Thursday Lecture Series: Hide and Seek

The Visionary Science of Humphry Davy’s Consolations in Travel

Thursday, The Heyman Center

Written during visits to Italy and the eastern Alps, between bouts
of illness and fly-fishing, Consolations in Travel, or the Last Days
of a Philosopher, was published posthumously in 1830, and was
widely discussed and frequently reprinted throughout the nineteenth
century. In a period when most scientific practice focused
on detailed analysis and observation in the museum, field and
laboratory, Consolation’s dialogue format and visionary use of fact
offered resources for imaginative speculation on the widest questions
of philosophy, belief and utility. In his talk, Professor Secord
explored the text, the ambitions of its author, Humphrey Davy, and
the significance of the work to a generation of scientists.