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Title: Priestley in America - 1794-1804
Author: Smith, Edgar Fahs, 1854-1928
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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The writer, in studying the lives of early American chemists,
encountered the name of _Joseph Priestley_ so frequently, that he
concluded to institute a search with the view of learning as much as
possible of the life and activities, during his exile in this country,
of the man whom chemists everywhere deeply revere. Recourse, therefore,
was had to contemporary newspapers, documents and books, and the
resulting material woven into the sketch given in the appended pages. If
nothing more, it may be, perhaps, a connecting chapter for any future
history of chemistry in America. Its preparation has been a genuine
pleasure, which, it is hoped by him whose hand guided the pen, will be
shared by his fellow chemists, and all who are interested in the growth
and development of science in this country.


There lies before the writer a tube of glass, eleven and one half inches
in length and a quarter of an inch in diameter. Its walls are thin. At
one end there is evidence that an effort was made to bend this tube in
the flame. Ordinarily it would be tossed aside; but this particular tube
was given the writer years ago by a great-grandson of Joseph Priestley.
Attached to the tube is a bit of paper upon which appear the words
"piece of tubing used by Priestley." That legend has made the tube
precious in the heart and to the eye of the writer. Everything relating
to this wonderful figure in science, history, religion, politics and
philosophy is very dear to him. On all sides of him are relics and
reminders of Priestley. Not all, but many of his publications are near
at hand. After perusal of these at various times, and while reading the
many life sketches of Priestley, there has come the desire to know more
about his activities during the decade (1794-1804) he lived in America.
Isn't it fair to declare that the great majority of chemical students
think of Priestley as working only in England, his native land, and
never give thought to his efforts during the last ten years of his life?
It has been said that he probably inspired and incited the young
chemists of this country to renewed endeavor in their science upon his
advent here. There is no question that he influenced James Woodhouse and
his particular confreres most profoundly, as he did a younger
generation, represented by Robert Hare. Priestley again set in rapid
motion chemical research in the young Republic.[1] He must therefore
have done something himself. What was it? Is it worth while to learn the
character of this work? Modern tendencies are antagonistic to the past.
Many persons care nothing for history. It is a closed book. They do not
wish it to be opened, and yet the present is built upon the early work.
In reviewing the development of chemistry in this country everything,
from the first happening here, should be laid upon the table for study
and reflection. Thus believing, it will not be out of place to seek some
light upon the occupation of the discoverer of oxygen after he came to
live among us--with our fathers.

Noble-hearted, sympathetic Thomas E. Thorpe wrote:

    If, too, as you draw up to the fire 'betwixt the gloaming and the
      mirk' of these dull, cold November days, and note the little blue
      flame playing round the red-hot coals, think kindly of Priestley,
      for he first told us of the nature of that flame when in the exile
      to which our forefathers drove him.

Right there, "the nature of the flame," is one thing Priestley did
explain in America. He discovered carbon monoxide--not in England, but
in "exile."[2] It may not be an epoch-making observation. There are not
many such and those who make them are not legion in number. It was an
interesting fact, with a very definite value, which has persisted
through many succeeding decades and is so matter-of-fact that rarely
does one arise to ask who first discovered this simple oxide of carbon.

Priestley was a man of strong human sympathies. He loved to mingle with
men and exchange thoughts. Furthermore, Priestley was a minister--a
preacher. He was ordained while at Warrington, and gloried in the fact
that he was a Dissenting Minister. It was not his devotion to science
which sent him "into exile." His advanced thought along political and
religious lines, his unequivocal utterances on such subjects,--proved
to be the rock upon which he shipwrecked. It has been said--

    By some strange irony of fate this man, who was by nature one of
      the most peaceable and peace-loving of men, singularly calm and
      dispassionate, not prone to disputation or given to wrangling,
      acquired the reputation of being perhaps the most cantankerous man
      of his time....

There is a wide-spread impression that Priestley was a chemist. This is
the answer which invariably comes from the lips of students upon being
interrogated concerning him. The truth is that Priestley's attention was
only turned to chemistry when in the thirties by Matthew Turner, who
lectured on this subject in the Warrington Academy in which Priestley
labored as a teacher. So he was rather advanced in life before the
science he enriched was revealed to him in the experimental way. Let it
again be declared, he was a teacher. His thoughts were mostly those of a
teacher. Education occupied him. He wrote upon it. The old Warrington
Academy was a "hot-bed of liberal dissent," and there were few subjects
upon which he did not publicly declare himself as a dissenter.

He learned to know our own delightful Franklin in one of his visits to
London. Franklin was then sixty years of age, while Priestley was little
more than half his age. A warm friendship immediately sprang up. It
reacted powerfully upon Priestley's work as "a political thinker and as
a natural philosopher." In short, Franklin "made Priestley into a man of
science." This intimacy between these remarkable men should not escape
American students. Recall that positively fascinating letter (1788) from
Franklin to Benjamin Vaughan, in which occur these words:

    Remember me affectionately ... to the honest heretic Dr.
      Priestley. I do not call him honest by way of distinction, for I
      think all the heretics I have known have been virtuous men. They
      have the virtue of Fortitude, or they would not venture to own
      their heresy; and they cannot afford to be deficient in any of the
      other virtues, as that would give advantage to their many
      enemies.... Do not however mistake me. It is not to my good
      friend's heresy that I impute his honesty. On the contrary 'tis
      his honesty that has brought upon him the character of heretic.

Much of Priestley's thought was given to religious matters. In Leeds he
acknowledged himself a _humanitarian_, or

      a believer in the doctrine that Jesus Christ was in nature solely
      and truly a man, however highly exalted by God.

His home in Leeds adjoined a "public brew house." He there amused
himself with experiments on carbon dioxide (fixed air). Step by step he
became strongly attracted to experimentation. His means, however,
forbade the purchase of apparatus and he was obliged to devise the same
and also to think out his own methods of attack. Naturally, his
apparatus was simple. He loved to repeat experiments, thus insuring
their accuracy.

In 1772 he published his first paper on Pneumatic Chemistry. It told of
the impregnation of water with carbon dioxide. It attracted attention
and was translated into French. This soda-water paper won for Priestley
the Copley medal (1773). While thus signally honored he continued
publishing views on theology and metaphysics. These made a considerable

Then came the memorable year of 1774--the birth-year of oxygen. How many
chemists, with but two years in the science, have been so fortunate as
to discover an element, better still probably the most important of all
the elements! It was certainly a rare good fortune! It couldn't help but
make him the observed among observers. This may have occasioned the hue
and cry against his polemical essays on government and church to become
more frequent and in some instances almost furious.

It was now that he repaired to London. Here he had daily intercourse
with Franklin, whose encouragement prompted him to go bravely forward in
his adopted course.

It was in 1780 that he took up his residence in Birmingham. This was
done at the instance of his brother-in-law. The atmosphere was most
congenial and friendly. Then, he was most desirous of resuming his
ministerial duties; further, he would have near at hand good workmen to
aid him in the preparation of apparatus for his philosophical pursuits.
Best of all his friends were there, including those devoted to science.
Faujar St. Fond, a French geologist has recorded a visit to Priestley--

    Dr. Priestley received me with the greatest kindness.... The
      building in which Dr. Priestley made his chemical and
      philosophical experiments was detached from his house to avoid the
      danger of fire. It consisted of several apartments on the ground
      floor. Upon entering it we were struck with a simple and ingenious
      apparatus for making experiments on inflammable gas extracted from
      iron and water reduced to vapour.

If, only, all the time of Dr. Priestley in Birmingham had been devoted
to science, but alas, his "beloved theology" claimed much of it. He
would enter into controversy--he would dissent, and the awful hour was
advancing by leaps and bounds. The storm was approaching.

It burst forth with fury in 1791. The houses of worship, in which he was
wont to officiate, were the first to meet destruction, then followed his
own house in which were assembled his literary treasures and the
apparatus he had constructed and gathered with pains, sacrifice and
extreme effort. Its demolition filled his very soul with deepest sorrow.
Close at hand, the writer has a neat little chemical balance. It was
brought to this country by Priestley, and tradition has it, that it was
among the pieces of the celebrated collection of chemical utensils
rescued from the hands of the infuriated mob which sought even the life
of Priestley, who fortunately had been spirited or hidden away by loyal,
devoted friends and admirers. In time he ventured forth into the open
and journeyed to London, and when quiet was completely restored, he
returned to one of his early fields of activity, but wisdom and the calm
judgment of friends decided this as unwise. Through it all Priestley was
quiet and philosophical, which is evident from the following story:

    A friend called on him soon after the riots and condoled with him
      for his loss in general, then mentioned the destruction of his
      books as an object of particular regret. Priestley answered, "I
      should have read my books to little purpose if they had not taught
      me to bear the loss of them with composure and resignation."

But the iron had entered his soul. He could not believe that in his own
England any man would be treated as he had been treated. His country was
dear to him. He prized it beyond expression, but he could not hope for
the peace his heart craved. His family circle was broken, two of his
sons having come to America, so in the end, deeply concerned for his
life-companion's comfort, the decision to emigrate was reached, and
their faces were turned to the West.

In reviewing the history of chemistry the remark is frequently heard
that one blotch on the fair escutcheon of French science was placed
there when the remorseless guillotine ushered Lavoisier into eternity.
Was not the British escutcheon of science dimmed when Priestley passed
into exile? Priestley--who had wrought so splendidly! And yet we should
not be too severe, for an illustrious name--Count Rumford--which should
have been ours--was lost to us by influences not wholly unlike those
which gained us Priestley. Benjamin Thompson, early in life abandoned a
home and a country which his fellow citizens had made intolerable.

Read Priestley's volumes on Air and on Natural Philosophy. They are
classics. All conversant with their contents agree that the experimental
work was marvelous. Priestley's discovery of oxygen was epoch-making,
but does not represent all that he did. Twice he just escaped the
discovery of nitrogen. One wonders how this occurred. He had it in hand.
The other numerous observations made by him antedate his American life
and need not be mentioned here. They alone would have given him a
permanent and honorable rank in the history of chemistry. Students of
the science should reserve judgment of Priestley until they have
familiarized themselves with all his contributions, still accessible in
early periodicals. When that has been done, the loss to English science,
by Priestley's departure to another clime will be apparent.

His dearest friends would have held him with them. Not every man's hand
was against him--on the contrary, numerous were those, even among the
opponents of his political and theological utterances, who hoped that he
would not desert them. They regretted that he had--

    turned his attention too much from the luminous field of
      philosophic disquisition to the sterile regions of polemic
      divinity, and the still more thorny paths of polemic politics....

from which the hope was cherished that he would recede and devote all
his might to philosophical pursuits.

    A very considerable number ... of enlightened inhabitants,
      convinced of his integrity as a man, sincerity as a preacher, and
      superlative merit as a philosopher, were his strenuous advocates
      and admirers.

But the die had been cast, and to America he sailed on April 8, 1794, in
the good ship _Sansom_, Capt. Smith, with a hundred others--his fellow
passengers. Whilst on the seas his great protagonist Lavoisier met his
death on the scaffold.

    Such was the treatment bestowed upon the best of their citizens by
      two nations which considered themselves as without exception the
      most civilized and enlightened in the world!

It is quite natural to query how the grand old scientist busied himself
on this voyage of eight weeks and a day. The answer is found in his own

    I read the whole of the Greek Testament, and the Hebrew bible as
      far as the first Book of Samuel: also Ovid's Metamorphoses,
      Buchanan's poems, Erasmus' Dialogues, also Peter Pindar's poems,
      &c.... and to amuse myself I tried the heat of the water at
      different depths, and made other observations, which suggest
      various experiments, which I shall prosecute whenever I get my
      apparatus at liberty.

The Doctor was quite sea-sick, and at times sad, but uplifted when his
eyes beheld the proofs of friendship among those he was leaving behind.
Thus he must have smiled benignantly on beholding the

      elegant Silver Inkstand, with the following inscription, presented
      ... by three young Gentlemen of the University of Cambridge:

        "To Joseph Priestley, LL.D. &c. on his departure into Exile,
          from a few members of the University of Cambridge, who regret
          that expression of their Esteem should be occasioned by the
          ingratitude of their Country."

And, surely, he must have taken renewed courage on perusing the
valedictory message received from the Society of United Irishmen of


    SUFFER a Society which has been caluminated as devoid of all sense
      of religion, law or morality, to sympathize with one whom calumny
      of a similar kind is about to drive from his native land, a land
      which he has adorned and enlightened in almost every branch of
      liberal literature, and of useful philosophy. The emigration of
      Dr. Priestley will form a striking historical fact, by which
      alone, future ages will learn to estimate truly the temper of the
      present time. Your departure will not only give evidence of the
      injury which philosophy and literature have received in your
      person, but will prove the accumulation of petty disquietudes,
      which has robbed your life of its zest and enjoyment, for, at your
      age no one would willingly embark on such a voyage, and sure we
      are, it was your wish and prayer to be buried in your native
      country, which contains the dust of your old friends Saville,
      Price, Jebb, and Fothergill. But be cheerful, dear Sir, you are
      going to a happier world--the world of Washington and Franklin.

    In idea, we accompany you. We stand near you while you are setting
      sail. We watch your eyes that linger on the white cliffs and we
      hear the patriarchal blessing which your soul pours out on the
      land of your nativity, the aspiration that ascends to God for its
      peace, its freedom and its prosperity. Again, do we participate in
      your feelings on first beholding Nature in her noblest scenes and
      grandest features, on finding man busied in rendering himself
      worthy of Nature, but more than all, on contemplating with
      philosophic prescience the coming period when those vast inland
      seas shall be shadowed with sails, when the St. Lawrence and
      Mississippi, shall stretch forth their arms to embrace the
      continent in a great circle of interior navigation: when the
      Pacific Ocean shall pour into the Atlantic; when man will become
      more precious than fine gold, and when his ambition will be to
      subdue the elements, not to subjugate his fellow-creatures, to
      make fire, water, earth and air obey his bidding, but to leave the
      poor ethereal mind as the sole thing in Nature free and

    Happy indeed would it be were men in power to recollect this
      quality of the human mind. Suffer us to give them an example from
      a science of which you are a mighty master, that attempts to fix
      the element of mind only increase its activity, and that to
      calculate what may be from what has been is a very dangerous
      deceit.--Were all the saltpetre in India monopolized, this would
      only make chemical researches more ardent and successful. The
      chalky earths would be searched for it, and nitre beds would be
      made in every cellar and every stable. Did not that prove
      sufficient the genius of chemistry would find in a new salt a
      substitute for nitre or a power superior to it.[3] It requires
      greater genius than Mr. Pitt seems to possess, to know the
      wonderful resources of the mind, when patriotism animates
      philosophy, and all the arts and sciences are put under a state of
      requisition, when the attention of a whole scientific people is
      bent to multiplying the means and instruments of destruction and
      when philosophy rises in a mass to drive on the wedge of war. A
      black powder has changed the military art, and in a great degree
      the manners of mankind. Why may not the same science which
      produced it, produce another powder which, inflamed under a
      certain compression, might impell the air, so as to shake down the
      strongest towers and scatter destruction.

    But you are going to a country where science is turned to better
      uses. Your change of place will give room for the matchless
      activity of your genius; and you will take a sublime pleasure in
      bestowing on Britain the benefit of your future discoveries. As
      matter changes its form but not a particle is ever lost, so the
      principles of virtuous minds are equally imperishable; and your
      change of situation may even render truth more operative,
      knowledge more productive, and in the event, liberty itself more
      universal. Wafted by the winds or tossed by the waves, the seed
      that is here thrown out as dead, there shoots up and flourishes.
      It is probable that emigration to America from the first
      settlement downward, has not only served the cause of general
      liberty, but will eventually and circuitously serve it even in
      Britain. What mighty events have arisen from that germ which might
      once have been supposed to be lost forever in the woods of
      America, but thrown upon the bosom of Nature, the breath of God
      revived it, and the world hath gathered its fruits. Even Ireland
      has contributed her share to the liberties of America; and while
      purblind statesmen were happy to get rid of the stubborn
      Presbyterians of the North, they little thought that they were
      serving a good cause in another quarter.--Yes! the Volunteers of
      Ireland still live--they live across the Atlantic. Let this idea
      animate us in our sufferings, and may the pure principles and
      genuine lustre of the British Constitution reflected from their
      Coast, penetrate into ourselves and our dungeons.

    Farewell--great and good man! Great by your mental powers, by your
      multiplied literary labours, but still greater by those household
      virtues which form the only solid security for public conduct by
      those mild and gentle qualities, which far from being averse to,
      are most frequently attended with severe and inflexible
      patriotism, rising like an oak above a modest
      mansion.--Farewell--but before you go, we beseech a portion of
      your parting prayer to the author of Good for Archibald Hamilton
      Rowan, the pupil of Jebb, our Brother, now suffering imprisonment,
      and for all those who have suffered, and are about to suffer in
      the same cause--the cause of impartial and adequate
      representation--the cause of the Constitution. Pray to the best of
      Beings for Muir, Palmer, Skirving, Margarott and Gerald, who are
      now, or will shortly be crossing, like you, the bleak Ocean, to a
      barbarous land!--Pray that they may be animated with the same
      spirit, which in the days of their fathers, triumphed at the
      stake, and shone in the midst of flames. Melancholy indeed, it is
      that the mildest and most humane of all Religions should have been
      so perverted as to hang or burn men in order to keep them of one

    It is equally melancholy, that the most deservedly extolled of
      Civil Constitutions, should recur to similar modes of coercion,
      and that hanging and burning are not now employed, principally,
      because measures apparently milder are considered as more
      effectual. Farewell! Soon may you embrace your sons on the
      American shore, and Washington take you by the hand, and the shade
      of Franklin look down with calm delight on the first statesman of
      the age extending his protection to its first philosopher.

And how interestedly did America anticipate the arrival of the world
renowned philosopher is in a measure foreshadowed by the following
excerpt from the _American Daily Advertiser_ for Thursday, June 5, 1794:

    Dr. Priestley, with about one hundred other passengers, are on
      board the Sansom, which may be hourly expected.

In an editorial of the same paper, printed about the same date, there
appeared the following tribute:

    It must afford the most sincere gratification to every well wisher
      to the rights of man, that the United States of America, the land
      of freedom and independence, has become the asylum of the greatest
      characters of the present age, who have been persecuted in Europe,
      merely because they have defended the rights of the enslaved

    The name of Joseph Priestley will be long remembered among all
      enlightened people; and there is no doubt that England will one
      day regret her ungrateful treatment to this venerable and
      illustrious man. His persecutions in England have presented to
      him the American Republic as a safe and honourable retreat in his
      declining years; and his arrival in this City calls upon us to
      testify our respect and esteem for a man whose whole life has been
      devoted to the sacred duty of diffusing knowledge and happiness
      among nations.

    The citizens of united America know well the honourable
      distinction that is due to virtue and talents; and while they
      cherish in their hearts the memory of Dr. Franklin, as a
      philosopher, they will be proud to rank among the list of their
      illustrious fellow citizens, the name of Dr. Priestley.

Quietly but with great inward rejoicing were the travel-worn
voyagers--the Doctor and his wife--received on the evening of June 4,
1794, at the old Battery in New York, by their son Joseph and his wife,
who had long awaited them, and now conducted them to a nearby lodging
house, which had been the head-quarters of Generals Howe and Clinton.

On the following morning the Priestleys were visited by Governor
Clinton, Dr. Prevost, Bishop of New York and most of the principal
merchants, and deputations of corporate bodies and Societies, bringing
addresses of welcome. Thus, among the very first to present their
sympathetic welcome was the Democratic Society of the City of New York,
which in the address of its President, Mr. James Nicholson, made June 7,
1794, said:


    WE are appointed by the Democratic Society of the City of New
      York, a Committee to congratulate you on your arrival in this
      country: And we feel the most lively pleasure in bidding you a
      hearty welcome to these shores of Liberty and Equality.

    While the arm of Tyranny is extended in most of the nations of the
      world, to crush the spirit of liberty, and bind in chains the
      bodies and minds of men, we acknowledge, with ardent gratitude to
      the Great Parent of the Universe, our singular felicity in living
      in a land, where Reason has successfully triumphed over the
      artificial distinctions of European policy and bigotry, and where
      the law equally protects the virtuous citizen of every description
      and persuasion.

    On this occasion we cannot but observe, that we once esteemed
      ourselves happy in the relation that subsisted between us and the
      Government of Great Britain--But the multiplied oppressions which
      characterized that Government, excite in us the most painful
      sensations, and exhibit a spectacle as disgusting in itself, as
      dishonourable to the British name.

    The governments of the old world present to us one huge mass of
      intrigue, corruption and despotism--most of them are now basely
      combined, to prevent the establishment of liberty in France, and
      to affect the total destruction of the rights of man. Under these
      afflicting circumstances we rejoice that America opens her arms to
      receive, with fraternal affection, the friend of liberty and human
      happiness, and that here he may enjoy the best blessings of
      civilized society.

    We sincerely sympathize with you in all that you have suffered,
      and we consider the persecution with which you have been pursued
      by a venal Court and an imperious and uncharitable priesthood, as
      an illustrious proof of your personal merit, and a lasting
      reproach to that Government from the grasp of whose tyranny you
      are so happily removed.

    Accept, Sir, of the sincere and best wishes of the Society whom we
      represent, for the continuance of your health, and the increase of
      your individual and domestic happiness.

To which Priestley graciously replied:


    VIEWING with the deepest concern, as you do, the prospect that is
      now exhibited in Europe, those troubles which are the natural
      offspring of their forms of government originating, indeed, in the
      spirit of liberty, but gradually degenerating in tyrannies,
      equally degrading to the rulers and the ruled, I rejoice in
      finding an asylum from persecution in a country in which these
      abuses have come to a natural termination, and have produced
      another system of liberty founded on such wise principles, as, I
      trust, will guard it against all future abuses; those artificial
      distinctions in society, from which they sprung, being completely
      eradicated, that protection from violence which laws and
      government promise in all countries, but which I have not found in
      my own, I doubt not I shall find with you, though, I cannot
      promise to be a better subject of this government, than my whole
      conduct will evince that I have been to that of great Britain.

    Justly, however, as I think I may complain of the treatment I have
      met with in England I sincerely wish her prosperity, and, from the
      good will I bear both that country and this I ardently wish that
      all former animosities may be forgotten and that a perpetual
      friendship may subsist between them.

And on Monday, June, 11, 1794, having taken the first opportunity to
visit Priestley, the Tammany Society presented this address:


    A numerous body of freemen who associate to cultivate among them
      the love of liberty and the enjoyment of the happy Republican
      government under which they live and who for several years have
      been known in this city, by the name of the Tammany Society have
      deputed us a Committee to express to you their pleasure and
      congratulations on your safe arrival in this country.

    Their venerable ancestors escaped, as you have done, from
      persecutions of intolerance, bigotry and despotism, and they
      would deem themselves, an unworthy progeny were they not highly
      interested in your safety and happiness.

    It is not alone because your various useful publications evince a
      life devoted to literature and the industrious pursuit of
      knowledge; not only because your numerous discoveries in Nature
      are so efficient to the progression of human happiness: but they
      have long known you to be the friend of mankind and in defiance of
      calumny and malice, an asserter of the rights of conscience and
      the champion of civil and religious liberty.

    They have learned with regret and indignation the abandoned
      proceedings of those spoilers who destroyed your house and goods,
      ruined your philosophical apparatus and library, committed to the
      flames your manuscripts, pryed into the secrets of your private
      papers, and in their barbarian fury put your life itself in
      danger. They heard you also with exalted benevolence return unto
      them "blessings for curses:" and while you thus exemplified the
      undaunted integrity of the patriot, the mild and forbearing
      virtues of the Christian, they hailed you victor in this
      magnanimous triumph over your enemies.

    You have fled from the rude arm of violence, from the flames of
      bigotry, from the rod of lawless power: and you shall find
      refuge in the bosom of freedom, of peace, and of Americans.

    You have left your native land, a country doubtless ever dear to
      you--a country for whose improvement in virtue and knowledge you
      have long disinterestedly laboured, for which its rewards are
      ingratitude, injustice and banishment. A country although now
      presenting a prospect frightful to the eyes of humanity, yet once
      the nurse of science, of arts, of heroes, and of freeman--a
      country which although at present apparently self devoted to
      destruction, we fondly hope may yet tread back the steps of infamy
      and ruin, and once more rise conspicuous among the free nations of
      the earth. In this advanced period of your life, when nature
      demands the sweets of tranquility, you have been constrained to
      encounter the tempestous deep, to risk disappointed prospects in a
      foreign land, to give up the satisfaction of domestic quiet, to
      tear yourself from the friends of your youth, from a numerous
      acquaintance who revere and love you, and will long deplore your

    We enter, Sir, with emotion and sympathy into the numerous
      sacrifices you must have made, to an undertaking which so
      eminently exhibits our country as an asylum for the persecuted and
      oppressed, and into those regretful sensibilities your heart
      experienced when the shores of your native land were lessening to
      your view.

    Alive to the impressions of this occasion we give you a warm and
      hearty welcome into these United States. We trust a country worthy
      of you; where Providence has unfolded a scene as new as it is
      august, as felicitating as it is unexampled. The enjoyment of
      liberty with but one disgraceful exception, pervades every class
      of citizens. A catholic and sincere spirit of toleration regulates
      society which rises into zeal when the sacred rights of humanity
      are invaded. And there exists a sentiment of free and candid
      inquiry which disdains shackles of tradition, promising a rich
      harvest of improvement and the glorious triumphs of truth. We
      hope, Sir, that the Great Being whose laws and works you have
      made the study of your life, will smile upon and bless
      you--restore you to every domestic and philosophical enjoyment,
      prosper you in every undertaking, beneficial to mankind, render
      you, as you have been to your own, the ornament of this country,
      and crown you at last with immortal felicity and honour.

And to this the venerable scientist was pleased to say:


    I think myself greatly honoured, flying as I do, from ill
      treatment in my native country, on account of my attachment to the
      cause of civil and religious liberty, to be received with the
      congratulations of "a Society of Freemen associated to cultivate
      the love of liberty, and the enjoyment of a happy Republican
      government." Happy would our venerable ancestors, as you justly
      call them, have been, to have found America such a retreat for
      them as it is to me, when they were driven hither; but happy has
      it proved to me, and happy will it be for the world, that in the
      wise and benevolent order of Providence, abuses of power are ever
      destructive of itself, and favourable to liberty. Their strenuous
      exertions and yours now give me that asylum which at my time of
      life is peculiarly grateful to me, who only wish to continue
      unmolested those pursuits of various literature to which, without
      having ever entered into any political connexions my life has been

    I join you in viewing with regret the unfavourable prospect of
      Great Britain formerly, as you say, the nurse of science, and of
      freemen, and wish with you, that the unhappy delusion that country
      is now under may soon vanish, and that whatever be the form of its
      government it may vie with this country in everything that is
      favourable to the best interests of mankind, and join with you in
      removing that only disgraceful circumstance, which you justly
      acknowledge to be an exception to the enjoyment of equal liberty,
      among yourselves. That the Great Being whose providence extends
      alike to all the human race, and to whose disposal I cheerfully
      commit myself, may establish whatever is good, and remove whatever
      is imperfect from your government and from every government in
      the known world, is the earnest prayer of,


        Your respectful humble servant.

As Priestley had ever gloried in the fact that he was a teacher, what
more appropriate in this period of congratulatory welcome, could have
come to him than the following message of New York's teaching body:

    The associated Teachers in the city of New York beg leave to offer
      you a sincere and hearty welcome to this land of tranquility and

    Impressed with the idea of the real importance of so valuable an
      acquisition to the growing interests of science and literature, in
      this country, we are particularly happy that the honour of your
      first reception, has fallen to this state, and to the city of New

    As labourers in those fields which you have occupied with the most
      distinguished eminence, at the arduous and important task of
      cultivating the human mind, we contemplate with peculiar
      satisfaction the auspicious influence which your personal
      residence in this country, will add to that of your highly
      valuable scientific and literary productions, by which we have
      already been materially benefited.

    We beg leave to anticipate the happiness of sharing in some
      degree, that patronage of science and literature, which it has
      ever been your delight to afford. This will give facility to our
      expressions; direct and encourage us in our arduous employments;
      assist us to form the man, and thereby give efficacy to the
      diffusion of useful knowledge.

    Our most ardent wishes attend you, good Sir, that you may find in
      this land a virtuous simplicity, a happy recess from the
      intriguing politics and vitiating refinements of the European
      world. That your patriotic virtues may add to the vigour of our
      happy Constitution and that the blessings of this country may be
      abundantly remunerated into your person and your family.

    And we rejoice in believing, that the Parent of Nature, by those
      secret communications of happiness with which he never fails to
      reward the virtuous mind, will here convey to you that
      consolation, support, and joy, which are independent of local
      circumstances, and "Which the world can neither give nor take

Touched, indeed was Priestley by this simple, outspoken greeting from
those who appreciated his genuine interest in the cause of education.
Hence his reply was in a kindred spirit:

    A welcome to this country from my fellow labourers in the
      instruction of youth, is, I assure you, peculiarly grateful to me.
      Classes of men, as well as individuals, are apt to form too high
      ideas of their own importance; but certainly one of the most
      important is, that which contributes so much as ours do to the
      cummunication of useful knowledge, as forming the characters of
      men, thereby fitting them for their several stations in society.
      In some form or other this has been my employment and delight; and
      my principal object in flying for an asylum to this country, "a
      land," as I hope you justly term it, "of virtuous simplicity, and
      a recess from the intriguing politics, and vicious refinements of
      the European world," is that I may, without molestation, pursue my
      favourite studies. And if I had an opportunity of making choice of
      an employment for what remains of active exertion in life, it
      would be one in which I should as I hope I have hitherto done,
      contribute with you, to advance the cause of science, of virtue,
      and of religion.

Further, The Medical Society of the State of New York through Dr. John
Charlton, its President, said:

    PERMIT us, Sir, to wait upon you with an offering of our sincere
      congratulations, on your safe arrival, with your lady and family
      in this happy country, and to express our real joy, in receiving
      among us, a gentleman, whose labours have contributed so much to
      the diffusion and establishment of civil and religious liberty,
      and whose deep researches into the true principles of natural
      philosophy, have derived so much improvement and real benefit, not
      only to the sciences of chemistry and medicine, but to various
      other arts, all of which are necessary to the ornament and utility
      of human life.

    May you, Sir, possess and enjoy, here, uninterrupted contentment
      and happiness, and may your valuable life be continued a farther
      blessing to mankind.

And in his answer Dr. Priestley remarked:

    I THINK myself greatly honoured in being congratulated on my
      arrival in this country by a Society of persons whose studies bear
      some relation to my own. To continue, without fear of molestation,
      on account of the most open profession of any sentiments, civil or
      religious, those pursuits which you are sensible have for their
      object the advantage of all mankind, (being, as you justly
      observe, "necessary to the ornament and utility of human life") is
      my principal motive for leaving a country in which that
      tranquility and sense of security which scientificial pursuits
      require, cannot be had; and I am happy to find here, persons who
      are engaged in the same pursuits, and who have the just sense that
      you discover of their truly enviable situation.

As a climax to greetings extended in the City of New York, The
Republican Natives of Great Britain and Ireland resident in that city

    WE, the Republican natives of Great Britain and Ireland, resident
      in the city of New York, embrace, with the highest satisfaction,
      the opportunity which your arrival in this city presents, of
      bearing our testimony to your character and virtue and of
      expressing our joy that you come among us in circumstances of such
      good health and spirits.

    We have beheld with the keenest sensibility, the unparallelled
      persecutions which attended you in your native country, and have
      sympathized with you under all their variety and extent. In the
      firm hope, that you are now completely removed from the effects of
      every species of intolerance, we most sincerely congratulate you.

    After a fruitless opposition to a corrupt and tyrannical
      government, many of us have, like you, sought freedom and
      protection in the United States of America; but to this we have
      all been principally induced, from the full persuasion, that a
      republican representative government, was not merely best adapted
      to promote human happiness, but that it is the only rational
      system worthy the wisdom of man to project, or to which his reason
      should assent.

    Participating in the many blessings which the government of this
      country is calculated to insure, we are happy in giving it this
      proof of our respectful attachment:--We are only grieved, that a
      system of such beauty and excellence, should be at all tarnished
      by the existence of slavery in any form; but as friends to the
      Equal Rights of Man, we must be permitted to say, that we wish
      these Rights extended to every human being, be his complexion what
      it may. We, however, look forward with pleasing anticipation to a
      yet more perfect state of society; and, from that love of liberty
      which forms so distinguishing a trait in American character, are
      taught to hope that this last--this worse disgrace to a free
      government, will finally and forever be done away.

    While we look back on our native country with emotions of pity and
      indignation at the outrages which humanity has sustained in the
      persons of the virtuous Muir, and his patriotic associates; and
      deeply lament the fatal apathy into which our countrymen have
      fallen; we desire to be thankful to the Great Author of our being
      that we are in America, and that it has pleased Him, in his Wise
      Providence, to make the United States an asylum not only from the
      immediate tyranny of the British Government, but also from those
      impending calamities, which its increasing despotism and
      multiplied iniquities, must infallibly bring down on a deluded and
      oppressed people.

    Accept, Sir, of our affectionate and best wishes for a long
      continuance of your health and happiness.

The answer of the aged philosopher to this address was:

    I think myself peculiarly happy in finding in this country so many
      persons of sentiments similar to my own, some of whom have
      probably left Great Britain or Ireland on the same account, and to
      be so cheerfully welcomed by them on my arrival. You have already
      had experience of the difference between the governments of the
      two countries, and I doubt not, have seen sufficient reason to
      give the decided preference that you do to that of this. There all
      liberty of speech and of the press as far as politics are
      concerned, is at an end, and a spirit of intolerance in matters of
      religion is almost as high as in the time of the Stuarts. Here,
      having no countenance from government, whatever may remain of this
      spirit, from the ignorance and consequent bigotry, of former
      times, it may be expected soon to die away; and on all subjects
      whatever, every man enjoys invaluable liberty of speaking and
      writing whatever he pleases.

    The wisdom and happiness of Republican governments and the evils
      resulting from hereditary monarchical ones, cannot appear in a
      stronger light to you than they do to me. We need only look to the
      present state of Europe and of America, to be fully satisfied in
      this respect. The former will easily reform themselves, and among
      other improvements, I am persuaded, will be the removal of that
      vestige of servitude to which you allude, as it so ill accords
      with the spirit of equal liberty, from which the rest of the
      system has flowed; whereas no material reformation of the many
      abuses to which the latter are subject, it is to be feared, can be
      made without violence and confusion.

    I congratulate you, gentlemen, as you do me, on our arrival in a
      country in which men who wish well to their fellow citizens, and
      use their best endeavours to render them the most important
      services, men who are an honour to human nature and to any
      country, are in no danger of being treated like the worst felons,
      as is now the case in Great Britain.

    Happy should I think myself in joining with you in welcoming to
      this country every friend of liberty, who is exposed to danger
      from the tyranny of the British Government, and who, while they
      continue under it, must expect to share in those calamities, which
      its present infatuation must, sooner or later, bring upon it. But
      let us all join in supplications to the Great Parent of the
      Universe, that for the sake of the many excellent characters in
      our native country its government may be reformed, and the
      judgments impending over it prevented.

The hearty reception accorded Dr. Priestley met in due course with a
cruel attack upon him by William Cobbett, known under the pen-name of
Peter Porcupine, an Englishman, who after arrival in this country
enjoyed a rather prosperous life by formulating scurrilous
literature--attacks upon men of prominence, stars shining brightly in
the human firmament.

An old paper, the _Argus_, for the year 1796, said of this Peter

    When this political caterpillar was crawling about at St. John's,
      Nova Scotia, in support of his Britannic Majesty's glorious cause,
      against the United States, and holding the rank of serjeant major
      in the 54th regiment, then quartered in that land, "flowing with
      milk and honey," and GRINDSTONES, and commanded by Colonel Bruce;
      it was customary for some of the officers to hire out the soldiers
      to the country people, instead of keeping them to military duty,
      and to pocket the money themselves. Peter found he could make a
      _speck_ out of this, and therefore kept a watchful eye over the
      sins of his superiors. When the regiment was recalled and had
      returned to England--Peter, brimful of amor patriæ, was about to
      prefer a complaint against the officers, when they came down with
      a round sum of the ready rino, and a promise of his discharge, in
      case of secrecy.--This so staggered our incorruptible and
      independent hero and quill driver, that he agreed to the terms,
      received that very honorable discharge, mentioned with so much
      emphasis, in the history of his important life--got cash enough to
      come to America, by circuitous route and to set himself up with
      the necessary implements of scandal and abuse.

    This flea, this spider, this corporal, has dared to point his
      impotent spleen at the memory of that illustrious patriot,
      statesman and philosopher, Benjamin Franklin.

    Let the buzzing insect reflect on this truth--that

    "Succeeding times great Franklin's works shall quote,
    When 'tis forgot--this Peter ever wrote."

And the _Advertiser_ declared:

    Peter Porcupine is one of those writers who attempt to deal in
      wit--and to bear down every Republican principle by satire--but he
      miserably fails in both, for his wit is as stale as his satire,
      and his satire as insipid as his wit. He attempts to ridicule Dr.
      Franklin, but can any man of sense conceive any poignancy in
      styling this great philosopher, "poor Richard," or "the old
      lightning rod." Franklin, whose researches in philosophy have
      placed him preeminent among the first characters in this country,
      or in Europe: is it possible then that such a contemptible wretch
      as Peter Porcupine, (who never gave any specimen of his
      philosophy, but in bearing with Christian patience a severe
      whipping at the public post) can injure the exalted reputation of
      this great philosopher? The folly of the Editor of the Centinal,
      is the more conspicuous, in inserting his billingsgate abuse in a
      Boston paper, when this town, particularly the TRADESMAN of it are
      reaping such advantages from Franklin's liberality. The Editor of
      the Centinal ought to blush for his arrogance in vilifying this
      TRADESMEN'S FRIEND, by retailing the scurrility of so wretched a
      puppy as Peter Porcupine.

    As to Dr. Priestley, the Editor was obliged to apologise in this
      particular--but colours it over as the effusions of genius--poor
      apology, indeed to stain his columns with scurrility and abuse,
      and after finding the impression too notoriously infamous,
      attempts to qualify it, sycophantic parenthesis.

    The names of Franklin and Priestley will be enrolled in the
      catalogue of worthies, while the wretched Peter Porcupine, and
      his more wretched supporters, will sink into oblivion, unless the
      register of Newgate should be published, and their memories be
      raked from the loathsome rubbish as spectres of universal

And the London Monthly Review (August 10, 1796) commented as follows on
Porcupine's animadversions upon Priestley:

    Frequently as we have differed in opinion from Dr. Priestley, we
      should think it an act of injustice to his merit, not to say that
      the numerous and important services which he has rendered to
      science, and the unequivocal proofs which he has given of at least
      honest intention towards religion and Christianity ought to have
      protected him from such gross insults as are poured upon him in
      this pamphlet. Of the author's literary talent, we shall say but
      little: the phrases, "setting down to count the cost"--"the rights
      of the man the greatest bore in nature"--the appellation of
      rigmarole ramble, given to a correct sentence of Dr.
      Priestley--which the author attempts to criticise--may serve as
      specimens of his language.

    The pitiful attempt at wit, in his vulgar fable of the pitcher
      haranguing the pans and jordans, will give him little credit as a
      writer, with readers of an elegant taste.--No censure, however,
      can be too severe for a writer who suffers the rancour of party
      spirit to carry him so far beyond the bounds of justice, truth and
      decency, as to speak of Dr. Priestley as an admirer of the
      massacres of France, and who would have wished to have seen the
      town of Birmingham like that of Lyons, razed, and all its
      industrious and loyal inhabitants butchered as a man whose conduct
      proves that he has either an understanding little superior to that
      of an idiot, or the heart of Marat: in short, as a man who fled
      into banishment covered with the universal destestation of his
      countrymen. The spirit, which could dictate such outrageous abuse,
      must disgrace any individual and any party.

Even before Porcupine began his abuse of Priestley, there appeared
efforts intended no doubt to arouse opposition to him and dislike for
him. One such, apparently very innocent in its purpose, appeared
shortly after Priestley's settlement in Northumberland. It may be seen
in _the Advertiser_, and reads thus:

    The divinity of Jesus Christ proved in a publication to be sold by
      Francis Bayley in Market Street, between 3rd and 4th Streets, at
      the sign of the _Yorick's Head_--being a reply to Dr. Joseph
      Priestley's appeal to the serious and candid professors of

The New York addresses clearly indicated the generous sympathy of hosts
of Americans for Priestley. They were not perfunctory, but genuinely
genuine. This brought joy to the distinguished emigrant, and a sense of
fellowship, accompanied by a feeling of security.

More than a century has passed since these occurrences, and the reader
of today is scarcely stirred by their declarations and appeals. Changes
have come, in the past century, on both sides of the great ocean. Almost
everywhere reigns the freedom so devoutly desired by the fathers of the
long ago. It is so universal that it does not come as a first thought.
Other changes, once constantly on men's minds have gradually been made.

How wonderful has been the development of New York since Priestley's
brief sojourn in it. How marvelously science has grown in the great
interim. What would Priestley say could he now pass up and down the
famous avenues of our greatest City?

His decision to live in America, his labors for science in this land,
have had a share in the astounding unfolding of the dynamical
possibilities of America's greatest municipality.

The Priestleys were delighted with New York. They were frequent dinner
guests of Governor Clinton, whom they liked very much and saw often, and
they met with pleasure Dr. Samuel L. Mitchill, the Professor of
Chemistry in Columbia.

Amidst the endless fetes, attendant upon their arrival, there existed a
desire to go forward. The entire family were eager to arrive at their
real resting place--the home prepared by the sons who had preceded them
to this Western world. Accordingly, on June 18, 1794, they left New
York, after a fortnight's visit, and the _Advertiser_ of Philadelphia,
June 21, 1794, contained these lines:

    Last Thursday evening arrived in town from New York the justly
      celebrated philosopher Dr. Joseph Priestley.

Thus was heralded his presence in the City of his esteemed, honored
friend, Franklin, who, alas! was then in the spirit land, and not able
to greet him as he would have done had he still been a living force in
the City of Brotherly Love. However, a very prompt welcome came from the
American Philosophical Society, founded (1727) by the immortal savant,

The President of this venerable Society, the oldest scientific Society
in the Western hemisphere, was the renowned astronomer, David
Rittenhouse, who said for himself and his associates:

    THE American Philosophical Society, held at Philadelphia for
      promoting useful knowledge, offer you their sincere
      congratulations on your safe arrival in this country. Associated
      for the purposes of extending and disseminating those improvements
      in the sciences and the arts, which most conduce to substantial
      happiness of Man, the Society felicitate themselves and their
      country, that your talents and virtues, have been transferred to
      this Republic. Considering you as an illustrious member of this
      institution: Your colleagues anticipate your aid, in zealously
      promoting the objects which unite them; as a virtuous man,
      possessing eminent and useful acquirements, they contemplate with
      pleasure the accession of such worth to the American Commonwealth,
      and looking forward to your future character of a citizen of this,
      your adopted country, they rejoice in greeting, as such, an
      enlightened Republican.

    In this free and happy country, those unalienable rights, which
      the Author of Nature committed to man as a sacred deposit, have
      been secured: Here, we have been enabled, under the favour of
      Divine Providence, to establish a government of Laws, and not of
      Men; a government, which secures to its citizens equal Rights, and
      equal Liberty, and which offers an asylum to the good, to the
      persecuted, and to the oppressed of other climes.

    May you long enjoy every blessing which an elevated and highly
      cultivated mind, a pure conscience, and a free country are capable
      of bestowing.

And, in return, Priestley remarked.

    IT is with peculiar satisfaction that I receive the
      congratulations of my brethren of the Philosophical Society in
      this City, on my arrival in this country. It is, in great part,
      for the sake of pursuing our common studies without molestation,
      though for the present you will allow, with far less advantage,
      that I left my native country, and have come to America; and a
      Society of Philosophers, who will have no objection to a person on
      account of his political or religious sentiments, will be as
      grateful, as it will be new to me. My past conduct, I hope, will
      show, that you may depend upon my zeal in promoting the valuable
      objects of your institution; but you must not flatter yourself, or
      me, with supposing, that, at my time of life, and with the
      inconvenience attending a new and uncertain settlement, I can be
      of much service to it.

    I am confident, however, from what I have already seen of the
      spirit of the people of this country, that it will soon appear
      that Republican governments, in which every obstruction is removed
      to the exertion of all kinds of talent, will be far more
      favourable to science, and the arts, than any monarchical
      government has ever been. The patronage to be met with there is
      ever capricious, and as often employed to bear down merit as to
      promote it, having for its real object, not science or anything
      useful to mankind, but the mere reputation of the patron, who is
      seldom any judge of science. Whereas a Public which neither
      flatters nor is to be flattered will not fail in due time to
      distinguish true merit and to give every encouragement that it is
      proper to be given in the case. Besides by opening as you
      generously do an asylum to the persecuted and "oppressed of all
      climes," you will in addition to your own native stock, soon
      receive a large accession of every kind of merit, philosophical
      not excepted, whereby you will do yourselves great honour and
      secure the most permanent advantage to the community.

Doubtless in the society of so many worthy Philadelphians, the
Priestleys were happy, for they had corresponded with not a few of them.

The longing for Northumberland became very great and one smiles on
reading that the good Doctor thought "Philadelphia by no means so
agreeable as New York ... Philadelphia would be very irksome to me....
It is only a place for business and to get money in." But in this City
he later spent much of his time.

It was about the middle of July, 1794, that the journey to
Northumberland began, and on September 14, 1794, Priestley wrote of
Northumberland "nothing can be more delightful, or more healthy than
this place."

Safely lodged among those dear to him one finds much pleasure in
observing the great philosopher's activities. The preparation of a home
for himself and his wife and the unmarried members of the family was
uppermost in his mind. But much time was given to correspondence with
loyal friends in England. Chief among these were the Reverends Lindsey
and Belsham. The letters to these gentlemen disclose the plans and
musings of the exile. For instance, in a communication to the former,
dated September 14, 1794, he wrote:

    The professor of chemistry in the College of Philadelphia is
      supposed to be on his death-bed ... in the case of a vacancy, Dr.
      Rush thinks I shall be invited to succeed him. In this case I must
      reside four months in one year in Philadelphia, and one principal
      inducement with me to accept of it will be the opportunity I shall
      have of forming an Unitarian Congregation....

And a month later he observed to the same friend:

    Philadelphia is unpleasant, unhealthy, and intolerably
      expensive.... Every day I do something towards the continuation of
      my Church History.... I have never read so much Hebrew as I have
      since I left England....

He visited freely in the vicinity of Northumberland, spending much time
in the open. Davy, a traveler, made this note:

    Dr. Priestley visited us at Sunbury, looks well and cheerful, has
      left off his perriwig, and combs his short grey locks, in the true
      style of the simplicity of the country.... Dined very pleasantly
      with him. He has bought a lot of eleven acres (exclusively of that
      which he is building on), which commands a delightful view of all
      the rivers, and both towns, i.e. Sunbury and Northumberland and
      the country. It cost him 100£ currency.

It was also to Mr. Lindsey that he communicated, on November 12, 1794, a
fact of no little interest, even today, to teachers of Chemistry in
America. It was:

    I have just received an invitation to the professorship of
      chemistry at Philadelphia ... when I considered that I must pass
      four months of every year from home, my heart failed me; and I
      declined it. If my books and apparatus had been in Philadelphia, I
      might have acted differently, but part of them are now arrived
      here, and the remainder I expect in a few days, and the expense
      and risk of conveyance of such things from Philadelphia hither is
      so great, that I cannot think of taking them back ... and in a
      year or two, I doubt not, we shall have a college established

It was about this time that his youngest son, Harry, in whom he
particularly delighted, began clearing 300 acres of cheap land, and in
this work the philosopher was greatly interested; indeed, on occasions
he actually participated in the labor of removing the timber. Despite
this manual labor there were still hours of every day given to the
Church History, and to his correspondence which grew in volume, as he
was advising inquiring English friends, who thought of emigrating, and
very generally to them he recommended the perusal of Dr. Thomas Cooper's

    "Advice to those who would remove to America--"

Through this correspondence, now and then, there appeared little
animadversions on the quaint old town on the Delaware, such as

    I never saw a town I liked less than Philadelphia.

Could this dislike have been due to the fact that--

    Probably in no other place on the Continent was the love of bright
      colours and extravagance in dress carried to such an extreme.
      Large numbers of the Quakers yielded to it, and even the very
      strict ones carried gold-headed canes, gold snuff-boxes, and wore
      great silver buttons on their drab coats and handsome buckles on
      their shoes.


    Nowhere were the women so resplendant in silks, satins, velvets,
      and brocades, and they piled up their hair mountains high.


    The descriptions of the banquets and feasts ... are appalling.

    John Adams, when he first came down to Philadelphia, fresh from
      Boston, stood aghast at this life into which he was suddenly
      thrown and thought it must be sin. But he rose to the occasion,
      and, after describing in his diary some of the "mighty feasts" and
      "sinful feasts" ... says he drank Madeira "at a great rate and
      found no inconvenience."

It would only be surmise to state what were the Doctor's reasons for his
frequent declaration of dislike for Philadelphia.

The winter of 1794-1795 proved much colder "than ever I knew it in
England," but he cheerfully requested Samuel Parker to send him a
hygrometer, shades or bell-glasses, jars for electrical batteries, and

    a set of glass tubes with large bulbs at the end, such as I used
      in the experiments I last published on the generation of _Air_
      from water.

Most refreshing is this demand upon a friend. It indicates the keen
desire in Priestley to proceed with experimental studies, though
surroundings and provisions for such undertakings were quite
unsatisfactory. The spirit was there and very determined was its
possessor that his science pursuits should not be laid totally aside.
His attitude and course in this particular were admirable and exemplary.
Too often the lack of an abundance of equipment and the absence of many
of the supposed essentials, have been deterrents which have caused men
to abandon completely their scientific investigations. However, such was
not the case with the distinguished exile, and for this he deserved all

From time to time, in old papers and books of travel, brief notes
concerning Priestley appear. These exhibit in a beautiful manner the
human side of the man. They cause one to wish that the privilege of
knowing this worthy student of chemical science might have been enjoyed
by him. For example, a Mr. Bakewell chanced upon him in the spring of
1795 and recorded:

    I found him (Priestley) a man rather below the middle size,
      straight and plain, wearing his own hair; and in his countenance,
      though you might discern the philosopher, yet it beamed with so
      much simplicity and freedom as made him very easy of access.

It is also stated in Davy's "Journal of Voyage, etc."--

    The doctor enjoys a game at whist; and although he never hazards a
      farthing, is highly diverted with playing good cards, but never
      ruffled by bad ones.

In May, 1795, Priestley expressed himself as follows:

    As to the experiments, I find I cannot do much till I get my own
      house built. At present I have all my books and instruments in one
      room, in the house of my son.

This is the first time in all his correspondence that reference is made
to experimental work. It was in 1795. As a matter of course every
American chemist is interested to know when he began experimentation in
this country.

In the absence of proper laboratory space and the requisite apparatus,
it is not surprising that he thought much and wrote extensively on
religious topics, and further he would throw himself into political
problems, for he addressed Mr. Adams on restriction "in the
naturalization of foreigners." He remarked that--

    Party strife is pretty high in this country, but the Constitution
      is such that it cannot do any harm.

To friends, probably reminding him of being "unactive, which affects me
much," he answered:

    As to the chemical lectureship (in Philadelphia) I am convinced I
      could not have acquitted myself in it to proper advantage. I had
      no difficulty in giving a general course of chemistry at Hackney
      (England), lecturing only once a week; but to give a lecture every
      day for four months, and to enter so particularly into the subject
      as a course of lectures in a medical University (Pennsylvania)
      requires, I was not prepared for; and my engagements there would
      not, at my time of life, have permitted me to make the necessary
      preparations for it; if I could have done it at all. For, though I
      have made discoveries in some branches of chemistry, I never gave
      much attention to the common routine of it, and know but little
      of the common processes.

Is not this a refreshing confession from the celebrated discoverer of
oxygen? The casual reader would not credit such a statement from one who
August 1, 1774, introduced to the civilized world so important an
element as oxygen. Because he did not know the "common processes" of
chemistry and had not concerned himself with the "common routine" of it,
led to his blazing the way among chemical compounds in his own fashion.
Many times since the days of Priestley real researchers after truth have
proceeded without compass and uncovered most astonishing and remarkable
results. They had the genuine research spirit and were driven forward by
it. Priestley knew little of the labyrinth of analysis and cared less;
indeed, he possessed little beyond an insatiable desire to unfold
Nature's secrets.

Admiration for Priestley increases on hearing him descant on the people
about him--on the natives--

    Here every house-keeper has a garden, out of which he raises
      almost all he wants for his family. They all have cows, and many
      have horses, the keeping of which costs them little or nothing in
      the summer, for they ramble with bells on their necks in the
      woods, and come home at night. Almost all the fresh meat they have
      is salted in the autumn, and a fish called _shads_ in the spring.
      This salt shad they eat at breakfast, with their tea and coffee,
      and also at night. We, however, have not yet laid aside our
      English customs, and having made great exertion to get fresh meat,
      it will soon come into general use.

Proudly must he have said--

    My youngest son, Harry, works as hard as any farmer in the country
      and is as attentive to his farm, though he is only eighteen....
      Two or three hours I always work in the fields along with my

And, then as a supplement, for it was resting heavily on his mind, he

    What I chiefly attend to now is my Church History ... but I make
      some experiments every day (July 12, 1795), and shall soon draw up
      a paper for the Philosophical Society at Philadelphia.

Early in December of 1795 he entrusted a paper, intended for the
American Philosophical Society to the keeping of Dr. Young, a gentleman
from Northumberland en route for Europe. Acquainting his friend Lindsey
of this fact, he took occasion to add--

    I have much more to do in my laboratory, but I am under the
      necessity of shutting up for the winter, as the frost will make it
      impossible to keep my water fit for use, without such provision as
      I cannot make, till I get my own laboratory prepared on purpose,
      when I hope to be able to work alike, winter and summer.

Dr. Young carried two papers to Philadelphia. The first article treated
of "Experiments and Observations relating to the Analysis of
Atmospherical Air," and the second "Further Experiments relating to the
Generation of Air from Water." They filled 20 quarto pages of Volume 4
of the Transactions of the American Philosophical Society. On reading
them the thought lingers that these are the first contributions of the
eminent philosopher from his American home. Hence, without reference to
their value, they are precious. They represent the results of inquiries
performed under unusual surroundings. It is very probable that
Priestley's English correspondents desired him to concentrate his
efforts upon experimental science. They were indeed pleased to be
informed of his Church History, and his vital interest in religion, but
they cherished the hope that science would in largest measure displace
these literary endeavors. Priestley himself never admitted this, but
must have penetrated their designs, and, recognizing the point of their
urging, worked at much disadvantage to get the results presented in
these two pioneer studies. Present day students would grow impatient in
their perusal, because of the persistent emphasis placed on phlogiston,
dephlogisticated air, phlogisticated air, and so forth. In the very
first paper, the opening lines show this:

    It is an essential part of the antiphlogistic theory, that in all
      the cases of what I have called _phlogistication_ of _air_, there
      is simply an absorption of the dephlogisticated air, or, as the
      advocates of that theory term it, the oxygen contained in it,
      leaving the _phlogisticated_ part, which they call _azote_, as it
      originally existed in the atmosphere. Also, according to this
      system, _azote_ is a simple substance, at least not hitherto
      analyzed into any other.

No matter how deeply one venerates Priestley, or how great honor is
ascribed to him, the question continues why the simpler French view was
not adopted by this honest student. Further, as an ardent admirer one
asks why should Priestley pen the next sentence:

    They, therefore, suppose that there is a determinate proportion
      between the quantities of oxygen, and azote in every portion of
      atmospherical air, and that all that has hitherto been done has
      been to separate them from one another. This proportion they state
      to be 27 parts of oxygen and 73 parts of azote, in 100 of
      atmospherical air.

Priestley knew that there was a "determinate proportion." He was not,
however, influenced by quantitative data.

Sir Oliver Lodge said[4]--

    Priestley's experiments were admirable, but his perception of
      their theoretical relations was entirely inadequate and, as we
      now think, quite erroneous.... In theory he had no instinct for
      guessing right ... he may almost be said to have had a
      predilection for the wrong end.

At present the French thought is so evident that it seems
incomprehensible that Priestley failed to grasp it, for he continues--

    In every case of the diminution of atmospherical air in which this
      is the result, there appears to me to be something emitted from
      the substance, which the antiphlogistians suppose to act by simple
      absorption, and therefore that it is more probable that there is
      some substance, and the same that has been called _philogiston_,
      or the _principle of inflammability_ ... emitted, and that this
      phlogiston uniting with part of the dephlogisticated air forms
      with it part of the phlogisticated air, which is found after the

Subsequently (1798), he advised the Society that he had executed other
experiments which corroborated those outlined in his first two papers,

    Had the publication of your _Transactions_ been more frequent, I
      should with much pleasure have submitted to the Society a full
      account of these and other experiments which appear to me to
      prove, that metals are compound substances, and that water has not
      yet been decomposed by any process that we are acquainted with.
      Still, however, I would not be very positive, as the contrary is
      maintained by almost all the chemists of the age....

And thus he proceeds, ever doing interesting things, but blind to the
patent results because he had phlogiston constantly before him. He
looked everywhere for it, followed it blindly, and consequently
overlooked the facts regarded as most significant by his opponents,
which in the end led them to correct conclusions.

The experimental results in the second paper also admit of an
interpretation quite the opposite of that deduced by Priestley. He
confidently maintained that air was invariably generated from water,
because he discovered it and liberated it from water which he was
certain did not contain it in solution. He was conscientious in his
inferences. Deeply did his friends deplore his inability to see more
than a single interpretation of his results!

The papers were read before the American Philosophical Society on the
19th of February, 1796. Their author as they appear in print, is the
Rev. Dr. J. Priestley. It is doubtful whether he affixed this signature.
More probable is it that the Secretary of the Society was responsible,
and, because he thought of Priestley in the rôle of a Reverend gentleman
rather than as a scientific investigator.

Here, perhaps, it may be mentioned that the first, the very first
communication from Priestley's pen to the venerable Philosophical
Society, was read in 1784. It was presented by a friend--a Mr. W.
Vaughan, whose family in England were always the staunchest of
Priestley's supporters. And it is not too much to assume that it was the
same influence which one year later (1785) brought about Priestley's
election to membership in the Society, for he was one of "28 new
members" chosen in January of that year.

There are evidences of marked friendliness to Priestley all about the
Hall of the Society, for example his profile in Plaster of Paris,
"particularly valuable for the resemblance" to the Doctor, which was
presented in 1791; a second "profile in black leather" given by Robert
Patterson, a President of the Society, and an oil portrait of him from
Mrs. Dr. Caspar Wistar.

His appearance in person, when for the first time he sat among his
colleagues of the Society, was on the evening of February 19, 1796--the
night upon which the two papers, commented upon in the last few
paragraphs were presented, although he probably did not read them
himself, this being done by a friend or by the secretary. Sixteen
members were present. Among these were some whose names have become
familiar elsewhere, such as Barton, Woodhouse and others. Today, the
presence in the same old Hall of a renowned scientist, from beyond the
seas, would literally attract crowds. Then it was not the fashion. But
probably he had come unannounced and unheralded. Further, he was
speaking at other hours on other topics in the city.

It is not recorded that he spoke before the philosophers. Perhaps he
quietly absorbed their remarks and studied them, although he no doubt
was agreeably aroused when Mr. Peale presented

      to the Society a young son of four months and four days old, being
      the first child born in the Philosophical Hall, and requested that
      the Society would give him a name. On which the Society
      unanimously agreed that, after the name of the chief founder and
      late President of the Society, he should be called Franklin.

In anticipation of any later allusion to Priestley's sojourn in
Philadelphia be it observed that he attended meetings of the American
Philosophical Society three times in 1796, twice in 1797, three times in
1801 and once in 1803, and that on February 3rd, 1797, he was chosen to
deliver the annual oration before the Society, but the Committee
reported that

      they waited on Dr. Priestley last Monday afternoon, who received
      the information with great politeness, but declined accepting of
      the appointment.

This lengthy digression must now be interrupted. It has gone almost too
far, yet it was necessary in order that an account of the early
experimental contributions of the exile might be introduced
chronologically. As already remarked, Americans are most deeply
interested in everything Priestley did during his life in this country
and particularly in his scientific activities.

On resuming the story of the routine at Northumberland in the closing
months of the year 1795, there comes the cry from an agonized heart,--

    We have lost poor Harry!

This was the message to a Philadelphia resident--a friend from old
England. The loss, for such it emphatically was, affected the Doctor and
Mrs. Priestley very deeply. This particular son was a pride to them and
though only eighteen years old had conducted his farm as if he had been
bred a farmer.

    He was uncommonly beloved by all that worked under him.

His home was just outside of the borough of Northumberland. It was the
gift of his father. His interment in "a plot of ground" belonging to the
Society of Friends is thus described by Mr Bakewell:

    I attended the funeral to the lonely spot, and there I saw the
      good old father perform the service over the grave of his son. It
      was an affecting sight, but he went through it with fortitude, and
      after praying, addressed the attendants in a few words, assuring
      them that though death had separated them here, they should meet
      again in another and a better life.

The correspondence to friends in England was replete with accounts of
lectures which were in process of preparation. They were discourses on
the Evidences of Revelation and their author was most desirous of
getting to Philadelphia that he might there deliver them. At that time
this City was full of atheism and agnosticism. Then, too, the hope of
establishing a Unitarian Church was ever in Priestley's thoughts. How
delightful it is to read, February 12th, 1796--

    I am now on my way to Philadelphia.

When he left it in 1794 he was rather critical of it, but now after
three days he arrived there. It was

    a very good journey, accompanied by my daughter-in-law, in my
      son's Yarmouth waggon, which by means of a seat constructed of
      straw, was very easy.

Yes, back again to the City which was the only city in this country ever
visited by him. Although at times he considered going to New York, and
even to Boston, Philadelphia was to become his Mecca. In it he was to
meet the most congenial scientific spirits, and to the younger of these
he was destined to impart a new inspiration for science, and for
chemical science in particular. At the close of the three days' journey
he wrote--

    I am a guest with Mr. Russell.... We found him engaged to drink
      tea with President Washington, where we accompanied him and spent
      two hours as in any private family. He (Washington) invited me to
      come at any time, without ceremony. Everything is the reverse of
      what it is with you.

This was his first meeting with Washington. The spirit of the occasion
impressed him. The democratic behavior of the great Federalist must have
astonished him, if he ever entertained, as Lord Brougham would have us
believe, a hostile opinion and thought him ungrateful because he would
not consent to make America dependent upon France.

Priestley's eagerness to preach was intense, and happy must he have been
on the day following his arrival, when his heart's wish was gratified.
He preached in the church of Mr. Winchester--

      to a very numerous, respectable, and very attentive audience.

Many were members of Congress, and according to one witness--

    The Congregation that attended were so numerous that the house
      could not contain them, so that as many were obliged to stand as
      sit, and even the doorways were crowded with people. Mr.
      Vice-President Adams was among the regular attendants.

All this greatly encouraged the Doctor. His expectations for the
establishment of a Unitarian congregation were most encouraging. He
declared himself ready to officiate every winter without salary if he
could lodge somewhere with a friend. The regular and punctual attendance
of Mr. Adams pleased him so much that he resolved on printing his
sermons, for they were in great demand, and to dedicate the same to the
Vice-President. He was also gratified to note that the "violent
prejudice" to him was gradually being overcome. Today we smile on
recalling the reception accorded the good Doctor in his early days in
Philadelphia. We smile and yet our hearts fail to understand just why he
should have been so ostracised. To confirm this it may be noted that on
one occasion Priestley preached in a Presbyterian Chapel, very probably
in Northumberland, when one of the ministers was so displeased--

      that he declared if they permitted him any more, he would never
      enter the puplit again.

And in 1794 on coming the first time to Philadelphia he wrote

    There is much jealousy and dread of me.

How shameful and yet it was most real. Bakewell narrates that

    "I went several times to the Baptist meeting in Second Street,
      under the care of Dr. Rogers. This man burst out, and bade the
      people beware, for 'a Priestley had entered the land;' and then,
      crouching down in a worshiping attitude, exclaimed, 'Oh, Lamb of
      God! how would they pluck thee from thy throne!'"

The public prints flayed Rogers, and even the staid old Philosophical
Society indicated to him that such conduct ill became a member of that
august body. Accordingly humiliated he repented his error and in time
became strongly attached to Priestley, concerning whom he told this
story to a Mr. Taylor whose language is here given:

    The Doctor (Priestley) would occasionally call on Dr. Rogers, and
      without any formal invitation, pass an evening at his house. One
      afternoon he was there when Dr. Rogers was not at home, having
      been assured by Mrs. Rogers that her husband would soon be there.
      Meanwhile, Mr. ----, a Baptist minister, called on Dr. Rogers, and
      being a person of rough manners, Mrs. Rogers was a good deal
      concerned lest he should say something disrespectful to Dr.
      Priestley in case she introduced the Doctor to him. At last,
      however, she ventured to announce Dr. Priestley's name, who put
      out his hand; but instead of taking it the other immediately drew
      himself back, saying, as if astonished to meet with Dr. Priestley
      in the home of one of his brethren, and afraid of being
      contaminated by having any social intercourse with him, 'Dr.
      Priestley! I can't be cordial.'

    It is easy to imagine that by this speech Mrs. Rogers was greatly
      embarrassed. Dr. Priestley, observing this, instantly relieved her
      by saying, and with all that benevolent expression of countenance
      and pleasantness of manner for which he was remarkable, 'Well,
      well, Madam, you and I can be cordial; and Dr. Rogers will soon be
      with us, Mr. ---- and he can converse together, so that we shall
      all be very comfortable.' Thus encouraged, Mrs. Rogers asked Dr.
      Priestley some questions relative to the Scripture prophecies, to
      which he made suitable replies; and before Dr. Rogers arrived,
      Mr. ---- was listening with much attention, sometimes making a
      remark or putting in a question. The evening was passed in the
      greatest harmony, with no inclination on the part of Mr. ---- to
      terminate the conversation. At last Dr. Priestley, pulling out his
      watch, informed Mr. ---- that as it was _ten_ o'clock it was time
      that two old men like them were at their quarters. The other at
      first was not willing to believe that Dr. Priestley's watch was
      accurate; but finding that it was correct, he took his leave with
      apparent regret, observing that he had never spent a shorter and
      more pleasant evening. He then went away, Dr. Priestley
      accompanying him, until it became necesary to separate. Next
      morning he called on his friend, Dr. Rogers, when he made the
      following frank and manly declaration: 'You and I well know that
      Dr. Priestley is quite wrong in regard to his theology, but
      notwithstanding this, he is a great and good man, and I behaved to
      him at our first coming together like a fool and a brute.'

Many additional evidences might be introduced showing that the Doctor
was slowly winning his way among the people. It must also be remembered
that not all of his associates were of the clerical group but that he
had hosts of scientists as sincere and warm supporters. In Woodhouse's
laboratory he was ever welcome and there must have met many congenial
spirits who never discussed politics or religion. This was after the
manner of the Lunar Society in Birmingham in which representatives of
almost every creed came together to think of scientific matters. Hence,
it is quite probable that Priestley's visit to Philadelphia was on the
whole full of pleasure.

He was also in habits of close intimacy with Dr. Ewing, Provost of the
University of Pennsylvania, and with the Vice-Provost, Dr. John
Andrews, as well as with Dr. Benjamin Rush who had long been his friend
and with whom he corresponded at frequent intervals after his arrival in
America. To him Priestley had confided his hope of getting a college in
Northumberland and inquired,--

    Would the State give any encouragement to it?

To Rush he also wrote excusing

      my weakness (for such you will consider it) when, after giving you
      reason to expect that I would accept the professorship of
      Chemistry, if it was offered to me, I now inform you that I must
      decline it.

Now and then he also advised him of such experiments as he was able to
do; for example--

    I made trial of the air of Northumberland by the test of nitrous
      air, but found it not sensibly different from that of England.

In the leisure he enjoyed his figure was often seen in Congress. He
relished the debates which at the time were on the Treaty with England.
He declared he heard as good speaking there as in the House of Commons.
He observed--

    A Mr. Amos speaks as well as Mr. Burke; but in general the
      speakers are more argumentative, and less rhetorical. And whereas
      there are with you not more than ten or a dozen tolerable
      speakers, here every member is capable of speaking.

While none of the letters to Priestley's friends mention a family event
of some importance the _American Advertiser_, February 13, 1796,
announced that

    Mr. William Priestley, second son of the celebrated Dr. Joseph
      Priestley, was married to the agreeable Miss Peggy Foulke, a young
      lady possessed with every quality to render the marriage state

This occurred very probably just before the Doctor set forth from
Northumberland to make his first Philadelphia visit. It is singular that
little is said of the son William by the Doctor. Could it be that, in
some way, he may have offended his parent? In his _Memorial_ Rush,
writing in the month of March, 1796, noted:

    Saw Dr. Priestley often this month. Attended him in a severe
      pleurisy. He once in his sickness spoke of his second son,
      William, and wept very much.

Busy as he was in spreading his religious tenets, in fraternizing with
congenial scientific friends, his thoughts would involuntarily turn back
to England:

    Here, though I am as happy as this country can make me ... I do
      not feel as I did in England.

By May, 1796, he had finished his discourses, although he proposed
concluding with one emphatically Unitarian in character. This was
expected by his audience, which had been quietly prepared for it and
received it with open minds and much approval.

On his return to Northumberland he promptly resumed his work on the
"Church History," but was much disturbed because of the failure of his
correspondents in writing him regularly, so he became particularly
active in addressing them. But better still he punctuated his
composition of sermons, the gradual unfolding of his Church History, and
religious and literary studies in general, with experimental
diversions, beginning with the publication (1796) of an octavo brochure
of 39 pages from the press of Dobson in Philadelphia, in which he
addressed himself more especially to Berthollet, de la Place, Monge,
Morveau, Fourcroy and others on "Considerations on the Doctrine of
Phlogiston and the Decomposition of Water." It is the old story in a
newer dress. Its purpose was to bring home to Americans afresh his
particular ideas. The reviewer of the _Medical Repository_ staff was
evidently impressed by it, for he said:

    It must give pleasure to every philosophical mind to find the
      United States becoming the theatre of such interesting discussion,

and then adds that the evidence which was weighty enough to turn such
men as Black and others from the phlogiston idea to that of Lavoisier--

    has never yet appeared to Dr. Priestley considerable enough to
      influence his judgment, or gain his assent.

Priestley, as frequently observed, entertained grave doubts in regard to
the constitution of metals. He thought they were "compounded" of a
certain earth, or calx, and phlogiston. Further he believed that when
the phlogiston flew away, "the splendour, malleability, and ductility"
of the metal disappeared with it, leaving behind a calx. Again, he
contended that when metals dissolved in acids the liberated "inflammable
air" (hydrogen) did not come from the 'decompounded water' but from the
phlogiston emitted by the metal.

Also, on the matter of the composition and decomposition of water, he
held very opposite ideas. The French School maintained "that hydrogenous
and oxygenous airs, incorporated by drawing through them the electrical
spark turn to _water_," but Priestley contended that "they combine into
_smoking nitrous acid_." And thus the discussion proceeded, to be
answered most intelligently, in 1797, by Adet,[5] whose arguments are
familiar to all chemists and need not therefore be here repeated. Of
more interest was the publication of two lectures on Combustion by
Maclean of Princeton. They filled a pamphlet of 71 pages. It appeared in
1797, and was, in brief, a refutation of Priestley's presentations, and
was heartily welcomed as evidence of the "growing taste in America for
this kind of inquiry." Among other things Maclean said of the various
ideas regarding combustion--"Becker's is incomplete, Stahl's though
ingenious, is defective; the antiphlogistic is simple, consistent and
sufficient, while Priestley's resembling Stahl's but in name, is
complicated, contradictory and inadequate."

Not all American chemists were ready to side track the explanations of
Priestley. The distinguished Dr. Mitchill wrote Priestley on what he
designated "an attempt to accommodate the Disputes among Chemists
concerning Phlogiston." This was in November, 1797. It is an ingenious
effort which elicited from Priestley (1798) his sincere thanks, and the
expressed fear that his labours "will be in vain." And so it proved.
Present day chemists would acquiesce in this statement after reading
Mitchill's "middle-of-the-road" arguments. They were not satisfactory to
Maclean and irritated Priestley.

In June 1798 a second letter was written by Priestley to Mitchill. In it
he emphasized the substitution of zinc for "finery cinder." From it he
contended inflammable air could be easily procured, and laid great
stress on the fact that the "inflammable air" came from the metal and
not from the water. He wondered why Berthollet and Maclean had not
answered his first article. To this, a few days later, Mitchill replied
that he felt there was confusion in terms and that the language
employed by the various writers had introduced that confusion; then for
philological reasons and to clarify thoughts Mitchill proposed to strike
out _azote_ from the nomenclature of the day and take _septon_ in its
place; he also wished to expunge hydrogene and substitute phlogiston. He
admitted that Priestley's experiments on zinc were difficult to explain
by the antiphlogistic doctrine, adding--

    It would give me great satisfaction that we could settle the
      points of variance on this subject; though, even as it is, I am
      flattered by your (Priestley's) allowing my attempt 'to reconcile
      the two theories to be ingenious, plausible and well-meant....
      Your idea of carrying on a philosophical discussion in an amicable
      manner is charming'....

But the peace-maker was handling a delicate problem. He recognized this,
but desired that the pioneer studies, then in progress might escape
harsh polemics. This was difficult of realization for less than a month
later fuel was added to the fire by Maclean, when in writing Mitchill,
who had sent him Priestley's printed letter, he emphatically declared

    The experiment with the zinc does not seem to be of more
      consequence than that with the iron and admits of an easy
      explanation on antiphlogistic principles.

And he further insisted that the experiments of Priestley proved water
to be composed "of hydrogene and oxygene."

Four days later (July 20, 1798) Priestley wrote Mitchill that he had
replaced zinc by red precipitate and did not get water on decomposing
inflammable air with the precipitate. Again, August 23, 1798, he related
to Mitchill

      that the modern doctrine of water consisting of _oxygene_ and
      _hydrogene_ is not well founded ... water is the basis of all
      kinds of air, and without it no kind of air can be produced ...
      not withstanding the great use that the French chemists make of
      scales and weights, they do not pretend to weigh either their
      _calorique_ or _light_; and why may not _phlogiston_ escape their
      researches, when they employ the same instruments in that

There were in all eight letters sent by Priestley to Mitchill. They
continued until February, 1799. Their one subject was phlogiston and
its rôle in very simple chemical operations. The observations were the

      of original and recent experiments, to which I have given a good
      part of the leisure of the last summer; and I do not propose to do
      more on the subject till I hear from the great authors of the
      theory that I combat in America;

but adds,--

    I am glad ... to find several advocates of the system in this
      country, and some of them, I am confident, will do themselves
      honour by their candour, as well as by their ability.

This very probably was said as a consequence of the spirited reply James
Woodhouse[6] made to the papers of Maclean. As known, Woodhouse worked
unceasingly to overthrow the doctrine of phlogiston, but was evidently
irritated by Maclean, whom he reminds--

    You are not yet, Doctor, the conqueror of this veteran in

This was a singularly magnanimous speech on Woodhouse's part, for he had
been hurling sledgehammer blows without rest at the structure
Priestley thought he had reared about phlogiston and which, he believed,
most unassailable, so when in 1799 (July) Priestley began his reply to
his "Antiphlogistian opponents" he took occasion to remark:

    I am happy to find in Dr. Woodhouse one who is equally ingenious
      and candid; so that I do not think the cause he has undertaken
      will soon find a more able champion, and I do not regret the
      absence of M. Berthollet in Egypt.

Noble words these for his young adversary who, in consequence of
strenuous laboratory work, had acquired a deep respect and admiration
for Priestley's achievements, though he considered he had gone far

The various new, confirmatory ideas put forth by Priestley need not be
here enumerated. They served their day.

Dr. Mitchill evidently enjoyed this controversial chemical material, for
he wrote that he hoped the readers of the _Medical Repository_, in which
the several papers appeared, would

      participate the pleasure we feel on taking a retrospect of our
      pages, and finding the United States the theatre of so much
      scientific disquisition.

And yet, when in 1800, a pamphlet of 90 pages bearing the title "The
Doctrine of Phlogiston established, etc." appeared there was
consternation in the ranks of American chemists. Woodhouse was aroused.
He absolutely refuted every point in it experimentally, and Dr. Mitchill

    We decline entering into a minute examination of his experiments,
      as few of his recitals of them are free from the _triune_ mystery
      of phlogiston, which exceeds the utmost stretch of our faith; for
      according to it, _carbon is phlogiston_, and _hydrogen is
      phlogiston_, and _azote is phlogiston_; and yet there are not
      _three_ phlogistons, but _one_ phlogiston!

It was imperative to submit the preceding paragraphs on chemical topics,
notwithstanding they have, in a manner, interrupted the chronological
arrangement of the activities of the Doctor in his home life. They were,
it is true, a part of that life--a part that every chemist will note
with interest and pleasure. They mean that he was not indifferent to
chemistry, and that it is not to be supposed that he ever could be,
especially as his visits to Philadelphia brought to his attention
problems which he would never suffer to go unanswered or unsolved
because of his interest in so many other things quite foreign to them.
However, a backward look may be taken before resuming the story of his
experimental studies.

It has already been said that the non-appearance of letters caused him
anxiety. For instance he wrote Lindsey, July 28, 1796--

    It is now four months since I have received any letter from you,
      and it gives me most serious concern.

But finally the longed-for epistle arrived and he became content,
rejoicing in being able to return the news--

    I do not know that I have more satisfaction from anything I ever
      did, than from the lay Unitarian congregation I have been the
      means of establishing in Philadelphia.

For the use of this group of worshipers he had engaged the Common Hall
in the College (University of Pennsylvania).

But amidst this unceasing activity of body and mind--very evidently
extremely happy in his surroundings--he was again crushed to earth by
the death of his noble wife--

    Always caring for others and never for herself.

This occurred nine months after the departure of Harry. It was a fearful
blow. For more than thirty-four years they had lived most happily
together. The following tribute, full of deep feeling and esteem attests

    My wife being a woman of an excellent understanding much improved
      by reading, of great fortitude and strength of mind, and of a
      temper in the highest degree affectionate and generous.... Also
      excelling in everything relating to household affairs, she
      entirely relieved me of all concern of that kind, which allowed me
      to give all my time to the prosecution of my studies.

She was not only a true helpmate--courageous and devoted--but certainly
most desirous that the husband in whom she absolutely believed should
have nothing to interrupt or arrest the pursuits dear to him and in
which she herself must have taken great but quiet pride, for she was
extremely intelligent and original. Madam Belloc has mentioned

    It is a tradition in the family that Mrs. Priestley once sent her
      famous husband to market with a large basket and that he so
      acquitted himself that she never sent him again!

The new house, partly planned by her, at the moment well advanced and to
her fancy, was not to be her home for which she had fondly dreamed.

Priestley was deeply depressed but his habitual submission carried him
through, although all this is pathetically concealed in his letters.

There were rumours flitting about that Priestley purposed returning to
England. That his friends might be apprised of his real intentions the
following letter was permitted to find its way into the newspapers:

                              Northumberland Oct. 4,

      My dear Sir,

    Every account I have from England makes me think myself happy in
      this peaceful retirement, where I enjoy almost everything I can
      wish in this life, and where I hope to close it, though I find it
      is reported, both here and in England that I am about to return.
      The two heavy afflictions I have met with here, in the death of a
      son, and of my wife, rather serve to attract me to the place.
      Though dead and buried, I would not willingly leave them, and hope
      to rest with them, when the sovereign disposer of all things shall
      put a period to my present labours and pursuits.

    The advantages we enjoy in this country are indeed very great.
      Here we have no poor; we never see a beggar, nor is there a family
      in want. We have no church establishment, and hardly any taxes.
      This particular State pays all its officers from a treasure in the
      public funds. There are very few crimes committed and we travel
      without the least apprehension of danger. The press is perfectly
      free, and I hope we shall always keep out of war.

    I do not think there ever was any country in a state of such rapid
      improvement as this at present; but we have not the same
      advantages for literary and philosophical pursuits that you have
      in Europe, though even in this respect we are every day getting
      better. Many books are now printed here, but what scholars chiefly
      want are old books, and these are not to be had. We hope, however,
      that the troubles of Europe will be the cause of sending us some
      libraries and they say that it is an ill wind that blows no

    I sincerely wish, however, that your troubles were at an end, and
      from our last accounts we think there must be a peace, at least
      from the impossibility of carrying on the war.

    With every good wish to my country and to yourself, I am, dear

                              Yours sincerely,

                                  J. PRIESTLEY.

Gradually the news went forth that the Doctor contemplated a second
visit to the metropolis--Philadelphia, the Capital of the young
Republic. He wrote--

    Having now one tie, and that a strong one, to this place
      (Northumberland) less than I have had I propose to spend more time
      in Philadelphia.

As long as he was capable of public speaking it was his desire to carry
forward his missionary work,

      but the loss of my fore teeth (having now only two in the upper
      jaw) together with my tendency to stammering, which troubles me
      sometimes, is much against me.

Accordingly in early January of 1797 he might have been found there. He
alludes in his correspondence to the presence in the city of C. Volney,
a French philosopher and historian, who had been imprisoned but regained
liberty on the overthrow of Robespierre when he became professor of
history in the _Ecole Normal_. Volney was not particularly pleased with
Priestley's discourses, and took occasion some weeks later to issue


which was advertised by the _Aurora_ as on sale by the principal
booksellers, price 6 cents.

He was exceedingly rejoiced at the flourishing state of the Unitarian
Society and the manner in which its services were conducted.

On the occasion of his first discourse the English Ambassador, Mr.
Lister, was in the audience and Priestley dined with him the day

Friends had prevailed upon Priestley to preach a charity sermon on his
next Sunday, in one of the Episcopal churches, but in the end it was
"delivered at the University Hall."

His mind was much occupied with plans for controverting infidelity,

      the progress of which here is independent of all reasoning,--

so he published the third edition of his "Observations on the Increase
of Infidelity" and an "Outline of the Evidences of Revealed Religion."
In the first of them he issued a challenge to Volney who was

      much looked up to by unbelievers here.

Volney's only reply was that he would not read the pamphlet. It was in
these days that Priestley saw a great deal of Thomas Jefferson; indeed,
the latter attended several of his sermons. The intercourse of these
friends was extremely valuable to both. Jefferson welcomed everything
which Priestley did in science and consulted him much on problems of

At the election in the American Philosophical Society in the closing
days of 1796 there was openly discussed

      whether to choose me (Priestley) or Mr. Jefferson, President of
      the Society,--

which prompted the Doctor

      to give his informant good reasons why they should not choose

Naturally he listened to the political talk. He worried over the
apparent dislike observed generally to France. He remarked

    The rich not only wish for alliance offensive and defensive with
      England ... but would have little objection to the former
      dependence upon it,


    The disposition of the lower orders of the people ... for the
      French ... is not extinguished.

He was much annoyed by Peter Porcupine. The latter was publishing a
daily paper (1799) and in it frequently brought forward Priestley's name
in the most opprobrious manner, although Priestley in his own words--

      had nothing to do with the politics of the country.

The Doctor advised friend Lindsey that

    He (Porcupine) every day, advertizes his pamphlet against me, and
      after my name adds, "commonly known by the name of the fire-brand

However, he flattered himself that he would soon be back in
Northumberland, where he would be usefully engaged, as

    I have cut myself out work for a year at least ... besides
      attending to my experiments.

Mr. Adams had come into the Presidency, so Priestley very properly went
to pay his respects and

      take leave of the late President (Washington)

whom he thought in not very good spirits, although

      he invited me to Mount Vernon and said he thought he should hardly
      go from home twenty miles as long as he lived.

Priestley's fame was rapidly spreading through the land. Thoughtful men
were doing him honor in many sections of the country, as is evident from
the following clipping from a Portland (Me.) paper for March 27, 1797:--

    On Friday the twenty-fourth a number of gentlemen, entertaining a
      high sense of the character, abilities and services of the
      Reverend Doctor JOSEPH PRIESTLEY, as a friend and promoter of true
      science dined together at the Columbian Tavern, in commemoration
      of his birth. The following toasts were given.

    1. That Illustrious Christian and Philosopher, Joseph Priestley:
       May the world be as grateful to him for his services as his
       services are beneficial to the world.

    2. May the names of Locke, Newton, Montesquieu, Hartley and
       Franklin be had in everlasting remembrance.

    3. The great gift of God to man, Reason! May it influence the
       world in policy, in laws, and in religion.

    4. TRUTH: May the splendour of her charms dissipate the gloom of
       superstition, and expel hypocricy from the heart of man.

    5. May our laws be supported by religion: but may religion never be
       supported by law.

    6. White-robed Charity: May she accompany us in all our steps and
       cover us with a mantle of love.

    7. Christians of all denominations: May they "love one another."

    As it was a "feast of reason" the purest philanthrophy dignified
      the conversation; and moderation and temperance bounded every
      effusion of the heart.

It was in the summer of 1797 that he carried forward his work on
Phlogiston, alluded to on p. 81. He understood quite well that the
entire chemical world was against him but he was not able to find good

      to despair of the old system.

It must be remembered that in these days, also, he had Thomas Cooper
with him. With this gentleman he discussed his scientific studies and
with him also he carried on many arguments upon the burning subject of
infidelity, about which he continuously wrote his friends in this
country and in England. It was quite generally believed that Cooper was
an infidel. Never, however, did their intimacy suffer in the slightest
by their conflicting views.

The _Church History_ continued to hold Priestley's first thought. He was
a busy student, occupied with a diversity of interests and usually
cheerful and eager to follow up new lines of endeavor. The arrival of
vessels from the home country was closely watched. Books and apparatus
were brought by them. While, as observed, he was singularly cheerful and
happy, he confessed at times that

      my character as a philosopher is under a cloud.

Yet, this was but a momentary depression, for he uttered in almost the
same breath--

    Everything will be cleared up in a reasonable time.

Amid the constant daily duties he found real solace in his scientific
pursuits; indeed when he was quite prepared to abandon all his
activities he declared of his experiments that he could not stop them

    I consider them as that study of the works of the great Creator,
      which I shall resume with more advantage hereafter.

He advised his friends Lindsey and Belsham--

    I cannot express what _I_ feel on receiving your letters. They set
      my thoughts afloat, so that I can do nothing but ruminate a
      long time; but it is a most pleasing melancholy.

Far removed from European events he was nevertheless ever keen and alert
concerning them. Then the winter of 1797 appears to have been very
severe. His enforced confinement to home probably gave rise to an
introspection, and a slight disappointment in matters which had formerly
given him pleasure. For example, he puzzled over the fact that on his
second visit to Philadelphia, Mr. Adams was present but once at his
lectures, and remarks--

    When my lectures were less popular, and he was near his
      presidentship, he left me, making a kind of apology, from the
      members of the principal Presbyterian Church having offered him a
      pew there. He seemed to interest himself in my favour against M.
      Volney, but did not subscribe to my Church History ... I suppose
      he was not pleased that I did not adopt his dislike of the French.

When January of 1798 arrived his joy was great. A box of books had come.
Among them was a General Dictionary which he regarded as a real
treasure. Reading was now his principal occupation. He found the making
of many experiments irksome and seemed, all at once, "quite averse to
having his hands so much in water." Presumably these were innocent
excuses for his devotion to the Church History which had been brought up
to date. Furthermore he was actually contemplating transplanting himself
to France. But with it all he wrote assiduously on religious topics, and
was highly pleased with the experimental work he had sent to Dr.
Mitchill (p. 85).

He advised his friends of the "intercepted letters" which did him much
harm when they were published. They called down upon him severest
judgement and suspicion, and made him--

      disliked by all the friends of the ruling power in this country.

It may be well to note that these "intercepted letters" were found on a
Danish ship, inclosed in a cover addressed to


They came from friends, English and French, living in Paris. They

      with matter of the most serious reflection.... If the animosity of
      these apostate Englishmen against their own country, their
      conviction that no submissions will avert our danger, and their
      description of the engines employed by the Directory for our
      destruction, were impressed as they ought to be, upon the minds of
      all our countrymen, we should certainly never again be told of the
      innocent designs of these traitors, or their associates--

The preceding quotation is from a booklet containing exact copies of the
"intercepted letters."

In the first of the letters, dated Feb. 12, 1798, the correspondent of
Priestley tells that he had met a young Frenchman who had visited

      and we all rejoiced at the aggreeable information that at the
      peace you would not fail to revisit Europe; and that he hoped you
      would fix yourself in this country (France). Whether you fix
      yourself here or in England, (_as England will then be_) is
      probably a matter of little importance ... but we all think you are
      misplaced where you are, though, no doubt, in the way of

The editor of the letters annotates _usefulness_ thus:

    Dr. Priestley is _in the way of usefulness_ in America, because he
      is labouring there, as his associates are in Europe, to disunite
      the people from their government, and to introduce the blessings
      of French anarchy.

These "intercepted letters" in no way prove that Dr. Priestley was
engaged in any movement against his native land or against his adopted
country. However, the whole world was in an uproar. People were ready to
believe the worst regarding their fellows, so it is not surprising that
he should have declared himself "disliked."

He alludes frequently to the marvelous changes taking place in the
States. Everything was in rapid motion. Taxes were the topic of
conversation on all sides.

To divert his philosophizing he busied himself in his laboratory where
many "original experiments were made." He avoided the crowd. There was
too great a party spirit. Indeed, there was violence, so he determined
not to visit Philadelphia. He sought to escape the "rancorous abuse"
which was being hurled at him--

      as a citizen of France.

One must read his correspondence to fully appreciate Priestley during
the early days of 1799. What must have been his mental condition when he
wrote Lindsey--

    As to a public violent death the idea of that does not affect me
      near so much


    I cannot express what I feel when I receive and read your letters.
      I generally shed many tears over them.

There was no assurance in financial and commercial circles. The hopes of
neither the more sober, nor of the wild and fanatic reformers of
humanity could be realized, and they got into such a war of hate and
abuse that they themselves stamped their doctrines false.

Priestley was out of patience with the public measures of the country.
He disliked them as much as he did those of England, but added

    Here the excellence of the Constitution provides a remedy, if the
      people will make use of it, and if not, they deserve what they

The Constitution was a favorite instrument with him. A most interesting
lecture upon it will be found among the _Discourses_ which he proposed
delivering in Philadelphia. This never occurred.

The Academy he expected to see in operation failed for support. The
walls were raised and he feared it would go no further. The Legislature
had voted it $3000, but the Senate negatived this act. He thought of
giving up the presidency of it.

He wrote Dr. Rush that he was quite busy with replies to Dr. Woodhouse's
attack on his confirmation of the existence of phlogiston, (p. 88). He
relished his discussions with Woodhouse and was confident that
eventually he would "overturn the French system of chemistry." He
further remarked to Rush--

    Were you at liberty to make an excursion as far as these _back
      woods_ I shall be happy to see you, and so would many others.

But at that particular moment Rush was too much engaged in combating
yellow fever, which again ravaged Philadelphia, and all who could, fled,
and the streets were "lifeless and dead." The prevalence of this fearful
plague was a potent factor in Priestley's failure to visit the City
during the year--the last year of a closing Century which did not end in
the prosperity anticipated for it in the hopeful months and years
following the war. It seemed, in many ways, to be the end of an era.
Washington died December 14, 1799, and the Federalists' tenure of power
was coming to a close. The Jeffersonians, aided by eight of the
electoral votes of Pennsylvania, won the victory, amid outbursts of
unprecedented political bitterness. It was, therefore, very wise that
the Doctor remained quietly at home in Northumberland with his
experiments and Church History.

The new Century--the 19th--found our beloved philosopher at times quite
proud of the success he had with his experiments and full of genuine
hope that "phlogiston" was established; and again dejected because of
the "coarse and low articles" directed against him by the prints of the
day. To offset, in a measure, the distrust entertained for him because
of the "intercepted letters" he addressed a series of _Letters_ to the
inhabitants of Northumberland and vicinity. These were explanatory of
his views. At home they were most satisfying but in the city they
brought upon him "more abuse." And, so, he translated a passage from
Petrarch which read--

      By civil fueds exiled my native home,
      Resign'd, though injured, hither I have come.
      Here, groves and streams, delights of rural ease;
      Yet, where the associates, wont to serve and please;
      The aspect bland, that bade the heart confide?
      Absent from these, e'en here, no joys abide.

And these were incorporated in his brochure.

Having alluded to the _Letters_ addressed to the Northumberland folks,
it may be proper to introduce a letter which Priestley received from Mr.
Jefferson, whom the former was disposed to hold as "in many respects
the first man in this Country:"

                        Philadelphia, Jan. 18, 1800.

  Dear Sir--

    I thank you for the pamphlets (Letters) you were so kind as to
      send me. You will know what I thought of them by my having before
      sent a dozen sets to Virginia, to distribute among my friends; yet
      I thank you not the less for these, which I value the more as they
      came from yourself.

    The papers of Political Arithmetic, both in yours and Mr. Cooper's
      pamphlets, are the most precious gifts that can be made to us; for
      we are running navigation-mad, and commerce-mad, and Navy-mad,
      which is worst of all. How desirable it is that you should pursue
      that subject for us. From the porcupines of our country you will
      receive no thanks, but the great mass of our nation will edify,
      and thank you.

    How deeply have I been chagrined and mortified at the persecutions
      which fanaticism and monarchy have excited against you, even here!
      At first, I believed it was merely a continuance of the English
      persecution; but I observe that, on the demise of Porcupine, and
      the division of his inheritance between Fenno and Brown, the
      latter (though succeeding only to the Federal portion of
      Porcupinism, not the Anglican, which is Fenno's part) serves up
      for the palate of his sect dishes of abuse against you as
      high-seasoned as Porcupine's were. You have sinned against Church
      and King, and therefore can never be forgiven. How sincerely I
      have regretted that your friend, before he fixed a choice of
      position, did not visit the valleys on each side of the blue range
      in Virginia, as Mr. Madison and myself so much wished. You would
      have found there equal soil, the finest climate, and the most
      healthy air on the earth, the homage of universal reverence and
      love, and the power of the country spread over you as a shield;
      but, since you would not make it your Country by adoption, you
      must now do it by your good offices.

Mr. Livingston, the Chancellor of New York, so approved the "Letters"
that he got a new edition of them printed at Albany.

The following letter to this same gentleman, although upon another
subject than the "Letters" is not devoid of interest. It has come into
the writer's hands through the kind offices of Dr. Thomas L. Montgomery,
State Librarian of Pennsylvania:


    I think myself much honoured by your letter, and should have
      thought myself singularly happy if my situation had been near to
      such a person as you. Persons engaged in scientific pursuits are
      few in this country. Indeed, they are not very numerous anywhere.
      In other respects I think myself very happy where I am.

    I have never given much attention to machines of any kind, and
      therefore cannot pretend to decide concerning your proposal for
      the improvement of the fire engine. It appears to me to deserve
      attention. But I do not for want of a drawing see in what manner
      the steam is to be let into the cylinder, or discharged from it.
      There would be, I fear, an objection to it from the force
      necessary to raise the column of mercury, and from the evaporation
      of the mercury in the requisite heat. I have found that it loses
      weight in 70° Fahrenheit. If the mercury was pure, I should not
      apprehend much from the calcination of it, though, as I have
      observed, the agitation of it in water, converts a part of it into
      a black powder, which I propose to examine farther.

    If travelling was attended with no fewer inconveniences here than
      it is in England, I should certainly wait upon you and some other
      friends at New York. But this, and my age, render it impossible,
      and it would be unreasonable to expect many visitors in this _back

    I shall be very happy to be favoured with your correspondence, and


                                Yours sincerely,

                                  J. PRIESTLEY

Northumberland April 16, 1799.

In this period Thomas Cooper was convicted of libel. He was thrown into
prison. Priestley regarded him as a rising man in the Country.[7] He
said the act was the last blow of the Federal party "which is now broke

Priestley's daughter, in England, was ill at this time. Her life was
despaired of and tidings from her were few and most distressing, but the
Doctor maintained a quiet and calm assurance of her recovery.

Subsequent correspondence between Mr. Jefferson and Priestley had much
in it about the new College which the former contemplated for the State
of Virginia. Indeed, the thought was entertained that Priestley himself
might become a professor in it, but his advanced age, he contended
forbade this, although he was agreeable to the idea of getting
professors from Europe.

Here, perhaps, may well be included several letters, now in possession
of the Library of Congress, which reveal the attitude of Dr. Priestley
toward President Jefferson, who was indeed most friendly to him:

  Dear Sir--

    I am flattered by your thinking so favourably of my _pamphlets_,
      which were only calculated to give some satisfaction to my
      suspicious neighbours. Chancellor Livingston informs me that he
      has got an edition of them printed at Albany, for the information
      of the people in the back country, where, he says, it is so much
      wanted. Indeed, it seems extraordinary, that in such a country as
      this, where there is no court to dazzle men's eyes a maxim as
      plain as that 2 and 2 make 4 should not be understood, and acted
      upon. It is evident that the bulk of mankind are governed by
      something very different from reasoning and argument. This
      principle must have its influence even in your Congress, for if
      the members are not convinced by the excellent speeches of Mr.
      Gallatin and Nicolas, neither would they be persuaded tho one
      should rise from the dead.

    It is true that I had more to do with colleges, and places of
      education, than most men in Europe; but I would not pretend to
      advise in this country. I will, however, at my leisure, propose
      such _hints_ as shall occur to me; and if you want tutors from
      England, I can recommend some very good ones. Were I a few years
      younger, and more moveable, I should make interest for some
      appointment in your institution myself; but age and inactivity are
      fast approaching, and I am so fixed here, that a remove is
      absolutely impossible, unless you were possessed of _Aladin's
      lamp_, and could transport my house, library, and laboratory,
      into Virginia without trouble or expense.

    On my settlement here the gentlemen in the neighbourhood, thinking
      to make me of some use, set on foot a college, of which I gave
      them the plan, and they got it incorporated, and made me the
      president; but tho I proposed to give lectures _gratis_, and had
      the disposal of a valuable library at the decease of a learned
      friend (new, near so), and had it in my power to render them
      important service in various ways, yet, owing I suspect, in part
      at least, to religious and political prejudices, nothing more has
      been done, besides marking the site of a building these five
      years, so that I have told them I shall resign.

    I much wish to have some conversation with you on social subjects;
      but I cannot expect that the Vice President of the United States
      should visit me in my _shed_ at Northumberland, and I cannot come
      to you. I intended on my settling here to have spent a month or so
      every winter at Philadelphia, but the state of the times, and
      various accidents, have a little deranged my finances, and I
      prefer to spend what I can spare on my experiments, and
      publication, rather than in travelling and seeing my friends.

          With the greatest respect, I am,
              Dear Sir,
                  Yours sincerely,
                      J. PRIESTLEY.

Northumberland Jan. 30, 1800.

  Dear Sir--

    I enclose my thoughts on the subject you did me the honour to
      propose to me. Your own better judgment will decide concerning
      their value, or their fitness for the circumstances of your
      College. This may require a very different distribution of the
      business from that which I here recommend.

    I thank you for your care to transmit a copy of my works to Bp.
      Madison. He, as well as many others, speaks of the increasing
      spread of republican principles in this country. I wish I could
      see the effects of it. But I fear we flatter ourselves, and if I
      be rightly informed, my poor _Letters_ have done more harm than
      good. I can only say that I am a sincere well wisher to this
      country, and the purity and stability of its constitution.

                  Yours sincerely,
                    J. PRIESTLEY.

Northumberland May 8, 1800.


     Persons educated at public seminaries are of two classes. One is
     that of professional men, and physicians and divines who are to be
     qualified for entering upon their professions immediately after
     leaving the college or university. The other is that of gentlemen,
     and those who are designed for offices of civil and active life.
     The former must be minutely instructed in everything adding to
     their several professions, whereas to the latter a general
     knowledge of the several branches of science is sufficient. To the
     former, especially that of Medicine, several professors are
     necessary, as the business must be subdivided, in order to be
     taught to advantage. For the purpose of the latter fewer professors
     are wanted, as it is most advisable to give them only the elements
     of the several branches of knowledge, to which they may afterwards
     give more particular attention, as they may have a disposition or
     convenience for it.

     Lawyers are not supposed to be qualified for entering upon their
     professions at any place of public education. They are therefore to
     be considered as gentlemen to whom a general knowledge is
     sufficient. It is advisable, however, that when any subject, as
     that of Medicine, is much divided, and distributed among a number
     of professors, lectures of a more general and popular nature be
     provided for the other classes of students, to whom some knowledge
     of the subject may be very useful. A general knowledge, for
     example, of anatomy and of medicine, too, is useful to all persons,
     and therefore ought not to be omitted in any scheme of liberal
     education. And if in a regular school of medicine any of the
     professors would undertake this, it might serve as an useful
     introduction to that more particular and accurate knowledge which
     is necessary for practiced physicians.

     The branches of knowledge which are necessary to the teachers of
     religion are not so many, or so distinct from each other, but that
     they may all be taught by one professor, as far as is necessary to
     qualify persons for commencing preachers. To acquire more
     knowledge, as that of the scriptures, ecclesistical history, etc.
     must be the business of their future lives. But every person
     liberally educated should have a general knowledge of Metaphysics,
     the theory of morals, and religion; and therefore some popular
     lectures of this kind should be provided for the students in

     One professor of antient languages may be sufficient for a place of
     liberal education, and I would not make any provision for
     instruction in the modern languages, for tho the knowledge of
     them, as well as skill in fencing, dancing and riding, is proper
     for gentlemen liberally educated, instruction in them may be
     procured on reasonable terms without burdening the funds of the
     seminary with them.

     Abstract Mathematics, and Natural Philosophy, are so distinct, that
     they require different teachers. One is sufficient for the former,
     but the latter must be subdivided, one for natural history, another
     for experimental Philosophy in general and a third for chemistry;
     in consequence of the great extension of this branch of
     experimental Philosophy of late years. The botany, mineralogy, and
     other branches of natural history are sufficiently distinct to
     admit of different professors, nothing more than a general
     knowledge of each of them, and directions for acquiring a more
     extended knowledge of them is necessary at any place of education.

     Two or three Schools of Medicine I should think sufficient for all
     the United States for some years to come, but with respect to these
     I do not pretend to give any opinion not having sufficient
     knowledge of the subject. Places of liberal education in general
     should be made more numerous, and for each of them I should think
     the following professors (if the funds of the Society will admit of
     it) should be engaged, _viz._ (1) For the antient languages. (2)
     The Belles Lettres, including universal Grammar, Oratory, criticism
     and bibliography. (3) Mathematics. (4) Natural history. (5)
     Experimental Philosophy. (6) Chemistry, including the theory of
     Agriculture. (7) Anatomy and Medicine. (8) Geography and history,
     Law, and general policy. (9) Metaphysics, morals, and theology.

     A course of liberal education should be as comprehensive as
     possible. For this purpose a large and well chosen _library_ will
     be of great use. Not that the students should be encouraged to read
     books while they are under tuition, but an opportunity of seeing
     books, and looking into them, will give them a better idea of the
     value of them than they could get by merely hearing of them, and
     they would afterwards better know what books to purchase when they
     should have the means and the leisure for the perusal of them. A
     large collection of books will also be useful to the lecturer in
     _bibliography_ and would recommend the seminary to the professors
     in general, and make it a desirable place of residence for
     gentlemen of a studious turn.

     2. In order to engage able professors, some fixed salaries are
     necessary; but they should not be much more than a bare
     subsistence. They will then have a motive to exert themselves, and
     by the fees of students their emoluments may be ample. The
     professorships in the English universities, which are largely
     endowed, are sinecures; while those in Scotland, to which small
     stipends are annexed, are filled by able and active men.

     3. It is not wise to engage any persons who are much advanced in
     life, or of established reputation for efficient teachers. They
     will not be so active as younger men who have a character to
     acquire. They will also better accommodate their lectures to the
     increasing light of the age, whereas old men will be attached to
     old systems, tho ever so imperfect. Besides, they are the most
     expert in teaching who have lately learned, and the minutae of
     science, which are necessary to a teacher, are generally forgotten
     by good scholars who are advanced in life, and it is peculiarly
     irksome to relearn them.

     4. I would not without necessity have recourse to any foreign
     country for professors. They will expect too much deference, and
     the natives will be jealous of them.

     5. Three things must be attended to in the education of youth. They
     must be _taught_, _fed_ and _governed_ and each of these requires
     very different qualifications. They who are the best qualified to
     teach are often the most unfit to govern, and it is generally
     advisable that neither of these have anything to do with providing
     victuals. In the English universities all these affairs are
     perfectly distinct. The _tutors_ only teach, the _proctors_
     superintend the discipline, and the _cooks_ provide the victuals.

Philadelphia, Apr. 10, 1801.

  Dear Sir--

    Your kind letter, which, considering the numerous engagements
      incident to your situation, I had no right to expect, was highly
      gratifying to me, and I take the first opportunity of
      acknowledging it. For tho I believe I am completely recovered from
      my late illness, I am advised to write as little as possible. Your
      invitation to pay you a visit is flattering to me in the highest
      degree, and I shall not wholly despair of some time or other
      availing myself of it, but for the present I must take the nearest
      way home.

    Your resentment of the treatment I have met with in this country
      is truly generous, but I must have been but little impressed with
      the principles of the religion you so justly commend, if they had
      not enabled me to bear much more than I have yet suffered. Do not
      suppose that, after the much worse treatment to which I was for
      many years exposed in England (of which the pamphlet I take the
      liberty to inclose will give you some idea) I was much affected by
      this. My _Letters to the Inhabitants of Northumberland_ were not
      occasioned by any such thing, tho it served me as a pretense for
      writing them, but the threatenings of Mr. Pickering, whose purpose
      to send me out of the country Mr. Adams (as I conclude from a
      circuitous attempt that he made to prevent it) would not, in the
      circumstances in which he then was, have been able to directly
      oppose. My publication was of service to me in that and other
      respects and I hope, in some measure, to the common cause. But had
      it not been for the extreme absurdity and violence of the late
      administration, I do not know how far the measures might not have
      been carried. I rejoice more than I can express in the glorious
      reverse that has taken place, and which has secured your election.
      This I flatter myself will be the permanent establishment of truly
      republican principles in this country, and also contribute to the
      same desirable event in more distant ones.

    I beg you would not trouble yourself with any answer to this. The
      knowledge of your good opinion and good wishes, is quite
      sufficient for me. I feel for the difficulties of your situation,
      but your spirit and prudence will carry you thro them, tho not
      without paying the tax which the wise laws of nature have imposed
      upon preeminence and celebrity of every kind, a tax which, for
      want of true greatness of mind, neither of your predecessors, if I
      estimate their characters aright, paid without much reluctance.

            With every good wish, I am,
                Dear Sir,
                    Yours sincerely,
                            J. PRIESTLEY.


    As I trust that _Politics_ will not make you forget what is due to
      _science_, I shall send you a copy of some articles that are just
      printed for the _Transactions of the Philosophical Society_ in
      this place. No. (5) p. 36 is the most deserving of your notice. I
      should have sent you my _Defence of Phlogiston_, but that I
      presume you have seen it.

                                    June, 1802.
  To Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States of America.


    My high respect for your character, as a politician, and a man,
      makes me desirous of connecting my name, in some measure with
      yours while it is in my power, by means of some publication, to do

    The first part of this work, which brought the history to the fall
      of the western empire, was dedicated to a zealous friend of civil
      and religious liberty, but in a private station. What he, or any
      other friend of liberty in Europe, could only do by their good
      wishes, by writing, or by patriot suffering, you, Sir, are
      actually accomplishing, and upon a theatre of great and growing

    It is the boast of this country to have a constitution the most
      favourable to political liberty, and private happiness, of any in
      the world, and all say that it was yourself, more than any other
      individual, that planned and established it; and to this opinion
      your conduct in various public offices, and now in the highest,
      gives the clearest attestation.

   Many have appeared the friends of the rights of man while they were
      subject to the power of others, and especially when they were
      sufferers by it; but I do not recollect one besides yourself who
      retained the same principles, and acted by them, in a station of
      real power. You, Sir, have done more than this; having proposed to
      relinquish some part of the power which the constitution gave you;
      and instead of adding to the burden of the people, it has been
      your endeavour to lighten those burdens tho the necessary
      consequence must be the diminution of your influence. May this
      great example, which I doubt not will demonstrate the
      practicability of truly republican principles, by the actual
      existence of a form of government calculated to answer all the
      useful purposes of government (giving equal protection to all, and
      leaving every man in the possession of every power that he can
      exercise to his own advantage, without infringing on the equal
      liberty of others) be followed in other countries, and at length
      become universal.

    Another reason why I wish to prefix your name to this work, and
      more appropriate to the subject of it, is that you have ever been
      a strenuous and uniform advocate of religious no less than civil
      liberty, both in your own state of Virginia, and in the United
      States in general, seeing in the clearest light the various and
      great mischiefs that have arisen from any particular form of
      religion being favoured by the State more than any other; so that
      the profession or practice of religion is here as free as that of
      philosophy, or medicine. And now the experience of more than
      twenty years leaves little room to doubt but that it is a state,
      of things the most favourable to mutual candour, which is of great
      importance to domestic peace and good neighbourhood and to the
      cause of all truth, religious truth least of all excepted. When
      every question is thus left to free discussion, there cannot be a
      doubt but that truth will finally prevail, and establish itself by
      its own evidence; and he must know little of mankind, or of human
      nature, who can imagine that truth of any kind will be ultimately
      unfavourable to general happiness. That man must entertain a
      secret suspicion of his own principles who wishes for any
      exclusive advantage in his defence or profession of them.

    Having fled from a state of persecution in England, and having been
      exposed to some degree of danger in the late administration here, I
      naturally feel the greater satisfaction in the prospect of passing
      the remainder of an active life (when I naturally wish for repose)
      under your protection. Tho arrived at the usual term of human life
      it is now only that I can say I see nothing to fear from the hand
      of power, the government under which I live being for the first
      time truly favourable to me. And tho it will be evident to all who
      know me that I have never been swayed by the mean principle of
      fear, it is certainly a happiness to be out of the possibility of
      its influence, and to end ones days in peace, enjoying some degree
      of rest before the state of more perfect rest in the grave, and
      with the hope of rising to a state of greater activity, security
      and happiness beyond it. This is all that any man can wish for, or
      have; and this, Sir, under your administration, I enjoy.

    With the most perfect attachment, and every good wish I subscribe
      myself not your subject, or humble servant, but your sincere

                J. PRIESTLEY.

  Dear Sir,

    As there are some particulars in a letter I have lately received
      from Mr. Stone at Paris which I think it will give you pleasure to
      have, and Mr. Cooper has been so obliging as to translate them for
      me, I take the liberty to send them, along with a copy of my
      _Dedication_, with the correction that you suggested, and a Note
      from the latter with which you favoured me concerning what you did
      with respect to the _constitution_, and which is really more than
      I had ascribed to you. For almost everything of importance to
      political liberty in that instrument was, as it appears to me,
      suggested by you, and as this was unknown to myself, and I believe
      is so with the world in general, I was unwilling to omit this
      opportunity of noticing it.

    I shall be glad if you will be so good as to engage any person
      sufficiently qualified to draw up such an account of the
      _constitutional forms_ of this country as my friends say will be
      agreeable to the emperor, and I will transmit it to Mr. Stone.

    Not knowing any certain method of sending a letter to France and
      presuming that you do I take the liberty to inclose my letter to
      Mr. Stone. It is, however, so written that no danger can arise to
      him from it, into whatever hands it may fall.

    The state of my health, though, I thank God, much improved, will
      not permit me to avail myself of your kind invitation to pay you a
      visit. Where ever I am, you may depend upon my warmest attachment
      and best wishes.

                                    J. PRIESTLEY.

Northumberland Oct. 29, 1802.


    I send a copy of the _Preface_ as well as of the _Dedication_,
      that you may form some idea of the work you are pleased to

Northumberland Jan. 25, 1803.

  Dear Sir,

    As you were pleased to think favourably of my pamphlet entitled
      _Socrates and Jesus compared_, I take the liberty to send you a
      _defence_ of it. My principal object, you will perceive, was to
      lay hold of the opportunity, given me by Mr. B. Linn, to excite
      some attention to doctrines which I consider as of peculiar
      importance in the Christian system, and which I do not find to
      have been discussed in this country.

    The Church History is, I hope, by this time in the hands of the
      bookseller at Philadelphia, so that you will soon, if my
      directions have been attended to, receive a copy of the work which
      I have the honour to dedicate to you.

    With the greatest respect and attachment, I am

                        Dear Sir,
                            Yours sincerely,
                                J. PRIESTLEY.

  Dear Sir,

    I take the liberty to send you _a second defence of my pamphlet
      about Socrates_, on the 16th page of which you will find that I
      have undertaken the task you were pleased to recommend to me. On
      giving more attention to it, I found, as the fox did with respect
      to the lion, that my apprehensions entirely vanished. Indeed, I
      have already accomplished a considerable part of the work, and in
      about a year from this time I hope to finish the whole, provided
      my health, which is very precarious, be continued in the state in
      which it now is. I directed a copy of the _tract on phlogiston_
      to be sent to you from Philadelphia, and I shall order another,
      which, together with the inclosed papers, I shall be much obliged
      to you if you will convey to. Mr. Livingston. Please also to cast
      an eye over them yourself; and if you can with propriety promote
      my interest by any representation of yours, I am confident you
      will do it.

    When you wrote to me at the commencement of your administration,
      you said "the only dark speck in our horizon is in Louisiana." By
      your excellent conduct it is now the brightest we have to look to.

    Mr. Vaughan having applied to me for a copy of my Harmony of the
      Evangelists, which was not to be had in Philadelphia, and
      intimated that it was for you, my son, whose copy is more perfect
      than mine, begs the honour of your acceptance of it, as a mark of
      his high esteem, in which he has the hearty concurrence of

                        Dear Sir,
                            Yours sincerely,
                                J. PRIESTLEY.

Northumberland Dec. 12, 1803.

His European correspondents were informed that he was much engaged with
religious matters. While his theological views were not received very
graciously yet he found

      some young men of a serious and inquisitive turn, who read my
      works, and are confirmed Unitarians.

In one of his communications to Lindsey, written in April 1800, he
expresses himself in the following most interesting way relative to his
scientific engagements. American men of science will welcome it: This is
the message:

    I send along with this an account of a course of experiments of as
      much importance as almost any that I have ever made. Please to
      shew it to Mr. Kirwan, and give it either to Mr. Nicholson for his
      journal, or to Mr. Phillips for his magazine, as you please. I was
      never more busy or more successful in this way, when I was in
      England; and I am very thankful to Providence for the means and
      the leisure for these pursuits, which next to theological studies,
      interest me the most. Indeed, there is a natural alliance between
      them, as there must be between the word and the works of God.

He was now at work apparently in his own little laboratory adjacent to
his dwelling place. For more than a century this structure has remained
practically as it was in the days of Priestley. In it he did remarkable
things, in his judgment; thus refuting the general idea that after his
arrival in America nothing of merit in the scientific direction was
accomplished by him. The satisfactory results, mentioned to Lindsey,
were embodied in a series of "Six Chemical Essays" which eventually
found their way into the Transactions of the American Philosophical
Society. It is a miscellany of observations. In it are recorded the
results found on passing the "vapour of spirit of nitre" over iron
turnings, over copper, over perfect charcoal, charcoal of bones, melted
lead, tin and bismuth; and there appears a note to the effect that in
Papin's digester "a solution of caustic alkali, aided by heat, made a
_liquor silicum_ with pounded flint glass." There is also given a
description of a pyrophorus obtained from iron and sulphur. More
interesting, however, was the account of the change of place in
different kinds of air, "through several interposing substances," in
which Priestley recognized distinctly for the first time, the phenomena
of gaseous diffusion. There are also references to the absorption of air
by water, and of course, as one would expect from the Doctor, for it
never failed, there is once more emphasized "certain facts pertaining to
phlogiston." His friends were quite prepared for such statements. They
thought of Joseph Priestley and involuntarily there arose the idea of

The little workshop or laboratory, in Northumberland, where these facts
were gathered, will soon be removed to the Campus of Pennsylvania State
College. It will be preserved with care and in it, it is hoped, will be
gradually assembled everything to be found relating to the noble soul
who once disclosed Nature's secrets in this simple primitive structure,
which American chemists should ever cherish, and hold as a Mecca for all
who would look back to the beginnings of chemical research in our
beloved country.

How appropriate it would be could there be deposited in the little
laboratory, the apparatus owned and used by Priestley, which at present
constitutes and for many years past has formed an attractive collection
in Dickinson College, (Pa.) There would be the burning lens, the
reflecting telescope, the refracting telescope (probably one of the
first achromatic telescopes made), the air-gun, the orrery, and flasks
with heavy ground necks, and heavy curved tubes with ground
stoppers--all brought (to Dickinson) through the instrumentality of
Thomas Cooper, "the greatest man in America in the powers of his mind
and acquired information and that without a single exception" according
to Thomas Jefferson.

And how the Library would add to the glory of the place, but, alas! it
has been scattered far and wide, for in 1816, Thomas Dobson advertised
the same for sale in a neatly printed pamphlet of 96 pages. In it were
many scarce and valuable books. The appended prices ranged quite widely,
reaching in one case the goodly sum of two hundred dollars!

And as future chemists visit this unique reminder of Dr. Priestley it
should be remembered that on the piazza of the dwelling house there
assembled August 1, 1874, a group of men who planned then and there for
the organization of the present American Chemical Society.

The "Essays," previously mentioned, will be found intensely interesting
but they are somewhat difficult to read because of their strange
nomenclature. Here is Priestley's account of the method pursued by him
to get nitrogen:

    Pure phlogisticated air (nitrogen) may be procured in the easiest
      and surest manner by the use of iron only--To do this I fill
      phials with turnings of malleable iron, and having filled them
      with water, pour it out, to admit the air of the atmosphere, and
      in six or seven hours it will be diminished ... what remains of
      the air in the phials will be the purest phlogisticated air

Among his contributions to the scientific periodicals of the times there
was one relating to the sense of hearing. It is a curious story. One may
properly ask whether the singular facts in it were not due to defects in
Priestley's own organs of hearing. The paper did not arouse comment. It
was so out of the ordinary experimental work which he was carrying
forward with such genuine pleasure and intense vigour.

Strong appeals were steadily coming from English friends that he return.
While commenting on the pleasure he should have in seeing them he firmly
declared that the step would not be wise. In short, despite all
arguments he had determined to

      remain where I am for life.

The prejudices against him were abating, although he said

      that many things are against me; and though they do not _shake_ my
      faith, they _try_ it.

There had gathered a class of fourteen young men about him in the
Northumberland home. They had adopted his Unitarian ideas. To them he
lectured regularly on theology and philosophy. Those must have been
inspiring moments. It was in this wise that the aged philosopher felt he
was doing good and was most useful. He said that it was

      a pretty good class of young men to lecture to.

Much time was given to his English correspondents. Them he advised of
the rapid development of the States. He sent to some pictures of the
country about him, and with much delight he referred to the fact that
Jefferson, whom he ardently admired, was now, in the closing weeks of
1800, the President, and his associate--Aaron Burr, Vice-President. He
announced to English friends that the late administration, that of John
Adams, was

      almost universally reprobated.

Mr. Jefferson, he insisted, "will do nothing rashly,"

    His being president may induce me to visit the federal city, and
      perhaps his seat in Virginia.

The seat of government, as may be inferred, had been removed to
Washington from Philadelphia. But to the latter center, which still
offered many attractions, Priestley journeyed for the third time early
in 1801. He was not especially desirous of making this third visit, but
as his son and daughter came down a distance of 130 miles on business,
he determined to accompany them. True, Congress was no longer there, but
there were many interesting people about with whom he had great
pleasure. With Bishop White, who was most orthodox and whom he saw
frequently, he enjoyed much "Christian and edifying conversation." John
Andrews was another favorite. He was a violent Federalist and informed
Priestley that the latter

      had done them (the Federalists) more mischief than any other man,

yet these two noble spirits lived in amity, and Priestley several times
announced that Dr. Andrews was a Unitarian, which is not the thought
today in regard to the latter.

It was an eventful year--this year of 1801. Much that was unexpected
happened. It brought joy and it brought sorrow.

Perhaps it would be just as well to note the scientific progress of the
Doctor during this year, for he gave forth the statement that he had
succeeded in producing air by freezing water. This production of air was
one of his earlier ideas (p. 62), and now he wrote--

    The harder the frost was the more air I procured.

Further, he announced that on heating manganese (dioxide) in inflammable

      no water is formed,

and what is rather astounding, he was certain that _azote_ consisted of
hydrogen and oxygen.

To the _Medical Repository_, which he regarded highly, there was sent a
rather thoughtful disquisition on dreams. In it the idea was expressed

      that dreams have their seat in some region of the brain more
      deeply seated than that which is occupied by our waking thoughts.

A "Pile of Volta" had been sent out from England. It amused him and he
studied it carefully when he was led to remark upon the theory of this
curious process as follows:

    The operation wholly depends on the calcination of the zinc, which
      suffers a great diminution in weight, while the silver is little
      affected, and all metals lose their phlogiston in calcination,
      therefore what remains of the zinc in metallic form in the pile
      and everything connected with that end of it, is supersaturated
      with phlogiston.

More need not be quoted. It was phlogiston and that only which
occasioned the electric current. It may properly be added that in this
connection he wrote:

    It is said the inventor of the galvanic pile discovered the
      conducting power of charcoal, whereas it was one of my first
      observations in electricity, made in 1766.

Some additional attention to air was also given by him, and in so doing
he reached the conclusion that

    The diamond and charcoal of copper are, as nearly as possible,
      pure phlogiston.

One wonders how he could so persuade himself, for these bodies surely
possessed weight. Why did he not rely more upon his balance?

With Woodhouse he discussed the product from passing water over heated
charcoal. He had been endeavoring to refute certain statements made by
Cruikshank. There is no question but that he had carbon monoxide in
hand, and had it as early as 1799, and that he had obtained it in
several different ways. Observe this statement:

    I always found that the first portion of the heavy inflammable
      air, resulting from the passage of steam over heated charcoal was
      loaded with fixed air (CO_2), but that in the course of the
      process this disappeared, the remaining air (CO) burning with a
      lambent flame.

Scarcely had Priestley set foot in Philadelphia on his third visitation
than the _Port Folio_, devoted usually to literature and biography,
printed the following unkind words:

    The tricks of Dr. Priestley to embroil the government, and disturb
      the religion of his own country, have not the merit of novelty.

To which the _Aurora_ replied:

    When Porcupine rioted in the filth of a debauched and corrupt
      faction in this city, no person experienced so much of his obscene
      and vulgar abuse as Dr. Priestley. There is not a single fact on
      record or capable of being shewn, to prove that Dr. Priestley was
      guilty of any other crime than being a dissenter from the church
      of England, and a warm friend of American Independence. For this
      he was abused by Porcupine--and Denny is only Porcupine with a
      little more tinsel to cover his dirt. It is worthy of remark, that
      after a whole sheet of promises of "literary lore" and "products
      of the master of spirits" of the nation--the first and second
      numbers of the _Portable Foolery_, are stuffed with extracts from
      British publications of an ordinary quality.

The attack of the Port Folio was most ungracious. It may have been due
to irritation caused by the appearance of a second edition of
Priestley's "Letters to the Inhabitants of Northumberland." Nevertheless
the thoughtful and dignified men of the City--men who admired
Priestley's broad catholic spirit and brave attitude upon all debatable
questions, men who appreciated his scientific attainments, invited him
to the following subscription dinner, as announced in the _Aurora_,
March, 6th:

    At 4 o'clock in the afternoon about one hundred citizens sat down
      to an elegant entertainment prepared by Mr. Francis to celebrate
      the commencement of the administration of Mr. Jefferson. The
      Governor honored the company with his presence. Several
      respectable Foreigners were invited to partake of the festival....
      A variety of patriotic songs were admirably sung; and the
      following toasts were drank with unanimous applause.

    1. The Governor of Pennsylvania

    2. Dr. Priestley: The Philosopher and Philanthropist....

He was present and enjoyed himself, and sad must it have been to read on
March 30th:

    Some weeks ago, Dr. Priestley having caught cold by attending a
      meeting of the Philosophical Society on a wet evening, was taken
      ill of a violent inflammatory complaint which rendered his
      recovery for a long time dubious. We announce with sincere
      pleasure the returning health of a man, whose life hath hitherto
      been sedulously and successfully devoted to the interests of

He had, indeed, been very ill. The trouble was pleurisy. Dr. Rush was
his physician. By his order the patient was bled profusely seven times.
During this trying and doubtful period there came to him a cheery letter
from President Jefferson who had only learned of his illness. Among
other things the President wrote--

    Yours is one of the few lives precious to mankind, and for the
      continuance of which every thinking man is solicitous. Bigots may
      be an exception.... But I have got into a long disquisition on
      politics when I only meant to express my sympathy in the state of
      your health, and to tender you all the affections of public and
      private hospitality. I should be very happy to see you here
      (Washington). I leave this about the 30th to return about the 25th
      of April. If you do not leave Philadelphia before that, a little
      excursion hither would help your health. I should be much
      gratified with the possession of a guest I so much esteem, and
      should claim a right to lodge you, should you make such an

But Priestley journeyed homeward on April 13th, and en route wrote the
following letter, addressed to John Vaughan, Esq. 179 Walnut Street,
Philadelphia, Pa.:

                                                April 17, 1801
                                          Reading, Friday Evening

  Dear Sir,

    I have the pleasure to inform you, agreeably to your kind request,
      that we are safely arrived at this place, my daughter better than
      when we left Philadelphia, and as to myself, I feel just as well,
      and as able to bear any fatigue, as before my late illness. This,
      however, will always remind me of your friendly attentions, and
      those of your sister, if a thousand and other circumstances did
      not do the same, and of them all I hope I shall ever retain a
      grateful remembrance.

    Along the whole road I am struck with the marks of an astonishing
      degree of improvement since I came this way four years ago. I do
      not think that any part of England is better cultivated, and at
      present the wheat is in a very promising state. I wish we may
      hear of that of England promising as well. Three years of such a
      scarcity is more than any country could bear, and you will believe
      me when I say that, if it was in my power, I would guard it not
      only from famine, but from every other calamity.

    With my daughter's kindest remembrance, I am, as ever

        Dear Sir
                            Yours sincerely,
                                J. PRIESTLEY.[8]

Resuming his correspondence with his numerous friends in England, he

      My chief resource is my daily occupation.

He also wrote Dr. Rush his thanks for having advised him to read Noah
Webster's _Pestilential Disorders_ which follow the appearance of
meteors and earthquakes, taking occasion also to excuse his opposition
to blood-letting,--

    I believe that I owe my life to your judicious direction of it. I
      shall never forget your so readily forgiving my suspicion, and my
      requesting the concurrence of Dr. Wistar after the third bleeding.
      It was his opinion as well as yours and Dr. Caldwell's, that my
      disorder required several more; and the completeness of my cure,
      and the speediness of my recovery, prove that you were right. In
      the future I shall never be afraid of the lancet when so
      judiciously directed.

To Rush he confided his doubts about his paper on Dreams. He cannot
account for them, hence he has offered merely an hypothesis, and

    I frequently think with much pleasure and regret on the many happy
      hours I spent in your company, and wish we were not at so great
      distance. Such society would be the value of life to me. But I
      must acquiesce in what a wise providence has appointed.

His friends continued sending him books. And how joyously he received
them. At times he would mention special works, as for example,--

    Please to add Gate's Answer to Wall, and Wall's Reply; Sir John
      Pringle's Discourses and Life by Dr. Kippis; Chandler's Life of
      King David; Colin Milne's Botanical Dictionary, Botanic Dialogues,
      and other books of Natural History; Kirwan's Analysis of Mineral
      Waters; Crosby's History of English Baptists.

In one of his letters he observed--

    A person must be in my situation ... to judge of my feelings when
      I receive new books.

Strangely enough a _box_ of books was sent him to Carlisle (Pa.) and had
been there for two years before he learned of it.

Perhaps a word more may be allowed in regard to the paper on
_Pestilential Disorders_ by Noah Webster. This was the lexicographer.
Priestley thought the work curious and important, but the philosophy in
it wild and absurd in the extreme. And of Rush he asks--

    Pray is he (Webster) a believer in revelation or not? I find
      several atheists catch at everything favourable to the doctrine of
      _equivocal generation_; but it must be reprobated by all who are

Chemists will be glad to hear that

    The annual expense of my laboratory will hardly exceed 50 pounds,
      and I think I may have done more in proportion to my expenses than
      any other man. What I have done here, and with little expense,
      will in time be thought very considerable; but on account of the
      almost universal reception of the new theory, what I do is not, at
      present, attended to; but Mr. Watt and Mr. Kier, as good chemists
      as any in Europe, approve of my tract on _Phlogiston_, and truth
      will in time prevail over any error.

And to another he said,

    Having had great success in my experiments in this country ... I
      shall never desert philosophy.

The following year (1802) had several points of interest in connection
with the good Doctor; for one, who has followed his career thus far,
will wish to call him that.

Communications from the home country and from France, while not so
numerous, were yet full of interesting news. His friend Belsham brought
out his Elements of Philosophy of the Mind, and although Priestley paid
it a most gracious tribute he did not hesitate to suggest alterations
and additions of various kinds. His dearest friend Lindsey fell
seriously ill this year. This gave him inexpressible anxiety and grief.
As soon as Lindsey was, in a measure, restored the fraternal
correspondence was resumed.

Much time was given by the Doctor to reading and preparing for the press
the volumes of his _Church History_ and _Notes on the Scriptures_. The
printing was to be done in Northumberland. Some doubt was entertained as
to whether he would have funds sufficient to pay for the publication,
and when the urgent letters from friends tempted him to undertake a
European trip he generally replied that he was too far advanced in life,
that the general debility produced by pernicious ague rendered him unfit
for extended travel, and then he offset the disappointment by saying
that the expense of the voyage would more than suffice for the printing
of one of his proposed four volumes of the _Church History_. This was a
most complete, interesting and instructive work. Even today one profits
by its perusal and an immense fund of worthwhile information and
knowledge may be derived from even a cursory study of his _Notes on the

The monotony of village life was broken by occasional letters from
President Jefferson. These were most affectionate and also illuminating
on national matters. Copies of these were sent to English friends with
the injunction not to show them or permit them to fall into other hands.

Dr. Thomas Cooper was not with Priestley in this year (1802), being
detained at Lancaster where the Assembly sat. Naturally Cooper made
himself conspicuous, and Priestley prophesied a great future for him,
providing that the jealousy entertained for foreigners did not prove too
serious an obstacle.

Priestley took much pleasure at this period in his garden, and wrote,

    Plants, as well as other objects, engage more of my attention than
      they ever did before.... I wish I knew a little more botany; but
      old, as I am, I learn something new continually.

Now and then he mentions a considerable degree of deafness, and sent to
Philadelphia for a speaking trumpet, but cheerily adds,

    I am, however, thankful that my eyes do not fail me.

Here and there occur plaints like these:

    Though my philosophical labours are nearly over, I am glad to hear
      what is passing in that region in which I once moved, though what
      I then did seems for the present to be overlooked and forgotten. I
      am confident, however, as much as I can be of anything, that
      notwithstanding the almost universal reception of the new theory,
      which is the cause of it, it is purely chimerical, and cannot keep
      its ground after a sufficient scrutiny, which may be deferred, but
      which must take place in time. I am glad to find that Mr.
      Cruikshank in England, as well as chemists in France, begin to
      attend to my objections, though the principal of them have been
      published many years; but, as you say, many will not read, and
      therefore they cannot know anything that makes against the
      opinions they have once adopted. Bigotry is not confined to

The experimental work for the year was not very great. Probably this was
the result of his general physical weakness and in part it was due to
his preoccupation with literary labours. However, he did write out his
results, obtained on heating "finery cinders and charcoal" and thus
emphasized the gaseous product of which he observes--

    It cannot be denied, however, that this gaseous oxyd of carbon
      (CO) is _inflammable_ ... and is essentially different from all
      other oxyds, none of which are combustible.

Along in the month of November he wrote a vigorous protest against
Cruikshank's explanation of the mode of formation of carbon monoxide. In
this polemic he of course threw into prominence his precious phlogiston,
the presence of which seemed unnecessary--but this was not so thought by
the Doctor, who also favored the _Medical Repository_ with observations
on the conversion of iron into steel, in which there is but a single
reference to phlogiston, but unfortunately this single reference spoils
the general argument and the correct and evident interpretation of the
reaction. It reads as follows:

    Iron is convertible into steel by imbibing only _phlogiston_ from
      the charcoal with which it is cemented.

There are abundant correct observations. Their interpretation sadly
enough is very false, all because of the persistent introduction of
phlogiston where it was not essential.

Priestley advised Rush that because of an unhealthy season he had
suffered very much from ague, and said,--

    Tho' I was never robust, I hardly knew what sickness was before my
      seizure in Philadelphia, but the old building has since that had
      so many shocks, that I am apprehensive it will ere long give way.
      But I have abundant reason to be satisfied, and shall retire from
      life _conviva satur_.

Devotion to work was on the part of Priestley, something marvelous. As
his son and daughter-in-law were drawn to Philadelphia in February,
1803, they carried their father with them. He was rather indisposed to
this, yet he disliked remaining alone at home notwithstanding the
printing of the Church History required considerable personal attention.
The marvelous part of it all was that while in Philadelphia, on this his
fourth and last visit, while he fraternized with congenial souls and
even presented himself at various social functions, he yet found leisure
to print his little volume entitled "Socrates and Jesus Compared,"
which gave much pleasure to President Jefferson, so much indeed that he
hoped Priestley would,--

      take up the subject on a more extended scale, and show that Jesus
      was truly the most innocent, most benevolent, the most eloquent
      and sublime character that has ever been exhibited to man.

Jefferson's genuine approval of his effort was balm to Priestley's soul.
He, of course, wrote Lindsey and Belsham about it; yes, copied the
letter of Jefferson and sent the same to them with the comment,--

    He is generally considered as an unbeliever. If so, however, he
      cannot be far from us, and I hope in the way to be not only
      _almost_, but _altogether_ what we are.

It was February 28, 1803, that the august members of the American
Philosophical Society resolved:

    That this Society will dine together on Saturday next, and that J.
      B. Smith, Wistar, Williams, Hewson & Vaughan be a Committee to
      make the necessary arrangements for that purpose and to request
      Dr. Priestley's company, informing him that the Society are
      induced to make the request from their high respect for his
      Philosophical Labours & discoveries, & to enjoy the more
      particular pleasure of a social meeting--The Dinner to be prepared
      at the City Tavern or Farmer's Hotel.

It was this resolution which caused notices, such as the following to go
out to the distinguished membership of the venerable Society--

                                Philadelphia, March 2, 1803

    Sir: You are hereby invited to join the other members of the
      American Philosophical Society, in giving a testimony of respect,
      to their venerable associate Dr. Joseph Priestley, who dines with
      them on Saturday next at Francis' Hotel--Dinner on table at 3

                                        C. Wistar
                                        J. Williams
                                        J. R. Smith
                                        T. T. Hewson
                                        J. Vaughan

    An answer will be called for tomorrow morning.
    DR. RUSH

It was a very dignified and brilliant company. Law, medicine, theology,
science, commerce represented by very worthy and excellent gentlemen.
And, among them sat the modest, unassuming, versatile Priestley. That he
was happy in his surroundings there is ample reason to believe. He loved
to be among men. He, too, was appreciated and eagerly sought because of
his winning ways, his tolerance and liberality. He was moderately
convivial though

    He said that one glass of wine at dinner was enough for an old
      man, but he did not prescribe his own practice as an universal

About eight weeks were spent in the City. On return to the dear country
home the doctor took up his various duties and burdens, but the
infirmities of age were often alluded to by him, and they no doubt
delayed all of his work, which was further aggravated by a dangerous
fall on his left hip and strain of the muscles of the thigh. He was
extremely lame and for some time went about on crutches, which held him
out of his laboratory. To him this was very trying. But he persisted. He
was truly a splendid example for the younger aspirants for scientific
honors. During the year he entered on a controversial article with his
old friend Erasmus Darwin upon the subject of _spontaneous combustion_,
and subsequently communicated to the _Medical Repository_ an account of
the conversion of salt into nitre. He had positive knowledge of this
fact for quite a little while, and upon the occasion of a visit by Dr.
Wistar, told the latter concerning this with the request that no mention
be made of it, evidently that he might have opportunity for additional
confirmation. However, very unexpectedly, Dr. Mitchill published
something of a similar character, therefore Priestley believing that he
ought "to acquaint experimentalists in general with all that I know of
the matter," announced that in 1799 when experimenting on the formation
of air from water,

      having made use of the same salt, mixed with snow, in every
      experiment, always evaporating the mixture the salt was recovered
      dry. I collected the salt when I had done with it, and put it into
      a glass bottle, with a label expressing what it was, and what use
      had been made of it.

Subsequently he treated this salt, after many applications of it, with
sulphuric acid, when he remarked--

    I was soon surprized to observe that _red vapours_ rose from it.

An examination of another portion of the salt showed--

      that when it was thrown upon hot coals ... it burned exactly like

So it was a conversion of sodium chloride into sodium nitrate. That this
change must have come from the _snow_ with which it had been dissolved,
could not be doubted, and he further observed--

    Now in the upper regions of the atmosphere ... there may be a
      redundancy of inflammable air ... and a proportion of
      dephlogisticated air. In that region there are many electrical
      appearances, as the _aurora borealis_, falling stars &c; in the
      lower parts of it thunder and lightening, and by these means the
      two kinds of air may be decomposed, and a highly dephlogisticated
      nitrous acid, as mine always was, produced. This being formed,
      will of course, attach itself to any _snow_ or _hail_ that may be
      forming ... confirming in this unexpected manner, the vulgar
      opinion of nitre being contained in snow.

This seems to be the last communication of this character which came
from the Doctor's pen.

He was in despair relative to the academy which had ever been his hope
for the College which in his early years in Northumberland he prayed
might arise and in which he would be at liberty to particularly impart
his Unitarian doctrines.

An interesting item relative to the Academy appeared in the _Aurora_ for
April 1st, 1803. It shows that State aid for education was sought in
those early days. It is a report, and reads--

    A REPORT of the Committee to whom was referred the Petition of
      Thomas Cooper, on behalf of the Northumberland Academy, praying
      legislative aid. The report states that Thomas Cooper appeared
      before the Committee and stated that upward of $4000 had been
      expended on the building appropriated to that institution. That
      the debts due thereon amounted in the whole to near $2000. That
      Dr. Joseph Priestley had the power of disposing of a very valuable
      library consisting of near 4000 volumes of scarce and well chosen
      books in various branches of literature and science, to any public
      seminary of learning in the United States, which library, the said
      Dr. Priestley was desirous of procuring as a gift to the
      Northumberland Academy, provided that institution was likely to
      receive substantial assistance from the legislature, so as to be
      enabled to fulfil the purposes of its establishment,

    That the Trustees would have no occasion to ask of the legislature
      on behalf of that Academy, a subscription greater than a few
      individuals had expended, and were still ready and desirous of
      contributing thereto; and suggest it to your Committee, that if
      out of the monies due from the County of Northumberland to the
      State a sufficient sum was granted to exonerate the Academy from
      debt, no more would be wanted in the future to effect the purposes
      of that institution, than a sum equal in amount to the value of
      the library proposed to be furnished by Dr. Priestley; such value
      to be fixed by a person appointed for the purpose by the

    The Committee was of the opinion that it would be expedient for
      the legislature to coincide with the suggestion of Thomas Cooper
      and so recommended to the Legislature. Their report was adopted,
      39 to 31. It was strongly advocated by Jesse Moore, Esq., General
      Mitchell and N. Ferguson from the city. It was opposed by Jacob
      Alter from Cumberland, who declared that although there were a
      great many public schools and colleges and places of that kind
      scattered over the State, he never knew any good they did, except
      to breed up a set of idle and odious lawyers to plague the people!

At this particular time there still existed confiscated land from the
sale of which revenue was derived, and this income it had been agreed
upon should be devoted to the erection and support of academies
throughout the State. Later this scheme was discontinued. But, Dr.
Priestley was not so enthusiastic as formerly. He was occupied with the
Church History, three volumes of which were in print, and it was
expected that the fourth volume would follow shortly thereafter.
However, his health was precarious. He could not eat meats, and lived
chiefly on broths and soups, saying,--

    The defect is in the stomach and liver, and of no common kind. If
      I hold out till I have finished what I have now on hand, I shall
      retire from the scene, satisfied and thankful.

This was written in August, and the Doctor stuck bravely to his literary
labors. A few months later he wrote Lindsey,--

    I really do not expect to survive you.

Yet, he also entertained the thought that he might,--

      assist in the publication of a whole Bible, from the several
      translations of particular books, smoothing and correcting them
      where I can.

January of 1804 brought him many interesting, splendid and valuable
books from friends in London. He was overjoyed on their arrival.
Promptly he gave himself to their perusal because his deafness confined
him to home and his extreme weakness forbade any excursions. Then the
winter kept him from his laboratory, and his sole occupation was reading
and writing. He entertained a variety of plans, proceeding with some
but in the midst of these tasks of love--in the very act of correcting
proof, he quietly breathed his last! It was Monday, February 6, 1804,
that Thomas Cooper, the devoted friend of Priestley, wrote Benjamin

  Dear Sir:

    Mr. Joseph Priestley is not at present in spirits to write to his
      friends, and it falls to my lot therefore to acquaint you that Dr.
      Priestley died this morning about 11 o'clock without the slightest
      degree of apparent pain. He had for some time previous foreseen
      his dissolution, but he kept up to the last his habitual
      composure, cheerfulness and kindness. He would have been 71 the
      24th of next month. For about a fortnight there were symptoms of
      dropsy owing to general debility: about two days before his death,
      these symptoms disappeared, and a troublesome cough came on
      perhaps from a translation to the chest.

    Yesterday he had strength enough to look over a revise of the
      _Annotations_ he was publishing on the Old and New Testament, and
      this morning he dictated in good language some notices which he
      wished his son Mr. Priestley to add to his unpublished works. I
      am sure you will sincerely regret the decease of a man so highly
      eminent and useful in the literary and philosophical world, and so
      much presumably your friend.

Yes, the valiant old champion of a lost cause was no more. Two days
before his death "he went to his laboratory"--but, finding his weakness
too great, with difficulty returned to his room. Loyal to his science to
the very end!

To American chemists he appeals strongly because of his persistent
efforts in research. His coming to this country aroused a real interest
in the science which has not waned in the slightest since his demise.

When the sad news reached the Hall of the American Philosophical
Society, Dr. Benjamin Smith Barton was chosen to eulogize Priestley.
This notable event took place on January 3rd, 1805. The _Aurora_

    Dr. Benjamin Smith Barton, one of the vice-presidents of the
      American Philosophical Society, having been previously appointed
      by the society to deliver an eulogium to the memory of their late
      associate, Dr. Joseph Priestley, the same was accordingly
      delivered in the First Presbyterian Church in this city, on
      Thursday the 3rd inst. before the society, who went in a body from
      their hall to the church, preceded by their patron, the governor
      of the state. Invitations were given on this occasion to the Revd.
      Clergy of the city; the college of Physicians; the Medical
      Society; the gentlemen of the Bar, with the students at Law; the
      trustees and faculty of the University of Pennsylvania, with their
      students in the Arts and in Medicine; the judges and officers of
      the federal and state Courts; the foreign ministers and other
      public characters then in the city; the mayor; aldermen and city
      councils: the trustees and session of the First Presbyterian
      Church; the directors of the City Library; the directors and
      Physicians of the Pennsylvania Hospital, of the Alms House, and of
      the Dispensary; the proprietor and Director of the Philadelphia
      Museum; and the contributors towards the Cabinet and Library of
      the Society. After the conclusion of a very interesting eulogium,
      the society returned their thanks to the orator, and requested a
      copy for the purpose of publication.

One's curiosity is quickened on thinking what Barton said in his
address. Search in many directions failed to bring forth the Eulogium.
It had been ordered to be printed in the Transactions of the Society.
This was never done. But there was a minute (seven years later) in the
meeting of the Society (Nov. 6, 1812) to the effect that

    Dr. Barton's request for permission to withdraw it (Eulogium) to
      be enlarged and published separately was referred for
      consideration to the next meeting.

The request was granted at the next meeting, but nowhere among Barton's
literary remains was the precious document to be found. Lost very
probably--when it might have revealed so much.

Priestley's death was deeply mourned throughout the land. The public
prints brought full and elaborate accounts of his life, and touching
allusions to the fullness of his brilliant career. Such expressions as
these were heard,--

    As a metaphysician he stands foremost among those who have
      attempted the investigation of its abstruse controversies.

    As a politician he assiduously and successfully laboured to
      extend and illustrate those general principles of civil liberty
      which are happily the foundation of the Constitution of his
      adopted Country,--

    His profound attention to the belles-lettres, and to the other
      departments of general literature, has been successfully
      exemplified among his other writings, by his lectures on oratory
      and criticism, and on general history and policy,--

    Of the most important and fashionable study of _Pneumatic
      Chemistry_ he may fairly be said to be the father.

    He was a man of restless activity, but he uniformly directed that
      activity to what seemed to him the public good, seeking neither
      emolument nor honour from men. Dr. Priestley was possessed of
      great ardour and vivacity of intellect.... His integrity was
      unimpeachable; and even malice itself could not fix a stain on his
      private character.

And what a splendid tribute is contained in the following passages from

    Priestley, loaded with glory, was modest enough to be astonished
      at his good fortune, and at the multitude of beautiful facts,
      which nature seemed to have revealed to him alone. He forgot that
      her favours were not gratuitous, and if she had so well explained
      herself, it was because he had known how to oblige her to do so by
      his indefatigable perseverance in questioning her, and by the
      thousand ingenious means he had taken to snatch her answers from

    Others carefully hide that which they owe to chance; Priestley
      seemed to wish to ascribe all his merit to fortuitous
      circumstances, remarking, with unexampled candour, how many times
      he had profited by them, without knowing it, how many times he was
      in possession of new substances without having perceived them; and
      he never dissimulated the erroneous views which sometimes directed
      his efforts, and from which he was only undeceived by experience.
      These confessions did honour to his modesty, without disarming
      jealousy. Those to whom their own ways and methods had never
      discovered anything called him a simple worker of experiments,
      without method and without an object "it is not astonishing,"
      they added, "that among so many trials and combinations, he should
      find some that were fortunate." But real natural philosophers were
      not duped by these selfish criticisms.

Many encomiums like the preceding--yes, a thousandfold--could easily be
gathered if necessary to show the regard and confidence held for this
remarkable man to whom America is truly very deeply indebted.

Some years ago the writer paid a visit to the God's Acre of
Northumberland. He arrived after dark and was conveyed to the sacred
place in an automobile. Soon the car stopped. Its headlights illuminated
the upright flat stone which marked the last resting place of the great
chemist, and in that light not only was the name of the sleeper clearly
read but the less distinct but legible epitaph:

    Return unto thy rest, O my soul, for the Lord hath dealt
      bountifully with thee. I will lay me down in peace and sleep till
      I wake in the morning of the resurrection.

Pondering on these lines there slowly returned to mind the words of
Franklin's epitaph,--Franklin, who, years before, had encouraged and
aided the noble exile, who was ever mindful of the former's goodness to

                The Body
            Benjamin Franklin
    (Like the cover of an old book
        Its contents torn out
    And stript of its lettering and gilding)
        Lies here food for Worms
    But the work shall not be lost
    For it will (as he believed) appear
                once more
    In a new and more elegant Edition
          Revised and corrected
                The Author

And then, by some strange mental reaction, there floated before the
writer the paragraph uttered by Professor Huxley, when in 1874 a statue
to Priestley was unveiled in the City of Birmingham:

    Our purpose is to do honour ... to Priestley the peerless defender
      of national freedom in thought and in action; to Priestley the
      philosophical thinker; to that Priestley who held a foremost place
      among the 'swift runners who hand over the lamp of life,' and
      transmit from one generation to another the fire kindled, in the
      childhood of the world, at the Promethean altar of science.


[Footnote 1: Chemistry in Old Philadelphia, J. B. Lippincott Co.,
Phila., Pa.]

[Footnote 2: Correspondence of Priestley by H. C. Bolton, New York,

[Footnote 3: Mr. Berthollet discovered that oxygenated muriatic gas,
received in a ley of caustic potash, forms a chrystallizable neutral
salt, which detonates more strongly than nitre.]

[Footnote 4: Nine Famous Birmingham Men--Cornish Brothers, Publishers,

[Footnote 5: James Woodhouse--A Pioneer in Chemistry--J. C. Winston Co.,

[Footnote 6: James Woodhouse--A pioneer in Chemistry--J. C. Winston Co.,

[Footnote 7: See _Chemistry in America_, Appleton & Co. and _Chemistry
in Old Philadelphia_, The J. B. Lippincott Co., Philadelphia, Pa.]

[Footnote 8: The original of this letter is now the property of Dr. C.
A. Browne, New York. He graciously permitted it to be inserted here.]

Transcriber's notes:

FORMATTING, fixed in text:

A few inconsistencies in the layout and formatting of the book have been
corrected (an extra blank line in a quoted paragraph, for example). Most
notably, the "Hints Concerning Public Education" is an essay by
Priestley quoted verbatim in the text. The original layout did not make a
clear distinction between Smith's text and this quoted essay; I have
remedied this with an indent for that section.

TYPOS, fixed in text:

It was an interesting fact (text reads inter-resting, broken across a

that germ which might once have been supposed (text reads beeen)

September 14, 1794 (text reads September, 14 1794)

the Doctor remained quietly at home (text reads quitely)

on behalf of the Northumberland Academy, praying legislative aid (text
reads lesiglative)

science which has not waned in the slightest (text reads slighest)

he uniformly directed that activity (text reads uniformily)

from the rod of lawless power (text reads of of)

Almost all the fresh meat they have (text reads flesh meat)

diversions, beginning with the publication (text reads begining)

rather thoughtful disquisition on dreams (text reads disquisiton)

Footnote 6: J. C. Winston Co. (text reads Wintson)

APPARENT ERRATA, but could be as appearing in the original letters:
=============== (left as-is in text).

conduct will evince that I have been to that of great {Great} Britain.

contributes so much as ours do to the cummunication {communication} of
useful knowledge

sense of security which scientificial {scientific?}
pursuits require

the same that has been called _philogiston_ {phlogiston}

he would never enter the puplit {pulpit} again.

until it became necesary {necessary} to separate.

we all rejoiced at the aggreeable {agreeable} information

By civil fueds {feuds} exiled my native home

unless you were possessed of _Aladin's {Aladdin's} lamp_

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