DEATH or ORFILA.—By the late news from Europe, we learn that Orfila, the celebrated chemist, is dead. He died in Paris at a good old age. ,He was a Spaniard by birth, and was a native of the Island of Minorca, and born in 1787. For a long time he was at the head of all the ehemists in the world in Toxicology. He" was naturalized in France in 1818, and in 1824 his learning and taste were so appreciated in Paris, that he was appointed to the chair of Chemistry in the Medical school, which he filled until he died on the ! 4th of last month (March.) He was a fine lecturer and very eloquent He published a treatise on poisons as early as 1812. The amount of poisoning in Spain perhaps led his mind early in that direction. His first work he successively enlarged and heightened by numerous other works relating to Toxicology Medical Chemistry, and Legal Medicine.— His Elements of Legal Medicine, which has passed through six editions, his published Lectures on Medical Jurisprudence, and the Juridical Exhumations, and some others of his writings form a body of medical jurisprudence, quoted as supreme authority in the criminal tribunals here. All the physical causes, indications, and effects of death by violence, are described and explained, and their analogies with those of natural death marked out. He was consulted in every case of poisoning which took place in Paris for many years, his opinions were implicitly relied upon in every case, and the celebrated poisoning case of M. Lafarge, by his wife and her paramour, the accounts of which were published along with Orfila's investigations in many of our papers a few years ago, has rendered his name familiar to all our people, as well as our doctors and chemists. His was one of those complete minds whose faculties may be applied with equal success to a diversity of objects. His administrative talents were excellent ; he was a fine singer and understood engineering. One day at a general meeting of the French Northern Railway, a discussion arose among the principal men charged with the financial management of their great enterprize. The question in debate was surrounded with difficulties. Orfila presents his view, and proposes his solution of it. The Banker Rothschild, a chief manager of the Company, immediately begged the Professor to become one of its Directors. It was while returning home in the' rain from one of their meetings that he felt the first symptoms of the malady that so soon put an end to his career of active usefulness. It is also said that his health had been injured by exhalations from the poisons with which he experimented.— Strong and true to the end, the final effort of his dying will was expressed in an order for the post-mortem examination of his body— his last contribution to the progress of science. He has left 120,000 francs to found prizes for the solution of questions most important to the advancement of Toxicology and "ST medicine generali, DKEADF L STEAMBOAT EXPLOSION.—On the 23rd ot last month while two steamboats, the Neptune and Farmer were racing from Houston to Galveston, in Texas, the boilers of the Farmer exploded with terrific violence, shattering the boat to pieces, killing the captain and a number of others, and severely wounded many of the passengeis. Mr. Stack-pole—a passenger—was expostulating with the Captain on the danger of racing when the accident took place, and the passengers had prepared a writen protest against such reckless exposure of their lives. Many people have asserted and do assertthat passengers are the cause of steamboat racing by a desire to beat an opposing boat. This is not true ; passengers are in general opposed to racing, and here we have an evidente of this being so. When the Henry Clay was burned last summer, the passengers were opposed to the race, evidently carried on between -that boat and another. The captain of the Farmer paid the penalty of his recklesness ; what has been done to bring those in charge of the Henry Clay to justice. Had the owners arid captair been poor, miserable, outcast men, they would perhaps have been hanged before this ; but wealth and influence are just as powerful in arresting the arm of justice in our Republic as in any despotic country on the face of the earth ; yea, in many cases more so. This is a stigma upon our moral character as a people, which we should wash out at once. NEW HOT AIR ENTERPRIZE.—We understand that an experimental boat is now building in this city, under the superintendance of Mr. Renwick, ex-Examiner of the Patent Office, for a wealthy company, which is to be driven by hot air engines like those of Messrs. Stirling, with some improvements. Her propelling device is to be a central wheel, which is to be changed for some other device if found not to answer. They might as well save their money, it will never be of the least practical benefit. We want something better than, steam, not interior, as hot air is. When it proves superior we will make a note of the matter, and faithfully report progress.
This article was originally published with the title "Events of the Week" in Scientific American 8, 31, 245-246 (April 1853)