Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Boase, Henry Samuel

1312099Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900, Volume 05 — Boase, Henry Samuel1886Robert Hunt

BOASE, HENRY SAMUEL, M.D. (1799–1883), geologist, was the eldest son of Henry Boase [q. v.] of Madron — the parish in which Penzance is situated. He was born in Knightsbridge — his mother being Anne, the daughter of Matthew Craige — on 2 Sept. 1799. Boase received his earliest education at the school kept in those days in Sloane Street by the Messrs. Watson. He was removed in 1814 to the grammar school at Tiverton, but showing at this time a fondness for chemistry — a science then rendered fashionable by the discoveries made by Humphry Davy — he was sent, in 1815, to Dublin, to pursue his studies under the direction of Dr. Edmund Davy, then professor of chemistry in the university of that city. After a few years Boase proceeded to Edinburgh, and studied medicine in that university, being admitted to his M.D. degree in 1821. His first independent start in life was made at Penzance, where he practised with considerable success as a physician for several years. Boase's scientific education rendered him a valuable member of the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall, of which he was secretary from 1822 to 1829, and he delivered occasional lectures on chemistry to the members. But he soon turned to geology, and undertook a thorough examination of the primary rocks of the interesting county of Cornwall. In 1829 he began to collect specimens, and to study with considerable earnestness the geological phenomena of that important mineral district. He pursued also at the same time a chemical investigation into the constitution of the older rocks, and of the metalliferous deposits which they enclose. This inquiry led him in 1836 to publish in Thompson's 'Records a description of an earth — similar to Donaria, obtained by Bergemann from the organite of Brevig in Norway — which has, however, been proved by later investigations to be identical with Thorina.

In 1832 Boase commenced, in the fourth volume of the 'Transactions of the Cornwall Geological Society,' his 'Contributions towards a Knowledge of the Geology of Cornwall,' and he contributed to Mr. Davies Gilbert's 'Parochial History of Cornwall' succinct descriptions of the geology of each parish in the county. In 1834 he published 'A Treatise on Primary Geology' (London, 8vo ).

The connection of his father with banking led Boase to become a partner in the Penzance Union Bank, which position he retained from 1823 to 1828.

Desiring to associate with the active scientific world, Boase removed to London, and resided in Burton Crescent during the years 1837 and 1838. He did not secure the recognised position which he desired, but he was, on 4 May 1837, admitted a fellow of the Royal Society.

Investigations into the chemistry of some tinctorial products and their application to textile fabrics brought Boase into familiar intercourse with some of the large bleaching and dyeing establisliments of Scotland. In 1838 he removed from London to Dundee, and became managing partner in the firm of Turnbull Brothers of the Claverhouse Bleachfield. This establishment benefited by the application of Boase's chemical knowledge to the bleaching processes. The 17th of July 1855 we find the date of a patent taken out by Boase for 'improvements in the process of drying organic substances.' He finally retired from business in 1871.

In the intervals of an active life Boase found opportunities for continuing his scientific studies, one of the results being the publication in 1860 of 'The Philosophy of Nature, a Systematic Treatise of the Causes and Laws of Natural Phenomena' (London, 8vo). This work is certainly the result of long-continued and careful thought. It deals 'with the relationship of the principal sciences, both concrete and pure; it shows t hat whatever department of nature we make the object of our investigation, whether as to its outward appearance or as to its inner constitution, it will be found to have both a real and ideal side, and accordingly as we direct our attention to the one or the other, the knowledge obtained must relate either to forces or ideas—that it must be resolved into either a physical or a formal science,' There is a considerable amount of deductive power shown in this volime, but the reasoning from the inductive facts is not always satisfactory. This work never attracted any special notice; the neglect being evidently due, as Boase himself expresses it, to 'the frequent antagonism of our opinions to those which more generally prevail.' He also published: 'An Essay on Human Nature, London, 1865 (8vo); 'The Second Adam, the Seed of the Woman,' anon., London, 1876 (8vo); 'A few Words on Evolution and Creation,' London, 1883 (8vo).

In addition to the above we find that Boase contributed several memoirs and papers to the 'Transactions of the Cornwall Geological Society ' and to scientific journals, the following being the most important; those omitted were chiefly devoted to the chemical examination of metallic and earthy minerals: 1. 'Observations on the Submersion of part of the Mount's Bay, and on the Inundation of Marine Sand on the North Coast of Cornwall,' 'Cornwall Geol. Soc. Trans.' ii. 1822. 2. 'On the Differences in the Annual Statements of the quantity of Rain falling in adjacent places, Thompson's 'Ann. Phil.' iv. 1822. 3. 'Some Observations on the Alluvial Fonuations of the Western part of Cornwall,' 'Cornwall Geol. Soc. Trans.' iii. 1827. 4. 'Contributions towards a Knowledge of the Geology of Cornwall' (1830), ibid. iv. 1832. 5. 'Note on Capros aper Lacép., Zeus aper Linn., and a Tetrodon taken in Mount's Bay, Cornwall,' 'Zoological Society Proceedings,' i. 1833. 6. 'An Inquiry into the Nature of the Structure of Rocks,' 'Philosophical Magazine,' vii. 1836. 7. 'Remarks on Mr. Hopkins's "Researches on Physical Geology,"' ibid. ix. 1836; with 'Additional Remarks on these " Researches,"' ibid. x. 1837. 8. 'A Sketch of M. Faye's "Examen d'un Memoire de M. Plante sur la force répulsive et le milieu résistant," with a few remarks thereon,' ibid. xxi. 1861.

Boase died after a short illness on 5 May 1883, leaving a numerous family by his wife, Elizabeth Valentina, who died in 1876. This lady was the eldest daughter of William Stoddard.

[Transactions of the Royal Cornwall Geological Society; Royal Society's Catalogue of Scientific Papers; Boase and Courtney's Bibl. Cornubiensis.]

R. H-t.