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ONE VOLUME of the original publication was dedicated to the late
MR. JUSTICE WILLIAMS, " as a small memorial of ancient friendship;” the other to PRINCE ALBERT, "in token of respect for bis encouragement of letters and the arts.” The French translation of the Lives of Voltaire and Rousseau, was inscribed to LORD HOWDEN, “ as a feeble testimony of old and constant friendship.”
THE TIME OF GEORGE III.
The physical sciences have few more illustrious names to boast than that of Joseph Black. With all the habits and the disciplined faculties of a true philosopher, with the temper as well as the capacity of a sage, he possessed that happy union of strong but disciplined imagination, with powers of close undivided attention, and ample resources of reasoning, which forms original genius
in scientific pursuits; and, as all these qualities may be combined in an individual without his happening to signalise his investigations of nature by any discovery, we must add that his life was crowned with the good fortune of opening to mankind new paths in which both himself and his followers successfully trod, enlarging to an incalculable extent the bounds of human knowledge. The modesty of his nature making him averse to publish his speculations, and the genuine devotion to the investigation of truth, for its own sake, rendering him most open in his communications with all who were engaged in the same pursuits, his incontestable claim to be regarded as the founder of modern chemistry has been oftentimes overlooked; and, while some have endeavoured more or less obscurely to mingle themselves with his discoveries, others have thought it becoming to post-date the new
system, that it might seem the produce of a somewhat later age. The interests of truth and justice therefore require that we should minutely examine the facts of the case; and, happily, the evidence is so clear that it only requires an attentive consideration to remove all doubt from the subject. I feel it a duty imperatively cast upon me to undertake a task from which, did I not regard it as less difficult than sacred, I might shrink. But I had the great happiness of being taught by himself, having attended one of the last courses of lectures which he delivered; and the knowledge thus gained cannot be turned to a better use than in recording the glory and in vindicating the fame of my illustrious
The story of a philosopher's life is soon told. Black was born, in 1721, at Bordeaux, where his father, a native of Belfast, was settled as a merchant: he was, however, a Scotchman, and his wife too was of a Scottish family, that of Gordon of Hillhead, in Aberdeenshire, settled like Mr. Black at Bordeaux. The latter was a person of extraordinary virtues, and a most amiable disposition. The celebrated Montesquieu honoured him with his especial regard; and his son preserved, as titles of honour in his family, the many letters of the President to his parent. In one of them he laments the intended removal of the Black family as a thing he could not reconcile himself to, for his greatest pleasure was seeing them often, and living himself in their society. Though Mr. Black sent his son, at the age of twelve, for some years to a school in Ireland, he was removed to the College of Glasgow in the year 1746, and ever after lived in that which was, properly speaking, his native country. At that college he studied under the celebrated Cullen, then Professor of Anatomy and Lecturer on Chemistry; and, having removed in 1750 to Edinburgh for the benefit of that famous medical school, he took his degree there in 1754. In 1756 he was appointed to succeed Dr.