The microscope of Thomas Lovell Beddoes (1803-1849)
Note that the 1842
drum microscope (right) differs slightly from the
1859 model (left).
Schiek (1790 - 1870) established his own workshop in
Berlin in 1837. The delivery books of the Schiek firm
are still in existence. These delivery books indicate
that a drum microscope with serial number 137
was purchased by the "Engländer Herr Beddoes"
(the Englishman Mr. Beddoes) in the summer of 1842.
It was the 16th out of the 37 microscopes sold
by Schiek in that year (I thank Dr. Timo
Mappes for providing this information from the
delivery books). It cannot be ascertained
definitively who the Mr. Beddoes referred to is, but
one very likely possibility is that it is the poet
and physician/physiologist Thomas Lovell Beddoes
(1803-1849). Beddoes completed his undergraduate
studies at Oxford and later pursued a medical degree
at Göttingen and Würzburg, obtaining his MD
degree in 1832. A detailed biography indicates that
Dr. Beddoes was indeed in Berlin during the summer of
1842 returning to England by August of that year.
Thus it appears that he may have purchased
this microscope just before returning to his
In the book The
Works of Thomas Lovell Beddoes, 1935 by H. W.
Donner, there is an inventory of the possessions of
Beddoes at the time of his death. Listed among these
possessions is "Albert'sches Kleines Microscop"
(small microscope; the word "Albert'sches" is of
unknown meaning and cannot be translated). The
Schiek drum microscope would certainly be
characterized as small compared to other types of
microscopes available at the time.
may not be the first microscope that belonged to
Dr. Beddoes. In a letter to T.F. Kelsall dated May
1837, he writes: "Without any such risk, however,
I can tell you how I employ, or abuse, my time. You
must know that I am an M.D. of the U. of Würtzburg,
and possess a very passable knowledge of anatomy and
physiology, &c.: that I narrowly escaped becoming
professor of comparative anatomy in the University of
Zurich, (having been recommended unanimously for that
chair by the medical faculty here,) by means of a
timely quarrel in which I engaged, more solito, with
several members of the government. Now, being
independent, and having all the otium if not the
dignitas eines privatis irrenden-gelehrten, sometimes
I dissect a beetle, sometimes an oyster, and very
often trudge about the hills and the lakes, with a
tin box on my back, and “peep and botanize” in
defiance of W.W. Sometimes I peep half a day through
a microscope: sometimes I read Italian (in which I am
only a smatterer,) or what not: and not seldom drink
and smoke like an Ætna."
It must be noted that
in the book Thomas Lovell Beddoes: The
Making of a Poet, 1977 by H. W. Donner, it is
stated that Thomas Lovell Beddoes' cousin William
Minton Beddoes (1817-1870) was also in Berlin during
this time period where he was examined for the degree
of Doctor of Medicine on August 11, 1842. Thus, one
cannot, at this time, rule out the possibility that
it was W. M. Beddoes who purchased this microscope.
(I thank Prof. Richard Geyer for his help in
gathering some of these facts)
This microscope was
obtained for this collection from the estate of a
chemist who worked at the University College in