John Barlow to Faraday   10 and 11 August 18531

Lake of Geneva | Aug 10h

My dear Faraday,

How are you all? I trust nothing of a harassing or distressing nature shortened your visit at Beaumaris. I saw your name in the newspaper among those of the Lord Mayor’s2 guests on the 14 of July but I trust that the list (as in the case of Queen’s Balls) was made from those who were invited, not from those who were seen at the entertainment3. ... Our journey has been very prosperous hitherto and I earnestly hope that the weather has been as fine in England as that with which we have been favoured.

At Paris we were joined by Charles Herries4 (the nephew & brother of your friends) and with him we have since been travelling - our route has been Bale (viâ new railroad) Geneva - by the Münster Thal, Neufchatel & Rolle. Then to that lovely village of St. Gervais (near Sallanches) & Chamouni, where we spent a fortnight - I mean dividing the time between St Gervais & Chamouni. At Chamouni I met a man whose name I could not find out, though I ought to know it familiarly5. He is a Fellow of Trinity College Dublin. He had Brougham’s6 paper on light7 referred to him8. He was one of the first in making magnetic observations after Gauss’s fashion9. He knows you personally, and he asked me whether certain observations of Kreil?10 at Prague on the moon’s influence on the magnet11, had not made you revise your views? (meaning of course your papers of 1850-5112). He is a light-haired man, about 40, & has a wife13, a luxury allowed to Irish Fellows....

When I was last at Geneva, De la Rive was at Vichy. He is due at home now. Mr. Drummond14 ought also to be at Geneva by this time. I hope to send you news of both. I dined at Malagny with M. Marcet - a distinguished-looking young Spanish lady was on a visit to his daughter. This girl is a Pizarro, and there is a curious story connected with her.... Her uncle fell desperately in love with a beautiful Spanish lady. Her friends objected, because they felt assured that her excessive beauty would ensure for her a still more eligible match. His friends were equally adverse, because they had heard the girl’s mother ill spoken of. He yielded to their representations. He promised to give up the marriage, & only stipulated for their assent to his visiting his love for the last time to bid her farewell. She was then at a country house high in the mountains. She received him with bitter reproaches, and avowed her disbelief in his attachment. He challenged her to put him to the test. She said “If you really love me you will not refuse to take off your coat & swim across the ice-cold pond yonder”.

“Excited as he was, he plunged in” caught a pleurisy from which he never recovered but died within a twelvemonth. The Heroine of this curious romance is the present Empress of the French 15.

Geneva Aug. 11th, 4.00 P.M.

A thousand thanks in Mrs. Barlow’s name and my own for your letter16, which was cordially welcomed by both of us. My wife had one of those obscure attacks (which sometimes harrass her,) while we were in the Münster Thal. It gave way to a mustard poultice but so did the cuticle also. There must be something particularly malignant in the sinapic of that district.

We have indeed enjoyed the glorious scenery which has daily been presented to our view in such rich abundance. From Martigny we went to Villeneuve by Monthey (instead of Bex) and the prospect including a bridge over the Rhine was one of the most striking I ever witnessed. Snow mountains - an amphitheatre of near rocks, not too near, a foaming river, and most luxuriant foliage. This richness of verdure is of course the result of previous rains: but it is very brilliant.

I earnestly hope that the sunshine is on its way to England....

You are sure to succeed in what you do for the Institution:- I quite agree with you that Percy is a great prize. If your health and inclination enable you to give the Christmas Lectures17, I shall be very sanguine for next year. I hear that a Mr. Hawkins18, who is restoring those apocryphal animals the Megatherium &c for the Crystal Palace19 is thinking of writing to propose to give us an Evening next year20. Do you know anything about him? If you meet any of the Paleontologists & happen to think of it, inquire. But we have many sterling men who will help us. To say nothing of yourself & Tyndall[.] Owen has promised21, so has Grove after his fashion22. If you write to Airy you will poke him I am sure23. In short we are sure to get on.

Mrs. Barlow keeps urging me so constantly to remember her most earnestly to you and Mrs. Faraday & Miss Jenny if she is with you that I fear I am going over a thrice uttered effusion (instead of a thrice told tale) but it is genuine[.]

Ever your attached | John Barlow

Dr Faraday &c

I will write again & tell you where to direct to us. I hope we shall be at Munich in the beginning of next month.

Dated on the basis that the second part of this letter is the reply to letter 2710 and also on the reference to Faraday’s trip to Wales and the Friday Evening Discourses for the ensuing year.
Thomas Challis (1794-1874, B1). Lord Mayor of London, 1852-1853.
See Morning Chronicle,15 July 1853, p.4, col. f, for an account of the conversazione at the Mansion House the previous day. There is no mention of Faraday in this account.
Charles John Herries (1815-1883, DNB). An Excise Commissioner, 1842-1856.
The following sentences almost certainly identify him as Humphrey Lloyd.
Henry Peter, Lord Brougham (1778-1868, DNB). Whig politician and writer on optics.
Brougham (1850).
This is confirmed by the register of papers in RS MS MM 14.43.
On this see Morrell and Thackray (1981), 524.
Karl Kreil (1789-1862, P1, 2). Professor of Astronomy at Prague.
Kreil (1852, 1853). On Lloyd’s interest in this see Lloyd, H. (1853).
Faraday (1851d, e), ERE26 and 27.
Dorothea Lloyd, née Bulwer. Married Lloyd in 1840, see under his DNB entry.
Eugénie (1826-1920, DBF). Empress of France, 1853-1870. This seems to be one of the many canards that were then circulating about her. See Ridley (1979), 171.
Faraday delivered six Christmas lectures on “Voltaic Electricity”. His notes are in RI MS F4 J16.
Benjamin Waterhouse Hawkins (1807-1889, B5). Sculptor and anatomist.
On this see Rudwick (1992), 140-8.
He did not deliver one.
Owen (1854), Friday Evening Discourse of 10 February 1854.
Grove (1854), Friday Evening Discourse of 3 February 1854.
See letter 2760. Airy did not give a Friday Evening Discourse in 1854.


BROUGHAM, Henry Peter (1850): “Experiments and Observations upon the Properties of Light”, Phil. Trans., 140: 235-58.

GROVE, William Robert (1854): “On the Transmission of Electricity by Flame and Gases”, Proc. Roy. Inst., 1: 359-62.

LLOYD, Humphrey (1853): “On the influence of the moon upon the position of the freely-suspended horizontal magnet”, Proc. Roy. Irish Acad., 5: 383-7, 434-40.

OWEN, Richard (1854): “On the Structure and Homologies of Teeth”, Proc. Roy. Inst., 1: 365-74.

RIDLEY, Jasper (1979): Napoleon III and Eugénie, London.

RUDWICK, Martin J.S. (1992): Scenes from Deep Time: Early Pictorial Representations of the Prehistoric World, Chicago.

Please cite as “Faraday2717,” in Ɛpsilon: The Michael Faraday Collection accessed on 30 July 2021,