions,' which
formed a sort of text-book for inquirers into the powers of steam
for a time, until Savary, Newcomen, and others, applying it to
practical purposes, brought the steam-engine to the state in which
Watt found it when called upon to repair a model of Newcomen's
engine, which belonged to the University of Glasgow.  This
accidental circumstance was an opportunity for Watt, which he was
not slow to improve; and it was the labour of his life to bring the
steam-engine to perfection.

This art of seizing opportunities and turning even accidents to
account, bending them to some purpose is a great secret of success.
Dr. Johnson has defined genius to be "a mind of large general
powers accidentally determined in some particular direction."  Men
who are resolved to find a way for themselves, will always find
opportunities enough; and if they do not lie ready to their hand,
they will make them.  It is not those who have enjoyed the
advantages of colleges, museums, and public galleries, that have
accomplished the most for science and art; nor have the greatest
mechanics and inventors been trained in mechanics' institutes.
Necessity, oftener than facility, has been the mother of invention;
and the most prolific school of all has been the school of
difficulty.  Some of the very best workmen have had the most
indifferent tools to work with.  But it is not tools that make the
workman, but the trained skill and perseverance of the man himself.
Indeed it is proverbial that the bad workman never yet had a good
tool.  Some one asked Opie by what wonderful process he mixed his
colours.  "I mix them with my brains, sir," was his reply.  It is
the same with every workman who would excel.  Ferguson made
marvellous things--such as his wooden clock, that accurately
measured the hours--by means of a common penknife, a tool in
everybody's hand; but then everybody is not a Ferguson.  A pan of
water and two thermometers were the tools by which Dr. Black
discovered latent heat; and a prism, a lens, and a sheet of
pasteboard enabled Newton to unfold the composition of light and
the origin of colours.  An eminent foreign savant once called upon
Dr. Wollaston, and requested to be shown over his laboratories in
which science had been enriched by so many important discoveries,
when the doctor took him into a little study, and, pointing to an
old tea-tray on the table, containing a few watch-glasses, test
papers, a small balance, and a blowpipe, said, "There is all the
laboratory that I have!"

Stothard learnt the art of combining colours by closely studying
butterflies' wings:  he would often say that no one knew what he
owed to these tiny insects.  A burnt stick and a barn door served
Wilkie in lieu of pencil and canvas.  Bewick first practised
drawing on the cottage walls of his native village, which he
covered with his sketches in chalk; and Benjamin West made his
first brushes out of the cat's tail.  Ferguson laid himself down in
the fields at night in a blanket, and made a map of the heavenly
bodies by means of a thread with small beads on it stretched
between his eye and the stars.  Franklin first robbed the
thundercloud of its lightning by means of a kite made with two
cross sticks and a silk handkerchief.  Watt made his first model of
the condensing steam-engine out of an old anatomist's syringe, used
to inject the arteries previous to dissection.  Gifford worked his
first problems in mathematics, when a cobbler's apprentice, upon
small scraps of leather, which he beat smooth for the purpose;
whilst Rittenhouse, the astronomer, first calculated eclipses on
his plough handle.

The most ordinary occasions will furnish a man with opportunities
or suggestions for improvement, if he be but prompt to take
advantage of them.  Professor Lee was attracted to the study of
Hebrew by finding a Bible in that tongue in a synagogue, while
working as a common carpenter at the repairs of the benches.  He
became possessed with a desire to read the book in the original,
and, buying a cheap second-hand copy of a Hebrew grammar, he set to
work and learnt the language for himself.  As Edmund Stone said to
the Duke of Argyle, in answer to his grace's inquiry how he, a poor
gardener's boy, had contrived to be able to read Newton's Principia
in Latin, "One needs only to know the twenty-four letters of the
alphabet in order to learn everything else that one wishes."
Application and perseverance, and the diligent improvement of
opportunities, will do the rest.

Sir Walter Scott found opportunities for self-improvement in every
pursuit, and turned even accidents to account.  Thus it was in the
discharge of his functions as a writer's apprentice that he first
visited the Highlands, and formed those friendships among the
surviving heroes of 1745 which served to lay the foundation of a
large class of his works.  Later in life, when employed as
quartermaster of the Edinburgh Light Cavalry, he was accidentally
disabled by the kick of a horse, and confined for some time to his
house; but Scott was a sworn enemy to idleness, and he forthwith
set his mind to work.  In three days he had composed the first
canto of 'The Lay of the Last Minstrel,' which he shortly after
finished,--his first great original work.

The attention of Dr. Priestley, the discoverer of so many gases,
was accidentally drawn to the subject of chemistry through his
living in the neighbourhood of a brewery.  When visiting the place
one day, he noted the peculiar appearances attending the extinction
of lighted chips in the gas floating over the fermented liquor.  He
was forty years old at the time, and knew nothing of chemistry.  He
consulted books to ascertain the cause, but they told him little,
for as yet nothing was known on the subject.  Then he began to
experiment, with some rude apparatus of his own contrivance.  The
curious results of his first experiments led to others, which in
his hands shortly became the science of pneumatic chemistry.  About
the same time, Scheele was obscurely working in the same direction
in a remote Swedish village; and he discovered several new gases,
with no more effective apparatus at his command than a few
apothecaries' phials and pigs' bladders.

Sir Humphry Davy, when an apothecary's apprentice, performed his
first experiments with instruments of the rudest description.  He
extemporised the greater part of them himself, out of the motley
materials which chance threw in his way,--the pots and pans of the
kitchen, and the phials and vessels of his master's surgery.  It
happened that a French ship was wrecked off the Land's End, and the
surgeon escaped, bearing with him his case of instruments, amongst
which was an old-fashioned glyster apparatus; this article he
presented to Davy, with whom he had become acquainted.  The
apothecary's apprentice received it with great exultation, and
forthwith employed it as a part of a pneumatic apparatus which he
contrived, afterwards using it to perform the duties of an air-pump
in one of his experiments on the nature and sources of heat.

In like manner Professor Faraday, Sir Humphry Davy's scientific
successor, made his first experiments in electricity by means of an
old bottle, white he was still a working bookbinder.  And it is a
curious fact that Faraday was first attracted to the study of
chemistry by hearing one of Sir Humphry Davy's lectures on the
subject at the Royal Institution.  A gentleman, who was a member,
calling one day at the shop where Faraday was employed in binding
books, found him poring over the article "Electricity" in an
Encyclopaedia placed in his hands to bind.  The gentleman, having
made inquiries, found that the young bookbinder was curious about
such subjects, and gave him an order of admission to the Royal
Institution, where he attended a course of four lectures delivered
by Sir Humphry.  He took notes of them, which he showed to the
lecturer, who acknowledged their scientific accuracy, and was
surprised when informed of the humble position of the reporter.
Faraday then expressed his desire to devote himself to the
prosecution of chemical studies, from which Sir Humphry at first
endeavoured to dissuade him:  but the young man persisting, he was
at length taken into the Royal Institution as an assistant; and
eventually the mantle of the brilliant apothecary's boy fell upon
the worthy shoulders of the equally brilliant bookbinder's

The words which Davy entered in his note-book, when about twenty
years of age, working in Dr. Beddoes' laboratory at Bristol, were
eminently characteristic of him:  "I have neither riches, nor
power, nor birth to recommend me; yet if I live, I trust I shall
not be of less service to mankind and my friends, than if I had
been born with all these advantages."  Davy possessed the
capability, as Faraday does, of devoting the whole power of his
mind to the practical and experimental investigation of a subject
in all its bearings; and such a mind will rarely fail, by dint of
mere industry and patient thinking, in producing results of the
highest order.  Coleridge said of Davy, "There is an energy and
elasticity in his mind, which enables him to seize on and analyze
all questions, pushing them to their legitimate consequences.
Every subject in Davy's mind has the principle of vitality.  Living
thoughts spring up like turf under his feet."  Davy, on his part,
said of Coleridge, whose abilities he greatly admired, "With the
most exalted genius, enlarged views, sensitive heart, and
enlightened mind, he will be the victim of a want of order,
precision, and regularity."

The great Cuvier was a singularly accurate, careful, and
industrious observer.  When a boy, he was attracted to the subject
of natural history by the sight of a volume of Buffon which
accidentally fell in his way.  He at once proceeded to copy the
drawings, and to colour them after the descriptions given in the
text.  While still at school, one of his teachers made him a
present of 'Linnaeus's System of Nature;' and for more than ten
years this constituted his library of natural history.  At eighteen
he was offered the situation of tutor in a family residing near
Fecamp, in Normandy.  Living close to the sea-shore, he was brought
face to face with the wonders of marine life.  Strolling along the
sands one day, he observed a stranded cuttlefish.  He was attracted
by the curious object, took it home to dissect, and thus began the
study of the molluscae, in the pursuit of which he achieved so
distinguished a reputation.  He had no books to refer to, excepting
only the great book of Nature which lay open before him.  The study
of the novel and interesting objects which it daily presented to
his eyes made a much deeper impression on his mind than any written
or engraved descriptions could possibly have done.  Three years
thus passed, during which he compared the living species of marine
animals with the fossil remains found in the neighbourhood,
dissected the specimens of marine life that came under his notice,
and, by careful observation, prepared the way for a complete reform
in the classification of the animal kingdom.  About this time
Cuvier became known to the learned Abbe Teissier, who wrote to
Jussieu and other friends in Paris on the subject of the young
naturalist's inquiries, in terms of such high commendation, that
Cuvier was requested to send some of his papers to the Society of
Natural History; and he was shortly after appointed assistant-
superintendent at the Jardin des Plantes.  In the letter written by
Teissier to Jussieu, introducing the young naturalist to his
notice, he said, "You remember that it was I who gave Delambre to
the Academy in another branch of science:  this also will be a
Delambre."  We need scarcely add that the prediction of Teissier
was more than fulfilled.

It is not accident, then, that helps a man in the world so much as
purpose and persistent industry.  To the feeble, the sluggish and
purposeless, the happiest accidents avail nothing,--they pass them
by, seeing no meaning in them.  But it is astonishing how much can
be accomplished if we are prompt to seize and improve the
opportunities for action and effort which are constantly presenting
themselves.  Watt taught himself chemistry and mechanics while
working at his trade of a mathematical-instrument maker, at the
same time that he was learning German from a Swiss dyer.
Stephenson taught himself arithmetic and mensuration while working
as an engineman during the night shifts; and when he could snatch a
few moments in the intervals allowed for meals during the day, he
worked his sums with a bit of chalk upon the sides of the colliery
waggons.  Dalton's industry was the habit of his life.  He began
from his boyhood, for he taught a little village-school when he was
only about twelve years old,--keeping the school in winter, and
working upon his father's farm in summer.  He would sometimes urge
himself and companions to study by the stimulus of a bet, though
bred a Quaker; and on one occasion, by his satisfactory solution of
a problem, he won as much as enabled him to buy a winter's store of
candles.  He continued his meteorological observations until a day
or two before he died,--having made and recorded upwards of 200,000
in the course of his life.

With perseverance, the very odds and ends of time may be worked up
into results of the greatest value.  An hour in every day withdrawn
from frivolous pursuits would, if profitably employed, enable a
person of ordinary capacity to go far towards mastering a science.
It would make an ignorant man a well-informed one in less than ten
years.  Time should not be allowed to pass without yielding fruits,
in the form of something learnt worthy of being known, some good
principle cultivated, or some good habit strengthened.  Dr. Mason
Good translated Lucretius while riding in his carriage in the
streets of London, going the round of his patients.  Dr. Darwin
composed nearly all his works in the same way while driving about
in his "sulky" from house to house in the country,--writing down
his thoughts on little scraps of paper, which he carried about with
him for the purpose.  Hale wrote his 'Contemplations' while
travelling on circuit.  Dr. Burney learnt French and Italian while
travelling on horseback from one musical pupil to another in the
course of his profession.  Kirke White learnt Greek while walking
to and from a lawyer's office; and we personally know a man of
eminent position who learnt Latin and French while going messages
as an errand-boy in the streets of Manchester.

Daguesseau, one of the great Chancellors of France, by carefully
working up his odd bits of time, wrote a bulky and able volume in
the successive intervals of waiting for dinner, and Madame de
Genlis composed several of her charming volumes while waiting for
the princess to whom she gave her daily lessons.  Elihu Burritt
attributed his first success in self-improvement, not to genius,
which he disclaimed, but simply to the careful employment of those
invaluable fragments of time, called "odd moments."  While working
and earning his living as a blacksmith, he mastered some eighteen
ancient and modern languages, and twenty-two European dialects.

What a solemn and striking admonition to youth is that inscribed on
the dial at All Souls, Oxford--"Pereunt et imputantur"--the hours
perish, and are laid to our charge.  Time is the only little
fragment of Eternity that belongs to man; and, like life, it can
never be recalled.  "In the dissipation of worldly treasure," says
Jackson of Exeter, "the frugality of the future may balance the
extravagance of the past; but who can say, 'I will take from
minutes to-morrow to compensate for those I have lost to-day'?"
Melancthon noted down the time lost by him, that he might thereby
reanimate his industry, and not lose an hour.  An Italian scholar
put over his door an inscription intimating that whosoever remained
there should join in his labours.  "We are afraid," said some
visitors to Baxter, "that we break in upon your time."  "To be sure
you do," replied the disturbed and blunt divine.  Time was the
estate out of which these great workers, and all other workers,
formed that rich treasury of thoughts and deeds which they have
left to their successors.

The mere drudgery undergone by some men in carrying on their
undertakings has been something extraordinary, but the drudgery
they regarded as the price of success.  Addison amassed as much as
three folios of manuscript materials before he began his
'Spectator.'  Newton wrote his 'Chronology' fifteen times over
before he was satisfied with it; and Gibbon wrote out his 'Memoir'
nine times.  Hale studied for many years at the rate of sixteen
hours a day, and when wearied with the study of the law, he would
recreate himself with philosophy and the study of the mathematics.
Hume wrote thirteen hours a day while preparing his 'History of
England.'  Montesquieu, speaking of one part of his writings, said
to a friend, "You will read it in a few hours; but I assure you it
has cost me so much labour that it has whitened my hair."

The practice of writing down thoughts and facts for the purpose of
holding them fast and preventing their escape into the dim region
of forgetfulness, has been much resorted to by thoughtful and
studious men.  Lord Bacon left behind him many manuscripts entitled
"Sudden thoughts set down for use."  Erskine made great extracts
from Burke; and Eldon copied Coke upon Littleton twice over with
his own hand, so that the book became, as it were, part of his own
mind.  The late Dr. Pye Smith, when apprenticed to his father as a
bookbinder, was accustomed to make copious memoranda of all the
books he read, with extracts and criticisms.  This indomitable
industry in collecting materials distinguished him through life,
his biographer describing him as "always at work, always in
advance, always accumulating."  These note-books afterwards proved,
like Richter's "quarries," the great storehouse from which he drew
his illustrations.

The same practice characterized the eminent John Hunter, who
adopted it for the purpose of supplying the defects of memory; and
he was accustomed thus to illustrate the advantages which one
derives from putting one's thoughts in writing:  "It resembles," he
said, "a tradesman taking stock, without which he never knows
either what he possesses or in what he is deficient."  John Hunter-
-whose observation was so keen that Abernethy was accustomed to
speak of him as "the Argus-eyed"--furnished an illustrious example
of the power of patient industry.  He received little or no
education till he was about twenty years of age, and it was with
difficulty that he acquired the arts of reading and writing.  He
worked for some years as a common carpenter at Glasgow, after which
he joined his brother William, who had settled in London as a
lecturer and anatomical demonstrator.  John entered his dissecting-
room as an assistant, but soon shot ahead of his brother, partly by
virtue of his great natural ability, but mainly by reason of his
patient application and indefatigable industry.  He was one of the
first in this country to devote himself assiduously to the study of
comparative anatomy, and the objects he dissected and collected
took the eminent Professor Owen no less than ten years to arrange.
The collection contains some twenty thousand specimens, and is the
most precious treasure of the kind that has ever been accumulated
by the industry of one man.  Hunter used to spend every morning
from sunrise until eight o'clock in his museum; and throughout the
day he carried on his extensive private practice, performed his
laborious duties as surgeon to St. George's Hospital and deputy
surgeon-general to the army; delivered lectures to students, and
superintended a school of practical anatomy at his own house;
finding leisure, amidst all, for elaborate experiments on the
animal economy, and the composition of various works of great
scientific importance.  To find time for this gigantic amount of
work, he allowed himself only four hours of sleep at night, and an
hour after dinner.  When once asked what method he had adopted to
insure success in his undertakings, he replied, "My rule is,
deliberately to consider, before I commence, whether the thing be
practicable.  If it be not practicable, I do not attempt it.  If it
be practicable, I can accomplish it if I give sufficient pains to
it; and having begun, I never stop till the thing is done.  To this
rule I owe all my success."

Hunter occupied a great deal of his time in collecting definite
facts respecting matters which, before his day, were regarded as
exceedingly trivial.  Thus it was supposed by many of his
contemporaries that he was only wasting his time and thought in
studying so carefully as he did the growth of a deer's horn.  But
Hunter was impressed with the conviction that no accurate knowledge
of scientific facts is without its value.  By the study referred
to, he learnt how arteries accommodate themselves to circumstances,
and enlarge as occasion requires; and the knowledge thus acquired
emboldened him, in a case of aneurism in a branch artery, to tie
the main trunk where no surgeon before him had dared to tie it, and
the life of his patient was saved.  Like many original men, he
worked for a long time as it were underground, digging and laying
foundations.  He was a solitary and self-reliant genius, holding on
his course without the solace of sympathy or approbation,--for but
few of his contemporaries perceived the ultimate object of his
pursuits.  But like all true workers, he did not fail in securing
his best reward--that which depends less upon others than upon
one's self--the approval of conscience, which in a right-minded man
invariably follows the honest and energetic performance of duty.

Ambrose Pare, the great French surgeon, was another illustrious
instance of close observation, patient application, and
indefatigable perseverance.  He was the son of a barber at Laval,
in Maine, where he was born in 1509.  His parents were too poor to
send him to school, but they placed him as foot-boy with the cure
of the village, hoping that under that learned man he might pick up
an education for himself.  But the cure kept him so busily employed
in grooming his mule and in other menial offices that the boy found
no time for learning.  While in his service, it happened that the
celebrated lithotomist, Cotot, came to Laval to operate on one of
the cure's ecclesiastical brethren.  Pare was present at the
operation, and was so much interested by it that he is said to have
from that time formed the determination of devoting himself to the
art of surgery.

Leaving the cure's household service, Pare apprenticed himself to a
barber-surgeon named Vialot, under whom he learnt to let blood,
draw teeth, and perform the minor operations.  After four years'
experience of this kind, he went to Paris to study at the school of
anatomy and surgery, meanwhile maintaining himself by his trade of
a barber.  He afterwards succeeded in obtaining an appointment as
assistant at the Hotel Dieu, where his conduct was so exemplary,
and his progress so marked, that the chief surgeon, Goupil,
entrusted him with the charge of the patients whom he could not
himself attend to.  After the usual course of instruction, Pare was
admitted a master barber-surgeon, and shortly after was appointed
to a charge with the French army under Montmorenci in Piedmont.
Pare was not a man to follow in the ordinary ruts of his
profession, but brought the resources of an ardent and original
mind to bear upon his daily work, diligently thinking out for
himself the rationale of diseases and their befitting remedies.
Before his time the wounded suffered much more at the hands of
their surgeons than they did at those of their enemies.  To stop
bleeding from gunshot wounds, the barbarous expedient was resorted
to of dressing them with boiling oil.  Haemorrhage was also stopped
by searing the wounds with a red-hot iron; and when amputation was
necessary, it was performed with a red-hot knife.  At first Pare
treated wounds according to the approved methods; but, fortunately,
on one occasion, running short of boiling oil, he substituted a
mild and emollient application.  He was in great fear all night
lest he should have done wrong in adopting this treatment; but was
greatly relieved next morning on finding his patients comparatively
comfortable, while those whose wounds had been treated in the usual
way were writhing in torment.  Such was the casual origin of one of
Pare's greatest improvements in the treatment of gun-shot wounds;
and he proceeded to adopt the emollient treatment in all future
cases.  Another still more important improvement was his employment
of the ligature in tying arteries to stop haemorrhage, instead of
the actual cautery.  Pare, however, met with the usual fate of
innovators and reformers.  His practice was denounced by his
surgical brethren as dangerous, unprofessional, and empirical; and
the older surgeons banded themselves together to resist its
adoption.  They reproached him for his want of education, more
especially for his ignorance of Latin and Greek; and they assailed
him with quotations from ancient writers, which he was unable
either to verify or refute.  But the best answer to his assailants
was the success of his practice.  The wounded soldiers called out
everywhere for Pare, and he was always at their service:  he tended
them carefully and affectionately; and he usually took leave of
them with the words, "I have dressed you; may God cure you."

After three years' active service as army-surgeon, Pare returned to
Paris with such a reputation that he was at once appointed surgeon
in ordinary to the King.  When Metz was besieged by the Spanish
army, under Charles V., the garrison suffered heavy loss, and the
number of wounded was very great.  The surgeons were few and
incompetent, and probably slew more by their bad treatment than the
Spaniards did by the sword.  The Duke of Guise, who commanded the
garrison, wrote to the King imploring him to send Pare to his help.
The courageous surgeon at once set out, and, after braving many
dangers (to use his own words, "d'estre pendu, estrangle ou mis en
pieces"), he succeeded in passing the enemy's lines, and entered
Metz in safety.  The Duke, the generals, and the captains gave him
an affectionate welcome; while the soldiers, when they heard of his
arrival, cried, "We no longer fear dying of our wounds; our friend
is among us."  In the following year Pare was in like manner with
the besieged in the town of Hesdin, which shortly fell before the
Duke of Savoy, and he was taken prisoner.  But having succeeded in
curing one of the enemy's chief officers of a serious wound, he was
discharged without ransom, and returned in safety to Paris.

The rest of his life was occupied in study, in self-improvement, in
piety, and in good deeds.  Urged by some of the most learned among
his contemporaries, he placed on record the results of his surgical
experience, in twenty-eight books, which were published by him at
different times.  His writings are valuable and remarkable chiefly
on account of the great number of facts and cases contained in
them, and the care with which he avoids giving any directions
resting merely upon theory unsupported by observation.  Pare
continued, though a Protestant, to hold the office of surgeon in
ordinary to the King; and during the Massacre of St. Bartholomew he
owed his life to the personal friendship of Charles IX., whom he
had on one occasion saved from the dangerous effects of a wound
inflicted by a clumsy surgeon in performing the operation of
venesection.  Brantome, in his 'Memoires,' thus speaks of the
King's rescue of Pare on the night of Saint Bartholomew--"He sent
to fetch him, and to remain during the night in his chamber and
wardrobe-room, commanding him not to stir, and saying that it was
not reasonable that a man who had preserved the lives of so many
people should himself be massacred."  Thus Pare escaped the horrors
of that fearful night, which he survived for many years, and was
permitted to die in peace, full of age and honours.

Harvey was as indefatigable a labourer as any we have named.  He
spent not less than eight long years of investigation and research
before he published his views of the circulation of the blood.  He
repeated and verified his experiments again and again, probably
anticipating the opposition he would have to encounter from the
profession on making known his discovery.  The tract in which he at
length announced his views, was a most modest one,--but simple,
perspicuous, and conclusive.  It was nevertheless received with
ridicule, as the utterance of a crack-brained impostor.  For some
time, he did not make a single convert, and gained nothing but
contumely and abuse.  He had called in question the revered
authority of the ancients; and it was even averred that his views
were calculated to subvert the authority of the Scriptures and
undermine the very foundations of morality and religion.  His
little practice fell away, and he was left almost without a friend.
This lasted for some years, until the great truth, held fast by
Harvey amidst all his adversity, and which had dropped into many
thoughtful minds, gradually ripened by further observation, and
after a period of about twenty-five years, it became generally
recognised as an established scientific truth.

The difficulties encountered by Dr. Jenner in promulgating and
establishing his discovery of vaccination as a preventive of small-
pox, were even greater than those of Harvey.  Many, before him, had
witnessed the cow-pox, and had heard of the report current among
the milkmaids in Gloucestershire, that whoever had taken that
disease was secure against small-pox.  It was a trifling, vulgar
rumour, supposed to have no significance whatever; and no one had
thought it worthy of investigation, until it was accidentally
brought under the notice of Jenner.  He was a youth, pursuing his
studies at Sodbury, when his attention was arrested by the casual
observation made by a country girl who came to his master's shop
for advice.  The small-pox was mentioned, when the girl said, "I
can't take that disease, for I have had cow-pox."  The observation
immediately riveted Jenner's attention, and he forthwith set about
inquiring and making observations on the subject.  His professional
friends, to whom he mentioned his views as to the prophylactic
virtues of cow-pox, laughed at him, and even threatened to expel
him from their society, if he persisted in harassing them with the
subject.  In London he was so fortunate as to study under John
Hunter, to whom he communicated his views.  The advice of the great
anatomist was thoroughly characteristic:  "Don't think, but TRY; be
patient, be accurate."  Jenner's courage was supported by the
advice, which conveyed to him the true art of philosophical
investigation.  He went back to the country to practise his
profession and make observations and experiments, which he
continued to pursue for a period of twenty years.  His faith in his
discovery was so implicit that he vaccinated his own son on three
several occasions.  At length he published his views in a quarto of
about seventy pages, in which he gave the details of twenty-three
cases of successful vaccination of individuals, to whom it was
found afterwards impossible to communicate the small-pox either by
contagion or inoculation.  It was in 1798 that this treatise was
published; though he had been working out his ideas since the year
1775, when they had begun to assume a definite form.

How was the discovery received?  First with indifference, then with
active hostility.  Jenner proceeded to London to exhibit to the
profession the process of vaccination and its results; but not a
single medical man could be induced to make trial of it, and after
fruitlessly waiting for nearly three months, he returned to his
native village.  He was even caricatured and abused for his attempt
to "bestialize" his species by the introduction into their systems
of diseased matter from the cow's udder.  Vaccination was denounced
from the pulpit as "diabolical."  It was averred that vaccinated
children became "ox-faced," that abscesses broke out to "indicate
sprouting horns," and that the countenance was gradually
"transmuted into the visage of a cow, the voice into the bellowing
of bulls."  Vaccination, however, was a truth, and notwithstanding
the violence of the opposition, belief in it spread slowly.  In one
village, where a gentleman tried to introduce the practice, the
first persons who permitted themselves to be vaccinated were
absolutely pelted and driven into their houses if they appeared out
of doors.  Two ladies of title--Lady Ducie and the Countess of
Berkeley--to their honour be it remembered--had the courage to
vaccinate their children; and the prejudices of the day were at
once broken through.  The medical profession gradually came round,
and there were several who even sought to rob Dr. Jenner of the
merit of the discovery, when its importance came to be recognised.
Jenner's cause at last triumphed, and he was publicly honoured and
rewarded.  In his prosperity he was as modest as he had been in his
obscurity.  He was invited to settle in London, and told that he
might command a practice of 10,000l. a year.  But his answer was,
"No!  In the morning of my days I have sought the sequestered and
lowly paths of life--the valley, and not the mountain,--and now, in
the evening of my days, it is not meet for me to hold myself up as
an object for fortune and for fame."  During Jenner's own life-time
the practice of vaccination became adopted all over the civilized
world; and when he died, his title as a Benefactor of his kind was
recognised far and wide.  Cuvier has said, "If vaccine were the
only discovery of the epoch, it would serve to render it
illustrious for ever; yet it knocked twenty times in vain at the
doors of the Academies."

Not less patient, resolute, and persevering was Sir Charles Bell in
the prosecution of his discoveries relating to the nervous system.
Previous to his time, the most confused notions prevailed as to the
functions of the nerves, and this branch of study was little more
advanced than it had been in the times of Democritus and Anaxagoras
three thousand years before.  Sir Charles Bell, in the valuable
series of papers the publication of which was commenced in 1821,
took an entirely original view of the subject, based upon a long
series of careful, accurate, and oft-repeated experiments.
Elaborately tracing the development of the nervous system up from
the lowest order of animated being, to man--the lord of the animal
kingdom,--he displayed it, to use his own words, "as plainly as if
it were written in our mother-tongue."  His discovery consisted in
the fact, that the spinal nerves are double in their function, and
arise by double roots from the spinal marrow,--volition being
conveyed by that part of the nerves springing from the one root,
and sensation by the other.  The subject occupied the mind of Sir
Charles Bell for a period of forty years, when, in 1840, he laid
his last paper before the Royal Society.  As in the cases of Harvey
and Jenner, when he had lived down the ridicule and opposition with
which his views were first received, and their truth came to be
recognised, numerous claims for priority in making the discovery
were set up at home and abroad.  Like them, too, he lost practice
by the publication of his papers; and he left it on record that,
after every step in his discovery, he was obliged to work harder
than ever to preserve his reputation as a practitioner.  The great
merits of Sir Charles Bell were, however, at length fully
recognised; and Cuvier himself, when on his death-bed, finding his
face distorted and drawn to one side, pointed out the symptom to
his attendants as a proof of the correctness of Sir Charles Bell's

An equally devoted pursuer of the same branch of science was the
late Dr. Marshall Hall, whose name posterity will rank with those
of Harvey, Hunter, Jenner, and Bell.  During the whole course of
his long and useful life he was a most careful and minute observer;
and no fact, however apparently insignificant, escaped his
attention.  His important discovery of the diastaltic nervous
system, by which his name will long be known amongst scientific
men, originated in an exceedingly simple circumstance.  When
investigating the pneumonic circulation in the Triton, the
decapitated object lay upon the table; and on separating the tail
and accidentally pricking the external integument, he observed that
it moved with energy, and became contorted into various forms.  He
had not touched a muscle or a muscular nerve; what then was the
nature of these movements?  The same phenomena had probably been
often observed before, but Dr. Hall was the first to apply himself
perseveringly to the investigation of their causes; and he
exclaimed on the occasion, "I will never rest satisfied until I
have found all this out, and made it clear."  His attention to the
subject was almost incessant; and it is estimated that in the
course of his life he devoted not less than 25,000 hours to its
experimental and chemical investigation.  He was at the same time
carrying on an extensive private practice, and officiating as
lecturer at St. Thomas's Hospital and other Medical Schools.  It
will scarcely be credited that the paper in which he embodied his
discovery was rejected by the Royal Society, and was only accepted
after the lapse of seventeen years, when the truth of his views had
become acknowledged by scientific men both at home and abroad.

The life of Sir William Herschel affords another remarkable
illustration of the force of perseverance in another branch of
science.  His father was a poor German musician, who brought up his
four sons to the same calling.  William came over to England to
seek his fortune, and he joined the band of the Durham Militia, in
which he played the oboe.  The regiment was lying at Doncaster,
where Dr. Miller first became acquainted with Herschel, having
heard him perform a solo on the violin in a surprising manner.  The
Doctor entered into conversation with the youth, and was so pleased
with him, that he urged him to leave the militia and take up his
residence at his house for a time.  Herschel did so, and while at
Doncaster was principally occupied in violin-playing at concerts,
availing himself of the advantages of Dr. Miller's library to study
at his leisure hours.  A new organ having been built for the parish
church of Halifax, an organist was advertised for, on which
Herschel applied for the office, and was selected.  Leading the
wandering life of an artist, he was next attracted to Bath, where
he played in the Pump-room band, and also officiated as organist in
the Octagon chapel.  Some recent discoveries in astronomy having
arrested his mind, and awakened in him a powerful spirit of
curiosity, he sought and obtained from a friend the loan of a two-
foot Gregorian telescope.  So fascinated was the poor musician by
the science, that he even thought of purchasing a telescope, but
the price asked by the London optician was so alarming, that he
determined to make one.  Those who know what a reflecting telescope
is, and the skill which is required to prepare the concave metallic
speculum which forms the most important part of the apparatus, will
be able to form some idea of the difficulty of this undertaking.
Nevertheless, Herschel succeeded, after long and painful labour, in
completing a five-foot reflector, with which he had the
gratification of observing the ring and satellites of Saturn.  Not
satisfied with his triumph, he proceeded to make other instruments
in succession, of seven, ten, and even twenty feet.  In
constructing the seven-foot reflector, he finished no fewer than
two hundred specula before he produced one that would bear any
power that was applied to it,--a striking instance of the
persevering laboriousness of the man.  While gauging the heavens
with his instruments, he continued patiently to earn his bread by
piping to the fashionable frequenters of the Pump-room.  So eager
was he in his astronomical observations, that he would steal away
from the room during an interval of the performance, give a little
turn at his telescope, and contentedly return to his oboe.  Thus
working away, Herschel discovered the Georgium Sidus, the orbit and
rate of motion of which he carefully calculated, and sent the
result to the Royal Society; when the humble oboe player found
himself at once elevated from obscurity to fame.  He was shortly
after appointed Astronomer Royal, and by the kindness of George
III. was placed in a position of honourable competency for life.
He bore his honours with the same meekness and humility which had
distinguished him in the days of his obscurity.  So gentle and
patient, and withal so distinguished and successful a follower of
science under difficulties, perhaps cannot be found in the entire
history of biography.

The career of William Smith, the father of English geology, though
perhaps less known, is not less interesting and instructive as an
example of patient and laborious effort, and the diligent
cultivation of opportunities.  He was born in 1769, the son of a
yeoman farmer at Churchill, in Oxfordshire.  His father dying when
he was but a child, he received a very sparing education at the
village school, and even that was to a considerable extent
interfered with by his wandering and somewhat idle habits as a boy.
His mother having married a second time, he was taken in charge by
an uncle, also a farmer, by whom he was brought up.  Though the
uncle was by no means pleased with the boy's love of wandering
about, collecting "poundstones," "pundips," and other stony
curiosities which lay scattered about the adjoining land, he yet
enabled him to purchase a few of the necessary books wherewith to
instruct himself in the rudiments of geometry and surveying; for
the boy was already destined for the business of a land-surveyor.
One of his marked characteristics, even as a youth, was the
accuracy and keenness of his observation; and what he once clearly
saw he never forgot.  He began to draw, attempted to colour, and
practised the arts of mensuration and surveying, all without
regular instruction; and by his efforts in self-culture, he shortly
became so proficient, that he was taken on as assistant to a local
surveyor of ability in the neighbourhood.  In carrying on his
business he was constantly under the necessity of traversing
Oxfordshire and the adjoining counties.  One of the first things he
seriously pondered over, was the position of the various soils and
strata that came under his notice on the lands which he surveyed or
travelled over; more especially the position of the red earth in
regard to the lias and superincumbent rocks.  The surveys of
numerous collieries which he was called upon to make, gave him
further experience; and already, when only twenty-three years of
age, he contemplated making a model of the strata of the earth.

While engaged in levelling for a proposed canal in Gloucestershire,
the idea of a general law occurred to him relating to the strata of
that district.  He conceived that the strata lying above the coal
were not laid horizontally, but inclined, and in one direction,
towards the east; resembling, on a large scale, "the ordinary
appearance of superposed slices of bread and butter."  The
correctness of this theory he shortly after confirmed by
observations of the strata in two parallel valleys, the "red
ground," "lias," and "freestone" or "oolite," being found to come
down in an eastern direction, and to sink below the level, yielding
place to the next in succession.  He was shortly enabled to verify
the truth of his views on a larger scale, having been appointed to
examine personally into the management of canals in England and
Wales.  During his journeys, which extended from Bath to Newcastle-
on-Tyne, returning by Shropshire and Wales, his keen eyes were
never idle for a moment.  He rapidly noted the aspect and structure
of the country through which he passed with his companions,
treasuring up his observations for future use.  His geologic vision
was so acute, that though the road along which he passed from York
to Newcastle in the post chaise was from five to fifteen miles
distant from the hills of chalk and oolite on the east, he was
satisfied as to their nature, by their contours and relative
position, and their ranges on the surface in relation to the lias
and "red ground" occasionally seen on the road.

The general results of his observation seem to have been these.  He
noted that the rocky masses of country in the western parts of
England generally inclined to the east and south-east; that the red
sandstones and marls above the coal measures passed beneath the
lias, clay, and limestone, that these again passed beneath the
sands, yellow limestones and clays, forming the table-land of the
Cotswold Hills, while these in turn passed beneath the great chalk
deposits occupying the eastern parts of England.  He further
observed, that each layer of clay, sand, and limestone held its own
peculiar classes of fossils; and pondering much on these things, he
at length came to the then unheard-of conclusion, that each
distinct deposit of marine animals, in these several strata,
indicated a distinct sea-bottom, and that each layer of clay, sand,
chalk, and stone, marked a distinct epoch of time in the history of
the earth.

This idea took firm possession of his mind, and he could talk and
think of nothing else.  At canal boards, at sheep-shearings, at
county meetings, and at agricultural associations, 'Strata Smith,'
as he came to be called, was always running over with the subject
that possessed him.  He had indeed made a great discovery, though
he was as yet a man utterly unknown in the scientific world.  He
proceeded to project a map of the stratification of England; but
was for some time deterred from proceeding with it, being fully
occupied in carrying out the works of the Somersetshire coal canal,
which engaged him for a period of about six years.  He continued,
nevertheless, to be unremitting in his observation of facts; and he
became so expert in apprehending the internal structure of a
district and detecting the lie of the strata from its external
configuration, that he was often consulted respecting the drainage
of extensive tracts of land, in which, guided by his geological
knowledge, he proved remarkably successful, and acquired an
extensive reputation.

One day, when looking over the cabinet collection of fossils
belonging to the Rev. Samuel Richardson, at Bath, Smith astonished
his friend by suddenly disarranging his classification, and re-
arranging the fossils in their stratigraphical order, saying--
"These came from the blue lias, these from the over-lying sand and
freestone, these from the fuller's earth, and these from the Bath
building stone."  A new light flashed upon Mr. Richardson's mind,
and he shortly became a convert to and believer in William Smith's
doctrine.  The geologists of the day were not, however, so easily
convinced; and it was scarcely to be tolerated that an unknown
land-surveyor should pretend to teach them the science of geology.
But William Smith had an eye and mind to penetrate deep beneath the
skin of the earth; he saw its very fibre and skeleton, and, as it
were, divined its organization.  His knowledge of the strata in the
neighbourhood of Bath was so accurate, that one evening, when
dining at the house of the Rev. Joseph Townsend, he dictated to Mr.
Richardson the different strata according to their order of
succession in descending order, twenty-three in number, commencing
with the chalk and descending in continuous series down to the
coal, below which the strata were not then sufficiently determined.
To this was added a list of the more remarkable fossils which had
been gathered in the several layers of rock.  This was printed and
extensively circulated in 1801.

He next determined to trace out the strata through districts as
remote from Bath as his means would enable him to reach.  For years
he journeyed to and fro, sometimes on foot, sometimes on horseback,
riding on the tops of stage coaches, often making up by night-
travelling the time he had lost by day, so as not to fail in his
ordinary business engagements.  When he was professionally called
away to any distance from home--as, for instance, when travelling
from Bath to Holkham, in Norfolk, to direct the irrigation and
drainage of Mr. Coke's land in that county--he rode on horseback,
making frequent detours from the road to note the geological
features of the country which he traversed.

For several years he was thus engaged in his journeys to distant
quarters in England and Ireland, to the extent of upwards of ten
thousand miles yearly; and it was amidst this incessant and
laborious travelling, that he contrived to commit to paper his
fast-growing generalizations on what he rightly regarded as a new
science.  No observation, howsoever trivial it might appear, was
neglected, and no opportunity of collecting fresh facts was
overlooked.  Whenever he could, he possessed himself of records of
borings, natural and artificial sections, drew them to a constant
scale of eight yards to the inch, and coloured them up.  Of his
keenness of observation take the following illustration.  When
making one of his geological excursions about the country near
Woburn, as he was drawing near to the foot of the Dunstable chalk
hills, he observed to his companion, "If there be any broken ground
about the foot of these hills, we may find SHARK'S TEETH;" and they
had not proceeded far, before they picked up six from the white
bank of a new fence-ditch.  As he afterwards said of himself, "The
habit of observation crept on me, gained a settlement in my mind,
became a constant associate of my life, and started up in activity
at the first thought of a journey; so that I generally went off
well prepared with maps, and sometimes with contemplations on its
objects, or on those on the road, reduced to writing before it
commenced.  My mind was, therefore, like the canvas of a painter,
well prepared for the first and best impressions."

Notwithstanding his courageous and indefatigable industry, many
circumstances contributed to prevent the promised publication of
William Smith's 'Map of the Strata of England and Wales,' and it
was not until 1814 that he was enabled, by the assistance of some
friends, to give to the world the fruits of his twenty years'
incessant labour.  To prosecute his inquiries, and collect the
extensive series of facts and observations requisite for his
purpose, he had to expend the whole of the profits of his
professional labours during that period; and he even sold off his
small property to provide the means of visiting remoter parts of
the island.  Meanwhile he had entered on a quarrying speculation
near Bath, which proved unsuccessful, and he was under the
necessity of selling his geological collection (which was purchased
by the British Museum), his furniture and library, reserving only
his papers, maps, and sections, which were useless save to himself.
He bore his losses and misfortunes with exemplary fortitude; and
amidst all, he went on working with cheerful courage and untiring
patience.  He died at Northampton, in August, 1839, while on his
way to attend the meeting of the British Association at Birmingham.

It is difficult to speak in terms of too high praise of the first
geological map of England, which we owe to the industry of this
courageous man of science.  An accomplished writer says of it, "It
was a work so masterly in conception and so correct in general
outline, that in principle it served as a basis not only for the
production of later maps of the British Islands, but for geological
maps of all other parts of the world, wherever they have been
undertaken.  In the apartments of the Geological Society Smith's
map may yet be seen--a great historical document, old and worn,
calling for renewal of its faded tints.  Let any one conversant
with the subject compare it with later works on a similar scale,
and he will find that in all essential features it will not suffer
by the comparison--the intricate anatomy of the Silurian rocks of
Wales and the north of England by Murchison and Sedgwick being the
chief additions made to his great generalizations." {20}  The
genius of the Oxfordshire surveyor did not fail to be duly
recognised and honoured by men of science during his lifetime.  In
1831 the Geological Society of London awarded to him the Wollaston
medal, "in consideration of his being a great original discoverer
in English geology, and especially for his being the first in this
country to discover and to teach the identification of strata, and
to determine their succession by means of their imbedded fossils."
William Smith, in his simple, earnest way, gained for himself a
name as lasting as the science he loved so well.  To use the words
of the writer above quoted, "Till the manner as well as the fact of
the first appearance of successive forms of life shall be solved,
it is not easy to surmise how any discovery can be made in geology
equal in value to that which we owe to the genius of William

Hugh Miller was a man of like observant faculties, who studied
literature as well as science with zeal and success.  The book in
which he has told the story of his life, ('My Schools and
Schoolmasters'), is extremely interesting, and calculated to be
eminently useful.  It is the history of the formation of a truly
noble character in the humblest condition of life; and inculcates
most powerfully the lessons of self-help, self-respect, and self-
dependence.  While Hugh was but a child, his father, who was a
sailor, was drowned at sea, and he was brought up by his widowed
mother.  He had a school training after a sort, but his best
teachers were the boys with whom he played, the men amongst whom he
worked, the friends and relatives with whom he lived.  He read much
and miscellaneously, and picked up odd sorts of knowledge from many
quarters,--from workmen, carpenters, fishermen and sailors, and
above all, from the old boulders strewed along the shores of the
Cromarty Frith.  With a big hammer which had belonged to his great-
grandfather, an old buccaneer, the boy went about chipping the
stones, and accumulating specimens of mica, porphyry, garnet, and
such like.  Sometimes he had a day in the woods, and there, too,
the boy's attention was excited by the peculiar geological
curiosities which came in his way.  While searching among the rocks
on the beach, he was sometimes asked, in irony, by the farm
servants who came to load their carts with sea-weed, whether he
"was gettin' siller in the stanes," but was so unlucky as never to
be able to answer in the affirmative.  When of a suitable age he
was apprenticed to the trade of his choice--that of a working
stonemason; and he began his labouring career in a quarry looking
out upon the Cromarty Frith.  This quarry proved one of his best
schools.  The remarkable geological formations which it displayed
awakened his curiosity.  The bar of deep-red stone beneath, and the
bar of pale-red clay above, were noted by the young quarryman, who
even in such unpromising subjects found matter for observation and
reflection.  Where other men saw nothing, he detected analogies,
differences, and peculiarities, which set him a-thinking.  He
simply kept his eyes and his mind open; was sober, diligent, and
persevering; and this was the secret of his intellectual growth.

His curiosity was excited and kept alive by the curious organic
remains, principally of old and extinct species of fishes, ferns,
and ammonites, which were revealed along the coast by the washings
of the waves, or were exposed by the stroke of his mason's hammer.
He never lost sight of the subject; but went on accumulating
observations and comparing formations, until at length, many years
afterwards, when no longer a working mason, he gave to the world
his highly interesting work on the Old Red Sandstone, which at once
established his reputation as a scientific geologist.  But this
work was the fruit of long years of patient observation and
research.  As he modestly states in his autobiography, "the only
merit to which I lay claim in the case is that of patient research-
-a merit in which whoever wills may rival or surpass me; and this
humble faculty of patience, when rightly developed, may lead to
more extraordinary developments of idea than even genius itself."

The late John Brown, the eminent English geologist, was, like
Miller, a stonemason in his early life, serving an apprenticeship
to the trade at Colchester, and afterwards working as a journeyman
mason at Norwich.  He began business as a builder on his own
account at Colchester, where by frugality and industry he secured a
competency.  It was while working at his trade that his attention
was first drawn to the study of fossils and shells; and he
proceeded to make a collection of them, which afterwards grew into
one of the finest in England.  His researches along the coasts of
Essex, Kent, and Sussex brought to light some magnificent remains
of the elephant and rhinoceros, the most valuable of which were
presented by him to the British Museum.  During the last few years
of his life he devoted considerable attention to the study of the
Foraminifera in chalk, respecting which he made several interesting
discoveries.  His life was useful, happy, and honoured; and he died
at Stanway, in Essex, in November 1859, at the ripe age of eighty

Not long ago, Sir Roderick Murchison discovered at Thurso, in the
far north of Scotland, a profound geologist, in the person of a
baker there, named Robert Dick.  When Sir Roderick called upon him
at the bakehouse in which he baked and earned his bread, Robert
Dick delineated to him, by means of flour upon the board, the
geographical features and geological phenomena of his native
county, pointing out the imperfections in the existing maps, which
he had ascertained by travelling over the country in his leisure
hours.  On further inquiry, Sir Roderick ascertained that the
humble individual before him was not only a capital baker and
geologist, but a first-rate botanist.  "I found," said the
President of the Geographical Society, "to my great humiliation
that the baker knew infinitely more of botanical science, ay, ten
times more, than I did; and that there were only some twenty or
thirty specimens of flowers which he had not collected.  Some he
had obtained as presents, some he had purchased, but the greater
portion had been accumulated by his industry, in his native county
of Caithness; and the specimens were all arranged in the most
beautiful order, with their scientific names affixed."

Sir Roderick Murchison himself is an illustrious follower of these
and kindred branches of science.  A writer in the 'Quarterly
Review' cites him as a "singular instance of a man who, having
passed the early part of his life as a soldier, never having had
the advantage, or disadvantage as the case might have been, of a
scientific training, instead of remaining a fox-hunting country
gentleman, has succeeded by his own native vigour and sagacity,
untiring industry and zeal, in making for himself a scientific
reputation that is as wide as it is likely to be lasting.  He took
first of all an unexplored and difficult district at home, and, by
the labour of many years, examined its rock-formations, classed
them in natural groups, assigned to each its characteristic
assemblage of fossils, and was the first to decipher two great
chapters in the world's geological history, which must always
henceforth carry his name on their title-page.  Not only so, but he
applied the knowledge thus acquired to the dissection of large
districts, both at home and abroad, so as to become the geological
discoverer of great countries which had formerly been 'terrae
incognitae.'"  But Sir Roderick Murchison is not merely a
geologist.  His indefatigable labours in many branches of knowledge
have contributed to render him among the most accomplished and
complete of scientific men.