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Liebig and Faraday at York

Nature volume 130, page 394 (10 September 1932) | Download Citation



IT is one of the benefits of international intercourse that visitors to a country often record in their letters and diaries their impressions and memories of men and institutions, for which we cannot be too grateful. From these records we get those glimpses of the past which often escape the historian. Thus from the memoirs of Bishop Taylor of Norwich we can picture the aged Haüy—who looked like a man picked out of a crystal—lecturing at the Jardin des Plantes, where, “as everywhere also, the utmost liberty is shown to all, but to Englishmen particularly your country is your passport”; while from the letters of Helmholtz we see Tait “a particular form of savage” at St. Andrews, where, devoted to golf, he could only be brought to talk of rational matters on a Sunday. Of all the men of science who visited England in the early days of Victoria, none was better known than Liebig, who was at York for the 1844 meeting of the British Association, and afterwards toured Great Britain hi the company of Playf air, Daubeny, and Dean Buckland. After his return to Giessen, Liebig wrote a charming letter to Faraday, which was long treasured by the late George B. Buckton, and which through the kindness of Miss A. M. Buckton was published in full in the Times on Aug. 31. During this year's meeting of the British Association the letter has been on exhibition, and Miss Buckton proposes to send it to General Smuts, as a contribution to the newly built Witwatersrand Library. It is stated in the Times that the letter has hitherto been unpublished, but perhaps it should be pointed out that it was printed in W. A. Shenstone's “Justus von Liebig, his Life and Work”, published by Messrs. Cassell and Co. in 1901. While Liebig's letter contains an interesting view of British science at the time, Frank Buckland has left us an equally interesting contemporary account of the happy surroundings in which Liebig lived and worked at Giessen.

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