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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 18.djvu/87

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HENRY AND FARADAY.

or rather those powers of the mind which are capable of penetrating into all things within our reach and knowledge, and of distinguishing their essential differences. These are no other than invention and judgment; and they are both called by the collective name of genius, as they are of those gifts of nature which we bring with us into the world. Concerning each of which, many seem to have fallen into very great errors; for by invention, I believe, is generally understood a creative faculty, which would indeed prove most romance writers to have the highest pretensions to it; whereas by invention is meant no more (and so the word signifies) than discovery or finding out; or, to explain it at large, a quick and sagacious penetration into the true essence of all the objects of our contemplation. This, I think, can rarely exist without the concomitancy of judgment, for how we can be said to have discovered the true essence of two things, without discerning their difference, seems to me hard to conceive. Now, this last is the undisputed province of judgment; and yet some few men of wit have agreed with all the dull fellows in the world in representing these two to have been seldom or never the property of one and the same person."

My own judgment, if of any value, would rank the ability of Henry—I do not say his achievements—a little below that of Faraday. Indeed, their lives and their manners of working were strangely alike. Each started in life with moral and benevolent habits, well developed and healthy bodies, quick and accurate perceptions, calm judgment and self-reliance, tempered with modesty and good manners—a good ground, surely, in which to plant the germs of the scientific life. Faraday was an apprentice to a bookbinder. Henry served in the same capacity under a silversmith. Each, endowed with a lively imagination, was in his younger days fond of romance and the drama; and, by a singular similarity of accidents, each had had his attention turned to science by a book which chance threw in his way. This work, in the case of Faraday, was Mrs. Marcet's "Conversations on Chemistry," and the book which influenced Henry's career was Gregory's "Lectures on Experimental Philosophy, Astronomy, and Chemistry." Of Mrs. Marcet's book Faraday thus writes:

My dear Friend: Your subject interested me deeply every way; for Mrs. Marcet was a good friend to me, as she must have been to many of the human race. I entered the shop of a bookseller and bookbinder at the age of thirteen, in the year 1804, remaining there eight years, and during the chief part of the time bound books. Now, it was in those books, in the hours after work, that I found the beginning of my philosophy. There were two that especially helped me, the "Encyclopædia Britannica," from which I gained my first notions of electricity, and Mrs. Marcet's "Conversations on Chemistry," which gave me my foundation in that science. Do not suppose that I was a very deep thinker, or was marked as a precocious person. I was a lively, imaginative person, and could believe in the "Arabian Nights" as easily as in the "Encyclopædia." But facts were important