Edinburgh Bookshelf

Kay's Originals Vol. 1


J~IQGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 172 No. LXXV. DR. HENRY MOYES, LECTURER ON CHEMISTRY, ETC. DR. MOYES was born in the year 1750 at Kirkcaldy, in the county of Fife. What station in society his father held, and even what profession he followed, we are not told. It seems probable, however, that he was possessed of some property, because his son was sent to college and enjoyed the behefit of a liberal education. He lost his sight, when about three years old, by the small-pox, so that he hardly retained any recollection of having ever seen. Yet he stated that he remembered having once observed a water-mill in motion, and that, even at that early age, his attention was attracted by the circumstance of the water flowing in one direction, while the wheel turned round in the opposite. This he represented as having staggered his infant mind before he could comprehend it. He was sent to school, but what was his progress there is unknown, From thence he was removed to the University, where, judging from his subsequent acquirements, it is to be presumed he made considerable progress. One thing is certain, that in early life he undoubtedly acquired the fundamental principles of mechanics, music, and the languages ; and displayed a knowledge of geometry, algebra, optics, astronomy, chemistry, and in short of most of the branches of the Newtonian philosophy. He seems to have delighted in, and to have had a great taste for mechanics, for we are told that at a very early age he made himself acquainted with the use of edge-tools so perfectly that he was able to make little wind-mills, and even constructed a loom with his own hands. His first attempt at delivering public lectures commenced at Edinburgh, where he lectured on the theory and practice of music, but not meeting with the encouragement he expected, he relinquished the design. What was the more immediate cause of his resolving to deliver a course of lectures on chemistry is unknown ; but it was probably the interesting and miscellaneous nature of the subjects treated of, the reputation of Dr. Black, professor of that science in Edinburgh, who was then in his zenith, and the uncommon avidity with which his class was attended by the students. As he was the first blind man who proposed to lecture on chemistry, the novelty of the proposal naturally excited curiosity and attention.' But so careless have been his biographers, that they Dr, Moyes' lectures were usually well attended. During his stay in Edinburgh a curious mistake occurred betwixt two ladies. The one being from the country, and having heard of the celebrated conjuror, Doctor Boaz, who was at the same t i e giving lectures on the art of legerdemain, her curiosity was on edge to witness his sleight-of-hand. The city dame, who of come was her cicerone on 2 A
Volume 8 Page 251
  Shrink Shrink   Print Print