Humphrey Davey on Science

Humphrey Davey was one of the great pioneering scientists, famous for the first safety lamp for miners; he was born in Cornwall where his mother had a boarding house where some of the Lunar Men stayed, then he worked for chemist Dr Beddoes at Howells institute where they experimented on cures for TB, and discovered laughing gas which Colerige and others had fun with, before Davey got involved in early electricity research. This piece echoes the widespread belief that novels were dangerous for those giddy creatures, females, hence Byron’s daughter was banned from access to it. Maths and astronomy were seen as very sensible ways of calming their emotions. This is from 1808:

“Literature and fine arts, though most noble in their general efforts, may be misapplied; natural science, on the contrary, being an exhibition of the powers existing in the universe, things cannot be subservient to the passions, prejudices or vices of men. And as far as it influences, it must correct evil tendencies – having a sublime origin in philosophical minds it descends even to the most familiar offices and is subservient to common purposes. “

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