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he wore an Elizabethan ruff. There, Assume the port of Mars; and at his too, was a little man in powdered wig
heels, and flowered dressing-gown, reciting
Leash'd in like hounds, should famine,
sword, and fire now and then spatches of blank verse
Crouch for employment. But pardon, which awakened the echoes
gentles all, memory, and who was occasionally
The flat unraised spirits that have addressed as "Davy." The third was
dar'd a portly and portentous figure clad in On this unwortby scaffold to bring a snuff-colored, square-cut coat and
forth wearing an ample wig. The last was
So great an object; can this cockpit
bold the first to speak:
The vasty fields of France? Or may “Sir!" said the strangely material
we cram looking spirit, “in Heaven's name what
Within this wooden O the very casques think you of the way they are present T did affright the air at Agincourt? ing your plays on earth ?”
0, pardon! Since a crooked figure may The poet only smiled.
Attest in little place a million; “Sir!" the other persisted, “as a com
And let us, ciphers to this great mentator I protest. It seems to me to
On your imaginary forces work. lampoon antiquity that works of lite
Suppose within the girdle of these rary merit such as yours undoubtedly
walls possess should be decked out for the
Are now confined two mighty mondelectation of a new-fangled posterity archies, with the vulgar aids of scenic embel- Whose high upreared and abutting lishment and with prodigious and im
The perilous narrow pertinent supererogation."
asunder; Then he of the ruff spoke with a
Piece out our imperfections with your serene tolerance. I could not quite
thoughts; catch his words, but they were sone- Into a thousand parts divide one man, thing to this effect:
And make imaginary puissance.
I care not how 'tis done, so 'tis well
done. My world is not for pedagogues
alone What is that passage, Davy, from
“King Hal,” Where Chorus speaks my thoughts
anent the stage, Its narrow limits and its endless aims?
And so our scene must to the battle
fly; Where-oh, for pity; we shall much
disgrace With four or five most vile and ragged
foils, Right ill-disposed in brawl ridiculous, The name of Agincourt.
Then he of the flowered dressinggown raised his voice:
O, for a muse of fire, that would
“But, sir,” persisted the critic, "is a poor player, whose title to a place among the arts I as a literary authority dispute, to be permitted to put the stamp of his time on the literature of past centuries, and by the public of his hour to desecrate antiquity ?”
“Fudge!" said the poet, dropping into prose. “Tell him, Davy, that passage in the Danish play in which I speak of the stage and its place in the civilization of the world."
Then the little man with the powdered wig loomed large, as with pride he spoke of the purpose of playing, "whose end, both at the first and now, was and is to hold, as 'twere, the mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and
the very age and body of the time his form and pressure."
"Sir!" said the shadow of the learned man—"Sir!" and the vision began to fade-"Sir!" it faltered-and silence fell again.
H. Beerbohm Tree.
The Fortnightly Review.
Not many young Englishmen having Nobody who met the small-statured opportunities of advancement abroad man in later years for the first time have been asked by the Prime Minister “could have dreamed of the work he of their time to remain at home for had done, and the great things he had their country's good, but we have the accomplished in his busy life. Few record of one in Lyon Playfair. At the possibly would have imagined that one beginning of his career, he was on the who bore his load of learning so lightly point of accepting a professorship at and easily was the master of stores of Toronto, which had been offered to him owledge such as it is given to few through Faraday, when he was sur- amongst us to profess." His "Memoirs prised by receiving an invitation from and Correspondence” show him to have Sir Robert Peel to visit him at Drayton been a man whose whole faculty was Manor. There the Prime Minister ex- employed in the service of his fellows, plained that several men of science had most conspicuously in shaping to their expressed their regret at his leaving; use the new knowledge which science that for himself it was his interest in was accumulating." The Autobiography public rather than personal affairs that is edited and supplemented by Sir induced him to intervene; and that if Wemyss Reid, whose knowledge of afhe would remain in England he would fairs gives additional interest. The find him employment suitable for his
book should be in every public library, abilities; and he tendered him and be widely read by young Englishmemorandum to that effect. Playfair men. “To Lyon Playfair,” says Sir declined the memorandum, but gave up
Wemyss Reid, "the good of his country Canada. Men of science were then was a thing to be pursued, not merely scarce. Sir Robert Peel did not forget in the Senate, or in contested fields, him, and the services that Playfair but in the laboratory and the council lived to render at home were many room, in social intercourse and in the times greater than the sagacious states. humdrum rounds of daily life. It was man could have foreseen. His coun- a thing never to be lost sight of, no trymen even now do not fully recog.
matter how incongruous with public nize the measure of their indebtedness work the scene or the circumstances to him; he attained to high influence, might be. It was something calling not and became a peer, but his contribu- so much for isolated deeds of heroism tions to the common weal brought good to multitudes to whom
1 “Memoirs and Correspondence of Lyon
Playfair-Lord Playfair of St. Andrews, G.C.B." known.
By Wemyss Reid (Cassell & Co.).
suggestion from Playfair. Livingstone occasionally wrote to him from Africa on subjects of scientific interest, but it was not till twenty years later, when they met, that he identified the trav. eller with the shy companion of student days.
as for a patient and unremitting care, extending even to the most trivial tasks and incidents.” Is not this the type of man that the England of the twentieth century must also cherish?
Lyon Playfair was born in India, and sent home when little more than an infant, to St. Andrews, where his grandfather was Principal of the University, and one of his uncles became his guardian, placing him in the care of a widowed sister. Six years later his mother brought the younger children also home, and herself undertook the oversight of her family. He was a young man when he first made real acquaintance with his father, on his return from India, where he held high position in the medical service of the East India Company. Lyon was but a lad of fourteen when he was enrolled as a student in the University. One of his earlier recollections was a lecture on “Water."
When his wife returned to Scotland, early in 1859, she came direct, and without notice, to my house in Edinburgh. There happened to be a large dinner party when Mrs. Livingstone, whom I had never seen, was ushered into the dining room, in naturally a travel-stained dress. The announcement of her name assured her the warmest reception from every one. Mrs. Livingstone was most anxious to join her children that night, but did not know their address, although she thought they lived in one of the longest streets of the city. I immediately got two or three porters to divide the street between them, and call at every house. In time we discovered the address of the lady to whom the children had come on a visit, and the anxious mother was able to join them.
I recollect copying the lecturer's description of water.—Water, said the philosopher, is composed of two abysmal elements, possible of only one in fundamental differentiation of molecular construction. It is a fluid of exquisite limpidity, capable of solidification on one side, and gasificaton on the other. In the solid state it belongs to the hexagonal system, and is a double six-sided pyramid with one axis of double refraction. Solid, liquid, gaseous, it is a type of matter.
When his mother returned to India, he was sent to an uncle's office in Glasgow, but was allowed to enter upon a course of study for medicine. Then he entered the Andersonian College and placed himself under Professor Graham, one of the most original investigators of his time. Amongst his fellow students were Livingstone and James Young, the founder of the paraffin-oil industry, who always ascribed his success in the world to a practical
To his great disappointment, Playfair was obliged to abandon his medical studies, the atmosphere both of the dissecting rooms and the hospital affecting his health. His father advised him to seek a career in India, but the scientific men in Calcutta were not slow to perceive his true. calling, and several of them, without saying any. thing to him, wrote to his father, who was in the Upper Provinces, advising that he should be sent back to Europe to finish his chemical studies. His father at once advised his going back to London, and joining his old teacher Graham, who had become professor at University College. Graham appointed him private assistant in his researches, and the next year sent him to Giessen in Germany, to study under Liebig, who greeted him with words that showed he was already acquainted with
his attainments. He gave in his name ready ceasing, and Playfair found it and introduced himself as a pupil of expedient to withdraw. Meanwhile, he Graham's, when Liebig laughingly had been appointed Honorary Professor said, “You might have added that you of Chemistry at the Royal Institution are the discoverer of iodo-sulphuric of Manchester, a city foremost in large acid,” which he had recently described. ideas. It was at this period that he reThis may be said to be the turning ceived the invitation from Toront.) forpoint in his career. Liebig set him warded by Faraday, and that Sir Robquickly to work; sent him to be his ert Peel saw him. For a little time it representative at the next meeting of seemed uncertain from what quarter the British Association, and not long he must look for an income, but he afterwards engaged him to translate was not left long in darkness. his “Chemistry of Agriculture." When,
Science was about to make new two years later, Liebig visited England, claims upon the nation, not only to unPlayfair was his companion and cicerone veil the wonders won from experiment, in a series of visits which he made to but to descend among the people, and the great agriculturists, and his name insist upon a bona fide obedience to her thus became closely associated with laws. She was thus to become one of one of European fame.
the greatest benefactors of the cen. While he was still at Geissen, he re- tury, one of the surest and most vigceived an offer from Mr. Thompson, of orous of its reformers. When it was Clitheroe, to become chemical manager resolved to issue a Royal Commission of his calico printing works. He was to inquire into the state of large towns to meet him in London at twelve o'clock and populous districts, Sir Robert Peel that day week. Those were coaching wrote to Playfair and offered him a days, the ice on the Rhine was break- seat on it. The President was to be ing, and the villages through which the Duke of Buccleuch; Professor the road ran were flooded; but Playfair Owen Stephenson, the engineer, and got to London in time.
other well-known men were amongst
its members; Playfair was still a young I reached Spring Gardens at a quar- man, but his selection was justified ter to twelve on the day appointed; ky his work. Edwin Chadwick's report walking up and down the street till
as secretary of the Poor Law Commis. two minutes to the hour, I presented
sion on “The Sanitary Condition of the myself in the room just as the Horse
People” had prepared Guards clock struck
the way by twelve. Mr.
arousing attention. We have come to Thompson, a gentlemanly-looking old man, sat with a watch in his hand. He another as serious crisis, and need as said, “You are very punctual,” and ex- effective action to-day in dealing with plained the nature of the work. He the housing of the poor; it may be then stated that his intention had been
helpful to note what this earlier moveto offer me £300 a year, rising to
ment achieved. Playfair asked to have £400, but on account of my punctual
the large towns of Lancashire as his ity on the day and hour named, he would make his offer £400, rising to
charge, and had Dr. Angus Smith as £600.
an assistant commissioner.
One-tenth of the population of His Sojourn at Clitheroe gave him Manchester at that time lived in a manufacturing experience which was cellars, and
one-seventh of that of service all his life; but the demand of Liverpool. Infantile mortality for these Clitheroe calicoes, which were
than used by the upper hundreds, was al- half of all the children born in the
manufacturing towns perished before accompanied by two volunteers; at they had reached five years of age. The the top of the shaft, when he returned, health reforms which were at this time were three miners in working dress, initiated wrought great
changes who had prepared to go down and throughout the country. At a later search for their bodies, believing they period, when a knowledge of the needs would not return. A short time afterand laws of health was more general, wards there was a dispute in the NewPlayfair estimated that the saving of castle district, and a strike was immi. life over the whole country was, in a nent, when masters and men united to single decade, 102,000.
ask his arbitration; he was in Brittany, While chemist of the Geological Sur- but at once came home, and was sucvey, Playfair carried forward many cessful in effecting a settlement. At useful researches, but there was scarce- the time of the Irish Famine he was ly a month in which the Government asked to select two men in whom he did not ask his services. One of the had confidence to unite with him in a first demands upon him was to report commission of inquiry; and did all that on the condition of Buckingham Pal- was possible to make known the magace. It was found to be so bad that nitude of the calamity, to meet which no one dare publish the report.
all remedial measures were insufficient.
During the cholera epidemic he went At that time a great main sewer ran as volunteer to several large towns to through the court yard, and the whole organize house-to-house visitations. palace was in untrapped connection
Thus he passed in quick succession with it. To illustrate this, I painted a
from one service to another, not balancsmall room on the basement floor with
ing the choice of what was pleasant or white lead, and showed that it was blackened next morning. The kitchens
profitable, but accepting each duty as were furnished with batteries of cbar
it came to him in devotion to the comcoal fires without fues, and fumes mon good. These applications of sciwent up to the royal nurseries. To ence to the needs of daily life were a prove this, I mixed pounded pastilles form of philanthropy unknown to prewith gunpowder, and exploded the
vious generations. mixture in the kitchens. The smell of
In 1848 Playfair was elected a memthe pastilles pervaded the whole
ber of the Royal Society. That was an house, and brought down, as I wished, the High Court officials to see what
annus mirabilis in the history of Euwas the matter. The architect was im
rope. The famous 10th of April is still mediately called upon to prepare plans
remembered, when the Duke of Welfor putting Buckingham Palace into a lington made arrangements to prevent proper condition.
an outbreak in London. We may break
our narrative with a detailed incident The Board of Health required him
of history, from Playfair's recollections to report on graveyards, and to analyze of that day: all the water proposed for the supply of towns. The Admiralty placed a “The late Lord Salisbury was then sum of money at his disposal to deter- Aide-de-camp to the Duke, and he told mine the best coals suited for steam
me that when the Chartists began navigation. There was a terrible col
their march he galloped in great anxiliery explosion at Jarrow, and he was
ety to the Duke at the Horse Guards, sent to investigate the cause. The de
and found him reading the morning pa
rer. He lifted his head for a moment, scent was one of great peril, but it was
aud said, How far are they now from accomplished in safety. He went down
the Bridge? (Westminster Bridge.)