Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 28.djvu/712

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IN John Bennet Lawes, said "Nature," more than ten years ago (December 9, 1875), "we have a private individual who, unaided by the state, or by any scientific body, has made a greater number of useful experiments than all the experimental farms of European governments put together." The work referred to in such terms of praise was performed on Mr. Lawes's private estate at Rothamstead, in Hertfordshire, England, to which he succeeded as heir in 1822, being eight years of age, and on which he began his famous experiments in 1834, when he entered upon actual possession of it.

Mr. Lawes was born in 1814, and acquired his school education at Eton College and Brasenose, Oxford, where he was a student from 1832 to 1835. His favorite work during this time was in the laboratory; and after leaving the university he spent some time in London, in the study of practical chemistry. His situation and surroundings were particularly favorable to his giving his whole attention to the pursuit to which his tastes inclined him, and for which he had qualified himself by his studies. Possessed of independent means, a handsome property, and a beautiful old manor-house and domain of about five hundred acres, he at once interested himself in agriculture; and from the year he entered upon manhood till now, or for more than fifty years, he has been unceasingly applying his scientific knowledge to the solution of questions affecting the practice of that art. "In the commencement of his experiments," says his biographer in the London "Times," "among other subjects, the effect of bones as a manure on land occupied his attention for some time. A friend and neighbor, the then Lord Dacre, particularly directed his notice to the fact that bones were very variable in their effect on different soils. Several hundred experiments were accordingly made, some upon crops in the field and others with plants in pots, in which the constituents found in the ashes of plants as well as others were supplied in various states of combination. Striking results were gained from these experiments, in which the neutral phosphate of lime in bones, bone-ash, and apatite was rendered soluble by means of sulphuric acid, and the mixture applied for root-crops. The results obtained on a small scale in 1837-'39 were such as to lead to more extensive trials in the field in 1840-'41, and to the final taking out of a patent early in 1842. This being done, Mr. Lawes established large works in the neighborhood of London, for the manufacture of superphosphate of lime, by which name the manure is known, which has produced such a revolution in the science of agriculture."

In 1843 Mr. Lawes associated with himself Dr. J. H. Gilbert, whose name has since been connected with his in all the researches