VIEW THE MOBILE VERSION of Informational Site Network Informational
Home - Men - Women - All Biographies


Michael Faraday
In the heart of busy London, over a stable, lived Jam...

The Story Of Rachel
Outside of the English-speaking peoples the nineteent...

Madame De Stael.
From the painting by Mlle. Godefroy.] It was the twentieth...

The Story Of George Sand
To the student of feminine psychology there is no mor...

Ferdinand Lassalle And Helene Von Donniges
The middle part of the nineteenth century is a period...

Mary Queen Of Scots And Lord Bothwell
Mary Stuart and Cleopatra are the two women who have ...

Ole Bull
In the quaint old town of Bergen, Norway, so strange ...

Lady Blessington And Count D'orsay
Often there has arisen some man who, either by his na...

Henry The Second
1154-1189 and His Sons 1189-1216 In 1154, while Barb...

The Story Of Antony And Cleopatra
Of all love stories that are known to human history, ...

Count Rumford

Benjamin Thompson, like Franklin, was a native of Massachusetts, his
ancestors for several generations having been yeomen in that province,
and descendants of the first colonists of the Bay. In the diploma of
arms granted him when he was knighted by George III., he is described
as "son of Benjamin Thompson, late of the province of Massachusetts
Bay, in New England, gent." He was born in the house of his
grandfather, Ebenezer Thompson, at Woburn, Massachusetts, on March 26,
1753. His father died at the age of twenty-six, on November 7, 1754,
leaving the infant Benjamin and his mother to the care of the
grandparents. The widow married Josiah Pierce, junior, in March, 1756,
and with her child, now a boy of three, went to live in a house but a
short distance from her former residence.

Young Thompson appears to have received a sound elementary education
at the village school. From some remarks made by him in after years
to his friend, M. Pictet, it has been inferred that he did not receive
very kind treatment at the hands of his stepfather. It is clear,
however, that the most affectionate relationships always obtained
between him and his mother, and the latter appears to have had no
cause to complain of the treatment she received from her second
husband, with whom she lived to a very good old age. That Thompson in
early boyhood developed some tendencies which did not meet with ready
sympathy from those around him is, however, equally clear. His
guardians destined him for a farmer, like his ancestors, and his
experiments in mechanics, which took up much of his playtime and in
all probability not a few hours which should have been devoted to less
interesting work, were not regarded as tending towards the end in
view. Hence he was probably looked upon as "indolent, flighty, and
unpromising." Later on he was sent to school in Byfield, and in 1764,
at the age of eleven, "was put under the tuition of Mr. Hill, an able
teacher in Medford, a town adjoining Woburn." At length, his friends
having given up all hope of ever making a farmer of the boy, he was
apprenticed, on October 14, 1766, to Mr. John Appleton, of Salem, an
importer of British goods and dealer in miscellaneous articles. He
lived with his master, and seems to have done his work in a manner
satisfactory on the whole, but there is evidence that he would, during
business hours, occupy his spare moments with mechanical contrivances,
which he used to hide under the counter, and even ventured
occasionally to practise on his fiddle in the store. He stayed with
Mr. Appleton till the autumn of 1769, and during this time he attended
the ministry of the Rev. Thomas Barnard. This gentleman seems to have
taken great interest in the boy, and to have taught him mathematics,
so that at the age of fifteen he was able "to calculate an eclipse,"
and was delighted when the eclipse commenced within six seconds of his
calculated time. Thompson, while an apprentice, showed a great faculty
for drawing and designing, and used to carve devices for his friends
on the handles of their knives or other implements. It was at this
time he constructed an elaborate contrivance to produce perpetual
motion, and on one evening it is said that he walked from Salem to
Woburn, to show it to Loammi Baldwin, who was nine years older than
himself, but his most intimate friend. Like many other devices
designed for the same purpose, it had only one fault--it wouldn't go.

It was in 1769, while preparing fireworks for the illumination on the
abolition of the Stamp Act, that Thompson was injured by a severe
explosion as he was grinding his materials in a mortar. His note-book
contained many directions for the manufacture of fireworks.

During Thompson's apprenticeship those questions were agitating the
public mind which finally had their outcome in the War of
Independence. Mr. Appleton was one of those who signed the agreement
refusing to import British goods, and this so affected the trade of
the store that he had no further need for the apprentice. Hence it was
that, in the autumn of 1769, Thompson went to Boston as
apprentice-clerk in a dry goods store, but had to leave after a few
months, through the depression in trade consequent on the
non-importation agreement.

His note-book, containing the entries made at this time, comprised
several comic sketches very well drawn, and a quantity of business
memoranda which show that he was very systematic in keeping his
accounts. His chief method of earning money, or rather of making up
the "Cr." side of his accounts, was by cutting and cording wood. A
series of entries made in July and August, 1771, show the expense he
incurred in constructing an electrical machine. It is not easy to
determine, from the list of items purchased, the character of the
machine he constructed; but it is interesting to note that the price
in America at that time of nitric acid was 2s. 6d. per ounce; of
lacquer, 40s. per pint; of shellac, 5s. per ounce; brass wire,
40s. per pound; and iron wire, 1s. 3d. per yard. The nature of the
problems which occupied his thoughts during the last year or two of
his business life are apparent in the following letters:--

Woburn, August 16, 1769.

Mr. Loammi Baldwin,


Please to inform me in what manner fire operates upon clay to
change the colour from the natural colour to red, and from red
to black, etc.; and how it operates upon silver to change it to

I am your most humble and obedient servant,


God save the king.

Woburn, August, 1769.

Mr. Loammi Baldwin,


Please to give the nature, essence, beginning of existence, and
rise of the wind in general, with the whole theory thereof, so
as to be able to answer all questions relative thereto.



This was an extensive request, and the reply was probably not
altogether satisfactory to the inquirer. On the back of the above
letter was written:--

Woburn, August 15, 1769.


There was but few beings (for inhabitants of this world) created
before the airy element was; so it has not been transmitted down
to us how the Great Creator formed the matter thereof. So I
shall leave it till I am asked only the Natural Cause, and why
it blows so many ways in so short a time as it does.

Thompson appears now to have given up business and commenced the study
of medicine under Dr. Hay, to whom for a year and a half he paid
forty shillings per week for his board. During this time he paid part
of his expenses by keeping school for a few weeks consecutively at
Wilmington and Bradford, and another part was paid by cords of wood.
His business capacity, as well as his dislike of ordinary work, is
shown by some arrangements which he made for getting wood cut and
corded at prices considerably below those at which he was himself paid
for it. His note-book made at this time contains, besides business
entries, several receipts for medicines and descriptions of surgical
operations, in some cases illustrated by sketches. In his work he was
methodical and industrious, and the life of a medical student suited
his genius far better than that of a clerk in a dry goods store. When
teaching at Wilmington he seems to have attracted attention by the
gymnastic performances with which he exercised both himself and his
pupils. While a student with Dr. Hay, he attended some of the
scientific lectures at Harvard College. The pleasure and profit which
he derived from these lectures are sufficiently indicated by the fact
that forty years afterwards he made the college his residuary legatee.

Thompson won such a reputation as a teacher during the few weeks that
he taught in village schools in the course of his student life, that
he received an invitation from Colonel Timothy Walker to come to
Concord, in New Hampshire, on the Merrimack, and accept a permanent
situation in a higher grade school. It was from this place that he
afterwards took his title, for the early name of Concord was Rumford,
and the name was changed to Concord "to mark the restoration of
harmony after a long period of agitation as to its provincial
jurisdiction and its relation with its neighbours."

The young schoolmaster of Concord was soon on very intimate terms with
the minister of the town, the Rev. Timothy Walker,[5] a man who was so
much respected that he had thrice been sent to Britain on diplomatic
business. Mr. Walker's daughter had been married to Colonel Rolfe, a
man of wealth and position, and, with the exception of the Governor of
Portsmouth, said to have been the first man in New Hampshire to drive
a curricle and pair of horses. Thompson soon married--or, as he told
Pictet, was married to--the young widow. Whatever may have been
implied by this other way of putting the question, there is no doubt
that Thompson always had the greatest possible respect for his
father-in-law, and ever remembered him with sincere gratitude. The
fortunes of the gallant young schoolmaster now appeared to be made;
when the engagement was settled, the carriage and pair were brought
out again, and the youth was attired in his favourite scarlet as a man
of wealth and position. In this garb he drove to Woburn, and
introduced his future wife to his mother, whose surprise can be better
imagined than described.

[Footnote 5: Father of the colonel.]

The exact date of Thompson's marriage is not known. His daughter
Sarah, afterwards Countess of Rumford, was born in the Rolfe mansion
on October 18, 1774. It is needless to say that the engagement to Mrs.
Rolfe terminated the teaching at the school.

Thompson now had a large estate and ample means to improve it. He gave
much attention to gardening, and sent to England for garden seeds. In
some way he attracted the attention of Governor Wentworth, the
Governor of Portsmouth, who invited him to the Government House, and
was so taken with the former apprentice, medical student, and
schoolmaster, that he gave him at once a commission as major. This
appointment was the cause of the misfortunes which almost
immediately began to overtake him. He incurred the jealousy of his
fellow-officers, over whom he had been appointed, and he failed to
secure the confidence of the civilians of Concord.

Public feeling in New England was very much excited against the mother
country. Representations were sent to the British Government, but
appeared to be treated with contempt. Very many of these documents
were found, after the war was over, unopened in drawers at the
Colonial Office. British ministers appeared to know little about the
needs of their American dependencies, and relations rapidly became
more and more strained. The patriots appointed committees to watch
over the patriotism of their fellow-townsmen, and thus the freedom of
a free country was inaugurated by an institution bordering in
character very closely upon the Inquisition; and the Committees of
Correspondence and Safety accepted evidence from every spy or
eavesdropper who came before them with reports of suspected persons.
Thompson was accused of "Toryism;" the only definite charge against
him being that he had secured remission of punishment for some
deserters from Boston who had for some time worked upon his estate. He
was summoned before the Committee of Safety, but refused to make any
confession of acts injurious to his country, on the ground that he had
nothing to confess. His whole after-life shows that his sympathies
were very much on the side of monarchy and centralization, but at this
time there appears to have been no evidence that could be brought
against him. The populace, however, stormed his house, and he owed his
safety to the fact that he had received notice of their intentions,
and had made his escape a few hours before. This was in November,
1774. Thompson then took refuge at Woburn, with his mother, but the
popular ill feeling troubled him here, so that his life was one of
great anxiety.

While at Woburn, his wife and child joined him, and stayed there for
some months. At length he was arrested and confined in the town upon
suspicion of being inimical to the interests of his country. When he
was brought before the Committee of Inquiry, there was no evidence
brought against him. Major Thompson then petitioned to be heard
before the Committee of the Provincial Congress at Washington. This
petition he entrusted to his friend Colonel Baldwin to present. The
petition was referred by the committee to Congress, by whom it was
deferred for the sake of more pressing business. At length he secured
a hearing in his native town, but the result was indecisive, and he
did not obtain the public acquittal that he desired, though the
Committee of Correspondence found that the "said Thompson" had not "in
any one instance shown a disposition unfriendly to American liberty;
but that his general behaviour has evinced the direct contrary; and as
he has now given us the strongest assurances of his good intentions,
we recommend him to the friendship, confidence, and protection of all
good people in this and the neighbouring provinces." This decision,
however, does not appear to have been made public; and Thompson, on
his release, retired to Charlestown, near Boston. When the buildings
of Harvard College were converted into barracks, Major Thompson
assisted in the transfer of the books to Concord. It is said that,
after the battle of Charlestown, Thompson was introduced to General
Washington, and would probably have received a commission under him
but for the opposition of some of the New Hampshire officers. He
afterwards took refuge in Boston, and it does not appear that he ever
again saw his wife or her father. His daughter he did not see again
till 1796, when she was twenty-two years of age. On March 24, 1776,
General Washington obliged the British troops to evacuate Boston;
Thompson was the first official bearer of this intelligence to London.
Of course, his property at Concord was confiscated to the commonwealth
of Massachusetts, and he himself was proscribed in the Alienation Act
of New Hampshire, in 1778.

When Thompson reached London with the intelligence of the evacuation
of Boston, Lord George Germaine, the Secretary for War, saw that he
could afford much information which would be of value to the
Government. An appointment was soon found for him in the Colonial
Office, and afterwards he was made Secretary of the Province of
Georgia, in which latter capacity, however, he had no duties to
fulfil. Throughout his career in the Colonial Office he remained on
very intimate terms with Lord George Germaine, and generally
breakfasted with him. In July, 1778, he was guest of Lord George at
Stoneland Lodge, and here, in company with Mr. Ball, the Rector of
Withyham, he undertook experiments "to determine the most advantageous
situation for the vent in firearms, and to measure the velocities of
bullets and the recoil under various circumstances."

The results of these investigations procured for him the friendship of
Sir Joseph Banks, the President of the Royal Society, and Thompson was
not the man to lose opportunities for want of making use of them. In
1779 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society, "as a gentleman
well versed in natural knowledge and many branches of polite
learning." In the same year he went for a cruise in the Victory with
Sir Charles Hardy, in order to pursue his experiments on gunpowder
with heavy guns. Here he studied the principles of naval artillery,
and devised a new code of marine signals. In 1780 he was made
Under-Secretary of State for the Northern Department, and in that
capacity had the oversight of the transport and commissariat
arrangements for the British forces.

On the defeat of Cornwallis, Lord George Germaine and his department
had to bear the brunt of Parliamentary dissatisfaction. Lord George
resigned his position in the Government, and was created Viscount
Sackville. He had, however, previously conferred on Thompson a
commission as lieutenant-colonel in the British army, and Thompson,
probably foreseeing the outcome of events and its effect on the
Ministry, was already in America when Lord George resigned. He had
intended landing at New York, but contrary winds drove him to
Charlestown. It is needless to trace the sad events which preceded the
end of the war. It was to be expected that many bitter statements
would be made by his countrymen respecting Thompson's own actions as
colonel commanding a British garrison, for at length he succeeded in
reaching Long Island, and taking the command of the King's American
Dragoons, who were there awaiting him. The spirit of war always acts
injuriously on those exposed to its influence, and Lieutenant-Colonel
Thompson in Long Island was doubtless a very different man from that
which we find him to have been before and after; nor were the months
so spent very fruitful in scientific work.

In 1783, before the final disbanding of the British forces, Thompson
returned to England, and was promoted to the rank of colonel, with
half-pay for the rest of his life. Still anxious for military service,
he obtained permission to travel on the Continent, in hopes of serving
in the Austrian army against the Turks. He took with him three English
horses, which rendered themselves very objectionable to his
fellow-travellers while crossing the Channel in a small boat. Thompson
went to Strasbourg, where he attracted the attention of the Prince
Maximilian, then Field-Marshal of France, but afterwards Elector of
Bavaria. On leaving Strasbourg, the prince gave him an introduction to
his uncle, the Elector of Bavaria. He stayed some days at Munich, but
on reaching Vienna learned that the war against the Turks would not be
carried on, so he returned to Munich, and thence to England.

M. Pictet gives the following as Rumford's account of the manner in
which he was cured of his passion for war:--

"'I owe it,' said he to me, one day, 'to a beneficent Deity, that I
was cured in season of this martial folly. I met, at the house of the
Prince de Kaunitz, a lady, aged seventy years, of infinite spirit and
full of information. She was the wife of General Bourghausen. The
emperor, Joseph II., came often to pass the evening with her. This
excellent person conceived a regard for me; she gave me the wisest
advice, made my ideas take a new direction, and opened my eyes to
other kinds of glory than that of victory in battle.'"

If the course in life which Colonel Thompson afterwards took was due
to the advice of this lady, she deserves a European reputation. The
Elector of Bavaria, Charles Theodore, gave Thompson a pressing
invitation to enter his service in a sort of semi-military and
semi-civil capacity, to assist in reorganizing his dominions and
removing the abuses which had crept in. Before accepting this
appointment, it was necessary to obtain the permission of George III.
The king not only approved of the arrangement, but on February 23,
1784, conferred on the colonel the honour of knighthood. Sir Benjamin
then returned to Bavaria, and was appointed by the elector colonel of
a regiment of cavalry and general aide-de-camp. A palatial residence
in Munich was furnished for him, and here he lived more as a prince
than a soldier. It was eleven years before he returned, even on a
visit, to England, and these years were spent by him in works of
philanthropy and statesmanship, to which it is difficult to find a
parallel. At one time he is found reorganizing the military system of
the country, arranging a complete system of military police, erecting
arsenals at Mannheim and Munich; at another time he is carrying out
scientific investigations in one of these arsenals; and then he is
cooking cheap dinners for the poor of the country.

One great evil of a standing army is the idleness which it develops in
its members, unfitting them for the business of life when their
military service is ended. Thompson commenced by attacking this evil.
In 1788 he was made major-general of cavalry and Privy Councillor of
State, and was put at the head of the War Department, with
instructions to carry out any schemes which he had developed for the
reform of the army and the removal of mendicity. Four years after his
arrival in Munich he began to put some of his plans into operation.
The pay of the soldiers was only threepence per day, and their
quarters extremely uncomfortable, while their drill and discipline
were unnecessarily irksome. Thompson set to work to make "soldiers
citizens and citizens soldiers." The soldier's pay, uniform, and
quarters were improved; the discipline rendered less irksome; and
schools in which the three R's were taught were connected with all the
regiments,--and here not only the soldiers, but their children as well
as other children, were taught gratuitously. Not only were the
soldiers employed in public works, and thus accustomed to habits of
industry, while they were enlivened in their work by the strains of
their own military bands, but they were supplied with raw material of
various kinds, and allowed, when not on duty, to manufacture various
articles and sell them for their own benefit--an arrangement which in
this country to-day would probably raise a storm of opposition from
the various trades. The garrisons were made permanent, so that
soldiers might all be near their homes and remain there, and in time
of peace only a small portion of the force was required to be in
garrison at any time, so that the great part of his life was spent by
each soldier at home. Each soldier had a small garden appropriated to
his use, and its produce was his sole property. Garden seeds, and
especially seed potatoes, were provided for the men, for at that time
the potato was almost unknown in Bavaria. Under these circumstances a
reform was quickly effected; idle men began to take interest in their
gardens, and all looked on Sir Benjamin as a benefactor.

Having thus secured the co-operation of the army, Thompson determined
to attack the mendicants. The number of beggars may be estimated from
the fact that in Munich, with a population of sixty thousand, no less
than two thousand six hundred beggars were seized in a week. In the
towns, they possessed a complete organization, and positions of
advantage were assigned in regular order, or inherited according to
definite customs. In the country, farm labourers begged of travellers,
and children were brought up to beggary from their infancy. Of course,
the evils did not cease with simple begging. Children were stolen and
ill treated, for the purpose of assisting in enlisting sympathy, and
the people had come to regard these evils as inevitable. Thompson
organized a regular system of military patrol through every village of
the country, four regiments of cavalry being set apart for this work.
Then on January 1, 1790, when the beggars were out in full force to
keep their annual holiday, Thompson, with the other field officers and
the magistrates of the city, gave the signal, and all the beggars in
Munich were seized upon by the three regiments of infantry then in
garrison. The beggars were taken to the town hall, and their names and
addresses entered on lists prepared for the purpose. They were ordered
to present themselves next day at the "military workhouse," and a
committee was appointed to inquire into the condition of each, the
city being divided into sixteen districts for that purpose. Relieved
of an evil which they had regarded as inevitable, the townspeople
readily subscribed for the purpose of affording systematic relief,
while tradesmen sent articles of food and other requisites to "the
relief committee." In the military workhouse the former mendicants
made all the uniforms for the troops, besides a great deal of clothes
for sale in Bavaria and other countries. Thompson himself fitted up
and superintended the kitchen, where food was daily cooked for between
a thousand and fifteen hundred persons; and, under Sir Benjamin's
management, a dinner for a thousand was cooked at a cost for fuel of
fourpence halfpenny--a result which has scarcely been surpassed in
modern times, even at Gateshead.

That Thompson's work was appreciated by those in whose interest it was
undertaken is shown by the fact that when, on one occasion, he was
dangerously ill, the poor of Munich went in public procession to the
cathedral to pray for him, though he was a foreigner and a Protestant.
Perhaps it may appear that his philanthropic work has little to do
with physical science; but with Thompson everything was a scientific
experiment, conducted in a truly scientific manner. For example, the
lighting of the military workhouse afforded matter for a long series
of experiments, described in his papers on photometry, coloured
shadows, etc. The investigations on the best methods of employing fuel
for culinary purposes led to some of his most elaborate essays; and
his essay on food was welcomed alike in London and Bavaria at a time
of great scarcity, and when famine seemed impending.

The Emperor Joseph was succeeded by Leopold II., but during the
interregnum the Elector of Bavaria was Vicar of the Empire, and he
employed the power thus temporarily placed in his hands in raising Sir
Benjamin to the dignity of Count of the Holy Roman Empire, with the
order of the White Eagle, and the title which the new count selected
was the old name of the village in New England where he had spent the
two or three years of his wedded life.

In 1795 Count Rumford returned to England, in order to publish his
essays, and to make known in this country something of the work in
which he had been engaged. Soon after his arrival he was robbed of
most of his manuscripts, the trunk containing them being stolen from
his carriage in St. Paul's Churchyard. On the invitation of Lord
Pelham, he visited Dublin, and carried out some of his improvements in
the hospitals and other institutions of that city. On his return to
London he fitted up the kitchen of the Foundling Hospital.

Lady Thompson lived to hear of her husband's high position in Bavaria,
but died on January 29, 1792. When Rumford came to London in 1795, he
wrote to his daughter, who was then twenty-one years of age, to meet
him there, and on January 29, 1796, she started in the Charlestown,
from Boston. She remained with her father for more than three years,
and her autobiography gives much information respecting the count's
doings during this time.

While in London, Count Rumford attained a high reputation as a curer
of smoky chimneys. One firm of builders found full employment in
carrying out work in accordance with his instructions; and in his
hotel at Pall Mall he conducted experiments on fireplaces. He
concluded that the sides of a fireplace ought to make an angle of 135 deg.
with the back, so as to throw the heat straight to the front; and that
the width of the back should be one-third of that of the front
opening, and be carried up perpendicularly till it joins the breast.
The "Rumford roaster" gained a reputation not less than that earned
by his open fireplace.

It was during this stay in London that Rumford presented to the Royal
Society of London, and to the American Academy of Sciences L1000 Three
per Cent. Stock, for the purpose of endowing a medal to be called the
Rumford Medal, and to be given each alternate year for the best work
done during the preceding two years in the subjects of heat and light.
He directed that two medals, one in gold and the other in silver,
should be struck from the same die, the value of the two together to
amount to L60. Whenever no award was made, the interest was to be
added to the principal, and the excess of the income for two years
over L60 was to be presented in cash to the recipient of the medal. At
present the amount thus presented is sufficient to pay the composition
fee for life membership of the Royal Society. The first award of the
medal was made in 1802, to Rumford himself. The other recipients have
been John Leslie, William Murdock, Etienne-Louis Malus, William
Charles Wells, Humphry Davy, David Brewster, Augustin Jean Fresnel,
Macedonio Melloni, James David Forbes, Jean Baptiste Biot, Henry Fox
Talbot, Michael Faraday, M. Regnault, F. J. D. Arago, George Gabriel
Stokes, Neil Arnott, M. Pasteur, M. Jamin, James Clerk Maxwell,
Kirchoff, John Tyndall, A. H. L. Fizeau, Balfour Stewart, A. O. des
Cloiseaux, A. J. Angstroem, J. Norman Lockyer, P. J. C. Janssen, W.
Huggins, Captain Abney.

In the summer of 1796 Rumford and his daughter left England to return
to Munich. On account of the war, they were obliged to go by sea to
Hamburg; whence they drove to Munich, where the count was anxiously
expected, political troubles having compelled the elector to leave the
city. After the battle of Friedburg, the Austrians retired to Munich,
and, finding the gates of the city closed, they fortified
themselves on an eminence overlooking the city, and, through some
misunderstanding with the local authorities, the Austrian general
threatened to attack the city if any Frenchman should be allowed to
enter. Rumford took supreme command of the Bavarian forces, and so
gained the respect of the rival generals that neither the French nor
the Austrians made any attempt to enter the city. The large number of
soldiers now in Munich gave Rumford a good opportunity to exercise his
skill in cooking on a large scale, and this he did, adding to the
comfort of the soldiers and reducing the cost of the commissariat. On
the return of the elector, Miss Sarah was made a countess, and
one-half of her father's pension was secured to her, thus providing
her with an income of about L200 per annum for life. Many of the
details of the home life and social intercourse during this period of
residence at Munich are preserved in the autobiography of the
countess, as well as accounts of excursions, including a trip by river
to Salzburg for the purpose of inspecting the salt-mines. After two
years' stay in Munich, the count was appointed Minister
Plenipotentiary from Bavaria to the Court of Great Britain. After an
unpleasant and perilous journey, he reached London, via Hamburg, in
September, 1798, but was terribly disappointed on learning that a
British subject could not be accepted as an envoy from a Foreign
Power. As he did not then wish to return to Bavaria, he purchased a
house in Brompton Row. But he had been too much accustomed to great
enterprises to be content with a quiet life, and was bound to have
some important scheme on hand. Pressing invitations were sent him to
return to America, but he preferred residence in London, and devoted
himself to the foundation of the Royal Institution, though the
countess returned to the States in August, 1799. A letter from Colonel
Baldwin to her father shortly after her return contains the following

In the cask of fruit which your daughter and Mr. Rolfe have sent
you, there is half a dozen apples of the growth of my farm,
wrapped up in papers, with the name of Baldwin's apples
written upon them.... It is (I believe) a spontaneous production
of this country; that is, it was not originally engrafted fruit.

The history of the remaining period of Rumford's residence in London
is the early history of the Royal Institution.

For many years Rumford had had at his disposal for his philanthropic
projects all the resources of the electorate of Bavaria, and he had
done everything on a royal scale. His original plan for the Royal
Institution appears to embody to a very great extent the work of the
Science and Art Department, the City and Guilds Institute for the
Advancement of Technical Education, the National School of Cookery,
the London Society for the Extension of University Teaching, and, in
addition to all this, to have comprehended a sort of perpetual
International Health Exhibition, where every device for domestic
purposes, and especially for the improvement of the condition of the
poor, could be inspected. How all this was to be carried out with the
resources which the count expected to be able to devote to the
purpose, does not appear. Foremost among the objects of the
institution was placed the management of fire; for its promoter was
convinced that more than half the fuel consumed in the country might
be saved by proper arrangements.

The philanthropic objects with which the institution was started are
apparent from the fact that it was the Society for Bettering the
Condition of the Poor which appointed a committee to confer with
Rumford, to report on the scheme, and to raise the funds necessary for
starting the project; and one of Rumford's hopes in connection with it
was "to make benevolence fashionable." It was arranged that donors of
fifty guineas each should be perpetual proprietors of the institution;
and that subscribers should be admitted at a subscription of two
guineas per annum, or ten guineas for life. The price of a
proprietor's share was raised to sixty guineas from May 1, 1800, and
afterwards increased by ten guineas per annum up to one hundred
guineas. In a very short time there were fifty-eight fifty-guinea
subscribers, and to them Rumford addressed a pamphlet, setting forth
his scheme in detail. The following are specified as some of the
contents of the future institution:--"Cottage fireplaces and kitchen
utensils for cottagers; a farm-house kitchen with its furnishings; a
complete kitchen, with its utensils, for the house of a gentleman of
fortune; a laundry, including boilers, washing, ironing, and drying
rooms, for a gentleman's house, or for a public hospital; the most
improved German, Swedish, and Russian stoves for heating rooms and
passages." As far as possible all these things were to be seen at
work. There were also to be ornamental open stoves with fires in them;
working models of steam-engines, of brewers' boilers, of distillers'
coppers and condensers, of large boilers for hospital kitchens, and of
ships' coppers with the requisite utensils; models of ventilating
apparatus, spinning-wheels and looms "adapted to the circumstances of
the poor;" models of agricultural machinery and bridges, and "of all
such other machines and useful instruments as the managers of the
institution shall deem worthy of public notice." All articles were to
be provided with proper descriptions, with the name and address of the
maker, and the price.

A lecture-room and laboratory were to be fitted up with all necessary
philosophical apparatus, and the most eminent expounders of science
were to be engaged for the purpose of "teaching the application of
science to the useful purposes of life."

The lectures were to include warming and ventilation, the preservation
of food, agricultural chemistry, the chemistry of digestion, of
tanning, of bleaching and dyeing, "and, in general, of all the
mechanical arts as they apply to the various branches of manufacture."
The institution was to be governed by nine managers, of whom three
were to be elected each year by the proprietors; and there was also to
be a committee of visitors, the members of which should not be the
managers. The king became patron of the institution, and the first set
of officers was nominated by him. The Earl of Winchelsea and
Nottingham was President; the Earls of Morton and of Egremont and Sir
Joseph Banks, Vice-Presidents; the Earls of Bessborough, of Egremont,
and of Morton, and Count Rumford, were among the Managers; the Duke of
Bridgewater, Viscount Palmerston, and Earl Spencer the Visitors; and
Dr. Thomas Garnett was appointed first Professor of Physics and
Chemistry. The royal charter of the institution was sealed on January
13, 1800. The superintendence of the journals of the institution was
entrusted to Rumford's care. For some time the count resided in the
house in Albemarle Street, which had been purchased by the
institution, and while there he superintended the workmen and

Dr. Thomas Garnett, the first professor at the institution, was highly
respected both as a man and a philosopher, and seems to have been
everywhere well spoken of. But Rumford and he could not work together,
and his connection with the institution was consequently a short one.
Rumford was then authorized to engage Dr. Young as Professor of
Natural Philosophy, editor of the journals, and general superintendent
of the house, at a salary of L300 per annum. Shortly before this the
count's attention had been directed to the experiments on heat, made
by Humphry Davy, and on February 16, 1801, it was "resolved that Mr.
Humphry Davy be engaged in the service of the Royal Institution, in
the capacity of Assistant-Lecturer in Chemistry, Director of the
Chemical Laboratory, and Assistant-Editor of the Journals of the
Institution; and that he be allowed to occupy a room in the house, and
be furnished with coals and candles, and that he be paid a salary of
one hundred guineas per annum." In his personal appearance, Davy is
said to have been at first somewhat uncouth, and the count was by no
means charmed with him at their first interview. It was not till he
had heard him lecture in private that Rumford would allow Davy to
lecture in the theatre of the institution; but he afterwards showed
his complete confidence in the young chemist by ordering that all the
resources of the institution should be at his service. Davy dined with
Rumford at the count's house in Auteuil, when he visited Paris with
Lady Davy and Faraday, in 1813. He commenced his duties at the
institution on March 11, 1801. It was on June 15, in the same year,
that the managers having objected to the syllabus of his lectures, Dr.
Garnett's resignation was accepted; and on July 6 Dr. Young was
appointed in his stead. Dr. Young resigned after holding the
appointment only two years, as he found the duties incompatible with
his work as a physician.

Rumford's life in London now became daily more unpleasant to himself.
Accustomed, as he had been in Bavaria, to carry out all his projects
"like an emperor," it was difficult for him to work as one member of a
body of managers. One by one he quarrelled with his colleagues, and at
length left England, in May, 1802, never to return.

When distinguished men of science are placed at the head of an
institution like that which Rumford founded, there is always a
tendency for the technical teaching of the establishment to become
gradually merged into scientific research; and in this case, after
Rumford's departure, the genius of Davy gradually converted the Royal
Institution into the establishment for scientific research which it
has been for more than three quarters of a century. Probably the man
who has come nearest to realizing all that Count Rumford had planned
for his institution is the late Sir Henry Cole; but he succeeded only
through the resources of the Treasury.

On leaving England in May, 1802, Rumford went to Paris, where he
stayed till July or August, when he revisited Bavaria and remained
there till the following year, when he returned to Paris. He was again
at Munich in 1805; but under the new elector, though an old friend of
the count, relationships do not seem to have been all that they were
with his uncle, and at length the elector himself was compelled to
leave Munich, and soon after the Bavarian sovereign became a vassal of
Napoleon. On October 24, 1805, Rumford married Madame Lavoisier, a
lady of brilliant talents and ample fortune. That his position might
be nearly equal to hers, the Elector of Bavaria raised his pension to
L1200 per annum. A house, Rue d'Anjou, No. 39, was purchased for six
thousand guineas, and Rumford expended much thought and energy in
making it, with its garden of two acres, all that he could desire. But
the union was not so happy as he anticipated. The count loved quiet;
Madame de Rumford was fond of company: to the former the pleasure of
the table had no charms; the latter took delight in sumptuous
dinner-parties. As time went on, domestic affairs became more and more
unpleasant, and at length a friendly separation was agreed upon, after
they had lived together for about three years and a half. The count
then retired to a small estate which he hired at Auteuil, about four
miles from Paris. The Elector of Bavaria was crowned king on January
1, 1806, and in 1810 Rumford was again at Munich, for the purpose of
forming, at the king's request, an Academy of Arts and Sciences. At
Auteuil the count was joined by his daughter in December, 1811, her
journey having been much delayed through the capture of the vessel in
which she had taken her passage, off Bordeaux. An engraving of the
house at Auteuil, and the room in which Rumford carried on his
experiments, was published in the Illustrated London News of January
22, 1870.

While resident at Auteuil, Rumford frequently read papers before the
Institute of France, of which he was a member. He complained very much
of the jealousy exhibited by the other members with reference to any
discoveries made by a foreigner. He died in his house at Auteuil, on
August 21, 1814, in the sixty-second year of his age. In 1804 he had
made over, by deed of gift to his mother, the sum of ten thousand
dollars, that she might leave it by will to her younger children. As
before mentioned, Harvard College was his residuary legatee, and the
property so bequeathed founded the Rumford Professorship in that

Cuvier, as Secretary of the Institute, pronounced the customary eulogy
over its late member. The following passages throw some light on the
reputation in which the count was held:--

He has constructed two singularly ingenious instruments of his
own contriving. One is a new calorimeter for measuring the
amount of heat produced by the combustion of any body. It is a
receptacle containing a given quantity of water, through which
passes, by a serpentine tube, the product of the combustion; and
the heat that is generated is transmitted through the water,
which, being raised by a fixed number of degrees, serves as the
basis of the calculations. The manner in which the exterior heat
is prevented from affecting the experiment is very simple and
very ingenious. He begins the operation at a certain number of
degrees below the outside heat, and terminates it at the same
number of degrees above it. The external air takes back during
the second half of the experiment exactly what it gave up during
the first. The other instrument serves for noting the most
trifling differences in the temperature of bodies, or in the
rapidity of its changes. It consists of two glass bulbs filled
with air, united by a tube, in the middle of which is a pellet
of coloured spirits of wine; the slightest increase of heat in
one of the bulbs drives the pellet towards the other. This
instrument, which he called a thermoscope, was of especial
service in making known to him the varied and powerful influence
of different surfaces in the transmission of heat, and also for
indicating a variety of methods for retarding or hastening at
will the processes of heating and freezing....

He thought it was not wise or good to entrust to men, in the
mass, the care of their own well-being. The right, which seems
so natural to them, of judging whether they are wisely governed,
appeared to him to be a fictitious fancy born of false notions
of enlightenment. His views of slavery were nearly the same as
those of a plantation-owner. He regarded the government of China
as coming nearest to perfection, because, in giving over the
people to the absolute control of their only intelligent men,
and in lifting each of those who belonged to this hierarchy on
the scale according to the degree of his intelligence, it made,
so to speak, so many millions of arms the passive organs of the
will of a few sound heads--a notion which I state without
pretending in the slightest degree to approve it, and which, as
we know, would be poorly calculated to find prevalence among
European nations.

As for the rest, whatever were the sentiments of M. Rumford for
men, they in no way lessened his reverence for God. He never
omitted any opportunity in his works of expressing his religious
admiration of Providence, and of proposing for that admiration
by others, the innumerable and varied provisions which are made
for the preservation of all creatures; indeed, even his
political views came from his firm persuasion that princes ought
to imitate Providence in this respect by taking charge of us
without being amenable to us.

In front of the new Government offices and the National Museum in the
Maximilian Strasse, in Munich, stand, on granite pedestals, four
bronze figures, ten feet in height. These represent General Deroy,
Fraunhofer, Schelling, and Count Rumford. The statue of Rumford was
erected in 1867, at the king's private expense. In the English garden
which Rumford planned and laid out is the monument erected during his
absence in England in 1796, and bearing allegorical figures of Peace
and Plenty, and a medallion of the count.

The bare enumeration of Rumford's published papers would occupy
considerable space, but many of them have more to do with philanthropy
and domestic economy than with physics. We have seen that, when guest
of Lord George Germaine, he was engaged in experiments on gunpowder.
The experiments were made in the usual manner by firing bullets into a
ballistic pendulum, and recording the swing of the pendulum. Thompson
suggested a modification of the ballistic pendulum, attaching the
gun-barrel to the pendulum, and observing the recoil, and making
allowance for the recoil due to the discharge from the gun of the
products of combustion of the powder, the excess enabled the velocity
of the bullet to be calculated. Afterwards he made experiments on the
maximum pressure produced by the explosion of powder, and pointed out
that the value of powder in ordnance does not depend simply on the
whole amount of gas produced, but also on the rapidity of combustion.
While superintending the arsenal at Munich, Rumford exploded small
charges of powder in a specially constructed receiver, which was
closed by a plug of well-greased leather, and on this was placed a
hemisphere of steel pressed down by a 24-pounder brass cannon weighing
8081 pounds. He found that the weight of the gun was lifted by the
explosion of quantities of powder varying from twelve to fifteen
grains, and hence concluded that, if the products of combustion of the
powder were confined to the space actually occupied by the solid
powder, the initial pressure would exceed twenty thousand atmospheres.
Rumford's calculation of the pressure, based upon the bursting of a
barrel, which he had previously constructed, is not satisfactory,
inasmuch as he takes no account of the fact that the inner portions of
the metal would give way long before the outer layers exerted anything
like their maximum tension. When a hollow vessel with thick walls,
such as a gun-barrel or shell, is burst by gaseous pressure from
within, the inner layers of material are stretched to their breaking
tension before they receive much support from the outer layers; a rift
is thus made in the interior, into which the gas enters, and the
surface on which the gas presses being thus increased, the rift
deepens till the fracture is complete. In order to gain the full
strength due to the material employed, every portion of that material
should be stretched simultaneously to the extent of its maximum safe
load. This principle was first practically adopted by Sir W. G.
Armstrong, who, by building up the breech of the gun with cylinders
shrunk on, and so arranged that the tension increased towards the
exterior, availed himself of nearly the whole strength of the metal
employed to resist the explosion. Had Rumford's barrel been
constructed on this principle, he would have obtained a much more
satisfactory result.

These investigations were followed by a very interesting series of
experiments on the conducting power of fluids for heat, and, although
he pushed his conclusions further than his experiments warranted, he
showed conclusively that convection currents are the principal means
by which heat is transferred through the substance of fluids, and
described how, when a vessel of water is heated, there is generally an
ascending current in the centre, and a descending current all round
the periphery. Hence it is only when a liquid expands by increase of
temperature that a large mass can be readily heated from below. Water
below 39 deg. Fahr. contracts when heated. Rumford, in his paper, enlarges
on the bearing of this fact on the economy of the universe, and the
following extracts afford a good specimen of his style, and justify
some of the statements made by Cuvier in his eulogy:--

I feel the danger to which a mortal exposes himself who has the
temerity to undertake to explain the designs of Infinite Wisdom.
The enterprise is adventurous, but it cannot surely be improper.

The wonderful simplicity of the means employed by the Creator of
the world to produce the changes of the seasons, with all the
innumerable advantages to the inhabitants of the earth which
flow from them, cannot fail to make a very deep and lasting
impression on every human being whose mind is not degraded and
quite callous to every ingenuous and noble sentiment; but the
further we pursue our inquiries respecting the constitution of
the universe, and the more attentively we examine the effects
produced by the various modifications of the active powers which
we perceive, the more we shall be disposed to admire, adore, and
love that great First Cause which brought all things into

Though winter and summer, spring and autumn, and all the variety
of the seasons are produced in a manner at the same time the
most simple and the most stupendous (by the inclination of the
axis of the earth to the plane of the ecliptic), yet this
mechanical contrivance alone would not have been sufficient (as
I shall endeavour to show) to produce that gradual change of
temperature in the various climates which we find to exist, and
which doubtless is indispensably necessary to the preservation
of animal and vegetable life....

But in very cold countries the ground is frozen and covered with
snow, and all the lakes and rivers are frozen over in the very
beginning of winter. The cold then first begins to be extreme,
and there appears to be no source of heat left which is
sufficient to moderate it in any sensible degree.

Let us see what must have happened if things had been left to
what might be called their natural course--if the condensation
of water, on being deprived of its heat, had followed the law
which we find obtains in other fluids, and even in water itself
in some cases, namely, when it is mixed with certain bodies.

Had not Providence interfered on this occasion in a manner which
may well be considered miraculous, all the fresh water within
the polar circle must inevitably have been frozen to a very
great depth in one winter, and every plant and tree destroyed;
and it is more than probable that the region of eternal frost
would have spread on every side from the poles, and, advancing
towards the equator, would have extended its dreary and solitary
reign over a great part of what are now the most fertile and
most inhabited climates of the world!...

Let us with becoming diffidence and awe endeavour to see what
the means are which have been employed by an almighty and
benevolent God to protect His fair creation.

He then goes on to explain how large bodies of water are prevented
from freezing at great depths on account of the expansion which takes
place on cooling below 39 deg. Fahr., and the further expansion which
occurs on freezing, and mentions that in the Lake of Geneva, at a
depth of a thousand feet, M. Pictet found the temperature to be 40 deg.

"We cannot sufficiently admire the simplicity of the contrivance by
which all this heat is saved. It well deserves to be compared with
that by which the seasons are produced; and I must think that every
candid inquirer who will begin by divesting himself of all
unreasonable prejudice will agree with me in attributing them both TO

"But I must take care not to tire my reader by pursuing these
speculations too far. If I have persisted in them, if I have dwelt on
them with peculiar satisfaction and complacency, it is because I think
them uncommonly interesting, and also because I conceived that they
might be of value in this age of refinement and scepticism.

"If, among barbarous nations, the fear of a God, and the practice of
religious duties, tend to soften savage dispositions, and to prepare
the mind for all those sweet enjoyments which result from peace,
order, industry, and friendly intercourse; a belief in the existence
of a Supreme Intelligence, who rules and governs the universe with
wisdom and goodness, is not less essential to the happiness of those
who, by cultivating their mental powers, HAVE LEARNED TO KNOW HOW

Rumford, in connection with his experiments on the conducting power of
liquids, tried the effect of increasing the viscosity of water by the
addition of starch, and of impeding its movements by the introduction
of eider-down, on the rate of diffusion of heat through it. Hence he
explained the inequalities of temperature which may obtain in a mass
of thick soup--inequalities which had once caused him to burn his
mouth--and, applying the same principles to air, he at once turned his
conclusions to practical account in the matter of warm clothing.

After an attempt to determine, if possible, the weight of a definite
quantity of heat--an attempt in which very great precautions were
taken to exclude disturbing causes, while the balance employed was
capable of indicating one-millionth part of the weight of the body
weighed--Rumford, finding no sensible effect on the balance, concluded
that "if the weight of gold is neither augmented nor lessened by
one-millionth part, upon being heated from the point of freezing
water to that of a bright red heat, I think we may very safely
investigations of Principal Hicks, based on the vortex theory of
matter and the dynamical theory of heat, have recently led him to the
conclusion that the attraction of gravitation may depend to some
extent on temperature.

A series of very valuable experiments on the radiating powers of
different surfaces showed how that power varied with the nature of the
surface, and the effect of a coating of lamp-black in increasing the
radiating power of a body. In order to determine the effect of
radiation in the cooling of bodies, Rumford employed the thermoscope
referred to by Cuvier. The following passage is worthy of attention,
as the truth it expounds in the last thirteen words appears to have
been but very imperfectly recognized many years after it was

"All the heat which a hot body loses when it is exposed in the air to
cool is not given off to the air which comes into contact with it, but
... a large proportion of it escapes in rays, which do not heat the
transparent air through which they pass, but, like light, generate
heat only when and where they are stopped and absorbed."

Rumford then investigated the absorption of heat by different
surfaces, and established the law that good radiators are good
absorbers; and recommended that vessels in which water is to be heated
should be blackened on the outside. In speculating on the use of the
colouring matter in the skin of the negro, he shows his fondness for

"All I will venture to say on the subject is that, were I called to
inhabit a very hot country, nothing should prevent me from making the
experiment of blackening my skin, or at least, of wearing a black
shirt, in the shade, and especially at night, in order to find out if,
by those means, I could contrive to make myself more comfortable."

In his experiments on the conduction of heat, Rumford employed a
cylinder with one end immersed in boiling water and the other in
melting ice, and determined the temperature at different points in the
length of the cylinder. He found the difficulty which has recently
been forcibly pointed out by Sir Wm. Thomson, in the article "Heat,"
in the "Encyclopaedia Britannica," viz. that the circulation of the
water was not sufficiently rapid to keep the temperature of the layer
in contact with the metal the same as that of the rest of the water;
and he also called attention to the arbitrary character of
thermometer-scales, and recommended that more attention should be
given to the scale of the air thermometer. It was in his visit to
Edinburgh, in 1800, that, in company with some of the university
professors, the count conducted some experiments in the university
laboratory on the apparent radiation of cold. Rumford's views
respecting frigorific rays have not been generally accepted, and
Prevost's theory of exchanges completely explains the apparent
radiation of cold without supposing that cold is anything else than
the mere absence of heat.

We must pass over Rumford's papers on the use of steam as a vehicle of
heat, on new boilers and stoves for the purpose of economizing fuel,
and all the papers bearing on the nutritive value of different foods.
The calorimeter with which he determined the amount of heat generated
by the combustion, and the latent heat of evaporation, of various
bodies has been already alluded to. Of the four volumes of Rumford's
works published by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the
third is taken up entirely with descriptions of fireplaces and of
cooking utensils.

Before deciding on the best way to light the military workhouse at
Munich, Rumford made a series of experiments on the relative economy
of different methods, and for this purpose designed his well-known
shadow-photometer. In the final form of this instrument the shadows
were thrown on a plate of ground glass covered with paper, forming the
back of a small box, from which all extraneous light was excluded. Two
rods were placed in front of this screen, and the lights to be
compared were so situated that the shadow of one rod thrown by the
first light might be just in contact with that of the other rod thrown
by the second light. By introducing coloured glasses in front of the
lights, Rumford compared the illuminating powers of different sources
with respect to light of a particular colour. The complementary tints
exhibited by the shadows caused him to devise his theory of the
harmony of complementary colours. One result is worthy of mention: it
is a conclusion to which public attention has since been called in
connection with "duplex" burners. Rumford found that with wax tapers
the amount of light emitted per grain of wax consumed diminished with
the diminution of the consumption, so that a small taper gave out only
one-sixteenth as much light as an ordinary candle for the same
consumption of wax. He says:--

"This result can be easily explained if we admit the hypothesis which
supposes light to be analogous to sound.... The particles ... were so
rapidly cooled ... that they had hardly time to shine one instant
before they became too cold to be any longer visible."

An argand lamp, when compared with a lamp having a flat wick, gave
more light in the ratio of 100 to 85 for the same consumption of oil.

One of the latest investigations of Rumford was that bearing on the
effect of the width of the wheels on the draught of a carriage. To his
own carriage, weighing, with its passengers, nearly a ton, he fitted a
spring dynamometer by means of a set of pulleys attached to the
under-carriage and the splinter-bar. He used three sets of wheels,
respectively 1-3/4, 2-1/4, and 4 inches wide, and, introducing weights
into the carriage to make up for the difference in the weights of the
wheels, he found a very sensible diminution in the tractive force
required as the width of the wheels was increased, and in a truly
scientific spirit, despising the ridicule cast upon him, he persisted
in riding about Paris in a carriage with four-inch tyres.

But the piece of work by which Rumford will be best known to future
generations is that described in his paper entitled "An Inquiry
concerning the Source of the Heat which is excited by Friction." It
was while superintending the boring of cannon in the arsenal at Munich
that Rumford was struck with the enormous amount of heat generated by
the friction of the boring-bar against the metal. In order to
determine whether the heat had come from the chips of metal
themselves, he took a quantity of the abraded borings and an equal
weight of chips cut from the metal with a fine saw, and, heating them
to the temperature of boiling water, he immersed them in equal
quantities of water at 59-1/2 deg. Fahr. The change of temperature of the
water was the same in both cases, and Rumford found that there was no
change which he could discover in regard to its capacity for heat
produced in the metal by the action of the borer.

In order to prevent the honeycombing of the castings by the escaping
gas, the cannon were cast in a vertical position with the breech at
the bottom of the mould and a short cylinder projecting about two feet
beyond the muzzle of the gun, so that any imperfections in the casting
would appear in this projecting cylinder. It was on one of these
pieces of waste metal, while still attached to the gun, that Rumford
conducted his experiments. Having turned the cylinder, he cut away the
metal in front of the muzzle until the projecting piece was connected
with the gun by a narrow cylindrical neck, 2.2 inches in diameter and
3.8 inches long. The external diameter of the cylinder was 7.75
inches, and its length 9.8 inches, and it was bored to a depth of 7.2
inches, the diameter of the bore being 3.7 inches. The cannon was
mounted in the boring-lathe, and a blunt borer pressed by a screw
against the bottom of the bore with a force equal to the weight of
10,000 pounds. A small transverse hole was made in the cylinder near
its base for the introduction of a thermometer. The cylinder weighed
113.13 pounds, and, with the gun, was turned at the rate of thirty-two
revolutions per minute by horse-power. To prevent loss of heat, the
cylinder was covered with flannel. After thirty minutes' work, the
thermometer, when introduced into the cylinder, showed a temperature
of 130 deg. Fahr. The loss of heat during the experiment was estimated
from observations of the rate of cooling of the cylinder. The weight
of metal abraded was 837 grains, while the amount of heat produced was
sufficient to raise nearly five pounds of ice-cold water to the
boiling point.

To exclude the action of the air, the cylinder was closed by an
air-tight piston, but no change was produced in the result. As the air
had access to the metal where it was rubbed by the piston, and Rumford
thought this might possibly affect the result, a deal box was
constructed, with slits at each end closed by sliding shutters, and so
arranged that it could be placed with the boring bar passing through
one slit and the narrow neck connecting the cylinder with the gun
through the other slit, the sliding shutters, with the help of collars
of oiled leather, serving to make the box water-tight. The box was
then filled with water and the lid placed on. After turning for an
hour the temperature was raised from 60 deg. to 107 deg. Fahr., after an hour
and a half it was 142 deg. Fahr., at the end of two hours the temperature
was 178 deg. Fahr., at two hours and twenty minutes it was 200 deg. Fahr., and
at two hours and thirty minutes it ACTUALLY BOILED!

"It would be difficult to describe the surprise and astonishment
expressed in the countenances of the bystanders on seeing so large a
quantity of cold water heated and actually made to boil without any

"Though there was,

Add to Add to Reddit Add to Digg Add to Add to Google Add to Twitter Add to Stumble Upon
Add to Informational Site Network