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Children. In the early part of his career he entered on some original investigations in chemistry, and pursued them with much success. His friends have much regretted that he did not continue to distinguish himself in this manner afterwards. It is, however, easy to be explained. He married Mr. Hatchett's youngest daughter. He had a large family, and had abundance of occupation in his endeavours to obtain the income which, in his condition of life, was necessary to maintain them. He held an office, which he holds still, in the Royal Mint. He held another office as director of the laboratory belonging to the Society of Apothecaries. He delivered an annual course of lectures, as Professor of the Royal Institution, and he also delivered a lecture three mornings in the week, during the winter, in the laboratory of the Institution ; forming an extended course of chemistry, which was attended by the medical students of St. George's Hospital, and by many others, and which made a constant exertion necessary to keep him on a level with the increasing knowledge of the day. In fact, his life was one of incessant labour, and he had no leisure for other pursuits. If Davy or Faraday had had large families to provide for, they would not have had sufficient leisure, nor sufficient freedom from anxiety, to distinguish themselves as they have done in the line of original research.
The meetings of the Animal Chemistry Club, while it was limited to its original members, were to me very interesting and instructive. Hatchett, who had now inherited a considerable fortune on the death of his father, had ceased to work in chemistry (in spite of the remonstrance of Sir Joseph Banks, who used to say to him in his rough way that he would find being a gentleman of fortune was a confounded bad trade”), but he had previously laid up a large store of knowledge, abounded in the materials of conversation, and was a delightful companion. Davy, who in general society was generally over-anxious to display himself to advantage and thought too much of what others would think of him, with us retained his original simplicity, and was quite at his ease. Whatever was the subject of conversation, he
had something to offer and something to suggest, which showed in how remarkable a degree he combined within himself a highly poetical imagination with a strict, cautious, and accurate judgment. Babington, the intimate friend of Davy, to whom he dedicated his “Salmonia,' with a good deal of scientific knowledge, was full of the most kind and generous feelings, and his conversation was enlivened by appropriate anecdotes, with a fund, I will not say of wit, but of infinite humour. Home, besides his acquirements as a naturalist and comparative anatomist, possessed a knowledge of the world and of human nature which, displaying itself every now and then, and without premeditation, afforded much useful information to younger men; otherwise he was no great master of the art of conversation, or at least not at all to be compared in this respect to either Hatchett or Davy.
I may take this opportunity of mentioning another society to which I at this time belonged. It was founded in the year 1793, by John Hunter and Dr. Fordyce, under the name of a 'Society for the Promotion of Medical and Chirurgical Knowledge.' It was originally composed of nine members, with a provision that it might be increased to twelve, but that it should never exceed that number. When they were so kind as to elect me into it, in 1808, Fordyce, John Hunter, and Dr. John Hunter, three of the original members, had been removed from it by death. The existing members were Dr. Baillie, Mr. Home, Dr. (afterwards Sir Gilbert) Blane, Dr. John Clarke, Dr. Robertson Barclay (a son of Dr. Robertson, the historian), Dr. Wells, Mr. (afterwards Sir Patrick) Macgregor, Mr. Wilson, Dr. David Pitcairn, and Dr. Lister. The society had already published two volumes, and another was being prepared for publication. We met at dinner once in a month (except during the summer) at Slaughter's coffee-house in St. Martin's Lane. The papers communicated were first read, and then discussed and corrected after dinner. Dr. Wells, who acted as secretary, was the most active member, and took a great deal of trouble even in correcting the literary composition of the papers. The third and last
volume of their transactions was published in the year 1812, and contained one short paper of very little value contributed by myself. From this time the society continued to exist merely as a dining club, Dr. Wells having resigned the secretaryship, to which, though it had become little more than a nominal office, I succeeded. The meetings, however, were very regularly attended, and were, to myself at least, very useful and instructive. In the year 1817, Dr. Wells, who had always been a person of delicate health, became affected with a serious illness, which after some months terminated fatally. Not long before his death, he addressed, through me, a letter to the Society, which I still possess, proposing, as it was not probable that they would ever publish another volume, that the Society should be dissolved. I suspect that he was apprehensive that, if it continued to exist, its future volumes would not maintain the reputation of those which had preceded them. However that might be, the Society acted on his suggestion, and on June 2, 1818, the formal dissolution of it took place, it being agreed that