MOST IMPORTANT ERRORS
ELECTRICITY, AND MAGNETISM,
POINTED OUT AND REFUTED ;
PHENOMENA OF ELECTRICITY,
POLARITY OF THE MAGNETIC NEEDLE
ACCOUNTED FOR AND EXPLAINED.
A FELLOW OF THE ROYAL SOCIETY.
' Naturam expellas furc& tamen usque recurret." Hon.
JAMES RIDGWAY, PICCADILLY.
** HUMANUM est errare." The object of the pre-
sent tract is to draw the attention of men of science,
to what the author believes to be most pernicious
errors in Chemistry, Electricity, and Magnetism 5
namely, that water is decomposable, that hydrogen
is an elementary body, and that there are two
kinds or states of Electricity and Magnetism ; and
to point out the true mode of action of these fluids.
If the errors in question should turn out to be
mere fragile creations of the author's brain, no
possible evil can result from this publication.
If, on the contrary, they should be found to have
a real existence, of which the author has the fullest
conviction, there can be no doubt that incalculable
benefit must ensue by the removal of these mis-
chievous intruders from the avenues of science,
where they cannot but very seriously impede our
approach to the sacred temple.
These considerations, the author trusts, will be
received as an apology for his venturing to obtrude
his ideas on the public attention.
Well House, Malvern Well 9
28th Sept. 1846.
MOST IMPORTANT ERRORS,
NOTWITHSTANDING the eulogium passed upon Sir
Humphry Davy by his admirable biographer, Dr.
Paris, if we except the Safety Lamp,* we do not ap-
pear to be so much indebted to his labours as is
generally imagined ; nor has chemistry been left by
him at all in a satisfactory state. He is said to have
overthrown the theory of combustion of Lavoisier,
and to have proved that oxygen is not the principle
of acidity ; but what has he substituted in their
place? Instead of light and heat being properties
of oxygen, which that substance parts with or deve-
lopes at the time of its union with a combustible
body, (according to the French chemist), Davy tells
us that light and heat are the mere effects of motion,
* The efficacy of this lamp is due to the very unexpected dis-
covery that flame will not pass through the interstices of a
metallic wire gauze, (and which Dr. Paris allows a celebrated en-
gineer claims to have found out before Sir Humphry), as the
miners already knew that the " fire damp" would not explode in
the absence of flame. It is then not to Sir Humphry Davy as a
chemist, but as a mechanist, that we are indebted for this useful
or, as he terms it, of " intense chemical action ;* y *
and with respect to the cause of acidity, he leaves it
wholly unaccounted for. He is said, again, to have
enriched science with some evanescent metals that
are supposed to be the bases of alkaline earths ; but
which will most probably turn out to be only com-
pound bodies, as Mr. Curadon asserted, in his
memoir read at the French Institute.
But what could the greatest genius effect without
a knowledge of the materials upon which he worked,
or of the tools which were to aid him ? Now of what
can these consist but of elementary substances, and
what do chemists know of elementary bodies ? If we
are led to suppose that it is one of the excellencies
of Divine wisdom to arrive at the most astonishing
results by the simplest of means, it would naturally
follow, that to make any considerable progress in
chemistry we should adopt a similar course. Instead
of this, we have now upwards of fifty elementary
bodies ; so injudiciously have we multiplied the four
simple elements handed down to us from antiquity.
Our immortal countryman, Bacon, seeing the
error of raising up systems without ascertaining the
facts by which they were to be upheld, enforced the
necessity of experiment for supplying these desi-
derata. But we now fall into the other extreme,
and are daily multiplying experiments and pro-
* And yet, by other experiments, Davy found the most vivid
effects of combustion known (light and heat), were those pro-
duced by the condensation of oxygen and chlorine.
(hieing results without having any clear or definite
object thus making " confusion worse confounded."
In fact, modern chemistry looks very much like a
scramble for popularity. Instead of pondering on
and scrutinizing some few of the million of experi-
ments already made, which invite investigation, it
seems to be the only question, who can run the
fastest on the road to novelty ; and he who contrives
to pick up some wild apple in his route, which has
a little more colour in its cheeks than ordinary, is
forthwith crowned with public applause, to the
great envy and disappointment of his breathless
With these remarks, for which I beg to apolo-
gize, I shall proceed to the consideration of the
errors in question.
Preliminary to our examining the experiments
relative to the " decomposition of water," let us
consider, for a few moments, upon what authority,
independently of chemistry, this fluid may be consi-
dered as an elementary body : not that I mean for
one moment to contend that scriptural, or any other
authority, is to preclude a conclusion against direct
evidence ; but merely, that if a strong doubt should
be raised upon the subject, the Old Testament, the
dicta of ancient philosophers, and the doctrine of
probabilities, may be allowed their fair weight in
deciding the question, and induce chemists to adopt
that view of the subject until the contrary shall be
shewn by unanswerable experiments ; as there is, I
think, great reason to believe that the facility with
which Cavendish's theory has heen received, has
placed chemistry in a worse condition than during
the reign of the alehy mists.
We find then, in the first chapter of Genesis, that
" God created the heaven and the earth," and after-
wards that " the spirit of God moved upon the face
of the waters."* Again, that " God said, Let the
waters under the heaven he gathered together unto
one place, and let dry land appear. And God
called the dry land earth."
From these passages it would seem, (and the con-
trary is not stated in the rest of Genesis) that the
water must have been previously created, and not at
the time the heaven and the earth are spoken of. It
also appears, that in the first instance the waters
entirely covered the earth.
Thus we find in one other passage, which I will
beg leave to quote, as it is not a little remarkable,
and has hitherto, I believe, escaped notice, these
words : " And God said, Let there be a Firmament in
the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters
from the waters." Now it is a curious circumstance
that the Hebrew word which is translated into
" Firmament," signifies "Expansion"^ from which
* A French author says that " water is the most noble of ele-
ments, seeing that it was upon the water that God was carried
before the creation of the world."
f See note on the word " Firmament," 1st chap. Genesis, v. 6.
Oxford edit. 1834.
it must be inferred that the earth was a nucleus in
fusion, surrounded by the aqueous fluid from which
it partially disengaged itself by expansion, and thus
caused dry land to appear.
If then we apply eastern metaphor to the seven
days' creation, we have in Genesis a clear and dis-
tinct confirmation of the present theory of the
origin and constitution of our planet. So far the
We have now the great authority of Aristotle,
who states water to be one of the four elements.
When we bear in rnind that the Grecian and
Roman philosophers were men of a mental calibre
vastly superior to our own, of which we have the
most indisputable proofs in the monuments they
have left behind in all the branches of learning
(viz. Poetry, Eloquence, History, Philosophy, Archi-
tecture, Strategy, and the Arts) we cannot sup-
pose that those elements were given without great
consideration ; and we know that the ancients were
not influenced in this respect by the Jewish Sacred
Writings, to which, (if they were acquainted with
them) they certainly paid no deference.*
If it be said that with all their superiority they
were not chemists, I think that observation gra-
tuitous, and the fact extremely improbable; for when
Sir Humphry Davy was engaged with the Admi-
ralty, upon his electro -chemical process for protect-
ing the sheathing of our ships (a scheme which,
* <( Crcdat Judeeus Apclla, non ego !" HOR.
aftor a very great expenditure, was at length aban-
doned), it was found, from the discovery of an old
Roman galley of the time of Trajan, that they were
acquainted with this electro-chemical aetion, and
had applied it to the ship in question, the bottom
being found coated with leaden sheets, fastened
with copper nails.*
Now, then, let us consider this question upon the
ground of probability. I have already observed
that the highest conception we can have of Divine
power, is that of producing the most splendid results
by the simplest means ; and whenever we are able
to comprehend any of the processes of nature, we
find this invariably to be the case.
Is it probable, then, that the water of our globe,
now three times in extent to that of the earth, and
which, at the time of the creation, must have been
still more capacious, as much of it must have been
* Marchetti, cited by Dr. Paris, to whose excellent work I am
indebted for much of the matter upon which I shall have to com-
There are two reasons why the scientific works of the ancients
are not familiar to us. First That after the fall of the Roman
Empire, the monks, being in all probability unacquainted with
science, would only preserve such works as related to literature,
and of those only such authors as had been known by their great
celebrity. Secondly That if some few of the monks were not
ignorant of science, still manuscripts of that description would
be much more rare than the former, and the religious fanaticism
of the age would militate against their preservation.
volatilized to form an atmosphere ;* is it probable,
I ask, that so important a body to the existence and
comfort of the inhabitants of the earth, and on that
account so bountifully supplied, should be a com-
pound of gaseous substances, the quantities whereof
to form such a body far exceed the stretch of human
imagination, though the latter be elastic enough to
adopt the calculation of Mr. Arago, that the velocity
of light is seventy-seven thousand leagues in a
second of time ?
We cannot, therefore, suppose such a combination
of gaseous matters, without adopting the unphiloso-
phical notion of an overwhelming necessity.
We have then added to the great improbability,
both scriptural authority and the opinion of the
ancient philosophers against this doctrine.
We will now proceed to an examination of the
experiments by which the composition of water is
said to be established.
It will be but just to premise, that the investiga-
tion of an important process, and the repetition of
such process by an advocate of the doctrine, is a
very different affair from the scrutiny and repetition
of the same experiment by an opponent, and this,
notwithstanding there should exist not the remotest
doubt as to the bona fides of the operator.
I cannot enforce this remark better than by
* Davy says, " the atmosphere always contains water in the
elastic and invisible form, varying in quantity with the tempe-
quoting the sentiments of Sir Humphry Davy upon
this point in the fifth dialogue of his " Last Days
of a Philosopher." " By often repeating," he says,
<c a process or an observation, the errors connected
with hasty operations or imperfect views are anni-
hilated ; and, provided the assistant has no precon-
ceived notions of his own, and is ignorant of the
object of his employer in making the experiment, his
simple and bare detail of facts will often be the
best foundation for an opinion."
Now, we collect from this, the extreme danger of
being deceived by an experiment, (though the
greatest apparent care may have been used) wherever
the operator's mind has been imbued with the idea
of what ought to be the result of such experiment ;
and infinitely more so must it be where the good
wishes of the operator have accompanied the expec-
tation of such a result.
I feel these remarks necessary, as the observations
of Davy strongly apply to the processes connected
with the decomposition of water, and which can by
no means, therefore, be implicitly relied upon ; and
the less so, as there exists an extreme difficulty in
conducting the experiments, as will be presently
The experiment consists in putting pure water
into a glass vessel hermetically closed, and by the
introduction of the galvanic fluid through the appli-
cation of the voltaic pile, decomposing the water in
question, so that upon the termination of the pro-
cess, no water is found in the vessel, but in lieu
thereof, hydrogen and oxygen gases, in the propor-
tion of two parts of the former to one of the latter,
according to Davy ; but, according to Cavendish,
only one of hydrogen and five or six of oxygen.*
This is said to have been effected, first by Caven-
dish, and subsequently by Lavoisier, Wollaston,
Davy, &c., all of whom, be it observed, gloried in
the discovery ; and, indeed, the two last, in common
with many other celebrated characters, considered
Cavendish as having by this process contributed
additional rays to the splendour which Newton had
already shed upon this our highly-favoured country.
To render the process in question decisive, two.
things are indispensable, viz. that at the commence-
ment of it, the water should be wholly free from
oxygen ; and that, during the operation, no oxygen
should find its way into the vessel.
Now, I think it will clearly appear, that none of
the experiments made upon water have been free
from these objections, in which case they are value-
less as evidences of any decomposition having been
To shew the extreme difficulty, nay, the almost
impossibility, of obtaining pure water, and when
partially obtained, of preventing the ingress of
oxygen, (it either entering with the galvanic fluid,
* M. Dumas, the celebrated French chemist, says, that one
part of hydrogen and eight parts of oxygen form one atom of
water. See Annales de Chemie. June, 1842.
or in some other undiscoverable manner) I will
quote the following experiment, taken from Davy's
Bakerian Lecture, delivered on the 26th November,
Mr. Sylvester had asserted, that if two separate
portions of water were electrised, out of the contact
of substances containing alkaline and acid matter,
acid and alkali would nevertheless be produced.*
" Some persons," says Dr. Paris, " thought that the
salts contained in the fluids of the troughs of the
voltaic pile might, by some unexpected channel, find
their way into the water under examination. Others,
that they were generated by the union of the electric
fluid with the water, or with one or both of its ele-
Davy's anxious desire was, however, to test and
overthrow Sylvester's experiment.
For this purpose, and to avoid all possible impu-
rity in the water, Davy used two small cups of
agate, which were boiled for several hours in dis-
tilled water, and a piece of very white and transpa-
rent amianthus (a substance first proposed by Dr.
* M. de la Rive, the ingenious Professor of Chemistry at
Geneva, says, that in all the experiments on water by the vol-
taic current, oxygen is disengaged at the surface of the metallic
poles, arising from minute particles of metal oxydated, and
which are suspended in the current, and are thus conveyed into
the vessel containing the water ; and M. de la Rive, be it ob-
served, is a believer in the decomposition of water. See Ar-
chives de r Electricite, by M. de la Rive, and which contains all
the experiments upon this subject.
Wollaston) similarly purified, was made to connect
the vessels together.
Thus we see, says Davy, that every apparent
source of fallacy was removed ; but, nevertheless,
after the purest distilled water had been exposed in
the agate cups to the voltaic current for forty-eight
hours, the water in the positive cup gave indications
of muriatic acid,* and that in the negative cup of
Thus, then, had oxygen either existed in the
water, and formed the acid ; or it must have resulted
from the acid mixture in the trough, or from
oxydated matter transmitted by the poles of the
The experiment was therefore repeated by Davy
a second, third, and fourth time ; the agate cups
having been carefully placed in glass vessels, out of
the reach, says Davy, of any circulating air ; and
all the materials having been repeatedly washed
with distilled water, and no part of them in contact
with the fluid having ever touched the fingers but
still the same result.
The experiments were, in consequence, again re-
* Dr. Priestley always denied that pure water was ever pro-
duced by the combination of hydrogen and oxygen. He observes,
that in all his experiments an acid liquor was the consequence.
In these experiments of Dr. Priestley there can be little doubt
that the acidity was occasioned by the oxygen uniting with the
water which had resulted from the deflagration of the hydrogen,
as the action of the voltaic current would not have been long
enough to supply any oxygenated matter aliunde.
peated, and instead of agate cups, small cones of the
purest gold were used, and the water contained in
them submitted to voltaic action for 14 hours ; the
result was, the water in the positive cup became
acid, which increased in quantity as the experiment
proceeded, and at length became sour to the taste.
On the contrary, the alkaline property of the fluid
in the opposite cone shortly obtained a certain in-
tensity, and became stationary. The acid, as far as
its properties could be examined, agreed, says
Davy, with those of pure nitrous acid, having an
excess of nitrous gas.
With these results Davy was again dissatisfied.
Now let it be particularly remarked, that you have
here a chemist exerting all his energies to over-
throw a theory which he thinks proper to oppose j
whereas, in the experiments on the decomposition
of water, you have all the chemists exerting them-
selves to confirm a theory by which they suppose
they are to acquire two additional elements to en*
rich the stores of chemical science.
This forcibly illustrates the pungency of Davy's
remarks, of the necessity of the operator having
no preconceived notions about the result, and, at all
events, that he should be exempt from any preju-
dice or wish upon the subject.
Davy now submitted the water to a still more
rigorous examination, which he did by evaporating
it in a silver vessel, when he discovered l-70th of
a grain of saline matter.
The water thus purified was again subjected to a
voltaic current in the cones of gold.
In every one of these experiments, says Davy, acid
matter was produced in the positive cup, and always
with the character of nitrous acid. How this acid
could arise, says Davy, (determined, as we see he
was, that Mr. Sylvester should not be right) he
could not imagine. It occurred to him at last (he
observes) that the " nascent oxygen and hydrogen of
the water might combine with the common air,
which is constantly dissolved in that fluid ;" (and
this he supposes possible, notwithstanding the
water had been so carefully purified) but how
did it happen, he adds, that the production of
nitrous acid was progressive ? Davy then remarks
that he recollected some experiments of Priestley on
the absorption of gases by water, and of the diffi-
culty of their exclusion, and he therefore introduced
the two golden cones containing the purified water
under the receiver of an air pump, when the ex-
haustion was effected, and the voltaic pile brought
to act upon the water thus further purified. After
18 hours, the result was examined, when the water
in the negative cone produced no effect upon pre-
pared litmus, but that in the positive cone did give
a tinge of acid, barely perceptible. Thus ended the
process. But there is every reason to suppose, I sub-
mit, from his previous experiments, that had he con-
tinued the voltaic current for 48 hours instead of 18,
the water, notwithstanding the action of the air
pump, would have gone on progressively increasing
in acidity. Indeed, it must be admitted that in
candour he ought to have continued the last pro-
cess as long as he had done the first, when he used
the agate cups.
We see, then, from these experiments, that the
ability of the most able artist in chemistry is in-
capable of excluding oxygen from entering into the
vessels, and combining with the water.*
There can be no doubt that water in its pure
state contains neither acid nor alkali; and it is
equally indisputable that these matters are con-
veyed to the water by the voltaic current, and that
the proportion of alkali is very trifling compared
with that of the acid.
It is equally plain that if these matters are
communicated by the voltaic fluid, the longer the
operation continues the more they, at least the acid,
will impregnate the water.
I now confidently appeal to every impartial che-
mist, and ask, whether in any of the processes re-
corded, either of Cavendish, or any other of the
chemists who have repeated his experiments, the
water acted upon by the voltaic current was in
anything like the state of purity ; or whether any-
thing like the same means were taken to produce
such purity, as we find to have been adopted in the
* If the water in Davy's first six experiments was free from
oxygen, it is evident that Sylvester is right, and that oxygen is
(as M. de la Rive also insists) carried with the electric current,
and thus enters the vessel containing the water. If, on the other
hand, the water always contained oxygen, then no satisfactory
conclusion can be drawn from the experiments.
processes I have just mentioned ? and if such has
not been the case, I ask what satisfactory evidence
exists of water being decomposed ? Is there any
man who can say that he is now perfectly satisfied
that such a result has taken place ?
I will now produce a strong and direct argument
from Davy himself against any such decompo-
In considering the action of the voltaic pile, Davy
says " He thought that if the fluid medium of the
pile, could be a substance incapable 0f decomposition,
there is every reason to believe the equilibrium of
the two opposite metals would be restored, and the
motion of electricity cease"*
Now at a subsequent period we find Sir Hum-
phry Davy stating " that pure water does not
act upon the voltaic pile; "and he makes this ob-
servation, " the galvanic pile only acts as long as
the water between the plates holds some oxygen in
solution." Has he not found then in water the "in-
decomposable fluid medium'^ the effect of which,
he says, will be to suspend the motion of electricity ?
According to Davy, if water were decomposable,
it would be decomposed by the action of the me-
tallic plates instead of which the plates cannot
eliminate any oxygen from it.
But a still stronger, and as it appears to me, un-
answerable argument against any such decomposi-
tion is this. In the processes just mentioned we
find that Davy connected the agate cups and golden
* Dr. Parish Life of Davy, vol. i. 246. f Ib. vol. ii. 210.
cones together with amianthus, and placed them in
glass vessels hermetically closed ; and that the
small quantities of water contained in these agate
cups were submitted to the action of the powerful
voltaic pile of the Royal Institution for forty-eight
hours, and which experiment was repeated a second,
third, and fourth time ; and that the water in the
golden cones was so acted upon for eighteen hours,
and yet that these insignificant portions of water
stood this intense voltaic action without being de-
It is evident that Davy, in the ardour of his pur-
suit, and the exultation of an imaginary victory,
(for no impartial man can believe it to have heen
gained), never once reflected that he was giving
conclusive testimony to the fallacy of the experiments
in which water had been thought to be decomposed.
He speaks indeed, as we have seen, about a con-
jecture, that there miyht be some nascent hydrogen
and oxygen, wholly forgetting that according to
Cavendish, Lavoisier, Wollaston, and himself, the
whole of the water in each of these operations
ought to have been resolved into thin air.
Then I ask whether it does not result from
these experiments of Davy whether in fact it is
not manifest, that when Cavendish found that hy-
drogen and oxygen were produced by the action
of the electric fluid upon the water, the hydro-
gen must have owed its origin to a combination
of the water with the electric fluid, and that the
oxygen must at the same time have been liberated
from the water where it had previously been held
in solution ; or have been introduced by the voltaic
As for the experiment by which hydrogen and
oxygen are supposed to produce water by their
union, effected through the agency of the voltaic
current, it proves nothing. For if hydrogen be
compounded of electricity and water, the result of
the combustion of the two gases would be, that the
hydrogen would restore the water, which would
then absorb the oxygen, thereby rendering the
water acid ; and which agrees with Dr. Priestley's
statement, when he says that in all his experiments
upon these gases the water resulting from them
was invariably acid ; and he denies that pure water
could be procured from their combination.
But surely if water has been decomposed, there
can be no doubt of the proportions of the elements
which constitute this fluid ? Or have the experi-
ments been effected with so little precision that the
true quantities of gas cannot be ascertained ? One
would suppose such a query as this, in a process of
so much magnitude, would be altogether an insult ;
and yet, strange as it must appear, the fact is so.
Davy says that two of hydrogen and one of oxygen
are the constituents of water, which does not coin-
cide with Cavendish, who says that there is one of
hydrogen to five or six of oxygen, while the able
* Further oxygen would have been introduced by the voltaic
current, according to Davy's experiments and the observation of
M. de la Rive.
French chemist Mr. Dumas, insists that, from
recent experiments made by him, one part of hy-
drogen and eight of oxygen form an atom of water.
Is it, then, too much to say, that when a chemical
process is left in such a state as this, very little
account ought to be taken of it ?
With regard to hydrogen, we find every experi-
ment connected with it pregnant with evidence of
its being a phlogistic matter combined with water.
The Stahlian Theory then after all is correct, and
Scheele, Priestley and Watt, were perfectly right in
upholding the Phlogistic Doctrine. Nay, even Ca-
vendish, notwithstanding his supposed decomposition
of water, (in which neither Priestley nor Watt be-
lieved) held that hydrogen was a compound body.*
But here, unfortunately, Science remained stationary.
It never occurred to either of these able chemists
that the phlogistic matter could be no other than
the electric fluid. If this had but once flashed
across their minds, the fallacy of water not being an
element must have been manifest, and chemistry
would then have flourished in her onward course.
The more the nature of hydrogen is investigated
the more clearly we perceive its connection with
electricity, or the galvanic fluid.
Let us, for instance, consider the gas of the coal-
mines,f called " fire damp." This matter, accord-
* Vide postea, p. 25.
f Dr. Priestley (who disbelieved in the composition of water),
procured his hydrogen by distilling well burnt charcoal, when
he obtained hydrogen and carbonic acid in nearly equal volumes.
ing to Davy's analysis of it, is "carburetted hy-
drogen," which, he says, by the admixture of not
less than six times its volume of atmospheric air
explodes ; and the result of which explosion is, as
we know, that the vaults or passages of the mine
run down with water.
It will be important then to look at the quantity
of this carburetted hydrogen found in the mines.
In one colliery alone, belonging to the Lowther
family, the miners had picked a hole, from which a
uniform current of the gas continued to issue for
the space of two years and nine months ;* and out
of the fissures which the men had cut, there had
issued seven hundred hogsheads of carburetted hy-
drogen in a minute ; and this quantity of gas conti-
nued to be emitted for years.
Now then we have here a most extraordinary and
magnificent decomposition of water. When we find
that the separation of the elements of water is
attended with the difficulty we have recently seen,
can any man believe that the hydrogen gas in ques-
tion is the result of any such decomposition ?
when we are told too that a powerful voltaic current
for forty-eight hours, only " suggests the idea of
nascent hydrogen and oxygen ?"
But a still more embarrassing question is this.
If hydrogen gas be one of the elements of water,
what has become of the other ? For if 700 hogs-
heads of hydrogen gas issue in a minute, about 250
* Philos. Trans, vol. 38. p. 113.
hogsheads of oxygen ought to accompany it, accord-
ing to Davy ;* but, according to Mr Dumas, eight
times that amount, or two thousand tons of oxygen
per minute, ought to be the supply ; while not one
hogshead, I believe, is to be found in the whole mine.
Can any rational man require the subject to be
carried farther in order to prove that the hydrogen
which composes the fire-damp, has never been
generated by the decomposition of water ?
Now then let us bring to our recollection, what the
ablest of our scientific chemists have themselves
thought upon the subject of hydrogen. It is ascer-
tained that Watt, to the latest moment, agreed with
Stahl, and regarded heat as material, and to have
the capacity of combining with substances like other
material elements. He even went farther, and
gave it as his opinion that " inflammable air'*
(hydrogen as it is now called), " contains a small
quantity of water and much elementary heat. 9 '^
Priestley says, " that the water resulting from the
explosure of hydrogen and common air, he thought
to be water held in mechanical solution.' 1 Priestley
adds, that when Cavendish's paper on the formation
* Davy found four of hydrogen, and 1 1^ of charcoal formed
the carburetted hydrogen ; the hydrogen being somewhat more
than i of the composition.
f Watt says, that he <f concluded from his experiments that
heat was a combining substance, not merely modifying the form
and condition of elements, but determining likewise their per-
itianent specific heat"
of water was read to the Royal Society, Cavendish
told him "he was persuaded that water was essential
to the production of inflammable air."
It appears from other papers of Priestley, that
he had at first concluded from several of his experi-
ments, that hydrogen was separated from metals,
such as zinc, tin, or iron, by heat alone ; but he
adds, that in all such experiments, Cavendish
shewed him that there was water present in some
form decomposed, and told him that water was
essential to the production of inflammable air.*
Priestley, as I have already noticed, denied that
pure water could be produced by any combination of
oxygen and hydrogen y but invariably an acid liquor,
and which I have shewn would be the case if the
inflammable air is water, combined with electricity.
To shew what little attention has been paid to
the all-important question of the decomposition of
water, and how easily a theory is adopted which
flatters our vanity, I will borrow the following anec-
dote related by Mr. Babbage in his " Reflections
on the Decline of Science in England," and quoted
by Dr. Paris. " All gases/' says Mr. Babbage,
" being reducible to a liquid state by compression,
I proposed to Sir Humphry Davy the question,
* See Priestley's Works, vol. vi. p. 87. In a very able
article in the Quarterly Review for Dec. 1845, written to shew
that Cavendish was the first discoverer of the decomposition of
water, references will be found to the above quotations if they
should be required. See the Quarterly Review for December,
1845, p. 105.
whether, if two volumes of hydrogen and one of
oxygen are mixed together in a vessel, and if by
mechanical pressure they can be so condensed as to
become of the same specific gravity of water, the
gases will unite and form water ? Davy at once
said, ' They will become water of course;' and on
my inquiry whether the experiment would not be
worth trying, he replied, it was hardly necessary to
make it, as it must succeed! 9 On the same question
being put by Mr. Babbage to Dr. Wollaston, he
was of a contrary opinion, assigning as the cause the
nature of the electrical relations of the two gases
It may be taken for granted that Dr. Wollaston
did not pass over an experiment of this kind, and
we may therefore conclude that it did not succeed.
But the reason assigned by him for its failure seems
deficient in force; as, according to the doctor's
notions of electricity, the oxygen being charged po-
sitively and the hydrogen negatively, they would be
in electric states the most favourable for com-
But assuming that they were not so, what ground
had Wollaston for supposing that when the two
gases were inclosed in a vessel, and their union
effected by the introduction of additional electricity,
such addition would disturb the nature of their elec-
trical relations'? and if not, why does mechanical
pressure fail ?
I shall now conclude this part of my Inquiry with
an appeal to the President and Council of the Royal
Society, and respectfully ask that influential body,
whether, after deliberately weighing the arguments
and evidence upon this important topic, they can
think it consistent with the high character and
more than European celebrity of the Society, con-
stituted as it is for the especial promotion of science,
and bearing on its banners the all-exciting and im-
perishable name of NEWTON, to remain quiescent
spectators, and allow this all-absorbing question to
slumber over the next half century ?
Surely it must be the paramount duty, as well as
the interest of the Society, to institute a series of
experiments* under its direction, in order to deter-
mine, O,NCE and FOR EVER, whether water is or is
not a compound body ; and if it is, what are the
exact proportions of its elements ; and further,
whether hydrogen is or is not a compound of electri-
city and water.
It is evident that until these questions shall be
determined, the science of Chemistry can exist only
in name, and that we never can expect to derive
from it any splendid discovery ; for it is not to
Chemists that we are indebted for the aid of steam
and atmospheric air, these had been the world's
" chartered libertines 1 ' for untold ages ; it is to the
genius of the Mechanician that we owe our grati-
* If it should be asked why the author, when he entertains
these opinions, does not bring forward some experiments of his
own, he will be driven to confess that he is not an amateur
chemist, and never made any experimeot in chemistry, electricity,
or magnetism, either personally or by proxy, in his life.
tilde, who contrived to convert these unruly giants
into sturdy labourers, and attach them to machines
that claim our highest admiration.
Having thus disposed of the questions respecting
water and hydrogen, I will now proceed to the con-
sideration of the ELECTRIC and MAGNETIC fluids,
and their mode of action.
I will here beg to premise, what I believe I shall
be enabled at a future, and not far distant, period,
to establish, should it not then have been ascer-
tained, that the galvanic and magnetic fluids are
modifications of the common electric fluid. That a
combination of the latter fluid with the oxide of any
metallic substance that has a powerful affinity for
oxygen (such as zinc), forms the galvanic fluid ; its
energy depending upon the kind of acid which has
produced the oxide ; and that a combination of the
electric fluid with an oxide of pure iron, forms the
In fact, that this powerful element is not only the
basis of hydrogen, but also of the galvanic and mag-
Davy and Wollaston held pretty much this opi-
nion. Davy calls the metals " motors of electri-
city ;" and Wollaston says " metallic oxidation is
the primary cause."
Davy also says, " That the electric and galvanic
fluids are the same, the apparent difference depend-
ing on the intensity and quantity." Davy again
says, " that the acid gives and that the alkali receives
the electricity;" and which, in fact, is nearly the
whole secret of the voltaic current, badly however
expressed, as acid and alkali are only the two ex-
tremes of the conductor. He adds " Atmospheric
air or oxygen, or nitrous or muriatic acid in solution
in the water,will produce the oxidation of the metals,
(but not pure water alone), and that the galvanic
phenomena are in proportion to the rapidity with
which the metals (the zinc particularly) are oxi-
dated." This he afterwards repeats in another place,
remarking, "that the plates will act no longer than
the water between them holds some oxygen in solu-
tion ; and that nitrous acid gives infinitely more
energy to the fluid than the muriatic acid."*
It is extraordinary that the possibility of chemi-
cally uniting electricity or elementary heat with
these aqueous and other matters, never forcibly
struck any of our great chemists ; and yet it will very
likely turn out that these combinations are amongst
the most useful of nature's processes, and produce
the most curious results : but the ordinary and
vulgar notion of fire and water being such opposite
principles, that harmony can never exist between
them, has intruded itself even into more philo-
sophic minds, and made us repugn the idea of any
combination of these elements being either probable
With regard to the nature of the electric fluid in
its simple state, Franklin treated it as having two
properties, the one positive and the other negative.
* See Dr. Paris's Life of Davy, vol. i. p. 24C.
The French chemists believe that there are two
distinct fluids, and we appear now to have adopted
From the apparent mysterious mode of action of
this matter, Davy thought " that the phenomena of
electricity were produced by a highly volatile fluid
or fluids, of which the particles are repulsive with
respect to each other, and attractive of the particles
of matter !"
Is it possible to imagine a definition more impro-
bable or extraordinary than this ! It is indeed the
" ignotum per ignotius." But this must always be
the case when absurd theories have to be accounted
Now all these theories are erroneous. There are
no two fluids ; there are no such things as positive
and negative electricity ; and the supposed attrac-
tive and repulsive properties have no existence.
The electric fluid, which is probably the cement-
ing power which holds together the atoms of all
substances,')" is constantly circulating upon our
* For if there be but one fluid,t bought the French chemists,
how inconceivable it is that it should possess two opposite pro-
perties, as is in the magnet, one attractive and the other repel-
lant, and that these two properties should be found in the
smallest imaginable portion of the fluid, and yet be inseparable.
Such a proposition would certainly not be likely to be very easy of
digestion with men who had been dealing a little severely with
f Davy says " I have shewn that chemical attractions may
be exalted, modified, and destroyed by changes in the electric
state of bodies."
globe from south to north ; and it is from this sim-
ple fact alone, as I shall presently shew, that flow all
the phenomena of electricity and magnetism which
have puzzled the greatest men of modern times.
Every substance in nature is charged with more
or less of the electric fluid, according to its constitu-
tion ; and all excess of this fluid, existing on any
matter whatever, passes from the matter into the
general current ; and this passage of the fluid
necessarily takes place with more or less facility
according as the body it is upon, is more or less a
conductor of electricity.
" Common electricity," says Davy, " is excited (I
should add, " and accumulated") upon raw-con-
ductors, and is readily carried off by conductors
and imperfect conductors."
Now there are three sorts of substances, viz. con-
ductors, (par excellence), imperfect conductors, and
To make myself perfectly intelligible, I will beg
to state, that if we want to obtain any part of the
electric fluid in circulation, for any purpose, we use
a non-conductor, which being excited in the ordi-
nary way, is found to be charged with an accumu-
lation of the fluid, which is then, by a conductor,
passed on to the Leyden jar, or any other apparatus,
such jar or apparatus having been previously placed
upon a stand furnished with glass or non-conducting
feet, so that the fluid can have no escape from it,
except through the atmosphere, and which when in
a dry state is also a bad conductor.
Now if the electric fluid is perpetually circulating
from south to north, it is evident that every portion
of such fluid, and any modification of it, such as the
magnetic fluid, which may have been so collected,
must have a tendency to join and he carried with
the fluid so in circulation. These simple data being
premised, the consequences are self-evident.
For instance, suppose a rod of metal about fifteen
inches long, and three quarters of an inch in dia-
meter, a 6, to be charged with the com-
mon electric fluid, by introducing such fluid at the
end, b. Now metal being an excellent conductor, it is
clear that this fluid in order to pass with the general
circulating fluid, will proceed instanter upon the
rod from 6, to the other end, a ; and it is equally
clear, that as the atmosphere is not nearly so rapid
a conductor as the metal, the fluid, when it reaches
a, must remain accumulated there, until by the
slow conducting power of the air it is carried off to
join the general current.
We will now come at once to the cause of the
polarity of the magnetic needle, a problem which
might have remained unsolved for ages, from the
strong disposition of the mind for what is mysterious
the "omne ignotum pro magnifico."*
Let us take then a small steel bar, similar to
* It is a remarkable circumstance that the predilection for
the marvellous is to be found in all grades of society.
The ablest mathematicians, and the closest logicians are tinc-
tured with it as well as the uninstructed. About two years since
I heard the celebrated French Astronomer and perpetual Secre-
what we see in a Dolland's pocket mariner's com-
pass a b. Now, if we wish to magnetise
tary of the Institute, Mr. Arago, say, in speaking of our
sight, that we saw objects double, and those in an inverted po-
sition, defects which we only corrected by experience, or as he
forcibly expressed it, by education. This doctrine, he told us,
was founded upon experiments made by Chesselden and others
upon persons born blind, and who, when they had acquired their
sight, had their vision thus imperfect.
Now, instead of this strange and absurd doctrine (which I be-
lieve is not exclusively Mr. Arago' s, and is to be found in the
books), what does common sense say upon the subject ? This,
. that the optic nerves of these patients from long want of use,
could not perform instanter their functional duties, and that
time would be required to enable them to recover their primitive
Will any man say that this is not a clear and natural and
therefore a satisfactory reason ? Why then resort unnecessarily
to the marvellous ?
We know that objects are inverted upon the retina ; but does
it follow as an inevitable consequence that the impression upon
the mind is also inverted ? Then why gratuitously assert as a
fact that which is contradicted from our earliest experience ?
This subject I more fully entered into, and illustrated in a
paper, which appeared in the " Lancet " some months since, and
which contained an experiment that removed all doubt upon the
I had sent the same paper some time previously to Sir
David Brewster's <f Philosophical Magazine" for insertion, but
the Doctor thought proper to reject it, so indisposed are these
great Professors and living Depositaries of l< useful knowledge,"
to be put right upon any subject on which they are mistaken,
and have been for years misleading the public.
* See "Lancet," 21st June, 1845, p. 719.
this bar, so that the north pole shall be at the end,
a, we must pass the magnet along the bar from
b to a, and always repeat the operation in that di-
rection. If on the contrary we desire the north
pole to be at &, we must pass the magnet the reverse
way, or from a to b.
It is evident that in either way we produce a mag-
netic current, and therefore from whichever end
this current escapes, that end (when the bar is sus-
pended, so as to turn freely as in the compass),
must point to the North Pole, such being the direc-
tion the fluid is travelling.
That this is the case will, I think, be indis-
putable, when we look at the effect of opposing
current to current, as in the following experiment.
Let the bar of steel b_ receive
the magnetic fluid in the direction b a, that is by
passing the magnet several times from b to a,
Instead of now continuing the operation in the same
direction, let the magnet be passed several times
on the same bar from a to b. What follows ?
There will be now no polarity at either end of the
bar, when it is suspended as before ; and, therefore,
for the purpose of indicating the North Pole, the bar
will be useless. Why is this ? Because, as must
be manifest, by thus reversing the currents we
oppose the current a to the current b, and which
two currents must consequently meet in some inter-
mediate part of the bar, where an accumulation of
fluid will be formed, and where the fluid must escape
in the best way it can ; for as neither current can
return upon itself, so neither current can reach
either extremity of the bar.
In this operation, therefore, the magnetic fluid
will appear to be neutralized and its properties
With regard to the phenomenon called the " Dip-
ping of the Needle" this no doubt arises from some
inequality on the earth's surface, by which the fluid
takes a downward course, and in that direction car-
ries the needle. Or there may be large cavities
.near the surface containing metallic strata through
which the fluid passes on its journey round the earth.
It will be hardly necessary to illustrate this mag-
netic theory farther, as the other phenomena will be
explained by those resulting from electricity ; but
I will just notice the horse-shoe magnet, lest it
should create a difficulty in the mind of the reader.
In this magnet, then, a f] c two currents exist,
the steel in this form being magnetised from b to a,
and from b to c.
It is evident, in this case, that the currents do
not oppose each other, and consequently the strength
of the magnet consists in having a double quantity
of fluid, by a current terminating at each extremity.
The power called attraction is evidently nothing
more than the tenacity with which the particles of
the fluid adhere together, and in that state pass from
conductor to conductor, thus causing an apparent
cementing together of the two conductors.
We will now proceed to examine the supposed
positive and negative properties of the common
electric fluid, and in which the adhesion of the par-
ticles is not so great as in the magnetic fluid.
Suppose, then, two rods of brass, about fifteen
inches long, and three-quarters of an inch in dia-
meter, a 1 b a 2 I,
and that each rod is charged with the common
electric fluid, introduced at b.* It is evident that if
these two rods, so charged, be placed on an isolated
stand, the fluid will have accumulated at the end a,
of each rod. Now, then, remark what follows. If
I place the end a, of rod 2, in contact with the end
b of the other rod, I shall form, as it were, but one
conductor ; and it is therefore evident that the fluid
which existed on the rod No. 2, will have quitted
that rod, and passed on to join the fluid of rod No. 1,
at a ; and if I charge a thousand rods, and place
them together under the same circumstances, so as
to form but one conductor, all the fluid will pass on
to the first rod, on its way to join the general cur-
Again, if I place the ends b of the two rods toge-
ther, no phenomena will take place, it being evident
that in this position of the rods there can be neither
attraction nor repulsion, nor any other apparent
property manifested, as the fluids are now travelling*
* In all these experiments it is evident that the glass, or non-
conducting handle, must be attached to the middle of the rods,
so that their ends or extremities may be perfectly free.
in different directions, and wholly independent of
But suppose, instead of placing the end a of one
rod to the end b of the other, (which produced the
phenomenon of attraction), we oppose the ends a of
the two rods, that is, place them nearly together,
what must be the manifest result ? It is clear that
the two accumulated fluids will be now placed in a
state of antagonism, and that, like two currents of
water, or any other two fluids in motion, opposed to
each other, instead of attraction, a violent commo-
tion will take place, and that all matters found or
placed within their sphere of action must be forcibly
carried away. Now, this antagonism taking place,
with the magnetic, or the common electric fluid,
produces the phenomenon called repulsion.
Thus, then, is explained all the mystery of attrac-
tion and repulsion, and of positive and negative pro-
perties, about which volumes have been written.
If, however, all the phenomena of electricity had
been confined to these peculiarities, it is to be hoped,
for the honour of science, and the acumen of its pro-
fessors, that the occult nature of these operations
would have been sooner brought to light.
It, however, happens that substances are met
with upon which are found only positive electricity,
as it is called ; and upon others only negative elec-
tricity. Thus, then, it should appear as if there
must be two fluids, as they are now seen detached ;
a circumstance not met with in the magnetic fluid,
as its attractive and repellant properties have not
hitherto (I believe) presented themselves in a sepa-
rate state, and which may arise from the tenacity of
Then, again, some substances will receive elec-
tricity from some bodies and refuse it from others,
and vice versa, so that it is concluded that certain
bodies will only receive a peculiar kind of electricity.
Now, this is all illusory, as will be readily under-
stood and admitted upon examining a little farther
into the nature of the different conducting bodies.
The common electric fluid is excited and collected
(as we have seen) upon a body that does not con-
duct for instance glass. Why ? because the fluid
must remain on such body in a comparatively mo-
tionless state an uneasy state, to use a metaphor
a desire to leave but an incapacity to do so a wish
to arrive at the upper story of the building, but can
find no staircase which leads to it. Suppose then
the fluid to be now existing on such a surface.
Suppose again a conducting body to be charged
with the electric fluid (one of the metallic rods for
instance), which has received such fluid at b. Now
place the end #, of this rod (the positive end as it
is called), where the fluid has concentrated itself, in
contact with the fluid which is stagnant on the non-
conducting body. It is plain that in this case there
can be no attraction why ? Because both the fluids
are endeavouring to escape, and in this situation
neither of them offers to the other any facility or
means of so doing ; on the contrary, the result of
their approximation is to produce a scuffle between
them to the advantage of neither. But instead of
the positive end, a, place the negative end, 6, of this
conductor on the non-conducting body, and you im-
mediately discharge the latter of its electricity.
Now to account for this result, instead of the
above simple explanation, our scientific men have
created two fluids, calling that upon the metallic rod
the positive, and that upon the non-conducting
body the negative fluid ; and they have assumed
from the above experiments, that there exists a
warm attachment (affinity) between the positive and
negative families, while on the contrary these two
mysterious fluids, as between themselves, that is when
in their separate establishments and confined to their
respective houses, are upon terms of utter enmity,
and that nothing but discord reigns between them.
It is found again that the electric fluid upon two
non-conducting substances will not unite ; that
when one non-conducting substance, charged with the
electric fluid, is presented to another non-conduct-
ing body also charged, no sympathy takes place
between them, but quite the contrary. I have
already given the reason of this, namely, that both
fluids are in an imprisoned state, their motion in a
current being suspended ; and as each fluid is seek-
ing (if I may be at liberty to use this expression)
to escape, it is evidently not the union of the two
fluids which can effect the object, but a conducting
body, which neither of them possesses ; and conse-
quently placing the two non-conducting substances
together only embarrasses their condition. The
result then is that a juxta-position of two bodies
under these circumstances produces no other pheno-
menon than repulsion.
Now, there occurred a circumstance which en-
veloped this occult subject, (as it appeared to the
great practitioners of electricity), in impenetrable
obscurity, and called in vain for professional inge-
nuity to account for.
Dr. Faraday found that a metallic ball isolated
that is, suspended in the open air by a silken
string, would receive or be charged with the electric
fluid (by induction, as the Doctor calls it), from the
This, according to what I have laid down, is an
inevitable consequence. The fluid being always in
circulation, and metal being a powerful conducting
surface, the ball must in this case be charged with
But the surprise of Dr. Faraday arose from his
finding, that notwithstanding the ball was of metal,
and therefore the best of conductors, it was charged
with the negative fluid ; and I will venture to add,
that the Doctor was never more surprised in his life.*
Now this again, according to the theory I have
stated, is not only perfectly intelligible, but is also
* See Dr. Faraday's paper in Sir David Brewster's Philos.
Mag. of June, 1843, p. 4/8.
a necessary consequence ; whereas according to the
theory of the books, it can in no shape be accounted
for, and must have been in direct opposition to all
Doctor Faraday's ideas upon the subject.
I have already stated that a body is a non-con-
ductor, or an extremely bad conductor, when the
fluid rests upon it in a comparatively torpid or im-
prisoned state, the natural condition of the fluid
being that of a current, which in this case is sus-
It is evident, therefore, that although metal is
an excellent conductor, it may be so shaped as to
have all the disadvantage of a non-conductor, and
in that case, all the difference that can exist between
a metal and a non-conducting body will be, that
the metal will be charged by induction (that is, by
exposure to the atmosphere), with the greatest
quantity of fluid.
Now, when the metal is formed into a ball, it is
precisely of the shape in which it must act as a
non-conducting surface or body.
How can the electric fluid pass off from the
metal in this shape, better than it could from any
non-conducting surface ? But the moment this
same ball of metal is by the hammer elongated,
and offers an extremity or end for the fluid to
escape from, the metal will then be positively
charged by induction or exposure to the atmosphere.
However, to put this subject beyond the possi-
bility of cavil, and to prove, incontrovertibly, that
the ball is charged with the supposed negative fluid,
solely from the cause I have mentioned, if, when
the ball is so charged, a short metallic rod | *
be placed upon, or attached to, the ball with the
upper end a pointed, so as to facilitate the transit of
the fluid into the atmosphere, the fluid on the ball
will be found immediately changed from a negative
to a positive fluid ; and it will be also found that so
long as the pointed rod remains affixed to the ball,
it will be impossible to charge it, by induction or
otherwise, with negative fluid.
It is evident, that through the medium of the rod
attached to the ball a current will be aided ; and
from that moment the fluid will resume its natural
motion, and become, to all intents and purposes,
according to the nomenclature of the day, a positive
I will now say a few words respecting the modus
operandi of the voltaic pile.
All bodies appear to be in different states of elec-
tricity, according to their respective natures, and
this fluid, in all probability, constitutes (as I have
before said) the cementing or connecting power by
which the particles of matter are held together.
When the active power of this fluid is made more
energetic by that combination of it with some other
body, which converts it into what is called the gal-
vanic fluid, it has the virtue of disintegrating or
separating certain compound substances; and which
it possibly effects in as simple a manner as the
crystals of sugar are dissolved in warm water, and
from the same cause, viz. a superfluity of fluid beyond
what is necessary for the adhesion of the particles
of matter ; in fact, an inundation of fluid or elemen-
The construction of the voltaic pile is such as to
compel this fluid to travel in a circle, and in so
doing it necessarily passes from the negative, or
least conducting pole or substance, to the positive
pole or greater conducting surface ; and by this
means the whole of the fluid is made to act, in its
transit, upon any given substance required to be
When the resolution of a compound body takes
place, the substances of which it is compounded will
arrange themselves according to the order of their
electric capacities, (which can be readily imagined
from what has been already written) that is, the
body which has as great or a greater conducting
power than the substance forming the positive pole
will pass to that side, and the bodies having a less
conducting power than the substance forming the
negative pole will attach themselves to the latter,
and thus extend the conductor of the fluid accord-
ing to their respective electric capacities.
Here, then, we again find the same absence of
all that complexity and mystery in which most of
our subtle philosophers fondly indulge themselves,
from the very mistaken notion, no doubt, that
superiority of intellect is denoted by the extrava-
gance of its conceptions, (which they are pleased to
call Genius) and that plain common sense is much
below their dignity.
It is curious to observe the inconsistency which
exists with respect to the electric fluid. When
hydrogen and oxygen are to be converted into
water, the agent the chemists call in to effect the
union of these gases, is this fluid. But this is the
solitary instance in which this elementary power is
made to perform an hymeneal office ; in every other
case, they represent it as the universal enemy of
nature ; the deranger of all sympathy ; the de-
stroyer of all conjugal felicity, however long and
sincere the attachment may have been, and how-
ever disinclined the parties may be to separate.
They may, however, ultimately discover that the
electric fluid, when better known, is as much dis-
posed, and as capable of forming harmonious com-
pacts as any other of its elementary companions ;
and that it is to some one of those friendly unions
that we stand indebted for the inestimable blessings
of Light and Heat, which Davy, in the recklessness
of an unchastened imagination, concluded to be
mere accidents in nature, produced by tumult and
violence, or, as he called it, " intense action."
Thus, then, do all the phenomena we meet with
in electricity and magnetism (except light and heat),
flow from the simple circumstance, of the continuous
circulation of these fluids from south to north upon
the surface of our globe.
However strange and incredible, therefore, (con-
sidering the variety of the phenomena) this theory
may appear, and however it may call forth the
opposition of those philosophers, who seem to hold
simplicity in abhorrence, I shall continue, like
Galileo, to exclaim laconically, but emphatically, It
is nevertheless so !
THE author's Theory of the Phenomena of the
Electric and Magnetic Fluids, and their mode of
action, suggested itself to his mind during an illness
at Aix-les-bains in Savoie, and was thence commu-
nicated by him to the " Royal Society," in a paper
transmitted to their excellent Secretary, Dr. Roget,
in August, 1834, and subsequently to Dr. Faraday,
in January, 1838.
The subject was referred by the Society to a
Committee, but no report was ever made.
In December, 1834, the same Theory was com-
municated by the author to the " French Institute,"
in a memoir presented by M. Arago, when the
subject was referred to Messieurs Ampere and
Becquerel, but they never made any report.
The author also communicated the Theory of the
Magnetic Needle to the " Board of Admiralty," in
a paper transmitted in February, 1838.
Early in 1844, in consequence of seeing in the
Philosophical Magazine of Sir David Brewster, for
June, 1843, Dr. Faraday's experiment noticed in the
foregoing pages, the author addressed another me-
moir to the " Royal Society," accounting for the phe-
nomenon, and shewing that it flowed from, and was
confirmatory of, his Theory.
The same communication was also sent, in March,
1844, to Sir David Brewster's Philosophical Maga-
zine ; but it was never published, as the author
The Theory as to the Non- Decomposition of
Water, and that Hydrogen was composed of Elec-
tricity and Water, was communicated to the Royal
Society in a memoir forwarded from the continent to
Dr. Roget, in April, 1840, and which was referred
by the Council to the " Committee of Chemistry,"
who have made no report thereon.
A similar paper was sent to the Marquis of
Northampton, in May, 1840.
In December, 1841, the author addressed ano-
ther memoir upon the same subject to the Royal
Society, accompanied with the dicta of Cavendish,
Priestley, and Watt, as to Hydrogen being a com-
pound body, which was also referred to the " Com-
mittee of Chemistry," but without any result.
NORM A \ AM) SKKKN. I'fUNTF.IIS, MAIDEN I.ANE, COVI-NT OAIMHX.
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