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Professor Her\ry Guerlac 




1 DEC 

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Cornell University Library 
QC 16.F21T47 1901 

? 1924 Q ; 

The original of this book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

There are no known copyright restrictions in 
the United States on the use of the text. 

EdJtbd by sib henry e. koscoe, d.c.l., lld.. f.r.s. 



The Century Science Series. 

Edited by Sir HENRY ROSCOE, D.C.L., F.R.S. 
Popu'ar Edition, price 2s. 6d. each. 


By Percy Frankland, Ph.D. (Wurzburg), B.Sc. (Lond.), 
F.R.S. , and Mrs. Percy Frankland. 

Humphry Davy, Poet and Philosopher. 
ByT. E. Thorpe, LL.D., F.R.S. 

Charles Darwin and the Theory of Natural 

By Edward B. Poulton, M.A., F.R.S. 

John Dalton and the Rise of Modern Chemistry. 

By Sir Henry E. Roscoe, F.R.S. 

Major Rennell, F.R.S., and the Rise of English 

By Sir Clements R. Markham, C.B., F.R.S. 

Justus von Liebig : his Life and Work (1803-1873). 

By W. A. Shenstone, F.I.C., Lecturer on Chemis-ry in 
Clirton College. 

The Herschels and Modern Astronomy, 

By Agnes M. Clerke. 

Charles Lyell and Modern Geology. 

By Professor T. G. Bonney. F.R.S. 

J. Clerk Maxwell and Moiern Physics. 

By R. T. Glazebr:>ok, F.R.S. 

Michael Faraday: his Life and Work. 

By Prof. Silvanus P. Thompson, F.R.S. 

CASSELL & COMPANY, Limited, London; Paris, New 
York & Melbourne. 






Principal or and Professor or Physics in the City and Guilds 
of London Technical College, Finsbuby 


[all riohts reserved] ' 

First Edition Novembe> 1898, 
Reprinted igoi. 


Was ever man so simple and so sage, 

So crowned and yet so careless of a prize ! 
Great Faraday, who made the world so wise, 

And loved the labour better than the wage. 

And this you say is how he looked in age, 

With that strong brow and these great humble eyes 
That seem to look with reverent surprise 

On all outside himself. Turn o'er the page, 

Recording Angel, it is white as snow. 

Ah God, a fitting messenger was he 
To show Thy mysteries to us below. 

Child as he came has he returned to Thee. 
Would he could come but once again to show 

The wonder-deep of his simplicity. 

Cosmo Monkhocse. 


Shortly after the death of Faraday in 1867, three 
biographies of him — each admirable in its own line — 
were published. The " Life and Letters of Faraday," 
by Dr. Bence Jones, secretary of the Royal Institution, 
which was issued in 1868 in two volumes, has long 
been out of print. " Faraday as a Discoverer," written 
in 1868 by Professor Tyndall, which, though slighter 
as a record, brings out many points of character into 
striking relief, is also now exhausted. Dr. Gladstone's 
"Michael Faraday," published in 1872, so rich in 
reminiscences, and so appreciative of the moral and 
religions side of his character, is also out of print. 
Other and briefer biographies exist ; the " Eloge 
Historique " of M. Dumas; the article "Faraday" in 
the " Encyclopaedia Britannica " by Professor Clerk 
Maxwell; and the chapter on Faraday in Dr. W. 
Garnett's " Heroes of Science." But there seems 
room for another account of the life and labours of 
the man whose influence upon the century in which 


he lived was so great. For forty years he was a 
living and inspiring voice in the Royal Institution, 
beyond all question the greatest scientific expositor 
of his time. Throughout almost the whole of that 
time his original researches in physics, and chiefly 
in electricity, were extending the boundaries of know- 
ledge and laying the foundations not only for the 
great developments of electrical engineering of the 
last twenty years but for those still greater develop- 
ments in the theories of electricity, magnetism, and 
light which are every year being extended and made 
fruitful. "Were there no other reason than these 
developments in practice and theory, they would 
amply justify the effort to review now, after so many 
years, the position of Faraday amongst the eminent 
men of the nineteeth century. 

Those who were intimately acquainted with him 
are a fast dwindling band. In the recollection of 
such as have survived him, his image lives and 
moves, surrounded with gracious memories, a vivid 
personality instinct with rare and unselfish kindliness. 
But the survivors are few, and their ranks grow 
thinner with each succeeding year. And so it comes 
about that the task of writing of his life and work 
has been entrusted to one who never ceases to regret 
that he never met Faraday. 


Thanks to the permission of the managers of the 
Royal Institution, a number of short extracts from 
Faraday's notebooks, hitherto unpublished, are now 
printed for the first time. Much more remains which 
it is to be hoped, for the benefit of science, may be 
published ere long. The author desires further to 
acknowledge the kindness of Messrs. Longmans & Co. 
in allowing the reproduction of the illustrations on 
pages 3 and 258, which are taken from Bence Jones's 
" Life and Letters of Faraday," published in 1868. 
Mr. Elkin Mathews has kindly permitted the inser- 
tion of the sonnet by Mr. Cosmo Monkhouse which 
follows the title-page. The author is also indebted 
to Dr. J. Hall Gladstone, F.R.S., for many valuable 
notes and suggestions, and to Miss M. K. Reynolds 
for photographs used in preparing Fig. 14. Most of 
all he is indebted to Miss Jane Barnard for access 
to Faraday's private papers, and for permission to 
print certain extracts from them. 

S. P. T. 


Chap. I. — Early Life, Training, and Travel 
Chap. II. — Life at the Royal Institution . 
Chai\ III. — Scientific Researches — First Period 
Chap. IV. — Scientific Researches — Second Period 
Chap. V. — Scientific Researches — Third Period 
Chap. VI. — Middle and Later Life 





Chap. VII. — Views on the Pursuit of Science and on 

Education ... . .26). 

Chap. VIII. — Religious Views 



Portrait ......••• 


1. Riebau's Shop 

2. Electromagnetic Rotations (facsimile sketch) 
Appai'atus for Rotation (facsimile sketch) 
Faraday's Ring (facsimile sketch) 
Induction Experiment (facsimile sketch) . 
The " .Now Electrical Machine " (facsimile sketch) 
The Teetotum Apparatus ..... 
The Revolving Copper Cylinder (facsimile sketch) 

Earth Inductor 

A Spark from a Magnet (facsimile sketch) . 

How to Cut the Magnetic Lines 

Illustration of the New Terms (facsimile sketch) 

Bundle of Wires (facsimile sketch) . 

Apparatus for Investigating Dielectric Capacity 

Block of Heavy-glass (facsimile sketch) 

Action of Magnet on Light (facsimile sketch) . 






17. Arrangements of Magnets (facsimile sketch) 

18. The Ring Electromagnet (facsimile sketch) 

19. The Equatorial Position .... 

20. Illustration of Lateral Vibrations 

21. A Lecture Model .... 

22. Cottage at Hampton Court 







On the 22nd of September, 1791, was born, at 
Newington Butts, then an outlying Surrey village, 
but since long surrounded and swallowed up within 
the area of Greater London, the boy Michael Faraday. 
He was the third child of his parents, James and 
Margaret Faraday, who had but recently migrated 
to London from the little Yorkshire village of 
Clapham. Clapham lies under the shadow of Ingle- 
borough, on the western border of the county, 
midway between Settle and Kirkby Lonsdale. The 
father, James Faraday, was a working blacksmith ; 
the mother, daughter of a farmer of Mallerstang, the 
romantic valley which runs past Pendragon Castle to 
Kirkby Stephen. James Faraday was one of the ten 
children of a Robert Faraday, who in 1756 had 
married Elizabeth Dean, the owner of a small home- 
stead known as Clapham Wood Hall, since pulled 
down. All Robert Faraday's sons appear to have 
been brought up to trades, one being a shoemaker, 



another a grocer, another a farmer, another a flax- 
worker, and another a shopkeeper. Descendants of 
some of these still live in the district. 

After Michael's birth, his parents moved to the 
north side of the Thames, living for a short time 
in Gilbert Street, but removing in 1796 to rooms 
over a coach-house in Jacob's Well Mews, Charles 
Street, Manchester Square, where they lived till 
1809. In that year, young Michael being now nearly 
eighteen years old, they moved to 18, Weymouth 
Street, Portland Place. Here in the succeeding 
year James Faraday, who had long been an in- 
valid, died ; his widow, who for some years re- 
mained on at Weymouth Street, maintaining herself 
by taking in lodgers until her sons could support 
themselves and her, survived till 1838. Though a 
capable woman and a good mother, she was quite 
uneducated. In her declining years she was wholly 
supported by her son, of whom she was very proud, 
and to whom she was devoted. 

Michael received very little schooling. One ol 
his nephews tells the following tale of his boy- 
hood. He was at a dame's school ; and, either from 
some defect in his speech or because he was too 
young to articulate his r's properly, he pronounced 
his elder brother's name " Wobert." The harsh 
schoolmistress, bent on curing the defect by personal 
chastisement, sent the aforesaid " Wobert " out with a 
halfpenny to get a cane, that young Michael might be 
duly flogged. But this refinement of cruelty reacted 
on itself ; for Robert, boiling with indignation, pitched 
the halfpenny over a wall, and went home to tell his 


mother, who promptly came down to the scene of 
action and removed both boys from the school. 
From the age of five to thirteen Michael lived at 
Jacob's Well Mews, spending his out-of-school hours 


at home or in the streets playing at marbles and 
other games with the children of the neighbourhood. 
In 1804 he went on trial for twelve months as 
errand-boy to a bookseller and stationer at No. 2, 
Blandford Street — Mr. George Biebau. This 
house, which is still kept as a stationer's shop 
(by Mr. William Pike), is now marked with an 
enamelled tablet recording its connection with the 


life of Faraday* "When he first went to Mr. Riebau, 
it -was his duty to carry round the newspapers 
in the morning. He has been graphically described 
as a bright-eyed errand-boy who " slid along the 
London pavements, with a load of brown curls upon 
his head and a packet of newspapers under his arm." 
Some of the journals were lent out, and had to be 
called for again. He was very particular on Sunday 
mornings to take them round early, that he might 
complete his work in time to go with his parents 
to their place of worship. They belonged — as his 
grandfather before him — to the sect known as Sande- 
manians, a small body which separated from the 
Presbyterian Church of Scotland towards the middle 
of the eighteenth century. Their views, which were 
very primitive, were held with intense earnestness 
and sincerity of purpose. Their founder had taught 
that Christianity never was or could be the formal or 
established religion of any nation without subverting 
its essential principles ; that religion was the affair 
of the individual soul; and that "the Bible" alone, 
with nothing added to it or taken away from it by 
man, was the sole and sufficient guide for the soul. 
They rejected all priests or paid ministers, but 
recognised an institution of unpaid eldership. Their 
worship was exceedingly simple. Though their 
numbers were few, they were exceedingly devout, 
simple, and exclusive in their faith. Doubtless the 
rigorous moral influences pervading the family and 

* Faraday's usual place of work at bookbinding was a little room 
on the left of the entrance. (See the story of his visit there with 
Tyndall in after years, as narrated in Tyndall's " Faraday," p. 8.) 


friends of James Faraday had a great part in 
moulding the character of young Michael. To his 
dying day he remained a member of this obscure 
sect. As he was no merely nominal adherent, 
but an exceedingly devoted member, and at two 
different periods of his life an elder and a preacher, 
no review of his life-work would be complete with- 
out a fuller reference to the religious side of his 

After the year of trial, Michael Faraday was 
formally apprenticed to learn the arts of bookbinder, 
stationer, "and bookseller," to Mr. Riebau. The in- 
denture* is dated October 7, 1805. It is stated that, 
" in consideration of his faithful service, no premium 
is given." During his seven years of apprenticeship 
there came unexpected opportunities for self-improve- 
ment. Faraday's lifelong friend and co-religionist, 
Cornelius Varley, says : — " When my attention was 
first drawn to Faraday, I was told that he had been 
apprenticed to a bookbinder. I said he was the best 
bookworm for eating his way to the inside; for 
hundreds had worked at books only as so much 
printed paper. Faraday saw a mine of knowledge, 
and resolved to explore it." To one of his friends he 
said that a book by Watts, " On the Mind," first made 
him think, and that the article on " Electricity " in a 
cyclopaedia which came into his hands to be bound 
first turned his attention to science. He himself 
•wrote: — "Whilst an apprentice I loved to read the 
scientific books which were under my hand; and, 

* Still preserved in Faraday's Diploma-took, now in the possession 
of the Koyal Society. 


amongst them, delighted in Marcet's 'Conversations 
in Chemistry' and the electrical treatises in the 
'Encyclopaedia Britannica.' I made such simple 
experiments in chemistry as could be defrayed in 
their expense by a few pence per week, and also 
constructed an electrical machine, first with a glass 
phial, and afterwards with a real cylinder, as well as 
other electrical apparatus of a corresponding kind." 
This early machine * is now preserved at the Royal 
Institution, to which it was presented by Sir 
James South. Amongst the books which he had 
to bind were Lyons' "Experiments on Electricity" 
and Boyle's " Notes about the Producibleness of 
Chymicall Principles," which books, together 
with Miss Burney's "Evelina," all bound with his 
own hands, are still preserved in the Royal Insti- 

Walking near Fleet Street, he saw displayed a bill 
announcing that evening lectures on natural phil- 
osophy were delivered by Mr. Tatum at> 53, Dorset 
Street, Salisbury Square, E.C., price of admission one 
shilling. "With his master's permission, and money 
furnished by his elder brother Robert, who was a 
blacksmith and (later) a gasfitter, Michael began 
to taste scientific teaching. Between Februar\ r > 
1810, and September, 1811, he attended some twelve 
or thirteen lectures. He made full and beautiful 
notes of all he heard : his notebooks, bound by him- 
self, being still preserved. At these lectures he fell 
in with several thoroughly congenial comrades, one 

An account of this machine will be found in the Argonaut 
vol. ii., p. 33. ' 


of them, by name Benjamin Abbott, being a well- 
educated young Quaker, who was confidential clerk 
in a mercantile house in the City. Of the others — 
amongst whom were Magrath, Newton, Nicol, Hux- 
table, and Richard Phillips (afterwards F.R.S. and 
President of the Chemical Society) — several remained 
lifelong friends. Happily for posterity, the letters — 
long and chatty — which the lad wrote in the fulness 
of his heart to Abbott have been preserved ; they 
are published in Bence Jones's "Life and Letters." 
They are remarkable not only for their vivacity 
and freshness but for their elevated tone and ex- 
cellent composition — true specimens of the lost art 
of letter-writing. The most wonderful thing about 
them is that they should have been written by a 
bookbinder's apprentice of no education beyond the 
common school of the district. In his very first 
letter he complains that ideas and notions which 
spring up in his mind " are irrevocably lost for want 
of noting at the time." This seems the first premoni- 
tion of that loss of memory which so afflicted him 
in after life. In his later years he always carried 
in his waistcoat pocket a card on which to jot down 
notes and memoranda. He would stop to set down 
his notes in the street, in the theatre, or in the 

Riebau, his master in the bookbinding business, 
seems, from the way he encouraged the studies of his 
young apprentice, to have been no ordinary man. 
Hh name would suggest a foreign extraction ; and 
to his shop resorted more than one political refugee. 
There lodged at one time at Riebau's an artist named 


Masquerier,* who had painted Napoleon's portrait 
and had fled from France during the troublous times. 
For the apprentice boy, who used to dust his room and 
black his boots, Masquerier took a strong liking. He 
lent him books on perspective and taught him how 
to draw. Another -frequenter of Kiebau's shop was 
a Mr. Dance, whose interest in the industry and in- 
telligence of the apprentice led him to an act which 
changed the whole destiny of his life. Faraday 
himself, in the very few autobiographical notes which 
he penned, wrote thus : — 

During my apprenticeship I had the good fortune, through 
the kindness of Mr. Dance, who was a customer of my master's 
shop and also a member of the Eoyal Institution, to hear four 
of the last lectures of Sir H. Davy in that locality.t The 
dates of these lectures were February 29, March 14, April 8 
and 10, 1812. Of these I made notes, and then wrote out the 
lectures in a fuller form, interspersing them with such draw- 
ings as I could make. The desire to be engaged in scientific 
occupation, even though of the lowest kind, induced me, 
whilst an apprentice, to write, in my ignorance of the world 
and simplicity of my mind, to Sir Joseph Banks, then President 
of the Royal Society. Naturally enough, "No answer" was 
the reply left with the porter. 

He submitted his notes to the criticism of his 
friend Abbott, with whom he discussed chemical and 
electrical problems, and the experiments which they 
had individually tried. Out of this correspondence, 

* " When he [Faraday] was young, poor, and altogether unknown, 
Masquerier was kind to him; and now that he is a great man he 
does not forget his old friend. " — Diary of H. Oabb Robinsonj vol. iii. 
p. 375. 

t He always sat in the gallery over the clock. 


one letter only can be given; it was written Sep- 
tember 28, 1812, ten days before the expiry of his 
apprenticeship : — 

Dear A , ... I will hurry on to philosophy, where I 

am a little more sure of my ground. Your card was to me a 
very interesting and pleasing object. I was highly gratified in 
observing so plainly delineated the course of the electric fluid 
or fluids (I do not know which). It appears to me that by 
making use of a card thus prepared, you have hit upon a happy 
illustrating medium between a conductor and a non-conductor ; 
had the interposed medium been a conductor, the electricity 
would have passed in connection through it— it would not have 
been divided ; had the medium been a non-conductor, it would 
have passed in connection, and undivided, as a spark over it, 
but by this varying and disjoined conductor it has been divided 
most effectually. Should you pursue this point at any time 
still further, it will be necessary to ascertain by what particular 
power or effort the spark is divided, whether by its affinity to 
the conductor or by its own repulsion ; or if, as I have no 
doubt is the case, by the joint action of these two forces, it 
would be well to observe and ascertain the proportion of each 
in the effect. There are problems, the solution of which will 
be difficult to obtain, but the science of electricity will not be 
complete without them ; and a philosopher will aim at perfec- 
tion, though he may not hit it— difficulties will not retard him, 
but only cause a proportionate exertion of his mental faculties. 

I had a very pleasing view of the planet Saturn last week 
through a refractor with a power of ninety. I saw his ring 
very distinctly ; 'tis a singular appendage to a planet, to a 
revolving globe, and I should think caused some peculiar 
phenomena to the planet within it. I allude to their mutual 
action with respect to meteorology and perhaps electricity. . . . 

The master, a French emigre named De la Roche, 
of King Street, Portman Square, to whom he en- 
gaged himself as a journeyman bookbinder, was of a 


very passionate disposition, and made Faraday very 
uncomfortable. He longed to get out of trade, and 
under the encouragement of Mr. Dance he wrote to 
Sir Humphry Davy, sending, "as a proof of my 
earnestness," the notes he had taken of Davy's last 
four lectures. Faraday's letter, which has been 
preserved but never published, is an astounding 
example of the high-flown cringing style in vogue at 
that date. Davy's reply was favourable, and led to a 
temporary engagement of some days as amanuensis 
at the time when he was wounded in the eye by an 
explosion of the chloride of nitrogen. Faraday him- 
self, nearly twenty years afterwards, wrote* a full 
account of the circumstances. 

[M. Faraday to Dr. J. A. Paris.] 

Royal Institution, December 23, 1829 

My dear Sir, — You asked me to give you an account of 
my first introduction to Sir H. Davy, which I am very happy 
to do, as I think the circumstances will bear testimony to his 
goodness of heart. 

When I was a bookseller's apprentice, I was very fond of 
experiment and very adverse to trade. It happened that a 
gentleman, a member of the Eoyal Institution, took me to 
hear some of Sir H. Davy's last lectures in Albemarle Street. 
I took notes, and afterwards wrote them out more fairly in a 
quarto volume. 

My desire to escape from trade, which I thought vicious 
and selfish, and to enter into the service of Science, which I 
imagined made its pursuers amiable and liberal, induced me at 
last to take the bold and simple step of writing to Sir H. Davy> 
expressing my wishes, and a hope that, if an opportunity came 

* See Dr. Paris's " Life of Davy," vol. ii., p. 2 ; or Bence Jones's 
' Life and Letters of Faraday," vol. i., p. 47. 


in his way, he would favour my views ; at the same time, I 
sent the notes I had taken of his lectures. 

The answer, which makes all the point of my communica- 
tion, I send you in the original, requesting you to take great 
care of it, and to let me have it back, for you may imagine 
how much I value it. 

You will observe that this took place at the end of the year 
1812, and early in 1813 he requested to see me, and told me 
of the situation of assistant in the laboratory of the Koyal 
Institution, then just vacant. 

At the same time that he thus gratified my desires as to 
scientific employment, he still advised me not to give up the 
prospects I had before me, telling me that Science was a harsh 
mistress ; and in a pecuniary point of view but poorly reward- 
ing those who devoted themselves to her service. He smiled 
at my notion of the superior moral feelings of philosophic men, 
and said he would leave me to the experience of a few years 
to set me right on that matter. 

Finally, through his good efforts I went to the Royal 
Institution early in March of 1813, as assistant in the laboratory; 
and in October of the same year went with him abroad as his 
assistant in experiments and in writing. I returned with him 
in April, 1815", resumed my station in the Royal Institution, 
and have, as you know, ever since remained there. 

I am, dear Sir, very truly yours, 

M. Faraday. 

The following is Davy's note : — 

Mr. P. Faraday, 188, Weymouth St., Portland Place. 

December 24, 1812. 

Sie, — I am far from displeased with the proof you have 
given me of your confidence, and which displays great zeal, 
power of memory, and attention. I am obliged to go out of 
Town, and shall not be settled in town till the end of Jany : 


I will then see you at any time you wish. It would gratify 
me to be of any service to you ; I wish it may be in my power. 

I am Sir 
your obt. humble servt. 
H. Davy. 

Accordingly, Faraday called on Davy, who received 
him in the anteroom to the lecture theatre, by the 
window nearest to the corridor. He advised him 
then to stick to bookbinding, promising to send him 
books from the Institution to bind, as well as other 
books. He must have been agreeably impressed, 
otherwise he would not, when disabled, have sent for 
Faraday to write for him. Early in 1813 the humble 
household, in which Faraday lived with his widowed 
mother in Weymouth Street, was one night startled 
by the apparition of Sir Humphry Davy's grand 
coach, from which a footman alighted and knocked 
loudly at the door. For young Faraday, who was at 
that moment undressing upstairs, he left a note from 
Sir Humphry Davy requesting him .to call next 
morning. At that interview Davy asked him whether 
he was still desirous of changing his occupation, and 
offered him the post of assistant in the laboratory in 
place of one who had been dismissed. The salary was 
to be twenty-five shillings a week, with two rooms at 
the top of the house. The minute appointing him is 
dated March 1, 1813 :— 

Sir Humphry Davy has the honour to inform the managers 
that he has found a person who is -desirous to occupy the 
situation in the Institution lately filled by William Payne. 
His name is Michael Faraday. He is a youth of twenty-two 
years of age. As far as Sir H. Davy has been able to observe 


or ascertain, he appears well fitted for the situation. His 
habits seem good, his disposition active and cheerful, and his 
manner intelligent. He is willing to engage himself on the 
same terms as those given to Mr. Payne at the time of quitting 
the Institution. 

Resolved— That Michael Faraday be engaged to fill the 
situation lately occupied by Mr. Payne on the same terms.* 

There have come down several additions to the 
story. One, probably apocryphal, says that Faraday's 
first introduction to Davy was occasioned by Davy's 
calling at Riebau's to select some bookbinding, and 
seeing on the shelves the bound volume of manuscript 
notes of his own lectures. The other was narrated 
by Gassiot to Tyndall, as follows : — 

Clapham Common, Surrey, 

November 28, 1867. 

My deak Tyndall, ^Sir H. Davy was accustomed to call 
on the late Mr. Pepys in the Poultry, on his way to the 
London Institution, of which Pepys was one of the original 
managers ; the latter told me that on one occasion Sir H. Davy, 
showing him a letter, said, " Pepys, what am I to do ? — here is a 
letter from a young man named Faraday ; he has been attend- 
ing my lectures, and wants me to give him employment at the 
Koyal Institution — what can I do 1 " " Do 1 " replied Pepys, 

* His duties as laid down by the managers were these : — " To attend 
and assist the lecturers and professors in preparing for, and during 
lectures. Where any instruments or apparatus may ho require!, to 
attend to their careful removal from the model-room and laboratory 
to the lecture-room, and to clean and replace them after being used, 
reporting to the managers such accidents as shall require repair, a 
constant diary being kept by him for that purpose. That in one day 
in each week he be employed in keeping clean the models in the 
repository, and that all the instruments in the glass cases be cleaned 
and dusted at least once within a month." 


"put him to wash bottles; if he is good for anything he will do 
it directly ; if he refuses, he is good for nothing." " No, no,' 
replied Davy, " we must try him with something better than 
that." The result was, that Davy engaged him to assist in 
the Laboratory at -weekly wages. 

Davy held the joint office of Professor of Chemistry and 
Director of the Laboratory ; he ultimately 1 gave up the former 
to the late Professor Brande, but he insisted that Faraday 
should be appointed Director of the Laboratory, and, as 
Faraday told me, this enabled him on subsequent occasions to 
hold a definite position in the Institution, in which he was 
always supported by Davy. I believe he held that office to the 


Believe me, my dear Tyndall, yours truly, 

J. P. Gassiot. 

In 1808 Mr. Tatum had founded a City Philo- 
sophical Society* It consisted of thirty or forty 
young men in humble or moderate rank, who met on 
Wednesdays for mutual instruction ; lectures being 
given once a fortnight by the members in turn. 
Tatum introduced Faraday to this Society in 1813. 
Edward Magrath was .secretary. Amongst Faraday's 
notes of his life is the following : — 

During this spring Magrath and I established the mutual- 
/improvement plan, and met at my rooms up in the attics of 
the Royal Institution, or at "Wood Street at his warehouse. It 
consisted perhaps of half-a-dozen persons, chiefly from the 
City Philosophical Society, who met of an evening to read 
together, and to criticise, correct, and improve each other's 

* The City Philosophical Society was given up at the time when 
Mechanics' Institutes were started in London, Tatum selling his 
apparatus to that established in Fleet Street, the forerunner of the 
Birkbeck Institution. Many of the City Society's members joined 
the Society of Arts 


pronunciation and construction of language. The discipline 
was very sturdy, the remarks very plain and open, and the 
results most valuable. This continued for several years. 

He writes, after a week of work at the Royal 
Institution, to Abbott : — 

Eoyal Institution, March 8, 1813. 

It is now about nine o'clock, and the thought strikes me 
that the tongues are going both at Tatum's and at the lecture 
in Bedford Street ; but I fancy myself much better employed 
than I should have been at the lecture at either of those places. 
Indeed, I have heard one lecture already to-day, and had a 
ringer in it (I can't say a hand, for I did very little). It was 
by Mr. Powell, on mechanics, or rather on rotatory motion, and 
was a pretty good lecture, but not very fully attended. 

As I know you will feel a pleasure in hearing in what I 
have been or shall be occupied, I will inform you that I have 
been employed to-day, in part, in extracting the sugar from a 
portion of beetroot, and also in making a compound of sulphur 
and carbon— a combination which has lately occupied in a 
considerable degree the attention of chemists. 

With respect to next Wednesday, I shall be occupied until 
late in the afternoon by Sir H. Davy, and must therefore 
decline seeing you at that time ; this I am the more ready to 
do as I shall enjoy your company next Sunday, and hope to 
possess it often in a short time. 

The next letter to Abbott, dated April 9, recounts 
an explosion in which both he and Sir Humphry 
Davy received considerable injury. In June he wrote 
to Abbott four very remarkable letters concerning 
lectures and lecturer^ He had already heard Tatum 
and Davy, and had now assisted Brande and Powell 
in their lectures, and had keenly observed their habits, 
peculiarities, and defects, as well as the effects they 


produced on the audience. He writes without the 
slightest suspicion of suggestion that he himself has 
any likelihood of becoming a lecturer, and says that 
he does not pretend to any of the requisites for such 
an office. " If I am unfit for it," he says, " 'tis evident 
that I have yet to learn ; and how learn better than 
by the observation of others ? If we never judge at 
all, we shall never judge right." " I, too, have in- 
ducements in the C[ity] Philosophical] S[ociety] to 
draw me forward in the acquisition of a small portion 
of knowledge on this point." " I shall point out but 
few beauties or few faults that I have not witnessed 
in the presence of a numerous assembly." 

He begins by considering the proper shape of a 
lecture-room ; its proper ventilation, and need of 
suitable entrances and exits. Then he goes on to 
consider suitability of subjects and dignity of subject. 
In the second of the letters he contrasts the perceptive 
powers of the eye and ear, and the proper arrange- 
ments for a lecturer's table ; then considers diagrams 
and illustrations. The third letter deals with the 
delivery and style of the lecture, the manner and 
attitudes of the lecturer, his methods of keeping alive 
the attention of the audience, and duration of the 
discourse. In the fourth of these letters (see p. 228), 
he dwells on the mistakes and defects of lecturers, 
their unnecessary apologies, the choice of apt ex- 
periments, and avoidance of trivialities. 

In September, 1813, after but six months of work 
in the laboratory, a proposition came to him from Sir 
Humphry Davy which resulted in a complete change 
of scene. It was an episode of foreign travel, lasting 


as it proved, eighteen months. In the autobio- 
graphical notes he wrote : — 

In the autumn Sir H. Davy proposed going abroad, and 
offered me the opportunity of going with him as his amanuensis, 
and the promise of resuming my situation in the Institution 
upon my return to England. Whereupon I accepted the offer, 
left the Institution on October 13, and, after being with Sir 
H. Davy in France, Italy, Switzerland, the Tyrol, Geneva, &c, 
in that and the following year, returned to England and 
London April 23, 1815. 

Before he left England, on September 18. 1813, at 
the request of his mother, he wrote to an uncle and 
aunt the following account of himself : — 

I was formerly a bookseller and binder, but am now turned 
philosopher, which happened thus :— Whilst an apprentice, I, 
for amusement, learnt a little of chemistry and other parts of 
philosophy, and felt an eager desire to proceed in that way 
further. After being a journeyman for six months, under a 
disagreeable master, I gave up my business, and, by the 
interest of Sir H. Davy, filled the situation of chemical assistant 
to the Boyal Institution of Great Britain, in which office I 
now remain, and where I am constantly engaged in observing 
the works of Nature and tracing the manner in which she 
directs the arrangement and order of the world. I have lately 
had proposals made to me by Sir Humphry Davy to accompany 
him, in his travels through Europe and into Asia, as philo- 
sophical assistant. If I go at all I expect it will be in October 
next, about the end, and my absence from home will perhaps 
be as long as three years. But as yet all is uncertain. I have 
to repeat that, even though I may go, my path will not pass 
near any of my relations, or permit me to see those whom I so 
much long to see. 

To Faraday, who was now twenty-two years old, 
foreign travel meant much more than to most young 


men of equal age. With his humble bringing up and 
slender resources, he had never had the chance of 
seeing the outside world ; he had never, to his own 
recollection, even seen the sea. When on Wednesday, 
October 13, he started out on the journey to Ply- 
mouth, in order to cross to the port of Morlaix, he 
began his journal of foreign travel thus: — 

This morning formed a new epoch in my life. I have never 
before, within my recollection, left London at a greater distance 
than twelve miles. 

This journal he kept with minute care, with the sole 
purpose of recalling events to his mind. It gives full 
details as to Davy's scientific friends and work, inter- 
mingled with graphic descriptions of scenery ; and is 
remarkable also for its personal reticence." As with 
many another, so with Faraday, foreign travel took 
in his life the place of residence at a University. In 
France, in Italy, he received enlarged ideas ; and 
what he saw of learned men and academies of science 
exercised no small formative effect upon one then at 
the most impressionable age. He comments gaily on 
the odd incidents of travel ; the luminescence of the 
sea at night ; the amazing fuss at the Custom House ; 
the postilion with his jack-boots, whip, and pouch; 
the glow-worm (the first glow-worm he had ever 
seen) ; and the slim pigs of Normandy. At Paris he 
visits the Louvre, Avhere his chief comment on its 
treasures is, that by their acquisition France has 
made herself " a nation of thieves." He goes to the 
Prefecture of Police for his passport, in which he is 
described as having "a round chin, a brown beard, 
a large mouth, a great nose," etc. He visits the 


churches, where the theatrical air pervading the 
place "makes it impossible to attach a serious or 
important feeling to what is going on." He comments 
on the wood fires, the charcoal used in cooking, the 
washerwomen on the river bank, the internal decora- 
tions of houses, the printing of the books. Then he 
goes about with Davy amongst the French chemists. 
Ampere, Clement, and Desormes come to Davy to 
show him the new and strange substance " X," 
lately discovered by M. Courtois. They heat it, and 
behold it rise in vapour of a beautiful violet colour. 
Ampere himself, on November 23rd, gives Davy a 
specimen. They carefully note down its characters. 
Davy and his assistant make many new experiments 
on it. At first its origin is kept a profound secret by 
the Frenchman. Then it transpires that it is made 
from ashes of seaweed. They work on it at Chevreul's 
laboratory. Faraday borrows a voltaic pile from 
Chevreul. With that intuition which was character- 
istic of him, Davy jumps almost at once to a conclu- 
sion as to the nature of the new body, which for 
nearly two years had been in the hands of the French- 
men awaiting elucidation. When he leaves Paris, 
they do not wholly bless his rapidity of thought. 
But Faraday has seen — with placid indifference — a 
glimpse of the great Napoleon " sitting in one corner 
of his carriage, covered and almost hidden by an 
enormous robe of ermine, and his face overshadowed 
by a tremendous plume of feathers, that descended 
from a velvet hat"; he has also met Humboldt, and 
he has heard M. Gay Lussac lecture to about two 
hundred pupils. 


Dumas has recorded in his " Eloge Historique " a 
reflection of the impressions left by the travellers. 
After speaking of the criticism to which "Davy was 
exposed during his visit, he says : — 

His laboratory assistant, long before lie had won his great 
celebrity by his works, had by his modesty, his amiability, and 
his intelligence, gained most devoted friends at Paris, at 
Geneva, at Montpellier. Amongst these may be named in 
the front rank M. de la Kive, the distinguished chemist, father 
of the illustrious physicist whom we count amongst our foreign 
associates. The kindnesses with which he covered my youth 
contributed not a little to unite us — Faraday and myself. 
With pleasure we used to "recall that we made one another's 
acquaintance under the auspices of that affectionate and helpful 
philosopher whose example so truly witnessed that science 
does not dry up the heart's blood. At Montpellier, beside the 
hospitable hearth of Burard, the associate of Chaptal, doyen 
of our corresponding members, Faraday has left memories 
equally charged with an undying sympathy which his master 
could never have inspired. We admired Davy, we loved 

It is December 29 when the travellers leave Paris 
and cross the forest of Fontainebleau. Faraday thinks 
he never saw a more beautiful scene than the forest 
dressed in an airy garment of crystalline hoar frost. 
They pass through Lyons, Montpellier, Aix, Nice, 
searching on the way for iodine in the sea-plants of 
the Mediterranean. At the end of January, 1814, 
they cross the Col de Tende over the snow at an 
elevation of 6,000 feet into Italy, and find themselves 
in the midst of the Carnival at Turin. They reach 
Genoa, and go to the house of a chemist to make 
experiments on the raia torpedo, the electric skate 


trying to ascertain whether water could be decom- 
posed by the electrical discharges of these singular 
fishes. From Genoa they go by sea to Lerici in an 
open boat, with much discomfort and fear of ship- 
wreck ; and thence by land to Florence. 

At Florence he goes with Davy to the Accademia 
del Cimento. He sees the library, the gardens, the 
museum. Here is Galileo's own telescope — a simple 
tube of paper and wood, with lenses at each end — ■ 
with which he discovered Jupiter's satellites. Here is 
the great burning glass of the Grand Duke of Tuscany. 
And here is a numerous collection of magnets, includ- 
ing one enormous loadstone supporting a weight of 
150 pounds. They make "the grand experiment of 
burning the diamond " in oxygen by the sun's heat 
concentrated through the Grand Duke's burning 
glass. They find the diamond to be pure carbon. 
Then early in April they depart for Koine. 

From Rome Faraday wrote to his mother a long 
chatty letter summarising his travels, and sending 
messages of kindly remembrance to his old master 
Riebau and others. He tells hoAV, in spite of political 
troubles, Sir Humphry Davy's high name has pro- 
cured them free admission everywhere, and how they 
have just heard that Paris has been taken by the 
Allied troops. 

At Rome they witness unconvinced some attempts 
of Morichini to impart magnetism to steel needles 
by the solar rays. They pass the Colosseum by moon- 
light, making an early morning start across the 
Campagna, on the road to Naples, with an armed 
guard for fear of brigands. Twice, in the middle of 


May, they ascend Vesuvius, the second time during 
a partial eruption rendered all the more vivid by the 
lateness of the hour— half-past seven— at which the 
edge of the crater was reached. In June they visit 
Terni, and note the nearly circular rainbow visible in 
the spray of the cataract ; and so across the Apennines 
to Milan, 

At Milan occurs the following entry: — 

Friday 17th [June, 1814], Milan. Saw M. Volta, who came 
to Sir H. Davy, an hale elderly man, bearing the red ribbon, 
and very free in conversation. 

He does not record how the ceremonious old Count, 
who had specially attired himself in his Court uni- 
form to welcome the illustrious chemist, was horrified 
at the informal manners and uncourtly. dress of the 
onrist philosopher. 

So, travelling by Como and Domo d'Ossola, they 
come to Geneva, and here remain a long time; 
and Faraday writes again to his mother and to 
Abbott. He can even find time to discuss with the 
latter the relative merits of the French and Italian 
languages, and the trend of civilisation in Paris and 
in Rome. Twice he sends messages to Riebau. One 
of his letters to Abbott, in September, contains 
passages of more than transient interest : — 

Some doubts have been expressed to me lately with respect 
to the continuance of the Royal Institution ; Mr. Newman can 
probably give a guess at the issue of them. I have three boxes 
of books, ifec, there, and I should be sorry if they were lost bv 
the turning up of unforeseen circumstances ; but I hope all 
will end well (you will not read this out aloud). Remember 


me to all friends, if you please. And " now for you and I to 
ourselves." . . . 

In passing through life, my dear friend, everyone must 
expect to receive lessons, both in the school of prosperity and 
in that of adversity; and, taken in a general sense, these 
schools do not only include riches and poverty, but everything 
that may cause the happiness and pleasure of man, and every 
feeling that may give him pain. I have been in at the door of 
both these schools ; nor am I so far on the right hand at present 
that I do not get hurt by the thorns on my left. With respect 
to myself, I have always perceived (when, after a time, I saw 
things more clearly) that those things which at first appeared 
as misfortunes or evils ultimately were actually benefits, and 
productive of much good in the future progress of things. 
Sometimes I compared them to storms and tempests, which 
cause a temporary disarrangement to produce permanent good ; 
sometimes they appeared to me like roads — stony, uneven, 
hilly, and uncomfortable, it is true — but the only roads to a 
good beyond them ; and sometimes I said they were clouds 
which intervened between me and the sun of prosperity, but 
which I found were refreshing, reserving to me that tone and 
vigour of mind which prosperity alone would enervate and 
ultimately destroy. . . . 

You talk of travelling, and I own the word is seducing, but 
travelling does not secure you from uneasy circumstances. I 
by no means intend to deter you from it ; for though I should 
like to find you at home when I come home, and though I 
know how much the loss would be felt by our friends, yet I 
am aware that the fund of knowledge and of entertainment 
opened would be almost infinite. But I shall set down a few 
of my own thoughts and feelings, &c, in the same circum- 
stances. In the first place, then, my dear B., I fancy that 
when I se,t my foot in England I shall never take it out again ; 
for I find the prospect so different from what it at first 
appeared to be, that I am certain, if I could have foreseen the 
things that have passed, I should never have left London. In 
the second place, enticing as travelling is — and I appreciate 
fully its advantages and pleasures — I have several times been 


more than half decided to return hastily home ; but second 
thoughts have still induced me to try what the future may 
produce, and now I am only retained by the wish of improve- 
ment. I have learned just enough to perceive, my ignorance, 
and, ashamed of my defects in everything, I wish to seize the 
opportunity of remedying them. The little knowledge I have 
gained in languages makes me wish to know more of them, 
and the little I have seen of men and manners is just enough 
to make me desirous of seeing more ; added to which, the 
glorious opportunity I enjoy of improving in the knowledge of 
chemistry and the sciences continually determines me to 
finish this voyage with Sir Humphry Davy. But if I wish to 
enjoy those advantages, I have to sacrifice much ; and though 
those sacrifices are such as an humble man would not feel, yet 
I cannot quietly make them. Travelling, too, I find, is almost 
inconsistent with religion (I mean modern travelling), and I 
am yet so old-fashioned as to remember strongly (I hope 
perfectly) my youthful education ; and upon the whole, malgri 
the advantages of travelling, it is not impossible but that you 
may see me at your door when you expect a letter. 

You will perceive, dear B., that I do not wish you hastily 
to leave your present situation, because I think that a hasty 
change will only make things worse. You will naturally 
compare your situation with others you see around you, and 
by this comparison your own will appear more sad, whilst the 
others seem brighter than in truth they are ; for, like the two 
poles of a battery, the ideas of each will become exalted by 
approaching them. But I leave you, dear friend, to act in 
this case as your judgment may direct, hoping always for 
the best. 

Sir Humphry works often on iodine, and has lately been 
making experiments on the prismatic spectrum at M. Pictet's. 
They are not yet perfected, but from the use of very delicate 
air thermometers, it appears that the rays producing most 
heat are certainly out of the spectrum and beyond the red 
rays. Our time has been employed lately in fishing and 
shooting ; and many a quail has been killed in the plains oi 


Geneva, and many a trout and grayling have been pulled 
out of the Eh one 

I need not say, dear Ben, how perfectly I am yours, 

M. Faraday. 

This letter reveals, what the diary of travel' so 
scrupulously hides, the existence of circumstances 
which were hardly tolerable in Faraday's position. 
To make the reference intelligible it should be re- 
membered that Davy, who had come up to London 
in 1801 as a raw youth, of immense ability but very 
uncouth exterior, had developed into a fashionable 
person, had become the idol of the hour, had married 
a very wealthy widow, had been knighted, and had 
given himself up very largely to the pursuits of 
fashionable society and to the company of the aristo- 
cratic beau monde. Lady Davy accompanied Sir 
Humphry in this Continental tour; and though 
Faraday had been taken with them as secretary and 
scientific assistant, it would seem that he had not 
always been treated with the respect due to one in 
that position. The above letter evidently disquieted 
Abbott, for he wrote back to Faraday to inquire more 
closely into his personal affairs, telling him he was 
sure he was not happy, and asking him to share his 
difficulties. Faraday, who was now back in Home, 
replied in January in a long letter of twelve pages,* 

* Two passages may be quoted. " Finally, Sir H. has no valet 
except myself . . . and 'tis the name more than the thing- which 
hurts." "When I return home, I fancy I shall return to my old 
profession of bookseller, for books still continue to please me more 
than anything else." 


which he says he had intended to fill with an account 
of the waterfalls he had seen, but which gives instead 
a detailed account of his vexations. He had, he 
said, written his former letter when in a ruffled state 
of mind. He now gives the explanation. Before, 
however, this letter could reach Abbott, the latter 
had written yet more urgently to know what was the 
matter. To this Faraday replied on February 23rd. 
As this shorter letter summarises the previous one 
it may be given here. Both are printed in Bence 
Jones's " Life and Letters " : — 

Rome, February 23, 1815. 

Dear B , — In a letter of above twelve pages I gave 

answers to your question respecting my situation. It was a 
subject not worth talking about, but I consider your inquiries 
as so many proofs of your kindness and the interest you take 
in my welfare, and I thought the most agreeable thanks I 
could make you would be to answer them. The same letter 
also contained a short account of a paper written by Sir 
Humphry Davy on ancient colours, and some other miscel- 
laneous matters. 

I am quite ashamed of dwelling so often on my own affairs, 
but as I know you wish it, I shall briefly inform you of my 
situation. I do not mean to employ much of this sheet of 
paper on the subject, but refer you to the before-mentioned 
long letter for clear information. It happened a few days 
before we left England, that Sir H.'s valet declined going with 
him, and in the short space of time allowed by circumstances 
another could not be got. Sir H. told me he was very sorry, 
but that, if I would do such things as were absolutely necessary 
for him until he got to Paris, he should there get another. I 
murmured, but agreed. At Paris he could not get one. No 
Englishmen were there, and no Frenchman fit for the place 
could talk English to me. At Lyons he could not get one ; 
at Montpellier he could not get one ; nor at Genoa, nor at 


Florence, nor at Rome, nor in all Italy ; and I believe at last 
he did not wish to get one : and we are just the same now as 
we were when he left England. This of course throws things 
into my duty which it was not my agreement, and is not my 
wish, to perform, but which are, if I remain with Sir H., 
unavoidable. These, it is true, are very few ; for having been 
accustomed in early years to do for himself, he continues to do 
so at present, and he leaves very little for a valet to perform ; 
and as he knows that it is not pleasing to me, and that I do 
not consider myself as obliged to do them, he is always as 
careful as possible to keep those things from me which he 
knows would be disagreeable. But Lady Davy is of another 
humour. She likes to show her authority, and at first I found 
her extremely earnest in mortifying me. This occasioned 
quarrels between us, at each of which I gained ground, and 
she lost it ; for the frequency made me care nothing about 
them, and weakened her authority, and after each she behaved 
in a milder manner. Sir H. has also taken care to get servants 
of the country, ycleped lacquais de place, to do everything she 
can want, and now I am somewhat comfortable ; indeed, at 
this moment I am perfectly at liberty, for Sir H. has gone to 
Naples to search for a house or lodging to which we may 
follow him, and I have nothing to do but see Eome, write my 
journal, and learn Italian. 

But I will leave such an unprofitable subject, and tell you 
what I know of our intended route. For the last few weeks it 
has been very undecided, and at this moment there is no 
knowing which way we shall turn. Sir H. intended to see 
Greece and Turkey this summer, and arrangements were half 
made for the voyage ; but he has just learned that a quarantine 
must be performed on the road there, and to do this he has 
an utter aversion, and that alone will perhaps break up the 

Since the long letter I wrote you, Sir H. has written two 
short papers for the Royal Society — the first on a new solid 
compound of iodine and oxygen, and the second a new gaseous 


compound of chlorine and oxygen, which contains four times 
as much oxygen as euchlorine. 

The discovery of these bodies contradicts many parts of 
Gay-Lussac's paper on iodine, which has been very much 
vaunted in these parts. The French chemists were not aware 
of the importance of the subject until it was shown to them, 
and now they are in haste to reap all the honours attached 
to it ; but their haste opposes their aim. They reason theo- 
retically, without demonstrating experimentally, und errors are 
the result. 

I am, my dear Friend, yours ever and faithfully, 

M. Faraday. 

The equivocal position thus forced upon Faraday 
by the haute, lit of Lady Davy nearly caused a contre- 
temps during the stay at Geneva, which lasted from 
the end of June, 1814, to about the middle of 
September. Bence Jones's account, derived from 
Faraday himself, is as follows: — Professor G. de la 
Rive, undazzled by the brilliancy of Davy's reputation, 
was able to see the true worth of his assistant. Davy 
was fond of shooting, and Faraday, who accompanied 
them, used to load Davy's gun for him, while De la 
Rive loaded his own. Entering into conversation 
with Faraday, De la Rive was astonished to find that 
the intelligent and charming young man whom he 
had taken hitherto for a domestic was really prepara- 
teur de laboratoire in the Royal Institution. This 
led him to place Faraday, in one respect, on an 
equality with Davy. Whilst they were staying in his 
house, he wished them to dine together at his table. 
Davy, it is said, declined, because Faraday acted in 
some things as his servant. De la Rive expressed 


his feelings strongly, and ordered dinner in a separate 
room for Faraday. A rumour spread years after that 
De la Rive gave a dinner in Faraday's honour : this is 
not so, however. 

Of that Geneva visit Faraday says, in 1858, to M. 
A. de la Rive : — 

I have some such thoughts (of gratitude) even as regards 
your own father, who was, I may say, the first who personally 
at Geneva, and afterwards by correspondence, encouraged and 
by that sustained me. 

This correspondence, which began with the father 
and was continued with the son, lasted altogether 
nearly fifty years. 

From Geneva the travellers went northward, by 
Lausanne, Vevay, Bern, Zurich, and Schaffhausen, 
across Baden and Wtirtemburg to Munich. After 
visiting this and other German towns, they crossed 
Tyrol southwards to Vicenza, halting in the neigh- 
bourhood of the Pietra Mala to collect the in- 
flammable gas which there rises from the soil. 
They spent a day in Padua, and three days in Venice ; 
and on by Bologna to Florence, where Davy com- 
pleted his analysis of the gas collected at Pietra Mala. 
Early in November they were again in Rome. He 
writes once and again to his mother, while his anxiety 
about the Royal Institution makes him send inquiries 
to Abbott as to what is going to happen there, and to 
charge him, " if any change should occur in Albemarle 
Street," not to forget his books which are lying there. 
" I prize them now more than ever." 

To his former master, Riebau, he wrote from Rome 
as follows : — 


Eome, Jan. 5th, 1815. 
Honoured Sir, 

It is with very peculiar but very pleasing and 
indeed nattering sentiments that I commence a letter intended 
for you, for I esteem it as a high honour that you should not 
only allow but even wish me to write to you. During the 
whole of the short eight years that I was with you, Sir, and 
during the year or two that passed afterwards before I left 
England, I continually enjoyed your goodness and the effects 
of it ; and it id gratifying to me in the highest degree to find 
that even absence has not impaired it, and that you are willing 
to give me the highest proof of (allow me to say) friendship 
that distance will admit. I have received both the letters that 
you have wrote to me, Sir, and consider them as far from 
being the least proofs of your goodwill and remembrance of 
me. Allow me to thank you humbly but sincerely for these 
and all other kindness, and I hope that at some future day 
an opportunity will occur when I can express more strongly 
my gratitude. 

I beg leave to return a thousand thanks to my kind 
Mistress, to Mr. and Mrs. Paine and George for their re- 
membrances, and venture to give mine with respect in return. 
I am very glad to hear that all are well. I am very much 
afraid you say too much of me to Mr. Dance, Mr. Cosvvay, 
Mrs. Udney, etc., for I feel unworthy of what you have said of 
me formerly, and what you may say now. Since I have left 
England, the experience I have gained in more diversified and 
extended life, and the knowledge 1 have gained of what is to 
be learned and what others know, have sufficiently shown me 
my own ignorance, the degree in which I am surpassed by 
all the world, and my want of powers ; but I hope that at 
least I shall return home with an addition to my self-know- 
ledge. When speaking of those who are so much my superiors, 
as Mr. Dance, Mr. Cosway, and Mrs. Udney, etc., I feel a 
continual fear that I should appear to want respect, but the 
manner in which you mention their names in your letter 
emboldens ine to beg that you will give my humblest respects 


to those honored persons, if, and only if (I am afraid of 
intruding) they should again speak of me to you. Mr. Dance's 
kindness claims my gratitude, and I trust that my thanks, the 
only mark that I can give, will be accepted. 

Since I have been abroad, my old profession of books has 
oftentimes occurred to my mind and been productive of much 
pleasure. It was my wish at first to purchase some useful 
book at every large town we came to, but I found my stock 
increase so fast that I was obliged to alter my plan and purchase 
only at Capital Cities. The first books that I wanted' were 
grammars and dictionaries, but I found few places like London 
where I could get whatever I wanted. In France (at the time 
we were there) English books were very scarce, and also 
English and French books ; and a French grammar for an 
Englishman was a thing difficult to find. Nevertheless the 
shops appeared well stocked with books in their own language, 
and the encouragement Napoleon gave to Arts and Sciences 
extended its influence even to the printing and binding of 
books. I saw some beautiful specimens in both these branches 
at the Bibliotheque Imperiale at Paris, but I still think they 
did not exceed or even equal those I had seen in London 
before. We have as yet seen very little of Germany, having 
passed rapidly through Switzerland and stopping but a few 
days at Munich, but that little gave me a very favorable idea 
of the Booksellers' shops. I got an excellent English and 
German dictionary immediately I asked for it, and other books 
I asked for I found were to be had, but E. and Q. Grammars 
were scarce, owing to the little communication between the 
two Empires, and the former power of the French in Germany. 
Italy I have found the country furnished with the fewest 
means — if books are the means of disseminating knowledge, 
and even Venice which is renowned for Printing appeared to 
me bare and little worthy of its character. It is natural to 
suppose that the great and most estimable use of printing is to 
produce those books which are in most general use and which 
are required by the world at large ; it is those books which 
form this branch of trade, and consequently every shop in it 
gives an account of the more valuable state of the art (i.e.) the 


use made of it. In Italy there are many books, and the 
shelves of the shops there appear full, but the books are old, 
or what is new have come from France ; they seem latterly to 
have resigned printing and to have become satisfied with the 
libraries their forefathers left them. I found at Florence an E. 
and I. Grammar (Veneroni's), which does a little credit to 
Leghorn ; but I have searched unsuccessfully at Home, Naples, 
Milan, Bologna, Venice, Florence, and in every part of Italy 
for and E. an I. Dictionary, and the only one I could get was 
Rollasetti in 8vo. E. F. and I. A circumstance still more 
singular is the want of bibles ; even at Eome, the seat of the 
Roman Catholic faith, a bible of moderate size is not to be 
found, either Protestant or Catholic. Those which exist are 
large folios or 4tos and in several volumes, interspersed with 
the various readings and commentaries of the fathers, and they 
are in the possession of the Priests and religious professors. 
In all shops at Tionie where I ask for a small pocket bible the 
man seemed afraid to answer me, nnd some Priest in the shop 
looked at me in a very inquisitive way. 

I must now. Kind Sir, put an end to this letter, which I 
fear you will think already too long. I beg you will have the 
goodness to send to my Mother and say I am well, and give 
my duty to her and my love to my brother and sisters. I have 
wrote four or five times lately from Rome to various friends. 
Remember me, if you please, to Mr. Kitchen, and others who 
may enquire after me. I thank you for your concluding 
wishes and am, Sir, 

Your most dutifully, 


To his sisters he wrote also. To the elder, on the 
Church festivals, the Carnival, and the ruins of the 
Colosseum. To the younger, on the best way of 
learning French. His diary is full of the Carnival, 
the foolishness of which afforded him much amuse- 
ment. He witnessed the horse-races in the Corso, 
went four times to masked balls, where his boyish 


love of uproarious fun broke out beyond restraint, for 
to the last one he went disguised in a night-gown and 
night-cap. Between gaieties in the evenings and 
chemical experiments with Davy in the day, his time 
must have been pretty fully occupied. They had had 
the intention of going on to Greece and Turkey, but 
owing to dread of quarantine these projects were 
abandoned, and at the end of February, 1815, they 
moved southwards to Naples. Here is a characteristic 
entry : — 

Tuesday, March 7th. — I heard for news that Bonaparte was 
again at liberty. Being no politician, I did not trouble myself 
much about it. though I suppose it will have a strong influence 
on the affairs of Europe. 

He went with Sir Humphry to explore Monte Somma, 
and ventured to make another ascent of the cone 
of Vesuvius, with the gratification of finding the crater 
in much greater activity than during the visits of the 
preceding year. 

Then, for reasons not altogether clear, the tour was 
suddenly cut short. Naples was left on March 21st, 
Rome on 24th, Mantua was passed on 30th. Tyrol 
was recrossed, Germany traversed by Stuttgardt, 
Heidelberg, and Cologne. Brussels was reached on 
16th April, whence London was regained via Ostend 
and Deal. A letter written from Brussels to his 
mother positively overflows with the joy of expected 
return. He does not want his mother to be inquiring 
at Albemarle Street as to when he is expected : — 

You may be sure that my first moments will be in your 
company. If you have opportunities, tell some of my dearest 


friends, but do not tell everybody— that is, do not trouble 
yourself to do it. I am of no consequence except to a few, 
and there are but a few that are of consequence to me, and 
there are some whom I should like to be the first to tell myself 
— Mr. Riebau for one. However, let A. know, if you can. . . . 

Adieu till I see you, dearest Mother ; and believe me ever 
your affectionate and dutiful son, M. Fabaday. 

[P.S.] 'Tis the shortest and (to me) the sweetest letter I 
ever wrote you. 

A fortnight after his return to London, Faraday 
was re-engaged, at a salary of thirty shillings a week, 
at the Royal Institution as assistant in the laboratory 
and mineralogical collection. He returned to the 
scene of his former labours ; but with what widened 
ideas ! He had had eighteen months of daily inter- 
course with the most brilliant chemist of the age. 
He had seen and conversed with Ampere, Arago, 
Gay-Lussac, Chevreul, Dumas, Volta, De la Rive, 
Biot, Pictet, De Saussure, and De Stael. He had 
formed a lasting friendship with more than one of 
these. He had dined with Count Rumford, the 
founder of the Royal Institution. He had gained 
a certain mastery over foreign tongues, and had seen 
the ways of foreign society. Though it was many 
years before he again quitted England for a foreign 
tour, he cherished the most lively recollection of 
many of the incidents that had befallen him. 




Amongst the scientific societies of Great Britain, 
the Royal Institution of London occupies a con- 
spicuous place. It has had many imitators in its time, 
yet it remains unique. A "learned society" it may 
claim to be, in the sense that it publishes scientific 
transactions, and endeavours to concentrate within 
itself and promote the highest science, within a 
certain range of subjects. In some respects it re- 
sembles a college; for it appoints professors, and 
provides them with space, appliances, and materials 
for research, and a theatre wherein to lecture. For 
its members it provides a comfortable, well-stocked 
library, and a reading-room where daily and periodic 
journals may be consulted. But it has achieved a 
reputation far in excess of any it would have held, 
had that reputation depended solely on its publica- 
tions, or on the numerical strength of its membership. 
Founded in the year 1799 by that erratic genius 
Count Rumford, as a sort of technical school* it 
would speedily have come to an end had not others 
stepped in to develop it in new ways. From the 
certain ruin which seemed impending in 1801, it was 

* The meeting at which it was actually originated was held under 
the presidency of Sir Joseph Banks, P.E.S., nominally as a meeting 
for the Assistance of the ToorJ 


saved by the appearance upon the scene of the 
brilliant youth Humphry Davy, whose lectures made 
it for ten years the resort of fashion. In 1814 it was 
again in such low water that Faraday, travelling on 
the Continent at that time as amanuensis to Sir 
Humphry, was every month expecting to hear of 
its collapse. Until about 1833, when the two Fullerian 
Professorships were founded, it was continually in 
financial difficulties. The persistent and extraordinary 
efforts made by Faraday from 1826 to 1839, and the 
reputation of the place which accrued by his dis- 
coveries, were beyond all question its salvation 
from ruin. When it was founded it was located in 
two private houses in Albemarle Street, then regarded 
as quite out of town, if not almost suburban; the 
premises being altered and an entrance ball with 
staircase added. A little later the lecture-theatre, 
much as it still exists, was constructed. The exterior 
at first remained unchanged. The stucco pilasters of 
Grecian style, which give it its air of distinction, 
were not erected until 1838. The fine rooms of the 
Davy-Faraday laboratory at the south end were only 
added in 1896 by the liberality of Mr. Ludwig Mond. 
T3esides the laboratories for research in physical 
chemistry, which have thus been associated with the 
older part of the Institution, additional rooms for the 
library have been provided in this munificent gift to 
science. The older laboratories of the Institution, 
though they retain some features from Kumford's 
time, have been considerably remodelled. The old 
rooms where Davy, Young, Brande, Faraday, Frank- 
land, and Tyndall conducted their researches are still 


in existence; but the chief laboratory was recon- 
structed in 1872 in Tyndall's time ; and it has been 
quite recently enlarged and reconstructed to accom- 
modate the heavy machinery required in Professor 
Dewar's researches on liquid air and the properties of 
bodies at low temperatures. 

The spirit of the place may be summed up very 
briefly. It has existed for a century as the home 
of the highest kind of scientific research, and of 
the best and most specialised kind of scientific 
lectures. It was here that Davy first showed the 
electric arc lamp; that he astonished the world by 
decomposing potash and producing potassium; that 
he invented the safety lamp. It was here that 
Faraday worked and laboured for nearly fifty years. 
Here that Tyndall's investigations on radiant heat 
and diamagnetism were carried on. Here that Brande, 
Frankland, Odling, Gladstone, and Dewar have handed 
on the torch of chemistry from the time of Davy. 
Professorships, of which the educational duties are 
restricted to a few lectures in the year, giving leisure 
and scope for research as the main duty, are not to be 
found anywhere else in the British Islands ; those at 
colleges and universities being invariably hampered 
with educational and administrative duties. 

As for the lectures at the Royal Institution, they 
may be divided under three heads : the afternoon 
courses; the juvenile lectures at Christmas; the 
Friday night discourses. The afternoon lectures are 
thrice a week at three o'clock, and consist usually of 
short courses, from three lectures to as many as twelve, 
by eminent scientific and literary men. Invariably 


one of these courses during the season, either before 
or after Easter, is given by one of the regular Pro- 
fessors ; the remaining lecturers are paid professional 
fees in proportion to the duration of their course. 
The Christmas lectures, always six in number, are 
given, sometimes by one of the Professors, sometimes 
by outside lecturers of scientific reputation. But 
the Friday night discourses, given at nine o'clock, 
during the season from January till June, are unique. 
No fee is paid to the lecturer, save a contribution 
toward expenses if applied for, and it is considered to 
be a distinct honour to be invited to give such a 
discourse. , There is no scientific man of any original 
claim to distinction; no chemist, engineer, or electrician; 
no physiologist, geologist, or mineralogist, during the 
last fifty years, who has not been invited thus to give 
an account of his investigations. Occasionally a 
wider range is taken, and the eminent writer of books, 
dramatist, metaphysician, or musician has taken his 
place at the lecture-table. The Friday night gather- 
ing is always a brilliant one. From the salons of 
society, from the world of politics and diplomacy, as 
well as from the ranks of the learned professions and 
of the fine arts, men and women assemble to listen to 
the exposition of the latest discoveries or the newest 
advances in philosophy by the men who have made 
them. Every discourse must, so far as the subject 
admits, be illustrated in the best possible way by 
experiments, by diagrams, by the exhibition of 
specimens. Not infrequently, the person invited to 
give a Friday evening discourse at the Eoyal Institu- 
tion will begin his preparations five or six months 


beforehand. At least one instance is known — the 
occasion being a discourse by the late Mr. Warren De 
la Hue — where «the preparations were begun more 
than a year beforehand, and cost several hundreds of 
pounds. And this was to illustrate a research already 
made and completed, of which the bare scientific 
results had already been communicated in a memoir 
to the Koyal Society. A mere enumeration of the 
eminent men who have thus given their time and 
labours to the Koyal Institution would fill many 
pages. It is little cause for wonder then that the 
lecture- theatre at Albemarle Street is crowded week 
after week in the pursuit of science under condi- 
tions like these; or that every lecturer is spurred 
on by the spirit of the place to do his subject the 
utmost justice by the manner in which he handles 
it. There are no lectures so famous, in the best 
sense of the word so popular, certainly none sus- 
tained at so high a level, as the lectures of the Royal 

But it was not always thus. Davy's brilliant but 
ill-balanced genius had drawn fashionable crowds 
to the morning lectures which he gave. Brande 
proved to be a much more humdrum lecturer; and 
though with young Faraday at his elbow he found 
his work of lecturing a task " on velvet," he was 
not exactly an inspiring person. During Davy's 
protracted tour abroad things had not altogether 
prospered, and his return was none too soon. Faraday 
threw himself whole-heartedly into the work of the 
Institution, not only helping as lecture assistant, but 
giving a hand also in the preparation of the Quarterly 


Journal of Science, which had been established as a 
kind of journal of proceedings. 

But now Faraday was to take a quiet step forward. 
He appears at the City Philosophical Society in the 
character of lecturer. He gave seven lectures there, 
in 1S16, on chemistry, the fourth of them being "On 
Radient Matter." Extracts are given from most of 
these lectures in Bence Jones's " Life and Letters of 
Faraday " ; they show all that love of accuracy, that 
philosophic suspense of judgment in matters ol 
hypothesis, which in after years were so characteristic 
of the man. 

He also kept a commonplace book filled with 
notes of scientific matters, with literary excerpts, 
anagrams, epitaphs, algebraic puzzles, varieties of 
spelling of his own name, and personal experiences, 
including a poetical diatribe against falling in love, 
together with the following more prosaic aphorism : — 

What is Love ? — A nuisance to everybody but the parties 
concerned. A private affair which every one but those con- 
cerned wishes to make public. 

It also includes a piece in verse, by a member of 
the City Philosophical Society — a Mr. Dryden — called 
" Quarterly Night," which is interesting as embalming 
a portrait of the youthful Faraday as he appeared to 
his comrades : — 

Neat was the youth in dress, in person plain ; 
His eye read thus, Philosopher in grain; 
Of understanding clear, reflection deep ; 
Expert to apprehend, and strong to keep. 
His watchful mind no subject can elude, 
Nor specious arts of sophists ere delude j 


•His powers, unshackled, range from pole to pole ; 
His mind from error free, from guilt his soul. 
"Warmth in his heart, good humour in his face, 
A friend to mirth, but foe to vile grimace ; 
A temper candid, manners unassuming, 
Always correct, yet always unpresuming. 
Such was the youth, the chief of all the band ; 
His name well known, Sir Humphry's right hand. 

At this date there were no evening duties at the 
Royal Institution, but Faraday found his evenings 
well occupied, as he explains to Abbott when rallied 
about his having deserted his old friend. Monday 
and Thursday. evenings he spent in self-improvement 
according to a regular plan. Wednesdays he gave to 
" the Society " (i.e. the City Philosophical). Satur- 
days he spent with his mother at Weymouth Street ; 
leaving only Tuesdays and Fridays for his own 
business and friends. 

And so the busy months pass, and he gives more 
lectures in the privacy of the City Society, one of 
them, "On some Observations on the Means of obtain- 
ing Knowledge," attaining the dignity of print at the 
hands of Effingham Wilson, the enterprising City 
publisher, who a few years later printed Browning's 
" Paracelsus " and Alfred Tennyson's first volume, 
" Poems : Chiefly Lyrical." By the time he has given 
nine lectures he has gained confidence. The discourses 
had all been written out beforehand, though never 
literally " read." For the tenth lecture — on Carbon — 
he wrote notes only. This is in July, 1817, and in these 
notes he touches on a matter in which he had been 
very busily aiding Sir Humphry Davy, the invention ot 


the safety lamp. Many of the early forms of experi- 
mental apparatus constructed, and some of the early 
lamps, are still preserved in the museum of the Royal 
Institution. Dr. Clanny had, in 1813, proposed an 
entirely closed lamp, supplied with air from the mine, 
through water, by hello ws. After 'many experiments 
on explosive mixtures of gas and air, and on the 
properties of flame, Davy adopted an iron-wire gauze 
protector for his lamp, which was introduced into 
coal mining early in 1816. In Davy's preface to his 
work describing it, he says : " I am myself indebted 
to Mr. Michael Faraday for much able assistance in 
the prosecution of my experiments." 

And well might Davy be grateful With all his 
immense ability, he was a man almost destitute of 
the faculties of order and method. He had little 
self-control, and the fashionable dissipations which he 
permitted himself lessened that little. Faraday not 
only kept his experiments going, but made himself 
responsible for their records. He preserved every 
note and manuscript of Davy's with religious care. 
He copied out Davy's scrawled researches in a neat 
clear delicate handwriting, begging only for his pains 
to be allowed to keep the originals, which he bound 
in two quarto volumes. Faraday has been known 
to remark to an intimate friend that amongst his 
advantages he had had before him a model to teach 
him what he should avoid. But he was ever loyal to 
Davy, earnest in his praise, and frank in his acknow- 
ledgment of his debt to his master in science. Still 
there arose the little rift within the lute. The safety 
lamp, great as was the practical advantage it brought 


to the miner, is not safe in all circumstances. 
Davy did not like to admit this, and would never 
acknowledge it. Examined before a Parliamentary 
Committee as to whether under a certain condition 
the safety lamp would become unsafe, Faraday 
admitted that this was the case. Not even his 
devotion to his master would induce him to hide the 
truth. He was true to himself in making the acknow- 
ledgment, though it angered his master. One Friday 
evening at the Royal Institution — probably about 
1826 — there was exhibited an improved Davy lamp 
with a eulogistic inscription ; Faraday added in pencil 
the words : " The opinion of the inventor." 

At this time he began to give private lessons in 
chemistry to a pupil to whom he had been recom- 
mended by Davy. His lectures at the City Society in 
Dorset Street were continued in 1818, and at the 
conclusion of those on chemistry he delivered one on 
'■' Mental Inertia," which has been recorded at some 
length by Bence Jones. 

In 1818 he attended a course of lessons on oratory 
by the elocutionist Mr. B. H. Smart, paying out of his 
slender resources half a guinea a lesson, so anxious 
was he to improve himself, even in his manner of 
lecturing. His notes on these lessons fill 133 manu- 
script pages. 

His other notes now begin to partake less of the 
character of quotations and excerpts, and more of the 
nature of queries or problems for solution. ' Here are 
some examples : — 

" Do the pith balls diverge by the disturbance of electricity 
in consequence of mutual induction or notl" 


" Distil oxalate of ammonia. Query, results 1 " 
" Query, the nature of the body Phillips burns in his spirit 

The Phillips here mentioned was the chemist 
Richard Phillips (afterwards President of the Chemi- 
cal Society), one of his City friends, whose name so 
frequently occurs in the correspondence of Faraday's 
middle life. Phillips busied himself to promote the 
material interests of his friend who — to use his own 
language — Avas " constantly engaged in observing the 
works of Nature, and tracing the manner in which she 
directs the arrangement and order of the world," on 
the splendid salary of £100 per annum. The follow- 
ing note in a letter to Abbott, dated February 27, 1818, 
reveals new professional labours : — 

I have been more than enough employed. We have been 
obliged even to put aside lectures at the Institution ; and now 
I am so tired with a long attendance at Guildhall yesterday 
and to-day, being subpoenaed, with Sir H. Davy, Mr. Brande, 
Phillips, Aikin, and others, to give chemical information on a 
trial (which, however, did not come off), that I scarcely know 
what I say. 

Shortly afterwards Davy again went abroad, but 
Faraday remained in England. From Rome Davy 
wrote a note, the concluding sentence of which shows 
how Faraday was advancing in his esteem . — 

Eome : October, 1818. 

Mr. Hatchett's letter contained praises of you which were 
very gratifying to me ; for, believe me, there is no one more 
interested in your success and welfare than your sincere well- 
wisher and friend, 

H. Davy. 


In the next year Davy wrote again, suggesting to 
Faraday that he might possibly be asked to come to 
Naples as a skilled chemist to assist in the unrolling 
of the Herculaneum manuscripts. In May he wrote 
again, from Florence : — . 

It gives me great pleasure to hear that you are comfortable 
at the Royal Institution, and I trust that you will not only do 
something good and honourable for yourself, but likewise for 

I am, dear Mr. Faraday, always your sincere friend and 

H. Davy. 

The wish' that Davy expressed that Faraday might 
" do something " for himself and likewise for science 
was destined soon to come to fulfilment. But in 
the case of one who had worked so closely and had 
been so intimately associated as an assistant, it must 
necessarily be no easy matter always to draw a 
distinction between the work of the master and that 
of the assistant. Ideas suggested by one might easily 
have occurred to the other, when their thoughts had 
so long been directed to the same ends. And so it 

Reference to Chapter III. will show that already, 
beginning in 1816 with a simple analysis of caustic 
lime for Sir Humphry Davy, Faraday had become an 
active worker in the domain of original research. The 
fascination of the quest of the unknown was already 
upon him. While working with and for Davy on the 
properties of flame and its non-transmission through 
iron gauze, in the investigation of the safety lamp, 
other problems of a kindred nature had arisen. One 


of these, relating to the flow of gases through capillary- 
tubes, Faraday had attacked by himself in 1817. The 
subject formed one of the six original papers which 
he published that year. In the next two years he 
contributed in all no fewer than thirty-seven papers 
or notes to the Quarterly Journal of Science. In 
1819 began a long research on steel which lasted over 
the year 1820. He had already given evidence of 
that dislike of half-truths, that aversion for " doubtful 
knowledge " which marked him so strongly. He had 
exposed, with quiet but unsparing success, the empti- 
ness of the claim made by an Austrian chemist to 
have discovered a new metal, " Sirium," by the simple 
device of analysing out from the mass all the con- 
stituents of known sorts, leaving behind — nothing. 

And now, Faraday being twenty-nine years of age, 
a new and all-important episode in his life occurred 
Amongst the members of the little congregation 
which met on Sundays at Paul's Alley, Red Cross 
Street, was a Mr. Barnard, a working silversmith of 
Paternoster Row, an elder in the Sandemanian body. 
He had two sons, Edward Barnard, a friend of 
Faraday's, and George, who became a well-known 
water-colour artist ; and three daughters ; one who was 
already at this time married ; Sarah, now twenty-one 
years of age ; and Jane, who was still younger. 
Edward had seen in Faraday's note-book those boyish 
tirades against falling in love, and had told his sister 
Sarah of them. Nevertheless, in spite of all such 
misogynistic fancies, Faraday woke up one day to 
find that the large-eyed, clear-browed girl had grown 
to a place in his heart that he had thought barred 


against the assaults of love. She asked him on one 
occasion to show her the rhymes against love in his 
note-book In reply he sent her the hitherto un- 
published poem : — 

R. I. 

Oct. llth, 1819. 

You ask'd me last night for the lines which I penn'd, 
When, exulting in ignorance, tempted by pride, 

I dared torpid hearts and cold breasts to commend, 
And affection's kind pow'r and soft joys to deride. 

If you urge it I cannot refuse your request : 
Though to grant it will punish severely my crime : 

But my fault I repent, and my errors detest ; 
And I hoped to have shown my conversion in time. 

Remember, our laws in their mercy decide 
That no culprit be forced to give proof of his deed : 

They protect him though fall'n, his failings they hide, 
And enable the wretch from his crimes to receed (sic). 

The principle's noble ! I need not urge long 
Its adoption ; then turn from a judge to a friend. 

Do not ask for the proof that I once acted wrong, 
But direct me and guide me the way to amend. 

M. F. 

What other previous passages between them are hinted 
at in the letter which he sent her, is unknown ; but 
on July 5, 1820, he wrote : — 

Royal Institution. 

You know me as well or better than I do myself. You 
know my former prejudices, and my present thoughts — you 
know my weaknesses, my vanity, my whole mind ; you have 
converted me from one erroneous way, let me hope you will 
attempt to correct what others are wrong. 

Again and again I attempt to say what I feel, but I cannot. 


Let me, however, claim not to be the selfish being that 
wishes to bend your affections for his own sake only. In 
whatever way I can best minister to your happiness either by 
assiduity or by absence, it shall be done. Do not injure me 
by withdrawing your friendship, or punish me for aiming to 
be more than a friend by making me less ; and if you cannot 
grant me more, leave me what I possess, but hear me. 

Sarah Barnard showed the letter to her father. 
She was young, and feared to accept her lover. All 
her father would say by way of counsel was that love 
made philosophers say many foolish things. The 
intensity of Faraday's passion proved for the time a 
bar to his advance. Fearing lest she should be unable 
to return it with equal force, Miss Barnard shrank 
from replying. To postpone an immediate decision, 
she went away with her sister, Mrs. Keid, to Kamsgate. 
Faraday followed to press his suit, and after several 
happy days in her company, varied with country 
walks and a run over to Dover, he was able to say : 
"Not a moment's alloy of this evening's happiness 
occurred. Everything was delightful to the last 
moment of my stay with my companion, because she 
was so." 

Of the many letters that Faraday wrote to his 
future wife a number have been preserved. They are 
manly, simple, full of quiet affection, but absolutely 
free from gush or forced sentiment of any kind. 
Extracts from several of them are printed by Bence 
Jones. One of these, written early in 1821, runs as 
follows : — 

I tied up the enclosed key with my books last night, 
and make haste to return it lest its absence should occasion 


confusion. If it has, it will perhaps remind you of the disorder 
I must be in here also for the want of a key— I mean the one to 
my heart. However, I know where my key is, and hope soon 
to have it here, and then the Institution will be all right again. 
Let no one oppose my gaining possession of it when unavoid- 
able obstacles are removed. 

. Ever, my dear girl, one who is perfectly yours, 

M. Faraday. 

Faraday obtained leave of the managers to bring 
his wife to live in his rooms at the Institution; and 
in May, 1821, his position was changed from that of 
lecture assistant to that of superintendent of the 
house and laboratory. In these changes Sir Humphry 
Davy gave him willing assistance. But his salary 
remained £100 a year. 

Obstacles being now removed, Faraday and Miss 
Barnard were married on June 12. Few persons were 
asked to the wedding, for Faraday wished it to be 
"just like any other day." " There will," he wrote, 
" be no bustle, no noise, no hurry. ... it is in the 
heart that we expect and look for pleasure." 

His marriage, though childless, was extremely 
happy. Mrs. Faraday proved to be exactly the true 
helpmeet for his need ; and he loved her to the end 
of his life with a chivalrous devotion which has 
become almost a proverb. Little indications of his 
attachment crop up in unexpected places in his 
subsequent career ; but as with his religious views so 
with his domestic affairs, he never obtruded them 
upon others, nor yet shrank from mentioning them 
when there was cause. Tyndall, in after years, made 
the intensity of Faraday's attachment to his wife the 


subject of a striking simile : " Never, I believe, existed 
a manlier, purer, steadier love. Like a burning 
diamond, it continued to shed, for six and forty years, 
its white and smokeless glow." 

In his diploma-book, now in possession of the 
Royal Society, in which he carefully preserved all the 
certificates, awards, and honours bestowed upon him 
by academies and universities, there may be found on 
a slip inserted in the volume this entry : — 

25th January, 1847. 

Amongst these records and events, I here insert the date of 
one which, as a source of honour and happiness, far exceeds 
the rest. We were married on June 12, 1821. 

M. Faraday. 

And two years later, in the autobiographical notes 
he wrote : — 

On June 12, 1821, he married— an event which more than 
any other contributed to his earthly happiness and healthful 
state of mind. The union has continued for twenty-eight 
years, and has nowise changed, except in the depth and strength 
of its character. 

When near the close of his life, he presented to 
the Royal Institution the bookcase with the volumes 
of notes of Davy's lectures and of books bound by 
himself, the inscription recorded that they were the 
gift of " Michael and Sarah Faraday." 

Every Saturday evening he used to take his wife 
to her father's house at Paternoster Row, so that on 
Sunday they should be nearer to the chapel at Paul's 
Alley. And in after years, when he was away on 
scientific work, visiting lighthouses, or attending 



meetings of the British Association, he always tried 
to return for the Sunday. 

A letter from Liebig in 1844 (see p. 225) gives one 
of the very few glimpses of contemporary date of the 
impression made by Mrs. Faraday upon others. 

One month after his marriage Faraday made his 
profession of faith before the Sandemanian church, to 
which his wife already belonged, and was admitted a 
member. To his religious views, and his relations to 
the body he thus formally joined, reference will be 
found later. 

Faraday now settled down to a routine life of 
scientific work. His professional reputation was 
rising, and his services as analyst were being sought 
after. But in the midst of this he was pursuing 
investigations on his own account. In the late 
summer of this year he made the discovery of the 
electro-magnetic rotations described in Chapter III. — 
his first important piece of original research — and 
had in consequence a serious misunderstanding with 
Dr. Wollaston. On September 3rd, working with 
George Barnard in the laboratory, he saw the electric 
wire for the first time revolve around the pole of the 
magnet. Rubbing his hands as he danced around the 
table with beaming face, he exclaimed : " There they 
go ! there they go ! we have succeeded at last." Then 
he gleefully proposed that they should wind up 
the day by going to one of the theatres. Which 
should it be ? " Oh, to Astley's, to see the horses." 
And to Astley's they went. On Christinas Day he 
called his young wife to see something new : an electric 
conducting-wire revolving under the influence of the 


magnetism of the earth alone. He also read two 
chemical papers at the Koyal Society, announcing 
new discoveries ; one of them in conjunction with his 
friend Phillips. In July, 1822, he took his wife and 
her mother to Ramsgate, whilst he went off with 
Phillips to Swansea to try a new process in Vivian's 
copper works. During this enforced parting, Faraday 
wrote his wife three letters from which the following 
are extracts : — 

(July 21, 1822). 

I perceive that if I give way to my thoughts, I shall write 
you a mere love-letter, just as usual, with not a particle of 
news in it : to prevent which I will constrain myself to a 
narrative of what has happened since I left you up to the 
present time, and then indulge my affection. 

Yesterday was a day of events — little, but pleasant. I 
went in the morning to the Institution, and in the course of 
the day analysed the water, and sent an account of it to Mr. 
Hatchett. Mr. Fisher I did not see. Mr. Lawrence called in, 
and behaved with his usual generosity. He had called in the 
early part of the week, and, finding that I should be at the 
Institution on Saturday only, came up, as I have already said, 
and insisted on my accepting two ten-pound bank-notes for 
the information he professed to have obtained from me at 
various times. Is not this handsome ? The money, as you 
know, could not have been at any time more acceptable ; and 
I cannot see any reason, my dear love, why you and I should 
not regard it as another proof, among many, that our trust 
should without a moment's reserve be freely reposed on Him 
who provideth all things for His people. Have we not many 
times been reproached, by such mercies as these, for our caring 
after food and raiment and the things of this world ? 

On coming home in the evening, i.e., coming to Paternoster 
Eow home, I learned that Mr. Phillips had seen C, and had 
told her we should not leave London until Monday evening. 


So I shall have to-morrow to get things ready in, and I shall 
have enough to do. I fancy we are going to a large mansion 
and into high company, so I must take more clothes. Having 
the £20, I am become bold 

And now, how do my dear wife and mother do ? Are you 
comfortable 1 ! are you happy? are the lodgings convenient, and 
Mrs. 0. obliging? Has the place done you good? Is the 
weather fine ? Tell me all things as soon as you can. I think 
if you write directly you get this it will be best, but let it be a 
long letter. I do not know when I wished so much for a long 
letter as I do from you now. You will get this on Tuesday, 
and any letter from you to me cannot reach Swansea before 
Thursday or Friday — a sad long time to wait. Direct to me, 
Post Office, Swansea ; or perhaps better, to me at — Vivian 
Esq., Marino, near Swansea, South Wales 

And now, my dear girl, I must set business aside. I am 
tired of the dull detail of things, and want to talk of love to 
you ; and surely there can be no circumstances under which I 
can have more right. The theme was a cheerful and delightful 
one before we were married, but it is doubly so now. I now 
can speak, not of my own heart only, but of both our hearts. 
I now speak, not with any doubt of the state of your thoughts, 
but with the fullest conviction that they answer to my own. 
All that I can now say warm and animated to you, I know 
that you would say to me again. The excess of pleasure which 
I feel in knowing you mine is doubled by the consciousness 
that you feel equal joy in knowing me yours. 

Marino : Sunday, July 28, 1822. 

My deaely beloved Wife, — I have just read your letter 
again, preparatory to my writing to you, that my thoughts 
might be still more elevated and quickened than before. I 
could almost rejoice at my absence from you, if it were only 
that it has produced such an earnest and warm mark of 
affection from you as that letter. Tears of joy and delight fell 
from my eyes on its perusal. I think it was last Sunday 
evening, about this time, that I wrote to you from London ; 
and I again resort to this affectionate conversation with you, 


to tell you what has happened since the letter which I got 
franked from this place to you on Thursday I believe. 

We have been working very hard here at the copper works, 
and with some success. Our days have gone on just as before. 
A walk before breakfast ; then breakfast ; then to the works 
till four or five o'clock, and then home to dress, and dinner. 
After dinner, tea and conversation. I have felt doubly at a 
loss to-day, being absent from both the meeting and you. 
When away from London before, I have had you with me, and 
we could read and talk and walk ; to-day I have had no one to 
fill your place, so I will tell you how I have done. There are 
so many here, and their dinner so late and long, that I made 
up my mind to avoid it, though, if possible, without appearing 
singular. So, having remained in my room till breakfast time, 
we all breakfasted together, and soon after Mr. Phillips and 
myself took a walk out to the Mumbles Point, at the extremity 
of this side of the bay. There we sat down to admire the 
beautiful scenery around us, and, after we had viewed it long 
enough, returned slowly home. We stopped at a little village 
in our way, called Oystermouth, and dined at a small, neat, 
homely house about one o'clock. We then came back to 
Marino, and after a little while again went out— Mr. Phillips 
to a relation in the town, and myself for a walk on the sands 
and the edge of the bay. I took tea in a little cottage, and, 
returning home about seven o'clock, found them engaged at 
dinner, so came up to my own room, and shall not see them 
again to-night. I went down for a light just now, and heard 
them playing some sacred music in the drawing-room ; they 
have all been to church to-day, and are what are called regular 

The trial at Hereford is put off for the present, but yet we 
shall not be able to be in town before the end of this week. 
Though I long to see you, I do not know when it will be ; but 
this I know, that I am getting daily more anxious about you. 
Mr. Phillips wrote home to Mrs. Phillips from here even before 
I did— i.e. last Wednesday. This morning he received a letter 


from Mrs. Phillips (who is very well) desiring him to ask me 
for a copy of one of my letters to you, that he may learn to 
write love-letters of sufficient length. He laughs at the scold- 
ing, and says that it does not hurt at a distance 

It seems to me so long since I left you that there must have 
been time for a great many things to have happened. I 
expect to see you with such joy when I come home that I shall 
hardly know what to do with myself. I hope you will be well 
and blooming, and animated and happy, when you see me. I 
do not know how we shall contrive to get away from here. 
We certainly shall not have concluded before Thursday even- 
ing, but I think we shall endeavour earnestly to leave this 
place on Friday night, in which case we shall get home late on 
Saturday night. If we cannot do that, as I should not like to 
be travelling all day on Sunday, we shall probably not leave 
until Sunday night ; but I think the first plan will be adopted, 
and that you will not have time to answer this letter. I expect, 
nevertheless, an answer to my last letter— i.e. I expect that 
my dear wife will think of me again. Expect here means 
nothing more than I trust and have a full confidence that it 
will be so. My kind girl is so affectionate that she would not 
think a dozen letters too much for me if there were time to 
send them, which I am glad there is not. 

Give my love to our mothers as earnestly as you would 
your own, and also to Charlotte or John, or any such one that 
you may have with you. I have not written to Paternoster 
Row yet, but I am going to write now, so that I may be 
permitted to finish this letter here. I do not feel quite sure, 
indeed, that the permission to leave off is not as necessary 
from my own heartas from yours. 

With the utmost affection— with perhaps too much — I am, 
my dear wife, my Sarah, vour devoted husband, 

M. Faraday. 

Faraday's next scientific success was the liquefac- 
tion of chlorine (see Chapter III, p. 93). This dis- 
covery, which created much interest in the scientific 


world, was the occasion of a serious trouble with Sir 
Humphry Davy ; for doubtless Davy was annoyed 
that he had left such a simple experiment to a mere 
assistant. Writing on the matter years after, Faraday 
said : — 

When my paper was written, it was, according to a custom 
consequent upon our relative positions, submitted to Sir H. 
Davy (as were all my papers for the "Philosophical Transac- 
tions " up to a much later period), and he altered it as he 
thought fit. This practice was one of great kindness to me, 
for various grammatical mistakes and awkward expressions 
were from time to time thus removed, which might else have 

In point of fact, Davy on this occasion added a 
note (which was duly printed) saying precisely how 
far he had any share in suggesting the experiment, 
but in no wise traversing any of Faraday's claims. 
Although he thus acted generously to the latter, there 
can be no question that he began to be seriously 
jealous of Faraday's rising fame. The matter was the 
more serious because some who did not have a nice 
appreciation of the circumstances chose to rake up a 
charge which had been raised two years before against 
Faraday by some of Dr. Wollaston's friends — in par- 
ticular by Dr. Warburton — about the discovery of the 
electro -magnetic rotations, a charge which Faraday's 
straightforward action and Wollaston's frank satis- 
faction ought to have dissipated for ever. And all 
this was doubly aggravating because Faraday was 
now expecting to be proposed as a candidate for the 
Fellowship of the Royal Society, of which Sir Humphry 
was President. 


At that time, as now, the proposal paper or 
" certificate " of a candidate for election must be 
presented, signed by a number of influential Fellows. 
Faraday's friend Phillips took in hand the pleasant 
task of drawing up this certificate and of collecting 
the necessary signatures. The rule then was that the 
certificate so presented must be read out at ten 
successive meetings of the Society ; after which a 
ballot took place. Faraday's certificate bears twenty- 
nine names. The very first is that of Wollaston, and 
it is followed by those of Children, Babington, Sir John 
Herschel, Babbage, Phillips, Roget, and Sir James 

On the 5th of May, 1823, Faraday wrote to 
Phillips : — 

A thousand thanks to you for your kindness — I am delighted 
with the names— Mr. Brande had told me of it before I got 
your note and thought it impossible to be better. I suppose 
you wiil not be in Grosvenor Street this Evening, so I will put 
this in the post. 

Our Best remembrances to Mrs. Phillips. 

Yours Ever, 

M. Fakaday. 

The certificate was read for the first time on 
May 1st. The absence of the names of Davy and 
Brande is accounted for by the one being President 
and the other Secretary. Bence Jones gives the 
following account of what followed : — 

That Sir H. Davy actively opposed Faraday's election is no 
less certain than it is sad. 

Many years ago, Faraday gave a friend the following facts, 


which were written down immediately : — " Sir H. Davy told 
me I must take down my certificate. I replied that I had not 
put it up ; that I could not take it down, as it was put up by 
my proposers. He then said I must get my proposers to take 
it down. I answered that I knew they would not do so. 
Then he said, I as President will take it down. I replied that 
I was sure Sir H. Davy would do what he thought was for the 
good of the Royal Society." 

Faraday also said that one of his proposers told him that 
Sir H. Davy had walked for an hour round the courtyard of 
Somerset House, arguing that Faraday ought not to be elected. 
This was probably about May 30. 

Faraday also made the following notes on the 
circumstance of the charge made by Wollaston's 
friends : — 

1823. In relation to Davy's opposition to my election at the 
Royal Society. 

Sir H. Davy angry, May 30. 

Phillips' report through Mr. Children, June 5. 

Mr. Warburton called first time, June 5 (evening). 

I called on Dr. Wollaston, and he not in town, June 9. 

I called on Dr. Wollaston, and saw him, June 14. 

I called at Sir H. Davy's, and he called on me, June 17. 

On July 8 Dr. Warburton wrote that he was 
satisfied with Faraday's explanation, and added that 
he would tell his friends that " my objections to you 
as a Fellow are and ought to be withdrawn, and that 
I now wish to forward your election." 

Bence Jones adds : — 

On June 29, Sir H. Davy ends a note, " I am, dear Faraday, 
very sincerely your well wisher and friend." So that outwardly 
the storm rapidly passed away ; and when the ballot was 
taken, after the certificate had been read at ten meetings, there 
was only one black ball. 


The election took place January 8, 1824. 
Of this unfortunate misunderstanding* Davy's 
biographer, Dr. Thorpe, writes : — 

The jealousy thus manifested by Davy is one of the most 
pitiful facts in his history. It was a sign of that moral weak- 
ness which was at the bottom of much of his unpopularity, 
and which revealed itself in various ways as his physical 
strength decayed." .... 

Faraday allowed himself in after days no shade of 
resentment against Davy ; though he confessed rather 
sadly that after his election as F.R.S. his relations 
with his former master were never the same as before. 
If anyone recurred to the old scandal, he would fire 
with indignation. Dumas in his " FJoge Historique " 
has given the following anecdote : — 

Faraday never forgot what he owed to Davy. Visiting him 
at the family lunch, twenty years after the death of the latter, 
he noticed evidently that I responded with some coolness to 
the praises which the recollection of Davy's great discoveries 
had evoked from him. He made no comment. But, after the 
meal, he simply took me down to the library of the Eoyal 
Institution, and stopping before the portrait of Davy he said : 
" He was a great man, wasn't he?" Then, turning round, he 
added, " It was heret that he spoke to me for the first time." 
I bowed. We went down to the laboratory. Faraday took 

* A writer in the Quarterly Journal of Science for 1868, p. 50, sajs: 
" We have reason to know that Davy was slightly annoyed that the 
certificate proposing- Faraday for election should have originated with 
Richard Phillips, and that he should not have heen consulted before 
that gentleman was allowed to take the matter in hand." This is 
absurd, because the President was by long-standing etiquette debarred 
from signing the certificates of any but foreign members, as the 
certificate book of the Royal Society attests. 

t See p. 12. 


out a note-book, opened it and pointed out with his finger the 
words written by Davy, at the very moment when by means 
of the battery he had just decomposed potash, and had seen 
the first globule of potassium ever isolated by the hand of man. 
Davy had traced with a feverish hand a circle which separates 
them from the rest of the page : the words, " Capital Experi- 
ment," which he wrote beluw, cannot be read without emotion 
by any true chemist. I confessed myself conquered, and this 
time, without hesitating longer, I joined in the admiration of 
my good friend. 

Dr. Thorpe in his life of Davy adds : — 

.... To the end of his days he [Faraday] regarded Davy 
as his true master, preserving to the last, in spite of his know- 
ledge of the moral frailties of Davy's nature, the respect and 
even reverence which is to be seen in his early lecture notes 
and in his letters to his friend Abbott. 

In 1823 the Athenteum Club was started by J. 
Wilson Croker, Sir H. Davy, Sir T. Lawrence, Sir F. 
Chantrey, and others, as a resort for literary and 
scientific men. Faraday was made Club Secretary ; 
but he found the duties totally uncongenial, and in 
1824 resigned the post to his friend Magrath. 

Faradaj- was advanced in 1825 to the position of 
Director of the Laboratory of the Royal Institution, 
Brande remaining Professor of Chemistry. One of 
the first acts of the new Director was to hold evening 
meetings of the members in the laboratory, when 
experiments were shown and some demonstration was 
given. There were three or four of these informal 
gatherings that year. In the next year these Friday 
evening meetings were held more systematically. 
There were seventeen during the season, at six of 


which Faraday gave discourses {see p. 100). In 1827 
there were nineteen, of which he delivered three. 
By this time the gatherings were held in the theatre 
as at present, save that ladies were only admitted at 
that date, and for many years, to the upper gallery. 
He also originated the Christmas lectures to juveniles, 
while continuing to give regular courses of morning 
lectures, as his predecessors Young and Davy had 
done. His activity for the Royal Institution was 

Down to the year 1830 Faraday continued to 
undertake, at professional fees, chemical analyses and 
expert work in the law-courts, and thereby added 
considerably to the very slender emolument of his 
position; but, finding this work to make increasing 
demands on his time, which he could ill spare from 
the absorbing pursuit of original researches, he 
decided to abandon a practice which would have 
made him rich, and withdrew from expert practice. 
The following letter to Phillips was written only a few 
weeks before this determination : — 

[M. Faraday to Richard Phillips.] 

Royal Institution, 

June 21, 1831. 

My deaii Phillips, — I have been trying hard to get time 
enough to write to you by post to-night, but without success ; 
the bell has rung, and I am too late. However, I am resolved 
to be ready to-morrow. We have been very anxious and 
rather embarrassed in our minds about your anxiety to know 
how things were proceeding, and uncertain whether reference 
to them would be pleasant, and that has been the cause why I 


have not written to you, for I did not know what character 
your connexion with Badaras had. I was a little the more 
embarrassed because of my acquaintance with Mr. Eickard 
and his family, and, of course with his brother-in-law, Dr. 
Urchell, of whom I have made numerous enquiries to know 
what Mr. Rickard intended doing at Birmingham. He 
(expressed a) hope it would be nothing unpleasant to you, but 
was not sure. Our only bit of comfort in the matter was on 
hearing from Daniell about you a little ; he was here to-day, 
and glad to hear of you through me. But now that I may 
write, let me say that Mrs. Faraday has been very anxious 
with myself, and begs me earnestly to remember her to Mrs. 
Phillips. We have often wished we could have had you here 
for an hour or two, to break off what we supposed might be 
the train of thoughts at home. 

With regard to the five guineas, do not think of it for a 
moment. Whilst I supposed a mercantile concern wanted my 
opinion for its own interested uses, I saw no reason why it 
should not pay me ; but it is altogether another matter when 
it becomes your affair. I do not think you would have 
wished me to pay you five guineas for anything you might 
have done personally for me. " Dog don't eat dog," as Sir E. 
Home said to me in a similar case. The affair is settled. 

I have no doubt I shall be amused and, as you speak of 
new facts, instructed by your letter to Dr. Reid, as I am by all 
your letters. Daniell says he thinks you are breaking a fly 
upon the wheel. You know I consider you as the Prince of 
Chemical critics. 

Pearsall has been working, as you know, on red man- 
ganese solutions. He has not proved, but he makes out a 
strong case for the opinion, that they owe their colour and 
other properties to manganesic acid. This paper will be in 
the next number of the Journal. 

With regard to the gramme, wine-pint, etc., etc., in the 
manipulation I had great trouble about them, for I could find 
no agreement, and at last resolved to take certain conclusions 
from Capt. Kater's paper and the Act of Parliament, and 
calculate the rest. L I think I took the data at page 67, 


paragraph 119, as the data, but am not sure, and cannot go 
over them again. 

My memory gets worse and worse daily. I will not, 
therefore, say I have not received your Pharmacopoeia— that 
of 1824 is what I have at hand and use. I am not aware of 
any other. I have sent a paper to the R. S., but not chemical. 
It is on sound, etc., etc. If they print it, of course you will 
have a copy in due time. 

I am, my dear Phillips, 

Most faithfully and sincerely yours, 

M. Faraday. 

Is it right to ask what has become of Badams 1 I suppose 
he is, of course, a defaulter at the E. S. 

This sacrifice for science was not small. He had 
made £1,000 in 1830 out of these professional 
occupations, and in 1831 would have made more but 
for his own decision. In 1832 some Excise work that 
he had retained brought him in £155 9s. ; but in no 
subsequent year did it bring in so much. He might 
easily have made £5,000 a year had he chosen to 
cultivate the professional connection thus formed; 
and as he continued, with little intermission, in 
activity till 1860, he might have died a wealthy man. 
But he chose otherwise ; and his first reward came in I 
the autumn of 1831, in the great discovery on 
magneto-electric currents — the principle upon which 
all our modern dynamos and transformers are based, 
the foundation of all the electric lighting and electric 
transmission of power. From this work he went on 
to a research on the identity of all the kinds of 
electricity, until then supposed to be of separate sorts, 
and from this to electro-chemical work of the very 


highest value. Of all these investigations some 
account will be found in the chapters which 

But the immense body of patient scientific work 
thus done for the love of science was not accom- 
plished without sacrifices of a more than pecuniary 
kind. He withdrew more and more from society, 
declined to dine in company, ceased to give dinners, 
withdrew from all social and philanthropic organisa- 
tions; even withdrew from taking any part in the 
management of any of the learned societies. The 
British Association for the Advancement of Science 
was started in 1831. Faraday took no part in that 
movement, and did not attend the inaugural meeting 
at York. The next year, however, he attended the 
second meeting of that body at Oxford. Here he 
" had the pleasure " — it is his own phrase — of making 
an experiment on the great magnet in the University 
museum, drawing a spark by induction in a coil of 
wire. This was a coil 220 feet long, wound on a 
hollow cylinder of pasteboard, which had been used 
in the classical experiments of the preceding year. 
He also showed that the induced currents could heat 
a thin wire connected to the terminals of this coil. 
These experiments, which were made in conjunction 
with Mr. (afterwards Sir William Snow) Harris, Pro- 
fessor Daniell, and Mr. Duncan, seem to have excited 
great attention at the time. The theologians of 
Oxford appear to have been mightily distressed both 
by the success of the spark experiment and by the 
welcome shown by the University to the representa- 
tives of science. The following passage from Pusey's 


life * reveals the rampant clericalism which then and 
for a score of years sought to put back the clock 01 

During the Long Vacation of 1832 Pusey had plenty of 
work on hand. The British Association had held its first 
meeting in Oxford during the month of June, and on the 21st 
the honorary degree of D.C.L. was bestowed on four of its 
distinguished members : Brewster, Faraday, Brown, and 
Dalton. Keble, who was now Professor of Poetry, was angry 
at the " temper and tone of the Oxford doctors " ; they had 
"truckled sadly to the spirit of the times" in receiving " the 
hodge-podge of philosophers " as they did. Dr. L. Carpenter 
had assured Dr. Macbride that "the University had prolonged 
her existence for a hundred years by the kind reception he 
and his fellows had received." 

It is not without significance, perhaps, that all the 
four men thus contemptuously labelled by Keble as 
the " hodge-podge of philosophers '" were Dissenters. 
Brewster and Brown (the great botanist and dis- 
coverer of the " Brownian " motion of particles) 
belonged to the Presbyterian Church of Scotland, 
Dalton was a Member of the Society of Friends, and 
Faraday a Sandemanian. Newman appears to have 
been equally discomposed by the circumstance, for he 
got his friend Mr. Rose to write an article — a long 
and weary diatribe — against the British Association, 
which he inserted in the British Critic for 1839. 
Its slanders, assumptions, suppressions, and sugges- 
tions are in a very unworthy temper. 

Faraday's devotion to the Royal Institution and 
its operations was marvellous. He had already 

* Liddon's "Life of E. B. Pusey" (1893), p. 219. 


abandoned outside professional work. From 1838 he 
refused to see any callers except three times a week. 
His extreme desire was to give himself uninterrupt- 
edly to research. His friend A. de la Rive says : — 

Every morning Faraday went into his laboratory as the 
man of business goes to his office, and then tried by experi- 
ment the truth of the ideas which he had conceived overnight, 
as ready to give them up if experiment said no as to follow 
out the consequences with rigorous logic if experiment an- 
swered yes. 

He had in 1827 declined the appointment of 
Professor of Chemistry in the University (afterwards 
called University College) of London, giving as his 
reason the interests of the Royal Institution. He 
wrote : — 

I think it a matter of duty and gratitude on my part to do 
what I can for the good of the Eoyal Institution in the 
present attempt to establish it firmly. The Institution has 
been a source of knowledge and pleasure to me for the last 
fourteen years ;■ and though it does not pay me in salary what 
I now strive to do for it, yet I possess the kind feelings and 
goodwill of its authorities and members, and all the privileges 
it can grant or I require ; and, moreover, I remember the 
protection it has afforded me during the past years of my 
scientific life. These circumstances, with the thorough con- 
viction that it is a useful and valuable establishment, and the 
strong hopes that exertions will be followed with success, have 
decided me in giving at least two years more to it, in the 
belief that after that time it will proceed well, into whatever 
hands it may pass. 

In 1829, however, he was asked to become lecturer 
on chemistry at the Royal Academy at Woolwich. As 
this involved only twenty lectures a year he agreed 


the salary being fixed at £200 a year. These lectures 
were continued until 1849. 

In 1836 the whole course of his scientific work 
was changed by his appointment as scientific adviser 
to Trinity House, the body which has official charge 
of the lighthouse service in Great Britain. To the 
Deputy -master he wrote : — 

I consider your letter to me as a great compliment, and 
should view the appointment at the Trinity House, which you 
propose, in the same light ; but I may not accept even honours 
without due consideration. 

In the first place, my time is of great value to me ; and 
if the appointment you speak of involved anything like 
periodical routine attendances, I do not think I could accept it. 
But if it meant that in consultation, in the examination of 
proposed plans and experiments, in trials, etc., made as my 
convenience would allow, and with an honest sense of a duty 
to be performed, then I think it would consist with my present 
engagements. You have left the title and. the sum in pencil. 
These I look at mainly as regards the character of the appoint- 
ment ; you will believe me to be sincere in this when yon 
remember my indifference to your proposition as a matter 
of interest, though not as a matter of kindness. 

In consequence of the goodwill and confidence of all around 
me, I can at any moment convert my time into money, but I 
do not require more of the latter than is sufficient for neces- 
sary purposes. The sum, therefore, of £200 is quite enough in 
itself, but not if it is to be the indicator of the character of 
the appointment ; but I think you do not view it so, and that 
you and I understand each other in that respect ; and your 
letter confirms me in that opinion. The position which I 
presume you would wish me to hold is analogous to that 
of a standing counsel. 

As to the title, it might be what you pleased almost. 
Chemical adviser is too narrow, for you would find me ven- 
turing into parts of the philosophy of light not chemical. 


Scientific adviser you may think too broad (or in me too 
presumptuous) ; and so it would be, if by it was understood 
all science. 

He held the post of scientific adviser for nearly 
thirty years. The records of his work are to be 
found in nineteen large portfolios full of manuscripts, 
all indexed with that minute and scrupulous atten- 
tion to order and method which characterised all 
his work. 

He also held nominally the post of scientific 
adviser to the Admiralty, at a salary of £200 a year. 
But this salary he never drew. Once the officials ot 
the Admiralty requested his opinion upon a printed 
advertising pamphlet of somebody's patent disinfect- 
ing powder and anti-miasma lamp. Faraday returned 
it, with a quietly indignant protest that it was not 
such a document as he could be expected to give an 
opinion upon. 

Faraday's hope, expressed in 1827, that in two 
years the Koyal Institution might be restored to a 
financially sound position, was not realised. He 
worked with the most scrupulous economy, noting 
down every detail of expenditure even in farthings. 
" We were living on the parings of our own skin," 
he once told the managers. In 1832 the financial 
question became acute. At the end of that year a 
committee of investigation reported as follows : — 

The Committee are certainly of opinion that no reduction 
can be made in Mr. Faraday's salary— £100 per annum, house, 
coals, and candles ; and beg to express their regret that the 
circumstances of the Institution are not such as to justify 
their proposing such an increase of it as the variety of duties 


which Mr. Faraday has to perform, and the zeal and ability 
with which he performs them, appear to merit. 

A hundred a year, the use of two rooms, and 
coals ! Such was the stipend of the man who had 
just before been made D.C.L. of Oxford, and had re- 
ceived from the Eoyal Society the highest award it 
can bestow — the Copley Medal ! True, he made £200 
by the Woolwich lectures; but he had a wife to main- 
tain, his aged mother was entirely dependent upon 
him, and there were many calls upon his private 
exercise of charity. 

About the year 1835 it was the intention of Sir 
Robert Peel to confer upon him a pension from the 
Civil List, but he went out of office before this could 
be arranged, and Lord Melbourne became Prime 
Minister. Sir James South had in March written 
to Lord Ashley, afterwards the well-known Earl ot 
Shaftesbury, asking him to place a little historiette 
of Faraday in Sir Robert Peel's hands. The said 
historiette * contained an account of Faraday's early 
career and a description of the electrical machine 
which he had constructed as a lad. " Now that his 
pecuniary circumstances," it went on, "were im 
proved, he sent his younger sister to boarding-school, 
but to enable him to defray the expense, to deprive 
himself of dinner every other day was absolutely in- 
dispensable." Peel expressed to Ashley lively regret 
at not having received the historiette earlier when he 
was still in office. To Ashley, later, he wrote the 
following hitherto unpublished letter : — 

* For this information and many particulars of this transaction I 
am indebted to Dr. J. H. Gladstone, F.R.S. 


Drayton Manor, 
May 3, 1835. 

My Dear Ashley,— You do me but justice in enter- 
taining the belief that had I remained in office one of my 
earliest recommendations to his Majesty would have been to 
grant a pension to Mr. Faraday, on the same principles pre- 
cisely upon which one was granted to Mr. Airy. If there 
had been the means, I would have made the offer before I 
left office. 

I was quite aware of Mr. Faraday's high eminence as a 
man of science, and the valuable practical service he has 
rendered to the public in that capacity ; but I was to blame in 
not having ascertained whether his pecuniary circumstances 
made an addition to his income an object to him. 

I am sure no man living has a better claim to such a con- 
sideration from the State than he has, and I trust the principle 
I acted on with regard to the award of civil pensions will not 
only remove away impediments of delicacy and independent 
feeling from the acceptance of them, but will add a higher 
value to the grant of a pension as an honourable distinction 
than any that it could derive from its pecuniary amount. 

Ever, my dear Ashley, 

Most faithfully yours, 

Eobert Peel. 

Sir James South still endeavoured to bring about 
the grant thus deferred, and wrote to the Hon. Caroline 
Fox, asking her to put the historiette of Faraday in 
the hands of Lord Holland, for him to lay before 
Melbourne. Faraday at first demurred to Sir James 
South's action, but on the advice of his father-in-law, 
Barnard, withdrew his demurrer. Later in the year 
he was asked to wait on Lord Melbourne at the 
Treasury. He lias left a diary of the events of the 
day, October 26 th. According to these notes it 


appears that Faraday first had a long talk with 
Melbourne's secretary, Mr. Young, about his firs 
demurring on religious grounds to accept the pension 
about his objection to savings' banks, and the laying- 
up of wealth. Later in the day he had a short inter- 
view with the- First Lord of the Treasury, when Lord 
Melbourne, utterly mistaking the nature of the man 
before him, inveighed roundly upon the whole system 
of giving pensions to scientific and literary persons, 
which he described as a piece of humbug. He pre- 
fixed the word " humbug " with a participle which 
Faraday's notes describe as " theological." Faraday, 
with an instant flash of indignation, bowed and with- 
drew. The same evening he left his card and the 
following note at the Treasury : — 

To the Sight Son. Lord Viscount Melbourne, First Lord of 
the Treasury. 

October 26. 

My Lokd, — The conversation with which your Lordship 
honoured me this afternoon, including, as it did, your Lord- 
ship's opinion of the general character of the pensions given of 
late to scientific persons, induces me respectfully to decline 
the favour -which I believe your Lordship intends for me ; for 
I feel that I could not, with satisfaction to myself, accept at 
your Lordship's hands that which, though it has the form of 
approbation, is of the character which your Lordship so pithily 
applied to it. 

Faraday's diary says : — 

Did not like it much, arid, on the whole, regret that friends 
should have placed me in the situation in which I found 
myself. Lord Melbourne said that "he thought there had 
been a great deal of humbug in the whole affair. He did not 


mean my affair, of course, but that of the pensions altogether.' 
. . . I begged him to understand that I had known nothing 
of the matter until far advanced, and, though grateful to those 
friends -who had urged it forward, wished him to feel at 
perfect liberty in the affair as far as I was concerned. . . 
In the evening I wrote and left a letter. I left it myself at 
ten o'clock at night, being anxious that Lord Melbourne 
should have it before anything further was done in the 

However, the matter did not end here. Faraday's 
friends were indignant. A caustic, and probably 
exaggerated, account — for which Faraday disclaimed 
all responsibility — of the interview appeared in Fraser's 
Magazine, and was copied into The Times of Novem- 
ber 28th, with the result that, had it not been for 
the personal intervention of the King, the pension 
might have been refused. The storm, " however, 
passed away, and the pension of £300 per annum was 
granted on December 24th. Years afterwards, writing 
to Mr. B. Bell, Faraday said, " Lord Melbourne behaved 
very handsomely in the matter." 

In Fraser's Magazine for February, 1836 (vol. 
xiii., p. 224), is a portrait of Faraday by Maclise, 
accompanied by a very amusing biographical notice 
by Dr. Maginn. The picture represents Faraday 
lecturing, and surrounded by his apparatus. The 
article begins thus : — 

Here you have him in his glory— not that his position was 
inglorious when he stood before Melbourne, then decorated 
with a blue velvet travelling cap, and lounging with one leg 
over the chair of Canning ! — and distinctly gave that illus- 
trious despiser of "humbug" to understand that he had 
mistaken his lad. No ! but here you have him as he first 


flashed upon the intelligence of mankind the condensation of 
the gases, or the identity of the five electricities. 

After a lively summary of his career, and the 
jocular suggestion that, as the successor of Sir 
Humphry Davy, Far-a-day must be near-a-knight 
the article continues : — 

The f nture Baronet is a very good little fellow . . . playing 
a fair fork over a leg of mutton, and devoid of any reluctance to 
partake an old friend's third bottle. We know of few things 
more agreeable than a cigar and a bowl of punch (which he 
mixes admirably) in the society of the unpretending ex- 
bookbinder. . . . 

Well, although Young got Broderip to write a sort of 

defence of his master, and "Justice B " — mirabile dictu! — 

got Hook to print it in the John Bull, the current of public 
feeling could not be stopped : Kegina spoke out — William 
Rex, as in duty bound, followed — Melbourne apologised — and 
" Michael's pension, Michael's pension" is all right; 

In one of his note-books of this period is found 
the following entry : — 

15 January, 1834. 

Within the last week have observed twice that a slight 
obscurity of the sight of my left eye has happened. It 
occurred on reading the letters of a book held about fourteen 
inches from the eye, being obscured as by a fog over a space 
about half an inch in diameter. This space was a little to the . 
right and below the axes of the eye. Looking for the effect 
now and other times, I cannot perceive it. I note this down 
that I may hereafter trace the progress of the effect if it 
increases or becomes more common. 

Happily, the trouble did not recur ; but the entry 
is characteristic of the habits of accuracy of the man. 
Loss of memory, unfortunately, early set in. There is 


actually a hint of this in the first of his letters to 
Abbott (p. 7), and references to the trouble and 
to dizziness in the head recur perpetually in his 
correspondence. Whenever these brain - troubles 
threatened, he was compelled to drop all work and 
seek rest and change of scene. He often ran down to 
Brighton, which he thought, however, a poor place. 
He constructed for himself a velocipede* on which 
to take exercise. Two or three times he went to 
Switzerland for a longer holiday, usually accompanied 
by his wife and her brother, George Barnard. 

"Physically," says Tyndall, "Faraday was below 
the middle size, well set, active, and with extra- 
ordinary animation of countenance. His head from 
forehead to back was so long that he had usually to 
bespeak his hats." In youth his hair was brown, 
curling naturally ; later in life it approached to white, 
and he always parted it down the middle. His voice 
was pleasant, his laugh was hearty, his manners when 
with young people, or when excited by success in the 
laboratory, were gay to boyishness. Indeed, until the 
end of the active period of his life he never lost the 
capacity for boyish delight, or for unbending in fun 
after the stress of severe labour. 

* " It was probably in a four-wheeled velocipede that Faraday was 
accustomed, some thirty years ago, to work his way up and down the 
steep roads near Hampstead and Highgate. This machine appears 
to have been of his own construction, and was worked by levers and 
a crank axle in the same manner as the rest of the four-wheeled class." 
— The Velocipede : its past, its present, and its future. By J. F. B. Firth. 
London, 1869. 



From first to last the original scientific researches of 
Faraday extend over a period of forty-four years, 
beginning with an analysis of caustic lime, published 
in the Quarterly Journal of Science in 1816, and 
ending with his last unfinished researches of 1860 
to 1862, on the possible existence of new relations 
between magnetism and gravity and between mag- 
netism and light. The mere list of their titles fills 
several pages in the catalogue of scientific papers 
published by the Royal Society. 

For convenience of description, these forty -four 
years may be divided into three periods : the first 
lasting from 1816 to 1830, a period of miscellaneous 
and in some respects preliminary activity; the second 
from 1831 to the end of 1839., the period of the 
classical experimental researches in electricity down 
to the time when they were temporarily suspended by 
the serious state of his health ; the third from 1844, 
when he was able to resume work, down to 1860, a 
period which includes the completion of the experi- 
mental researches on electricity, the discovery of the 


relations between light and magnetism, and that ot 

Faraday's first research was an analysis for Sir 
Humphry Davy of a specimen of caustic lime which 
had been sent to him by the Duchess of Montrose 
from Tuscany. The Quarterly Journal of Science, in 
which it appeared, was a precursor of the Proceedings 
of the Royal Institution, and was indeed edited by 
Professor W. F. Brande. Faraday frequently wrote 
for it during these years, and took editorial charge ot 
it on more than one occasion during Brande's holidays. 
The paper on caustic lime was reprinted by Faraday 
in the volume of his " Experimental Researches on 
Chemistry and Physics," prefaced by the following 
note : — 

I reprint this paper at full length ; it was the beginning of 
my communications to the public, and in its results very 
important to me. Sir Humphry Davy gave me the analysis 
to make as a first attempt in chemistry, at a time when my 
fear was greater than my confidence, and both far greater than 
my knowledge ; at a time also when I had no thought of ever 
writing an original paper on science. The addition of his own 
comments, and the publication of the paper, encouraged me to 
go on making, from time to time, other slight communications, 
some of which appear in this volume. Their transference from 
the Quarterly into other journals increased my boldness, and 
now that forty years have elapsed, and I can look back on 
what successive communications have led to, I still hope, much 
as their character has changed, that I have not either now or 
forty years ago been too bold. 

For the next two or three years Faraday was 
very closely occupied in the duties of assisting Sir 
Humphry Davy in his researches, and in helping to 


prepare the lectures for both Davy and Brande. Yet 
he found time still to work on his own account. In 
1817 he had six papers and notes in the Quarterly 
Journal of Science, including one on the escape of 
gases through capillary tubes, and others on wire- 
gauze safety lamps and Davy's experiments on flame. 
In 1818 he had eleven papers in the Journal ; the 
most important being on the production of sound in 
tubes by flames, while another was on the combustion 
of the diamond. In 1819 he had nineteen papers in 
the Quarterly Journal, chiefly of a chemical nature. 
These related to boracic acid, the composition of 
steels, the separation of manganese from iron, and on 
the supposed new metal, " Sirium " or " Vestium," 
which he showed to be only a mixture of iron and 
sulphur with nickel, cobalt, and other metals. 

The year 1820 was marked in the annals of science 
by the discovery,' by Oersted of Copenhagen, of the 
prime fact of electromagnetism, the deflexion which is 
produced upon a magnetic needle by an electric current 
that passes either under or over the needle. Often had 
it been suspected that there must be some connection 
between the phenomena of electricity and those ot 
magnetism. The similarities between the attractions 
and repulsions caused by electrified bodies, and those 
due to the magnet when acting on iron, had constantly 
suggested the possibility that there was some real 
connection. But, as had been pointed out centuries 
before by St. Augustine, while the rubbed amber will 
attract any substance if only small or light enough, 
being indifferent to its material, the magnet will only 
attract iron or compounds of iron, and is totally 


inoperative* on all other substances. Again, while it 
had been noticed that in houses which had been 
struck by lightning knives, needles, and other steel 
objects near the path of the electric flash had become 
magnetised, no one had been able, by using the most 
powerful electric machines, to repeat with certainty 
the magnetisation of needles. In vain they had tried 
to magnetise knives and wires by sending sparks 
through them. Sometimes they showed a trace of 
magnetism, sometimes none. And in the cases where 
some slight magnetisation resulted, the polarity could 
not be depended upon. Van Swinden had written 
a whole treatise in two volumes on the analogies 
between electricity and magnetism, but left the real 
relation between the two more obscure than ever. 
After the invention, in 1800, of the voltaic pile, which 
for the first time provided a means of generating a 
steady flow or current of electricity, several experi- 
menters, including Oersted himself, had again essayed 
to discover the long-suspected connection, but with- 
out success. Oersted was notoriously a poor experi- 
menter, though a man of great philosophical genius. 
Having in 1820 a more powerful voltaic battery in 
operation than previously, he repeated t the operation 
of bringing near to the compass needle the copper wire 
that conveyed the current ; and, laying it parallel to 
the needle's direction, and over or under it, found that 
the needle tended to turn into a direction at right 

* Except on nickel and cobalt, which are also para-magnetic metals. 

+ For a graphic account by Hansteen of the circumstances of 
Oersted's discovery, see Bence Jones's " Life and Letters of Faraday," 
vol. ii. p. 390. 

oersted's discoveky. 79 

angles to the line of the current, the sense of the 
deviation depending upon the direction of now of the 
current, and also on the position of the wire as to 
whether it were above or below the needle. A current 
flowing from south to north over the needle caused 
the north-pointing end of the needle to be deflected 
westwards. If the wire were vertical, so that the 
current flowed downwards, and a compass needle was 
brought near the wire on the south side, therefore 
tending under the earth's directive influence to point 
northwards toward the wire, it was observed that the 
effect of the current flowing in the wire was to cause 
the north-pointing end of the needle to turn west- 
wards. Or, reversing the flow of current, the effect 
on the needle was reversed ; it now tended eastwards. 
All these things Oersted summed up in the phrase 
that " the electric conflict acts in a revolving manner " 
around the wire.* In modern phraseology the whole 
of the actions are explained if one can conceive that 
the effect of the electric flow in the wire is to tend to 
make the north pole of a magnet revolve in one sense 
around the wire, whilst it also tends to make the 
south pole of the magnet revolve around the wire in 
the other sense. The nett result in most cases is that 

* " To the effect which takes place in this conductor [or uniting 
wive] and in the surrounding space, we shall give the name of the 
conflict of electricity ." .... 

"From the preceding facts we may likewise collect that this con- 
flict performs circles ; for without this condition, it seems impossible 
that the one part of the uniting wire, when placed below the magnetic 
pole, should drive it towards the east, and when placed above it 
towards the west ; for it is the nature of a circle that thu motions in 
opposite parts should have an opposite direction." — H. C. Oei;sii:ii, 
Ann. of Phil., Oct. 1820, pp. 273-270. 


the magnetic needle tends to set itself square across 
the line of the current. Oersted himself was not too 
clear in his explanations, and seems, in his later 
papers, to have lost sight of the circular motion 
amidst repulsions and attractions. 

This discovery, which showed what was the 
geometrical relation between the magnet and the 
current, also showed why the earlier attempts had 
failed. It was requisite that the electricity should 
be in a state of steady flow ; neither at rest as in the 
experiments with electric charges, nor yet in capricious 
or oscillatory rush as in those with spark-discharges. 
Faraday, adverting a quarter of a century later to 
Oersted's discovery, said : " It burst open the gates of 
a domain in science, dark till then, and filled it with 
a flood of light." 

The very day that Oersted's memoir was pub- 
lished in England, Davy brought a copy down into 
the laboratory of the Royal Institution, and he and 
Faraday at once set to work to repeat the experi- 
ments and verify the facts. 

It is a matter of history how, on the publication 
of Oersted's discovery, Ampere leaped forward to 
generalise on electromagnetic actions, and discovered 
the mutual actions that may exist between two 
currents, or rather between' two conducting wires that 
carry currents. They are found to experience mutual 
mechanical forces urging them into parallel prox- 
imity. Biot and Laplace added to these investiga- 
tions, as also did Arago. Davy discovered that the 
naked copper wire, while carrying a current, could 
attract iron filings to itself— not end-ways in adherent 


tufts, as the pole of a magnet does, but laterally, each 
filing or chainlet of filings tending to set itself 
tangentially at right angles to the axis of the 

This curious right-angled relation between electric 
flow and magnetic force came as a complete paradox 
or puzzle to the scientific world. It had taken 
centuries to throw off the strange unmechanical ideas 
of force which had dominated the older astronomy. 
The epicyclic motions of the planets postulated by 
the Ptolemaic system were in no way to be accounted 
for upon mechanical principles. Kepler's laws of 
planetary motion were merely empirical, embodying 
the results of observation, until Newton's discovery of 
the laws of circular motion and of the principle of 
universal gravitation placed the planetary theory on 
a rational basis. Newton's laws required that forces 
should act in straight lines, and that to every action 
there should be an equal and opposite reaction. If 
A attracted B, then B attracted A with an equal force, 
and the mutual force must be in the line drawn from 
a to b. The discovery by Oersted that the magnet 
pole was urged by the electric wire in a direction 
transverse to the line joining them, appeared at first 
sight to contravene the ideas of force so thoroughly 
established by Newton. How could this transver- 
sality be explained ? Some sought to explain the 
effect by considering the conducting wire to operate 
as if made up of a number of short magnets set 
transversely across the wire, all their north poles 
being set towards the right, and all their south poles 
towards the left. Ampere took the alternative view 



that the magnet might be regarded as equivalent to a 
number of electric currents circulating transversely 
around the core as an axis. In neither case was the 
explanation complete. 

Faraday's scientific activities in the year 1820 
were very marked. New researches on steel had 
been going on for some months. It had been 
hoped that by alloying iron with some other metals, 
such as silver, platinum, or nickel, a non-rusting 
alloy might be found. This idea took its rise from 
the erroneous notion that meteoric iron, which is 
richly alloyed with nickel, does not rust. Faraday 
found nickel steel to be more readily oxidised, not 
less, than ordinary steel. The platinum steel was 
also a failure. Silver steel was of more interest, 
though it was found impossible to incorporate in 
the alloy more than a small percentage of silver. 
Nevertheless, silver steel was used for some time 
by a Sheffield firm for manufacture of fenders. 
The alloys of iron with platinum, iridium, and 
rhodium were also of no great use. But the re- 
search demonstrated the surprising effects which 
minute quantities of other metals may have upon 
the quality of steel. Occasionally in later life Faraday 
would present one of his friends with a razor made 
from his own special steel. A paper on the use of 
alloys of steel in surgical instrument making was 
published in the Quarterly Journal in collaboration 
with Mr. Stodart. Faraday also read his first paper 
before the Royal Society on two new compounds of 
chlorine and carbon, and on a new compound of 
iodine, carbon, and hydrogen. He also succeeded in 


making artificial plumbago from charcoal. In writing 
to his friend Professor G. de la Rive, he gives a long 
and chatty abstract of his researches on the alloys of 
steel. They appear to have originated in some analyses 
of wootz or Indian steel, a material which, when etched 
with acid, shows a beautifully damascened or reti- 
culated surface. This effect Faraday never found 
with pure steel, but imitated it successfully with a 
steel alloyed with " the metal of alumine," an element 
which down to that time had not been isolated. He 
then describes the rhodium, silver, and nickel steels, 
and mentions incidentally how he has been surprised 
to discover that he can volatilise silver, and that he 
cannot reduce the metal titanium. He is doubtful 
whether this metal " ever has been reduced at all in 
the pure state." [It can now be readily reduced 
either in the electric arc or by the use of metallic 
aluminium.] He winds up the letter with the words : 
" Pray pity us that, after two years' experiments, we 
have got no further ; but I am sure, if you knew the 
labour of the experiments, you would applaud us for 
our perseverance at least." 

In 1821, the year of his marriage, came the first of 
the important scientific discoveries which brought 
him international fame. This was the discovery of 
the electromagnetic rotations. It appears that 
Oersted's brilliant flash of insight that the " electric 
conflict acts in a revolving manner " upon the pole of 
the neighbouring compass needle had been lost sight 
of in the discussions which followed, and to which 
allusion has been made above. All the world was 
thinking about attractions and repulsions. Two men, 


however, seem to have gone a little further in their 
ideas. Dr. Wollaston had suggested that there ought 
to be a tendency, when a magnet pole was presented 
towards a straight conducting wire carrying a current, 
for that conducting wire to revolve around its own 
axis. This effect — though in recent years it has been 
observed by Mr. George Gore — he unsuccessfully tried 
to observe by experiments. He came in April, 1821, 
to the laboratory of the Royal Institution to make an 
experiment, but without result. Faraday, at the 
request of his friend Phillips, who was editor of the' 
Annals of Philosophy, wrote for that magazine in 
July, August, and September a historical sketch of 
electromagnetism down to date. This was one of 
the very few of Faraday's writings that was anonymous. 
It was simply signed " M." This is in vol. iii. p. 107. 
On p. 117 the editor says: "To the historical sketch 
of electromagnetism with' which I have been favoured 
by my anonymous correspondent, I shall add a sketch 
of the discoveries that have been made by Mr. 
Faraday of the Royal Institution." In the course of 
this work Faraday repeated for his own satisfaction 
almost all the experiments that he described. This 
led him to discover that a wire, included in the circuit, 
but mounted so as to hang with its lower end in a 
pool of quicksilver, could rotate around the pole of a 
magnet; and conversely that if the wire were fixed 
and the pole of the magnet free to move, the latter 
would rotate around the former. " I did not realise," 
he wrote, " Dr. Wollaston's expectation of the rotation 
of the electromagnetic wire around its axis." As was 
so often his custom, he had no sooner finished the 


research for publication than he dashed off a brief 
summary of it in a letter to one of his friends. On 
this occasion it was Professor G. de la Rive, of Geneva, 
who was the recipient of his confidences. On 
September 12 he wrote : — 

I am much flattered and encouraged to go on by your good 
opinion of what little things I have been able to do in science, 
and especially as regards the chlorides of carbon. 

You partly reproach us here with not sufficiently esteeming 
Ampere's experiments on electromagnetism. Allow me to 
extenuate your opinion a little on this point. With regard to 
the experiments, I hope and trust that due weight is allowed 
to them ; but these you know are few, and theory makes up 
the great part of what M. Ampere has published, and theory 
in a great many points unsupported by experiments when they 
ought to have been adduced. At the same time, M. Ampere's 
experiments are excellent, and his theory ingenious ; and, for 
myself, I had thought very little about it before your letter 
came, simply because, being naturally sceptical on philosophical 
theories, I thought there was a great want of experimental 
evidence. Since then, however, I have engaged on the subject, 
and have a paper in our " Institution Journal," which will 
appear in a week or two, and that will, as it contains experi- 
ment, be immediately applied by M. Ampere in support of his 
theory, much more decidedly than it is by myself. I intend 
to enclose a copy of it to you with the other, and only want 
the means of sending it. 

I find all the usual attractions and repulsions of the 
magnetic needle by the conjunctive wire are deceptions, the 
motions being not attractions or repulsions, nor the result of 
any attractive or repulsive forces, but the result of a force in 
the wire, which instead of bringing the pole of the needle 
nearer to, or further from the wire, endeavours to make it 
move round it in a never ending circle and motion whilst the 


battery remains in action. I have succeeded not only in 
showing the existence of this motion theoretically, but experi- 
mentally, and have been able to make the wire revolve round 
a magnetic pole, or a magnetic pole round the wire, at pleasure. 
The law of revolution, and to which all the other motions 
of the needle and wire are reducible, is simple and 

Conceive a portion of connecting wire north and south, the 
north end being attached to the positive pole of a battery, the 
south to the negative. A north magnetic pole would then pass 
round it continually in the apparent direction of the sun, from 
east to west above, from west to east below. 

Reverse the connections with the battery, and the motion 
of the pole is reversed ; or if the south pole be made to revolve, 
the motions will be in the opposite directions, as with the 
north pole. 

If the wire be made to revolve round the pole, the motions 
are according to those mentioned. In the apparatus I used 
there were but two plates, and the directions of the motions 
were of course* the reverse of those with a battery of several 
pairs of plates, and which are given above. Now I have been 
able, experimentally, to trace this motion into its various forms 
as exhibited by Ampere's, Nelice's, &c, and in all cases to show 
that the attractions and repulsions are only appearances due 
to this circulation of the pole, to show that dissimilar poles 
repel as well as attract, and that similar poles attract as well as 
repel, and to make, I think, the analogy between the helix and 
common bar magnet far stronger than before. But yet I am 
by no means decided that there are currents of electricity in 
the common magnet. 

I have no doubt that electricity puts the circles of the helix 
into the same state as those circles are in, that may be con- 
ceived in the bar magnet, but I am not certain that this state 
is directly dependant on the electricity, or that it cannot be 
produced by other agencies ; and therefore, until the presence 
of electrical currents be proved in the magnet by other than 

* This is an error due to haste in writing. 


magnetical effects, I shall remain in doubt about Ampere's 

[.Wishing you all health and happiness, and waiting for news 
from you, 

I am, my dear Sir, your very obliged and grateful 

M. Fakaday. 

The reference at the beginning of this letter to 
the chlorides of carbon has to do with his discovery 
communicated to the Royal Society. Later in the 
year, a joint paper on another compound of carbon 
and chlorine, by himself and his friend Richard 
Phillips, was sent in. Both were printed together in 
the Philosophical Transactions of 1821. 

The following is an extract from Faraday's labora- 
tory book relating to the discovery. The account is 
incomplete, a leaf having been torn out :— 

1821, Sept. 3. 

The effort of the wire is always to pass off at a right angle 
from the pole, indeed to go in a circle round it, so when either 
pole was brought up to the wire perpendicular to it and to the 
radius of the circle it described, there was neither attraction 
nor repulsion, but the moment the pole varied in the slightest 
manner either in or out, the wire moved one way or the other. 

The poles of the magnet act on the bent wire in all positions 
and not in the direction only of any axis of the magnet, so 
that the current can hardly be cylindrical or arranged round 
the axis of a cylinder ? 

From the motion above a north magnet pole in the centre 
of one of the circles should make the wire continually turn 
round. Arranged a magnet needle in a glass tube with mercury 
about it, and by a cork, water, &c, supported a connecting 
wire so that the upper end should go into the silver cup and 
its mercury, and the lower move in a channel of mercury round 



the pole of the needle. The battery arranged with the wire as 
before. In this way got the revolution of the wire round the 
pole of the magnet. The direction was as follow, looking from 
above down : — 

Fig. 2. (Facsimile op Original Sketch.) 
Very satisfactory, but make more sensible apparatus. 
Tuesday, Sept. 4. 
Apparatus for revolution of wire and magnet. A deep 
basin with bit of wax at bottom and then filled with mercury. 
A magnet stuck upright in wax so that pole just above the 
surface of mercury. Then piece of wire floated by cork at 
lower end dipping into mere 5, and above into silver cup as 
before : — 


Fig. 3. (Facsimile op Omginal Sketch.) 

The research on the electromagnetic rotations, 
which was published in the Quarterly Journal of 
Science for October, 1821 (and reprinted in the second 
volume of the " Experimental Researches in Elec- 
tricity "), was the occasion of a very serious misunder- 
standing with Dr. Wollaston and his friends, which 
at one time threatened to cause Faraday's exclusion 


from the Royal Society. Faraday's prompt and frank 
action in appealing to Dr. Wollaston saved him in a 
very unpleasant crisis ; and the latter came three or 
four times to the laboratory to witness the experi- 
ments. On Christmas Day of the same year, Faraday 
succeeded in making a wire through which an electric 
current is passing move under the influence of the 
earth's magnetism alone. His brother-in-law, George 
Barnard, who was in the laboratory at the time, 
wrote : — " All at once he exclaimed, ' Do you see, do 
you see, do you see, George ? ' as the wire began to 
revolve. One end I recollect was in the cup of quick- 
silver, the other attached above to the centre. I shall 
never forget the enthusiasm expressed in his face 
and the sparkling in his eyes ! " 

In 1822 little was added to Faraday's scientific 
work. He had a joint paper with Stodart on steel 
before the Royal Society, and in the Quarterly 
Journal two short chemical papers and four on 
electromagnetical motions and magnetism. He had 
long kept a commonplace book in which he entered 
notes and queries as well as extracts from books and 
journals ; but this year he began a fresh manuscript 
volume, into which he transferred many of the 
queries and suggestions of his own originating. This 
volume he called "Chemical Notes, Hints, Suggestions, 
and Objects of Pursuit." It contains many of the 
germs of his own future discoveries, as the following 
examples show : — 

Convert magnetism into electricity. 

Do pith balls diverge by disturbance of electricities in 
consequence of induction or not 1 


General effects of compression, either in condensing gases, 
or producing solutions, or even giving combinations at low 

Light through gold leaf on to zinc or most oxidable metals, 
these being poles — or on magnetic bars. 

Transparency of metals. Sun's light through gold leaf. 
Two gold leaves made poles — light passed through one to the 

Whenever any query found an answer, he drew 
his pen through it and added the date. In front of 
the book— probably at some later time — he wrote 
these words : — 

1 already owe much to these notes, and think such a 
collection worth the making by every scientific man. I am 
sure none would think the trouble lost after a year's experience. 

A striking example had already occurred of similar 
suggestive notes in the optical queries of Sir Isaac 

In another manuscript notebook occur the follow 
ing entries under date of September 10, 1821 : — 

2 similar poles though they repell at most distances attract 
at very small distances and adhere. Query why 

Could not magnetise a plate of steel so as to resemble flat 
spiral. Either the magnetism would be very weak and 
irregular or there would be none at all. 

These are interesting as showing how Faraday 
was educating himself by continual experiment. The 
explanation of each of these paradoxes has long 
passed into the commonplace of physics ; but they 
would still puzzle many who have learned their 
science bookishly at second-hand. 


It will be noted that amongst the entries cited 
above there are two of absolutely capital importance, 
one foreshadowing the great discovery of magneto- 
electric induction, the other indicating how the 
existence of electro-optical relations was shaping 
itself as a possibility in Faraday's mind. An entry in 
his laboratory book of September 10 is of great 
interest : — 

Polarised a ray of lamp-light by reflection, and endeavoured 
to ascertain whether any depolarising action [is] exerted on it 
by water placed between the poles of a voltaic battery in a 
glass cistern ; one Wollaston's trough used ; the fluids 
decomposed were pure water, weak solution of sulphate of 
soda, and strong sulphuric acid : none of them had any effect 
on the polarised light, either when out of or in the voltaic 
circuit, so that no particular arrangement of particles could be 
ascertained in this way. 

It may be added that no such optical effect of 
electrolytic conduction as that here looked for has 
yet been discovered. The experiment, unsuccessful 
at that day, remains still an unsuccessful one. A 
singular interest attaches to it, however, and it was 
repeated several times by Faraday in subsequent 
years, in hope of some results. 

In 1823 Faraday read two papers to the Koyal 
Society, one on Liquid Chlorine, the other on the 
Condensation of several Gases into Liquids. No 
sooner was the work completed than he dashed off a 
letter to De la Rive to tell him what he had accom- 
plished. Under date March 24, 1823, he writes : — 

I have been at work lately, and obtained results which I 
hope you will approve of. I have been interrupted twice in 


the course of experiments by explosions, both in the course of 
eight days — one burnt my eyes, the other cut them ; but 
fortunately escaped with slight injury only in both cases, and 
am now nearly well. During the winter I took the opportunity 
of examining the hydrate of chlorine, and analysing it ; the 
results, which are not very important, will appear in the next 
number of the Quarterly Journal, over which I have no 
influence. Sir H. Davy, on seeing my paper, suggested to me 
to work with it under pressure, and see what would happen by 
heat, &c. Accordingly I enclosed it in a glass tube hermetically 
sealed, heated it, obtained a change in the substance, and a 
separation into two different fluids ; and upon further examina- 
tion I found that the chlorine and water had separated from 
each other, and the chlorine gas, not being able to escape, had 
condensed into the liquid form. To prove that it contained 
no water, I dried some chlorine gas, introduced it into a long 
tube, condensed it, and then cooled the tube, and again 
obtained fluid chlorine. Hence what is called chlorine gas is 
the vapour of a fluid 

I expect to be able to reduce many other gases to the liquid 
form, and promise myself the pleasure of writing you about 
them. I hope you will honour me with a letter soon. 

I am, dear Sir, very faithfully, your obedient servant, 

M. Faraday. 

The work of liquefying the gases had been taken 
up by Faraday during his hours of liberty from other 
duties. It was probably his characteristic dislike to 
" doubtful knowledge " which prompted him to re- 
examine a substance which had at one time been 
regarded as chlorine in a solid state, but which Davy 
in 1810 had demonstrated to be a hydrate of that 
element. The first work was, as narrated above, to 
make a new analysis of the supposed substance. This 
analysis, duly written out, was submitted to Sir 


Humphry, who, without stating precisely what results 
he anticipated might follow, suggested heating the 
hydrate under pressure in a hermetically sealed glass 
tube. This Faraday did. When so heated, the tube 
filled with a yellow atmosphere, and on cooling was 
found to contain two liquids, one limpid and colour- 
less like water, the other of an oily appearance. 
Concerning this research a curious story is told in the 
life of Davy. Dr. Paris, Davy's friend and biographer, 
happened to visit the laboratory while Faraday was 
at work on these tubes. Seeing the oily liquid, he 
ventured to rally the young assistant upon his care- 
lessness in employing greasy tubes. Later in the day, 
Faraday, on filing off the end of the tube, was startled 
by finding the contents suddenly to explode; the 
oily matter completely disappearing. He speedily 
ascertained the cause. The gas, liberated from com- 
bination with water by heat, had under the pressure 
of its own evolution liquefied itself, only to re-expand 
with violence when the tube was opened. Early the 
next day Dr. Paris received the following laconic 
note: — 

Dear Sir,— 

The oil you noticed yesterday turns out to be liquid 

Yours faithfully, 

M. Fakaday. 

Later he adopted a compressing syringe to condense 
the gas, and again succeeded in liquefying it. Davy, 
who added a characteristic note to Faraday's published 
paper, immediately applied the same method of 
liquefaction by its own pressure to hydrochloric acid 


gas ; and Faraday reduced a number of other gases 
by the same means. These researches were not with- 
out danger. In the preliminary experiments an ex- 
plosion of one of the tubes drove thirteen fragments 
of glass into Faraday's eye. At the end of the year he 
drew up a historical statement on the liquefaction of 
gases, which was published in the Quarterly Journal 
for January, 1824. A further statement by him was 
published in the Philosophical Magazine for 1836; 
and in 1844 his further researches on the lique- 
faction of gases were published in the Philosophical 

In 1824 Faraday again brought to the Royal 
Society a chemical discovery of first importance. 
The paper was on some new compounds of carbon 
and hydrogen, and on certain other products obtained 
during decomposition of oil by heat. From condensed 
oil-gas, so obtained, Faraday succeeded in separating 
the liquid known as benzin or benzol, or, as he named 
it at the time, bicarburet of hydrogen. It has since 
its discovery formed the basis of several great chemical 
industries, and is manufactured in vast quantities. 
Prior to the reading of this paper he had, as we have 
already related, been elected a Fellow of the Royal 
Society, an honour to which he had for some years 
aspired, and which stood alone in his regard above 
the scientific honours of later years. 

In this year he tried, amongst his unsuccessful 
experiments, two of singular interest. One was an 
attempt to find whether two crystals (such as nitre) 
exercised upon one another any polar attractions like 
those ot two lodestones. He suspended them by 


fibres of cocoon silk, and, finding this material not 
delicate enough, by spider-lines. The other was an 
attempt to discover magneto-electricity. For various 
reasons he concluded that the approximation of the 
pole of a powerful magnet to a conductor carrying a 
current would have the effect of diminishing the 
amount of that current. He placed magnets within 
a copper wire helix, and observed with a galvanometer 
whether the current sent through the circuit of the 
helix by a given battery was less when the magnet 
was absent. The result was negative. 

In this year also began the laborious researches 
on optical glass, which though in themselves leading to 
no immediate success of commercial value, nevertheless 
furnished Faraday with the material essential at the 
time for the making of the most momentous of all 
his discoveries. A committee had been appointed by 
the President and Council of the Koyal Society for 
the improvement of glass for optical purposes, 
and Faraday was amongst those chosen to act 
upon it. 

In 1825 the Royal Society Committee delegated I 
the investigation of optical glass to a sub-committee 
of three, Herschel (afterwards Sir John), Dollond 
(the optician), and Faraday. The chemical part, in 
eluding the experimental manufacture, was entrusted 
to Faraday. Dollond was to work the glass and test 
its qualities from the instrument maker's point ofl 
view, whilst Herschel was to examine its refraction, 
dispersion, and other physical properties. This sub- 
committee worked for nearly five years, though by 
the removal of Herschel from England its number was 


reduced to two. In 1827 the work became more 
arduous. Faraday thus writes : — 

The President and Council of the Koyal Society applied to 
the President and Managers of the Royal Institution for leave 
to erect on their premises an experimental room with a 
furnace, for the purpose of continuing the investigation on the 
manufacture of optical glass. They were guided in this by the 
desire which the Royal Institution has always evinced to 
assist in the advancement of science ; and the readiness with 
which the application was granted showed that no mistaken 
notion had been formed in this respect. As a member of both 
bodies, I felt much anxiety that the investigation should be 
successful. A room and furnaces were built at the Royal 
Institution in September, 1827, and an assistant was engaged, 
Sergeant Anderson, of the Royal Artillery. He came on the 
3rd of December. 

Anderson, who was thus made assistant to Faraday, 
remained in that capacity till his death in 1866. He 
was a most devoted servant. In a footnote to the 
" Experimental Researches " (vol. iii. p. 3) Faraday in 
1845 wrote of him : — 

I cannot resist the occasion that is thus offered me of 
mentioning the name of Mr. Anderson, who came to me as an 
assistant in the glass experiments, and has remained ever since 
in the laboratory of the Royal Institution. He assisted me in 
all the researches into which I have entered since that time ; 
and to his care, steadiness, exactitude, and faithfulness in the 
performance of all that has been committed to his charge, I 
am much indebted. — M. F 

Tyndall, who had a great admiration for Anderson, 
declared that his merits as an assistant might be 
summed up in one phrase — blind obedience. The 
story is told of him bv Benjamin Abbott: — 

Anderson's oheoience. 97 

Sergeant Anderson . . . was chosen simply because of 
the habits of strict obedience his military training had given 
him. His duty was to keep the furnaces always at the same 
heat, and the water in the ashpit always at the same level. In 
the evening he was released, but one night Faraday forgot to 
tell Anderson he could go home, and early next morning he 
found his faithful servant still stoking the glowing furnace, as 
he had been doing all night long. 

The research on optical glass was viewed askance 
by several parties. The expenditure of money which 
it involved was one of the " charges " hurled against 
the Council of the Royal Society by Sir James South 
in 1830. Nevertheless it was deemed sufficiently 
important to receive powerful support, as the follow- 
ing letter shows : — 

Admiralty, 20 Dec, 1827. 


I hereby request, on behalf of the Board of Longitude, 
that you will continue, in the furnace built at the Royal 
Institution, the experiments on glass, directed by the joint 
Committee of the Royal Society and the Board of Longitude' 
and already sanctioned by the Treasury and the Board of 


I am, Sir, 

Your obedient servant, 

Thomas Young, M.D., 

Michael Faraday, Esq., Sec. Bd. Long. 

Royal Institution. 

In February, 1825, Faraday's duties towards the 
Royal Institution were somewhat modified. Hitherto 
he had been nominally a mere assistant to Davy 
and Brande, though he had occasionally undertaken 
lectures for the latter. Now, on Davy's recommenda- 
tion, he was, as we have seen, appointed by the 


managers Director of the Laboratory under the super- 
intendence of the Professor of Chemistry. He was 
relieved, " because of his occupation in research," from 
his duty as chemical assistant at the lectures. 

The research on optical glass was not concluded 
till 1829, when its results were communicated to the 
Ro}'al Society in the Bakerian lecture of that year — a 
memoir so long that it is said three sittings were 
occupied in its delivery. It is printed in extenso in 
the Philosophical Transactions of 1830. It opens 
as follows : — 

When the philosopher desires to apply glass in the con- 
struction of perfect instrument'', and especially the achromatic 
telescope, its manufacture is found liable to imperfections so 
important and so difficult to avoid, that science is frequently 
stopped in her progress by them — a fact fully proved by the 
circumstance that Mr. Dollond, one of our first opticians, has 
not been able to obtain a disc of flint glass 4^ inches in diameter, 
fit for a telescope, within the last five years ; or a similar disc, 
of 5 inches, within the last ten years. 

This led to the appointment by Sir H. Davy of the Eoyal 
Society Committee, and the Government removed the excise 
restrictions, and undertook to bear all the expenses as long as 
the investigation offered a reasonable hope of success. 

The experiments were begun at the Falcon Glass Works, 
three miles from the Royal Institution, and continued there in 
1825, 1826, and to Sept., 1827. when a room was built at the 
Institution. At first the inquiry was pursued principally as 
related to flint and crown glass ; but in September, 1828, it 
was directed exclusively to the preparation and perfection of 
peculiar heavy and fusible glasses, from which time continued 
progress has been made. 

In 1830 the experiments on glass-making were 

In 1831 the Committee for the Improvement of 


Glass for Optical Purposes reported to the Royal 
Society Council that the telescope made with Mr. 
Faraday's glass had been examined by Captain Kater 
and Mr. Pond. " It bears as great a power as can 
reasonably be expected, and is very achromatic. The 
Committee therefore recommend that Mr. Faraday be 
requested to make a perfect piece of glass of the 
largest size that his present apparatus will admit, and 
also to teach some person to manufacture the glass 
for general sale." 

In answer to this Faraday sent the following letter 
to Dr. Roget, Sec. R.S. : — 

[M. Faraday to P. M. Boget.] 

Eoyal Institution, July 4, 1831. 

Dear Sir, — I send you herewith four large and two small 
manuscript volumes relating to optical glass, and comprising 
the journal book and sub-committee book, since the period 
that experimental investigations commenced at the Royal 

With reference to the request which the Council of the 
Royal Society have done me the honour of making— namely, 
that I should continue the investigation — I should, under cir- 
cumstances of perfect freedom, assent to it at once ; but obliged 
as I have been to devote the whole of my spare time to the ex- 
periments already described, and consequently to resign the 
pursuit of such philosophical inquiries as suggested themselves 
to my own mind, I would wish, under the present circumstances, 
to lay the glass aside for a while, that I may enjoy the pleasure 
of working out my own thoughts on other subjects. 

If at a future time the investigation should be renewed, I 
must beg it to be clearly understood I cannot promise full 
success should I resume it : all that industry and my abilities 
can effect shall be done ; but to perfect a manufacture, not 
being a manufacturer, is what I am not bold enough to promise 

I am, (fee, 

M. Faraday. 


The optical glass was a failure, so far as concerned 
the original hope that it would lead to great im- 
provements in telescopes. Nevertheless it furnished 
scientific men with a new material, the " heavy glass " 
consisting essentially of boro-silicate of lead, for which 
sundry uses in spectroscopy and other optical instru- 
ments have since been found. 

In 1845 Faraday added this note : — 

I consider our results as negative, except as regards any 
good that may have resulted from my heavy glass in the hands 
of Amici (who applied it to microscopes) and in my late 
experiments on light. 

These were the famous experiments on magneto- 
optics and diamagnetism. Incidentally the research 
had led also to the permanent engagement of Sergeant 
Anderson as assistant to Faraday. 

During these years, from 1825 to 1829, which had 
been thus occupied in an apparently fruitless quest, 
he had been far from idle. He had gone on con- 
tributing chemical papers to the Philosophical 
Transactions and to the Quarterly Journal. These 
dealt wit sulpho-naphthalic acid, with the limits of 
vaporisation, with caoutchouc, bisulphide of copper, 
the fluidity of sulphur and phosphorus, the diffusion 
of gases, and the relation of water to hot polished 
surfaces. He had also originated at the Royal Insti- 
tution the Friday evening discourses (see p. 33), the 
first of which he held in 1826. For some years he 
himself delivered no inconsiderable portion of these 
discourses every session. In 1826 he gave six, in 
1827 three, in 1828 five, in 1829 six, and these in 
addition to his regular afternoon courses of six or 


eight lectures on some connected subject. He had 
also, in 1826, begun the Christmas lectures adapted 
to a juvenile audience, and had in 1827 given a course 
of twelve lectiu-es at the London Institution in 
Finsbury Circus. In addition to these labours he 
had, in 1827, brought out the first edition of his book 
on " Chemical Manipulation." In 1829 he began his 
lectures at the Royal Military Academy at Woolwich, 
which continued till 1849. 

The year 1830 may be regarded as the close of 
the first period of Faraday's researches, during which 
time, though much of his labour had been of a 
preparatory and even desultory kind, it had been a 
training for the higher work to come. He had made 
three notable discoveries in chemistry, the new sub- 
stances benzol and butylene, and the solubility of 
naphthalene in sulphuric acid forming the first ot a 
new class of bodies, the sulpho-acicls. He had also 
made an important discovery in physics, that of the 
electromagnetic rotations. He had already published 
sixty original papers, besides many notes of lesser 
importance, nine of these papers being memoirs in the 
Philosophical Transactions. He had already begun 
to receive from learned societies, academies, and 
universities the recognition of his scientific attain- 
ments, and he had established firmly both his own 
reputation as a lecturer, and the reputation of the 
Royal Institution, which was the scene of his lectures. 



With the year 1831 begins the period of the cele- 
brated " Experimental Researches in Electricity and 
Magnetism." During the years which had elapsed 
since his discovery of the electromagnetic rotations in 
1823, Faraday, though occupied, as we have seen, with 
other matters, had not ceased to ponder the relation 
between the magnet and the electric current. The 
great discoveries of Oersted, Ampere, and Arago had 
culminated in England in two results : in Faraday's 
discovery that the wire which carries an electric 
current tends to revolve around the pole of a neigh- 
bouring magnet; and in Sturgeon's invention of the 
soft-iron electromagnet, a core of iron surrounded by 
a coil of copper wire, capable of acting as a magnet at 
will when the electric current is transmitted to the 
coil and so caused to circulate around the iron core. 
This production of magnetism from electricity, at 
will, and at a distance, by the simple device of send- 
ing the electricity to circulate as a current around 
the central core of iron was then, as now, a cause of 
much speculation. The iron core which is to bo 
made temporarily into a magnet stands alone, isolated. 


Though surrounded outwardly by the magnetising 
coil of copper wire, it does not touch it ; nay, must be 
screened from contact with it by appropriate insula- 
tion. The electric current entering the copper coil at 
one end is confined from leaving the copper wire by 
any lateral path : it must circulate around each and 
every convolution, nor be permitted to flow back by 
the return-wire until it has performed the required 
amount of circulation. That the mere external 
circulation of electric current around a totally dis- 
connected interior core of iron should magnetise that 
core ; that the magnetisation should' be maintained so 
long as the circulation of electricity is maintained; 
and that the magnetising forces should cease so soon 
as the current is stopped, are facts, familiar enough to 
every beginner in the science, but mysterious enough 
from the abstract point of view. Faraday was firmly 
persuaded that, great as had been these discoveries of 
the production of magnetism and magnetic motions 
from electricity, there remained other relations of no 
less importance to be discovered. Again and again 
his mind recurred to the subject. If it were possible 
to use electricity to produce magnetism, why should 
not the converse be true ? In 1822 his notebook 
suggestion was, as we have seen, " Convert magnetism 
into electricity." Yes, but how ? 

He possessed an intuitive bent of mind to inquire 
about the relations of facts to one another. Convinced 
by sheer converse with nature in the laboratory, of the 
correlation of forces and of the conservation of energy 
long before either of those doctrines had received dis- 
tinct enunciation as principles of natural philosophy, 


he seems never to have viewed an action without 
thinking of the necessary and appropriate reaction; 
never to have deemed any physical relation complete 
in which discovery had not been made of the converse 
relations for which instinctively he sought. So in 
December, 1824, we find him experimenting on the 
passage of a bar magnet through a helix of copper wire 
(see Quarterly Journal for July, 1825), but without 
result. In November, 1825, he sought for evidence that 
might prove an electric current in a wire to exercise 
an influence upon a neighbouring wire connected to a 
galvanometer. But again, and yet again in December 
of the same year, the entry stands " No result." A 
third failure did not convince him that the search 
was hopeless : it showed him that he had not yet 
found the right method of experimenting. It is 
narrated of him how at this period he used to carry 
in his waistcoat pocket a small model of an electro- 
magnetic circuit — a straight iron core about an inch 
long, surrounded by a few spiral turns of copper wire 
— which model he at spare moments would take out 
and contemplate, using it thus objectively to concen- 
trate his thoughts upon the problem to be solved. 
A copper coil, an iron core. Given that electricity 
was flowing through the one, it evoked magnetism in 
the other. What was the converse ? At first sight 
it might seem simple enough. Put magnetism from 
some external source into the iron core, and then try 
whether on connecting the copper coil to a galvano 
meter there was any indication of an electric current. 
But this was exactly what was found not to result. 
And not Faraday alone, but others, too, were foiled 


in the hope of observing the expected converse. Not 
all who tried were as wise or as frank as Faraday in 
confessing failure. Fresnel, in the height of the fever 
of Oersted's discovery, had announced to the Academy 
of Sciences at Paris, on the 6th of November, 1820, 
that he had decomposed water by means of a magnet 
which was laid motionless within a spiral of wire. 
Emboldened by this announcement, Ampere remarked 
that he too had noticed something in the way of 
production of currents, from a magnet. But before 
the end of the year both these statements were with- 
drawn by their authors. Again, in the year 1822, 
Ampere, being at Geneva, showed to Professor A. de 
la Rive in his laboratory a number of electromagnetic 
experiments from his classical researches ; and amongst 
them one* which has been almost forgotten, but 
which, had it been followed up, would assuredly have 
led Ampere to the discovery of the induction of 
currents. In the experiment in question a thin copper 
ring, made of a narrow strip folded into a circle, was 
hung inside a circular coil of wire, traversed by a 
current. To this apparatus a powerful horse-shoe 
magnet was presented ; and De la Rive states that, 
when the magnet was brought up, the suspended ring 
was observed sometimes to move between the two 
limbs of the magnet, and sometimes to be repelled 
from between them according to the sense of the 
current in the surrounding coil. He and Ampere 
both attributed the effect to temporary magnetism 
conferred upon the copper ring. Ampere himself was 

* See a paper by the author in the Philosophical Magazine for June, 
1895, entitled " Note on a Neglected Experiment of Ampere." 


at the time disposed to attribute it to the possible 
presence of a little iron as an impurity in the copper. 
There are, however, some discrepancies in the three 
published versions of the story. According to 
Becquerel, Ampere had by 1825 satisfied himself of 
the non-existence of induction currents. 

Quite independently, the question of the possibility 
of creating currents by magnets was raised by another 
discovery, that of the so-called "magnetism of rotation." 
In 1824 Arago had observed that a fine magnetic 
compass constructed for him by Garnbey, having the 
needle suspended in a cell, the base of which was a 
plate of pure copper, was thereby damped in its 
oscillations, and instead of making two or three 
hundred vibrations before it came to rest, as would be 
the case in the open air, executed only three or four 
of rapidly decreasing amplitude* In vain did Dumas 
at the request of Arago analyse the copper, in the 
supposition that iron might- be present. Inquiry 
compelled the conclusion that some other explanation 
must be sought. And, reasoning from the apparent 
action of stationary copper in bringing a moving 
magnetic needle to rest, he conjectured that a moving 
mass of copper might produce motion in a stationary 
magnetic needle. Accordingly he set into revolution, 
beneath a compass needle, a flat disc of copper, and 
found that, even when a sheet of card or glass was 
interposed to cut off all air-currents, the needle tended 
to follow the moving copper disc, turning as if dragged 

* Compare Dumas, " Moge Historique de Michel Faraday," p. xxxiii., 
who gives the above statement. Arago's own account to the Academie 
differs slightly. 


by some invisible influence. To the suggestion that 
mere rotation conferred upon copper a sort of 
temporary magnetism Arago listened with some 
impatience. All theories proposed to account for the 
phenomenon he discredited, even though emanating 
from the great mathematician Poisson. He held 
his judgment in absolute suspense. Babbage and 
Herschel measured the amount of retarding force 
exerted on the needle by different materials, and 
found the most effective to be silver and copper 
(which are the two best conductors of electricity), 
after them gold and zinc, whilst lead, mercury, and 
bismuth were inferior in power. The next year the 
same experimenters announced the successful inversion 
of Arago's experiment; for by spinning the magnet 
underneath a pivoted copper disc they caused the 
latter to rotate briskly. They also made the notable 
observation that if slits are cut radially in the copper 
disc they diminish its tendency to be dragged by the 
spinning magnet. Sturgeon showed that the damp- 
ing effect of a moving copper disc was diminished by 
the presence of a second magnet pole of contrary kind 
placed beside the first. All these things were most 
suggestive of the real explanation. It clearly had 
something to do with the electric conductivity of 
the metal disc, and therefore with electric currents. 
Sturgeon five years later came very near to the 
explanation : after repeating the experiments he con- 
cluded that the -effect was an electric disturbance in 
the copper disc, " a kind of reaction to that which 
takes place in electromagnetism. " 

Faraday knew of all the discussions which had 



arisen respecting Arago's rotations. They may have 
been the cause of his unsuccessful attempts of 1824 
and 1825. In April, 1828, for the fourth time he 
tried to discover the currents which he was convinced 
must be producible by the magnet, and for the fourth 
time without result. The cause of failure was that 
both magnet and coil were at rest. 

Fig. 4. 

The summer of 1831 witnessed him for the fifth 
time making the attack on the problem thus per- 
sistently before him. In his laboratory note-book he 
heads the research " Experiments on the production 
ot electricity from magnetism." The following ex- 
cellent summary of the laboratory notes is taken from 
Bence Jones's " Life and Letters " : — 

I have had an iron ring made (soft iron), iron round and 
Iths of an inch thick, and ring six inches in external diameter. 
Wound many coils of copper round, one half of the coils being 
separated by twine and calico, there were three lengths of 


wire, each about twenty-four feet long, and they could be con- 
nected as one length, or used as separate lengths. By trials 
with a trough each was insulated from the other. Will call 
this side of the ring a. On the other side, but separated by 
an interval, was wound wire in two pieces, together amounting 
to about sixty feet in length, the direction being as with the 
former coils. This side call b. * 

Charged a battery of ten pairs of plates four inches square. 
Made the coil on b side one coil, and connected its extremities 
by a copper wire passing to a distance, and just over a magnetic 
needle (three feet from wire ring), then connected the ends of 
one of the pieces on a side with battery : immediately a 
sensible effect on needle. It oscillated and settled at last in 
original position. On breaking connection of A side with 
battery, again a disturbance of the needle. 

In the seventeenth paragraph, written on the 30th 
of August, he says, " May not these transient effects be 
connected with causes of difference between power of 
metals at rest and in motion in Arago's experiments?" 
After this he prepared fresh apparatus. 

As was his manner, he wrote off to one of his 
friends a letter telling what he was at work upon. 
On this occasion the recipient of his confidences Avas 
his friend Phillips : — 

[Michael Faraday to Bicluxrd Phillips.'] 
Koyal Institution. 
My dear Phillips, Sept. 23, 1831. 

I write now, though it may be some time before I 
send my letter, but that is of no great consequence. I received 

* This ring Faraday is represented as holding in his hand in the 
beautiful marble statue by Foley which stands in the Entrance Hull 
of the Royal Institution. The ring itself is still preserved at the 
Koyal Institution amongst the Faraday relics. The accompanying 
cut (tig. i) is facsimiled from Faraday's own sketch in his laboratory 


your letter to Dr. Reid and read it on the coach going to 
Hastings, where I have been passing a few weeks, and I fancy 
my fellow passengers thought I had got something very droll 
in hand ; they sometimes started at my sudden bursts, especially 
when I had the moment before been very grave and serious 
amongst the proportions. As you say in the letter there are 
some new facts and they are always of value ; otherwise I 
should have thought you had taken more trouble than the 
matter deserved. Your quotation from Boyle has nevertheless 
great force in it. 

I shall send with this a little thing in your own way " On the 
Alleged decline of science in England." It is written by Dr. 
Moll of Utrecht, whose name may be mentioned in conversa- 
tion though it is not printed in the pamphlet. I understand 
the view taken by Moll is not at all agreeable to some. " I do 
not know what business Moll had to interfere with our scientific 
disputes " is however the strongest observation I have heard of 
in reply. 

I do not think I thanked you for your last Pharmacopoeia 
I do so now very heartily. I shall detain this letter a few days 
that I may send a couple of my papers (i.e. a paper and appendix) 
with it, for though not chemical I think you will like to have 
them. 1 am busy just now again on Electro-Magnetism, and 
think I have got hold of a good thing, but can't say; it may be 
a-weed instead of a fish that after all my labour I may at last 
pull up. I think I know why metals are magnetic when in 
motion though not (generally) when at rest. 

We think about you all very much at times, and talk over 
affairs of Nelson Square, but I think we dwell more upon the 
illnesses and nursings and upon the sudden calls and chats 
rather than the regular parties. Pray remember us both to 
Mrs. Phillips and the damsils — I hope the word is not too 

I am Dear Phillips, 

Most Truly Yours, 

K. Phillips, Esq., M. Fakaday. 

&.c, &c, &c. 


September 24 was the third day of his experiments. 
He began (paragraph 21) by trying to find the effect of 
one helix of wire, carrying the voltaic current of ten 
pairs of plates, upon another wire connected with a 
galvanometer. " No induction sensible." Longer and 
different metallic helices (paragraph 22) showed no 
effect ; so he gave up those experiments for that day, 
and tried the effects of bar magnets in- 
stead of the ring magnet he had used on 
the first day. ,■* 

In paragraph 33 he says : — \" 

An iron cylinder had a helix wound on it. 
The ends of the wires of the helix were connected 
with the indicating helix at a distance by copper 
wire. Then the iron placed between the poles of 
bar magnets as in accompanying figure (Fig. 5). 
Every time the magnetic contact at n or s was 
made or broken, there was magnetic motion at 
the indicating helix — the effect being, as in 
former cases, not permanent, but a mere mo- 
mentary push or pull. But if the electric com- Fig. 5. 
munication (i.e. by the copper wire) was broken, 
then the disjunction and contacts produced no effect whatever. 
Hence here distinct conversion of magnetism into electricity. 

The fourth day of work was October 1. Para- 
graphs 36, 37, and 38 describe the discovery of 
induced voltaic currents : — 

36. A battery of ten troughs, each of ten pairs of plates 
four inches square, charged with good mixture of sulphuric 
and nitric acid, and the following experiments made with it in 
the following order. 

37. One of the coils (of a helix of copper wire 203 feet long) 
was connected with the flat helix, and the other (coil of same 


length round same block of wood) with the poles of the battery 
(it having been found that there was no metallic contact 
between the two) ; the magnetic needle at the indicating flat 
helix was affected, but so little as to be hardly sensible. 

38. In place of the indicating helix, our galvanometer was 
used, and then a sudden jerk was perceived when the battery 
communication was made and broken, but it was so slight as 
to be scarcely visible. It was one way when made, the other 
when broken, and the needle took up its natural position at 
intermediate times. 

Hence there is an inducing effect without the presence of 
iron, but it is either very weak or else so sudden as not to 
have time to move the needle. I rather suspect it is the latter. 

The fifth day of experiment was October 17. 
Paragraph 57 describes the discovery of the produc- 
tion of electricity by the approximation of a magnet 
to a wire : — 

A cylindrical bar magnet three-quarters of an inch in 
diameter, and eight inches and a half in length, had one end 
just inserted into the end of the helix cylinder (220 feet long) ; 
then it was quickly thrust in the whole length, and the galvan- 
ometer needle moved ; then pulled out, and again the needle 
moved, but in the opposite direction. This effect was repeated 
every time the magnet was put in or out, and therefore a wave 
of electricity was so produced from mere approximation of a 
magnet, and not from its formation in situ. 

The cause of all the earlier failures was, then, that 
both magnet and coil were at rest. The magnet might 
lie in or near the coil for a century and cause no effect. 
But while moving towards the coil, or from it, or 
by spinning near it, electric currents were at once 

The ninth day of his experiments was October 28, 


and this day he "made a copper disc turn round 
between the poles of the great horse-shoe magnet of 
the Royal Society. The axis and edge of the disc 
were connected with a galvanometer. The needle 
moved as the disc turned." The next day that he 
made experiments, November 4, he found " that a 
copper wire one-eighth of an inch drawn between the 
poles and conductors produced the effect." In his 
paper, when describing the experiment, he speaks of 
the metal "cutting" the magnetic curves, and in a 
note to his paper he says, " By magnetic curves I 
mean lines of magnetic forces which would be depicted 
by iron filings." 

We here come upon those " lines of force " which 
plaj^ed so important a part in these and many of 
Faraday's later investigations. They were known 
before Faraday's time — had, in fact, been known for 
two hundred years. Descartes had seen in them 
evidence for his hypothetical vortices. Musschen- 
broek had mapped them. But it was reserved to 
Faraday to point out their true significance. To the 
very end of his life he continued to speculate and 
experiment upon them. 

All this splendid work had occupied but a brief 
ten days. Then he rearranged the facts which he had 
thus harvested, and wrote them out in corrected form 
as the first series of his " Experimental Researches in 
Electricity." The memoir was read to the Royal 
Society on November 24, 1831, though it did not 
appear in printed form until January, 1832 — a delay 
which gave rise to serious misunderstandings. The 
paper having been read, he went away to Brighton to 


take a holiday, and in the exuberance of his heart 
penned the following letter* to Phillips : — 

[M. Faraday to R. FhiUips.] 

Brighton : November 29, 1831. 

Dear Phillips, — For once in my life I am able to sit down 
and write to you without feeling that my time is so little that 
my letter must of necessity be a short one and accordingly I 
have taken an extra large sheet of paper intending to fill it 
with news and yet as to news I have none for I withdraw 
move and more from Society, and all I have to say is about 

But how are you getting onl are you comfortable? and how 
does Mrs. Phillips do ; and the girls ? Bad correspondant as I 
am, I think you owe me a letter and as in the course of half an 
hour you will be doubly in my debt pray write us, and let us 
know all about you. Mrs. Faraday wishes me not to forget to 
put her kind remembrances to you and Mrs. Phillips in my 

To-morrow is St. Andrew's day,f but we shall be here until 
Thursday. I have made arrangements to be out of the Council 
and care little for the rest although I should as a matter of 
curiosity have liked to see the Duke in the chair on such an 

We are here to refresh. I have been working and writing 
a paper and that always knocks me up in health, but now I 
feel well again and able to pursue my subject and now I will 
tell you what it is about. The title will be, I think, Experi- 
mental Researches in Electricity: §1. On the induction 
of electric currents. § II. On the evolution of Electricity from 
magnetism. § III. On a New electrical condition of matter. 
% IV. On Arago's magnetic phenomena. There is a bill of fare 
for you ; and what is more I hope it will not disappoint you. 

* Now in the possession of the author, to whom it was given hy 
his kinswoman Lady Wilson, youngest daughter of Richard Phillips. 

f The day of the Annual Meeting and election of Council of the 
Royal Society. 


Now the pith of all this I must give you very briefly ; the 
demonstrations you shall have in the paper when printed — 

§ I. When an electric current is passed through one of two 
parallel wires it causes at first a current in the same direction* 
through the other, but this induced current does not last a 
moment, notwithstanding the inducing current (from the 
Voltaic battery) is continued all seems unchanged except that 
the principal current continues its course, but when the current 
is stopped then a return current occurs in the wire under 
induction of about the same intensity and momentary duration 
but in the opposite direction to that first found. Electricity 
in currents therefore exerts an inductive action like ordinary 
electricity but subject to peculiar laws : the effects are a current 
in the same direction when the induction is established : a 
reverse current when the induction ceases and a peculiar state 
in the interim. Common electricity probably does the same 
thing but as it is at present impossible to separate the be- 
ginning and the end of a spark or discharge from each other, 
all the effects are simultaneous and neutralise each other — 

§11. Then I found that magnets would induce just like 
voltaic currents and by bringing helices and wires and jackets 
up to the poles of magnets, electrical currents were produced 
in them these currents being able to deflect the galvanometer, 
or to make, by means of the helix, magnetic needles, or in one 
case even to give a spark. Hence the evolution of electricity 
from magnetism. The currents were not permanent, they 
ceased the moment the wires ceased to approach the magnet 
because the new and apparently quiescent state was assumed 
just as in the case of the induction of currents. But when the 
magnet was removed, and its induction therefore ceased, the 
return currents appeared as before. These two kinds of 
induction I have distinguished by the terms Volta-electric and 
Magneto-electric induction. Their identity of action and 

* This is a Blip in the description ; the momentary current in- 
duced in the secondary wire on making the current in the primary 
is inverse : it is succeeded by a momentary direct current when tne 
primary current is stopped. 


results is, I think, a.very powerful proof of the truth of M. 
Ampere's theory of magnetism. 

§111. The new electrical condition which intervenes by 
induction between the beginning and end of the inducing 
current gives rise to some very curious results. It explains 
why chemical action or other results of electricity have never 
been as yet obtained in trials with the magnet. In fact, the 
currents have no sensible duration. I believe it will explain 
perfectly the transference of elements between the poles of the 
pile in decomposition but this part of the subject I have 
reserved until the present experiments are completed and it is 
so analogous, in some of its effects to those of Ritter's secondary 
piles, De la Rive and Van Beck's peculiar properties of the 
poles of a voltaic pile, that I should not wonder if they all 
proved ultimately to depend on this state. The condition of 
matter I have dignified by the term Elect 'rotonir, The Electro- 
tonic State. What do you think of that? Am I not a bold 
man, ignorant as I am, to coin words but I have consulted the 
scholars,* and now for § IV. The new state has enabled me 
to make out and explain all Arago's phenomena of the rotating 
magnet or copper plate, I believe, perfectly ; but as great 
names are concerned Arago, Babbage, Herschel, &c, and as I 
have to differ from them, I have spoken with that modesty 
which you so well know you and I and John Frost f have in 
common, and for which the world so justly commends us. I 
am even half afraid to tell you what it is. You will think I 
am hoaxing you, or else in your compassion you may conclude 
I am deceiving myself. However, you need do neither, but 
had better laugh, as I did most heartily when I found that it 
was neither attraction nor repulsion, but just one of my old 
rotations ill a new form. I cannot explain to you all the 
actions, which are very curious ; but in consequence of the 

* This doubtless refers to AYhewell, of Cambridge, whom he was 
in the habit of consulting on questions of nomenclature. 

f A man of fashion who had, without any claim to distinction, 
wormed himself into scientific society, posed as a, savant, and had 
delivered a high-flown oration on botany n.t the Royal Institution. 


electrotonic state being assumed and lost as the parts of the 
plate whirl under the pole, and in consequence of magneto- 
electric induction, currents of electricity are formed in the 
direction of the radii ; continuing, for simple reasons, as long as 
the motion continues, but ceasing when that ceases. Hence 
the wonder is explained that the metal has powers on the 
magnet when moving, but not when at rest. Hence is also 
explained the effect which Arago observed, and which made 
him contradict Babbage and Herschel, and say the power was 
repulsive ; but, as a whole, it is really tangential. It is quite 
comfortable to me to find that experiment need not quail 
before mathematics, but is quite competent to rival it in 
discovery ; and I am amused to find that what the high mathe- 
maticians have announced as the essential condition to the 
rotation — namely, that time is required — has so little founda- 
tion, that if the time could by possibility be anticipated instead 
of being required — i.e. if the currents could be formed before 
the magnet came over the place instead of aftei — the effect- 
would equally ensue. Adieu, dear Phillips. 

Excuse this egotistical letter from yours very faithfully. 

M. Fakaday. 

The second section shows that Faraday had dis- 
covered the cause of all the previous failures to evoke 
electric currents in wires by means of a magnet: it 
required relative -motion. What the magnet at rest 
fails to do, the magnet in motion accomplishes. This 
crucial point is admirably commemorated in the 
following impromptu given by Mr. Herbert Mayo to 
Sir Charles Wheatstone : — 

Around the magnet Faraday 

Was sure that Volta's lightnings play : 

But how to draw them from the wire? 
He took a lesson from the heart : 
'lis when we meet, 'tis when we part, 

Breaks forth the electric fire. 


Faraday's holiday was brief; by December 5 he 
was again at work on his researches. He re-observed 
the directions of the induced currents about which, as 
the slip in his letter to Phillips shows, his mind was 
in some doubt. Then on December 14th comes the 
entry : — " Tried the effects of terrestrial magnetism in 
evolving electricity. Obtained beautiful results." 

" The helix had the soft iron cylinder (freed from 
magnetism by a full red heat and cooling slowly) put 
into it, and it was then connected with the galvan- 
ometer by wires eight foot long; then inverted the 
bar and helix, and immediately the needle moved ; 
inverted it again, the needle moved back; and, by 
repeating the motion with the oscillations of the 
needle, made the latter vibrate 180°, or more." 

The same day he " made Arago's experiment with 
the earth magnet, only no magnet used, but the plate 
put horizontal and rotated. The effect at the needle 

was slight but very distinct Hence Arago's 

plate a new electrical machine." 

When we compare these manuscript notes, record- 
ing the experiments in the order in which they were 
made with the published account of them in the 
" Experimental Researches," we find many of them 
transcribed almost verbatim. But there is a difference 
in the order of their arrangement. In point of time 
the experiments on the evolution of electricity from 
magnetism, beginning with the ring (p. 108), preceded 
those on the induction of a current by another cur- 
rent. In the printed "Researches" the experiments 
on the induction of currents are put first,, with an 
introductory paragraph on the general phenomenon 


of induction.* Faraday's habit of working up an 
experiment — whether successful or unsuccessful — by 
increasing the power to the maximum available is 
illustrated in the course of the experiments on the 
iron ring. At first he used a battery of ten pairs 
of plates four inches square. Then, having been 
eminently successful in producing deflexions of his 
galvanometer, he increased the battery to one hundred 
pairs of plates, with the result that when contact 
was completed or broken in the primary circuit the 
impulse on the galvanometer in the secondary circuit 
was so great as to make the needle spin round rapidly 
four or five times before its motion was reduced to a 
mere oscillation. Then he removed the galvanometer 
and fixed small pencils of charcoal to the ends of the 
secondary helix ; and to his great joy perceived a 
minute spark between the lightly touching charcoal 
points whenever the contact of the battery to the 
primary helix was completed. This was the first 

* The use of this term, as distinguished from production, to dis- 
tinguish tetween the primary generation of a current in a roltaic cell, 
a thermopile, or a fiiction-machine, hy chemical or molecular action, 
and its indirect production "without contact or communication of any 
material sort, as by motion of a wire near a magnet or by secondary 
influence from a neighbouring primary current while that current is 
varying in strength or proximity, is exceedingly significant. Fara- 
day's own meaning in adopting it is best grasped by referring top. 1 
of the " Experimental " : — 

" On the Induction of Electric Currents." .... The general term induction 
which, as it has been received into scientific language, may also, with propriety, 
be used to express the power which electrical currents may possess of inducing any 
particular state upon matter in their immediate neighbourhood. ... I propose 
to call this action of the current from the voltaic battery volta-eleclric induction . . . 
but as a distinction in language is still necessary, I propose to call the agency thus 
exerted by ordinary magnets magneto-electric or vwgni-dtctric induction. 


transformer, for the first time set— on a small scale 
— to produce a tiny electric light. The spark he 
regarded as a precious indication that what he was 
producing really was an electric current. Using the 
great compound steel magnet of the Royal Society 
(constructed by Dr. Gowin Knight) at Christie's house 
at Woolwich he had, as narrated above, also obtained 
a spark from the induced current. For some time he 
failed to obtain either physiological or chemical effects. 
But upon repeating the experiments more at leisure 
at the Royal Institution, with Daniell's armed load- 
stone capable of lifting thirty pounds, a frog was 
found to be convulsed very strongly each time mag- 
netic contact between the magnet and the iron core 
of the experimental coil was made or broken. 

The absence of evidence as to chemical action 
seemed still to disquiet him. He wanted to be sure 
that his induced currents would do everything that 
ordinary voltaic currents would do. Failing the final 
proof from chemical action, he rested the case on the 
other identical properties. '' But an agent," he says, 
" which is conducted along metallic wires in the 
manner described ; which, whilst so passing, possesses 
the peculiar magnetic actions and force of a current 
of electricity ; which can agitate and convulse the 
limbs of a frog ; and which, finally, can produce a 
spark by its discharge through charcoal, can only be 
electricity. As all the effects can be produced by 
ferruginous electro-magnets, there is no doubt that 
arrangements like the magnets of Professors Moll, 
Henry, Ten Eyke, and others, in which as many as 
two thousand pounds have been lifted, may be used 



for these experiments ; in which case not only a 
brighter spark may be obtained, but wires also ignited, 
and as the currents can pass liquids, chemical action 
be produced. These effects are still more likely to be 
obtained when the magneto-electric arrangements, to 
be explained in the fourth section, are excited by the 
powers of such apparatus." The apparatus described 
in the fourth section comprised several forms of 

Fig. 6. (Facsimile of Okiginal Sketch.) 

magneto-electric machines, that is to say, primitive 
kmds of dynamos. Having in his mind the pheno- 
menon discovered by Arago, and the experiments of 
Eabbage and Herschel on the so-called magnetism of 
rotation, he followed up the idea that these effects 
might be due to induced currents eddying round in 
the copper disc. No sooner had he obtained electricity 
from magnets than he attempted to make Arago's 
experiment a new source of electricity, and, as he 
himself says, " did not despair " " of being able to 
construct a new electrical machine." 


The "new electrical machine" was an exceedingly 
simple contrivance. A disc of copper, twelve inches 
in diameter (Fig. 6), and about one-fifth of an iuch in 
thickness, fixed upon a brass axle, was mounted in 
frames, so as to allow of revolution, its edge being at 
the same time introduced between the magnetic poles 
of a large compound permanent magnet, the poles 
being about half an inch apart* The magnet first 
used was the historical magnet of Gowin Knight. 
The edge of the plate was well amalgamated, for the 
purpose of obtaining a good but movable contact, and 
a part round the axle was also prepared in a similar 
manner. Conducting strips of copper and lead, to 
serve as electric collectors, were prepared, so as to be 
placed in contact with the edge of the copper disc ; 
one of these was held by hand to touch the edge of 
the disc between the magnet poles. The wires from a 
galvanometer were connected, the one to the collect- 
ing-strip, the other to the brass axle ; then on revolv- 
ing the disc a deflexion of the galvanometer was 
obtained, which was reversed in direction when the 
direction of the rotation was reversed. " Here, there- 
fore, was demonstrated the production of a permanent 
current of electricity by ordinary magnets." These 
effects were also obtained from the poles of electro- 
magnets, and from copper helices without iron cores. 
Several other forms of magneto-electric machines were 
tried by Faraday. 

* K I 

'Experimental Researches,'' i. 25, art. 85. This copper disc is 
still preserved at the Eoyal Institution. It was shown in action by 
the author of this work, at a lecture at the Royal Institution delivered 
April 11th, 1891. Fig. 6 is reproduced in facsimile from Faraday's 
laboratory note-book. 


In one * a flat ring of twelve inches' external 
diameter, and one inch broad, was cut from a thick 
copper plate, and mounted to revolve between the 
poles of the magnet, two conductors being applied to 
make rubbing contact at the inner and outer edge at 
the part which passed between the magnetic poles. 
In another,t a disc of copper, one-fifth of an inch 
thick and only 1^ inch in diameter (Fig. 7), was amalga- 
mated at the edge, and mounted on a copper axle. A 

Fig. 7. 

square piece of sheet metal had a circular hole cut in 
it, into which the disc fitted loosely ; a little mercury 
completed communication between the disc and its 
surrounding ring. The latter was connected by wire 
to a galvanometer; the other wire being connected 
from the instrument to the end of the axle. Upon 
rotating the disc in a horizontal plane, currents were 
obtained, though the earth was the only magnet 

Faraday also proposed a multiple machinej having 
several discs, metallically connected alternately at the 

* "Experimental Researches," i. art. 135. 

t lb., art. 155. % lb., art. 158. 



edges and centres by means of mercury, which were 
then to be revolved alternately in opposite directions, 
In another apparatus,* a copper cylinder (Fig. 8), 
closed at one extremity, was put over a magnet, one 
half of which it enclosed like a cap, and to which it 
was attached without making metallic contact. The 
arrangement was then floated upright in a narrow jar 

Fig. 8. 

of mercury, so that the lower edge of the copper cap 
touched the fluid. On rotating the magnet and its 
attached cap, a current was sent through wires from 
the mercury to the top of the copper cap. In another 
apparatus, f still preserved at the Royal Institution, a 
cylindrical bar magnet, half immersed in mercury, 
was made to rotate, and generated a current, its own 
metal serving as a conductor. In another form,| the 
cylindrical magnet was rotated horizontally about its 
own axis, and was found to generate currents which 

* lb., art. 219. 

t "Experimental Researches," i. art. 220. 

X lb., art. 222. 



flowed from the middle to the ends, or vice versd, 
according to the rotation. The description of these 
new electrical machines is concluded with the follow- 
ing pregnant words : — 

I have rather, however, been desirous of discovering new 
facts and relations dependent on magneto-electric induction, 
than of exalting the force of those already obtained ; being 
assured that the latter would find their full development 

Fm. 9. 

In yet another machine (Fig. 9), constructed by 
Faraday some time later * a simple rectangle of copper 
wire w, attached to a frame, was rotated about a 
horizontal axis placed east and west, and generated 
alternate currents, which could be collected by a 
simple commutator c. 

Within a few months machines on the principle of 
magneto-induction had been devised by Dal Negro, 
and by Pixii. In the latter's apparatus a steel horse- 
shoe magnet, with its poles upwards, was caused to 
rotate about a vertical shaft, inducing alternating 
currents in a pair of bobbins fixed above it, and 

• lb., iii. art. 3192. 


provided with a horseshoe core of soft iron. Later, in 
1832, Pixii produced, at the suggestion of Ampere* a 
second machine, provided with mercury cup con- 
nections to rectify the alternations of the current. 
One of these machines was shown at the British 
Association meeting at Oxford in the same year 
(p. 64). 

The idea developed in the third part of this 
research was intensely original and suggestive. Fara- 
day's own statement is as follows : — 

Whilst the wire is subject to either volta-electric or magneto- 
electric induction, it appears to be in a peculiar state ; for it 
resists the formation of an electrical current in it, whereas, if 
left in its common condition, such a current would be produced ; 
and when left uninfluenced it has the power of originating a 
current, a power which the wire does not possess under common 
circumstances. This electrical condition of matter has not 
hitherto been recognised, but it probably exerts a very im- 
portant influence in many, if not most, of the phenomena 
produced by currents of electricity. For reasons which will 
immediately appear, I have, after advising with several learned 
friends, ventured to designate it as the electrotonic state. 

This peculiar condition shows no known electrical effects 
whilst it continues ; nor have I yet been able to discover any 
peculiar powers exerted or properties possessed by matter 
whilst retained in this state. 

This state is altogether the effect of the induction exerted, 

and ceases as soon as the inductive force is removed 

The state appears to be instantly assumed, requiring hardly 

a sensible portion of time for that purpose In all 

those cases where the helices or wires are advanced towards 
or taken from the magnet, the direct or inverted current of 

* "Ar.a thim, Thys.," li. 76, 1832. 


induced electricity continues for the time occupied in the 
advance or recession ; for the electro-tonic state is rising to a 
higher or falling to a lower degree during that time, and the 
change is accompanied by its corresponding evolution of 
electricity ; but these form no objections to the opinion that 
the electro-tonic state is instantly assumed. 

This peculiar state appears to be a state of tension, and may 
be considered as equivalent to a current of electricity, at least 
equal to that produced either when the condition is induced 
or destroyed. 

Faraday further supposed that the formation of 
this state in the neighbourhood of a coil would 
exert a reaction upon the original current, giving 
rise to a retardation of it ; but he was unable at 
the time to ascertain experimentally whether this was 
so. He even looked — though also unsuccessfully — 
for a self-induced return current from a conductor of 
copper through which a strong current was led and 
then suddenly interrupted, the expected current of 
reaction being " due to the discharge of its supposed 
electrotonic state." 

If we would understand the rather obscure language 
in which this idea of an electrotonic state is couched, 
we must try to put ourselves back to the epoch 
when it was written. At that date the only ideas 
which had been formulated to explain magnetic and 
electric attractions and repulsions were founded upon 
the notion of action at a distance. Michell had 
propounded the view that the electric and magnetic 
forces vary, like gravity, according to a law of the 
inverse squares of the distances. Coulomb, in a series 
of experiments requiring extraordinary patience as 
well as delicacy of manipulation, had shown — by an 


application of Michell's torsion balance — that in par- 
ticular cases where the electric charges are concen- 
trated on small spheres, or where the magnetic poles 
are small, so as to act as mere points, this law — which 
is essentially a geometric law of' point-action — is 
approximately fulfilled. The mathematicians, Laplace 
and Poisson at their head, had seized on this demonstra^ 
tion and had elaborated their mathematical theories. 
Before them, though the research lay for a century 
unpublished, Cavendish had shown that the only law 
of force as between one element of an electric charge 
and another compatible with a charge being in 
equilibrium was the law of inverse squares. But in 
all these mathematical reasonings one thing had been 
quite left out of sight — namely, the possible properties 
of the intervening medium. Faraday, to whom the 
idea of mere action at a distance was abhorrent, if not 
unthinkable, conceived of all these forces of attraction 
and repulsion as effects taking place by something 
going on in the intervening medium, as effects 
propagated from point to point continuously through 
space. In his earlier work on the electromagnetic 
rotations he had grown to regard the space around 
the conducting wire as being affected by the so-called 
current ; and the space about the poles of a magnet 
he knew to be traversed by curved magnetic lines, 
invisible indeed, but real, needing only the simplest of 
expedients — the sprinkling of iron filings — to reveal 
their existence and trend. When therefore he found 
that these new effects of the induction of one electric 
current by another could likewise cross an intervening 
space, whether empty or filled with material bodies, 


he instinctively sought to ascribe this propagation 
of the effect to a property or state of the medium. 
And finding that state to be different from any state 
previously known, different from the state existing 
between two magnets at rest or between two stationary 
electric charges, he followed the entirely philosophical 
course of exploring its properties and of denoting it 
by a name which he deemed appropriate. As we 
shall see, this idea of an elect votonic state recurred in 

Fig. 10. 

his later researches with new and important conno- 

He was soon at work again, as we have seen. 

He experimented, in January, 1832, on the currents 
produced by the earth's rotation — on the 10th at the 
round pond in Kensington Gardens, and on the 12th 
and 13 th at Waterloo Bridge. 

"This evening," he writes in his notebook under 
date February 8, " at Woolwich, experimenting with 
magnet* and for the first time got the magnetic spark 
myself. Connected ends of a helix into two general 
ends, and then crossed the wires in such a way that a 
blow at a b would open them a little [Fig. 10]. Then 

* The great magnot of the Royal Society, which was at this time 
leat to Mr. Christie. 


bringing a b against the poles of a magnet, the ends 
were disjoined, and bright sparks resulted." 

From succeeding with a steel magnet it was but a 
short step to succeed when a natural loadstone was 
used. The next day we find this entry : — " At home 
succeeded beautifully with Mr. Daniell's magnet. 
Amalgamation of wires very needful. This is a 
natural loadstone, and perhaps the first used for the 

He sent to the Royal Society an account of these 
and the earlier experiments ; his paper on terrestrial 
magneto-electric induction, and on the force and 
direction of magneto-electric induction, received the 
distinction of being read as the Bakerian lecture of 
the year. 

The following summary of this second paper is 
from the pen of Professor Tyndall : — 

He placed a bar of iron in a coil of wire, and lifting tlie 
bar into the direction of the dipping needle, he excited by this 
action a current in the coil. On reversing the bar, a current 
in the opposite direction rushed through the wire. The same 
effect was produced, when, on holding the helix in the line of 
dip, a bar of iron was thrust into it. Here, however, the earth 
acted on the coil through the intermediation of the bar of iron. 
He abandoned the bar, and simply set a copper plate spinning 
in a horizontal plane ; he knew that the earth's lines of 
magnetic force then crossed the plate at an angle of about 70°. 
When the plate spun round, the lines of force were intersected 
and induced currents generated, which produced their proper 
effect when carried from the plate to the galvanometer. 
"When the plate was in the magnetic meridian, or in any 
other plane coinciding with the magnetic dip, then its rotation 
produced no effect upon the galvanometer." 

tyndall's summary. 131 

At the suggestion of a mind fruitful in suggestions of a 
profound and philosophic charactei'— I mean that of Sir John 
Herschel — Mr. Barlow, of Woolwich, had experimented with a 
rotating iron shell. Mr. Christie had also performed an 
elaborate series of experiments on a rotating iron disc. Both 
of them had found that when in rotation the body exercised a 
peculiar action upon the magnetic needle, deflecting it in a 
manner which was not observed during quiescence'; but 
neither of them was aware at the time of the agent which 
produced this extraordinary deflection. They ascribed it to 
some change in the magnetism of the iron shell and disc. 

But Faraday at once saw that his induced currents must 
come into play here, and he immediately obtained them from 
an iron disc. With a hollow brass ball, moreover, he produced 
the effects obtained by Mr. Barlow. Iron was in no way 
necessary ; the only condition of success was that the rotating 
body should be of a character to admit of the formation of 
currents in its substance ; it must, in other words, be a con- 
ductor of electricity. The higher the conducting power, the 
more copious were the currents. He now passes from his little 
brass globe to the globe of the earth. He plays like a magician 
with the earth's magnetism. He sees the invisible lines along 
which its magnetic action is exerted, and, sweeping his wand 
across these lines, he evokes this new power. Placing a simple 
loop of wire round a magnetic needle, he bends its upper 
portion to the west ; the north pole of the needle immediately 
swerves to the east ; he bends his loop to the east, and the 
north pole moves to the west. Suspending a common bar 
magnet in a vertical position, he causes it to spin round its 
own axis. Its pole being connected with one end of a galvano- 
meter wire, and its equator with the other end, electricity 
rushes round the galvanometer from the rotating magnet. He 
remarks upon the "singular independence' 1 of the magnetism 
and the body of the magnet which carries it. The steel behaves 
as if it were isolated from its own magnetism. 

And then his thoughts suddenly widen, and he asks himself 
whether the rotating earth does not generate induced currents 
as it turns round its axis from west to east. In his experiment 


with the twirling magnet the galvanometer wire remained at 
rest ; one portion of the circuit was in motion relatively to 
another portion. But in the case of the twirling planet the 
galvanometer wire would necessarily be carried along with the 
earth ; there would be no relative motion. What must be the 
consequence 1 Take the case of a telegraph wire with its two 
terminal plates dipped into the earth, and suppose the wire to 
lie in the magnetic meridian. The ground underneath the 
wire is influenced, like the wire itself, by the earth's rotation; 
if a current from south to north be generated in the wire, a 
similar current from south to north would be generated in the 
earth under the wire ; these currents would run against the 
same terminal plate, and thus neutralise each other. 

This inference appears inevitable, but his profound vision 
perceived its possible invalidity. He saw that it was at least 
possible that the difference of conducting power between the 
earth and the wire might give one an advantage over the other, 
and that thus a residual or differential current might be 
obtained. He combined wires of different materials, and 
caused them to act in opposition to each other, but found the 
combination ineffectual. The more copious flow in the better 
conductor was exactly counterbalanced by the resistance of the 
worst. Still, though experiment was thus emphatic, he would 
clear his mind of all discomfort by operating on the earth 
itself. He went to the round lake near Kensington Palace, 
and stretched 480 feet of copper wire, north and south, over 
the lake, causing plates soldered to the wire at its ends to dip 
into the water. The copper wire was severed at the middle, 
and the severed ends connected with a galvanometer. No 
effect whatever was observed. But though quiescent water 
gave no effect, moving water might. He therefore worked at 
AVaterloo Bridge for three days, during the ebb and flow of the 
tide, but without any satisfactory result. Still he urges, 
" Theoretically it seems a necessary consequence, that where 
water is flowing there electric currents should be formed. If a 
line be imagined passing from Dover to Calais through the sea 
and returning through the land, beneath the water, to Dover, 
it traces out a circuit of conducting matter, one part of which, 


when the water moves up or down the Channel, is cutting tlie 
magnetic curves of the earth, whilst the other is relatively at 

rest There is every reason to believe that currents 

do run in the general direction of the circuit described, either 
one way or the other, according as the passage of the waters is 
up or down the Channel.'' This was written before the sub- 
marine cable was thought of, and he once informed me that 
actual observation upon that cable had been found to be in 
accordance with his theoretic deduction. 

It may here be apposite to discuss a fundamental 
question raised in these researches. In Faraday's 





mind there arose the conviction of a connection be- 
tween the induction of currents by magnets and the 
magnetic lines which invisibly fill all the space in the 
neighbourhood of the magnet. That relation he dis- 
covered and announced in the following terms : — 

" The relation which holds between the magnetic 
pole, the moving wire or metal, and the direction of 
the current evolved — i.e. the law which governs the 
evolution of electricity by magneto- electric induction, 
is very simple, though rather difficult to express. If 
in Fig. 11, P N represent a horizontal wire passing by 
a marked [i.e. 'north-seeking'] magnetic pole, so 
that the direction of its motion shall coincide with 
the curved line proceeding from below upwards ; or if 


its motion parallel to itself be in a line tangential to 
the curved line, but in the general direction of the 
arrows ; or if it pass the pole in other directions, but 
so as to cut the magnetic curves* in the same general 
direction, or on the same side as they would be cut by 
the wire if moving along the dotted curved line ; 
then the current of electricity in the wire is from p to 
n. If it be carried in the reverse direction, the electric 
current will be from N to p. Or if the wire be in the 
vertical position, figured p' n', and it be carried in 
similar directions, coinciding with the dotted horizontal 
curve so far as to cut the magnetic curves on the 
same side with it, the current will be from p' to n'," 

When resuming the research in December, Fara- 
day investigated the point whether it was essential or 
not that the moving; wire should, in "cutting" the 
magnetic curves, pass into positions of greater or 
lesser magnetic force ; or whether, always intersecting 
curves of equal magnetic intensity, the mere motion 
sufficed for the production of the current. He found 
the latter to be true. This notion of cutting the 
invisible magnetic lines as the essential act necessary 
and sufficient for induction was entirely original with 
Faraday. For long it proved a stumbling-block to 
the abstract mathematicians, since there was, in most 
cases, no direct or easy way in which to express the 
number of magnetic lines that were cut. Neither 
had any convention been adopted up to that time as 

* [Original footnote by Faraday.] By magnetic curves, I mean 
the lines of magnetic force, however modified hy the juxtaposition of 
poles, which would he depicted hy iron filings ; or those to which a 
very small magnetic needle would form a tangent. 


to how to reckon numerically the number of magnetic 
lines in any given space near a magnet. Later, in 
1851, Faraday himself gave greater precision to these 
ideas. He found that the current was proportional 
to the velocity, when the conductor was moving in a 
uniform magnetic field with a uniform motion. Also, 
that the quantity of electricity thrown by induction 
into the circuit was directly proportional to the 
"amount of curves intersected." The following 
passage, from Clerk Maxwell's article on Faraday 
in the " Encyclopaedia Britannica," admirably sums 
up the matter : — 

The magnitude and originality of Faraday's achievement 
may be estimated by tracing the subsequent history of his 
discovery. As might be expected, it was at once made the 
subject of investigation by the whole scientific world, but some 
of the most experienced physicists were unable to avoid 
mistakes in stating, in what they conceived to be more scientific 
language than Faraday's, the phenomena before them. Up to 
the present time the mathematicians who have rejected Fara- 
day's method of stating his law as unworthy of the precision of 
their science, have never succeeded in devising any essentially 
different formula which shall fully express the phenomena 
without introducing hypotheses about the mutual action of 
things which have no physical existence, such as elements of 
currents which flow out of nothing, then along a wire, and 
finally sink into nothing again. 

After nearly half a century of labour of this kind, we may 
say that, though the practical applications of Faraday's dis- 
covery have increased and are increasing in number and value 
every year, no exception to the statement of these laws as 
given by Faraday has been discovered, no new law has been 
added to them, and Faraday's original statement remains to 
this day the only one which asserts no more than can be 
verified by experiment, and the only one by which the theory 


of the phenomena can be expressed in a manner which is 
exactly and numerically accurate, and at the same time within 
the range of elementary methods of exposition. 

In the year 1831, which witnessed • this master- 
piece of scientific research, Faraday was busy in 
many other ways. He was still undertaking chemical 
analyses and expert work for fees, as witness his 
letter to Phillips on p. 62. He was also, until 
November, on the Council of the Royal Society. To 
the '' Philosophical Transactions " he contributed a 
paper " On Vibrating Surfaces," in which he solved a 
problem in acoustics which had previously gone with- 
out explanation. It had long been known that in the 
experiments of obtaining the patterns called "Chladni's 
figures," by strewing powders upon vibrating plates, 
while the heavier powders, such as sand, moved into 
the nodal lines, lighter substances, such as lycopodium 
dust, collected in little circular heaps over the parts 
where the vibration was most energetic. Faraday's 
explanation was that these lighter powders were 
caught and whirled about in little vortices which 
formed themselves at spots where the motions were 
of greatest amplitude. 

He also wrote a paper "On a Peculiar Class of 
Optical Deceptions," dealing with the illusions that 
result from the eye being shown in successive glimpses, 
as between the teeth of a revolving wheel, different 
views of a moving body. This research was, in effect, 
the starting point of a whole line of optical toys, begin- 
ning with the phenakistiscope or stroboscope, which 
developed through the zoetrope and praxino-scope into 
the kinematograph and animatograph of recent date. 


He gave four afternoon lectures at the Royal 
Institution and five Friday evening discourses. These 
were on optical deceptions, .on light and phosphor- 
escence, being an account of experiments recently 
made by Mr. Pearsall, chemical assistant in the Insti- 
tution ; on oxalamide, then recently discovered by M. 
Dumas ; on Trevelyan's experiments about the produc- 
tion of sound by heated bodies ; and on the arrange- 
ments assumed by particles upon vibrating surfaces. 

In 1832 he gave five Friday evening discourses, 
four of Avhich related to his own researches. In 
August he entered upon the third series of " Experi- 
mental Researches in Electricity," which was devoted 
to the identity of electricities derived from different 
sources, and on the relation by measure of common 
[i.e. frictional] and voltaic electricity. He did not 
like any doubt to hang about as to whether the 
electricity obtained from magnets by induction was 
really the same as that obtainable from other sources. 
Possibly he had in his mind the difficulties which had 
arisen thirty years before over the discoveries of 
Galvani and Volta, when it was so far doubted whether 
the electricity in currents from piles and batteries of 
cells was the same as the electricity evoked by 
friction, that the distinctive and misleading name of 
" galvanism " was assigned to the former. He com- 
mented on the circumstance that many philosophers 
—and he included Davy by name in an explicit 
reference— were vainly drawing distinctions * between 

* The entire uselessness as well as the misleading effects of such 
unscientific nomenclature might well he taken to heart hy those 
electrophysiologists and electrotherapeutists who still indulge in the 
jargon of " franlilinisation," " faradisation," and " galvanisation." 


electricities from different sources, or at least doubt- 
ing whether their identity were proven. His first 
point was to consider whether " common electricity," 
" animal electricity," and " magneto-electric currents " 
could, like " voltaic electricity," produce chemical 
decompositions. He began by demonstrating that an 
ordinary electric discharge from a friction machine 
can affect a suitably disposed galvanometer. One of 
his instruments of sufficient sensitiveness was sur- 
rounded by an enclosing cage of double metal foil and 
wire-work, duly connected to " earth," so as to render 
it independent of all disturbances by external electric 
charges in its neighbourhood. His " earth " for this 
purpose consisted of a stout metal wire connected 
through the pipes in the house to the metallic gas- 
pipes belonging to the public gas works of London, 
and also with the metallic water-pipes of London — an 
effectual "discharging train." He used a friction 
electric machine with a glass plate 50 inches in 
diameter, and a Leyden-jar battery of fifteen jars, each 
having about 84 square inches of coated glass. This 
battery of jars was first charged from the machine 
and then discharged through a wet thread four feet 
long, and through the galvanometer to earth via the 
" discharging train." Having by this means satisfied 
himself that these electric discharges could deflect a 
galvanometer, whether through the wet thread, a 
copper wire, or through water, or rarefied air, or by 
connection through points in air, he went on to the 
question of chemical decomposition. Dipping two 
silver wires into a drop of solution of sulphate of 
copper, he found that one of them became copper- 


plated by the electricity that was evolved by 100 or 
200 turns of the disc machine. He bleached indigo, 
turned starch purple with iodine liberated from iodide 
of potassium, exactly as might have been done by a 
" volta-electric current " from a battery of cells. He 
also decomposed water, giving due recognition to the 
antecedent experiments of Van Troostwyk, Pearson, 
and Wollaston. 

In the paper which he drew up he compares 
these results with others made with electric dis- 
charges from an electric kite and with those of the 
torpedo and other electric fishes. He recapitulates 
the properties of magneto-electricity and the proofs 
now accumulating that it can decompose water. He 
drew up a schedule of the different effects which 
electricity can produce, and of the different sources of 
electricity, showing in tabular form how far each so- 
called kind of electricity had been found to produce 
each effect. The conclusion was that there is no 
philosophical difference between the different cases ; 
since the phenomena produced by the different kinds 
of electricity differ not in their character but only in 
degree. "Electricity, whatever may be its source, is 
identical in its nature." On comparing the effects 
produced by different discharges, he concludes that 
" if the same absolute quantity * of electricity pass 
through the galvanometer, whatever may be its 
intensity, the deflecting force upon the magnetic 
needle is the same." He was then able to go on to a 

* In modern language this would be called the time-integral of the 
discharge. The statement is strictly true if the galvanometer (as was 
the case with Faraday's) is one of relatively long period of oscillation. 


quantitative comparison between the " quantity " of 
electricity from different sources, and came to the 
conclusion that both in magnetic deflection and in 
chemical force the current of electricity given by his 
standard battery for eight beats of his watch was 
equal to that of the friction machine evolved by thirty 
revolutions ; further, that " the chemical power, like 
the magnetic force, is in direct proportion to the 
absolute quantity of electricity which passes." 

This series of researches was published in January, 
1833. In April of the same year he sent to the 
Royal Society another paper — the fourth series — on 
electric conduction. It arose from the surprising 
observation that, thousrh water conducts, ice acts as 
a complete non-conductor. This led to an examin- 
ation of the conducting power of fusible solids 
in general. He found that as a rule — excepting 
on the one hand the metals, which conduct whether 
solid or liquid, and on the other hand fatty bodies, 
which are always non-conductors — they assume con- 
ducting power when liquefied, and lose it when 
congealed. Chloride of lead, of silver, of potassium, 
and of sodium, and many chlorates, nitrates, sul- 
phates, and many other salts and fusible substances 
were found to follow this rule. All the substances 
so found to act were compound bodies, and capable 
of decomposition by the current. When conduction 
ceased, decomposition ceased also. An apparent 
exception was found in sulphide of silver, which, 
when heated, acquired conducting powers even before 
it assumed the liquid state, yet decomposed in the 
solid state. This led him on to study electro-chemical 


decompositions more closely. Here he was following 
directly in the footsteps of his master Davy, whose 
discovery of the decomposition of potash and soda 
by the electric current had been one of the most 
prominent scientific advances resulting from the 
invention of the voltaic cell. The fifth series of 
researches, published in June, 1833, embodies the 
work. He first combats the prevailing opinion that 
the presence of water is necessary for electro-chemical 
decomposition; then analyses the views of various 
philosophers — Grotthuss, Davy, De la Kive, and 
others — who had discussed the question whether the 
decompositions are due to attractions exercised by 
the two poles of the electric circuit. This he contests 
in the most direct manner. Already he has reason 
to believe that for a given quantity of electricity 
passed through the liquid the amount of electro- 
chemical action is a constant quantity, and de- 
pends in no way on the distance of the particles 
of the decomposable substance from the poles. 
He regards the elements as progressing in two 
streams in opposite directions parallel to the 
current, while the poles " are merely the surfaces 
or doors by which the electricity enters into or 
passes out of the substance suffering decomposi- 

Amongst the laboratory notes of this time are 
many which were never published in the " Ex- 
perimental Researches," or of which only brief 
abstracts appeared. Some of these are of great 

Here is one literally transcribed;^ 


26 Feb. 1833. 

Chloride Magnesium. — When solid and wire fuzed in non- 
conductor — When fuzed conducted very well and was 
decomposed A and P Pole much action and gas -chlorine ? 
At N Pole Magnesium separated and no gas. Sometimes 
Magnesium burnt flying- off in globules burning brilliantly. 
When wire at that pole put in water or white M A 
[muriatic acid] matter round it acted powerfully evolving 
hydrogen and forming Magnesia ; and when wire and 
surrounding matter heated in spirit lamp ilfignesium burnt 
with intense light into Magnesia. VERY GOOD EXPT. 

This recalls the " capital experiment " entry which 
Sir Humphry Davy wrote after the account of his 
decomposition of caustic potash. On the 7 th of 
April we come to a marvellous page of speculations. 
He has seen that liquids, both solutions and fused 
salts, can be decomposed by the current, and that 
at least one solid is capable of electrolysis. But he 
finds that alloys and metals ai"te not decomposed. 
He finds that electrolysis is easiest for those com- 
pounds that consist of the most diverse elements, 
and is led on to speculate as to the possible con- 
stitution of those conductors that the current does 
not decompose. This may involve a recasting of 
accepted ideas; but from such a step he does not 
shrink, as the following extracts show: — 

Metals may not be compounds of elements most fre- 
quently combined, but rather of such as are so similar to 
each other as to pass out of the limit of voltaic de- 

13th April (same page). 

If voltaic decomposition of the kind I believe then 
review all substauces upon the new view to see if they 
may not be decomposable, &c. &c. <fec. 


He has now found that the facts observed do 
not admit of being explained on the supposition 
that the motion of the ions is due to the attraction 
of the poles, and accordingly there follows the 
entry : — 

(Ap. 13, 1833.) 

A single element is never attracted by a pole, i.e. 
without attraction of other element at other pole. Hence 
doubt Mr. Brande's Expts on attraction of gases and 
vapours. Doubt attraction by poles altogether. 

To this subject he returned in 1834; an inter- 
vening memoir — the sixth — being taken up with 
the power of metals and solids to bring about the 
combination of gaseous bodies. In the seventh 
series, published in January, 1834, his first work 
is to explain the new terms which he has adopted, 
on the advice of Whewell, to express the facts. 
The so-called poles, being in his view merely doors 
or ways by which the current passes, he now terms 
electrodes, distinguishing the entrance and exit re- 
spectively as anode and cathode* while the decom- 
posable liquid is termed an electrolyte, and the 
decomposing process electrolysis. " Finally," he says, 
in a passage (here italicised) worthy to be engraved 
in gold for the essential truth it enunciates on a 
question of terminology, " I require a term to express 
those bodies which can pass to the electrodes, or, 

* From avu upwards and 6$6s u way ; and Kara dowmoards 
and 636s a way. The words cathode and cation are now more 
usually spelled kathode and /cation. Faraday sometimes spelled 
the word cathion (Exp. Ees. Art. 1351), as did also Whewell 
'Hist, of Ind. Sciences, vol. iii. p. 166). 


as they are usually called, the poles. Substances 
are frequently spoken of as being electronegative, 
or electropositive, according as they go under the 
supposed influence of a direct attraction to the 
positive or negative pole. But these terms are much 
too significant for the use to which I should have 
to put them ; for though the meanings are perhaps 
right, they are only hypothetical, and may be 
wrong; and then, through a very imperceptible but 
still very dangerous, because continual, influence, 
they do great injury to science, by contracting and 
limiting tlte habitual views of those engaged in 
pursuing it, I propose to distinguish such bodies 
by calling those anions which go to the anode of 
the decomposing body; and those passing to the 
cathode, cations; and when I shall have occasion 
to speak of these together, I shall call them ions* 
Thus, the chloride of lead is an electrolyte, and 
when electrolyzed evolves the two ions, chlorine 
and lead, the former being an anion and the latter 
a cation." In Faraday's own bound volume of the 
'' Experimental Researches " he has illustrated these 
terms by the sketch here reproduced. (Fig. 12.) 

Faraday's letter to Whewell when he consulted 
him as to the new words has not been preserved. He 
discarded, when the paper was printed, the terms he 
had first ussd. Whewell's replies of April 25th and 
May 5th, 1834, have been preserved and are printed 
in Todhunter's biography of Whewell. From the later 
of the two the following passage is extracted : — 

* Literally, the travellers, the things which are going. 



[Whewell to Faraday], May 5, 1834. 

If you take anode and cathode, I would propose for the two 
elements resulting from electrolysis the terms anion and cation, 
which are neuter participles signifying that which goes up, and 
that which goes down; and for the two together you might 
use the term ions. . . . The word is not a substantive in 
Greek, but it may easily be so taken, and I am persuaded that 
the brevity and simplicity of the terms you will thus have will 
in a fortnight procure their universal acceptation. The anion 
is that which goes to the anode, the cation is that which goes 

Via. 12. 

to the cathode. The ih in the latter word arises from the 
aspirate in hodos (way), and therefore is not to be introduced 
in cases where the second term has not an aspirate, as ion 
has not. 

On May 15th Faraday replied as follows : — 

[Faraday to Whewell.] 

I have taken your advice and the names, and use anode, 
cathode, anions, cations and ions ; the last I shall have but 
little occasion for. I had some hot objections made to them 
here, and found myself very much in the condition of the man 
with his Son and Ass, who tried to please everybody ; but 
when I held up the shield of your authority it was wonderful 
to observe how the tone of objection melted away. I am quite 


delighted with the facility of expression which the new terms 
give me, and shall ever be your debtor for the kind assistance 
you have given me. 

As though to prepare the way for a still further 
cutting of himself adrift from the slavery of using 
terms that might be found misleading, he added the 
following note : — 

It will be well understood that I am giving no opinion 
respecting the nature of the electric current now, beyond what 
1 have done on former occasions ; and that though I speak of 
the current as proceeding from the parts which are positive to 
those which are negative, it is merely in accordance with the 
conventional, though in some degree tacit, agreement entered 
into by scientific men, that they may have a constant, certain, 
and definite means of referring to the direction of the forces of 
that current. 

The " former occasions " is a reference to an earlier 
suggestion that a current might mean anything pro- 
gressive, whether a flow in one direction or two fluids 
moving in opposite directions, or merely vibrations, or, 
still more generally, progressive forces. He had 
expressly said that what we call the electric current 
" may perhaps best be conceived of as an axis of -power 
having contrary forces, exactly equal in amount, in 
contrary directions." 

He then suggests as a measurer of current the 
standard form of electrolytic cell ever since known as 
the voltameter. He preferred that kind in which 
water is decomposed, the quantity of electricity which 
had flowed through it being measured by the quantity 
of the gas or gases evolved during the operation. 
Eefore adopting this he undertook careful experiments 


in which his fine manipulative skill, no less than his 
chemical experience, was called into service to verify 
the fact that the quantity of water decomposed was 
really proportionate to the quantity of electricity 
which has been passed through the instrument. 
Having this standard, he investigated numerous other 
cases of decomposition by the current, and so arrived 
at a substantial basis for the doctrine of definite, 
electro-chemical action. Speaking of the substances 
into which electrolytes are divided by the current, 
and which he had called ions, he says : " They are 
combining bodies ; are directly associated with the 
fundamental parts of the doctrine of chemical affinity ; 
and have each a definite proportion, in which they 
are always evolved during' electrolytic action. . . . 
I have proposed to call the numbers representing the 
proportions in Avhich they are evolved electro-chemical 
equivalents. Thus hydrogen, oxygen, chlorine, iodine, 
lead, tin are ions; the three former are anions, the 
two metals cations, and 1, 8, 36, 125, 104, 58, are their 
electro-chemical equivalents nearly.' - 

This fundamental law being set upon an impreg- 
nable basis of facts, he goes, on to speculate upon the 
absolute quantity of electricity or electric power 
belonging to different bodies ; a notion which only 
within the last few years has found general acceptance. 

In developing this theory he uses the following 
language : — 

According to it [i.e. this theory], the equivalent weights of 
bodies are simply those quantities of them which contain 
equal quantities of electricity, or have naturally equal elec- 
tric powers ; it being the electeicity which determines the 


equivalent number, because it determines the combining force. 
Or, if we adopt the atomic theory or phraseology, then the 
atoms of bodies which are equivalents to each other in their 
ordinary chemical action, have equal quantities of electricity 
naturally associated with them. But I must confess I am 
jealous of the term atom. . . . 

Here we find the modern doctrine of electrons or 
unitary atomic charges, clearly formulated in 1834. 
In the course of this speculation he remarks that " if 
the electrical power which holds the elements of a 
grain of water in combination, or which makes a grain 
of oxygen or hydrogen in the right proportions unite 
into water when they are made to combine, could be 
thrown into the condition of a current, it would exactly 
equal the current required for the separation of that 
grain of water into its elements again." And all this 
years before there was any doctrine of the conservation 
of energy to guide the mind of the philosopher ! The 
passage just cited contains the germs of the thermo- 
dynamic theory of electromotive forces worked out 
a dozen years later by Sir William Thomson (now 
Lord Kelvin), by which theory we can predict the 
electromotive forces of any given chemical com- 
bination from a knowledge of the heat evolved by 
a given mass of the product in the act of combining. 

The eighth series of the researches, which was 
read in June, 1834, deals chiefly with voltaic cells and 
batteries of cells. He is now applying to the opera- 
tions inside the primary cell the electrochemical 
principles learned by the study of electrolysis in 
secondary cells. His thoughts have been incessantly 
playing around the problem of electrolytic conduction. 


He was convinced that the forces which shear the 
anions from combination with the cations and transfer 
them in opposite directions must be inherent before 
the circuit is completed, and therefore before any 
actual transfer or movement takes place. " It seems to 
me impossible," he says, " to resist the idea that it [the 
" transfer," or " what is called the voltaic current "] 
must be preceded by a state of tension in the fluid. 
I have sought carefully for indications of a state 
of tension in the electrolytic conductor ; and conceiv- 
ing that it might produce something like structure, 
either before or during its discharge, I endeavoured 
to make this evident by polarised light." He used 
a solution of sulphate of soda, but without the 
slightest trace of optical action in any direction of 
the ray. He repeated the experiment, using a solid 
electrolyte, borate of lead, in its non-conducting state, 
but equally without result. 

During the time of these electrochemical researches 
in 1833 and 1834, Faraday's activities for the Royal 
Institution were undiminished. In 1833 he gave 
seven Friday discourses, three of them on the re- 
searches in hand, one on Wheatstone's investigation 
of the velocity of the electric spark, and one on the 
practical prevention of dry rot in timber, which was 
afterwards republished as a pamphlet, and ran to two 
editions. In 1834 he gave four Friday discourses ; 
two on his electrochemical researches, one on Ericsson's 
heat-engine, and the other on caoutchouc. 

The ninth series of electrical researches occupied 
the autumn of 1834. In it he returns to the study 
of the magnetic and inductive actions of the current, 


investigating the self-induced spark at the break of 
the circuit, to which his attention had been directed 
by Mr. W. Jenkin. Several points in this research 
are little known even now to electricians, the labora- 
tory notes being much more detailed than the pub- 
lished paper. He describes an exceedingly neat high- 
speed break for producing rapid interruptions, using 
for that purpose stationary ripples on the surface of 
a pool of mercury. In a wonderful day's work on 
1 3th November, filling thirty-four pages of the labora- 
tory book, illustrated with numerous unpublished 
sketches, he tracks out the properties of self-in- 
duction. He proves that the spark (on breaking 
circuit) from a wire coiled up in a helix is far 
brighter than that from an identical wire laid out 
straight. He finds that a non-inductive and, there- 
fore, sparkless coil can be made by winding the 
wire in two opposite helices. "Thus the whole [in- 
ductive] effect of the length of wire was neutralised 
by the reciprocal and contrary action of the two 
halves which constituted the helices in contrary 
directions." The next da}' he writes : " These effects 
show that every part of an electric circuit is acting 
by induction on the neighbouring parts of the same 
current, even in the same vAre and the same part 
of the wire." 

On 22nd November he is tiying another set of 
experiments, also never fully published. They relate 
to the diminution of self-induction of a straight 
conductor by dividing it into several parallel strands 
at a small distance apart from one another. The 
note in the laboratory book runs thus : — 


Copper wire ■& of i nc h in diameter. Six lengths of five 
feet each, soldered at ends to piece of copper plate so as 
form terminations, and these amalgamated. When this 
bundle was used to connect the electro-motor it gave but 
very feeble spark on breaking contact, but the spark was 
sensibly better when the wires are held together so as to 
act laterally than when they were opened out from each 
other, thus showing lateral action. 

Made a larger bundle of the same fine copper wire. 
There were 20 lengths of 18 feet 2 inches each and the 
thick terminal pieces of copper wire 6 inches long and J of 
inch thick. 

This bundle he compared with a length of 19 feet 
6 inches of a single copper wire ^ inch in diameter, 

Fig. 13. 

having about equal sectional area. The latter gave 
decidedly the largest sparks on breaking circuit. 

Faraday did not see fit at this time to accept 
the idea, suggested indeed by himself in 1831, that 
these effects of self-induction were the analogue of 
momentum or inertia. That explanation he set aside 
on finding that the same wire when coiled had 
greater self-inductive action than when straight. 
Had he at that time grasped this analogy, he would 
have seen that the very property which gives rise 
to the spark at break of circuit also retards the 
rapid growth of a current ; and then the experiment 
described above would have shown him that Sir 
W. Snow Harris was right in preferring flat copper 
ribbon to a round wire of equivalent section as a 


material for lightning conductors. He was, however, 
disappointed to find so small a difference between 
round wires and parallel strands. The memoir as 
published contains an exceedingly interesting con- 
clusion : — 

Notwithstanding that the effects appear only at the 
making and breaking of contact (the current, remaining 
unaffected, seemingly, in the interval,) I cannot resist the 
impression that there is some connected and correspondent 
effect produced by this lateral action of the elements of 
the electric stream during the time of its continuance. An 
action of this kind, in fact, is evident in the magnetic 
relations of the parts of the current. But admitting (as 
we may do for the moment) the magnetic forces to constitute 
the" power which produces such striking and different results 
at the commencement and termination of a current, still 
there appears to be a link in the chain of effects— a wheel 
in the physical mechanism of the action, as yet unrecognised. 

The tenth series of researches, on the voltaic 
battery, though completed in October, 1834, was not 
published till June, 1835. 

The next research, begun in the autumn of 1835, 
after a lull of about eight months, lasted over two 
years. It was not completed till December, 1837. This 
investigation took Faraday away from magnetic and 
electrochemical matters to the old subject of statieal 
electric charges, a subject hitherto untouched in his 
researches. But he had long brooded over the 
question as to the nature of an electric charge. Over 
and over again, as he had watched the inductive 
effect of electric currents acting from wire to wire, 
his mind turned to the old problem of the inductive 
influence — discovered eighty years before, by John 


Canton — exerted, apparently at a distance, by electric 
charges. He had learned to distrust action at a 
distance, and now the time was ripe for a searching 
inquiry as to whether electric influence, or induction * 
as it was then called, was also an action propagated 
by contiguous actions in the intervening medium. 

Faraday had done no special electric work during 
the first nine months of 1835. He had worked at 
a chemical investigation of fluorine through the 
spring, and in July took a hurried tour in Switzer- 
land, and returned to work at fluorine. Not till 
November 3rd does he turn to the subject over which 
he had been brooding. On that date, intercalated 
between notes of his chemical studies,, filling a dozen 
pages of the laboratory book, are a magnificent series 
of speculations as to the nature of charges, and on 
the part played by the electric — or, as we should now 
say, the dielectric — medium. They begin thus : — 

" Have been thinking much lately of the relation 
of common and voltaic electricity, of induction by the 
former and decomposition by the latter, and am quite 
convinced that there must be the closest connection. 
Will be first needful to make out the true character " — 
note the phrase — "of ordinary electrical phenomena." 

* The term induction appears to have "been originally used, in 
contradistinction to contact or conduction, to connote those effects 
which apparently are in the class of actions at a distance. Thus 
we may have induction of a charge by a charge, or of a magnet- 
pole by a magnet-pole. To these Faraday had added the induction 
of a current by a curient, and the induction of a current by a 
moving magnet. Amid such varying adaptations of the word in- 
duction, there is much gain in allotting to the electrostatic induction 
of charges by charges the distinguishing name of infliurtce, as 
suggested by Priestley. 


The following notes are for experiment and ob- 

" Does common electricity reside upon the sur- 
face of a conductor or upon the surface of the 
[di-]electric in contact with it ? " 

He goes on to consider the state of a dielectric 
substance, such as glass, when situated between a 
positively charged and a negatively charged surface, 
as in a charged Leyden jar, and argues from analogy 
thus : — 

" Hence the state of the plate [of glass] under 
induction is the same as the state of a magnet, and if 
split or broken would present new P[ositive] and 
X[egative] surfaces before not at all evident." This 
speculation was later verified by Matteucci. 

" Probable that phenomena of induction prove 
more decidedly than anything else that the electricity 
is in the [di-]electric not in the conductor." 

He still worked for a week or two on fluorine, 
interposing some experiments on the temperature- 
limit of magnetisation, but on December 4th decides 
not to go on with fluorine at present. Then, beginning 
on December 5th, there follow twenty-nine pages ot 
the laboratory diary, illustrated with sketches. He 
had borrowed from a Mr. Kipp a large deep copper 
pan thirty-five inches in diameter, and he set to work 
electrifying it and exploring the distribution of the 
charges, inside and out, and the inductive effect on 
objects placed within. Everywhere he is mentally 
comparing the distribution of the effects with that of 
the flow of currents in an electrolyte. Before many 
days he writes : — 


" It appears to me at present that ordinary and 
electrolytic induction are identical in their first nature, 
but that the latter is followed by an effect which 
cannot but from the nature and state of the substances 
take place with the former." Then comes this preg- 
nant suggestion : — 

" Try induction through a solid crystalline body as 
to the consequent action on polarized light." 

By the end of a week he had begun to suspect 
that his magnet analogy went farther than he was at 
first prepared to hold. The action of a magnet was 
along curved lines of force. So he asks : — 

" Can induction through air take place in curves 
or round a corner — can probably be found experi- 
mentally — if so not a radiating effect." 

After ten days more he has made another step. 

" Electricity appears to exist only in polarity as in 
air, glass, electrolytes, etc. Now metals, being con- 
ductors, cannot take up that polar state of their own 
power, or rather retain it, and hence probably cannot 
retain developed electric forces. 

" Metals, however, probably hold it for a moment, as 
other things do for a longer time ; an end coming at 
last to all." 

This, it Avill be observed, is nothing more or 
less than Clerk Maxwell's theory of conduction as 
being the breaking down of an electrosta tic strain. 

In January, 1836, followed the famous experiment 
of building a twelve-foot cube, which when electrified 
exteriorly to the utmost extent, showed inside no trace 
of electric forces. The account in the unpublished 


MS. of the laboratory book is, as is the case with 
so many of these middle-period researches, much 
fuller than the published risumi of them in the 
"Experimental Researches." All through 1836 he 
was still at work. Even when on a holiday in the 
Isle of Wight, in August, he took his notebook with 
him, and writes : — 

" After much consideration (here at Ryde) of the 
manner in which the electric forces are arranged in 
the various phenomena generally, I have come to 
certain conclusions which I will endeavour to note 
down without committing myself to any opinion as to 
the cause of electricity, i.e. as to the nature of the 
power. If electricity exist independently of matter, 
then I think that the hypothesis of one fluid will not 
stand against that of two fluids. There are, I think, 
evidently, what I may call two elements of power of 
equal force and acting towards each other. These 
may conventionally be represented by oxygen and 
hydrogen, which represent them in the voltaic battery. 
But these powers may be distinguished only by direc- 
tion, and may be no more separate than the north 
and south forces in the elements of a magnetic needle. 
They may be the polar points of the forces originally 
placed in the particles of matter ; and the description 
of the current as an axis of power which I have 
formerly given suggests some similar general im- 
pression for the forces of quiescent electricity. Law 
of electric tension might do, and though I shall use 
the terms positive and negative, by them I merely 
mean the termini of such lines.'' 

Right on until November 30th, 1837, this research 


was continued. The summary of this and the succeed- 
ing researches of 1838 on the same subject, drawn up 
by Professor Tyndall * is at once so masterly and so 
impartial that it cannot be bettered. It is therefore 
here transcribed without alteration. 

His first great paper on frictional electricity was sent to the 
Royal Society on November 30, 1837. We here find him face 
to face with an idea which beset his mind throughout his whole 
subsequent life— the idea of action at a distance. It perplexed 
and bewildered him. In his attempts to get rid of this per- 
plexity he was often unconsciously rebelling against the limit- 
ations of the intellect itself. He loved to quote Newton upon 
this point : over and over again he introduces his memorable 
words, "That gravity should be innate, inherent, and essential 
to matter, so that one body may act upon another at a distance 
through a vacuum and without the mediation of anything else, 
by and through which this action and force may be conveyed 
from one to another, is to me so great an absurdity, that I 
believe no man who has in philosophical matters a competent 
faculty of thinking can ever fall into it. Gravity must be 
caused by an agent acting constantly according to certain laws; 
but whether this agent be material or immaterial I have left to 
the consideration of my readers." f 

Faraday does not see the same difficulty in his contiguous 
particles. And yet by transferring the conception from masses 
to particles we simply lessen size and distance, but "we do not 
alter the quality of the conception. Whatever difficulty the 
mind experiences in conceiving of action at sensible distances, 
besets it also when it attempts to conceive of action at insensible 
distances. Still the investigation of the point whether electric 
and magnetic effects were wrought out through the intervention 
of contiguous particles or not, had a physical interest altogether 
apart from the metaphysical difficulty. Faraday grapples with 
the subject experimentally. By simple intuition he sees that 

* " Faraday as a Discoverer," p. 67. 
t Newton's third letter to Bentley 


action at a distance must be exerted in straight lines. Gravity, 
he knows, will not turn a corner, but exerts its pull along a 
right line ; hence his aim and effort to ascertain whether 
electric action ever takes place in curved lines. This once 
proved, it would follow that the action is carried on by means 
of a medium surrounding the electrified bodies. His experi- 
ments in 1837 reduced, in his opinion, this point to demonstra- 
tion. He then found that he could electrify by induction au 
insulated sphere placed completely in the shadow of a body 
which screened it from direct action. He pictured the lines of 
electric force bending round the edges of the screen, and re- 
uniting on the other side of it ; and he proved that in many 
cases the augmentation of the distance between his insulated 
sphere and the inducing body, instead of lessening, increased 
the charge of the sphere. This he ascribed to the coalescence 
of the lines of electric force at some distance behind the screen. 
Faraday's theoretic views on this subject have not received 
general acceptance, but they drove him to experiment, and 
experiment with him was always prolific of results. By suit- 
able arrangements he places a metallic sphere in the middle of 
a large hollow sphere, leaving a space of something more than 
half an inch between them. The interior sphere was insulated, 
the external one uninsulated. To the former he communicated 
a definite charge of electricity. It acted by induction upon 
the concave surface of the latter, and he examined how this act 
of induction was affected by placing insulators of various kinds 
between the two spheres. He tried gases, liquids, and solids, 
but the solids alone gave him positive results. He constructed 
two instruments of the foregoing description, equal in size and 
similar in form. The interior sphere of each communicated 
with the external air by a brass stem ending in a knob. The 
apparatus was virtually a Leyden jar, the two coatings of which 
were the two spheres, with a thick and variable insulator 
between them. The amount of charge in each jar was deter- 
mined by bringing a proof-plane into contact with its knob, 
and measuring by a torsion balance the charge taken away. 
He first charged one of his instruments, and then dividing the 
charge with the other, found that when air intervened in both 



cases, the charge was equally divided. But when shell-lac, 
sulphur, or spermaceti was interposed between the two spheres 
of one jar, while air occupied this interval in the other, then he 
found that the instrument occupied by the " solid dielectric '' 
took more than half the original charge. A portion of the 
charge was absorbed in the dielectric itself. The electricity 
took time to penetrate the dielectric. Immediately after the 

Fig. 14. 

discharge of the apparatus no trace of electricity was found 
upon its knob. But after a time electricity was found there, 
the charge having gradually returned from the dielectric in 
which it had been lodged. Different insulators possess this 
power of permitting the charge to enter them in different 
degrees. Faraday figured their particles as polarised, and he 
concluded that the force of induction is propagated from 
particle to particle of the dielectric from the inner sphere to 
the outer one. This power of propagation possessed by in- 
sulators he calls their " Specific Inductive Capacity." 

Faraday visualises with the utmost clearness the state of 
his contiguous particles ; one after another they become 


charged, each succeeding particle depending for its charge 
upon its predecessor. And now he seeks to break down the 
wall of partition between conductors and insulators. "Can 
we not," he says, "by a gradual chain of association carry up 
discharge from its occurrence in air through spermaceti and 
water to solutions, and then on to chlorides, oxides, and metals, 
without any essential change in its character ? " Even copper, 
he urges, offers a resistance to the transmission of electricity. 
The action of its particles differs from those of an insulator 
only in degree. They are charged like the particles of the 
insulator, but they discharge with greater ease and rapidity ; 
and this rapidity of molecular discharge is what we call 
conduction. Conduction, then, is always preceded by atomic 
induction ; and when through some quality of the body, which 
Faraday does not define, the atomic discharge is rendered slow 
and difficult, conduction passes into insulation. 

Though they are often obscure, a fine vein of philosophic 
thought runs through these investigations. The mind of the 
philosopher dwells amid those agencies which underlie the 
visible phenomena of induction and conduction ; and he tries 
by the strong light of his imagination to see the very molecules 
of his dielectrics. It would, however, be easy to criticise these 
researches, easy to show the looseness, and sometimes the 
inaccuracy, of the phraseology employed ; but this critical 
spirit will get little good out of Faraday. Eather let those 
who ponder his works seek to realise the object he set before 
him, not permitting his occasional vagueness to interfere with 
their appreciation of his speculations. We may see the ripples, 
and eddies, and vortices of a flowing stream, without being 
able to resolve all these motions into their constituent elements ; 
and so it sometimes strikes me that Faraday clearly saw the 
play of fluids and ethers and atoms, though his previous train- 
ing did not enable him to resolve what he saw into its con- 
stituents, or describe it in a manner satisfactory to a mind 
versed in mechanics. And then again occur, I confess, dark 
sayings, difficult to be understood, which disturb my confidence 
in this conclusion. It must, however, always be remembered 
that he works at the very boundaries of our knowledge, and 


that his mind habitually dwells in the " boundless contiguity 
of shade" by which that knowledge is surrounded. 

In the researches now under review the ratio of speculation 
and reasoning to experiment is far higher 1han in any of 
Faraday's previous works. Amid much that is entangled and 
dark we have flashes of wondrous insight and utterances 
which seem less the product of reasoning than of revelation. 
I will confine myself here to one example of this divining 
power : — By his most ingenious device of a rapidly rotating 
mirror, Wheatstone had proved that electricity required time 
to pass through a wire, the current reaching the middle of the 
wire later than its two ends. " If," says Faraday, " the two 
ends of the wire in Professor Wheatstone's experiments were 
immediately connected with two large insulated metallic 
surfaces exposed to the air, so that the primary act of induc- 
tion, after making the contact for discharge, might be in part 
removed from the internal portion of the wire at the first 
instance, and disposed for the moment on its surface jointly 
with the air and surrounding conductors, then I venture to 
anticipate that the middle spark would be more retarded than 
before. And if those two plates were the inner and outer 
coatings of a large jar or Leyden battery, then the retardation 
of the spark would be much greater." This was only a 
prediction, for the experiment was not made. Sixteen years 
subsequently, however, the proper conditions came into play, 
and Faraday was able to show that the observations of Werner 
Siemens and Latimer Clark on subterraneous and submarine 
wires were illustrations, on a grand scale, of the principle 
which he had enunciated in 1838. The wires and the sur- 
rounding water act as a Leyden jar, and the retardation 
of the current predicted by Faraday manifests itself in every 
message sent by such cables. 

The meaning of Faraday in these memoirs on induction 
and conduction is, as I have said, by no means always 
clear ; and the difficulty will be most felt by those who are 
best trained in ordinary theoretic conceptions. He does not 
know the reader's needs, and he therefore does not meet 
them. For instance, he speaks over and over again of the 


impossibility of charging a body with one electricity, though 
the impossibility is by no means evident. The key to the 
difficulty is this. He looks upon every insulated conductor 
as the inner coating of a Leyden jar. An insulated sphere 
in the middle of a room is to his mind such a coating ; the 
walls are the outer coating, while the air between both is 
the insulator, across which the charge acts by induction. 
Without this reaction of the walls upon the sphere, you 
could no more, according to Faraday, charge it with electricity 
than you could charge a Leydea jar, if its outer coating were 
removed. Distance with him is immaterial. His strength 
as a generaliser enables him to dissolve the idea of magni- 
tude ; and if you abolish the walls of the room — even the 
earth itself — he would make the sun and planets the outer 
coating of his jar. I dare not contend that Faraday in these 
memoirs made all these theoretic positions good. But a 
pure vein of philosophy runs through these writings; while 
his experiments and reasonings on the forms and phenomena 
of electrical discharge are of imperishable importance. 

In another part of the twelfth memoir, not in- 
cluded in the above summary, Faraday deals with 
the disruptive discharge, and with the nature of the 
spark under varying conditions. This is continued 
on into the thirteenth memoir, read Februaty, 1838, 
and is extended to the cases of " brush " and " glow " 
discharges. He discovered the existence of the very 
remarkable phenomenon of the "dark" discharge 
near the cathode in rarefied air. He sought to 
correlate all the various forms of discharge, as show- 
ing the essential nature of an electric current. "If 
a ball be electrified positively," he says, " in the 
middle of a room, and be then moved in any 
direction, effects will be produced, as if a current 
in the same direction (to use the conventional mode 


of expression) had existed." This is the theory of 
convection currents later adopted by Maxwell, and 
verified by experiment by Rowland in 1876. 

In the course of this research on induction, 
Faraday had, as we have seen, been compelled to 
adopt new ideas, and therefore to adopt new names 
to denote them. The term dielectric for the medium 
in or across which the electric forces operate was 
one of these. As in previous cases, he consulted 
with his friends as to suitable terms. In this in- 
stance the following letter from Whewell explains 
itself. The letter to which it is a reply has not 
been preserved, but the reference to Faraday's ob- 
jection to the word current may be elucidated by 
a 'comparison with what Faraday wrote in criticism 
of that word on pages 146 and 212. 

[Rev. W. Whewell to M. Faraday.] 

Thin. Coll., Cambridge, Oct. 14, 1837. 

My dear Sir, — I am always glad to hear of the progress 
of your researches, and never the less so because they require 
the fabrication of a new word or two. Such a coinage has 
always taken place at the great epochs of discovery ; like 
the medals that are struck at the beginning of a new reign : — 
or rather like the change of currency produced . by the 
accessiou of a new sovereign ; for their value and influence 
consists in their coming into common circulation. I am 
not sure that I understand the views which you are at 
present bringing into shape sufficiently well to suggest any 
such terms as you think you want. I think that if I could 
have a quarter of an hour's talk with you I should probably 
be able to construct terms that would record your new 
notions, so far as I could be made to understand them 
better than I can by means of letters : for it is difficult 


without question and discussion to catch the precise kind 
of relation which you want to express. However, by way 
of beginning such a discussion, I would ask you whether 
you want abstract terms to denote the different and related 
conditions of the body which exercises and the body which 
suffers induction 1 For though both are active and both 
passive it may still be convenient to suppose a certain 
ascendancy on one side. If so would two such words as 
iii'luctricity and inducteity answer your purpose ? They 
ure not very monstrous in their form ; and are sufficiently 
distinct. And if you want the corresponding adjectives 
yon may call the one the inductric, and the other the 
indueteovs body. This last word is rather a startling one ; 
but if such relations are to be expressed, terminations are 
a good artifice, as we see in chemistry : and I have no 
doubt if you give the world facts and laws which are better 
expressed with than without such solecisms, they will soon 
accommodate to the phrases, as they have often done to 
worse ones. But I am rather in the dark as to whether 
this is the kind of relation which you want to indicate. 
If not, the attempt may perhaps serve to shew you where 
my dulness lies. I do not see my way any better as to 
the other terms, for I do not catch your objection to 
current, which appears to me to be capable of jogging on 
very well from cathode to anode, or vice versa. As for 
positive and negative, I do not see why cathodic and anodic 
should not be used, if they will do the service you want 
of them. 

I expect to be in London at the end of the month, 
and could probably tee you for half an hour on the 1st of 
November, say at 10, 11, or 1-2. But in the mean time I 
shall be glad to hear from you whether you can make 
anything of such conundrums as I have mentioned, and am 
always yours very truly, 

W. Whew£LI» 
M. Faraday Esq re - 
Koyal Institution. 


The concluding part of the thirteenth memoir, 
in which these new terms are used, is an exceedingly 
striking speculation on the lateral or transverse 
effects of the current. In calling special attention 
to them, he says : " I refer of course to the magnetic 
action and its relations ; but though this is the 
only recognised lateral action of the current, there 
is great reason for believing that others exist a: cl 
would by their discovery reward a close search for 
them." He seems to have had an instinctive per- 
ception of something that eluded his grasp. Not 
until after Maxwell had given mathematical form 
to Faraday's own suggestions was this vision to be 
realised. He is dimly aware that there appears to 
be a lateral tension or repulsion possessed by the 
lines of electric inductive action ; and onward runs 
his thought in free speculation : — 

When current or discharge occurs between two bodi* s, 
previously under inductrical relations to each other, the 
lines of inductive force 'will weaken and fade away, and, 
as their lateral repulsive tension diminishes, will contract 
and ultimately disappear in the line of discharge. May not 
this be an effect identical with the attractions of similar 
currents 1 i.e. may not the passage of static electricity into 
current electricity, and that of the lateral tension of the 
lines of the inductive force into the lateral attraction of 
lines of similar discharge, have the same relation and de- 
pendences, and run parallel to each other? 

Series fourteen of the memoirs is on the nature, 
of the electric force and on the relation of the 
electric and magnetic forces, and comprises an in- 
conclusive inquiry as to a possible relation between 


specific inductive capacity and axes of crystallisation 
in crystalline dielectrics — a relation later assumed 
as true by Maxwell even before it was demonstrated 
by Von Boltzmann. In this memoir, too, occurs a 
description of a simple but effective induction balance. 
Then he asks what happens to insulating substances, 
such as air or sulphur, when, they are put in a place 
where the magnetic forces are varying; they ought, 
he thinks, to undergo some state or condition corre- 
sponding to the state that causes currents in metals 
and conductors, and, further, that state ought to 
be one of tension. "I have," he says, "by rotating 
non-conducting bodies near magnetic poles, and poles 
near them, and also by causing powerful electric 
currents to be suddenly formed and to cease around 
and about insulators in various directions, en- 
deavoured to make some such state sensible, but 
have not succeeded." In short, he was looking for 
direct evidence of the existence of what Maxwell 
called " displacement currents " — evidence which was 
later found independently by the author and by 
Kijntgen. And, again, there rises in his mind a 
perception of that elertrotunic state which had 
haunted his earlier researches as a something im- 
posed upon the surrounding medium during the 
growth or dying of an electric current. 

In these years (1835-1838) Faraday was still in- 
defatigable in his lecture duties. In 1835 he gave 
four Friday discourses, and in May and June eight 
afternoon lectures at the Royal Institution on the 
metals; also a course of fourteen lectures on elec- 
tricity to the medical students at St. George's 


Hospital. In 1836 he published in the Philosophical 
Magazine a paper on the magnetism of the metals 
— notable as containing the still unverified specu- 
lation that all metals would become magnetic in 
the same way as iron if only cooled to a sufficiently 
low temperature — and three other papers, including 
one on the " passive " state of iron. He gave four 
Friday discourses and six afternoon lectures on 
heat. In 1837 also four Friday night discourses 
and six afternoon lectures were delivered. In 1838 
three Friday discourses and eight afternoon lectures 
on electricity, ending in June with a distinct enun- 
ciation of the doctrine of the transformations of 
"force" {i.e. energy) and its indestructibility, afforded 
evidence of his industry in this respect. At the same 
time he was giving scientific advice to the authorities 
of Trinity House as to their lighthouses. 

The laboratory notebook for March to August, 
1.838, shows a long research, occupying nearly 100 
folio pages, on the relation of specific inductive 
capacity to crystalline structure. This is followed 
by some experiments upon an electric eel, at the 
Royal Adelaide Gallery, with some unpublished 
sketches of the distribution in the water of the 
currents it emits. He proved, with great satisfaction, 
that the currents it gave were capable of producing 
magnetic effects, sparks, and chemical decompo- 
sition. These observations were embodied in the 
fifteenth series of memoirs. 

One entry in the laboratory book, of date 
April 5th, 1838, is of great interest, as showing how 
his mind ever recurred to the possibility of finding a 


connection between optical and electric phenomena : 
" Must try polarized light across a crystalline di- 
electric under charge. Good reasons perhaps now 
evident why a non-crystalline dielectric should have 
no effect." 

Faraday was now feeling greatly the strain of 
all these years of work, and in 1839 did little re- 
search until the autumn. Then he returned to the 
question of the origin of the electromotive force 
of the voltaic cell, and by the end of the year 
completed two long papers on this vexed question; 
they formed the sixteenth and seventeenth series, 
and conclude the memoirs of this second period. 

In the eighth series, completed in April, 1834, 
on the " Electricity of the Voltaic Pile," Faraday 
had dealt with the question — at that time a topic 
of excited controversy — of the origin of the electro- 
motive force in a cell. Volta, who knew nothing 
of the chemical actions, ascribed it to the contact 
of dissimilar metals, whilst Wollaston, Becquerel, and 
De la Rive considered it the result of chemical 
actions. The controversy has long ceased to interest 
the scientific world ; for, with the recognition of 
the principle of the conservation of energy, it be- 
came evident that mere contact cannot provide a 
continuing supply of energy. It would now be 
altogether dead but for the survival of a belief in 
the contact theory on the part of one of the most 
honoured veterans in science. But in the years 1834 
to 1840 it was of absorbing interest. Faraday's 
work quietly removed the props Avhich supported 
the older theory, and it crumbled away. He found 


that the chemical and electrical effects in the cell 
were proportional one to the other, and inseparable. 
He discovered a way of making a cell without any 
metallic contacts. He showed that without chemical 
action there was no current produced. But his re- 
sults were ignored for the time. After six years 
Faraday reopened the question. Again the admir- 
able summary of Professor Tyndall is drawn upon 
for the following account: — 

The memoir on the "Electricity of the Voltaic Pile,'' 
published in 1834, appears to have produced but little im- 
pression upon the supporters of the contact theory. These 
indeed were men of too great intellectual weight and in- 
sight lightly to take up, or lightly to abandon, a theory. 
Faraday therefore resumed the attack in two papers com- 
municated to the Koyal Society on February 6 and March 
19, 1840. In these papers he hampered his antagonists by 
a crowd of adverse experiments. He hung difficulty after 
difficulty about the neck of the contact theory, until in its 
efforts to escape from his assaults it so changed its character 
as to become a thing totally different from the theory pro- 
posed by Volta. The more persistently it was defended, 
however, the more clearly did it show itself to be a congeries 
of devices, bearing the stamp of dialectic skill rather than 
that of natural truth. 

In conclusion, Faraday brought to bear upon it an argu- 
ment which, had its full weight and purport been understood 
at the time, would have instantly decided the controversy. 
"The contact theory," he urged, "assumes that a force which 
is able to overcome powerful resistance, as for instance that 
of the conductors, good or bad, through which the current 
passes, and that agaiti of the electrolytic action where bodies 
are decomposed by it, can arise out of nothing ; that without 
any change in the acting matter, or the consumption of any 
generating force, a current shall be produced which shall 


go on for ever against a constant resistance, or only be 
stopped, as in the voltaic trough, by the ruins which its 
exertion has heaped up in its own course. This would 
indeed be a creation of power, and is like no other force in 
nature. We have many processes by which the form of the 
power may be so changed, that an apparent conversion of 
one into the other takes place. So we can change chemical 
force into the electric current, or the current into chemical 
force. The beautiful experiments of Seebeck and Peltier 
show the convertibility of heat and electricity ; and others 
by Oersted and myself show the convertibility of electricity 
and magnetism. But in no case, not even in those of the 
gymnotus and torpedo, is there a pure creation or a pro- 
duction of power without a corresponding exhaustion of 
something to supply it." 

In 1839 Faraday gave five Friday discourses and 
a course of eight afternoon lectures on the non- 
metallic elements. In 1840 he gave three Friday 
discourses and seven lectures on chemical affinity. 
But in the summer came the serious breakdown 
alluded to on page 75. He did no experimental work 
after September 14th, nor indeed for nearly two 
years. Even then it was only a temporary return 
to research to investigate the source of the electrifi- 
cation produced by steam in the remarkable experi- 
ments of Mr. (afterwards Lord) Armstrong. He proved 
it to be due to friction. This done, he continued 
to rest from research until the middle of 1844, 
though he lectured a little for the Royal Institu- 
tion. In 1841 he gave the juvenile lectures. In 
1842 he gave two Friday discourses, one of them 
being on the lateral discharge in lightning-rods. He 
also gave the Christmas lectures on electricity. 

In 1843 he gave three Friday discourses, one 


of which was on the electricity generated by a jet 
of steam ; and repeated the eight afternoon lectures 
he had given in 1838. In 1844 he gave eight 
lectures on heat and two Friday discourses. He 
also resumed research on the condensation of gases, 
and vainly tried to liquefy oxygen and hydrogen, 
though he succeeded with ammonia and nitrous 

During these years of rest he also did a little 
work for Trinity House, chiefly concerning light- 
houses and their ventilation 



Throughout the fruitful ten years of Faraday's 
middle period two magistral ideas had slowly grown 
up in his mind, and as he let his thought play about 
the objects of his daily activities, these ideas possessed 
and dominated him as no newly suggested idea could 
have done. They were the correlation and inter- 
convertibility of the forces of nature, and the optical 
relations of magnetism and electricity. 

During the period of enforced rest, from 1839 to 
184-i, these ideas had been ever with him. His was a 
mind which during times of quiet brooding did not 
cease to advance. In silence his thoughts arranged 
themselves in readiness for the next period of activity, 
and his work, when it began again, was all the more 
fruitful for the antecedent period of cogitation. 

On August 30th, 1845, Faraday for the sixth time 
set to work in his laboratory to search for the con- 
nection between light and electricity for which he 
had so often looked, and about which he had so boldly 
speculated. He began by looking for some effect 
to be produced on polarised light by passing it 
through a liquid which was undergoing electrolysis. 
What effect precisely he expected to observe is 


unknown. Doubtless he had an open mind to per- 
ceive effects of any kind had such occurred. Earlier 
in the century the phenomena of polarised light had 
been worked out in great detail, through a host of 
beautiful phenomena, by Arago, Biot, Brewster, and 
others; and their discoveries had shown that this 
agent is capable of revealing in transparent substances 
details of structure which otherwise would be quite 
invisible. Placed between two Nicol prisms or two 
slices of tourmaline, to serve respectively as "polariser" 
and "analyser," thin sheets of transparent crystal — 
selenite or mica — were made to reveal the fact that 
they possessed an axis of maximum elasticity. For 
when the analyser and polariser were set in the 
" crossed " position, where the one would cut off 
all the luminous vibrations that the other would 
transmit, no light would be visible to the observer, 
unless in the intervening space there were interposed 
some substance endowed with one of two properties, 
either that of resolving some part of the vibrations 
into an oblique direction or else that of rotating the 
plane of the vibrations to right or to left. If either 
of these things is done, light appears through the 
analyser. It is thus that structure is observed in 
horn and in starch grains. It is thus that the 
strains in a piece of compressed glass are made 
visible. It is thus that crystalline structures gener- 
ally can be studied. It is thus that the discovery was 
made of the substances which possess the strange 
property of twisting or rotating the plane of polar- 
isation of light — namely, quartz crystal, solutions of 
sugar and of certain alkaloids, and certain other 

174 illCHAEL FA11ADAY. 

liquids, such as turpentine. Such was the agent 
which Faraday proposed to employ to detect whether 
electric forces impress any quality resembling that ot 
structure -upon transparent materials. 

The notes begin with the words : — • 

" I have had a glass trough made 24 inches long, 
1 inch wide and about H deep, in which to decom- 
pose electrolites and, whilst under decomposition, 
along which I could pass a ray of light in different 
conditions and afterwards examine it." 

He put into this trough two platinum electrodes 
and a solution of sulphate of soda, but could find no 
effects. Eight pages of the notebook are filled with 
details all leading to negative results. For ten days 
he worked at these experiments with liquid electrolytes. 
The substances used were distilled water, solution of 
sugar, dilute sulphuric acid, solution of sulphate 
of soda (using platinum electrodes), and solution of 
sulphate of copper (using copper electrodes). The 
current was sent along the ray, and perpendicular 
to it in two directions at right angles with each other. 
The ray was made to rotate, by altering the position 
of the polariser (in this case a black-glass mirror 
at the proper angle), so that the plane of polarisation 
might be varied. The current was used as a con- 
tinuous current, as a rapidly intermitting current, and 
as a rapidly alternating induction current; but in lib 
case was any trace of action 'perceived. 

Then he turned to solid dielectrics to see if undei 
electric strain they would yield any optical effect. 
He had indeed so far back as 1838 tried the experi- 
ment of coating two opposite faces of a glass cube 


with metal foil plates that were then electrified by a 
powerful electric machine. But the experiment had 
no result. This experiment he now repeats with a 
score of elaborate variations, trying both crystalline 
and non-crystalline dielectrics. Kock-crystal, Iceland 
spar, flint glass, heavy-glass, turpentine, and air, had 
a beam of polarised light passed through them, and at 
the same time " lines of electrostatic tension " were, 
by means of the coatings, Leyden jars, and the electric 
machine, directed across these bodies, both parallel to 
the polarised ray and across it, both in and across the 
plane of polarisation ; but again without any visible 
effect. Then he tries on the same bodies, and on 
water, the " tension " of a rapidly alternating induced 
current, but still with the same negative result. 
Professor Tyndall stated that from conversation with 
Faraday, and with his faithful assistant Anderson, he 
inferred that the labour expended on this preliminary 
and apparently fruitless research was very great. It 
occupies many pages of the laboratory notebook. That 
thirty-two years later Dr. Kerr succeeded in finding 
this optical effect of electrostatic strain for which 
Faraday vainly sought, is no reflection upon Faraday's 
powers of observation. Had there been no Faraday 
there had doubtless been no discovery by Kerr. 

So far the quest had been carried on either with 
electric currents flowing through the transparent 
substance or else with mere statical electric forces, 
and a whole fortnight had been spent without result. 
Now another track is taken, and it leads straight 
to success. He substitutes magnetic for electric 


" 13th Sept. 1845. 

" To-day worked with lines of magnetic force, 
passing them across different bodies transparent in 
different directions, and at the same time passing a 
polarized ray of light through them, and afterwards 
examining the ray by a Nichol's Eye-piece or other 
means. The magnets were Electro-magnets one 
being our large cylinder Electro-magnet and the 
other a temporary iron core put into the helix on 

Fig. 15. 

a frame. This was not nearly so strong as the former. 
The current of 5 cells of Grove's battery was sent 
through both helices at once and the magnets were 
made and unmade by putting in or stopping off the 
electric current." Air, flint-glass, rock-crystal, cal- 
careous spar, were examined, but without effect. And 
so ho worked on through the morning, trying first 
one specimen, then another, altering the directions 
of the poles of his magnets, reversing their polarity, 
changing the position of his optical apparatus, in- 
creasing the battery power of his magnetising current 
Then he bethinks him of that " heavy-glass " — the 
boro-silicate of lead — which had cost him nearly four 
years of precious labour during the first period of his 



scientific life. The entry in the notebook is charac- 

" A piece of heavy glass, which was 2 inches by 
l - 8 inches and 05 of an inch thick, being a silico- 
borate of lead, was experimented with. It gave no 
effects when the same magnetic poles or the contrary 
poles were on opposite sides (as respects the course of 

Fig. 16. 

the polarised ray) ; — nor when the same poles were on 
the same side either with the constant or intermitting 
current ; BUT when contrary magnetic poles were on 
the same side there was an effect produced on the 
polarised ray, and thus magnetic force and light were 
proved to have relations to each other. This fact will 
most likely prove exceedingly fertile, and of great 
value in the investigation of conditions of natural 

" The effect was of this kind. The glass, a result 
of one of my old experiments on optical glass, had 




been exceedingly well annealed so that it did not 
in any degree affect the polarized ray. The two 
magnetic poles were in a horizontal plane, and the 
piece of glass put up flat against them so that the 
polarized ray could pass through its edges and be 
examined by the eye at a Nicholl's eye piece. In its 
natural state the glass had no effect on the polarized 
ray but on making contact at the battery so as 
to render the cores N and S magnets instantly 
the glass acquired a certain degree of power of 

Fig. 17. 

deiwlit, rising the ray which it retained steadily as 
long as the cores were magnets but which it lost 
the instant the electric current was stopped. Hence 
it was a permanent condition and as was expected 
did not sensibly appear with an intermitting current. 

" The effect was not influenced by any jogging 
motion or any moderate pressure of the hands on 
the glass. 

" The heavy glass had tinfoil coatings on its 
two sides but when these were taken off the effect 
remained exactly the same. 

A mass of soft iron on the outside of the heavy 
glass greatly diminished the effect [see Fig. 17]. . . . 

" All this shews that it is when the polarized ray 
passes parallel to the lines of magnetic induction 


or rather to the direction of the magnetic curves, 
that the glass manifests its power of affecting the 
ray. So that the heavy glass in its magnetized 
state corresponds to the cube of rock crystal : the 
direction of the magnetic curves in the piece 
of glass corresponding to the direction of the 
optic axis in the crystal (see Exp. Researches 
1689-1698). . . 

Fig. 18. 

"Employed our large ring electro-magnet which 
is very powerful and has of course the poles in the 
right [position] only they are very close not more 
than [05] of an inch apart. When the heavy 
glass was put up against it the effect was produced 
better than in any former case. . . . 

"Have got enough for to-day." 

The description which he published in the 
" Researches " of the first successful experiment is 
as follows : — 

"A piece of this glass about 2 inches square 
and 0"5 of an inch thick, having flat and polished 
edges, was placed as a diamagnetic* between the 

* Faraday's definition is : — " By a diamagnelic, I mean a body 
through which lines of magnetic force are passing, and which 


poles (not as yet magnetized by the electric current), 
so that the polarized ray should pass through its 
length ; the glass acted as air, water, or any other 
indifferent substance would do ; and if the eye-piece 
[i.e. analyzer] were previously turned into such a 
position that the polarized ray was extinguished, or 
rather the image produced by it rendered invisible, 
then the introduction of this glass made no alteration 
in that respect. In this state of circumstances the 
force of the electromagnet was developed, by sending 
an electric current through its coils, and immediately 
the image of the lamp-flame became visible, and 
continued so as long as the arrangement continued 
magnetic. On stopping the electric current, and so 
causing the magnetic force to cease, the light in- 
stantly disappeared ; these phsenomena could be 
renewed at pleasure, at any instant of time, and 
upon any occasion, showing a perfect dependence 
of cause and effect," 

He paused for four days in order to procure 
more powerful electromagnets, for the effect which 
he had observed was exceedingly slight : " A person 
looking for the phsenomenon for the first time would 
not be able to see it with a weak magnet." 

The entry in the notebook begins again: — 

" 18th Sept. 1845. 

" Have now boi rowed and received the Woolwich 

does not Ijy their action assume the usual magnetic state of iron 
or loadstone." It was thus a term strictly analogous to the term 
dielectric used for bodies through which lines of electric force 
might pass. 


This was a more powerful electromagnet than 
that at the Institution. With this he sets to 
work with such energy that twelve pages of the 
laboratory book are filled in one day. His thoughts 
had ripened during the five days, and he advanced 
rapidly from point to point. The first experiment 
with the Woolwich magnet brings out another point, 
of which at once he grasped the significance : — 

"Heavy Glass (original, or 174*) when placed 
thus produced a very fine effect. The brightness of 
the image produced rose gradually not instantly, due 
to this that the iron cores do not take their full 
intensity of magnetic state at once but require 
time, and so the magnetic curves rise in intensity. 
In this way the effect is one by which an optical 
examination of the electromagnet can be made — 
and the time necessary clearly shewn." 

He next ascertains definitely that the phenomenon 
is one of rotatory polarisation — that is to say, the 
action of the magnet is to twist and rotate the 
plane of polarisation through a definite angle de- 
pending on the strength of the magnet and the 
direction of the exciting current. He finds the 
direction of the rotation, and verifies it by com- 
parison with the ordinary optical rotation produced 
by turpentine and by a solution of sugar, winding 
up with the words: — ■ 

" An excellent fifty's work." 

For four days he went on accumulating proofs, 
and now succeeding with the very substances with 

* i.e. Specimen No. 174. Its composition was equal parts by 
weight of boracio acid, oxide of lead, and silica. 


which he formerly failed. On September 26th he 
tried the conjoint effect of a magnetic and an 
electric field. He also tried the effect of a current 
running along a transparent liquid electrolytically 
whilst the magnet was in operation. The only re- 
sults appeared to be those due to the magnet alone. 
For six days in October the experiments were con- 
tinued. He noted, as a desideratum, a transparent 
oxide of iron. "With some degree of curiosity and 
hope'' he "put gold leaf into the magnetic lines, 
but could perceive no effect." He was instinctively 
looking for the phenomenon which Kundt later 
discovered as a property of thin transparent films 
of iron. He entered amongst the speculative sugges- 
tions in his notebook the query: "Does this [magnetic] 
force tend to make iron and oxide of iron trans- 
parent ? " On October 3rd he tried experiments on 
light reflected from the surface of metals placed in 
the magnetic field. He indeed obtained an optical 
rotation by reflection at the surface of a polished 
steel button, but the results were inconclusive owing 
to imperfection of the surface. It was reserved for 
J)r. Kerr to rediscover and follow up this effect. 
On October 6th he looked for mechanical and 
magnetic effects on pieces of heavy-glass and on 
liquids in glass bulbs placed between the poles of 
his magnet, but found none. He also looked for 
possible effects of rapid motion given to the dia- 
magnetic while jointly subject to the action of 
magnetism and the light, but found none. 

On October 11th he thinks he has got hold of 
another new fact when experimenting on liquids in a 


long glass tube, the record of it filling three pages. 
But two days afterwards he finds it only a disturbing 
effect due to the communication of heat to the liquid 
from the surrounding magnetising coil. He seems to 
regret the loss of the new fact, but adds : " As to the 
other phenomenon of circular polarization, that comes 
out constant, clear, and beautiful." 

Then, with that idea of the correlation of forces 
always in his head, there recurs to him the notion 
that if magnetism or electric currents can affect a 
beam of light, there must be some sort of converse 
phenomenon, and that in some way or other light 
must be able to electrify or to magnetise. Thirty-one 
years before, when visiting Rome with Davy, he had 
witnessed the experiments of Morichini on the 
alleged magnetic effect of violet light, and had 
remained unconvinced. His own idea is very 
different. And October 14th being a bright day with 
good sunlight, he makes the attempt. Selecting a 
very sensitive galvanometer, he connects it to a spiral 
of wire 1 inch in diameter, 42 inches long, of 56 
convolutions, and then directs a beam of sunlight 
along its axis. He tries letting the beam pass 
alternately through the coil while the outside is 
covered, and then along the exterior while the interior 
is shaded. But still there is no effect. Then he 
inserts an unmagnetised steel bar within the coil, and 
rotates it while it is exposed to the sun's rays. Still 
there is no effect, and the sun goes down on another 
of the unfulfilled expectations. But had he lived to 
learn of the effect of light in altering the electric 
resistance of selenium discovered by Mayhew, of the 


photoelectric currents discovered by Becquerel, of 
the discharging action of ultra-violet light discovered 
by Hertz, of the revivifying effect of light on recently 
demagnetised iron discovered by Bidwell, he would 
have rejoiced that such other correlations should 
have been found, though different from that which 
he sought. On November 3rd he receives a new 
horseshoe magnet, with which he hoped to find some 
optical effect on air and other gases, but again 
without result. That the magnetism of the earth 
does actually rotate the plane of polarisation of 
sky light was the discovery of Henri Becquerel so late 
as 1878. 

Faithful to his own maxim : " Work, finish, 
publish," Faraday lost no time in writing out his 
research. It was presented to the Koyal Society on 
November 6th, but the main result was verbally 
mentioned on November 3rd at the monthly meeting 
of the Royal Institution, and reported in the 
Athenceum of November 8th, 1845. 

But even before the memoir was thus given to the 
world another discovery had been made. For on 
November 4th with the new magnet he repeated an 
experiment which a month previously had been 
without result. So preoccupied was he over the new 
event that he did not even go to the meeting of the 
Royal Society on November 20th, when his paper on 
the " Action of Magnets on Light " was read. What 
that new discovery was is well told by Faraday himself 
in the letter which he sent to Professor A. de la Rive 
on December 4th : — 


[Faraday to Professor Aug. de la Hive.'] 

Brighton, December 4, 1845. 

My dear Friend, — * * I count upon you as one 

of those whose free hearts have pleasure in my success, and I 
am very grateful to you for it. I have had your last letter by 
me on my desk for several weeks, intending to answer it ; but 
absolutely I have not been able, for of late I have shut myself 
up in my laboratory and wrought, to the exclusion of every- 
thing else. I heard afterwards that even your brother had 
called on one of these days and been excluded. 

Well, a part of this result is that which you have heard, 
and my paper was read to the Royal Society, I believe, last 
Thursday, for I was not there ; and I also understand there 
have been notices in the Athenceum, but I have not had time 
to see them, and I do not know how they are done. However, 
I can refer you to the Times of last Saturday (November 29th) 
for a very good abstract of the paper. I do not know who 
put it in, but it is well done, though brief. To that account, 
therefore, I will refer you. 

For I am still so involved in discovery that I have hardly 
time for my meals, and am here at Brighton both to refresh 
and work my head at once, and I feel that unless I had been 
here, and been careful, I could not have continued my labours. 
The consequence has been that last Monday I announced to 
our members at the Royal Institution another discovery, of 
which I will give you the pith in a few words. The paper will 
go to the Royal Society next week, and probably be read as 
shortly after as they can there find it convenient. 

Many years ago I worked upon optical glass, and made a 
vitreous compound of silica, boracic acid, and lead, which I 
will now call heavy glass, and which Amici uses in some of his 
microscopes ; and it was this substance which enabled me first 
to act on light by magnetic and electric forces. Now, if a 
square bar of this substance, about half an inch thick and two 
inches long, be very freely suspended between the poles of a 
powerful horse-shoe electro-magnet, immediately that the 
magnetic force is developed, the bar points ; but it does not 


point from pole to pole, but equatorially or across the magnetic 
lines of force — i.e. east and west in respect of the north and 
south poles. If it be moved from this position it returns to 
it, and this continues as long as the magnetic force is in action. 
This effect is the result of a still simpler action of the magnet 
on the bar than what appears by the experiment, and which 
may be obtained at a single magnetic pole. For if a cubical 
or rounded piece of the glass be suspended by a fine thread six 
or eight feet long, and allowed to hang very near a strong 
magneto-electric pole (not as yet made active), then on render- 
ing the pole magnetic the glass will be repelled, and continue 
repelled until the magnetism ceases. This effect or power I 
have worked out through a great number of its forms and 
strange consequences, and they will occupy two series of the 
"Experimental .Researches." It belongs to all matter (not 
magnetic, as iron) without exception, so that every substance 
belongs to the one or the other class — magnetic or diamagnetic 
bodies. The law of action in its simple form is that such 
matter tends to go from strong to weak points of magnetic 
force, a.nd in doing this tbe substance will go in either 
direction along the magnetic curves, or in either direction 
across them. It is curious that amongst the metals are found 
bodies possessing this property in as high a degree as perhaps 
any other substance. In fact, I do not know at present 
whether heavy glass, or bismuth, or phosphorus is the most 
striking in this respect. I have very little doubt that you 
have an electro-magnet strong enough to enable you to verify 
the chief facts of pointing equatorially and repulsion, "if you 
will use bismuth carefully examined as to its freedom from 
magnetism, and making of it a bar an inch and a half long, 
and one-third or one-fourth of an inch wide. Let me, how- 
ever, ask the favour of your keeping this fact to yourself for 
two or three weeks, and preserving the date of this letter as a 
record. I ought (in order to preserve the respect due to the 
Royal Society) not to write a description to anyone until the 
paper has been received or even read there. After three 
weeks or a month I think you may use it, guarding, as I am 
sure you will do, my right. 


And now, my dear friend, I must conclude, and hasten to 
work again. But first give my kindest respects to Madame de 
la Rive, and many thanks to your brother for his call. 

Ever your obedient and affectionate friend, 

M. Faraday. 

The discovery of diamagnetism which Faraday 
thus announced was in itself a notable achievement. 
As Tyndall points out, the discovery itself was in all 
probability due to Faraday's habit of not regarding 
as final any negative result of an experiment until he 
had brought to bear upon it the most powerful 
resources at his command. He had tried the effects of 
ordinary magnets on brass and copper and other 
materials commonly considered as non-magnetic. 
But when, for the purpose of the preceding reseai - ch 
on the relation of magnetism to light, he had 
deliberately procured electromagnets of unusual 
power, he again tried what their effect might be upon 
non-magnetic stuffs. Suspending a piece of his 
heavy glass near the poles in a stirrup of writing- 
paper slung upon the end of a long thread of cocoon 
silk, he found it to experience a strong mechanical 
action when the magnet was stimulated by turning 
on the current. His precision of description is 
characteristic : — 

I shall have such frequent occasion to refer to two chief 
positions of position across the magnetic field, that, to avoid 
periphrasis, I will here ask leave to use a term or two 
conditionally. One of these directions is that from pole to 
pole, or along the lines of magnetic force, I will call it the 
axial direction ; the other is the direction perpendicular to 
this, and across the line of magnetic force and for the time, 


and as respects the space between the poles, I will call it the 
equatorial direction. 

Note the occurrence in the above passage for the 
first time of the term " the magnetic field." Faraday's 
description of the discovery continues as follows : — 

The bar of silicated borate of lead or heavy glass already 
described as the substance in which magnetic forces were first 
made effectually to bear on a ray of light, and which is 2 
inches long, and about 0"5 inch wide and thick, was suspended 
centrally between the magnetic poles, and left until the effect 
of torsion was over. The magnet was then thrown into action 


Fig. 19. 

by making contact at the voltaic battery. Immediately the 
bar moved, turning round its point of suspension, into a 
position across the magnetic curve or line of force, and, after a 
few vibrations, took up its place of rest there. On being 
displaced by hand from this position it returned to it, and 
this occurred many times in succession. 

Either end of the bar indifferently went to either side of 
the axial line. The determining circumstance was simply 
inclination of the bar one way or the other to the axial line at 
the beginning of the experiment. If a particular or marked 
end of the bar were on one side of the magnetic or axial 
line when the magnet was rendered active, that end went 
further outwards until the bar had taken up the equatorial 
position. . . . 

Here, then, we have a magnetic bar which points east 
and west in relation to north and south poles — i.e. points 
perpendicularly to the lines of magnetic force. . . . 


To produce these effects of pointing across the magnetic 
curves, the form of the heavy glass must be long. A cube or 
a fragment approaching roundness in form will not point, but 
a long piece will. Two or three rounded pieces or cubes, 
placed side by side in a paper tray, so as to form an oblong 
accumulation, will also point. 

Portions, however, of any form are repelled; so if two 
pieces be hung up at once in the axial line, one near each pole, 
they are repelled by their respective poles, and approach, 
seeming to attract each other. Or if two pieces be hung 
up in the equatorial line, one on each side of the axis, 
then they both recede from the axis, seeming to repel each 

From the little that has been said, it is evident that the 
bar presents in its motion a complicated result of the force 
exerted by the magnetic power over the heavy glass, and that 
when cubes or spheres are employed a much simpler indication 
of the effect may be obtained. Accordingly, when a cube was 
thus used with the two poles, the effect was repulsion or 
recession from either pole, and also recession from the magnetic 
axis on either side. 

So the indicating particle would move either along the 
magnetic curves or across them, and it would do this either in 
one direction or the other, the only constant point being that 
its tendency was to move from stronger to weaker places of 
magnetic force. 

This appeared much more simply in the case of a single 
magnetic pole, for then the tendency of the indicating cube or 
sphere was to move outwards in the direction of the magnetic 
lines of force. The appearance was remarkably like a case of 
weak electric repulsion. 

The cause of the pointing of the bar, or any oblong 
arrangement of the heavy glass, is now evident. It is merely 
a result of the tendency of the particles to move outwards, or 
into the positions of weakest magnetic action. 

When the bar of heavy glass is immersed in water, 
alcohol, or aether, contained in a vessel between the poles, all 


the preceding effects occur — the bar points and the cube 
recedes exactly in the same manner as in air. 

The effects equally occur in vessels of wood, stone, earth, 
copper, lead, silver, or any of those substances which belong to 
the diamagnetic class. 

I have obtained the same equatorial direction and 
motions of the heavy glass bar as those just described, but 
in a very feeble degree, by the use of a good common steel 
horseshoe magnet. 

Then he goes on to enumerate the many bodies of 
all sorts : crystals, powders, liquids, acids, oils ; organic 
bodies such as wax, olive-oil, wood, beef (fresh and 
dry), blood, apple, and bread, all of which were found 
to be diamagnetic. On this he remarks : — 

It is curious to see such a list as this of bodies presenting 
on a sudden this remarkable property, and it is strange to find 
a piece of wood, or beef, or apple, obedient to or repelled by a 
magnet. If a man could be suspended with sufficient delicacy 
after the manner of Dufay, and placed in the magnetic field, 
he would point equatorially, for all the substances of which he 
is formed, including the blood, possess this property. 

A few bodies were found to be feebly magnetic, 
including paper, sealing-wax, china ink, asbestos, 
fluorspar, peroxide of lead, tourmaline, plumbago, 
and charcoal. As to the metals, he found iron, 
cobalt, and nickel to stand in a distinct class. A 
feeble magnetic action in platinum, palladium, and 
titanium was suspected to be due to traces of iron in 
them. Bismuth proved to be the most strongly 
diamagnetic, and was specially studied. The repellent 
effect between bismuth and a magnet had indeed 
been casually observed twice in the prior history of 


science, first by Brugmans, then by Le Baillif. 
Faraday, with characteristic frankness, refers to his 
having a "vague impression" that the repulsion of 
bismuth by a magnet had been observed before, 
though unable at the time of writing to recollect any 
reference. His own experiments ran over the whole 
range of substances, however, and demonstrated the 
universal existence in greater or less degree of this 
magnetic nature. Certain differences observed be- 
tween the behaviour of bismuth and of heavy glass 
on the one hand, and of copper on the other hand, 
though all are diamagnetic, led him to note and 
describe some of the pseudo-diamagnetic effects which 
occur in copper and silver, in consequence of the 
induction in them of eddy-currents, from which heavy- 
glass and bismuth are, by their inferior electric 
conductivity, comparatively free. He described the 
beautiful and now classical experiment of arresting, 
by turning on the exciting current, the rotation of 
a copper cylinder spinning between the poles of an 

Faraday continued to prosecute this newest line of 
research, and at the end of December, 1845, presented 
another memoir (the twenty-first series of the Experi- 
mental Researches) to the Royal Society. He had 
now examined the salts of iron, and had found that 
every salt and compound containing iron in the basic 
part was magnetic, both in the solid and in the liquid 
state. Even prussian-blue and green bottle-glass 
were magnetic. The solutions of the salts of iron 
were of special importance, since they furnish the 
means of making a magnet which is for the time 


liquid, transparent, and, within certain limits, adjust- 
able in strength. His next step was to examine how 
bodies behaved when immersed in some surrounding 
medium. A weak solution of iron, enclosed in a very 
thin glass tube, though it pointed axially when hung 
in air, pointed equatorially when immersed in a 
stronger solution. A tube full of air pointed axially, 
and was attracted as if magnetic when surrounded 
with water. Substances such as bismuth, copper, and 
phosphorus are, however, highly diamagnetic when 
suspended in vacuo. Such a view would make mere 
space magnetic. Hence Faraday inclined at first to 
the opinion that diamagnetics had a specific action 
antithetically distinct from ordinary magnetic action. 
Several times he pointed out that all the phenomena 
resolve themselves simply into this, that a portion of 
such matter as is termed diamagnetic tends to move 
from stronger to places or points of weaker force in 
the magnetic field. He does, indeed, hazard the 
suggestion that the phenomena might be explained 
on the assumption that there was a sort of diamag- 
netic polarity — that magnetic induction caused in 
them a contrary state to that which it produced in 
ordinary magnetic matter. But his own experi- 
ments failed to support this view, and, in oppo- 
sition to Weber and Tyndali, he maintained 
afterwards the non-polar nature of diamagnetic 

In 1846 Faraday gave two Friday night discourses 
on these magnetic researches, one on the cohesive 
force of water, and one on Wheatstone's electro- 
magnetic chronoscope. At the conclusion of the 


last-named he said that he was induced to utter a 
speculation which had long been gaining strength in 
his mind, that perhaps those vibrations by which 
radiant energies, such as light, heat, actinic rays, etc., 
convey their force through space are not mere 
vibrations of an aether, but of the lines of force which, 
in his view, connect different masses, and so was 
inclined, in his own phrase, " to dismiss the sether." 
In one of his other discourses he made the suggestion 
that we might " perhaps hereafter obtain magnetism 
from light." 

The speculation above referred to is of such 
intrinsic importance, in view of the developments of 
the last decade, that it compels further notice. 
Faraday himself further expanded it in a letter to 
Kichard Phillips, which was printed in the Philo- 
sophical Magazine for May, 1846, under the title 
" Thoughts on Kay- vibrations." In this avowedly 
speculative paper Faraday touched the highest point 
in his scientific writings, and threw out, though in a 
tentative and fragmentary way, brilliant hints of that 
which his imagination had perceived, as in a vision ; 
— the doctrine now known as the electromagnetic 
theory of light. At the dates when the earlier 
biographies of Faraday appeared, neither that doctrine 
nor this paper had received the recognition due to its 
importance. Tyndall dismisses it as " one of the 
most singular speculations that ever emanated from 
a scientific man." Bence Jones just mentions it in 
half a line. Dr. Gladstone does not allude to it. It 
therefore seems expedient to give here some extracts 
from the letter itself: — 



To Richard Phillips, Esq. 

Dear Sir, — At your request, I will endeavour to convey 
to you a notion of that which I ventured to say at the close 
of the last Friday evening meeting . . . ; but, from first 
to last, understand that I merely threw out, as matter for 
speculation, the vague impressions of my mind, for I gave 
nothing as the result of sufficient consideration, or as the 
settled conviction, or even probable conclusion at which I had 

The point intended to be set forth for the consideration 
of the hearers was whether it was not possible that the 
vibrations — which in a certain theory are assumed to account 
for radiation and radiant phenomena — may not occur in the 
lines of force which connect particles, and consequently 
masses, of matter together — a notion which, as far as it is 
admitted, will dispense with the aether, which, in another 
view, is supposed to be the medium in which these vibra- 
tions take place. 

Another consideration bearing conjointly on the hypo- 
thetical view, both of matter and radiation, arises from the 
comparison of the velocities with which the radiant action and 
certain powers of matter are transmitted. The velocity of 
light through space is about 190,000 miles* a second. The 
velocity of electricity is, by the experiments of Wheatstone, 
shown to be as great as this, if not greater. The light is 
supposed to be transmitted by vibrations through an aether 
which is, so to speak, destitute of gravitation, but infinite in 
elasticity ; the electricity is transmitted through a small 
metallic wire, and is often viewed as transmitted by vibrations 
also. That the electric transference depends on the forces or 
powers of the matter of the wire can hardly be doubted when 

* Subsequent investigation has reduced this figure to about 
186,400 miles per second, or about 30,000,000,000 centimetres per 


we consider the different conductibility of the various metallic 
and other bodies, the means of £>ffe3ting it by heat or cold, the 
way in which conducting bodies by combination enter into the 
constitution of non-conducting substances, and the contrary, 
and the actual existence of one elementary body (carbou) both 
in the conducting and non-conducting state. The power of 
electric conduction, being a transmission of force equal in 
velocity to that of light, appears to be tied up in and 
dependent upon the properties of the matter, and is, as it 
were, existent in them. 

In experimental philosophy we can, by the phenomena 
presented, recognise various kinds of lines of force. Thus 

Fig. 20. 

there are the lines of gravitating force, those of electrostatic 
induction, those of magnetic action, and others partaking of a 
dynamic character might be perhaps included. The lines of 
electric and magnetic action are by many considered as 
exerted through space like the lines of givitating force. For 
my own part, I incline to believe that wh3n there are inter- 
vening particles of matter— being themse.ves only centres o 
force — they take part in carrying on the fcrce through the 
line, but that when there are none the line proceeds through 
space. Whatever the view adopted respecting them may be, 
we can, at all events, affect these lines of force in a manner 
which may be conceived as partaking of the nature of a shake 
or lateral vibration. For suppose two bodies, a b, distant 
from each other, and under mutual action,* and therefore 

* The accompanying diagram (Fig. 20) was not given by Fara- 
day. It was pencilled by the author more than twenty years ago in 
the margin of his copy of Faraday's " Experimental Rescarche°," vol. 
iii., p. 450, opposite this passage. 


connected by lines of force, and let us fix our attention upon 
one resultant of force having an invariable direction as regards 
space ; if one of the bodies move in the least degree right or 
left, or if its power be shifted for a moment within the mass 
(neither of these cases being difficult to realise if a or b be 
either electric or magnetic bodies), then an effect equivalent to 
a lateral disturbance will take place in the resultant upon 
which we are fixing our attention, for either it will increase 
in force whilst the neighbouring resultants are diminishing, 
or it will fall in force while they are increasing. 

The view which 1 am so bold as to put forth considers, 
therefore, radiation as a high species of vibration in the lines 
of force which are known to connect particles, and also masses, 
of matter together. It endeavours to dismiss the rether, but 
not the vibrations. The kind of vibration which, I believe, 
can alone account for the wonderful, varied, and beautiful 
phenomena of polarisation is not the same as that which 
occurs on the surface of disturbed water or the waves of sound 
in gases or liquids, for the vibrations in these cases are direct, 
or to and from the centre of action, whereas the former are 
lateral. It seems to me that the resultant of two or more of force is in an apt condition for that action, which may 
be considered as equivalent to a lateral vibration ; whereas a 
uniform medium like the aether does not appear apt, or more 
apt than air or water. 

The occurrence of a change at one end of a line of force 
easily suggests a consequent change at the other. The 
propagation of light, and therefore probably of all radiant 
action, occupies time ; and that a vibration of the line of force 
should account for the phenomena of radiation, it is necessary 
that such vibration should occupy time also. 

And now, my dear Phillips 1 must conclude. I do not 
think I should have allowed these notions to have escaped 
from me had I not been led unawares, and without previous 
consideration, by the circumstances of the evening on which 


I had to appear suddenly * and occupy the place of another. 
Now that I have put them on paper, I feel that I ought to 
have kept them much longer for study, consideration, and 
perhaps final rejection ; and it is only because they are sure 
to go abroad in one way or another, in consequence of their 
utterance on that evening, that I give them a shape, if shape 
it may be called, in this reply to your inquiry. One thing is 
certain, that any hypothetical view of radiation which is likely 
to be received or retained as satisfactory must not much 
longer comprehend alone certain phenomena of light, but must 
include those of heat and of actinic influence also, and even 
the conjoined phenomena of sensible heat and chemical power 
produced by them. In this respect a view which is in some 
degree founded upon the ordinary forces of matter may 
perhaps find a little consideration amongst the other views 
that will probably arise. I think it likely that I have made 
many mistakes in the preceding pages, for even to myself my 
ideas on this point appear only as the shadow of a speculation, 
or as one of those impressions on the mind which are allowable 
for a time as guides to thought and research. He who labours 
in experimental inquiries knows how numerous these are, and 
how often their apparent fitness and beauty vanish before the 
progress and development of real, natural truth. 

I am, my dear Phillips, 
Ever truly yours, 
Royal Institution, M. Faraday. 

April 15, 1846. 

If it be thought that too high a value has here 
been set upon a document which its author 
himself only claimed to be " the shadow of a 
speculation," let that value be justified out of the 

* The discourse was to have been delivered by Wheatstone him- 
self, who, however, at the last moment, overcome by the shyness from 
which he suffered to an almost morbid degree, quitted the Institution, 
and left the delivery of the discourse to Faraday. 


mouth of the man who eighteen years later enriched 
the world with the mathematical theory of the pro- 
pagation of electric waves, the late Professor Clerk 
Maxwell. In 1864 he published in the Philosophical 
Transactions a " Dynamical Theory of the Electro- 
magnetic Field," in which the following passages 
occur : — 

We have therefore reason to believe, from the phenomena 
of light and heat, that there is an sethereal medium filling 
space and permeating bodies capable of being set in motion, 
and of transmitting that motion to gross matter, so as to heat 
it and affect it in various ways. . . . Hence the parts of 
this medium must be so connected that the motion of one part 
depends in some way on the motion of the rest ; and at the 
same time these connections must be capable of a certain kind 
of elastic yielding, since the communication of motion is not 
instantaneous, but occupies time. The medium is therefore 
capable of receiving and storing up two kinds of energy — 
namely, the "actual" energy depending on the motion of its 
parts, and "potential" energy, consisting of the work which 
the medium will do in recovering from displacement in virtue 
of its elasticity. 

The propagation of undulations consists in the continual 
transformation of one of tliese forms of energy into the other 
alternately, and at any instant the amount of energy in the 
whole medium is equally divided, so that half is energy of 
motion and half is elastic resilience. 

In order to bring these results within the power of 
symbolic calculation, I then express them in the form of the 
general equations of the electromagnetic field. 

The general equations are next applied to the case of a 
magnetic disturbance propagated through a non conducting 
field, and it is shown that the only disturbances which can be 
so propagated are those which are transverse to the direction 


of propagation, and that the velocity of propagation is the 
velocity v, found from experiments such as those of Weber, 
which expresses the number of electrostatic units of electricity 
which are contained in one electromagnetic unit. This velo- 
city is so nearly that of light, that it seems we have strong 
reason to conclude that light itself (including radiant heat and 
other radiations, if any) is an electromagnetic disturbance in 
the form of waves propagated through the electromagnetic 
field according to electromagnetic laws. . . . Conducting 
media are shown to absorb such radiations rapidly, and there- 
fore to be generally opaque. 

The conception of the propagation of transverse magnetic 
disturbances to the exclusion of normal ones is distinctly set 
forth by Professor Faraday in his " Thoughts on Ray Vibra- 
tions." The •electromagnetic theory of light, as -proposed by 
him, is the same in substance as that which I have begun to 
develop in this paper* except that in 1846 there were no data 
to calculate the velocity of propagation. 

During the rest of this year (1846) and the next 
Faraday did very little research, though he continued 
his Royal Institution lectures and his reports for 
Trinity House. Amongst the latter in 1847 was one 
on a proposal to light buoys by incandescent electric 
lamps containing a platinum wire spiral. He was 
compelled, indeed, to rest by a recurrence of brain 
troubles, giddiness, and loss of memory. Honours 
however, continued to be heaped upon him both 
abroad and at home, as the following extract from 
Bence Jones shows : — 

In 1846, for his two great discoveries, the Rumford and 
the Royal Medals were both awarded to him. This double 
honour will probably long be unique in the annals of the 

* The italics here are mine. S. P. T. 


Eoyal Society. In former years he had already received the 
Copley and Eoyal Medals for his- experimental discoveries. 
As his medals increased it became remarkable that he — who 
kept his diploma-book, his portraits and letters of scientific 
men, and everything he h\ 1 in the most perfect order— seemed 
to take least care of his most valuable rewards. They were 
locked up in a box, and might have passed for old iron. 
Probably he thought, as others did afterwards, that their 
value, if seen, might lead to their loss. 

Between the twenty-first and twenty-second series 
of "Experimental Researches" nearly three years 
elapsed. In the autumn of 1848 the matter which 
claimed investigation was the peculiar behaviour of 
bismuth in the magnetic field. Certain anomalies 
were observed which were finally traced to the 
crystalline nature of the metal, for it appeared that 
when in that state the crystals themselves— to adopt 
modern phraseology — showed a greater magnetic 
permeability in a direction perpendicular to then* 
planes of cleavage than in any direction parallel to 
those planes. Hence when a crystalline fragment 
was hung in a uniform magnetic field (where the 
diamagnetic tendency to move from a strong to a 
weak region of the field was eliminated), it tended to 
point in a determinate direction. Faraday expressed 
it that the structure of the crystal showed a certain 
" axiality," and he regarded these effects as presenting 
evidence of a " magnecrystallic " force, the law of 
action being that the line or axis of magnecrystallic 
force tended to place itself parallel to the lines of the 
magnetic field in which the crystal was placed. 
Arsenic, antimony, and other crystalline metals were 


similarly examined. The subject was an intricate 
one, and there are frequent obscurities in the phrase- 
ology tentatively adopted for explaining the phe- 
nomena. In one place Faraday rather pathetically 
laments his imperfect mathematical knowledge. This 
seems like an echo of his inability to follow the 
analytical reasoning of Poisson, who, starting from a 
hypothesis about the supposed "magnetic fluids" 
being movable within the particles of a body, 
supposing that these particles were non-spherical and 
were symmetrically arranged, had predicted (in 1827) 
that a portion of such a substance would, when 
brought into the neighbourhood of a magnet, act 
differently, according to the different positions in 
which it might be turned about its centre. But this 
very inability to follow Poisson's refined analysis gave 
a new direction to Faraday's thoughts, and caused 
him to conceive the idea of magnetic permeabilities 
differing in different directions, an idea which, as 
Sir William Thomson (the present Lord Kelvin) 
showed in 1851,* is equally susceptible of mathe- 
matical treatment by appropriate symbols. Lord 
Kelvin has also spoken (op. cit., p. 484) of the 
matter as follows : " The singular combination of 

* It is light to add that what, according to the theory explained 
in the text, must he the correct explanation of the peculiar phenomena 
of magnetic induction depending on magnecrystallic properties was 
clearly stated in the form of a conjecture by Faraday in his twenty- 
second series in the following terms: "Or we might suppose that 
the crystal is a little more apt for magnetic induction, or a little iess 
apt for diamagnetic induction, in the direction of the magnecrystallic 
axis than in other directions " (Sir William Thomson, Philosophical 
Magazine, 1851, or "Papers on. Electrostatics and Magnetism," p. 476). 


mathematical acuteness with experimental research 
and profound physical speculation which Faraday, 
though not a 'mathematician/ presented is remark- 
ably illustrated by his use of the expression ' conduct- 
ing power of a magnetic medium, for lines of force.' " 
Tyndall has given a succinct summary of these 
researches — in which also he took a part — from 
which the following extract must suffice : — 

And here follows one of those expressions which charac- 
terise the conceptions 'of Faraday in regard to force gener- 
ally : " It appears to me impossible to conceive of the results 
in any other way than by a mutual reaction of the magnetic 
force, and the force of the particles of the crystal upon each 
other." He proves that the action of the force, though thus 
molecular, is an action at a distance. He shows that a 
bismuth crystal can cause a freely-suspended magnetic needle 
to set parallel to its magnecrystallic axis. Few living men are 
aware of the difficulty of obtaining results like this, or of the 
delicacy necessary to their attainment. " But though it thus 
takes up the character of a force acting at a distance, still it is 
due to that power of the particles which makes them cohere in 
regular order and gives the mass its crystalline aggregation, 
and so often spoken of as acting at insensible distances." Thus 
he broods over this new force, and looks at it from all points 
of inspection. Experiment follows experiment, as thought 
follows thought. He will not relinquish the subject as long as 
a hope exists of throwing more light upon it. He knows full 
well the anomalous nature of the conclusion to which his 
experiments lead him. But experiment to him is final, and he 
will not shrink from the conclusion. "This force," he says, 
" appears to me to be very strange and striking in its character. 
It is not polar, for there is no attraction or repulsion." And 
then, as if startled by his own utterance, he asks: "What is 
the nature of the mechanical force which turns the crystal 
round and makes it affect a magnet 2 " . . . "I do not 


remember," he continues, "heretofore such a case of force as 
the present one— where a body is brought into position only 
without attraction or repulsion." 

Pliicker, the celebrated geometer already mentioned, who 
pursued experimental physics for many years of his life with 
singular devotion and success, visited Faraday in those days, 
and repeated before him his beautiful experiments on magneto- 
optic action. Faraday repeated and verified Pliicker's observa- 
tions, and concluded, what he at first seemed to doubt, that 
Pliicker's results and magnecrystallic action had the same 

At the end of his papers, when he takes a last look along 
the line of research, and then turns his eyes to the future, 
utterances quite as much emotional as scientific escape from 
Faraday. " I cannot," he says at the end of his first paper on 
magnecrystallic action, "conclude this series of researches 
without remarking how rapidly the knowledge of molecular 
forces grows upon us, and how strikingly every investigation 
tends to develop more and more their importance and their 
extreme attraction as an object of study. A few years ago 
magnetism was to us an occult power, affecting only a few 
bodies. Now it is found to influence all bodies, and to possess 
the most intimate relations with electricity, heat, chemical 
action, light, crystallisation, and through it with the forces 
concerned in cohesion. And we may, in the present state of 
things, well feel urged to continue in our labours, encouraged 
by the hope of bringing it into a bond of union with gravity 

In 1848 Faraday gave five Friday night discourses, 
three of them on the " Diamagnetic Condition of 
Flame and Gases.'' In 1849 he gave two, one of 
them on Pliicker's researches. In 1850 he gave 
two, one of them being on the electricity of the 
air, the other on certain conditions of freezing 
water. He had meanwhile continued to work at 
magnetism. The twenty-third series dealt with the 


supposed diamagnetic polarity. It incidentally dis- 
cussed the distortion produced in a magnetic field by 
a mass of copper in motion across it. The twenty- 
fourth series was on the possible relation of gravity 
to electricity. The paper concludes with the words : 
" Here end my trials for the present. The results are 
negative. They do not shake my strong feeling of 
the existence of a relation between gravity and 
electricity, though they give no proof that such a 
relation exists." The next series (the twenty-fifth) 
was on the "Non-expansion of Gases by Magnetic 
Force " and on the " Magnetic Characters of Oxygen 
[which he had found to be highly magnetic], Nitrogen, 
and Space." He had found that magnetically sub- 
stances must be classed either along with iron and 
the materials that point axially, or else with bismuth 
and those that point equatorially, in the magnetic 
field. The best vacuum he could procure he regarded 
as the zero of these tests; but before adopting it as 
such, he verified by experiment that even in a 
vacuum a magnetic body still tends from weaker to 
stronger places in the magnetic field ; while diamag- 
netic bodies tend from stronger to weaker. He then 
says we must consider the magnetic character and 
relation of space free from any material substance. 
" Mere space cannot act as matter acts, even though 
the utmost latitude be allowed to the hypothesis of 
an ether." He then proceeds as follows : — 

Now that the true zero is obtained, and the great variety 
of material substances satisfactorily divided into two general 
classes, it appears to me that we want another name for the 
magnetic class, that we may avoid confusion. The word 


magnetic ought to be general, and include all the phenom- 
ena and effects produced by that power. But then a word 
for the subdivision opposed to the diamagnetic class is 
necessary. As the language of this branch of science may 
soon require general and careful changes, I, assisted by a kind 
friend, have thought that a word — not selected with particular 
care — might be provisionally useful ; and as the magnetism 
of iron, nickel, and cobalt when in the magnetic field is like 
that of the earth as a whole, so that when rendered active 
they place themselves parallel to its axes or lines of magnetic 
force, I have supposed that they and their similars (includ- 
ing oxygen now) might be called paramagnetic bodies, giving 
the following division : — 

MagneticiP arama S n ? tie 

The " kind friend " alluded to was Whewell, as the 
following letter shows : — 

[Bev. W. Wheivell to M. Faraday.'] 

juiy, 1850. 

I am always glad to hear of your wanting new words, 
because the want shows that you are pursuing new thoughts 
— and your new thoughts are worth something — but I always 
feel also how difficult it is for one who has not pursued the 
train of thought to suggest the right word. There are so 
many relations involved in a new discovery, and the word 
ought not glaringly to violate any of them. The purists would 
certainly object to the opposition, or co-ordination, of ferro- 
magnetic and diamagnetic, not only on account of the want of 
symmetry in the relation of ferro and dia, but also because thr 
one is Latin and the other Greek. . . . Hence it would 
appear that the two classes of magnetic bodies are those which 
place their length /larnHel, or according, to the terrestrial 
magnetic- lines, and those which place their length transversa 
to such lines. Keeping the preposition dia for the latter, the 
preposition para, or ana, might be used for the former 
Perhaps para would be best, -as the word parallel, in which 
it is involved, would be a technical memory for it. ... 1 


rejoice to hear that you have new views of discovery opening 
to you. I always rejoice to hail the light of such when they 
dawn upon you. 

The twenty-sixth series of researches opened with 
a consideration of magnetic "conducting power," or 
permeability as we should now term it, and then 
branched off into a lengthy discussion of atmospheric 
magnetism. The subject was continued through the 
twenty - seventh series, which was completed in 
November, 1850. The gist of this is summed up in 
one of his letters to Schonbein : — 

Royal Institution, November 19, 1850. 
My dear Schonbein,— I wish I could talk with you, 
instead of being obliged to use pen and paper. I have fifty 
matters to speak about, but either they are too trifling for 
writing, or too important, for what can one discuss or say 
in a letter 1 ... By the bye, I have been working with 
the oxygen of the air also. You remember that three years 
ago I distinguished it as a magnetic gas in my paper on 
the diamagnetism of flame and gases founded on Bancalari's 
experiment. Now I find in it the cause of all the annual and 
diurnal, and many of the irregular, variations in the terrestrial 
magnetism. The observations made at Hobarton, Toronto, 
Greenwich, St. Petersburg, Washington, St. Helena, the Cape 
of Good Hope, and Singapore, all appear to me to accord with 
and support my hypothesis. I will not pretend to give you 
an account of it here, for it would require some detail, and 
I really am weary of the subject. I have sent in three long 
papers to the Royal Society, and you shall have copies of them 
in due time. . . . 

Ever, my dear Schonbein, most truly yours, 

M. Faraday. 

While writing out these researches for the Royal 
Society, he had been staying in Upper Norwood. He 


wrote thus ot himself to Miss Moore at the end of 
August : — 

We have taken a little house here on the hill-top, where I 
have a small room to myself, and have, ever since we came 
here, been deeply immersed in magnetic cogitations. I write, 
and write, and write, until three papers for the Royal Society 
are nearly completed, and I hope that two of them will be 
good if they justify my hopes, for I have to criticise them 
again and again before I let them loose. You shall hear of 
them at some of the Friday evenings. At present I must not 
say more. After writing, I walk out in the evening, hand-in- 
hand with my dear wife, to enjoy the sunset ; for to me, who 
love scenery, of all that I have seen or can see there is none 
surpasses that of Heaven. A glorious sunset brings with it a 
thousand thoughts that delight me." 

To De la Rive he wrote later as follows : — 

[M. Faraday to A. de la Rive.] 

Royal Institution, February 4, 1851. 

My dear De la Rive, — My wife and I were exceedingly 
sorry to hear of your sad loss. It brought vividly to our 
remembrance the time when we were at your house, and you, 
and others with you, made us so welcome. What can we say 
to these changes but that they show by comparison the vanity 
of all things under the sun ? I am very glad that you have 
spirits to return to work again, for that is a healthy and 
proper employment of the mind under such circumstances. 

With respect to my views and experiments, I do not 
think that anything shorter than the papers (and they will run 
to a hundred pages in the "Transactions") will give you 
possession of the subject, because a great deal depends upon 
the comparison of observations in different parts of the world 
with the facts obtained by experiment, and with the deduc- 
tions drawn from them ; but I will try to give you an idea of 
the root of the matter. You are aware that I use the phrase 


line of magnetic force, to represent the presence of magnetic 
force, and the direction (of polarity) in which it is exerted ; 
and by the idea which it conveys one obtains very well, and I 
believe without error, a notion of the distribution of the forces 
about a bar-magnet, or between near flat poles presenting a 
field of equal force, or in any other case. Now, if circum- 
stances be arranged so as to present a field of equal force, 
which is easily done, as I have shown by the electro-magnet, 
then if a sphere of iron or nickel be placed in the field, it 
immediately disturbs the direction of the lines of force, for 
they are concentrated within the sphere. They are, however, 
not merely concentrated, but contorted, for the sum of forces 
in any one section across the field is always equal to the sum 
of forces in any other section, and therefore their condensation 
in the iron or nickel cannot occur without this contortion. 
Moreover, the contortion is easily shown by using a small 
needle (one-tenth of an inch long) to examine the field, for, as 
before the introduction of the sphere of iron or nickel, it 
would always take up a position parallel to itself. After- 
wards it varies in position in different places near the sphere. 
This being understood, let us then suppose the sphere to be 
raised in temperature. At a certain temperature it begins to 
lose its power of affecting the lines of magnetic force, and ends 
by retaining scarcely any. So that as regards the little needle 
mentioned above, it now stands everywhere parallel to itself 
within the field of force. This change occurs with iron at a 
very high temperature, and is passed through within the 
compass, apparently, of a small number of degrees. With 
nickel it occurs at much lower temperatures, being affected by 
the heat of boiling oil. 

Now take another step. Oxygen, as I showed above, 
three years ago in the Philosophical Magazine for 1847, vol. 
xxxi., }>)>. 410, 41"), 416, is magnetic in relation to nitrogen and 
other gases. E. Becquerel, without knowing of my results 
has confirmed and extended them in his paper of last year, 
and given certain excellent measures. In my paper of 1847 
I showed also that oxygen (like iron and nickel) lost its 
magnetic power and its ability of being attracted by the 


magnet when heated (p. 417). And I further showed that the 
temperatures at which this took place were within the range 
of common temperature, for the oxygen of the air— i.e. the air 
altogether— is increased in magnetic power when cooled to 
(i° F. (p. 406). Now I must refer you to the papers themselves 
for the (to me) strange results of the incompressibility 
(magnetically speaking) of oxygen and the inexpansibility of 
nitrogen and other gases ; for the description of a differential 
balance by which I can compare gas with gas, or the same 
gas at different degrees of rarefaction ; for the determination 
of the true zero, or point between magnetic and diamagnetic 
bodies ; and for certain views of magnetic conduction and 
polarity. You will there find described certain very delicate 
experiments upon diamagnetic and very weak magnetic bodies 
concerning their action on each other in a magnetic field of 
equal force. The magnetic bodies repel each other, and the 
diamagnetic bodies repel each other ; but a magnetic and a 
diamagnetic body attract each other. And these results, 
combined with the qualities of oxygen as just described, 
convince me that it is able to deflect the lines of magnetic 
force passing through it just as iron or nickel is, but to an 
infinitely smaller amount, and that its power of deflecting 
the lines varies with its temperature and degree of rarefaction. 
Then comes in the consideration of the atmosphere, and 
the manner in which it rises and falls in temperature by the 
presence and absence of the sun. The place of the great warm 
region nearly in his neighbourhood ; of the two colder regions 
which grow up and diminish in the northern and southern 
hemispheres as the sun travels between the tropics ; the effect 
of the extra warmth of the northern hemisphere over the 
southern ; the effect of accumulation from the action of 
preceding months ; the effect of dip and mean declination at 
each particular station ; the effects that follow from the non- 
coincidence of magnetic and astronomical conditions of 
polarity, meridians, and so forth ; the results of the distribu- 
tion of land and water for any given place— for all these and 
many other things I must refer you to the papers. I could 
not do them justice in any account that a letter could contain, 


and should run the risk of leading you into error regarding 
them. But I may say that, deducing from the experiments 
and the theory what are the deviations of the magnetic needle 
at any given station, which may be expected as the mean 
result of the heating and cooling of the atmosphere for a given 
season and hour, I find such a general accordance with the 
results of observations, especially in the direction and generally 
in the amount for different seasons of the declination varia- 
tion, as to give me the strongest hopes that I have assigned 
the true physical cause of those variations, and shown the 
modus operandi of their production. 

And now, my dear de la Rive, I must leave you and inn 
to other matters. As soon as I can send you a copy of the 
pnpers I will do so, and can only say I hope that they will 
meet with your approbation. With the kindest remembrances 
to your son, 

Believe me to be, my dear friend, ever truly yours, 

M. Fakaday. 

This hope of explaining the variations of terrestrial 
magnetism by the magnetic properties of the oxygen 
of the air was destined to be illusory. At that time 
the cosmical nature of magnetic storms was unknown 
and unsuspected. To this matter we may well apply 
Faraday's own words addressed to Tyndall respecting 
the alleged diamagnetic polarity, and the conflict of 
views between himself on the one hand and Weber 
and Tyndall on the other : — " It is not wonderful that 
views differ at first. Time will gradually sift and 
shape them. And I believe that we have little idea 
at present of the importance they may have ten or 
twenty years hence." 

In 1851, from July to December, Faraday was 
actively at work in the laboratory. The results 


constitute the material for the twenty-eighth and 
twenty-ninth (the last) series of the "Experimental 
Eesearches." In these he returned to the subject 
with which the first series had opened in 1831 : the 
induction of electric currents by the relative motion 
of magnets and conducting wires. These two 
memoirs, together with his Royal Institution lecture 
of January, 1852, " On the Lines of Magnetic Force," 
and the paper " On the Physical Character of the 
Lines of Magnetic Force" (which he sent to the 
Philosophical Magazine, as containing "so much of 
a speculative and hypothetical nature "), should be 
read, and re-read, and read again, by every student 
of physics. They are reprinted at the end of the 
third volume of the " Experimental Eesearches." 

In the opening of the twenty-eighth memoir he 
says : — 

From my earliest experiments on the relation of electricity 
and magnetism, I have had to think and speak of lines of 
magnetic force as representations of the magnetic power — not 
merely in the points of quality and direction, but also in 
quantity. . . . The direction of these lines about and 
amongst magnets and electric currents is easily represented 
and understood in a general manner by the ordinary use of 
iron filings. 

A point equally important to the definition of these lines 
is, that they represent a determinate and unchanging amount 
of force. Though, therefore, their forms, as they exist between 
two or more centres or sources of power, may vary very 
greatly, and also the space through which they may be traced, 
yet the sum of power contained in any one section of a given 
portion of the lines is exactly equal to the sum of power in 
any other section* of the same lines, however altered in form 

L* This is exactly Stokes'a theorem of " tubes " of force. S. P. TJ 


or however convergent or divergent they may be at the second 
place. . . . Now, it appears to me that these lines may 
be employed with great advantage to represent the nature, 
condition, and comparative amount of the magnetic forces, 
and that in many cases they have, to the physical reasoner, at 
least, a superiority over that method which represents the 
forces as concentrated in centres of action, such as the poles of 
magnets or needles ; or some other methods, as, for instance, 
that which considers north or south magnetisms as fluids 
diffused over the end, or amongst the particles, of a bar. No 
doubt any of these methods which does not assume too much 
will, with a faithful application, give true results. And so 
they all ought to give the same results, as far as they can 
respectively be applied. But some may, by their very nature, 
be applicable to a far greater extent, and give far more varied 
results, than others. For, just as either geometry or analysis 
may be employed to solve correctly a particular problem, 
though one has far more power and capability, generally 
speaking, than the other ; or, just as either the idea of the 
rollexion of images or that of the reverberation of sounds may 
be used to represent certain physical forces and conditions, so 
may the idea of the attractions and repulsions of centres, or 
that of the disposition of magnetic fluids, or that of lines of 
force, be applied in the consideration of magnetic phenomena. 
It is the occasional and more frequent use of the latter whicli 
I at present wish to advocate. . . . When the natural 
truth, and the conventional representation of it, most closely 
agree, then are we most advanced in our knowledge. The 
emission and rether theories present such cases in relation to 
light. The idea of a fluid or of two fluids is the same for 
electricity ; and there the further idea of a current has been 
raised, which, indeed, has such hold on the mind as occasion- 
ally to embarrass the science as respects the true character of 
the physical agencies, and may be doing so evjn now to a 
degree which we at present little suspect. The same is the 
case with the idea of a magnetic fluid or fluids, or with the 
assumption of magnetic centres of action of which the 
resultants are at the poles. 


How the magnetic force is transferred through bodies or 
through space we know not — whether the result is merely 
action at a distance, as in the case of gravity, or by some 
intermediate agency, as in the cases of light, heat, the electric 
current, and, as I believe, static electric action. The idea of 
magnetic fluids, as applied by some, or of magnetic centres of 
action, does not include that of the latter kind of transmission, 
but the idea of lines of force does. Nevertheless, because a 
particular method of representing the forces does not include 
such a mode of transmission, the latter is not disproved, and 
that method of representation which harmonises with it may 
be the most true to nature. The general conclusion of 
philosophers seems to be that such cases are by far the most 
numerous. And for my own part, considering the relation of 
a vacuum to the magnetic force, and the general character of 
magnetic phenomena external to the magnet, I am more 
inclined to the notion that in the transmission of the force 
there is such an action, external to the magnet, than that the 
effects are merely attraction and repulsion at a distance. 
Such an action may be a function of the (ether, for it is not at 
all unlikely that if there be an cether, it should have other uses 
than simply the conveyance of radiations* 

He then proceeds to recount the experimental 
evidence of revolving magnets and loops of wire. 
Following out the old lines of so moving the parts of 
the system that the magnetic lines Avere " cut " by the 
copper conductors, and connecting the latter with a 
slow-period galvanometer, to test the resultant in- 
duction, he found that " the amount of magnetic 
force " [or flux, as we should nowadays call it] " is 
determinate for the same lines of force, whatever the 
distance of the point or plane at which their power is 
exerted is from the magnet." The convergence or 
divergence of the lines of force caused, per se, no 

[* The italics are mine. S. P. T.] 


difference in their amount. Obliquity of intersection 
caused no difference, provided the same lines of force 
were cut. If a wire was moving in a field of equal 
intensity, and with a uniform motion, then the 
current produced was proportional to the velocity of 
motion. The " quantity of electricity thrown into 
a current" was, ceteris paribus, "directly as the 
amount of curves intersected." Within the magnet, 
running through its substance, existed lines of force 
of the same nature as those without, exactly equal in 
amount to those without, and were, indeed, con- 
tinuous with them. The conclusion must logically 
be that every line of force is a closed circuit. 

Having thus established the exact quantitative 
laws of magneto-electric induction, he then advanced 
to make use of the induced current as a means of 
investigating the presence, direction, and amount of 
magnetic forces — in other words, to explore and 
measure magnetic fields. He constructed revolving 
rectangles and rings furnished with a simple commu- 
tator, to measure inductively the magnetic forces of 
the earth. Then he employed the induced current to 
test the constancy of magnets when placed near to 
other magnets in ways that might affect their power. 
Next he considers the fields of magnetic force of two 
or more associated magnets, and notes how their 
magnetic lines may coalesce when they are so placed 
as to constitute parts of a common magnetic circuit. 
The twenty-ninth series is brought to a close by a 
discussion of the experimental way of delineating 
lines of magnetic force by means of iron filings. 

The paper on the "Physical Character of the 


Lines of Magnetic Force" recapitulated the points 
established in the twenty-ninth series of " Eesearches," 
and emphasis is laid upon the logical necessity that 
time must be required for their propagation. The 
physical effects in a magnetic field, as equivalent to a 
tendency for the magnetic lines to shorten themselves, 
and to repel one another laterally, are considered, and 
are contrasted with the effects of parallel electric 
currents. Commenting on the mutual relation 
between the directions of an electric current and of 
its surrounding magnetic lines, he raises the question 
whether or not they consist in a state of tension of 
the aether. " Again and again," he says, " the idea of 
an electrotonic state has been forced on my mind. 
Such a state would coincide and become identified 
with that which would then constitute the physical 
lines of magnetic force." Then he traces out the 
analogy between a magnet, with its " sphondyloid " 
(or spindle-form field) of magnetic lines, and a voltaic 
battery immersed in water, with its re-entrant lines 
of flow of circulating current. Incidentally, while 
discussing the principle of the magnetic circuit, he 
points out that when a magnet is furnished at its 
poles with masses of soft iron, it can both receive and 
retain a higher magnetic charge than it does without 
them, " for these masses carry on the physical lines of 
force, and deliver them to a body of surrounding 
space, which is either widened, and therefore in- 
creased, in the direction across the lines of force, 
or shortened in that direction parallel to them, or 
both ; and both are circumstances which facilitate 
the conduction from pole to pole." 


Thus closed, with the exception of two fragmentary 
papers, one on "Physical Lines of Force," and the 
other on " Some Points in Magnetic Philosophy," in 
the years 1853 and 1854 respectively, the main life- 
work of Faraday, his "Experimental Researches." 
Their effect in revolutionising electric science, if slow, 
was yet sure. Though the principle of the dynamo 
was discovered and published in 1831, nearly forty 
years elapsed before electric-lighting machinery 
became a commercial product. Though the depend- 
ence of inductive actions, both electromagnetic and 
electrostatic, \ipon the properties of the intervening 
medium was demonstrated and elaborated in these 
"Researches," electricians for many years continued 
to propound theories which ignored this fundamental 
fact. French and German writers continued to 
publish treatises based on the ancient doctrines of 
action at a distance, and of imaginary electric and 
magnetic fluids. A^on Boltzmann, a typical German 
of the first rank in science, says that until there came 
straight from England the counter-doctrines amidst 
which Faraday had lived, "we (in Germany and 
France) had all more or less imbibed with our 
mothers' milk the ideas of magnetic and electric 
fluids acting direct at a distance." And again, " The 
theory of Maxwell " — that is, Faraday's theory thrown 
by Maxwell into mathematical shape — "is so dia- 
metrically opposed to the ideas which have become 
customary to us, that we must first cast behind us all 
our previous views of the nature and operation of 
electric forces before we can enter into its portals." 
The divergence of view between Faraday and the 


Continental electricians is nowhere more clearly 
stated than by Faraday's great interpreter, Maxwell, 
in the apologia which he prefixed in 1873 to his 
"Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism," wherein, 
speaking of the differences between this work and 
those recently published in Germany, he wrote : — 

One reason of this is that before I began the study of 
electricity I resolved to read no mathematics on the subject till 
I had first read through Faraday's "Experimental ^Researches 
on Electricity." I was aware that there was supposed to be 
a difference between Faraday's way of conceiving phenomena 
and that of the mathematicians. So that neither he nor they 
were satisfied with each other's language. I had also the 
conviction that this discrepancy did not arise from either 
party being wrong. I was first convinced of this by Sir 
William Thomson [Lord Kelvin], to whose advice and assist- 
ance, as well as to his published papers, I owe most of what 
I have learned on this subject. 

As I proceeded with the study of Faraday, I perceived 
that his method of conceiving the phenomena was also a 
mathematical one, though not exhibited in the conventional 
form of mathematical symbols. I also found that these 
methods were capable of being expressed in the ordinary 
mathematical forms, and thus compared with those of the 
professed mathematicians. 

For instance, Faraday, in his mind's eye, saw lines of 
force traversing all space where the mathematicians saw 
centres of force attracting at a distance. Faraday saw a 
medium where they saw nothing but distance. Faraday 
sought the seat of the phenomena in real actions going on in 
the medium ; they were satisfied that they had found it in a 
power of action at a distance impressed on electric fluids. 

When I had translated what I considered to be Faraday's 
ideas into a mathematical form, I found that in general the 
results of the two methods coincided, so that the same 
phenomena were accounted for and the same laws of action 


deduced by both methods, but that Faraday's methods 
resembled those in which we begin with the whole and arrive 
at the parts by analysis, while the ordinary mathematical 
methods were founded on the principle of beginning with 
the parts and building up the whole by synthesis. 

I found, also, that several of the most fertile methods of 
research discovered by the mathematicians could be expressed 
much better in terms of ideas derived from Faraday than in 
their original form. 

The whole theory, for instance, of potential, considered as 
a quantity which satisfies a certain partial differential equation, 
belongs essentially to the method which I have called of 
Faraday. . . . 

If by anything I have here written I may assist any 
student in understanding Faraday's modes of thought and 
expression, I shall regard it as the accomplishment of one of 
my principal aims : to communicate to others the same delight 
which I have found myself in reading Faraday's " Researches." 

Clerk Maxwell may also be credited with the 
remark that Faraday's work had had the result of 
banishing the term " the electric fluid " into the 
limbo of newspaper science. 

Faraday's work for Trinity House continued 
during these last years of research work He 
reported on such subjects as adulteration of white 
lead, impure oils, Chance's lenses, lighthouse ventila- 
tion, and fog signals. Two systems of electric arc 
lighting for lighthouses — one by Watson, using 
batteries, the other by Holmes, using a magneto- 
electric machine — were examined in 1853 and 1854, 
but his report on them was adverse. He " could not 
put up in a lighthouse what has not been established 
beforehand, and is only experimental." In 1856 he 
made five reports, in 1857 six, and in 1858 twelve 


reports to Trinity House, one of these being on the 
electric light at the South Foreland. In 1859 he 
reported on further trials in which Duboscq's lamps 
were used. In 1860 he gave a final report on the 
practicability and utility of magneto-electric lighting, 
and expressed the hope it would be applied, as there 
was now no difficulty. In 1861 he inspected the 
machinery as established at the Dungeness light- 
house. In 1862 he gave no fewer than seventeen 
reports, visiting Dungeness, Grisnez, and the South 
Foreland. In 1863 he again visited Dungeness. In 
1864 he made twelve reports, and examined the 
•drawings and estimates for establishing the electric 
light at Portland. His last report was in 1865, upon 
the St. Bees' light, and he then retired from this 

His Friday night discourses were still continued 
during these years. In 1855 he gave one on 
"Euhmkorff's Induction-coil." In 1856 he gave one 
on a process for silvering glass, and on finely 
divided gold. This latter subject, the optical 
properties of precipitated gold, formed the topic of 
the Bakerian lecture of that year — his last contribu- 
tion to the Boyal Society. He gave another dis- 
course on the same subject in 1857, and also one on 
the conservation of force. In 1856, when investi- 
gating the crystallisation of water, he discovered 
the phenomenon of regelation of ice. In virtue of 
this property two pieces of ice will freeze solidly 
together under pressure, even when the temperature 
of the surrounding atmosphere is above the freezing 
point. This discovery led on the one hand to the 


explanation of glacier motions ; on the other to im- 
portant results in thermodynamic theory. In 1859 
he gave two discourses, one on ozone, the other 
on phosphorescence and fluorescence. He also gave 
two in 1860, on lighthouse illumination by electric 
light, and on the electric silk-loom. In 1861 he dis- 
coursed on platinum and on De la Rue's eclipse pho- 
tographs. The last of his Friday night discourses was 
given on June 20th, 1862. It was on Siemens's gas 
furnaces. He had been down at Swansea watching 
the furnaces in operation, and now proposed to 
describe their principle. It was rather a sad occasion, 
for it was but too evident that his powers were fast . 
waning. Early in the evening he had the misfortune 
to burn the notes he had prepared, and became 
confused. He concluded with a touching personal 
explanation how with advancing years his memory 
had failed, and that in justice to others he felt it his 
duty to retire. 

At intervals he still attempted to work at research. 
In 1860 he sent a paper to the Royal Society on the 
relations of electricity to gravity, but, on the 
advice of Professor (afterwards Sir George) Stokes, it 
was withdrawn. He had also in contemplation some 
experiments upon the time required in the propaga- 
tion of magnetism, and began the construction of a 
complicated instrument, which was never finished. 

His very last experiment, as recorded in his labora- 
tory notebook, is of extraordinary interest, as showing 
how his mind was still at work inquiring into the 
borderland of possible phenomena. It was on March 
12th, 1862. He was inquiring into the effect of a 


magnetic field upon a beam of light, which he was 
observing with a spectroscope to ascertain whether 
there was any change produced in the refrangibility 
of the light. The entry concludes : " Not the slightest 
effect on the polarised or unpolariscd ray was ob- 
served." The experiment is of the highest interest 
in magneto-optics. The effect for which Faraday 
looked in vain in 1862 was discovered in 1897 by 
Zeeman. That Faraday should have conceived the 
existence of this obscure relation between magnetism 
and light is a striking illustration of the acuteness of 
mental vision which he brought to bear. Living and 
working amongst the appliances of his laboratory, 
letting his thoughts play freely around the pheno- 
mena, incessantly framing hypotheses to account for 
the facts, and as incessantly testing his hypotheses by 
the touchstone of experiment, never hesitating to 
push to their logical conclusion the ideas suggested 
by experiment, however widely they might seem to 
lead from the accepted modes of thought, he worked 
on with a scientific prevision little short of miraculous. 
His experiments, even those which at the time 
seemed unsuccessful, in that they yielded no positive 
result, have proved to be a mine of amazing richness. 
The volumes of his " Experimental Researches " are a 
veritable treasure-house of scionse. 



Although to avoid discontinuity the account of 

Faraday's researches has in the previous chapter been 

followed to their close in 1862, we must now return 

to his middle period of life, when his activities at the 

Royal Institution were at their zenith. 

Mention has been made of the serious breakdown 

of Faraday's health at the close of 1839. Dr. Latham, 

whom he consulted as to his attacks of giddiness, 

wrote to Brande : — 

Grosvenor Street, 

December 1, 1839. 

Dear Brande,— I have been seeing our friend Faraday 
these two or three days, and been looking after his health. I 
trust he has no ailment more than rest of body and mind will 
get rid of. But rest is absolutely necessary for him. Indeed, 
I think it would be hardly prudent for him to lecture again 
for the present. He looks up to his work ; but, in truth, he 
is not fit, and if he is pressed he will suddenly break down. 
When we meet, I will talk the matter over with you. 

Yours most sincerely, 

P. XT. Latham. 

The advice was taken. He gave up nearly all 
research work, but tried to go on with Friday night 


discourses and afternoon lectures in 1840. Then 
came a more serious breakdown, and he rested for 
nearly four years, with the exception of the Christmas 
lectures in 1841 and a few Friday discourses in 1842 
and 1843. This illness caused him great distress of 
mind, mainly due to an idea that the physicians did 
not understand his condition. When in this state he 
sometimes set down pencil notes on scraps of paper 
to relieve his feelings. One such is the following: — 

Whereas, according to the declaration of that true man of 
the world Talleyrand, the use of language is to conceal the 
thoughts ; this is to declare in the present instance, when I 
pay I am not able to bear much talking, it means really, and 
without any mistake, or equivocation, or oblique meaning, or 
implication, or subterfuge, or omission, that I am not able ; 
being at present rather weak in the head, and able to work 
no more. 

During these times of enforced idleness he used 
to amuse himself with games of skill, with paper- 
work, and with visits to the theatre and to the 
Zoological Gardens. Mrs. Faraday left the following 
note : — 

Michael was one of the earliest members of the Zoological 
Society, and the Gardens were a great resource to him when 
overwrought and distressed in the head. The animals were a 
continual source of interest, and we, or rather I, used to talk 
of the time when we should be able to afford a house within 
my walking distance of the entrance ; for I much feared he 
could not continue to live in the Institution with the continual 
calls upon, his time and thought ; but he always shrank from 
the notion of living away from the II. I. 

His niece, Miss Reid, told how fond he was of 
seeing acrobats, tumblers, dwarfs and giants; even 


a Punch and Jucty show was an unfailing source of 
delight. When travelling in Switzerland, as he did 
on several occasions, accompanied by Mrs. Faraday 
and her brother, George Barnard, the artist, he kept 
u journal, which reveals his simple pleasures and 
enthusiasms. He is delighted with waterfalls and 
avalanches, watches the cowherd collecting his cows 
and the shepherd calling the sheep, which followed 
him, leaving the goats to straggle. On one such 
visit (in 1841), in order that he might not be absent 
on Sunday from his wife, he walked the whole 
distance from Leukerbad to Thun, over the Gemini — 
a distance of 45 miles — in one day. At Interlaken, 
observing that clout-nail-making was practised as a 
local industry, he wrote : '' I love a smith's shop and 
everything relating to smithery. My father was a 

In 1844 he was well enough to attend the British 
Association meeting at York. Liebisr, who had also 
been there, wrote to him three months later with 
some reminiscences. What had struck him most 
was the tendency in England to ignore the more 
purely scientific works and to value only those with 
a " practical " bearing. " In Germany it is quite the 
contrary. Here, in the eyes of scientific men, no 
value, or at least but a trifling one, is placed on the 
practical results. The enrichment of science is alone 
considered worthy of attention." Liebig further ex- 
pressed himself dissatisfied with the meeting at York. 
He had been interested to make the acquaintance of 
so many celebrated men, but it was, strictly, " a feast 
given to the geologists, the other sciences serving only 


to decorate the table.'' Then came a more personal 
note : — 

Often do my thoughts wander back to the period which I 
spent in England, among the many pleasant hours of which 
the remembrance of those passed with you and your amiable 
wife is to me always the dearest and most agreeable. With 
the purest pleasure I bring to mind my walk with her, in the 
botanical garden at York, when I was afforded a glance of the 
richness of her mind ; what a rare treasure you possess in 
her ! The breakfast in the little house with Snow Harris, 
and Graham, and our being together at Bishopthorpe, are still 
fresh in my memory. 

If Liebig was disposed to underrate the useful 
applications of science, Faraday certainly was not. 
Though his own research work was carried on with 
the single aim of scientific progress ; though he him- 
self never swerved aside into any branch research that 
might have yielded money ; yet he was ever ready to 
examine, and even to lecture upon, the inventions of 
others. He accepted for the subjects of his Friday 
night discourses all sorts of topics — artificial stone, 
machinery for pen-making, lithography, Ruhmkorff's 
induction coil, a process for silvering mirrors, and 
lighthouse illumination by electric light. His very 
last lecture was on Siemens's gas-furnaces. He could 
be just as enthusiastic over the invention of another 
as over some discovery of his own. With respect to 
his lecture on the Ruhmkorff coil, Tyndall describes 
him in a passage which is interesting, as containing an 
epithet since adopted for another great man for whom 
Tyndall had less respect than for Faraday : — 


I well remember the ecstasy and surprise of the grand old 
man, evoked by effects which we should now deem utterly 

Bence Jones says : — 

When he brought the discoveries of others before his 
hearers, one object, and one alone, seemed to determine all 
he said and did, and that was, " without commendation and 
without censure," to do the utmost that could be done for the 

In so perfect a character it would be marvellous if 
there were not some flaw. His persistent ignoring of 
Sturgeon, and his attribution of the invention of the 
electromagnet to Moll and Henry, whose work was 
frankly based on Sturgeon's, is simply inexplicable. 
He failed to appreciate the greatness of Dalton, and 
thought him an overrated man. 

Amid all his overflowing kindliness of heart, 
Faraday preserved other. less obvious traits of char- 
acter. Any act of injustice or meanness called forth 
an almost volcanic burst of indignation. Hot flashes 
of temper, fierce moments of wrath were by no means 
unknown. But he exercised a most admirable self- 
control, and a habitual discipline of soul that kept his 
temper under. Grim and forbidding, and even exact- 
ing he could show himself to an idle or unfaithful 
servant. There were those who feared as well as 
those who loved and admired him. Dr. Gladstone 
says of him that he was no " model of all the virtues," 
dreadfully uninteresting, and discouraging to those 
who feel calm perfection out of their reach. "His 
inner life was a battle, with its wounds as well as its 


victory." " lb is true also," he adds, " that with his 
great caution and his repugnance to moral evil, he 
was more disposed to turn away in disgust from an 
erring companion than to endeavour to reclaim him." 

For thirty years Faraday was the foremost of 
lecturers on science in London. From the first 
occasion when, in 1823, as Sir Roderick Murchison 
narrates, he was called upon unexpectedly to act as 
substitute for Professor Brande at one of his morning 
lectures at the Royal Institution (then held in the 
subterranean laboratory), down to the time of his 
latest appearance as a lecturer in 1862, he was 
without a rival as the exponent of natural science. 

As no man could achieve and retain such a 
position without possessing both natural gifts and 
appropriate training, it is fitting to inquire what were 
those gifts and what the training which were so 
happily united in him. 

I was (he said) a very lively, imaginative person, and could 
believe in the Arabian Nights as easily as in the Encyclopaedia ; 
but facts were important to me, and saved me. I could trust 
a fact, and always cross-examined an assertion. 

From the very first Faraday had an appreciation 
of the way in which public lectures should be given. 
In his notes of Davy's fourth lecture of April, 1812, 
he wrote :±— 

During the whole of these observations his delivery was 
easy, his diction elegant, his tone good, and his sentiments 

His own first lecture was given in the kitchen of 
Abbott's house, with home made apparatus placed on 


the kitchen table. To Abbott, after only a few weeks 
of experience at the Royal Institution, he wrote the 
letters upon lectures and lecturers, to which allusion 
was made on p. 15. These show a most remark- 
ably sound perception of the material and mental 
furniture requisite for success. From the third and 
fourth of them are culled the following excerpts : — 

The most prominent requisite to a lecturer, though perhaps 
not really the most important, is a good delivery ; for though 
to all true philosophers science and nature will have charms 
innumerable in every dress, yet I am sorry to say that the 
generality of mankind cannot accompany us one short hour 
unless the path is strewed with flowers. In order, therefore, 
to gain the attention of an audience (and what can be more 
disagreeable to a lecturer than the want of it ?), it is necessary 
to pay some attention to the manner of expression. The 
utterance should not be rapid and hurried, and consequently 
unintelligible, but slow and deliberate, conveying ideas with 
ease from the lecturer, and infusing them with clearness and 
readiness into the minds of the audience. A lecturer should 
endeavour by all means to obtain a facility of utterance, and 
the power of clothing his thoughts and ideas in language 
smooth and harmonious, and at the same time simple and easy. 

With respect to the action of the lecturer, it is requisite 
that he should have some, though it does not here bear the 
importance that it does in other branches of oratory ; for 
though I know of no species of delivery (divinity excepted) 
that requires less motion, yet. I would by no means have a 
lecturer glued to the table or screwed on the floor. He must 
hy all means appear as a body distinct and separate from the 
things around him, and must have some motion apart from 
that which they possess. 

A lecturer should appear easy and collected, undaunted 
and unconcerned, his thoughts about him, and his mind clear 
and free for the contemplation and description of his subject. 
His action should not be hasty and violent, but slow, easy, and 


natural, consisting principally in changes of the posture of the 
body, in order to avoid the air of stiffness or sameness that 
would otherwise be unavoidable. His whole behaviour should 
evince respect for his audience, and he should in no case 
forget that he is in their presence. No accident that does not 
interfere with their convenience should disturb his serenity, or 
cause variation in his behaviour ; he should never, if possible, 
turn his back on them, but should give them full reason to 
believe that all his powers have been exerted for their pleasure 
and instruction. 

Some lecturers choose to express their thoughts extempora- 
neously immediately as they occur to the mind, whilst others 
previously arrange them and draw them forth on paper. But 
although I allow a lecturer to write out his matter, I do not 
approve of his reading it— at least, not as he would a quotation 
or extract. 

A lecturer should exert his utmost effort to gain completely 
the mind and attention of his audience, and irresistibly to 
make them join in his ideas to the end of the subject. He 
should endeavour to raise their interest at the commencement 
of the lecture, and by a series of imperceptible gradations, 
unnoticed by the company, keep it alive as long as the subject 
demands it. A flame should be lighted at the commencement, 
and kept alive with unremitting splendour to the end. I'or 
this reason I very much disapprove of breaks in a lecture, and 
where they can by any means be avoided they should on no 
account find place. . . . For the same reason — namely, 
that the audience should not grow tired — I disapprove of long 
lectures ; one hour is long enough for anyone. Nor should 
they be allowed to exceed that time. 

A lecturer falls deeply beneath the dignity of his character 
when he descends so low as to angle for claps ' and asks for 
commendation. Yet have I seen a lecturer even at this point. 
I have heard him causelessly condemn his own powers. I 
have heard him dwell for a length of time on the extreme care 
and niceness that the experiment he will make requires. I 
have heard him hope for indulgence when no indulgence was 
wanted, and I have even heard him declare that the experi- 


ment now made cannot fail, from its beauty, its correctness, 
and its application, to gain the approbation of all. ... I 
would wish apologies to be made as seldom as possible, and 
generally only when the inconvenience extends to the 
company. I have several times seen the attention of by far 
the greater part of the audience called to an error by the 
apology that followed it. 

'Tis well, too, when the lecturer has the ready wit and the 
presence of mind to turn any casual circumstance to an illus- 
tration of his subject. Any particular circumstance that has 
become table-talk for the town, any local advantages or dis- 
advantages, any trivial circumstance that may arise in com- 
pany, give great force to illustrations aptly drawn from them, 
and please the audience highly, as they conceive they perfectly 
understand them. 

Apt experiments (to which I have before referred) ought to 
be explained by satisfactory theory, or otherwise we merely 
patch an old coat with new cloth, and the whole [hole] becomes 
worse. If a satisfactory theory can be given, it ought to be 
given. If we doubt a received opinion, let us not leave the 
doubt unnoticed and affirm our own ideas, but state it clearly, 
and lay down also our objections. If the scientific world is 
divided in opinion, state both sides of the question, and let 
each one judge for himself by noticing the most striking and 
forcible circumstances on each side. Then, and then only, 
shall we do justice to the subject, please the audience, and 
satisfy our honour, the honour of a philosopher. 

One who already had set before himself such high 
ideals could not fail at least to attempt to fulfil them. 
Accordingly, when in 1816 he began to lecture to the 
City Philosophical Society, he began to attend an 
evening class on elocution conducted by Mr. B. H. 
Smart, though the pinch of poverty made it difficult 
to him to afford the needful fees. Again, in 1S23, 
previous to taking part in Brande's laboratory lectures, 


he took private lessons in elocution from Smart, at 
the rate of half-a-guinea a lesson. After 1827, when 
he was beginning his regular courses of lectures in the 
theatre, he often used to get Mr. Smart to attend in 
order to criticise his delivery. 

Amongst the rules found in his manuscript notes 
were the following : — 

Never to repeat a phrase. 

Never to go back to amend. 

If at a loss for a word, not to ch-ck-ch or eh-eh-ek, but to 
stop and wait for it. It soon comes, and the bad habits are 
broken and fluency soon acquired. 

Never doubt a correction given to me by another. 

His niece, Miss Keid, who lived from 1830 to 1840 
at the Institution with the Faradays, gave the following 
amongst her recollections : — 

Mr. Magrath used to come regularly to the morning lec- 
tures, for the sole purpose of noting down for him "any faults 
of delivery or defective pronunciation that could be detected. 
The list was always received with thanks ; although his cor- 
rections were not uniformly adopted, he was encouraged to 
continue his remarks with perfect freedom. In early days he 
always lectured with a card before him with SIovj written upon 
it in distinct characters. Sometimes he would overlook it and 
become too rapid ; in this case, Anderson had orders to place 
the card before him. Sometimes he had the word Time on a 
card brought forward when the hour was nearly expired. 

In spite of his recourse to aids in acquiring elocu- 
tionary excellence, his own style remained simple 
and unspoiled. " His manner," says Bence Jones, 
" was so natural, that the thought of any art in his 
lecturing never occurred to anyone. For his Friday 


discourses, and for his other set lectures in the theatre, 
he always made ample preparation beforehand. His 
matter was always over-abundant. And, if his ex- 
periments were always successful, this was not solely 
attributable to his exceeding skill of hand. For, un- 
rivalled as he was as a manipulator, in the cases in 
which he attempted to show complicated or difficult 
experiments, that which was to be shown was always 
well rehearsed beforehand in the laboratory. He was 
exceedingly particular about small and simple illus- 
trations. He never merely told his hearers about an 
experiment, but showed it to them, however simple 
and well known it might be. To a young lecturer he 
once remarked : ' If I said to my audience, "This stone 
will fall to the ground if I open my hand," I should 
open my hand and let it fall. Take nothing for granted 
as known; inform the eye at the same time as you 
address the ear.' He always endeavoured at the 
outset to put himself en rapport with his audience bj 
introducing his subject on its most familiar side, and 
then leading on to that which was less familiar. Before 
the audience became aware of any transition, they 
were already assimilating new facts which were thus 
brought within their range. Nor did he stay his dis- 
course upon the enunciation of facts merely. Almost 
invariably, as his allotted hour drew towards its close, 
he gave rein to his imagination. Those who had 
begun with him on the lower plane of simple facts 
and their correlations were bidden to consider the wider 
bearings of scientific principles and their relations to 
philosophy, to life, or to ethics. While he never 
forced a peroration, nor dragged in a quotation from 


the poets, his own scientific inspiration, as he outlined 
some wide-sweeping speculation or suggestion for 
future discoveries, amply supplied the fitting finale. 
If the rush of his ideas might sometimes be compared 
to tearing through a jungle, it at least never degen- 
erated into sermonising; and never, save when he 
was physically ill, failed to arouse an enthusiastic glow 
of response in his hearers. 'No attentive listener,' 
says Mrs. Crosse, ' ever came away from one of Fara- 
day's lectures without having the limits of his spiritual 
vision enlarged, or without feeling that his imagination 
had been stimulated to something beyond the mere 
expression of physical facts.' " 

He was not one who let himself dwell in illusions. 
When he did well he was perfectly conscious of the 
fact, and enjoyed a modest satisfaction. If he had 
failed of his best, he was conscious too of that. His 
deliberate act in giving up all other lectures at the 
time when his brain-troubles were gaining upon him, 
while retaining the Christmas lectures to juveniles, 
was thoroughly characteristic. Of one of his earlier 
courses of lectures he himself made — about 1832 — 
the following note : — 

The eight lectures on the operations of the laboratory at 
the Royal Institution, April, 1828, were not to my mind. 
There does not appear to be that opportunity of fixing the 
attention of the audience by a single clear, consistent, and 
connected chain of reasoning which occurs when a principle 
(sic) or one particular application is made. ... I do not 
think the operations of the laboratory cnn be rendered useful 
and popular in lectures. . . . 

The matter of these same lectures was, however, 
the basis of his book on Chemical Manipulation 


published in 1827. It went through three editions, 
and was reprinted in America. But in 1838 he 
declined to let a new edition be issued, as he con- 
sidered the work out of date. 

Besides the note quoted above from the Faraday 
MS. occurs the following : — 

The six juvenile lectures given Christmas, 1827, were just 
what they ought to have been, both in matter and manner ; 
but it would not answer to give an extended course in the 
same spirit. 

Nineteen times did Faraday give the Christmas 
lectures. Those on the Chemistry of a Candle were 
given more than once ; and were the last he gave, in 
1XG0. They have been published, as were those on 
the Forces of Nature. The lectures on Metals he 
was urged to publish, but declined in the following 
terms : — 

Royal Institution, January 3, 1859. 

Dear Sie, — Many thanks to both you and Mr. Bentley. 
Mr. Murray made me an unlimited offer like that of Mr. 
Bentley's many years ago, but for the reasons I am about to 
give you I had to refuse his kindness. He proposed to take 
them by shorthand, and so save me trouble, but I knew that 
would be a thorough failure ; even if I cared to give time to 
the revision of the MS., still the lectures without the experi- 
ments and the vivacity of speaking would fall far behind those 
in the lecture-room as to effect. And then I do not desire to 
give time to them, for money is no temptation to me. In fact, 
I have always loved science more than money ; and because 
my occupation is almost entirely personal I cannot afford to 
get rich. Again thanking you and Mr. Bentley, I remain, 

Very truly jours, 

M. Faraday. 


Of his lectures Lady Pollock wrote : — 

He would play with his subject now and then, but very 
delicately; his sport was only just enough to enliven the 
attention. He never suffered an experiment to allure him 
away from his theme. Every touch of his hand was a true 
illustration of his argument. . . . But his meaning was 
sometimes beyond the conception of those whom he addressed. 
When, however, he lectured to children he was careful to be 
perfectly distinct, and never allowed his ideas to outrun their 
intelligence. He took great delight in talking to them, and 
easily won their confidence. The vivacity of his manner and 
of his countenance, and his pleasant laugh, the frankness of his 
whole bearing, attracted them to him. They felt as if he 
belonged to them ; and indeed he sometimes, in his joyous 
enthusiasm, appeared like an inspired child. 

. . . His quick sympathies put him so closely in relation 
with the child that he saw with the boy's new wonder, and 
looked, and most likely felt for the moment, as if he had never 
seen the thing before. Quick feelings, quick movement, quick 
thought, vividness of expression and of perception, belonged to 
him. He came across you like a flash of light, and he seemed 
to leave some of his light with you. His presence was always 
stimulating. — St. Paul's Magazine, June, 1870. 

A writer in the British Quarterly Review says : — 

He had the art of making philosophy charming, a. 'id this 
was due in no little measure to the fact that to grey-headed 
wisdom he united wonderful juvenility of spirit. . . . 
Hilariously boyish upon occasion he could be, and those who 
knew him best knew he was never more at home, that he 
never seemed so pleased, as when making an old boy of him- 
self, as he was wont to say, lecturing before a juvenile audience 
at Christmas. 

Caroline Fox (in " Memories of Old Friends "), 
under date June 13th, 1851, wrote in her journal : — 


We went to Faraday's lecture on " Ozone." He tried the 
various methods of making ozone which Schonbein had already- 
performed in our kitchen, and he did them brilliantly. He 
was entirely at his ease, both with his audience and his 
chemical apparatus. 

In the diary of H. Crabb Robinson is an apprecia- 
tion of Faraday of some interest : — 

May 8th, 1840. . . . Attended Carlyle's second lecture. 
It gave great satisfaction, for it had uncommon thoughts and 
was delivered with unusual animation. ... In the evening 
heard a lecture by Faraday. What a contrast to Carlyle ! A 
perfect experimentalist with an intellect so clear. Within his 
sphere un uomo comjnto. 

Many references to Faraday's lectures occur in the 
life of Sir Richard Owen (published 1894), chiefly ex- 
tracted from Mrs. Owen's diary. Two or three extracts 
must suffice : — 

1839, Jan. 8th. At eight o'clock with R. to the Royal 
Institution to hear Faraday lecture on electricity, galvanism, 
and the electric eel. Faraday is the beau ideal of a popular 

1845, Jan. 31. To Faraday's lecture at the Royal Institu- 
tion. The largest crowd I have ever seen there. Many 
gentlemen were obliged to come into the ladies' gallery, as 
they could not get seats elsewhere. After an exceedingly 
interesting lecture, Faraday said he had a few remarks to 
make on some new reform laws for the Institution. These 
remarks were admirably made, and no one could feel offended, 
although it was a direct attack on those gentlemen who helped 
to render the ladies very uncomfortable, sometimes by filling 
seats, and often front seats, in the part intended only for 
ladies. Wearing a hat in the library was one of the delin- 
quencies, likewise sitting in the seats reserved for the directors, 
who were obliged by their office and duties to be last in. Mr. 


Faraday also remarked that the formation of two currents 
caused by certain gentlemen rushing upstairs the instant the 
lecture was over to fetch their lady friends was not conducive 
to the comfort of those coming downstairs. Everything taken 
very well. 

1849, May 28th. With R. to Royal Institution. We got 
there just before three, and there was a crowded audience as 
usual to hear Faraday's lecture. The poor man entered and 
attempted to speak, but he was suffering from inflammation or 
excessive irritation of the larynx, and after some painful efforts 
to speak, a general cry arose of " Postpone," and someone, 
apparently in authority, made a short speech from the gallery. 
Mr. Faraday still wished to try and force his voice, saying he 
was well aware of the difficulty of getting back the carriages, 
etc., before the time for the lecture had elapsed, to say nothing 
of the disappointment to some ; but every moment the cry 
increased. " No, no ; you are too valuable to be allowed to 
injure yourself. Postpone, postpone." Poor Faraday was 
quite overcome. 

The interrupted lecture was resumed after a fort- 
night's interval; and he made up the full number 
of lectures by giving two extra discourses, at one of 
which the Prince Consort was present. 

At another lecture [in 1856]. Faraday explained the magnet 
and strength of attraction. He made us all laugh heartily ; 
and when he threw a coalscuttle full of coals, a poker, and a 
pair of tongs at the great magnet, and they stuck there, the 
theatre echoed with shouts of laughter. 

His friend De la Rive testified in striking terms 
to Faraday's power as a speaker. 

Nothing can give a notion of the charm which he imparted 
to these improvised lectures, in which he knew how to 
combine animated, and often eloquent, language with a 
judgment and art in his experiments which added to the 


clearness and elegance of his exposition. He exerted an 
actual fascination upon his auditors ; and when, after having 
initiated them into the mysteries of science, he terminated his 
lecture, as he was in the habit of doing, by rising into regions 
far above matter, space, and time, the emotion which he 
experienced did not fail to communicate itself to those who 
listened to him, and their enthusiasm had no longer any 

Faraday remained all his life a keen observer of 
other lecturers. Visiting France in 1845, he went 
to hear Arago give an astronomical lecture. "He 
delivered it in an admirable manner to a crowded 
audience," was his comment. 

To the Secretary of the Institution, who in 1846 
consulted him regarding evening lectures, he said : 

I see no objection to evening lectures if you can find a fit 
man to give them. As to popular lectures (which at the same 
time are to be respectable and sound), none are more difficult 
to find. Lectures which really teach will never be popular ; 
lectures which are popular will never really teach. They 
know little of the matter who think science is more easily to 
be taught or learned than ABC; and yet who ever learned 
his ABC without pain and trouble ? Still, lectures can 
(generally) inform the mind, and show forth to the attentive 
man what he really has to learn, and in their way are very 
useful, especially to the public. I think they might be useful 
to us now, even if they only gave an answer to those who, 
judging by their own earnest desire to learn, think much of 
them. As to agricultural chemistry, it is no doubt an 
excellent and a popular subject, but I rather suspect that 
those who know least of it think that most is known about it. . 

His fondness for illustrating obscure points hi his 
lectures by models has been more than once alluded 
to. He would improvise these out of wood, paper, 


wire, or even out of turnips or potatoes, with much 
dexterity of hand. In one of his unpublished 
manuscripts, dating about 1826, dealing with the 
then recently discovered phenomena of electro- 
magnetism, occurs the following note : — 

It is best for illustration to have a model of the constant 
position which the needle takes across the wire : le. voila 
(Fig. 21). 

Many such simple models were used in his 
lectures. He leaned upon them to aid his defective 
memory ; but they helped his audience quite as much 
as they aided him. Reference was made on p. 7 to 
bis use of cards, on which to jot down notes of 
thoughts that occurred to him. One such runs as 
follows : — 

Eercember to do one thing at once. 

Also to finish a thing. 

Also to do a little if I could not do much. 

Pique about mathematics in chemists, and resolution to 
support the character of experiment — as better for the mass. 
Hence origin of the title Exp. researches. 

Influence of authority. Davy and difficulty of steering 
between self-sufficiency and dependance (sic) on others. 


Aim at high things, but not presumptuously. 

Endeavour to succeed — expect not to succeed. 

Criticise one's own view in every way by experiment — if 
possible, leave no objection to be put by others. 

Faraday's enthusiasm about experimental re- 
searches was at times unrestrained, and always 
contagious. Dumas describes how Faraday repeated 
for him the experimental demonstration of the action 
of magnetism on light. Having come to the final 
experiment, Faraday rubbed his hands excitedly, 
while his eyes lit up with fire, and his animated 
countenance told the passionate feelings which he 
brought to the discovery of scientific truth. On 
another occasion -Pluck er, of Bonn, then on a visit to 
London, showed Faraday in his own laboratory the 
action of a magnet upon the luminous electric 
discharge in vacuum tubes. " Faraday danced round 
them ; and as he saw the moving arches of light, he 
cried : ' Oh, to live always in it ! ' " Once a friend 
met him at Eastbourne in the midst of a tremendous 
storm, rubbing his hands together gleefully because 
he had been fortunate enough to see the lightning 
strike the church tower. To the Baroness Burdett- 
Coutts he once wrote inviting her to see some 
experiments upon spectrum analysis in his private 
room. The experiments, he wrote, will not he 
beautiful except to the intellhjent. 

Yet another reminiscence is to be found in the 
Memorials of Joseph Henry. It relates, probably, to 
the date of 1837, when Henry visited Europe. 


Henry loved to dwell on the hours that he and Bache had 
spent in Faraday's society. I ' shall never forget Henry's 
account of his visit to King's College, London, where Faraday, 
Wheatstone, Daniell, and he had met to try and evolve the 
electric spark from the thermopile. Each in turn attempted 
it and failed. Then came Henry's turn. He succeeded, 
calling in the aid of his discovery of the effect of a long 
interpolar wire wrapped around a piece of soft iron. Faraday 
became as wild as a boy, and, jumping up, shouted : " Hurrah 
for the Yankee experiment ! " 

The following memorandum was found on a slip 
of paper in Faraday's "research drawer":— 


The discoverer of a fact. 

The reconciling of it to known principles. 

Discovery of a fact not reconcilable. 

He who refers all to still more general principles. 

M. F. 

Faraday's mind was of a very individual turn ; he 
could not walk along the beaten tracks, but must 
pursue truth wherever it led him. His dogged 
tenacity for exact fact was accompanied by a perfect 
fearlessness of speculation. He would throw over- 
board without hesitation the most deeply-rooted 
notions if experimental evidence pointed to newer 
ideas. He had learned to doubt the idea of poles ; so 
he outgrew the idea of atoms, which he considered 
an arbitrary conception. Many who heard his bold 
speculations and his free coinage of new terms 
deemed him vague and loose in thought. Nothing 
could be more untrue. He let his mind play freely 
about the facts ; he framed thousands of hypotheses, 


only to let them go by if they were not supported by 
facts. "He is the wisest philosopher," he said in a 
lecture on the nature of matter, " who holds his 
theory with some doubt — who is able to proportion 
his judgment and confidence to the value of the 
evidence set before him, taking a fact for a fact and a 
supposition for a supposition, as much as possible 
keeping his mind free from all source of prejudice; 
or, where he cannot do this (as in the case of a 
theory), remembering that such a source is there." 

In one of his later experimental researches he 
wrote : — 

As an experimentalist, I feel bound to let experiment 
guide me into any train of thought 'which it may justify ; 
being satisfied that experiment, like analysis, must lead to 
strict truth if rightly interpreted ; and believing also that it 
is in its nature far more suggestive of new trains of thought 
and new conditions of natural power. 

Perhaps it was this ver} r freedom of thought 
which debarred him from enlisting other men as 
collaborators in his researches. His one assistant 
for thirty years, Sergeant Anderson, was indeed in- 
valuable to him for his quality of implicit obedience. 
Other helpers in the laboratory he had none. Ap- 
parently he found his researches to be of too indi- 
vidual a character to permit him to deputise any part 
of his work. He was never satisfied when told about 
another's experiment ; he must perform it for himself. 
Often a discovery arose from some chance or trivial 
incident of an otherwise unsuccessful experiment. 
The power of "lateral vision," which Tyndall has 
so strongly emphasised, was a prime factor in his 


successes. That power could not be delegated to any 
mere assistant. Many times did outsiders approach 
him, thinking to bring new facts to his notice ; never, 
save on the solitary occasion when a Mr. William Jenkin 
drew his attention to the " extra-current " spark seen 
on the breaking of an electric circuit, did such novelties 
turn out to be really new. Alleged discoveries thus 
brought to him merely plagued him. He thought 
that anyone who had the wit to observe any really 
new phenomenon would be the person best qualified 
to work it out. His method was to work on alone, 
dwelling amidst his experiments until the mind, 
familiarising itself with the facts, was ready to suggest 
their correlations. It was sometimes urged against 
him as a complaint that he never took up any younger 
man to train him as his successor, even as Davy had 
taken up himself and trained him in scientific work. 
One of the miscellaneous notes, found after his death, 
throws some light on this : — 

It puzzles me greatly to know what makes tlie successful 
philosopher. Is it industry and perseverance with a moderate 
proportion of good sense and intelligence 1 Is not a modest 
assurance or earnestness a requisite? Do not many fail be- 
cause they look rather to the renown to be acquired than to 
the pure acquisition of knowledge, and the delight which the 
contented mind has in acquiring it for its own sake 1 I am 
sure I have seen many who would have been good and success 
ful pursuers of science, and have gained themselves a high 
name, but that it was the name and the reward they were 
iilways louking forward to — the reward of the world's praise. 
In such there is always a shade of envy or regret over their 
minds, and I cannot imagine a man making discoveries in 
science under these feelings. As to Genius and its power, 


there may be cases ; I suppose there are. I have looked long 
and often for a genius for our Laboratory, but have never found 
one. But I have seen many who would, I think, if they had 
submitted themselves to a sound self-applied discipline of 
mind, have become successful experimental Philosophers. 

To Dr. Becker lie wrote : 

I was never able to make a fact my own without seeing it ; 
and the descriptions of the best works altogether failed to 
convey to my mind such a knowledge of things as to allow 
myself to form a judgment upon them. It was so with new 
things. If Grove, or Wheatstone, or Gassiot, or any other 
told me a new fact, and wanted my opinion either of its value, 
or the cause, or the evidence it could give on any subject, I 
never could say anything until I had seen the fact. For the 
same reason I never could work, as some Professors do most 
extensively, by students or pupils. All the work had to be 
my own. 

Of Faraday's social life and surroundings during 
his meridional and later period much might be 
written. After his great researches of 1831 to 1836 
scientific honours flowed in freely upon him, especially 
from foreign academies and universities; and the fame 
he won at home would have brought him, had he 
been so minded, an ample professional fortune and all 
the artificial amenities of Society which follow the 
successful money-maker. From all such mundane 
-" success" he cut himself off when in 1831 he decided 
to abandon professional fee-earning, and to devote 
himself to the advancement of science. Probably the 
tenets of the religious body to which he belonged 
were a leading factor in compelling this decision. 
Not having laid upon him the necessity of providing 
for a family, and 'accustomed to live in an unostenta- 


tious style, he could contemplate the future without 
anxiety. With his pension, his Woolwich lectures, 
and his Trinity House appointment, Faraday was in 
no sense poor, though his Royal Institution professor- 
ship never brought him so much as £300 a year until 
after he was over sixty years of age ; but on the other 
hand, his private charities were very numerous. How 
much of his income was spent in that way can never 
be known ; for the very privacy of his deeds of kind- 
ness prevented any record from being kept. Certain it 
is that his gifts to the aged poor and sick must have 
amounted to several hundreds of pounds a year ; for 
while his income for many years must have averaged 
at least £1,000 or £1,100, and his domestic expendi- 
ture could not have much exceeded half that sum, he 
does not seem to have attempted to save anything. 
Nor did he grudge time or strength to do kindly 
charitable acts in visiting the sick. 

From about the year 1834 he resolutely declined 
invitations to dinners and such social gaieties ; not, as 
some averred, from any religious asceticism, but that 
he might the more unrestrainedly devote himself to 
his researches. " If," says Mrs. Crosse, " Babbage, 
Wheatstone, Grove, Owen, Tyndall, and a host of 
other distinguished scientists, were to be met very 
generally in the society of the day, there was one man 
who was very conspicuous by his absence — this was 
Faraday! His biographers say that in earlier years 
he occasionally accepted Lady Davy's invitations to 
dinner ; but I never heard of his going anywhere, ex- 
cept in obedience to the commands of royalty." He 
did indeed occasionally dine quietly with Sir Robert 


Peel or Earl Russell ; and of the few public dinners 
he attended, he enjoyed most the annual banquet ol 
the Royal Academy of Arts. 

Faraday does not, however, appear to have had 
any very direct relations with- the world of art. Once 
he was consulted by Lord John Russell as to the 
removal of Raphael's cartoons from Hampton Court 
to the National Gallery. His advice was adverse, on 
account of the penetrating power of dust. Though a 
sufficiently good draughtsman to prepare his own 
drawings, he had little or no knowledge of the 
technicalities of painting. Yet his sensitive and 
enthusiastic temperament had much in common with 
that of the artist, and he enjoyed music, especially 
good music, greatly. In early life he played the flute 
and knew many songs by heart. He took bass 
parts in concerted singing, and is said to have sung 
correctly in time and tune. In his circle of 
acquaintanceship were numbered several painters of 
eminence — Turner, Landseer, and Stanfield. His 
brother-in-law, Mr. George Barnard, the late well- 
known water-colour artist, has written the following 
note : — 

My first and many following sketching trips were made, 
with Faraday and his wife. Storms excited his admiration at 
all times, and he was never tired of looking into the heavens. 
He said to me once, " I wonder you artists don't study the 
light and colour in the sky more, and try more for effect." I 
think this quality in Turner's drawings made him admire them 
so much. He made Turner's acquaintance at Hullmandel's, 
and afterwards often had applications from him for chemical 
information about pigments. Faraday always impressed upon 
Turner and other artists the great necessity there was to 


experiment for themselves, putting washes and tints of all 
their pigments in the bright sunlight, covering up one half, 
and noticing the effect of light and gases on the other. . . . 
Faraday did not fish at all during these country trips, but 
just rambled about geologising or botanising. 

Earlier in his career, Faraday and his brother-in- 
law used to enjoy conversaziones of artists, actors, and 
musicians at Hullmandel's. Sometimes they went up 
the river in Hullmandel's eight-oar boat, camping 
gipsy-wise on the banks for dinner, and enjoying the 
singing of Signor Garcia and his wife and of his 
daughter, afterwards Madame Malibran. From these 
things, too, he withdrew very largely when he ceased 
to dine out, though he still liked to hear the opera 
and to visit the theatre. Curiously enough, he seems 
to have had very little in common with literary men. 
In the last half of the previous century there had 
been many intimate relations between the leaders of 
literature and those of science. The circle which 
included Watt, Boulton, and Wedgwood included 
also Priestley and Erasmus Darwin. In our own time 
the names of Darwin, Huxley, Hooker, and Tyndall 
are to be found in conjunction with those of Tennyson, 
Browning, and Jowett. But the biographies of literary 
men and artists of the period from 1830 to 1850 
bear few references to Faraday. He moved in his 
own world, and that a world very much apart from 
literature or art. In his method of working he was 
indeed an artist, often feeling his way rather than 
calculating it, and arriving at his conclusions by 
what seemed insight rather than by any direct process 
of reasoning. The discovery of truth comes about in 


many ways ; and if Faraday's method in science was 
artistic rather than scientific, it was amply justified by 
the brilliant harvest of discoveries which it enabled 
him to reap. 

As is well known, Faraday never took out any 
patents for his discoveries ; indeed, whenever in his 
investigations he seemed to come near to the point 
where they began to possess a marketable value from 
their application to the industries, he left them, to 
pursue his pioneering inquiries in other branches. 
He sought, indeed, for principles rather than for 
processes, for facts new to science rather than for 
merchantable inventions. When he had made the 
discovery of magneto-electric induction — the basis of 
all modern electric engineering — he carried the re- 
search to the point of constructing several experi- 
mental machines, and then abruptly turned away 
with these memorable words : — 

I have rather, however, been desirous of discovering new 
facts and new relations dependent on magneto-electric induc- 
tion than of exalting the force of those already obtained ; 
being assured that the latter would find their full development 

Several times was Faraday known, when asked 
about the possible utility of some new scientific dis- 
covery, to quote Franklin's rejoinder : " What is the 
use of a baby ? " 

It is narrated of him that on one occasion, at a 
Trinity House dinner, he and the Duke of Wellington 
had a little friendly chat, in the course of which the 
Duke advised Faraday to give his speculations "a 
practical turn as far as possible " — " a suggestion," 


said Faraday, who always spoke of the veteran with 
pleasure, " full of weight, coming from such a man." 
Faraday was, however, the last to -despise the im- 
portance of industrial applications of science. In his 
unpublished manuscripts at the Royal Institution 
there are some curious references to trials which he 
made of a meat-canning process, invented about 1848 
by a Mr. Goldner, of Fiiasbury. He also had fancies 
for other domestic applications, including wine-making. 
He used himself to bind his own note-books. To a 
Mr. Woolnough, who had written a book on the 
marbling of paper, he wrote a letter saying how much 
interest he felt in the subject, " because of its associa- 
tions with my early occupation of bookbinding ; and 
also because of the very beautiful principles of natural 
philosophy which it involves." * He even, on one 
occasion, produced a home made pair of boots. His 
devotion to the practical applications of science is 
attested by his untiring work for improving the light- 
houses of our coast. It is believed that his death was 
accelerated by a severe cold caught when on a visit of 
lighthouse inspection during stormy weather. 

Faraday was never ashamed of the circumstance 
of his having risen from a bumble origin. In his 
letters he not unfrequently alludes to things that 
remind him of his bookbinding experiences, or of 
boyish episodes in his father's smithy. Yet he had 
none of the vulgar pride of ascent which too often 
dogs the path of the self-made man. Severe self- 
discipline and genuine humility prevented either 
undue proclamation or awkward reticence respecting 
his early life. His elder brother Robert was a gas- 


fitter. Faraday was not ashamed to help him to 
secure work in his trade, nor to give him the benefit 
of his scientific aid in perfecting appliances for venti- 
lating by gas-burners. The following characteristic 
story was told by Frank Barnard : — 

Robert was throughout life a warm friend and admirer of 
his younger brother, and not a whit envious at seeing himself 
passed in the social scale by him. One day he was sitting in 
the Royal Institution just previous to a lecture by the young 
and rising philosopher, when he heard a couple of gentlemen 
behind him descanting on the natural gifts and rapid rise of 
the lecturer. The brother — perhaps not fully apprehending 
the purport of their talk — listened with growing indignation 
while one of them dilated on the lowness of Faraday's origin. 
" Why," said the speaker, " I believe he was a mere shoeblack 
at one time." Robert could endure this no longer ; but turn- 
ing sharply round he demanded : " Pray, sir, did he ever black 
your shoes 1 " " Oh ! dear no, certainly not," replied the 
gentleman, much abashed at the sudden inquisition into the 
facts of the case. 

In 1853 Faraday came before the public in a 
novel manner — as the exposer of the then rampant 
charlatanry of table-turning and spirit-rapping. The 
Athenaeum for July 2nd contains a long letter from 
him on table-turning. He experimentally investi- 
gated the alleged phenomena as produced by three 
skilful mediums in seances at the house of a friend. 
His mechanical skill was more than a match, how- 
ever, for that of the supposed spirits. When the 
observers assembled around the table placed their 
hands in the orthodox way upon the table-top, the 
table turned, apparently without any effort on the 
part of any one of the party. This was eminently 


satisfactory for the spirits. But when Faraday 
interposed between each hand and the table- top a 
simple roller-mechanism which, if any individual in 
the circle applied muscular forces tending to turn it, 
instantly indicated the fact, the table remained 
immovable. Faraday wrote merely describing the 
facts, and saying that the test apparatus was now on 
public view at 122, Regent Street. He ends thus : — 

I must bring this long description to a close. I am a little 
ashamed of it, for I think, in the present age, and in this part 
of the world, it ought not to have been required. Neverthe- 
less, I hope it may be useful. There are many whom I do not 
expect to convince ; but I may be allowed to say that I cannot 
undertake to answer such objections as may be made. I state 
my own convictions as an experimental philosopher, and find 
it no more necessary to enter into controversy on this point 
than on any other in science, as the nature of matter, or 
inertia, or the magnetisation of light, on which I may differ 
from others. The world will decide sooner or later in all such 
cases, and I have no doubt very soon and correctly in the 
present instance. 

This exposure excited great interest at the time, 
and there was an active correspondence in The Times. 
The spiritualists, instead of appreciating the services 
to truth rendered by the man of science, railed 
bitterly at him. Even the refined and noble spirit of 
Mrs. Browning was so dominated by the superstition 
of the moment that, as shown by her recently 
published letters, she denounced Faraday in singularly 
acrimonious terms, and taunted him for shallow 
materialism ! What Faraday thought of the hubbub 
evoked by his action is best learned from a letter 


which he addressed three weeks later to his friend 
Schonbein : — • 

I have not been at work except in turning the tables upon 
the table-turners, nor should I have done that, but that so 
many inquiries poured in upon me, that I thought it better to 
stop the inpouring flood by letting all know at once what my 
views and thoughts were. What a weak, credulous, incredulous, 
unbelieving, superstitious, bold, frightened, what a ridiculous 
world ours is, as far as concerns the mind of man. How full 
of inconsistencies, contradictions, and absurdities it is. I 
declare that, taking the average of many minds that have 
recently come before me (and apart from that spirit which 
God has placed in each), and accepting for a moment that 
average as a standard, I should far prefer the obedience, 
affections, and instinct of a dog before it. Do not whisper 
this, however, to others. There is One above who worketh in 
all things, and who governs even in the midst of that misrule 
to which the tendencies and powers of men are so easily 

He declined an invitation in 1855 to see mani- 
festations by the medium Home, saying that he had 
"lost too much time about such matters already." 
Nine years later the Brothers Davenport invited him 
to witness their cabinet " manifestations." Again he 
declined, and added : " I will leave the spirits to find 
out for themselves how they can move my attention. 
I am tired of them." 

In this year he wrote to The Times respecting the 
disgraceful and insanitary condition of the river 
Thames. In Punch of the following week appeared a 
cartoon representing Faraday presenting his card to 
old Father Thames, who rises holding his nose to 
avoid the stench. 

With increasing age the infirmity of loss of 


memory made itself increasingly felt. He alludes 
frequently to this in his letters. To one friend who 
upbraided him gently for not having replied to a 
letter he says : " Do you remember that I forget ? " 
To another he says he is forgetting how to spell such 
words as " withhold " and " successful." To Matteucci, 
in 1849, he bemoans how, after working for six weeks 
at certain experiments, he found, on looking back to 
his notes, he had ascertained all the same results 
eight or nine months before, and had entirely 
forgotten them ! In the same year he wrote to Dr. 
Percy : — 

I cannot be on the Committee ; I avoid everything of that 
kind, that I may keep my stupid head a little clear. As to 
being on a Committee and not working, that is worse still. 

In 1859, in a letter to his niece, Mrs. Deacon, filled 
mainly with religious thoughts, he says : " My worldly 
faculties are slipping away day by day. Happy is it 
for all of us that the true good lies not in them." 

From the journals of Walter White comes the 
following anecdote under date December 22nd, 

Mr. Faraday called to enquire on the part of Sir Walter 
Trevelyan whether a MS. of meteorological observations made 
in Greenland would be acceptable. The question answered, I 
expressed my pleasure at seeing him looking so well, and 
asked him if he were writing a paper for the Eoyal. He 
shook his head. " No ; I am too old." " Too old 1 Why, age 
brings wisdom." "Yes, but one may Overshoot the wisdom.'' 
" You cannot mean that you have outlived your wisdom 1 " 
"Something like it, for my memory is gone. If I make an 
experiment, I forget before twelve hours are over whether the 
result was positive or negative ; and how can I write a paper 


while that is the case? No, I must content myself with 
giving my lectures to children." 

From another source we learn of a hitherto un- 
recorded incident which happened to Mr. Joseph 
Newton, for some time an assistant in the Royal 
Mint. While arranging some precious material on 
the Royal Institution theatre lecture-table, previous 
to a lecture on the Mint and minting operations by 
Professor Brande, Mr. Newton noticed an elderly, 
spare, and very plainly-dressed individual watching 
his movements. Imagining that this person was a 
superior messenger of the Institution, Mr. Newton 
volunteered some information as to the coinage of 
gold. " I suppose,'' said the Mint employee, " you 
have been some years at the Royal Institution ? " 
" AY ell, yes, I have, a good many," responded the 
dilapidated one. " I hope the}' treat you pretty 
liberally — I mean, that they give you a respectable 
' screw,' for that is the main point.'' " Ah ! I agree 
with you there. I think that the labourer is worthy 
of his hire, and I shouldn't mind being paid a little 
better." Mr. Newton's surprise, on returning to the 
Royal Institution in the evening, to find that the man 
whom he had so recently patronised was none other 
than the illustrious but modest Michael Faraday can 
better be imagined than described. 

A pretty instance, given on the authority of Lady 
Pollock, may be recorded of the feeling aroused by 
Faraday's presence when he returned to his accus- 
tomed seat in the lecture-room of the Royal Institu- 
tion, after a protracted absence occasioned by illness : — 


As soon as his presence was recognised, the whole audience 
rose simultaneously and burst into a spontaneous utterance of 
welcome, loud and long. Faraday stood in acknowledgment 
of this enthusiastic greeting, with his fine head slightly bent ; 
and then a certain resemblance to the pictures and busts of 
Lord Nelson, which was always observable in his countenance, 
was very apparent. His hair had grown white and long, his 
face had lengthened, and the agility of his movement was 
gone. The eyes no longer flashed with the fire of the soul, but 
they still radiated kindly thought ; and ineffaceable lines of 
intellectual force and energy were stamped upon his face. 

In 1857 lie was offered the Presidency of the 
Royal Society. A painting preserved in the rooms 
of the Royal Society records the scene when Lord 
Wrottesley, Grove, and Gassiot waited upon him as 
a deputation from the Council, to press on him his 
acceptance of the highest place which science has to 
offer. He hesitated and finally declined, even as he 
had declined the suggestion of knighthood years before. 
" Tyndall," he said in private to his successor, " I must 
remain plain Michael Faraday to the last ; and let me 
now tell you, that if I accepted the honour which the 
Royal Society desires to confer upon me, I could not 
answer for the integrity of my intellect for a single 
year." He also declined the Presidency of the Royal 
Institution, which he had served for fifty years. His 
one desire was for rest. r 'The reverent affection of 
his friends was," said Tyndall, " to him infinitely more 
precious than all the honours of official life." 

Allusion has been made to Faraday's tender and 
chivalrous regard for his wife. Extracts from two 
letters, written in 1849 and 1863 respectively, must 
here suffice to complete the story : — 


Birmingham, Dr. Percy's : 
Thursday evening, September 13, 1849. 

My Dearest Wife,— I have just left Dr. Percy's hospitable 
table to write to you, my beloved, telling you how I have been 
getting on. I am very well, excepting a little faceache ; and 
very kindly treated here. They all long most earnestly for 
your presence, for both Mrs. and Dr. Percy are anxious jou 
should come ; and this I know, that the things we have seen 
would delight you, but then I doubt your powers of running 
about as we do ; and though I know that if time were given 
you could enjoy them, yet to press the matter into a day or 
■ two would be a failure. Besides this, after all, there is no 
pleasure like the tranquil pleasures of home, and here — even 
here — the moment I leave the table, I wish I were with you ix 
quiet. Oh ! what happiness is ours ! My runs into the 
world in this way only serve to make me esteem that happiness 
the more. I mean to be at home on Saturday night, but it 
may be late first, so do not be surprised at that ; for if I can, I 
should like to go on an excursion to the Dudley caverns, and 
that would take the day 

Write to me, dearest. I shall get your letter on Saturday 
morning, or perhaps before. 

Love to father, Margery, and Jenny, and a thousand loves 
to yourself, dearest, 

From your affectionate husband, 
M. Faraday. 

5, Claremont Gardens, Glasgow : 
Monday, August 14, 1863. 

Dearest, — Here is the fortnight complete since I left you 
and the thoughts of my return to our home crowd in strongly 
upon my mind. Not that we are in any way un cared for, or left 
by our dear friends, save as I may desire for our own retire- 
ment. Everybody has overflowed with kindness, but you 
know their manner, and their desire, by your own experience 
with me. 


I long to see you, dearest, and to talk over things together, 
and call to mind all the kindness I have received. My head is 
full, and my heart also, but my recollection rapidly fails, even 
as regards the friends that are in the room with me. You will 
have to resume your old function of being a pillow to my mind, 
and a rest, a happy-making wife. 

My love to my dear Mary. I expect to find you together, 
but do not assume to know how things may be. 

Jeannie's love with mine, and also Charlotte's, and a great 
many others which I cannot call to mind. 

Dearest, I long to see and be with you, whether together or 

Your husband, very affectionate, 

M. Faraday. 

Tn 1858 the Queen, at the suggestion of Prince 
Albert, who much esteemed and valued Faraday's 
genius, placed at his disposal for life a comfortable 
house on the green near Hampton Court. Faraday's 
only hesitation in accepting the offer was a doubt 
whether he could afford the needful repairs. On a 
hint of this reaching the Queen, she at once directed 
that it should be put into thorough repair inside and 
out. He still kept his rooms at the Eoyal Institution, 
and continued to live there occasionally. 

With the increasing infirmities of age, his anxieties 
for his wife seemed to be the only trouble that marred 
the serenity of his thought. Lady Pollock's narrative 
gives the following particulars : — 

Sometimes he was depressed by the idea of his wife left 
without kin — of the partner of his hopes and cares deprived of 
him. She had been the first love of his ardent soul ; she was 
the last ; she had been the brightest dream of his youth, and 
she was the dearest comfort of his age ; he never ceased for an 



instant to feel himself happy with her ; and he never for one 
hour ceased to care for her happiness. It was no wonder, then, 
that he felt anxiety about her. But he would rally from such 
a trouble with his great religious trust, and looking at her 
with moist eyes, he would say, " I must not be afraid ; you 
will be cared for, my wife ; you will be cared for." 

1''ig. 22. — faraday's home at uami'TON covet. 

There are some who remember how tenderly he used to 
lead her to her seat at the Eoyal Institution when she was 
suffering from lameness ; how carefully he used to support her ; 
how watchfully he used to attend all her steps. It did the 
heart good to see his devotion, and to think what the man was 
and what he had been. 

Gradually his powers waned. He 
juvenile lectures at Christmas, 1860 
1861, being now seventy years of age, he resigned his 

gave his last 
and in October, 


Professorship, while retaining the superintendence of 
the laboratory. "Nothing," he wrote to the managers, 
" would make me happier in the things of this life 
than to make some scientific discovery or develop- 
ment, and by that to justify the Board in their desire 
to retain me in my position here." His last research 
in the laboratory was made on March 12, 1862. On 
June 20th he gave his last Friday night discourse — on 
Siemens's gas furnaces. He had, as his notes show, 
already made up his mind to announce his retirement, 
and the lecture was a sad and touching occasion, for 
the failure of his powers was painfully evident. He 
continued for two years longer, and with surprising 
activity, to work for Trinity House on the subject of 
lighthouse illumination by the electric light. In 1865 
he resigned these duties to Dr. Tyndall. In 1864 he 
resigned his eldership in the Sandemanian church. 
In March, 1865, he resigned the position of super- 
intendent of the house and laboratories of the Royal 
Institution. He continued to attend the Friday 
evening meetings ; but his tottering condition of frame 
and mind was apparent to all. All through the 
winter of 1865 and 1866 he became very feeble. Yet 
he took an interest in Mr. Wilde's description of his 
new magneto-electric machine. Almost the last 
pleasure he showed on any scientific matter was when 
viewing the long spark of a Holtz's influence machine. 
He still enjoyed looking at sunsets and storms. All 
through the summer and autumn of 1866 and the 
spring of 1867 his physical powers waned. He was faith- 
fully and lovingly tended by his wife and his devoted 
niece, Jane Barnard. He was scarcely able to move' 


but his mind " overflowed " with the consciousness 
of the affectionate regard of those around him. He 
gradually sank into torpor, saying nothing and taking 
little notice of anything. Sitting in his chair in his 
study, he died peacefully and painlessly on the 
26th of August, 1867. On the 30th of August 
he was quietly buried in Highgate Cemetery, his 
remains being committed to the earth, in accord- 
ance with the custom of the religious body to which 
he belonged, in perfect silence. None but personal 
friends were present, the funeral being by his own 
verbal and written wishes strictly simple and private. 
A simple unadorned tombstone marks the last resting- 
place of Michael Faradny. 



Between Faraday and the scientific men of his time 
there subsisted many various relations. The in- 
fluence which he exerted as a lecturer and as an 
experimental investigator was unique; but, apart 
from such influences, those relations were mainly 
confined to individual friendships. With the organ- 
isation of science he had relatively very little to do. 
We have seen how highly he prized the honour of 
admission to the Fellowship of the Royal Society ; 
and it remains to be told of the gratification with 
which he accepted the scientific honours which he 
received from almost every academy and university 
in Europe. Yet he took little part in the work of 
scientific societies as such. Four years after his 
election as F.R.S. he served on the Council, and he 
remained on till 1831. He served again in 1833 and 
1835. He was not, however, satisfied with the 
management of the Royal Society, nor with the way 
in which its Fellowship was at that time bestowed 
on men who had no real claims on science, but 
were nominated through influence. Echoes of this 


discontent are to be found in various pamphlets of the 
day by Moll, Babbage. South, and others. Faraday, 
who edited Moll's pamphlet on the "Decline of 
Science," is believed to have had an even larger share 
in its production. In 1830 the really scientific men 
amongst the Fellows desired to place Sir John 
Herschel as President; the less scientific preferred 
the Duke of Sussex. Faraday took the unusual step 
of speaking on the question, advocating the principle 
that eminence in science should be the sole quali- 
fication for the Presidency. At the same meeting 
Herschel moved, and Faraday seconded, a plan for 
reforming the Council by nominating a list of fifty 
Fellows from whose number the Council should be 
chosen. They carried their plan, and Faraday's name 
was amongst those so selected to serve. But the 
presidential election went in favour of the Duke of 
Sussex by 119 to 110 votes. After 1835 Faraday 
never served again on the Council. In 1843 he wrote 
to Matteucci : — 

I think you are aware that I have not attended at the 
Eoyal Society, either meetings or council, for some years. Ill 
health is one reason, and another that I do not like the 
present constitution of it, and want to restrict it to scientific 
men. As these my opinions are not acceptable, I have 
withdrawn from any management in it (still sending scientific 
communications if I discover anything I think worthy). This, 
of course, deprives me of power there. 

Two months earlier he wrote to Grove, who at 
that time was carrying out the long-needed reforms, 
sympathising, but declining to co-operate : — 


Royal Institution, 

December 21, 1842. 

My dear Grove, — ... As to the ltoyal Society, you 
know my feeling towards it is for what it has been, and I hope 
may be. Its present state is not wholesome. You are aware 
that I am not on the council, and have not been for years, and 
have been to no meeting there for years ; but I do hope for 
better times. I do not wonder at your feeling— all I meant to 
express was a wish that its circumstances and character 
should improve, and that it should again become a desirable 
reunion of all really scientific men. It lias done" much, is 
now doing much, in some parts of science, as its magnetic 
observations show, and I hope will some day become alto- 
gether healthy. 

Ever, my dear Grove, yours sincerely, 

M. Faraday. 

Though he continued down to 1860 to send 
researches for publication to the Royal Society, he 
seldom attended its meetings.* He was not even 
present in November, 1845, on the occasion of the 
reading of his paper on the action of the magnet on 
light. In 1857 he declined the Presidency, though 
urged by the unanimous wish of the Council, as 
narrated on p. 225. 

Though in the meridian of his active life, he took 

* Once again did Faraday intervene in Royal Society affairs at 
the crucial time when Lord Rosse was elected President in 1848. 
The following excerpts from the journals of Walter White show the 
cause : — 

"November 25th.— There have been many secret conferences th s 
week — much trimming and time-serving. Alas for human nature ! " 

"November 30th.— The eventful day, the ballot begun. Mr. 
Faraday made some remarks about the list." 


no part in tho founding of the British Association 
in 1831, but was at the Oxford meeting in 1832, 
being one of the four scientific men (p. 65) selected 
to receive the honorary degree of D.C.L. on that 
occasion. He also communicated a paper on Electro- 
chemical Decomposition to the B.A. meeting at 
Cambridge in 1833. He acted as president of the 
Chemical Section of the Association in 1837 at 
Liverpool, and in 1846 at Southampton ; and he 
was chosen as vice-president of the Association 
itself in the years 1844, at York (p. 224); 1849, 
at Birmingham (p. 256); and 1853, at Hull. He 
delivered evening discourses in 1847, at Oxford, on 
Magnetic and Diamagnetic Phenomena ; and in 1849, 
at Birmingham, on Mr. Gassiot's Battery. He also 
contributed to the proceedings at the meetings at 
Ipswich in 1851 and at Liverpool in 1854. 

His comparative aloofness from scientific organi- 
sations arose probably from the exceedingly individual 
nature of his own researches — to which allusion 
was made on p. 242 — rather than from any lack of 
sympathy. He had no jealousy of co-operation in 
science. To Tyndall, then at Marburg, he wrote in 
1850 rejoicing at the circumstance that the work 
on the magnetic properties of crystals was being 
taken up by others. " It is wonderful," he says, 
" how much good results from different persons 
working at the same matter. Each one gives views 
and ideas new to the rest. When science is a 
republic, then it gains ; and though I am no re- 
publican in other matters, I am in that." Other 
causes there were, doubtless, tending to his isolation. 


amongst them an old jealousy, now long dead, against 
the Royal Institution on the part of some of the 
Fellows of the Royal Society. Above all, probably, 
was his detestation of controversy. 

Priority in scientific discovery was a matter which 
deeply concerned one whose life was devoted to 
scientific pioneering. To any question as to scien- 
tific priority between himself and other workers he 
was keenly sensitive. This was, indeed, natural in 
one who had voluntarily relinquished fortune, and 
retired from lucrative professional work, in the sole 
and single aim of advancing natural knowledge. 
His single-minded and sensitive nature made him 
particularly scrupulous in all such matters, and his 
early experiences must have added to the almost 
excessive keenness of his perceptions. Having had 
in 1823, when still merely assistant to Davy, to bear 
the double burden of a serious misunderstanding 
with Dr. Wollaston as to the originality of his dis- 
covery of the electro-magnetic rotations, and of a 
serious estrangement from his master arising out ol 
the liquid chlorine discovery — an estrangement which 
threatened to cause his election to the Royal Society 
to be indefinitely postponed — he was in later life 
especially precise in dating and publishing his own 
researches. In 1831 there arose, concerning his great 
discovery of magneto -electric induction, a curious 
misunderstanding. His discovery was, as we have 
seen, made in September and October. He collected 
his results and arranged them in the splendid me- 
moir — the first in the series of '' Experimental 
Researches in Electricity " — which was read at the 


Royal Society on November 24th. The resume ot 
his work, which he wrote five days later to Phillips, is 
given on pages 114-117. A fortnight later he wrote 
a shorter and hasty letter in the same way to his 
friend, M. Hachette of Paris — a letter which Faraday 
subsequently well termed "unfortunate," in view of 
the consequences that followed. M. Hachette, a week 
later, communicated Faraday's letter to the Academie 
des Sciences on December 26th. It was published 
in Le Temps of December 28th. At that date the 
complete memoir read to the Royal Society was not 
yet printed or circulated. The consequence was that 
two Italian physicists, MM. Nobili and Antinori, 
seeing the brief letter, and " considering that the 
subject was given to the philosophical world for 
general pursuit," immediately began researches on 
magneto-electric induction in ignorance of Faraday's 
full work. Their results they embodied in a paper, 
in which they claimed to have "verified, extended, 
and, perhaps, rectified the results of the English 
philosopher," accusing him of errors both in ex- 
periment and theory, and even of a breach of good 
faith as to what he had said about Arago's rotations. 
This paper they dated January 31st, 1832 ; but it 
7/as published in the belated number of the Antologia 
for November, 1831, where its appearance at an 
apparently earlier date than Faraday's original 
paper in the Philosophical Transactions made many 
Continental readers suppose that the researches of 
Nobili and Antinori preceded those of Faraday. In 
June, 1832, Faraday published in the Philosophical 
Magazine a translation of Nobili's memoir, with his 


own annotations; and later in the year he wrote to 
Gay Lussac a long letter on the errors of Nobili 
and Antinori. He showed how, in spite of his efforts 
to clear up the misunderstanding, in spite of his 
having sent several months previously to MM. Nobili 
and Antinori copies of his original papers, no cor- 
rection or retractation had been made by them ; and 
he concluded by a dignified protest that none might 
say he had been too hasty to write that which might 
have been avoided. It may be taken that the rule 
now recognised as to priority of scientific publication 
— namely, that it dates from the day when the dis- 
coverer communicates it formally to any of the 
recognised learned societies — was virtually established 
by Faraday's example. It will be remembered that 
writing to De la Rive in 1845, to tell him of his 
diamagnetic discoveries, he begged him to keep the 
matter secret, adding : " I ought (in order to preserve 
the respect due to the Royal Society) not to write 
a description to any one until the paper has been re- 
ceived or even read there." To younger men he incul- 
cated the necessity of proper and prompt publication 
of their researches if they would reap the benefit of 
their work. To Sir William Crookes, then a rising 
young chemist, he said : '' Work, Finish, Publish." 
Writing in 1853 to Professor Matteucci, who had been 
annoyed with him for allowing Du Bois Reymond, 
with whom Matteucci had had some controversy 
about priority, to dedicate his book to him, Faraday 
says : " Who has not to put up in his day with 
insinuations and misrepresentations in the accounts 
of his proceedings given by others, bearing for the 


time the present injustice, which is often uninten- 
tional, and often originates in hasty temper, and 
committing his fame and character to the judgment 
of the men of his own and future time 1" . . . 
'' I see that that moves you which would move me 
most — namely, the imputation of a want of good 
faith — and I cordially sympathise with any one who 
is so charged unjustly. Such cases have seemed to 
me almost the only ones for which it is worth while 
entering into controversy." . . . " These polemics 
of the scientific world are very unfortunate things; 
they form the great stain to which the beautiful 
edifice of scientific truth is subject. Are they 

Controversy whether in religion or science was to 
him alike detestable. He took no part in politics. A 
letter to Tyndall (see " Faraday as a Discoverer," p. 3y), 
written after the latter had told him of a rather heated 
discussion at the British Association meeting in 1855, 
speaks of his own efforts at forbearance. He says : — 

These great meetings, of which I think very well altogether, 
advance science chiefly by bringing scientific men together and 
making them to know and be friends with each other ; and I 
am sorry when that is not the effect in every part of tbeir 
coarse. . . . The real truth never fails ultimately to 
appear. ... It is better to be blind to the results of 
partisanship, and quick to see good will. One has more 
happiness in oneself in endeavouring to follow the things that 
make for peace. You can hardly imagine how often I have 
been heated in private when opposed, as I have thought un- 
justly and superciliously, and yet I have striven, and succeeded 
J hope, in keeping down replies of the like kind. And I know 
I have never lost by it. 


During the years when he was examining the 
apparatus of rival inventors for lighthouse illumina- 
tion, he could calmly hear them described as Mr. So- 
and-So's electric lights, all the while knowing that it 
was his own discovery of magneto-electric induction 
which had made the mechanical production of electric 
light possible. Yet he fired up if anyone dared to 
revive the priority dispute between Davy and Stephen- 
son as to the invention of the safety lamp. " Dis- 
graceful subject," was his own comment. In his 
dispute with Snow Harris as to the design of lightning 
rods, in which, as it is now known, Snow Harris was 
right ; in his dispute with Airy over the curved lines 
of force ; in his minor difficulties over Hare's pile and 
Becquerel's magnetic observations, none could either 
assert his own position with more simple dignity, nor 
admit with greater frankness the rights of his rival. 

To Hare he wrote : — 

You must excuse me, however, for several reasons from 
answering it [Hare's letter] at any length ; the first is my 
distaste for controversy, which is so great that I would on no 
account our correspondence should acquire that character. I 
have often seen it do great harm, and yet remember few cases 
in natural knowledge where it has helped much either to pull 
down error or advance truth. Criticism, on the other 'hand, is 
of much value. 

When we reflect how large a part of his experi- 
mental researches was devoted to establishing the 
relations between the various forces of nature, we 
cannot but think that Faraday must have regarded 
with somewhat mixed feelings the publication in 1846 
of Sir William Grove's volume on the Correlation of 


Forces. He had, in June, 1834, given a course of 
lectures on the mutual relation of chemical and 
electrical phenomena, and had dealt therein with the 
conversion of chemical and electrical power into heat, 
and had speculated on the inclusion of gravitation in 
these mutual relations. In 1853 Faraday marked the 
old lecture notes of these lectures with his initials, 
and endorsed them with the words "Correlation of 
Physical Forces." Probably none rejoiced more than 
he that Grove had undertaken the work of popularising 
the notion which for a score of years had been familiar 
to himself. Yet he was keen to resent an unjust 
reflection, as is shown by his letter to Richard Phillips, 
republished in Vol. II. of the " Experimental Re- 
searches," p. 229, respecting Dr. John Davy's Life of 
Sir Humphry. 

Faraday has himself left on record (p. 10) that when 
he wrote to Davy asking to be taken into his employ- 
ment, his motive was his desire " to escape from trade, 
which I thought vicious and selfish, and to enter into 
the service of Science, which, I imagined, made its 
pursuers amiable and liberal." Davy had smiled at 
this boyish notion, and had told him that the experi- 
ence of a few years would correct his ideas. Years 
afterwards he spoke of this matter to Mrs. Andrew 
Crosse in an interview which sbe has recorded : — 

After viewing the ample appliances for experimental 
research, and feeling much impressed by the scientific atmo- 
sphere of the place, I turned and said, " Mr. Faraday, you 
must be very happy in your position and with your pursuits, 
which elevate you entirely out of the meaner aspects and 
lower aims of common life." 


He shook his head, and with that wonderful mobility 
of countenance which was characteristic, his expression of 
joyousness changed to one of profound sadness, and he replied : 
" When I quitted business and took to science as a career, 
I thought I had left behind me all the petty meannesses 
and small jealousies which hinder man in his moral progress; 
but I found myself raised into another sphere, only to find 
poor human nature just the same everywhere — subject to 
the same weaknesses and the same self-seeking, however 
exalted the intellect." 

These were his words as well as I can recollect ; and, 
looking at that good and great man, I thought I had never 
seen a countenance which so impressed me with the character- 
istic of perfect unworldliness. 

Probably few men have ever been recipients of so 
many scientific honours as Faraday. Beginning in 
the year 1823 with his election as a corresponding 
member of the Academie des Sciences of Paris, and as 
an honorary member of the Cambridge Philosophical 
Society, the list of his diplomas and distinctions — 
some ninety-seven in number — ended in 1864 with 
his election as Associate of the Royal Academy of 
Sciences of Naples. It included honours from almost 
every academy and university of Europe. These 
honours Faraday valued very highly ; and whilst he 
consigned his various gold medals to a mere wooden 
box, his diplomas were kept with the utmost care in a 
special diploma book, in which they were mounted 
and indexed. To Mr. Spring Rice, who in 1838 asked 
him for a list of his titles, he replied, enclosing the 
list, and adding this remark : " One title, namely that 
of F.R.S., was sought and paid for; all the rest are 
spontaneous offerings of kindness and goodwill from 


the bodies named." Years afterwards he was asked 
by Lord Wrottesley to advise the Government as to 
how the position of science or of the cultivators of 
science in England might be improved. The letter 
is so characteristic that it cannot be spared : — 

Royal Institution : March 10, 1854. 

My Lokd, — I feel unfit to give a deliberate opinion on the 
course it might be advisable for the Government to pursue if 
it were anxious to improve the position of science and its 
cultivators in our country. My course of life, and the circum- 
stances which make it a happy one for me, are not those of 
persons who conform to the usages and habits of society. 
Through the kindness of all, from my Sovereign downwards. I 
have that which supplies all my need : and in respect of 
honours, I have, as a scientific man, received from foreign 
countries and sovereigns those which, belonging to very limited 
and select classes, surpass in my opinion anything that it is in 
the power of my own to bestow. 

I cannot say that I have not valued such distinctions ; on 
the contrary, I esteem them very highly, but I do not think I 
have ever worked for or sought after them. Even were such 
to be now created here, the time is past when these would 
possess any attraction for me. . . . 

Without thinking of the effect it might have upon distin- 
guished men of science, or upon the minds of those who, 
stimulated to exertion, might become distinguished, I do 
think that a government should, for its own sake, honour the 
men who do honour and service to the country. I refer now 
to honours only, not to beneficial rewards. Of such honours, 
I think, there are none. Knighthoods and baronetcies are 
sometimes conferred with such intentions, but I think them 
utterly unfit for that purpose. Instead of conferring distinc- 
tion, they confound the man who is one of twenty, or perhaps 
fifty, with hundreds of others. They depress rather than 
exalt him, for they tend to lower the especial distinction of 
mind to the commonplace of society. An intelligent country 


ought to recognise the scientific men amongst its people as a 
class. If honours are conferred upon eminence in any class, as 
that of the law or the army, they should be in this also. The 
aristocracy of the class should have other distinctions than 
those of lowly and high-born, rich and poor, yet they should 
be such as to be worthy of those whom the sovereign and the 
country should delight to honour ; and, being rendered very 
desirable, and even enviable, in the eyes of the aristocracy by 
birth, should be unattainable except to that of science. Thus 
much, I think, the Government and the country ought to do, 
for their own sake and the good of science, more than for 
the sake of the men who might be thought worthy of such 
distinction. The latter have attained to their fit place, 
whether the community at large recognise it or not. . . . 

I have the honour to be, my lord, your very faithful 

M. Faraday. 

To Professor Andrews he wrote in 1843 in a 
similar strain : — 

I have always felt that there is something degrading in 
offering rewards for intellectual exertion, and that societies or 
academies, or even kings and emperors, should mingle in the 
matter does not remove the degradation, for the feeling which 
is hurt is a point above their condition, and belongs to the 
respect which a man owes to himself. . . . Still, I think 
rewards and honours good if properly distributed ; but they 
should be given for what a man has done, and not offered for 
what he is to do. 

When a friend wrote to him on hearing a rumour 
that he had himself been knighted, his reply, 
published years after in the London Review, was : " 1 
am happy that I am not a Sir, and do not intend (if it 
depends upon me) to become one. By the Prussian 


knighthood* I do feel honoured; in the other I 
should not." 

On one occasion he commented rather sarcasti- 
cally upon the British Government and its stinginess 
as compared with those of all other civilised countries 
in its aids to scientific progress. This complaint is 
equally justified to day. To many it may be news 
that England pays to its Astronomer Royal — who 
must obviously be a person of very high scientific 
qualifications — a salary less than those paid to the 
five assistant under-secretaries in the Colonial and 
Foreign Offices ; less than that paid to the sergeants- 
at-arms in the Houses of Parliament ; less than that 
paid to the person appointed Director of Clothing 
in the War Office. Enlightened England ! 

Faraday did not deem the pursuit of science to be 
necessarily incompatible with what he termed " pro- 
fessional business " — that is, expert work. Until the 
day when he abandoned all professional engagements, 
so as to devote himself to researches, he had been 
receiving a considerable and growing income from 
this source. But he objected to the indignities to 
which this work exposed him from lawyers, who 
would not understand that he took no partisan view. 
He could not endure the browbeating of cross- 
examining counsel. The late Lord Cardwell was 
witness to a gentle but crushing reproof which he 
once administered to a barrister who attempted to 
bully him. A writer in the British Quarterly Review 

* He was a Chevalier of the Prussian Orler of Merit, also Com- 
mander in the Legion of Honour, and Knight Commander of the 
Order of St. Maurice and St. Lazarus. 


attributes to a specific case his determination to 
cease expert work. 

He gave evidence once in a judicial case, when the scientific 
testimony, starting from given premises, was so diverse that 
the presiding judge, in summing up launched something like 
a reproach at the scientific witnesses. " Science has not shone 
this day," was his lordship's remark. From that time forth no 
one ever saw Faraday as a scientific witness before a law 

Amongst the honours received by Faraday there 
was one of which, in 1838, he said that he felt it 
equal to any other he had received — namely, that of 
Member of the Senate of the University of London, 
to which position he was nominated in 1836 bj r the 
Crown. For twenty-seven years he remained a 
senator, and when, in 1859, the project for creating 
degrees in science was on foot, he was one of the 
committee who drew up a report and scheme of 
examination for the Senate. To the Rev. John 
Barlow he wrote on this matter: — 

The Senate of the University accepted and approved of 
the report of the Committee for Scientific Degrees, so that 
that will go forward (if the Government approve), and will 
come into work next year. It seems to give much satisfaction 
to all who have seen it, though the subject is beset with 
difficulties ; for when the depth and breadth of science came 
to be considered, and an estimate was made of how much a 
man ought to know to obtain a right to a degree in it, the 
amount in words seemed to be so enormous as to make me 
hesitate in demanding it from the student ; and though in the 
D.S. one could divide the matter and claim eminence in one 
branch of science, rather than good general knowledge in all, 
still in the B.S., which is a progressive degree, a more extended 
though a more superficial acquaintance seemed to be required. 
In fact, the matter is so new. and there is so little that can 


serve as a previous experience in the founding and arranging 
these degrees, that one must leave the whole endeavour to 
shape itself as the practice and experience accumulates. 

When, in 1863, his feebleness impelled him to 
resign this position, he- wrote to Dr. Carpenter : — 

The position of a senator is one that should not be held 
by an inactive man to the exclusion of an active one. It has 
rejoiced my heart to see the progress of the University, and 
of education under its influence and power ; and that delight 
I hope to have so long as life shall be spared to me. 

He had little sympathy with either test-book 
science or with mere examinations. "I have far 
more confidence," he wrote, " in the one man who 
works mentally and bodily at a matter than in the 
six who merely talk about it. Nothing is so good 
as an experiment which, whilst it sets error right, 
gives an absolute advancement in knowledge." In 
another place he wrote: — "Let the imagination go, 
guarding it by judgment and principles, but holding 
it in and directing it by experiment." For book- 
learned chemistry and mere chemical theory, apart 
from experimental facts, he had an undisguised con- 
tempt. Writing to General Portlock on the subject 
of chemical education, he stated that he had been 
one of the Senate of the University of London 
appointed to consider especially the best method of 
examination. They had decided on examination by 
papers, accompanied by vivd voce. "We think," he 
added, "that no numerical value can be attached 
to the questions, because everything depends on how 
they are answered." Then, referring to the teaching 
at Woolwich, he says, " My instructions always have 


been to look to the note-books for the result." 
"Lectures alone cannot be expected to give more 
than a general idea of this most extensive branch 
of science, and it would be too much to expect 
that young men who at the utmost hear only fifty 
lectures on chemistry should be able to answer with 
much effect, in writing, to questions set down on 
paper, when we know by experience that daily work 
for eight hours in practical laboratories for three 
months does not go very far to confer such ability." 

He had, at an earlier date, declined to be ap- 
pointed as examiner in the University. He had 
previously declined the professorship of chemistry 
in University College ; and he had also declined 
the chemical chair in the University of Edinburgh. 
This was not, however, from any want of sympathy 
with university work, or failure to appreciate the 
ideal of a university as a seat of learning. Writing 
to Tyndall, in 1851, about another university — that 
at Toronto — he said : " I trust it is a place where 
a man of science and a true philosopher is required, 
and where, in return, such a man would be nourished 
and cherished in proportion to his desire to advance 
natural knowledge." 

At the same time he had an exceeding repugnance 
to the custom of expecting candidates for professorial 
chairs to produce " testimonials '' of their qualifica- 
tions. When his intimate friend Richard Phillips 
was a candidate for the very chair which Faraday 
refused at University College, Faraday declined on 
principle to give a testimonial. " I should indeed 
have thought," he added, "his character had been 


known to be such that it would rather have been 
degraded than established by certificates." 

Similarly, in 1851, he told Tyndall, then an 
applicant for the Chair of Physics at Toronto, that he 
had in every case refused for many years past to give 
any on the application of candidates. " Nevertheless, 
he added, " I wish to say that when I am asked about 
a candidate by those who have the choice or appoint- 
ment, I never refuse to answer." 

On general education, Faraday's ideas were much 
in advance of his time. From the epoch when as a 
young man he lectured to the City Philosophical 
Society on the means of obtaining knowledge and on 
mental inertia, down to the close of his career, he 
consistently advocated the cultivation of the experi- 
mental method and the use of science as a means of 
training the faculties. A concise account of his views 
is to be found in the lecture he gave in 1854 before 
the Prince Consort on " Mental Education," a lecture 
which prescribes the self-educating discipline of 
scientific study and experiment as a means of correct- 
ing deficiency of judgment. It included a powerful 
plea for suspense of judgment and for the cultivation 
of the faculty of proportionate judgment. In 18G2 
he was examined at some length by the Royal Com- 
missioners upon Public Schools. With them he 
pleaded strongly for the introduction of science into 
the school curricula ; and when asked at what a^e it 
might be serviceable to introduce science-teaching, 
replied : " I think one can hardly tell that until alter 
experience for some few years. All I can say is this 
that at my juvenile lectures at Christmas time I have 


never found a child too young to understand intelli- 
gently what I told him ; they came to me afterwards 
with questions which proved their capability." 

One passage from the close of a lecture given in 
1858 deserves to be recorded for its fine appreciation of 
" the kind of education which science offers to man" : — 

It teaches us to be neglectful of nothing, not to despise the 
small beginnings — they precede of necessity all great things. 
. . . It teaches a continual comparison of the small and 
great, and that under differences almost approaching the 
infinite, for the small as often contains the great in principle 
as the great does the small ; and thus the mind becomes 
comprehensive. It teaches to deduce principles carefully, to 
hold them firmly, or to suspend the judgment, to discover and 
obey law , and by it to be bold in applying to the greatest what 
we know of the smallest. It teaches us, first by tutors and 
books, to learn that which is already known to others, and 
then by the light and methods which belong to science to 
learn for ourselves and for others ; so making a fruitful return 
to man in the future for that which we have obtained from the 
men of the past. Bacon in his instruction tells us that the 
scientific student ought not to be as the ant, who gathers 
merely, nor as the spider who spins from her own bowels, but 
rather as the bee who both gathers and produces. 

All this is true of the teaching afforded by any part of 
physical science. Electricity is often called wonderful, beautiful ; 
but it is so only in common with the other forces of nature. 
The beauty of electricity or of any other force is not that the 
power is mysterious, and unexpected, touching every sense at 
unawares in turn, but that it is under laiv, and that the taught 
intellect can even now govern it largely. The human mind is 
placed above, and not beneath it, and it is in such a point of 
view that the mental education afforded by science is rendered 
super-eminent in dignity, in practical application and utility ; 
for by enabling the mind to apply the natural power through 
law, it conveys the gifts of God to man. 


A peculiar interest attaches to Faraday's attitude 
towards the study of mathematics. He who had 
never had any schooling beyond the common school 
of his parish had not advanced beyond the simplest 
algebra in his mastery over symbolic reasoning. 
Several times in his "Experimental Researches" he 
deplores what he termed " my imperfect mathe- 
matical knowledge." Of Poisson's theory of magnetism 
he said : " I am quite unfit to form a judgment," 
Dr. Scoffern repeats a pleasantry of Faraday's having 
on a certain occasion boasted that he had once in the 
course of his life performed a mathematical operation 
— when he turned the handle of Babbage's calculating 
machine. Certain it is that he went through the 
whole of his magnificent researches without once 
using even a sine or a cosine, or anything more 
recondite than the simple rule-of- three. He ex- 
pressed the same kind of regret at his unfamiliarity 
with the German language — " the language of science 
and knowledge," as he termed it in writing to Du Bois 
Reymond — which prevented him from reading the 
works of Professor " Ohms." Nevertheless he valued 
the mathematical powers of others, and counselled 
Tyndall to work out his experimental results, " so that 
the mathematicians may be able to take it up." Yet 
he never relaxed his preference for proceeding along 
the lines of experimental investigation. His curious 
phrase (p. 239) as to his pique respecting mathematics 
is very significant, as is also his note of jubilation in 
his letter to Phillips (p. 117) at finding that pure 
experiment can successfully rival mathematics in 
unravelling the mysteries which had eluded the efforts 


of Poisson and Arago. He himself attributed to his 
defective memory his want of hold upon symbolic 
reasoning. To Tyndall he wrote in 1851, when thank- 
ing him for a copy of one of his scientific memoirs : — 

Such papers as yours make me feel more than ever the loss 
of memory I have sustained, for there is no reading them, or 
at least retaining the argument, under such deficiency. 

Mathematical formulas more than anything require quick- 
ness and surety in receiving and retaining the true value of 
the symbols used ; and when one has to look back at every 
moment to the beginning of a paper, to see what H or A or B 
mean, there is no making way. Still, though I cannot hold 
the whole train of reasoning in my mind at once, I am able 
fully to appreciate the value of the results you arrive at, and it 
appears to me that they are exceedingly well established and 
of very great consequence. These elementary laws of action 
are of so much consequence in the development of the nature 
of a power which, like magnetism, is as yet new to us. 

Again to Clerk Maxwell, in 1857, he wrote : — 

There is one thing I would be glad to ask you. When a 
mathematician engaged in investigating physical actions and 
results has arrived at his own conclusions, may they not be 
expressed in common language as fully, clearly, and definitely 
as in mathematical formula? 1 If so, would it not be a great 
boon to such as we to express them so — translating them out 
of their hieroglyphics that we also might work upon them by 
experiment 1 I think it must be so, because I have always 
found that you could convey to me a perfectly clear idea of 
your conclusions, which, though they may give me no full 
understanding of the steps of your process, gave me the results 
neither above nor below the truth, and so clear in character 
that I can think and work from them. 

If this be possible, would it not be a good thing if mathe- 
maticians, writing on these subjects, were to give us their 


results in this popular useful working state as well as in that 
which is their own and proper to them ? 

The achievement of Faraday in finding for the 
expression of electromagnetic laws means which, 
though not symbolic, were simple, accurate, and in 
advance of the mathematics of his time, has been 
alluded to on page 217. Liebig, in his discourse on 
" Induction and Deduction," refers to Faraday thus : — ■ 

I have heard mathematical physicists deplore that Faraday's 
records of his labours were difficult to read and understand, 
that they often resembled rather abstracts from a diary. But 
the fault was theirs, not Faraday's. To physicists who have 
approached physics by the road of chemistry, Faraday's 
memoirs sound like an admirably beautiful music. 

Von Helmholtz, in his Faraday lecture of 1881, 
has also touched on this aspect. 

Now that the mathematical interpretation of Faraday's 
conceptions regarding the nature of electric and magnetic 
forces has been given by Clerk Maxwell, we see how great a 
degree of exactness and precision was really hidden behind the 
words which to Faraday's contemporaries appeared either 
vague or obscure ; and it is in the highest degree astonishing 
to see what a large number of general theorems, the methodical 
deduction of which requires the highest powers of mathe- 
matical analysis, he found by a kind of intuition, with the 
security of instinct, without the help of a single mathematical 

Two other passages from Von Helmholtz are 
worthy of being added : — 

And now, with a quite wonderful sagacity and intellectual 
precision, Faraday performed in his brain the work of a great 
mathematician without using a single mathematical formula 


He saw with his mind's eye that magnetised and dielectric 
bodies ought to have a tendency to contract in the direction 
of the lines of force, and to dilate in all directions perpen- 
dicular to the former, and that by these systems of tensions 
and pressures in the space which surrounds electrified bodies, 
magnets,' or wires conducting electric currents, all the pheno- 
mena of electrostatic, magnetic, electromagnetic attraction, 
repulsion, and induction could be explained, without recurring 
at all to forces acting directly at a distance. This was the 
part of his path where so few could follow him ; perhaps a 
Clerk Maxwell, a second man of the same power and in- 
dependence of intellect, was needed to reconstruct in the 
normal methods of science the great building the plan of 
which Faraday had conceived in his mind, and attempted to 
make visible to his contemporaries. 

Nobody can deny that this new theory of electricity and 
magnetism, originated by Faraday and developed by Maxwell, 
is in itself well consistent, in perfect and exact harmony with 
all the known facts of experience, and does not contradict any 
one of the general axioms of dynamics, which have been 
hitherto considered as the fundamental truths of all natural 
science, because they have been found valid, without any 
exception, in all known processes of nature. 

And, after dealing with the phenomena discussed 
by Faraday, Von Helmholtz adds these pregnant 
words : — 

Nevertheless, the fundamental conceptions by which 
Faraday was led to these much-admired discoveries have 
not received an equal amount of consideration. They were 
very divergent from the trodden path of scientific theory, and 
appeared rather startling to his contemporaries. His principal 
aim was to express in his new conceptions only facts, with 
the least possible use of hypothetical substances and forces. 
This was really an advance in general scientific method, 
destined to purify science from the last remnants of meta- 
physics. Faraday was not the first, and not the only man, 


who bad worked in this direction, but perhaps nobody else 
at his time did it so radically. 

Clerk Maxwell said of him : 

The way in which Faraday made use of his lines of force 
in co-ordinating the phenomena of electric induction shows 
him to have been a mathematician of high order, and one 
from whom the mathematicians of the future may derive 
valuable and fertile methods. 

It is fitting to include in this review of Faraday's 
place in relation to the mathematical side of physics 
some words of Lord Kelvin, taken from his preface 
to the English edition of Hertz's "Electric Waves" : — 

Faraday, with his curved lines of electric force, and his 
dielectric efficiency of air and of liquid and solid insulators, 
resuscitated the idea of a medium through which, and not 
only through which but by which, forces of attraction or 
repulsion, seemingly acting at a distance, are transmitted. 

The long struggle of the first half of the eighteenth century 
was not merely on the question of a medium to serve for 
gravific mechanism, but on the correctness of the Newtonian 
law of gravitation as a matter of fact, however explained. 
The corresponding controversy in the nineteenth century was 
very short, and it soon became obvious that Faraday's idea 
of the transmission of electric force by a medium not only did 
not violate Coulomb's law of relation between force and 
distance, but that, if real, it must give a thorough explanation 
of that law. Nevertheless, after Faraday's discovery of the 
different specific inductive capacities of different insulators, 
twenty years passed before it was generally accepted in Con- 
tinental Europe. But before his death, in 1867, he hac( 
succeeded in inspiring the rising generation of the scientific 
world with something approaching to faith that electric force 
is transmitted by a medium called ether, of which, as had 
been believed by the whole scientific world for forty years, 


light and radiant heat are transverse vibrations. Faraday 
himself did not rest with this theory of electricity alone. 
The very last time I saw him at work at the Eoyal Institution 
was in an underground cellar, which he had chosen for 
freedom from disturbance, and he was arranging experiments 
to test the time of propagation of magnetic force from an 
electromagnet through a distance of many yards of air to a 
fine steel needle, polished to reflect light ; but no result came 
from those experiments. About the same time, or soon alter, 
certainly not long before the end of his working time, he was 
engaged (I believe at the Shot Tower, near Waterloo Bridge, 
on the Surrey side) in efforts to discover relations between 
gravity and magnetism, which also led to no result. 

Lord Kelvin, who was himself the first to perceive 
that Faraday's ideas were not inconsistent with mathe- 
matical expression, and to direct Clerk Maxwell and 
others to this view, had, in 1854, delighted the old 
man by bringing mathematical support to the con- 
ception of lines of force. In 1857 he sent to Faraday 
a copy of one of his papers, and received in acknow- 
ledgment a letter of warm encouragement, which, 
however, does not appear to have been preserved. 
Lord Kelvin's reply is its own best commentary : — 

Such expressions from you would be more than a sufficient 
reward for anything I could ever contemplate doing in science. 
I feel strongly how little I have done to deserve them, but they 
will encourage me with a stronger motive than I have ever 
had before to go on endeavouring to see in the direction you 
have pointed, which I long ago learned to believe is the 
direction in which we must look for a deeper insight into 



The name of Glasites or Sandemanians is given to 
a small sect of Christians which separated from the 
Scottish Presbyterian Church about 1730 under 
the leadership of the Rev. John Glas. Most of the 
congregations which sprang up in England were 
formed in consequence of the dissemination of the 
writings and by the preaching of Robert Sandeman, 
son-in-law and successor of Glas. Hence the double 
name. The Sandemanian Church in London was 
constituted about 1760. It still has a chapel hi 
Barnsbury, though the sect as a whole — never 
numerous — has dwindled to a small remnant.* The 
religious census of 1851 showed but six congregations 
in England and six in Scotland. As it never was a 
proselytising body, it is probable that it has diminished 
since that date. John Glas was deposed in 1728 
by the Presbyterian Courts from his position as 
minister in the Scottish Church, because he taught 

* Faraday's nephew, Frank Barnard, stated in 1871 that the London 
congregation included amongst its members not more than twenty men, 
mostly quite poor, only seven or eight of them being masters of their 
own businesses, and that Faraday was for some time tLe wealthiest 
man of the fraternity. 


that the Church should be governed only by the 
doctrines of Christ and His apostles, and not be 
subject to any League or Covenant. He held that 
the formal establishment by any nation of a pro- 
fessed religion was the subversion of primitive 
Christianity ; that Christ did not come to establish 
any worldly authority, but to give a hope of eternal 
life to His people whom He should choose of His own 
sovereign will ; that " the Bible," and it alone, with 
nothing added to it nor taken away from it by man, 
was the sole and sufficient guide for each individual, 
at all times and in all circumstances ; that faith in 
the divinity and work of Christ is the gift of God, 
and that the evidence of this faith is obedience to the 
commandment of Christ. 

The tenets of Glas are somewhat obscure and 
couched in mystical language. They prescribe a 
spiritual union which binds its members into one 
body as a Church without its being represented 
by any corresponding outward ecclesiastical polity. 
He died in 1773. Sandeman, who spent most of 
his life in preaching these doctrines, died about the 
same time in New England. He caused to be 
inscribed on his tomb that "he boldly contended 
for the ancient faith .that the bare death of Jesus 
Christ, without a deed or thought on the part 
of man, is sufficient to present the chief of sinners 
spotless before God." 

The Sandemanians try — so far as modern con- 
ditions permit — to live up to the practice of the 
Christian Church as it was in the time of the 
Apostles. At their chapel they " broke bread " 


every Lord's day in the forenoon, making this a 
common meal between the morning and afternoon 
services, and taking their places by casting lots- 
And weekly, at their simple celebration of the Lord's 
Supper at the close of the afternoon service, before 
partaking, they collect money for the support of the 
poor and for expenses. In some places they dined 
together at one another's houses instead of at the 
chapel. " They esteem the lot as a sacred thing. 
The washing of the feet is also retained : not, it would 
seem, on any special occasion, but the ablution is 
performed ' whenever it can be an act of kindness to 
a brother to do so.' Another peculiarity of this 
religious body is their objection to second marriages." * 
Members are received into the Church on the con- 
fession of sin and profession of faith made publicly at 
one of the afternoon services. In admitting a new 
member they give the kiss of charity. They deem it 
wrong to save up money ; " the Lord will provide " 
being an essential item of faith. Traces of this curious 
fatalism may be found in one of Faraday's letters to 
his wife (p. 52). He seems always to have spent his 
surplus income on charity. • The Sandemanians have 
neither ordained ministers nor paid preachers. In 
each congregation, however, there are chosen elders 
(presbyters or bishops), of whom there must always be 
a plurality, and of whom two at least must be present 
at every act of discipline. The elders take it in turns 
to preside at the worship, and are elected by the 
unanimous choice of the congregation The sole 

* C. M. Davies : " Unorthodox London,'' pajo 8!. 


qualification for this office, which is unpaid, is that 
earnestness of purpose and sincerity of life which 
would have been required in Apostolic times for the 
office of bishop or presbyter. No difference of opinion 
is tolerated, but is met by excommunication, which 
amongst families so connected by marriage produces 
much unhappiness, since they hold to the Apostle's 
injunction, " With such an one, no, not to eat." 

The foregoing summary is needed to enable the 
reader to comprehend the relationship of Faraday 
to this body. His father and grandfather had be- 
longed to this sect. In 176.3 there was a congregation 
at Kirkby Stephen (the home of Faraday's mother) 
numbering about thirty persons ; and there appears 
to have been a chapel — now used as a barn — in 
Clapham. A strong religious feeling had been 
dominant in the Faraday family through the preced- 
ing generation. James Faraday, on his removal to 
London, there joined the Sandemanian congregation, 
which at that time met in a small chapel in St. Paul's 
Alley, Barbican, since pulled down. It had, when 
founded in 1762, held its first meetings in the hall of the 
Glovers' Company, and later in Bull and Mouth Street, 
till 1778. James Faraday's wife, mother of Michael 
Faraday, never formally joined the Sandemanian 
Church, though a regular attendant of the congrega- 
tion. Michael Faraday was from a boy brought up 
in the practice of attending this simple worship, and 
in the atmosphere of this primitive religious faith, 
Doubtless such surroundings exercised a moulding 
influence on his mind and character. The attitude 
of abstinence from attempts to proselytise, on the part 



ot the church, finds its reflex in Faraday's habitual 
reticence, towards all save only the most intimate of 
friends, on matters of religious faith. " Never once," 
says Professor Tyndall, " during an intimacy of fifteen 
years, did he mention religion to me, save when I 
drew him on to the subject. He then spoke to me 
without hesitation or reluctance; not with any 
apparent desire to ' improve the occasion,' but to give 
me such information as I sought. He believed the 
human heart to be swayed by a power to which 
science or logic opened no approach ; and right or 
wrong, tbis faith, held in perfect tolerance of the faiths 
of others, strengthened and beautified his life." 

Of his spiritual history down to the time of his 
marriage very little is known, for he made no earlier 
profession of faith. It is not to be supposed that he 
who was so scrupulous of truth, so single-minded in 
every relation of life, would accept the religious belief 
of his fathers without satisfying his conscience as to 
the rightness of its claims. Yet none of his letters or 
writings of that period show any trace* of that stress 
of soul through which at one time or another every 

* A letter from his nephew, Frank Barnard, to Dr. Gladstone says : 
" I believe that in his younger days he had his period of hesitation, of 
questioning in that great argument. I have heard that, so alive was 
he to the necessity of investigating anything that seemed important, 
he visited Joanna Southcote, perhaps to learn what that woman's pre- 
tensions were : I think he was a mere lad at that time. But this 
period once passed, he questioned no more, for the more he saw that 
Nature was mighty, the more he felt that God was mightier ; and to 
any cavillings upon the doubts of Colenso or the reality of the Mosaic 
cosmogony, I believe he would simply have replied .in the apostle's 
words: 'Is anything too hard for God.? ' . . . 

" I once heard him say from the pulpit, ' I hope none of my hearers 
will in these matters listen to the thing called philosophy.' " 


sincere and earnest seeker after truth must pass before 
he finds anchorage. Certain it is that he clung with 
warm attachment to the little self-contained sect 
amongst whom he had been brought up. Its influence, 
though contracting his activities by precluding all 
Christian communion or effort outside their circle, 
and cutting him off from so much that other Christian 
bodies hold good, fenced him effectually from dreams 
of worldliness, and furnished him with that very 
detachment which was most essential to his scientific 
pursuits. One month after his marriage he made 
his confession of sin and profession of faith before the 
Sandemanian Church. It was an act of humility the 
more striking in that it was done without any con- 
sultation with his wife, to whom he was so closely 
attached, and who was already a member of the 
congregation. When she asked him why he had not 
told her what he was about to do, he replied : " That 
is between me and my God." 

In 1844 he wrote to Lady Lovelace as follows : — 
" You speak of religion, and here you will be 
sadly disappointed in me. You will perhaps re- 
member that I guessed, and not very far aside, your 
tendency in this respect. Your confidence in me 
claims in return mine to you, which indeed I haTe 
no hesitation in giving on fitting occasions, but 
these I think are very few, for in my mind re- 
ligious conversation is generally in vain. There is 
no philosophy in my religion. I am of a very 
small and despised sect of Christians, known, if 
known at all, as Sandemanians, and our hope is 
founded on the faith that is in Christ. But though 


the natural works of God can never by any possibility 
come in contradiction -with the higher things that 
belong to our future existence, and must with 
everything concerning Him ever glorify Him, still 
I do not think it at all necessary to tie the study 
of the natural sciences and religion together, and, 
in my intercourse with my fellow creatures, that 
which is religious and that which is philosophical 
have ever been two distinct things." 

His own views were stated by himself at the 
commencement of a lecture on Mental Education 
in 1854:— 

High as man is placed above the creatures around him, 
there is a higher and far more exalted position within his 
view ; and the ways are infinite in which he occupies his 
thoughts about the fears, or hopes, or expectations of a future 
life. 'I believe that the truth of that future cannot be brought 
to his knowledge by any exertion of his mental powers, how- 
ever exalted they may be ; that it is made known to him by 
other teaching than his own, and is received through simple 
belief of the testimony given. Let no one suppose for • a 
moment that the self-education I am about to commend, in 
respect of the things of this life, extends to any considerations 
of the hope set before us, as if man by reasoning could find 
out God. It would be improper here to enter upon this 
subject further than to claim an absolute distinction between 
religious and ordinary belief. I shall be reproached with the 
weakness of refusing to apply those mental operations which 
I think good in respect of high things to the very highest. 
I am content to bear the reproach. 

One of his friends wrote : " When he entered 
the meeting-house he left his science behind, and 
he would listen to the prayer and exhortation of 
the most illiterate brother of his sect with an 


attention which showed how he loved the word of 
truth, from whomsoever it came." 

" The most remarkable event," says Dr. Bence 
Jones, " of his life in 1840 was his election as an 
elder of the Sandemanian Church. During that 
period when in London he preached on alternate 
Sundays." This was not an entirely new duty, for 
he had been occasionally called upon by the elders, 
from the date of his admission in 1821, to exhort 
the brethren at the week-day evening meetings, or 
to read the Scriptures in the congregation. Bence 
Jones says that, though no one could lecture like 
Faraday, many might preach with more effect. 
.The eager and vivacious manner of the lecture- 
room was exchanged for a devout earnestness that 
was in complete contrast. His addresses have been 
described as a patchwork of texts cited rapidly 
from the Old and New Testaments ; and they were 
always extempore, though he prepared careful notes 
on a piece of card beforehand. Of these, samples 
are given in Bence Jones's ''Life and Letters'." His 
first discourse as an elder was on Matt. xi. 28-30, 
dilating on Christ's character and example. "Learn 
of Me." The ground of humility of Christians must 
be the infinite distance between them and their 
Pattern. He quoted 1 John ii. 6 ; 1 Peter ii. 21 ; 
Phil. iii. 17 ; 1 Cor. xi. 1 ; and 1 Cor. xiv. 1. 

An exceedingly vivid view of Faraday as elder 
of the Church was given in 1886* by the late Mr. 
C. C. Walker, himself at one time a member of 

* Manchester Guardian, November 27. 


the Sandemanian congregation in London; a con- 
gregation, moreover, which included several persons 
of distinction— Cornelius Varley, the engraver, and 
George Barnard, the water-colour painter. 

At Faraday's chapel there was a presiding elder, supported 
by the rest of the elders on two rows of seats elevated across 
the end of the chapel, one row above the other. The ground 
floor was filled with the old-fashioned high pews, and there 
was a gallery above on both sides, also with pews. Fara- 
day sat in a pew on the ground floor, about the middle. 
There was a large table on the floor of the chapel in front 
of the elders' seats. The presiding elder usually preached. 
Such was the place Faraday worshipped in, situated at the 
end of a narrow dirty court, surrounded by squalid houses 
of the poorest of the poor, and so little known that although 
I knew every street, iane and alley of the whole district, 
and this alley itself, at the bottom of which the chapel was, 
I never knew of the existence of the meeting-house till I 
learned about thirty-five years ago that there was a chapel there 
to which the world-renowned Faraday not only went, but where 
he preached. This led me to make a search, and to my 
great delight, I found it, though with some difficulty. Al- 
though the neighbourhood was uncleanly, not so was the 
interior of the chapel, nor the dining room, with its tables 
and forms, all of which were spotless. 

Faraday's father was a blacksmith, and worshipped here. 
He brought up his family religiously, and Faraday from 
his earliest days attended the chapel. Here he met Miss 
Barnard, his future wife. Mr. Barnard was a respectable 
" working silversmith," as manufacturing silversmiths were 
then called, to distinguish them from the shopkeepers who 
then, as now, called themselves " silversmiths," though fre- 
quently making none of the goods they sell. His manufactory 
was for a time at Amen Court, Paternoster Bow ; afterwards 
it was removed to a large building erected by the firm at 
Angel Street, near the General Post Office, and the business 
has since been carried on by the sons and grandsons. 


Mr. Barnard and his family worshipped at the Sande- 
manian Chapel. To this chapel Faraday walked every 
Sunday morning from his earliest days ; he never kept a 
carriage, and on religious principles would not hire a cab 
or omnibus on the Lord's day.* 

The service commenced at eleven in the morning and 
lasted till about one, after which the members — "' brothers 
and sisters," as they called each other — had their midday 
meal "in common " in the room attached to the chapel, 
which has already been referred to. The afternoon worship 
usually ended about five o'clock, after partaking of the Lord's 
Supper. The services were very much like those of the 
Congregationalists, and consisted of extempore prayers, hymns, 
reading the Scripture, and a sermon, usually by the presiding 
elder. Faraday had been an elder for a great many years, 
and for a considerable time was the presiding elder, and 
consequently preached ; but during this time relinquished 
his office. There was one peculiarity in the service ; the 
Scriptures were not read by the presiding elder, but he 
called on one of the members to read ; and when Faraday 
was there— which he always was when in London— the pre- 
siding elder named " Brother Michael Faraday," who then 
left his pew, passing along the aisle, out of the chapel, up 
the stairs at the back, and reappeared behind the presiding 
elder's seat, who had already opened the large Bible in 
front of him, and pointed out the chapter to be read. It 
was one of the richest treats that it has been my good 
fortune to enjoy to hear Faraday read the Bible. The reader 
was quite unaware what he was to read until it was selected 
and when one chapter of the Old Testament was finished 
another would be given, probably from the New Testament 
Usually three chapters were read, and sometimes four, it 
succession ; but if it had been half a dozen there would 
have been no weariness, for the perfection of the reading, 
with its clearness of pronunciation, its judicious emphasis, 

[* This is not altogether accurate. Certainly in his later life 
Faraday used to hire a cab to take him and Mrs. Faraday to the 
chapel. S. P. T.] 


the .rich musical voice, and the perfect charm of the reader, 
with his natural reverence, made it a delight to listen. I have 
heard most of those who are considered our best readers 
in church and chapel, but have never heard a reader that 
[ considered equal to Faraday. 

At this distance of time his tones are always in my ears. 

I was told by members of the chapel that he was most 
assiduous in visiting the poorer brethren and sisters at their 
own homes, comforting them in their sorrows and afflictions, 
and assisting them from his own purse. Indeed, they said, he 
was continually pressed to be the guest of the high and noble 
(which we may well believe), but he would, if possible, decline 
preferring to visit some poor sister in trouble, assist her, take 
a cup of tea with her, read the Bible and pray. Though so full 
of religion, he was never obtrusive with it ; it was too sacred a 

Tyndall has preserved another vivid reminiscence 
of Faraday's inner life, which he wrote down after one 
of the earliest dinners which he had in the Royal 

" At two o'clock he came down for me. He, his 
niece, and myself formed the party. ' I never give 
dinners,' he said ; ' I don't know how to give dinners ; 
and I never dine out. But I should not like my 
friends to attribute this to a wrong cause. I act 
thus for the sake of securing time for work, and not 
through religious motives as some imagine.' He said 
grace. I am almost ashamed to call his prayer a 
' saying ' of grace. In the language of Scripture, it 
might be described as the petition of a son into 
whose heart God had sent the Spirit of His Son, and 
who with absolute trust asked a blessing from his 
Father. We dined on roast beef, Yorkshire pudding 


and potatoes, drank sherry, talked of research and its 
requirements, and of his habit of keeping himself free 
from the distractions of society. He was bright and 
joyful— boylike, in fact, though he is now sixty-two. 
His work excites admiration, but contact with him 
warms and elevates the heart. Here, surely, is a 
strong man. I love strength, but let me not forget 
the example of its union with modesty, tenderness, 
and sweetness, in the character of Faraday." 

There is a story told by the Abbe Moigno that 
one day at Faraday's request he introduced him to 
Cardinal Wiseman. In the frank interview which 
followed, the Cardinal did not hesitate to ask Faraday 
whether, in his deepest conviction, he believed all the 
Church of Christ, holy, catholic, and apostolic, was 
shut up in the little sect in which he was officially an 
elder. " Oh, no ! " was Faraday's reply ; " but I do 
believe from the bottom of my soul that Christ is 
with us." 

The course of Faraday's eldership was, however, 
interrupted. It was expected of an elder that he 
should attend every Sunday. One Sunday he was 
absent. When it was discovered that his absence was 
due to his having been ""commanded " to dine with 
the Queen at Windsor, and that so far from expressing 
penitence, he was prepared to defend his action, his 
office became vacant. He was even cut off from 
ordinary membership. Nevertheless, he continued for 
years to attend the meetings just as before. He 
would even return from the provincial meetings of 
the British Association to London for the Sunday, so 
as not to be absent. In 1860 he was received back as 


an elder, which office he held again for about three 
years and a half, and finally resigned it in 1864. 

It is doubtful whether Faraday ever attempted to 
form any connected ideas as to the nature or method 
of operation of the Divine government of the physical 
world, in which he had such a whole-souled belief. 
Newton has left us such an attempt. Kant in his 
own way has put forward another. So did Herschel; 
and so in our time have the authors of " The Unseen 
Universe." To Faraday all such "natural theology" 
would have seemed vain and aimless. It was no part 
of the lecturer on natural philosophy to speculate as 
to final causes behind the physical laws with which 
he dealt. Nor, on the other hand, was it the slightest 
use to the Christian to inquire in what way God ruled 
the universe : it was enough that He did rule it. 

Faraday's mental organisation, which made it 
possible for him to erect an absolute barrier between 
his science and his religion, was an unusual one. The 
human mind is seldom built in such rigid compart- 
ments that a man whose whole life is spent in 
analysing, testing, and weighing truths in one depart- 
ment of knowledge, can cut himself off from applying 
the same testing and inquiring processes in another 
department. The founder of the sect had taught them 
that the Bible alone, with nothing added to it or taken 
away from it by man, was the only and sufficient guide 
for the soul. Apparently Faraday never admitted 
the possibility of human flaw in the printing, editing, 
translation, collation, or construction of the Bible. 
He apparently never even desired to know how it 
compared with the oldest manuscripts, or what was 


the evidence for the authenticity of the various 
versions. Having once accepted the views of his sect 
as to the absolute inspiration of the English Bible as 
a whole, he permitted no subsequent question to 
be raised as to its literal authority. Tyndall once 
described this attitude of mind in his own trenchant 
way by saying that when Faraday opened the door of 
his oratory he closed that of his laboratory. The 
saying may seem hard, but it is essentially true. To 
few indeed is such a limitation of character possible: 
possibly it may be unique. We may reverence the 
frank single-minded simplicity of soul which dwelt in 
Faraday, and may yet hold that, whatever limitation 
was right for him, others would do wrong if they 
refused to bring the powers of the mind — God-given 
as they believe — to bear upon the discovery of truth 
in the region of Biblical research. Yet may none 
of them dream of surpassing in transparent honesty 
of soul, in genuine Christian humility, in the virtues 
of kindness, earnestness, and sympathetic devotion, 
the great and good man who denied himself that 


Abbott, Benjamin, 7, 8, 97, 227; 

letters to, 7, 9, 15, 22, 25, 26, 41, 

44, 228 
Acoustical researches, 136 
Action at a distance unthinkable, 

128, 153, 157, 216 
Admiralty, Scientific adviser to 

the, 68 
JEther, the, Speculations upon, 

193, 213 
Airy, Sir George, Dispute with, 

Aloofness from scientific organisa- 
tions, 264 
Ampere, Andree Marie, Meeting 

with, 19; his researches, P-0, 82, 

85, 105, 126 
Analyst, Faraday's professional 

work as, 51, 61, 63,274 
Anderson, Sergeant, engaged as 

assistant, 96 ; his implicit obedi- 
ence, 97, 242 
Andrews, Professor T. , Letter to, 

Apparatus, Simplicity of, 239 
Arago, F., Meeting with, 34, 238 ; 

his notations, 106, 116, 118 ; his 

philosophical reserve, 107 
Armstrong, Lord, on electrification 

of steam, 170 
Artists amongst acquaintances, 246 
Astley's Theatre, 51 
Athenaeum Club, 59 
Atmospheric magnetism, 206, 209, 

Atoms or centres of force, 241 
Autobiographical notes, 8, 17, 50, 

58, ,70, 71, 73, 76, 223, 243 


Babbage, Charles, 107, 116, 262 

Barnard, Edward, 46 

, Frank, 250, 286 

, George, 46, 51, 74, 89, 224, 

246, 294 

, Miss Jane, 46, 259 

, Sarah (Mrs.» Faraday), 

46, 294 

Becker, Dr., Letter to, 244 

Bence Jones's " Life and Letters 
of Faraday," 7, 26, 40, 43, 48, 
57, 58, 78, 108, 199, 226, 231, 293 

Benzol, Discovery of, 94, 101 

Bidwell, S., magnetic action of 
light, 184 

Biographies of Faraday {see Pre- 

Boltzmann : on crystalline dielec- 
trics, 166 ; on the doctrines of 
Faraday and Maxwell, 216 

Bookbinding, 5, 6, 17, 249 

Bookselling, 5, 17, 26, 31 

Books by Faraday: — "On the 
Means of Obtaining Know- 
ledge," 41 ; " Chemical Manipu- 
lations," 101, 233; "On Alleged 
Decline of Science in England " 
(editor), 110; "Experimental 
Researches in Electricity and 
Magnetism," 102; "Experi- 
mental Researches in Chemistry 
and Physics," 76 ; "On the 

" Prevention of Dry Rot in Tim- 
ber," 149; "Chemistry of a 
Candle," 234; "The Forces of 
Nature," 234 



Boots, a home-made pair of, 249 
Brande, W. F., Prof., 39, 57 
Breakdown in health, 170, 199, 

222, 259 
British Association, 64, 224, 264, 

268, 297 
Browning, Mrs. E. B., denounces 

Faraday, 251 
Burdett-Coutts, Baroness, Letter 

to, 240 


Cards, Use of, to assist memory, 7, 

Charge, electric, Query as to seat 
of, 154 

, The nature of an electric, 

Charitable gifts, 245, 296 
Chemical researches, 45, S2, 87 ; 
analysis of caustic lime, 76 ; new 
chlorine compounds, 87 ; lique- 
faction of chlorine, 93 ; discovery 
of benzol, 94 ; sulpho-naphthalic 
acid, 100 
Chemistry, * How to examine iu, 

Children and Faraday, 233, 235 
Chlorine, Liquefaction of, 55, 91 
Christmas lectures, 33, 37, 61, 101, 

233, 234, 235, 258 
City Philosophical Society, 14, 16, 

40, 41, 230 
Clerk Maxwell, J. : article on 
Faraday, 135 ; theory of con- 
duction, 155 ; electromagnetic 
theory of light, 199 ; on Fara- 
day's conception of electric 
action, 217; letter to, on mathe- 
matics, 281 
Closing days of Faraday's life, 259 
Coinage of new words, 116, 143, 

144, 163, 188, 205 
Commonplace books, 40, 89 
Conduction, Theory of, 155 
Conservation of energy, 167, 219 
Contact theory of cells, 168 
Continent, Visits to, 16, 17, 74, 

Controversy, Detestation of, 268 
Convolutions of the forces of 

nature, 167, 172, 269, 270 
Copper disc experiment, 113 
Criticism, Uses of, 14, 231, 240, 

Crosse, Mrs. A., Reminiscences of, 

233, 245, 270 
Crystallisation in relation to electric 

properties, 166, 167 
Crystals in the magnetic field, 200, 

Current, Conception of a, 146, 163 
Cutting the magnetic lines, 134, 

Crookes Sir "W., Advice to, 267 

Dalton, John, 65, 226 

Dance, Mr., gives Faraday tickets, 
8 ; message to, 30 

Daniell, Prof. J. F., 64 

Davy, Sir Humphry: lectures of, 
8, 36, 227 ; note to Faraday, 11 ; 
engages Faraday, 12 ; travels 
abroad, 17; his aristocratic lean- 
ings, 25 ; researches on electric 
arc, 37 ; invention of safety 
lamp, 37, 42, 269 ; writes to 
Faraday, 44, 45 ; misunderstand- 
ing with, 56 ; his jealousy of 
Faraday, 56, 59 ; his electro- 
magnetic discovery, 80 ; and the 
liquefaction of chlorine, 93 

Davy-Faraday laboratory, The, 36 

De la Rive, Auguste, 29, 66, 105, 
237 ; letters to, 29, 185 

, Gustave, 20, 28, 

116, 141 ; letters to, 83, 85, 91, 
207, 267 

De la Rue, Warren: his lecture, 
39; his eclipse photographs, 219 

Diamagnetic, A, 179 

polarity, 192, 210 

Diamagnetism, Discovery of, 186 

Dielectric medium, 153, 159, 163 

Diploma-book, 271 

Discharge, electric, Forms of, 137, 

• , Dark, 162 

Discoveries, Value of, 63, 224, 248 

Displacement currents, 166 

Doctrine of conservation of energy 
167, 219 

of correlation of forces^ 172, 

269, 270 

of electrons, 148 

Domestic affairs, 49, 69, 244, 257 

Doubtful knowledge, Aversion for, 
46, 92 

Dry rot in timber, 149 



Dumas : Beminiscences by, 20, 59, 
240 ; and Arago's copper, 106 ; 
discovery of oxalamide, 137 


Eddy- currents, Effects due to, 107, 
191, 204 

Education, Views on, 278 

Eel, The electric, 167 

Electric light for lighthouses, 218, 

Electrical machine, Faraday's 
own, 6 

, The " new," 121 

Electrochemical laws, 141, 147 

Electrodes, 143 

Electrolysis, 143 

Electrolytes, 143 

Electromagnetic rotations discov- 
ered, 61, 83, 87 

Electromagnetism, Foundations of, 

Electrons, Doctrine of, 148 

Electrotonic state, 116, 126, 166, 

Elocution, Lessons in, 43, 230 

Enthusiasm, 15, 89, 225, 240 

Ether, The {see ^Etheb) 

Evolution of electricity from mag- 
netism, 108, 114 

Examinations in chemistry, 277 

Experiment, Love of, 117, 230, 276 

the touchstone of hypothesis, 


versus mathematics, 117, 239, 


Experimental researches in elec- 
tricity and magnetism : the first 
series, 113 ; the last series, 216; 
Clerk Maxwell on, 218 

Fxpert work, 51, 61, 63, 274 

Explosions in the laboratory, 94 


Faraday, James, 1, 2, 224 

, Michael : born, 1 ; schooling 

of, 2 ; goes as errand boy, 3 ; 
apprenticed as bookbinder and 
stationer, 5 ; journeyman book- 
binder, 9 ; attends Tatum's 
lectures, 6 ; attends Sir H. 
Davy's lectures, 8 ; acts as 
Davy's amanuensis, 10 ; engaged 
at Eoyal Institution, 12 ; his 

foreign tour with Davy, 16 ! 
visits Paris, 18 ; visits Florence, 
21 ; visits Geneva, 22, 28 ; returns 
to Eoyal Institution, 34 ; lectures 
at City Philosophical Society, 
40, 43 ; loyalty to Davy, 42, 59, 
269 ; begins original work, 46 ; 
falls in love, 46 ; his poem to 
Miss Barnard, 46 ; his wedding, 
49 ; made superintendent of 
laboratory, 49, 98 ; discovers 
electromagnetic rotations, 51 ; 
elected F.E.S., 59 ; made D.C.L. 
of Oxford, 65 ; awarded Copley 
Medal, 69 ; declines professor- 
ship in London University, 66 ; 
receives a pension in Civil List, 
72 ; appointed adviser to Trinity 
House, 67 ; appointed elder in 
Sandemanian church, 293 ; dis- 
covers magneto-electric induc- 
tion, 112, 115; discovers mag- 
neto-optic rotation, 176 ; discovers 
diamagnetism, 186 ; readmitted 
to Sandemanian church, 297 ; 
exposes spiritualistic phenomena, 
250 ; declines Presidency of 
Eoyal Society, 255 ; declines 

. presidency of Eoyal Institution, 
255 ; resigns professorship at 
Eoyal Institution, 259; resigns 
advisership to Trinity House, 
259 ; resigns eldership in Sande- 
manian church, 259 ; decease 
and funeral, 260 

, Eobert, 1, 2, 6, 249, 250 

, Sarah (Mrs. Faraday), 49, 50, 

51, 223, 225, 255, 257, 291 ; letters 
to, 47, 48, 52, 53, 256 

Faraday's father, 1, 2, 224, 289 

mother, 1, 2, 12, 17, 22, 33, 

41, 69, 289 

Fatalism, 52, 288 

Fees for professional work, 51, 61 
244, 274 

Field, The magnetic; first use of 
this term, 188 

Fishes, electrical, Eesearches on 
20, 139, 167 

Fluids, Alleged electric and mag- 
netic, 212, 216, 218 

Foreign travel, 16, 17, 74, 224 

Fox, Caroline, Eeminiscences of, 

Fraser's Magazine and Faraday's 
pension, 72 



Fresnel's announcement, 105 
Friday evenings at the Royal 

Institution, 33, 60, 100, 101, 149, 

166, 170, 192, 213, 219, 220, 225, 

232, 236, 259 
Fuller, John, founds the Fullerian 

professorships, 36 
Funeral, 260 


Gases, Liquefaction of, 55, 91, 171 
, Magnetic properties of, 201, 

Gassiot, J. P., Reminiscences by, 

German language, Views on the, 

Gladstone, Dr. J. Hall, 69, 290 
Glass, Researches on, 95 
Glassites (see SANDBM4.irii.N3) 
Gold, Optical properties of, 219 
Gravity in relation to electricity, 

204, 220, 285 

, Speculations as to, 195, 203 

Grove, Sir Wm, 263, 269 
Gymnotus, 167 


Hachette, Letter to, 266 
Hampton Court, House at, 257, 

Hare, R., Letter to, 269 
Harris, Sir W. Snow, 64, 269 
Heat, Effect of, on magnetism, 

Heavy-glass, 100, 176 
Helmholtz, Prof. H. von, 282, 283 
Henry, Professor Joseph, Reminis- 
cence by, 241 
Herschel, Sir John, 57, 95, '107, 

116, 131, 262, 297 
Home life, 49, 69, 223, 244, 257 
Honours awarded to Faraday, 69, 
199, 244, 255, 271 

, scientific, Views on, 271 

Hypotheses, Free use of, 221, 241 


Ice a non-conductor, 140 

, Regelation of, 219 

Identity of electricity from differ- 
ent sources, 137 

Imagination, Use of the, 160, 227, 

Incandescent electric lamps, 199 

Income, 68, 245 

Indignation against wrong, 227 

Induced currents, 114 

Induction (electromagnetic), Dis- 
covery of, 114 

(electrostatic), or influence, 


•, Meaning of the term, 119 

Inductive capacity, 159 

Influence (see Induction) 

Inner conflicts, 226, 290 

Iodine, Davy's experiments on, 19, 
24, 27 

Ions, Origin of term, 144, 145 


Jenfein, Wm., observes sparK at 
break, 150, 243 

Jones (see Bence Jones) 

Journals of foreign travel, 18, 224 

Juvenile lectures at Royal Institu- 
tion, 33, 37, 61, 101, 233, 234, 
235, 258 


Keble, Rev. J., and the hodge- 
podge of philosophers, 65 

Kelvin, Lord: theory of electro- 
motive forces, 148 ; on theory of 
magnetic permeability in seolo- 
tropio media, 201 ; on Faraday's 
views of electricity, 284 ; letter 
from, 285 

Kerr, Dr. John : electro-optic dis- 
covery, 173 ; magneto-optic dis- 
covery, 182 

Kindliness, 226 

Knighthood no honour, 273 

Kundt, Aug., magneto -optic dis- 
covery, 182 

Laboratories at Albemarle Street 

36, 51, 66, 80, 84, 96 

Lateral effects of current, 151, 165. 

Lectures at Royal Institution : 
Davy's, 8, 36; Faraday's first, 
227; Juvenile, 33, 37, 61, 101, 
233, 234, 235, 258; afternoon, 

37, 166 

, Friday night discourses, 33, 



60, 100, 101, 149, 166, 170, 192, 
203, 219, 220, 225, 232, 236, 259 
Lectures at the London Institution 

at the British Association, 


at St. George's Hospital, 166 

at Woolwich, 66, 101 

Lecturing, Views about, 16, 226, 
232, 238 

Letters from Faraday to : Abbott, 
B., 7, 9, 15, 22, 25, 26, 41, 44, 
228 ; Andrews, T., 273 ; Barnard, 
Miss Sarah, 47, 48 ; Becker, Dr., 
244 ; Burdett-Coutts, Baroness, 
240; Davy, Sir H., 10; De la 
Hive, A., 29, 185; De la Rive, 
O., 83, 85, 91, 207, 267 ; Deacon, 
Mrs., 253 ; Faraday, Mrs., 52, 
53, 256; Grove, Sir Wm„ 263; 
Hare, B., 269 ; Lovelace, Lady, 
291; Matteucci, Prof. C, 253, 
262, 267 ; Melbourne, Lord, 71 ; 
Moore, Miss, 207 ; Murray, Mr. 
John, 234; Paris, Dr. J. A., 10, 
93 ; Percy, Dr. J. 253 ; Phillips, 
E., 61, 109, 114, 194, 270, 277; 
Eiebau, G., 30 ; Boyet, Dr. P., 
99 ; Schonbein, Professor, 206 ; 
252 ; the Deputy-Master of 
Trinity House, 67; Tyndall, 
Prof. J., 210, 264, 268, 277, 278, 
280; Whewell, Rev. W., 145; 
Young, Dr. T., 97 

to Faraday : From Sir H. 

Davy, 44, 45 ; from Baron 
Liebig, 225 ; from Sir W. Thom- 
son (Lord Kelvin), 285 ; from 
Bev. W. Whewell, 116, 144, 145, 
163, 205 

Liebig, J. von, Beminiscences by, 

224, 282 
Light, Action of magnetism on, 

, Electromagnetic theory of, 

197, 199, 213 
Lighthouses, Scientific work for, 

67, 199, 218, 259 
Lines of force, 113, 133, 195, 208, 

211, 213, 285; vibrations of, 195 
Liquefaction of gases, 55, 91, 171 
London University (see Uni- 
Love of children, 233, 235 
, Poetical diatribe against, and 

recantation, 40, 47 

Lovelace, Lady, Letter to, 291 
Love-letters of" Faraday, 47, 48, 52, 
53, 256 


Magnecrystallic forces, 201 
Magnetic lines, 113, 133, 195, 213 

Magnetisation by light, 183 

of light, 176 

Magnetism and cold, 167 

of gases, 204 

of rotation, Alleged, 106, 121 

Magneto-electric discovery, 95, 112 

induction, 115 

light, 120, 130, 218, 259 

machines, 122, 125, 126, 218, 

Magneto-optical researches 176, 

182, 220 
Magrath, E., 7, 14, 60, 231 
Marcet, Mrs., Conversations on 

Chemistry, 6 
Masquerier teaches Faraday to 

draw, 8 
Mathematics versus experiment, 

117, 239, 280 

, Faraday's views on, 280, 281 

and Faraday's methods, 217, 

Matteucci, C, Letters to, 253, 262, 

Maxwell (see Clebk, Maxwell) 
Mayo, Herbert, Impromptu by, 

Meat-canning processes, 243 

Medium, Action in a, 157, 213, 216 

, The part played by the, 128, 

153, 158, 194, 213 

Melbourne, Lord, and Faraday's 
pension, 69 

Memory, Troubles of a defective, 
7, 63, 74, 253 

Mental education, Views on, 278, 

Models, Use of, 104, 239 

Moigno, Abbe, Beminiscence by, 

Moll, G. ; his electromagnets, 120; 
pamphlet on "Decline of Sci- 
ence," 110, 262 

Moore, Miss, Letter to, 207 

Morichini's experiments on mag- 
netisation by light, 21, 183 



Murohison, Sir R., Reminiscence 

by, 227 
Music, Enjoyment of, 246 


Natural theology, Views on, 298 
New electrical machine, 121 
Newman, Rev. J. H., and the 

British Association, 65 
Newton, Mr. Jos., Reminiscence 

b y.. 2H 

Nobili and Antinori, their mistaks, 

Non-inductive "winding, 150 
Notebooks a better test than 

examinations, 277 
, Faraday's own, 8, 50, 73, 87, 

90, 91, 108, 111, 118, 129, 141, 

143, 150, 153, 156, 167, 177, 180, 

181, 182, 220 


Oersted's discovery of electromag- 

netism, 77, 78 
Optical glass, Research on, 95, 100 

illusions, Research on, 136 

relations of electricity, 91, 

149, 155, 167, 172, 174, 175 
of magnetism, 176, 182, 

Order and method, 68, 99, 200 
Owen, Lady, Reminiscences by, 

Oxford and the philosophers, 64 
Oxygen, Magnetic properties of, 


Paris, Dr. J. A., Letters to, 10, 93 
Passive state of iron, 167 
Peel, Sir Robert, 69, 70, 246 
Pension : declined, 71 ; accepted, 

Percy, Dr. JorJn, Letter to, 253 
Permeability, Magnetic, in crystals, 


, Research on, 206 

Personal appearance, 4, 18, 74, 255 
Phillips, Richard, 7, 44, 52, 54, 57, 

59, 61, 84, 87, 193 ; letters to, 61, 

109, 114, 194, 270, 277 
Phosphorescence, Lectures on, 136, 


Pliicker, Julius : on magneto-optic 
action, 203 ; shows electric dis- 
. charge, 240 

Poetry by Faraday, 40, 47 

Poisson : on Arago's rotations, 
107 ; on magnetic theory, 201 

Polar forces in crystals, 94, 200, 
202 . 

Polemics in science hateful, 268 

Poles are only doors, 141, 241- 

Politics, Indifference to 19, 21, 33, 

Pollock, Lady, Reminiscences by, 
235, 254, 257 

Practical applications of science, 
63, 216, 224, 248, 259 

Preaching, Style of, 293 

Preservation of Raphael's cartoons, 

Prince Consort, H.R.H. the, 237, 
257, 278 

Principle of all dynamo machines, 

Priority in discoverv, 265 

Professional work for fees, 51, 61, 

relinquished, 61, 274, 275 

Professorship of Chemistry at Uni- 
versity College, The, 66, 277; 
declined, 66 

Professorships at the Royal Institu- 
tion, 36 

Proportional judgment advocated, 

Public Schools Commission, Evi- 
dence given before, 278 

Punch, Caricature in, 252 

Pusey and science, 65 


Quarterly Journal of Science 39, 

46, 75, 76, 82, 88, 92, 94, 104 
Queen Victoria, 257, 297 


Radiant matter, 40 
Rain torpedo, The, 20 
Ray-vibrations, Thoughts on, 193 
Regelation of ice, 219 
Reid, Miss, Reminiscences by, 223, 
231 *' ' 

Religious belief, 51, 289, 291 



Religious character, 71, 244, 245 

Remuneration of science, 44, 68, 
244, 274 

Repulsions, magnetic, New, 190 

Research, Royal Institution as 
place for, 37 

unhampered by other duties, 


Researches, Original : the four 
degrees of, 241 ; Faraday's first, 
76 ; Faraday's last, 220 ; division 
into periods, 75 ; summary of, 

Residences : — Weymouth Street, 2 ; 
Royal Institution, 13, 68 ; Hamp- 
ton Court Cottage, 258 

Retardation of discharge, 161 

Riebau, George : Faraday's em- 
ployer, 3, 7, 22 ; Faraday 'ap- 
prenticed to, 51; letters and 
messages to, 29, 34 

Ring, The famous experiment with 
the, 108 

Robinson, H. Crabb, Reminiscences 
by, 8, 236 

Rontgen on displacement currents, 

Rotation of plane of polarisation of 
light, 177 

Rotations, electromagnetic, Dis- 
covery of, 51, 83, 87 

Royal Institution : foundation of, 
35 ; Davy's lectures at, 8, 36, 
39 ; precarious state of, 22, 29, 
35, 36, 68 ; laboratories of, 36 ; 
lectures at the, 37, 166 ; Christ- 
mas lectures, 33, 37, 61, 101, 
233, 234, 235, 258 ; Friday night 
meetings, 33, 60, 100, 101, 149, 
166, 170, 192, 203, 219, 220, 225, 
232, 236, 239 ; Presidency offered 
and declined, 255 

Royal Society : first papers read to 
the, 52, 263 ; candidature for 
Fellowship in the, 56, 57, 59; 
Faraday's election as Fellow of 
the, 59 ; committee on optical 
glass, 95, 99 ; Member of Council, 
136, 261 ; Presidency offered to 
him, 255, 263 ; dissatisfaction 
with, 262 

Ruhmkorff'B induction-coil, 219, 

Rumford, Benjamin Count of : 
founds the Royal Institution, 
35 ; Faraday dines with, 34 


Sacrifice for Science, 63, 64, 234, 

Safety-lamp: Faraday aids Davy 

to invent the, 42 ; controversy 

about, 269 
Salaries paid to scientific men, 44, 

68, 244, 274 
Sandemanians, 4, 51, 286 
Schonbein, Prof., Letters to, 206, 

Science in education, 279 

teaching, Views on, 278 

Scientific'societies, 261 
Scoffern, Dr. , Anecdote by, 280 
Self-induction investigated, 150, 

Sermons, Faraday's, 293 
Shaftesbury, Earl of, 69 
Sirium, alias Vestium, 46, 77 
Siste's, His letters to his, 32 
Smart, B. H, teaches elocution, 

43, 230 
Snow-Harris (see Haebis) 
Social character, 245 
Society of Arts, 14 
Source of electromotive force in 

cell, 168 
South, Sir James, 6, 57, 09, 70, 97, 

Spark from a magnet, 64, 119, 130 
Specific inductive capacity, 159 
Spiritualists, Opinion of, 251 
Steel, Research on, 82 
Stinginess of British Government 

towards science, 274 
Sturgeon, W. : his invention of 

the electromagnet, 102, 226 ; on 

Arago's rotations, 107 
Submarine cables, 161 
Sunday observance, 24, 51, 55, 224, 

295, 297 

Table-turning explained, 251 
Tatum's lectures, 6, 14 
Testimonials of candidates, Repug- 
nance to, 277 
Thames impurities, 252 
Thomson, Sir W. (see Kelvin) 
Thoughts on ray-vibrations, 193 
Thunderstorms enjoyed, 240 
Time of propagation of magnetism, 
220, 284 



Toronto, what its university might 
have been, 277, 278 

Torpedo, The, 20 

Trinity House, Scientific adviser 
to, 67, 199, 218, 259 

Tubes of force, 211 

Turner, J. W. M., R.A., Advice to, 
about pigments, 246 

Tyndall, Prof. : reminiscences by, 
4, 49, 74, 175, 187, 225, 255, 290, 
296, 299 ; his " Faraday as a Dis- 
coverer," 4, 130, 157, 169, 202; 
letters to, 210, 264, 268, 277, 278, 


Utility of discoveries, 63, 224, 248 
University College, Professorship 

in, 66, 277 
University of London : Senator of, 

275 ; degrees in science, 275 

Varley, Cornelius, 5, 294 
Velocipede riding, 74 
Vesuvius, Ascents of, 22, 33 
Vibrations, Thoughts on ray-, 193 
Visits to the sick, 245, 296 
Volta, Count Alessandro, Meeting 

with, 22 
Volta-electric induction, 115 
Voltameter. 146 


Water, On freezing of, 203 

Wellington, The Duke of, on prac- 
tical application of discovery 

Wheatstone, Sir Charles : on velo- 
city of discharge, 149, 161 ; his 
electric chronoscope, 192 

Whewell, Rev. W., Correspond- 
ence with, about terms, 116, 144, 
145, 163, 205 

White, Walter, Reminiscences by, 
253 263 

William IV., King, 72, 73 

Wiseman, Cardinal, Meeting with. 

Wollaston, Dr. W. H., Misunder- 
standing with, 51, 56, 57, 58, 84, 

Woolwich Academy lectures, 66, 

Working, Method of, 60, 242, 247 

Young, Dr. T., Letter from, 97 


Zeeman's magneto-optic discovery, 

Phinted by Cassell & Company, Limited, La Belle Sauyaqe, London, K.0L 
15.-2 o