# John Spollon

In human chemistry, John Spollon (c.1854-c.1914) was an American poet noted for his 1894 article “Among the Bards”, wherein he discusses the mixing of democrats and republicans in the language of English poet William Cowper's 1782 “On Friendship” and German polyintellect Johann Goethe’s 1809 Elective Affinities.

Overview
See main: Political chemistry
In 1894, Spollon, in his article “Among the Bards”, on German polyintellect Johann Goethe’s 1809 Elective Affinities, in which he characterizes Goethe as the father of affinity, wherein, among other things, he compares the effervescent liquored mixing of mix democrats and republicans to being akin to pouring water over some antacids (seidlitz powder); the full article of which is as follows: [1]

Goethe, whose name in charity to young pronouncers should be spelled Getty, was the father of affinity. If there is a more dangerous combination than a woman, a kerosene can and damp kindlings, it is a poet, an inquiring mind and the science called chemistry. While tinkering with the science in an amateur way. Getty, the German Shakespeare, discovered, what every chemist knew, that there are certain atoms that possess elective affinities for certain other atoms; that is, they were intended by nature to meet with and adhere to each other, forming a perfect whole. He was not the only poet who got an idea from the elements. Cowper noticing that salts and certain acids have no affinity for each other, wrote :

"Courtier and patriot cannot mix
Their heterogeneous politics
Without an effervescence
Like that of salts with lemon juice."
 A 1910 advert for seidlitz powder (Ѻ) tablets, an an early type of antacid pill, composed of a mixture of tartaric acid, sodium bicarbonate, and potassium sodium tartrate, and is used as a mild cathartic by dissolving it in water and drinking, after which the powder combines with gastric juices to develop intestinal gases which are somewhat helpful in evacuating the user’s bowels; and acid-based type reaction which Spollon compares to the mixing of liquored-up republicans and democrats before an election.

When, in mixing your seidlitz powder (Ѻ), after placing together in one tumbler the contents of the blue paper and the white paper, you pour some water on them and they kick up a tremendous fuss, the thought may occur to you: take an handful of democrats and a handful of republicans, put them together just before election, pour some whiskey on them and the result will be the same as when mixing a seidlitz powder, because they have not an affinity for each other.

Even so the thought came to Getty, that every man and every woman was born to meet sooner or later one certain woman or one certain man who was born for him or her — his or her affinity. And he wrote a great story based upon that idea.

"Chemistry!
Come with all thy pervading gases,
Thy crucibles retorts and glasses,
Thy fearful energies and wonders.
Thy dazzling lights and mimic thunders."

Come, and do your durndest, and you won't be able to do one-tenth of the mischief that can be worked by the pen in the hands of a man who knows how to move the millions. There was never a story written that could compare with his for popularity and results. Its effects were felt not only in his own time and country, but all over the civilized world and for generations. It was the cause of murder, suicide, debauchery and despair.

How easy it made things for a man whether married or single! If single, the first pretty maid he met was his affinity and they married in haste. In the course of time he meets another maid — prettier than his wife. All right: it seems he made a mistake that first trip, quite natural; and no doubt his wife, if she has read the great story, is of the same opinion, and has already made the acquaintance of her own genuine Simon Pure Affinity; or if she is not that sort of a woman, she makes the discovery that there is an affinity between her husband's new flame and a horsewhip and loses no time in bringing them together. And so it goes on, and everything is made easy and philosophical and pleasant for libertines, and all because a poet knew no better than to monkey with the elements and apply their peculiarities to human nature. (To be continued.)

The article seems to have been continued in a column later that much entitled “Among the Bards”, albeit focused on American poets in general, and not mentioning Goethe further. [2]

Reaction discussion
To give a simple idea of what Spollon here is alluding to, in his comparison of a democrat-republican reaction to that of an antacid in water or in stomach acid, the following is the reaction of the popular antacid Tums (calcium carbonate, CaCO3) with HCl (stomach acid), the the gas product of carbon dioxide CO2 being given off:

$2HCl(aq) + CaCO_3(s) \rightarrow CaCl_2(aq) + CO_2(g) + H_2O(l) \,$

Cowper
Spollon above cites section 20 of the 1782 Empedocles-style chemical aphorism like poem “On Friendship” by English poet William Cowper which reads as follows: [3]

which has the alternative translation variations of:

Purpose | Chemical teleology
The excerpt "they were intended by nature to meet with and adhere to each other" has a bit of bent or slanted chemical teleology feel to it, which is in need of discussion and dissection.

References
1. Spollon, John. (1894). “Among the Bards”, Truth, and Opinion, Supplement to Fibre and Fabric: A Record of American Textile Industries in the Cotton and Woolen Trade, 20(509):1113, Dec 1.
2. Spollon, John. (1894). “Among the Bards”, Truth, and Opinion, Supplement to Fibre and Fabric: A Record of American Textile Industries in the Cotton and Woolen Trade, 20(512):1149, Dec 22.
3. Cowper, William. (1782). “On Friendship”, in: The Life and Posthumous Writings of William Cowper (editor: William Hayley) (pg. 219). J. Seagrave, 1803.