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The Poetry of Humphry Davy

picture of Humphry Davy
"Not in the ideal dreams of wild desire
Have I beheld a rapture-wakening form:
My bosom burns with no unhallow'd fire,
Yet is my cheek with rosy blushes warm;
Yet are my eyes with sparkling lustre fill'd;
Yet is my mouth replete with murmuring sound;
Yet are my limbs with inward transport fill'd;
And clad with new-born mightiness around.

Sir Humphry Davy is better known as a chemist than a poet; but he shared the Nitrous Oxide Experience with his poetical friends Robert Southey and Samuel Taylor Coleridge while working at Thomas Beddoes' short-lived Pneumatic Institution.

Davy also took nitrous oxide to relieve toothache: "The power of the immediate operation of the gas in removing intense physical pain, I had a very good opportunity of ascertaining...In cutting the unlucky teeth called dentes sapientiae, I experienced an extensive inflammation of the gums, accompa­nied with great pain....On the day when the inflammation was most troublesome, I breathed three large doses of nitrous oxide. The pain always diminished after the first three or four inspirations; the thrilling came on as usual...."


Laughing gas
Utopian Surgery
Sir Humphry Davy
Refs and Further Reading
Anaesthesia and Anaesthetics