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THE ITALIAN BOY;
FREDERICK WARNE AND CG
BEDFORD STREET, COVENT GARDEN.
New York: SCRIBNER, WELFORD, AND ARMSTRONG
THE ITALIAN BOY . 1
SIR HUMPHRY DAVY * 12
JAMES FERGUSON > 36
CAPTAIN COOK 46
WILLIAM HUTTON 74
PETER THE GREAT 91
ALEXANDER SELKIRK 1. 0 .. 108
INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
THE ITALIAN BOY.
A KIND old man was one day walking through a
village in the country. He heard a loud noise of
shouting and hallooing at a little distance. He
stopped, and, leaning on his stick, waited to see
what was the matter. He soon saw a poor Italian
boy coming towards him, running fast from a num-
ber of the village children, who were scampering at
his heels, throwing stones, and pelting him with dirt,
and mocking and laughing at him.
The old man walked as fast as he could up to
the Italian boy, and promising that he would take
care of him, called out to the village boys and girls
to stop. The poor fellow stood close to the old man,
and his little enemies ceased annoying him.
"My poor child," said the old man, I am very
sorry to see you so ill-used, because you happen to
S INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
be a stranger and without friends here. But these
children shall not hurt you any more. Take this
sixpence, and proceed on your journey."
"And you," he said to the little mob of children,
"stay here, for I wish to talk to you."
The Italian boy thanked the kind old man over
and over again, and, putting the sixpence into his
pocket, he walked away.
The children stood round the old man. They
were rather afraid of his stick; but the old man
did not lay his stick about their shoulders, as they
might have expected. He desired them to follow him
to a log of wood that was lying on the ground by
the roadside; and he looked so good-natured, that
the children willingly obeyed.
The old man took his seat on this log, and then
said to the children: In teasing and pelting this
poor boy, you think, I dare say, that he is not so
good as yourselves; for if you thought he was good,
you would not ill-treat him. You would not pelt
a boy born in your own village, who made himself
useful to his father and mother, and was a kind
Oh! no," said all the children.
"Well, then, who this poor boy may be, I do not
know any more than yourselves; but we ought not
to think ill of him till we know that he has done
something bad. I will now tell you a story about a
THE ITALIAN BOY. 3
little Italian boy that I once knew, and this story
may show you that some Italian boys, at least, are
good, and ought to be well treated."
The story which was told by the old man on this
occasion was as follows:-
Some time ago a war was begun between France
and Italy, and many poor men in both countries
were taken to become soldiers, that is, were forced
to quit their own homes, where they were engaged
in working for the support of their families, to -go
into foreign lands to kill other men, and to plunder
the peaceable inhabitants, by whom they had never
been harmed. Among the Italians thus forced away
was a poor man, living near Naples, who'was carried
off with many others to serve as a soldier in the
Italian army. To be forced to serve as a soldier
came particularly hard upon this poor man, for he
had already been severely afflicted. The winter
before he had lost his wife, and there was nobody
but himself to take care of his little boy, whom
he was now about to leave, against his wish.
He was very fond of this child, and they had
never been separated from each other. Since the
death of his wife, the poor man had had no other
companion than this little boy, with the exception of
a favourite dog. They ate together, they worked
together, they played together, they slept together;
and on holidays, and during the warm evenings of
4 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
the delicious summer months, the father used to
amuse himself with blowing some tunes upon a
pandean pipe. To these tunes his little boy, seated
on the ground at his feet, or mounted on his knee,
would listen earnestly, and would often beg his
father to let him try to play upon the pipe also.
In a short time, by listening and practising, the
boy learnt to blow some tunes in his turn very
This pipe, when he went away, the poor man
left with his boy.
An order arrived to hasten his departure, so that
he had only time to give Juan, for that was the
boy's name, to the care of an old woman who lived
near him. He kissed his child, folded him in his
arms, and, with tears in his eyes, told him to be a
good boy, and that he hoped soon to come back and
see him again.
"' Good-bye, my faithful Fido,' said he, patting the
dog, who stood close to him; take care of my lonely
child whilst I am away.'
"The dog looked wistfully in his master's face, as
if he understood the words that had been spoken to
him, and licked his hands, as though promising to
attend to his orders.
Juan cried, for he did not like to see his father
The poor man went. Week after week passed
THE ITALIAN BOY. 5
on. Every night, young Juan, when he went to
bed, said, I hope my dear father will be here to-
morrow.' Every morning he got up early, and
before he ate his breakfast, he ran a long way down
the road to look for his father. But no father was
there. Every morning he came back to the old
woman's cottage very sad, and often crying.
In all these rambles the dog Fido accompanied
him, and would hang down his head, and walk
slowly home after him with his tail between his
legs, as if conscious of, and sharing in, the sorrows
of his little master, stopping when he stopped, and
lying down on the ground, when Juan, lingering
still with hope, sat down a few minutes to prolong
"News came that the war was ended, and that
the soldiers would soon all return to their homes.
Some of the fellow-soldiers of Juan's father did
return. Juan's thoughts all ran upon the pleasure
of again seeing his father. He could hardly eat or
drink; and when he went to bed, he dreamt of his
But still no father came; and the boy began to
be as sad as ever again.
One day, a soldier, who was on his way home,
stopped at the old woman's cottage, and asked for
some water to drink. Juan saw that he had a dress
on precisely like that which had been given to his
6 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
father. He whispered to the old woman, Ask him
if he knows where my father is, and when he is
"'I dare say he is dead,' said the man, for he
had many wounds. He was so ill that he could
not march on, and I left him at a cottage in a village
near Milan. It is a long way from here.'
When Juan heard this, he did not sit down and
cry, for that would do his father no good. Tears,
it is true, came into his eyes, but he wiped them
away, and he made up his mind to set off and find
Why did he do so? I will tell you.
He thought that strangers would not attend to
his father so well or so kindly as he would. They
do not care for him,' said he, 'so much as I do: I
can wait upon him much better than they will.'
"The next morning, as soon as the sun rose,
Juan was ready. He called his dog, and took the
pipe which his father had given him.
"' I will play the tunes which my father taught
me upon this pipe as I go along,' said he, 'and then
I shall get a little bread from kind people, and so
support myself till I find my father.'
Thus did this brave child set off. Many weeks
he walked all day long, and very often he slept in
the open air upon a bank by the roadside. Whilst
he slept, his dog lay down at his side.
THE ITALIAN BOY.
Sometimes the people lie met did not want
music, and sometimes when they did, they only
gave him a small piece of bread for his trouble.
"Some few gave him a little money. He took
great care of this; so that, when no food was given
to him, he might be able to buy some.
"Through all his hardships he was cheerful, and
thanked the people, whether he got much or little,
for what they gave him.
At every meal, however scanty, he always shared
such food as he had with his good dog Fido. But
Juan and his dog led a hard life, and were often
without a morsel to eat.
One day, after he had walked many miles and
was very hungry, he came up to a cottage. Some
boys and girls were romping with great fun outside
the door. Juan at any other time would have liked
to have joined them in their fun, but now his thoughts
were bent on something else.
He went up to them, and began to play a
tune. The children were so pleased with the music,
that they left off their game, and gathered round
When he had finished his tune, he asked whether
they would like him to play any more.
"' Oh, yes-yes !' cried the children.
"' Will you give me a seat, then, for I am tired ?"
8 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
"I' Come into the house,' said the boys, 'and play
Oh, no,' cried the eldest of the girls, 'he must
not, because of the sick soldier.'
"Juan heard this-' Let me come in-let me come
in,' said he, 'and let me see the man, for my father
is a soldier.'
He could say no more, he could hardly draw his
breath, he felt so anxious.
"' This must be the cottage the soldier meant,'
said he. Oh, if I should find my dear-dear father
here!'-he could not go on speaking.
'Is your name Juan ?' asked one of the girls.
Yes,' said Juan.
'Then, perhaps, you are the little boy that the
sick man talks so much about, and wishes so much
"to see!'. said the girl.
Let me go to the room where he lies,' cried the
eager Juan. Oh! do let me go.'
I must first see if he is awake,' replied the girl.
'He sleeps so little, owing to the pain of his wounds,
that it would be unkind to wake him.'
So she went into the cottage gently, and opened
the door. She looked in, and, turning round to Juan,
put her finger to her lip, and quietly shut the door
again, and then walked on tiptoe out of the cottage.
He is sleeping now,' she whispered. If you
want to see him, you must wait'
THE ITALIAN BOY. 9
'Play us a tune,' said the children, 'and we will
ask our mother to give you some supper.'
"Juan was hungry and tired, but he could not
play on his pipe. He sat down on the ground, and
leaned his head upon his hands, his heart beating,
and tears gathering in his eyes.
The children looked at him, and one of them
said, 'Are you ill, little boy?'
'No,' said Juan. If I have found my father, I
am quite well.'
The children then continued their games, and in
their fun soon forgot the poor little boy and his pipe.
Fido laid himself down close to his young master,
and went to sleep.
The time seemed to pass very slowly. Poor
Juan thought the sick man slept a long time, and he
was on the point of falling asleep too, when, sud-
denly, he heard a voice call out from the cottage,
'Bring me some drink.' He started up; he knew
the voice. It was his father's!
Happy child! he rushed into the cottage, opened
the bedroom door, and threw his arms round his
His father did not at first perceive that it was
his own boy who was hugging him so closely. But
when the dog Fido leaped upon the bed, wagging his
tail and barking with joy, then he knew him to be
Juan, and his joy also was great.
to INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
"' My good child,' said he, I shall soon be
well now you have come, and we will all go home
His father then asked the children to give Juan
some food, and some also to the good Fido.
The biggest of the girls went directly to her
mother's closet in the next room, and brought out
for Juan a large piece of barley bread, and a bunch
of fine ripe grapes. This, with some water which
she fetched from the well, made for Juan, as he
thought, the pleasantest meal that he had tasted
since he left home. She gave Fido some food also.
"After such a hearty supper, Juan felt quite re-
freshed and merry. He played many tunes upon
his pipe to the children of the cottage, and Fido
"From that day, Juan was constantly with his
father. He waited upon him, dressed his wounds,
watched him while he slept, and talked to him when
he was awake. The dog, too, stayed in the room,
and slept under the sick man's bed.
In a short time the Italian soldier became quite
well. He paid the woman of the cottage for the
room she had let him occupy, and for the food she
had provided him with. Both he and Juan were
sorry to part with the children of the cottage, and
Juan played them many tunes upon his pipe before
THE ITALIAN BOY. it
At length, one fine morning, the father, Juan,
and the dog set off to walk home. They were not
long in reaching their own village, for they were
stout and inured to fatigue, and sometimes they got
a ride in a waggon."
I have now," said the old man, "finished my
story. You see there are good people in other
countries as well as in England, and I hope you
will never again ill-treat a stranger.
"You may now all go to your homes."
(I z I
SIR HUMPHEY DAVY.*
WHO is there who has not read or heard of Sir
Humphry Davy? Where is the person, young or
old, who, knowing anything of his discoveries and
inventions, does not feel some curiosity to be made
acquainted with a few particulars of his early life ?
When we hear for the first time of any useful
invention, such as the steam-engine; or of some
striking and important discovery, such as that of
the New World; or of some great work of improve-
ment, such as what occurred in Russia rather more
than a'hundred years ago: is it not one of our-
earliest endeavours to gain some account of the dis-
tinguished man by whose exertions the work which
so deservedly fixes the attention of mankind has
We owe to Sir Humphry Davy many useful dis-
coveries and inventions, some of which it requires
"* This memoir has been chiefly taken from the two interesting
biographies by Dr. Paris and by the philosopher's brother, Dr.
SIR HUMPHRY DAVY. 13
great knowledge to be able'to value as they deserve.
But there is one among them, the safety-lamp, the
value of which is intelligible to everybody; and for
this reason his name has been particularly connected
with it. Supposing Davy to have done no other
service to mankind, the safety-lamp alone would be
sufficient to cause his name to be universally revered,
and to make the particulars of his life a subject of
interest and inquiry.
Sir Humphry Davy was born at Penzance, in
Cornwall, on the 17th of December, 1778. Nothing
very remarkable is related of him as a child. He
was quick and industrious, and had a great fondness
for reading. Several instances have been mentioned
of his ingenuity as a boy. He made fire-works. He
formed a collection of rare birds, which he stuffed
with extraordinary skill. And fishing and shooting,
in both of which he excelled, were his favourite
recreations. He was fond of drawing flowers, rocks,
and landscapes, or anything that struck him as
curious and beautiful. In 1794 he lost his father,
and in the following year he was apprenticed by his
mother to Mr. Borlase, a surgeon and apothecary,
Here it was that he commenced the study of
chemistry, which he afterwards pursued with such
ardour and success.
To study chemistry is to study what effects will
14 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
be produced by mixing or putting together different
substances, or by separating them from one another.
By chemistry we learn how to bleach cloth to the
purest white, or to cover it with the gayest colours-
to make the useful earthenware and elegant china
from a lump of clay-to manufacture soap by mixing
together grease and pearlash-to convert the dis-
gusting skin of a dead animal into useful leather-
and to prepare medicines capable of restoring the sick
to health and happiness. By chemistry we are able
to separate from a shapeless stone the brilliant gold,
and the useful iron-to extract from coal the gas
which produces the dazzling light that illuminates all
our great towns-to obtain from water the elastic
steam which gives motion to the resistless engine,
driving thousands of wheels in a cotton-mill, a train
of carriages on a railroad, and the vessel, with its
enterprising crew, across the tempestuous ocean
against wind and current. By chemistry we also
learn how to apply manures to the improvement of
the land, and so to increase the quantity and improve
the quality of our crops. It thus appears that our
food and clothing, our cleanliness and health, and
our comforts of every description, are all improved
The profession of surgeon and apothecary does
not appear to have suited Davy's taste; but the
investigation of the properties of all kinds of bodies
SIR HUMPHRY DAVY. 5
with which he was acquainted, and the search after
new bodies-these were his fondest occupations. It
was fortunate for Davy that the scenery and pro-
ductions of his native county were well calculated
to raise his curiosity and excite his desire for know-
ledge. The surrounding mines of copper and tin
abounding in a great variety of splendid and extra-
ordinary minerals, worked to vast depths by means of
the power of water and of steam; the adjoining cliffs
and headlands, the tempestuous ocean, even the
weeds thrown up by waves on the sea-shore, or
vegetating in the pools of salt water; afforded matter
for interesting inquiries and constant observation.
An accident which happened to him about this
time, and which, but for his promptitude and courage,
might have deprived him of life, is deserving of
mention. He was bitten by a dog, supposed to be
mad-and without a moment's hesitation, he cut out
the wounded part on the spot, with his pocket-knife;
and then proceeding at once to the surgery, he
cauterized the wound, that is, he burnt it with
caustic. He suffered so much from this painful
operation, that he was confined to the house for three
His labours as a chemist were long carried on
without the assistance of any instruments, except
those of the rudest description, or such as he could
contrive for himself. Among others that he was
16 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
obliged to put up with, were his master's phials and
gallipots, and the pots and pans used in the kitchen.
The wreck of a French vessel near the Land's End
at last came to his assistance. From this wreck the
surgeon escaped, and found his way to Penzance. By
accident he became acquainted with young Davy,
who did many little acts of kindness towards him;
and in return the grateful surgeon presented the
friend whom he had thus found in his distress, with a
box of instruments, which he had been so fortunate
as to save from the ship.
Davy made about this time the acquaintance, and
quickly obtained the friendship, of Mr. Gregory
Watt, a young man rather older than himself, of
great attainments and of ardent zeal in the pursuit of
knowledge. They met daily and explored the objects
most worthy of notice together, generally returning
from their walks with their pockets laden with
specimens of rocks and minerals. One of their
favourite places of resort was the Wherry mine,
the shaft of which was in the sea, approached by
a long wooden bridge, and the workings of which
were entirely under the sea. That wonderful inven-
tion the steam engine, which only a short time before
had been perfected by Mr. Watt, the father of
Davy's friend, was erected on the shore, and drew
up water from far beneath the bed of the sea.
This intimacy with the son of the great inventor,
SIR HUMPHR Y DA VY. 17
with one who could give him so many details of
patient research crowned with such striking success,
must have quickened Davy's desire for the attain-
ment of knowledge, and for the power to make that
knowledge useful to others as well as to himself.
In fact, in one of his note-books that he kept about
this time, we find these words: -
"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 to my friends than if
I had been born to these advantages."
We shall see that he kept this noble object before
him through life.
But if Davy assiduously strove to increase his
knowledge of all surrounding objects, no less faith-
fully did he perform his duties as assistant to Mr.
Borlase; for he gained the good opinion of that
gentleman equally by his zeal in studying his pro-
fession and by his kindness and humanity to the
patients, particularly to those of the poorer class.
The next great help which Davy received in his
pursuits, was through Mr. Davies Gilbert, who was
not only a learned and clever man himself, but, what
is deserving of much greater praise, was always
ready to assist others in their endeavours to obtain
information. One day, as Mr. Gilbert was walking
with a friend, he saw young Davy leaning over the
gate of Mr. Borlase's house. Mr. Gilbert was struck
i8 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
with his appearance, and when his friend observed
to him that the lad whom they were looking at was
fond of making chemical experiments: Chemical
experiments!" exclaimed Mr. Gilbert, with much
surprise, then I must have some conversation with
him." Mr. Gilbert soon convinced himself that
Davy was really deserving of all the assistance that
he could afford him.
What encouragement for young Davy in the midst
of all his difficulties! what a reward for all his past
Mr. Gilbert invited him to his house, and gave
him the use of his library. During one of young
Davy's visits, Mr. Gilbert took him to see the Copper
Works at Hayle. Here for the first time Davy saw
a quantity of chemical apparatus, hitherto unknown
to him, except by drawings. An air pump, which
was a part of it, particularly fixed his attention. He
worked the piston, exhausted the receiver, and opened
the valves with the simplicity and joy of a child
engaged in the examination of a new and favourite
Soon after this Davy entered into a correspondence
with Dr. Beddoes on the subject of light and heat,
which led to Dr. Beddoes offering him the situation
of superintendent of a scientific institution in Bristol,
where he was to assist the doctor in conducting
various experiments. This offer Davy gladly ac-
SIR HUMPHRY DAVY. 9
cepted, having been enabled to do so by the kindness of
Mr. Borlase, who released him (to use his own words,
written at the back of the indenture of apprentice-
ship,) "from all engagements whatever, on account
of his excellent behaviour;" adding "because, being
a youth of great promise, I would not obstruct his
present pursuits, which are likely to promote his
fortune and his fame."
On the 2nd of October, 1798, Davy quitted Pen-
zance for Bristol. From this time till February,
1801, he was actively employed in extending his
knowledge, and superintending experiments. He
also made many useful discoveries, which he pub-
lished, so that all who chose might have the benefit
of them. His name now became so generally known
among men of science, that when, about this time, a
vacancy occurred at the Royal Institution, he was
appointed Assistant Lecturer on Chemistry. In con-
sequence of this honourable appointment, he came
to reside at the Royal Institution, Albemarle-street.
In the performance of his new duties, he gave such
general satisfaction, that on the 1st of June of the
same year, he was appointed Lecturer of Chemistry,
instead of Assistant Lecturer; and on the 31st of
May, 1802, he was made Professor of Chemistry.
As Davy was poor, and had nothing to depend
upon for his support, beyond what he earned for
himself, this appointment, by securing to him a
20 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
certain though moderate income for the future, and
so relieving him from all anxiety concerning his
maintenance, enabled him to devote the whole of his
time to his favourite pursuits. But the appointment
was still more welcome on another account. It gave
him constant access to the chemical apparatus of the
Royal Institution, considered to be the most complete
and powerful in the world.
His lectures, during a long course of years, show
that this advantage was not thrown away upon him;
so grand and so frequent were the discoveries which
he announced, and the experiments which he per-
formed in the presence of his admiring audience.
His first splendid discovery was, that the substances
called "alkalies," such as potass, or pearlash, soda,
&c., are not simple substances, as they had always
been considered; but are composed of metals, com-
bined with oxygen gas. These metals, or metallic
bases of the alkalies, he named potassium, sodium,
&c. Now oxygen forms a part of water, and potas-
sium and sodium, or the metallic bases of the alkalies,
combine so rapidly with oxygen gas, that a piece of
potassium, not bigger than a pin's head, when put
into water, will instantly burst into flame.
The extreme delight which Davy- felt, when he
first saw the metallic base of potash can only be con-
ceived by those who are familiar with the laborious
operations of the laboratory, and the exciting nature
SIR HUMPHRY DAVY. 2
of original research; and who can appreciate the
workings of a young mind, with an avidity for know-
ledge and glory. It is stated that when he beheld
the minute globules of potassium burst through the
crust of potash, and take fire as they entered the
atmosphere, he could not contain his joy; he bounded
about the room in extatic delight; and some little
time was required for him to compose himself suffi&
ciently to continue the experiment.
Davy's labours and excitement, however, were the
prelude to a severe attack of illness, which was very
near proving fatal; and his great apprehension was,
that he should die before he had published his dis.
coveries: in consequence of which dread, he applied
himself the more unremittingly to the task of record-
The destruction caused by the eruptions of volca-
noes is well known to everybody. What it is that
produces these dreadful eruptions had not yet been
discovered. But Davy, by his experiments and
researches, was able to trace out and explain those
wonderful operations, hidden and silent though they
be in the bowels of the earth. The following account
has been given by one who was present at the lecture,
in which Sir Humphry Davy explained the causes of
A mountain had been modelled in clay, and a
quantity of the metallic bases introduced into its
22 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
interior; on water being poured upon it, the metals
were soon thrown into violent action-successive
explosions followed-red-hot lava was seen flowing
down its sides from a crater in miniature-mimic
lightning played around; and in the instant of
dramatic illusion, the tumultuous applause and con-
tinued cheering of the audience might almost have
been regarded as the shouts of the alarmed fugitives
of Herculaneum or Pompeii."
Among other services for which we are indebted
to Davy, is his assisting to bring into notice Dr.
Faraday, one of the most distinguished chemists of
the present day. Young Faraday was a bookseller's
apprentice, fond of experiment, and averse to trade.
He attended some of Davy's lectures, took notes, and
afterwards wrote them cut fairly. Wishing to devote
himself to those pursuits for which he felt a relish,
he applied to Sir Humphry Davy, and sent to him
the notes of his lectures that he had written out.
Sir Humphry Davy seeing the merit of Faraday's
performance, and desirous of rewarding talent and
industry, succeeded in obtaining for him a situation
at the Institution. There he has ever since continued
to rise, in public esteem and reputation, doing credit
to the fame of his great master and to his own dis*
Having by marriage become possessed of a large
property, Sir Iumphry Davy, on the 9th April, 1812,
SIR HUMPHRY DAVY. 23
read his farewell lecture at the Institution; and from
this time his duties as a lecturer ceased. It was not
with a view to idleness that he did this, but rather
with the desire of making himself more useful by a
different employment of his time. In a letter to a
friend during the August of this year, he writes,
" having given up lecturing, I shall be able to
devote my whole time to the pursuit of discovery."
The next thing that we find him actively engaged
in is an improvement in the manufacture of gun-
powder. One object he had in view, in this instance,
was to serve a friend. But as Sir Humphry's name
was used in connection with the new manufacture in
order to give it celebrity, a report soon spread abroad
that he was desirous of making money by his improve-
ment. He loved science for itself, and this report
pained him exceedingly. I have," he writes to a
friend, on hearing it, resolved to make no profit by
any thing connected with science. I devote my life
to the public in future; and I must have it clearly
understood, that I have no views of profit in any-
thing I do."
Sir Humphry Davy, having now abundance of
leisure and an ample fortune, was desirous of crossing
over to France, for the purpose, among other things,
of inspecting the extinct volcanoes in Auvergne, and
of then proceeding to examine those of Naples. There
was, however, a difficulty in the way of his gratifi-
24 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
catior, for England and France were at war with one
another, and the Emperor Napoleon, who ruled in
France, would allow no Englishman to travel in his
dominions. But to show how much learning and
really useful exertions are respected, even by an
enemy, no sooner did Sir Humphry apply to the
Emperor for the desired permission, than Napoleon
granted to the distinguished chemist what he had
denied to the richest and most powerful men in the
Davy set off on his journey in October, 1813,
meeting everywhere, as he proceeded, with the
most friendly and respectful attentions. His stay on
the continent was considerable, for he did not return
to London till April, 1815. In the course of his
travels he visited Mount Vesuvius, and interested
himself in the excavations going on at Pompeii.
Shortly after his return, he was solicited to direct
his attention to the subject of fire-damp in coal mines,
with a view to discover some contrivance by which
the miners might be protected from its fatal effects.
He complied with this request. He examined, he
reflected, he contrived; and then he examined, re-
flected, and contrived again. His efforts were not in
vain. With a speed and a success, almost beyond
conception, he furnished the protection required.
This protection is the safety-lamp.
To understand the merit of Sir Humphry Davy's
SIR HUMPHRY DAVY. 25
performance, it is necessary to know something of
the structure and magnitude of a coal-mine, as well
as of the nature of this destructive fire-damp. Some
of these mines extend several miles, and some of them
have been worked to a depth of more than five
hundred feet. These large mines have seldom more
than two or three shafts, or communications with the
surface of the earth. The difficulty of ventilating
them, or supplying a sufficiency of fresh air, will at
once be perceived. Nevertheless, by means of in-
genious machinery, this difficulty had been pretty well
got over. But there still remained the fire-damp.
against-which no ingenuity had been able to protect
the miners. The fire-damp is a kind of gas, very
much like what is burnt every night in the gas-lamps
in the streets. When first exposed to the air, newly
dug coal always parts with a portion of this gas; but
on some occasions, the pitmen have opened crevices
in the bed of coal, from which it has poured out
quite in a current; and such currents have been
known to continue for months and years. These
currents the pitmen call blowers."
Everybody has seen a gas-lamp lighted. The gas
kindles the moment the lighted torch is brought in
contact with it. The same happens with the fire-
damp. And here is the danger; for the pitmen
cannot work under ground without candles or lan-
terns. On the approach of a candle or lantern, the
26 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
fire-damp is kindled; and, expanding with the heat,
it drives before it a roaring whirlwind of flaming air,
which tears up everything in its progress, scorching
some of the miners to a cinder, and burying others
under enormous ruins shaken from the roofs. Then
thundering to the shafts, it converts the mine, as
it were, into an enormous piece of artillery; and
wastes its fury in a discharge of thick clouds of coal-
dust, stones and timber, together with the limbs
and mangled bodies of men and horses.
But the first effect of one of these subterraneous
combustions, appalling though it be, is not the
worst. All the contrivances for ventilating the
mine being destroyed in the general ruin, and the
fresh air being altogether excluded from the inner-
most parts of the mine where the work is proceeding,
such of the miners as may have survived the explo-
sion, are doomed to the more painful and lingering
death of suffocation from the after-damp, or stythe, as
it is called.
An account of one such accident, as it really
happened, will place before the reader still more
vividly the terrible nature of these explosions. The
following occurred at Felling Colliery, near Sunder-
land, on the 25th May, 1812. This mine was con-
sidered by the workmen as a model of perfection,
both with regard to the purity of its air, and the
arrangements of its machinery. The concern was in
SIR HUMPHRY DAVY. 27
the highest degree prosperous; and no accident,
except a trifling explosion which slightly scorched
two or three pitmen, had ever happened.
Two shifts or sets of men were constantly employed,
the first of which entered the mine at four o'clock
in the morning, and were relieved at their working
posts by the next set at eleven; though the second
shift of men were often at their posts before the
first set had left, as was the case on the present un-
About half-past eleven in the morning of the 25th
of May, the neighboring villages were alarmed by a
tremendous explosion. The subterraneous fire broke
forth with two heavy discharges from the shaft called
the John Pit," which was 102 fathoms deep, and
these discharges were almost immediately followed
by one from the William Pit." A slight trembling,
as if from an earthquake, was felt for about half a
mile around; and the noise of the explosion was
heard, though dull, at the distance of three or four
Immense quantities of dust and small coal accom-
panied these blasts. The heaviest part of the ignited
matter, such as masses of timber and fragments of
coal, fell near the pit; but the dust borne away by a
strong west wind fell in a continued shower to the
distance of a mile and a half.
As soon as the explosion had been heard, the
28 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
wives and children of the pitmen rushed to the shaft.
Wildness and terror were seen in every countenance.
The crowd thickened, and in a very short period
several hundred persons had collected together; and
the air resounded with exclamations of despair for
the fate of husbands, parents, and children.
The machinery by which the men were usually
brought up and let down having been rendered
useless by the eruption, the rope of the gin was sent
down the shaft with all possible expedition. In the
absence of horses, a number of men who seemed to
acquire strength as the necessity for it increased,
applied their shoulders to the starts or shafts of
the gin, and worked it with extraordinary speed.
One hundred and twenty-one persons were in the
mine when the explosion took place; and by twelve
o'clock, thirty-two, all that survived this dreadful
catastrophe, had been brought up to daylight; and
of these, three boys lived for only a few hours.
SIR HUMPHRY DAVY, 9
Twenty-nine persons, then, were all who were left
to relate what they had observed of the appearances
and effect of the explosion.
The men that remained in the mine were not
given up for lost, until great efforts had been made
to save them. Nine brave men were found willing
to venture their lives in this dangerous service.
They descended the "John Pit," but their advance
was soon prevented by the choke-damp, and they
were obliged to return.
Undismayed by the perils these nine men had
encountered, two others offered to enter the mine
once more, but they were driven back by the flames
in which the place was by this time enveloped,
and all further attempts to rescue the poor miners
were necessarily abandoned. By this single accident
forty women became widows, and more than a
hundred children orphans.
It was to prevent, if possible, the recurrence of
such calamities as this, that Sir Humphry Davy
applied his powerful mind. He set to work without
delay. The first application was made to him in
the beginning of August, 1815, and at the latter
end of that month we already find him visiting the
mines of Newcastle, to make himself acquainted
with every particular concerning the fire-damp.
Before the end of that year he had invented his
30 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
He first discovered, in the course of his experi-
ments, that explosions of gas or fire-damp, would
not pass or communicate through long tubes, if the
bore or diameter of them were sufficiently small.
He then proceeded in his experiments by diminishing
the length, and also the diameter of his tubes, till he
found that very short tubes would do equally well,
provided the diameters of them were small in pro-
portion. Last of all, he found that fine wire-gauze,
which in its nature may be said to be a number of
very short and very narrow tubes joined together,
would afford the same security. He constructed a
lamp, therefore, entirely surrounded by this fine
wire-gauze, in such a manner that the only communi-
cation between the light of the lamp or candle inside,
and the external air, was through this wire-gauze.
It is well known that no lamp or candle will burn
unless the flame be supplied with air-the lamps
used in our houses, and the gas lamps in the streets,
all being so constructed as to allow the flame to com-
municate freely with the air from outside. If,
indeed, lamps could be made to burn, from which
the external air is excluded, there would have been
no difficulty in preventing explosion, for air-tight
lanterns could easily have been made. But as
the air must be admitted to the flame, the opening
made to admit it unfortunately admits also the gas
SIR HUMPHRY DAVY. 31
When there is no accumulation of gas or fire-
damp in the mine, the flame in the safety-lamp is fed
like that of any other lamp, by the air outside,
which enters through the wire gauze; the openings
between the wires being sufficient for that purpose.
And when there is an accumulation of fire-damp
in the mine, the gas also enters with the ordinary
air (with which it is mixed), and catches fire, making
a beautiful mass of light inside; but, although the
air and gas can pass through the gauze, the flame
cannot, so that the gas or fire-damp outside cannot
The wire-gauze lamps. have ever since been
extensively used in the mines, and have been fully
proved to answer all the purposes for which they
were intended. Among the miners they are called
" Davy's;" and such is the confidence of the pit-men,
that with one of these lamps they will enter into the
most explosive atmosphere, and go into the most
remote corners, without the least dread of their old
enemy, the fire-damp.
Nor is the use of the safety-lamp confined to
this country or to mines. It has been extensively
adopted abroad; and is used by prudent people
in gas manufactories, spirit warehouses, and chemical
laboratories. In fact it ought to be used wherever
there is the least danger of an explosive atmo-
34 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
But unfortunately there are many ignorant and
rash men, who, having but an imperfect knowledge
of the risks they are running, and disliking even a
little trouble, often persist in working in mines and
other dangerous places with an ordinary candle;
or who, if they have a Davy lamp, will not hesitate
when the lamp burns dim-though its doing so is
itself frequently an indication of danger to open
the door of the lamp, and sometimes even to take
out the candle. This is the chief cause of the
fearful explosions in mines, which still from time
to time take place.
In speaking of the safety-lamp, it is right to
mention the efforts of another great man, who
was working at the same time as Sir Humphry
Davy, and with the same object, though neither
of them knew of the other's proceedings. I refer to
Mr. George Stephenson, the renowned inventor of the
locomotive steam-engine, and the first person who
rendered railways available for travelling. He, like
Davy, had been induced by motives of humanity
to try to make a lamp which might be used in mines
without danger; and he succeeded, though his lamp,
not being so convenient as Sir Humphry's, never
came into such general use.
It would not be doing justice to Davy, if we were
to confine ourselves to the notice of his worth as
a man of industry, observation, and skill. He has
SIR HUMPHRY DAVY. 33
still higher claims than these, great as they are, to
our respect and admiration. By the safety-lamp he
might have made, had he chosen, a large sum of
money; but, acting on the principle with which
he had started in life, he declined to make money
by this discovery. He gave the full advantage
of his safety-lamp to the miners, and owners of the
mines, and he received from them warm and
repeated expressions of thanks. To such a man
as Davy the grateful thanks of his fellow-creatures
was quite a sufficient reward for all his labour and
anxiety. But even this reward, flattering as it must
be to everybody, was scarcely' required by him,
so great was his fondness for experiment and dis-
In actions and pursuits such as these, Sir Humphry
passed the remainder of his life. At different times
he visited Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and Germany;
and he likewise again explored Vesuvius and the
remains of Herculaneum. On the 30th of November,
1828, he was elected President of the Royal Society,
in the place of Sir Joseph Banks, who had died
The last few years of his existence were saddened
by ill-health. This is a calamity to which all are
liable. But in his ample store of information, in the
habit of observation, in the love of experiment, in
his fondness for rational conversation and correspon-
INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
dence with his friends, he found wherewithal to charm
the hours of restlessness and suffering. It is needless
to mention that a man so formed to be loved and
admired, was attended throughout his illness with the
most anxious affection; Dr. John Davy, to whom, to
use his own grateful words, Sir Humphry had been
"a father, a brother, a most kind friend and teacher,"
was with him, sympathising with his scientific tastes,
correcting his last work with him for publication,
and alleviating his sufferings by all that ingenuity
When the great philosopher felt his end ap-
proaching, he sent for his brother, to whom he said,
"I am dying; and when it is all over, I desire that
no disturbance of any kind may be made in the
house; lock the door, and let everyone retire to his
apartment." He expired at a quarter past three in
the morning without a struggle.
Thus died Sir Humphry Davy at Geneva on the
28th of May, 1829, in the 51st year of his age.
In the early part of the memoir we saw what were
Davy's wishes and aims as a youth. In 1821, when
at the height of his fame, as President of the Royal
Society, honoured all over Europe as foremost in the
ranks of science, he thus wrote in his journal: May
every year make me better, more useful, less selfish,
and more devoted to the cause of humanity and
science and a few weeks before his death, while
SIR HUMPHRY DAVY. 35
suffering from his mortal disorder, he inserted these
words in a note-book he then kept, "If I die, I hope
that I shall have done my duty, and that my life has
not been vain and useless."
Is it not well to know how this great and good
man succeeded in gaining the object which he
cherished from youth till death?
There is a letter from him to his younger brother
(then approaching manhood), which seems to give
the very information we seek; for the course he
recommended to his brother (and with what happy
result all who know the present distinguished physi-
cian and philanthropist, Dr. Davy, must know), he
steadfastly pursued himself:
My dear John, let no difficulties alarm you. You
may be what you please. Trust me, I know what
your powers are. Preserve the dignity of your
mind and the purity of your moral conduct. You
set sail with a fair wind on the ocean of life. You
have great talents, good feelings, and unbroken and
uncorrupted spirit. Move straight forward on to
moral and intellectual excellence. . Live in
such a way that you can always say, the whole world
may know what I am doing."
JAMES FERGUSON was born in the year 1710, a few
miles from Keith, a little village in Banffshire, one of
the northern counties in Scotland.
His father had a large family, and, being a poor
man, was obliged to work hard in order to support
them. After a day's steady labour, rest and quiet
are agreeable to most men. But he was so fond of
his children, and knew so well how useful learning
would be to them as they grew up, that when he
returned to his home of an evening, instead of in-
dulging in ease, he employed himself in teaching his
children to read and write. He took each in his
turn, as they reached the age at which he thought it
proper for them to begin to learn.
James, however, learned to read before his father
thought of beginning to teach him. He used to
listen-attentively while his father was teaching his
elder brother, and afterwards study the lesson him-
self. Not to disturb his father, whose time was much
occupied, he was in the habit of applying to a kind
JAMES FERGUSON. 37
woman who lived in the neighbourhood, when there
was anything he could not understand. With her
assistance he learned to read tolerably well.
Pleased at his earnestness and industry in learning
to read, his father gave him some further assistance,
and also taught him to write; and afterwards placed
him at a school at Keith for three months.
When only eight years of age, he already showed
a taste for examining machines, and trying to under-
stand their structure; and, with an old lathe and a
little knife, contrived to make wheels and other parts
While still very young, he was put out to earn his
own bread; but, being too weak for hard labour, he
was employed by his master to watch sheep. He
continued at this employment for many years.
Looking after sheep, however, was not occupation
sufficient for so inquisitive a boy as Ferguson. In
the daytime he amused himself by making models of
mills, spinning-wheels, and such other things as he
happened to see, and at night he studied the stars.
As he grew older and stronger, he was put to harder
work, and his hours of leisure were diminished. But
still he steadily persevered in his endeavours to make
himself acquainted with everything around him. The
difficulties which he had to surmount only made him
the more assiduous in seizing every opportunity that
was presented to him of gaining instruction. His
38 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
contrivance for marking down the positions of the
stars was very ingenious. He used to go out into
the fields by night, when his work was over, with
a blanket around him, and a candle in his hand.
Spreading the blanket on the ground, he laid himself
on his back upon it to survey the stars. He had
provided himself with a long piece of thread, upon
which he had strung some beads. This piece of
thread he used to stretch at arms' length between his
eye and the stars, and then sliding the beads along
the thread till they hid particular stars from his
eye, he applied the thread to a piece of paper, and
marked the spots where the beads touched. He con-
tinued to do this till he had marked down on his
paper the position of a large number of stars. The
fair copy of this paper, which he afterwards made,
he called his star-paper."
His knowledge of the stars brought him acquainted
with some persons who were able to explain many
things to him, and to assist him in various ways.
From one person he learned that the earth is
round; and from others he received a pair of com-
passes and ruler, and a good supply of pens, ink,
and paper. His master, also, was very kind and
considerate, and took so much pleasure in observing
Ferguson's proceeding, that "he often," as Ferguson
himself has written, "took the thrashing flail out
of my hands, and worked himself while I sat by
YAMES FERGUSON. 39
him in the barn, busy with my compasses, ruler,
Among other things, he made a globe of the earth,
from a description which he had met with in a book.
He turned the ball for it out of a piece of wood,
covered the ball with paper, and then traced upon
this paper the different oceans, seas, continents, and
He was now grown into a man, but, owing to his
poverty, had many difficulties to struggle with. At
one time, by over-working, he fell ill and was obliged
to return to his father's house. In order to amuse
himself while in this low state, he made a wooden
clock, and it kept time pretty well. The substance
on which the hammer struck the hours was the neck
of a broken bottle.
The clock which he made had a weight and line,
and he had no idea how a clock could go without
them. It was also a matter of wonder to him, how
a watch could go in all positions. Happening," he
says, "one day to see a gentleman ride by my father's
house (which was close by a public road), I asked
him what o'clock it then was. He looked at his
watch and told me. As he did that with so much
good nature, I begged of him to show me the inside
of his watch; and, though he was an entire stranger,
he immediately opened the watch, and put it into my
hands. I saw the spring-box with part of the chain
40 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
round it, and asked him what it was that made the
box turn round. He told me that it was turned
round by a steel spring within it. Having then
never seen any other spring than that of my father's
gun-lock, I asked how a spring within a box could
turn the box so often round as to wind all the chain
upon it. He answered that the spring was long and
thin; that one end of it was fastened to the axis of
the box, and the other end to the inside of the box;
that the axis was fixed, and the box was loose upon
it. I told him I did not yet thoroughly understand
the matter. Well, my lad,' says he, 'take a long
thin piece of whalebone, hold one end of it fast
between your finger and thumb, and wind it round
your finger: it will then endeavour to unwind itself;
and if you fix the other end of it to the inside of a
small hoop, and leave it to itself, it will turn the hoop
round and round, and wind up a thread tied to the
outside of the hoop.' I thanked the gentleman, and
told him that I understood the thing very well. I
then tried to make a watch with wooden wheels,
and niade the spring of whalebone; but found that
I could not make the watch go when the balance was
put on, because the teeth of the wheels were rather
too weak to bear the force of a spring sufficient to
move the balance; although the wheels would run
fast enough when the balance was taken off. I in-
closed the whole in a wooden case, very little bigger
"JAM fES FERGUSON. 41
than a breakfast tea-cup; but a clumsy neighbour,
one day, looking at my watch, happened to let it fall;
and, turning hastily about to pick it up, set his foot
upon it, and crushed it all to pieces; which so pro-
voked my father, that he was almost ready to beat
the man; and discouraged me so much, that I never
attempted to make such another machine again, espe-
cially as I was thoroughly convinced I could never
make one that would be of any real use."
It is very interesting to follow the progress of this
self-taught man. He still continued his practice of
star-gazing (as he called it). With his old con-
trivance of the string and beads he learned to
distinguish the planets from the stars. This he con-
sidered a grand discovery. This distinction, it is
true, had 1een made long before by others, although
ha had been ignorant of it; and the discovery, on
his part, is a proof of the care with which he made
his observations. The stars and planets may be
seen shining over our heads by everybody; but ho-w
few there are who, like young Ferguson, have had
patience enough to mark the situation of the stars
and track the course of the planets, even when
guided by the instruction and assistance of persons
wiser than themselves.
The stars are called "fixed," because, when visible,
they always appear at the same distance from one
another. At different hours and times of the year
42 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
they are to be seen in different directions. They rise,
come to the meridian, and set as the earth revolves;
but this motion is only apparent, being occasioned by
the revolving of the earth. The planets, however,
not only have an apparent motion like the stars, they
have a real motion also; and on each succeeding
night are to be seen in a different relative position.
Young Ferguson examined the stars, night after
night. He found that no alteration ever occurred
in their distances from one another, but that the
planets were so constantly moving as to prevent his
marking any particular place for them on the star-
As yet he had not settled to anything by which he
might support himself permanently. Neither star-
gazing nor clock-making supplied him with bread.
He was quite at a loss to determine by what pro-
fession he had best endeavour to gain his livelihood.
At one time he thought of making himself a painter;
and at another, of becoming a doctor. With a view
to this latter profession, he even spent two years in
studying to qualify himself. His fondness for astro-
nomy, however, again brought him back with re-
doubled zeal to the pursuit of his early years.
He no longer pursued his former methods. The
beads and string were laid aside. Nor was his power
of making calculations any longer confined to the
first simple rules of arithmetic. His good conduct
4AMES FERGUSON. 43
had Brought him friends, and his friends provided
him with every requisite assistance. This was not
thrown away upon him. That same application, which
in the days of his childhood and youth had enabled
him to do so much with little or no assistance, in his
riper years, when aided by books, globes, telescopes,
and instruments of every description, led him on to
the most delightful, although the most difficult parts
His reward for all this persevering application was
ample. His character for a perfect knowledge of
astronomy, and for skill in explaining to others all
those difficulties that he had himself so happily sur-
mounted, spread far and wide. In 1743 he came to
London. Scholars flocked to him from all parts;
and the most distinguished men in the land crowded
to his lecture-room, where they listened with delight,
while he explained, to the satisfaction of all, the
causes of the succession of day and night, of the
seasons, and of eclipses and transits.
Not only had he taught himself how to foretel with
precision, when eclipses of the sun and moon and
transits of the planets would occur, but he could
teach others how to make the same calculations. He
also explained the nature of comets, which are such
objects of terror to ignorant people. He showed
that, like the planets, they move round the sun, and
only differ from them in as much as at one time they
44 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
approach much nearer to that body than any of the
planets do, and at another time go to a much greater
This little drawing will afford to such of our young
readers as have not yet thought upon this subject,
some notion of the difference in the path of a comet
and of a planet round the sun. One of the ovals
represents the path of a planet, and the other the
path of a comet.
In this honourable way he spent the remainder of
his life, extending his own knowledge, and commu-
nicating knowledge to others. He earned sufficient,
with a steady economy, to maintain himself in com-
fort. Painfully had he learned the difficulty of
earning, and he prudently limited his wants within
his means, laying by while young and in health
enough to support himself in sickness and old age.
At the same time, like a truly wise man, he never
JAMES FERGUSON. 45
forgot that the use of money was to add to his
happiness; and he preferred to make a little money
serve his purpose, rather than render his life mise-
rable in the attempt to earn more by sacrificing that
portion of his time which he devoted to study and
He died on the 16th of November, 1776.
JAMES Coox was born in the village of Marton, in
Yorkshire, in the year 1728. His parents were
industrious labourers. At thirteen, he left his
"father's home to be apprenticed to a haberdasher
at Whitby, a seaport town in Yorkshire. He dis-
liked the trade, however, so much, that his master
allowed him to quit his service, and to bind himself
to the master of a collier.
He began by spending his time very differently
to his companions; while some were sauntering,
smoking, or drinking, in their hours of leisure, he
was reading every useful book that he could pro-
cure, studying the science of navigation, and
making drawings of the dangerous parts of the
During the years that Cook remained a common
sailor on board the coasting vessels engaged in the
coal trade, he continued these occupations, which
fitted him for the important situation he afterwards
In the year 1755, when Cook was twenty-six
years of age, he became a sailor on board the
CAPTAIN COOK. 47
Eagle, a vessel of war. He carried with him a
letter of recommendation to the commander, Cap-
tain Palliser, written by a gentleman at Scar-
borough, at the earnest request of several of
Cook's neighbours, who were anxious to show
their respect for his character, and to promote his
Captain Palliser soon perceived Cook's diligent,
active habits, and felt desirous to reward them.
Only four years after he had entered the navy, he
was appointed master of the Mercury.
At this time we were at war with the French
in Canada, and a fleet had been sent out, under
the command of Sir Charles Saunders, to assist
General Wolfe in besieging Quebec. TEe Mercury
joined the fleet soon after Cook's appointment.
During the siege, a difficult and dangerous ser-
vice was to be performed. This was, to take the
soundings or different depths of the river St.
Lawrence, in order that our fleet might approach
directly in front of the enemy's batteries, while
Wolfe attacked the camp. Captain Palliser re-
commended Cook as a man whose resolution and
abilities were to be relied on, and in this arduous
employment he was accordingly engaged for several
nights. At length he was discovered by the French,
who collected a great number of Indians and their
canoes in a wood near the water side. The canoes
48 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
were launched in the night for the purpose of taking
him prisoner. This was nearly effected, for some of
the Indians actually entered at the stern of the boat
as Cook leaped out at the bow. He furnished Admi-
ral Saunders with a correct map of the soundings, in
spite of every impediment. He also made a chart of
the river St. Lawrence, the navigation of which is
The winter after the siege of Quebec, Cook was
stationed at Halifax, where he studied astronomy
and mathematics. From this period, until 1767,
he was engaged in making surveys of the coast of
North America, its harbours and rivers.
While Cook was in America, he communicated to
the Royal Society an account of a solar eclipse that
was visible there. The account displayed so much
accuracy of observation and astronomical skill, that
it excited the notice of many learned men, some of
whom became intimate and affectionate friends of
In 1768 it was determined by the Government to
send out astronomers to some part of the South
Seas, to observe the transit of the planet Venus.*
By calculations connected with accurate observa-
tions of a transit, astronomers can ascertain the
As explained in "Earth we Live on," by the "transit" of a
planet is meant its passage across the face of the sun-when the
earth, the planet, and the sun, are in the same line.
CAPTAIN COOK. 49
distance of the sun from the earth. It is of im-
portance, therefore, that these observations should
be made by careful and experienced astronomers.
Another object of the expedition was to discover
unknown lands. It had been imagined by many
voyagers that a large continent lay towards the
South Pole, surrounded by fields of ice. Some
writers, indeed, gravely asserted that this conti-
nent was equal in extent to the whole of Asia,
from Turkey to China; that it stretched from
thirty degrees south latitude to the South Pole;
and that, moreover, the number of its inhabitants
amounted to more than fifty millions. At a cer-
tain time of the year, when the large masses of
ice break up, it was considered that a voyage
might be safely attempted to ascertain the supposed
Cook was chosen to command the expedition.
He was promoted to the rank of lieutenant, and
appointed to a ship called the Endeavour. Mr. Jo-
seph Banks, a gentleman of wealth (and of great
zeal as a naturalist), Dr. Solander (a Swedish
naturalist), and several other gentlemen, accompa-
The Endeavour sailed from England on the 26th or
August, 1768, and on the 15th of January follow-
ing, entered the straits of Le Maire, a small channel
between Staten Island and the desolate country of
50 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
Terra Del Fuego, which is separated from the
continent of South America by the Straits of Ma-
gellan. All former charts of the southern coast
of Terra Del Fuego were exceedingly incorrect,
and the doubling Cape Horn was considered so
dangerous that the Straits of Magellan were
generally preferred. An accurate survey was,
therefore, taken by the captain and several of the
The Straits of Magellan are so full of contrary
currents, and with particular winds so difficult to
sail through in safety, that ships have been detained
there three months. Cook doubled the Cape in
thirty-three days, and by his excellent charts has
enabled other voyagers to do the same in a still
The Endeavour, proceeding westward, soon sailed
among the numerous groups of islands of the South
On the 10th of April, Cook arrived at Otaheite, an
island that had been discovered by Captain Wallis a
few years before.
The 2nd of June, the day of the transit, proved
remarkably clear, and the observation was made to
the satisfaction of Lieutenant Cook and the rest of
the gentlemen. An Otaheitan of rank, named Tupia,
and his son Tayeto, accompanied Cook when he left
Otaheite. Tupia was of considerable use in commu-
CAPTAIN COOK. 51
nicating with the natives of the South Seas, most of
whom speak a language very similar in many re-
spects. He also described the situation of many
islands which had not hitherto been visited by
Europeans. To several islands in the neighbour-
hood of Otaheite, including that island, Cook gave
the name of Society Islands. From thence he
sailed to the southward, and after some days land
appeared in sight. All hoped and believed that
they were approaching the "Unknown Southern
Continent," respecting the existence of which authors
had disputed for more than two hundred years. The
land proved, however, to be the eastern coast of New
Zealand, the opposite coast of which had been dis-
covered a hundred and twenty-six years before, by
a Dutchman named Tasman. Tasman had entered
the straits between the two islands, imagining it to
be a deep bay of an unknown continent; but his men
having been attacked by the natives, and several of
them killed, he left the shores unexplored. From
that time until the voyage of the Endeavour, the
whole of this country, excepting that part of the
shore which had been seen from Tasman's ship,
remained unknown, and was generally supposed to
be an extensive southern continent. Cook sailed
round New Zealand, and through the straits that
divide the two parts of it. He thus ascertained,
beyond a doubt, that it was not a part of a con-
52 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
tinent, but formed of two islands, which together
were about one-third larger than Great Britain.
Cook seized every possible opportunity of inter.
course with the people, gaining much information
concerning their customs and manners, and attempt-
ing to introduce among them the culture of the
potato, and other vegetables. After leaving the
shores of New Zealand, Cook steered for Van
Diemen's Land, which had also been discovered
by Tasman, and which has lately acquired the name
of Tasmania. He had now explored three-fourths
of that part of the globe where the southern con-
tinent was supposed to lie, without being able to
find it. It was true he had not yet sailed farther
south than forty degrees south latitude, so that it
was possible that land might exist between that lati-
tude and the South Pole; but he preferred sailing
westward, that he might leave no portion of the
ocean near New Zealand unexplored.
At the end of three weeks, a range of green hills
appeared in the distance; and, from the observations
of Cook and the astronomer, Mr. Green, it was ascer-
tained that they were sailing north-east of Van
Diemen's Land, along an unknown coast. The
appearance of the natives was most extraordinary;
a thick bone was suspended through the gristle of
the nose, their dark bodies were painted with white
streaks across their chests and backs, and around
CAPTAIN COOK. 53
their legs, while their countenances were dusted
over with a white powder. They held in their
hands a wooden weapon, which they brandished,
while their gestures were most threatening. They
seemed to care neither for nails, beads, nor other
articles, which are generally so attractive to savages.
They were the only people in the South Seas who
had been seen entirely destitute of clothing. They
appeared to wander about like wild animals, and
showed so determined a desire to avoid the strangers,
that no intercourse was possible without bloodshed.
Mr. Banks and Dr. Solander found the country
abounding in objects of natural history; myriads of
brilliant butterflies covered every bush, and beau-
tiful parrots flitted from bough to bough. So great
a variety of shrubs and flowers ornamented the coast,
that Cook gave it the name of Botany Bay-a name
which afterwards lost its pleasant scientific associa-
tion, and became connected with the transportation
of criminals, now happily discontinued.
Hitherto this coast had been navigated in safety;
but in sailing northward of Cape Trinity, apparently
in deep water, the ship suddenly struck against a
coral rock. Everything was done to lighten her-
guns, casks, stores, and fire-wood, were thrown over-
board; while the captain, men, and officers worked at
the pumps for more than twenty-four hours, until
they were nearly exhausted,
54 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
Upon the rising of the tide, the ship began to float,
but the leak increased most alarmingly.
At this perilous moment, a young midshipman,
Mr. Monkhouse, told the captain that he had once
been on board a ship which sprang a leak, and
that the leak had been stopped by hauling under
the ship's bottom a piece of canvas, well smeared
with oakum, wool, and dung. Cook ordered a
similar attempt to be made under Mr. Monkhouse's
directions; and, to the great joy of all on board, it was
found to answer admirably.
In a few days a harbour was found at the
mouth of a river, where the necessary repairs
were made. Here they saw, for the first time, the
curious kangaroo skipping through the woods, and
rearing itself on its strong muscular tail. The
natives in this part were more sociable, but they
seemed very inferior to any other race of the South
Seas. Even Tupia, the Otaheitan, called them, in
his language, poor wretches."
After sailing northward along this unknown coast
for two thousand miles, Cook arrived at the land
already explored by the Dutch, and to which they
had given the name of "New Holland."
Thus, by the joint exertions of the Dutch and of
our own countrymen, a continent was discovered
almost as large as Europe.
Cook entered the straits between the mainland
CAPTAIN COOK. 55
and New Guinea, and gave to them the name of
Much of the eastern coast of what we now call
Australia is surrounded by coral reefs, entiely
covered at high water, though occasionally laid dry
at low water. The navigation had therefore been
attended with extreme danger: no previous chart of
course existed to assist Lieutenant Cook; yet, from
his watchfulness and his zeal, the spirits of his men
scarcely ever flagged.
From Endeavour Straits, Cook proceeded to the
Dutch town of Batavia, in the island of Java. Here
the ship underwent a thorough repair. This unfor-
tunately detained them two months, during which
time almost everybody on board was ill. Poor little
Tayeto, who had been in an ecstasy of delight at
seeing for the first time coaches, horses, European
buildings, &c., died of a fever; then his father, Mr.
Monkhouse the midshipman, and five of the crew,
died of the same complaint. Shortly after leaving
Batavia, the same fever again broke out in the ship;
so many were ill of it that the ship was like a hos-
pital, and there were scarcely hands enough to
manage her. Thirty persons died in six weeks; and
on the arrival of the Endeavour at the Cape of Good
Hope, there were but six men on board capable of
duty. Cook, however, does not himself seem to have
56 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
The Dutch Governor at the Cape received Lieute-
nant Cook and his distressed seamen with the greatest
kindness. Houses were prepared, and great atten-
tion was shown to the sick. At the end of a month,
from the healthfulness of the climate and proper
diet, the crew were restored, and were enabled to
proceed on their voyage.
On the 12th of June, 1771, the white cliffs of
Dover appeared in sight, and in the evening the
captain landed, having been three years absent from
About six months after Cook's return, he was
again appointed commander of an expedition to con-
tinue the discoveries in the southern hemisphere.
Although he had proved that New Zealand was not
a continent, many learned men still believed a large
continent lay near the South Pole.
A ship named the Resolution was given to Captain
Cook; and another, called the Adventurer, to Lieute-
nant Furneaux, who had sailed with Captain Wallis
round the world; the expedition being entirely under
Cook's control and direction.
Before the vessels sailed from Plymouth, Sir Hugh
Palliser, the early and steady friend of Cook, went on
board to ascertain whether every preparation had
been made according to the captain's wishes. We
can hardly tell which of the two friends must have
felt most happy, Sir Hugh Palliser in witnessing
CAPTAIN COOK. 57
the honourable career of the man whose talents and
virtues as a sailor he had so well appreciated, or
Cook, in receiving the warm testimony of affection
and friendship that he had so well earned.
On the 13th July, 1772, the Resolution and
Adventurer set sail, being well provided with stores
for a voyage of two years and a half. This voyage
was not so much diversified as the first; but its re-
sults were highly important. In this voyage Cap-
tain Cook ascertained that there could be no other
southern continent, unless so near the Pole as to
be out of the reach of navigation. He sailed over
the very spots where former voyagers had described
land to be situated, and penetrated farther south
than any other navigator. He also discovered New
Caledonia, the largest island in the Southern Pacific
except New Zealand; the island of Georgia, and a
coast blocked up with ice, in latitude fifty-nine
degrees south, covered with high rocky mountains,
which he named Southern Thule. Not a single plant
of any kind was found on it, nor a single animal.
Various other small islands he also observed and
described, besides settling the situation of former
From the captain's unwearied perseverance in
guarding the health of his crew, and from the suc-
cess of his admirable experiments on this subject, he
returned to England on the 29th July, 1775, after an
58 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
absence of three years, with the loss of only one
man by sickness, out of a ship's company of one
hundred and twenty men. They had traversed more
than twenty thousand leagues in every variety of
climate, and amidst continual hardships and fatigues.
The methods Cook pursued are fully described in
the history of his voyage, written by himself. Pre-
vious to this time, the Waste of human life in long
voyages was very great; but now they may be pro-
tracted for three or four years without fear of in-
juring the health of the seamen.
The reception Cook met with in England was
most gratifying to him. He was immediately raised
to the rank of Post-captain, and created a member of
the Royal Society. From that learned body he
received the gold medal, for his excellent paper on
preserving the lives of seamen. All England rang
with his praises; but no praise could be so delightful
as his own consciousness that he had for ever placed
himself among the benefactors of mankind; and that,
too, by his own persevering exertions. If he had
been content to remain an ignorant sailor on board
the collier, he would have missed all the pleasures
which his love of knowledge, his active benevolence,
and his enterprising spirit, procured him. The igno-
rant man, however kindly disposed, can never widely
benefit his fellow-men.
Captain Cook had now accomplished so much, that
CAPTAIN COOK. 59
it was thought but reasonable that he should enjoy
the rest of his life in quiet; and in order that he
might do so, he was made a Captain of Greenwich
Hospital. There were, however, some important
questions in geography which the Government was
anxious to clear up. These were the connection, or
otherwise, between Asia and America, and the prac-
ticability of a northern passage, either by sailing
eastward round the north of Asia, or westward
round the north of America; the object being to
shorten the voyage from England to China and the
East Indies. This passage had been often attempted
by previous navigators, but always without success.
Captain Cook was consulted respecting the most
proper person to command the expedition, and so
much was said on the importance of the design and
its probable utility, that Captain Cook offered to
conduct it himself. He was immediately appointed
commander of the expedition, on the 10th February,
1776. The command of the Discovery was given
to Captain Clerke, who had been second lieutenant
on board the Resolution. The instructions from the
Government were, that the captain should sail to
the- Pacific, through the chain of his newly-dis-
covered islands, and attempt the northern passage
by Behring's Straits. They were provided with a
quantity of seeds of various European vegetables,
besides cows and goats, for the use of the South Sea
60 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
islanders; also a large assortment of trinkets and iron
tools, to enable them to traffic with the natives.
Draftsmen and naturalists accompanied the expe-
dition, as usual.
After touching at the Cape of Good Hope and
Kerguelan Island, Cook steered for Van Diemen's
Land, and anchored in Adventure Bay on the 24th
January, 1777. The only navigators known to have
visited this country before were Tasman, who had
discovered it in 1642, and Captain Furneaux, in
Cook's second expedition.
The richly wooded appearance of the country
excited Cook's desire to know more of its extent,
produce, and inhabitants. He was much disap-
pointed to find the natives dirty, naked, and igno-
rant; possessing neither weapons of defence, houses,
nor canoes. In general, they were not unlike the
New Hollanders, on the north-eastern coast of Aus-
tralia, but their language was perfectly distinct.
Their skin was black, and their hair woolly. Those
of the natives who lived near the coast dwelt in trees,
hollowed out for the purpose by fire. These holes
were six or seven feet high, and sufficiently large for
four or five persons.
From Van Diemen's Land the Resolution sailed
to New Zealand, and anchored in Dusky Bay, when
Captain Cook again endeavoured to teach lhe natives
the culture of vegetables. A garden that Captain
CAPTAIN COOK. 61
Furneaux had planted was still in existence, though
overrun with weeds; and the crew of the Resolution
obtained from it onions, cabbages, radishes, and pota-
toes. The natives were shyer than usual in their
intercourse, probably from fear of the revenge of
Captain Cook. In the last expedition Captain Fur-
neaux had lost ten of his crew by a horrible mas-
sacre which took place in this part of the island.
The sailors had been sent on shore to procure wild
greens, and according to the account of the New
Zealanders, began the affray by beating two of the
natives severely for stealing some of their provisions.
This the New Zealanders resented, and then the
sailors shot two of them dead. Immediately a large
party of the natives rushed to the beach, and over-
powered the sailors. Their bodies were afterwards
cut up and eaten by the savages.
Some of the New Zealanders offered to give up
the chief who they said was the leader of this mas-
sacre, that he might be put to death. To this Cap-
tain Cook would not consent, as he could not tell
who had begun the quarrel, and he feared to punish
any one unjustly.
After leaving New Zealand, Cook proceeded to
the Society Isles, where he was received with the
same hearty welcome as before. As soon as he
arrived at Huaheine, all the principal people came
out to meet him. Cook took this opportunity to
62 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
entreat them to grant a piece of land to Omal, an
Otaheitan, whom Captain Furneaux had taken to
England with him, and who had returned to his
native country in the Resolution. The captain as-
sured them that the horses, and a variety of articles
which Omai had brought with him from England,
would be very useful to them. They immediately
replied, "That the whole island of Huaheine was at
the captain's disposal; and, therefore, he could give
any part he pleased to his friend." Omai was
greatly pleased at hearing this, and thought that the
captain would certainly be very liberal; but Captain
Cook wisely made the chiefs mark out the ground,
which was sufficiently large for the purpose. The
ship's carpenter built Omai a house, and a garden
was planted round it, with pine-apples, melons, and
Most of Omai's stores were now carried ashore.
To his great surprise, he found that his kettles,
dishes, mugs, glasses, and plates, did not excite any
admiration; and he began to think that he could eat
a baked pig without a plate as well as his country-
men; and that a plantain leaf would make as good a
dish as one made of pewter. He therefore parted
with many of these things to the ship's crew, and
received in exchange hatchets and other iron tools,
which excited far greater respect among his country-
men. He entertained the officers several times in his
CAPTAIN COOK. 63
new house, and was both pleased and grateful for the
attention which had been shown to his future com-
fort. Omai was kind-hearted and good-natured, but
he wanted perseverance and application-two useful
qualities which are little known to the Otaheitans.
After Cook quitted the Society Islands, he sailed
northwards for more than a thousand leagues. On
the 18th of January, 1778, being in latitude 21 deg.
north, and in longitude 160 deg. west, he fell in with
another group of islands, and canoes came off from
the land to meet the ship. The natives showed more
astonishment on entering the ship than any other
people that Cook had ever met with. Their eyes
were continually turning from one object to another,
the wildness of their looks and gestures fully express-
ing their entire ignorance of almost everything they
saw. Iron, indeed, they had some notion of, from a
piece of iron hoop which had been washed on their
shores. They refused to accept beads and looking-
glasses, but asked for iron articles, which they quickly
perceived were useful in cutting hard substances.
When Cook aid the officers landed, the natives
fell flat on their faces, and remained in that humble
posture till Cook, by expressive signs, besought them
to rise. They presented branches of plantain as offer-
ings of good-will-a custom which prevails in most
of the islands of the Pacific. They speedily provided
the ships with water, figs, and vegetables, m exchange
64 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
for nails and other things. In their language, their
customs, and their dress, they resembled the Ota-
heitans; but the cloaks of the chiefs were of a far
gayer material, and of very curious workmanship
They were composed of a thin net-work entirely
covered with scarlet and yellow feathers, placed st
near that the surface appeared like the richest velvet.
A helmet, covered like the cloak, completed the cos
tume. Specimens of this kind of dress are now in
the British Museum. Captain Cook was quite con-
vinced that no European had ever visited these
islands before. After having discovered five in the
same group, he gave them the name of the Sandwich
Islands. They are situated half way between Aca-
pulco, on the western coast of America, and the
Philippine Islands; and, from their situation and pro-
ductions, have proved of great value to the whaling
ships in the Pacific Ocean.
From the Sandwich Islands, Cook proceeded to
explore the coast of New Albion, in North America,
so named by Sir Francis Drake. The people of this
coast resemble the Esquimaux in some degree, and
are quite different in manners and habits from the
islanders of the Pacific Ocean. They are short, with
broad faces and flat noses, and are accustomed to
traffic with the neighboring tribes.
Still sailing northwards, Cook coasted the north-
western shores of America, to an extent of three
CAPTAIN COOK. 65
thousand five hundred miles, passed through Behring's
Straits, that divide the continents of Asia and Ame-
rica, ascertained the exact distance between these
continents, and proceeded westward as far as a cape,
situated in latitude 79 deg. north, and in longitude
162 deg. west, and which he named Icy Cape. He
reached this point on the 18th of August. Finding
it impossible to proceed farther in that direction,
from the great extent of ice, which was increasing
rapidly, he determined to winter in the Sandwich
Islands, that, early in the following season, he might
be ready to explore the Northern Seas, with his ship in
better order, and well provisioned for a tedious voyage.
Neither Behring's Straits nor any part of the
American coast on the north-west side had been
visited previous to 1728, when Captain Behring
made his first voyage of discovery. This voyage
was planned by Peter the Great, who wrote out with
his own hand the instructions of the commander.
After the death of Peter the Great, the Empress,
who succeeded him, carried the plan into effect.
Behring discovered the straits which bear his name
in this voyage; but he kept so close to the Asiatic
coast that he did not even see the American shore,
although the appearance of the open sea convinced
him that the continents were completely separated.
On the arrival of the Resolution and Discovery at
IIowaii (or Owhyhee, as the principal island of the
66 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
group is more often called), the crowds of people
that flocked to the beach were truly astonishing.
Three thousand canoes were counted in the bay,
filled with men, women, and children, besides many
natives that were sustaining themselves on floats in
On the day after the arrival of the ships, the king,
Terreohoo, in a large canoe attended by two others,
paddled towards the ships in great state. In the first
canoe were the king and his chiefs, dressed in their
richly feathered cloaks and helmets, and armed with
long spears and daggers, in the second canoe, the
chief of the priests and his brethren, with their idols.
These idols were busts of a gigantic size, made ol
wicker-work, and curiously covered with small fea-
thers of various colours, wrought in the same manner
as their cloaks; the eyes were made of large pearl
oysters, and their mouths set with a double row of
dog's teeth. The third canoe was filled with hogs
and various sorts of vegetables. As they went
along, the priests in the centre canoe sang their
hymns, and after paddling round the ships, made
towards the shore.
Captain Cook, perceiving that the king was re-
turning without entering the ships, quickly followed
him, and they both arrived at the beach together.
Scarcely were they seated, when the king rose up
and threw over the captain's shoulders the cloak he
CAPTAIN COOK. 67
himself wore. He also spread before him five or
six other cloaks. The attendants brought hogs,
bread-fruit, cocoa-nuts, and sugar-cane ; and the
ceremony was concluded by the king's exchanging
names with the captain. This custom is considered
the highest pledge uf friendship among all the South
The quiet, inoffensive behaviour of the natives,
removed all thoughts of danger from the minds of
both officers and men. During their two months'
stay off this island, they did not hesitate to trust
themselves among the natives in all times and situa-
tions. The officers frequently made excursions up
the country for two or three days together, and on
their return had always fresh acts of kindness to
relate to their companions.
Cook found not the slightest difficulty in provision-
ing the ships, or in making the necessary repairs;
and the day before he sailed, was treated with
greater liberality by the king and chiefs than at
any former time.
Early on the 4th of February, 1779, the Resolu-
tion unmoored and sailed out of the bay, with the
Discovery in company. The next day the weather
became gloomy, and the gusts of wind were so
violent as to split both the fore and maintop-sails
of the Resolution. The boisterous weather continued,
and on the 8th the foremast was found to have given
68 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
way. It being absolutely necessary to repair the
mast, Cook made for his old quarters, and on the
10th again anchored in Karakakooa Bay, Owhyhee.
Everything went on in its usual way for a few
days; and then the behaviour of the natives suddenly
changed, and they were seen armed with stones, and
were becoming very quarrelsome. In the evening
of the 13th a scuffle ensued between them and some
of the Discovery's people, on account of some goods
that had been stolen from the Discovery, and had
been regained with difficulty. The same night the
Discovery's cutter was stolen from the bay, where
it was moored. It had been Captain Cook's usual
practice, whenever anything of consequence was lost
at any of the islands in this ocean, to get the king
or some of the principal chiefs on board, as hostages,
till the stolen articles were restored. This method,
which had always been successful, he meant to
pursue on the present occasion. He marched
immediately into the village, accompanied by the
lieutenant of marines, a sergeant, corporal, and
seven privates, where he was received with the
usual marks of respect. They found the old king
just awoke from sleep, and he readily consented to
go on board with the captain. However, in a short
time, the people were observed to arm themselves
with long spears, clubs, and daggers, and to put on
their thick mats, which they used as armour. This
CAPTAIN COOK. 69
hostile appearance was much increased by the news
which was just now brought by a canoe, that one
of the chiefs had been killed by the seamen in the
Discovery's boats. Immediately on hearing this, the
women removed, and a confused murmur ran through
the crowd. Captain Cook, beginning to think his
situation dangerous, ordered the lieutenant of marines
to march towards the shore as he himself did, all
the while holding the king by the hand, who was
attended by his wife, two sons, and several chiefs.
The king's sons went on board the pinnace without
the smallest hesitation; but just as the king was
following them, his wife threw her arms round his
neck, and, assisted by two chiefs, forced him to sit
down. Captain Cook, finding that the alarm became
general, and that it was in vain to think of getting
the king off without bloodshed, was on the point of
giving orders to his people to re-embark, when one
of the natives threw a stone at him. The captain
desired him to desist, and on his repeating it, fired
at him with small shot; the matting protected the
man from the shot, which had, therefore, no other
effect than to provoke him. Still the captain,
unwilling to take away life, merely knocked him
down. At the same time several stones were
thrown at the marines, and one of the chiefs at-
tempted to stab their officer, Mr. Phillips. Captain
Cook now fired his gun, loaded with ball, and killed
70 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
one of the foremost of the chiefs. A general attack
with stones immediately comunenced, which was
answered by a discharge of musketry from the
marines and the boats. What followed was a scene
of the utmost horror and confusion. The natives,
with shouts and yells, rushed in upon the marines
before they had time to reload, killed four, and drew
the rest into the water, leaving the unfortunate cap-
tain and Lieutenant King alone on a rock. One
man was seen following the captain with marks of
fear, for he stopped once or twice; at last he struck
him on the head with a heavy club, and then hastily
retreated. Before Cook could recover from the vio-
lence of the blow, he was stabbed in the back by a
chief. The last time he was seen, he was looking
towards the boats for assistance, -t ul_ violently
with the natives, who crowded upon him. At that
time the boat was not five or six yards distant, but
such was the confusion that no help was given to him.
Lieutenant King, seeing the captain fall, attacked the
chief who had stabbed him, and soon despatched him.
Mr. King stood for some time the sole object of the
assault. Faint, at last, with loss of blood and ex-
cessive exertion, he plunged into the sea, and reached
the boats in safety. The lifeless body of the captain
was hauled on the rocks by the natives, and used
in a most barbarous manner, each showing a savage
eagerness to possess a share of his mangled remains.
CAPTAIN COOK. 71
Thus fell this great and excellent commander.
The dismay and sorrow of the ships' companies can-
not be described. His loss was equally felt by the
officers and the seamen, because, in every difficulty
and danger, they had equally been the objects of
his tenderness and care. Even during the struggle
that terminated his life, his anxiety was directed to
the preservation of his people, and procuring them
a safe retreat to the ships.
From his early life on board the collier to his
death at Owhyhee, Cook had always evinced calm-
ness in difficulties and dangers, and energy and per-
severance in fulfilling what lie deemed a duty. He
added greatly to our knowledge of geography, while
his successful experiments to preserve the health of
seamen would alone entitle him to the gratitude of
all mankind. Cook may be justly called a great
man, for he pursued great and worthy objects by
Captain Clerke, by the death of Cook, became
commander of the expedition. As soon as the ships
could be repaired, lie proceeded to the north, hoping
to penetrate farther east or west than had been
accomplished in the former season.
Notwithstanding his utmost endeavours, lie had
scarcely reached so far, when he considered any
further attempt impossible. The ships had been
much injured by the shocks they had received from
72 INDUSTRIAL IEN OF NOTE.
being frequently jammed between the ice; and unless
they were repaired, destruction seemed unavoidable.
During the whole of this northern voyage, Clerke
was suffering from severe illness; but his cheerful-
ness never left him, and his greatest anxiety, to the
last, was for the success of the expedition. He died
while the ships were stationed at a Russian settle-
ment, on the coast of Kamtschatka.
The Resolution and the Discovery returned to
England on the 4th of October, 1781, after an
absence of four years and two months.
On the news arriving in England of the untimely
death of Captain Cook, a general feeling of sorrow
spread throughout the country. The brave and
good commander could not, indeed, be sensible of
the expressions of esteem and admiration that his
countrymen showered upon his memory; but his
wife and children were cheered by the proofs of that
esteem in the sympathy that was shown them in
their misfortune. A pension was settled on the
widow and her two sons. A gold medal was struck
in honour of Cook, by the Royal Society, and his
praises were repeated in every country in Europe.*
The medals which had been presented to Cook, and after his
death to his widow, have since become the property of the nation,
Mrs. Cook, the venerable widow of the commander, having
bequeathed them to the British Museum previous to her death,
CAPTAIN COOK. 73
By the inhabitants of the South Sea Islands,
Captain Cook's loss was greatly regretted, and his
name was long held in affectionate remembrance.
In several of the islands he was called by the name
of "father," and his justice, and continual care of
the interests of the natives, made him well deserve
the title. On one or two occasions, when blood
had been shed, and Cook thought that some blame
attached to himself, his sorrow was extreme. He
always endeavoured to gain the confidence of the
natives by kindness; and constantly exerted him-
self, in every possible way, to introduce among them
the benefits of civilized life.
-.. i. 3
WILLIAM HUTTON, of Birmingham, of whose life we
are now about to give some account, was not, like
Peter the Great, the ruler of a country; nor was
he, like Sir Humphry Davy, a man of science, who
made discoveries of great use to his fellow-crea-
tures. His name, therefore, is not much known.
But he was a good man, an instructed man, a man
possessed of a comfortable property, and a happy
man. He was good, although in his childhood and
youth there were few persons from whose example
he had any opportunity of deriving benefit. He
was instructed, although in his childhood and youth
he had neither good teachers nor books from which
he could learn. He became possessed of a com-
fortable property, although born in poverty, and
often suffering from want. And he was happy,
because as he acquired property and knowledge, he
made himself an object of love to his family and
friends by taking care that they should be sharers
in his comforts.
In his old age he wrote, among other things, an
account of some of the principal events of his own
WILLIAM HUTTON. 75
life; and it is from this book that the following
particulars have been taken.
William Hutton was born September 30, 1723, at
Derby. The little house in which his father lived
was situated on the banks of the Derwent.
When two years old, he met with an accident
which might have caused his death. He was play-
ing with his little brothers and sisters round the
fire, and in attempting to light a bit of paper, he
set fire to his clothes. Fortunately, his mother,
being in the next room, was alarmed by his cries;
and she was able to come to his assistance and ex-
tinguish the flames before they had done him any
Two years after this, when on a visit at his
aunt's, he met with another accident which, although
not so dangerous as the last, was very painful. He
was watching a hive of bees, and was much amused
to see how busily they went in and out of their little
door. At last, like a thoughtless child who first plays
with a thing and then destroys it, he struck at the
bees with his hat and ran away. He was soon
pursued, however, by a large party of bees who
were swifter of wing than he was of foot; and they
settled upon his neck, and stung him dreadfully.
He never forgot, he says, that he had been the
In the year 1728, he went to school. All that
76 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
we know about this school is, that the master was
a very cruel man, and used to beat little Hutton's
head against the wall.
His father went out early every morning to his
work. His mother also was now and then obliged
to be absent from home at the same time. On
these occasions she used to leave the care of the
family to her son William, although only six
years old, and not the eldest of her children. She
must have considered him-the steadiest among them.
The breakfast of the family consisted of milk
porridge; and it was his business, when his mother
was not at home, to pour out the portion of porridge
for each, and take his father's portion to him before
eating his own. One morning it happened that, in
dividing the porridge, he forgot his father's share;
and he and his brothers seated themselves at their
little table to eat their breakfast as usual.
During the pleasure of eating," he writes, I
recollected I had forgotten my father. Astonish-
ment seized me. I proposed that each of us should
contribute to make good the deficiency. My eldest
brother refused. I, therefore, took a little from the
youngest, and all my own to cure the evil. My
father at noon remarked, 'Bill rather pinched me
this morning.' "
As soon as he was seven years of age he was sent
to work at a silk-mill. He was so young, that he
WILLIAM HUTTON. 77
was not tall enough to reach the machine; but to
remove this difficulty, a pair of high pattens was
tied to his feet; and a whole year passed before he
could reach his work without them.
For seven years he continued at this work, getting
up at five o'clock every morning, and beaten with a
cane as often as it was his master's humour to do so.
Poor little fellow! What kind of hardships he
endured may be imagined from the following little
anecdote which he relates of himself, as occurring
when he was only eight years old.
"Christmas holidays were attended with snow,
followed by a sharp frost. A thaw came on in the
afternoon of the 27th, but in the night the ground
was again covered by a frost, which glazed the
streets. I did not awake the next morning till day-
light seemed to appear. I rose in tears for fear of
punishment, and went to my father's bed-side to ask
what it was o'clock. He believed six. I darted out
in agonies, and from the bottom of Fall-street to the
top of Silk-mill-lane, not 200 yards, I fell nine times!
Observing no light in the mill, I knew it was an
early hour, and that the reflection of the snow had
deceived me. Returning, it struck two. As I now
went with care, I fell but twice."
At the age of seventy-five, when looking back
upon the occurrences of this period of his life, he
describes the silk-mill as a lace most curious
78 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
and pleasing to the eye, but which gave me a seven
In the year 1733, he lost his mother. His suffer-
ings, which had been hard enough before, were now
much harder. His mother, in spite of their poverty,
had contrived many little things for the comfort of
the family. When she was gone, his father, instead
of increasing his exertions, began to frequent the
public-house, and soon became a confirmed drunkard,
and wholly neglectful of his children.
My mother gone," he writes, my father at the
ale-house, and I among strangers, my life was for-
lorn. I was almost without a home, nearly without
clothes, and experienced a scanty cupboard. At one
time I fasted from breakfast one day till noon the
next; and even then dined upon only flour and
water boiled into a hasty-pudding."
When he was fourteen years old, his time of
serving with his first master having expired, he went
to Nottingham to work with his uncle, a stocking-
maker; quitting Derby, and with it silk-mill, father,
brothers, friends, and connexions. He had finished
one seven years' servitude, and was entering upon
His uncle seems in general to have treated him
kindly; and the only thing worthy of remark about
his aunt was that, being a stingy woman, she was
apt to grudge him his food. He makes particular
WILLIAM HUTTON. 79
mention that in the year 1740, "the frost followed
by an untoward summer brought on a rise of pro-
visions. It was considered by the mistress as almost
a sin to eat. I should have been an acceptable ser-
vant could I have subsisted without eating."
He had only one very serious quarrel with his
uncle; and this took place when he was seventeen.
There is a week during which much merry-making
is going on at Nottingham, and on this occasion
young Hutton, in common with the other people in
the town, was rather idle.
My uncle," he writes, who always judged from
the present moment, supposed I should never return
to industry. He was angry at my neglect, and
observed on Saturday that if I did not perform my
task that day, he would thrash me at night. Idle-
ness, which had hovered over me five days, did not
choose to leave me the sixth. Night came: I wanted
one hour's work. I hoped my former conduct would
atone for the present. But he had passed his word,
and a man does not wish to break it. 'You have
not done the task I ordered.' I was silent. Was
it in your power to have done it?' Still silent. He
repeated again, 'Could you have done it?' As I
ever detested lying, I could not think of covering
myself, even from a rising storm, by so mean a sub-
terfuge, for we both knew I had often done twice
as much. I therefore answered in a low. meek voice,
So INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
'I could.' This fatal word, innocent in itself and
founded upon truth, proved my destruction. Then,'
said he,' I'll make you.' He immediately brought
a birch-broom handle of white hazel, and holding it
by the small end repeated his blows till I thought he
would have broke me to pieces. The windows were
open, the evening calm, the sky serene, and every-
thing mild but my uncle and myself. The sound of
the roar and the stick penetrated to a great distance.
"The next day, my uncle seemed sorry for what
had happened, and inclined to make matters up. At
noon he sent me for some fruit, and asked me to par-
take. I thanked him with a sullen No.' My
wounds were too deep to be healed with cherries."
Irritated by the cruel punishment which had been
inflicted upon him, he resolved to run away from his
uncle's house. This one act of harshness made him
forget, for the moment, all his uncle's former kind-
ness to him. He packed up his best clothes in a
large bag, and a brown loaf and a piece of butter in
a smaller one. But he had no money, and he knew
that he could not long live without some. This
tempted him to do something worse. Seeing ten
shillings that belonged to his uncle in a drawer, he
took two of them, and then slipped out of the house
unobserved. With these two shillings, it was his
intention to proceed to Ireland! Thoughtless boy!
We may easily guess what were his feelings. I
WILLIAM HUTTON. 81
cast back," he writes, "many a melancholy look,
while every step set me at a greater distance; and
took, what I thought, an everlasting farewell of
At ten o'clock at night he arrived at Derby. "I
took a view of my father's house, where, I supposed,
all was at rest; but before I was aware, I perceived
the door open, and heard his foot not three yards
from me. I retreated with precipitation. I was run-
ning from the last hand that could have saved me."
"Adjoining the town is a field called Abbey-barns,
the scene of my childish amusements. Here I took
up- my abode upon the cold grass, in a damp place,
after a day's fatigue, with the sky over my head, and
the bags by my side. I need not say I was a boy:
this rash action proves it."
At four o'clock the next morning he rose-starved,
sore, and stiff-and set out for Burton, where he
arrived the same morning, having travelled twenty-
eight miles, and spent nothing. "I was an econo-
mist from my cradle, and the character never forsook
me. To this I, in some measure, owe my present
Continuing his journey, he arrived the same even-
ing at Lichfield. He placed his bags near a barn in
the neighbourhood of the town, while seeking for
some place of shelter where he might pass the night.
Upon his return to the barn, he found that the bags
82 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
were gone. Some thief had carried them off during
his short absence. He who had stolen from his uncle,
now felt what it was to be robbed himself.
"Terror seized me. I roared after the rascal; but
might as well have been silent, for thieves seldom
come at a call. Running, raving, and lamenting,
about the fields and roads, employed some time.
I was too much immersed in distress to find relief
in tears. They refused to flow. I described the
bags, and told the affair to all I met. I found pity,
or seeming pity from all, but redress from none. I
saw my hearers dwindle with the twilight, and by
eleven o'clock, found myself in the open street, left to
tell my mournful tale to the silent night.
"My finances were nothing; a stranger to the
world, and the world to me; no employment, nor
likely to procure any; no food to eat, or place to
rest in; I sought repose in the street, upon a butcher's
Still searching for employment, which he had not
yet been able to find, the next day lie went on to
Birmingham. Here he met with an act of kindness
from a stranger, which, in his forlorn condition, was
a great comfort to him. He was sitting down about
seven o'clock in the evening to rest himself in Philip
Street. He perceived two men in aprons eye him
with some attention. They afterwards approached
him. "You seem," said one, by your melancholy
WILLIAM HUTTON. 83
situation and dusty shoes, to be a forlorn traveller
without money and without friends." Hutton told
him that he was. "If you choose," said he, "to
accept of a pint of ale, it is at your service. I
know what it is myself to be a distressed traveller."
So saying, they took him to an adjoining house, and
gave him what bread, cheese, and beer he chose.
They procured him a lodging also.
From Birmingham he proceeded to Coventry,
Nuneaton, and Hinchley; but in none of these
places could he find employment. He could not
give a satisfactory account of himself, and no one
would trust him with work or in their houses with-
out a character. At this latter place he was
strongly advised by a townsman of his, whom he
had the good fortune to meet, to return to his
uncle. Reflecting on this advice, but undecided
what to do, he went to Ashby-de-la-Zouch, and
thence to Derby, where he arrived in the evening.
He was kindly received by his father, who, while
he blamed him for what he had done, pitied him
for his misfortunes.
The following day his father sent to his uncle to
endeavour to obtain a reconciliation. In this he
succeeded;'and uncle and nephew were once more
friends. His uncle, when he arrived, turned to
him with a look of kindness, while he pretended
anger, and said, "Are not you to blame?"
84 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
I was silent.
"This unhappy ramble damped my rising spirit.
I could not forbear viewing myself in the light of
a fugitive; it sunk me in the eyes of my acquaint-
ance, and I did not recover my former balance for
two years. It also ruined me in point of dress,
for I was not able to reassume my former appear-
ance for five years."
Soon after his return to his uncle's house, an old
man of the name of Webb, who had met with
misfortunes, and wished to spend the remainder of
his life in peace, came to live with them. He
was," says Hutton, one of the most sensible
and best of men, completely formed for an in-
structor of youth. It was my fortune to attend
him, sleep with him, and love him. I treated
him as a father and monitor, and endeavoured to
profit by him. He had many acquaintances, all
men of sense, to whose conversation I listened by
But he did not enjoy the advantage of this friend-
ship long. Mr. Webb died the following year. "I
saw him expire, assisted in bearing him to the grave,
and need not observe, mourned his loss."
At the age of twenty-one, Hutton's apprenticeship
with his uncle expired, but he continued to work
with him as a journeyman.
It is not till two years afterwards that he makes
WILLIAM HUTTON. 85
any particular mention of his fondness for books.
Indeed, his exceeding poverty and want of friends
prevented his obtaining any. It was owing to this
want of money that the books which he first pur-
chased were old and shabby. But he endeavoured
by industry and ingenuity to make up for this want.
He watched a book-binder who used to work in his
neighbourhood, and soon learned how to bind his
shabby books, and make them look neat. For two
shillings he also bought an old press. No other
person would have thought of using this press; and
it had been laid aside for fire-wood. He contrived
to put it to rights, and it was his best binding-press
for forty-two years.
"I now purchased a tolerably genteel suit of
clothes, and was so careful of them, lest I should
not be able to purchase another, that they continued
my best for five years."
In the September of this year, his uncle died. I
was ignorant how much I loved him, till my sorrow
for his death informed me." From the time of his
uncle's death, till he was twenty-six years old, he
contrived to struggle on in great poverty, support-
ing himself partly by book-binding, and partly by
stocking-making. All this time lie determined to
make a journey to London for the purchase of such
materials as he wanted for his book-binding, which he
could procure much cheaper there than at Notting-
86 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
ham. By the assistance of his friends, he managed
to get together three pounds fourteen shillings, which
was all that lie had to pay for the materials that he
wanted, and for the expenses of his journey.
He started at three o'clock in the morning of
Monday, the 8th of April. lie could spare no money
for coaches. I Iis iltvilioil was to peribrm the journey
steadily and resolhielvy on foot. Iiis fiet were tlis-
tered before e he had talked ten miles, but lie was not
to be diverted from his purpose by a little pain or
fatigue. A mile beyond Leicester, he overtook a
man travelling, like himself, on fbot. How far are
you going?" asked the man. To London," replied
Hutton. When do you expect to arrive?" de-
manded he. On Wednesday night," answered
Hutton. So do I," was his remark. This man,
who was a tailor, did not long keep company with
Hutton ; for, coming soon afterwards to a public-
house, Will you step in and drink ?" asked he.
No," answered Hutton; I shall be moving on.
You may overtake me." He slept at Brixworth,
having walked fifty-one miles, and his whole expense
for this day having been fivepence.
The next day he slept at Dunstable. And at five
o'clock in the evening of Wednesday he arrived in
London. The business upon which he had come
was the first thing that he attended to. He pur-
chased the types of three alphabets of letters, and
WILLIAM HUTTON. 87
of a set of figures, and some ornamental tools for
gilding books; with leather and boards for binding.
"When he had completed his business, he examined
the chief of the public buildings and curiosities of
London, and, although he had walked 125 miles,
he was on his feet all the three days that he was
On Saturday evening, the 13th of April, he set
out on his return to Nottingham, with four shillings
in his pocket, and slept at St. Albans. The next
morning, he met in the street his former companion,
the tailor, still on his way to London. Al, my
friend," said Hutton, "you are still fighting your
way up to London ? Perhaps, you will reach
London by next Wednesday." The tailor said but
little, looked ashamed, and passed on.
The second night after leaving London, Hutton
slept at Newport Pagnell; the third night at Market
Harborough, and on the afternoon of the 16th of
April he reached Nottingham. He had still four-
pence in his pocket, the whole of his expenses during
this nine days' absence from home having been ten
shillings and eightpence. He had laid out three
guineas upon materials for his business.
What his intentions were after this journey to
London will be best learned from his own words.
My plan was to fix upon some market town,
within a stage of Nottingham, and open shop there
88 INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE.
on the market day, till I should be better prepared
to begin the world at Birmingham.
I fixed upon Southwell, as the first step of eleva-
tion. It was fourteen miles distant, and the town
as despicable as the road to it. I went over at
Michaelmas, took a shop at the rate of twenty shil-
lings a year, sent a few boards for shelves, a few
tools, and about two hundred weight of trash, which
might be dignified with the name of books, and worth,
perhaps, a year's rent of my shop. I was my own
joiner, put up the shelves and their furniture, and in
one day became the most eminent bookseller in the
During this rainy winter, I set out at five o'clock
every Saturday morning, carried a burden of from
three pounds weight to thirty, opened shop at ten,
starved in it all day upon bread, cheese, and half a
pint of ale; took from one to six shillings, shut up
at four, and, by treading through the solitary night
and the deep roads five hours more, I arrived at
Nottingham by nine, when I always found a mess of
milk porridge by the fire, prepared by my valuable
sister. Nothing short of a surprising resolution and
rigid economy could have carried me through."
The following year he gave up his stall at South-
well, and also quitted Nottingham. He thought that
he should now be able to conduct a business as
bookseller much more profitably in a large town.
WILLIAM HUTTON. 89
Accordingly, he proceeded to Birmingham, and,
pursuing the same plan of industry and economy,
he succeeded so well that in the first year he had
already saved twenty pounds. It was not till after
he had been a whole year at Birmingham that he
ventured to treat himself to a new suit of clothes.
" I had been," he writes, nearly a year in Bir-
mingham, and had not indulged myself with any new
clothes. My best coat now had been my best coat
Hutton had now conquered all his difficulties. He
became richer, and richer, by slow degrees, every
year, till, in 1756, to his business of bookseller he
added that of paper-seller. He was able to do this,
because he had earned money enough to allow of his
purchasing a large stock of paper. From this time his
principal business was to sell paper, and by this he at
last became one of the richest men of Birmingham.
By degrees, also, he had more leisure. This he
devoted to self-improvement, to the education of his
family, and to assisting his friends and neighbours.
He was so fond of peace, that it was said of him, no
quarrel ever occurred among his friends in which he
did not use his utmost exertions to bring about a
reconciliation, and no quarrel in which he was him-
self concerned, where he would not give up part of
what he was entitled to for the sake of peace. By
such conduct it was that he became not only one of
go INDUSTRIAL MEN OF NOTE..
the richest, but also one of the best and most useful
men in Birmingham.
At that time there was at Birmingham a law
court called the Court of Conscience, in which were
settled disputes for sums of money not exceeding
two pounds each. Mr. Hutton was made a judge
in this court, and held the office many years, during
which he patiently listened to the statements made
in many thousand cases, and then pronounced a just
He retained his activity and memory nearly to the
end of his life. His performances as a walker, in
his younger days, were somewhat extraordinary, but
he may be supposed to have been urged to them by
necessity. In his latter years, however, his walks
were taken for pleasure and exercise only. IHe was
fond of making tours on foot through the remarkable
parts of the country. As an example of what he
did, it may be mentioned that in his seventy-ninth
year he walked 601 miles in thirty-five days, and on
the very day that he entered his ninetieth year he
walked ten miles.
His death took place on the 20th November, 1815,
in his ninety-second year.
'V :_ ,_ -
PETER THE GREAT,
CZAR OF RUSSIA.
IN all countries there i- a chief ruler. In some he
is called Ki.._." in otihrs, Emperor," in others,
" President." In Russia, the chief ruler is called
"Czar." Peter the First, or Peter the Great, as
he was afterwards called, was the first Czar of the
name of Peter. He was born in the year 1672,
and lost his father when only ten years old; and at
the early age of seventeen lie was acknowledged
by the Russians as their chief ruler, or Czar.
The Russians were at that time a very ignorant
and barbarous nation. It is true that all the other
nations of Europe were also much more ignorant
and barbarous than they now are; but the Russians
were looked upon as barbarians even by them.
Peter, although wanting instruction quite as much
as the people of whom he was ruler, was fortunately
aware of his ignorance. There are two kinds of
ignorant people. One who, with their ignorance,
are contented to remain ignorant all their lives.
The other, who are sensible of their ignorance, but
are, at the same time, sorry for it, and are resolved
to spare no exertion to learn and improve. Peter