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A History of the Nineteenth Century, Year by Year

Sidenote Lamarck Jean Baptiste de Lamarck


[Sidenote:

A contemporary description]

"We numbered four in a coach attached to the steam carriage, and we had travelled without difficulty or mishap as far as Longford, where they were repairing the bridge over the Cambria. On this was a large pile of bricks, so high as to conceal what was happening on the other side. Precisely at the moment we began to cross the bridge the mail-coach from Bath arrived on the other end. As soon as we perceived it we shouted to the driver to take care; but, as he was not aware of the extraordinary vehicle he was going to meet, he did not slacken speed. To avoid a collision, Mr. Gurney guided our steam carriage into the pile of bricks. Some damage to our apparatus resulted, but was repaired in less than a quarter of an hour. As to the horses of the coach, they had taken the bit between their teeth and had to be cut loose.

"Upon our arrival at Melksham, we found that there was a fair in progress, and the streets were full of people. Mr. Gurney made the carriages travel as slowly as possible, in order to injure no one. Unfortunately, in that town the lower classes are strongly opposed to the new method of transportation. Excited by the postilions, who imagined that the adoption of Mr. Gurney's steam carriage would compromise their means of livelihood, the multitude that encumbered the streets arose against us, heaped us with insults, and attacked us with stones. The chief engineer and another

man were seriously injured. Mr. Gurney feared we could not pursue our journey, as two of his best mechanics had need of surgical aid. He turned the carriage into the court of a brewer named Ales, and during the night it was guarded by constables."

[Sidenote: Jobard]

[Sidenote: Jobard's impressions]

To have assisted at the experiment of Gurney's steam carriage was, in those days, almost a title to glory. These carriages became speedily one of the curiosities of London. Foreign travellers who printed accounts of their journeys, did not fail to devote a chapter to the new means of locomotion. Jobard, the Belgian savant and economist, was of the number, and so were Cuchette, St. Germain Leduc and C.G. Simon, three prominent scientific writers of that time. Jobard's impressions noted down at the time are worthy of record: "My first visit in England was to the starting station of Sir Goldsworth Gurney's steam omnibus, running between London and Bath. This carriage does not differ materially from other stage-coaches, nor has it had any serious mishap as yet. For my benefit it manoeuvred back and forth over the street pavement and later on the smooth macadam of the highway, without any apparent difficulties of guiding. The drivers of other stage-coaches are agreed that the thing is a success, and that before long it will do them much harm."

[Sidenote: Lamarck]

Jean Baptiste de Lamarck, a forerunner of Charles Darwin died in this year. As early as 1801 Lamarck had outlined his ideas of the transmutation of species and attempted to explain the manner in which that transmutation had been brought about. There is no such thing as a "species," he held; there are only individuals descended from a common stock and modified in structure to suit their environment. Lamarck was scoffed at in his own time; he was respected as a naturalist, but unrecognized as a prophet.


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