BIOGRAPHIES OF SCIENTIFIC MEN
was to show herself on pain of instant dismissal. He had no friends—real friends—only scientific acquaintances, and these had to be very careful how they spoke to him, or he would become perfectly silent and leave their presence. It is said of this remarkable man—one of the most eccentric characters of his time—that he uttered fewer words in the course of his long life than even a Trappist monk.
In Cavendish House he discovered the composition of water, and made other momentous scientific discoveries. Despite his immense wealth (he was the richest man in London in his day), he lived in the simplest fashion, reserving only one or two rooms for domestic purposes.
Cavendish was tall and thin, with wizened features. He wore old-fashioned clothes—even for the times in which he lived—and a knocker-tailed periwig. He would never sit for his portrait. Our illustration is a copy of a drawing made surreptitiously by a contemporaneous artist.
He was afraid of strangers, and, when introduced to anyone, he fell into a state of the most painful nervousness. It was his custom each evening to take a constitutional walk in a secluded part of Clapham Common, where there was little chance of his meeting anyone else. Strolling there one evening, thinking over some momentous problem, probably lost to the world, he was addressed by a couple of lovers, fell immediately into