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Memoir of Fleeming Jenkin by Robert Louis Stevenson

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'JUNE 6TH, 1876. - Frewen's crank axle is a failure just at present
- but he bears up.'

'JUNE 14TH. - The boys enjoy their riding. It gets them whole
funds of adventures. One of their caps falling off is matter for
delightful reminiscences; and when a horse breaks his step, the
occurrence becomes a rear, a shy, or a plunge as they talk it over.
Austin, with quiet confidence, speaks of the greater pleasure in
riding a spirited horse, even if he does give a little trouble. It
is the stolid brute that he dislikes. (N.B. You can still see six
inches between him and the saddle when his pony trots.) I listen
and sympathise and throw out no hint that their achievements are
not really great.'

'JUNE 18TH. - Bernard is much impressed by the fact that I can be
useful to Frewen about the steamboat' [which the latter
irrepressible inventor was making]. 'He says quite with awe, "He
would not have got on nearly so well if you had not helped him."'

'JUNE 27TH. - I do not see what I could do without Austin. He
talks so pleasantly and is so truly good all through.'

'JUNE 27TH. - My chief difficulty with Austin is to get him
measured for a pair of trousers. Hitherto I have failed, but I
keep a stout heart and mean to succeed. Frewen the observer, in
describing the paces of two horses, says, "Polly takes twenty-seven
steps to get round the school. I couldn't count Sophy, but she
takes more than a hundred."'

'FEB. 18TH, 1877. - We all feel very lonely without you. Frewen
had to come up and sit in my room for company last night and I
actually kissed him, a thing that has not occurred for years.
Jack, poor fellow, bears it as well as he can, and has taken the
opportunity of having a fester on his foot, so he is lame and has
it bathed, and this occupies his thoughts a good deal.'

'FEB. 19TH. - As to Mill, Austin has not got the list yet. I think
it will prejudice him very much against Mill - but that is not my
affair. Education of that kind! . . . I would as soon cram my boys
with food and boast of the pounds they had eaten, as cram them with

But if Fleeming was an anxious father, he did not suffer his
anxiety to prevent the boys from any manly or even dangerous
pursuit. Whatever it might occur to them to try, he would
carefully show them how to do it, explain the risks, and then
either share the danger himself or, if that were not possible,
stand aside and wait the event with that unhappy courage of the
looker-on. He was a good swimmer, and taught them to swim. He
thoroughly loved all manly exercises; and during their holidays,
and principally in the Highlands, helped and encouraged them to
excel in as many as possible: to shoot, to fish, to walk, to pull
an oar, to hand, reef and steer, and to run a steam launch. In all
of these, and in all parts of Highland life, he shared delightedly.
He was well onto forty when he took once more to shooting, he was
forty-three when he killed his first salmon, but no boy could have
more single-mindedly rejoiced in these pursuits. His growing love
for the Highland character, perhaps also a sense of the difficulty
of the task, led him to take up at forty-one the study of Gaelic;
in which he made some shadow of progress, but not much: the
fastnesses of that elusive speech retaining to the last their
independence. At the house of his friend Mrs. Blackburn, who plays
the part of a Highland lady as to the manner born, he learned the
delightful custom of kitchen dances, which became the rule at his
own house and brought him into yet nearer contact with his
neighbours. And thus at forty-two, he began to learn the reel; a
study, to which he brought his usual smiling earnestness; and the
steps, diagrammatically represented by his own hand, are before me
as I write.

It was in 1879 that a new feature was added to the Highland life:
a steam launch, called the PURGLE, the Styrian corruption of
Walpurga, after a friend to be hereafter mentioned. 'The steam
launch goes,' Fleeming wrote. 'I wish you had been present to
describe two scenes of which she has been the occasion already:
one during which the population of Ullapool, to a baby, was
harnessed to her hurrahing - and the other in which the same
population sat with its legs over a little pier, watching Frewen
and Bernie getting up steam for the first time.' The PURGLE was
got with educational intent; and it served its purpose so well, and
the boys knew their business so practically, that when the summer
was at an end, Fleeming, Mrs. Jenkin, Frewen the engineer, Bernard
the stoker, and Kenneth Robertson a Highland seaman, set forth in
her to make the passage south. The first morning they got from
Loch Broom into Gruinard bay, where they lunched upon an island;
but the wind blowing up in the afternoon, with sheets of rain, it
was found impossible to beat to sea; and very much in the situation
of castaways upon an unknown coast, the party landed at the mouth
of Gruinard river. A shooting lodge was spied among the trees;
there Fleeming went; and though the master, Mr. Murray, was from
home, though the two Jenkin boys were of course as black as
colliers, and all the castaways so wetted through that, as they
stood in the passage, pools formed about their feet and ran before
them into the house, yet Mrs. Murray kindly entertained them for
the night. On the morrow, however, visitors were to arrive; there
would be no room and, in so out-of-the-way a spot, most probably no
food for the crew of the PURGLE; and on the morrow about noon, with
the bay white with spindrift and the wind so strong that one could
scarcely stand against it, they got up steam and skulked under the
land as far as Sanda Bay. Here they crept into a seaside cave, and
cooked some food; but the weather now freshening to a gale, it was
plain they must moor the launch where she was, and find their way
overland to some place of shelter. Even to get their baggage from
on board was no light business; for the dingy was blown so far to
leeward every trip, that they must carry her back by hand along the
beach. But this once managed, and a cart procured in the
neighbourhood, they were able to spend the night in a pot-house on
Ault Bea. Next day, the sea was unapproachable; but the next they
had a pleasant passage to Poolewe, hugging the cliffs, the falling
swell bursting close by them in the gullies, and the black scarts
that sat like ornaments on the top of every stack and pinnacle,
looking down into the PURGLE as she passed. The climate of
Scotland had not done with them yet: for three days they lay
storm-stayed in Poolewe, and when they put to sea on the morning of
the fourth, the sailors prayed them for God's sake not to attempt
the passage. Their setting out was indeed merely tentative; but
presently they had gone too far to return, and found themselves
committed to double Rhu Reay with a foul wind and a cross sea.
From half-past eleven in the morning until half-past five at night,
they were in immediate and unceasing danger. Upon the least
mishap, the PURGLE must either have been swamped by the seas or
bulged upon the cliffs of that rude headland. Fleeming and
Robertson took turns baling and steering; Mrs. Jenkin, so violent
was the commotion of the boat, held on with both hands; Frewen, by
Robertson's direction, ran the engine, slacking and pressing her to
meet the seas; and Bernard, only twelve years old, deadly sea-sick,
and continually thrown against the boiler, so that he was found
next day to be covered with burns, yet kept an even fire. It was a
very thankful party that sat down that evening to meat in the Hotel
at Gairloch. And perhaps, although the thing was new in the
family, no one was much surprised when Fleeming said grace over
that meal. Thenceforward he continued to observe the form, so that
there was kept alive in his house a grateful memory of peril and
deliverance. But there was nothing of the muff in Fleeming; he
thought it a good thing to escape death, but a becoming and a
healthful thing to run the risk of it; and what is rarer, that
which he thought for himself, he thought for his family also. In
spite of the terrors of Rhu Reay, the cruise was persevered in and
brought to an end under happier conditions.

One year, instead of the Highlands, Alt Aussee, in the Steiermark,
was chosen for the holidays; and the place, the people, and the
life delighted Fleeming. He worked hard at German, which he had
much forgotten since he was a boy; and what is highly
characteristic, equally hard at the patois, in which he learned to
excel. He won a prize at a Schutzen-fest; and though he hunted
chamois without much success, brought down more interesting game in
the shape of the Styrian peasants, and in particular of his gillie,
Joseph. This Joseph was much of a character; and his appreciations
of Fleeming have a fine note of their own. The bringing up of the
boys he deigned to approve of: 'FAST SO GUT WIE EIN BAUER,' was
his trenchant criticism. The attention and courtly respect with
which Fleeming surrounded his wife, was something of a puzzle to
the philosophic gillie; he announced in the village that Mrs.
Jenkin - DIE SILBERNE FRAU, as the folk had prettily named her from
some silver ornaments - was a 'GEBORENE GRAFIN' who had married
beneath her; and when Fleeming explained what he called the English
theory (though indeed it was quite his own) of married relations,
Joseph, admiring but unconvinced, avowed it was 'GAR SCHON.'
Joseph's cousin, Walpurga Moser, to an orchestra of clarionet and
zither, taught the family the country dances, the Steierisch and
the Landler, and gained their hearts during the lessons. Her
sister Loys, too, who was up at the Alp with the cattle, came down
to church on Sundays, made acquaintance with the Jenkins, and must
have them up to see the sunrise from her house upon the Loser,
where they had supper and all slept in the loft among the hay. The
Mosers were not lost sight of; Walpurga still corresponds with Mrs.
Jenkin, and it was a late pleasure of Fleeming's to choose and
despatch a wedding present for his little mountain friend. This
visit was brought to an end by a ball in the big inn parlour; the
refreshments chosen, the list of guests drawn up, by Joseph; the
best music of the place in attendance; and hosts and guests in
their best clothes. The ball was opened by Mrs. Jenkin dancing
Steierisch with a lordly Bauer, in gray and silver and with a
plumed hat; and Fleeming followed with Walpurga Moser.

There ran a principle through all these holiday pleasures. In
Styria as in the Highlands, the same course was followed: Fleeming
threw himself as fully as he could into the life and occupations of
the native people, studying everywhere their dances and their
language, and conforming, always with pleasure, to their rustic
etiquette. Just as the ball at Alt Aussee was designed for the
taste of Joseph, the parting feast at Attadale was ordered in every
particular to the taste of Murdoch the Keeper. Fleeming was not
one of the common, so-called gentlemen, who take the tricks of
their own coterie to be eternal principles of taste. He was aware,
on the other hand, that rustic people dwelling in their own places,
follow ancient rules with fastidious precision, and are easily
shocked and embarrassed by what (if they used the word) they would
have to call the vulgarity of visitors from town. And he, who was
so cavalier with men of his own class, was sedulous to shield the
more tender feelings of the peasant; he, who could be so trying in
a drawing-room, was even punctilious in the cottage. It was in all
respects a happy virtue. It renewed his life, during these
holidays, in all particulars. It often entertained him with the
discovery of strange survivals; as when, by the orders of Murdoch,
Mrs. Jenkin must publicly taste of every dish before it was set
before her guests. And thus to throw himself into a fresh life and
a new school of manners was a grateful exercise of Fleeming's
mimetic instinct; and to the pleasures of the open air, of
hardships supported, of dexterities improved and displayed, and of
plain and elegant society, added a spice of drama.


Fleeming was all his life a lover of the play and all that belonged
to it. Dramatic literature he knew fully. He was one of the not
very numerous people who can read a play: a knack, the fruit of
much knowledge and some imagination, comparable to that of reading
score. Few men better understood the artificial principles on
which a play is good or bad; few more unaffectedly enjoyed a piece
of any merit of construction. His own play was conceived with a
double design; for he had long been filled with his theory of the
true story of Griselda; used to gird at Father Chaucer for his
misconception; and was, perhaps first of all, moved by the desire
to do justice to the Marquis of Saluces, and perhaps only in the
second place, by the wish to treat a story (as he phrased it) like
a sum in arithmetic. I do not think he quite succeeded; but I must
own myself no fit judge. Fleeming and I were teacher and taught as
to the principles, disputatious rivals in the practice, of dramatic

Acting had always, ever since Rachel and the Marseillaise, a
particular power on him. 'If I do not cry at the play,' he used to
say, 'I want to have my money back.' Even from a poor play with
poor actors, he could draw pleasure. 'Giacometti's ELISABETTA,' I
find him writing, 'fetched the house vastly. Poor Queen Elizabeth!
And yet it was a little good.' And again, after a night of
Salvini: 'I do not suppose any one with feelings could sit out
OTHELLO, if Iago and Desdemona were acted.' Salvini was, in his
view, the greatest actor he had seen. We were all indeed moved and
bettered by the visit of that wonderful man. - 'I declare I feel as
if I could pray!' cried one of us, on the return from HAMLET. -
'That is prayer,' said Fleeming. W. B. Hole and I, in a fine
enthusiasm of gratitude, determined to draw up an address to
Salvini, did so, and carried it to Fleeming; and I shall never
forget with what coldness he heard and deleted the eloquence of our
draft, nor with what spirit (our vanities once properly mortified)
he threw himself into the business of collecting signatures. It
was his part, on the ground of his Italian, to see and arrange with
the actor; it was mine to write in the ACADEMY a notice of the
first performance of MACBETH. Fleeming opened the paper, read so
far, and flung it on the floor. 'No,' he cried, 'that won't do.
You were thinking of yourself, not of Salvini!' The criticism was
shrewd as usual, but it was unfair through ignorance; it was not of
myself that I was thinking, but of the difficulties of my trade
which I had not well mastered. Another unalloyed dramatic pleasure
which Fleeming and I shared the year of the Paris Exposition, was
the MARQUIS DE VILLEMER, that blameless play, performed by
Madeleine Brohan, Delaunay, Worms, and Broisat - an actress, in
such parts at least, to whom I have never seen full justice
rendered. He had his fill of weeping on that occasion; and when
the piece was at an end, in front of a cafe, in the mild, midnight
air, we had our fill of talk about the art of acting.

But what gave the stage so strong a hold on Fleeming was an
inheritance from Norwich, from Edward Barron, and from Enfield of
the SPEAKER. The theatre was one of Edward Barron's elegant
hobbies; he read plays, as became Enfield's son-in-law, with a good
discretion; he wrote plays for his family, in which Eliza Barron
used to shine in the chief parts; and later in life, after the
Norwich home was broken up, his little granddaughter would sit
behind him in a great armchair, and be introduced, with his stately
elocution, to the world of dramatic literature. From this, in a
direct line, we can deduce the charades at Claygate; and after
money came, in the Edinburgh days, that private theatre which took
up so much of Fleeming's energy and thought. The company - Mr. and
Mrs. R. O. Carter of Colwall, W. B. Hole, Captain Charles Douglas,
Mr. Kunz, Mr. Burnett, Professor Lewis Campbell, Mr. Charles
Baxter, and many more - made a charming society for themselves and
gave pleasure to their audience. Mr. Carter in Sir Toby Belch it
would be hard to beat. Mr. Hole in broad farce, or as the herald
in the TRACHINIAE, showed true stage talent. As for Mrs. Jenkin,
it was for her the rest of us existed and were forgiven; her powers
were an endless spring of pride and pleasure to her husband; he
spent hours hearing and schooling her in private; and when it came
to the performance, though there was perhaps no one in the audience
more critical, none was more moved than Fleeming. The rest of us
did not aspire so high. There were always five performances and
weeks of busy rehearsal; and whether we came to sit and stifle as
the prompter, to be the dumb (or rather the inarticulate)
recipients of Carter's dog whip in the TAMING OF THE SHREW, or
having earned our spurs, to lose one more illusion in a leading
part, we were always sure at least of a long and an exciting
holiday in mirthful company.

In this laborious annual diversion, Fleeming's part was large. I
never thought him an actor, but he was something of a mimic, which
stood him in stead. Thus he had seen Got in Poirier; and his own
Poirier, when he came to play it, breathed meritoriously of the
model. The last part I saw him play was Triplet, and at first I
thought it promised well. But alas! the boys went for a holiday,
missed a train, and were not heard of at home till late at night.
Poor Fleeming, the man who never hesitated to give his sons a
chisel or a gun, or to send them abroad in a canoe or on a horse,
toiled all day at his rehearsal, growing hourly paler, Triplet
growing hourly less meritorious. And though the return of the
children, none the worse for their little adventure, brought the
colour back into his face, it could not restore him to his part. I
remember finding him seated on the stairs in some rare moment of
quiet during the subsequent performances. 'Hullo, Jenkin,' said I,
'you look down in the mouth.' - 'My dear boy,' said he, 'haven't
you heard me? I have not one decent intonation from beginning to

But indeed he never supposed himself an actor; took a part, when he
took any, merely for convenience, as one takes a hand at whist; and
found his true service and pleasure in the more congenial business
of the manager. Augier, Racine, Shakespeare, Aristophanes in
Hookham Frere's translation, Sophocles and AEschylus in Lewis
Campbell's, such were some of the authors whom he introduced to his
public. In putting these upon the stage, he found a thousand
exercises for his ingenuity and taste, a thousand problems arising
which he delighted to study, a thousand opportunities to make these
infinitesimal improvements which are so much in art and for the
artist. Our first Greek play had been costumed by the professional
costumer, with unforgetable results of comicality and indecorum:
the second, the TRACHINIAE, of Sophocles, he took in hand himself,
and a delightful task he made of it. His study was then in
antiquarian books, where he found confusion, and on statues and
bas-reliefs, where he at last found clearness; after an hour or so
at the British Museum, he was able to master 'the chiton, sleeves
and all'; and before the time was ripe, he had a theory of Greek
tailoring at his fingers' ends, and had all the costumes made under
his eye as a Greek tailor would have made them. 'The Greeks made
the best plays and the best statues, and were the best architects:
of course, they were the best tailors, too,' said he; and was never
weary, when he could find a tolerant listener, of dwelling on the
simplicity, the economy, the elegance both of means and effect,
which made their system so delightful.

But there is another side to the stage-manager's employment. The
discipline of acting is detestable; the failures and triumphs of
that business appeal too directly to the vanity; and even in the
course of a careful amateur performance such as ours, much of the
smaller side of man will be displayed. Fleeming, among conflicting
vanities and levities, played his part to my admiration. He had
his own view; he might be wrong; but the performances (he would
remind us) were after all his, and he must decide. He was, in this
as in all other things, an iron taskmaster, sparing not himself nor
others. If you were going to do it at all, he would see that it
was done as well as you were able. I have known him to keep two
culprits (and one of these his wife) repeating the same action and
the same two or three words for a whole weary afternoon. And yet
he gained and retained warm feelings from far the most of those who
fell under his domination, and particularly (it is pleasant to
remember) from the girls. After the slipshod training and the
incomplete accomplishments of a girls' school, there was something
at first annoying, at last exciting and bracing, in this high
standard of accomplishment and perseverance.


It did not matter why he entered upon any study or employment,
whether for amusement like the Greek tailoring or the Highland
reels, whether from a desire to serve the public as with his
sanitary work, or in the view of benefiting poorer men as with his
labours for technical education, he 'pitched into it' (as he would
have said himself) with the same headlong zest. I give in the
Appendix a letter from Colonel Fergusson, which tells fully the
nature of the sanitary work and of Fleeming's part and success in
it. It will be enough to say here that it was a scheme of
protection against the blundering of builders and the dishonesty of
plumbers. Started with an eye rather to the houses of the rich,
Fleeming hoped his Sanitary Associations would soon extend their
sphere of usefulness and improve the dwellings of the poor. In
this hope he was disappointed; but in all other ways the scheme
exceedingly prospered, associations sprang up and continue to
spring up in many quarters, and wherever tried they have been found
of use.

Here, then, was a serious employment; it has proved highly useful
to mankind; and it was begun besides, in a mood of bitterness,
under the shock of what Fleeming would so sensitively feel - the
death of a whole family of children. Yet it was gone upon like a
holiday jaunt. I read in Colonel Fergusson's letter that his
schoolmates bantered him when he began to broach his scheme; so did
I at first, and he took the banter as he always did with enjoyment,
until he suddenly posed me with the question: 'And now do you see
any other jokes to make? Well, then,' said he, 'that's all right.
I wanted you to have your fun out first; now we can be serious.'
And then with a glowing heat of pleasure, he laid his plans before
me, revelling in the details, revelling in hope. It was as he
wrote about the joy of electrical experiment. 'What shall I
compare them to? A new song? - a Greek play?' Delight attended
the exercise of all his powers; delight painted the future. Of
these ideal visions, some (as I have said) failed of their
fruition. And the illusion was characteristic. Fleeming believed
we had only to make a virtue cheap and easy, and then all would
practise it; that for an end unquestionably good, men would not
grudge a little trouble and a little money, though they might
stumble at laborious pains and generous sacrifices. He could not
believe in any resolute badness. 'I cannot quite say,' he wrote in
his young manhood, 'that I think there is no sin or misery. This I
can say: I do not remember one single malicious act done to
myself. In fact it is rather awkward when I have to say the Lord's
Prayer. I have nobody's trespasses to forgive.' And to the point,
I remember one of our discussions. I said it was a dangerous error
not to admit there were bad people; he, that it was only a
confession of blindness on our part, and that we probably called
others bad only so far as we were wrapped in ourselves and lacking
in the transmigratory forces of imagination. I undertook to
describe to him three persons irredeemably bad and whom he should
admit to be so. In the first case, he denied my evidence: 'You
cannot judge a man upon such testimony,' said he. For the second,
he owned it made him sick to hear the tale; but then there was no
spark of malice, it was mere weakness I had described, and he had
never denied nor thought to set a limit to man's weakness. At my
third gentleman, he struck his colours. 'Yes,' said he, 'I'm
afraid that is a bad man.' And then looking at me shrewdly: 'I
wonder if it isn't a very unfortunate thing for you to have met
him.' I showed him radiantly how it was the world we must know,
the world as it was, not a world expurgated and prettified with
optimistic rainbows. 'Yes, yes,' said he; 'but this badness is
such an easy, lazy explanation. Won't you be tempted to use it,
instead of trying to understand people?'

In the year 1878, he took a passionate fancy for the phonograph:
it was a toy after his heart, a toy that touched the skirts of
life, art, and science, a toy prolific of problems and theories.
Something fell to be done for a University Cricket Ground Bazaar.
'And the thought struck him,' Mr. Ewing writes to me, 'to exhibit
Edison's phonograph, then the very newest scientific marvel. The
instrument itself was not to be purchased - I think no specimen had
then crossed the Atlantic - but a copy of the TIMES with an account
of it was at hand, and by the help of this we made a phonograph
which to our great joy talked, and talked, too, with the purest
American accent. It was so good that a second instrument was got
ready forthwith. Both were shown at the Bazaar: one by Mrs.
Jenkin to people willing to pay half a crown for a private view and
the privilege of hearing their own voices, while Jenkin, perfervid
as usual, gave half-hourly lectures on the other in an adjoining
room - I, as his lieutenant, taking turns. The thing was in its
way a little triumph. A few of the visitors were deaf, and hugged
the belief that they were the victims of a new kind of fancy-fair
swindle. Of the others, many who came to scoff remained to take
raffle tickets; and one of the phonographs was finally disposed of
in this way, falling, by a happy freak of the ballot-box, into the
hands of Sir William Thomson.' The other remained in Fleeming's
hands, and was a source of infinite occupation. Once it was sent
to London, 'to bring back on the tinfoil the tones of a lady
distinguished for clear vocalisations; at another time Sir Robert
Christison was brought in to contribute his powerful bass'; and
there scarcely came a visitor about the house, but he was made the
subject of experiment. The visitors, I am afraid, took their parts
lightly: Mr. Hole and I, with unscientific laughter, commemorating
various shades of Scotch accent, or proposing to 'teach the poor
dumb animal to swear.' But Fleeming and Mr. Ewing, when we
butterflies were gone, were laboriously ardent. Many thoughts that
occupied the later years of my friend were caught from the small
utterance of that toy. Thence came his inquiries into the roots of
articulate language and the foundations of literary art; his papers
on vowel sounds, his papers in the SATURDAY REVIEW upon the laws of
verse, and many a strange approximation, many a just note, thrown
out in talk and now forgotten. I pass over dozens of his
interests, and dwell on this trifling matter of the phonograph,
because it seems to me that it depicts the man. So, for Fleeming,
one thing joined into another, the greater with the less. He cared
not where it was he scratched the surface of the ultimate mystery -
in the child's toy, in the great tragedy, in the laws of the
tempest, or in the properties of energy or mass - certain that
whatever he touched, it was a part of life - and however he touched
it, there would flow for his happy constitution interest and
delight. 'All fables have their morals,' says Thoreau, 'but the
innocent enjoy the story.' There is a truth represented for the
imagination in these lines of a noble poem, where we are told, that
in our highest hours of visionary clearness, we can but

'see the children sport upon the shore
And hear the mighty waters rolling evermore.'

To this clearness Fleeming had attained; and although he heard the
voice of the eternal seas and weighed its message, he was yet able,
until the end of his life, to sport upon these shores of death and
mystery with the gaiety and innocence of children.


It was as a student that I first knew Fleeming, as one of that
modest number of young men who sat under his ministrations in a
soul-chilling class-room at the top of the University buildings.
His presence was against him as a professor: no one, least of all
students, would have been moved to respect him at first sight:
rather short in stature, markedly plain, boyishly young in manner,
cocking his head like a terrier with every mark of the most
engaging vivacity and readiness to be pleased, full of words, full
of paradox, a stranger could scarcely fail to look at him twice, a
man thrown with him in a train could scarcely fail to be engaged by
him in talk, but a student would never regard him as academical.
Yet he had that fibre in him that order always existed in his
class-room. I do not remember that he ever addressed me in
language; at the least sign of unrest, his eye would fall on me and
I was quelled. Such a feat is comparatively easy in a small class;
but I have misbehaved in smaller classes and under eyes more
Olympian than Fleeming Jenkin's. He was simply a man from whose
reproof one shrank; in manner the least buckrammed of mankind, he
had, in serious moments, an extreme dignity of goodness. So it was
that he obtained a power over the most insubordinate of students,
but a power of which I was myself unconscious. I was inclined to
regard any professor as a joke, and Fleeming as a particularly good
joke, perhaps the broadest in the vast pleasantry of my curriculum.
I was not able to follow his lectures; I somehow dared not
misconduct myself, as was my customary solace; and I refrained from
attending. This brought me at the end of the session into a
relation with my contemned professor that completely opened my
eyes. During the year, bad student as I was, he had shown a
certain leaning to my society; I had been to his house, he had
asked me to take a humble part in his theatricals; I was a master
in the art of extracting a certificate even at the cannon's mouth;
and I was under no apprehension. But when I approached Fleeming, I
found myself in another world; he would have naught of me. 'It is
quite useless for YOU to come to me, Mr. Stevenson. There may be
doubtful cases, there is no doubt about yours. You have simply NOT
attended my class.' The document was necessary to me for family
considerations; and presently I stooped to such pleadings and rose
to such adjurations, as made my ears burn to remember. He was
quite unmoved; he had no pity for me. - 'You are no fool,' said he,
'and you chose your course.' I showed him that he had misconceived
his duty, that certificates were things of form, attendance a
matter of taste. Two things, he replied, had been required for
graduation, a certain competency proved in the final trials and a
certain period of genuine training proved by certificate; if he did
as I desired, not less than if he gave me hints for an examination,
he was aiding me to steal a degree. 'You see, Mr. Stevenson, these
are the laws and I am here to apply them,' said he. I could not
say but that this view was tenable, though it was new to me; I
changed my attack: it was only for my father's eye that I required
his signature, it need never go to the Senatus, I had already
certificates enough to justify my year's attendance. 'Bring them
to me; I cannot take your word for that,' said he. 'Then I will
consider.' The next day I came charged with my certificates, a
humble assortment. And when he had satisfied himself, 'Remember,'
said he, 'that I can promise nothing, but I will try to find a form
of words.' He did find one, and I am still ashamed when I think of
his shame in giving me that paper. He made no reproach in speech,
but his manner was the more eloquent; it told me plainly what a
dirty business we were on; and I went from his presence, with my
certificate indeed in my possession, but with no answerable sense
of triumph. That was the bitter beginning of my love for Fleeming;
I never thought lightly of him afterwards.

Once, and once only, after our friendship was truly founded, did we
come to a considerable difference. It was, by the rules of poor
humanity, my fault and his. I had been led to dabble in society
journalism; and this coming to his ears, he felt it like a disgrace
upon himself. So far he was exactly in the right; but he was
scarce happily inspired when he broached the subject at his own
table and before guests who were strangers to me. It was the sort
of error he was always ready to repent, but always certain to
repeat; and on this occasion he spoke so freely that I soon made an
excuse and left the house with the firm purpose of returning no
more. About a month later, I met him at dinner at a common
friend's. 'Now,' said he, on the stairs, 'I engage you - like a
lady to dance - for the end of the evening. You have no right to
quarrel with me and not give me a chance.' I have often said and
thought that Fleeming had no tact; he belied the opinion then. I
remember perfectly how, so soon as we could get together, he began
his attack: 'You may have grounds of quarrel with me; you have
none against Mrs. Jenkin; and before I say another word, I want you
to promise you will come to HER house as usual.' An interview thus
begun could have but one ending: if the quarrel were the fault of
both, the merit of the reconciliation was entirely Fleeming's.

When our intimacy first began, coldly enough, accidentally enough
on his part, he had still something of the Puritan, something of
the inhuman narrowness of the good youth. It fell from him slowly,
year by year, as he continued to ripen, and grow milder, and
understand more generously the mingled characters of men. In the
early days he once read me a bitter lecture; and I remember leaving
his house in a fine spring afternoon, with the physical darkness of
despair upon my eyesight. Long after he made me a formal
retractation of the sermon and a formal apology for the pain he had
inflicted; adding drolly, but truly, 'You see, at that time I was
so much younger than you!' And yet even in those days there was
much to learn from him; and above all his fine spirit of piety,
bravely and trustfully accepting life, and his singular delight in
the heroic.

His piety was, indeed, a thing of chief importance. His views (as
they are called) upon religious matters varied much; and he could
never be induced to think them more or less than views. 'All dogma
is to me mere form,' he wrote; 'dogmas are mere blind struggles to
express the inexpressible. I cannot conceive that any single
proposition whatever in religion is true in the scientific sense;
and yet all the while I think the religious view of the world is
the most true view. Try to separate from the mass of their
statements that which is common to Socrates, Isaiah, David, St.
Bernard, the Jansenists, Luther, Mahomet, Bunyan - yes, and George
Eliot: of course you do not believe that this something could be
written down in a set of propositions like Euclid, neither will you
deny that there is something common and this something very
valuable. . . . I shall be sorry if the boys ever give a moment's
thought to the question of what community they belong to - I hope
they will belong to the great community.' I should observe that as
time went on his conformity to the church in which he was born grew
more complete, and his views drew nearer the conventional. 'The
longer I live, my dear Louis,' he wrote but a few months before his
death, 'the more convinced I become of a direct care by God - which
is reasonably impossible - but there it is.' And in his last year
he took the communion.

But at the time when I fell under his influence, he stood more
aloof; and this made him the more impressive to a youthful atheist.
He had a keen sense of language and its imperial influence on men;
language contained all the great and sound metaphysics, he was wont
to say; and a word once made and generally understood, he thought a
real victory of man and reason. But he never dreamed it could be
accurate, knowing that words stand symbol for the indefinable. I
came to him once with a problem which had puzzled me out of
measure: what is a cause? why out of so many innumerable millions
of conditions, all necessary, should one be singled out and
ticketed 'the cause'? 'You do not understand,' said he. 'A cause
is the answer to a question: it designates that condition which I
happen to know and you happen not to know.' It was thus, with
partial exception of the mathematical, that he thought of all means
of reasoning: they were in his eyes but means of communication, so
to be understood, so to be judged, and only so far to be credited.
The mathematical he made, I say, exception of: number and measure
he believed in to the extent of their significance, but that
significance, he was never weary of reminding you, was slender to
the verge of nonentity. Science was true, because it told us
almost nothing. With a few abstractions it could deal, and deal
correctly; conveying honestly faint truths. Apply its means to any
concrete fact of life, and this high dialect of the wise became a
childish jargon.

Thus the atheistic youth was met at every turn by a scepticism more
complete than his own, so that the very weapons of the fight were
changed in his grasp to swords of paper. Certainly the church is
not right, he would argue, but certainly not the anti-church
either. Men are not such fools as to be wholly in the wrong, nor
yet are they so placed as to be ever wholly in the right.
Somewhere, in mid air between the disputants, like hovering Victory
in some design of a Greek battle, the truth hangs undiscerned. And
in the meanwhile what matter these uncertainties? Right is very
obvious; a great consent of the best of mankind, a loud voice
within us (whether of God, or whether by inheritance, and in that
case still from God), guide and command us in the path of duty. He
saw life very simple; he did not love refinements; he was a friend
to much conformity in unessentials. For (he would argue) it is in
this life as it stands about us, that we are given our problem; the
manners of the day are the colours of our palette; they condition,
they constrain us; and a man must be very sure he is in the right,
must (in a favourite phrase of his) be 'either very wise or very
vain,' to break with any general consent in ethics. I remember
taking his advice upon some point of conduct. 'Now,' he said, 'how
do you suppose Christ would have advised you?' and when I had
answered that he would not have counselled me anything unkind or
cowardly, 'No,' he said, with one of his shrewd strokes at the
weakness of his hearer, 'nor anything amusing.' Later in life, he
made less certain in the field of ethics. 'The old story of the
knowledge of good and evil is a very true one,' I find him writing;
only (he goes on) 'the effect of the original dose is much worn
out, leaving Adam's descendants with the knowledge that there is
such a thing - but uncertain where.' His growing sense of this
ambiguity made him less swift to condemn, but no less stimulating
in counsel. 'You grant yourself certain freedoms. Very well,' he
would say, 'I want to see you pay for them some other way. You
positively cannot do this: then there positively must be something
else that you can do, and I want to see you find that out and do
it.' Fleeming would never suffer you to think that you were
living, if there were not, somewhere in your life, some touch of
heroism, to do or to endure.

This was his rarest quality. Far on in middle age, when men begin
to lie down with the bestial goddesses, Comfort and Respectability,
the strings of his nature still sounded as high a note as a young
man's. He loved the harsh voice of duty like a call to battle. He
loved courage, enterprise, brave natures, a brave word, an ugly
virtue; everything that lifts us above the table where we eat or
the bed we sleep upon. This with no touch of the motive-monger or
the ascetic. He loved his virtues to be practical, his heroes to
be great eaters of beef; he loved the jovial Heracles, loved the
astute Odysseus; not the Robespierres and Wesleys. A fine buoyant
sense of life and of man's unequal character ran through all his
thoughts. He could not tolerate the spirit of the pick-thank;
being what we are, he wished us to see others with a generous eye
of admiration, not with the smallness of the seeker after faults.
If there shone anywhere a virtue, no matter how incongruously set,
it was upon the virtue we must fix our eyes. I remember having
found much entertainment in Voltaire's SAUL, and telling him what
seemed to me the drollest touches. He heard me out, as usual when
displeased, and then opened fire on me with red-hot shot. To
belittle a noble story was easy; it was not literature, it was not
art, it was not morality; there was no sustenance in such a form of
jesting, there was (in his favourite phrase) 'no nitrogenous food'
in such literature. And then he proceeded to show what a fine
fellow David was; and what a hard knot he was in about Bathsheba,
so that (the initial wrong committed) honour might well hesitate in
the choice of conduct; and what owls those people were who
marvelled because an Eastern tyrant had killed Uriah, instead of
marvelling that he had not killed the prophet also. 'Now if
Voltaire had helped me to feel that,' said he, 'I could have seen
some fun in it.' He loved the comedy which shows a hero human, and
yet leaves him a hero, and the laughter which does not lessen love.

It was this taste for what is fine in human-kind, that ruled his
choice in books. These should all strike a high note, whether
brave or tender, and smack of the open air. The noble and simple
presentation of things noble and simple, that was the 'nitrogenous
food' of which he spoke so much, which he sought so eagerly,
enjoyed so royally. He wrote to an author, the first part of whose
story he had seen with sympathy, hoping that it might continue in
the same vein. 'That this may be so,' he wrote, 'I long with the
longing of David for the water of Bethlehem. But no man need die
for the water a poet can give, and all can drink it to the end of
time, and their thirst be quenched and the pool never dry - and the
thirst and the water are both blessed.' It was in the Greeks
particularly that he found this blessed water; he loved 'a fresh
air' which he found 'about the Greek things even in translations';
he loved their freedom from the mawkish and the rancid. The tale
of David in the Bible, the ODYSSEY, Sophocles, AEschylus,
Shakespeare, Scott; old Dumas in his chivalrous note; Dickens
rather than Thackeray, and the TALE OF TWO CITIES out of Dickens:
such were some of his preferences. To Ariosto and Boccaccio he was
always faithful; BURNT NJAL was a late favourite; and he found at
least a passing entertainment in the ARCADIA and the GRAND CYRUS.
George Eliot he outgrew, finding her latterly only sawdust in the
mouth; but her influence, while it lasted, was great, and must have
gone some way to form his mind. He was easily set on edge,
however, by didactic writing; and held that books should teach no
other lesson but what 'real life would teach, were it as vividly
presented.' Again, it was the thing made that took him, the drama
in the book; to the book itself, to any merit of the making, he was
long strangely blind. He would prefer the AGAMEMNON in the prose
of Mr. Buckley, ay, to Keats. But he was his mother's son,
learning to the last. He told me one day that literature was not a
trade; that it was no craft; that the professed author was merely
an amateur with a door-plate. 'Very well,' said I, 'the first time
you get a proof, I will demonstrate that it is as much a trade as
bricklaying, and that you do not know it.' By the very next post,
a proof came. I opened it with fear; for he was indeed, as the
reader will see by these volumes, a formidable amateur; always
wrote brightly, because he always thought trenchantly; and
sometimes wrote brilliantly, as the worst of whistlers may
sometimes stumble on a perfect intonation. But it was all for the
best in the interests of his education; and I was able, over that
proof, to give him a quarter of an hour such as Fleeming loved both
to give and to receive. His subsequent training passed out of my
hands into those of our common friend, W. E. Henley. 'Henley and
I,' he wrote, 'have fairly good times wigging one another for not
doing better. I wig him because he won't try to write a real play,
and he wigs me because I can't try to write English.' When I next
saw him, he was full of his new acquisitions. 'And yet I have lost
something too,' he said regretfully. 'Up to now Scott seemed to me
quite perfect, he was all I wanted. Since I have been learning
this confounded thing, I took up one of the novels, and a great
deal of it is both careless and clumsy.'


He spoke four languages with freedom, not even English with any
marked propriety. What he uttered was not so much well said, as
excellently acted: so we may hear every day the inexpressive
language of a poorly-written drama assume character and colour in
the hands of a good player. No man had more of the VIS COMICA in
private life; he played no character on the stage, as he could play
himself among his friends. It was one of his special charms; now
when the voice is silent and the face still, it makes it impossible
to do justice to his power in conversation. He was a delightful
companion to such as can bear bracing weather; not to the very
vain; not to the owlishly wise, who cannot have their dogmas
canvassed; not to the painfully refined, whose sentiments become
articles of faith. The spirit in which he could write that he was
'much revived by having an opportunity of abusing Whistler to a
knot of his special admirers,' is a spirit apt to be misconstrued.
He was not a dogmatist, even about Whistler. 'The house is full of
pretty things,' he wrote, when on a visit; 'but Mrs. -'s taste in
pretty things has one very bad fault: it is not my taste.' And
that was the true attitude of his mind; but these eternal
differences it was his joy to thresh out and wrangle over by the
hour. It was no wonder if he loved the Greeks; he was in many ways
a Greek himself; he should have been a sophist and met Socrates; he
would have loved Socrates, and done battle with him staunchly and
manfully owned his defeat; and the dialogue, arranged by Plato,
would have shown even in Plato's gallery. He seemed in talk
aggressive, petulant, full of a singular energy; as vain you would
have said as a peacock, until you trod on his toes, and then you
saw that he was at least clear of all the sicklier elements of
vanity. Soundly rang his laugh at any jest against himself. He
wished to be taken, as he took others, for what was good in him
without dissimulation of the evil, for what was wise in him without
concealment of the childish. He hated a draped virtue, and
despised a wit on its own defence. And he drew (if I may so
express myself) a human and humorous portrait of himself with all
his defects and qualities, as he thus enjoyed in talk the robust
sports of the intelligence; giving and taking manfully, always
without pretence, always with paradox, always with exuberant
pleasure; speaking wisely of what he knew, foolishly of what he
knew not; a teacher, a learner, but still combative; picking holes
in what was said even to the length of captiousness, yet aware of
all that was said rightly; jubilant in victory, delighted by
defeat: a Greek sophist, a British schoolboy.

Among the legends of what was once a very pleasant spot, the old
Savile Club, not then divorced from Savile Row, there are many
memories of Fleeming. He was not popular at first, being known
simply as 'the man who dines here and goes up to Scotland'; but he
grew at last, I think, the most generally liked of all the members.
To those who truly knew and loved him, who had tasted the real
sweetness of his nature, Fleeming's porcupine ways had always been
a matter of keen regret. They introduced him to their own friends
with fear; sometimes recalled the step with mortification. It was
not possible to look on with patience while a man so lovable
thwarted love at every step. But the course of time and the
ripening of his nature brought a cure. It was at the Savile that
he first remarked a change; it soon spread beyond the walls of the
club. Presently I find him writing: 'Will you kindly explain what
has happened to me? All my life I have talked a good deal, with
the almost unfailing result of making people sick of the sound of
my tongue. It appeared to me that I had various things to say, and
I had no malevolent feelings, but nevertheless the result was that
expressed above. Well, lately some change has happened. If I talk
to a person one day, they must have me the next. Faces light up
when they see me. - "Ah, I say, come here," - "come and dine with
me." It's the most preposterous thing I ever experienced. It is
curiously pleasant. You have enjoyed it all your life, and
therefore cannot conceive how bewildering a burst of it is for the
first time at forty-nine.' And this late sunshine of popularity
still further softened him. He was a bit of a porcupine to the
last, still shedding darts; or rather he was to the end a bit of a
schoolboy, and must still throw stones, but the essential
toleration that underlay his disputatiousness, and the kindness
that made of him a tender sicknurse and a generous helper, shone
more conspicuously through. A new pleasure had come to him; and as
with all sound natures, he was bettered by the pleasure.

I can best show Fleeming in this later stage by quoting from a
vivid and interesting letter of M. Emile Trelat's. Here, admirably
expressed, is how he appeared to a friend of another nation, whom
he encountered only late in life. M. Trelat will pardon me if I
correct, even before I quote him; but what the Frenchman supposed
to flow from some particular bitterness against France, was only
Fleeming's usual address. Had M. Trelat been Italian, Italy would
have fared as ill; and yet Italy was Fleeming's favourite country.

Vous savez comment j'ai connu Fleeming Jenkin! C'etait en Mai
1878. Nous etions tous deux membres du jury de l'Exposition
Universelle. On n'avait rien fait qui vaille a la premiere seance
de notre classe, qui avait eu lieu le matin. Tout le monde avait
parle et reparle pour ne rien dire. Cela durait depuis huit
heures; il etait midi. Je demandai la parole pour une motion
d'ordre, et je proposai que la seance fut levee a la condition que
chaque membre francais, EMPORTAT a dejeuner un jure etranger.
Jenkin applaudit. 'Je vous emimene dejeuner,' lui criai-je. 'Je
veux bien.' . . . Nous partimes; en chemin nous vous rencontrions;
il vous presente et nous allons dejeuner tous trois aupres du

Et, depuis ce temps, nous avons ete de vieux amis. Non seulement
nous passions nos journees au jury, ou nous etions toujours
ensemble, cote-a-cote. Mais nos habitudes s'etaient faites telles
que, non contents de dejeuner en face l'un de l'autre, je le
ramenais diner presque tous les jours chez moi. Cela dura une
quinzaine: puis il fut rappele en Angleterre. Mais il revint, et
nous fimes encore une bonne etape de vie intellectuelle, morale et
philosophique. Je crois qu'il me rendait deja tout ce que
j'eprouvais de sympathie et d'estime, et que je ne fus pas pour
rien dans son retour a Paris.

Chose singuliere! nous nous etions attaches l'un a l'autre par les
sous-entendus bien plus que par la matiere de nos conversations. A
vrai dire, nous etions presque toujours en discussion; et il nous
arrivait de nous rire au nez l'un et l'autre pendant des heures,
tant nous nous etonnions reciproquement de la diversite de nos
points de vue. Je le trouvais si Anglais, et il me trouvais si
Francais! Il etait si franchement revolte de certaines choses
qu'il voyait chez nous, et je comprenais si mal certaines choses
qui se passaient chez vous! Rien de plus interessant que ces
contacts qui etaient des contrastes, et que ces rencontres d'idees
qui etaient des choses; rien de si attachant que les echappees de
coeur ou d'esprit auxquelles ces petits conflits donnaient a tout
moment cours. C'est dans ces conditions que, pendant son sejour a
Paris en 1878, je conduisis un peu partout mon nouvel ami. Nous
allÉmes chez Madame Edmond Adam, ou il vit passer beaucoup d'hommes
politiques avec lesquels il causa. Mais c'est chez les ministres
qu'il fut interesse. Le moment etait, d'ailleurs, curieux en
France. Je me rappelle que, lorsque je le presentai au Ministre du
Commerce, il fit cette spirituelle repartie: 'C'est la seconde
fois que je viens en France sous la Republique. La premiere fois,
c'etait en 1848, elle s'etait coiffee de travers: je suis bien
heureux de saluer aujourd'hui votre excellence, quand elle a mis
son chapeau droit.' Une fois je le menai voir couronner la Rosiere
de Nanterre. Il y suivit les ceremonies civiles et religieuses; il
y assista au banquet donne par le Maire; il y vit notre de Lesseps,
auquel il porta un toast. Le soir, nous revinmes tard a Paris; il
faisait chaud; nous etions un peu fatigues; nous entrÉmes dans un
des rares cafes encore ouverts. Il devint silencieux. - 'N'etes-
vous pas content de votre journee?' lui dis-je. - 'O, si! mais je
reflechis, et je me dis que vous etes un peuple gai - tous ces
braves gens etaient gais aujourd'hui. C'est une vertu, la gaiete,
et vous l'avez en France, cette vertu!' Il me disait cela
melancoliquement; et c'etait la premiere fois que je lui entendais
faire une louange adressee a la France. . . . Mais il ne faut pas
que vous voyiez la une plainte de ma part. Je serais un ingrat si
je me plaignais; car il me disait souvent: 'Quel bon Francais vous
faites!' Et il m'aimait a cause de cela, quoiqu'il semblÉt
n'ainier pas la France. C'etait la un trait de son originalite.
Il est vrai qu'il s'en tirait en disant que je ne ressemblai pas a
mes compatriotes, ce a quoi il ne connaissait rien! - Tout cela
etait fort curieux; car, moi-meme, je l'aimais quoiqu'il en eĖt a
mon pays!

En 1879 il amena son fils Austin a Paris. J'attirai celui-ci. Il
dejeunait avec moi deux fois par semaine. Je lui montrai ce
qu'etait l'intimite francaise en le tutoyant paternellement. Cela
reserra beaucoup nos liens d'intimite avec Jenkin. . . . Je fis
inviter mon ami au congres de l'ASSOCIATION FRANCAISE POUR
L'AVANCEMENT DES SCIENCES, qui se tenait a Rheims en 1880. Il y
vint. J'eus le plaisir de lui donner la parole dans la section du
genie civil et militaire, que je presidais. II y fit une tres
interessante communication, qui me montrait une fois de plus
l'originalite de ses vaes et la sĖrete de sa science. C'est a
l'issue de ce congres que je passai lui faire visite a Rochefort,
ou je le trouvai installe en famille et ou je presentai pour la
premiere fois mes hommages a son eminente compagne. Je le vis la
sous un jour nouveau et touchant pour moi. Madame Jenkin, qu'il
entourait si galamment, et ses deux jeunes fils donnaient encore
plus de relief a sa personne. J'emportai des quelques heures que
je passai a cote de lui dans ce charmant paysage un souvenir emu.

J'etais alle en Angleterre en 1882 sans pouvoir gagner Edimbourg.
J'y retournai en 1883 avec la commission d'assainissement de la
ville de Paris, dont je faisais partie. Jenkin me rejoignit. Je
le fis entendre par mes collegues; car il etait fondateur d'une
societe de salubrite. Il eut un grand succes parmi nous. Mais ce
voyaye me restera toujours en memoire parce que c'est la que se
fixa defenitivement notre forte amitie. Il m'invita un jour a
diner a son club et au moment de me faire asseoir a cote de lui, il
me retint et me dit: 'Je voudrais vous demander de m'accorder
quelque chose. C'est mon sentiment que nos relations ne peuvent
pas se bien continuer si vous ne me donnez pas la permission de
vous tutoyer. Voulez-vous que nous nous tutoyions?' Je lui pris
les mains et je lui dis qu'une pareille proposition venant d'un
Anglais, et d'un Anglais de sa haute distinction, c'etait une
victoire, dont je serais fier toute ma vie. Et nous commencions a
user de cette nouvelle forme dans nos rapports. Vous savez avec
quelle finesse il parlait le francais: comme il en connaissait
tous les tours, comme il jouait avec ses difficultes, et meme avec
ses petites gamineries. Je crois qu'il a ete heureux de pratiquer
avec moi ce tutoiement, qui ne s'adapte pas a l'anglais, et qui est
si francais. Je ne puis vous peindre l'etendue et la variete de
nos conversations de la soiree. Mais ce que je puis vous dire,
c'est que, sous la caresse du TU, nos idees se sont elevees. Nous
avions toujours beaucoup ri ensemble; mais nous n'avions jamais
laisse des banalites s'introduire dans nos echanges de pensees. Ce
soir-la, notre horizon intellectual s'est elargie, et nous y avons
pousse des reconnaissances profondes et lointaines. Apres avoir
vivement cause a table, nous avons longuement cause au salon; et
nous nous separions le soir a Trafalgar Square, apres avoir longe
les trotters, stationne aux coins des rues et deux fois rebrousse
chemie en nous reconduisant l'un l'autre. Il etait pres d'une
heure du matin! Mais quelle belle passe d'argumentation, quels
beaux echanges de sentiments, quelles fortes confidences
patriotiques nous avions fournies! J'ai compris ce soir la que
Jenkin ne detestait pas la France, et je lui serrai fort les mains
en l'embrassant. Nous nous quittions aussi amis qu'on puisse
l'etre; et notre affection s'etait par lui etendue et comprise dans
un TU francais.

CHAPTER VII. 1875-1885.

Mr Jenkin's Illness - Captain Jenkin - The Golden Wedding - Death
of Uncle John - Death of Mr. and Mrs. Austin - Illness and Death of
the Captain - Death of Mrs. Jenkin - Effect on Fleeming -
Telpherage - The End.

AND now I must resume my narrative for that melancholy business
that concludes all human histories. In January of the year 1875,
while Fleeming's sky was still unclouded, he was reading Smiles.
'I read my engineers' lives steadily,' he writes, 'but find
biographies depressing. I suspect one reason to be that
misfortunes and trials can be graphically described, but happiness
and the causes of happiness either cannot be or are not. A grand
new branch of literature opens to my view: a drama in which people
begin in a poor way and end, after getting gradually happier, in an
ecstasy of enjoyment. The common novel is not the thing at all.
It gives struggle followed by relief. I want each act to close on
a new and triumphant happiness, which has been steadily growing all
the while. This is the real antithesis of tragedy, where things
get blacker and blacker and end in hopeless woe. Smiles has not
grasped my grand idea, and only shows a bitter struggle followed by
a little respite before death. Some feeble critic might say my new
idea was not true to nature. I'm sick of this old-fashioned notion
of art. Hold a mirror up, indeed! Let's paint a picture of how
things ought to be and hold that up to nature, and perhaps the poor
old woman may repent and mend her ways.' The 'grand idea' might be
possible in art; not even the ingenuity of nature could so round in
the actual life of any man. And yet it might almost seem to fancy
that she had read the letter and taken the hint; for to Fleeming
the cruelties of fate were strangely blended with tenderness, and
when death came, it came harshly to others, to him not unkindly.

In the autumn of that same year 1875, Fleeming's father and mother
were walking in the garden of their house at Merchiston, when the
latter fell to the ground. It was thought at the time to be a
stumble; it was in all likelihood a premonitory stroke of palsy.
From that day, there fell upon her an abiding panic fear; that
glib, superficial part of us that speaks and reasons could allege
no cause, science itself could find no mark of danger, a son's
solicitude was laid at rest; but the eyes of the body saw the
approach of a blow, and the consciousness of the body trembled at
its coming. It came in a moment; the brilliant, spirited old lady
leapt from her bed, raving. For about six months, this stage of
her disease continued with many painful and many pathetic
circumstances; her husband who tended her, her son who was
unwearied in his visits, looked for no change in her condition but
the change that comes to all. 'Poor mother,' I find Fleeming
writing, 'I cannot get the tones of her voice out of my head. . . I
may have to bear this pain for a long time; and so I am bearing it
and sparing myself whatever pain seems useless. Mercifully I do
sleep, I am so weary that I must sleep.' And again later: 'I
could do very well, if my mind did not revert to my poor mother's
state whenever I stop attending to matters immediately before me.'
And the next day: 'I can never feel a moment's pleasure without
having my mother's suffering recalled by the very feeling of
happiness. A pretty, young face recalls hers by contrast - a
careworn face recalls it by association. I tell you, for I can
speak to no one else; but do not suppose that I wilfully let my
mind dwell on sorrow.'

In the summer of the next year, the frenzy left her; it left her
stone deaf and almost entirely aphasic, but with some remains of
her old sense and courage. Stoutly she set to work with
dictionaries, to recover her lost tongues; and had already made
notable progress, when a third stroke scattered her acquisitions.
Thenceforth, for nearly ten years, stroke followed upon stroke,
each still further jumbling the threads of her intelligence, but by
degrees so gradual and with such partiality of loss and of
survival, that her precise state was always and to the end a matter
of dispute. She still remembered her friends; she still loved to
learn news of them upon the slate; she still read and marked the
list of the subscription library; she still took an interest in the
choice of a play for the theatricals, and could remember and find
parallel passages; but alongside of these surviving powers, were
lapses as remarkable, she misbehaved like a child, and a servant
had to sit with her at table. To see her so sitting, speaking with
the tones of a deaf mute not always to the purpose, and to remember
what she had been, was a moving appeal to all who knew her. Such
was the pathos of these two old people in their affliction, that
even the reserve of cities was melted and the neighbours vied in
sympathy and kindness. Where so many were more than usually
helpful, it is hard to draw distinctions; but I am directed and I
delight to mention in particular the good Dr. Joseph Bell, Mr.
Thomas, and Mr. Archibald Constable with both their wives, the Rev.
Mr. Belcombe (of whose good heart and taste I do not hear for the
first time - the news had come to me by way of the Infirmary), and
their next-door neighbour, unwearied in service, Miss Hannah Mayne.
Nor should I omit to mention that John Ruffini continued to write
to Mrs. Jenkin till his own death, and the clever lady known to the
world as Vernon Lee until the end: a touching, a becoming
attention to what was only the wreck and survival of their
brilliant friend.

But he to whom this affliction brought the greatest change was the
Captain himself. What was bitter in his lot, he bore with unshaken
courage; only once, in these ten years of trial, has Mrs. Fleeming
Jenkin seen him weep; for the rest of the time his wife - his
commanding officer, now become his trying child - was served not
with patience alone, but with a lovely happiness of temper. He had
belonged all his life to the ancient, formal, speechmaking,
compliment-presenting school of courtesy; the dictates of this code
partook in his eyes of the nature of a duty; and he must now be
courteous for two. Partly from a happy illusion, partly in a
tender fraud, he kept his wife before the world as a still active
partner. When he paid a call, he would have her write 'with love'
upon a card; or if that (at the moment) was too much, he would go
armed with a bouquet and present it in her name. He even wrote
letters for her to copy and sign: an innocent substitution, which
may have caused surprise to Ruffini or to Vernon Lee, if they ever
received, in the hand of Mrs. Jenkin the very obvious reflections
of her husband. He had always adored this wife whom he now tended
and sought to represent in correspondence: it was now, if not
before, her turn to repay the compliment; mind enough was left her
to perceive his unwearied kindness; and as her moral qualities
seemed to survive quite unimpaired, a childish love and gratitude
were his reward. She would interrupt a conversation to cross the
room and kiss him. If she grew excited (as she did too often) it
was his habit to come behind her chair and pat her shoulder; and
then she would turn round, and clasp his hand in hers, and look
from him to her visitor with a face of pride and love; and it was
at such moments only that the light of humanity revived in her
eyes. It was hard for any stranger, it was impossible for any that
loved them, to behold these mute scenes, to recall the past, and
not to weep. But to the Captain, I think it was all happiness.
After these so long years, he had found his wife again; perhaps
kinder than ever before; perhaps now on a more equal footing;
certainly, to his eyes, still beautiful. And the call made on his
intelligence had not been made in vain. The merchants of Aux
Cayes, who had seen him tried in some 'counter-revolution' in 1845,
wrote to the consul of his 'able and decided measures,' 'his cool,
steady judgment and discernment' with admiration; and of himself,
as 'a credit and an ornament to H. M. Naval Service.' It is plain
he must have sunk in all his powers, during the years when he was
only a figure, and often a dumb figure, in his wife's drawing-room;
but with this new term of service, he brightened visibly. He
showed tact and even invention in managing his wife, guiding or
restraining her by the touch, holding family worship so arranged
that she could follow and take part in it. He took (to the world's
surprise) to reading - voyages, biographies, Blair's SERMONS, even
(for her letter's sake) a work of Vernon Lee's, which proved,
however, more than he was quite prepared for. He shone more, in
his remarkable way, in society; and twice he had a little holiday
to Glenmorven, where, as may be fancied, he was the delight of the
Highlanders. One of his last pleasures was to arrange his dining-
room. Many and many a room (in their wandering and thriftless
existence) had he seen his wife furnish with exquisite taste, and
perhaps with 'considerable luxury': now it was his turn to be the
decorator. On the wall he had an engraving of Lord Rodney's
action, showing the PROTHEE, his father's ship, if the reader
recollects; on either side of this on brackets, his father's sword,
and his father's telescope, a gift from Admiral Buckner, who had
used it himself during the engagement; higher yet, the head of his
grandson's first stag, portraits of his son and his son's wife, and
a couple of old Windsor jugs from Mrs. Buckner's. But his simple
trophy was not yet complete; a device had to be worked and framed
and hung below the engraving; and for this he applied to his
daughter-in-law: 'I want you to work me something, Annie. An
anchor at each side - an anchor - stands for an old sailor, you
know - stands for hope, you know - an anchor at each side, and in
the middle THANKFUL.' It is not easy, on any system of
punctuation, to represent the Captain's speech. Yet I hope there
may shine out of these facts, even as there shone through his own
troubled utterance, some of the charm of that delightful spirit.

In 1881, the time of the golden wedding came round for that sad and
pretty household. It fell on a Good Friday, and its celebration
can scarcely be recalled without both smiles and tears. The
drawing-room was filled with presents and beautiful bouquets;
these, to Fleeming and his family, the golden bride and bridegroom
displayed with unspeakable pride, she so painfully excited that the
guests feared every moment to see her stricken afresh, he guiding
and moderating her with his customary tact and understanding, and
doing the honours of the day with more than his usual delight.
Thence they were brought to the dining-room, where the Captain's
idea of a feast awaited them: tea and champagne, fruit and toast
and childish little luxuries, set forth pell-mell and pressed at
random on the guests. And here he must make a speech for himself
and his wife, praising their destiny, their marriage, their son,
their daughter-in-law, their grandchildren, their manifold causes
of gratitude: surely the most innocent speech, the old, sharp
contemner of his innocence now watching him with eyes of
admiration. Then it was time for the guests to depart; and they
went away, bathed, even to the youngest child, in tears of
inseparable sorrow and gladness, and leaving the golden bride and
bridegroom to their own society and that of the hired nurse.

It was a great thing for Fleeming to make, even thus late, the
acquaintance of his father; but the harrowing pathos of such scenes
consumed him. In a life of tense intellectual effort, a certain
smoothness of emotional tenor were to be desired; or we burn the
candle at both ends. Dr. Bell perceived the evil that was being
done; he pressed Mrs. Jenkin to restrain her husband from too
frequent visits; but here was one of those clear-cut, indubitable
duties for which Fleeming lived, and he could not pardon even the
suggestion of neglect.

And now, after death had so long visibly but still innocuously
hovered above the family, it began at last to strike and its blows
fell thick and heavy. The first to go was uncle John Jenkin, taken
at last from his Mexican dwelling and the lost tribes of Israel;
and nothing in this remarkable old gentleman's life, became him
like the leaving of it. His sterling, jovial acquiescence in man's
destiny was a delight to Fleeming. 'My visit to Stowting has been
a very strange but not at all a painful one,' he wrote. 'In case
you ever wish to make a person die as he ought to die in a novel,'
he said to me, 'I must tell you all about my old uncle.' He was to
see a nearer instance before long; for this family of Jenkin, if
they were not very aptly fitted to live, had the art of manly
dying. Uncle John was but an outsider after all; he had dropped
out of hail of his nephew's way of life and station in society, and
was more like some shrewd, old, humble friend who should have kept
a lodge; yet he led the procession of becoming deaths, and began in
the mind of Fleeming that train of tender and grateful thought,
which was like a preparation for his own. Already I find him
writing in the plural of 'these impending deaths'; already I find
him in quest of consolation. 'There is little pain in store for
these wayfarers,' he wrote, 'and we have hope - more than hope,

On May 19, 1884, Mr. Austin was taken. He was seventy-eight years
of age, suffered sharply with all his old firmness, and died happy
in the knowledge that he had left his wife well cared for. This
had always been a bosom concern; for the Barrons were long-lived
and he believed that she would long survive him. But their union
had been so full and quiet that Mrs. Austin languished under the
separation. In their last years, they would sit all evening in
their own drawing-room hand in hand: two old people who, for all
their fundamental differences, had yet grown together and become
all the world in each other's eyes and hearts; and it was felt to
be a kind release, when eight months after, on January 14, 1885,
Eliza Barron followed Alfred Austin. 'I wish I could save you from
all pain,' wrote Fleeming six days later to his sorrowing wife, 'I
would if I could - but my way is not God's way; and of this be
assured, - God's way is best.'

In the end of the same month, Captain Jenkin caught cold and was
confined to bed. He was so unchanged in spirit that at first there
seemed no ground of fear; but his great age began to tell, and
presently it was plain he had a summons. The charm of his sailor's
cheerfulness and ancient courtesy, as he lay dying, is not to be
described. There he lay, singing his old sea songs; watching the
poultry from the window with a child's delight; scribbling on the
slate little messages to his wife, who lay bed-ridden in another
room; glad to have Psalms read aloud to him, if they were of a
pious strain - checking, with an 'I don't think we need read that,
my dear,' any that were gloomy or bloody. Fleeming's wife coming
to the house and asking one of the nurses for news of Mrs. Jenkin,
'Madam, I do not know,' said the nurse; 'for I am really so carried
away by the Captain that I can think of nothing else.' One of the
last messages scribbled to his wife and sent her with a glass of
the champagne that had been ordered for himself, ran, in his most
finished vein of childish madrigal: 'The Captain bows to you, my
love, across the table.' When the end was near and it was thought
best that Fleeming should no longer go home but sleep at
Merchiston, he broke his news to the Captain with some trepidation,
knowing that it carried sentence of death. 'Charming, charming -
charming arrangement,' was the Captain's only commentary. It was
the proper thing for a dying man, of Captain Jenkin's school of
manners, to make some expression of his spiritual state; nor did he
neglect the observance. With his usual abruptness, 'Fleeming,'
said he, 'I suppose you and I feel about all this as two Christian
gentlemen should.' A last pleasure was secured for him. He had
been waiting with painful interest for news of Gordon and Khartoum;
and by great good fortune, a false report reached him that the city
was relieved, and the men of Sussex (his old neighbours) had been
the first to enter. He sat up in bed and gave three cheers for the
Sussex regiment. The subsequent correction, if it came in time,
was prudently withheld from the dying man. An hour before midnight
on the fifth of February, he passed away: aged eighty-four.

Word of his death was kept from Mrs. Jenkin; and she survived him
no more than nine and forty hours. On the day before her death,
she received a letter from her old friend Miss Bell of Manchester,
knew the hand, kissed the envelope, and laid it on her heart; so
that she too died upon a pleasure. Half an hour after midnight, on
the eighth of February, she fell asleep: it is supposed in her
seventy-eighth year.

Thus, in the space of less than ten months, the four seniors of
this family were taken away; but taken with such features of
opportunity in time or pleasant courage in the sufferer, that grief
was tempered with a kind of admiration. The effect on Fleeming was
profound. His pious optimism increased and became touched with
something mystic and filial. 'The grave is not good, the
approaches to it are terrible,' he had written in the beginning of
his mother's illness: he thought so no more, when he had laid
father and mother side by side at Stowting. He had always loved
life; in the brief time that now remained to him, he seemed to be
half in love with death. 'Grief is no duty,' he wrote to Miss
Bell; 'it was all too beautiful for grief,' he said to me; but the
emotion, call it by what name we please, shook him to his depths;
his wife thought he would have broken his heart when he must
demolish the Captain's trophy in the dining-room, and he seemed
thenceforth scarcely the same man.

These last years were indeed years of an excessive demand upon his
vitality; he was not only worn out with sorrow, he was worn out by
hope. The singular invention to which he gave the name of
telpherage, had of late consumed his time, overtaxed his strength
and overheated his imagination. The words in which he first
mentioned his discovery to me - 'I am simply Alnaschar' - were not
only descriptive of his state of mind, they were in a sense
prophetic; since whatever fortune may await his idea in the future,
it was not his to see it bring forth fruit. Alnaschar he was
indeed; beholding about him a world all changed, a world filled
with telpherage wires; and seeing not only himself and family but
all his friends enriched. It was his pleasure, when the company
was floated, to endow those whom he liked with stock; one, at
least, never knew that he was a possible rich man until the grave
had closed over his stealthy benefactor. And however Fleeming
chafed among material and business difficulties, this rainbow
vision never faded; and he, like his father and his mother, may be
said to have died upon a pleasure. But the strain told, and he
knew that it was telling. 'I am becoming a fossil,' he had written
five years before, as a kind of plea for a holiday visit to his
beloved Italy. 'Take care! If I am Mr. Fossil, you will be Mrs.
Fossil, and Jack will be Jack Fossil, and all the boys will be
little fossils, and then we shall be a collection.' There was no
fear more chimerical for Fleeming; years brought him no repose; he
was as packed with energy, as fiery in hope, as at the first;
weariness, to which he began to be no stranger, distressed, it did
not quiet him. He feared for himself, not without ground, the fate
which had overtaken his mother; others shared the fear. In the
changed life now made for his family, the elders dead, the sons
going from home upon their education, even their tried domestic
(Mrs. Alice Dunns) leaving the house after twenty-two years of
service, it was not unnatural that he should return to dreams of
Italy. He and his wife were to go (as he told me) on 'a real
honeymoon tour.' He had not been alone with his wife 'to speak
of,' he added, since the birth of his children. But now he was to
enjoy the society of her to whom he wrote, in these last days, that
she was his 'Heaven on earth.' Now he was to revisit Italy, and
see all the pictures and the buildings and the scenes that he
admired so warmly, and lay aside for a time the irritations of his
strenuous activity. Nor was this all. A trifling operation was to
restore his former lightness of foot; and it was a renovated youth
that was to set forth upon this reČnacted honeymoon.

The operation was performed; it was of a trifling character, it
seemed to go well, no fear was entertained; and his wife was
reading aloud to him as he lay in bed, when she perceived him to
wander in his mind. It is doubtful if he ever recovered a sure
grasp upon the things of life; and he was still unconscious when he
passed away, June the twelfth, 1885, in the fifty-third year of his
age. He passed; but something in his gallant vitality had
impressed itself upon his friends, and still impresses. Not from
one or two only, but from many, I hear the same tale of how the
imagination refuses to accept our loss and instinctively looks for
his reappearing, and how memory retains his voice and image like
things of yesterday. Others, the well-beloved too, die and are
progressively forgotten; two years have passed since Fleeming was
laid to rest beside his father, his mother, and his Uncle John; and
the thought and the look of our friend still haunt us.



IN the beginning of the year 1859 my former colleague (the first
British University Professor of Engineering), Lewis Gordon, at that
time deeply engaged in the then new work of cable making and cable
laying, came to Glasgow to see apparatus for testing submarine
cables and signalling through them, which I had been preparing for
practical use on the first Atlantic cable, and which had actually
done service upon it, during the six weeks of its successful
working between Valencia and Newfoundland. As soon as he had seen
something of what I had in hand, he said to me, 'I would like to
show this to a young man of remarkable ability, at present engaged
in our works at Birkenhead.' Fleeming Jenkin was accordingly
telegraphed for, and appeared next morning in Glasgow. He remained
for a week, spending the whole day in my class-room and laboratory,
and thus pleasantly began our lifelong acquaintance. I was much
struck, not only with his brightness and ability, but with his
resolution to understand everything spoken of, to see if possible
thoroughly through every difficult question, and (no if about
this!) to slur over nothing. I soon found that thoroughness of
honesty was as strongly engrained in the scientific as in the moral
side of his character.

In the first week of our acquaintance, the electric telegraph and,
particularly, submarine cables, and the methods, machines, and
instruments for laying, testing, and using them, formed naturally
the chief subject of our conversations and discussions; as it was
in fact the practical object of Jenkin's visit to me in Glasgow;
but not much of the week had passed before I found him remarkably
interested in science generally, and full of intelligent eagerness
on many particular questions of dynamics and physics. When he
returned from Glasgow to Birkenhead a correspondence commenced
between us, which was continued without intermission up to the last
days of his life. It commenced with a well-sustained fire of
letters on each side about the physical qualities of submarine
cables, and the practical results attainable in the way of rapid
signalling through them. Jenkin used excellently the valuable
opportunities for experiment allowed him by Newall, and his partner
Lewis Gordon, at their Birkenhead factory. Thus he began definite
scientific investigation of the copper resistance of the conductor,
and the insulating resistance and specific inductive capacity of
its gutta-percha coating, in the factory, in various stages of
manufacture; and he was the very first to introduce systematically
into practice the grand system of absolute measurement founded in
Germany by Gauss and Weber. The immense value of this step, if
only in respect to the electric telegraph, is amply appreciated by
all who remember or who have read something of the history of
submarine telegraphy; but it can scarcely be known generally how
much it is due to Jenkin.

Looking to the article 'Telegraph (Electric)' in the last volume of
the old edition of the 'Encyclopaedia Britannica,' which was
published about the year 1861, we find on record that Jenkin's
measurements in absolute units of the specific resistance of pure
gutta-percha, and of the gutta-percha with Chatterton's compound
constituting the insulation of the Red Sea cable of 1859, are given
as the only results in the way of absolute measurements of the
electric resistance of an insulating material which had then been
made. These remarks are prefaced in the 'Encyclopaedia' article by
the following statement: 'No telegraphic testing ought in future
to be accepted in any department of telegraphic business which has
not this definite character; although it is only within the last
year that convenient instruments for working, in absolute measure,
have been introduced at all, and the whole system of absolute
measure is still almost unknown to practical electricians.'

A particular result of great importance in respect to testing is
referred to as follows in the 'Encyclopaedia' article: 'The
importance of having results thus stated in absolute measure is
illustrated by the circumstance, that the writer has been able at
once to compare them, in the manner stated in a preceding
paragraph, with his own previous deductions from the testings of
the Atlantic cable during its manufacture in 1857, and with Weber's
measurements of the specific resistance of copper.' It has now
become universally adapted - first of all in England; twenty-two
years later by Germany, the country of its birth; and by France and
Italy, and all the other countries of Europe and America -
practically the whole scientific world - at the Electrical Congress
in Paris in the years 1882 and 1884.

An important paper of thirty quarto pages published in the
'Transactions of the Royal Society' for June 19, 1862, under the
title 'Experimental Researches on the Transmission of Electric
Signals through submarine cables, Part I. Laws of Transmission
through various lengths of one cable, by Fleeming Jenkin, Esq.,
communicated by C. Wheatstone, Esq., F.R.S.,' contains an account
of a large part of Jenkin's experimental work in the Birkenhead
factory during the years 1859 and 1860. This paper is called Part
I. Part II. alas never appeared, but something that it would have
included we can see from the following ominous statement which I
find near the end of Part I.: 'From this value, the
electrostatical capacity per unit of length and the specific
inductive capacity of the dielectric, could be determined. These
points will, however, be more fully treated of in the second part
of this paper.' Jenkin had in fact made a determination at
Birkenhead of the specific inductive capacity of gutta-percha, or
of the gutta-percha and Chatterton's compound constituting the
insulation of the cable, on which he experimented. This was the
very first true measurement of the specific inductive capacity of a
dielectric which had been made after the discovery by Faraday of
the existence of the property, and his primitive measurement of it
for the three substances, glass, shellac, and sulphur; and at the
time when Jenkin made his measurements the existence of specific
inductive capacity was either unknown, or ignored, or denied, by
almost all the scientific authorities of the day.

The original determination of the microfarad, brought out under the
auspices of the British Association Committee on Electrical
Standards, is due to experimental work by Jenkin, described in a
paper, 'Experiments on Capacity,' constituting No. IV. of the
appendix to the Report presented by the Committee to the Dundee
Meeting of 1867. No other determination, so far as I know, of this
important element of electric measurement has hitherto been made;
and it is no small thing to be proud of in respect to Jenkin's fame
as a scientific and practical electrician that the microfarad which
we now all use is his.

The British Association unit of electrical resistance, on which was
founded the first practical approximation to absolute measurement
on the system of Gauss and Weber, was largely due to Jenkin's zeal
as one of the originators, and persevering energy as a working
member, of the first Electrical Standards Committee. The
experimental work of first making practical standards, founded on
the absolute system, which led to the unit now known as the British
Association ohm, was chiefly performed by Clerk Maxwell and Jenkin.
The realisation of the great practical benefit which has resulted
from the experimental and scientific work of the Committee is
certainly in a large measure due to Jenkin's zeal and perseverance
as secretary, and as editor of the volume of Collected Reports of
the work of the Committee, which extended over eight years, from
1861 till 1869. The volume of Reports included Jenkin's Cantor
Lectures of January, 1866, 'On Submarine Telegraphy,' through which
the practical applications of the scientific principles for which
he had worked so devotedly for eight years became part of general
knowledge in the engineering profession.

Jenkin's scientific activity continued without abatement to the
end. For the last two years of his life he was much occupied with
a new mode of electric locomotion, a very remarkable invention of
his own, to which he gave the name of 'Telpherage.' He persevered
with endless ingenuity in carrying out the numerous and difficult
mechanical arrangements essential to the project, up to the very
last days of his work in life. He had completed almost every
detail of the realisation of the system which was recently opened
for practical working at Glynde, in Sussex, four months after his

His book on 'Magnetism and Electricity,' published as one of
Longman's elementary series in 1873, marked a new departure in the
exposition of electricity, as the first text-book containing a
systematic application of the quantitative methods inaugurated by
the British Association Committee on Electrical Standards. In 1883
the seventh edition was published, after there had already appeared
two foreign editions, one in Italian and the other in German.

His papers on purely engineering subjects, though not numerous, are
interesting and valuable. Amongst these may be mentioned the
article 'Bridges,' written by him for the ninth edition of the
'Encyclopaedia Britannica,' and afterwards republished as a
separate treatise in 1876; and a paper 'On the Practical
Application of Reciprocal Figures to the Calculation of Strains in
Framework,' read before the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and
published in the 'Transactions' of that Society in 1869. But
perhaps the most important of all is his paper 'On the Application
of Graphic Methods to the Determination of the Efficiency of
Machinery,' read before the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and
published in the 'Transactions,' vol. xxviii. (1876-78), for which
he was awarded the Keith Gold Medal. This paper was a continuation
of the subject treated in 'Reulaux's Mechanism,' and, recognising
the value of that work, supplied the elements required to
constitute from Reulaux's kinematic system a full machine receiving
energy and doing work.



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