Miscellany | Published:


Nature volume 31, pages 225227 | Download Citation



IT having become known to some of the friends of the late Mr. Henry Watts, the well-known chemist, whose death occurred very suddenly on the 30th of last June, that his widow and family are in very straitened circumstances, an informal meeting was recently held at the Royal Institution. Those present resolved to form themselves into a committee, with power to add to their number, in order to collect a fund for the benefit of Mrs. Watts and those of her children who are not of an age to provide for their own support. Dr. Atkinson consented to act as secretary, and Dr. Perkin, President of the Chemical Society, as treasurer. Among the names on the committee are those of Sir F. A. Abel, Prof. H. E. Armstrong, Mr. William Crookes, Dr. Warren De La Rue, Prof. James Dewar, Prof. G. C. Foster, Dr. J. H. Gladstone, Prof. A. G. V. Harcourt, Dr. Hugo Müller, Dr. William Odling, Dr. W. H. Perkin, Dr. B. W. Richardson, Prof. W. Chandler Roberts, Sir H. E. Roscoe, Dr. W. J. Russell and Prof. A. W. Williamson. Mr. Watts's public labours for the advancement of chemical science may be said to have begun with the translation of Gmelin's “Handbook of Chemistry,” the admirable English edition of which was prepared and edited for the Cavendish Society by him. This work occupies eighteen large octavo volumes, of which the first appeared in 1849, and the last in 1871. A work scarcely, if at all, inferior to this in magnitude, and one which has perhaps been of even greater service to English chemists, both scientific and industrial, is Watts's great “Dictionary of Chemistry,” which appeared from 1863 to 1881, in eight volumes, containing altogether nearly 9700 pages. Mr. Watts also edited and largely added to the second volume of the late Prof. Graham's “Elements of Chemistry,” published in 1858; he prepared several editions of Fownes's well-known “Manual of Chemistry,” which he almost entirely re-wrote and made into virtually a new work; and in conjunction with Mr. Ronalds and Dr. Richardson, he prepared for Messrs. Baillière an elaborate treatise on chemical technology. Up to the time of his death, and for about thirty years previously, Mr. Watts was editor of the Journal of the Chemical Society, and in this capacity, as well as in that of librarian to the Chemical Society, he became personally known to and gained the friendship of very many among the Fellows of the Society. But although Mr. Watts's life was one of unremitting labour, the money return for his work was barely sufficient to enable him to provide for the daily wants of a delicate wife and a numerous family. It was not possible for him to provide for their future needs. But if he could not leave behind him pecuniary resources, he accumulated esteem and affection among all who knew him, which, it is confidently hoped, will prove a valuable legacy for those who were dependent on him. The facts of the case show that there is great need of whatever practical proof of their regard for him and appreciation of his labours Mr. Watts's friend-, and English chemists generally, may be willing to make. For many years Mrs. Watts has been in ill-health, so that she cannot do anything for her own support and that of her family. One son is a permanent invalid, and the four youngest children have still to be educated. A considerable expenditure is therefore unavoidable for a good many years to come, if the children are to have a fair chance of a start in life. A considerable sum has already been promised in the way of subscriptions, but much more will have to be done in order that any substantial benefit may accrue to Mrs. Watts and her young family. Subscriptions will be received and acknowledged by the Secretary, Dr. Edmund Atkinson, Portesbery Hill, Camberley, Surrey, or by the Treasurer, Dr. W. H. Perkin, the Chestnuts, Sudbury, Harrow.

Access optionsAccess options

Rent or Buy article

Get time limited or full article access on ReadCube.


All prices are NET prices.

About this article

Publication history






    By submitting a comment you agree to abide by our Terms and Community Guidelines. If you find something abusive or that does not comply with our terms or guidelines please flag it as inappropriate.

    Newsletter Get the most important science stories of the day, free in your inbox. Sign up for Nature Briefing