Mary Somerville and the Cultivation of Science, 1815–1840 by Elizabeth Chambers Patterson (auth.)

By Elizabeth Chambers Patterson (auth.)

Among the myriad of alterations that came about in nice Britain within the first half the 19th century, lots of specific value to the historian of technology and to the social historian are discernible in that small section of British society drawn jointly by means of a shared curiosity in ordinary phenomena and with adequate rest or chance to enquire and consider them. This crew, which by no means numbered greater than a trifling handful compared to the complete inhabitants, may possibly rightly be characterised as 'scientific'. They and their successors got here to occupy an more and more very important position within the highbrow, academic, and constructing monetary lifetime of the country. good prior to the arriving of mid-century, common philosophers and inventors have been in general hailed as a resource of nationwide satisfaction and of nationwide status. clinical society is a function of nineteenth-century British existence, the easiest being present in London, within the universities, in Edinburgh and Glasgow, and in a couple of scattered provincial centres.

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Jean Andre Henry Lucas (17801825), keeper of the Cabinet of Mineralogy at the Museum d'Histoire Naturelle there. Lucas, the son and grandson of functionaries of science,6 escorted them through the Museum, explaining its organization and function. , 1818), who had been made a professor there by Napoleon. This great crystallographer, Mrs. Somerville noted, ... took much pains to make our visit interesting, explained the plan of his work, shewed us models in wood for the illustration of his Theory, and likewise many drawers of minerals ...

Scientific training was still largely an apprenticeship entered into for love of the subject. A few scientists gained a livelihood through teaching or other scholarly professions, a few military and naval men carried out scientific investigations as part of their duties, the medical men had their patients, and a few scattered practitioners found posts at the Royal Institution or the British Museum or similar establishments, but no youth entered science as he might enter the church or law or medicine to support himself and a family.

His election in March 1834 to the Academie Royale de Medecine of Paris84 shortly after his wife's lengthy and triumphant stay in the French capital and after a visit to Chelsea by the famed French medical authority Antoine Clot ('Clot Bey', 1795-1868) may have been at least partially in return for Somerville's kindnesses to visitors as well as an indirect tribute to his wife's fame. No equivalent British medical honour ever came his way. William Somerville's warmest enthusiasm was reserved for his avocations.

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