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CHAP. II.

For a

Two years

MANHOOD AND ITS SUCCESSES. We left Mr. Allen, in 1797, a happy but a toiling man, his days and nights alike devoted to the claims of business and science. time, domestic bereavements checked his ardour and turned the current of his thoughts; but it was only for a season. afterwards he was again immersed in the search after all knowledge. One day, in connection with Astley Cooper and Dr. Bradley, he is eagerly engaged in experiments on respiration, breathing the gaseous oxide of azote; until fixed eyes, purple face, swollen veins, and apoplectic stertor, alarm his friends, and conclude the investigation. On another, with his friend Pepys, he is freezing quicksilver with the muriate of lime and snow, or fusing platina with oxygen or charcoal. A little later, he is shut up with Humphrey Davy, enjoying his experiments in electricity; and the day following, he is at Fox's with Dr. Jenner and others, considering a paper on the cow-pox, to be read that night at Guy's. Nothing comes amiss to him. He is always ready, always laborious.

In 1801, he commenced a series of lectures to the members of the Askesian Society, * which

* This was the later name of the Philosophical Society before referred to.

MR. ALLEN GAINS A REPUTATION.

83

were well attended. In 1802, he was elected a fellow of the Linnæan Society, and became, in conjunction with Dr. Babington, a lecturer on chemistry at Guy's Hospital. In 1803, he was chosen one of the presidents of the Physical Society at Guy's; and, by the advice of Davy and John Dalton, of Manchester, accepted a proposition from the Royal Institution to become one of their lecturers. At this period, the demands made upon his time and attention were unusually heavy. He was frequently referred to for chemical analysis, and called upon to perform experiments, which required not only skill and accuracy, but extensive scientific attainments. Plough Court became distinguished for the excellence of its chemical re-agents; its fame in this department extending from England to the continent. Professor Pictet, of Geneva, speaks of a charming collection' he had been enabled to obtain from this famous repository, and which he had exhibited to the National Institute.

The year 1804 found Mr. Allen, if possible, still more engaged. During the season of that year he delivered at the hospital forty-six lectures on chemistry, as a first course; twenty-six as a second; and fifteen on natural philosophy. Twenty-one other lectures at the Royal Institution made the total number delivered one hundred and eight.

84

REDOUBLES HIS LABOURS,

*

In following years, and amid similar avocations, he contrived to engage largely in botanical studies; had always some French work on hand;' made considerable progress in German ; paid attention to drawing; read mathematics with a tutor, and pursued astronomical observations somewhat extensively; although, as we shall afterwards have occasion to notice, he was at this very time engaged in an almost countless succession of philanthropic undertakings. He seems also to have been much interested in a series of conversaziones held at Dr. Babington's, where Count Bournon gave instructions in crystalography; and he subsequently took part with others in the formation of the Mineralogical and Geological Societies. He also became an honorary member of the Board of Agricul

* William Allen had, for some time, been occasionally occupied in preparing tables of the right ascension and declination of the stars, from the first to the fourth magnitude, with the places of some of the most interesting double stars. They were arranged for his own amusement, but as they seemed likely to prove useful to persons possessing a circular or transit instrument, he was induced to publish them. In this little work, entitled, A Companion to the Transit Instrument, the variations in right ascension and declination are given to the end of 1814. His fondness for the study of astronomy rendered his observatory a great source of gratification to him; and there, at the close of many a weary day, were his toils forgotten in the interest of this delightful science.

AND OBTAINS FRESH HONORS.

85

A paper,

ture, and delivered lectures to the members, on wheel carriages,' onroads,' and on the application of mechanical principles to agricultural instruments.'

In March, 1807, he was introduced, by Earl Morton, at Sir Joseph Banks's; and in the November following was elected a fellow of the Royal Society.

'on diamonds, prepared by Mr. Pepys and himself, was read at the meeting in June, and soon afterwards the two friends presented some valuable researches on carbon, and carbonic acid, which were printed in the Transactions, and excited much interest in the scientific world. Davy told them, that had the paper on carbonic acid been the production of one person only, the council would have voted the gold medal for it, but they found some difficulty in doing so where two parties were engaged.

Twelve years only had as yet elapsed since Mr. Allen, a plain and unknown man, had succeeded to the business at Plough Court; yet these had proved sufficient to enable him altogether to change his position in society. He was now known, appreciated, honoured. The most eminent men of the age were numbered among his personal friends. His scientific reputation was established. He was becoming distinguished as a philanthropist. Fame and wealth spread their seductions

I

86

THE HOUR OF PERIL,

before him; for everything he undertook prospered. All things betokened a bright if not a brilliant career. It was an hour of peril. Happily for him, he knew his weakness, and was alive to his danger. “If I am preserved,' he says, "from falling a victim to the world, its honours, and its friendships, I shall be inclined to consider it a miracle of mercy. Oh that my feet were permanently fixed on the sure foundation, even Jesus Christ!'

His pious mother, for whom he always manifested the most tender love, was at this time deeply anxious lest his passion for science and pursuit of knowledge should lead him away from objects of higher importance. She had long been in the habit of conveying to him in writing the religious concern she felt on his behalf, and she now addressed to him two letters, which for touching and simple beauty have, we think, seldom been surpassed.

Thy talents, my beloved child,' pleads the unworldly, and (oh, rare excellence !) unambitious mother, “if rightly directed, would tend to spread heavenly knowledge, and to extend the government of the Prince of Peace. Oh, how I long that the Most High would anoint and appoint dedicated sons, to turn the attention of men to their greatest good, and arouse them from their beds of

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