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Kay's Originals Vol. 1


Volume 8 Page 77
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BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES. 55 No. XXIV. DR. JAMES HUTTON. DR. HUTTON was an ingenious philosopher, remarkable for the unaffected simplicity of his manner, and much esteemed by the society in which he moved. In his dress he very mnch resembled a Quaker, with the exception that he wore L cocked hat. He was born in the city of Edinburgh, on the 3d June 1726, and was the son of a merchant there, who died in the infancy of his son. He was educated at the High School j and, after going through the regular course at that seminary, he entered the University of Edinburgh in 1740. The original intention of his friends was, that he should follow the profession of a Writer to the Signet; and, with this view, he for some time pursued the course of study enjoined by the regulations of that Society, and accordingly attended the Humanity (or Latin) Class for two sessions. It would appear, however, that the early bent of his genius was directed towards chemistry ; for, instead of prosecuting the study of the law, he was more frequently found amusing the clerks and apprentices in the office in which he had been placed, with chemical experiments. His master, therefore, with much kindness; advised him to select some other avocation more suited to his turn of mind; he, accordingly, fixed on medicine, and returned to the University. Here, during three sessions, he attended the requisite classes, but did not graduate. He repaired to Paris, and spent two years in that city. On his way home he passed through Leyden, and there took the degree of Doctor of Medicine, in the month of September 1749. Meanwhile he had formed, in London, an intimate acquaintance with Mr. John Davie. They entered into a copartnership, and engaged in the mmufacture of sal-ammoniac from coal-soot, which was carried on in Edinburgh for many years with considerable success. From his peculiar habits he had little chance of getting into practice as a doctor of medicine, and he appears to have relinquished the idea very early. He determined to betake himself to apiculture: for this purpose he resided for some time with a farmer in the county of Norfolk; and, in the year 1754, bringing a plough and a ploughman from England, he took into his own hands a small property which he possessed in Berwickshire. Having brought his farm into good order, and not feeling the same enthusiasm for agriculture which he had previously entertained, he removed to Edinburgh about the ye& 1768, and devoted himself almost ,exclusively to scientific In 1777, Dr. Hutton’s first book, entitled, “ Considerations on the Nature, Quality, and Distinctions of Coal and Culm,” was given to the world. He next published an outline of his ‘‘ Theory of the Earth,” in the first volume of the “ Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh,” Dr. Hutton had, during a pursuits.
Volume 8 Page 78
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