Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

(to an extent) for the apathy, and even culpable neglect by authority in this country, with regard to Sir Henry's claims. To that illustrious nobleman must be given the credit of advising Her Majesty to confer on Bessemer the honour of Knighthood, in recognition of his valuable services to the State (which had so largely availed itself of his invention in the building of ships and the construction of the machinery and boilers of ships in the Royal Navy, &c., but which was delayed until after Bessemer's Patent had expired. He, therefore, never received any pecuniary advantage by the employment of his steel by the English Government). The recognition was, indeed, tardy, but from what we know of the circumstances of its bestowal, it was equally hearty.

Some idea may be formed of the great change which this invention has made in the iron industry of this country, when it is stated that prior to Sir Henry Bessemer's invention the whole production of steel in Great Britain amounted to but 51,000 tons, annually; and that steel varied at that time from £50 to £60 per ton, a price so high as to practically exclude its use for shipbuilding, boiler making, railways, &c., and to which it is now so successfully applied. Its importance as affecting rails will be seen when it is added that in 1880 (last year) the quantity of steel rails made by this process in Great Britain alone was 739,910 tons, which may be taken at an average cost of £6 ios. per ton, or a net cost of £4,809,410; but which, prior to the Bessemer benefaction to Science, could not have been purchased for so low a sum as £40 per ton, or for a total price exceeding £29,000,000 sterling, a sum so fabulous that it must necessarily have precluded its use, notwithstanding the twin fact that a steel rail will last seven or eight times as long as an iron one, whilst the first cost is not greater than the old iron rails previously in use. The gross produce of Bessemer steel in 1880 was

3,146,154 tons thus made up : Great Britain

1,044,382 tons United States

1,074,266 Germany

643,096 France

384,410

...

Total tons

3,146,154

It has been said that the dignity of Knighthood conferred on Sir Henry Bessemer was the reward of political services either in esse or at any rate in posse, rather than for his devotion to Science. Nothing could be further from the truth, for whilst that which we have written demonstrates what he has done for the latter, as a matter of fact Sir Henry Bessemer has never taken the least practical interest in politics, although his sympathies would probably be rather with the late than the present Premier. A man living a life of such agonised activity (if we may use the expression) in his own immediate sphere could never have found opportunity for Parliamentary work. But we are convinced that the labour performed by this eminent servant of the public has been fraught with more temporal benediction to the race than that accomplished by even a whole session of some Parliaments, for Sir Henry Bessemer has among other things transformed the entire world of Engineering and done no inconsiderable part towards solving the immense scientific question of railway catastrophe, which, humanly speaking, is being yearly rendered less possible. For our own part we think that the treatment Sir Henry received with regard to his dual invention which protected the Inland Revenue from being defrauded by the misuse of stamps, is worse than even the prolonged indifference shown to his crowning work, for in the latter case the advantage was, perhaps, not at first so apparent, whereas the authorities at Somerset House had instant and palpable proof of (1) the efficacy of the inventions, and (2) what even must have come home to them with greater force, namely the vast sums annually placed into the coffers of the revenue. When men receive baronetcies for the passive virtue of happening to be in some civic or other office on the occasion of a royal marriage or a public funeral, it is almost a piece of grim irony to congratulate a genuine worker on his assumption of a modest honour of the character so recently conferred on Sir Henry Bessemer. Three fourths of the Peerages now in existence have been created for considerably less service to the State, and it is to the Upper House that we should desire to see Sir Henry ultimately elevated.

We have no space left at our disposal to write of the more private side of Sir Henry Bessemer's character, nor to describe the work of love in which he is now devotedly engaged, other than to state that his life of leisure, as may

be supposed, is a life of labour. He has designed, and is personally superintending the construction of an Observatory for astronomical purposes, and which will place Greenwich altogether in the rear. The speculum of his telescope will be fifty inches in diameter, of plate-glass, two inches in thickness, turned on the face by diamond points, in a lathe also designed by himself. The depression will be almost half-an-inch. The concave face, after polishing, will be coated with a deposit of pure silver, reflecting 90 per cent. of the incident light. He expects that this instrument will be of superior power to the world-famed telescope of Lord Rosse, whose reflector is an alloy of copper and tin, reflecting only 63 per cent of the light falling on it. The Observatory itself is revolving, and is constructed on altogether novel principles. When completed it will, doubtless, be the rendezvous of men eminent in every department of philosophical research, and, indeed, Sir Henry intends it to be a semi-public institution, a private road being constructed for those who may legitimately desire to pay a visit to it for scientific or other reasons. It stands in the charming grounds of thirty nine acres in extent which surround his fairy-like mansion at Denmark Hill, and one of Sir Henry's chief delights is to accompany his visitors to the works and explain even in technical parlance the wonders of this now rapidly completing marvel of invention. But beyond this work there is no Engineering or Scientific question which from time to time comes before the public in which he does not take a deep interest, and freely sheds the light of his vast experience in elucidating any obscure scientific discussion. This is exemplified by his remarkable letters to The Times a couple of years ago (out of many others) on “Steel for War Firing Purposes,” and “The Automatic Firing of Naval Guns," scientific communications which the leading journal dignified by printing in leader type.

Sir Henry Bessemer married in 1833, the daughter of Richard Allen, Esq., of Amersham, by whom he has had issue two sons and one daughter.

THE DEAN OF CANTERBURY.

The name of Alford, the accomplished Greek scholar, and the equally eminent Christian and reformer, will not very soon be effaced from the memory of inhabitants of the metropolitical city in particular, nor from the minds of Englishmen in general. As Dean of Canterbury, Dr. Alford was beloved in a remarkable degree; as a scholar and divine of the Established Church his loss was almost irreparable. In his successor, however, the void has been well-nigh filledindeed, altogether as far as learning and piety are in the case, and no better appointment could well have been made.

The Very Reverend Robert Payne Smith, Doctor in Divinity, is the son of R. Smith, Esq., of Chipping Campden, Glo'ster, where he was born on November 7th, 1818. He was educated at the Grammar School of that place, proceeding to Pembroke College, Oxford, as an Exhibitioner, and graduated in 1841 (Second Class Literis Humanioribus). Dr. Payne Smith obtained the Boden (Sanscrit), and the Pusey and Ellerton (Hebrew) University Scholarships. After holding the Head Mastership of the Kensington Proprietory Grammar School, he was appointed, in 1857, to the Under-Librarianship of the Bodleian, during the tenure of which office he published in a quarto volume a most elaborate Latin catalogue of the Syriac MSS., under the titles of " S. Cyrilli Alex. Commentarii in Lucæ Evangelium qui supersunt Syriace,” 4to, 1858; "St. Cyril's Commentary on St. Luke's Gospel in English, 2 vols., 8vo., 1859; “Ecclesiastical History of John, Bishop of Ephesus” (translated into English), 1860; “ Catalogus Codicum Syriacorum et Carshunicorum in Bibliothecâ Bodleiana,4to, 1864 (University Press). When Archdeacon Tattam brought these valuable MSS. to England, he could scarcely have thought to have found so learned a translator. Dean Payne Smith has also prepared for the Delegates of the Oxford Press a Syriac Lexicon, based on Castelli, although a more exhaustive and bulky work, and a great help to biblical research. We believe that Part I. was published in 1868, the second in 1870, and so on, up to the present date. The Lexicon will be completed in some ten parts, of which five are already published.

As a scholar and theologian-although belonging to the moderate Evangelical school of thought-Dr. Payne Smith has scarcely a rival in the English Church, and he was a fitting follower of that long line of worthies who have ruled the cathedral city of Canterbury. What Alford was as a Greek, Payne Smith may be regarded as an Hebraist and Arabic scholar; his learned “Messianic Interpretation of the Prophecies of Isaiah,” published in 1862, furnishing convincing proof of his erudition. In 1869, Payne Smith followed Liddon as Bampton Lecturer, the subject of his addresses (afterwards published) being “Prophecy a Preparation for Christ,” Canon Liddon's Lectures being “The Divinity of our Lord and Savour Jesus Christ." Dean Payne Smith is also a contributor to “ The Speaker's Commentary,” an exposition of the difficult book of Jeremiah being undertaken by the very reverend subject of our sketch.

In 1865, Dean Payne Smith was appointed to the Regius Professorship of Divinity in the University of Oxford, and an accompanying canonry in Christ Church, in succession to the present Bishop of Chester (Dr. Jacobson), which offices he retained until his elevation to his present dignity, a period of six years. In 1871, upon the death of Alford, Payne Smith became Dean of Canterbury, his promotion by Mr. Gladstone taking place in the same year as that of Church to the Deanery of St. Paul's (See ante, page 35, April.)

From what has been written, our readers will have observed that Dr. Payne Smith is one of the most learned of Anglican theologians, and some may have thought that such being the case, he was fitted rather for a stall in the cathedral of Oxford than for the post of decanus in that of the populous city of Canterbury. Dean Payne Smith, however, is not unmindful of, nor unfitted for, the duties of pastor in parochia, and although it is perhaps correctly assumed that the Anglo-Catholic, rather than the moderate clergy, are the best parish priests and cathedral dignitaries, Dr. Payne Smith is an exception. Loving that ancient minster which is the scene alike of Becket's martyrdom and his apotheosis, Payne Smith has for a decade shown his rare fitness for such an office as the one he so efficiently holds; for a Dean, in these days, at least, should possess, not only a reverence for the traditions of the past, but an appreciation of the exigencies of the times in which he lives, and a practical sympathy with the aspirations, both temporal and spiritual, of those by whom he is surrounded. Whatever is

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »